Here's the truth on Ukraine, as far as I can tell
First, and most importantly, virtually no one in the U.S. has got this right, including conservative outlets and pundits. Putin's a thug, but he's an excellent politician and a strong leader. And he's not crazy, as some seem to surmise. He is a cold, calculating, strategic thinker who has disciplined his mind and body for decades. He's a Russia first guy. Think Donald Trump minus all the hot air and Big Macs, and add a willingness to off his enemies.
We promised Russia we would not expand NATO when the Soviet Union fell. We went back on that promise and incorporated almost the entire Eastern Bloc into NATO.
Then after 9/11, Bush II unilaterally canceled the '72 ABM treaty, which until then had frozen nuclear weapon development in the Soviet Union and the U.S., effectively ending the arms race. Bush's rationale was that we needed to develop new nuclear weapon tech to defeat terrorism. As if we were going to nuke Osama bin Laden.
Bush's rationale for NATO expansion was also terrorism. So Bush triggered a fresh arms race. Bush was a decent man, but the more time goes by, the more he looks like an absolute moron to me.
Ukraine belonged to Russia for centuries. The two countries have almost identical cultures and languages. Kyiv used to be the capital of Russia. Putin's war is a war of defense. Russia (rightly, in my view) feels threatened by NATO expansion. Russia is a mainly land-based, continental power that desires a buffer with the West. Ukraine serves that purpose perfectly.
The U.S. triggered a coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014, overthrowing the democratically elected president who was Russia-friendly and installing a pro-Western, pro-NATO leader. Putin has had his eye on Ukraine ever since but dared not do anything when Trump was in power because he feared and respected Trump.
So Putin in the meantime brilliantly helped move along a green revolution in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, leaving Europe, with its wind farms and solar panels, hungry for more energy, which it bought from Russia in the form of natgas.
Trump's right: Putin is a genius. Unfortunately, we seem to be in a historically rare period in which the leaders of 1.5 billion people — i.e., the West — are to a person feckless, obtuse, senile, or some combination of the three.
Now that we have President Potted Plant in office, Putin has made his move. By the way, the story is that Russian annexed Crimea some years ago. Putin's version is that the Crimeans had a plebiscite, and over 90% voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. That alone should give you an idea of what a dysfunctional country Ukraine is.
Putin has no intention of "reconstituting the Soviet Union." That's a big fat lie. This war is the West's fault, not Putin's. At any time, we could have discussed these issues with him. Instead of seeking closer ties with Russia (as Trump was attempting — he even talked about disbanding NATO, since Russia is no longer a territorial threat to Europe), we constantly antagonize Russia with our NATO expansion.
What we should be doing is assuring Russia that we are not a threat, making treaties with Russia bringing us closer together (after all, they are a European, Orthodox Christian nation), and turning our united efforts against the real threat: China. We couldn't have mishandled this more.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Ukrainians are not making a heroic stand against the Russkies. They're getting their asses kicked. They're hiding in population centers, and Russia, trying to get to them, is killing a lot of civilians as collateral damage.
They're fighting a relatively clean war (if there is such a thing), and all Zelensky has to do is meet with Putin and agree to Putin's four demands: 1) Ukraine cannot join NATO, 2) NATO arms out of Eastern Europe (honoring our promise to Russia's then-leader, Gorbachev), 3) a ban on NATO missiles within striking distance, and 4) autonomy for the two predominantly Russian provinces in east Ukraine.
Numbers 2 and 3 are a pretty big ask, but here you see how Putin himself may have read The Art of the Deal: always ask for more than you want.
Zelensky could end this in two hours if he wanted. Instead, he seems to have developed a Churchill complex. He's begging for money and arms, which will prolong the bloodshed. No one is reporting the billions in medicines, foodstuff, and other aid the Russians are shipping into Ukraine.
These insights I'm getting from the Greek press (I live here), which is being much more even-handed; from people inside Russia; and from Ukrainians whom I know. I also watched the four-hour Putin interview documentary by Oliver Stone, which skewed left but provided a fascinating look at Putin the human being. I repeat: he is not crazy. He has a surprisingly good sense of humor. Just to remind you, I'm not a fan.
The U.S. can't seem to kick its Cold War habit of looking at Russia as the enemy. The enemy, the real threat, is China, not a country of 125 million with a GDP less than that of 16 million Canadians.
I'm wondering what President Potted Plant is going to do when China invades Taiwan. Now, that is a threat to world peace. We get almost all our microchips from the Taiwanese. I wonder also how we will survive the next three years with this idiot in the W.H. The answer, as always, is prayer and lots of it.
Image: Victoria Borodinova, Pixabay, Pixabay License.