Foreign Policy, New Nationalism News

New Nationalism News – Ukraine

April 10, 2022

Source: Adobe Stock

A Military Analysis of the Current Battlefield

Retired US Army General Mark Hertling wrote this clear and sobering Twitter thread about the likely strategy and tactics to be used in the upcoming battle in eastern Ukraine.  Hertling was the commanding general of the Seventh Army in Europe and thus it was his job to be familiar with Russian army tactics. In particular, he says the use of tactical nuclear weapons is distinctly possible in this new phase of the war.

The Terrible Truth about Putin

As repressive as it was, the old Soviet Union was actually led by a collective leadership centered on the Politburo.  This article points out how Vladimir Putin has now built something radically different –  a personal dictatorship where the old guardrails against recklessness no longer exist.  If so, how far will Putin go in Ukraine to win his home front war?

The Nazifying of Russia

If it wins, Russian internal propaganda is promoting the use of horrifying Nazi techniques to “denazify” Ukraine, as this article frankly describes.

Russian Support for the Invasion

Finally, this interview with a Russian-based pollster pours a bucket of cold water on the idea ordinary Russians will reject government propaganda and revolt because of the war.  He found overwhelming support for the invasion, which is consistent with many interviews with ordinary Russians.  When asked how reliable such polls are in an authoritarian state like Russia, he says his polls more accurately measure how people will behave. Russians have developed a culture during the Soviet era and now under Putin based on the importance of complying with the state and avoiding any open opposition.  It will take decades for this type of compliance culture to fade.

Foreign Policy

Ukraine – The Weeks to Come

Russia’s announced strategy of re-orienting its Ukraine invasion to “liberating“ the Donbas region and its withdrawal from Kyiv appears on the surface  to be a humiliating climb down from the original goal of “denazifying” the entire country. The horrifying war crimes disclosed as they withdraw will stiffen Ukrainian’s fight against the brutal invasion. Ukraine has shown throughout this war the kind of iron will and mettle that Theodore Roosevelt admired and embodied. At the same time, negotiations continue between the two sides.  We are now at a transition in the conflict that poses serious questions for all concerned, including the United States.

First, Vladimir Putin’s past and his apparent obsession about Ukraine suggests that he is more likely to escalate than accept a defeat.  Thus, the “re-positioning” of Russian forces may be a crafty way of escalating the conflict by prolonging it to a point where it is unsustainable for both Ukraine and the west. The continued shelling of cities may mean that Putin plans to hold on to current territory, expand in the Donbas and then hunker down to avoid combat casualties while bombarding the country often enough to prevent any reconstruction effort. In addition to prolonging Ukrainian suffering, this strategy holds the world economy hostage by preventing wheat planting and production of fertilizer and minerals such as nickel, an important element for electric batteries.  The bet is that the West and the rest of the world cannot maintain the level of economic sanctions and/ or he can find ways to evade them.

More ominously, there is an important national Russian holiday that may force Putin to engage in a more dramatic escalation. Russians celebrate their victory in World War II (or as they call it, the Great Patriotic War)  on May 9.  A  defeat in Ukraine, or just the absence of a clear victory, by that day could spell the end of Vladimir Putin’s rule.  If Putin believes he may not at least achieve control of the Donbas by that holiday, the risk of escalation grows, which includes the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Theodore Roosevelt’s famous maxim “speak softly and carry a big stick” summarizes the best strategy for preventing such a disastrous scenario. Since the primary purpose of sanctions on Russia should be to force a lasting end to the war, NATO should be telegraphing to Russia via diplomatic back channels that the more onerous sanctions would be lifted if it reaches a peace treaty with Ukraine that both legally and practically accepts its sovereignty and independence. This would not prevent the U.S. and other Western nations from continuing some sanctions in light of Russian atrocities. At the same time, the West should both continue their military aid and broaden the type of aid to include offensive as well as defensive weapons. NATO can also telegraph the potential costs of an escalation to WMDs by discussing in public the potential deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Eastern Europe.  Indeed, a Polish leader’s recent statement that it would “be open” to hosting tactical nukes already presents that possibility to the Kremlin.

The next few weeks could determine the future of not only of Ukraine, but also American foreign and defense policy for years to come. One of the most important elements of that strategy is the extent to which Europeans will step up to be the world power they claim to be. They have both the economic and structural tools to assume the responsibility of defending Europe and potentially Ukraine as well. My next post (if events allow) will detail why and how they could meet that responsibility.

Foreign Policy, New Nationalism News

New Nationalism News – Ukraine

March 21, 2022

What if I’m Wrong, Part 2

As mentioned in my previous article, war changes the decision analytics of international relations by hardening the warring parties’ goals and attitudes to the point where the outcome becomes a matter of personal and national pride rather than strategic.  Vladimir Putin’s recent speech recounted in this article is a frightening example. To him, the war in Ukraine is now a two-front war, the most critical to Putin being his war at home against Russian opposition and to establish his totalitarian rule. He now may believe he must win both wars to survive and so cannot accept anything other than Ukraine’s surrender or destruction. It also means that, to the extent Western sanctions threaten that survival, he will do whatever is necessary to weaken them. Even more dangerous days may be coming.

A Summary of the Course of the War till Now

This interactive history of the Russian invasion prepared by the British Royal United Services Institute for the Financial Times newspaper an excellent history of the war up to now. As the final slide says, Russian forces have reached a culmination of a phase of the war that frankly has failed to achieve its original objectives. Based on the vicious siege of Mariupol, the second stage will follow the traditional Russian tactics of using artillery and aerial bombardment of cities to break the will of Ukrainians.  The images will be even more horrendous before this is over.

How Russia’s mistakes and Ukrainian resistance altered Putin’s war (

O, Canada!

It is hard to find anything amusing about this subject, but our friends to the north may have provided one.  The Russian delegation to the United Nations had the audacity to circulate a proposed resolution urging the “parties” to the conflict to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The Canadian delegation returned it with the attached comments and corrections to highlight its absurdity. If you’re a fan of dry British humor, you’ll enjoy it.

P.S. A copy was sent to all other UN delegations. The Ukrainian delegation responded with “Accept all changes”.