When the history of the West’s attempt to destroy Putin’s Russia is written I would not be surprised that historians will draw on the wisdom of Pogo.
Pogo was a daily comic strip that was created by cartoonist Walt Kelly and syndicated to American newspapers from 1948 until 1975. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp in the Southeastern United States, Pogo followed the adventures of its anthropomorphic animal characters, including the title character, an opossum.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(comic_strip)
One of Pogo’s iconic musings — i.e., We have met the enemy and he is us — is more relevant than ever in light of the blowback underway as a result of the West’s attempt to use Ukraine to bludgeon Russia into submission. The following clip says nothing about Ukraine. But it gives you a flavor of the truth Walt Kelly, the cartoonist, was trying to convey to the public.
The West, with the United States in the lead, facilitated the start of the civil war in Ukraine in 2014 and, in the ensuing 8 years, continued to ratchet up the pressure on Russia. The hubris behind this effort is truly stunning. Conventional academics, pundits beholden to the Military Industrial Complex, and politicians keen on funding the Pentagon in order to win some swag for their constituents, bought in wholeheartedly to the propaganda that Russia was a backward, failing state.
There was no sincere attempt at honest negotiations since the Maidan coup, notwithstanding Minsk I and Minsk II. Subsequent diplomacy was a diversion. The real objective of the United States and Europe was to bolster Ukraine’s military while trying to weaken Russia, using a combination of sanctions and propaganda.
Except for scholars like Stephen Cohen and Richard Sakwa, most academics peddled a cartoon version of Russia reminiscent of Boris Badenov and public opinion ate it up:
The West genuinely believed that massive sanctions on Russia would unleash economic turmoil followed by political upheaval. Turns out the political masters of the West were half right — the sanctions did unleash economic turmoil and political upheaval is underway. Only one teeny, tiny problem — it is happening in the United States and Europe. Putin and the Russian economy are doing just fine. Turns out that Russia is self-sufficient when it comes to essentials like food, fertilizer, energy and rare earth minerals. The West is not.
Like Christopher Walken exhorting the faux Blue Oyster Cult percussionist to provide more cowbell, the NATO alliance keeps insisting that Russia is running out of missiles and other critical weapons. Western powers clearly have no sense of irony because it is their supplies of weapons that are running dry. Take Germany, for example:
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said at the last meeting of the German Cabinet in August 2022, that “there is little scope for sending weapons from the German army’s stockpile to Ukraine. I must admit that we have reached the limits of what we can offer. Our army must be able to guarantee the defense of the states and the German Confederation.. I will make sure that this situation continues.” As she put it, these statements expressed the imminent arrival of German military support for Ukraine to the maximum; This means that Germany will have limited options in this regard in the coming periods, as well as a slowdown in the pace of support for Ukraine.https://www.politics-dz.com/interregional-strategic-analytics-how-has-ukraines-support-affected-western-armaments/
The United States also is, as Jackson Browne crooned, running on empty. It is scrounging for weapons to send to Ukraine because the United States no longer has the industrial strength to supply itself and provide foreign assistance:
The US intends to buy 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition from South Korean arms manufacturers to provide to Ukraine, a US official said, as part of a broader effort to find available weaponry for the high-intensity battles unfolding in Ukraine.https://www.cnn.com/2022/11/11/politics/us-artillery-south-korea-ukraine/index.html
Meanwhile, Putin has updated a Russian strategy employed against Napoleon in the wake of the Battle of Borodino. The Russians retreated from that blood soaked battlefield to lick the wounds and regroup while Napoleon marched triumphantly into Moscow. VICTORY? Nope. The Russians ended up setting Moscow on fire, which forced Napoleon and his troops to attempt to retreat from Russia as General Winter pounced. In the early 1800s there was no electricity to shut off in Moscow. Folks relied on wood fires, burning coal and oil for heat and light. Once there were no longer sufficient structures left standing from the raging inferno to house hungry French troops, the tide of the battle was turned and the rest, so we say, is history.
Putin is using a conventional weapon that has the effect of an Electro Magnetic Pulse (commonly associated with a nuclear blast) without going nuclear. The barrage of missiles that have destroyed a sizeable portion of Ukraine’s ability to distribute electricity, water and heat is having the same effect as Fyodor Rostopchin‘s order to torch Moscow. Make the cities unlivable and force the armies to retreat.
What is sickening and sad about what is unfolding in Ukraine is that this was preventable. If the United States and NATO had stopped supplying Ukraine with weapons and committed to not bringing Ukraine into NATO and enforced the Minsk agreements, Putin would not have launched the “Special Military Operation.”
The blow back from the West’s ham handed attempt to coerce Russia into submission has set in motion a historical realignment of the world order and initiated the dismantling of the international order established in the wake of World War II.
If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift for the leaders of NATO, might I suggest a copy of Walt Kelly’s book, We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us!