Did President Joe Biden’s economic advisers not warn him that the lemming leaders of NATO will not be able to protect their people from the winter cold? (Lemmings of the animal world are protected from the Arctic winter by their very thick fur, with no need to hibernate. Lock-step NATO unity on Ukraine is likely to dissipate, as Europeans run out of fur coats.)
Did Biden’s advisers not tell him that the political hacks now running Germany and other European countries will be unable to avoid cutting a deal with Russia on gas for heating – as well as on economic sanctions and curtailing arms to Ukraine? Surely they understood the enormous leverage Russia has in providing gas and other energy. Did they perhaps think Putin would be deterred from using that leverage, fearing finger-waving accusations that Russia is "weaponizing" gas and oil?
In other words, the news today that Russia has stopped supplying gas to Europe via Nord Stream 1 indefinitely should have come as no surprise. And problems seem to multiply.
Watch Your Steppe
Did Biden’s military advisers not warn him that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was about to order thousands of troops into the open Ukrainian Steppe, there to be decimated by Russian artillery? The current Ukrainian benighted offensive, much ballyhooed in advance "trailers", so to speak, was such an obviously crass political decision that it is surprising that – so far as we know – there was no mutiny.
The impetus behind Ukrainian forces being sent on the offensive was Zelensky’s overriding determination to demonstrate to Western arms donors that (1) there is still life in the Ukrainian army, and (2) it will need still more and better weapons to avoid being obliterated (in the next Charge of the Light Brigade). It may be that Europeans shopping for fur coats and hats will stop long enough to see Zelensky’s ploy for it is.
Russians Stop Shelling Themselves in Zaporizhzhia!
For those readers of the NY Times and Washington Post befuddled as to why the Russians would be shelling themselves at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP), well, it turns out that it was the Ukrainians doing the shelling. Here’s how a senior U.S. military spokesman deftly handled a question on this issue on Monday:
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah, I – so what I know for sure is that the – the Russians are firing from around the plant and, you know, I also know that there are rounds that have impacted near the plant. You know, the way that we’re tracking the forces around the nuclear power plant – it’s not like there’s a – a constant – it’s hard to explain, I guess. It’s not like there are forces in every square inch of the area around the plant. And so we also know that the Russians have fired in the vicinity of the plant.
And I don’t want to say that the Ukrainians haven’t fired in that vicinity either because I think there’s probably a likelihood that they have, but in good – in a number of cases, it’s returning fire of the Russians who are firing from those locations. [Emphasis added.]
A UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team is now on the scene, with their spokesman yesterday giving public thanks for Russia providing necessary security for its safe arrival. Even the Ukrainians admitted today to having shelled Energodar where "enemy artillery systems were destroyed." Energodar is where the Zaprizhzhia NPP is located.
No Problem: Give Ukraine More Money
Back at the ranch, it appears Biden’s advisers have persuaded him to double down. Today the White House asked Congress for $13.7 billion, as part of a short-term spending package to help Ukraine confront Russia. It might be called the gift that never stops giving – despite the domestic opportunity costs. Biden needs some fresh thinking.
I am reminded of a somewhat similar situation almost 20 years ago. Our group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2003, after watching then Secretary Colin Powell mislead the UN Security Council, wrote a Memorandum to President George W. Bush, which ended with the following suggestion:
After watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.
Russia is not Iraq. The "unintended consequences" this time could conceivably include nuclear war. A relatively level-headed Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, has warned Biden about that. He ought to listen to her, and rid himself of the sophomoric advisers who keep digging holes deeper and deeper for him – and for the rest of us on this planet.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).