Western Progressivism Unite Neocons & NeoLibs
In nearly any situation you can find traces of humor. In October, the Progressive Governance Summit was held in Germany. The summit, which featured a video introduction by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, convenes annually to extol the merits of a unipolar world in which all countries share the same values and moral rectitude that define the U.S.
I don’t really understand how neocons and neoliberals managed to unite under the rubric of “progressivism.” But they did, and today the neoliberal wing is perhaps best represented by the well-known columnist and commentator Anne Applebaum, who writes for Atlantic.
Led by the United States, Western aid to Ukraine amounts to a number a bit shy of $100 billion and counting. Indeed, the neocon/libs in Congress want to add another $50 billion. One result of all this aid is that the West has run out of weapons, literally. Inventories of weapons are so low that all the game-changing weapons are being replaced by weaponry whose provenance in some cases is WWII. If you find this hard to believe, the source is comments from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as well as various Pentagon briefings.
In a discussion group, the issue of why the West was no longer delivering modern tanks to Ukraine came up, to which Anne Applebaum added a brand-new rationale for why Ukraine is losing so badly. Her comments are available on the YouTube channel, Progressive Zentrum.
Responding to a question from the audience as to why Germany has stopped delivering advanced tanks to Ukraine, she said:
“I’ve been in Germany for a couple of days, and it’s true that the issue of tanks continues to arise. And I have been asking myself why they are not being delivered… there is something deeper… this is not unique to Germany. You have the same thing in the United States and elsewhere… do we really want the Ukrainians to win… are we prepared mentally for the Ukrainians to win? How will it affect power relationships… how will it change Europe… how will it change the balance of power? And particularly since the successful offensive several weeks ago that possibility has become more real, I believe that the situation with tanks is connected precisely with this.”
These comments sound like something out of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, the brilliant black humor film about the Cold War. Most significant is Applebaum’s tacit admission that things are not going well for Ukraine in the war. But saying that low inventories of advanced tanks have nothing to do with it is ludicrous. And saying that psychology – and she does invoke Freud at the beginning of her answer – that we aren’t psychologically prepared for victory – is borderline crazy.
Supposedly we won’t supply advanced tanks because of these fears but – at least those in Congress who support Applebaum’s view – are seeking to add $50 billion dollars in aid, evidently to increase their fear of winning. Meanwhile we continue to ignore the growing misery within our own country, with additional funding for Ukraine sure to reinforce already insurmountable problems for the Fed.
I doubt Freud or anyone else would have an answer. This new narrative is born out of desperation. I can easily see a third party considering this kind of answer utterly irrational and bordering on a type of lunacy that would preclude almost nothing on the part of the West to change the situation.
Since Applebaum’s comments, Russia has been aiming highly accurate missiles at Ukrainian energy infrastructure, leaving the entire electric grid in peril. The successful offensive she speaks of is being reversed as Russia has mobilized more of its military. And with the referendums, the entire Ukraine operation has been solely under Russian military control, with the militia in Donbas and other pro-Russian regions of Ukraine now answering to the central Russian command. For the first time since the war began, Russia has enough troops both to continue fighting and to protect the Russian enclaves from civilian attacks by the Ukrainians.
My own speculation is that comments like Applebaum’s have made it clear to Putin that he can’t settle for his original goals, which were to defend the Russian-speaking areas. In a recent press conference, he was pressed on whether he thought Ukraine would still be a nation after Russia left. He said that initially Russia’s goal was to protect the Russian-speaking provinces, and he left it at that. Putin, a trained lawyer with a doctorate in economics, is known for his precision of speech. Placing his initial goals in the past tense could easily be seen as meaning he wants not only Ukraine’s East but also to destroy the government in Kiev. Noteworthy is that Poland already has drawn maps that include which parts of western Ukraine it will get.
Why Ukraine’s Last Ditch Efforts Won’t Succeed
The situation in Ukraine is making the West increasingly desperate. Rumors of all sorts are rife, and there’s no way to separate what a desperate West is threatening and how Russia is responding. The facts on the ground are all we can go by. Currently two cities are being evacuated, the Russian-held city of Kherson and the Ukrainian city, Nikolaev. Russia says the Kherson evacuation is temporary and is being done to protect citizens from a terrorist act on a dam, which could result in temporary but dangerous flooding of Kherson.
So far, most of the major terrorist acts associated with the war have been carried out by Ukraine or the West. Clearly that was true of the attack on the bridge connecting Crimea to other parts of Ukraine, since it would make no sense for Russia to blow up a strategic bridge used for both commercial and military operations, which has made Russia fear other terrorist attacks such as blowing up a dam. Civilians in Kherson are being largely replaced by Russian military troops.
Retaking Kherson has been viewed as a last-chance effort by Ukraine to make a military statement, however ephemeral it might turn out to be. Worth mentioning is that Russia is well on its way to retaking territory that Ukraine “won” several weeks ago.
In other words, terrorist act or not, Russia intends to defend Kherson. On the other hand, the mayor of Nikolaev has told all citizens of the city to evacuate immediately and to stay away until the war has ended. This appears to be a clear statement that the Russians are coming and coming quickly. Nikolaev is important in itself, but even more so as a gateway to Odessa, whose capture would leave Ukraine without a port on the Black Sea and completely landlocked.
As the desperation inherent in the situation hopefully leads to negotiations, the Russians have embarked on capturing the minimum they need to end with a Ukraine that poses no threat to them. That will result, as well, in Russian control over much of Ukraine’s large endowment of natural resources. Nothing is for sure, but right now the likeliest outcome is that the war will end either with Ukraine no longer a country or with Russia controlling its most important parts.