Why, Despite RAND’s Recommendation, the Ukraine War Is Unlikely to End in a Negotiated Settlement

At the risk of treating timing as proof of connection, one has to wonder why the State Department saw fit to plant a story in the most obvious manner possible, by granting an interview with Anthony Blinken to one of the spooks’ favorite whispers, David Ignatius of the Washington Post (full text can be found here) . Not only was there no news trigger for the chat, but the interview’s premise was peculiar: talking about the endgame of the war and the US post war policy for Ukraine seems might peculiar since no resolution for the conflict is in sight.

And the interview itself was odd. Blinken did make a major concession to reality in acknowledging that Ukraine would not be able to retake Crimea any time soon. He expects the US to continue to arm Ukraine without having a treaty. Yet no where does the article suggest how the war might end, let alone mention the “n” word, negotiate. The Blinken/State vision seems to be:

US and NATO support Ukraine > *Magic* > War ends > US and NATO support Ukraine

One theory is that this article is intended to start managing down expectations in the US and Ukraine by conceding that Crimea is a lost cause. Even though that is a step in the right direction, there’s a long road between that admission and acknowledging the Russian battlefield advantage even before its recently mobilized troops have been put to work. The Ignatius piece is larded with “Russia is losing” assertions like ” Vladimir Putin has failed” and “U.S. weapons help pulverize Putin’s invasion force.”

So what is the point of this message, since this a piece presented in this manner is meant to send a message?

One guess is that Blinken cleared his throat to undercut the more or less contemporaneously-released RAND paper, Avoiding a Long War, embedded at the end of this post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It contains a remarkable number of reality-challenged statements about Russian performance and politics. And what is particularly disconcerting is that the piece reads as if those are RAND’s conclusions, as opposed to the authors having to navigate a difficult terrain of misperceptions.

Irrespective of what one makes of RAND’s take on Russia, the paper presents ending the war as in America’s interest, and further a political settlement would be more beneficial to the US that a mere armistice, as in halt to fighting with no settlement of the drivers of the conflict.

The paper’s first sentence, “Discussion of the Russia-Ukraine war in Washington is increasingly dominated by the question of how it might end.” At a minimum, that can be read as an admission that even the folks in the Beltway bubble are realizing that the war is not going at all well for Ukraine.

However, Blinken scotches the idea that there is anything that needs to be discussed. Per Ignatius:

Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined his strategy for the Ukrainian endgame and postwar deterrence during an interview on Monday at the State Department…Russia’s colossal failure to achieve its military goals, Blinken believes, should now spur the United States and its allies to begin thinking about the shape of postwar Ukraine — and how to create a just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity and allows it to deter and, if necessary, defend against any future aggression. In other words, Russia should not be able to rest, regroup and reattack.

In other words, Blinken is in “Nothing to see here” mode with respect to how and where the war is going, and instead wants to focus on the bright shiny object of what to do after the war is, erm, resolved.

Blinken calls for permanent war with Russia, despite the blather about peace. Anything less than ongoing conflict would allow Russia to refit.

Hence it’s not hard to see that this interview was meant in part to signal State’s opposition to the RAND analysis, as well as any other pro-negotiation factions, say at the Pentagon.

With that understanding, it is peculiar to see Western pundit and officials more than occasionally talk about negotiations when it obvious to a careful reader that they are merely trying not to look like warmongers. And even the few that are genuine ignore the elephant in the room. From the RAND paper:

Since neither side appears to have the intention or capabilities to achieve absolute victory, the war will most likely end with some sort of negotiated outcome. Negotiated ends to wars, unlike absolute victories, require the belligerents to accept a degree of risk that the terms of the peace could be violated; even the relative “loser” in the conflict will retain the ability to threaten the other side.

Notice again that RAND is arguing (over the course of the paper) that the US has enough to lose that it would be better served to negotiate an end to the conflict even though that would mean Russia would still be in a position to wage war. Blinken rejects that view; his “just” end to the war requires a prostrated Russia.

The RAND overview states:

Although Washington cannot by itself determine the war’s duration, it can take steps that make an eventual negotiated end to the conflict more likely.

Does no one in policy circles in the US understand that the “negotiation” horse was taken out and shot?

To state what ought to be obvious: Russia has every reason not to trust the US and NATO, given bizarre bragging about bad faith conduct like using Minsk accords to buy time to arm Ukraine and planning to use peace talks to stall and again strengthen Ukraine. Their message is clear: Russia has no right to ask for anything, and its people must be subjugated and assimilated. Again, as many have pointed out, the West’s demonization of all things Russian, and not just the Russian government, has confirmed the view that this fight is existential, not just for the Russian state, but also for the Russian nation and culture. Annalena Baerbock’s statement that Germany is at war with Russia if nothing else poured more fuel on the fire of Russia distrust.2

This would be all well and good, in a might makes right sort of way, if the US could push Russia around. But that isn’t working out so well. The sanctions failed to prostrate Russia, and have harmed the collective West. Russia has destroyed the original Ukraine fighting force, dispatched much of what can be credibly called a second army, and absent major errors, looks set to defeat a third, assured-to-be-weaker force3

The problem now with where the US and NATO have gotten themselves is all they know how to do is escalate when they have pretty much nothing left to escalate with. The sanctions are tapped out. Three brigades of tanks, which is the estimate of what all the deliveries might add up to, will at most delay the inevitable for a bit. If you were a cynic, you could regard this effort as advancing the “demilitarize NATO” project:

Brian Berletic has been chronicling the US/NATO weapons deliveries meticulously and discussing their (too often non) suitability. Berletic has also repeatedly pointed out that the arms supplied have been shrinking in number. So the tanks and possible addition of fighter jets looks to be an exercise in Doing Something, and also in keeping coalition members visibly committed to Project Ukraine.4.

If you don’t believe Berletic, another tell is Russia’s reaction. Russia is still in the process of training many of its recently mobilized troops. Experts like Scott Ritter, who estimated an earlier offensive launch date, are now saying Russia may not be ready to go until the start of March, allegedly because they feel they have the luxury of time want their forces to operate effectively. If Russia were concerned about the tank and other noises, one would expect them to accelerate their timetable and make moves before the new goodies arrive.

In keeping, Maria Zarakhova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, reacted to the US non-proposals in a January 27 press briefing. From the translation provided by John Helmer:

For its part, Russia has always remained open to the possibility of using diplomatic and negotiation tools. This has been talked about repeatedly. All this has been applied, and all this is blocked by the Kiev regime under the dictation of the West. The ‘collective West’, NATO, the EU have long abandoned diplomacy, chosen a different path, and began to create security threats, setting fire, inciting, pushing, and simply driving the European continent to a global catastrophe. What is happening now is not a question of Ukraine, Russia or even the European continent. This is a much bigger and global thing…

Today I heard that Washington said that if Russia does something like this or that, maybe some sanctions or something else will be lifted. Who is listening to this at all? Who needs it? Who pays attention to this at all? Someone said something, some sanctions. That’s not the issue.

Against the background of the fact that heavy weapons are being supplied, it is not necessary to talk about what will happen if someone does something there…

Given that all negotiations have been terminated by Ukraine, this issue will be resolved on the ground. Under pressure or on its own, Kiev has banned any negotiations with Russia at the government level. So that’s it. The rest is for the military experts.

Nevertheless, there are some serious risks with the new equipment escalation, even if militarily there is less than meets the eye. One is that the UK is champing at the bit to send Ukraine longer range missiles. But all that is likely to accomplish is to confirm that Russia need to have a big margin of protection around the four oblasts that it now considers to be Russian territory. Another is that if the West gives Ukraine fighter jets, Ukraine is now short of working airstrips and Russia will make sure any remaining ones will be disabled. So will planes fly from Poland? And what will Russia make of that?

And that’s before getting to the other costs of keeping Ukraine going. Even though the US and its EU allies make noises about being committed for as long as it takes, they cannot afford the cost of carrying Ukraine economically on an open-ended basis. The fact that the Republicans have been taking the view that Ukraine funding is not open-ended says the money spigot will be turned down, but how quickly and how much is anyone’s guess. But remember, direct funding of the Ukraine government, as in police, pensions, hospitals, teachers, does little for the US military industrial complex.

Given all of the above, it isn’t surprising that there are more and more signs of doubts about the war. Even the most security-state-connected media outlets, like the New York Times, have taken to running the occasional piece that effectively admits things are not going well for Ukraine. Even though that is well short of acknowledging that Ukraine’s odd of prevailing are nil, and the likelihood that it becomes a failed state are high, breaks from the former relentless cheerleading are significant.

Experts like Colonel Macgregor and other former insiders have claimed that more and more officials at the Pentagon and other NATO armed forces are coming to see Ukraine as a losing cause and are concerned about how much the West is committing. The fact that RAND released a new report on Ukraine that expresses doubts, even if in think tank speak, should make it more acceptable for insiders to speak up.

The problem is, however, that within institutions, committed groups with strong ideologies routinely punch above their weight and can move the entire organization. Look at Ultras, the hard Brexiteers, who over time moved the debate about what Brexit amounted to into a very hard Brexit. Or in the US, how the law and economics movement, once regarded as fringe and eccentric, is mainstream and all too often, influential.

On top of that, the Blob and not presidents dictate policy. Obama was unable to close Gitmo. Trump came into office wanting to improve relations with Russia so as to isolate China and wound up imposing more sanctions on Russia. In his interviews with Oliver Stone, Putin described how he and Bush had productive discussions and came to concrete understandings, which were eventually walked back via turgidly-worded memos. Putin concluded that the bureaucracy and not elected officials drove foreign policy.

The neocons have the bit in their teeth despite their abysmal record. In the Ukraine project, they are aided by the ease of pinning sins of the old USSR onto modern Russia, and the way Russian studies at US universities has become “Putin-hating studies,” in the words of Scott Ritter.

Russian officials are simply doing the obvious: taking the measure of collective West intentions from their actions, which is to continue to arm Ukraine as best they can and do their best to stoke domestic support for the war. And whether you see the US/NATO commitment as tenacious or foolhardy, the key officials are so deeply invested that it’s hard to see how they could ever climb down.


1 Even when most commentators misread the state of play, they can often later identify what critical bit of information they lacked that would have changed their assessment. For instance, Ukraine skeptics missed that Russia’s manning of a very long line of contact thinned out at the end of last summer, when most of the contract soldiers whose terms of service had finished opted to go home. Bizarrely, the Ministry of Defense has assumed otherwise. That mistake helped set up the Ukraine “victory” in Kharkiv.

2 For those of you who argue that Russia should pay a price for its invasion of Ukraine (and no, that was actually not what the sanctions were about although it has been presented that way. They were imposed on February 22, as in after Russia recognized the breakaway republics and entered into a mutual defense agreement, but before the SMO began), the US did not pursue the destruction of Germany as a nation after World War I or II. But then again, Germans are not untermenschen.

3 Aside from issues of overall numbers being inadequate and a hodgepodge of equipment creating a logistical nightmare, some of the much-touted weaponry is vaporware. Jacob Dreizen, at the end of a very non-PC post, notes:

Last time, about the tanks, I forgot to mention something.

They will at least TRY with the German tanks, but the Abrams isn’t going to be used in the Ukraine at all.

(Perhaps as a mobile pillbox to guard Kiev, that’s about it.)


These things have a turbine engine, they run on jet fuel.

With all the Ukraine’s refineries bombed out of commission, it’s enough work to bring in gasoline (and diesel for the army) from Moldova and elsewhere (all at U.S. expense.)

To have a separate logistics stream for jet fuel going to the front lines, ONLY for one certain tank… that’s ridiculous.

Not happening.

Not to mention, this thing gets almost three gallons to the mile. (Yes, you read that right.)

Where’s Brandon’s EPA?

And who in the Ukraine will maintain that turbine engine?


The Abrams was never cut out for a “real” war.

I sat inside one, back in 1998, was shown the features. It’s an impressive thing.

It does have some other shortcomings.

Unlike all modern Russian/Ukrainian tanks, it has no autoloader…..

…..so Ukrainian loaders would have to be selected (strength required) and trained, to load, fast, even while the tank is moving.

Not an overnight skill.

4 The US has been arms-twisting various allies (pun intended) and not getting very far, either because they don’t want to take sides or need the equipment for their own use and unlike Germany, are not willing to engage in self harm to prove commitment.

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    1. Huey Long

      A couple of things:

      1. The M1 like most gas turbines can run on many different fuels, including diesel. M1s run on jet fuel in the US Army because the helicopters can burn it too, not because they HAVE to.

      In fact the US Army powers ALL of their vehicles and generators w/ JP-8, diesels too.

      2. Certain jet fuels such as JP-5 & JP-8 can power Diesel engines. Sometimes you can burn it straight up, sometime you gotta add lube oil to the fuel tank. It all depends on who made the fuel injection equipment.

      I imagine the tolerances aren’t too terribly tight on the Soviet-era diesels so they can likely burn JP-8 no problem.

      3. The Russians operate turbine powered T-80s on diesel, so this is not unheard of.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Even the V-92S2F diesel engine in the latest T-72 is a multi-fuel engine, but the power output drops when using gasoline or jet fuel. So they are kinda “use only when it’s all you got but you have to move the thing” fuels.

      2. Altandmain

        It’s not the fuel that is the issue.

        It’s going to the tons of spare parts that the M1 will inevitably consume.

      3. Nels Nelson

        This is an aside but upon reading the appended comment by Jacob Dreizen I can’t resist telling the following about my experience with turbines engines. Growing up one of my good friend’s grandfather was general manager and part owner of the Chrysler/Dodge store in our city. I liked cars and one day my friends mother drove us to the store to see the Chrysler Turbine car. We rode in it while she drove. It was quite memorable riding in a car that sounded like a jet.

        I still have all the promotional materials they gave us including the 1/25 scale model of the car (they are called Promos) still in the original box wrapped in tissue paper. I read all of the literature and one thing I remember was the statement that the turbine could run on many types of fuel and that it could even run on perfume or tequila.

        Imagine following behind a turbine with the scent of Evening in Paris or Chanel No.5 wafting from the exhaust or becoming inebriated on tequila fumes.

        1. digi_owl

          Kinda like how some diesels smell like the deep fryer at the local burger?

          That said, i don’t think there would be much alcohol left in them tequila fumes…

    2. Louis Fyne

      —–That’s why they need the F-16s.—-

      Seemingly no on in DC understands the size of Ukraine. pre-2014 Ukraine superimposed on the US runs from NYC to Chicago, from Toronto to almost Raleigh-Durham.

      31 tanks does nothing on a >300-mile frontline. Even 100 F-16s flying from Poland will do nothing, as those planes would to cross >700 miles (>1200 km) to get even remotely close to part of the frontline.

      1. timbers

        Its not about the F-16. Its about using NATO bases against Russia. If NATO is allowed by Russia to launched F-16’s from NATO bases, do you think use of NATO bases will stop there? I don’t. Missles next. The good ones.

        1. hk

          What I wonder is if NATO pilots in NATO aircraft with Ukrainian markings from Polish bases against Russia (not Russian targets in Ukraine, which would be too far), how will things become? This is not only a war crime, but a very old one, but I don’t think it’s beyond what neocons would do. They might be betting that Russians would not want to escalate, but I’m not so sure about that: there has to be a “day of infamy” moment for everyone and I think this is it.

          1. digi_owl

            Well not that different from the Flying Tigers over China during WW2, and soviet pilots in Chinese planes over Korea later on.

      2. digi_owl

        Most likely can’t find the place on a map.

        I think it was old man Churchill that quipped he had never even heard about Korea until the war broke out there. And he at least spent time in Africa as a journalist.

  1. Stephen

    Re the Abrams: It is a very minor point in the context but I did read that it can run on diesel. I believe the engine is a multi fuel turbine. Douglas MacGregor (I think it was him) mentioned this capability in a video. However, the issue of it burning a lot of fuel (whatever it burns) feels real enough so net effect similar. Not sure if other readers have the same understanding. Have tried to double check but all sorts of conflicting references appear.

    More strategically, totally agree with this article. The west resembles the Big Bad Wolf trying to blow down the brick house. Its only answer is to huff and puff harder and for longer. But the house does not fall down. Instead, the wolf is just getting more and more exhausted.

    Not sure why my own country the U.K. is quite so mad either. Our government and politicians seem determined to keep rekindling an imperial past that I hoped we had grown out of. Clearly many British people have not. Maybe it is also projection to avoid having to solve real domestic issues. “Let’s become a wartime government”. They appall me. Like a bunch of overgrown kids playing at being soldiers with their Action Men.

    Love the comment on the non PC Dreizin Report article too. I have yet to see one that is remotely PC! He is pretty insightful on a number of issues though……..

    1. synoia

      The UK is practicing

      When there is trouble at home go adventuring abroad.

      Sitting in the pubs around Shrivenham would be illuminating.

    2. Maxwell Johnston

      The M1 runs on diesel, gasoline, or jet fuel. We always refueled ours with diesel back when I served. I think jet fuel would be a last resort anyway as it’s far more flammable than diesel and wouldn’t normally be available in the logistics chain of ground forces; I suppose if you’re tasked with defending an airbase, then it would make sense to use jet fuel if that’s what’s available. Anyhow it’s a minor point, as I’m certain that the M1 will never make it to the front line of the UKR conflict.

    3. Alan Roxdale

      Not sure why my own country the U.K. is quite so mad either.

      It is now in the strategic interest of the UK to rend the EU asunder and permanently destroy central European production.

      1. Michaelmas

        Yup. Germany was the industrial engine of the EU. Without cheap energy from Russia that industrial capability is seriously reduced.

    4. Kouros

      Alice in Wonderland…

      The Red Queen had to run faster and faster only to keep in the race. The thing is, the likes of Russia, China, etc. have not even started running in earnest. They were just watching from the benches…

      1. digi_owl

        China may be looking, but i think Russia is at least walking if not jogging.

        But that is a far cry from the red faced sprint that NATO seem engaged in.

      1. Stephen

        Yep, Dreizin added a new blog post where he clarifies things. Seems that the engine can use multiple fuel types. But it prefers Jet Fuel and if you use anything else then longevity is affected.

  2. ZenBean

    Angelina Baerbock

    Annalena Baerbock. Due to her fanatic zeal and authoritarian vanguardism and the Green Party’s leftist aesthetics/ self-labeling, her political philosophy has been described as Marxism-Annaleninism.

    1. Darthbobber

      The Marxism’s been gone since the “Realos” won the realo-fundi internal conflict. At least Petra Kelly isn’t alive to see this.

  3. KD

    State and the US/NATO State Media have effectively prosecuted a PR war, and obviously, they are committed to trying to keep too many balls in the air for too long before it all comes crashing down and discrediting everyone and everything in its collapse. Milley and Austin are trying to get out ahead so the collapse gets blamed on State and Biden, not the Armed Services, who will smugly say “I told you so. . .”

    Neocons are thrilled, another chance to fail upwards. “The only mistake was not being tough enough on the Russians from the beginning, and setting up a No Fly Zone and bringing in NATO forces. Probably as a result of the America-hating Fifth Column, who need to be rounded up and conscripted into some line of work that violates the Geneva Conventions.”

  4. juno mas

    What Americans need to understand: Their future prosperity is at stake here! Sure, Europe will be see its casual lifestyle decline faster, but it will hit the US, too. If you don’t think the societal violence you see on the TV news is a harbinger of things to come, think again. Russia has already won the war.

    1. digi_owl

      Cue the old chestnut from Upton Sinclair.

      Until the petroleum reserve dole runs out, nobody will “understand”.

      I think the similar phenomena, when it played out right before the soviet collapse, has been labeled hypernormalisation.

  5. Glen

    Seems like maybe anybody with any sense would want to undo the last year’s actions in Ukraine.

    America and the West took it’s best shot with the economic sanctions which were going to “destroy” Russia:

    Russia’s economy will be ‘devastated’ by sanctions and further sanctions are under consideration, Janet Yellen says

    It just didn’t happen. In fact, the economic sanctions are destroying Europe.

    Yet, Russia seemed to start the war acting as if Ukraine would fold given a sufficient show of force, and that didn’t happen either. It does seem as if Russia has done a better job of learning and decision making since then, unlike the West which seems to be slowly doing everything it said it would never do. Nothing has fundamentally changed, if it was a dumb thing to do a year ago, it’s still a dumb thing to do.

    At this point, I doubt if the elites in America can change course because even as Ukraine gets wrecked, there are elites in the West making huge money off of all this. It’s starting to remind me of how many America companies are managed. The companies are slowly wrecked, but the C suite gets rich.

    1. digi_owl

      > Yet, Russia seemed to start the war acting as if Ukraine would fold given a sufficient show of force, and that didn’t happen either.

      It nearly happened. There was a first, probing, meeting between Ukrainian and Russian representatives soon after it all kicked off. But then Boris Johnson showed up unnannounced in Kiev and apparently promises Zelensky the world if he just dropped all attempts at negotiating a peace.

      This was back when there was a column of Russian tanks and trucks sitting in plane sight right outside Kiev, without any attacks from Ukrainian forces.

      Western media kept speculating of the Russians had run out of fuel or something. But it may just as well being Russia quietly demonstrating how utterly broken the Ukrainian air force was.

      Because thinking about it now, it was much the same situation that lead to the highway of death between Kuwait and Iraq, as Iraqi forces were fleeing back home. Allowing US planes to pick them off easily by simply strafing the road again and again.

  6. Carolinian

    Surely the Russians have the “capability” of total victory by leveling Kiev etc and the only question is whether they have the “intention.”

    Blinken also has the capability of destroying Ukraine and seemingly the intention as long as it hurts Russia. Who’s the villain here?

    1. KD

      Great Power politics always provides a superfluous amount of villains and villainy to go around (remember Yalta?)

  7. Darthbobber

    As far as I can see, the United States’ idea of negotiations is still of the “dictating terms” variety. Why they believe themselves to be in a position to do that remains beyond me. The tanks are now the miracle Javelins or miracle HIMARS of 2023. And the bespoke, made-for-Ukraine version of the Abrams isn’t even projected for delivery before years’ end. At least the javelns and HIMARS actually existed.

    There remains nothing from the US worthy of the name Diplomacy. What remains of our “diplomacy” is either bribery or bullying of those susceptible. The part where one acknowledges any ligitimate concerns of the projected counterparty remains as nonexistent as its been since 2001 at the latest.

    The sole purpose of the “future” Abrams tanks as it looks now is simply to give the German leader the ability to claim that he got something in return for his foot dragging on the Leopards and didn’t just cave. And the Brits are already blathering about a Plan B for extracting damaged Challengers to keep the Russians from acquiring some.

    Be that as it may, none of the boys is starving.

  8. David

    I think we shouldn’t forget how well-informed we are here about Ukraine compared to the audience of Ignatius’s piece. The average reader of the western MSM, who considers themselves well-informed about the world, might as well be living in a parallel reality, at least as far as Ukraine is concerned. But it’s that audience which western governments take seriously, not us. So whatever is said in interviews like this, bearing in mind that every word and comma will be picked over by commentators, has to fall within very narrow limits of acceptability. And of course every western government is nervously watching every other western government for signs that their commitment might be flagging, at least at the rhetorical level. It’s a bit like the discussion in a meeting of the Soviet Politburo in the 1930s when Stalin was late arriving.

    In the meantime, if we only keep saying the right things, and pronouncing the traditional spells, maybe something will happen. Maybe we’ll avoid the worst. maybe there’ll be an election and the War will be somebody else’s problem. After all, a decision postponed is in principle a decision you don’t have to be accountable for.

      1. Stephen

        Sorry not a General. Mixed him up with someone else who writes there. Former officer is a better description.

    1. chris

      Actually, I’m not sure most people are informed or even misinformed about the war in Ukraine. Most people who I know who are under 30 aren’t paying attention to it at all. Most people over 30 are barely aware of things. I’m not seeing much as a casual observer of the MSM. Even the coverage in the Guardian has faded in prominence. I think people are starting to figure out that the best bet is just to be quiet because it’s obvious the Ukrainians aren’t winning.

    2. Ignacio

      Might I be allowed for a light and frivolous response?

      You wouldn’t believe what happened to me yesterday evening. Was returning home by car and tuned RNE-Classic (Spanish public radio broadcasting), and you know what? They were playing Rachmaninov, can you believe it? At least it was not Russian nationalist Tchaikovsky but anyway, what a bunch of Putin muppets! When I arrived i thought “I should check this”, went to the computer and checked that not other than AMAZON is making profits with L. Tolstoy books! A-MA-ZON, A-MA-ZING! Isn’t it? After this I erased a bookmark for a weather page that I found possibly linked by another Putin muppet precisely here, at NC!. Namely Ventusky.com. All words ending in -usky should be erased from the dictionaries and the Web.

      1. Ignacio

        One of the stupid things I wrote there was based on real experience. During an online meeting in which I was showing the niceties of Ventusky.com someone commented that it looked excessively Russian. Go figure!

  9. Irrational

    Re. funding Ukraine: The risk of US funding drying up must be why there is now talk of Ukraine being in talks with the IMF to get 16 bn. However, the IMF would seriously have to contort its own standards in order to make this loan or would have to insist that it is fully backed by guarantees from some countries. Will be interesting to see what happens.

  10. Mikel

    “Not to mention, this thing (tank)gets almost three gallons to the mile. (Yes, you read that right.)

    Where’s Brandon’s EPA?”

    I recall a lot of hoopla about how the military is all about going “green.”
    Some (p)sycophants even will tell you the military will lead the way.

    1. digi_owl

      The primary reason for the military to “go green” is to avoid the long and risky supply lines.

      There has even been talk about using nuclear reactors to produce jet fuel from sea water, so that aircraft carriers to not need an umbilical of tankers following around.

    2. Cesar Jeopardy

      From Jeffrey St. Clair of Counterpunch:

      “We’re not going to get a handle on climate change until we begin to decarbonize the military-industrial complex, hopefully by defunding it. The US military-industrial complex alone generates 104.1 metric tonnes of carbon per capita each year. That’s more greenhouse gas emission than 167 countries and a higher per capita emission rate than any other country on the planet.”

  11. Ignacio

    Indeed, so far negotiation is verboten in westspeak and peace only occurs when… when… all those idiots are ousted from power positions? Doomed we are.

  12. Ignacio

    This is a case in which the West set the trap only to find itself trapped in it and without the tools to reopen. Clever, very clever move. :(

  13. Dida

    Great piece. To my mind, the Ukraine Project is a continuation of the Afghanistan Project as described by Brzezinski in his notorious interview in Nouvel Observateur 1998, but with one crucial twist. Let’s fund a terrorist group and initiate a civil war on Russia’s borders that would force Russia to intervene and get embroiled in a multi-decade war that would bankrupt and fatally weaken it, and most importantly (here comes the twist), that would make Russia unable to provide military support to China, when WWIII starts in 2-3 years.

    As per Mr. Bhadrakumar (the Indian ex-ambassador who maintains the blog Indian Punchline), the ultimate goal of the conflict in Ukraine is to prevent Russia from providing strategic depth to China in the next Pacific war. I fully agree with this doom and gloom interpretation, and I believe that the war with China will start sooner rather than later. The clock is ticking: according to a recent Goldman Sachs estimate, China’s nominal GDP is predicted to surpass that of the US in 2035. And most likely, this forecast doesn’t do justice to China’s economy. All signs indicate that the MIC has already started to set the stage for the final showdown.

    In a battle with the dying hegemon (and its minions), Russia and China would form a match made in heaven: China has enormous economic wealth and a massive population, Russia possesses rich natural resources and world’s most advanced weaponry. They complement each other magnificently, and to top it all, they enjoy very short communication lines between them.

    Thus, despite the apparent absurdity of committing Ukraine to the bonfire, the US is in for the long haul on Russia’s borders. Later, an enlarged conflagration in Eastern Europe, with Poland involved (and possibly Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Bielarus, and the Baltics) would serve the goals of American strategists very nicely.

    And my final doom and gloom prediction is that the unfortunate shatter belt that is Eastern Europe will be sacrificed again on the altar of imperial geopolitics, becoming the main theatre of war, because neither EU nor Rusia want to bring the fight to their own lands.

    I’m Romanian-born so all this breaks my heart many times over. The US has already shattered my neighbour to the left (Yugoslavia) and my neighbour to the right (Ukraine); today my country hosts America’s assault infantry and nuclear missiles, and sends mercenaries in America’s war against Russia.

    People still hope that reason will prevail. This is because most of us are decent people. But does everything that you have witnessed over the last 4 decades of American supremacy encourage you to believe in the triumph of reason and decency over the sociopathic greed of advanced capitalism?

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Going to have to pick up the re-shoring pace pronto if WW3 is scheduled for the next couple of years.

    2. digi_owl

      Only if China clean up their property market, as right now it has much the same structure and problem as western equivalents.

      Basically at the provincial level China has become utterly dependent on ever growing property values. This because property taxes are the primary tax of the provinces. And it is the provincial governments that are responsible for public services, not the national level in Beijing.

  14. John k

    I read the Ukraine Abrams will be added to existing orders, not taken from us storage. If true they won’t arrive for years, so non-existent. Again if true I assume the Germans know it, but are still allowing themselves to be rolled. Again.
    Seems this will encourage Russia to further degrade Ukraine rail system. Wonder how they’ll get from west to east.

  15. .Tom

    Jimmy Dore played a clip from the 2015 Chicago Council on Global Affairs in which George Friedman says,

    “The primordial interest of the US over which for a century it fought wars, the 1st, 2nd and cold war, has been the relationship between Germany and Russia because united they are the only force that could threaten us.” Therefore NATO is putting troops in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Baltics. “The issue to which we don’t have the answer is what will Germany do. The real wild card in Europe is that as the US builds this cordon sanitaire, not in Ukraine but to the west, and the Russians try to figure out how to leverage the Ukrainians out, we don’t know the German position. Germany is in a very peculiar position. It’s former chancellor Schroeder is on the board of Gazprom. They have a very complex relationship to the Russians. The Germans themselves don’t know what to do. They must export. The Russians can’t take up the export. On the other hand if they lose the free trade zone [the EU I guess] they need to build something different.”

    “For the US, the primordial fear is German capital, German technology, Russian natural resources, Russian manpower as the only combination that has for a century scared the hell out of the US.”

    He’s answering a question about 68 minutes into the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeLu_yyz3tc&t=4074s

    Appalling as it is, this statement of the motive behind the US Neocon (post-War-On-Terror, if I may) strategy for NATO and Europe and its push for war in Ukraine is more illuminating that blaming Putin-hating groupthink in DC. I had understood that Western firms don’t like Germany doing a lot of trade with Russian firms but I wondered if this is enough to explain the Neocons attitude and hot war in the middle of Europe. I suppose the Neocon sees trade that’s big enough with long term investment requires diplomatic assurances, which is on the road to political and perhaps legislative assurances and getting on the agendas at head-of-state meetings, with the destination of security cooperation. Hence all the disruption.

    If I find time I might listen to the whole of this speech and Q&A.

    1. hemeantwell

      “s push for war in Ukraine is more illuminating that blaming Putin-hating groupthink in DC”

      Couldn’t agree more. Focusing on abstract (“power-hungry”) motives here is like objecting to capitalist greed, and gets equally moralistic equally fast. It helps to get long-term, baked-in system drivers into focus, not only for the purpose of “synchronic” analysis, how the system works at a point in time, but also for diachronic analysis, over time. I’m getting pedantic because it is still all too rare to see critics go long-term and refer to the behavior of the US during the 90s, as Streeck briefly did in the NLR article Conor referenced a few days ago. Then you’ll find the Wolfowitz doctrine — allowing no power capable of challenging the US to arise in Europe — being explicitly discussed. And – can of worms! – it was the same back in the 40s as DC planners worked out the shape of the postwar order.

      The truth can always be finessed, but it’s hard not to believe that as this goes on the NATOheads don’t fear that the fruits of defeat will be recognition that they are planful aggressors, that their mistakes are not brought about by hubristic intoxication in the service of democracy but rather sloppy analysis in the service of imperial goals that mysteriously cropped up to terminate mutually beneficial economic relationships. We might some mileage out of a reapplication of Marxist ideas regarding developing economic structures breaking down political formations. NATO needs to get burst asunder.

      1. .Tom

        If Friedman’s statement that for a century US foreign policy has been dominated by existential fear of German allying with Russia then certain things fall into place. I don’t have time to list them all but the West’s economic war planning, setting the Donbass trap, and, when that failed, NS2 sabotage seems less bizarre in this frame.

    2. digi_owl

      Free trade, empires in a new dress.

      It does seem like we are back to the later days of the East India Company, and failing just as spectacular.

    3. tevhatch

      The Vital Interests of Germany and Russia Do Not Conflict : Memo to Czar by ex-PM. Pyotr Nikolayevich Durnovo, 1914

      Durnovo was noted for his outspoken opposition to closer ties with the United Kingdom at the expense of relations with Germany which he expressed in his letter sent to Nicholas II in February 1914. In the letter Durnovo has set out his views and which were to be realized in the aftermath of World War I. He believed that German and Russian interests were complementary while a war between the two empires could result only in the destruction of the existing political orders of both. Durnovo foresaw an imminent war between Russia, France and Britain against Germany, Austro-Hungary, and Turkey. His memorandum accurately predicted Russia’s defeat and demoralization of the Imperial Army, elimination of existing legislative institutions, intellectual opposition, and Monarchy favoring “social revolution in its most extreme form the way and evolution of which is hard to predict”. The document was found amongst the papers of Tsar Nicholas following the February Revolution of 1917. It’s unknown whether Tsar had read it or not.

        1. tevhatch

          You’re welcome. We can substitute USA for UK (in 1990s to 2010s) and maybe replace China for Germany and this whole memo still rings.

  16. Rubicon

    The contrast between the Rand report vs what the Neo-Cons are spewing could be the difference between two different think tanks.
    It’s a *fact* that the Neo-cons in The State Department, like Victoria Nuland & her ilk own an immense visceral hatred of anything “Russian.” While the Rand folks are slightly more practical in their thinking.

    Adding to that matrix are the big financial players in the US/EU/UK with their unquenchable thirst for making Profits: folks like JP Morgan Banks, Black Rocks, etc. etc. Following the plentiful years via The FED, spewing out $10 TRILLION for them to play with from ’09-’19.The Stock/Bond Markets went crazy, allowing them to play with derivatives, credit default swaps and stock buybacks.All that gorging ended in 2019, when the gurus had an emergency meeting in Jackson Hole to try and redirect their new aims. Then came Covid and its financial aftermath.
    So, it may be seeing some splintering within the US Framework, between the Neo-Cons in the State Department vs The Financial Profiteers in the Us.

    1. .Tom

      If war and the threat of war is part of the international control resources and who gets to do what with them, and if war is something governments do, then the Globocap (hat tip CJ Hopkins) payers in international trade surely compete with each other to influence government’s development of war strategy. If Mark Milley, RAND, NC, MoA and the Duran all agree that UA should quit fighting and talk then I guess it’s probably true and therefore that Globocap can read roughly the same sitrep too. Some Globocap players have been hurt by the RF/UA war while other have profited so I’m not surprised if a lack of unity is perceptible at this stage in the conversations that try to influence what happens next.

  17. Bugs

    Slightly off the main topic but wanted to mention that I spent 3 weeks in the US (LA, Sfo, Phoenix, Chicago) and now back home in France. Was at various professional functions, a family event and visited some old friends.

    Not _one_ person I met mentioned the war in Ukraine. These were for the most part college-educated people, artists, musicians and/or PMC types. Plenty of talk about the usual – Covid, USA politics and Trump – but nothing, nothing about Ukraine.

    1. Keith Newman

      @Bugs, 1:49 pm
      I’ve had the same experience in two recent US visits. Nobody I met cares about Ukraine.
      As soon as US elites decide it’s time to leave, the US will stop supporting the Ukrainian war effort. No US troops are involved. Almost no-one even knows where Ukraine is. It will barely be remembered two weeks later.
      As I have mentioned elsewhere on this thread (in moderation now) the war so far is a brilliant success for US elites.

    2. juno mas

      As Putin has noted, the US has the best propaganda system in the world: The MSM. Couple that with a generally distracted populace and you get “small talk” not geo-pilitical discussion.

      (And the great expanse of the Atlantic and Pacific help. Even when there are worldwide, instant communication systems.)

    3. albrt

      I spend an hour or two a day reading about Ukraine, but I rarely talk to anyone about it. The handful of times I have talked to anyone about it, the implacable stupidity of what they said made me cut the conversation very short.

      Of course, this means it is basically impossible to identity people around me who might be open to reason on Ukraine issues, as they will be the least likely to talk about it. At least with fight club you could see who showed up a the meetings.

    4. Jeff V

      Here in the UK (well, the Channel Islands, anyway) the war comes up quite a bit, often in the context that somebody needs to “remove” Putin; sometimes assassination is openly discussed.

      These are normal, more-or-less law abiding citizens, who not only think that a complex international crisis can be resolved by the murder of a single individual, but also think it’s perfectly acceptable to share these views with strangers in a pub.

      If I push back with “Putin’s replacement would be worse” (i.e. even more detrimental to what they want) then I get “that’s just your opinion; you can’t possibly know that”; the best I can get away with is “The thing is, his replacement might turn out to be worse”. There’s no question of making any kind of moral argument – as far as they are concerned the morality of the situation was settled long ago.

      I knew propaganda was effective, but not how universally effective it could be. Some of the more even-handed and objective articles linked to on this site still can’t call it an invasion – it has to be a “brutal invasion”, or an “unprovoked invasion”, just to show they know who the villains are.

      1. tempestteacup

        It always amuses me to read the lengths to which appropriately “on-message” hacks in the MSM will go in order to demonstrate their fidelity to the Western propaganda line and to bash their readers over the head in case they get funny notions like questioning what they are being told, incessantly, about the situation in Ukraine. For example, this is from yesterday’s Guardian live blog:

        Russia claimed to have annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in 2022, despite not being fully in control of the territory, following referendums widely derided internationally as sham votes.

        In fact, that’s a relatively mild example. You can have fun coming up with your own constructions – Denis Pushilin, long-time leader of the DPR, thus becomes “illegitimately appointed puppet of the illegally annexed occupied actually Ukrainian Donetsk region”; the SMO becomes “Vladimir Putin’s illegal, brutal, genocidal war of aggression against democracy, freedom and good taste”; Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin becomes “Putin lackey, chef, army caterer, convicted criminal and one-time hot-dog selling war criminal” – and, well, you get the idea.

        It really is a remarkable display of rigidly self-disciplined groupthink, and absolutely shameless, wilful abandonment of all journalistic standards in favour of the most crudely constructed propaganda. As a freelance writer who sometimes also works as a journalist, I still do an involuntary gasp at how these hacks mangle the English language in the service of blatant imperialist messaging. I make no special claim for my own ethical superiority, but I just couldn’t do it.

        Bleak as that all is, however, it does make me think/hope that beneath the bombast of Western leaders and their media, they can’t be that confident either in the reality on the ground or the enthusiasm of their own citizens for their crusade if they are totally unable even to report on it without constantly resorting to these excesses of crude linguistic agitprop!

  18. Tom Hickey

    As someone that watched the situation unfolding in Vietnam 1964-1967 as an US naval officer in operations in the Pacific fleet, it looks to me like the same process is taking place. This is not surprising since the same illogic and cognitive biases are involved, driven by emotion rather than situational awareness. At the time, I read the works of French journalist Bernard Fall on the French experience that led to their defeat at Dien Bien Phu by General Giap. This resulted in the French withdrawal and their replacement by the US, who proceeded down the same path with a similar result although not the ignominious defeat on the battlefield that the French received.

    It looks to me like a similar dynamic is now underway in Ukraine, first with NATO expansion and now intervention as a co-belligerent with the US and UK leading the charge. Russia is not the Viet Cong. Moreover, in both cases, China was/is involved, sharing borders with Vietnam and Russia.

    But China had no quasi-alliance with Vietnam at the time and it does with Russia now. Even so, US planners were careful not to cross lines that would bring either China or Russia into the war directly. That doesn’t seem to be a concern with China and now the war is with nuclear armed Russia with the US and UK digging the hold deeper and dragging Europe along. This portends to end badly.

    The loss in Vietnam was a humiliation but with Russia, even “winning” will be loosing since it will go nuclear in that case. Russia has made that clear, but no one seems to be listening, with loud voices in the the West calling for the defeat and dismemberment of the Russian Federation as a “final solution.” Delusional.

    1. Susan the other

      I thought the same thing based mostly on the impossibility for negotiation we created using South Vietnam as a puppet. Ukraine likewise has no sovereignty, no say in the decisions. But we pretend that they do so we can get away with international crimes. Pretty blatant, but we probably can’t get away with this any other way. And this also explains why Russia will not even discuss “negotiations”. The war itself, for us, is a means to an end which for them is very annoying.

  19. Bart Hansen

    I worry about Biden who has a lot invested in Ukraine including his presidential legacy. He would be the one who ‘lost Ukraine’, and if it were all over before the next election he would lose.

    What a crime if the administration’s plan is to drag this war out past the election just for politics. The MIC would go along, but would the generals?

    The Kremlin obviously wants to minimize the loss of lives, which would be a reason to get on with all they have.

  20. Keith Newman

    @.Tom, 2:13 pm
    Very enlightening.
    Two comments:
    1- I think people are reading too much into the details of the recent Rand report and Blinken article. They are signaling that contrary to all the prior propaganda the war is going badly and Ukraine will lose. The rest is filler. Accordingly the media will start saying the same thing and prepare the public for that reality. No doubt US elite factions are trying to figure out how to spin it.
    Still, and very importantly, the war so far has been a major success for US elites: very big new orders for military and petroleum industries, German-Russian ties severed for a long time, German industry less competitive. An excellent result.
    2- I think people over-estimate the power of the neocons. Yes they have outsized influence so long as their plans work out. But once a change is required they’ll be over-ruled and whatever the true elites need will happen. Do we really believe that Victoria Nuland, Blinken, etc., really have more power than the CEOs of Raytheon, Boeing, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, etc., etc. combined? If several of them call “Biden” and say “we need to get out of Ukraine”, do we really believe “Biden” won’t change course?

    1. jan

      But when did their plans ever work out? Unless along the lines you mentioned above, where it doesn’t actually matter how the war goes, because ties between Russia and Germany (and the EU) have been severed for a long while. Similar in their previous (mis)adventures, like Iraq, Syria, Libya,…?

      1. Polar Socialist

        Russia doesn’t exactly operate like USA (see: Vietnam, Kuba, Iran), so if and when Germany comes around, Russia probably will engage at some level if it benefits Russia.

    2. Lex

      The power of the neo-cons is that they’re the entirety of the US foreign policy establishment. Nuland got her first job under Talbot in the Clinton admin, she went immediately to work for Cheney after 2000 and transitioned seamlessly to working for Obama. But she’s not career state department. They’ve all been political appointments. And she’s just a handy example.

      Combined with state becoming the public facing branch of CIA, and having done that openly, the US is left with a very particular and unchanging foreign policy perspective. It’s been 20+ years of this. So there is no pool of people that a theoretical president intent on changing the situation can even tap.

      They may be over ruled on individual issues at specific times. But they control day-to-day and year-to-year mechanisms of foreign policy so the worst they experience is failing up to try again.

  21. Alan Roxdale

    The problem is, however, that within institutions, committed groups with strong ideologies routinely punch above their weight and can move the entire organization.

    The solution to this war has been clear to me for some time: Round up the neocons and hand them over to Russia. They end up on trial, sent to a gulag, Russians get a big PR boost exposing the Blob rot. The US is rid of the ultras and can persue aore credible, saner foreign policy. It’s a win win for everyone. I am being serious.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Would be more fair if they were “handed” to Russia near Bakhmut, over the fields, while wearing Ukrainian uniforms. Something like eating your own dog food should be in order. Just to set an example, not to punish or anything.

      1. Alan Roxdale

        That’s kind of insulting to the Ukrainians. If you wanted someplace symbolic, the Diomede Islands are more suitable.
        But in the case of the neocons, there’s no need for ceremony. A simple direct flight to Moscow is sufficient. “Extraordinary rendition” and all that.

  22. Willow

    Clearly the Pentagon is blinking. RAND report and ‘unfortunate’ leaking of memos about China. If UK/Poland/Baltic States try to escalate things & trigger NATO, US will likely not come to Europe’s aid. US can not risk airborne & space based intel assets that will be needed in any war with China. Let alone other military resources. If Russia takes these assets out, China wins before anything starts (which from US perspective is not just about Taiwan). What I find most interesting about think tank reports is what they studiously avoid saying. For the RAND report, there was no analysis of entangled risks with China. How Russia/US actions affect China/US payoffs and vice-versa. There was also no discussion of the economic risks faced by the West and how these constrain decision making. Both with regards to debt and impact of critical supply chain risks on a war economy. There’s discussion of the Russian economy but not the West’s.

    Russia now knowing the weak bargaining position (behaviorally) the US/West is in will be more confident in going harder. Wait for UK/Poland/Baltic States to do something stupid that triggers an event that breaks the NATO alliance (Russia’s ultimate goal). Picking up the Baltic States as an additional prize (control of the Three Seas). By not negotiating earlier, nor negotiating previously in good faith, US/West is going to lose much more than Ukraine. From the beginning the only winning move for the West was not to make a move. Instead US/West has been baited into a conflict where successive moves create an ever larger network of cascading loses far beyond just Ukraine.

    1. korual

      “Russia now knowing the weak bargaining position (behaviorally) the US/West is in will be more confident in going harder.”

      Allow me to give the opposite hypothesis, and so far they are still not going in hard. They can see that even RAND recognizes one continental-sized albatross around the US neck.

      US policy will be to lift off the albatross and “reward” the EU with reunification with Galicia+.

      Eventually, the albatross will have a series of referenda to rejoin the electrical grid.

      Remember that Russia has no legal basis for military conquest of other oblasts, and their stated preference is to not go where they are not welcome. You wouldn’t want to attack big cities, better to wait for them to vote themselves out of a failed state.

    2. digi_owl

      Pentagon has been against this from the start i suspect, as even the most career focused general would understand that USA was in no shape to go against Russia so soon after pulling out of Afghanistan (if ready at all).

      After all, it was Pentagon’s clear reminder of what a no fly zone would actually involved to get that idea halted. And if Pentagon though they could pull of such a zone, they would have just started preparations by piling up planes at NATO bases.

  23. marku52

    The dim bulbs at the Pentagram seem to have finally noticed the the shiny military production system built up over the last 30 years of outsourcing and monopolization is not fit for purpose to allow them to start their New Shiny War with China.

    I’ll be interested if there is anyone in procurement there who will be competent enough to throw neoliberalism/MBA/ monopoly/Share buy backs out the window and actually start Making Stuff.

    I’m guessing not. We’ve been selecting for Kissing Up/Kicking Down for a long time now…

    1. digi_owl

      It may well many knew, but benefited, and hoped to retire to some fortified ranch or similar before the edifice crumbled.

  24. ian

    In the early 90’s I worked for a RAND-like think tank with DoD contracts. There were 2 basic, unspoken rules: tell the paying customer what they wanted to hear and raise enough questions to get a follow-on contract (this is admittedly a bit cynical). I’m not sure who instigated the RAND study, but it might have been a good way to get the conversation going.

    1. AG

      since you bring it up:

      Responsible Statecraft had this SAGE study on funding´s influence of think tank findings.
      It went by rather unnoticed in the media.

      “New study reveals rampant conflicts of interest at think tanks – The report focuses heavily on how the nuclear industry influences institutional output in its favor and works to censor its critics.”,

      Jan. 11th 2023


      study link included

      1. Grebo

        “what we were producing was not research, it was a kind of propaganda.”

        No shit, Sherlock.
        Next up: Piper admits payer calls the tune.

  25. AG

    excellent post, thx

    Another aspect, the European theatre so to speak, is being mentioned in this, well, German text today:


    It calls attention to the upcoming Security Conference in Munich mid Febr. and new means to reach strategic goals.

    see this German government material

    In Munich most likely undisclosed to the public participiants will discuss a push towards installing war economies in Europe (M. Hudon stuff, right?) and creating a sort of permanent low level state of emergency.

    That said, it sounds afwul but does offer points of engagement for public resistance.

    in how far this – my interpretation – turns out as some Trump-like back-door exit to focus on China by shifting more responsibility to Europe as vanguard against Russia, will be seen.


    Joint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation, 10 January 2023:


  26. Frederick Herschel

    Puh-leese, you’re missing the point. The key passage in the Blinken “interview” is:
    Blinken’s deterrence framework is somewhat different from last year’s discussions with Kyiv about security guarantees similar to NATO’s Article 5. Rather than such a formal treaty pledge, some U.S. officials increasingly believe the key is to give Ukraine the tools it needs to defend itself. Security will be ensured by potent weapons systems — especially armor and air defense — along with a strong, noncorrupt economy and membership in the European Union.”
    This is written at time when the owner of every two-car garage in Europe is being begged to join NATO. Floreat NATO! But when it comes to Ukraine, not so much. I.e. we’re going to do a Jim Baker with Ukraine, “Not one inch”
    There will be a negotiated settlement, but it will be with a new Ukrainian government installed by Russia. What that translates into militarily, I don’t know. But I will lay heavy odds that Odessa will be part of Russia at the end, as well as the entire Black Sea littoral.

    1. Sausage Factory

      Yes, I’m seeing this too. Whilst these levels of delusion are still rife in Washington and its vassal states in Europe, there will be little to negotiate about. Once Odessa becomes Russian and the next Ukrainian ‘offensive’ is crushed maybe the US will start changing its mind, if that is at all possible amongst the Russophobes in the Whitehouse. They can send as much materiel as they want but there will soon be no troops left to use them in any effective way. The hallmark of this conflict are the massive losses of Ukrainian military personnel. That isnt going to stop, ever, and of course no matter how many troops the West trains there are not going to be enough so the majority will be poorly or not trained at all Ukie grunts that were snatched off the street yesterday. US need to take a reality pill or three.

    2. britzklieg

      And none of that will stop the insane west from doing everything possible to thwart Russia. It will triple down on hate for everything Russian, now solidly planted in the grandiose yet tiny western mind, and not care for the consequences. True believers will off themselves before admitting ultimate defeat which is why the fear of nuclear confrontation is real and growing. Without regime change in the west the forever war will be forever and so I agree with your final remark: “What that translates into militarily, I don’t know.”

      No one does… there’s the rub.

  27. David in Santa Cruz

    I found this RAND report to be surprisingly forthright. It is directed at Blinken, Nuland, Kagan, and the neocons. Along with the “leak” of the ravings of USAF Gen. Mike Minihan about a war with China by 2025 it looks like there’s a serious rift between the White House and the Pentagon.

    Biden is clearly “on the take” from “Ukrainian” oligarch(s), but this clown Blinken scares me more. He seems to have major “daddy issues” over father Donald Blinken (son of a Yiddish novelist from Kiev, Warburg-Pincus founding partner, and ambassador to Hungary) and step-father Samuel Pisar (Holocaust survivor, international lawyer, détante advocate to Kennedy). Mom dumped Don for Pisar when Tony was the tender age of 9 and decamped from New Jersey to Paris. Tony apparently couldn’t wait to come back to daddy, who bought him roles as an advisor to Dukakis and Biden before he had even graduated from college.

    Blinken has spent the past 20 years advocating for violent U.S. and NATO military interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. He can’t “let go” and I suspect that this RAND study advocating for an armistice or peace treaty is an attempt by the Pentagon leadership to avoid self-immolation in Europe distracting the State Department from coming up with a better China strategy than inviting their top diplomat to Anchorage, Alaska and hurling insults at his country across the table — one of Blinken’s first acts as Secretary of State.

    I have to agree with Patrick Lawrence and Chris Hedges that the current American administration is insane — and dangerous. It seems that, via this RAND report, that the Pentagon has joined in their assessment…

    1. Rip Van Winkle

      Dukakis looked better in that tank on the 1988 campaign than Dubya in the codpiece flight jacket on Mission Accomplished Day.

      1. David in Santa Cruz

        At least Dubya was certified by the Texas Guard to actually FLY a fighter-jet.

        I strongly suspect that the young and impressionable Tony Blinken’s intimate experience of Mike the Greek’s bobble-headed tank-driver debacle has been a lifelong driver of his phony tough-guy stance as Washington’s biggest-ever chicken-hawk.

        This idiot clearly has zero knowledge of history as evidenced by his remarks last year at the National Holocaust Museum about the lament of an elderly woman in Odessa that she may have to hide in the same basement where she hid in 1941.

        Blinken is evidently blissfully (or willfully) ignorant that the Russians saved most of Odessa’s Jewish population by evacuating them to the rear before the Nazi onslaught, or that it was the Romanians who occupied Odessa and carried-out the 1941 pogrom long before the Nazis began their Final Solution — the same Romanians who are now “our NATO allies” harboring U.S. Navy Aegis missiles that can be aimed at Moscow.

    2. Rory

      I am heartened that the RAND report does not seem to adopt any “We cannot afford to lose this war” analysis. If the prospect of a loss, or even less than full dominance over Russia, becomes acceptable to thinkers in DC, then it seems to me that the risk of U.S. escalating things to nuclear is very much diminished.

    3. Karl

      Thanks for the family background on Blinken. It explains a lot.

      I came to the same conclusion as you on the Rand report. The list of “Costs to U.S. if the war continues” was about 4x as long as the “Benefits to U.S. if the war continues.” The former includes some very very big costs like “possible escalation to use of nuclear weapons” or some such. In short, I interpreted the clear subtext of the Rand report as meaning: wake up, continuing to escalate is not in the U.S. national interest. Or, in clearer terms, the Jig is up for Ukraine.

      I think Chris Hedges may be right. If Blinken/State’s vision is indeed insane, what’s to stop the insanity from leading to this ultimate logic:

      US and NATO support Ukraine > *Magic* [ = deploy nukes] > War ends > US and NATO support Ukraine [or rather what’s left of it].

      Nukes are the only game changer left to the West. First use of nukes was always NATO’s ultimate option. The thing is, I don’t see this as deterring Putin. So it’s really insane.

      Gonzalo Lira makes some excellent points in a recent video, in which he says the Ukraine conflict has become of existential importance for the West and that the West has already lost. Some points he’s made suggest to me he’s read Michael Hudson.

  28. Revenant

    “…the US did not pursue the destruction of Germany as a nation after World War I or II.”

    Hardly, Yves! “The Consequences Of The Peace” set out Keynes’s view that WW1 reparations did exactly that economically. France seized the Saarland and the German coal and steel industry. Reparations enabled France and Britain to repay US lending, which was lent right back to Germany for “reconstruction”. The WW2 example is even clearer: the US embarked on the Morgenthau Plan to reduce Germany to agrarian statelets. The US began shipping German factories home but then the Cold War intervened and suddenly Germany was to be reunified and built up against the Red Menace.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, the Allies in World War I did not seek the extermination of German culture, create impediments to Germans traveling, bar German athletes from competing, tear down statutes of important German figures, or move/otherwise desecrate graves of German war dead. They wanted to loot Germany as punishment. This was a more extreme version of what the West did to Russia after the USSR dissolved.

      1. Revenant

        I read nation as a nation state, not as a national culture. On our respective readings, we can both be right about WW1. :-) Although there is support for an reading that the allies tried to expunge Germany as a culture from the German perspective, if one thinks about the complaints of the extremists during the Weimar republic and the Cabaret years, the allies and the post war settlement had betrayed German culture, introduced degenerate art etc.

        On WW2, I think the USA pursued both goals, the destruction of Germany as a state and as a culture. Hence the new Grundgesetz (and its underlying Grundnorme) for the Bundesrepublik….

        Remember, the Prussian heart of Gernany was under separate Soviet control after WW2. West Germany was like an America of the West and Mid-West, without the East Coast (Berlin) or the South (East Prussia’s Juncker estates). The project to build new Germans did not require suppression of Goethe. Whether or not Wagner was allowed to play in Bayreuth is immaterial.

  29. tevhatch

    RAND Corp has it’s factions too, depending on which part of the MIC-IMATT is feeding it. This report is driven by the Navy/Airforce incomes, who want to blow up the idea of a far off sea, air, and space battle with China. The Grand Chessboard report earlier about using Ukraine to weaken Russia was driven by the army linked MIC-IMATT. Sometimes they work together, but just like Washington, conflict can be even more profitable to the whole corporation so they create these struggles as a way to keep all their customers on the hook for more reports.

    1. tevhatch

      I should add the MIC-IMATT doesn’t want a real hot war, that would expose how empty is the crap they’ve been pedaling, crap info, crap weapons, and crap politics. If China sinks every aircraft carrier, in the West Pacific in 30 minutes from the start horn, and most of the surface fleet soon there after, and the Airforce refuses to fly in to certain loss, then what hope for repeat order? No, they want fear, but not fears realized.

      1. Karl

        Great post. This explains a lot.

        Nothing unites like success, or divides like failure. Failure provokes these factions (at least): “stay the course” and “do not stay the course”, or variants thereof. So the mere existence of factions is more evidence that things are not going well for Ukraine. But we knew that.

    2. hk

      Strike East vs Strike West schools, both run by nutjobs obsessed with “liberating” peoples and eager for a full blown war with China. Wonderful. We are a reincarnation of Imperial Japan circa 1937.

  30. The Rev Kev

    Having read this RAND report, I kinda found that it was all over the shop and I think that the reason is that this war has not proceeded the way that they had hoped that it would. When RAND wrote their “Extending Russia” report, I do not think that they gave much thought as to what would happen then. Perhaps this report was written so as not to displease their political master but you have to be a realist about the present section. Like how they talk about the Ukraine getting back their lost territory but does not acknowledge that those territories are lost for good. And there won’t be any nukes unless the US starts lobbing them. Frankly the way that this report is written is a bit like the Bible. You can just quote your favourite bit to justify your stance.

    The fact of the matter is that now would be a good time for the US to bail. Consider. The US has now crippled the EU as an economic competitor and through high-priced US energy, can throttle back EU economic activity. And as a bonus get some of their corporations to move to the US. They have put a near permanent wedge between Germany and Russia so their will be no dangerous (for the US) economic cooperation going forward. They have created what amounts to a civil war between the Ukraine and Russia which before the war had extensive family ties between the two. They have been able to field test a lot of their weapons and had a good look at Russian warfare to help adjust equipment and training on their own forces. They have been able to split the EU in that you have the Baltic States, Poland and some Balkans countries to oppose the more moderate central and west countries such as France, Germany, Italy, etc. They have made boatloads of money selling NATO American gear both now and in the future. They have also been able to ignore the EU bans on Russia while demanding that those EU countries enforce those Russia bans.

    But if they stick around, then it starts getting dodgy. There is a risk of those east Europeans forcing the US to get in on the ground in the Ukraine which is a losing proposition. It will totally distract them from the real fight coming – the one with China. As it is, far too much equipment and ammo is being used up in Europe when their main threat is in Asia and who is building up. In fact, I would not be surprised to learn that there are a few hundred Russian speaking Chinese Army personnel running around the Ukraine taking notes under Russian guidance on how to fight western powers. With the Republicans coming in it will be easier for the US as China is a Republican concern whereas Russia is a Democrat concern. But the fact of the matter is that the Ukraine is the ultimate tar baby and is a constant drain on the US so now is the time to throw the responsibility for this war to the Europeans and walk away. We saw a demonstration of this when the US promised Abrams tanks if the Europeans sent their Leopard 2 tanks. As soon as they had it on paper, they said that they will send those Abrams tanks – in a coupla years. Psych! And hey, would you like to buy some new Abrams tanks that your are sending to the Ukraine which you will never get back?

  31. Max

    So, what’s your opinion on Dreizen consistently hating on Berletic, Yves? You, like Mercouris, seem to value Berletic’s videos.

  32. Lex

    The conflict has always been existential for Russia, which is why it spent 8 years trying to avoid it. Biden, Blinken, Nuland, etc made it existential for the US by choice. But that choice has made it hard to back out of regardless of the necessity to back out. It’s not the rubes in the US. They’re east to convince of anything (and I include congress in the rubes). Backing out is globally problematic with both friends and enemies. The naked emperor isn’t so scary.

    Remember that Russia founded BRICS and it is essentially a loose confederation of the idea that trade should be dedollarized. It doesn’t have a “plan” or a leader, just the conceptual framework. Backing down against Russia just opens the door to more nations deciding they don’t have to do what they’re told. Of course fighting Russia is doing the same thing. Which means the US is a difficult bind of damned if it does and damned if it don’t.

    It should have backed down in April. It might have maintained some moral argument it could use with other nations and against Russia. Instead it chose constant escalation and making the situation existential. It was a bad bet made by a group of gambling addicts.

  33. Roland

    The USA & NATO have nuclear weapons, too. Therefore, they, too, have the option to escalate to more violence, rather than to concede defeat at a lower level of violence.

    NATO leaders don’t have to admit any Russian demands in Ukraine, if they don’t want to. NATO could just go wreck a whole bunch of things in the world instead.

    Like the Russians, they have the weapons, and they have the choices.

    It’s not like this sort of thing has never happened before. For powerful people, ruin often seems less frightening than concession.

    Both RF and NATO have been incrementally escalating, in the hope that showing “just a bit more of our unchanging resolve” will somehow be enough. Ironically, the incremental nature of the escalations shows their lack of resolution. It shows that they all got themselves into something they really don’t know how to get out of. Whatever their early plans might have been, those plans have failed, and now they’re all improvising.

    Think of Canada’s latest contribution of four tanks (like counting a baby’s toes: one, two, three, four–but will any of those little piggies ever get all the way home?).

    This is what the head of government of a serious G8 country thinks is showing strength. Now ask yourself, do you think anybody, in any department, at any level, in the government Canada planned this move? Did somebody with a bunch of ribbons meet solemnly with the Cabinet, click for the next slide, and announce, “then we shall commit to OPERATION TETRABEAVER. Four of our second-hand ex-Dutch tanks will enter the fray at the critical moment, and human history shall henceforth move in a new and better course” ?

    Now Canada may well have won the laurels at this global comedy festival (is Trudeau envious of Zelensky?), but the point I’m making is very serious, and I lampoon my own country, to drive the point home: these people are trying to sustain their own illusion of being strong and in control, even though it’s ridiculous.

    Because they lack resolution, they are caught in a flow of events. They never have the wisdom or fortitude to decline the next step. Every bit more is more.

    Once enough has been incrementally invested, then the Sunk Costs Fallacy takes over. “After all that has happened, there’s no way we can back down now! After all that has been sacrificed, we have to have something to show for it!”

    You don’t have to be a Tamburlaine to make a mountain of skulls. The Furies are content to find nobodies to do their bidding. Thus Trudeau is perfect, Biden more than perfect, Scholz the quintessence. If Nobody were given a name, you could choose between Justin, Joe, or Olaf. The people they slay will also have had names, forgotten along with their slayers.

    I’ve said it before on this site, and I’ll say it again: unless one of the major participants in this war backs down, escalation to some form of nuclear weapons use approaches certainty.

    At that point, we’ll find out how well BMD works. We’ll find out whether the generations of nuclear warheads made post-CTB function as designed (they were never actually tested, but only modelled on computers). We’ll find out whether EMP is a big deal, or just Y2K redux.

    But don’t be surprised if the incrementalism keeps going, even into the nuclear phases. Look how accustomed the world has become to COVID: millions dead, shorter lifespans, sick more often, “personal decisions” on how best to protect yourself, no end in sight.

    Would you be surprised if Civil Defense nowadays were run along the lines of Public Health? In Canada, we don’t even have alert sirens anymore, just a cellphone app run by a public-private partnership–seriously.

    The drama of most post-apocalyptic stories is cathartic. There is a break of continuity, and therefore the sense that what went on before is now over. But what if a deepening dismalness just goes on and on? “No worst, there is none.”

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