Monday, December 27, 2021

America's Dangerous Game: Russia, China, and the Economy

America is playing a dangerous game with Russia. At stake is America's hegemony. President Biden recently warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that any provocative actions with regard to the Ukraine could result in serious political, economic, and even military action by the United States and possibly NATO.

President Biden's warning came as a result of intelligence reports from American and foreign intelligence agencies  indicating that Russia may be planning to invade the Ukraine. The reason is the Ukraine's application and possible acceptance into NATO, which Putin finds as unacceptable.

Since the fall of the USSR, several of the former Warsaw Pact nations (which had provided Russia with a defensive buffer between Germany and the rest of Europe) has joined NATO, including Poland, the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Romania, Hungary, and states comprising the former Yugoslavia. With Greece and Turkey already members, Russia is almost entirely encircled.

Many in the West has been encouraging closer connections with Ukraine, especially given its large agricultural basin as well as oil and gas reserves. It was those oil and gas reserves which some claim was the reason for the covert invasion of the Crimea by Russian troops in early March 2014 amid intelligence leaks of secret deals between the Ukrainian government and oil companies in the West.

Russia, on the other hand, denied that there had been an invasion and referred to their occupation as an "annexation" based on historical claims, which has historical merit. The Crimea has been part of the Russian Empire since 1783. It's main port, Sevastopol, on the Black Sea, has often been called "Russia's Norfolk" after the U.S. Naval installation in Norfolk Virginia, which is the world's largest naval facility. 

Sevastopol is home of Russia's Black Fleet Navy, various air wings, submarines, support ships, long range radar and communications facilities, and troops. The port provides the Black Fleet with all weather access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic through the Bosporus Straits. Of course, with Greece and Turkey as members of NATO, it also affords NATO with perfect advantage points to monitor all traffic going into and out of the Black Sea.

Russia's main concern, however, is the Ukraine and its pending application to join NATO. The U.S. and Western leaders have argued that as an independent country, the Ukraine has a legal right to join or leave any international association its chooses. While Russia doesn't argue the Ukraine's sovereign rights, it does view the installation of NATO troops, tanks, and especially missiles as being almost literally in its backyard, which they find to be totally unacceptable and a direct threat to Russia's security.

As some may remember, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 resulted from a similar situation. At that time, the USSR had shipped and was installing intermediate range ballistic nuclear missiles in Castro's Cuba along with stationing medium range bombers in Cuba, provoking a serious crisis between Moscow and Washington. 

President John Kennedy, after confirming from air reconnaissance photos, demanded that Premier Khrushchev remove the missiles. Meanwhile, the U.S. deployed a military air and sea blockade (which Kennedy called a "quarantine") of Cuba and placing U.S. military forces at DEFON 2, which means war was imminent.  

The confrontation reached a peak as inbound Soviets ships carrying additional missiles, and escorted by a Soviet "Foxtrot" or fast attack submarine carrying nuclear torpedoes. On Khrushchev's orders, the ships turned around and returned to the USSR.  However, that was only the public side of the story.

Behind the scenes, both leaders (and the world) were concerned that the confrontation, if not quickly resolved, would result in a all out nuclear exchange between the two superpowers. The U.S. had previously helped stage the failed "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba in conjunction with CIA trained Cuban exiles and Mafia money in order to oust Castro and his revolutionary government.

Castro had overthrown the corrupt dictator and U.S. puppet, Fulgencio Batista. Castro also nationalized 166 American own companies in retaliation of the abuse of local workers and land owners. Castro, who wasn't yet a Communist, had feared a possible American led invasion and had started warming up with the Soviet Union. Following the invasion's failure, Castro announced that he would become a Communist and sought an alliance with the USSR. If you're a tiny nation taking on a superpower, it's good to a have another superpower in your corner.

Khrushchev saw this as an opportunity to extend Soviet influence in the West just as the U.S. had done in the East. Meanwhile, the U.S. had stationed medium range Minuteman ballistic missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in Turkey along with listening installations. Khrushchev saw his placing of missiles in Cuba as a "tit-for-tat" move.

As a result, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey in exchange for Khrushchev removing the missiles and bombers from Cuba, which outraged Castro, who was left out of the secret negotiations. Nevertheless, the listening installations in Turkey remained while the Soviets installed their own in Cuba, which were jointly operated by Soviet and Cuban troops. The situation with the Ukraine is similar.  If NATO deploys offenses weapons, we could have a similar showdown. However, it's unlikely Putin will blink.

Russia and the Ukraine have a long "history" between them dating back to the 10th century. Following the fall of the Czar in 1917 and Russia's subsequent revolution, a civil war erupted and spilled over into the Ukraine. By 1922, the Ukraine was the first of the Soviet Republics.

During WWII, the German military invaded the Soviet Union under "Operation Barbarossa".  Much of the Ukrainian population welcomed the invading Germans as liberators due to the harsh treatment received under Stalin. While the bemused Germans accepted their role as "liberators" from Stalin, the Ukrainians soon felt the full weight of the German boot.

Nevertheless, about 82,000  Ukrainians volunteered to join the German Wehrmacht as the 14th Waffen SS Grenadier Division. Meanwhile, many young Ukrainian women and children were brought back into the German Reich and integrated into the German society due to their "Aryan" appearance.

Following the end of the war, as many of these individuals as possible, including whoever could be rounded up from the Ukrainian SS Division, were returned to the USSR per Stalin's "request". Not surprisingly, most were shot outright while the others were sent to the Siberian gulags where they were worked to death in a penal system reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camps.  The Ukraine remained a uneasy part of the USSR until it's collapse in 1990. Obviously there's little love between the two.

America's haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and failure to destroy the Taliban or ISIS, has done little to inspire confidence by her allies. Additionally, the 20 year war left America's military depleted and in serious need of retooling and replenishing. It also left the American military in short supply of personnel as many left the service as quickly as possible, not to mention turning some against the military and political establishment the way it had following Vietnam.

In the East, there is another dangerous situation with an increasingly aggressive China, where its leader, Xi Jinping, has been doing more than just saber rattling.  Chinese fishing fleets, accompanied by warships, have been challenging its neighbors over access to major fishing areas, including invading territorial waters. In addition, it has been having a cold stare down with India not just over territorial water rights, but also along India's northwestern border which has sometimes become hot.

China has felt confident enough to warned the U.S. and other nations to stay out of the South China Sea, which it now regards as its own (it's gone as far as to threaten military action against any ships entering South China Strait, including the U.S.). China has also stepped up its rhetoric against Taiwan and hinted that it may invade the island nation at any time.

Given America's dependence on Chinese imports, particularly technological, the U.S. might not fair to well. China, which has a previously secret unit (PLA 61398) dedicated to hacking and cyber attacks, has already made periodic cyber attacks on America's electrical and electronic grid with some success.

Lastly, China has formed closer alliances with some of America's enemies and "frenemies" like Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It has also been on a buying spree of natural resources all over the planet, with huge Chinese run facilities popping up in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

As a result, some of China's neighbors, fearful that they might not be able to depend on a fully capable America, have sought out alliances to protect territorial fishing rights as well as Taiwan's sovereignty. Those nations include Japan, South Korea (which may be attacked by the North if China invades Taiwan, using the latter's invasion as strategic cover), the Philippines, India, Australia, and Indonesia.

Then there's the Middle East. With the U.S. all but out of the picture and the "defeated" Taliban back in charge, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorists are back in business, and appear to be spreading outside the region into parts of Africa and even Latin America.

There has already been reports of suspected terrorists arrested trying to cross into the U.S.. Perhaps the scariest part of that is that they were doing so with the support of some of the drug cartels! Ruthless terrorist and ruthless drug dealers. A partnership made in Hell.

Finally, the dangerous situation at home. While Biden haphazardly tries to deal with the Covid Pandemic and the latest virus incarnation, Omicron, the economy continues to struggle. Employers are desperate for employees, who, for the most part, have stayed away due to government and employers mandates to get vaccinated. 

America's supply chain system is crippled, leaving ships by the hundreds unable to offload cargo or transportation hubs able to move badly need products to the stores. That, in turn, has left shelves sparse or bare just as inflation has slowly taken hold.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress are still engaged in childish playground games stemming from the Trump Era instead of getting their heads out of their collective butts and dealing with the situation.

Meanwhile, states and cities are dealing with the aftermath of increasingly volatile weather, out of control crime, illegal immigration, a crumbling infrastructure, and growing social divisions egged on by the corporate media's 24/7 acidic news cycle.

This is what partisan politics has brought us. This is why Americans must put aside these manufactured differences created on behalf of the ruling Oligarchy. The only solution to these problems domestically are going to be those created by us, with or without Washington's cooperation. We need to solve our problems as much as possible locally without any regards to petty partisanship.

While the Ukraine has a right to join NATO, having a "right" doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. NATO can guarantee the Ukraine's sovereignty without putting missiles or hardware on its soil. In fact, with the range and destructive potential of missiles already deployed, there's really no practical reason. However, that doesn't eliminate the possibly of a covert third party sparking a conflict which must be prevented by all parties concerned.

I would even go as far as to say the same thing about the Baltic countries. However, if NATO does accept the Ukraine, then shouldn't Russia have every right to deploy troops and equivalent amount missiles in the Western Hemisphere as matter of self defense? How would we feel I wonder with tanks, troops, artillery, and missiles on our borders? Tit-for-tat. 

In the East, we need to match China with the same assertiveness, and encourage the creation of a NATO-like collection of nations to counter China. We must also accept that we are not the world's policeman or it's uncle with deep pockets, and whether we like it not, every country has a right to pick the government it wants, so we need to start butting out.

Domestically, we need to get our house in order. We need to get people back to work, repair our failing infrastructure and supply chain. We must stop depending on China and other countries for key technological components and develop them ourselves. Inflation has to be brought under control and quickly. Despite decades of broken promises, we desperately need energy independence.

Our election system is in critical need of overhaul. It's way beyond reforming. We need a firm "partisan proof" plan to end illegal immigration. We can't do any of these things while Washington and others play petty partisan games. Those days are long past.

If you want to know more, please take a look at the links below. If you enjoyed the article, please consider subscribing. It's free! Lastly please be sure to ""like" us on Facebook or whatever platform you use to read A/O. It helps with the algorithms and keeps our articles in circulation.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962

The Cuban Nationalization of US property in 1960: TheHistorical and Global Context

To Understand China's Aggressive Foreign Policy, Look At Its Domestic Policy

China's aggressive behavior on the global stage is an 'immense danger', says analyst

The Return of the Taliban

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