Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote: “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” Kissinger, like him or not, is spot on in his succinct assessment of Obama’s policy for Russia. As the West descends into another reckless and disastrous war in the Middle East, Putin must be quietly laughing knowing that very soon the US will soon have its Soviet moment of collapse. In fact, to strategically defeat the US, all Russia must do is wait for the utter mismanagement of our nation to bring about its implosion. In this third and final installment of our exclusive analysis of the conflicting Russo-American policies, it is clear that in the first major post-Cold War struggle between Russia and the US, it will be Russia that scores a victory in the Ukraine crisis.
In my previous two articles comparing Obama and Putin, it is clear that not only is Putin the better leader, but that he has a true strategy as compared to Obama’s amateurish knee jerk policies. Putin’s superior level of strategic calculation was blatantly stated in a recent exchange between President Putin and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton stated Putin had no soul to which Putin responded that at the very least, a state leader should have a head. Putin then went on to educate Clinton by recommending that international relations be built without emotion and instead on the basis of the fundamental interests of the states involved. Based on Clinton’s record of failures in Iraq, Libya, and the greater Middle East and Putin’s successes in Georgia and the Ukraine, it appears she might benefit from Putin’s advice. This paradigm has not shifted. Obama’s policy team is still subpar as compared to Putin’s and will continuously be out thought and out maneuvered. As such, if for no other reason, Russia has shown it is able to act more strategically and decisively than the US with respect to the Ukraine, which gives it a distinct home court policy advantage the Obama Administration would be wise to take into account.
When comparing domestic and international policies, Obama with his ever increasing regulations, scandals, taxation, and deficient spending will centrally manage the US into disaster. Obama’s approval ratings are at record lows and as his new, hypocritical war in the Middle East gets under way, it will be only a short period of time before things turn ugly for Washington domestically and internationally. In fact, the debt burden of this new endless war almost guarantees economic failure for the US. The ever rising cost of frivolous wars and never ending conflicts abroad will ultimately break the banks of Europe and the US just as it did the Soviets 25 years ago. Putin, on the other hand, is enjoying high approval ratings across Russia and has made great strides in improving the living standards and economic conditions of Russia. Economically speaking, Russia has also avoided the huge asset bubbles that the West has created and is strengthening its currency while the world decouples from the dollar. Russia has also been careful not to involve itself in foreign wars that are not vital to its national security and thus, avoided reckless debt and overextension. Further, Putin has opened Russia to China and the rest of Asia making economic ties with Western Europe convenient, but unnecessary. This has gained Putin and Russia considerable geopolitical maneuver room and has foiled any attempts by the West to isolate Russia economically. This single pivot toward Asia has effectively defanged the US and Europe and left them with little leverage beyond military attack. When considering these trends, the longer the conflict between Russia and the US persists, the greater the advantage Russia will gain over the US.
As the situation stands now, the West has attempted to sanction Russia and essentially economically bully it into submission. This has utterly failed and actually undermined the economies of Europe far worse than Russia’s economy. Not only has it economically backfired, but it has strengthened western competition in Asia and sped up the demise of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The failure to isolate Russia means that the only viable means of forcing Russia out of Ukraine would be through military means. All sides recognize that the stakes in Ukraine, much like Georgia, are not worth a war and certainly not one that could go nuclear. Further, the failure of NATO to decisively defeat the Taliban stands as a glaring testament to how impotent NATO has become and should be a reality check for anyone actually considering a war with Russia. Militarily speaking, Russia has home field advantage and the will to fight for its vital national interests. We have neither the ability nor the will to project the necessary forces into the Ukraine and Russia to decisively win. As such, war with Russia is not a viable option. This means that the US and Europe have little means to change Russia’s policy toward Ukraine and it will be Russia that wins the day.
Europe is worse off than the US when it comes to geopolitical leverage with Russia. Europe is talking tough, but as one of Russia’s primary trading partners, is directly linked at the hip to Russian economic success of failure. Further, Russia has some very good economic cards in its hand to play. In this relationship, Western Europe has far more to lose than Russia. For starters, more luxury and consumer products are moving from Western Europe to Russia such as BMW and Mercedes Benz automobiles. Russia doesn’t need to buy them, but Europe needs to sell them. As a major trading partner with Europe, this gives Russia considerable political leverage. Further, and probably most apparent, Russia provides Europe with critical essential items such as oil, gas, and grain. Unlike Russia, which can dispense with much of the Western consumer goods and still manage just fine, Europe cannot function without a stable supply of gas and oil. Russia can use oil and gas as a weapon at will and Europe is acutely aware of this moving into the fall and winter. Even though Europe has tried to stockpile gas to mitigate any shortages and pressure Russia, it is at best a temporary situation for all parties. Even if Europe was able to completely divorce itself from Russian oil and gas, Russia will not be as adversely affected as the West has proclaimed. In fact, Russia has already found plenty of new markets to redirect its sales of oil and gas original slated for Europe. Now, these supplies will go directly to its considerable Asian market, which with a new half trillion dollar pipeline deal with China just inked, just became massive. The effect of this is not only means Europe will have to pay higher oil and gas bills and lose billions of Euros in trade with Russia, but Europe will become less competitive against its rival Asian markets now getting gas and oil at a bargain price. As such, by economically attacking Russia and contrary to US claims, Europe effectively damaged its own economies. Brilliant!
In summary, Russia will out think, out maneuver, and outlast the US and Europe in respect to the Ukraine. Russia will see either a full partition of East Ukraine or what amounts to an independent state that has the freedom to trade and interact with Russia as it sees fit. Russia will neither lose its access to warm water ports nor its buffer from NATO. NATO will protest via impotent military exercises in former Warsaw Pact countries, but will soon tire and be sucked into the new and growing war in the Middle East. Kiev will also be forced to put on ice any plans to join NATO and will once again become a state that remains in geo-political limbo as a buffer between NATO and Russia. This situation will become static until the US loses its status as a super power, most likely from internal economic collapse, which will usher in sweeping geopolitical changes that will once again redraw the map of the world.
By Guiles Hendrik
September 26, 2014
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