(LifeSiteNews) — Leaders of Western nations doubled down on their almost unilateral support for prolonging the Ukraine war at a conference this past weekend.
The 2023 Munich Security Conference came to an end on Sunday, bringing to a close three days of lectures and meetings on our military-industrial society and its consequences.
What took place in Munich and elsewhere over the past weekend attests to the state of the war in Ukraine and its importance to the careers of those who support it.
The conference opened to a controversy instigated by U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, with remarks designating Crimea as a legitimate target. This, claimed Russia, was a sign the U.S. was directly involved in the war.
This inauspicious moment for security was followed up by the predictable exclusion of the energy security of Europe from the agenda. There is considerable evidence that the United States blew up the Nord Stream pipelines, destroying German civilian gas infrastructure and accelerating economic fallout leading to de-industrialization. Nothing on this, and nothing on the recent news from General Milley and from RAND that the war is not being won and should end quickly, with a negotiated settlement with Russia.
What featured this year was a muted performance when compared with the fanfare of 2022. Gone was the atmosphere of jubilation at this “Davos with Guns,” replaced with the restatement of the only policy which promises the saving of political face – prolonging the war.
Rishi Sunak, the unelected technocrat who represents the U.K. government, quoted the NATO Secretary General: “As Jens Stoltenberg has said, ‘Ukraine will become a member of NATO.’”
This is news to the RAND Corporation and, indeed, to the Ukrainians themselves. There is no realistic chance that Ukraine will survive the next six months, let alone enter NATO. With the Russians poised to take the strategically significant town of Bakhmut, it is preposterous to speak of victory as a fait accompli. Besides, NATO has problems at present in absorbing Sweden.
The whole tone of the summit was loud but short on content. It was a kind of sundowner for the soon to be retired. One last chance to bask in the dying rays, for a faction in its twilight. It was a stage on which they got together, hopefully for one last time, to replay their old favourites.
Leaders from the U.S. and Europe repeated that Russia must be defeated, while the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi warned of the return of the Cold War mentality. He said the EU leaders could stop this refreeze, though their dedication to their war aims make the outbreak of peace unlikely.
To make peace conditional on Russian defeat is to make peace impossible. There is no realistic possibility of a military defeat of Russia. This is not news. In an article in 2016 Obama claimed that Ukraine is not a core American interest. He was reluctant to intervene, as Russia enjoys an unchallengeable escalatory dominance in its own border regions:
The fact is that Ukraine, which is a non-NATO country, is going to be vulnerable to military domination by Russia no matter what we do.
The adherence to the script – that Putin’s Russia must fall – is more to do with political survival than reality. In fact, the one is opposed to the other. The reality is damning to the political careers of the management class, who have all given full-throated support to the idea that Russia will lose the war and emerge weaker from its defeat.
The program, as laid out in this 2019 RAND Corporation report, was to overextend and unbalance Russia with a combination of measures. Firstly, it would be bled on the battlefield, as the West would send arms and ammunition to create a bloody quagmire in Ukraine for the Russian army.
Secondly the economic sanctions would destroy the Russian economy, whilst international pressure would be used to isolate and undermine the Russian state. Protests would then emerge with the practised spontaneity seen in Georgia and in Ukraine itself, to hurry along Russian regime change.
This plan has failed, and the faction which staked its futures upon it has nothing else to offer. The neoconservatives have built an ideology around perpetual war, justified by their unquestioned moral superiority. They never acknowledge the consequences of their disastrous policies, which is why reality is doubly unpleasant for them at present. It is as if the portrait has come down from the attic, but no one in the room is willing to accept that it is there.
The portrait is of course not the flattering picture this faction receives from the media. It is disturbing because it depicts the blunt fact of their failure. For once, perhaps for all, the neoconservatives are going to find the consequences of their actions inescapable.
It is for this reason none of them are willing to entertain the possibility of defeat. It is better for their personal fortunes that this war drags on indefinitely. This is why they all agreed to continue fueling it, and to continue the run on our screens of the actor President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Addressing the conference by video, he said, “We need speed” in supplying Ukraine with weapons he previously stated were “taboo.” This probably refers to attack aircraft, which if speed is an issue, must be flown by NATO pilots. Zelensky is asking the West to break the “taboo” of starting world war three with Russia. He is fightshaming us. He has not been supplied with what he wanted, which means that, for now at least, escalation to all out war is not on the agenda.
His urgent appeal is strange coming from a man who claims to have already won.
The Russian Goliath has already begun to lose… There’s no alternative to our victory.
Zelensky continued in this ebullient vein, saying:
There’s no alternative to Ukraine in the EU, there’s no alternative to Ukraine in NATO, there’s no alternative to our unity.
Zelensky has succeeded in making his cause identical with the political survival of the war faction in the west. His rhetoric mirrors theirs, being more concerned with flights of fancy than the inconvenient restrictions of reality.
Kamala Harris popped up to offer her expert analysis, accusing Russia of crimes against humanity and vowing that “justice must be served.”
Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, was hesitant on the question of sending U.S. jets to Ukraine, whilst talking up a commitment to support a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
This move was deemed impossible by Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukrainian chief of Staff, in an interview last December. Speaking to the Economist, he said the West was horrified at the scale of his demands and that to satisfy them would mean the loss of Europe, which would have nothing left to defend itself.
We are talking about the scale of World War One… that is what Antony Radakin [Britain’s top soldier] told me. When I told him that the British Army fired a million shells in World War One, I was told, ‘We will lose Europe. We will have nothing to live on if you fire that many shells.’ When they say, ‘You get 50,000 shells,’ the people who count the money faint. The biggest problem is that they really don’t have it.
With this kind of resources I can’t conduct new big operations, even though we are working on one right now. It is on the way, but you don’t see it yet. We use a lot fewer shells.
I know that I can beat this enemy. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600–700 ifvs, 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd. But I can’t do it with two brigades. I get what I get, but it is less than what I need.
The division between the military and political management is like an argument between the actual and the adverts. The generals, whether in Ukraine or in the Pentagon, know there is no military capability equivalent to the task of defeating the Russian army.
The question of supply lines remains fraught, with both Sen. Lindsey Graham and Secretary Blinken warning China over the provision of military aid to Russia. It is of course forbidden for other nations to have allies and to help them, aside from being “stupid” and “dumber than dirt.”
This approach does nothing to improve the impression of the U.S. war faction abroad, whose behaviour over what now seems to be a hobbyist balloon was described by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi as “hysterical” and “ridiculous behavior.” Yi met with Blinken over the Munich weekend to discuss the Russian question.
President Joe Biden is of course strongly identified with the Forever War faction which has captured U.S. foreign policy. He is motivated more than most to postpone his own humiliation at any cost to human life. His visit to Kiev yesterday allowed him to be photographed with Zelensky while responding to none of his demands. The new U.S. package of $500 million in aid contains no Abrams tanks, fighter jets, or long range ATACMS missiles required for a major offensive – being restricted to ammunition and radar systems.
One discordant voice was that of the Hungarian President Viktor Orbán, who during his State of the Nation address in Hungary on Saturday said that an immediate ceasefire was the only way to save lives. His remark that the West is prolonging the war by pouring arms and cash into Ukraine is framed as a Russian “propaganda trope.”
It is enemy propaganda to describe reality accurately, as he does here. “Europe is drifting into the war in these very minutes, it is doing a dangerous balancing act… Actually, they are in fact already indirectly at war with Russia.”
The noises made onstage at Munich have remained thankfully detached from the reality of a full scale war with Russia. It its business as usual – for the time being – and that is a business whose fortunes would be ruined by a durable peace breaking out, anywhere.