“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Isaac Asimov
Ali Velshi, MSNBC reporter and anchor, recently “suggested”, whatever that means, that NATO do more than sanctions against Russian aggression in Ukraine. When asked what that meant, his response was “Direct military involvement”. While the Biden Administration has repeatedly assured Americans that the US will not get involved with any military actions against Russia, it does continue to press the NATO countries, particularly Germany, to cut off all Russian energy imports, the one sanction that would likely enrage Putin to use non-conventional weapons such as biological, chemical, or even “tactical” nuclear.
While Velshi is simply a reporter and not some cabinet member putting forth policy, he represents a major media player pinning for an expansion of a war that is currently confined to a limited area of Europe. Granted that Russian military tactics qualify for war crimes, but to propose that NATO entertain what would be an exponential increase of human carnage is irresponsible journalism; unfortunately, he is not alone.
In various Baltic and Eastern European NATO states there is a growing demand for various measures such as supplying Ukraine offensive weaponry like tanks and jets, and instituting a no-fly zone. The latter is a virtual declaration of war as it would mean engaging Russian air power. It’s easy for these small nations, none of which have sufficient air power, to propose such things. Should this happen, it will not be at their cost in pilot deaths or lost resources, but likely given their proximity to Russia civilian deaths when it retaliates.
It is apparent that Russia drastically underestimated Ukraine’s defensive ability and overestimated its own military ability, especially its competency. What on paper appeared to be a war that would take a mere week to win, has become an embarrassing exposure of a once formidable war machine reduced to a gang of thugs with little training and even less resolve. With little to show for a month of war, they resort to barbarism, a sign of at best a third rate army; more the reason to beware of a wounded beast in possession of weapons of mass destruction. While Russia’s recent withdrawal from parts they invaded is called a ruse for reorganizing and resupplying their forces, it brings to mind Patton’s famous dig at Montgomery’s suggestion that he do just that during the Battle of the Bulge; he declined as he did not want to fight for the same real estate twice.
Despite Biden’s bluster that NATO is united in its resolve, the EU countries are still not buying into an energy sanction, at least not yet; the reason is simple, they can’t afford to. While the EU’s dependency on Russian energy is a dilemma of their own making, the present reality is that such an action would kill their economy, especially Germany’s, and as Germany goes so does the EU. Who can blame them; they always declined to have Ukraine part of NATO or the EU based on its corruption and authoritarian governments. That did not change with Zelenskyy as he recently declared that all political parties other than his own are suspended; as James Madison said, “Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.”
As far as the US offering the EU energy support by supplying LNG, such plans are apparently more for show than substance as it would represent a small fraction of the EU’s needs. LGN is not only expensive to process, but difficult to transport. It takes specially equipped tankers to cross the Atlantic, and then you need adequate port facilities to accept it, both of which are in short supply. We would do our allies better by understanding that unlike the US they lack domestic capabilities.
While we have no way of knowing what the outcome of the Ukrainian war will be, we can only make it worse (and yes it can get even worse) by meddling in a war we don’t even have a treaty basis or security urgency for doing so. What’s curious about Ukraine is the relationship of both the last and the current residents of the White House with it and its Russian antagonists. What’s more important than even that is our vigilance and competency to avoid the refuge of violence.