There are times when some men are cast in the role of Cassandra, the ancient Prophetess of Apollo in Troy who’s curse was that none would believe her. In 1930s Britain one such notable ‘Cassandra’ (among many) was Winston Churchill who’s continual warnings regarding the brutality and aggressive nature and the build up of military power of the Hitlerite regime – totally outside the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty – it’s total cynicism in its conduct of foreign affairs and despotic treatment of it’s people – were for too long ignored.
In this first of a series of articles under the general terms of “The Defence of Europe” I shall consider Western appeasement toward Muscovy since the ‘end’ of the Cold War in comparison to Churchill’s account of Western appeasement toward the Nazi regime in the 1930s. In later articles I shall examine the military balance of power along the whole ‘Eastern Front’ from the A2/AD Kaliningrad/Suwałki Gap problem leading to what Gen Ben Hodges describes as the “indefensibility” of the Baltics to the lessons learned and future requirements and strategy of the war in Ukraine to the Defence of the Danube, the Moldovan/Transdniestrian/Romanian ‘triangle’, the Bulgarian and wider Balkan issues, and the role of Turkey and Greece. In all scenarios we shall consider both political, including EU, policies as well as military alternatives.
However every story has a start, wars have preliminary disputes and the situation of today has it’s roots in the recent and distant past. This of course was Churchill’s point in his book “The Gathering Storm” in which he emphasises all his warnings against the mistakes of the British and other Western Governments that ultimately lead up to the outbreak of WW2. Re-reading “The Gathering Storm” in the light of events since V. Putin became President of Greater Muscovy * is almost a ‘deja vu’. Whether history merely rhymes, as Mark Twain said, or actually recurs as Dionysius of Halicarnassus argued is a moot point but the processes that lead to the outbreak of wars are often very similar. Thucydides in his famous book ‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’ argued; “what made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta”. In some ways this is Putin’s line regarding ‘NATO (and EU) expansion’; Muscovy ‘threatened’ and ‘surrounded’ etc feels the need to lash out and break the growing power of NATO and the EU encroaching on it’s “sphere of influence” just as Sparta, Thucydides might argue, felt the need to resist Athenian influence in the Peloponnese but without going too deeply into the ancient history it should be remembered that Thucydides was an Athenian General, that Athens imposed ‘sanctions’ on Megara (a Spartan ally) just as the Putin regime ennacted an unannounced ‘trade war’ on Ukraine in 2013 in the run up to the Vilnius summit where Yanukovych was to have signed the EU free trade deal. It was the growing encroachments of both Greater Muscovy, which is itself still semi imperial and the Athenian ‘Empire’ that demanded a response from those who did not wish to be ruled by the imperialist powers.
When does a war start? Well WW2 began in different years depending on what perspective one takes; for Czechoslovakia it started with the disastrous appeasement of the ‘Munich Agreement’ in 1938 and it’s subsequent absorbtion into the ‘Third Reich’ the same year. For the Austrians the ‘Anschluss’ came a few months earlier but started with the assassination of Dollfuss in 1934. For Britain and France, treaty bound to Poland it began in September 1939. For the Stalin regime ruled nations ‘The Great Patriotic War’ didn’t start until 1941. For the US it started after Pearl Harbour in December 1941… who is right? Well of course in some ways all are correct yet in another way all are incorrect. WW2 effectively started with the first breach of the Versailles Peace Treaty from the 1934 demand of “equality of forces” with Britain and France, the re-occupation of the Rhineland (1936) which France could easily have countered forcing the Hitler regime to withdraw and back down, to the subsequent Austrian ‘Anschluss’ and the whole debacle over Czechoslovakia. Yet the whole cataclysm that was WW2 could so easily have been avoided… Let us learn from Churchill; “Until the middle of 1934 the control of events was still largely in the hands of His Majesty’s Government (meaning the British Government) without the risk of war. They could at any time, in concert with France… have brought an overwhelming power to bear on the Hitler Movement”. Nothing was done, successive opportunities to thwart Hitlerite imperialism were spurned the result being the ever greater aggrandisement of the Hitlerite near adoration within his mislead captive population.
Does this seem familiar today? Every step forward the despot aggressor is permitted to take strengthens his internal base; he increasingly sees himself as ‘infallible’. Let us recall the Russo Georgian war of 2008 and (then) President Sarkozy’s attempted ‘mediation’; “Georgia is an independent country. And this was confirmed to me [by President Medvedev]. The Russians have no intention of staying in Georgia” while in the best ‘double speak’ Medvedev, the St Petersburg lawyer of the Tambovskaya Mafiosi, ordered the cessation of the “peace enforcement” operation in Georgia. Of course the Muscovite ‘peace keepers’ never left South Ossetia or Abkhazia and the West did nothing. Yet no other sovereign nation other than the Putin lead Mafiosi regime recognises these illegitimate Muscovite enclaves on sovereign Georgian territory as ‘independent states’. Why was this permitted? You give a rogue state an inch and it will continue to take miles. Last year we saw the unilateral enlargement of the South Ossetian frontier to the extent that the border now runs over a mile-long stretch of the Baku-Supsa pipeline, gas monopolosation and extortion being one of the primary ‘hybrid’ weapons of the Putin regimes pseudo foreign policy in much the same way as the Austrian ‘Anschluss’ allowed the Hitlerite regime to stifle Czechoslovakian trade – resulting in an Anglo French ‘bailout’ of the short lived Czechoslovakian state to the tune of some £12m. Today it is perhaps clearer why Sarkozy was precisely the wrong person to ‘mediate’ on Georgia’s behalf and his recent call for mutual sanctions lifting. To pose an awkward question since these ‘independent states’ of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are not recognised and since it is clear for all to see that these ‘states’ are mere Muscovite puppets why weren’t (and aren’t!) any sanctions imposed on the Putin regime for it illegal actions in contravention of the Helsinki Accords and the UN Founding Charter? Why is Georgia abandoned to the aggressor when it is clear from history that appeasement costs more long term? As in the run up to WW2 it must now be clear that an opportunity to thwart the imperialist ambitions of tin pot gangster regime was wasted at the NATO summit in Budapest in 2008. From the absence of reaction to the occupation of sovereign Georgian territory the aggressor, just as the Hitlerite regime after the French ‘non response’ to the reoccupation of the Rhineland – in breach of the Versailles Treaty – took heart. Their demogagic dictators gained authority within their own systems and Western options were reduced.
In today’s case it is arguable that the case is even worse; that the ‘Cold War’, just as Foch said of the Versailles Peace Treaty that it was “not a Peace. It is an armistace for twenty years”, was never ‘won’; we merely had an ‘armistace’. Indeed some prophesised this long before others; Vladimir Bukovsky, who attempted to stand for President in the Muscovite elections of 2008, always argued that a form a ‘Nuremburg trial’ was required within the Muscovite system to expose the Chekist nature of both the past and present regimes. He long argued that had the Nazi Gestapo been allowed to survive after 1945 within a few years they would have taken control of all the main German industries and returned to power – just as the ex KGB/Chekists and their criminal associates have managed to do in Greater Muscovy. In this sense the Cold War was left ‘unwon’; the ‘Dzerzhinsky mentality’ – of which Putin himself is but a small part – remained and was therefore bound to return to power and return to it’s all too familiar methods, the murders, the poisonings, the return to imperialist control by whatever means necessary; the appartment bombings and the Ryazan “exercise” (planned when Putin ran the FSB) as a pretext for the Second Chechen War which ‘launched’ Putin’s career all follow from this failure to once and for all expose the inner Chekist state apparatus. Now all these numerous murders and corruption cases – most notably that of Sasha Litvinenko and AnnaPolitkovskaya but I could name hundreds more cases – and the growing authoriatianism and persecution of the regime’s opponents were common knowledge in the West – even among some of the press but particularly within the security services yet nothing was done. On the contrary appeasement and ‘business as usual’ was positively encouraged in the distorted and misguided view that the criminal regime in Moscow could be ‘brought into the international system’. G7 membership was granted notwithstanding that Greater Muscovy has nothing like the GDP of China. A special NATO – Muscovy Committee was created to assauge ‘Muscovite concerns’, all to placate a regime that it was known was deeply criminal and Chekist. Why? To quote Bukovsky “This is a KGB power and the KGB are very strange people. For them you are either their enemy or their agent, there is nothing else”. In 1933 Churchill spoke in the British Parliament “When we read about Germany, when we watch with surprise and distress the tumultuous insurgence of ferocity and war spirit, the pitiless ill treatment of minorities, the denial of the normal protections of civilised society, the prosecutions of large numbers of of individuals solely on the grounds of race… one cannot help feeling glad that they have not yet found an outlet but upon themselves”. Well we are certainly aware that the Putin regime is racist; over night all Ukrainians became ‘fascists’ but they demonise gays and other minorities too as is widely known and sadly they have already found an ‘outlet’ – indeed more than one. Not only do the Georgians enjoy the benefits of Muscovite occupation, the Syrians suffer their cluster bombs and white phosophorus and Ukrainians fight daily to stem the criminal imperialist aggression on their native soil. Yet practically nothing is done…
What about “lethal weapons” which the US feels free to hand out to Iranian backed militias in Iraq and Kurdish fighters in Syria but not to Ukraine? What is a ‘lethal weapon’ in any case? Again I quote Churchill: “…almost every conceivable weapon may be used in defense or offense; either by the aggressor or by the innocent victim of his assault. to make it more difficult for the invader heavy guns [and] tanks are to be relegatedto the evil category of offensive weapons. The invasion of France by Germany in 1914 reached it’s climax without the employment of any of these weapons… Take the tank. The Germans, having invaded France, entrenched themselves; and in a couple of years they shot down 1,500,000 French and British soldiers trying to free the soil of France. The tank was invented to overcome the fire of the machine gun with which the Germans were maintaining themselves in France and it saved alot of lives in clearing the soil of the invader. Now apparently the machine gun, which was the German weapon for holding onto thirteen provinces of France, is to be the virtuous, defensive machine gun, and the tank … is to be placed under the censure and obloquy of all just and righteous men…” The conclusion must be that all weapons used for defence of a nations sovereign territory – be they tanks or aircraft or whatever are ‘defensive’ because of the manner in which they are used while on the contrary any weapon employed by an aggressor is by the nature of it’s use in an act of aggression by definition an ‘aggressive weapon’. Suppose Alaska, which some Muscovites call for the return of, were partially occupied by Muscovite proxies and supplied by Moscow? Would the use of so called ‘offensive weapons’ be ruled out in regaining control of US sovereign territory in a defensive war? Why then the sanctimonious moralism about ruling out the the sale of ‘offensive weapons’ to Ukraine for use in the defence of Ukrainian sovereign territory? This is surely some sick joke of appeasement and at the risk of repeating myself I say once again that this criminal Muscovite aggression, in contravention of all the Treaties and Memorandums they freely entered into, will continue until it is stopped. For the sake of all Europe – and our North American allies – it is better that the aggression is stopped sooner rather than later and one way to do this is to provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons to defend it’s sovereign territory.
Lastly when considering the earlier and current ‘Gathering Storm’ we must examine the decisions of the ‘powers’ in contributing to the current situation. When Churchill was writing of the 1930s Britain and it’s Empire and Commonwealth was arguably still a ‘super power’; today, and particularly after the ‘Brexit’ vote that may yet threaten the unity of Britain the British influence and options are considerably less than prior to WW2, though they remain committed to NATO and the defence of Central and Eastern Europe. It is to be remembered that it was Britain that first offered to train Ukrainian troops (and learn lessons from them) and Britain that has agreed to lead one of “four robust battallions” that will rotate in the Baltic nations and Poland. As the poet Tennyson said; “Though much is taken, much abides…” and with the coming launch of its two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, the first of which is due to begin sea trials next year, both equipping the new the US F-35 along with the new Type 45 Destroyers the British Navy will again become a significant world force. Nor is it likely in the foreseeable future that Britain will give up it’s independent nuclear deterrent. Despite the disadvantages of the ‘Brexit’ vote in terms of British influence within the EU Britain will remain influentual and is likely to remain committed to the defence of Europe including Ukraine. The Brits deep down understand that appeasement doesn’t work long term – Churchill’s lessons were learned.
It is to be wished that some of the Germans and French had similar wisdom. From the French Assembly vote to end sanctions on Greater Muscovy (fortunately not binding) to the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, calling for the “phasing out” of santions against the aggressor there is nothing but appeasement – or if it is not an attempt at appeasment it must amount to almost treasonable conspiracy. Does Steinmeier wish to join Shroeder on the Board of Gazprom, celebrating his birthdays with Putin in the bosom of the St Petersburg Mafia? Fortunately Frau Merkel has maintained a consistent line that sanctions must remain until Minsk is observed in full – a very long wait as of course the Putin regime never had any intention of keeping it’s word. It was insanity in the first place to believe that a regime that broken all previous undertakings from the Budapest Memorandum to the UN Charter would agree to abide to some new ‘agreement’. One has to wonder why the French permit the Muscovite funding of their fascist Front National Party when it is clear that the Putin regime wants nothing more than the break up of the EU and the trans Atlantic Alliance. Of course there are stalwart allies who recognise the true nature of the Putin regime’s threat; Poland, Romania, the redoubtable Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania who is not afraid to call a pig a pig and the Putin regime “a terrorist state” and to some extent even the equivocal shuffler Lukashenka of Belarus, torn between the Devil and deep blue sea as always, but who refused to recognise the criminal Muscovite annexation of Crimea and still refuses the Muscovite air base. The Swedes, Finns and Norwegians as well as the Turks are naturally ‘concerned’ though often for different reasons.
However the options and the importance of any decision by any nation in terms of a robust defence of international law or weak willed appeasement depends largely on that nations ability to project power, both financially and militarily and in this context the US stands second to none in todays world. It is therefore tragic for European and world peace that the Obama administration has lacked any true understanding or coherent policy for dealing with the criminal actions of the Putinist Muscovite regime. We can all no doubt recall the famous ‘Reset’ policy with which the Obama administration started.
All the collective brain power of the US State Department managed to even get the wording wrong! The message on the symbollic (gimmick) button being “peregruzka” meaning “overcharged”, notwithstanding that the whole idea was misguided from the start. Of course the Muscovite regime ‘reset’ nothing while the US rolled back on the missile shield in Europe. It was a complete failure of the understanding the psychology of the criminal regime in power in Moscow which, just like the Hitlerite regime that it closely immitates (and indeed praises occasionaly calling Goebbels “the bigger the lie the faster it would be believed… a talented person” to a group of Jewish Rabbis) is merely regarded as a sign of weakness that encourages the criminal aggressor to push further. Has not the Putin regime told enough ‘big lies’ in emmulation of Goebbels? Since the ‘end’ of the ‘Cold War’ everything has been done to ‘incoporate’ Greater Muscovy into the ‘international system’ and a blind eye turned turned to all the crimes of the revanchist neo imperialism of the Putin gangster regime. This represents a fundamental miscalculation in US understanding of the Chekist State and it’s ability to regain power. But all this was known and predicted by the ‘Cassandras’ not only within the intelligence services of the West, yet the politicians continued blithely on believing that ‘good will’ and appeasement would satisfy the criminal Chekist elite that came to power as assuredly as Bukovsky prophesiced…
In the Georgian war and the Bucharest NATO summit of 2008 the Bush Administration was so intent on it’s “War on Terror” – another insane concoction of publicity wording since no definition was or could ever be set that defines ‘victory’; sure Osama is dead but has that stopped terrorism? Clearly not – that it neglected the growing revanchism of the Muscovite regime. The US priority was getting transit through Muscovy to Afghanistan and in return the Ukrainian and Georgian NATO ‘Membership Action Plan’ was given up. At the time presumably this seemed worth while but why was Putin insisting on such a deal if he did not have future neo imperialist plans? Did this not occur to the US or other Western delegations? Well to my knowledge some questioned this ‘deal’ but politicians being what they are are essentially short sighted and concerned with their popularity in democratic nations; in nations where votes can be rigged and opposition leaders shot naturally these issues are not so important.
On Syria the Obama Administration showed it’s extreme… well one can only call it incompetance. No doubt we are all familiar with such diplomatic expressions as “We reserve our options to do as we think right” or “We do not rule out any options open to us”, “We keep all cards on the table” etc… and there is indeed very good strategic reasons for such non descript statements; it keeps ones potential adversaries guessing and unsure of how far they can go; it deters. In Syria Obama drew a “red line” which is normally a mistake in the first place… However if once such a ‘red line’ or ultimatum has to be drawn – and there are certainly occassions when such ultimatums should be given – the Anglo French ‘guarantee’ to Poland in 1939 was of course too late and neglected the earlier French ‘guarantee’ to Czechoslovakia and ‘Little Entente’ of 1924, one has to be committed to the ‘red line’/ultimatum or guarantee. To do nothing, or allow Putin to talk you out of it in the Syrian case, makes a mockery of any idea of your resolution to act according to your word. This is not ‘rocket science’ or difficult to understand in any way; if a person or more importantly a nation gives it word that should another do ‘x’ they will retaliate with ‘y’ to not retaliate in the stipulated manner is not only a breach of honour casts doubt upon a person or nations ability or willingness to actually commit to anything; simply put your statements become less credible. So what happened in Syria? Having been ‘persuaded’ not to engage the criminal Assad regime by the Putin regime, which of course funds and supplies the Assad regime, the Muscovite regime walked in and has murdered thousands of Syrian civilians under the false guise of fighting Daesh and other ‘Islamic extremists’ when in fact all they have done is support the criminal Assad regime which has continued it’s use of chemical weapons since the Putin regimes completely fraudulent ‘mediation’. Now the Muscovites use cluster weapons – banned by international law under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. And this is effective foreign policy by the greatest power in the world? It’s appeasement, navel gazing and dishonour that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. As Churchill said ; “So they [the Government] go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” The same of course is true of the so called “European Union” though the ‘Union’ part of this title is now somewhat more questionable.
When it came to Ukraine – as was almost inevitable from Georgia onward – what did the Budapest Memorandum actually mean? In good faith Ukraine gave up it’s nuclear arsenal and now we learn that the other signatories are either base imperialists as in the case of the Putin regime or have no honour/just can’t be bothered/think the risks are too great – or all three. What did the Budapest Memorandum stand for? If nothing then why did others sign it? Is it ‘not binding’? Well certainly it does not amount to a ‘guarantee’ but the full title of the Memorandum is the “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” so what are “security assurances” when not kept? Lies and appeasement, weak will and misguided thinking. What of Minsk1 and 2? Were not both clearly and daily breached by the Muscovite forces and their gangster mercenary allies? Yet Ukraine, the victim of Muscovite aggression, is supposed to pass laws regarding the occupied areas ‘special status’? Insanity of the highest order. The US will supply Iranian backed ‘militias’ in Iraq with ‘lethal weapons’ (and then wonder how these weapons end up in Yemen) but not the Ukrainian army fighting in defence of it’s territory against a far more dangerous foe? This only encourages further aggression by the Mafiosi regime currently oppressing the people of Greater Muscovy.
The price of international law is not something that one can ultimately afford to bargain about. To permit aggression or bargain terms of occupation with a dictatorial regime only invites further aggression and the cost in the end will be far greater than if one had said “No!” with sufficient force at the start. Appeasement carries a greater long term price than resolute enforcement of international law and Treaties. It is time the West took note of the 1930s again. If the storm is not to break in full force it’s gathering must be deterred in force now.
In the coming articles I will examine how this dispersal of the ‘Gathering Storm’ might be accomplished, the bluff called and the bully faced down.
* – The Mafia Chekist nation that today calls itself ‘Russia’ is of course not either the original or the entirety of the Rus/Varangian nations. The first Rus being the lands which today comprise Ukraine and Belarus the Muscovite claim to the name of ‘Russia’ is a false historical claim in much the same way as they claim the Kyivan Rus Prince Volodymyr the Great, who was the first Kyivan Rus Prince to convert to Christianity never heard of nor visited Moscow.