Why We Haven’t Tried To End The War
In a recent post (“Elon Musk Tries To Prevent World War III“), I mentioned that there were three reasons why Western leaders were eager to escalate with Russia, rather than attempt to use diplomacy to end the war:
- A simplistic, moralized view of the war (Goliath Russia invades plucky, democratic David Ukraine).
- Perceptions of Russian weakness.
- Putin as an ideological opponent.
Maybe the most important of these reasons has been the first one. Even the few voices calling for restraint in our proxy war with Russia, such as the venture capitalist David Sacks, often seem compelled to condemn Russia’s invasion in the harshest terms. For example, in his cautionary essay last month, Sacks described it as “immoral, criminal, and barbaric”.
Mike Whitney pushed back against that moralized view in a recent piece, which I have posted in full below.
Before we get to that, I’d like to add some new information buttressing the third reason (Putin as an ideological opponent). I also have a quick update for you on an approach to investing in light of the war that I shared with you back in May.
Putin as an Ideological Opponent.
In the Elon Musk/WWIII post I included this excerpt from Putin’s September 21st speech when he spoke out against the Western promotion of radical gender ideology, such as transsexualism.
Underscoring his point, Fox News reported this week that the U.S. State Department is funding drag queens in Ecuador.
Update on a Ukraine War-Proof Portfolio
Back in May, I was perhaps over optimistic in thinking that the overturn of Roe v. Wade might by itself prevent World War III, but in that post I shared an investing approach to dealing with the headwinds of war, inflation, and recession:
If we manage to avoid nuclear war, that will be a huge relief to those of use who live in metropolitan areas likely to be the targets of ICBMs: it will mean we won’t be vaporized in the near future. We will again have a long term to invest for, but as investors we will still face headwinds due to the war in Ukraine, and the sanctions in response to it: inflation, shortages, and impending recessions. That raises the question of where one might put money to work now in light of that gloom. Below is an answer.
Let’s say you have $50,000 to invest now, but you don’t want to risk losing more than 20% in a worst case scenario. On Monday, our system might have presented this portfolio to you, which is essentially a hedged bet on natural gas and corn getting more expensive, and European and emerging market stocks getting cheaper over the next six months.
Screen capture via Portfolio Armor on 5/2/2022.
Here’s how that portfolio has performed so far, as of Wednesday’s close. It was up 9.64%, net of hedging and trading costs, while the SPDR S&P 500 Trust ETF (SPY) was down 10.34%
Thanks to hedging, that portfolio outperformed SPY by nearly twenty percentage points despite one of its underlying securities, the ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Natural Gas ETF (BOIL), dropping by about two thirds.
Now onto Mike Whitney’s thought-provoking post.
Some of Us Don’t Think the Russian Invasion Was “Aggression.” Here’s Why.
“We are not threatening anyone.… We have made it clear that any further NATO movement to the east is unacceptable. There’s nothing unclear about this. We aren’t deploying our missiles to the border of the United States, but the United States IS deploying their missiles to the porch of our house. Are we asking too much? We’re just asking that they not deploy their attack-systems to our home…. What is so hard to understand about that?” Russian President Vladimir Putin, YouTube, Start at :48 seconds
Imagine if the Mexican army started bombarding American ex-pats living in Mexico with heavy artillery-rounds killing thousands and leaving thousands more wounded. What do you think Joe Biden would do?
Would he brush it off like a big nothingburger and move on or would he threaten the Mexican government with a military invasion that would obliterate the Mexican Army, level their biggest cities, and send the government running for cover?
Which of these two options do you think Biden would choose?
There’s no doubt what Biden would do nor is there any question what the 45 presidents who preceded him would do. No US leader would ever stand by and do nothing while thousands of Americans were savagely slaughtered by a foreign government. That just wouldn’t happen. They’d all respond quickly and forcefully.
But if that’s true, then why isn’t the same standard applied to Russia? Isn’t the situation in Ukraine nearly identical?
It is nearly identical, only the situation in Ukraine is worse, much worse. And if we stretch our analogy a bit, you’ll see why:
Let’s say, the US Intelligence agencies discovered that the Mexican government was not acting alone, but was being directed to kill and maim American ex-pats on orders from the Chinese Communist government in Beijing. Can you imagine that?
And the reason the Chinese government wants to kill Americans in Mexico is because they want to lure the US into a long and costly war that will “weaken” the US and pave way for its ultimate splintering into many pieces that China can control and exploit. Does any of this sound familiar? (Check out the Rand Strategy for weakening Russia here)
So, let’s say, the Chinese are actually the driving force behind the war in Mexico. Let’s say, they toppled the Mexican government years earlier and installed their own puppet regime to do their bidding. Then they armed and trained vast numbers of troops to fight the Americans. They supplied these warriors with cutting-edge weapons and technology, logistical support, satellite and communications assistance, tanks, armored vehicles, anti-ship missiles, and state-of-the-art artillery units all of which were provided with one goal in mind; to crush America in a proxy war that was concocted, controlled and micro-managed from the Chinese Capital of Beijing
Is such a scenario possible?
It is possible, in fact, this very same scenario is playing out right now in the Ukraine, only the perpetrator of the hostilities is the United States not China, and the target of this malign strategy is Russia not the US. Surprisingly, the Biden administration isn’t even trying to hide what they’re up-to anymore. They’re openly arming, training, funding, and directing Ukrainian troops to prosecute a war aimed at killing Russian soldiers and removing Putin from power. That’s the objective and everyone knows it.
And the whole campaign is based on the sketchy claim that Russia is guilty of “unprovoked aggression”. That’s the whole deal in a nutshell. The moral justification for the war rests on the unverified assumption that Russia committed a criminal offense and broke international law by invading Ukraine. But, did they?
Let’s see if that assumption is correct or if it’s just another fake claim by a dissembling media that never stops tweaking the narrative to build the case for war.
First of all, answer this one question related to the analogy above: If the US deployed troops to Mexico to protect American expats from being bombarded by the Mexican army, would you regard that deployment as an ‘unprovoked aggression’ or a rescue mission?
Rescue mission, right? Because the primary intention was to save lives not seize the territory of another sovereign country.
Well, that’s what Putin was doing when he sent his tanks into Ukraine. He was trying stop the killing of civilians living in the Donbas whose only fault was that they were ethnic Russians committed to their own culture and traditions. Is that a crime?
Take a look at this map.
This map is the key to understanding how the war in Ukraine started. It tells us who did the provoking and who was being provoked. It tells us who was dropping the bombs and who was getting bombed. It tells us who was causing the trouble and who was being blamed for the trouble-making. The map tells us everything we need to know.
Can you see the yellow dots? Those dots represent the artillery strikes that were documented in daily summaries by “observers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE), positioned at the frontlines.” The vast majority of the strikes were in the area inhabited by Russian-speaking people who have been under military siege for the last 8 years. (14,000 ethnic Russians have been killed in the fighting since 2014.) The Minsk Agreements were drawn up to resolve the issues between the warring parties and end the hostilities, but the government in Kiev refused to implement the agreement. In fact, the former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, even admitted that the treaty was just a vehicle for buying time until another full-scale offensive on the Donbas could be launched.
In short, the Ukrainian government never had any intention of reaching a peaceful settlement with leaders of the Donbas. Their goal was to intensify the conflict in order to provoke Russia and draw them into a protracted war that would exhaust their resources and collapse their economy. The long-range objective was to remove Putin from office and replace him with a Washington-backed stooge that would do as he was told. US officials– including Joe Biden- have even admitted that their plan involved regime change in Moscow. We should take them at their word.
The map provides a visual account of the events leading up the Russian invasion. It cuts through the lies and identifies the true origins of the war which can be traced back to the heavy artillery strikes launched by the Ukrainian Army more than a week before the Russian invasion. (February 24) The massive shelling was aimed at the Russian-speaking people living in an area in east Ukraine. These are the people who were being bombarded by their fellow Ukrainians.
What Really Happened?
On February 16—a full 8 days before the Russian invasion—the shelling of the Donbas increased dramatically and steadily intensified for the next week “to over 2,000 per day on February 22.” As we said, these blasts were logged in daily summaries by observers of the OSCE who were on the frontlines. Think about that for a minute. In other words, these are eyewitness accounts by trained professionals who collected documented evidence of the Ukrainian Army’s massive bombardment of areas inhabited by their own people.
Would this evidence hold up in a court of law if a case against the Ukrainian government was ever presented before an international tribunal trying to assign accountability for the hostilities?
We think it would. We think the evidence is rock-solid. In fact, we have not read or heard of even one analyst who has challenged this vast catalogue of documented evidence. Instead, the media simply pretends the proof doesn’t exist. They have simply swept the evidence under the rug or vanished it from their coverage altogether in order to shape a Washington-centric version of events that completely ignores the historical record. But facts are facts. And the facts don’t change because the media fails to report them. And what the facts suggest is that the war in Ukraine is a Washington-concocted war no different than Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria. Once again, Uncle Sam’s bloody fingerprints are all over this sorry affair.
Check out this summary of ceasefire violations posted on podcast host Martyr Made’s twitter account:
Notice how the shelling of the Donbas increased every day before the invasion?
I’d call that a thoroughly-calculated provocation, wouldn’t you?
Why does this matter?
It matters because the vast majority of people have been hoodwinked into supporting a war for which there is no moral justification. This is not a case of “unprovoked aggression”. Not even close. And Putin is not an out-of-control tyrant bent on reconstituting the Soviet Empire by terrorizing his neighbors and seizing their territory. That is a complete fabrication based on nothing but speculation. In Putin’s own words, he invaded Ukraine because he had no choice. His own people were being ruthlessly exterminated by an army that acts on Washington’s orders alone. He had to invade, there was no other option. Putin felt a moral obligation to defend the ethnic Russians in Ukraine who could not defend themselves. Is that aggression? Here’s a bit more background from an article at The Intercept by James Risen:
Despite staging a massive military buildup on his country’s border with Ukraine for nearly a year, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not make a final decision to invade until just before he launched the attack in February, according to senior current and former U.S. intelligence officials.
In December, the CIA issued classified reports concluding that Putin hadn’t yet committed to an invasion, according to the current and former officials. In January, even as the Russian military was starting to take the logistical steps necessary to move its troops into Ukraine, U.S. intelligence again issued classified reporting maintaining that Putin had still not resolved to actually launch an attack, the officials said.
It wasn’t until February that the agency and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community became convinced that Putin would invade, the senior official added. With few other options available at the last minute to try to stop Putin, President Joe Biden took the unusual step of making the intelligence public, in what amounted to a form of information warfare against the Russian leader. He also warned that Putin was planning to try to fabricate a pretext for invasion, including by making false claims that Ukrainian forces had attacked civilians in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The preemptive use of intelligence by Biden revealed “a new understanding … that the information space may be among the most consequential terrain Putin is contesting,” observed Jessica Brandt of the Brookings Institution.”
Biden’s warning on February 18 that the invasion would happen within the week turned out to be accurate. In the early hours of February 24, Russian troops moved south into Ukraine from Belarus and across Russia’s borders into Kharkiv, the Donbas region, and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.” (“U.S. Intelligence Says Putin Made a Last-Minute Decision to Invade Ukraine”, James Risen, The Intercept)
There’s so much baloney in this excerpt, it’s hard to know where to begin. But just review the timeline we provided earlier; a timeline that has been verified by officials from the OSCE. Can you see the discrepancy?
Biden issued his warning on February 18; that’s two days after monitors from the OSCE reported an intensification of the bombing in the Donbas. In other words, Biden already knew that his buddies in the Ukrainian army were bombing the shit out of east Ukraine when he tried to make it look like he was privy to some sensitive, insider information about the upcoming invasion.
Of course, he knew Putin was going to invade! They created the provocation that forced him to invade! They were bombing the hell out of the people Putin is obliged to protect. What else could he do? Any leader worth his salt would have done same thing.
What bothers me is that people continue support the war in Ukraine because they have no idea of what actually happened in the lead-up to the invasion. They know nothing about the relentless bombing of civilians, or the defiant rejection of Minsk or the repeated military attacks on the Donbas, or the or the plan to retake Crimea through force of arms. or the laws directed against ethnic Russians, or the rise of Nazi fascism in Kiev. They know nothing about any of these things. Their views on Ukraine are entirely shaped by the rubbish they read in the western media or hear on the cable news channels where the deluge of propaganda issues like a mighty river pulling the population inexorably towards another vicious neocon bloodbath.
People must know the truth or this war will escalate into something far worse.
If You Want To Stay In Touch
You can find Mike Whitney’s latest columns here.