This week’s “No Shit Analysis” award goes to Eugene B. Rumer for his Wall Street Journal op-ed, It’s Time to End Magical Thinking About Russia’s Defeat. Only took him 22 months to figure this out. He may be a slow learner but give him some credit, he finally awakened from his dream world and is beginning to grasp that the Ukraine project is swirling down the toilet.
Eugene B. Rumer is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Washington DC. Previously, he served at the State Department, on the staff of the National Security Council and at RAND.
Despite his pedigree, he is struggling to acknowledge reality and still feels the need to spin nonsense. Here is an example:
Putin has reason to believe that time is on his side. At the front line, there are no indications that Russia is losing what has become a war of attrition. The Russian economy has been buffeted, but it is not in tatters. Putin’s hold on power was, paradoxically, strengthened following Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion in June. Popular support for the war remains solid, and elite backing for Putin has not fractured.
Yep. Russia’s economy is so battered that it is headed toward 4% growth, its defense industry is out-producing Europe and the United States combined, it is manufacturing new, more deadly drones and the stores across Russia are filled to the brim. If that is “battered” give me some.
Poor Rumer just cannot admit that Russia is winning, which is why he opts for the awkward phrase, “no indications that Russia is losing.” Nope. Just the opposite. Plenty of indications Russia is winning. Moscow’s air defense system has thwarted Ukraine’s multiple, feckless attempts to inflict serious damage on Russian military assets and the Russian Army is in the process of carving up Ukrainian defenders trying to hang on to Avdeeka.
Rumer does enjoy a moment of clarity in this paragraph:
Putin can also look at his foreign-policy record with satisfaction. His investments in key relationships have paid off. China and India have provided an important backstop for the Russian economy by ramping up imports of Russian oil and other commodities. Instead of fretting about lost markets in Western Europe or Beijing’s reluctance to flout U.S. and EU sanctions, Putin has decided that it’s more advantageous in the short term simply to become China’s junior partner in the economic realm. Goods from China account for nearly 50% of Russian imports, and Russia’s top energy companies are now hooked on selling to China.
The West’s plan to topple Putin and carve up Russia is in tatters. And Rumer grudgingly admits that:
Putin does not feel any pressure to end the war or worry about his ability to sustain it more or less indefinitely. As winter approaches, the Russian army has mounted a limited ground offensive of its own and surely will expand missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities, power plants, industrial sites and other critical infrastructure.
Just like Wylie Coyote, licking his wounds after another failed attempt to trap the Road Runner, Rumer frantically pages through his ACME plans book for a solution to deal with that dastardly Putin. His solution? Containment!!
But now is the time to transition to a long-term strategy that increases and sustains the pressure on the rogue regime in the Kremlin. There should be no illusions that any possible combination of short-term steps will be sufficient to force Putin to abandon his war.
What Western leaders conspicuously haven’t done is level with their publics about the enduring nature of the threat from an emboldened, revisionist Russia. They have indulged all too often in magical thinking—betting on sanctions, a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive or the transfer of new types of weapons to force the Kremlin to come to the negotiating table. Or they have hoped to see Putin overthrown in a palace coup.
Poor Eugene. He certainly is not an original nor deep thinker. He recommends the following course of action:
A policy of containment today would mean continuing Western sanctions, isolating Russia diplomatically, preventing the Kremlin from interfering in our own domestic politics, and strengthening NATO deterrence and defense capabilities, including sustained U.S.-European reinvestment in our defense-industrial base. It would also mean mitigating all of the damage—diplomatic, informational, military and economic—caused by Putin’s war.
This article is an example of schizophrenia by a member of the foreign policy brahmin class. Even though he admitted earlier in his article that Putin’s foreign policy is winning many friends, not only with China, but with the Global South countries, Rumer still clings to the fantasy that the West can “isolate” Russia. I suppose he is manifesting the definition of insanity — doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome.
Rumer is a prime example of the bullshit that infects the foreign policy gurus of Washington when he writes:
Putin’s Russia has little of the hard power or ideological appeal that made the Soviet Union so influential in various parts of the world.
What? Russia has deployed more capable, advanced nuclear submarines than the Soviet Union ever had. Russia has fielded two hypersonic missiles while the United States is still floundering trying to produce one. Russia’s air defense systems surpass anything the West can offer. Russia is the only major industrial nation that is self-sufficient with energy and rare earth minerals. And Russia is now producing its own fleets of commercial air liners. Oh yeah, almost forgot. Russia’s space program is better and more robust than that of the United States.
I would love to see a survey of foreign dignitaries that asks them, which subway systems would you ride on after 10pm — New York’s or Moscow’s? Also worth noting that the Chinese did not have to ask Putin to clean up human feces from the streets of Moscow before they sent Xi for a sit down with Vladimir. Nope. That was San Francisco.
Rumer and his ilk are still locked into a Kissinger doctrine that asserts the only way the United States can be the top dog is to play off Russia against China. Good luck with that. These guys still refuse to recognize the the U.S. controlled “Rules Based Order,” created in the aftermath of World War II is dying. A new geo-political reality is emerging and there is no guarantee that the United States will be able to pretend to be the Colossus it thinks it is.
The United States political class is locked into a self-defeating delusion that Russia is still a communist state bent on World Domination. Any politician who suggests the alternative, i.e. that we need to deal with Russia as an equal and that we should stop treating Putin and his government as an enemy, will be tarred immediately as a Putin apologist and ostracized. Here is the hard truth — the political elite in both parties are using Russia as an excuse to engage in the same practices that were the cornerstone of Soviet policies during the Cold War. It is the United States that is locking up political dissidents. It is the United States Government that is collaborating with social media companies to quash dissent against the ruling class.
It is not the fault of Russia that black kids in inner-city schools are “graduating” from high school without being able to read or do algebra. It is not Russia’s fault that America’s southern border is wide open and being swarmed by millions of illegal migrants. It is not Russia’s fault that many of America’s largest cities are ravaged with narcotics addiction, violence and criminal activity. Look in the mirror America. Clean up your act. Then, maybe, you will have the moral authority to lecture other nations on human rights and freedom. But America, as it stands now, is a fractured country and shows no sign of righting itself.
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