We continue to make the error: looking short term when a longer-range solution might be more profitable. Putin has given us an opening, and we should take advantage. By publicizing his plans to use contractors to bring in foreign fighters, probably from Syria, he opened the door to the Democracies to do the same. It is not an escalation to do the same thing. Their foreign fighters are armed to the teeth. We can do the same. The problem for Putin is we can do it on a grander scale.
Foreigners fighting in someone else’s war is nothing new. The Lafayette Escadrille in World War I, the Eagle Squadrons, and the Flying Tigers in World War II were made up of Americans before we entered. Many Americans and other non-Spaniards fought in the Spanish civil war. We had more contractors in Afghanistan than we had military.
Given our long experience with contractors and CIA black ops, speeding up “Freedom Units” assembly areas with air defense systems in Western Ukraine is well within reach. Air and ground units trained and integrated. The number of the volunteers left open-ended. Good pay, conditions, and high purpose provide an ever-expanding force. So far, plenty of people is already showing up.
Given the Russian battlefield performance to date, these air and ground units could be a body blow to Russian morale. The Russians might divert forces to attack the assembly areas, but they would pay a steep price if we recruited the right people with solid weapons. Pulling Russian Resources away from the Ukrainians in the East gives them respite and raises the cost of victory beyond Putin’s resources, especially if the sanctions are in place. Maintaining Ukraine’s supply lines allows their forces to continue fighting. Instead of time theoretically being on Russia’s side, we bleed Russia for however long it takes.
I have no inside information, but if we have any smarts, something along these lines is already in motion. Why do we have a CIA if not for these moments? With volunteers streaming in, they need structure and support. Putting these on steroids places Putin on the horns of the dilemma. Ukraine hasn’t done anything more than the Russians. No escalation. Ukraine matching “volunteers” with “volunteers.”
If people from all over the world want to volunteer to fight aggression, they have the same right as Syrians and others to fight for Russia. Rather than NATO and others intervening, they only provide arms and monetary support. It will be interesting to see who gets the most and best.
The U.S. may have to wave some legal restrictions, but it won’t be a problem given Americans’ widespread support for the Ukrainians. Others are already signing up. What is needed is implementing an air defense plan. The attack on a training base 12 miles from the Polish border illustrates this. Whatever is required to make Russian attacks extremely costly should be provided.
Once established, the disparity resources between the Democracies and Russia will only grow. Battlefield losses and the sanctions pain will increase daily. Time no longer favors Putin.
Russia could resort to nuclear blackmail, but that is always available and a bluff to be called. Ask China if they supported the Russian use of any nuclear weapons. If they do, we should make clear to China we consider them allied in action and targeted for retaliation along with Russia. China can’t use pawns and not pay the price. They have to choose. If China realizes Russia could involve it in nuclear devastation, I think they will tell Russia not to even think about going nuclear. If we don’t approach it this way, we will always be subject to nuclear blackmail.
The beauty of planning for long-term victory is your opponent must face up to the possibility of losing, rather than us looking to give Russia an off-ramp, Putin is the one searching for a way out. The war could end much earlier.
Why isn’t this very rational path being taken already? Some don’t see it this way. We have the means and the resources. While some elements are in place, much more needs to be accomplished. It’s just a matter of will.
Is NATO aggressively moving ever closer to mother Russia? From the beginning, a large part of our political class has supported the idea of a Russian sphere influence. University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer is the chief proponent of the strange viewpoint NATO is the aggressor.
As I’ve pointed out, NATO never threatened Russia. Membership was even open to Russia if it met its democratic standards. Membership benefited all the East European nations joining, and it would greatly benefit the Russian people. It would also offer added protection against an actual aggressor-China. The countries joining NATO have greater security and a higher standard of living.
The only one threatened by NATO is Vladimir Putin. The comparison across the border illuminates Putin as a failed leader vulnerable to replacement. His inability to deliver the same living standards as the rest of Europe has displayed.
Yet, many in the U.S. cower before Putin. A nation with the economy of Italy terrifies them. Even as he escalates the level of horror daily in Ukraine, they say we mustn’t do anything lest the war widens. It worked for a while for Mussolini only because Europe’s political class at the time viewed him far more significant than he was. We’re making the same mistake.
The anti-war left and the isolationist libertarians have long been with us. The likes of Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan are harder to explain, but they must give us better reasons for their indefensible positions.
The actons of the Biden administration seem to assume a quick Russian victory was acceptable. Why else would they slow walk potent actions? Where is our intelligence? Is it just the Biden Administration’s typical incompetence? Was Russian help on an Iran Nuclear deal or China’s support of climate change more critical than Ukrainian lives?
In any case, the route I’ve laid out matches Russia’s volunteers with a competent group for Ukraine. While it changes the equation, it isn’t an escalation. It doesn’t involve the NATO military, just resources. Given this fact, there is no need for Tucker and Peggy to get the vapors.