With the potential fall of the petrodollar including the Chinese buying Saudi oil in the yuan, the long term shoring up of Russia’s economy against sanctions, the dependency on Russian energy for heating and transportation in Europe, massive offshoring of Western manufacturing to China, the refusal in America to improve oil production, the attempted monopolization of rare earth metals by the Chinese, decades of unfocused and counterproductive strategic planning in the West, hypocritical foreign fusterclucks, refusing to resolve problems and enforce accountability in our militaries, rampant wokeness creating internal strife, the steady erosion of civil liberties in the West along with angry disconnects between Western governments and their citizens, our habit of ignoring Chinese state influence in the corporate and political sectors, Russia and China having most of the strategic resources the other lacks, and the fact that the American and Western European economies are not that healthy right now really makes me worry that we won’t be the ones having the last laugh when the dust settles.
I’m trying to think if you’ve missed anything out. Either way, it sums it up.
Really well-summarized. The expert term I believe is “perfect storm”.
Exactly. Sanctions are own goals. Countries will now all try and become self sufficient which will eventually lead to protectionism and a falling economy. The sun is setting in the west and the star rises in the east. Wonder which way India will jump. Whither economic immigrants? I fear our intervention in Ukraine has led to massive loss of life. Should we leave these matters to be sorted internally? Information is top of the agenda and with it, it will be harder to hoodwink a nation. Not sure the younger generations hold any truck with autocracy and imperialism.
Oh just give up Victoria, sit on your hands and do nothing in case it makes the bad guys hit you.
Sit on hands. Or join a revolution? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCtMX5AS6Ak
Yes, well one of the many problems of the West is the belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories!
Ridiculous response. It’s perfectly valid to wonder who will benefit or lose from these sanctions. Russia may well benefit. They’ve just asked that countries use the ruble to buy oil, gas etc – which will prop up their currency.
Our intervention hasn’t led to massive loss of life, the blame for that falls entirely on Putin, nobody else
That is actually not accurate. Massive loss of life is the result of the continuation of politics by means of force. Sometimes it’s best to know when to set one’s cards on the table and live to fight another day. For example, take Mariopol. Perhaps it’s heroic to fight until the last person but we’re no longer living in the ancient world of Masada. What exactly is the mayor of Mariopol holding out for. The place is surrounded, utilities have been cut off, the people are starving, and the town is being leveled. Great I guess for some. And providing the Ukrainians with huge amounts of arms in what will be a losing proposition is not so smart either. But I guess it makes many of you feel good because you’re not doing the fighting or living in the thick of things. Perhaps that’s why so many, I believe close to 3 million to date, have fled Ukraine for neighboring countries.
Your attitude I find disgusting to be honest. You’re blaming the Ukrainians for fighting trying to protect their homeland, while defending the animal that ordered the unprovoked invasion in the first place.
That isn’t what Johann is saying Billy Bob. Nobody is defending ‘the animal’, and a bit of time studying the history (both recent and longer term) might make you reaccess your use of the word ‘unprovoked’. One may disagree with whether ‘the animsl’ was right to feel provoked, and one might argue that any reaction is completely unfair, but to think that Putin just decided to pick on Ukraine for no reason really doesn’t stack up. There is a whole backstory to this that people should be aware of as, IMHO, establishing motives is the first step towards finding a rapid way to end this terrible situation.
….too true Paul. And in terms of the military strategy, holding out in Mariupol, ties down Russian resources, and restricts their supply lines.
Yes, and of course exactly the same could be said of Hitler’s series of aggressions 80 years ago – Versailles, the Anchsluss, Sudeten Germans etc. I’ve yet to hear an explanation of any fundamental difference. Putin becomes stronger if he destroys an independent Ukraine, just as Hitler did by destroying Czechoslovakia. A both morally bankrupt AND self defeating policy.
To which history do you refer?
But, the back-story is nasty!
Putin wants his Soviet Union back
Of course there is a ‘back story’ – and of course there was also one with Hitler’s aggressions! I for one am rather glad the latter – after far too much blood and treasure – was eventually defeated. He might well have won, especially with the oh-so-knowing, (supposedly) foreign policy realist attitudes that are now routinely defending this invasion.
The people who have decided to fight are the Ukrainians! This is both brave AND an intelligent response to the Russian invasion, which was premised on the rapid collapse of Ukraine and the installation of a puppet government, which will undoubtedly happen if they surrender.
Churchill actually meant his ‘fight them on the beaches’ etc speeches you know!
Mr Strauss’s brings back memories of the “Better Red Than Dead” chants of my youth. Perhaps he should provide a link to Ghandi’s letter to the British people, advising them not to resist, but to invite the Nazis into their homes.
From a simplistic perspective yes, but from a wider perspective, then it is not quite so clear. Few things rarely are.
“Should we leave these matters to be sorted internally?”
Internal lost all meaning once the Russians crossed into another sovereign state.
It is ridiculous to claim that the West caused the massive loss of life in Ukraine. You also seem very sanguine about the revival of totalitarianism in the world. The Chinese very successfully censor information and the Russians are following, so unfortunately there isn’t much to hope for from the younger population of those tyarranies.
You’ve pretty much summed it up there. Time to leave the U.S. and head south to watch the great flush, but where does one put their dollars?
Put your dollars? Clearly you believe you should convert them to yuan. Good luck
So Xi and Putin are better options? Do I misunderstand your point?
Im contemplating a move to South America myself, from Canada. Clearly my money isn’t safe in kleptocratic Canada. I’m thinking some hard assets, obviously a house and most in commodities. Despite the climate change delusions, oil and gas will be in great demand as western countries collapse.
Yes, your analysis is correct but maybe Russian aggression opened eyes of our politicians and the public to real nature of enemies West face.
Even if we didn’t try to respond to Russian aggression, none of the issues you listed would be resolved.
Appeasing dictators does not work as we know from ww2.
Do you think Putin would stop if allowed to take Ukraine?
Clearly West reluctance to challenge Russia after Georgia invasion and then Crimea encouraged Russia in its thinking that aggression is cost free.
Yes, Putin would stop after Ukraine. WWII is not the template for everything.
Why would he have stopped? He hasn’t stopped after Georgia, Crimea or Donbas has he?
…according to his own speeches and writings BB, it’s the empire of the Tzars he’s aiming to reclaim, rather than the empire of the Soviets. That suggests his long terms aim is to absorb all the majority Russian speaking bits, and their relevant geographic buffers. That could be wider than just central and eastern Ukraine. Afterall in Russian, the name “Ukraine” means borderlands. But those steps would of course trigger a NATO response, making it rather expensive and unlikely during Putin’s reign.
So – let us be endlessly sceptical or even hostile to Western governments while basing our foreign policy on the rambling speeches of a tyrant, who only weeks ago was saying the West was hysterically lying about a planned invasion. Following the ‘appease Putin, he has a point’ policy would mean NATO would likely also give up on the Baltic States, and parts of Eastern European states, because, well, it just becomes a habit after a while, as it did in the 30s.
The Ukraine war would not have happened if not for NATO expansionism and Obama’s 2014 coup that installed a western puppet government in Ukraine. Respect for Russia’s legitimate concerns would have prevented this war, but the west is too intent on expanding its power.
…you have missed only the food side although ‘strategic resources’ covers it I suppose. Russia provides a sizeable amount of the world’s grain (and Ukraine….exports now zero): Russia won’t go hungry but many countries it supplies will. The Americas are fairly buffered (Canada, USA, Brazil, Argentina) but ME, North Africa and Europe not so much.
Europe is food secure.
Pity about the biofuel regulation.
The good news is that the west CAN significantly increase food production. Assuming the “globalists”with a death grip on the microphone can stop obsessing about climate, gender, and race.
the longest and most pithy sentence i have read in a long time !
A full stop wouldn’t go amiss
Try capitalization and getting rid of the space between your exclamation point before you go full grammar police.
You’ve missed one important fact. Neither Putin nor Xi trust the other. There is a reason the Soviet Union and Red China came to blows in 1969. Neither country is a trustworthy ally or partner, and both know it. Whatever goes on in the next few years nothing will change the fundamental dynamic- two large and powerful countries with highly divergent interests.
Let’s just give up then! Perhaps it is true that any form of Churchill spirit is dead. I hope not though.
Thomas Fazi, who is always unerringly hostile to the US, provides no answers. Why is it a pseudo Cold War? The West has a lot of problems but we do still choose our governments. (Some people on the Right don’t like the fact that people sometimes choose the wrong ones!) We can still choose our future, the populations of our adversaries can not. ‘Russiagate’ was mostly invention; I hope some on the Right now don’t make the disastrous misstep of becoming the cheer leaders of a rival tyranny, as the Left did for so many decades during the Cold War.
Decoupling from China and Russia is I am afraid now pretty inevitable. The West is still by far more attractive a place to live than either of those tyrannies.The US is still more innovative than either China or – especially – Russia. The latter’s population face a huge decrease in living standards, their wealthy no longer being able to use our cities as a playground. Good riddance! The Chinese can continue facing decades of being monitored, imprisoned on a whim because of a mild respiratory virus, continuing of course with mass repression of minority populations and cultural genocide. There is maybe not much we can do, but our entwined economies have made all the evils you mention in our own societies worse.
Can’t disagree. In my youth I naively thought that if China, the West, etc., needed each other enough we couldn’t kill each other. Looks like I was wrong. Now what?
Russia did not “step out of line”. Russia has invaded Europe’s largest country with the explicit aim of destroying it, besieging and bombing cities and murdering civilians by the thousands.
I know. It’s like saying Germany stepped out of line when it irked the western powers by, say, its war with Poland in September of 1939. And did it again, riling up the western powers even more, when it ran down Holland’s excellent straight and flat roads in June, 1940. Undeclared and unannounced: completely out of order those takeovers were. Utter bunch of spoilsports, the West was, however, getting itself worked up by it all. Peace could have been so easy. If only the western powers had not been so bellicose!
The only trouble with your analysis is that the correct analogy for the current situation is not the events that led to WWII but those that led to WWI. As you should know, unlike WWII which was a war between good and evil, WWI was a war between competing powers where there were no good guys and bad guys.
Incidentally, before people wax lyrical about Ukraine being a fledgling democracy be aware that Zelinski has just banned all opposition parties to his rule – so Ukraine now has one party rule.
Also be aware that the battalions defending Kiev are the Azov brigade who are overt neo-nazis. i.e. The Azov brigade is not just some fringe right wing supremacist group of no consequence; it is an integral part of the Ukrainian army. I realize the West and many here on Unherd who have fallen for a lot of very one-side propaganda are of the belief that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, but it might be worthwhile taking a deep breath and realizing just who we are getting into bed with. That doesn’t excuse or justify Russia’s actions, but realize that Ukraine and its government are not lily white either.
Kaiser Bill was a good guy? Not the one I’ve read about.
But thank you for your continuing efforts to try to make Putin look good. Not the one I’ve read about
If you are emotional to the “good” or “bad” levels the article might be not exactly pleasant. The right question is not “Is Putin good” — it’s “is Putin good for Russian people”. i am sure he does not care about other peoples much.
Putin says that Russians and Ukranians are one people and not a separate country or even a state, yet is quite prepared to Kill Russians and Ukranians to make his fascist point. Why even attempt to defend him.
I live in a country, Italy, with two fascist parties. Your comment is pointless.
I believe you’ve been reading too much WW I British propaganda.
Ah yes, the “Huns.”
Well it is looking increasingly obvious that Biden & Co have been in bed with various Ukrainian entities for a while now.
Something that many of us were well aware of in 2020 when anyone who held such beliefs was called a conspiracy theorist. Sadly, even now many people are still unaware of what went on. Thankfully, it is getting harder and harder to cover it up. When even the New York Times starts to cover the story you know that the cat will be well and truly out of bag. And this vital information could make a massive difference to what is going on in Ukraine, which is why, for the sake of the Ukrainian people, these investigations should be expedited.
There is nothing wrong with his analysis of Russia actions.
What about far right elements in Russia?
Much more influential with the Kremlin than Azov unit is in Ukraine.
Just because Russia genocidal nationalism is dressed up in fluffy terms like “Mother Russia”, it doesn’t make it less dangerous.
What about Chechen and middle East rapists and murderers fighting on Russia side.
Ukraine is far from perfect but definitely much better than Russia run by gangsters like Putin and his henchmen.
You may be referring to the Nationalist Party, third in the polls at the last election. Ukraine was worst run, the lowest gdp in Europe, the most corrupt and half the Covid vaccination rate of Russia.Zelensky’s first act was to try Poroshenko. See the Atlantic, 2020 for an update of its series on the Ukraine’s presidents.
The only problems with your analysis are:
Putin is very much a bad guy – he is a dictator in charge of an kleptocratic police state (15 years for calling a war a war!) who, apparently has killed many of his competitors and enemies with or without the homeland.
Zelinski has not ‘banned all opposition parties to his rule’ – he has banned those (11 of over 300 registered parties) with clear links to Russia – hardly a controversial move in war.
The Azov brigade may be unpalatable, but they are a small part of the Ukranian defence force – as opposed to the Wagner Group!
Used to shell and murder the hapless civilians in the separatist areas. Brought into the National Guard.
Yes, you’re right. Ukraine is not lily White either. But let’s not forget who invaded whom. Who is shelling and killing innocent people. It is pretty clear who is acting immorally in this war. Attempts to make it look as though both sides are somehow equal look awfully like attempts to justify something totally unjustifiable.
You really are trolling for Putin today Johann with rather inaccurate statements. He hasn’t banned all opposition parties; and the Azov brigade ain’t the whole Ukraine army.
Based on your analysis you would have condemned all the German armed forces for the atrocities of the SS.
Yes indeed I would have condemned not just the German armed forces but the whole German people for the atrocities under Hitler. Collective guilt.
I would also note that the brown shirts and Nazi party were a really tiny group in Germany until in 1933 somehow there weren’t and they were running things. And soon thereafter there were in complete and total control. Be careful what you wish for.
Now in response to some of the other comments, there is no question that Putin’s invasion is despicable. there is no question that Putin is a thug. But that doesn’t make the west and Nato guiltless here. Had the US not interfered in Ukraine in 2014, and had the West not dangled NATO in front of the Ukrainians, including in the days just prior to the invasion when they refused to state that Ukraine would not be allowed to join NATO but rather that NATO had a completely open door policy, it is quite possible that all of this could have been avoided. When Russia has made it’s position vis a vis Ukraine perfectly clear for 15 years, you don’t try and expand eastward and poke the bear. That’s not being a Putin apologist. It’s known as seeing what’s really going on here.
Interestingly a Ukrainian colleague of mine, living in the US, told me today that she reckoned the war would go on for as long as it was of benefit to the US. Now that’s an interesting perspective and she is absolutely pro-Ukrainian.
He’s only banned 11 parties and those are ones with links to Russia. That’s much better than killing your political opponents. As for the Azov troops are located in Mariupol area not Kiev.
I believe I read that the Azov brigade are also located in Kiev, and plus they are probably the fiercest fighters. As for banning parties, banning is banning. It’s problematic and the creation of a one party state in Ukraine is also problematic. This has got nothing to do with one party rule in Russia. Nobody is saying that the Russian state of affairs is preferable to our own western democracies. But don’t pretend that Ukraine is some perfect, idyllic country with no corruption and a history of democratic rule. It isn’t.
As for banning parties, banning is banning.
Is there a democracy anywhere which has not banned political parties?
It’s problematic and the creation of a one party state in Ukraine is also problematic.
The creation of a one party state in Ukraine would be problematic…but is not, as it has not.
But don’t pretend that Ukraine is some perfect, idyllic country…
Who did? Who does?
In a country neighbouring Russia where many of the people speak Russian, “links to Russia” must encompass huge numbers of ordinary people.
Numerous political opponents have been killed in Ukraine. Do read some serious recent histories
Johann, are just mistaken or do you simply lie? Zelensky did not ban all opposition parties. Azov does not defend Kiev. And nazism or neo-nazism of contemporary Azov is nothing but Russian war propaganda (and who cares about labels – Azov defend its country against aggression).
No he hasn’t, he has banned 11 parties (out of 300 registered parties) that have links to the Kremlin. At a time when Ukraine is fighting for its survival due to an invasion by Russian forces, I don’t see this as particularly excessive.
You also wax lyrical about Ukraines far right (parroting Putins lines trying to paint a country with a Jewish President as the Third Reich) which consist of a single battalion fighting in the east, while completely ignoring Russias far right who are much closer to their parliament and the numerous groups such as Wagner who vastly outnumber Ukrainians far right in numbers
Nothing to do with being ‘lily white’ – no individual OR state can be lily white – what happy little planet do you come from ?? maybe you have managed to attain lily whiteness…
What are you trying to say here. Are you equating Ukrainian governance to governance in the UK. Somehow I don’t think so. Ukraine was and is one of the most corrupt countries on earth, and Zelinsky has done next to nothing in that regard. And our president and his son have been up to their necks in Ukrainian corruption, influence peddling and money laundering.
And our president and his son have been up to their necks in Ukrainian corruption, influence peddling and money laundering.
Ah, there it is, the great revealer. Homo Trumpiens: for whom every issue on the planet is co-opted and warped into support for the boss. Boorishly complaining of the motes in other’s eyes even as they stumble under the weight of the beam in their own.
yeah but there ARE many ukrainians who are genuinely working hard towards a functioning democracy which is a lot more than one can say about ANY of the other ‘civil’ wars of present, recent and not so recent times.
….the lily white bits are the Bidens of course.
Up to a point but also bear in mind that many countries maintained diplomatic and trading relations with Germany long after the invasion of Poland.
You made me do it, I didn’t really want to do it….
“with the explicit aim of destroying it, besieging and bombing cities and murdering civilians by the thousands”
Turn off the TV at times, propaganda will erode your ability to think critically.
Yes, despite the fact that UnHerd has run several piece’s on the importance of separating moral judgments from strategic analysis and the dangers of failing to do so; the number one comment for this article is one of moralistic hyperbole, which bares little resemblance to either Russia’s war aims or their prosecution of the war.
thanks, my comment would have been exactly this.
What part of that is incorrect? Have Russia not been shelling cities and causing the deaths of civilians?
As of last Monday (so admittedly out of date) there were 536 civilian deaths in Ukraine according to the UN. How they can determine a number that accurately is beyond me, but nevertheless, its 30 times fewer than the number of Russian soldiers that have been killed according to the Ukrainians. Now any death is tragic, and any civilian death in a war is even more tragic, but war is war (i.e. horrific and barbaric). If one fights among civilians, don’t be surprised if civilians and civilian targets get shelled.
The reason there is fighting amongst civilians is because Putin has sent his soldiers there, that’s it. Are you trying the blame the Ukrainians for the civilian deaths as their soldiers are in the cities trying to defend them? You really have lost the plot if that’s the case
the “explicit aim” part
this is a great example of the problem. People will believe some stupid stuff in the press, it builds up emotions, they cultivate those emotions. Then they can’t even check if the information is true because their emotions prevent them from doing so. And under the influence of emotion, they make absolutely stupid decisions.
this is great news – i really thought there was a heap of bad sh*t going down in Ukraine – good to know it was all propaganda and things are,in fact rosy !
Some peoples attitude to the situation Ukraine I find truly perplexing. Johann has spent months labelling numerous western leaders as authoritarian, evil and responsible for the deaths of their citizens for their (at times admittedly stupid) attempts to deal with the Covid pandemic, yet here he is defending a leader who is locking up people who call the invasion a war for 15 year prison terms (authoritarian), whose army is indiscriminately shelling cities full of civilians (evil) and has overseen the deaths of around 10k Russian conscripts sent to invade another sovereign nation. I think their moral compass is off personally
Get over it Billy. I am NOT defending Putin. Try and get that into your head and don’t put words in my mouth. What I’m saying is that the situation is complex, it’s one that the West should not have interfered in at any point, including the Western engineered coup in 2014 (and that’s exactly what it amounted to). What I’m also saying is that many are so emotional about this that they just don’t get how hypocritical they are. If this conflict were occurring in Africa, the Middle East or Asia, nobody would care one iota. But Ukraine as well as Russia are part of greater Europe, even if Russia is not closely allied to the EU (despite providing them with 40% of their gas and oil needs!).
What’s complex about it? Ukraine was moving away from Russias influence and looking westward towards the EU which lead to the removal of the pro Kremlin PM. There have been two elections since then, neither of which were good for pro Russian parties. Putin didn’t like this, as he feels Ukraine is essentially a Russian colony who shouldn’t be free to make their own decisions as a sovereign nation, so launched an unprovoked invasion the aim of which isn’t entirely clear.
You have spent that long attacking the western leaders for various policies, not without justification I might add, that you now feel you have to defend a tyrant they’re opposed to.
Yes and Ukraine was looking at money laundering western money too. Don’t forget Ukraine is and was one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The fact is that the people of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia think in the same way and have the same mentality. They are vastly closer to one another than the British are to the French or the French to the Germans. Actually probably closer to one another than the English are to the Scots. Those 3 slavic countries are all part of the same culture.
The fight the Ukrainians are putting up suggests they don’t see themselves as close to the Russians as you suggest
It’s is complicated so best to do nothing appears to be your approach. After all we may makes things worse. We do not intervene in all the tragedies in the World, so we should do nothing about the Russia invading Ukraine. That is your viewpoint, other disagree.
I am afraid that you are just an apologist and thanks for keeping us updated with your supposedly wonderful insights, as you perceive them.
Yes lets get our terminology in touch with reality here. Russian ‘oligarchs” = corrupt thieves. Even ‘gangsters’ more appropriate – ‘oligarch’ sounds somewhat endorsing….Invading another country is the ultimate in Evil – yes, lets use that word. Evil being the active goal of visiting death and horror and destruction on other’s lives and livelihoods. the old adage IS true ‘ all that is required for Evil to flourish is that good people do nothing’. Seems that it is time for the “good” to step up and say NO! Also time to call a spade a spade !
thank you, David. while the article’s main thrust is convincing, the use of the phrase “step out of line” hardly applies to Russia’s action.
Great article. This showdown between the West and the Rest has been coming for a long time. China, in particular, has played the West along for twenty years, relentlessly stealing technology and engaging in one-sided trade. Something was going to force us to face up to our enemies and force other countries to pick a side, or at least hedge their bets. There’s much truth in the old saying that what can’t go on forever won’t.
The story of the coming decade will be the story of the global fallout from the Ukraine war.
Good. And the West will win. Russia’s already lost (this entire article is delusional nonsense). I suspect we’re also passing “Peak China” right now before its awful demographics take over.
I think you might very well be living in cloud cuckoo land. The unfortunate fact is that many in the West have become weak. They no longer have the drive that they once had. Hence cancel culture, wokeness, men are women and men can have babies, etc etc etc….. So not so clear cut who will win in the end.
Perhaps a good analogy is the war between enlightened Athens and totalitarian Sparta. Athens was civilized, highly educated and enlightened, while Sparta was culturally backwards but very tough. Unfortunately Sparta won.
And this is the perfect opportunity for the West to stop worrying about all these third-order problems (if theyt are problems at all) and refocus on the important stuff. Yes, the West has gone on a massive detour from reality for the past 20 or so years – but the key advantage we have is that our system is adaptable and we can throw the idiots in charge out. I think most Westerners are being unduly pessimistic. Sure, there’s some major economic pain coming from the fantasy economics of the past 20-30 years. Buyt we’ll survive and come through it.
Save that what Mr Strauss alluded to is not some temporary loss of focus. It is the result of corruption and I am not confident there is a cure.
Oh Mr Strauss is trolling for Putin one minute then decrying the pointlessness of western existence the next.
He’s like Private Fraser – “Wur all doomed!”
Or Scotty – “She cannae take it anymore captain!”
CIA bots are out again
Come on man! I’m certainly not trolling for Putin nor am I decrying the pointlessness of Western existence. Rather it’s important to look at things realistically, and realize that every action has an equal and counter reaction (Newton’s third law). Further, it’s important to understand that one should look at the situation, including the sanctions not just from a short term perspective but a long term one as well. As the author points out, long term, these sanction may well weaken the west and lead to the downfall of the dollar as the world’s standard currency. Once the US can effectively freeze foreign assets, confidence in the US dollar will quickly evaporate. What do you think would happen to the US if the Chinese decided to sell all their treasury bonds which is the only thing between keeping the US solvent and defaulting on its massive loans. Now perhaps do you see why the situation is so complex and delicate, and has so many ramifications which may end up hurting the originators more than the target.
How do you propose to throw out the criminlas and idiots in the Anglosphere that run the education systems, the health services, the police or the judiciary? Thats before we even get to the legislature and “executive”. They know how to throw out criminals and idiots in China and Russia and did so in 1948 and 1917 respectively. Its our system that is no longer adaptable because its no longer based on reason, common ethical values and a social contract between rulers and ruled. The Russians were as surprised as they were disappointed not to gain access to the world banking system after they ditched communism and that betrayal is the root of their recent economic adaptability and Putin’s lashing out. Hopefully we’ll get our systems back in gear but i expect we’ll have to go through similar upheaval to the French revolution or American war of independence to get there.
“…but the key advantage we have is that our system is adaptable and we can throw the idiots in charge out.”
When? They are unelected…oh, you mean the politicians.
So the West will be enjoy in perpetuity the exorbitant privilege it acquired for itself through 500 yrs of plunder.
Or would you argue that it was our inherent ethnic/racial genius underpinned by a uniquely wonderful moral compass that entitles us to all that wealth – like forever?
No other civilisation or polity could or should have it’s ‘time in the sun’.
Good one Peter B. I’ve upgraded you to First Class Honours in History + Politics + Philosophy – NOT.
That will depend on what kind of republicans win. If it’s the trads, they will resort back to their worthless selves and we will be truly sunk.
Its a slow motion repeat of WW2 and its aftermath: West Germany and Japan got brand new roads, hospitals and billions in aid, Italy (eventually) got la doce vita whereas the “good guys” got 11 more years of Stalin in USSR and rationing and Labours’ destruction of industry and schools in the UK.
that analogy is weak because the present day Spartans cant think straight and the ATHENIANS are super motivated, think for themselves and have anti tank and aircraft missiles and lots of focussed snipers AND much of the world supporting them. A massive difference dont you think to Greece back then ??
A great chance to bloody the nose of ALL evil (yes evil) men who have bullied their way into taking power from their people – and to encourage those people under the influence of said evil men. Maybe even some kind of turning point in history where the common are emboldened to say NO MORE – yeah i know middle east etc etc
Let’s wait and see what the eventual outcome is. Looking at the map of where the various armies are placed and what the Russians are currently occupying, I would suggest that the Russians currently have the upper hand, although if one only listens to the talking heads and MSM one would think that the Russians are being routed. Everybody loves to root for the underdog in a David and Goliath story, but the underdog doesn’t always win. Further, the situation is not the equivalent for example of the 1948 Israeli War of independence, as despite being much larger, the Arab armies were no competition for the fledgling Israeli one.
Quite correct, but you failed to include the most important issues, the indoctrination of our children and the attacks on family. The weakness is becoming more evident daily, but only I fear, to people born in the forties and fifties, who know what real poverty looked and felt like, most of whom could only dream about further education or university.
The young and many of the middle aged live in a twilight world of feelings; and appear to be tortured by issues of mental health, which they mistakenly believe can be alleviated by the acceptance of huge doses of state control.
Ah, the wisdom of youth. Or the blindness to history. Hard to tell here.
Agreed. Putin fired his gun and he’s beaten. China is hoping the unity of the west will fade so they can keep increasing their dominance – but peak China may indeed have been passed.
The “peak demographics” of China is cope. Pointless too, since it’s only effect would be to make us feel more secure than we are. The demographics of the West are worse, and harder to fix – not least because the Chinese don’t have to care about populist opinion so much and can admit the problem. The only time demographics gets mentioned in the west is in regard to China. Ludicrous.
The history of the world since the 19C is that manufacturing powers become hegemonic. China is huge and has a highly educated population. It’s gdp per capita will continue to grow as the population falls. It has a huge industrial base. It’s transitioning to becoming a consumer society, which the USSR failed at.
That may have been true 40 years ago but not now. We are fiscally and morally bankrupt. We have squandered what our legacy.
Agreed Mr B.
Though I was more pessimistic about this until recently – it’s worth remembering that the West is best placed to cope with this. Whilst I think we will see some decline in overall living standards as the prosperity from untrammelled global trade takes a hit – it will likely lead to more resilience.
We are already seeing a shift back to more sensible policies brought on by necessity from Covid etc – shorter more local supply chains, less reliance on external actors.
That’s not to say we don’t have major issues (social self-harming, weak politicians, overly complex bureaucracies to name a few) – it’s just we have less to overcome than others.
I agree that hardship will in the long term bring with it more resiliency. That’s basically a universal law. But it’s also true that the West has never been in a worse position to deal with adversity than right now. On the other hand, maybe a reality check will stop the degradation of our academia and so-called intellectual elite.
Our academia has degraded itself and our intellectual elite are neither intellectual nor elite. There was a very good Unherd article on just this point yesterday.
Agreed – we are in a terrible place historically in many areas.
Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic but I see signs of a slowing of our self harm – if not a complete turnaround yet.
Furthermore – I would still rather be within a confused and confidence-lacking West than anywhere else in the world right now.
Very well said.
China was engaging in one-sided trade? Today, still, you can buy high-grade products from China for a fraction of what they would cost if they were made in the West. The choice to outsource our production was not that of China. It was simply cheaper, and cleaner for our localities. So it’s a bit unfair to say that “China” has engaged in one-sided trade.
Yes, you can buy cheaper from China but is it right long term policy?
Outsourcing of production to China as part of globalisation drive benefits maybe 10% of people in the West.
We lost high quality, well paid jobs to be replaced by low pay service sector jobs.
I was involved in quite a few IT outsourcing projects with India, Brazil and Eastern Europe.
Real cost benefit analysis was often manipulated to justify a move.
On some projects after countless service issues (lets just say due to culture), all process was reversed after 3 to 5 years.
The answer will be “it depends”. There are many advantages to production at scale. All in all, I’m more in favor of local high quality products. But we have become used to a certain price point for many items, and it will be hard to go back, especially now that many people have such low wages that they need cheap mass-produced products.
Also my experience of outsourcing. The amount of lying and out right dishonesty involved is breathtaking.
On the one hand, the individuals responsible for the outsourcing significantly overstates the savings to be made (and don’t they just love head count reductions) and the capabilities of the outsourcing company, while at the same time down playing, or even ignoring altogether, the ongoing residual cost, and not telling the whole truth to the outsourcing company about the requirements they have to meet.
On the other, the outsourcing company lie through their teeth about their capabilities and the resources they will need to employee to do the job (which discredit the in-house function) thinking that once the job is outsourced the customer is going to have no choice but to pay up, which they can to some extent justify on the basis that they were not told the whole truth about the requirements .
An there you have it, a perfect storm. One set of lying, cheating, thieving bar stewards trying to con another set of lying, cheating, thieving bar stewards.
and what happens? Eat, sleep, repeat
But they manipulate their currency and steal IP on a massive scale. Hardly what I would call great trading partners.
I never said they were flawless trading partners. I merely suggested that China in no way forced the West to buy products that are produced there using cheap labor and polluting their environment.
Most of the gadgets I’ve bought from China are crap. Clothing is not much better.
I am quite confident you do not realize how much of what you buy in everyday life is actually sourced from China. And this is probably true for at least 90% of people in the West.
Edit: This includes packaging, materials that stuff is made of (including clothing), food and food products (pea protein is a big one), medications and nutritional supplements.
That’s just not true anymore. In fact Tim Cook says leaving China is impossible because of their manufacturing expertise. In particular in tooling.
Yes indeed we will have to stop borrowing vast sums of money to lead the easy life and start borrowing vast sums of money to defend ourselves!
To say ‘sanctioning Russia could topple the West’, is sensational and a gross exaggeration.
It could just as easily been argued that ‘not sanctioning Russia could topple the West’. You can assume that interested parties will be observing the outcome in the Ukraine and applying the lessons to Taiwan.
Except in the case of Taiwan, China is involved, and as we all know the West has lost most of its manufacturing base to China.
There’s no sanctioning China.
Remember a little local continental difficulty that would be over by Christmas destroyed British hegemony.
By 1914 we did not have hegemony. The latent power of the US was already far greater than the overstretched Empire. A double edged sword, we had lost the tech and manufacturing race with Germany as we relied on cheap imports from the Empire. We’d already been exporting our manufacturing. Machine tools and chemicals etc were massively imported from Germany by 1914.
And also true of the West today which is already in the process of being eclipsed
Half the world lives in the East. The ‘West’ is about a billion people out of 7+ billion ( is that Japan too? Singapore?) Unless you think all Westerners are cleverer than all the rest it’s inevitable.
Sort of reminiscent of the US in 2022 is it not.
But it could likely lead to WWIII.
There are some good points raised here but a lot of “ifs” carry it.
Ask the simple question – would you rather be in Russia’s position or any other Western country’s?
Russia are totally isolated and praying for a life raft from China – a country that does not wholly trust them and will happily use them as quick as it would leave them.
Yes it has shored up some of the weaknesses in its economy, yes the sanctions might not hit it as hard as covid did, and yes we should be wary of a tilt towards China (which has already happened mostly).
But Russia even at the start of this had an economy the size of Italy’s, and is now on a level below South Korea’s and Canada. All of its rivals are more unified than ever. Among them is the US is still by far the most prosperous, with as large reserves in resources as Russia. Russia has alienated nearly all of its export market for the one major commodity it has – fossil fuels.
Another major earner for Russia over the years has been in military hardware it exports. They have long spent far more than they can afford on their military.
But Ukraine, supported by the West is catastrophically annihilating their long-standing hard fought reputation* of building cheap but effective military hardware, and through their own sheer incompetence they are diminishing their own reputation as a respected and capable military. I would not underestimate the impact of these events, even if they eventually overwhelm Ukraine.
*by fought I mean it is increasingly looking like propaganda built on lies and deception.
I agree with you apart from Russian hardware bit. Russian hardware was demolished by Western kit in every war it was used.
It is cheap though.
Indeed completely agree – I will elaborate.
I think there was/is still is an aura around Russian kit being ‘simple but reliable‘. See the misplaced fame of the AK-47 (it’s trash), Russian armour, Russian fighter jets. It went further than just ‘reliable’ though – people fully drinking from Russian PR koolaid – even our own Defence Academy in the UK used to brief us on how Russian kit completely outclassed our own.
Excuses were always made after Desert Storm or the Balkans that this was just outdated kit, poor troops/tactics and that up against Russia’s latest and best it would a different outcome. Ukraine is showing that to be nonsense.
I think you need to reread the article – with a bit more focus and concentration.
Perhaps you should provide a counter and point out where you disagree rather than try to patronise people in the comments. The floor’s all yours.
This article is based on ifs and buts but it never really discusses what other options the “West” had in this situation.
Simply put the economic sanctions are in place of direct military intervention that is now deemed too risky because of Russia’s only trump card, their nuclear arsenal ( however dubious the state of this arsenal might be ).
Russia has not stepped “out of line” but attacked a peaceful country and now that they are struggling to reach their objectives they are using the military to indiscriminately bomb civilians. Ware criminals and barbarians, that is what the Russians are and unfortunately in light of the last three weeks we should not look for counter arguments or nuances here.
Russia is the biggest country in the world with all imaginable resources at their disposal yet look at the state of their country and society, it’s a disgrace.
This is why it remains so baffling as to why the West has picked this hill to potentially die on?
Russian victory in Ukraine would neither turn Russia into a Super Power, nor would it be the precursor to tanks rolling across Europe. Even before the invasion it was known that Russia lacked the capacity to operate on mass more than a couple of hundred kilometres from their own border. With its impending demographic collapse, it would be a high water mark at best.
I would really like to see some analysis as to why, on the economic front, the West is looking to go all in, with what looks like pretty poor hand, in what should have been a low stakes game?
Of at least some pushback.
Of course, Russia would not have attacked another European country immediately after its victory in Ukraine (Moldova might have). Maybe not again until 8 years later. Is that a reason to let Russia conquer Ukraine, slaughter hundreds of thousands and enslave tens of millions of Ukrainians?
Your logic has a major flaw within itself. Letting Russia conquer Ukraine would have spared civilian lives, not cost them, as it would have ended a foreseeable conflict early. People over there aren’t dying for freedom or for their country, they’re dying for the Zelensky regime.
Like allowing Hitler to conquer Czechoslovakia saved countless life’s?
I guess some people would still defend Russia even with rockets hitting London?
Really? Apparently they’re against Zelensky making any territorial or security compromises. The Ukrainians appear to be ‘all in’ on this one – though you maybe don’t want to see that,
Not all of them because a substantial number (3 million I believe so far) have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries.
Not remotely baffling. Russia, a nuclear armed well-equipped nation has launched a full scale invasion of a European country.
This is the largest scale military operation by any country in the world since 2003’s Iraq invasion. By far. And even that was a complete overmatch in capability and equipment.
Ukraine are the underdogs certainly but much much closer to Russia in terms of equipment, capability and training – and arguably better in many areas as we have witnessed.
Wouldn’t your first paragraph be more accurate if you had written: “Russia, a nuclear armed, well-equipped European nation has launched an invasion of another European country”.
Maybe because the people in very high places deeply involved in Ukrainian money laundering prefer not to be exposed or have the graft spigot turned off?
Yah and one player is named Bunter Hiden and his uncle Bames Jiden and don’t forget 10% for the ‘big guy’
I’m sure a 200km radius is a great reassurrance to Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Last time I looked Finland and Sweden weren’t that far away either. And russia has already invaided all but Sweden in the last century.
Incorporate Ukraine and Poland then comes within 200km!
The Russian military does not have the capacity to conquer and incorporate the whole of Ukraine. The Baltic states have no real strategic value, they have no key resources, are too small to launch an invasion from, are themselves atrophying due to western migration and are part of NATO. It would be a net cost for Russia to conquer them from every perspective. As for Russia invading Poland, Finland or Sweden, that is pure fantasy, both in terms of military capability and strategic benefit.
Ah you lost me at ‘the Baltic states have no strategic value’. Nonsense.
Excellent rebuttal. Would you care to explain why?
They border a strategically important sea channel required by Russia; they form a key defensive buffer for land forces between Russia and the west that the Ukraine war has demonstrated as important; they provide a lot of votes in NATO and the EU for political purposes; they deny Russia direct access to the major Russian port of Kaliningrad which would make it easier to capture by the west.
it is not all about ‘net cost’ bro – perchance are you an accountant ?? if so you are giving them a bad name…
There’s nothing like a good ole World War to hide the gross corruption. Putin was screaming from the rafters that Ukrainian entry into the “Western” world was an existential threat to Russia. We called his bluff for 10 years and he finally showed his hand. Not saying he is right, and shouldn’t be punished, but some things are what they are in the ancient world.
Unfortunately people like you would argue the same after Russia conquered Ukraine and attacked Baltic States and then Poland.
Your view is no different from Hitler appeasers in the 30s, when every aggressive move by Germany was explained as justified and final.
It didn’t end well….
Only the most superficial reading of history, combined with a gross ignorance of military affairs, could come to the conclusion there is an equivalence between the threat posed by Putin’s Russia and Nazi German.
Biden has picked this hill on our behalf because getting his son and himself out of the Burisma scandal is way mor eimportant to him than the lives of all Americans, Russians and Ukrainians combined.
How are the west dying on this hill? It’s Putin who has screwed Russia.
Whilst the poor Spartans of Ukraine are the sacrifice to save the west, Putin’s war effectively takes Russia off the global stage for at least 20 years; meaning China has just lost an important ally. This war is a frankly brilliant result for the west by breaking one element of this axis.
China will benefit massively from Russia being forced to be a junior partner in an Eurasian economic alliance. Cut off from western markets Russia is already offering vital commodities at a 20% discount to markets that will take them. China has had its eyes on Siberian mineral wealth for a number of years now, a situation which had acted to prevent an alliance coming together. But with Russia forced to sell to China to stay afloat, there is no reason for China to force the issue anymore. On top of this sanctions cost the West as well as Russia. This means that the West would struggle to have the spare capacity to apply similar sanctions to China should it need to in the future. The Chinese understood all of this, which is why they backed the invasion in the first place.
it is not all about money bro….
From a geopolitical standpoint, money is a good approximation for power and a wealthier China is better militarily equipped and more resistant to sanctions. Which makes it a more dangerous potential foe. Making Russia weaker at the expense of making China stronger is a bad choice.
Tell that to Trudeau.
‘…countries that step out of line…’ – remarkable way to characterise the current situation, and revealing about the writer’s sympathies perhaps.
What COULD topple the West is our complete inability to understand simple economics and human behaviour. We need have no worries if we get back to free market economies, hard work, and incentivisation of education and enterprise (and spend more on defence). In spite of learning the lesson many times, the most recent being in the golden years of Reagan and Thatcher, there are still too many advocates of more government as a way to solve problems. Less government, more freedom will see us right.
Russia is not much of a treat and nor is China (if we maintain our defence systems); the threat is from the weird elements of our own society who we persist in listening to, in spite of all the evidence of their utter stupidity and wrongheadedness.
With this and Terry Eagleton, Unherd is scrapping the bottom of a very deep barrel.
The Romantic notion that somehow Zapata–or Che–or Putin will sweep down from the mountains and overthrow the evil western hegemony remains a fantasy for now.
Taking half of a nation’s foreign reserves (built up over decades) is more than a minor matter. Since I doubt Russia will ever get it back (too much to repair in Ukraine), that will make a rather large dent in Russia’s economy for years to come. That this is also an impetus to give up oil and gas from every source also is highly relevant.
i totally agree that the reserves should go to rebuild Ukraine-and at the same time cement democracy and reduce corruption – they will need REAL help tho to evade the corruptors that exist everywhere.
In all the media reports of yet more sanctions being imposed on Russia, it seems to me that a key element has been missing. Usually, when sanctions are announced, the people announcing them feel an obligation to clearly state under what conditions they will be lifted.
This creates the impression that all these measures are being gaily announced without any thought for the morrow. Does anyone have any information on this point?
Maybe the UN should vote again and again and again to “condemn” the invasion. And after that, get sleepy Joe to wag his bony finger of indignation at Vlad. That might really spook him into total submission.
I find myself thinking more and more about that oath: “the truth, ALL the truth and NOTHING BUT the truth”. Maybe this article tells the truth, but is it all the truth? What are the alternatives to Russian actions? Georgia didn’t count, Crimea didn’t count, etc. Now Ukraine doesn’t count. What is next? Maybe this was the reason WW2 happen because back then west did nothing until too late.
Second, China has its own dependency on the West, it’s not only the other way around, so we have to factor that in. It’s much more complicated than saying “China can do without us”.
Yes, everyone’s economy is going to go through some hardship but, this is a personal opinion, I trust the West to find a solution and get itself out of it in maybe innovative ways. Maybe this is what the west needs to accelerate truly innovative solutions for energy sourcing. Maybe we should spend more on production and spend less on garbage articles we use only once and through away. This would be a good way to actually improve the environment. There are many ways this could turn and I feel the article is too narrow in its perspective.
You state two very profound things. The first, which I agree with, is that WWII happened because the U.S. waited until Pearl Harbor to do anything. The second, which I disagree with is trusting the West to find a solution. The debased West has been the problem of late. This is 180 degrees from 70 years ago, when it was the solution.
Well, if you want to bring bias to the table, to assist in assessing the article… if we have to assess with a burden of proof imposed on the author, I would say Western leaders have shown repeatedly they are prepared to implement policies that are not in the interests of their own people, but rather which are in the interests of the elites’ “higher causes”. With that in mind, that policies would be implemented that will hurt the poor, and working people in their countries, such as higher food and fuel prices, should come as no surprise
Old joe has proven that by opening the southern border to the world…
it will likely lead to the emergence of two increasingly insulated blocs: a US-dominated Western bloc and a China-dominated East-Eurasian one.
The difference between this new Cold War and the last one, is that there is no danger of Communist contagion. Unlike the risk of Reds under the Bed, there will be no Putin-ite of Xi-ist revolutions in western countries. There is some danger of further limited invasions – Taiwan or Moldova for instance. But very few dominos will be falling.
If the West was self-reliant for energy and food staples – which we could be with a bit of foresight – then we could slap tariffs on East-Eurasian exports, boost our domestic industries, defend our borders, control the oceans and leave the Russo-Chinese world to its own devices.
The Reds are under your bed. They only changed their name to Wokies.
Yes but the Comitern is in LA this time rather than Moscow.
You may well be right but it will be China in the driving seat of the East-Eurasian bloc and Russia doing as it is told.
Through the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative the Chinese are building an economic network that extends into Africa and South-East Asia. Australia has already received a Chinese economic backlash over its criticism of Chinese investigations into Wuhan.
If this network also encompasses Russia and mid-Asia khan-states out to Iran, and then Pakistan and India you have an economic network encompassing two-thirds of the global population, sheltering under a Chinese umbrella. Over time, as those countries continue to develop, that become a large challenge to the current western hegemony.
Sure but can they move belt roads it through UKR now or in future to Western Europe? Might not be so easy given the current unpleasantness. If both Russ and China are sanctioned, things change for that project.
But not sanctioning Russia means rewarding naked Russian aggression, and inviting yet more. Sanctions should be severe, increasingly restrictive, and unrelenting until such times as Russia does not pose a military threat to its neighbours.
So what? Actions only matter within context. You can’t sanction somebody you don’t have leverage over. The truth is that we depend on Russian resources to fill even basic energy needs. Whereas they can just sell to China and make the situation worse for Europe in the long run. Truth is that we have to admit there is a second big player right in our neighborhood, but there is still a vast refusal to do so. Riled up by the mass-media and ever-present group-think, people suddenly jump onto Western propaganda in an almost patriotic turn of events. The same people who are working domestically to take down the West and its “racist” systems are now calling for an all-out war against Russia. Acting like we have any freedom left – if anything, the pandemic response has made very clear how corrupted our own systems of organization really are.
“After all, Russia has been preparing for this moment for quite some time.”
We have seen the quality of Russian preparations in Ukraine 😀
A lot of people, writers and commenters co-opting the war into their bugbears (solipsism, acting out, or just confusion?). Putin did not invade Ukraine because of:
He did it because he is a Chekist through-and-through, who thinks that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was the fall of the USSR, and that he will make Russia great again. This is not ‘my opinion’, but that of Gary Kasporov – who has been warning of this for over 20 years.
Moreover he has held almost absolute power for over 20 years – a good ten years past the point when leaders go crazy, which is why most democracies have a two-term limit.
I try to listen to several pov’s, not relying on one persons because who knows if they have an axe to grind?
As Dr Starkey said if we run government policy along the lines of a sixteen year old woke public school girl, there will be problems. However, a government policy run along the lines of Elizabeth 1 with the advice of Cecil, Walsingham, Gresham, Hawkins, Drake, Bacon, Grenville, Frobisher, etc, would do rather well.
Britain has faced far worse problems. The greatest liability is The Woke Mindset, followed by servile devotion to the EU, next short term planning by greedy industry and then an under skilled workforce. The first three can be corrected in a flash, the last one will take time.
Elizabeth came to power in 1558 and England was in a very weak position. By sagacious rule, thirty years later the largest armada the World had ever seen, sent by the most powerful monarch in Europe, was defeated.
As Barnes Wallis said ” The genius of the English was due to their individuality ” , the problem, with writers is they lack ingenuity ad innovation.
Russia is showing it’s lack of military competence, the result of a hubristic Chekist making military decisions. We know little about China’s substance whether industrial, financial or military; it could be a paper tiger. The ships of the the Armada were much larger than the English ones. However, the English ships could sail closer to the wind, had a fire rate of up to five times of the Spanish and were commanded by experience sailors, not aristocrats.
As Nelson said ” The boldest is the safest option”.
“Sticks and stones may break their bones but sanctions will never hurt them” whinges the writer, devoid of any principles or morals.
And as a consequence of sanctions the writer says they’ll build alternatives in other countries? As Eastwood said, “Go ahead, make my day”. The west has got its act together at last and can afford to shut out countries that go to extremes, even Russia. This is a good dry run for shutting out China when that becomes necessary.
In any case, sanctions hurt a lot, contrary to what this writer says. I used to police sanctions for companies and it severely affects how they do business, and strangles progress in the targeted country. Who wants to live there? Not many of the skilled and intelligent – and the writer fails to mention this.
Agreed – next Putin will lock down Russian borders as all those who want to think for themselves attempt to leave (brain drain) and only the drones will be left who cannot create anything – just as in soviet Russia. The russian populace will finally and clearly realize that they have been duped AGAIN – and many will want out leaving a much depleted, weakened state slipping into third world status for those left behind….
They will never sanction China; who ya think is underwriting our debt? We’ve been ignoring their treachery for decades.
Well you made my day! “The west has got its act together at last” afforded me much mirth. Leaders in the West seem to assume they have the right to impose ever heavier sanctions on Russia, but that Russia is nevertheless obliged to sell us oil, gas & raw materials on demand. As if life can be managed by a spreadsheet or a Ted talk! Well it can’t. People like Putin are impressed only when confronted directly with force. And that’s the one thing Biden & co. keep saying won’t happen. As for military or economic hardship, while the Russians will suffer for decades and eat grass if they have to, I wouldn’t put much faith in the populations of the West to knuckle down and endure prolonged deprivation. I have lived in the West for more than 25 years and in every country I have lived and worked in I have observed the following: Westerners are exceptionally talented at getting immigrants to do the the real work in their society at rates considerably lower than their own population would work for; aforementioned populations are exceptionally good at claiming benefits; and most people are now so terminally afflicted by the cancer of social media that they often have a tenuous hold on reality at best. Oh, and watching 4th rate “content” on Netflix is a growth industry!
Beyond Russia, companies like Google & Apple happily do business with communist China (including using Uighur labour), while back home they indulge in infantile censorship of Western populations for things like “gender transphobia” and “covid misinformation”. People like Putin see this, and draw their own conclusions. I suspect fear that the West might “get its act together” is not one of them.
I agree that there is lot of wishful thinking on the part of the West over the the effect of economic sanctions, and over the development of the war. Having said this, and I’m not an economist, but surely any country will suffer over the long term if it is isolated from the global capitalist economic system.
So this is what it is like to read an article from one of Job’s comforters.
What steps would the author take that would be effective, or do we just trade in our chips and accept that might is right?
Not so much Unherd as barking mad.
Quite. It is – in Niels Bohr’s immortal words – “not even wrong”.
What a spot-on article. The writer recognises that not all countries are dependent on the western media for their knowledge of what is going on in Ukraine. He also recognises that not all countries think America should be the leader of the world and dictate global policy. What is so tragic is that it is the people of Ukraine who are being used as a political tool.
Interesting if only to note the MSM are not publishing this. I suspect both sides reckoned Putin would be standing up in an open Mercedes driving through Kiev within 3 days. Neither the East nor the West appear to want to lose $millions of downed jets and the Russian tanks aren’t the latest models by all accounts.
In the west fuel costs and WFH are driving down consumption. People are turning their thermostats down and nervousness about Putin’s ultimate threat is making people assess their priorities. Well, some people. The MSM is clearly adrift from public opinion, their copybook blotted so much that people either ignore it, don’t believe it or are so simple their opinions don’t count.
The so called Great Reset may be coming but it’s not the planned one. Fossil fuel consumption down and reliance on renewables up, but not how Greta wanted it. Cheap Chinese tat? Who needed it in the first place? Who needed a new car, new TV, new gadget? Who is going to be out of work once consumerism dies? The author is right but not necessarily for the same reasons he states. Perhaps surrendering our UK manufacturing industry wasn’t so bad after all. We can’t even pack up the pickup and head for California, it’s ruined already, one of the first to go. The last big depression was saved by WW2. Careful what you wish for.
As I predicted a few weeks’ ago Navalny has had his term extended on trumped up charges. Probably another 12 years. A reminder about what we’re facing- a choice between real repressive regimes with arbitrary justice-Belarus, deportation of Ukrainian children, Middle East regimes, militarised theocracies like Pakistan etc and the West. Spare me the false comparisons arguing from abstract perfection- the West isn’t perfect therefore….Trudeau clears a few trucks peacefully therefore he’s ‘just like’ Putin. It’s ridiculous.
He froze bank accounts, don’t downplay his treachery.
Treachery is an absurdly overweighted term compared to Russian brutality. You do realise Navalny’s lawyer was actually arrested outside the courthouse. Get a grip. In Russia the convoy would have been stopped within the first day, people dragged away and ‘disappeared’.
Just “clear(ed) a few trucks” did he? Recall that the “problem” was a carnival-like encampment of protesters in Ottawa. To justify his emergency Trudeau characterized this peaceful protest as “an urgent, temporary and critical situation that seriously endangers the health and safety of Canadians (which) .. seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada”. Measures taken and powers assumed included:
Compliant police officials immediately declared publicly that people who “supported or were involved” in the protest would “suffer for months to come”. Meanwhile Trudeau continued to smear the protesters relentlessly (as Nazis, racists, terrorists etc. etc.). His minister of Finance solemnly pronounced that the authorities would “follow the money” as if the truckers were international terrorists. And a slavish media amplified it all. Given the green light, goon squads inspired by Trudeau’s hate campaign smashed up some businesses of people deemed to be “supporters” of the protesters and intimidated the staff.
This is how Putin got started. Trudeau is following in the same furrow; he’s just a little behind the game. Democracy is a fragile thing, and thugs and crypto fascists like Putin and Trudeau know it!
China has the veneer of or a regular ordered economic system. Russia does not. What is happening is the West has decided that Russia’s war is illegitimate, morally repugnant and evil and genocidal. Perhaps this author is a closet Putin loyalist. I gather he suggest the West do nothing and allow Putin his unfettered destruction of Ukrainian freedom from Moscow influence. Perhaps this author would have morally repugnant people as associates and business partners but many of us wouldn’t. How do you treat evil? Accept it a move along or resist? He doesn’t offer a better suggestion just an assertion that non aligned countries may turn away….We cannot control who decided to sleep with who….it is a choice countries make. Countries have no friends…only interests. If some decide to sleep with tyrants have at it.
It will. That’s the idea. NGOs and rich private organizations want to take control, and that’s easier with an obedient population that depend on food handouts.
In some ways, I hate to see the decline of the West. On the other hand, it’s exciting to be present at this major historical event.
Yet anther purely negative article from Fazi. It would be nice if he produced some constructive suggestions as to how to resist this unprovoked Russian aggression. Is his opinion that Ukraine cannot be supported effectively and should just surrender to becoming a Russian colony?
Interesting, there actually are a handful of writers for Unherd who refuse to follow the herd.
Well described. But I’m afraid that the leaders in the West are completely unable to realise this. The scandalous thing, in fact, is that the sanctions were announced without anyone clearly defining the goals they want to achieve (what exactly is “defeating Russia”?), and no one has calculated the impact on the economies of Western countries either.
For us in Central Europe, the combination of sanctions and the migration wave means a catastrophic drop in living standards, probably greater than in Russia.
I fear that the only point of sanctions is to satisfy the emotions of the moment, and that no one is thinking about the consequences.
The WEST was toppled long ago. The only question is: when will it hit the floor?
There are some, in the WEST….I promise you, that think that just because they FEEL feinine that they are female. They demand to be female because they feel/know that their selfish want supercedes all rationality and all morality. WOW! HUBRIS
Rome is Burning: yet all Rome sees is Ukraine in flame
Putin is a madman. Yet still, I feel he is closer to God than is Biden.
“A new Cold War would cripple the American empire”.
It would inconvenience the “American Empire” and kick-start alternatives to those commodities we require of Russia. It would consign the third world country with nukes that is Russia to the pariah status it deserves. The best Russia can hope for is to play Tonto to China’s Lone Ranger.
“the West will stop at nothing to punish countries that step out of line”. Yes, invading Ukraine, threatening every country in Central/Eastern Europe plus Finland and Sweden with nuclear war, murdering civilians is just..stepping out of line. WhoTF is this guy?
What did I just read? Surely by a Russian bot!
Look up his publisher – Pluto Press.
What has happened to UnHerd in that so many of its former Commentators have left the forum?
In the early days of The Pandemic, it was one of the very few sites to encourage free and animated discussion.
However, since the outbreak of the Ukrainian War the last few seem to have left.
A great reputation has been needlessly squandered. Probably to pander to the complaints of a few, precious individuals, sitting securely in their mock Tudor semis in Neasden.
I think they left because the first renewal of subscriptions came up and they were disinclined to renew on account of the arbitrary and debate-stifling moderating algorithm. I’m rather wishing I’d done the same.
Funny article. Everything coming from Russia is valid and serious: :they will never be dependent on the West, and by attacking Ukraine they just …went out of line. And everyone will go right to yuan, the most manipulated currency in the world. And everything denominated in $ and Euro became a risky asset, everything denominated in yuan will be rock solid.
So what we need to do is to make nice with Putin, otherwise we are doomed.
The green idiots all over the world, the real enablers of Putin, have enough brain cells, barely, to actually understand that wind an solar without Russian gas is just a fraud, so they panic.
Bizarre article. A sort of ‘whistling past the graveyard’ on behalf of Russia. Perhaps everything will be alright? 7% contraction of the economy every year- fine. We’ll manage. We’ll just sell all our stuff to China. Because they are a good and trustworthy strategic partner…
“The West’s imposition of sanctions — involving not only governments, but also private companies and even allegedly apolitical organisations such as central banks — has sent a clear message to the countries of the world: the West will stop at nothing to punish countries that step out of line. If this can happen to Russia, a major power, it can happen to anyone.”
Mr. Fazi describes a racist, colonial invasion of a peaceful neighbour, the mass deportation of its children, the rape of its women, the slaughter of its civilians and the deliberate destruction of its infrastructure, and the continual threat of nuclear warfare, as “stepping out of line”.
Mr. Fazi says that the West’s “punishment” can “happen to anyone” – that is, anyone who may wish to carry out a racist, colonial invasion on a peaceful neighbour, deport its children, rape its women, slaughter its civilians and bomb its infrastructure.
Mr. Fazi evidently considers that we ought to be concerned about the plight of any such murderous regime who may have to pause for thought, with all these nasty and ill-advised sanctions potentially spoiling their fun.
Brought to you without further comment.
Really excellent analysis. Just goes to show it’s probably a good idea not to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.
Nothing has been shown yet. So it’s probably a good idea to let the import of sanctions sink into the particular mind-set that is still processing the fact that its nose has been, as it sees it, most inconsiderately put out of joint.
On the contrary. The article (it is not an analysis) is nonsense. Russia cannot and will not produce advanced weapons without Western technology.
It’s also possible that their oil and gas industry is dependent on Western technology and services – which are now embargoed.
It is not possible, it is fact.
That is why Western oil giants were involved in oil and gas projects in Siberia.
Well, that was a sobering reality check, wasn’t it.
The petty-pique arrogant cancel culture that has taken the world in its grip, only works when the power differential is immense. In the clash between Titans, as in the U.S. and Russia, it is even worse than petty-pique, it can be catastrophic. There is no cowering in frustration that would hinder atomic escalation, for a power having nuclear and biological weaponry in hand, especially in the hand of someone like Putin, who has already demonstrated his willingness to slaughter even those who were once his vassals and who even still at least some of his kin. An arrogant twit like Joe Biden would be considered a welcome target for such as Putin.
To address this problem the countries that BUY from Russia need to be sanctioned by an amount greater than they are gaining by refusing to sanction Russia directly
It does not have to be exact: simply split up Russia’s actual production and split the cost among the buyers and give the buyers an appeal process to show that the amount they need to pay should be paid by the other ‘I refuse’ countries
When buyers have a choice of buying oil on the open market for $100 or buying from Russia for $200 / barrel then these countries will naturally do the right thing
For me, the chief reason to view the future with extreme trepidation is the sheer mediocrity of the people we in the West call our leaders. Look no further than the panic-stricken response to covid; then add Afghanistan!
The covid drama showed the true character of our leaders: all were prepared to lie, coerce citizens, spread hate-filled rhetoric, and censor anyone who disagreed with their “line”. Some, like Ardern and the Australian state premiers, showed a particularly vicious streak; while the execrable Trudeau had no qualms about resorted to naked fascism to deal with a peaceful protest. In the US, the Biden “sheep show” shamelessly politicized anything and everything covid. As for the utter humiliation of Afghanistan, Biden and Johnson actually had the gall to subsequently proclaim that this was the “most successful of evacuations”. No wonder so much of the world holds us in contempt and thugs like Putin are emboldened.
America basically pushed the nuclear button in regards to its soft power, by leveraging its (and its allies’) economic weight against Russia. The result? The entire non-Western world shrugged and didn’t care.
America just sealed its own doom. It always had its stranglehold over the world’s economy but no more. They could only leverage it in this way once and then the cat is out of the bag. The writing is on the wall after the US approached Saudi Arabia for mate’s rates on oil after the economic hit against Russia. The Saudis laughed in their faces. “Oh, you thought the Petrodollar served *America*?”
I salute the US’ ridiculous reactionary nature for bringing about the end of this most risible of Empires. The sadness is that it will be replaced by a Russia-China alliance and not a Russia-Germany alliance. Europe suffers in both camps.
The communists used to think that their system would work if only the whole world adopted it. That was fantasy of course and so are the delusions of a great reset by the World Economic Forum. They’re trying to punish Russia for not following orders while the countries of the west are collapsing under the weight of massive budget deficits and rising inflation.
Nicely done! Comprehensive review and it seems the great majority of the commentators agree. To me, the real story is that Putin has been successfully playing rope a dope with the West’s inept and Dumb Ass leaders for the last 10 years and it looks like many more years to come. We are being led by the most incompetent politicians and bureaucrats in Modern History. And the final stroke is that they are boring as hell. No characters, just plain dumb. I wish I knew what the answers are but when a nation sanctions another nation but is wholly dependent on the sanctioned nation for energy, etc, it is not going to end well. See the inept and DA sentence above.
Thank you Thomas Fazi for pointing out the bleedin’ obvious. What beggars belief is the neither the EU, Washington or Westminster, nor the vast majority of media pundits, seemed to have been able to grasp this simple obvious fact about the sanctions, before they were implemented. Might I suggest that underlying motivations and reasons that would be the topic of an article worth writing?!
Thomas Fazi must be a Russian Disinformation agent. Here he is openly saying that the sanctions we have imposed on Russia may come back to bite us. He is saying something that Bloomberg, another prominent source of Russian disinformation, said this morning: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-27/a-world-that-s-more-expensive-is-starting-to-destroy-demand?srnd=premium&sref=r2LiOskh
How dare they question the sanctity of our sanctions, the effectiveness of our righteousness. Why, it’s almost as if they’re saying that the world is a complicated place, and that we shouldn’t sit around intoxicated by our own sense of moral certainty. Shame on Fazi. Someone should check out his funding sources.
A year on, “The West” has been toppled. Europe is now an economic basket case without access to cheap Russian energy. This will de-industrialise mighty Germany. To make matters worse, Europe has hobbled itself further with its alleged “green” energy policies. The only major European country with some energy hope is France with its large Nuclear powered electric industry (a legacy of de Gaul).
The UK has trashed its reputation for the rule-of-law. Expect London to revert to being the international backwater it was 500 years ago. That ultimately may be a healthy rebalancing of Britain, but there will be a lot of pain as the the distortion of London unwinds.
The USA, given its own resource base, has some hope of renaissance as a self-contained continental power, but its hegemonic world power has been broken.
Excellent article. Thanks.