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War Fever in the Air
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War fever is in the air. Fifty thousand Russian troops and armor are massed on Ukraine’s eastern border. Europe and Washington worry that the reborn Red Army may sweep west across Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics – even into Poland.

The West is suffering from a bad case of Cold War chills.

Not only are the Western powers worried, they are discovering that they likely lack the means to stop possible Russian incursions into what was the former Soviet Empire.

They should not be at all surprised that Russia is again showing signs of life.

Frederick the Great, the renowned Prussian warrior-king, warned: “he who tried to defend everything, defends nothing.”

Every young officers should have Great Fredrick’s words tattooed on his right hand. Soon after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a small number of strategists, this analyst included, warned NATO, “do not move east. It’s a bridge too far.”

Soviet chairman Mikhail Gorbachev had agreed to let rebellious East Germany escape Soviet control – but in exchange for NATO’s vow not to push east in previously Soviet dominated areas of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The US and NATO agreed, then quickly broke their pledge.

NATO’s advance into Eastern Europe, the Baltic and the Caucasus – not to mention former Soviet Central Asia – that brought the US-led alliance right up to Russia’s borders. US anti- missile systems were scheduled to go into Poland, close to Russian territory. New US bases were set up in Bulgaria, Rumania and Central Asia.

Unsubtle US efforts to bring ex-Russian Ukraine and the vital Sevastopol naval base in Crimea under NATO control – no doubt to punish Russia for supporting Syria and Iran – proved the last straw for the Kremlin.

Talking tough is easy. Defending Eastern Europe from a possible Russian invasion will not be. The main problem is that while US/NATO guarantees have been advanced to Russia’s sensitive borders, their military capabilities have not. In short, commitment without capability.

Russia’s military could take over the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in an afternoon. Sizeable portions of their populations are ethnic Russians.

NATO is not deployed or equipped to go to war over Ukraine: its troops are far to the west, without supply systems or air cover. Besides, European powers, aside from the little Nazis in Denmark and Ukraine’s nationalists, want no part of war with Russia – that’s left to the war hawks safely at home in Washington.

The barrage of trade sanctions Washington is imposed on Russia is an act of pre-war. We should remember that US sanctions imposed on Japan in 1941 that led Tokyo to attack the Western powers.


During the Cold War, the US had some 400,000 troops in Europe, 800 warplanes and potent naval forces. Today, the US has only 43,000 troops left in Europe: two combat brigades and the rest air force and logistics personnel. The old days when the Soviet Union had 50,000 tanks pointed at Western Europe are long gone, but Russia’s modernized armed forces still pack punch.

Meanwhile, the US has scattered forces all over the globe in what Frederick the Great would call an effort to defend everything. Most notably, US troops have gone to Afghanistan, Iraq, then Kuwait, and many home. America’s strongest divisions are now guarding Kansas and Texas instead of German’s Fulda Gap and Hanover.

America’s military power has been dissipated in little colonial wars, just as Britain’s were in the 19th century. When British imperial troops had to face real German soldiers, they were slaughtered. Similarly, the US military, reconfigured after Vietnam to wage guerilla wars, is in no shape today to face the grandsons of the once mighty Red Army.

Cautious, patient Vlad Putin is not about to invade Poland. The real danger is what would happen if the ethnic Russian inhabitants of the Baltic states, Ukraine and Moldova rise up and demand reunification with Mother Russia?

Would Russia go to their aid? Would Europe and the US be ready to risk nuclear war for obscure places like Luhansk, Kharkov, Chisinau or Kaunus?

In Ukraine and Crimea we are now seeing the results of overly aggressive Western geopolitics. Russia was woefully underestimated. A crisis between nuclear-armed powers should never have been allowed to occur. It’s sheer madness. Like nuclear-armed children fighting over a toy.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Russia, Ukraine 
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  1. East Germany was not rebellious. Far from it.

    They did miscalculate gravely though–had they declared independence after the collapse of the USSR, instead of selling out for illusory promises of all the goodies in the West German Capitalist department store catalogs, they would now be one of the leading countries of Europe and the World.

    Instead, as they are now realizing, they lost an enormous amount when the West German Capitalists moved in.

  2. jesse says:

    Englands contemptable little army, “old contemptables” were the only veteran army to enter WW1. Problem was there were only 100,000 of them. They were very effective until numbers overwhelmed them. Then England fielded Kitchner’s Palls, volunteers. Then they had to draft. 3 armies. in 4 years. The veteran army gained experience in colonial wars, and had best standard issue weapon of WW1, the Enfield 303. They slaughtered German conscripts, but couldn’t outlast the vast numbers

  3. Do you not think the sound of the joy of those watching the American politicians look impotent in the face of events in the Crimea is more the tune on the air at the moment than the distant rumble of drums calling soldiers and programmers to a war with Russian? Yes, I suppose it would be great to have warned of such a war after it in fact happened, and with human beings being what they are, and Europeans even more so, war is always a safe bet. Right now, however, it just does not feel likely over the this. We are all waiting for something to happen, with the anniversary of WWI beginning this summer that is natural enough, but it feels like a time of growing American weakness. The greatest usury bubble the world has ever known hangs over her head like the sword of Damocles. Might not aggressive moves seen to be foolish and expensive by most of the world crash the dollar if they were launched? The Chinese and Western investors were willing to buy up debt for high profit to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan, but that kind of confidence in the dollar may now be gone. This seems more like a Doyle moment, a time when the dogs of war are not barking, and that is the remarkable thing. It feels like the politicians in the US are just going through the motions, strutting about without real intent.

  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    > Every young officers …

    > NATO’s advance into Eastern Europe, the Baltic and the Caucasus … that brought the US-led alliance right up to Russia’s borders.

    > The barrage of trade sanctions Washington is imposed on Russia …

    > We should remember that US sanctions imposed on Japan in 1941 that led Tokyo to attack the Western powers.

    > America’s military power has been dissipated in little colonial wars, just as Britain’s were in the 19th century.

    > The real danger is … Mother Russia?

    OK, maybe this guy is not a native speaker of English but you’d think that at least he’d be able to proof-read his stuff. Sheesh.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    50,000 troops ‘massed’ sounds scary. Until some research shows its a 900 mile border. Or maybe longer now with the changes in Crimea? Does that 50,000 include the 25,000 that Russia has been permitted by treaty to have in the Crimea?

    By comparison, the US has approximately 20,000 border patrol officers along a border with Mexico that’s about twice as long. So, would another 10,000 people assigned to watch the Russia-Ukraine border be out of hand? No, doesn’t sound like it.

    Stick a couple of 10,000 man divisions generally somewhere along the 900 mile border on general defensive duties, which is also rather reasonable along a border, and there’s your ‘50,000’ troops. But the ‘massed’ part is still total fiction.

    50,000 troops along a 1000 mile border is about 50 soldiers per mile. That is not ‘massing’ troops along a border. That sounds a lot more like a relatively peaceful border with normal defenses and border control.

    By comparison, when the Soviets fought the German Nazis in this same area at the battle of Kursk in 1943, there were about 2,000,000 men ‘massed’ in this area.

    OSCE inspectors, and a recent report from NBCNews all confirm Russian accounts that there’s no massing of troops in the area beyond the normal expected levels.

  6. schmenz says:

    I’m Curious. An NBC report just stated flatly that there are no Russian troops on the border (based on interviews, videos and on-site reporting), yet Mr Margolis says there are tens of thousands. NBC is of course a war-monger stronghold so I must admit to being confused.

    I guess what I’m asking is, does Mr Margolis have some evidence for his claim?

  7. The assertion that 50,000 Russian soldiers are massed along the Ukrainian border is contestable. NBC News correspondent Jim Maceda writes today that he and his crew covered more than 500 miles of that border without seeing anything, apart from a couple of helicopters, that could be called a military buildup.

  8. Art M says:

    A decent article, if you deign to take it seriously. I have a hard time taking saber rattling between the US and Russian empires with much seriousness. The reason behind my eccentric behavior is that from 1945 until the fall of the Soviets within Russia, the “Cold” War was pretty much a sham, a long con. Yes, yes, I know, we had so many nukes and planes and tanks and ships and the Ruskies had so many nukes and tanks and planes and ships and other stuff, that the only reasonable way to be was scared. 25/7 scared. Remember the “missile gap”, and the “bomber gap” and “tank gap” and the fap gap and whatever other fear mongering “gap” could be dreamed up by the various militarists? As it turned out, none of them were real. They were the results of Americans still living the grand dream: that our own government would never, ever, ever lie to us, we would never ever, ever, ever run out of money, and as long as we let the militarists have their way, God would be on our side . These gaps were nothing more than the military having discovered that if they throw in a “gap” every once in a while and follow it with dire predictions of rape and extermination, why the military was unquestionably granted huge piles of bucks and power. On what else did we think the Military Industrial Complex was feeding?

    I tend to think of it in more mundane level, i.e. human. The leaders of the two prospective antagonists have it made. They’ve got the big houses (please, note the plurality) and the money, and the power, so why in the world would they risk losing all of that for any reason? I wouldn’t, would you? At some point, the populace might get around to asking itself: why do our “leaders” spend us into bankruptcy fielding an army around the world while Detroit is a festering sore on our landscape? Why are we supposed to give a rats butt about Crimea while East LA becomes a third world country? Why are we tearing ourselves apart over healthcare when just (pick a number, I use 50)% reduction in the budgets of the DOD, CIA, NSA would give us enough extra money to put into a system that would provide single payer health care for every citizen and the 30 million illegals to boot? And, as an extra added bonus, at no extra charge, all the manpower thus freed up could be put to use rebuilding our infrastructure. Instead, we blithely, zombie-like accept the loss of our dreams, the loss of honor and prestige, the loss of hope, health, happiness and freedom because of, well, articles just like this one, with the same old 1861 thinking carried out the same old way, giving us the same old results.

    What is being set up, however, is an interesting scenario. When the IMF and the USAid seep into a country making mafioso loans to lock that country into debt, and thus slavery, the countries involved have no where else to go. This is usually due to geographic circumstances. However, Ukraine isn’t that way. I’m waiting for the current, tenuous at best, Ukraine government to accept all of these “loans” of 5, 10, 20 billion (or bazillion) dollars in aid and then be handed an “austerity” program like the Greeks, and, after having suffered the dictates of the loan sharks the people get pissed again and revolt again. This time, however, after suffering the privations and hardships and lies that come with “austerity”, Ukraine is going to call up Mother Russia and say, “Mom, can we come home. We’re not having any fun anymore.” What mother could say, “Nyet” to such a plea? After voting and revolting (or revolting and voting), Ukraine will once again join with their natural peer group. “Oh”, says Ukraine, “IMF, USA, y’know those loans you did a while back? Well, fark you, thanks and all but we ain’t paying ’em back.” Now that will be interesting.

  9. CARLOS says:

    @ Eugene Costa
    The German reunification was not a reunification from two states.It was the reunification from the people and their territory according international law.The constitution was adopted according political law and the social and economic system was united.
    Without the reunification the East would have the same standard like Slovakia.
    Germans want to live in one state.In the peaceful uprising the crowd were yelling “We are the people”. In the time before reunification they yelled” We are ONE people”.
    Quote from French President Mitterand:” I love Germany so much that I am happy about that there are 2 of them existing”. Only the Communists were happy about this.
    The eastern economy was not able to survive.
    Today Germans are angry.Everybody is knocking on their door and wants money although more and more are working poor,cuts in pensions and so on.And if Germany doesn’t pay then there comes the same song who is played since 70 years.

  10. Mooser says:

    “We should remember that US sanctions imposed on Japan in 1941 that led Tokyo to attack the Western powers.”

    Ah yes, of course, continuing to aid Japanese expansion and looting of China and the rest of Asia would have been the better course.

  11. Complete nonsense that Russia is poised as “the reborn Red Army that may sweep west across the Ukraine, Moldovia, the Baltics, even into Poland.” This article is garbage, dismiss it as the foolish ranting that it is. There is no substantiation to any of these ridiculous assertions because this “journalist” made it all up.

  12. War fever in the air?

    You’ve been talking to the ghost of Benazir again, haven’t you Eric?

    Your conclusion is fine but I’ve no idea how you got there.

  13. Has anyone checked allegations that Russians troops are massed on the border? Yes, NBC news, and found none, yet other media sources failed to issue a correction.

    And this occurs just as the Pentagon is pressing for increased spending as the FY2015 budget is proposed, and as a long delayed review to close some of our excess bases in Europe is due for release.

  14. “Ah yes, of course, continuing to aid Japanese expansion and looting of China and the rest of Asia would have been the better course.”

    Yeah, actually. Hmm, mind your own business or fight a war to free and empower a future enemy in China?

  15. “Your conclusion is fine but I’ve no idea how you got there.”

    Just watch Faux News for an hour – or visit Drudge. You’ll get it.

  16. Simon says:

    I`ve never heard such rubbish. NATO, the IMF and EU have just seized 90% of Ukraine in a coup they themselves staged using deranged Nazis and fascists from eastern Ukraine, and are butthurt because they couldn`t steal Crimea for plunder as well. And then this baloney about troop build up when the entire thing was staged by the west in order to provoke a conflict.
    The NATO propaganda is in fact identical to the propaganda Hitler used before Barbarossa. The evil Russians are massing troops and preparing to invade! We must attack immediately to prevent this!.
    And on top of everything else Ukraine is basically a fiction to begin with and was invented by Paul von Hindenburg and Ludendorf after the Brest Litovsk peace treaty in 1918. Not only is Ukraine Russian, but it was where Russia was founded 1100 years ago, with Kiev as the capital. The only reason the Ukrainians speak a Russian dialect and not regular Russian is that this area was under Polish rule for a few centuries and so the language is a Polish version of Russian. The entire thing is just being cooked up the weaken Russia, which has been the main priority of every disgusting imperialist since the 1850s.
    The west are the ones who should butt out of Russian affairs and stop courting World War Three with this insane brinksmanship. Hell, not even the Ukrainians want to fight for Ukraine so why should NATO soldiers have to. Especially when it is for the IMF and NATO, and certainly not for the people of Ukraine who are already being squeezed with IMF austerity programs which will drive them all to starvation. Tell the truth or shut up dammit!

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