Tag: ukraine

I Don’t Understand

I am not a student of history, geopolitics, or economics. I confess that I have about a 7th grade grasp of world events most of the time. Therefore, I am being sincere when I say that I need someone to explain something to me like I was a child. Speak slowly and in simple language. No platitudes, vague historical references, or moral right vs. wrong inferences. I’m looking for a clear, fact-based argument. Ready?

Why is it in the United States strategic interest to fully fund, arm, and (eventually) defend Ukraine?

What I find when I search on this subject is mostly vague arm waving and teeth gnashing about “we can’t let naked aggression like this go unchecked”, or “if we don’t stop Russia here and push them back, they’ll soon be rolling into Poland”. There’s plenty of moral justifications thrown out – “we can’t stand by and let innocent civilians be slaughtered”, or the WWII reference of “we stood by when Germany began occupying other countries, we can’t let that happen again”. All of those things may be true. But none of them are an argument for why the US needs to be the one to solve it.

This is not a defense of Russia’s actions. For a variety of reasons, Russia made the strategic choice to invade another country. War is awful and never leads to a good outcome for anyone involved. Period. You can hate Russia all you want for their decision… but it doesn’t change the fact that they did it. So, now what?

The US has committed upwards of $60 billion dollars, with future pledges bringing the total to over $100 billion. We’ve depleted our own stockpiles of military hardware so we can send it to Ukraine. We have troops on the ground in-country, we’re providing training, intelligence, targeting, and continue to push the envelope with more and more advanced military technology. We seem to be doing everything possible to poke the Russian bear and provoke an escalation. Why? Why is all this in our interest?

So back to my child-like questions:

  • Ukraine is not a NATO member, nor has it been a historical ally. Why does the US need to be the one to defend them?
  • Russia has not attacked a fellow NATO member, so you can’t claim we’re fulfilling our article 5 duties. Why are we there?
  • If the European countries are feeling threatened… shouldn’t that be primarily a European problem to solve?
  • Given that any future threat is to Europe, shouldn’t the vast majority of aid be coming from European countries?
  • Given that we’re $32+ trillion in debt and have a whole host of issues of our own to solve, we do we need to be sending $100 billion to Ukraine?
  • We just ended (badly) a 20-year war that cost us $5+ trillion. Why do we need to engage in another war?
  • And finally… how is it in our strategic interests to provoke Russia to the brink of a nuclear exchange?

Here’s something nobody wants to talk about. Without US support, Russia would have pretty quickly taken a large portion of Ukrainian territory. Whether that is good or bad is subject for another discussion. Regardless, we enabled Ukraine to push back sufficiently enough that this war will now go on for a very long time. No matter who wins, the end outcome will be that Ukraine will be left a smoking heap of ash. There will be nothing left. Its infrastructure will be completely destroyed. Its agricultural, drilling, and mining exports are already gone. As we approach spring, Russia will accelerate its targeting of all power infrastructure, water, sewer, and industrial capacity. They will turn Ukraine into a wasteland and force a mass exodus of refugees. Whatever is left of the population will be facing actual famine. That’s reality.

Do you really think Russia is suddenly going to say, “whoops, my bad. Sorry about that”. Is Russia going to decide tomorrow to just pull back with its tail between its legs? Doubtful. The US has done everything possible to accelerate and prolong this war. Now what? When Russia sends 300,000 troops over the border this summer, what are we going to do? Ukraine is rapidly running out of fighting age males to throw at the problem. This is why they need more and more advanced battlefield tools – they can no longer win with just infantry. Are US ground troops and air cover next?

If Russia loses a couple hundred thousand troops by next fall, don’t you think battlefield nukes are a realistic option for them? Then what do we do?

None of this makes sense to me. I really need someone to explain to me in simple terms, why it is in the United States strategic interest to own this mess?

P.S. The actual answer to all of this of course, is the military industrial complex. We want to sell weapons. That’s it. It’s that simple. Sorry.

We Have A Bear

There’s a bear that frequently circulates our neighborhood. Several actually. As the berries in the higher elevations disappear and the cold winter months loom, the bears roam in search of picnic baskets and garbage cans. I don’t like keeping my garbage can in the garage for odorous reasons. So, the bears and I play a game. I catch the bears on the security camera dragging my can down the driveway and I resolve to keep the can in the garage. After a while I don’t see any sign of the bear and I start leaving the can outside again. Mr. bear reappears, and the cycle repeats.

It’s usually a harmless game, with no casualties other than the bear-proof garbage can, which is decidedly not bear-proof. But every once in a while, one of the bears gets habitually aggressive and Fish and Game ends up euthanizing it. It’s sad because it wasn’t the bears fault. It’s my fault. And my neighbors. It would be easy to be mad at the bear and blame him for scattering garbage down my driveway. To be scared for kids and pets with an apex predator roaming the property in the dark. To demand that the authorities do something for the safety of the neighborhood. But we pushed the bear to be… well, a bear. We created a scenario where the bear had no choice – foraging in the woods or a grocery store of easy access scraps. He’ll go for easy every time.

It’s a parable for where we are today. The United States, virtually single-handedly, drove Russia into action. We’ve done everything possible to provoke the current conflict. And now, we’re at war. Oh, they didn’t tell you? We are in a full-scale proxy war with Russia. One that escalates every day. Biden’s energy secretary said the quiet part out loud this week: “releasing 15 million more barrels from the strategic oil reserves is required for the current “wartime footing.” Hmm. The national security council spokesman declared unlimited support for Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Funny, I don’t remember voting for war with Russia. The defense industry certainly voted for it – and clearly their vote counts more. All well and good, except this thing is rapidly spiraling out of control. NATO expansion is one of the big drivers of Putin’s actions. So, what do we do? Vote to expand NATO further. We directly, or via proxy, blow up Russia’s gas pipeline. Every month we further ramp up the billions of dollars of weapons we supply Ukraine. We have direct military assets on the ground advising Ukraine (you’re naive if you don’t think so). Daily the administration blames Russia for everything from high gas prices to climate change. We flat out refuse to negotiate with Russia. Not only have we left the garbage can out, but we’ve also left the lid open and scattered food scraps all around it.

And now with fiscal disaster and a new (to be determined) prime minister, the UK may start getting squeamish about sending more aid to Ukraine. And the US is looking at a red wave in November that might not be so excited to keep the Ukrainian money faucet fully open. This administration is so eager to continue stoking the war fires… do you really think some sort of false flag operation is out of the question? Some event that will justify the continued war and the need to pump additional billions into the defense industry coffers? We’ve certainly done it before. I think the next month will be an extraordinarily dangerous time period.

I know, I know. Tinfoil hat conspiracy theory. But if it’s even remotely true… we’re provoking a dangerous bear. We’re creating a scenario where he’ll have to respond. And this bear has nuclear weapons. Lots and lots of ’em. And don’t forget, there’s a Chinese bear looming out there as well. Waiting. Watching. And we happily keep poking that bear as well.

The caviler nature of this administration, and the bulk of the national press, is frightening. I honestly think we are at the very precipice of the next world war. I don’t think it would take much to spark it off right now. And yet domestically, we spend our time arguing if drag queen stripper shows are appropriate for six year olds and if highway bridges are racist.

It’s long overdue we had some serious people in charge. It was all fun and games mocking the bad orange man for mean tweets, but now we need something more than an old dementia patient eating ice cream, and pretending to be in charge (and no, it’s not the orange man again). Weekend At Bernie’s at least had lighthearted hijinks as a plot. I’m not sure the current crop of puppeteers behind the scenes realizes (or care) what a cornered bear is capable of.

Hard times create strong men
Strong men create good times
Good times create weak men
Weak men create hard times

I Might Be A Viking

  • We’ve been watching the Netflix/BBC series “The Last Kingdom“. It’s pretty good, and worth the watch if you haven’t seen it. Similar to Peaky Blinders, watching with captions turned on is recommended due to the heavy English accents. I joked after one of the episodes that, being of Swedish ancestry, I might actually be a Viking. Mrs Troutdog walked away laughing. I was a little hurt. My family is from Sweden. As a young lad I spent my time surfing, sailing, and scuba diving. I love the snow and embrace the cold winter sports. Those things pretty much define what we think of as characteristics of the proud Norse people, right? I did a little bit of reading, and it turns out that the Vikings weren’t very nice people. Raiding and pillaging villages, taking people as slaves, and other unmentionable acts were pretty much the hallmarks of a Viking visit to your hometown. Fearsome warriors, the Vikings occupied much of Europe during their heyday. Ok, I admit I’ll probably never be tossed in the fearsome warrior category. But don’t worry, I can write a scathing email if my back is pushed against the wall. Continuing my extensive research, I stumbled upon a link describing Viking hairstyles. It turns out the “Viking look” is an actual thing right now. Hmmm, I kind of like the look. The problem is that I can’t grow a beard, look terrible with long hair, and Mrs Troutdog would never let me shave the sides of my head. Oh, and that’s probably not a look an old man can pull off anyway (unless you’re a 300-pound powerlifter). Oh well, I don’t really like pickled and salted fish and I’ve never actually been to Sweden. I suppose no radical hairstyle changes are in my future. But deep down, in the dead of winter, I may still have a few small daydreams of being a Viking.

  • Our next Supreme Court Justice, when asked to define what a woman is, replied that she can’t because she’s not a biologist. Her fear of saying anything that goes against the progressive narrative tells you all you need to know about her probable judicial leanings. It doesn’t matter, it’s all political theater anyway.

  • The weather this week will be turning warm. It’ll be in the mid 70’s by the weekend. Glorious warm sun and dry trails. I find myself paralyzed with indecision about what I want to do. Mountain bike? Trail run? Golf? Motorcycle ride? Winter is officially done.

  • Along with warm weather comes… yard work. At the start of winter, I boldly declared that I’m perfectly capable of maintaining the yards and got rid of the gardener. It’ll save us some money and won’t actually take me that much time. Now that time has arrived and as I’m surveying everything that needs to be done… I’m slightly regretting my decision. No matter, I shall rally and become the gardener that I was always meant to be! Stay tuned for frequent garden updates.

  • The Ukraine scenario continues to be awful. It’s horrific to see the suffering. It is a confusing mess in every way imaginable, with no clear or positive outcome. But for all the folks calling for U.S. intervention, you should first define how many American casualties are you willing to accept. How many young men are you willing to let die or be permanently maimed in the name of defending Ukraine? 50? 100? 1,000? More? 100,000 in small tactical nuclear strikes against U.S. bases in Poland or elsewhere? As is clear by the footage we’ve seen, this is not a video game. “Intervention” has consequences. Own up to what you think acceptable losses are – and intervening with zero losses is not a realistic answer.

  • I had jury duty this week. I dutifully drove downtown, parked, and made my way to the courthouse. Checked in, found a hard plastic chair, and began the waiting process. Eventually we were sorted out by red and green badges and lined up by number to proceed into the courtroom. Just before we entered the Jury director came out and said that everyone with a green badge is being dismissed, our case was settled. Hallelujah! Interestingly, in my county you’re still on the hook for the remainder of the week and can still be called in. Fingers crossed for me as I call into the jury selection recording number each night, to find out my fate for the next day.

  • I’ve been seeing a gym trainer twice a week for almost two months now. I’m starting to see progress. My range of motion is improved, balance is better, and core strength is significantly better. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to play golf or lift and move heavy patients at work without my back hurting the next day. I’m not quite ready to say I look forward to working out, but I’m actively making sure I don’t miss or find excuses to skip any workout sessions. This is a big change for me. Stay tuned…

Song of the day: Kaskade & Skrillex – Lick It (Official Video)

Selective Outrage

I apologize. I don’t check my email that often, so I must have missed the memo about Ukraine being one of our oldest and most trusted allies. I confess that a month or so ago I couldn’t have found Ukraine on the map. Suddenly it’s somehow now in our national interest to pour (more) billions of dollars into this country and potentially risk another world war in Europe. I’m sure they’re lovely people (aside from that pesky actual Nazi problem they have). And it’s absolutely heart wrenching to see the apparent indiscriminate bombing and killing of civilians. War is awful. Period. Full stop.

But guess what campers, this isn’t the only active war currently going on. Let’s pick one like, hmmm, the Congo. The current hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have produced 4.5 million internally displaced persons, 800,000 refugees in other countries, and an estimated death toll of at least three million. Let me repeat that. THREE MILLION DEATHS. This is a country rich in natural resources, which we need. Our greatest real threat, China, is pulling out all stops to control those resources. And the United States does… [crickets chirping].

My point is that it’s odd what conflicts and crisis of the moment reach our attention span. Why is Ukraine any more or less important than the DRC? I don’t pretend to understand either conflict, and neither should you. I do not trust the narrative we’re being fed. Ukraine is a massively corrupt country full of coups, separatists factions, and a puppet regime installed by the United States. The US has been using Ukraine as a stick to keep poking Russia for years. Well… now you’ve woken up the bear. Maybe that’s what we wanted all along? I have no idea and I doubt you do either.

You should ask yourself some questions. Number one, why is paying for and solving this crisis a problem the US needs to manage? This is primarily a European issue. They’re the ones who are dependent on Russian energy supplies. The EU countries have massive GDP’s, economies, and have huge numbers of weapons, planes, and all types of fancy missiles and missile defense stuff. Our European allies need to be front and center in managing and paying for this crisis. If and when they need our help, we can be there. But the US does not need to be the worlds pocketbook and policeman. If you disagree, please explain why we need to take the lead in solving this?

Similar to the first question, why should the US taxpayers fund this war? You do realize we’re now thirty trillion dollars in debt, right? Our economy is poised to crater. There are literally no more checks in the checkbook. Every dollar we give to Ukraine and every weapon system we hand them, was first money we borrowed from China. WE DO NOT HAVE the 14 billion we just authorized to give to Ukraine. We have to borrow that money. Record setting inflation, gas prices, crumbling infrastructure, supply chain issues, and a 150,000 people a month streaming across our border. We have some issues. Please explain why spending billions to give to Ukraine is more important than any of those things? The best that I can tell, the EU has promised a whopping $450 million. Individually, EU countries are giving a smattering of weapons and other goods. If this was such a momentous issue on European soil, wouldn’t you think they’d have a bit more skin in the game? But why should they when they know we’ll pay for it.

As a side note, we give billions to the UN every year. Where are they? What actual purpose do they serve other than to write sternly worded letters? Perhaps we should divert our UN payments to Ukraine.

There are no good answers to any of this. This morning, Ukraine’s president Zelensky gave an impassioned speech to our congress. He invoked the memories of Pearl Harbor and 9/11. He received a standing ovation. I suspect out of fear of appearing to do nothing, our brave representatives will pour more money and aid to Ukraine, further provoking the conflict and increasing the potential of escalation. Do you really think Putin is going to say, “whoops, my bad. I’ll pull out.”? By further arming Ukraine, we’re forcing Putin to take more extreme measures. I fear we’re one mistake or misunderstanding away from another world conflict. Is that really what you want?

Look, I realize I’m sounding all Neville Chamberlain-ish this morning. But the US is not the superpower we once were. We’re broke, and that’s hard to admit. It’s time for US to step aside and let others shoulder the burden for a while. We shouldn’t let social media shame us into something that could rapidly get far worse than we can possibly imagine.

It’s hard to see human suffering. But I doubt any of you have been outraged at the war in the DRC. Why? Admit it, you couldn’t have found Ukraine on a map a month ago. Me either. And you certainly weren’t outraged at (or even know about) the 14,000 killed and 1.5 million people displaced in the Donbass region of Ukraine in 2014. There’s a lot of human suffering going on in the world at any given time and it’s awful to see. But just because CNN is breathlessly promoting this conflict 24×7 doesn’t mean we have to spring into action. It’s time for cooler heads to prevail and for us to sit this one out.

We have a massive economic war looming on the horizon with China. A war that will alter your standard of living. We may very well be wishing we had some of those billions we pissed away, trying to be the good guy, back.