A canary sings: make peace, you fools!

9 Aug

In a post yesterday – beneath the quietly understated header, Make Peace, You Fools! – former US Army Colonel Douglas McGregor 1 offered these (here edited and abridged) words:

Putin committed fewer than 100,000 troops to a shallow penetration on a broad front of a country the size of Texas. Having failed over 15 years to persuade Washington and the West of Moscow’s opposition to NATO’s eastward advance, he seems to have concluded that the West would prefer negotiations to a regional war with potential to go nuclear.

Putin was wrong. He assumed that humans make choices aligning with their best interest. But humans are not rational. In international relations, identity – history, geography, race and culture – must feature in any assessment. 

Instead of negotiating, Washington discarded the caution Russia’s nuclear arsenal merits, and which had guided previous American dealings. The Beltway, with no real grasp of Russia, 2 subscribed to McCain’s clueless insult of her as a “gas station with nukes.” 3

Though not a risk-taker, Putin reoriented to cut Russia’s losses and maximize Ukraine’s pending a return to the offensive. It worked. Despite the unprecedented supply of arms, cash, foreign fighters and intelligence to Kiev, Washington’s proxy is shattered. Ukraine hospitals are full of broken human beings; its dead litter the battlefields.

But Russian success makes the war more dangerous. Washington discounts Ukraine’s losses and exaggerates Russia’s. Officers present at Pentagon meetings tell me that minor Ukrainian successes (almost instantly reversed) loom large in discussions at the White House and Foggy Bottom. These reports are treated as evidence of inevitable Ukrainian victory, leaving staff officers reluctant to highlight the impact of Russia’s expanding military power. 4

Western media reinforce this, saying Russian generals and forces are dysfunctional, mired in corruption and sloth, and that Ukraine can win if it gets more support.

Poland takes such comfort in “Russian weakness” as to risk direct confrontation. French sources in Warsaw say if Ukrainian forces are driven back, “the Poles may introduce the first division this year, to include Poles, Balts, and Ukrainians.”

Now Washington misreads a Moscow likely to detect DC intent in such moves. Biden’s order to extend hazard pay to US soldiers in Ukraine (where they are not meant to be) will heighten such a reading but it is more likely the Polish tail wants to wag the US dog. Warsaw knows its intervention would provoke a military response from Belarus and Russia, but calculates that Washington would not let Poland be destroyed.

America’s proxy war with Russia is a disaster. Make peace, you fools, before it’s too late.


A man of McGregor’s experience, intellect and connections is not to be lightly dismissed. While his words lack the greater explanatory power afforded by recognition of a US-led West unable to accept the reality of the sun setting on 500 years of global supremacy; nor, in Europe’s and Australia’s case, of the new opportunities presented by trade with Eurasia rising – his forceful pinpointing of intellectual failure brings needed cogency to what passes for thinking on the Beltway, in the Pentagon, and across the West at large.

In Broken: the implicit contract between the rulers and the ruled. Part 1, I wrote that the US, aided by the junior imperialisms of Europe, the Antipodes, Canada and elsewhere:

… invades with impunity … reneges on or tears up every treaty no longer deemed to further its interests … brags of its lies, theft and treachery … insists on its right as ‘the Exceptionalist Nation’ to flout and replace international law with a ‘rules based order’ as self-serving as it is arbitrarily imposed …  rings the planet with 800 military bases, out-spends on weaponry the next ten spenders put together, has been at war for almost its entire history and has slain millions – by bombs, invasions, murderous ‘sanctions’ and terror unleashed – in this century alone. Mostly in far off lands.

… before adding that:

I don’t locate such criminal insanity in some peculiar disorder of the American psyche but in its status as the world’s lead imperialism, just when that status is under threat …

Imperialism? In a footnote here abridged I defined it as:

… the export from global north to south of monopoly capital, and the south to north repatriation of profits. It is not to be confused with the direct rule of colonialism, though both are exploitative, underwritten by force and, with minor additions and subtractions, involve the same players in the same power relations. Outcomes include (a) thwarted prosperity and self determination in the global south; (b) a hyper-financialised global north, its FIRE led economies enfeebled by de-industrialisation for the enrichment of rentiers; (c) a drive to wars of asset grab and to thwart rival empires; (d) a systemic inability to prioritise environmental sanity. Unlike many Marxists I do not see Russia or China as imperialist under this definition, but do see America’s war on Russia in Ukraine as also aimed at weakening Europe – at once its ally, vassal and  trade rival – to bind it more tightly, in the face of manifest opportunities and advantages for European trade with Eurasia – to its zero sum orbit.

Viewed from these perspectives, the intellectual shortcomings Colonel McGregor so eloquently skewers seem less the products of folly; more, as argued in my post of February this year, of criminal insanity

… which assessment reminds me to get my head down and assemble my thoughts for the threatened sequel to Broken: the implicit contract between the rulers and the ruled. Part 1.

* * *

  1. McGregor is one of many gamekeepers turned poacher I see as a sign of dysfunctional times. Or to shift metaphors, the canary in the coalmine.
  2. Washington’s post-Reagan expulsion of Russia experts has been noted by others. See my post of February 2023, Did the crazies capture the USA?
  3. McCain’s crass depiction of the Russian economy, like Joe Biden’s now dead in the water vow to “reduce the rouble to rubble”, is just one of a myriad insults Russia has learned to shrug off. To the West, however, Europe in particular, such under-estimations have done unforgivable harm. The roots of this delusional thinking lie in hyperfinancialisation, itself the product of an imperialist outsourcing of industry to the global south. The West’s FIRE-dominated economies, gulled by their own advertising, now mistake a wildly misleading GDP metric for true economic performance.
  4. “… staff officers are reluctant …”  Echoes here of the disastrous (for the US) 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Its planning informed Irving Janis’s “GroupThink” thesis, a key feature being a marginalising of dissent, however well qualified the dissenting voices.

3 Replies to “A canary sings: make peace, you fools!

  1. Talking about imperialism and the repatriation of profits, this piece – when you’ve ploughed through the first half….


    …provides a reminder that there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit:

    “France gets yellowcake at pennies on the dollar. They produce a surplus of electricity. They export it, especially during times of duress in Europe, making their forex reserves and trade balances look far better than they should be if they were paying anything close to market price for Uranium ore and other commodities from the 14 CFA Franc nations.

    And yet, electricity in France averages €0.21 or $0.23 per kilowatt-hour for the consumer. France should have, by far, the lowest electricity costs of any EU nation and yet, they sit firmly in the middle of the pack.

    The takeaway is someone is making a mint on France’s nuclear power generation and it isn’t France’s people. The French government is skimming on both ends here, getting the raw commodities cheap and selling the value-added product at a premium.

    When you look at it this way, it’s hard to argue that France’s entire AA bond rating is based on this modern version of colonial slavery in North Africa while price gouging its citizens at home.”

    Point being that the boomerang of the Western Oligarch’s sanctions which were supposed to win the war for access to the World Island’s Heartland resources without the need for the Pentagon to spill American blood is starting to bite:

    “Now, we know why Davos is trying to kill off the Ukraine war. If they lose their money machine in North Africa, France loses its AA rating.

    Germany should already be there given the Bundesbank’s balance sheet, regardless of their Gold Revaluation Account. The amount of money owed to the Bundesbank cannot be overcome with $1900 gold if rates keep rising. And they will.

    As the (UK Daily) Telegraph article points out, if France loses its AA rating the ESM’s funding capacity drops precipitously. ….

    ….it’s all about collateral. Europe cut itself off from its energy collateral. It tried through the Iran Nuclear deal to get some collateral by investing in Iran. Who was the first to belly up to the trough in 2016 after the deal was signed? No less than France’s Total, with a $4+ billion deal.

    Trump killed that when he tore up the JCPOA. That Total contract went to China.

    The Syrian invasion was all about bringing in cheap Middle East energy into the EU, bypassing Russia. Russia killed that. Now they’ve outmaneuvered Europe in N. Africa.

    While you see the Biden administration acting quickly to isolate Niger’s coup, mostly through the Davos-controlled State and Treasury departments did we see the Pentagon rush into action?

    Not really. It’s the same kind of mealy-mouthed pablum Zelensky complains about daily. This is another tell.

    Niger may further expose the rift at the top of the US power structure, especially while the walls are closing in on “Joe Biden.” The sheer number of stone walls going up around Capitol Hill to protect Biden and his people tell me there’s a bull market in bricks and mortar somewhere. But as fast as they erect them, their lies are getting exposed and a different wall is torn down. So, it’s all a mess right now.

    Leverage is stacking up all over the place and this is now getting very interesting. ….

    ….Ultimately, Europe chose to cut itself off from Russian energy. It gambled on a high-risk strategy to destroy Russia through economic isolation and military aggression, by partnering with US and UK neocons who will use anyone to get what they want.

    Now it is staring into the abyss as rates rise, budgets collapse, and the people revolt. These are all self-inflicted wounds here….

    …France now has zero collateral without North Africa. Remember how it was Macron who was complaining earlier in the year about the US ‘gouging its partners’ over LNG. Now we know why….

    ….So, it’s now go-time. If Niger’s coup holds and rest of the CFA Franc zone revolts over the next year while the US kinda stands by and picks its nose militarily, then we have our catalyst along with Japan ‘tweaking Yield Curve Control’ two weeks ago for the beginning of the end of the European Union.

    Hungary just told NATO no on Finland and Sweden. The US State dept. retaliated immediately. But the EU didn’t. The Neocons are big mad because they still want war in Ukraine but Europe can’t afford it.

    The splits in the oligarchy are now being laid bare. The collateral is returning to the control of those that produce it rather than those that finance it.”

    The upshot is that we seem to be getting closer and closer to the point in which the boomerang arrives back from whence it was launched and the outcome which was planned for Russia – to collapse it economically so that it could no longer resist never mind project power – occurs in the West. Starting with Europe and the EU.

    Now we know why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets.

    The Poles, the Baltic States and Scandinavia can stand belligerently at the border and shout the odds all they want like a Saturday night drunk. Doesn’t mean they can deliver.

    When they, the rest of Europe, the UK and even the US can’t afford the moolah to follow through the ‘rumble in the jungle’, so to speak, may not even go the distance. What we seem to be living through is a ‘rope a dope’ on a global scale.

    • The extract on France’s plunder of Niger’s ‘yellow cake’ (crude uranium) is a good one. But I agree with the implication of your “once you’ve ploughed through …” caveat. Author Tom Luongo strikes me – not just on the post you cite but on others which mix points I agree with (e.g. the privileged stupidity of Christine Lagarde) with gobbledegook – as at best a clever dick, more interested in showing off his erudition and sparkling witticisms than in actually communicating.

      And at worst a 24 carat crazy.

      Four paragraphs from the end you speak of a boomerang effect – Michael Hudson invoked the Oedipus legend, wherein attempts to cheat destiny only expedite the same – starting with Europe. You and I are of one mind on this. Indeed, not only Professor Hudson but other commentators (like former UK career diplomat Alastair Crook) argue that Washington has two war aims in Ukraine, not one. It has failed to bring Russia to her knees (or even bleed her economy) but has been far more successful not only in preventing Europe from making profitable peace with Russia and hence China but – via sanctions, Nordstream sabotage and consequent rise in energy costs – weakened its trade rivals; Germany in particular.

  2. ‘Washington would not let Poland be destroyed’

    If the Poles really think that the loonies in Washington are so far gone that they can’t work out that Poland is in Europe, while the US is in North America, then they are going to get a big surprise. (I know, I know, geography is not a strong point in the US, but there is a limit).

    The idea that Washington would accept nuclear destruction to avenge Berlin or wherever was always going to be a stretch within NATO, but any Polish intervention into the Ukraine would not oblige NATO to join in, and any help would be limited to the by now practically non-existent US munitions and obsolete tanks which are already going to the Ukraine. If Poland wants to destroy itself again, well, their lookout. They seem addicted to this sort of thing. Possibly they could take Lithuania with them as an added bonus, in a new Polish-Lithuanian suicide pact.

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