Greg Sheridan generally writes well on foreign affairs (and on Christianity) but came unstuck with Donald Trump derangement syndrome; then covid-the-perilous robbed him of sanity. That at least was my view before Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech and Russia invaded Ukraine. This morning, writing in the Australian, his reputation (with me) suffered still further.
First, he gave Joe Biden’s ridiculous speech a C-plus. Wild threats at Russia and admiration for the brave [sic] Iranians were complemented by a litany of things he’s gonna do like, for example, secure the border (risible), fund the police (really?) and cure cancer (why not). Nothing on the state of the union, because he and his Democrat colleagues have produced a nightmare – an open border, increased crime, rising inflation, loss of energy independence, a shambolic and shameful exit from Afghanistan.
Sheridan says that Trump’s description of Putin as a genius for declaring Donetsk and Luhansk independent republics (note, prior to the invasion) was grotesque. Maybe Trump could have been more circumspect. But exactly how does Trump’s throwaway line compare with Biden materially benefitting Russia by okaying Nord Stream 2; while restricting the availability of US and European energy:
Cancelling the Keystone Pipeline. Banning fracking on federal lands; suspending oil and gas leasing on federal lands; suspending oil-drilling leases in ANWR; generally undermining the development of US fossil-fuel energy. Ordering U.S. government agencies to immediately stop financing new carbon-intensive fossil-fuel projects overseas. Objecting to the EastMed natural-gas pipeline from Israel to Europe.
As we found out during Trump’s brilliant tenure, a few ill-chosen words matter more to the precious elite than do policies which strengthen America’s standing in the world and benefit the American working class.
Now comes Sheridan’s pièce de resistance. If Russia brings Ukraine into its orbit, then the trade and financial sanctions – which let’s face it, will be crippling in the long run– “should last until Moscow leaves Ukraine.” That may mean 187 million or so people suffering cruel deprivation for year after year. Not the billionaires of course.
It’s fine to be gung-ho when the cost falls on you. But if they fall on others, at least mention their potential plight. Mention it! Not a bit of it. Don’t worry we have your back, by making your lives unliveable for years on end.
And, to boot, exactly how would a nuclear-armed nation of 187 million people and vast resources react to being indefinitely cut off from the world?
Do I have an answer? No. It would be just nice if those who pretend to have one explore consequences. Think it through. Weigh it up. Where might it turn pear shaped? Who’ll suffer? Maybe those wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have gone so badly. This kind of question might be considered: Just who and what is likely to fill the void after Ghaddafi? After Putin?
Just possibly there is a solution in Ukraine. It’s likely to encompass giving away some land to Russia and, perhaps, Ukraine embracing neutrality and giving away any ambition to join NATO or the EU. Is it palatable to reward Russia’s aggression? A matter of realpolitik. Again, I don’t know. Some might say it’s appeasement. But the obverse of appeasement is being prepared to fight.
I know the West is prepared to let the Ukrainians fight. Don’t see any prospect of Britain, France Germany, America or Australia sending in troops. Assuming the Ukrainians can’t win, that leaves only appeasement of some kind on the table; unpalatable or not.