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Red Lines, Reality And Retards

Red Lines, Reality And Retards
Narrative vs reality in geopolitics

It’s hard to imagine an intellectual class less suited to geopolitical brinkmanship and Great Power sabre-rattling than Western liberals. I’ve never thought of myself as a geopolitics sort of guy, but nevertheless, I can glance over to my bookshelf and see a much-thumbed copy of Paul Kennedy’s Rise And Fall of the Great Powers perched above Donald Kagan’s The Peloponnesian War. Kennedy’s argument in Rise and Fall is depressingly empirical and ‘‘realist’’; he posits that, regardless of ideology or ‘‘spirit’’ or religious fanaticism, in the end, Great Power conflict will always favour the side who brings most men and materiel to the battlefront more efficiently. In its day, a waning Great Power like Imperial Spain would often find itself as a bear in a pit facing down dogs. They'd be slaughtered if it could focus all of its strength on one dog or perhaps two, but gradually, the bear will become exhausted as the dogs demand ever more energy and resources to be expanded in order merely to survive.

Kennedy’s work left me despondent and disillusioned because it appeared to negate ideals of a heroic spirit or righteous cause emerging victorious in the end. It did not matter, for example, if you viewed the German struggle on the Eastern Front as a civilizational cataclysm between the Wagnerian forces of European High Culture and a Bolshevik, Asiatic horde; the outcome was prefigured anyway due to the quantities of material, men, and resources at the disposal of each side. The pretty stories that we like to tell ourselves are shredded within such thinking, or we at least have to compartmentalize such lofty ruminations.

The current Western political class and intelligentsia like to pretend that they operate within a brutal realism that challenges their assumptions about the world when, in fact, they utilize narrative, propaganda, and spin to alter reality to fit their desired outcome.

The Western elites desired to create multicultural societies; the problem is that those societies were primarily mono-ethnic with an already existing cultural identity. The problem of ‘‘reality’’ was solved by simply changing the definition of what it meant to be English, Irish, German, and so on. Similarly, the NHS solved the problem of having crowded corridors crammed full with the sick and dying by simply renaming corridors as wards, so now everyone was in a ward and not in the corridors, and voila, the problem vanished.

In Britain, the establishment had the problem of imported Pakistanis sexually enslaving and brutally raping white girls en masse. This new and novel crime had been imported with the perpetrators. It was ethnically driven mass rape and abuse, but the only language that could be used accurately to describe it was something like ‘‘Pakistani rape gangs’’ or ‘‘Muslim rape Gangs’’. The British establishment was uncomfortable with this state of affairs, so they invented a new term to soften the impact; they called it ‘‘Grooming.’’. Eventually, everyone became accustomed to the term grooming gangs and used it, including those raising awareness of the horrific nature of the crimes. This now created a second problem for the establishment because now ‘‘grooming’’ was commonly understood to mean ‘‘Pakistani rape gang’’ by everyone, and this meant the term had been ‘‘racialized’’.  Despite the fact there’s clearly an ethnic and racial component to ‘‘grooming,’’ the government produced a ‘‘flagship’’ report in which grooming was simply dumped into the other categories of sexual abuse. In this way, the total number of white men committing sexual violence would outweigh the ‘‘other,’’ and establishment liberals could promote the report as gospel truth that refuted the racist realities actually happening.

What we used to call ‘‘reality’’ still existed, but with enough linguistic manipulation, how people processed the information to form their own version of reality was infinitely malleable.

With all that in mind, I have to confess I’m becoming increasingly horrified that our geopolitics, like everything else, is now predominately a matter of these same word games and self-referential linguistic squid ink being peddled by regime minions.

Byline Times writer Paul Niland responded to Putin’s recent ceasefire offer thus.

In an article for Byline Times, Niland expounds on his views regarding Putin’s ‘‘Red Lines’’ or lack thereof. He begins his article by making an understandable and reasonable case (from the Ukrainian perspective) that Ukraine should be able to fire upon Russian soldiers massing along the Ukrainian border.  The hot topic, of course, is that Ukraine will be using Western weapons to do so, and the question is whether or not this is a Russian red line that may not be crossed. In any case, it has been crossed, and thus far, there has been no wider escalation by the Russians.

According to Niland:

What’s the difference between hitting targets in Russia “near Kharkiv” and hitting any other targets in Russia? There is none. Not from a legal standpoint, not least because according to Article 51 of the UN Charter, Ukraine has the inherent right to self-defence, but also because there is absolutely no legal difference between a strike (being carried out by Ukraine) 32 Km in Russia and one carried out in Russia at a range of 132 KM. They are no different.

Thus, legally, in the abstract and in words on paper, there is no difference between firing upon Russian soldiers massing along the border and firing further into Russian territory. With the camel’s nose now poking through the tent door, Niland then proceeds to whip its backside to send the thing stampeding on in.

The truth is that Putin has not retaliated, despite his threats, because he can’t. For anyone with a memory that goes back to 24 February 2022 his threats then included an (unspecified but menacing) warning of a response “unlike anything they had ever seen” on any party that in any way stood between Russia and the goals of the “Special Military Operation”. It didn’t matter. The West sent weapons anyway. There was no response from Putin, other than more hot air.

Niland then moves on to express a scoffing contempt for Putin’s warnings:

We have seen this time and time again. HIMARS should not be sent to Ukraine, lest etc etc etc. Patriot missile systems should not be sent to Ukraine, otherwise etc etc etc. Modern fighter jets should not be provided to Ukraine, they’re a definite red line, etc etc etc. And we have also seen that in each and every case Putin’s declared red lines have led to no consequences whatsoever to whoever has crossed them.

And finally:

There are two golden rules. Self-imposed red lines on how Ukraine can fight this war (other than with regard to the Geneva Conventions) can be scrapped and should be if we want to achieve a faster victory for Ukraine. Russia’s “red lines” are a track record of bluster never resulting in follow up. Besides, after the mauling that Ukraine has dished out to them, Russia is in no state to expand its military activities. Certainly not against a NATO country.

It is stated quite clearly by a left-leaning, neoliberal outlet that there should be no brakes whatsoever on action taken against Russia because they’re all talk and no punch. Yet, the entire reason we’re in this mess is precisely because Russia invaded Ukraine in the teeth of Western opposition and condemnation. The reality of what is being proposed here is bombing campaigns inside Russia, including Russian cities, using weapons and aircraft supplied directly by Western powers, including personnel.

However, if we just play fast and loose with the definitions and framing, it will lose its bite; we can spin it a bit so the Western public can consume it more handily. It is hardly novel to highlight the degree to which Western journalists and politicians exist within their own bubble; now, they’re convincing themselves, entombing themselves within a narrative, that they can treat Russia however they like.

Niland certainly isn’t a lone voice. Establishment figures such as Boris Johnson have angrily demanded the West give Ukraine everything it needs to stay in the fight; the block was always that Russia is a nuclear power and allied with China. The evolving narrative is that Putin just talks a lot, and he won’t retaliate whatever we do. It is the logic of the drunk driver convincing himself he’s good for another four pints because he had a hearty dinner — it’s convenient bullshit rather than a reflection of reality.

I’m by no means a Putin fanboy; the camp I’m sitting in is the ‘‘anti-dying slowly in a cloud of nuclear fallout camp’’. Putin is no stranger to weaving bullshit narratives himself. After all, he never even ‘‘invaded’’ Ukraine; he conducted a ‘‘special military operation’’. The more we in the West convince ourselves, or are told by our betters, that Russia can be attacked with impunity, the more it will be. The more Russia is attacked, the greater the chance of retaliation because the Russian people will demand it.

Yet, astonishingly, Western establishment politicians and journalists are unable to see and understand basic logic in the same way they managed to convince themselves or compartmentalize foreign rape gangs or that a piece of paper doesn’t make a Somalian Irish.

Reality exists outside of our concocted Western spin and industry of lies; in that reality, the Russian power structure becomes unstable because the people are being bombed, and the government is not doing anything about it; this scenario is the most optimistic outcome of Niland’s thinking, the most pessimistic outcome is that everyone dies.

The Marvelization of Western discourse has resulted in an infantilized intelligentsia that grants itself and NATO plot armour and narrative MacGuffins to get out of tight spots. It is inconvenient that a client state appears to be losing a war with a nuclear-powered nation, so if we just change the plotlines and switch around some words, we can write ourselves out of the problem. It would be really handy if we could just launch missiles into Russia without them ever reacting, so we will just rewrite the script to make it real.

It is madness, absolute madness.

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