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Two Years After the Ukraine Invasion: Will NATO Intervene?

Two Years After the Ukraine Invasion: Will NATO Intervene?

Feb 29, 2024

Two Years After the Ukraine Invasion: Will NATO Intervene?

First, I want to say “thank you.” It’s been a little over two years since I launched with the viral post “How to Prepare for a Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” and many of you have been kind enough to financially support the site and my family these past two years as we catalog what seems to be the increasing madness of the world. And I would be remiss without offering special thanks to Jon Stokes and Julie Fredrickson, without whom this newsletter probably wouldn’t exist.

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How Far Will NATO Go to Stop Russia?

Now to the topic at hand: the war in Ukraine. After two years, the biggest surprise is that the war is still ongoing and Ukraine still exists. Russia—and probably most of us—assumed that Ukraine would be steamrolled in a matter of weeks. It’s amazing what a few dozen billion American dollars can do. If there’s one thing the U.S. military-industrial complex has proven excellent at, it’s prolonging a war for a very long time.

Equally surprising is how long Russia has held up despite severe sanctions, being cut off from the SWIFT system, dumping seemingly endless resources into the “special military operation,” and even a rebellion from one of Putin’s closest friends.

But nothing lasts forever, and Western countries are starting to grow weary of sending billions to Ukraine. U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is standing firm in refusing to send more aid, and while Germany is still funding the war effort, it’s drawing the line at sending Taurus missiles.

Western leaders now have a simple but crucial question to answer: how far do they want to go to stop Russia?

NATO leaders have been meeting in France this week, presumably to ponder that question. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said during a TV briefing, “I will limit myself to say that these theses (in preparation for the Paris meeting) imply a number of NATO and EU member states are considering that they will send their troops to Ukraine on a bilateral basis.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to rule out the possibility of open NATO involvement in Ukraine. “There’s no consensus today to send in an official, endorsed manner troops on the ground. But in terms of dynamics, nothing can be ruled out,” Macron said, refusing to say more due to “strategic ambiguity.”

Macron apparently caused a bit of panic, because the US, UK, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain were all quick to refute the idea.

The Russians seem to take Macron seriously. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, publicly responded to Macron, saying, “In this case, we need to talk not about probability, but about the inevitability [of conflict]. These countries must also evaluate and be aware of this, asking themselves whether this corresponds to their interests, as well as the interests of the citizens of their countries.”

But just how serious is the Russian threat? Russia also promised to deploy nuclear weapons in and around the Baltic Sea if NATO admitted Finland and Sweden, which it just did with no apparent Russian response, at least not yet.

Even if NATO did decide to send troops into Ukraine, it may not have as many as it would like. U.S. military recruitment is at an all-time low, despite offering big bonuses and lowering the admission bar so low that it now sits on the floor. No high school diploma? No problem, join the Navy!

World War I II

But I doubt any amount of money or standard-lowering is going to help there, because the recruiting crisis ties into the cold civil war that has been brewing here for over a decade. And I didn’t even get into the Israel/Palestine fight or whoever the Houthis are, but even China has had enough of their crap.

All of these are the multiple fronts of a growing global conflict that I have dubbed World War I II. Note the space, it’s crucial.

World War III would be an apocalyptic nuclear showdown. Nobody wants that, but everyone’s mad at each other. So, instead, we have a slow-rolling, tepid worldwide conflict that reflects the first world war. Everyone’s mad, no one’s quite sure why, and most importantly, no one knows how to fight this thing because the technological landscape had changed so dramatically since the last major conflict.

In World War I, soldiers rode off with swords on horseback only to ride head first into machine gun fire and mustard gas. In World War I II, industrial powers send big, expensive tanks into the battlefield only for them to be blown up by cheap drones. Or maybe civilians are ambushed by terrorists riding paragliders from Alibaba?

The combatants are forced to ask: how the hell does war work now? And from what we’ve seen in Ukraine, oftentimes when you don’t know what to do, you just dig a hole and settle in, just as they did in World War I.

In early 2024, we stare through a glass darkly. The post-war liberal order is ending. (I would argue that it died during COVID, but that’s another post.) The tech landscape has changed. The dollar no longer reigns supreme as BRICS ascends, and with the continued resilience of Bitcoin, fiat government currency may be growing increasingly irrelevant. All this as we enter the most tumultuous election since 1860, with the core issue seeming to be: which candidate is less senile?

We are indeed living in interesting times.

This article was originally published in Unprepared


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