The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

A Brief Summary of the Effects of Russia Sanctions

Let’s put it all together, sanctions will:

1) Make Europeans worse off.

2) Not overthrow Putin.

3) End the dollar as universal reserve currency.

4) Not save Ukraine.

5) Kill millions in the global south.

6) Not appreciably affect the Ukraine War.

7) also increase political instability in dozens of countries, including in Europe.

8) Badly damage European manufacturing, making Europe weaker.

9) Lock Russia into alliance with China, solving most of China’s major resource problems and securing its western flank.

As Talleyrand said, “This (the sanctions) is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.” Especially for Europeans. To be fair, the US gets to sell Euros over-priced gas, and lock them in as military and economic satrapies. Might be worth losing dollar hegemony.

Although, I can’t see how fixing almost all of China’s major economic weaknesses for them is good move for a US which thinks that China is the real enemy. And that’s what this level of Russia sanctions has done.

Truly amazing.



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  1. Feral Finster

    That’s not the point.

    Germany and Russia are natural allies, in that each has what the other wants, and can best get via cooperation. The sanctions regime is intended to prevent this alliance from coming to fruition.

    The point is to cement the empire, in Europe and elsewhere. Whether people in the Global South or Europe or Ukraine or anywhere else die as a result is of no consequence to the people who run the empire.

  2. GlassHammer

    10.) Did not significantly damage the Ruble. (Last I checked it’s recovered from its lows and is just about to its pre-war value.)

    11.) Increased the diesel shortage in the U.S. which will no harm sectors that rely on it like agriculture and trucking.

  3. Z

    Well, all that risk to the U.S. is certainly worth the prize if they “win” though: regime change in Russia which would therefore politically destabilize the country with the greatest amount of nuclear weapons in the world. Yay!

    I have never believed that regime change or even weakening Russia is merely a step along the way towards weakening the U.S.’s larger target: China. This has been about one thing primarily: getting rid of Putin. That’s been the main objective. I just don’t see how the U.S. can expect to have an long-term adversarial relationship with China and still expect them to do our manufacturing and I see very few signs that U.S. companies plan on spending the substantial amount of money it would cost to re-shore manufacturing back in the U.S. or even build manufacturing facilities in some other country. Not to mention that getting involved in proxy wars with Russia and then China is a delicate dance considering both have nuclear weapons. You’d be very lucky just to get rid of Putin without him launching a nuclear strike or two or more.

    I found very interesting the news yesterday of the Moskva fire (((Russia’s murky claim))) or the Ukrainian missiles hit on it (((much more likely IMO))). I kept waiting for the NYZ Times, the Grey Jezebel, our rulers’ paper of propaganda, to headline that news last night on their internet site since they have been so jubilant to headline any news, no matter how unsubstantiated, that furthered the view that Ukraine was winning. I expected a huge headline on it with exclamation points but oddly even 8 hours after Forbes had run the story and well after Russia themselves copped to significant damage to the ship, though again the Russians attributed it to fire, the NYZ Times, which I think it would be fair to say has been heavily influenced by the U.S. government in dishing out the constant feed of pro-Ukrainian news that they have dished out to the U.S. public, had absolutely nothing on it on their main page about it! Odd. I did see that they have finally put the news on their headline page this morning though.

    Instead what they had heading their Ukraine-Russia war news last night was a blurb about Biden giving Ukraine another $800 million and further assistance by “sharing intelligence”. Then that very day the Mosvka “caught fire”. Note also that the U.S. just recently trained some Ukrainian military on U.S. soil and sent them back to Ukraine. Note that a mainstream French media member who recently came back from the south-eastern part of Ukraine that the Russian army is currently bearing down on said that the whole Ukrainian resistance operation there was being run by the U.S. and that U.S. people, not military, but probably contractors/mercenaries and/or CIA assets and they were on the ground there calling the shots.

    Providing Ukraine with military assistance financially, training Ukraine how to use U.S. weapons the U.S. gives them, using U.S. intelligence to locate a ship and relaying that on to Ukraine, and then having U.S. “advisors” on the ground and overseeing the Ukrainian resistance isn’t very different than having U.S. military directly involved in downing the ship, it is merely a work around, and this sort of aggression significantly increases risk of Russian nuclear retaliation. However this is where we are with a State Department run by a Zionist trio that are hellbent on regime change in Russia and willing to risk destroying Ukraine, one the world’s most important grain producers, and many of its people, and possibly all human life, in their quest to get rid of Putin.

    I’ll note that the weapons that Ukraine supposedly used to strike the Moskva were Ukrainian missiles, not U.S. ones. It certainly would not be surprising that part of the “training” of Ukrainian military personnel involved synchronizing in some way the U.S. systems used to locate targets and the Ukrainian systems used to accurately aim those Ukrainian missiles also involved shipping some of those Ukrainian missiles to the U.S. for the “training” or maybe calibration. And now here it is less than a week after I read the article about sending the trained Ukrainians back to Ukraine and we have a major Russia ship that’s been hit. It would obviously look even worse for it to be U.S. weapons that sank it along with U.S. training along with U.S. advisors on the ground.


  4. Blueberry Hill

    Germany and Russia are natural allies? Yeah, no, I don’t think so. Not by a long shot. Either history matters or it doesn’t, but you can’t have it both ways and have it matter when it supports your claims and then ignore it when it contradicts your claims. History contradicts your claim that Russia and Germany are natural allies. Bollocks.

  5. bruce wilder

    I struggle to understand the “thinking” — either the public rationalization or whatever policy design I can impute. It may be that there is no policy design because the propaganda, aka Teh Narrative(tm), has taken over, eclipsing any possibility of critical thinking let alone informed realism. Reading the New York Times or watching CNN certainly gives the general impression that critical thinking is simply not allowed, as it would require a degree of moral ambiguity to creep in, carried by inconvenient facts of recent history.

    Abhorrent behavior and sentiments from the designated “good guys” are ignored. “What about?” questions that might introduce general principles, moral or otherwise, into consideration is considered a cardinal sin by the vocal.

    It isn’t surprising, I suppose, that the general suppression of rational thought by the torrent of manipulative propaganda and ignorance-inducing disinformation leads to stupid policy. What remains a bit of a mystery — but should not be — is why a desire for an objectively “better” policy does not induce a preference for “better” means to policy formation, e.g. rational calculation on realistic premises. The answer — staring back at us from the abyss — is that this is the way of corrupt power.

    Power identifies with the means of exercising power and, as corruption proceeds, orients itself to the ulterior motive associated with the rewards accruing to those exercising power, in preference to the more abstract and idealized goals assigned as the responsibility of those entrusted with authority to exercise power.

    Looking at Ian’s list of manifest stupids, it is easy to see why the powerful, drunk on the rewards of their long manipulation of the power associated with the institutions of secrecy, disinformation, propaganda, fossil fuels, arms sales and predatory neoliberal finance would be carried by corrupt habit to keep doing what has benefitted them and build deep defenses of denial against seeing consequences.

    Alarm must become a higher priority for those of us who have no power and have assumed no responsibility for the great social and political machinery that is being wrecked, but on which we nevertheless depend.

  6. Ammonite

    If Russia wins, then this will be China century as Americans and EU cannot threaten the raise of China if China has safe access to Russia’s energy and commodities. Russia will also be a powerful Ally.

    If Russia losses, China will be unable to face off America and EU, and this will ensure America continue to be the sole superpower at least for the rest of this century.

    America has everything to gain from this war, increase weapons sales, increase LNG rales, EC coming back to America’s obit, and weakening China significantly.

    Seems like the Americans are running the war with intelligence, cyber and space assets and providing good combat intelligence to the Ukraines.

  7. Willy

    Cuba and Venezuela are routinely proclaimed to have badly stunted economies because of sanctions. And this even with Russia, China, and India still available to trade with.

    Sanctions seems the neoliberals preferred way to make the designated bad guys conform. Second is sending advanced weaponry to those fighting the designated bad guys. Third is sending in their own troops. All three usually yield unpredictable results, which yields opportunities for, you guessed it, the plutocratic neoliberals.

    Assuming Putin really is an authoritarian who’s gone all megalomaniacal round the bend to the detriment of millions, what other options are there for getting him to behave more humanely?

  8. different clue

    About ” . . . To be fair the US gets to sell Euros over priced gas and lock them in as military and economic satrapies. ”

    That outcome would not be America ” locking” them in. That would be the Lords of EU-NATO deliberately and on purpose locking their own countries in. And given that EUrope has the population power and economic autarkazone potential to stay not-locked not-in, the choice to “lock in” their countries is entirely the EU Lords’ own choice.

    Now . . . do the peoples of EUrope themselves have any choice? They still do, for a while yet. The majority of voters of Hungary have demonstrated that the majority of Hungarian voters are prepared to excercise that choice to keep Hungary a Free Country, for example.

    What about the voters of France? Will they vote for Le Pen to make France a Free Country? Or will they vote for Macron to keep France a satrapy of the International Free Trade Conspiracy? That will be a French voter choice. And scapegoating America for the choice which France will freely make will not change the basic fact that France’s choice will be a freely self-chosen French choice. It may be the last free choice France ever gets. That depends on what the French voting majority chooses in France’s upcoming election. For example.

  9. Bazarov

    The whole point of the sanctions is to destroy Europe, not Russia.

    The United States understands that its horizons are contracting. It’s in retreat. The question is: how far will that retreat be?

    I think American influence will contract to Western Europe, the Asian periphery (South Korea and Japan), Canada, and most of South/Central America. Its influence will therefore wane substantially in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

    To keep Europe under America’s thumb, it needs to shrink Europe down to size–make them dependent on us as much as possible. The sanctions will hollow out and enfeeble Europe, securing that sphere for us.

    The next question is whether or not America can secure the Asian periphery. I think it has a good chance of holding onto Japan, but South Korea’s a whole different question. American will certainly lose influence over Taiwan, it’s only a matter of time.

    As American’s horizons contract, expect the Eurasian powers to play more assertively on “our turf.” A proxy war so explosive in Europe comes as a shock, but just wait when they begin in our “backyard”–Mexico, Argentina, Peru, hell maybe even Canada.

    Thus is the fate of a declining empire.

  10. ptb

    Will harm most Europeans. Davos man probably comes out ahead, but he always does.

    US locks in control over most of Europe. Loses Russia, but that’s a done deal anyway — for the US. Was not so for Russia/EU, until now. Soon the same with China, if the current generation’s half-baked Kissingers have another 2-4 years to finish what they started.

    It would be an okay trade for US, in the scenario where the rest of the world would have a positive view of Western dominated order. Which is what most in the US believe, due to gaping holes in our telling of modern history and the pattern of US/Anglo role in it.

  11. Ché Pasa

    Somebody help me out here. What is the purpose of imperial sanctions? I mean really. Why are they such an important item in the foreign policy toolbox?

    I’m thinking of Cuba, for example, sanctioned out the ying-yang for more than 60 years. What is the point? From what I can see, the Cuban people are mostly inured to it, not that they don’t care, but since there’s nothing they can do about it, they get on with their lives as best they can. The Cuban elite does likewise. Why have the Cuban exiles in Florida been allowed to control Imperial foreign policy since the assassination of President Kennedy? (Clue, perhaps?)

    Iran has been sanctioned out the wahzoo for decades. Iranians get on with their lives — when they aren’t being assassinated. What exactly is the purpose?

    North Korea, too. And all the other countries big and small that the Empire decides to disfellowship.

    As Ian points out, none of the stated goals for sanctioning this or that country or Russia seem to be achieved. What, then are the unstated goals?

  12. VietnamVet

    These nine adverse effects of sanctions and the sinking of the Moskva document that WWIII has started. The reporting on the world war has been abysmal on purpose.

    I presume that the northern Ukraine woods and General Mud limited Russia’s advance to the roads the last 50 days. But I can’t help wondering if Russian neoliberal planning has been corrupted down to the level of colonial British military that only defended the roads in Malaya in the Japanese Invasion in 1941-42 not conceiving that Japs would bypass them in the jungle.

    Russian hubris discounted that borderland Ukies would fight for their homes or that the West’s been training and supplying them for eight years. Reports that satellite data is directing Ukrainian artillery fire indicate the degree of cooperation.

    What is ignored is that this is a war for fiat finance. Western Insiders purposefully overlook it; but, the basic premise is that food shortages due to lack of diesel fuel or freezing Europeans next winter and a German economic depression due to no Russian natural gas are of no concern. At all costs, the current exploitative capitalism that enriches the wealthy at the expense of everyone else must be maintained and the new China Russia Axis commodity based currency thwarted.

    What happens next depends on the wheat fields drying out and the assembly of a mass Russian armored army to drive across Ukraine to the borders of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The only things that can stop it are human courage and digital targeting western howitzers and ammunition reaching the front lines in sufficient numbers to blunt the attack or the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

    With talks broken off, the future awaits the battlefield. This is horribly sad.

  13. Blueberry Hill

    Assuming Putin really is an authoritarian who’s gone all megalomaniacal round the bend to the detriment of millions, what other options are there for getting him to behave more humanely?

    Drone strike. It worked for Soleimani. If Putin was half the threat he’s purported to be by the neoliberals, he’d have been offed some time ago and yet here is is, doing the neoliberal’s bidding and taking the bait every step of the way. If Putin didn’t exist, the neoliberals would have to invent him. He’s a perfect foil. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt it if the neoliberals pulled off a coup in Russia 10 to 12 years prior and replaced the real Putin with a doppelgänger after assassinating the real Putin. This Putin is Ready Made in every way.

    Every president must have his war — except Trump of course. Biden now has his but this is the new warfare, same as the old warfare, Biden telegraphed upon withdrawing from Afghanistan — warfare by every means except substantial boots on the ground. The days of invading and occupying tinpot dictatorships across the planet are over. Failing states will now be accomplished by much more efficient yet equally profitable, if not more so, means.

  14. Ché Pasa

    Thanks to Ian and all the commentariat for explaining the real purpose of sanctions so clearly. Assuring the power and profit of the Overclass no matter what, and sorting who is and who isn’t a member may seem very middle school to some of us, but there you are.

    We may talk about the “domestication” and dumbing down of the untermenschen so they can’t effectively rise up, but isn’t it the case that Our Rulers as well are bound by their own limitations? How many times does the same ruling scenario have to play out before the “Ah ha!” moment? Why does that moment always come too late — if it comes at all?

  15. Lex

    I understand the idea of breaking europe off from Russian trade (and Chinese trade via land). I just can’t come around to the idea that the plan was to destroy Europe, which is what the US is doing. An economically ravaged Europe will be politically destabilized and unlikely to benefit the US. Perhaps the hope is that Russia will eventually lose, putting a scare into the Europeans to huddle close to the US a while longer. Maybe that’s why the US has to keep doubling down on weapons.

    We’re not going to rearm Europe because we can’t and they won’t be able to rearm themselves either. (Unless Russia loses and is somehow forced to sell resources to Europe on US terms, which is unlikely even in a military defeat.) The US can’t get enough agricultural inputs two months after sanctions started because many come from Russia and many more come from German chemical plants reliant on Russian gas. We’re going to mass produce modern tanks and transport them to Europe on any sort of reasonable time scale? We’ve got a lot of mines to dig, factories to build and people to train. We have no interest in doing any of that.

    At some point, Russia’s going to turn off the gas if things keep escalating. One could argue it should have already done so but hasn’t because it has a global reputation of doing what it says and being legalistic, and Putin wants European leaders to take the blame for the economic fallout. Europeans act like they’re entitled to the gas and oil for some reason. My big hypothetical is how long europe would last if the gas gets turned off? And what kind of global financial contagion would be released?

    It’s quite odd that the west is acting like it’s invulnerable.

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