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

The Ukraine Crisis Is Speeding Up Arrival of Cold War

So, Biden has warned that other countries should not help Russia evade Ukraine-based sanctions.

Meanwhile, China’s Xi has backed Russia on its “no NATO expansion” demand and received support in return:

In the joint statement released by the Kremlin, Putin and Xi called on NATO to rule out expansion in eastern Europe, denounced the formation of security blocs in the Asia-Pacific region, and criticised the Aukus trilateral security pact between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.

I don’t expect Russia to invade, but what it can and will probably do is recognize the breakaway regions in the Ukraine, Donbass and Luhansk, and help them enforce their borders.

This will trigger sanctions, including personal sanctions against Putin. China will, indeed, help Russia “evade” the sanctions, and China, Russia, and other states will move forward with their own payments area.

Trade will become more difficult, so will travel, and another huge step towards the on-rushing Cold War will occur.

This isn’t rocket surgery, the US is moving hard towards “containment” of Russia & China, and those countries recognize that they have interests in common. Because neither of them can make a separate peace — the US won’t allow that. The US effectively won’t negotiate with Russia at all (saying no to everything the Russians have asked for isn’t negotiation), so they may as well continue preparing for what they know is coming.

As I discussed at length elsewhere, I don’t see this Cold War ending as favorably for the US as the last one did, for the simple reason that the US has already shipped the majority of its industrial core to China.

This is certainly the stupidest world. American elites, backed by European subject states (they all are), don’t seem to get that it isn’t 1947 or 1991. They no longer control the world’s most important economies, and their states are dysfunctional, incapable of even handling a pandemic, let alone rallying the necessary social support to win a two-generation economic war while in the midst of ecological collapse, climate change, and with a huge proportion of their populations suffering from health problems due to Long Covid, as well as a pandemic that goes on and on.

China and Russia combined are stronger than the USSR was, and the US and Europe are weaker than they were during the Cold War.

This won’t end well.




Omicron “Couldn’t Be Controlled”


Open Thread


  1. Z

    This was the best thing on the internet yesterday …


  2. bruce wilder

    You don’t think this nonsense is all about natural gas and the Pentagon budget and arm sales? Not to mention that Russia remains a weak state, and is nearing a moment of historic political crisis as Putin prepares to pass from power, perhaps as soon as 2024, willingly or unwillingly.

    The U.S. foreign policy cum military establishment is extremely corrupt, reckless, cruel and not notably competent, but it does dominate the Media and generates plenty of propaganda. Americans are effectively cut off from any insightful source of news or analysis.

    One thing I am fairly certain of: if the rhyme of history brings a “cold war” this one is likely to play out as farce.

  3. someofparts

    Sounds like catapulting propaganda onto the people is going to be a growth industry in the U.S. going forward.

    In a previous thread, NR observed that our leaders are greedy and our fellow citizens are stupid. Looks to me like mere citizens can’t hold a candle to our lizard overlords when it comes to stupid.

  4. someofparts

    Locally and nationally, it sounds like areas of the country are starting to express loss of confidence in leadership by decentralizing. In Atlanta several areas of the city are moving to establish themselves as separate towns with their own administrative centers. Meanwhile, on NC yesterday I learn that “the militia-backed movement seeking to seize control of one of California’s most conservative counties, so far, appears to have prevailed”.

    Personally, in my lifetime, I have watched the demographics of this city change dramatically, for the better, because of an enormous influx of immigrants. Counties surrounding the urban core were white flight destinations twenty years ago. Now they are all majority minority. White flight has moved to the outlying counties beyond, making two of them the fastest growing counties in the nation. Instead of the old black/white economic groupings, there are now Asian and Hispanic populations large enough to have political clout.

    I wonder if this is the shape of the future, where blue cities become so diverse their politics change while conservatives withdraw to more remote locales and incorporate there.

  5. Z

    In a previous thread, NR observed that our leaders are greedy and our fellow citizens are stupid. Looks to me like mere citizens can’t hold a candle to our lizard overlords when it comes to stupid.

    The working class pays for their mistakes and their rulers’ mistakes and our rulers profit off of both their mistakes and our mistakes partly because they are backstopped by the Fed and bribe and blackmail Congress and Let Them Eat Shit Mitch’s Handie Man Joe Biden by paying top dollar for Status Quo Joe’s artiste son Hunter’s thought provoking paint bubble blowing artistic masterpieces (((Are we looking at a bubble or into a tunnel into infinity? Hunter only replies with a sly smile))) from enacting and enforcing laws that benefit the poor and working class. But according to NR it’s everybody’s fault and implied within that is the shrug that it’s effectively nobody’s fault – nihilistic nullification – without any recognition to the lopsided outcomes.


  6. Trinity

    Well, it’s a good thing that it’s a “cold” war, although bombs are still dropping in other places.

    A few months ago, my son told me something very important to him: he had finally passed the age in which he could be drafted back into the Army. It was a very real worry, given:

    They didn’t mention the special recruiters who criss cross the country looking for gamers with fast and accurate reflexes who can drop bombs on families as well as the “bad guys”.

    It’s extremely funny that they call this “modernizing”. They might as well call it “innovative”, or perhaps “innovative” is now out-of-fashion, and “modernization” is now in. The fact that they need to continually repurpose words to support fake narratives says a lot all by itself.

    Most of the article reads like it comes from a business & industry conference presentation, which also says a lot about the modernized Army. Reading that they had recruiters commit suicide because of “too high” quota requirements provides yet another indicator for understanding just how poorly everything is being managed these days, so I am siding with all of you predicting poor outcomes for these ridiculous actions and decisions.

  7. Astrid

    Are there European lapdogs going to stick around? Saying no to Eurasia means no fuel, no food, and no customers. Even if their brainwashed and bribed political/financial elites are okay with this arrangement, will the masses and the industrialists stand for it for the cold and expensive winter of 2023? 2024?

    Right now, Russia is being demonized for causing this misery, but surely at some point an enterprising demogogue, supported by slightly smarter oligarchs, will want to point out the foolishness of always being at war with Eurasia.

  8. Astrid

    Even for that brainwashed Euro elite, do they really want to be associated with the Anglosphere clown shoes of Boris and the Donald forever? Or the line of hard libertarian literal Brahims lined up behind BoJo and chicken fried Congressional nutjobs who haven’t been able to pass a budget on time since I don’t know when? Are not the technocratic Chinese and Russian officials more their speed?

  9. Nopolitician

    > I don’t expect Russia to invade, but what it can and will probably do is recognize the breakaway regions in the Ukraine: Donbass and Luhansk, and help them enforce their borders.

    Isn’t that semantics? You’re describing a situation whereby Russia moves into “breakaway regions” of Ukraine – regions that have had their leadership declare some sort of secession from Ukraine – and then creates a border within the country of Ukraine.

    That sounds a lot like an invasion to me. Can you educate me as to why that isn’t one?

    Wouldn’t this be like towns on the US/Mexico border declaring that they were “breaking away” from the US, and then having Mexico send in their troops to enforce their borders, eventually assimilating those towns?

    What if towns along the Alberta/Montana border did the same thing, pledging allegiance to the US? Could the US just incorporate those towns into Montana?

    It doesn’t seem to be within the interests of international law if portions of a country can “secede” to join up with another, without that country having a say-so.

  10. someofparts

    Z – That was a bracing video! It was great to hear the press actually challenge the nonsense. Matt Lee with that insufferable smirk made me want someone to throw a pie in his face.

  11. someofparts

    I think I got that wrong. Is Matt Lee the reporter? I trust it was clear that it is the fellow who is speaking for the government that deserves the face pie.

  12. Mark Pontin

    ‘the foolishness of always being at war with Eurasia.’

    Morons of the US policy elite to the white courtesy telephone. Halford MacKinder has some words for you —

    ‘In 1904, the British geographer, Halford Mackinder, read a paper named “The Geographical Pivot of History” at the Royal Geographical Society. In the paper he advanced a hypothesis on the influence of geographic reality on world power relationships. This is sometimes regarded as the founding moment of the study of geopolitics. Looking at the whole planet, he spoke of the “heartland” – the great landmass of Eurasia – and the Islands – the large islands of the Americas and Australia and the small islands of the United Kingdom and Japan. (Parenthetically, he does not seem to have much concerned himself with Africa or South America.) For most of history, Europe was an isolated and not very important appendage of this great world mass, subject to continual raids from the nomads of the Heartland, and the outer islands played no part in world events….’

  13. different clue

    It won’t end badly for Russia/China in particular or the ChinaRussia sphere in general.

    Some time ago I read an interesting exchange on Naked Capitalism. Commenter Vlade, whom I gather is Czech, said that Clinton at first was uninterested in expanding NATO east. Apparently the Sainted Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia lobbied Clinton personally about the need to expand NATO to the Russian border to protect the helpless states of East Europe from Russian aggression in some indefinite future. I had not known that.

    Given that, I think it is somewhat risible to refer to the EUropean powers as America’s lapdogs when in fact NATO is an Anglo-EUropean conspiracy against America itself, and Anglo-EUrope wants a war between America and Russia so that Ango-EUrope can emerge from the rubble and rule the ruins.

    Hopefully NATO itself will be broken up and abolished.

  14. Z


    The spokesman was Ned Price.


  15. bruce wilder

    The propaganda becomes increasingly absurd. Tucker Carlson did a video essay opposing U.S. policy of aggressively confronting Russia in Eastern Europe. Nothing remarkable or extreme, really. “Everything I’ve said about Russia and Ukraine strikes me as commonplace, as obvious,” Carlson said. “I don’t think my opinions are considered radical.” That strikes me having heard him out as an accurate self-assessment.

    The NY Times turned their report on the controversy stirred among Republicans, some of whom are hawkish in the usual modes, into snarky subheadlines: “Tucker Carlson assures us that he’s “not an agent of Russia.”” That became a common pattern in reporting and commentry. Nothing on whether his arguments were sound.

    That is the level of discourse on the prospect of WWIII.

    It is scarcely ever remarked that evidentiary support for the accusation that Russia is “massing troops on the border” has been exceedingly thin and dubious. One of Russia’s major complaints — that the U.S. has destabilized the nuclear situation by ending one after another the treaty structures limiting nuclear weapons development and deployment — ought to be an acute concern in the U.S., but is rarely noted.

  16. Ché Pasa

    NATO has no sensible purpose and should have been abolished no later than 1991. NATO is not a “defensive” alliance, as repeated aggressions and invasions and occupations of nations in a broad arc from Kabul to Tripoli have made abundantly clear. NATO has no defensive purpose. It cannot. There hasn’t been anything to defend against for decades.

    The artificial hysteria over Ukraine further reinforces the point. The problem for NATO and the US State Department is that Russia has not “invaded.” The government in Kiev, such as it is, is well aware of this simple fact and doesn’t mind saying so. Without an invasion, all the tub thumping is really meaningless. If they can provoke an invasion — or something they can call an “invasion” — then they’ll be in clover… for a while. Eventually, the whole mess just falls to pieces. Then they’ll start again with a new target. This can go on indefinitely — as it already has.

    Russia and China have always been the main targets, so this looks like a “softening up the battle space” exercise. The main event(s) won’t come for some time… years, even decades.

    What with all the other crises, we really don’t need this, do we?

  17. Occasional Poster

    For the time being the US is all bluster on the Ukraine issue with the usual threats and ultimatums in lieu of actual diplomacy and negotiation…but, so far, few concrete actions have been taken besides shuffling some troops around.

    The US will have a very difficult time successfully “containing” Russia, and especially China, in a globalized and interconnected world economy without further damaging the quality of life in the west. Will the western public accept more hardship and precarity in the name of a new cold war while the ruling class continues to live in the lap of luxury? Are western leaders ready to sacrifice their countries’ shaky stability for the sake of US hawks and arms industry stocks?

    I am sure that China, Russia, Iran et al are working hard behind the scenes to sanction-proof their economies and to prepare themselves for an eventual post-SWIFT, post-USD future and, ironically, by antagonizing other strong nations the US is reducing its global influence.

    The US is not an autarky and it can’t just wish away the global economy and pretend that it is 1945 again. My sense is that the OTT rhetoric over Ukraine, like the panic over Taiwan, will quiet down before things get too crazy. But there is always the unpredictability factor to consider and when nation states can no longer save face without “doing something” bad things can happen.

  18. Lex

    The joint statement is, potentially, a deal of the biggest variety. Going into the olympics, the great tradition of nations coming together and all that, Russia and China essentially laid out a vision of how they want to see the world work. Neither is being selfless or completely honest. Nonetheless, the vision is compelling and has potential even with individual nations leveraging for their benefit. At an event the self-declared hegemon refused to attend, they offered up a new world order.

    Whether it will or won’t materialize is somewhat irrelevant. That the two nations said it out loud reveals their analysis of the US and its prospects. Even ten years ago neither would have contemplated this sort of statement and how it was made. But the hegemon is staggering. I don’t think Russia will invade Ukraine or China Taiwan because of the Sino-Russian analysis. An invasion of either is exactly what the US needs, especially if US military die in it. Nothing else will unite the US domestically at this point. And without it reuniting, the collapse trajectory is pretty clear. They can wait.

    Can you imagine the laughs they share about how the US almost color revolutioned itself?

  19. bruce wilder

    Following up on that twitter thread linked in Z’s first comment, there is on display in that Twitter thread a prime example of “structural” propaganda. I will run a couple of direct quotes from different accounts to illustrate.

    No attack on the original authors is implied by my quoting them; the person saying these things does not have to believe or advocate any thing in particular about the conflict or U.S. policy. And, I am not “opposing” whatever their position or pov may be. I am just observing.

    It’s beyond asinine that people believe information gathered either by spies or by wire taps should be disclosed broadly to the public like that has ever been the way intelligence has worked. It’s perfectly fine to be skeptical of intel reports like this but this is just dumb…


    So the govt is supposed to expose their intelligence sources? Excuse me? What is this kindergarten? I am not saying whom to believe but that questioning by reporter was ridiculous.

    I say this is “structural” propaganda, because belief and skepticism is manipulated by reference to the norms of institutionalized, authoritarian secrecy. The premise of the structure is that official leaders are privy to superior information that the officials can legitimately partially disclose in the form of assertions, without the obligation to present and argue that that evidence supports the assertions. And, it is a “norm” so liberal Democrats are all in favor, naturally.

    It is built into the foundation stones of the intelligence agencies and the system of legal “classification” that binds any and all officials, employees or contractors who have “authorized” access to “classified” information. And, it is a system that powerfully undergirds propaganda, while pretty much demolishing the practical hope of democratically debating government policy in any domain where legal secrecy prevails.

    Interestingly, though some in that Twitter thread support the reporters’ obligation to ask for “evidence” or “proof”, the system’s very existence creates an apparently “neutral” norm that makes it highly ambiguous what kinds or quantities of evidence can be legitimately requested, and compounds that problem with another structural problem: even detailed documentary evidence may not be independently verified by means parallel to the original methods that produced the initial evidence proposed as support for official assertions.

  20. someofparts

    Input from someone sane who knows what they are talking about –

  21. Ché Pasa

    The Nazi-ish overthrow of the Yanukovych government in Kiev in 2014 is the pivot point around which current events are rotating. I watched a good deal of the prelude, overthrow, and aftermath on livestream as it was happening, and at no point was it possible for me to feel good about it. It was an awful thing, engineered by off-stage players (such as the horrid Nuland person, but not leaving out such idealists (!) as Pierre Omidyar and a whole host of NGOs he and other billionaires funded for fun and profit).

    Many of the events in the Maidan and elsewhere in Ukraine that are either celebrated or ignored today were horrific to witness while they were taking place.

    I speak, for example, of the actions of Maidan insurrectionists during their “protests.” Shooting, burning alive, and running over with bulldozers were just some of the actions of the Maidan insurrectionists against the police who were, so far as could be observed, unarmed and relatively (I say relatively) gentle with the raging mobs of armed men looking for and getting into brawls. In fact, for the most part, the Yanukovych regime seemed to treat the Maidan protests with kid gloves, attempted to negotiate with them and accommodate them in good faith (well, we never know with governments, do we?) and and ultimately to yield to most of their demands. Nevertheless, the mobs burned government buildings, beat up and/or killed counter protesters, invaded the parliament, displayed Nazi-adjacent and US Confederate banners, and otherwise behaved like thugs.

    Our government backed this. May have instigated it. And after Yanukovych withdrew to Moscow, the Nazi-ish victors — ie: the Maidan mobs — proceeded to exact vengeance on the significant portion of the population that was in opposition to the mobs. It was a free-for-all of murder and mayhem that culminated with the atrocity at the Odessa Trades Union Hall in which dozens of people defending the hall from rampaging mobs were burned alive in a kind of auto-da-fe of Nazi-ish triumph. Those trying to escape the flames jumped from fourth story windows, and some were beaten by the mobs, some to death. Even the victors were momentarily aghast.

    The US and EU/NATO were fine with all of this and much more that went on. They watched, encouraged, looked the other way, and declared their satisfaction with the events on the ground and the monsters (like Right Sektor) who took power.

    The Donbass and Crimea chose to get out of this insanity, Donbass by asserting autonomy from Kiev and Crimea by rejoining Russia. That choice is called a “Russian invasion” by the propagandists of the West, and yet had it not taken place ethnic cleansing would have been the least of the actions the Ukrainian Nazis would have attempted against the largely ethnic Russian populations of Donbass and Crimea. Genocide would not have been out of the question.

    That’s who these people showed themselves to be during the uprisings and in the aftermath, and I for one believed them.

  22. Feral Finster

    An intelligent article from Spengler, of all people.

  23. Feral Finster

    I should have added that, according to the article linked, Chinese exports of durable goods to the United States now exceed the orders for durable goods at US manufacturers.

    China, of course, can buy all the hydrocarbons that Russia can ship. Russia also has been busy de-dollarizing its economy.

    And every wargame for the last ten or so years has NATO losing a conventional war over Ukraine.

  24. StewartM


    Wouldn’t this be like towns on the US/Mexico border declaring that they were “breaking away” from the US, and then having Mexico send in their troops to enforce their borders, eventually assimilating those towns?

    Point well taken.

    But this points to the problem with the US having helped push the former USSR into breaking up into separate states. Like Gandhi’s India, divided between Hindu and Muslim (plus other religions) the former USSR was a mixture of ethnic groups and language groups not easily untangled. One of the unreported things is the situation of ethnic Russians in the countries created after the breakup.

    There is tension everywhere, though maybe in the Ukraine it is less than elsewhere:

    But I can say this–my company runs a manufacturing site in one of the Baltic states. An engineer who did a period of duty there describes the people at that site as ‘the champions of passive-aggressive resistance’–i.e., ‘you have a meeting, everyone nods their heads and agrees on a course of action, and then you have a follow-up meeting 3 months later only to find *nothing has been done or attempted*’.

    One of the reasons this is so is because there’s a cultural divide within that manufacturing site. The site management, the engineers, the scientists, and all the other professionals are of Baltic nationality. All the working class are Russians. And guess what? — *None of the Russians can ever hope to be promoted to a better job*. I was told that was an official policy, and thinking as my company wouldn’t order that, it’s likely the policy of the government of said Baltic state.

    If this is so, then the story of ethnic Russians suffering state-sponsored discrimination in these now-independent states is not something that makes the US news feed. But it was almost predictable that something like this would happen after the breakup. By contrast, while the USSR was a largely-Russian state, its leadership was far more cosmopolitan and many of its leaders had non-Russian roots (Stalin was Georgian, Khrushchev and Brezhnev were Ukrainian (and Chernenko’s father was Ukrainian) while Andropov’s father was a Cossack).

    This is why I’m more in favor of larger political states/organizations than small ones, often the very *worst* governments are the more local ones.

  25. Ian Welsh

    Since America stole many of the southern states from Mexico in a war of unproved aggression, if people in those states wanted to rejoin Mexico, I’m not sure I see the issue with Mexico helping them, especially if they only took areas with majority support.

    Not sure where this weird idea came that people should be stuck in shitty countries they don’t want to be in and can’t decide to join another country without emigrating.

    Perhaps the world wold be a better place if the British colonies had believed this in in the 1700s.

    There is no credible case to be made that a super-majority of people in Crimea din’t want to be Russian (yes, a minority strongly didn’t.)

    If the same is true of Donbass and Lukansk, why shouldn’t they leave Ukraine? What’s the case against it? Why are borders inviolable if a majority of the people who live somewhere don’t want to be ruled by their current government.

    Note that I think there is a good argument BUT there is also a good, very strongly democratic argument against, and pretending it’s obviously wrong is weird.

  26. Soredemos

    @Ian Welsh

    Also, everything that happened in Donbass and Crimea was in the context of a coup in Kiev. Russia is repsonding; they didn’t start this, we did.

    My favorite part is that their justification for Crimea is at least as strong as ours was for Kosovo. We set the precedent.

  27. anon y'mouse

    Che, i have been told by my betters that NATO is necessary because Daddy Uncle Sam has to force the childrens (deliberate misspelling) to play nicely and share their dolls, or they will kill each other by the bazillions again as they did throughout the centuries, culminating in both World Wars.

    we supposedly knock their heads together when they get belligerent. well, really we just keep all of the toys in our own crib so they can’t hardly play with any. but our PR man says it’s for their own good, so it’s ok.

    i guess there’s no “adults in the room” in the entirety of the EU. perhaps we can send them some of ours, as in “permanently”, since ours appear to be doing so very well here that they’ve nearly run out of things to run into the ground.

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