Author: Tom Luongo
Up until February 23rd, 2022, the powerful countries of the world played a very rarified game.
Too many people try to analyze geopolitics like it is a game of chess. Move, counter-move. Push a pawn? Threaten a knight, that type of thing. It’s easy to understand and makes for good copy.
In the past I’ve tried to liken it to a multi-player version of Go, with anywhere from four to 6 different colored stones on the board trying to take territory. It was a better metaphor but nearly impossible to describe adequately. In fact, at times, it was exhausting.
The reality is that neither of these metaphors are explanatory.
Because the only accurate model for geopolitics is actually Calvinball.
You know that game. That’s the one from Calvin & Hobbes.
Contrary to your memory of the legendary comic strip, there were rules to, that went something like this: Calvin got to make the rules up as he went along.
In geopolitics it pretty much comes down to whoever is the strongest player got that power.
Here’s the thing. Up until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (and yes, it is an invasion, justifiable or otherwise) there was something called the ‘rules-based order’ promoted mainly by the US but also supported directly by the European Union and the Commonwealth.
The rules of the ‘rules-based order’ were simple. We make the rules, you follow them. We reserve the right to change the rules whenever we want to suit our purpose.
It was the geopolitical equivalent of Sam Francis’ idea of ‘anarcho-tyranny,’ which boils down to, “rules for thee, but not for me.”
We’ve heard the Russian diplomats complain about this for years. Why have these rules if they are not ever enforced?
As I point out all the time when talking about leftist ideologues purity spiraling towards self-destruction, we have these rules because only others’ hypocrisy counts. Sub-humans are not allowed to talk or even be a part of the conversation.
And in the world of diplomacy as practiced by the collective West, the Russians are definitely sub-human, just like the unvaxxed, anyone to the immediate right of Karl Marx and who isn’t a furry.
All that changed when Russian tanks crossed the border, stand off missiles hit anti-aircraft and artillery batteries, and marines came onshore in Ukraine.
For months we’ve been treated to the dumbest and most infuriating facsimile of diplomacy I’ve ever witnessed. It beggared belief listening to the nauseating virtue signaling of US ‘diplomats’ who refused to engage Russia’s concerns in even a half-serious manner while blaming them for every issue on the planet.
It was as clumsy as it was stupid, to quote Darth Vader.
It was clear that Putin and his staff would be given this ultimate option, invade Ukraine and face global opprobrium or kneel before Zod.
Their miscalculation was in thinking that Russia actually cares one whit about that global opprobrium at this point. By their actions in Ukraine this week, it is clear they do not.
They weren’t afraid of NATO’s posturing, Biden’s threats of sanctions or of Liz Truss’s difficulties with basic geography. The longer this standoff over Ukraine went on the more it was clear that most of the people in positions of power and their support staff have less than zero understanding of the parameters of their jobs.
Because of this their constant invocation of the ‘rules-based order’ rang more and more hollow since they were simply acting like a precocious six-year old boy playing with his stuffed tiger.
Pronouncements of consequences and ‘sanctions from hell’ and threats of holding our breath until we pass out were rightly ignored by Putin and his staff.
For decades NATO enjoyed the luxury, thanks to US military primacy, of making up the rules and forcing everyone else to react to them.
It goes back to the statement, most likely made by then Vice-President Dick Cheney, on the ‘reality-based community,’
“That’s not the way the world really works anymore … We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do’
What’s been clear to me is that those placed in positions of power by Klaus Schwab and the rest of The Davos Crowd they still think we live in this type of world. That no matter what the people want or other countries need, they will dictate the time, place and parameters for any and all confrontations.
However, the longer this went on the more it was clear that Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, were inching towards that moment where they would change the rules. I wrote back in March 2018 that Putin’s State of the Union address where he unveiled new weapon systems was a major turning point.
For the next four years we have seen a steady escalation of neoconservative insanity in a vane attempt to push US missile systems closer to Moscow, contra to all signed international agreements, UN resolutions about resolving the breakaway republics of Ukraine and, frankly, common decency.
After a 2021 where things in Ukraine kept getting hotter and hotter, Putin and Lavrov, having backed Biden down over the summer with June 16th’s summit, knew the time had come to change the rules of the game.
If they didn’t Russia would cease to be.
The old game entered its spiral towards conclusion when Russia sent and published publicly its draft proposals for a new security architecture concerning Russia and NATO’s relationship in Eastern Europe.
Russia acted, setting the operational tempo from that moment forward. It forced the US and Europe to react to them as they created a new reality, set new rules.
The US was now the rule-taker rather than the rule-maker. You knew this because it prompted multiple rounds of scurrying to Moscow by officials from all over the West trying to talk the Russians off their new game.
To zero avail.
As The Saker pointed out in his initial thoughts on Russia’s recognition of the breakaway republics of the Donbass, this operation in Ukraine was a long time in the planning. This was not an action that was taken lightly.
Again, I will repeat here what I wrote above: this recognition should NOT, repeat, NOT, be seen in isolation. It is just ONE PHASE in a PROCESS which began at least a year ago, or more, and there is much more to come.
Truer words and all that.
For months I’ve been telling you that Nordstream 2 would eventually be turned on and that Russia would not be kicked out of the SWIFT telecommunications network regardless of what happened.
The former is still on the table, as Germany was the most vocal about not doing the latter.
Even I missed that Russia was planning to change the game this radically, thinking there was always a Davos-approved solution which didn’t involve extensive use of the Russian military, but still ended with the US looking foolish.
In retrospect, it was obvious we were always headed to this end-game because Russia saw the opportunity to change the rules.
Less than a day after Russia wiped out both Ukraine’s military power and political architecture, President Sundowner confirmed that all the West’s threats were as empty as the heads of the Millennials running the propaganda desk at the State Dept.
After months of threatening Russia with expulsion from the SWIFT financial messaging system, Europe complained and someone finally showed some sense.
Cutting Russia out of SWIFT would mean the end of the EU as anyone has known it or wishes it could be in the future. It would mean the end of the petrodollar system.
Russia is too systemically important to the global commodity trade that goes far beyond energy. It supplies not only the marginal barrel of oil and BTU of natural gas, but pound of nickel, palladium, titanium, enriched uranium and tungsten. It’s a major supplier of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, potash, and urea.
Do this and Europe not only freezes to death with their three days of gas reserves but starves once the global food supply is disrupted. Do this and Biden enters the mid-terms with $8/gallon gas, and 20% real inflation.
The Fed raising rates will be the least of anyone’s worries.
Russia held all the cards in the negotiations over Ukraine and we recklessly pursued a policy of insults and amateurish propaganda, refusing to believe Russia wouldn’t make her final stand.
By putting boots on the ground, planes in the air and missiles up the ass of every Ukrainian military installation across the country, Russia turned the ‘might makes right’ argument of the US and Europe on its head.
The game has changed because the rules have changed. It’s no longer a game of rhetorical chicken and virtue signaling.
Realpolitik doesn’t matter a bit when missiles are in the air. This is the point that was lost on so many in the professional commentariat for the past few months. They’ve never contemplated the idea that someone could do this, no less did it.
They are now confused and angry, working through their ‘cope’ in public. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would almost be hilarious.
For nearly a decade the West poured billions into Ukraine to arm it and prepare it for this week. Those billions were essentially wiped out in a matter of hours. It took a day to expose all of NATO’s posturing as nothing but that, posturing.
We now have to come to terms with this new game. It’s a game where the rules will be far more equitable because the unthinkable alternatives are no longer theoretical, they are real.
It’s real because the threats to Russia posed by NATO’s designs on Ukraine were always real no matter what was said.
So Biden and Davos got the war in Ukraine they’ve been begging Russia for. The problem for them now is Russia isn’t playing their game anymore and they are wholly unprepared for the next one.