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The Grand Strategic......or what do we do next?


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There has been some significant discussion on various/multiple threads of tactical and operational aspects of Rus/Ukr, China, the ME, and political/diplomatic maneuvers. It has been insightful and educational for me and likely countless others. I think that there are elements missing here, namely the grand strategic.

We have had some excellent strategic opinion offered in the threads. I invite you to offer grand strategic opinions, elevating the dialogue, and looking beyond the now.

Here is one perspective:

Grand Strategy.

Is there a NATO grand strategy, an American one, a Canadian one?

Interested in reading your responses
There is not a NATO grand strategy, more of a single theme of countering Russia. And it’s a pretty loose thread - the prewar training missions in Ukraine were not run under the NATO banner. Consensus on the Ukraine question has only been reached in the past two months, who’s to say it will endure? And look at the members of NATO - USA, UK, France, Germany, Poland, Turkey… I wouldn’t call them a united bloc.
I think the US has a grand strategy to maintain European support for its hegemony by being the key enabler to the Ukrainians to give it back to Russia to let Russia’s societal hubris spend itself to impotence, all the while making sure that China is taking notes. The US knows it owes Ukraine the strongest of Marshall Plans.
There are some simple facts that aren’t really controversial. There are two ways for a war to end: One way is for one side or the other to be basically destroyed. And the Russians are not going to be destroyed. So that means one way is for Ukraine to be destroyed.

The other way is some negotiated settlement. If there’s a third way, no one’s ever figured it out. So what we should be doing is devoting all the things you mentioned, if properly shaped, but primarily moving towards a possible negotiated settlement that will save Ukrainians from further disaster. That should be the prime focus.

That requires that we can’t look into the minds of Vladimir Putin and the small clique around him; we can speculate, but can’t do much about it. We can, however, look at the United States and we can see that our explicit policy — explicit — is rejection of any form of negotiations.

Noam Chomsky and Jeremy Scahill: On The Russia-Ukraine War, The Media, Propaganda, and Accountability
There are some simple facts that aren’t really controversial. There are two ways for a war to end: One way is for one side or the other to be basically destroyed. And the Russians are not going to be destroyed. So that means one way is for Ukraine to be destroyed.
I know that is the conventional wisdom ... I'm not sure it's right.

A year ago I said Putin is an adventurous opportunist or an opportunistic adventurer, take your pick, but, since he leads a nuclear armed superpower we have to put up with it.

OK, he's still nuclear armed but both he and Russia have been exposed as big, heavyweight, shambling failures.

I'm not sure that Putin, the man, can survive this. I will not be shocked if he's dead and buried before Christmas. At a guess he will be succeeded by a "team" of some sort who will want to make nice with the US-led West while they try to dig their economy our of the muck and mire into which it has sunk been pushed.

Russia's real enemy is China. China wants its resources, China, unlike Russia, IS a superpower.

America might have 'decided' - maybe that's not the best way to describe the Biden administration's approach to strategic decision making - that now is thew time to dismember reinvent Russia. Remember PNAC, the Project for a New American Century? That was, in my opinion, the last time America had a coherent grand strategy. It was deeply flawed - almost Wilsonian in its idealism (see Mead - Special Providence) but it was Hamiltonian and even slightly Jacksonian in its execution. I have to believe that the very, very smart people who thought it up and sold it to President George W Bush knew that their idealism was fake and that they only wanted to cement America as THE global hegemony, but, at least, they knew what they wanted. It's been a long time since America knew its own mind.

China has also been adrift. Both Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao committed themselves to advancing Deng Xiaoping's grand strategy of overturning Maoism and Marxism and making China into a prosperous, productive and powerful market economy. That all changed shortly after Xi Jinping took over a decade ago. He sees himself as a transformative leader and the transformation he wants to execute is one in which China exploits its economic power to become THE regional (East Asian) hegemon and a global superpower, too. That puts it, squarely, in the face of America which sees itself as the guarantor of global freeish trade.

Europe is in turmoil. Brexit had a greater political impact than many realize. Germany is much stronger and France is much weaker. There are deep and growing divisions in the EU between the so-called New Hanseatic League (Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, etc) and the spendthrift, dishonest Romantic League (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc) and the problematic newcomers (Hungary and so on). My guess is that Germany will, finally, succeed in establishing a real 'Mitteleuropa' which might look a lot like Greater Germany.

IF Russia is dismembered then China will have a very real chance to become very nearly self sufficient. America can be almost totally self sufficient IF it has unfettered access to Canada's resources yes, especially water. Europe might become largely self sufficient IF it absorbs European Russia (becoming ATTU - the Atlantic to the Urals).
Maybe we can play tic-tac-toe.

Moscow - Beijing is one play. Moscow has dominated that play for a couple of centuries but China is looking to take the lead but follow the play. Ultimately that play was about dominating the Silk Road which China is explicitly trying to revive.

But the Silk Road is neither Chinese nor Russian. The dominant peoples are the Islamic Turks and Tengric Mongols, Specifially we are looking at Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uighuristan and Mongolia. Related cultures are Cossacks, Bulgarians, Georgians, Armenians, Manchurians, Koreans and Japanese.

There was a book the came out a few years back describing a new map, something about an arc of instability. That map, in the Eurasian context was talking about this region. It essentially described the region as a power vacuum. China has moved to fill that vacuum in the absence of Russia. But, as shown by its problems in Xinjiang, Tibet and even Shanghai, it is hard to govern without the consent of the governed no matter how many boots you have on the ground.

A Western Play would be to challenge the Chinese trade in the Stans and Mongolia by appealing to free trade and sovereignty among peoples that are by history nomadic pastoralists and traders. With a willingness to fight.

Ukraine sees itself as a Cossack culture.

So the Western Play is to encourage Ankara, in association with Kyiv and Bucharest, to anchor the western end of the Silk Road while Tokyo, in association with Seoul and Ulaanbaatar to anchor the eastern end.

That would bring Astana, Ashgabat, Dushanbe and Bishkek immediately into play and would present China with problems in Urumqi (Xinjiang), Xanadu (Inner Mongolia/Manchuria), Lhasa (Tibet) and Pyongyang (North Korea).

It would also create a trade system that could probably present opportunities for Yerevan (Armenia) and Tbilisi (Georgia)

History and culture, as well as the efforts of both China and Russia have laid the ground work for such a trade zone. Perhaps they need a better sponsor - somebody like the OECD with better security guarantees - Non-NATO but not inimical to NATO.

I think the Iceland-UK-Ndlds-Denmark-Norway-Sweden-Finland-Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania-Poland-Ukraine-Turkey play is already moving in that direction from the West and Japan is become less isolationist in its associations as well.

Canada could be well positioned to add to that association on a variety of levels.

Eurasian Trade.jpg
Canada's grand strategy is going to continue being domestic. Today I read the third or fourth article in the space of a few days about family physician shortages. It's already a problem; it should be fixed; people will increasingly demand it be fixed; it won't be cheap; base interest rates are increasing; accumulated deficits are large.
Canada's grand strategy is going to continue being domestic. Today I read the third or fourth article in the space of a few days about family physician shortages. It's already a problem; it should be fixed; people will increasingly demand it be fixed; it won't be cheap; base interest rates are increasing; accumulated deficits are large.

But Canada is always looking for another good club to join and a good cause to sponsor. Fortunately I really enjoy chocolate coated almonds and girl guide cookies.
Understanding Competition

Another article of interest re this thread. Although written from a U.S. perspective, many of the questions here have relevance.

This postulates that competition, which I would suggest has significant influence on Grand Strategy is derived thusly "First, there must be some measurable or perceived contention (in other words, the participants have to see themselves as competing). Second, the contestants must be seeking to enhance their power or position in relation to one another. And third, the thing the contestants are struggling over must be in limited supply or significant for some other reason."

Great Power Rivalry in a Changing International Order
So it really is like when all the ladies go to the washroom to talk about the handsome guy at the bar...
Couldn't find a better thread in which to stick this in 2 pages or less of searching, so here it is: Tyler Cowen interviews Walter Russell Mead. An assortment of Mead's thoughts, relevant to foreign affairs.

Conversation with Walter Russell Mead (audio and transcript).

[Add: guilty of posting link without much comment, so following are couple of things which stood out to me.]

In which he pinpoints a hypothesis - the unachievability of soft-power goals (eg. democratization) - which might inform everyone's future aims before the next war there:

"What they saw in the Middle East is that America has both hard-power goals and what you could call soft-power, idealistic goals in the Middle East, that our hard-power goals are vital, and they are achievable. Our soft-power goals are important but largely unachievable."

In which he lays bare the folly of current US policy towards Saudi Arabia and Iran (essentially, the political equivalent of trying to suck and blow at the same time):

"Well, what they would say is, “Iran is our biggest threat. What are you actually doing?” In their view, we’re not doing enough. We might say, “Your view is crazy,” but it’s still their view. That’s part of it.

Also, Biden comes into office saying, “I’m going to make MBS, by name, a pariah. I’m going to end our relationship. This relationship with Saudi Arabia is a disaster. It needs to fundamentally change.” Then a few months later, he looks at the price of gas, and this is the key to his reelection. He comes to the Saudis: “Help me stay in office. Return to our eternal friendship.” They don’t trust him at all, nor should they, really."

And on mixed messages to Russia:

"...if you really look at the total message the US was projecting to Russia in those critical months, there were two messages. One is, “We’ve got great intelligence on you. We actually understand you much better than you think.” It was shocking. I think it shocked the Russians. But on the other hand, we’re saying, “We think you’re going to win quickly in Ukraine. We’re offering Zelenskyy a plane ride out of Kyiv. We’re pulling out all our diplomats and urging other countries to pull out their diplomats.”

The message, actually the totality of the message that we sent to Putin is, “You are going to win if you do this.” It would certainly undercut — not that there may have been any — but any voices inside Russia telling Putin, “No, no, no, this thing is a lot harder than you think. It may not work.” What they’re hearing is, “The Americans, whose intelligence is really, really good, and they know us better than we think — they certainly know the Ukrainians better than we do — and they think we’re going to win fast.”"
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