Where does Europe go in the wake of the Nord Stream allegations? It is hard to see a Germany-dominated Europe diverging far from Washington.
“NATO has never been stronger; Russia is a global Pariah; and the world remains inspired by Ukrainian bravery and resilience; in short, Russia has lost, Russia has lost strategically, operationally and tactically – and they are paying an enormous price on the battlefield”.
He, (General Mark Milley, U.S. Chief of Defence Staff) doesn’t believe a word of that. We know that he doesn’t believe it because, two months ago, he said the exact opposite – until he was chastised by the White House for straying off the Joe Biden message. Now he is back, playing on ‘Team’.
Zelensky likely also doesn’t believe the word of the recent European promise of tanks and aircraft – and he knows it to be mostly a chimera. But he plays on Team. A few extra tanks will make no difference on the ground, and his fifth mobilisation is being resisted at home. The European militaries are waiting-out this episode, their armouries running on ‘reserve tank’.
Zelensky repeatedly says he must have tanks and planes by August to sandbag his haemorrhaging defences. But contradictorily Zelensky is warned, It’s critical; “make significant gains on the battlefield” now – as it is the Administration’s “very strong view” that it will be harder thereafter, to obtain Congressional support (i.e. August is past time; it will be too late).
Clearly the U.S. is preparing the ground for a Spring ‘Victory Announcement’ – as Milley’s delusional comments foreshadow – and a pivot – just a whisker ahead of the U.S. Presidential Election calendar kick-off.
The ‘narrative’ in the MSM has already begun to transition to that of a coming crushing Russian offensive – and of heroic Ukrainian resistance overwhelmed by crushing force.
“The critical nature of the next few months has already been conveyed to Kiev in blunt terms by top Biden officials — including deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman and undersecretary of defence Colin Kahl, all of whom visited Ukraine last month” (Washington Post) – with CIA Director Bill Burns travelling to personally brief Zelensky just a week ahead of those officials’ arrival.
Zelenksky was put on notice. Results now, or else!
But then Seymour Hersh finally says out loud, an unspoken harsh reality – one with hugely complicated political consequences (taken from Hersh’s subsequent interview with Berliner Zeitung, (Google translation)). No, not the Nord Stream sabotage (we knew that), but that of reckless misjudgement and rising anger in Washington – and contempt for Biden and his close team of neocons’ immature political judgements.
It’s not just that the Biden Team ‘blew up the pipelines’; they’re proud of that! It’s not just that Biden was prepared to eviscerate the competitive ability and employment prospects of Europe for the next decade (some will applaud). The explosive part of the narrative was that “At some point after the Russians invaded, and the sabotage was done… (these are people who work in top positions in the intelligence services, and are well trained): They turned against the project. They thought it crazy”.
“There was a lot of anger among those involved” noted Hersh. Initially, Biden’s Nord Stream narrative – ‘it will not happen’ – was understood by the Intel ‘pros’ as simple leverage (linked to a then prospective Russian invasion) – an invasion which Washington knew was coming, because the U.S. was prepping Ukrainians furiously – precisely in order to trigger the Russian invasion.
Yet the Nord Stream sabotage was postponed – from June until September 2022 – months after the invasion had happened. So, what then was the point of crippling the European industrial base through imposing sky-high energy costs on it? What was the rationale? And there was more anger at Biden’s Team members ‘shooting their mouths’ about Nord Stream, effectively boasting ‘damn right, yes, we ordered it’.
Hersh comments that although the CIA answers to ‘power’ in the broad meaning, rather than to Congress, “even this community is horrified by the fact that Biden decided to attack Europe in its economic underbelly – in order to support a war that he will not win”. Hersh opines that in a White House obsessed with re-election, the Nord Stream sabotage was seen as a ‘win’.
Hersh said in his Berliner Zeitung interview:
“What I know is that there is no way this war is going to end the way we [the U.S.] wants it to end … It scares me that the president was ready for such a thing. And the people who carried out this mission believed that the president was well aware of what he was doing to the people of Germany. And in the long run, [they believe] this will not only damage his reputation as president, but also be very harmful politically. It will be a stigma for the U.S.”.
The concern is more than that – it is that Biden’s obsessive zeal is turning the Ukraine from a proxy war into an existential issue for the U.S. (existential in the sense of the humiliation and reputational damage if the war was lost). It is already a Russian existential issue. And two nuclear powers in an existential confrontation is bad news.
Let us be very clear: This was not the first time that Biden did something – regarded by the U.S. intelligence professionals – as wholly reckless: Robert Gates, the former Defense Secretary said on Sunday that Biden has been wrong on nearly every major foreign and security issue over four decades. In February 2022, he seized Russia’s foreign exchange assets; he expelled its banks from SWIFT (the interbank clearing system) and imposed on her a tsunami of sanctions. The Federal Reserve and the ECB said afterwards they were never consulted, and if they had been – would never have consented to the measures.
Biden claimed his action would ‘reduce the rouble to rouble’; he was grievously mistaken. Rather, Russia’s resilience has brought the U.S. closer to a financial precipice (as dollar demand dries up, and the world shifts eastwards). From the perspective of significant financial actors in New York, Biden and the Fed now must hurry to rescue a systemically fragile U.S.
Simply said, the import of Hersh’s Berliner Zeitung interview (and his other pieces) is that factions within the U.S. Deep State are furious at the circle of neo-cons (Sullivan, Blinken and Nuland). Trust is ‘done’. They are coming for them; and will keep on coming… Hersh’s piece is but a first taste.
For the moment, the neo-cons’ Ukraine project remains ‘current’, with Team Biden demanding all western allies remain tightly on message, ahead of the 24 February first anniversary of Russia’s Special Operation.
It would appear the critical window for Ukraine somehow to ‘magically win’ however, is being cut from months to a few weeks. ‘Winning’, of course, remains undefined. Yet the reality is that it will be Russia, rather than Ukraine, that will be mounting the Spring offensive – and possibly along the entire length of the Contact Line.
The ‘writing is on the wall’ for Ukraine (albeit with Kamala Harris dispatched to the Munich Security Conference) to plug the Team ‘line’ of an ‘enduring commitment to Ukraine’ by the collective West for the long haul.
Paradoxically, behind the curtain, this ongoing ‘civil war’ in the U.S. Establishment threatens to become ‘the writing on the wall’ for Biden too – as he approaches that 2024 Candidature decision moment.
Can Biden be trusted not to be reckless, the U.S. Intelligence Community must be asking itself, as Ukraine grinds into entropy under a Russian surge across all fronts? Will Biden again become desperate?
Can we imagine that the U.S. might just throw-up its hands and concede Russian victory? No – NATO might disintegrate in the face of such spectacular failure. So the political instinct will be a gamble; to double-down: A NATO deployment into western Ukraine as ‘a buffer force’, to ‘protect it from Russian advances’ is under consideration.
It is not hard to see why factions within the Deep State are “appalled”: America’s defence industry products are being consumed in Ukraine faster than they can be manufactured. It is adversely changing the U.S. calculus on China, as the U.S. military inventory burns away in Ukraine. And the Ukraine war easily can spill across eastern Europe …
The bottom line is the unexpected insight (for the élite) that the U.S. itself may be the biggest loser in the war on Russia. (Moscow understood this from the outset).
Team Biden has essentially sparked a concerted push-back from the Establishment versus his decision-making competence. Hersh’s report; the Rand Organisation Report, the Economist interviews with Zelensky and Zaluzhny, the CSIS report, the IMFreport showing Russia growing economically, and the scattered eruptions of hard reality appearing in the MSM – all attest to the circle of dissent at Biden’s handling of the Ukraine war that is gathering steam.
Even the recent Chinese Balloon hysteria, leading to NORAD shooting down every and all unidentified objects in U.S. airspace, smacks of some at the Pentagon poking the Biden team ‘in the eye’: i.e., If you (Team Biden) are stupid enough to insist we ‘uncheck every box’ on the NORAD radars, don’t be surprised at the rubbish you will be shooting down daily.
This speaks firstly of disdain for the White House grasp of the finer details; and secondly of how the Chinese Balloon has performed a symbolic role in re-energising the U.S. China hawks who hold the majority in terms of bi-partisan Congressional support.
Can Biden be removed? Theoretically ‘yes’. Sixty percent of young Democratic Party members do not want Biden to stand again. The difficulty however, lies with Kamala Harris’ deep unpopularity as a possible successor. The latest evidence of Harris’ fading position is a sharply critical article in the New York Times, filled with anonymous disapproval from senior Democrats, many of whom once supported her. Now, they are worried.
Their fear, Charles Lipson writes, is that she’s almost impossible to drop:
“To win, Democrats need enthusiastic support from African Americans, who are likely to be insulted if Harris is dumped. That problem might be averted if she were replaced by another African American. But there are no obvious alternatives. If Harris is replaced, it would likely be by a white or Hispanic candidate …
“Such a change would roil a party deeply invested in the politics of racial and ethnic identity, where losing groups are seen as aggrieved victims, winners as “privileged” oppressors. Those divisions are most virulent when they centre on America’s historic wound of race, and they would be turned inward on the party”.
Why should we not expect an investigation by the Democratic Party hierarchy or from Congress in pursuit Seymour Hersh’s allegations of deliberately by-passing Congress? Well, put simply, it is this: Because it exposes the ‘unsayable’. Yes, Biden did not ‘inform’ Congress, though some of them do seem to have known about the Nord Stream sabotage in advance. Technically, he bypassed the system.
The difficulty is that both sides of the House largely APPROVE of such exceptionalism – U.S. exceptionalism provides that the U.S. can do what it likes, whenever it likes, to whomsoever it wants. There are so many instances of this ingrained in practice: Who will dare to cast the first stone at ‘Old Joe’? No, the case against Biden – if it is to be pursued – must be the collective view that Biden is unfit to exercise sound judgement on issues which might risk lurching the U.S. toward all-out war with Russia.
If Biden is forced out, it will be done from ‘smoke filled rooms’ of insiders. Too many have quietly benefitted from the Ukraine boondoggle.
Where does Europe go in the wake of the Nord Stream allegations? It is hard to see a Germany-dominated Europe diverging far from Washington. The present German leadership is in thrall to Washington and readily has accepted its vassalage. France will – a few hiccoughs aside – stick with Germany. However, as the U.S. observes its dollar sphere contract with the expansion of the BRICS and the East Asian Economic Community, the U.S. will bear down hardest on its captive nearest economies. Europe will likely pay a devastating price.
In any event, the EU does not discuss the really sensitive issues in public – only in meeting rooms where all mobiles have been removed in advance. Transparency or accountability barely figure in such discussions.