The Bear Is Back… But Was Never Really Gone

Posted: March 1, 2022 in Geopolitics, Readiness & Strategy, War
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By Richard Martin

There are those times in life when we get a revelation, and a great truth appears in a flash of insight.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February, I’ve been having about 3 of those a day. This morning though (March 1st), I had the biggest one of all, as intimated by the title of this article. In fact, my worldview has altered significantly in the last few hours. In a nutshell, Russia was the threat all along!

I know, that sounds idiotic. “What do you call the Cold War?” True enough, but my realization goes deeper than that. The Soviet Union was Russia garbed in an attractive to some (many), and not just Lenin’s “useful idiots.” And this on a global scale.

The end of the Cold War and the dismemberment of the USSR ended the Marxist-Leninist fiasco that had threatened freedom and peace around the world in 1989-91. Western countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond, we all greeted Russia with open arms into the community of nations.

We assumed that, with the Communists out of power, Russia would become a “normal” country again. Leningrad reverted to its old name, Saint-Petersburg. Former Soviet Socialist republics were left to their own devices for a few years. Western countries extended friendly relations and offered credit, investment, and relatively free trade. The United States scrapped its remaining space shuttle and entrusted its astronauts to the Soyuz rockets of Roscosmos flying from Baikonur. We built a massive international space station with key modules and components from Russia. The United States even allowed critical launch providers and rocket builders like United Launch Alliance to put Russian rocket engines in Atlas V rockets, many of them used to put American defence satellites on orbit!

But Russia claims to be surrounded and threatened by Europe, NATO, and especially, the United States. The goal is to reconstitute a Grossrussland consisting of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, the cost be damned. After that, will the Baltics, Moldova, and eastern Poland be next?

I was an infantry officer in the Canadian Army for 21 years (1985-2006). I served with Canada’s NATO brigade in Germany from 1988 to 91. I was there when the Wall came down, when Ceausescu and his wife were murdered, when German Chancellor Helmut Kohl rolled the dice and integrated East Germany, reuniting Berlin in the process. I was there when Soviet hardliners staged an attempted coup in 1991 and Boris Yeltsin rose to the occasion. And I was also there when the Soviet Union dissolved itself in late 1991 and Ukraine affirmed its independence in a national referendum.

And now it dawns on me. NATO has always been a defensive alliance against Russia, not the Soviet Union. The latter was the Russian bear in Marxist-Leninist garb. If you can, watch or listen to Jordan Peterson’s interview with Prof. Frederick Kagan on Russia’s history and designs. It is a sobering reminder that Russia has been fearful of its neighbours for centuries.

To this you can add a video by Peter Zeihan of a briefing last year to US Army officers. He explains the geopolitical and strategic situation clearly and succinctly, complete with pictures to reinforce the point.

We need to realize that World War III has started. It’s not unfolding the way any of us expected, especially after watching the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the poverty and corruption of Russia since 1991. A clique of murderous psychopaths and exploitative oligarchs is running Russia, and they very well take Eurasia down their country in this last-ditch reckless gamble.

At this point in the rapidly evolving situation, I consider that the probability of escalation is high. At some point, NATO and like-minded countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas will be drawn into the fighting. Right now, this is limited arms shipments, and war on the moral plane: economic/financial sanctions, cyberwarfare, psychological operations, information warfare. Ukraine needs serious air power right now, and it can only be provided by NATO and the United States. When that happens, all bets will be off. It can happen, and the odds are high.

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but that’s what I see right now.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is a veteran, thinker, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable signals from all the noise.

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