Incentivizing Russia To Hit NATO

by Caitlin Johnstone, published on Consortium News, January 27, 2023

The omnicidal war fiends won the debate over sending tanks to Ukraine, so now it’s time to start arguing for sending F-16s.

In an article “Ukraine sets sights on fighter jets after securing tank supplies,” Reuters reports the following:

“Ukraine will now push for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the U.S. F-16 after securing supplies of main battle tanks, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister said on Wednesday.

Ukraine won a huge boost for its troops as Germany announced plans to provide heavy tanks for Kyiv on Wednesday, ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock on the issue. The United States is poised to make a similar announcement.”

Just in time for the good news, Lockheed Martin has announced that the arms manufacturing giant happens to be all set to ramp up production of F-16s should they be needed for shipment to Ukraine.

Lockheed Martin has said that it’s ready to meet demands for F-16 fighter jets if the U.S. and its allies choose to ship them to Ukraine,” Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports. “So far, the U.S. and its allies have been hesitant to send fighter jets to Ukraine due to concerns that they could be used to target Russian territory. But the Western powers seem less and less concerned about escalation as the U.S. and Germany have now pledged to send their main battle tanks.”

A New York Times’ article, “How Biden Reluctantly Agreed to Send Tanks to Ukraine,” is subtitled “The decision unlocked a flow of heavy arms from Europe and inched the United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia.” Its authors David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper write:

“President Biden’s announcement Wednesday that he would send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine came after weeks of tense back-channel negotiations with the chancellor of Germany and other European leaders, who insisted that the only way to unlock a flow of heavy European arms was for the United States to send tanks of its own.

His decision, however reluctant, now paves the way for German-made Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered to Ukraine in two or three months, provided by several European nations. While it is unclear whether it will make a decisive difference in the spring offensive that President Volodymyr Zelensky is now planning to take back territory seized by Russia, it is the latest in a series of gradual escalations that has inched the United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia.”

When even the myopic empire scribes at The New York Times are acknowledging that Western powers are escalating aggressions in a very dangerous direction, you should probably sit up and pay attention.

In his recent article for Responsible Statecraft, Mission Creep? How the U.S. role in Ukraine has slowly escalated,” Branko Marcetic outlines the ways the U.S.  empire has “serially blown past their own self-imposed lines over arms transfers,” over and over again relenting to war hawks and requests from Ukrainian officials to supply weapons which it had previously refrained from supplying for fear that they would be too escalatory and lead to hot warfare between nuclear superpowers.

Marcetic notes the way previously unthinkable aggressions like NATO spy agencies conducting sabotage operations on Russian infrastructure are now accepted, with more escalations being called for as soon as the previous one was made.

Toward the end of his article, Marcetic drives home a very important point which needs more attention: that the western alliance has established a policy of continually escalating every time Russia doesn’t react forcefully to a previous western escalation, which necessarily means Russia is being actively incentivized to react forcefully to those escalations.

By escalating their support for Ukraine’s military, the U.S. and NATO have created an incentive structure for Moscow to take a drastic, aggressive step to show the seriousness of its own red lines,” Marcetic writes. “This would be dangerous at the best of times, but particularly so when Russian officials are making clear they increasingly view the war as one against NATO as a whole, not merely Ukraine, while threatening nuclear response to the alliance’s escalation in weapons deliveries.”

Moscow keeps saying escalatory arms transfers are unacceptable and could mean wider war; U.S. officials say since Moscow hasn’t acted on those threats, they can freely escalate. Russia is effectively told it has to escalate to show it’s serious about lines,” Marcetic added on Twitter.

A good recent example of this dynamic is the recent New York Times report that the Biden administration is considering backing a Ukrainian offensive on Crimea, which many experts agree is one of the most likely ways this conflict could lead to nuclear warfare.

The Biden administration has assessed that Russia is unlikely to reciprocate an escalatory aggression, according to the article. But the basis for that assessment apparently comes from nothing other than the fact that Russia hasn’t done so yet.

“Crimea has already been hit many times without a massive escalation from the Kremlin,” the Times quotes a RAND Corporation think tanker as saying to explain why the Biden administration thinks it can get away with backing a Crimea offensive.

But as DeCamp explained at the time, that’s not even true; Russia did significantly escalate its aggressions in response to strikes on Crimea, beginning to target critical Ukrainian infrastructure in ways it previously had not.

So, Russia has in fact been escalating its aggressions in response to attacks on Crimea; it just hasn’t been escalating them against NATO powers. As long as Russia is only escalating in ways that hurt Ukrainians, the U.S. -centralized power structure does not regard them as real escalations.

The take-home message to Moscow being that they’re going to get squeezed harder and harder until they attack NATO itself.

And of course, that will be seized on and spun as more evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a reckless madman who is attacking the free world completely unprovoked and must be stopped at all cost, even if it means risking nuclear Armageddon.

Russia would of course be aware of this obvious reality, so the only way it takes the bait is if the pain of not reacting gets to a point where it is perceived as outweighing the pain of reacting. But judging by its actions the empire seems determined to push them to that point.

It really is spooky how much de-escalation and detente have been disappeared from public discourse about Russia. People genuinely don’t seem to know it’s an option.

They really do think the only option is continually escalating nuclear brinkmanship, and that anything else is obsequious appeasement. They think that because that’s the message they are being fed by the imperial propaganda machine, and they’re being fed that message because that is the empire’s actual position.

I’ve been warning about the increasing risk of nuclear Armageddon for as long as I’ve been publicly engaged in political commentary, and people have been calling me a hysterical idiot and a Putin puppet the entire time even as we’ve moved closer and closer to the exact point I’ve been screaming about at the top of my lungs all these years.

Now there’s not a whole lot closer it can get without being directly upon us. I deeply, deeply hope we turn this thing around before it’s too late.

*Featured Image:  F-16 Falcon fighter jets over Colombia in 2017 during a U.S.-Colombian  training exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard)

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

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