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LetMyPeopleVote's Journal
LetMyPeopleVote's Journal
February 20, 2023

It's Costing Us Peanuts to defeat Russia

5% of the US military budget has yielded the destruction of at least 50% of the Russian military

These sums pale into insignificance when set against a total US defense budget of $715bn for 2022. The assistance represents 5.6% of total US defense spending. But Russia is a primary adversary of the US, a top tier rival not too far behind China, its number one strategic challenger. In cold, geopolitical terms, this war provides a prime opportunity for the US to erode and degrade Russia’s conventional defense capability, with no boots on the ground and little risk to US lives.

The Ukrainian armed forces have already killed or wounded upwards of 100,000 Russian troops, half its original fighting force; there have been almost 8,000 confirmed losses of armored vehicles including thousands of tanks, thousands of APCs, artillery pieces, hundreds of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and numerous naval vessels. US spending of 5.6% of its defense budget to destroy nearly half of Russia’s conventional military capability seems like an absolutely incredible investment. If we divide out the US defense budget to the threats it faces, Russia would perhaps be of the order of $100bn-150bn in spend-to-threat. So spending just $40bn a year, erodes a threat value of $100-150bn, a two-to-three time return.  Actually the return is likely to be multiples of this given that defense spending, and threat are annual recurring events.

The US military might reasonably wish Russia to continue deploying military forces for Ukraine to destroy. 

Meanwhile, replacing destroyed kit, and keeping up with the new arms race that it has now triggered with the West will surely end up bankrupting the Russian economy; especially an economy subject to aggressive Western sanctions. How can Russia possibly hope to win an arms race when the combined GDP of the West is $40 trillion, and its defense spending amounting to 2% of GDP totals well in excess of $1 trillion when the disproportionate US defense contribution is considered? Russia’s total GDP is only $1.8 trillion. Vladimir Putin will have to divert spending from consumption to defense, risking social and political unrest over the medium term, and a real and soon-to-be present danger to his regime. Just imagine how much more of a bargain Western military aid will be if it ultimately brings positive regime change in Russia.
February 20, 2023

Biden in Ukraine: How the president's surprise visit was kept a secret

This trip took guts


It was an audacious trip almost unheard of for a US president.

Appearing in a war zone under regular attack, White House officials describe Joe Biden's unexpected visit to Ukraine's capital Kyiv as "unprecedented in modern times".

They say previous presidential trips to wartime Iraq and Afghanistan had the back up of a heavy US military presence......

On Sunday, the official White House schedule still showed the president taking off for Warsaw at 19:00 EST (00:00 GMT) on Monday evening. In fact, Air Force One took off at 04:15 EST on Sunday morning.....

President Biden then spent 10 hours on a train to get to Kyiv. He could have visited other locations inside Ukraine that would have been easier to get to, but he wanted to make the symbolic trip to Kyiv itself.

While the president's trip is a signal to Moscow of the Biden administration's commitment to helping Ukraine, it is also a demonstration to US voters back home.
February 20, 2023

Biden's Secret Trip to Kyiv Took Guts

I do not want to see the GOP try to claim that President Biden is too old for the job and that he lacks guts. This trip to Kiev took a great deal of courage. No president has gone to an active war zone without substantial military support.

I am so proud of President Biden

President Biden’s secret visit to wartime Kyiv is an example of America in its finest tradition.

The New York Times reports that after a “trans-Atlantic flight to Poland, Mr. Biden crossed the border by train, traveling for nearly 10 hours to Kyiv as other American officials have in recent months.”....

The Times reports that Biden “slipped out of Washington in the dark of night without notice” in the early hours of Sunday morning on the East Coast: “Just a few reporters sworn to secrecy and deprived of their telephones were brought with him, along with Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser; Jen O’Malley Dillon, his deputy chief of staff; and Annie Tomasini, the director of Oval Office operations.”

The moment reminds me not so much of Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump flying unannounced to Iraq or Afghanistan, but of President Roosevelt’s wartime travels across the Atlantic. Make no mistake, there was risk involved in this trip. Traveling to the capital of a nation fighting a shooting war with a great power, the U.S. had no way to choreograph with exactitude the circumstances of his travel or arrival. Neither the U.S. nor Ukraine has total control of the airspace. Neither the U.S. nor Ukraine could guarantee Biden’s security on the ground.....

The president of the United States was inside the Russian WEZ — the weapons engagement zone — the entire trip. For that Joe Biden should receive credit.

Americans are allowed to disagree in good faith about what comes next — should the U.S. stand for a Ukraine whole and free no matter how long it takes to eject the Kremlin’s army, or is it in the American interest to urge the Ukrainians to accept a peace that doesn’t include all of its antebellum territory? — but no one should be under any illusion about the power of an American president going into a war zone to extend a hand to a beleaguered people and offer “unwavering support.”

Symbolism and morale matter to a nation at war. Indeed, as Napoleon said, “the moral is to the physical as three to one.”
February 20, 2023

Putin, czar with no empire, needs military victory for his own survival

This is a long but interesting article on Putin and Russia. Putin believes that he can rebuild Russia back to its old status as an empire. These efforts have failed. Putin is in trouble due to his losses and needs a victory.

President Vladimir Putin likes to portray himself as a new czar like Peter the Great or Ivan III, the 15th-century grand prince known as the “gatherer of the Russian lands.” But Putin’s year-long war in Ukraine has failed so far to secure the lands he aims to seize, and in Russia, there is fear that he is leading his nation into a dark period of strife and stagnation — or worse.

Some in the elite also say the Russian leader now desperately needs a military victory to ensure his own survival. “In Russia, loyalty does not exist,” one Russian billionaire said.

Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began with hubris and a zeal to reshape the world order. But even as he suffered repeated military defeats — diminishing his stature globally and staining him with allegations of atrocities being committed by his troops — Putin has tightened his authoritarian grip at home, using the war to destroy any opposition and to engineer a closed, paranoid society hostile to liberals, hipsters, LGBTQ people, and, especially, Western-style freedom and democracy......

The president seems forever haunted by the moment when as a young KGB officer serving in Dresden, the Soviet Union “gave up its position in Europe” as the Berlin Wall collapsed. And his pursuit of the empire lost with the subsequent Soviet collapse is throwing his country back into a gray, repressive and isolated past. For Putin, his efforts are a quest to right what he has perceived as historical wrongs. In his near-maniacal revisionist view, Ukraine has always belonged to Russia.....

At times, Putin seems oddly out of touch with the realities of his war. Days after pro-war bloggers reported last week that dozens of Russian tanks and many soldiers were lost in a failed attack on Vuhledar involving Russia’s elite 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade, Putin boasted to journalists that the “marine infantry is working as it should — right now — fighting heroically.”

Meanwhile, a profound pessimism has settled on the country. Those who believe the war is lost run the gamut from liberals to hard-liners. “It seems it is impossible to win a political or military victory,” one state official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The economy is under huge stress and can’t be long under such a situation.”

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