Intransigence Is Not A Foreign Policy: Two Truths The West Fears – OpEd


Western intransigence must give way to the reality on the ground. The shortsighted Western strategy of provoking the “Bear” to see what one can get away with is fraught with peril. It is also driven by a sense of desperation from its leaders that two truths are evident.

First, short of sending ground troops to “save the day,” Ukraine will suffer defeat. The West has largely accepted this inevitability, which is why discord reigns supreme amongst the countries of the EU and between the Bloc, the US and Britain. The chatter we hear–Biden’s “for as long as it takes,” Macron’s recent nonsense to send NATO troops, and Cameron rattling UK sabers about long-range weapons to strike Russian cities, are the sounds of desperate men trying to save face. It is political rhetoric designed to buy time to forestall the inevitable.

This brings us to the second truth about Ukraine. Since the West knows the first truth is upon them, they must now use every “weapon” remaining in their arsenal to mitigate the outcome of their proxy war with Russia. They will seek to avoid mention of the “D” word–Defeat. As Macron has commented several times, defeat of Ukraine is a defeat of the West, NATO and the EU (BBC, “Macron says Russian defeat in Ukraine vital for security in Europe” February 2024).

Thus, the West will attempt to save face and the embarrassment of humiliation at the hands of Moscow. What is interesting about this entire debacle is that it was the West that created the circumstances (NATO encroachment, sanctions, etc.) such that the defeat of Ukraine meant the defeat (i.e. humiliation) of the West. But then pride and arrogance often have consequences.

The shortsightedness of the West has reached its limits–the point of diminishing returns. The West must not just listen to Moscow, it must now hear Russia’s warnings about the Kremlin’s own limits. With the escalation of the Ukraine conflict to include rhetoric about commiting NATO ground troops, disregarding Kremlin concerns will no longer work for the West. 

Pursuant to the two truths presented above, the essence of the Ukraine crisis is patent: the Ukraine, notwithstanding, its Western promoters no longer have the initiative in its proxy war with Russia. And as well placed Western diplomats from several NATO countries grudgingly admit, it’s time to consider a diplomatic solution since defeat is a real possibility (New York Times, Zelensky Calls for Peace, Not More Weapons, in Davos, Jan. 16, 2024).

Given the reality of our two truths and the resulting self-inflicted “psychological wound” on Western leaders, the latter have threatened further escalation. Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron publicly suggested that Kiev use British Storm Shadow missiles to strike deep inside Russia. And French President Emmanuel Macron, as mentioned previously, continues to threaten a direct (not covert, as is the case at present) intervention by the French–meaning NATO troops–to bolster Kiev’s efforts to prevent disaster.

The Kremlin responded with warnings delineating Moscow’s red lines. The British and French ambassadors received harsh rebukes cautioning their respective governments about the risks involved. There have been some indications that the West got the message. NATO Director-General Jens Stoltenberg has reiterated that NATO has no plans to send troops–at least overtly–into Ukraine (The Guardian, “Jens Stoltenberg distanced himself from Macron’s suggestion that western allies should not rule out deploying troops in Ukraine,” 11 Mar 2024).

It would be a mistake to feel reassured, however, after the British and French dressing down or Stoltenberg’s denials. The core of this crisis began and remains an intransigence between US-led Western political hegemony that has not abated and a persistent Russian policy to which the West refuses to give credence.

Kremlin Policy to Defend its Sovereignty

The persistent Kremlin policy alluded to above is Moscow’s understanding of when it would employ certain defenses, including nuclear weapons to protect its sovereignty. The US State Department and the Pentagon characterize Moscow’s not infrequent statements about nuclear weapons as its own “saber-rattling.” But Russia’s policy regarding the use of its nuclear arsenal was created over two decades ago. These are not statements or warnings that the West has not heard before. The comments made by Moscow constitute policy statements designed to avert misunderstandings–they do not constitute “saber-rattling.”

Complicated is the only way to describe Russia’s nuclear policy, as it operates on various levels of implementation. Much has been made in the media recently about how the use of nuclear weapons and ground troops might occur in the Ukraine. It should be said that both Moscow and France (as nuclear powers) are capable of inflicting what may be called “calculated uncertainty” on its adversaries regarding what each might do next. The difference between Putin and Macron is that the former affects this without “bravado” and achieves its ends more effectively. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has made a veritable habit of posturing an “unrelenting inconsistency” which he calls “strategic ambiguity.” There is an abundance of talk from the  French president but very little else (Reuters, “Macron’s Ukraine troop talk shakes up NATO allies,” February 28, 2024).

Thus, there are two tiers of implementation associated with Russia’s nuclear policy.

One level stresses that nuclear weapons could only be used if the existence of the Russian state was in danger. But to misunderstand this as a promise that Moscow would only use nuclear weapons if significant portions of Russian territory or population had been decimated would be woefully misguided.

Of course, there is also another level of implementation that could exist in Moscow’s nuclear policy which remains unarticulated– that of treating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Russia, unconditionally, as linchpin thresholds for the appropriate use of nuclear weapons. Under these circumstances the issue of “state existence” becomes the priority–virtual survival of the country.

As a point of reference with regard to the use of nuclear weapons, one additional tier of implementation should be addressed. Russia has never openly conveyed a policy of restricting its use of nuclear weapons to a specific local theater of military operation, (e.g. Ukraine). But that is something that President Vladimir Putin clarified in his address to Russia’s Federal Assembly in February of this year (Reuters, “Putin’s Address to Russia’s Parliament” February 29, 2024). Russia would not limit its response in a military confrontation to the local theater of operation if the situation warranted it. That piece of information has not escaped the UK and EU in their rather subservient role to the US in its proxy war with Russia.

Moscow has been unambiguous in pressing its nuclear policy throughout the Ukraine Special Military Operation. It is evident to those who have listened and watched the political dynamics of the last two years that Russia’s nuclear policy and its verbalized statements of warning have unambiguous messages for any possible adversary. 

At present, the dilemma remains, we are left with the same US-led political hegemonic intransigence that created the proxy war, initially. The West has a history of feigning to listen but (since 1989) consistently refusing to hear the voice of Russia urging restraint and caution to NATO allies. This intransigent behavior is the psychological “circuit” that brought us to this exceedingly perilous place–called Ukraine. Russia has urged the West since 2007, when the Russian president spoke at the Munich Security Conference, to listen to Russia’s concerns. The EU in particular should have listened and was offered an opportunity to forgo further NATO expansion and, thereby, negotiate a new security framework for all of Europe (American Rhetoric, Munich Security Conference, 2007). But through US-led political intransigence the offer was not given credence by what can only be described as its EU “vassals.”

Intransigence, as a defense or foreign policy, must give way to the reality of the two truths mentioned at the beginning of this essay. In this regard, through its frequent policy statements, Russia is sending serious messages to the West. It is time to listen, because no one knows how much time is left when intransigence and talk of nuclear weapons remain at cross purposes.

F. Andrew Wolf, Jr.

F. Andrew Wolf, Jr. is a retired USAF Lt. Col. and retired university professor of the Humanities, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy. His education includes a PhD in philosophy from Univ. of Wales, two masters degrees (MTh-Texas Christian Univ.), (MA-Univ. South Africa) and an abiding passion for what is in America's best interest.

One thought on “Intransigence Is Not A Foreign Policy: Two Truths The West Fears – OpEd

  • May 20, 2024 at 3:09 am

    Russia is an imperialist, fascist state committing genocide in Ukraine, so what is this retired US military guy talking about??

    Russia’s War on Ukraine Is Genocide
    Russian imperialism shaping Putin’s war


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