Guest Post: Would America Go To War With Russia?

Tyler Durden's picture

By James Robins Of The National Interest

Would America Go To War With Russia?

Vice President Biden was in Warsaw last week to reassure our eastern NATO allies that they have the support of a “steadfast ally.” But if Russia moved against Poland or the Baltic States, would the United States really go to war? Or would we do nothing and effectively destroy the NATO alliance?

President Obama has ruled out a “military excursion” in Ukraine. America is not obligated legally to take action against Russia for annexing Crimea. We would not go to war if Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine to restore the ousted, pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych, currently under U.S. sanctions. And we would not even send troops if Ukraine was partitioned, or absorbed by Russia. Americans have no interest in such a conflict, and no stomach for it.

NATO allies are a different matter. The North Atlantic Treaty is a mutual-defense pact, and Article 5 says that an armed attack against one member state “shall be considered an attack against them all.” This is a clear red line. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and most NATO allies sent troops to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Could the current crisis expand to touch NATO? The developing situation in Ukraine has been compared to Germany’s absorption of Austria in 1938, or the subsequent partition and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Hillary Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, which by extension puts President Obama in the role of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who famously failed to achieve “peace in our time” at Munich.

Push the analogy further. The Second World War was sparked by Warsaw’s resistance to Berlin’s demand to annex the Polish Corridor, a small stretch of land—smaller than Crimea—separating the German provinces of Pomerania and East Prussia. Hitler responded by invading Poland and partitioning it with the Soviet Union. Britain and France had pledged to defend Polish independence, and two days after Germany invaded, they declared war. In his war message, Chamberlain explained that Hitler’s actions showed “there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.”

This may or may not describe Mr. Putin, as Mrs. Clinton alleged. But if similar circumstances arise in the near future, will the United States honor security guarantees made to Poland and the Baltic States when the Russian threat was only a theory?

Mr. Biden stood with Estonian president Toomas Ilves Tuesday to “reconfirm and reaffirm our shared commitment to collective self-defense, to Article 5.” He wanted to make it “absolutely clear what it means to the Estonian people” and that “President Obama and I view Article 5 of the NATO Treaty as an absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor—we will honor.” Shortly thereafter, Moscow “expressed concern” about the treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia. Mr. Putin justified his actions in Crimea as “restoring unity” to Russian people. Estonia’s population is 25 percent ethnic Russian, compared to 17 percent in Ukraine, mostly in the north and east part of the country. Suppose anti-Russian riots “spontaneously” broke out in Estonia. What would the United States do if Moscow invoked a “responsibility to protect” these people and bring them “back” to the Motherland? Would President Obama take military action against Russia over a small, secluded piece of a tiny, distant country? Would it be like the Polish Corridor in 1939? This is highly doubtful—highly doubtful.

Aren’t we obligated by treaty to intervene? Mr. Biden mentioned the “absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor.” It was so important he said it twice. However, Article 5 says that NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of the attacked state using “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” It doesn’t take a White House lawyer to see the gaping loophole—President Obama can simply deem that the use of U.S. force isn’t necessary. He can walk back the red line, as he did with Syria. Stern talk and minimal sanctions would follow, but Estonia would lose some, if not all of its territory. And in practical terms it would mean the end of NATO, which is one of Moscow’s longstanding strategic objectives. Mr. Putin’s chess game does not end in Crimea.

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Motorhead's picture

No.  Not even this administration is that stupid.  And our military just has to be tired of the years and years of b.s. and multiple rotations to SW Asia (if it ever came to that level of seriousness).

Uncle Remus's picture

Yes, this administration is that stupid. BUT, they aren't the ones making the decision(s).

kliguy38's picture

The pushback is coming from within the military and its stopped the Syria war game and Iran hit..........once they get the pushback from the generals resolved (see recent resignations) then "they" can start the hot wars they need to divert attention and begin consolidation of the technocratic control of us. 

SilverIsKing's picture

I think this will all be resolved with an arm wrestling match between Obama and Putin.  Obama gets to use both arms.

zerozulu's picture

Not really, MIC has used and dumped all out of date munition in afghan and Iraq and already billed to tax payers.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

"Would America Go To War With Russia?"

Let's do it. I'm ready for a different game.

Sashko89's picture

Russia has no interest in invading Poland. And eastern and southern Ukraine WANT to join Russia! Sending American arms to the nationalistic/fascist government and their right sector group and svoboda in western Ukraine to fight off Russia and Eastern Ukraine ensures a deceitful way to slaughter the slavic people on behalf of the USA. The Prime minister of Ukraine Yazenuk already gave off national treasures and Gold as a guarantee to an imf loan which poses austerity on the ukrainian populations and cuts pensions of old people ensuring they die. USA NEEDS TO STOP FUNDING AND SUPPORTING NATIONALISTS AND FASCISTS IN UKRAINE AND ALSO NOT PROMOTE THEIR PAWNS LIKE YAZENUK TO THE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMETN. Ukraine and Russia are brother Nations! WE BELONG TOGETHER. FUCK BANDERA

het2000's picture

Brother nations my ass.... A brother nation doest NOT invade and annex territories from each other.

Rock the Casbah's picture

Say hello to Vladimir.  Doesn't the kremlin have anything better to do than monitor ZH?

holgerdanske's picture

Phew, I was worried there for a second that it might involve the use of mental skills.

But both arms, I guess he stands a chance, --well, ------- ------  at least a small one.

IndyPat's picture

Which certainly makes one hope there are large testicles @ in the junior ranks. I've seen some evidence of least in the USMC. No wonder they were purposing reducing the grunts numbers to about Boy Scout troop size.

TahoeBilly2012's picture

Zionist's plan to take the entire world down in Biblical fashion. There, fixed it.

new game's picture

attack or be attacked; if russia dilly dallies, then c-i arses move in subvertly and undermine order via false flag and unitizes wesern operatives to takeover via banker imf regime change and control. putin gets this clearly and uses his own style which is reactionary. certain not the agressor. spy vs spy, sociopath vs sociopath. world contrived of bad choices, with the good choice as no option, just the way control uninterrupted goes on and we ultimately are popcorn eaters without a say until the popcorn doesn't exist...

Max Hunter's picture

The moves in Ukraine and Syria are preemtive in order to protect the petrodollar. Something on the horizon adn coming toward them like a cliff.

Jack Burton's picture

PetroDollar is the key, it is the source of American power. Look at our debts, we print half the money government spends. The economy is a printers economy. IF the world ever refused US green paper for their oil, gas and manufactured goods, the game would end. Russia has real wealth, from production, not from printing. Britain is printing the ECB is printing the USA is out printing everyone. FIAT everywhere while real economie sink. Dollar is a fake currency, backed by nothing but lies and guns.

eddiebe's picture

' Dollar is a fake currency, backed by nothing but lies and guns.'

True enough Jack, but that 'gun backing' is as relevant now as it has been throughout history. Fact was and remains: Might is right. The guns in the arsenal now are much more than guns, we the commoners have no idea how deadly that arsenal is. We can't even imagine. 

PT's picture

Just stick that barrel out of the window and fire two shots ...




... Buy a shot gun

toady's picture

I was watching a msm talking head this AM, Fahreed Zakaria (sp?). For some reason I like him, he presents things from a slightly-off US perspective that's a little out of the ordinary.

Anyway, he starts with this forward thinking vs backward think world leaders meme. Countries like Taiwan & Singapore are forward thinking, while Putin is stuck in the past, trying to ressurrect the old Soviet Union.

But I'm thinking he has it backwards. These 'forward thinking countries are financial manipulators. Singapore &the US, & Most of the west, simply screw people out of money &power. Taiwan does to a lesser extent, but they are subsidized by the US MIC.

Meanwhile, Russia, China, & some of the other BRICs actually produce things, from raw materials (Oil to tennis shoes). They are trying to build something, a society, an economy, a way of life.

Which do you think survives the coming financial collapse? The forward thinking manipulators, or the backward thinking producers?

dogismycopilot's picture

I think Zakareea is just a confused and alienated Pakistani.

acetinker's picture

How 'bout forward thinking producers?  Is this not an option?

toady's picture

Sure, we can get into symantics, and catch 22s, but at the end of the day, which is coming soon, I think people who have or control real resources will prosper, while those that manipulate, scam, & grift those with real resources will not.

acetinker's picture

I didn't imply semantics, you did.  As far as resources go, most of what this crowd regards as resources are just paper claims on future production.  The actual resources are declining, and nobody wants to admit this.

I am a producer, toady.  I can clearly see declining demand.  You can try and say that producers will prevail, and I would love to agree, but from my perspective, demand is waning.

The producers are dying, for lack of demand.  The economy is dead, save the 'markets'.

StychoKiller's picture

So, I guess yer not willing to trade some paper gold for an iPad?

toady's picture

I'll pass on both. I have no need for useless paper or NSA tracking devices. Wait, that paper gold might be useful as toilet paper!

acetinker's picture

Shiiiate! triplicate deleted.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Oh for God's sake. 

This isn't 1939.  Germany didn't have a dominant position in oil and gas in 1939.  Why don't people see reality?

Russia IS OIL DOMINANT.  Only oil matters.  They are draining hundreds of billions of dollars from their enemies Every Single Year and in return for this supposed wealth, they send something that gets burned immediately.

Yes, they soon won't take paper, but of course they won't take gold (which has no function in Russian society).  They'll take calories.  Or maybe already built and in the inventory military equipment.  Or maybe factories shipped to Russia.  Or semi slave labor shipped to Russia.  The Saudis have semi slave maids.  The Russians will, too, but they won't be Bangladeshi.  They'll be French.

When that's the configuration you have in your winning hand of cards, why would you want to upset that flow of victory by forcing military confrontation?

dogismycopilot's picture

actually, Iraq and Iran are set to increase production and they could replace a lot of Russian the short term the Russian position is secure...but that can change rapidly if Iraq and Iran come back strong...which i promise you the Saudi's don't want which is why they are funding those Liver Eaters in Syria.

as for the Saudis - having lived in Riyadh and worked for the Saudi government for a year - fuck that place. i will take Moscow any day. I was in Riyadh when those fucking animals killed that Brit soldier in London and that weekend i cancelled my visit to "Chop Chop Square". Riyadh is the closest place to hell i have yet been on this earth.

of course NATO is really the New World Order Army so that may change soon.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Iraq will add a few hundred thousand barrels per day this year.

The global conventional sources already in production decline at perhaps 5%/year.  This is normal and natural.  Since production is 76ish (crude only, not all liquids silliness) million bpd, then 5% of that is about 4 million bpd of new sources have to appear just to break even.  Some of that will be in-field drilling, but in general new sources have to appear -- every -- year.

Iraq won't do an extra 4 this year.  Nor will Iran.  Nor will they in sum.  A fairly large requirement exists on all other places.

So the point is you have to replace 4 million bpd before you can start thinking about replacing Russia's 7 million exported.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

Russia does have a history of pms as currency. At one time there was Russian coinage in platinum as well as gold and silver... and paper... lots of paper.

dogismycopilot's picture

Tru dat.

From a numismatic perspective those platinum rubles are about as sexy as a platinum Russian blond in stockings and heels. Woof woof.

jerry_theking_lawler's picture

I remember in my early days teaching some russian guys how to drill horizontal wells. It was a great idea and the young engineers were very capitalistic (would buy American wares and ship them back to Russia....while being careful and crafty not to get in the way of the mafia) but more important they were 'hungry' to work, learn, and succeed. 

I thought this is what it must've been like in America in the 1800s. Now, I understand why the cared so much...they had a bunch of socialist fairies next door that couldn't fend for themselves so they wanted to get them addicted to the good life and take it away. Now, maybe the europeans will wake up and learn how to take care of up..USSA.

Volkodav's picture

Military spending (beside the hidden) 10 x Russian and 6 x Chine's is boy scout troop?

you are lost from the reality..


IndyPat's picture

That was in reference to proposed cuts....just before the Ukraine shitstorm happens.
I'm well aware of the spending....I doubt very seriously if we are getting our monies worth.

MontgomeryScott's picture

Dr. Antony C. Sutton's 1976 lecture on the Anglo-American financing of the Cold War is a fascinating and true history lesson. The same ones who funded the Russian Revolution are the ones who founded the Fed. The corporate interests on both sides are one and the same. WILL America and Russia go to war? ONLY if there is a distinct and large chance that those who control things would stand to gain by thermonuclear exchange (they are quite mad, you know).

This is interesting...I just listened to the Peace Revolution #81 podcast on T and H Communications, and this section stood out and gained my interest...

YES, 9/11 was an 'inside job'. Ask Richard Andrew Grove.

Rusty Shorts's picture

Well, that video just disappeared!!

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

Whatever... However, the admirals know that the aircraft carriers are extremely suseptible to attack from very fast missles launched from air, sea, land. 

The fast missles are being improved constantly... So, American gun boat diplomacy by aircraft carriers is coming to a close just as the era of the battleship (gunboat diplomacy) ended. Plus, as Rickover said 'there are two kinds of ships, subs and targets'. 

Some choices... 1) US/NATO could fight a non nuke land war against Russia and it's allies... that didn't work well for Napolean or Hitler.

2) Nukes... even the bankers don't want that but the neo cons may be crazy enough to try it.

add your own choices...


El Vaquero's picture

Even if a war with Russia were to start with the intent to keep in conventional, I have a hard time seeing it not devolving to nukes.  If we started to win, they'd get desperate.  If they started to win, the psychos that we have running things would get scared. 

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

El Vaq... you are correct. Once the first shots are fired all bets are off... ahhh, every country has it's own nuts.

moneybots's picture

"Some choices... 1) US/NATO could fight a non nuke land war against Russia and it's allies... that didn't work well for Napolean or Hitler."


Winter beat Napoleon, more than the Russians.  Hitler had a war on multiple fronts.  It wasn't just Hitler vs Stalin.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

"Winter beat Napoleon, more than the Russians.  Hitler had a war on multiple fronts.  It wasn't just Hitler vs Stalin."

Congrats moneybots! You have enumerated a couple of the infinite 'fortunes of war'.

If you read Shirer's 'Rise and Fall of the Third Reich' you would see that Hitler, in all his wisdom, believed his meterologists and sent German troops into Russia with summer uniforms and no coats. Adolph's weather gurus said it was going to be a very mild Russian winter.

Graph's picture

Weather gurus were than effective German resistance to Nazi madness I gather.

El Vaquero's picture

Adolph also thought they'd be done before winter.  And a mild Russian winter is also pretty brutal by most people's standards. 


Actually, hypothetically speaking, if I had to plan a land invasion of Russia, I would plan on starting it during the winter.  I would also go after Russian food supplies.  Wars between nation states are won in large part through logistics.  Starting it in winter means that you'll be sending troops in already equipped for that shit and going after the food during a time when they can't grow any hurts their logistics.  Even then, I still say invading Russia is a really fucking dumb thing to do.

Loose Caboose's picture

So then Putin turns off the gas and lets Europe freeze. Yes, it would be a very dumb thing to invade Russia in winter. 

El Vaquero's picture

I think gas and oil getting cutoff is a foregone conclusion in the event of an invasion of Russia, regardless of the time of year.  Invade in the spring or summer, and the Russians would merely need to hold out until the next winter, assuming it stayed conventional that long. 


But in any event, I think that before we see an actual war, we'll see a direct and very possibly successful attack on the dollar.  Break the dollar and you break US power.  Break the dollar and you cut off much of our access to the oil necessary to fight a war.  Break the dollar and the fuckfaces in DC will have their hands full with civil unrest here at home. 

Volkodav's picture

Shirers book is bad. Very much wrong...

Attack on Soviet was premptive.

by a few weeks, Soviet was moving into offensive positions..

Most of what you have been told was not fact.

Remember how Katyn truth finally exposed?

cynicalskeptic's picture

Stalin was trying to buy YEARS of peace in signing a non-agression pact.  The Soviet Union was in bad shape militarily - especially after the purges of top leadership - and needed a few years before they would be ready to face Hitler.  Hitler knew that and intended to take down the Soviets while they were weak.

ITALY - and their clusterf**k invasion of Greece - screwed the Germans.

Germany had to go bail out Italy - who was getting their butts kicked by Greece.  This delayed Germany's invasion of Russia by a couple months - enough of a delay to make the Russian winter an issue.   Who knows what would have happened if Germany struck in April instead of June?  How much farther would they have gotten?   Russia was also keeping troops on their eastern borders - fearing moves by Japan (Google The Nomonohan Incident in 1939).  The espionage info - that Japan would NOT attack) did not come until late 1941 - freeing up Soviet troops for the West.