Submiited by Liam Cosgrove,
Whether or not what transpired over the weekend was a legitimate coup attempt or strategic theater by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, it was understood by the western press and US government to be an attempted coup. This article will operate under that assumption to scrutinize the first-order thinking displayed by many hawkish pundits and Biden officials.
There were reports that Prigozhin occupied — in under 24 hours — Rostov-on-Don on Saturday. This city is the headquarters for Russia’s Southern Military District. Just 60 miles from the border of this district is the Engels-2 airbase, home to several long-range nuclear bombers. Considering the proximity between these nukes and Russia’s most notorious mercenary, this should have been a wake-up call to the Biden administration.
Still, at Monday’s State Department briefing, the administration seemed unphased if not a little pleased by the coup:
A supposed "coup" in the world's largest nuclear power resolved peacefully.— The Grayzone (@TheGrayzoneNews) June 27, 2023
While State Dept seemed to welcome Prigozhin's revolt, it refused to engage questions from The Grayzone's @cosgrove_iv on the dangers of Russia's nuclear arsenal falling into the Wagner leader's hands. pic.twitter.com/6t3RreCrAe
The reaction came just one week after President Biden warned a group of California donors that the threat of Putin using a nuclear bomb is "real." Prigozhin’s main gripes with Russia’s top military brass is that they haven’t been aggressive enough in their fight, saying earlier this year that his mercenary group would not be taking any more prisoners of war and would instead “kill everyone on the battlefield.”
This man could have commandeered part of the Russian nuclear arsenal over the weekend… and that’s a good thing?
While State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller withheld his excitement, other “experts” were not so coy. Stanford professor and former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul celebrated the chaos over the weekend, saying it proved that the West should get even more aggressively involved in the war:
Instead of doubling down with more force to crush the mutiny, Putin accepted humiliation instead. He was the rat trapped in the corner that so many Putinologists have told us to fear. But he didn't lash out & go crazy. He negotiated & with a traitor. 4/— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) June 25, 2023
This really sums up the neocon mindset. After miraculously averting what could have been an existential crisis (civil war in a country with 6,0000 nuclear warheads) and with minimal bloodshed, McFaul’s instinctual emotional response is not gratitude and relief but greed and self-assurance, which he immediately uses to further his interventionist dogma. Like someone with a gambling addiction, he thinks: Great, I didn’t lose on that hand. Surely I can win a couple more while I’m hot.
Here was the analysis of ”no comment” Paul Massaro from the The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe:
russia is weaker than ever— Paul Massaro (@apmassaro3) June 24, 2023
This reaction may take the cake. It’s Peter Ziehan — the guy whose appeal is his ability to discuss geopolitics with the factual rigor and vocal inflections of a gossiping housewife — calling the coup “delicious”:
I cannot not sum up the establishment’s reaction to the weekend’s events any better than venture capitalist David Sacks, whose long-form tweet from Saturday evening I’ll include in full below:
What’s better: negotiated peace or nuclear chaos?
It looks like the crisis in Russia is abating after many premature predictions, dunks, and celebrations. We’ve come to expect such behavior from mids like Kinzinger, but the participation of so many more serious American policy makers and influencers shows the extent to which they have lost perspective.
They expressed glee over the possibility of a coup in the world’s largest nuclear weapons state by a warlord whose main gripe is that Russia has not prosecuted the war vigorously enough, who advocates full mobilization and total war, and is more likely to countenance nuclear use.
I can understand why Ukrainian nationalists — who are desperate to win the war in light of a counteroffensive that even CNN admitted yesterday is thus-far failing — would be willing to roll the dice and root for chaos and civil war in Russia. But for American leaders to do so shows that they have lost any conception of a distinct American national interest.
What the last 24 hours have underscored is that wars are not just incredibly destructive but also incredibly unpredictable. I continue to maintain that it was in the best interest of the United States to avoid this by supporting the Istanbul deal. It would have cost us nothing except an agreement not to add Ukraine to NATO. In fact, this would not have been a cost but a benefit, saving ourselves from the insanity of committing American boys & girls to fight Russia one day on Ukraine’s behalf.
Now the war seems likely to enter an even more desperate stage for both Russia and Ukraine. Is this what we want? History proves that things can always get worse. ISIS was worse than Saddam, Lenin was worse than the Tsar, and Prigozhin could have been worse than Putin. Do we want to keep rolling the dice? Or do we want to figure out how to bring the killing to an end?