March 18, 2022
A few quotes first…
• “A report that comprehensively examines nonviolent, cost-imposing options that the United States and its allies could pursue across economic, political, and military areas to stress—overextend and unbalance – Russia’s economy and armed forces and the regime’s political standing at home and abroad.”
• “Today’s Russia suffers from many vulnerabilities—oil and gas prices well below peak that have caused a drop in living standards, economic sanctions that have furthered that decline, an aging and soon-to-be-declining population, and increasing authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin’s now-continued rule. Such vulnerabilities are coupled with deep-seated (if exaggerated) anxieties about the possibility of Western-inspired regime change, loss of great power status, and even military attack.”
• “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.”
• “Encouraging domestic protests and other nonviolent resistance would focus on distracting or destabilizing the Russian regime and reducing the likelihood that it would pursue aggressive actions abroad.”
You get the general thrust.
These are central points in the publicly available 2019 report “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia” by the RAND Corporation think tank in the United States. And of course, you have never heard about it in the Western mainstream media.
It outlines lots of ways in which the US should attempt to undermine and unbalance Russia by imposing on it: economic costs, geopolitical-military costs, ideological and information costs, air and space costs, maritime costs and land and multidomain costs.
Among the conclusions, we read. “The most-promising options to “extend Russia” are those that directly address its vulnerabilities, anxieties, and strengths, exploiting areas of weakness while undermining Russia’s current advantages. In that regard, Russia’s greatest vulnerability, in any competition with the United States, is its economy, which is comparatively small and highly dependent on energy exports. Russian leadership’s greatest anxiety stems from the stability and durability of the regime, and Russia’s greatest strengths are in the military and info-war realms.”
It’s indeed interesting – if not chilling – to read this a few days after the US and the European Union have, together, virtually decided to suffocate Russia after its invasion of Ukraine with a long series of measures, prominent among the broad sanctions that are non-conditional and open-ended – in short, an economic war aiming to make the Russian society break down and lead to regime-change.
These measures have been decided within a few hours and are characterised exclusively by an urge only to punish while being devoid of analyses of their consequences in any frame of time and space. A blind tit-for-tat.
At the time of writing, it remains to be seen how Russia will respond to these measures and what comprehensive boomerang effects the West itself will have to deal with sooner or later. But there will be surprises and regrets in proportion to the self-destructive aspects.
That said, isn’t it interesting that such reports are produced – and not in the US only – to undermine, or destroy, other countries which you officially want to cooperate and build peace with? And isn’t it strange that they are hardly ever mentioned in the so-called free media – whereas the defensiveness of NATO and the peace and stability goals and lawful conduct of US/NATO foreign policies are always emphasised by those obedient media?