Three-Pronged Pearl Harbor—Ukraine, Taiwan, & Cyberspace
The most important story that you are not being told in the pages of the Washington Post or on CNN is unfolding at this minute on the border between Russia and the Ukraine. It’s a story that could easily lead to Word War III and a nuclear Armageddon. And our mainstream media is closing its eyes.
Russia has 94,000 troops in a menacing position on the Ukrainian border. Ukraine’s intelligence warns that Russia is planning to attack the Ukraine in two ways: by invading the country with its tanks, soldiers, and drones in January of 2022; and by pulling off a coup to replace pro-Western president Volodymyr Zelensky with a pro-Russian figurehead and a pro-Russian government. A government that would be a puppet of Vladimir Putin.
Our Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has rolled over and shown our weakness by threatening Russia if it invades. Why does our stern threat constitute a weakness? Because we have said that our retaliation if Russia moves its troops into the Ukraine would be economic, not military. We would smack Russia with new economic sanctions. In other words, our warning has told Russia we will not use our army and our air force. We have given Russia the freedom to invade.
But why is Russia focused on the Ukraine? The Ukrainian capital of Kiev was the original home of the Viking princes who founded Russia in 882 ad. Kiev’s leadership of the Russians lasted 250 years. Or, to put it differently, over 1,100 years ago, Kiev was the Russian empire. Period. The capital of the Russian empire did not move definitively to Moscow until 1503.
So historically, Kiev is as Russian as Moscow. But that’s apparently not the way the majority of the Ukrainian people see it. Their ancestors were turned into slaves by the Viking princes of Kiev. They were taken on Viking ships down the river to Constantinople to be sold in the slave markets. Their land was stolen and they were subjugated by the Viking Princes who founded Russia. They see themselves as European, not Russian. They want to be part of the European Union. They want to be part of NATO.
That desire to be in the European Union and NATO is so strong that it’s been enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution. And we have supported that aspiration with $2.5 billion in military aid in the last seven years. What’s more, both democrats and republicans in congress want to increase that aid.
Meanwhile, On the other side of the world, Vladimir Putin looks back to what he sees as a great catastrophe, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Until that collapse, Ukraine was a part of Russia’s 20th century empire, the Soviet Union. Then, when the Soviet Union fell apart, the Ukraine became an independent state. Putin wants to undo that catastrophe. He wants the Ukraine back.
So in 2014 Putin pulled off a lightning maneuver, used masked soldiers with no insignia on their uniforms, retook the key Ukrainian black sea peninsula of Crimea, and put an army of his masked, soldiers without insignia, the soldiers we call little green men, into the Donbas region of the Ukraine.
Then Putin got Russian sympathizers in Ukraine’s Donbas to declare an independent people’s state, And he tucked that peoples’ state into the Russian Federation, a federation whose territory makes it the biggest country in the world.
Now, the Russians have massed their 94,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On November 15th, the Russians demonstrated their ability to destroy the satellites on which we depend for Gps, military targeting, and global military connectivity. They used a weapon launched from earth to destroy an old Soviet era satellite of their own, creating a debris field of up to 19,000 bits and pieces, a debris field that threatens the International Space Station and that forced NASA to postpone a spacewalk to replace an antenna.
What’s more, the Russians have performed two tests in the White Sea of a missile we can’t equal and may not be able to stop—a hypersonic anti-ship missile that Putin says travels at nine times the speed of sound. This hypersonic cruise missile, called the Zircon, only travels 620 miles, but it’s meant to be deployed to Russia’s navy, whose submarines could bring the Zircon close enough to our shores to take out cities like New York, Washington, LA, and Houston. These missiles are also designed to use nuclear warheads to melt our eleven aircraft carriers to the water line. Yes, we only have eleven aircraft carriers. And all of them are targets for the Zircon.
Then there’s Russia’s cyberwar against us, a war that is going on at this very minute and every minute of the day. A cyberwar that could conceivably take out our military internet. What would that do to us? Our hideously expensive F-35 fighter jets cannot take off without internet connectivity. If there’s an attack and you are a fighter pilot, you can run out to the airfield, scramble up the ladder to the cockpit of your jet, try to fire up your engine, and nothing will happen. You’ll be dead on the tarmac.
Then there are the steady cyber-attacks from two of Russia’s allies, China and Iran. Experts believe that these cyber attackers could destroy our energy supply, our water supply, and our supply chain itself. No wonder Newsweek warns that if things get really bad in the showdown over the Ukraine, we could have a new pearl harbor.
But this time it would not be just one Pearl Harbor, but three. China flew its fighters and bombers Into Taiwan’s airspace 159 times in November, and many experts believe that China is poised to invade Taiwan.
And there’s a third Pearl Harbor for which Russia and China have been preparing: disabling us in outer space, disabling us in cyberspace, and taking down our electric grid, our water supply, and the shipping and trucking system we need to survive. Together, China, Russia, and Iran could leave us starving in our cities without food and water. They could overwhelm more than just our cyber defenses and our military. They could overwhelm our will. And they could overwhelm our very ability to survive.
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James H. Billington. The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture. New York: Vintage Books, 1970.
Vladimir Volkoff, Vladimir, the Russian Viking, Harry N. Abrams, 1985.