Ukraine War, April 7, 2022 (II): Ridiculous distinctions in types of armaments to be sent to Ukraine

Developing

Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being written. please check back for updates and additions.

To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.

Dispatches

1) David Ignatius, “As Ukraine braces for a second round, the West has a duty to step up,” Washington Post, April 7, 2022 (6:44 p.m. EDT);

Commentary

In an excellent article on the changing weapons requirements needed to support Ukraine’s self-defense going forward, Ignatius reports on his interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday, April 6. In his article, he sets forth Gates’ thinking on the war in general, and the supply of weapons in particular.

Gates argues that the Russians won’t be able to cut off the supply of arms to Ukraine:

Anyone who thinks it will be easy to cut off weapons shipments across Ukraine’s long border doesn’t remember the unstoppable traffic along the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam War.

Regarding the war and the arms Ukraine will need, Ignatius describes Gates’ views as follows:

Still, this is Ukraine’s war, not the United States’. Even as the Biden administration augments its military assistance, it should continue to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. The heavier weapons moving into Ukraine should be Russian-made rather than American, for example, T-72 rather than Abrams tanks. “It’s a fine line, but it’s meaningful,” argues Gates

Gates, whose experience is in fighting wars in far-off places with enemies who never directly threatened Europe or America or the fundamental nature of the international order, believes this is Ukraine’s war, not that of the United States.

He couldn’t be more wrong.

Moreover, until Western leaders grasp that fact, they are unlikely to come up with effective means to stop Putin and Russia’s assault on civilization.

International humanitarian law (the law of war) is a construct of Western and now universal civilization. The gruesome crimes against humanity we are seeing in places like Bucha and Mariupol are the product of Russian barbarism.

The latter poses an existential threat to the former.

Gates maintains that the Biden administration should continue to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. The heavier weapons moving into Ukraine should be Russian-made rather than American, for example, T-72 rather than Abrams tanks. “It’s a fine line, but it’s meaningful,” argues Gates.

Gates’ “fine line” is absolutely ludicrous. Ukraine has asked for and needs modern tanks, not Soviet relics. The capabilities of the two kinds of tanks are not comparable, given advances in the modern technology of war.

The real factor behind Gates’ absurd distinction and his belief that his “fine line” is “meaningful” is his fear that supplying U.S. tanks might provoke Putin to directly engage with U.S. forces, and, you know, “You fight me, One, Two, Three, World War Three.”

This is not a war that will be won by making such fine intellectual distinctions, or imagining that they could be decisive in Putin’s decision making, i.e., whether to take on NATO and potentially to escalate to a nuclear conflict.

To successfully defend the international legal order and civilization, as well as Ukraine, Gates, Biden, and other leaders in the West will have to overcome their fear of Putin.

The Trenchant Observer

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