On the boomerang of the sanctions regime against Russia and the lack of intelligent thinking in Western policy planning
For some time now, I’ve been asking myself and others why anyone would go into government in light of how much media scrutiny is placed on politicians, when you can simply go into finance or tech and make way more money while flying under the radar? There are many answers to this, ranging from suitability, education, and opportunity all the way to the psychological such as narcissism and hunger for power. We can speculate on the reasons all day long, but it is my contention that political office and public service is becoming, or has become, the domain of 3rd stringers, i.e. those who are not the best-in-class. The result of this situation is increasing incompetence in policy and governance.
The incompetence on display by western governments is at present best exemplified by the boomeranging sanctions levied on Russia in response to their invasion of Ukraine that began this past February. The intention of these sanctions was to impoverish the Russian state by strangling its economy (and therefore render its ability to engage in military action impossible) which would then stoke a rebellion against the government by Russian citizens angry due to its collapse. Instead, the Russian Rouble is now performing better than it was just prior to the war, making a mockery of President Biden’s claim that they would “turn the rouble into rubble”. To make matters worse, the Russians are making more money than ever exporting oil abroad, thanks to the rest of the world rejecting the sanctions regime against it and happily paying a discount on the oil. India is reportedly making a killing buying Russian oil to sell it back to Europe at a steep premium.
This failure of the sanctions regime is not only localized to Russia, but has catastrophically boomeranged and is negatively impacting both Western Europe and the USA itself by way of further juicing inflation that began thanks to the seizing up of supply chains during the two long years of COVID-19 shutdowns, combined with the US Federal Reserve pressing the “PRINT” button on the printing presses with the enthusiasm of a small child playing pinball for the first time. A recession is all but certain now, and Carter-era stagflation is not to be dismissed either. One would think that US Treasury Department planners would have wargamed the Russian sanctions regime to correct for all possible negative outcomes, but here we are.
To paraphrase Hanlon’s Razor: “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."
We can pick on the Yanks all day long, but it’s not just them. I have accused the Germans (and other European leaders) of cowardice for willingly setting fire to their own economies, but they seem rather incompetent as well. Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, announced yesterday that they would be limiting deliveries to Germany and Italy due to maintenance issues exacerbated by the sanctions. Siemens, the German industrial giant, has the contract to fix some Gazprom infrastructure, but the turbines that are needed to fix the problem are stuck in Canada as the Canadians won’t ship them out due to the sanctions. Oops. Now this: