How Long Must This Go On?
While everyone's fixated on the entirely predictable indictment of Donald Trump for picking his feet in Poughkeepsie, look who's back, demanding more money we don't have for a cause we should not be supporting, at the risk of starting World War III for no good reason, and look who's printing it for him:
The Department of Defense announced a massive new military aid package for Ukraine on Tuesday valued at $2.6 billion. President Joe Biden authorized $500 million worth of ammunition for U.S.-provided HIMARS, air defense interceptors, artillery rounds, anti-armor systems, small arms, heavy equipment transport vehicles, and maintenance support through his authority to take weapons from U.S. stockpiles.
In addition to the artillery and ammunition, the drawdown also includes 11 tactical vehicles to recover equipment, 61 heavy fuel tankers, 10 trucks and 10 trailers to transport heavy equipment, roughly 400 grenade launchers, and others. By allocating this aid via the president’s drawdown authority, the aid could reach Ukraine within weeks.
“This new security assistance will allow Ukraine to continue to bravely defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “Russia alone could end its war today. Until Russia does, the United States and our allies and partners will stand united with Ukraine for as long as it takes."
"As long as it takes." Now that's reassuring. Meanwhile this news, of course, is entirely coincidental:
While most investors were fixated on Jerome Powell & Co. this week, trying to gauge the Federal Reserve’s next moves in light of recent bank failures, something interesting occurred in Moscow.
During a three-day state visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping held friendly talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a show of unity, as both countries increasingly seek to position themselves as leaders of what they call a “multipolar world order,” one that challenges U.S.-centric alliances and agreements. Among those agreements is the petrodollar, which has been in place for over 50 years.
Early in the 1970s, the U.S. government provided economic aid to Saudi Arabia, its chief oil-producing rival, in exchange for assurances that Riyadh would price its crude exports exclusively in the U.S. dollar. In 1975, other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) followed suit, and the petrodollar was born.
We may be witnessing the end of the petrodollar as more and more countries, including China and Russia, are agreeing to make settlements in currencies other than the U.S. dollar.
As is this:
Finland officially became the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday, marking a major shift in the security landscape in northeastern Europe that adds some 1,300 kilometers (830 miles) to the alliance’s frontier with Russia. The Nordic nation’s accession was sealed during a formal ceremony at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg were on hand as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, established Finland’s accession. “Finland has today become a member of the defense alliance NATO. The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins,” the Finnish presidency said in a statement....
Finland’s acceptance into the US-led security alliance presents a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long sought to undermine NATO, and before invading Ukraine, demanded the bloc refrain from further expansion. Russia has warned that further NATO expansion will not bring more stability to Europe, and on Monday said it would scale up forces near Finland if the alliance sent any troops or equipment to the new member country.
“We will strengthen our military capabilities in the west and northwest if NATO members deploy forces and equipment on Finnish territory,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Finland’s accession will force Moscow to “take counter-measures to ensure our own security, both tactically and strategically.”
This is how world wars start, with a series of minor blunders that eventually snowball into catastrophe. Putin insists that the U.S. promised not to push the limits of NATO (whose sell-by date occurred the day the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991) right up to post-Soviet Russia's boundaries. NATO denies it. Now it's there. Somebody, maybe all of us, will pay the price.
And for what? The Ukraine?