Putin Has Tanks, the West Has Tongues

December 13, 2021 Updated: December 14, 2021


Supposedly there’s this united Western front against a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. Except France, as usual. But united in resolve and united in fatuity aren’t quite the same thing. Which I mention in case our leaders have overlooked it.

For instance, this weekend I got this press release saying, “The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today met with Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the margins of the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting. The two ministers congratulated each other on their respective appointments and recognized that Canada and Germany are natural partners in the fight against climate change. Minister Joly also expressed her desire to work with Minister Baerbock to promote shared values through enhanced cooperation. The ministers affirmed their commitment to multilateralism and shared perspectives on G7 priorities. They discussed ways to ensure coordinated responses to the Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s border and to support the people of Afghanistan.”

So it’s all under control. We have so many ways to “ensure coordinated responses” we have the luxury of choosing among them. Of course you might have done a double take on reaching “and to support the people of Afghanistan.” Would they be the ones on whom we bailed ignominiously and still cannot rescue some who helped us at great personal risk? Um yes.

OK then. Can we hear more about these ways to ensure coordinated responses to help them? Or, at the risk of seeming demanding, about ways to support them rather than to “ensure coordinated responses” which sounds bureaucratic, self-satisfied, and meaningless? Other than leaving with our tails between our legs but without the vast profusion of military hardware we abandoned in our panicky flight, then hurling meaningless imprecations because we are powerless to save Afghans either from the Taliban’s direct repression or its inept cruelty.

Awkward. I guess we could blast our way back in. Which the Canadian military is definitely as capable of doing as Germany’s. And then we could nation-build or something. After we fix the weather, I mean.

None of which seems terribly pertinent to Ukraine. There we face defeat not by the low-rent tribal Taliban with improvised weapons but the mighty Red Army, or whatever they now call it. (Which if you care used to be the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army” before being officially renamed the “Soviet Army” in February 1946, then the “CIS Ground Forces” for a year, then the “Ground Forces of the Russian Federation.”) Admittedly it couldn’t beat the Taliban either, despite a willingness to scorch the Earth that we lacked. But it does now have nearly 300,000 persons on active duty and about 58 million billion tanks and artillery pieces ranging from obsolete rubbish to the Iskander M, and some scary “special corps” and the support of the Aerospace Forces, the Airborne troops and… am I boring you?

I have a bad feeling I’m boring Western politicians and possibly military personnel as well. Certainly, within the Canadian Armed Forces things like troops and equipment are merely a PR problem… like senior officers’ conduct. Wikipedia, for instance, says the Red Army has about 19,000 main battle tanks. And buried in the fine print, Canada has 82. Which should last several minutes in combat. A figure our air force might well envy, as the Russian Air Force has roughly 4,500 aircraft while our 391 puts us sixth in the Americas behind the United States Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, and Brazil. Woot. Mind you we only trail Germany by about 74.

All these details will strike modern persons as beside the point, since if Russia invades Ukraine we will punish them not by fighting but by not fighting. We might also refuse to buy their natural gas and freeze in the dark to teach them a sharp one. Or we might refuse to buy their… um… what do you own that was made in Russia? Other than a lovely computer virus or two? What would you be willing to buy that was made in Russia? A monitor? Car? Breadbox?

Seriously. I went on Amazon recently to shop for breadboxes and I assure you none were made in Russia. They were all made in China. Which is another story.

Specifically, that Russia is now essentially a gas station for China. Or, for Lord of the Rings fans, Saruman to Xi Jinping’s Sauron. Putin cares what Beijing thinks of his foreign policy. Which is: “Way to go attacking the West. We’ll conquer you after we conquer them. For now you take Ukraine while we take Taiwan.”

If I were Putin that plan would worry me enormously. But apparently he hates us too much to care.

Besides, fighting China would be hard. Fighting us over Ukraine would be a cakewalk, and he knows it. Do we?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Robson
John Robson is a documentary filmmaker, National Post columnist, contributing editor to the Dorchester Review, and executive director of the Climate Discussion Nexus. His most recent documentary is “The Environment: A True Story.”