Ukraine and the Strategy of the Indirect Approach

Re: Ukraine. Let’s assume that Ukraine, even with weapons help from all the civilized nations, cannot strike Russia hard enough to win a short War of Annihilation. Let’s assume that Russia’s huge natural resources are so great that Ukraine cannot survive a long War of Attrition. Given those two assumptions, Ukraine’s future looks bleak; however, what if we in the West adopt Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart’s Strategy of the Indirect Approach?

Every nation has certain interests it wants to be met. For example, Sweden would like to join NATO. But NATO-member Turkey opposes Sweden’s membership in NATO because Sweden has been supportive of the Kurds along Turkey’s southeastern border, who want to have their own U.S.-allied Kurdish nation.

Turkey wants to join the European Union (E.U.) But Sweden and other E.U. members are not comfortable about having more welfare-consuming Muslims inside the E.U.
Clever diplomacy on our part might get Sweden inside NATO and Turkey in the E.U.; provided Turkey, because of Putin’s interference with Freedom of Navigation across the Black Sea, shuts down the Dardanelles to all Russian shipping, cutting off Russia’s access to its naval and air bases in Syria, its access to the Mediterranean, and to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sweden, by the way, has an interest that transcends membership in NATO. If Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, Putin will likely keep going until Putin has Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, back under Russian control, making the Baltic Sea once again a Russian lake and tiny Sweden facing a much larger Russian Navy.

Okay. So, what if the Sweden/Turkey deal isn’t enough to turn some of Putin’s military resources away from Ukraine? We might induce ChiCom President XI to move his surplus of unmarried, horny, military-age males up to China’s border with Russian Siberia, poised to seize Russian oil and gas wells and some child-bearing Russian females to boot.
So, what could be offered to President XI to make that happen? We could offer to stop nagging Xi over his dictatorial treatment of Hong Kong. Or, stop nagging Xi about Xi’s genocide of the Uyghurs (pronounced wee-gurs) on his western border. We could offer to side with China on its oil claims in the Spratly Islands. We could offer Xi some U.S. crude oil at bargain prices. We could offer to curb the rapidly rising growth of the Japanese Navy. We could even offer Xi a free hand with regard to Taiwan. Gulp! Recall, Geopolitics is sometimes unscrupulous and not for the faint of heart.

So, let’s assume we get Turkey and the Chicoms to bite Putin in the derrière enough to turn Putin’s attention away from Ukraine and to his need to transit the Dardanelles and to Putin’s need to protect his Siberian oil fields. What do we get?

We buy the world some time. Maybe time for Putin’s health to crash? Maybe time for the Russians to topple Putin? Even buy some time to replace the Obama/Biden* “woke-weakened” military with an Armed Force that warrants fear and respect.

Let’s face it. The direct approach is not likely to stop Putin’s, possibly nuclear drive through Ukraine to the Baltic Sea. Some form of the Indirect Approach may be Western Civilization’s best hope.

Suggested reading: The Strategy of the Indirect Approach by Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart, 1954. Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World by Peter Zeihan, 2020.

©2023. William Hamilton.

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