Sanctions on Russia and the Stampede of the Gadarene Swine 

In February 2022, when Russia finally invaded Ukraine to end the terrorist attacks and harassments that had killed 14,000 people in the secessionist provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk over the previous eight years, the Obama administration in Washington and its armchair warrior hero allies in Western Europe eager imposed on Moscow vastly more punitive sanctions than had ever been imposed on Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan or Fascist Italy when they were conquering and raping vast regions of the world in the 1930s.

All those sanctions, the Great and the Good in Washington, London and Ottawa relentlessly assured us, would bring the ramshackle Russian economy to its knees – probably in weeks, certainly within a few months.

Russia, after all, was still only Upper Volta with rockets to revive a despairing cliche from the 1990s. All you had to do was kick in the door and the whole rotting edifice would collapse.

Oops, that piece of strategic wisdom was cribbed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan from The Collected Wisdom of Adolf Hitler.

Well, it didn’t work for Hitler and his Nazi Wehrmacht in 1941 and it hasn’t worked for the Biden administration and its increasingly fearful, crisis-swamped, impoverished, and energy starved European allies more than 80 years later.

What has happened instead?

As former US ambassadors Michael Gfoeller and David H Rundell succinctly document:

“It is now abundantly clear that Russia has defeated the Western sanctions regime that was intended to cripple its economy and force its withdrawal from Ukraine. Instead of collapsing, the Russian economy is growing rapidly. Russia’s GDP grew by an impressive 5.5 percent in the third quarter of 2023. Final figures for the year are not yet in, but Russian GDP growth for all of 2023 should exceed 3 percent. Ironically, the Russians are doing rather better than those who imposed sanctions on them. In 2023, the U.S. economy grew by 2.4 percent while the German economy shrank, and the EU as a whole grew by less than 1 percent. Instead of withdrawing from Ukraine, Russia has increased the size of its invasion force from 190,000 troops in February 2022 to more than 600,000 today.”

All this is true, of course. Far from being the sick and dying Man of Europe, the Russian economy is vibrant, healthy, sound and growing. The supermarkets not only in Moscow and St Petersburg but also in the towns and cities across that vast nation remain full and stocked.

Again, Gfoeller and Rundell:

“In all, several thousand sanctions on Russian individuals, businesses, and government institutions caused only a mild recession in 2022 which the Russians quickly turned around. How did they do it? Very simply. The Russians have a lot of gold, grain, oil, and friends, all of which they used effectively to defeat the sanctions. 

“In March of 2022, G7 member states froze $300 billion in Russian Central Bank reserves, about half of Russia’s foreign currency reserves at the time. This was supposed to ‘turn the ruble into rubble.’ It did not. Instead, the Russian Central Bank moved very quickly to peg the ruble to gold and backed this up with its massive gold reserves and production capacity. 

“Almost immediately, Russia began to shift its energy trade toward China and India by offering discounts. Today, 90 percent of its crude oil exports go to these two nations. Europe, which used to receive 40 percent of Russian crude oil exports, now receives only 4 percent to 5 percent. To evade Western shipping and insurance sanctions, the Russians have assembled an enormous “shadow fleet” of oil tankers, buying and leasing hundreds of vessels that did not comply with sanctions. According to the International Energy Agency, Russia currently exports 7.5 billion barrels of oil per day, only slightly less than Saudi Arabia.

“Russia remains the world’s largest producer of natural diamonds and a significant diamond exporter. Waves of sanctions have had only a limited effect on its diamond production and revenues.

“Finally, since the collapse of the Soviet Union’s collective farm system, Russia has become the world’s largest wheat exporter. Despite Western sanctions, Russia’s share of global wheat exports actually increased over the past two years. Thanks to global warming, Russia has just had another bumper grain harvest and hopes for even more grain as Siberia warms. Putin does not care about polar bears. He has plenty.”

Note where these amazing successes have been :

Wheat production and exporting! Oil production! Gold reserves! Diamonds production! Oil tanker fleets! Expanding productive farmland! Energy exports! “

However, to Washington, the City of London and Wall Street eyes, none of these tangible assets essential for prosperous, stable and secure life in any advanced large society even exist or matter. 

They are not phantom games played by accountants, they are not intangible, worthless non-productive “services” that do so much to swell the phantom, ghost, nonexistent “assets’ that account for the so-impressive-on-computers theoretical Gross National Product of the Western nations. 

What nation is the largest producer of industrial goods on the planet? Why, it is China of course. And China has superb, close, prosperous and rapidly growing trade ties with Russia.

What are the two greatest producers of oil – still essential for cheap, clean, realistic energy in the world? Why, they are Russia and Saudi Arabia of course and both nations enraged – and their very existence threatened – by Washington’s wild, unpredictable, self-righteous, hostile, abusive and plain bizarre policies, rhetoric and repeatedly expressed goals are now cooperating more closely than ever.

But if “we” in the West are really The Good Guys, why are we losing so ineptly, so consistently and so spectacularly?

Could it be that we aren’t really the Good Guys at all?

Or – even more terrifying – even if we are the Good Guys, are our governments so witless, so irresponsible and so self-destructive because they – and the populations who eagerly urge them on – are all ignorant, incompetent and plain insane themselves?

St. Paul as usual put his finger on the underlying key problem in his first Epistle to the Corinthians: (Chapter 15 Verse 33)

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

In other words, idiotic false thinking, education and mental conditioning invariably lead to madness, failure, suicidal behavior and self-destruction.,

And this is true on the level of mass societies as well as for individuals.

Ireland’s greatest poet William Butler Yeats gave the same warning, 

“We had fed the heart on fantasies,

“The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,

“More substance in our enmities

“Than in our love;”

It would be nice and comforting to imagine that the ruling elites in Washington, London and Ottawa are operating in shameful secrecy, hidden from their kind, civilized, decent and well-meaning populations.

But clearly that is not the case at all. Hundreds of millions of idiots across the West simply do not care what is going on – or are so ignorant and stupid they actually approve of it and imagine it will work.

And so hundreds of millions of Gadarene Swine gallop ahead in their race to enthusiastically jump off the towering cliffs of Croaghaun, the highest in my native Ireland and Nothing Will Stop Them.

Because they want to do it.