Discover more from The View from the Front. By Stan R. Mitchell.
The Stan R. Mitchell report for 2/18/22.
Happy Friday, everyone! Hope everyone has had a great week.
So far, as of when I published this, Russia hasn’t invaded Ukraine for a third time.1
But while working on the newsletter, this happened:
The fear of an imminent assault rose Friday when the Russian-backed leader of a separatist-controlled area of eastern Ukraine said officials there were launching a mass evacuation of civilians into neighboring Russia, citing the threat of military action by Ukrainian troops. He said the evacuation was “by agreement” with Russian leadership. (From this Washington Post story.)
As a reminder, this is a look at a worst-case, all-out invasion scenario (shared by NBC News):
If the invasion doesn’t happen today, then watch the date of Feb 20. Not only is that the end of the Olympics, but Alex Ward in Politico says:
Feb. 20 looms large: The Munich Security Conference concludes that day. The annual “Davos of defense” gathering is a major event, featuring in-person participation from leaders like Vice President KAMALA HARRIS, Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN and Ukrainian President VOLODYMR ZELENSKYY. Russia launching an invasion as America’s No. 2 is in Europe and/or while the Ukrainian head of state is out of the country could prove an ultimate humiliation — the kind of geopolitical trolling Putin loves.
No Russian officials plan to attend the transatlantic gathering for the first time in years for “various reasons,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson MARIA ZAKHAROVA said last week. (Link for full story: Why Feb. 20 worries Russia watchers.)
The United States remains highly concerned about the situation. It’s gotten so tense that the following happened just before I published the newsletter:
So, what is this all about? What’s a quick, high-level background to it? Watch this superb video from a U.S. Senator below. And he even argues that Putin is not in a strong position, but in a weak position.
We will all keep hoping and praying that Russia doesn’t invade. The consequences and amount of carnage will be almost too much to imagine if he does a full-scale invasion. (Although, at this point, Putin might figure some light fighting in the eastern Donbas region, from which he can claim victory and retreat, might be the wisest course of action.)
With all of the focus on Ukraine, it’s easy to overlook some pretty big things that have been happening.
From The Washington Post story link above:
Greeted with a red carpet and a military honor guard that performed Israel’s national anthem, Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Bahrain, meeting high-level officials Tuesday in an effort to fortify a regional coalition opposed to Iran.
And here’s video of it. Bahrain isn’t even trying to keep this quiet. (What’s most crazy is the amount of clearly host-gov’t photographers documenting the event. I wonder how much Bahrain’s own government publicized this event? I would think the answer is a lot.)
The second thing was this buried, but big, story regarding the strategic jostling with China. Look at the EU coming out and swinging big.
Before we wrap up the military news portion of this edition, I wanted to share something from a reader.
Joshua Hughes, @joshuadhughes on Twitter, made some great commentary in the reply section of the last newsletter. Writing in a comment in regards to my statements about President Biden (that Biden hadn’t shown enough empathy and caring in the exit of Afghanistan), Hughes wrote the following counter-point:
I wonder, to some extent, whether Biden's apparent inflexibility last August was at least in small part due to his perception — whether true or not — that (Generals) McChrystal and Petraeus gave Obama the run-around on troop numbers during the 2009 Strategy Review. At the time, Biden was the only major Cabinet-level principal to oppose a surge, and I don't doubt that this experience has shaped his perspective as President.
Steve Coll covered this dynamic at length in 2018's "Directorate S," as did George Packer in his recent feature for The Atlantic. Last year, at least at the time, it seemed to me that his refusal to deviate in the face of deteriorating conditions on the ground was perhaps an overcorrection to his personal experience as Vice President. LBJ had a similarly adversarial relationship with the Pentagon over Vietnam, at times. I could be wrong, though! It's always a dangerous game to give too much weight to individual personalities as determinants of national policy.
I think Joshua is absolutely correct. Plus, Biden had seen his own son's service in the military, as well as some of the politics (and story shaping) that happens in the military from his son’s own vantage point. (Beau Biden served in the Delaware Army National Guard, reached the rank of Major, and even did a yearlong stint on active duty that included a 7-month deployment in the combat zone.)
If you read Obama's memoir, A Promised Land, the Generals REALLY tried to screw him over with leaks and other jabs both private and public. This not only hurt Obama’s poll numbers, but it’s also partly why he kept Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense. Obama knew he differed with Gates — a Republican — on policy positions, but he hoped Gates would help him with his battles with the Pentagon.)
Regardless, I really wanted to thank Joshua Hughes for his comments. I know I don’t have thousands and thousands reading this small (but proud!) newsletter, but I get frequent emails about things I’ve stated from some really enlightened individuals. (Some of them, gasp, even serve in the federal government!) And while it’s a little intimidating being read by such knowledgeable and well-read individuals, I appreciate that they feel they can reach out to me about what I’ve written.
I will always try to be flexible and open to discerning the truth in a complicated world. If I ever get outside the lines, I expect (and hope) at least one or two of you will let me know so I can adjust course.
And again, big thanks to Joshua Hughes. I asked permission to use his comments in this week’s newsletter and he granted me permission.
Let’s end this week with some good news, which helps show we can all be a part of the change we want to see.
This story is a few months old, but more than 1,000 manatees died last year, which is quite likely a record. But the story doesn’t end there. The state is responding and helping save probably hundreds of manatees in the process. (See below for a heart-warming story of how the state is distributing 3,000 pounds of lettuce a day to help save them.)
Finally, let’s end with some wisdom and motivation.
That’s it for this edition. As a reminder, please be kind and endeavor to love your fellow Americans. We need to pull this country together, and that starts with all of us.
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As always, please share this post if you enjoyed it! And I welcome any and all respectful comments below.
Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a leadership/biography book, and two realistic war novels: one about World War II and one about Afghanistan.
About me: I am a proud vet and moderate, who wants to unite this country. I’m also a proud independent author, who used to own a small business for nine years that was probably (in hindsight) too generous to my small business advertisers on pricing and too lenient on my collection terms, since they were struggling as badly as me. I also sought to downplay controversy, understate headlines, and never create panic, all of which is a terrible way to sell newspapers (but a responsible way for a media outlet to act). Looking back, it’s clear I had (and have) a big heart and that I wasn’t made to be some kind of cut-throat business executive. It’s this same streak in me that prevents me from signing any book deals, even big ones. I just don’t trust ruthless business executives at the big publishers. And even if I did, that very same company that I trusted could be bought and purchased overnight. Sorry, but I’ll pass on that. The truth is that while I’ve relented and signed some distribution deals, such as the one I did with Audible for my Nick Woods series, I’m just not willing to be owned by any of the big publishing houses. If I want to speak out on China? I will. If I want to send free books to military members? I will. (And I have.) I don’t ever plan to be owned by some New York publishing house. (The only person I answer to on this earth is my wife and I plan to keep it that way.) My success to this point has been made by doing it the right way: gaining one new reader or one new subscriber at a time. So join me on my journey. Let’s build a community of like-minded Americans, who believe in this country and in our fellow citizens (even those on the other side of the aisle). People who believe in small businesses and independent dreamers on their own journey, whether it’s owning a small farm or staying autonomous in their creative fields. And when it comes to politics? No name calling. No screaming. Just honest discussion and a genuine search for the truth. In the end, we truly all want the same: good government, unity throughout our land, and ethical leadership.
If you’d like to support me or check out my books, you can find them all here: http://amzn.to/3p6lAnQ. I’m confident you’ll enjoy them. (I’ve been fortunate enough to have sold 70,000 copies and counting. Thank you, if you are one of the folks who have purchased one of those!! And if you’re not, I promise you, I don’t have that many cousins.)
I know, most news sources don’t say “third invasion,” but first Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. And they followed that up by invading the eastern part of the country in the Donbass region, also in 2014.