Tanks make good pictures—the idea of an invasion of Ukraine sends shivers down the spines of most of Europe—and keeping the tanks at bay is what the political class is expected, indeed offers, to do. The price, however, will be for nations to surrender just about everything else. And that price is now about to be demanded of the elite not just in Russia but in Europe as a whole.
Stage One is to put the frighteners on. That’s why NATO bureaucrats made a clumsy attempt to pass off photos of last year’s Russian maneuvers as this year’s menacing military buildup. Of course they were found out, and of course they didn’t care. Everybody in what the Russians call “political technology” (we just call it “spin”) knows that the crisis in Ukraine is not about Ukraine at all. And it is not about war. One of the first things we were told is that there would be no “military intervention” (Mr. Putin) and no “military excursion” (Mr. Obama). There will be messy fighting, but it will be among special forces, mercenaries, and civilian militias, not armies.
This crisis will be played out in sanctions and is fundamentally about money and the movement of money. At stake are not bank balances but currencies, not loans but global bank clearing arrangements.
As the United States flexed her muscles...