Max Boot, the Neoconservatives, and Endless War

Max Boot, trying to look all journalist-like in a fedora, from his Twitter biography. Click to enlarge.

Max (Maxim?) Aleksandrovich Boot was born on September 12, 1969 in Moscow, the son of two Russian Jews. They were lucky: they were able to emigrate to the United States in 1976, bringing young Max with them. Mr Boot, whose parents fled a strongly antisemitic regime in the USSR under Leonid Brezhnev, once said, “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump,” even though the USSR under Comrade Staling might well have sent Mr Boot and his family to a concentration camp; the Soviet leaders really didn’t like Jews very much.

In other words, Mr Boot has all of the intuitive judgement of a mud clod.

We have previously noted how Mr Boot specifically, and many of the neo-conservative in general, don’t think much of our individual liberties, or certainly didn’t when it came to mandating vaccinations against COVID-19. Mr Boot, who dearly loves having American troops all over the globe and has been a student of military history and strategic studies but has never served in the military himself, fretted that it would be a disaster for the United States to pull out of Afghanistan, though what more could be accomplished in that fetid and festering sewer that we hadn’t been able to accomplish in the 19½ years we had already been there he could not articulate.

And here he goes again!

We can’t let Ukraine lose. It needs a lot more aid, starting with artillery.

by Max Boot | Monday, June 13, 2022 | 7:00 AM EDT¹

The battle of Donbas — with momentous implications for the future of Ukraine and the entire postwar world — is poised on a knife edge.

The Ukrainians are resisting bravely, but they are suffering terrible casualties and slowly losing ground. They are able to fire only 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds a day, compared with 50,000 rounds a day from the Russians. The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition for their old Soviet artillery, and they don’t have enough Western artillery tubes to make up for the shortfall.

I am reminded of the old poem about how “for want of a nail a shoe was lost,” then a horse, then a rider, then a battle, then a kingdom. We cannot afford to see Donbas lost for want of artillery shells.

If Russian dictator Vladimir Putin captures this region, after having already secured a land corridor from Crimea to the Russian border, he will hold roughly a fourth of Ukraine, including its industrial heartland and most of its Black Sea coast. The Ukrainian economy is already in dire shape (estimated to shrink by 45 percent this year). Putin will then be in a position to further squeeze the rump state, while preparing a final offensive to finish it off.

Even a limited Russian victory will send a dangerous signal to the world that the West is weak and aggression pays. We must send lots more aid to Ukraine now to avert the loss of Donbas and to enable a counteroffensive to retake ground already occupied, but not yet fortified, by the invaders.

Emphasis in the original.

The most obvious Ukrainian need is for more artillery tubes and shells. The Biden administration has already provided 108 M777 155mm howitzers and more than 220,000 artillery rounds. More recently, it promised to send four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars) and ammunition with a maximum range of roughly 45 miles. That is wholly insufficient; even the 220,000 rounds would not last five days at current rates of use.

Huh? If, as Mr Boot stated just a couple of paragraphs previously, that the Ukrainians are able to fire only 5.000 to 6,000 artillery rounds per day, 220,000 rounds would last a whole lot longer than 4½ days. He’s actually talking about the Russians’ rate of fire, not the Ukrainians’.

The West should be sending hundreds of howitzers and multi-launch rocket systems, thousands of rockets and hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds. This should include Excalibur GPS-guided rounds for the M177 (range: 24 miles) and Army Tactical Missile Systems for the Himars (range: 186 miles). Those longer-range munitions would enable the Ukrainians to target Russia’s artillery, rockets and supply lines without risking their new weapons close to the front lines. Of course, it will take time to train Ukrainians on these systems, but they have shown they are fast learners.

That, of course, is not all Mr Boot wants to send to Ukraine to fight the Russians: he also called for sending  MQ-1C Gray Eagle dronesF-16 fighter jetsA-10 “Warthog” ground-attack aircraft and Patriot air-defense systems.

In 1940, President Roosevelt started sending military equipment to the United Kingdom, covertly at first, then more openly, to hold off the Third Reich. Following Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, we started sending military aid to the USSR as well. There were worries that Adolf Hitler would see this as the United States being at war with Germany, and it was bandied about that that was exactly what the President wanted, for Germany to declare war on the United States. After all, we had 3,600 miles of deep, blue water between the United States and German-occupied France, so there was really nothing Der Führer could do to us!

But if we start sending more and more supplies and weapons to Ukraine, we will be putting American troops and contractors on the ground in Poland . . . and Russia has the weaponry to strike Poland. Perhaps Mr Boot thinks that Vladimir Putin would never dare to strike an American installation, especially one on the soil of a NATO member nation, and I will admit that it would seem to be a stupid, stupid move. But we need to remember: Mr Putin is perfectly capable of stupid moves!

Yes, I have a vested interest in this: my older daughter is, as I type, preparing for a year-long deployment to Kuwait with the Army Corps of Engineers. While it seems unlikely, increased American presence in Poland, to ship more weapons to Ukraine, could very well result in a change of orders; the first people needed for an American installation in Poland would be the Corps of Engineers, and surveyors, and my daughter is a surveyor!

Russia has thousands of battlefield range and short range nuclear weapons. Just how would the United States, and NATO, respond if, feeling his back against the wall, Mr Putin used one, just one, lower-yield nuke against a shipping point for American and NATO weapons to Ukraine? He might well believe that such a tactic would so scare the US and NATO about a potential all-out nuclear war that we’d just stop and back off.

And, quite frankly, that should be the response. Ukraine is not worth a nuclear war!

Mr Boot and the neoconservatives have spent a lot of time and ink and bandwidth arguing for an aggressive, muscular, and interventionist American foreign policy, with the second Persian Gulf War against Iraq being the most obvious example. The first was started by Saddam Hussein, and if the ender President Bush had not been so eager to limit that war, and just gone a couple of days more, we could have eliminated Saddam Hussein in 1991. Because we didn’t do that, his son got in his head to rectify that, and we had the debacle of the second Iraqi war, which did topple President Hussein, but Iraq today is hardly a democratic paradise. We went into Afghanistan because we had to, to respond to al Qaeda’s attack on the United States, but we stayed and stayed and stayed, far beyond the mission to destroy al Qaeda and kill Osama bin Laden, stayed 10½ years after Mr bin Laden was sent to his eternal reward, and what was accomplished? Afghanistan is once again ruled by the Taliban, who have been reimposing the same policies that they had during their first reign.¹

I get it: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was very wrong, and almost everyone wants to see Ukraine win against the Russians. But I, at least, do not think it is worth risking what Major Kong called “nuclear combat, toe to toe with the Russkies.” The neo-cons, most of whom never spent a day in uniform, seem to have a romantic vision of the combat which they’ve only seen in the movies. If Mr Boot wants to see more American and NATO equipment sent to Ukraine to fight the Russians, then he needs to be on one of those convoys, in uniform, carrying an M4 rifle, and ready to fight himself.
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¹ – If you are stymied by The Washington Post’s paywall, you can read the whole thing here, for free.
² – Full disclosure: on my daughter’s previous deployment to Kuwait, she wound up in Afghanistan, though she was apparently in little danger.
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4 thoughts on “Max Boot, the Neoconservatives, and Endless War”

  1. While I would be happy to see Ukraine throw out the Russians, I agree with the article. I cannot see a compelling reason to risk US lives over a country that was either part of the USSR or ruled by Russia for centuries. There is no US strategic interest here.

    Reply
    • The children of the Max Boots of the world wouldn’t be fighting in Ukraine or any other God forsaken place. The “little people”, the plebes, the serfs would have to send their kids to fight. The elite Brandon’s of the world would get their 5 deferrments for asthma, hang nails or the vapors. Our kids wouldn’t be so lucky.

      Reply
      • Sending the Deplorables’ children to die in foreign lands is just “culling the herd,” just like INGSOC and its counterparts in other countries staging a Forever War for mutual benefit in Orwell’s 1984.

        Reply
  2. Funding or fighting a war for the benefit of another country is well down the list of priorities of our country. It should be, too. I hope to see Ukraine beat Russia, but that doesn’t mean to starve our own country of our own resources. There are too many angles to this war that bother me. Regardless what Boot says, there is no justification to sending 40 billion bucks worth of military hardware when we can’t find baby formula, and our gas and electric bills are skyrocketing.

    Charity begins at home.

    Reply

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