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Judge Napolitano - Judging Freedom

Ukraine, Russia & China - Understanding it All w/ Tony Shaffer

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Hi, everyone. Judge Andrew Napolitano here for Judging Freedom. Today is Tuesday, March 14, 2023. It's about four o'clock in the afternoon here on the East Coast of the United States. Tony Schaeffer joins us now. Tony, always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us. Let's start with breaking news. This is just about two or three hours old. A Russian fighter jet intercepted an American, probably Air Force drone over the Black Sea. I don't know how this happened. Unloaded jet fuel on it damaged its wing and I guess it fell into the Black Sea and now there's a race to get to it. The Russians can probably win the race.

Are you surprised something like this happened? Is this a measure of restraint on the part of the Russians because they didn't ceremoniously blow it out of the skies or try and capture it? Are you surprised that we have these drones over the Black Sea? No, I think I'm surprised it hasn't happened before. One of my favorite Cold War movies is Ice Station Zebra. Judge, this reminds me of some of the provocation that was going on on both sides. Look, the fuel dump was the equivalent of a dog raising its leg on a fire hydrant. That was meant to send a signal. I mean, it was and it's a provocation.

I think it was meant to remind the Biden administration that they don't appreciate the American support to Ukraine. It is what it is. We right now also have troops in close proximity with the Russians, US troops near Russians in Syria. There's a hotline. I don't know if the Pentagon is going to admit to this, but I know for a fact there's a hotline right now between the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley and the leadership of the Russian military. It's supposed to be to preclude miscalculation or provocations getting out of hand.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's been some back channel stuff going on that everybody's reminding each other that this is simply a kind of a Cold War trick. We've had SU-27s buzzing US Navy ships in the North Sea and other things like that. It is what it is. It's just the Russians reminding us that they don't appreciate us being there helping the Ukrainians is the way I'm reading it. Now, refresh my memory. Why is the US military in Syria? Well, you know, President Trump did give a direct order to get them out of there.

I know for a fact that a chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Joe Dunford, did give that order to start pulling people out. I guess I can say this. Joe Dunford, chairman under Trump, did not want to see us engaged in another permanent land war. We don't do well. Doug McGregor says it all the time. We don't do well as a land force. We don't. We did not want to get drug into that. But obviously, when Mark Milley came in, Mark, my understanding, reversed everything and expanded our presence there on the ground, which is not in our interest.

So President Trump's order was not followed at all? It was followed by General Dunford, who was the chairman before Milley. Did troops leave? President Biden has replaced them or did nobody leave under Trump? The footprint was reduced. Like Afghanistan, there was an attempt under Trump by the Pentagon, certain members of the Pentagon, to start interjecting more forces into the theater without any clear objective. Essentially, once we get somewhere, the military wants to expand its mission. And Dunford, again, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs said, no, that's not what we want to do. He was actually kind of going against internal commanders on that central command.

And then, as I understand it, Mark Milley, when Mark came in, when Joe stepped down, he had two terms as chairman. All right. Mark Milley is General Milley, the current and soon to be chair of the Joint Chiefs. That's correct. Yeah. And his term is almost up now, too, by the way. He'll be out later this year. But yes, there was a kind of a reinsinuation of troops there on the ground in Syria. I'm not for the Syria mission, by the way. There's no clear objectives assigned to it. Just saying. So, okay, let's get back to the Black Sea. Yeah.

What are these? First of all, this was Air Force. It wasn't CIA. Right. According to what the Pentagon says. What are they doing there? How high up are they? What can they see or surveil? It depends on the platform, the sensor package judge. In this case, I think they were trying to detect this type of drone was probably trying to detect the emissions of communications. They're monitoring the Russian communications at the tactical level. That is to say, all the troops speaking to each other on the ground.

Plus, they were probably trying to get a certain level of what we call MAZEN, Measurements Intelligence, off of Russian radars, off of Russian systems, which emit electronic signatures. And they want to measure those signatures for purposes of our understanding of how they function. And then that information would eventually be turned over to the industry for purposes of targeting. That is to say, they then build weapons that could latch on and target those emissions as part of a warfare system, a war system. All right. So there must be a part of the Black Sea that's international waters. Yes.

And there must be a part of the Black Sea where some country along the coast, I don't know, Romania, Moldova, would allow our drones to fly over it. I don't know if Turkey will, but certainly Russia is not going to. My bet is Turkey. I think Turkey, we do have a number of bases in Turkey right now that the US uses for regional operations. That includes into Syria as well. So I think that that drone is probably out of Turkey. I'm guessing. I have no direct information on this, just so people don't think I'm blabbing something I'm not supposed to. This is Tony Schaeffer's assessment.

And I think it was flying probably, I know, I'd say probably about 20, between 20 and 50,000 feet, probably about 40. And it's what we call persistent surveillance, judge. It's basically something it's supposed to loiter within the region for a good amount of time, probably a good 12 to 14 hours sortie. And at that distance, it can pick up conversations or these troop movements on the conversations. If you and I were talking on the ground in Turkey at a Black Sea resort, and that drone were 25 to 50,000 feet above the Black Sea, it could overhear our conversation. Easily, easily. And it probably had a imagery system on it too.

It could zoom in pretty close. And it was probably focused on, again, Russian troop movements in or near Crimea, as well as any naval activities of the Russian fleet. And it would pick up on all that stuff. Yes, sir. The Washington Post, which has, for the past year, been a cheerleader for President Biden and the pro-Ukraine war crowd, which of course includes a lot of Republican members of Congress, last night came out with a long piece, the headline of which is, Ukraine short of skilled troops and munitions as losses and pessimism grow. Yeah. Now you'll probably identify with this, quoting an unnamed senior Ukrainian military official, quote, the most valuable thing in war is combat experience.

Next line. And there are only a few soldiers in the Ukrainian army with combat experience. Unfortunately, they're all dead or wounded. Right. Wow. That's not good if it's true. No, look, the issue at this point is what do the Ukrainians have left? I've said this in multiple venues in the media. The Russians are bleeding out the Ukrainians. And this is where I've talked to my, I've been on a British channel and my British colleague was saying, oh, no, no, the Ukrainians are trying to bleed out the Russians. Like, I don't think so. The Russians have far more resources than the Ukrainians have left.

And Putin hasn't even started using the reserves he's called up. So the question becomes, what do the Ukrainians have left? Well, I'm going to say this and it may get me in trouble. This kind of reminds me of Germany, 1945, when the Germans had to essentially resort to bringing in boys who were barely able to shave and old men who have long since probably forgotten everything they knew about being in the military if they ever were. So it's not a good situation. And apparently they're moving a few elite troops.

That is, the Ukrainians are moving a few elite troops up, but there's no clear indication that they're going to have any success beyond what they've already done. The article reports exactly what you've said, that the draftees, particularly the young ones run from fear and just disappear. They're not even adequately trained to use the equipment that they're given. And if they're adequately trained to use it, they don't have any bullets in it. They don't have any ammunition with which to fire. This article also suggests, and of course they don't name all their sources, but it's written by people in a publication that had been notoriously pro our aid in Ukraine.

This article also suggests that some of the better Ukrainian troops, the ones that are remaining, have been pulled out of Bakhmut and that President Zelensky has at least mentally conceded that Bakhmut will fail and he doesn't want to waste his better manpower there. There's probably not much left of Bakhmut except the symbolism of the Russians having taken this city, which was almost a last stand on the part of the Ukrainian army. It is. And the Russians have been doing what I call reconnaissance by fire. And I think Doug McGregor calls it something a little bit different, but basically the Russians they're leading with overwhelming artillery. It's like they have 30,000 rounds they can shoot a day.

Ukraine maybe has two to 3000. And so what happens is the Russians just blast ahead of them. And yeah, the Russians have had some significant losses, no doubt. There's like I think some credible reports that they've taken some losses as they've gained ground. But to your point, Judge, there's nothing indicating that there's any good to be had by the Ukrainians at this point by trying to continue to fight to hold that terrain because the terrain is destroyed at this point. And they'd be better off, I think, if they really wanted to win, pulling out trying to set up a defensive line somewhere further back from Bakhmut.

But it doesn't seem that they have any interest in doing it at this point in time. The article backs up what Colonel McGregor has been saying that the Russians have between 350 and 500,000 troops who've begun to enter Ukraine or are ready to do so as soon as the ground dries. But there was a number in here that has me scratching my head during and I'm now reading a quote during a NATO meeting last month, United Kingdom Defense Minister Ben Wallace said that 97 percent of Russia's army was already deployed in Ukraine and Moscow was suffering first world war, first world war levels of attrition.

I mean, could could Minister Wallace possibly know what he's talking about? Ninety seven percent of the Russian army is already in Ukraine. So the Russians have a large landmass to defend. And as far as I know, judge in in the the western part of their country are the ones engaged right now. The ones in the east towards the Pacific out in Siberia are not heavily reduced. They're trying to basically bring in new troops that they're recruiting and training. And they are training them. They're taking their time to train these folks.

So and some of them are probably pretty young, but they're going to go into combat with some level of experience of what they're going to face. So I think that's an insane statement. I think you could probably say that 45 percent of the trained forces in Russia are now deployed in or around the region. But I would never say 97 percent, maybe maybe close to half, maybe. But not 97. Are the Russian troops better? I think I know the answer to this. The Russian troops better trained than the Ukrainian troops On the whole, yeah.

I mean, again, they've been successful in doing what again, I get it, Doug on this, that they took a strategic pause. I think they did get a bloody nose when they went in last year. They did suffer some some levels of loss, I would argue near Kursk. Remember the Battle of Kursk in World War Two? They did have some some significant losses, but they learned from that. They pulled back. And since then, they've been much more cautious by taking their time to deploy troops. And simply put, as much as the Ukrainians have been doing, going 100 percent full time, the Russian troops are doing 100 percent.

And so if you're going 100 percent, Judge, and you're at the other side doing 25 percent, they've got 75 percent ready to go at some point. That's what I think everybody's waiting on at this point. How stable is President Zelensky's government? I ask that because I see the word pessimism several times in this piece. And these three authors for the Washington Post, one of them is Ukrainian and the two Americans are there. So the three of them are writing from Ukraine, contending that they have their fingers on the pulse of the Ukrainian military and Ukrainian public. The Ukrainian military and the government in general is very unstable. As you've noted, you've talked about it here.

They've had corruption. That corruption is coming back to haunt them. Zelensky's had to fire a number of folks. I've tasked my team, my intelligence team, to come up with who's going to replace Zelensky. I think it's a matter of time before if the continued failures are seen on the Ukrainian side, I think Zelensky is going to be pushed out because he's losing his ability to run the war. So Tony, is it a failure to win? Is it a failure to push the Russians back? Or is it a failure to recognize reality and get involved in some negotiations? There's a saying that I live by and I've internalized. Tactics before strategy is the noise before defeat.

Judge, we have employed all sorts of tactics. We've thrown all sorts of technology onto the battlefield, never with a clear understanding of what we, the United States, are trying to achieve or more importantly, what we're trying to advise. I'm saying we, not me, or I'm not for the war. I'm speaking in general. Or what we, the Pentagon, are advising the Ukrainians to achieve regarding strategic objectives. In other words, they've just throwing everything they got constantly into it without any understanding of what they're trying to achieve. I think that's the mess we see.

To answer that question, yeah, I think we're to the point of where that lack of strategy and assigning achievable objectives to military units is going to come back to show that they have no ability to sustain the war to any great degree by summer at this point. Do you think that there are some back channel negotiations going on that the rest of the world doesn't know about? No, I don't. I think there are nations speaking behind the scenes wanting to engage. I know the Chinese have put their 12-point plan forward. I think you're going to see meetings between the Russians and the Chinese. The Russians are going to try to leverage others around to do that.

But the United States at this point, Judge, on the diplomatic side, with Blinken and company, are refusing to accept any overture to actually open a negotiated set of discussions on this issue. I just don't understand why the United States is so rigid. Are they captives of Victoria and Newland who wants a Western invasion of Crimea? The Newland and those neocons, I don't know what you want to call them, the neocons and all those folks who are for war, they are indeed very influential. But more importantly, I think they've whispered in Biden's ear, Judge. All politicians act politically. Biden wants to be a wartime general.

From what I've heard, his staff believes that if he can get us into the war, he's going to be like the 21st century of FDR. And FDR is one of his big heroes. So I think it's very dangerous because Biden sees this as a political issue. And if it's a political issue, which he thinks is going to be giving him some leverage in the election in 2024, yeah, I can see him trying to listen to those folks and push us into war.

I agree with everything you just said, but I have to add, it is reprehensible that a human being would put his political success over the lives of American troops and even over young Ukrainians and young Russians. The Americans have done nothing but exacerbate this war and prolong its end. They will not bring about a just end from the American point of view. They will just bring about a far bloodier end that would have been the case if we'd stayed the hell out.

I think we are very much, I agree with what you're saying, by the way, and I think we're very much into an analogy of World War I, pre-World War I Europe, where everybody has grievances, everybody has issues, people are talking past each other, and nobody has regard for the human costs of the individuals actually in Ukraine. And it's bloody. And again, I can't believe this first time, I've been around for a long time. I've worked with every administration except this one since Jimmy Carter. And I've never seen the United States wish to not be engaged in trying to bring a peaceful, at least a negotiated settlement to a conflict. I've never seen this before.

And I think it's purposeful by the current administration. Have you ever seen the President of the United States rattling a saber over Taiwan the way Joe Biden is? So the Taiwan issue is, nobody wants to see Taiwan destroyed. I think that's the thing we can all agree upon because they produce, they are the foundry of computer chips which go into like 90% of cars today. And I think that's a resource that everybody recognizes. And I heard, I read something yesterday where even one of President Trump's national security advisors said, oh, we would destroy those before we give them up. It's like, no, we can't. Nobody's going to destroy.

Yeah, it was a, I'm trying to think of who it was. Like, no, that's just stupid. Nobody wants that destroyed. And I think this is where the bellicose language on both sides at this point is not helpful. I think if the Chinese are seriously thinking about doing something, there's things we can do to deter them. I'm a big Reagan guy, as you know. Reagan was successful in deterring by strength without having to go to war. And I think we have to be prepared to deter, not to provoke. And right now everything is provocation, judge. And that's not the way to run the railroad.

Tony, if the folks want to see a little bit more of you on your show, The Hard Truth, which is Saturday and Sunday, 11 a. m. Eastern, where do they find you? So we're on the America Out Loud network. And of course, they can check us out on our websites, Project Sentinel. net, focused on constitutional governance and referring to the Constitution before we go to war, just saying, you know, something we should do, as well as LondonCenter. org. So imagine that, judge, kind of following the Constitution. You and I and McGregor and Ritter are the only ones to talk about and Gerald Salenti are the only ones to talk about the Constitution before going to war.

Yeah. Good boy. Tony, it's a pleasure, no matter what we're talking about. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you, sir. More as we get it. Judge Napolitano for Judging Freedom. .



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