Daher die plötzliche Trendwende im Kanon

09. März 2022

Abrupt auf­tre­ten­de Kom­pe­tenz konn­te es ja nicht gewe­sen sein. Ich war schon latent verwundert.

Putin Has No Good Way Out, and That Real­ly Sca­res Me

If you’re hoping that the insta­bi­li­ty that Vla­di­mir Putin’s war on Ukrai­ne has wrea­ked on glo­bal mar­kets and geo­po­li­tics has pea­ked, your hope is in vain. We haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until Putin ful­ly grasps that his only choices left in Ukrai­ne are how to lose — ear­ly and small and a litt­le humi­lia­ted or late and big and deeply humiliated.

I can’t even wrap my mind around what kind of finan­cial and poli­ti­cal shocks will radia­te from Rus­sia — this coun­try that is the world’s third-largest oil pro­du­cer and pos­ses­ses some 6,000 nuclear war­heads — when it loses a war of choice that was spear­hea­ded by one man, who can never afford to admit defeat.

Why not? Becau­se Putin surely knows that “the Rus­si­an natio­nal tra­di­ti­on is unf­or­gi­ving of mili­ta­ry set­backs,” obser­ved Leon Aron, a Rus­sia expert at the Ame­ri­can Enter­pri­se Insti­tu­te, who is wri­ting a book about Putin’s road to Ukraine.

Vir­tual­ly every major defeat has resul­ted in radi­cal chan­ge,” added Aron, wri­ting in The Washing­ton Post. “The Cri­me­an War (1853-1856) pre­ci­pi­ta­ted Emperor Alex­an­der II’s libe­ral revo­lu­ti­on from abo­ve. The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) brought about the First Rus­si­an Revo­lu­ti­on. The cata­stro­phe of World War I resul­ted in Emperor Nicho­las II’s abdi­ca­ti­on and the Bols­he­vik Revo­lu­ti­on. And the war in Afgha­ni­stan beca­me a key fac­tor in Soviet lea­der Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms.” Also, retrea­ting from Cuba con­tri­bu­t­ed signi­fi­cant­ly to Niki­ta Khrushchev’s remo­val two years later.

In the com­ing weeks it will beco­me more and more obvious that our big­gest pro­blem with Putin in Ukrai­ne is that he will refu­se to lose ear­ly and small, and the only other out­co­me is that he will lose big and late. But becau­se this is sole­ly his war and he can­not admit defeat, he could keep doub­ling down in Ukrai­ne until … until he con­tem­pla­tes using a nuclear weapon.

Why do I say that defeat in Ukrai­ne is Putin’s only opti­on, that only the timing and size is in ques­ti­on? Becau­se the easy, low-cost inva­si­on he envi­sio­ned and the wel­co­me par­ty from Ukrai­ni­ans he ima­gi­ned were total fan­ta­sies — and ever­ything flows from that.

Putin com­ple­te­ly unde­re­sti­ma­ted Ukraine’s will to be inde­pen­dent and beco­me part of the West. He com­ple­te­ly unde­re­sti­ma­ted the will of many Ukrai­ni­ans to fight, even if it meant dying, for tho­se two goals. He com­ple­te­ly over­esti­ma­ted his own armed for­ces. He com­ple­te­ly unde­re­sti­ma­ted Pre­si­dent Biden’s abi­li­ty to gal­va­ni­ze a glo­bal eco­no­mic and mili­ta­ry coali­ti­on to enab­le Ukrai­ni­ans to stand and fight and to devas­ta­te Rus­sia at home — the most effec­ti­ve U.S. coalition-building effort sin­ce Geor­ge H.W. Bush made Sad­dam Hus­sein pay for his fol­ly of sei­z­ing Kuwait. And he com­ple­te­ly unde­re­sti­ma­ted the abi­li­ty of com­pa­nies and indi­vi­du­als all over the world to par­ti­ci­pa­te in, and ampli­fy, eco­no­mic sanc­tions on Rus­sia — far bey­ond anything governments initia­ted or mandated.

When you get that many things wrong as a lea­der, your best opti­on is to lose ear­ly and small. In Putin’s case that would mean with­drawing his for­ces from Ukrai­ne immedia­te­ly; offe­ring a face-saving lie to jus­ti­fy his “spe­cial mili­ta­ry ope­ra­ti­on,” like clai­ming it suc­cess­ful­ly pro­tec­ted Rus­si­ans living in Ukrai­ne; and pro­mi­sing to help Rus­si­ans’ brethren rebuild. But the ine­s­ca­pa­ble humi­lia­ti­on would surely be into­le­ra­ble for this man obses­sed with res­to­ring the digni­ty and unity of what he sees as the Rus­si­an motherland.

Inci­dent­al­ly, the way things are going on the ground in Ukrai­ne right now, it is not out of the realm of pos­si­bi­li­ty that Putin could actual­ly lose ear­ly and big. I would not bet on it, but with every pas­sing day that more and more Rus­si­an sol­di­ers are kil­led in Ukrai­ne, who knows what hap­pens to the figh­t­ing spi­rit of the con­scripts in the Rus­si­an Army being asked to fight a dead­ly urban war against fel­low Slavs for a cau­se that was never real­ly exp­lai­ned to them.

Given the resis­tance of Ukrai­ni­ans ever­y­whe­re to the Rus­si­an occup­a­ti­on, for Putin to “win” mili­ta­ri­ly on the ground his army will need to sub­due every major city in Ukrai­ne. That inclu­des the capi­tal, Kyiv — after pro­bab­ly weeks of urban war­fa­re and mas­si­ve civi­li­an casu­al­ties. In short, it can be done only by Putin and his gene­rals per­pe­tra­ting war cri­mes not seen in Euro­pe sin­ce Hit­ler. It will make Putin’s Rus­sia a per­ma­nent inter­na­tio­nal pariah.

Moreo­ver, how would Putin main­tain con­trol of ano­t­her coun­try — Ukrai­ne — that has rough­ly one-third the popu­la­ti­on of Rus­sia, with many resi­dents hos­ti­le to Moscow? He would pro­bab­ly need to main­tain every one of the 150,000-plus sol­di­ers he has deploy­ed the­re — if not more — forever.

The­re is sim­ply no pathway that I see for Putin to win in Ukrai­ne in any sus­tainab­le way becau­se it sim­ply is not the coun­try he thought it was — a coun­try just wai­t­ing for a quick deca­pi­ta­ti­on of its “Nazi” lea­ders­hip so that it could gent­ly fall back into the bosom of Mother Russia.

So eit­her he cuts his los­ses now and eats crow — and hope­ful­ly for him escapes enough sanc­tions to revi­ve the Rus­si­an eco­no­my and hold onto power — or faces a fore­ver war against Ukrai­ne and much of the world, which will slow­ly sap Russia’s strength and col­lap­se its infrastructure.

As he seems hell­bent on the lat­ter, I am ter­ri­fied. Becau­se the­re is only one thing worse than a strong Rus­sia under Putin — and that’s a weak, humi­lia­ted, dis­or­der­ly Rus­sia that could frac­tu­re or be in a pro­lon­ged inter­nal lea­ders­hip tur­moil, with dif­fe­rent fac­tions wrest­ling for power and with all of tho­se nuclear war­heads, cybercri­mi­nals and oil and gas wells lying around.

Putin’s Rus­sia is not too big to fail. It is, howe­ver, too big to fail in a way that won’t shake the who­le rest of the world.

src: click

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