There is an adage that says you are what you eat. In my case it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say I am what I read. At least it certainly does influence my thinking and today that is much more the rule than the exception. Believe it or not I’m talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David And Goliath, juxtaposed with the war in Ukraine.
Gladwell is known for his outside the box thinking. (Does he ever think inside the box?) In David And Goliath, he does an in depth analysis of the British reaction to the Blitzkrieg. Let’s just say that Hitler didn’t get the desired and anticipated result. I think something very similar may well happen to another autocrat this time around.
As of this writing the missile attacks against Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure continue. Obviously, Putin thinks this will bring the civilians to rise up against their government, overthrow it and then he will fill the vacuum. Not so fast Vlad!
Regardless of how you slice it this is an escalation of the war and is being perceived as such by the West. The question is what will the reaction be to this action. I don’t see the Ukrainians capitulating and I don’t see the West being intimidated into standing by silently effectively abandoning Ukraine.
Ukraine has asked for longer range air power for some time now and Putin’s latest action provides the West with the excuse to supply it. America and its allies may not want to admit it but this conflict quickly became a proxy war. At least publically and for the most part the conflict has been limited to within Ukrainian borders. That could soon change. In many cases the missile attacks are originating from, up until now, safe territory inside Russia. What if the West supplies the Ukrainians with longer range offensive air weapons and that formerly safe territory no longer is so safe? That can be justified as self protection. It is an escalation but one that Putin caused.
Now the next step is what the reaction within and/or from Russia is. The reality is that we don’t know how solid Putin’s support within the Russian power structure really is. Could an escalation that led to strikes on Russian soil be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the Russian power players already suffering from economic sanctions? Do they fear Putin more than they love money?
Assuming Putin stays in power what will he do in retaliation? Whatever it is – and some of the possibilities are down right ugly – it will be an escalation. Can you see the continuum of actions and reactions? It cannot be infinite and the end could be extremely undesirable for one or more parties.
At least at this point David isn’t giving into Goliath and Goliath may rue the day he launched those missiles.
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