Often a dilemma I face when writing the Sunday article is to decide which story I will select as the biggest of the week just ended. No such problem this week! However, (and it always seems there is a forever), today’s dilemma is that the situation is so dynamic that anything I wrote about the “status” would be outdated by the time you read it. With that in mind I’m taking a different slant on the Ukraine story which in my opinion is even more important.
I’m not going to tell you how this will all end because I certainly don’t know. It could range from Putin pulls back and even gives up Crimea – don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen – to the end of mankind in a nuclear holocaust – I hope I’m wrong on that one. Chances are that we will end up somewhere between those two. I have an idea of what that may be but it is only a guess so I’ll keep it to myself for now.
There are three likely “battlefields” between Russia and the West: economic, cyber and military which in the end could well turn nuclear. As long as Putin stays off NATO soil, I don’t foresee a direct military confrontation. It seems the confrontation is currently one of economic sanctions. Anyone who precludes cyber is living in a fantasy world although I will admit I hope they are correct.
There are a plethora of people cheering for the economic sanctions. I admit I am among them. The only way they will be effective is if they are multinational. To date I, and I know I’m not alone, am pleased with the degree of participation by allied countries. Unilateral sanctions are next to useless. Think in terms of a household or business’ purchasing. If one vendor or store takes themselves out of the picture in most cases you simply buy from their competition. If all major suppliers simultaneously cut you off you have an immediate problem or at least one in the making.
For every economic action there is a reaction. Does anyone other than a fool think Putin won’t retaliate? The West has steered clear of petroleum sanctions mainly because many European nations are so reliant on Russia in that area. What if Russia opens up that front? Saudi Arabia has already stated that they will not increase oil production to fill any gaps Russia might create. For the record Russia is not an OPEC country which makes the Saudi moves suspect – more on them and possible motives another day.
One of many pleasant surprises to date is the strong actions the EU has taken. Remember EU moves require unanimous consent and Putin friendly Hungary is an EU country.
Domestically I feel a lot is on the line, particularly politically. I wonder just how much hardship Americans are willing to endure to protect the burgeoning democracy of Ukraine. If gas prices go to $5 a gallon or we endure cyber denial of services attacks just how long will there be support for sanctions?
Already it is abundantly obvious that there is absolutely no American appetite for military intervention in Ukraine. I’m of the Vietnam War generation. In those days I was against the draft primarily because I saw it was so unequal. (In full, albeit brief, disclosure I had a 333 in the lottery and did not serve.) Today I’m in favor of mandatory national service for all physically and mentally capable young adults, (in the interest of brevity I will withhold details), one of the options of which would be military service. Today we have an all-voluntary military which, especially at the lower ranks, is composed almost exclusively of those who come from the least advantaged economic backgrounds. Most of us will never serve of have our relatives serve; we don’t have “skin in the game”. Perhaps if we did, we would take these situations much more seriously.
If this goes badly I feel it will have a huge negative effect on the Democrats in the mid-terms and probably in 2024. If you notice the Republicans have largely split into two similar camps. The “sensible” ones are blaming Joe Biden but offering no alternatives that they would have pursued or proposals for future action. The real nut cases are openly cheering for Putin.
I only scratched the surface here but my concern is illustrated. The question remains an open one: What price are we willing to pay to defend democracy?
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