When you are in a hole, stop digging. This well-known adage applies at the global level as well as in one’s personal life. But there is another point of view. If I had a dollar for every time a commentator these passed two days said that Putin was going to double down, I could retire as a rich Russian oligarch. The consensus appears to be that there is no off ramp, meaning diplomatic solution, therefore the only viable option in the mind of Putin is to double down.
WERE THERE ANY ADULTS IN THE ROOM?
Just because something is farfetched doesn’t mean it is not real in the mind of the believer. Think of the stolen election as the most glaring example in America of a significant number of people believing in something which had not occurred. And then they act on the basis of that belief with voter suppression laws and rigging the upcoming elections.
Putin’s artificial reality as expressed in recent speeches is real to him. There is no constructive purpose in attempting to have a rational discussion with him over his view of the Ukraine and its relationship to Russia. Seriously, what could one say that would have any impact on him except to have you thrown in jail and/or executed?
The situation is different than it was in America. When the incumbent President lost the election either all the adults in room had left or would be leaving. Instead he was getting advice from people like Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and Pillowhead. So much for sane advice.
Given how long it took to plan and prepare for the invasion, one might think that someone in the Russian military might have raised some concerns. Maybe some did. Maybe they thought the preparations were part of a bluff to intimidate the Ukraine into surrendering. Whatever the exact circumstances, at the time of the actual invasion, one presumes everyone in the inner military circle was on board.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DESTROY A COUNTRY TO SAVE IT
Now that the invasion has not worked out exactly as expected, what do you do? We just experienced an attempt by the loser President to steal the election he had lost. We have seen that supporting the Big Lie has become a litmus test for endorsement by the Loser in the upcoming election. We have seen people who opposed the Big Lie be intimidated into retirement. We have seen those who did not get the message be censured, primaried, and expelled. The leader himself has been mean, nasty, and vengeful as one would expect.
There is even less chance that Putin would admit error, failure, and defeat then there is of his American asset doing the same. Putin is in a hole and he will keep digging. He will be immune to any criticism should it be offered internally. Certainly he will be immune to any criticism offered externally such as by the President of the United States in a State of the Union for all the world to hear. Instead he will double down.
The likelihood is that Putin will unleash a scorched-earth attack on the Ukrainians. He is familiar with this technique. It is standard operating procedure for him. He has no interest in precision bombs that supposedly target clearly identified enemy assets and people. He has no remorse for civilians who are caught up in the crossfire as collateral damage. Indeed, for Putin, such people are not even collateral damage … they are the targets.
Putin will make the Ukraine pay for its temerity in not welcoming their brother Russian saviors who are there to liberate them. He will have no mercy. He will seek complete unconditional surrender from those who defied him. He will cut off the leadership head of those who defied him and who became global heroes instead. He has no plans on what to do after he finishes with the barrage he is about to unleash because there won’t be much left. He will destroy the country in order to save it.
THE HOWARD BAKER MOMENT
What will the reaction be to Putin’s wreaking hell on the Ukraine?
Will someone(s) in the military say enough is enough? Will they say they did not sign up to destroy the Ukraine? Will they risk saying it is time for Putin to go?
Will an oligarch(s) say enough is enough? Will the people who have the most contact with the Western world including where their assets are located, object to the new Iron Curtain being erected around him? This time the Iron Curtain is not being built by the Soviet Union but by the West to contain and isolate Russia. At some point, will the oligarchs risk saying it is time for Putin to go?
Will the forces on the ground in the Ukraine say enough is enough? Will they continue to pulverize the very people they are supposed to be saving? How many of them are connected by marriage to Ukrainians? At some point will the soldiers themselves decide enough it enough and refuse to fight as some already have?
Will the Russian people themselves say enough is enough? Their Russian money is worthless, the people are trapped in Russia, their prospects are dimmed, and they are a pariah people. For how long will they be willing to accept that status?
The sanctions are a long-term punishment. The economic restraints will not work overnight. Arms shipments help but they will not end the invasion. In the meantime, Putin’s assault will continue. Will America and the NATO countries be able to stand on the sidelines if Putin unleashes his scorched-earth attack on the Ukrainian people? Will arm shipments and sanctions be sufficient if there are daily images of Ukrainian men, women, and children suffering, fleeing, and dying at the hands of Putin?
Right now we are basking in the glorious and heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people who are fighting for their freedom, their country, and democracy. Unfortunately the worst is yet to come. How much longer will be able to ship humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine before the access is bomb into oblivion? How much longer will Putin spare water and electrical facilities now that the Ukrainian people have rejected him? The gloves are off and carnage is the future.
We are on the verge of a Dr. Strangelove scenario. Putin will not cease in his devastation until someone stops him. If the Russian military, Russian oligarchs, and Russia people do not stop him now, he will keep doubling-down. If they do not stop him then the United States and NATO will have the most dangerous decision to make since the Cuban Missile Crisis: do they let Russia brutally destroy Ukraine or do they intervene to stop it? Do they establish a no-fly area or let the bombing continue? Do they partition the Ukraine and establish a safe area and turn the Ukraine into a new East and West Germany? Putin has decided to go all out for savage brutal victory now; how will Joe Biden respond when the going gets worse?