There is no light at the end of the tunnel yet. But there is a growing sense that there may be an end to the tunnel.
Russia is not going to conquer the entire country of Ukraine.
Russia is not going to occupy the entire country of Ukraine.
Russian soldiers are not even going to have been present throughout the entire country of Ukraine.
Russia is willingly to settle for half of half a loaf.
The time then is now for the United States to take the initiative.
In my last post (Putin Isn’t the Only Loser: Trump and the Woke Are Too), I mentioned Herbert Hoover and the Marshall Plan as two examples of the United States helping to build Europe back better. Now it is time to start planning to do the same in Ukraine.
We know the areas which have been devastated by Russian artillery. We know that there are mountains of rubble that need to be disposed of in some way. We know that there are buildings still partially standing in a dilapidated state that will have to be demolished adding to the rubble.
We have the expertise to conduct a giant 9/11 removal project. Now instead of it being two buildings, it will be cities as it was in Europe after World War II.
President Joe Biden should immediately call for the creation of a team of nations and construction companies to begin the planning for the removal of the Russian rubble. The planning for this international effort should begin now and it should be public. Certainly China should be expected to participate given its support for Russia in creating this rubble in the first place.
President Joe Biden should then call for the creation of a team of nations, city planners, and construction companies to begin the planning for the rebuilding of the cities destroyed by Russian artillery. Working with the Ukrainians who lived in and governed these cities, city planners, architects, and engineers should begin planning for the new cities to be built once the Russian rubble is removed.
What infrastructure will the rebuilt cities need?
What buildings can be rebuilt?
What new buildings are needed?
The time to start planning for the cleaning up of the Ukrainian cities and their rebuilding is now. We should not wait until the last minute. We should not wait until Putin allows us to do so. We should show the world now that we are planning now for the future of the country. We should show the refugees that they will have a country to which to return. We should show Russia that the Ukraine will not be destroyed.
There are physical dimensions to this process. To remove the Russian rubble will require construction equipment. It will take time to begin to identify the equipment required. Where is it now? How will it get to the Ukraine? Where will it be placed in the Ukraine?
The planning for the assembling of the “Cranes for Ukraine” convoys should start now. We saw how long it took for Putin to assemble his equipment for destruction. It will take time to assemble the equipment for construction.
We should publicly announce that we are going to secure the areas where there are no Russian soldiers. NATO is not obligated to defend the Ukraine from aggression. But it is capable of accepting an invitation to put boots on the ground there. We should secure the areas of the Ukraine where the cranes for Ukraine convoys will be going.
Finally, we should announce to the Russian people that we have no intention of cancelling Russia. The country has three paths from which to choose.
1. The Putin “Peter the Great” go-it-alone divine mission approach
2. Increasingly subordinated to and dominated by China approach
3. Partnering with Europe and the United States approach.
What does I mean for Russia to partner with the West? What does it mean politically? What does in mean culturally? What does it mean economically? What does it mean in space, at the poles, in the oceans? We need to communicate with the Russian people by every means possible that there is a life to look forward in partnership with the West. Ultimately the Russian people are going to hear from their own sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers what they were doing in the Ukraine. They are going to learn how many have not returned. They will see how many of those who return will need lifelong care and treatment. These people are not our enemy. We need to start reaching out to them now.
Build back better does not only apply to the United States. It applies to the Ukraine and to a post-Putin Russia, too.