Ukraine: The War for Civilization

This is huge. Our most fundamental values are on the line. Russia must lose, and be seen to lose. No plausible pretense of victory. No ambiguity.

Ukraine is heroically bearing the brunt of the fight for us. And pretty effectively so far. Putin has a powerful tank army, but tank technology has been outstripped by tank-killing technology. Russian casualties are horrendous. Still, their military resources remain immense, amply capable of continuing destruction and slaughter. We’re just learning the extent of Russia’s outright mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.

Meantime a big chunk of Ukraine’s army is much endangered by Russian encirclement in the east near the Donbas conflict region. Russia might still wind up expanding those separatist-controlled territories, and taking Mariupol to create a land bridge to Crimea. Putin could call that a victory, albeit at ghastly cost.

We must prevent that. Doing so would be a seminal triumph for peace and democracy, boding well for the whole future of civilization. Otherwise we’re back to an ugly past with brutal wars of conquest like this the norm.

We’d thought that was finally behind us. True, we’d seen Russia’s prior villainies in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Donbas, Crimea. And Russia is not the only transgressor. But the Ukraine atrocity differs, in scale if nothing else; not dismissible as a one-off aberration. Mariupol was a city of 430,000, reduced to a terrorized remnant of maybe 100,000 struggling to survive in rubble.

So the stakes are exceedingly high. The West has risen to the challenge more strongly, with more unity, than might have been expected. Germany in particular has done a sharp U-turn, ending its longtime policy of smooging Russia.

And yet our response is still insufficient. Which The Economist calls “a reprehensible failure of strategic vision.” This fight should be given, militarily, everything we’ve got. We spent trillions building the strongest military ever — what for, if not this? But we’re squeamishly splitting hairs over what might provoke Putin. How ridiculous. His claims of provocation, to justify this war, were already a sham. And for him, this was always really a war against the West, America, the EU, and NATO. So what if we help Ukraine with less restraint?

Yet we agonize, rule out sending troops, or a no-fly zone; send anti-tank weapons but not tanks; and cavilled even at facilitating Poland’s giving Ukraine jets. And while we’ve provided lots of drones, they’re not actually our best drones, Alexander Vindman said in his latest zoom briefing. Oddly enough, the really lethal drones are a Turkish product, that Turkey is going all-out to manufacture for Ukraine.

Turkey and Poland are no poster boys for democracy. But they have reasons to hate the Russians.

I’ve written how the Putinist Russian ideology traduces human values. The Economist too recently gave a scary picture of this crazed blood-soaked cultural messianism.* Too many Russian people bray with it — eerily evocative of Nazi Germany. And for all its self-worship as against the “decadent” West, Russia and its regime are gigantically corrupt. Covering that up, says Alexei Navalny, requires quite a lot of ideology.

Which would be fed by even a partial success in Ukraine. Whereas failure would likely, eventually, move Russia “to solve its problems by reform at home rather than adventures abroad,” opines The Economist. Making this an historic opportunity to lance one of the great boils afflicting the neck of civilization. And while the risks of escalating conflict may be real, the risks to the world of a Russian success are also very real, and worth taking some risks to prevent.

* https://www.economist.com/briefing/2022/03/26/the-new-russian-cult-of-war

8 Responses to “Ukraine: The War for Civilization”

  1. Doug Weston-Kolarik Says:

    Risks like what?? Sitting behind your monitor it is easy for you to say, isn’t it. Walk the walk you coward. Pack your bag and fly over there and joy the militia. Take the risk!

    On Tue, Apr 5, 2022 at 9:21 AM The Rational Optimist wrote:

    > rationaloptimist posted: ” This is huge. Our most fundamental values are > on the line. Russia must lose, and be seen to lose. No plausible pretense > of victory. No ambiguity. Ukraine is heroically bearing the brunt of the > fight for us. And pretty effectively so far. Putin has a” >

  2. Don Bronkema Says:

    Defining constraints of aging psychos tuff to parse: gas, toxins, 5K nukes? We Kremlinologists tremble. Does the rubble of Irpin, Rivne, Bucha & Xapkif [Kharkiv] prefigure the SE periphery? 60K Mariupol trogs will be dead in a week. If ports Mikolayef & Odyessa fall, rump will depopulate, unable to export: vacuum filled by Caucasians & Central Asians fleeing IPCC thermolysis. Recall Spengler; read Ferguson. 22nd-C will boast a choice of [1] the Borg, [2] extinction or [3] a seamless, tekno-humanist ecodise of CRISPRed syntels. Rebut at hazard.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    “who wishes to fight must first count the cost”

    “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

    “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

    “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

    ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    ~~~~~

  4. Don Bronkema Says:

    Kung Fu-tse, Meng-tse, Lao-tse likewise counsel gnoti sauton [nosce te ipsis]. Aurelius spoke of balance; Assisi pushed cultivis; Bacon urged experiment. The answers have been known for 6 KY, yet few apply them.

  5. David Lettau Says:

    The Ukrainian resistance to Putins murder campaign brings to my mind words of Thomas Paine. Tyranny like hell is not easily conquered,but those who join in that fight deserve the thanks of humanity and posterity. Victory over Putins legions is the most important thing in the world today.( Along with halting and reversing climate change). We should be streaming to the Ukrainians everything that will shoot. Putins conscripts are low on morale and on their heels. Now is the time the Ukrainians should be laying on their blows thick and fast. I hope we get them the weapons they need.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    “There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s self.” B.Franklin knew.
    Other two maxims at Delphi: “nothing to excess” and “certainty brings insanity”… not followed either.

  7. Don Bronkema Says:

    David: Bravo. Anon: Trenchant. Respondent: Certainty is lethal.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Thinking about horrific war crimes in Ukraine… accountability.  And not only crimes committed by Russian state soldiers; sadist mercenaries for hire…. like the Russian WAGNER GROUP!
    Last week it was reported: “… radio traffic suggests that members of the Wagner Group, the private military unit with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies, have played a role in attacks on civilians….”
    And why is the United States NOT part of the International Criminal Court (ICC)?(Because we commit them too, as do our private contractors.)
    Erik Prince/Blackwater: sibling of Trump cabinet appointee Devos, for example.
    “Blackwater scandal of 2007. That fall, a group of Prince’s soldiers-for-hire shot up a crowded square in Baghdad, killing 17 civilians and wounding 20 others. Several of the gunmen were sentenced to decades in U.S. prisons for their roles in the massacre. (Trump pardoned four of them in his final weeks in office.)…”

    United States needs to lead by example.

    *****
    Reported last year in TIME MAGAZINE:
    Documents Reveal Erik Prince’s $10 Billion Plan to Make Weapons and Create a Private Army in Ukraine

    https://time.com/6076035/erik-prince-ukraine-private-army/

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