A World Turned Upside Down
But I have been most busy in the past week writing about the war in Ukraine. At Discourse, I looked at Vladimir Putin’s apologists on the American right, which includes exactly the people you would expect. (And it’s not just in the US. Fresh off an especially lazy smear of Ayn Rand, British commentator Peter Hitchens is making excuses for Putin and blaming the West for his war.)
I also look at how Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has vindicated certain ideas from the so-called “neoconservative” foreign policy position—a label that is inaccurate shorthand for the hawkish policies of the George W. Bush era. In that article, I provide a good short explanation of what has really been driving this conflict over the last 20 years. I think it’s useful to recap this history, because people either never knew or don’t remember how we got here.
The roots of the current conflict go back to 2004, when Ukrainians took to the streets in a successful protest against a Kremlin puppet leader’s attempt to rig the presidential election to stay in power. When that same leader later wormed his way back into power in 2014, Ukrainians rose up again to protest his attempt to draw Ukraine into an alliance with Vladimir Putin’s Russia and pull it away from the European Union. Putin’s subsequent invasion of Crimea and the Donbas, and his buildup to the current, larger invasion, were a response to that rejection.
Everything that led up to this war happened because Ukrainians decided they wanted one model of government, the Western model of liberal democracy, over the Putinist model of authoritarian kleptocracy. More to the point, the nature of Russia’s regime also helped push it toward war. Putin viewed Ukraine as a threat precisely because it was a liberal competitor and a haven for dissidents that showed the Russian people an alternative to his corrupt rule. The desire to maintain his kleptocracy gave Putin the motive for attacking Ukraine. His authoritarianism gave him the means, allowing him to quash dissent and outlaw domestic protest against an obviously disastrous war.
But I also emphasize how Putin miscalculated and how the free world has rallied in response to his aggression in a way that has exceeded my wildest expectations. We are living in a world turned upside down.
The past week has seen the most remarkable upheaval in international relations in at least 20 years.
All the usual behavior you would expect from the usual players has been upended by the invasion of Ukraine. The Germans have canceled Nord Stream 2 and set out to reverse their energy dependence on Russia—a price we all thought they would never be willing to pay—while tripling their defense spending. Sweden is sending anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, abandoning its neutrality for the first time since it aided Finland against the Soviets in 1939. The Swedes and Finns are talking about joining NATO. The International Olympic Committee, which wouldn’t fully cut off Russia’s athletes after they were caught doping, is finally doing so. The Swiss are freezing the bank accounts of the Russian “oligarchs” who prop up the Putin regime—and where can the world’s supervillains hide their money, if not in a Swiss bank account? Above all else, the European Union is showing bold and decisive leadership, which had previously seemed like a metaphysical impossibility.
But the big news, the thing that really upends geopolitics (and makes a lot of these other transformations possible) is that the large and fearsome Russian military has been exposed as a fraud.
A Paper Bear
More than a week in, the invasion of Ukraine is going astonishingly badly for the Russians, exposing the profound weakness of a corrupt and incompetent military establishment. Here’s a good analysis in the Washington Post.
Lightly armed units propelled deep into the country without support have been surrounded and their soldiers captured or killed. Warplanes have been shot out of the skies and helicopters have been downed,according to Ukrainian and US military officials.
Logistics supply chains have failed, leaving troops stranded on roadsides to be captured because their vehicles ran out of fuel.
Most critically, Russia has proved unable to secure air superiority over the tiny Ukrainian air force—despite having the second-largest air force in the world, Pentagon officials say. Its troops have yet to take control of any significant city or meaningful chunk of territory, a senior US defense official said Sunday.
Russia’s failure to control the air with a force that is unquestionably superior on paper is really astonishing. It leads one military analyst to ask, “Is the Russian Air Force Actually Incapable of Complex Air Operations?” Follow that link. It is a fascinating overview of how the Putin regime has poured billions into developing or acquiring very sophisticated hardware that they have not trained themselves to use.
Back to the Washington Post piece:
The relative limits on the resources thrown at the fight so far suggest the Russians were expecting little or no resistance, and the Russians appear to be stunned, the US defense official said, by the ferocity of the fight put up by the Ukrainians and the defiance of ordinary civilians, who have been seen swearing contemptuously at Russian soldiers….
It was clear from the way the Russians set about the offensive that their goal was to make a lightning push into the heart of Kyiv, capture or kill President Volodymyr Zelensky, and install their own puppet government, he said, thereby bringing the country under Russian authority without needing to fight across the rest of Ukraine.
If this is the case, Vladimir Putin’s problem is that he began to believe his own propaganda. He declared that Ukraine was not a “real country,” that it had been formed artificially, almost by accident. So he believed the Ukrainians would not fight for their country, and he sent in a small force that expected to achieve a quick victory with no resistance.
This is confirmed by the accidental posting to Russian state media of an article praising Putin’s swift victory in Ukraine and indicating that Putin’s plan was to declare a new union in which Russia would absorb both Ukraine and Belarus. Clearly, the article has been put in the queue to be published automatically and then forgotten about in the shock of Ukraine’s effective resistance.
A few weeks ago, I talked about this problem in terms of playing hockey with Vladimir Putin.
I remember a recent story about a hockey game with Vladimir Putin and Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, in which Putin scored an astounding seven goals and Lukashenko two—against famous Russian professional players. This is, of course, a ridiculous PR stunt meant to create a flattering image of Putin.
You could interpret that story in two ways. On the one hand, you could view it as evidence that Putin is a blustering coward who won’t take on any contest that isn’t already rigged in his favor—making an actual invasion of Ukraine too big of a gamble. Or you could wonder whether Putin has spent so long surrounded with sycophants and yes-men who assure him that he will always be a winner that he will actually believe there is no risk and he can get away with anything.
In the next few weeks, we ought to know which of these is the correct interpretation.
It now seems clear that this second interpretation is correct. Putin is in that late stage in a dictatorship where the chief is so thoroughly sealed off in his bunker—both physically and mentally—that he is out of touch with the facts, and there is no one left in his inner circle who would dare tell him any news he doesn’t want to hear.
The symbol for this is Putin’s new penchant for holding meetings at astoundingly long tables or in large spaces—scroll down on this story to see the photo of Putin in a vast domed room sitting at a small desk, while all of his supposed advisors are arrayed in a semi-circle forty feet away. Perhaps he is afraid of COVID or concerned about what his generals might have in their briefcases, but this also indicates his isolation from anything in the outside world that might puncture his fantasies of world domination.
Nevertheless, the fantasy has been crashing into reality.
To the surprise of many military analysts, Ukrainian troops are mounting a stiffer-than-expected resistance to Russian forces up and down battle lines across a country the size of Texas, fighting with a resourcefulness and creativity that US analysts said could trip up Russian troops for weeks or months to come.
The Ukrainians are also exploiting a bungled beginning to Russia’s all-out assault. Armed with shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons, they have attacked a mileslong Russian armored convoy bearing down on Kyiv, the capital, helping stall an advance plagued by fuel and food shortages, and stretching a march that was expected to take a handful of days into possibly weeks….
“In combat, it’s always different than what you thought it’d be, and the side that learns faster and adapts faster will win out,” said Frederick B. Hodges, the former top U.S. Army commander in Europe who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis. “So far, Ukraine is learning and adapting faster.”…
“The art of mechanized maneuver warfare is being able to concentrate overwhelming combat power at decisive sections of the front, places of your choosing,” said Frederick W. Kagan, a military strategist who has advised the US command in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “The Russians, astonishingly, failed to do that. But the Ukrainians have taken advantage of their ability to move reinforcements rapidly and counterattack.”
The signature story of the Russian invasion is a column of armored vehicles advancing on Kyiv that, as with Achilles and the Tortoise, kept on advancing day after day and still hasn’t quite gotten there.
"The main body of the large Russian column advancing on Kyiv remains over 30km from the centre of the city having been delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion," Britain's defence ministry said in an intelligence update. "The column has made little discernible progress in over three days," it said.
It is astonishing how quickly this story managed to transform from terror to farce—which will not prevent it from transforming back into horror. Already, where they are concentrated enough, the Russians have been reverting to the tactic they used in Chechnya and Syria: massive bombing, rockets, and artillery bombardments unleashed to destroy towns that they cannot control.
This all suggests that Russia’s military was never really designed to face significant military resistance, much less a rival world power, but was actually built around the use of terror and slaughter to suppress civilian uprisings.
The Man Who Created Europe
Valiant and effective resistance has reversed Ukraine’s earlier position. For years, Europe was hesitantly considering Ukrainian membership, wondering whether the country was worthy of membership in the European Union. Now the Europeans seem anxious to prove themselves worthy of Ukraine. Look at the list I gave at the top of this newsletter, of one European country rallying to Ukraine’s side with unprecedented support, upending policies they have maintained for decades.
I have always supported the idea behind the European Union, the concept of uniting the continent in connections of peaceful trade and cooperation so that it never re-enacts the horrific bloodletting of the 20th Century. But this goal has often been lost in the actual implementation of the European Union, which seemed organized instead as a vehicle for meddlesome regulation. Yet the invasion of Ukraine seems to have reminded the European Union why its exists and has motivated it members to live up to their original mission. As Kori Schake puts it:
Vladimir Putin has attempted to crush Ukraine’s independence and “Westernness” while also demonstrating NATO’s fecklessness and free countries’ unwillingness to shoulder economic burdens in defense of our values. He has achieved the opposite of each. Endeavoring to destroy the liberal international order, he has been the architect of its revitalization.
The Ukrainian people in general have achieved this, through their courageous and effective resistance against Russia. But one man deserves the credit above all others. It was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to refuse evacuation from Kyiv, to instead stay and rally the world’s support, that made all the difference. David French captures why this was so important.
We’ve become accustomed to dealing with brand-managed politicians—men and women who sometimes act more like messaging machines than leaders or legislators. We’re just as accustomed to moral cowardice. Politicians fold to Twitter mobs. They say one thing in green rooms and another thing on television because they’re terrified of the activist base, or mean words from Mar-a-Lago.
It’s not that we’re even experiencing a political class full of ordinary people in extraordinary times, but rather too often it seems as if they’re small people, who shrink even smaller the bigger the moment. There are exceptions here in the United States, but they’re exceptions. There is a reason why public trust collapses. There is a reason why angry cynicism grips our land.
In these circumstances it is breathtaking to witness actual courage. It’s even more breathtaking when that courage is both moral and physical. He’s not just speaking against evil, he’s quite literally standing against evil—when evil seems to possess all the power, and virtue feels so weak.
And this reminds us of something important about leadership. It’s one thing to say, “I will lead you.” It’s another thing entirely to say, “I am with you,” and to demonstrate it by laying your own life on the line.
The first three days of Zelensky’s defiant defense of Ukraine, in which he made the case for his country to the world, turned the tide and made everything else possible. For years, people have been trying to make Europe happen, and Zelensky finally did it.
The power of Zelensky’s appeal is so great that I’ve seen several videos now of European translators breaking down in tears while attempting to convey lines like this one: “Nobody is going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians. We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it's a fair one.”
We haven’t paid much attention to this in America, but the groundwork for European sympathy for Ukraine has been laid down for a long time. Consider this story about the 2016 Eurovision contest—kind of a pan-European “America Idol,” but much bigger—which was won by a Ukrainian singer with a song called “1944,” about Stalin’s brutal forced deportation of Crimean Tatars. Europe has been quietly preparing itself for years to stand with Ukraine against a Russian dictator.
Over the past few weeks, the general consensus is that Ukraine has been winning the “information war,” and it’s not even close. Normally, I would be skeptical of how much difference this makes. You can win the information war, but if the enemy’s tanks control your streets, you still lose. Yet Ukraine’s ability to rally the world to its cause has achieved substantial results.
The most substantial results would be the potential transfer to Ukraine dozens of MiG-29 and Su-25 fighter jets from Eastern European members of NATO. These countries have already been in the process of switching over from their old Warsaw Pact planes to American F-35s. So why not put the old planes to good use, sending them to an ally whose pilots are trained to fly Soviet hardware? This deal may have fallen through, or maybe it is still happening, just without any desire for publicity. Or maybe the Poles want American help brokering a three-way trade to get planes to Ukraine.
Remember that we’re working under the old Cold War rules, in which we can provide Ukraine with plenty of aid, so long as it is indirect—but NATO troops cannot be the ones actually pulling the triggers to kill Russians. We can push those boundaries a bit, and we should be pushing them as far as we can—but given the risk of nuclear war, nobody benefits from pushing them too hard. That’s why we won’t impose a “No Fly Zone” over Ukraine, which would involve NATO pilots shooting down Russian pilots.
But we can push the boundaries far enough to give the Ukrainians planes and to allow an influx of foreign fighters and volunteers, including some American military veterans. Others are pouring in from Czechoslovakia and Poland and elsewhere across Europe. An influx of experienced and trained fighters is a dividend of the information war and will make a substantial difference.
The other reason to mention Ukraine’s triumph in the information war is because the Russians were supposed to be good at this kind of “hybrid war” that involved combining military action with propaganda.
General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, who has served for a decade, has long been treated with respect in the West as a major conceptualizer of modern hybrid warfare. Yet he finds himself in a war in the information domain in which victories have gone to Western intelligence agencies (accurately predicting every move) and Ukrainian public-relations experts who shame their enemy by letting captured soldiers call their mothers, while inspiring their countrymen with videos of civilians confronting the uneasy invaders.
As for American support, we have provided Ukraine with significant arms, particularly our highly effective Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Taken together, the variety, volume and potency of firepower being rushed into the war zone illustrate the extent to which the United States sought to prepare the Ukrainian military to wage a hybrid war against Russia, even as President Biden has expressly ruled out inserting American troops into the conflict.
The Biden administration’s approach has largely been to let Europe take the lead, which for once actually seems like a good idea.
President Biden did not announce sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin personally until after the 27-nation European Union had done so on Friday. The United States joined the move to cut Russian banks out of the SWIFT financial system after Europeans agreed on Saturday. And it was Germany that announced the cancellation of Nord Stream 2, a project that Biden initially pledged would end if Putin invaded Ukraine.
Over the past few days, leaders in European capitals—not Washington—have taken the public lead on many of the most punishing actions designed to persuade Putin to halt his invasion….
“They avoid the political downside of having the view that somehow big brother is corralling or forcing the junior partners to do its own bidding,” said Aaron David Miller, a veteran diplomat and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It’s not just Joe Biden and the United States carrying the load.”… The strategy is not without risk for Biden’s own domestic political concerns, depriving him of opportunities to tout achievements as he faces low approval ratings and attacks from Republicans who call his response weak.
This might not be the best thing for Biden in terms of domestic politics, because unlike Zelensky, he has not been out in public as a leader on this issue.
On the other hand, we don’t need to imagine what Donald Trump would be like. He would not be able to stand the fact that everyone is paying attention to Zelensky, so he would do the same thing he did in the early days of the pandemic: constantly taking up TV time for press conferences liberally mixed with falsehoods and with foolish and contradictory statements, such as egging on China to invade Taiwan. We don’t need to imagine this, because that’s what he’s doing now.
"Taiwan is going to be next. Just watch Taiwan; President Xi is watching with glee," Trump told host Maria Bartiromo.
The FOX Business host asked Trump if he expected Taiwan to invade sooner rather than later. The former president said he did "because they're seeing how stupid the United States is run."
"They're seeing that our leaders are incompetent, and of course, they're going to do it. This is their time," Trump warned.
Speaking of Taiwan, this is one reason Ukraine’s case has resonated beyond Europe. A UN representative from Kenya gave an impassioned speech about Russian imperialism and the dangerous precedent, in an African context, of starting wars to redraw national boundaries based on blurry ethnic lines.
And Trump is wrong about Taiwan. The war in Ukraine may have already saved Taiwan from the immediate prospect of a Chinese invasion. After the disastrous American withdrawal from Afghanistan, China had been expressing a new and belligerent confidence about its prospects for retaking Taiwan by force. Chinese leaders clearly had concluded that being an ally or client of the United States was not all it’s cracked up to be and that we would abandon Taiwan if it were attacked. Now they have to revise all of those calculations: Taiwan’s resistance may be stronger than they are expecting, China’s own forces may not perform as well as expected and, above all, the international reaction may be far too damaging to China.
Kevin Williamson points out another implication.
If Washington was pleasantly surprised by Germany’s decision to make a serious investment in rearming itself, both Moscow and Beijing must have been positively shocked. A reinvigorated and possibly expanded NATO buoyed by a revivified Germany—and an energized Europe that has seen players such as Sweden and even Switzerland come off the sidelines—is a nightmare for Vladimir Putin. But it also frees up American resources—financial, military, political, moral, and intellectual—to support Washington’s turn to the Indo-Pacific. Putin’s war will be a setback for Moscow, but it will also be, in that respect, a real loss for Beijing. In ten years, Beijing may see this not as a masterstroke but a misadventure.
People have been talking for a while about the US making a “pivot to Asia” to counter China. But of course, we couldn’t really pivot because we had plenty to worry about in Europe. Yet Europe rising up to take leadership just might make the pivot possible, after all.
“Cancel Culture” I Can Approve Of
As the world has rallied to Ukraine’s side, it has isolated Russia, not just economically, but in all international relations.
In Switzerland, the Lucerne music festival canceled two symphony concerts featuring a Russian maestro. In Australia, the national swim team said it would boycott a world championship meet in Russia. At the Magic Mountain Ski Area in Vermont, a bartender poured bottles of Stolichnaya vodka down the drain.
From culture to commerce, sports to travel, the world is shunning Russia in myriad ways to protest President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine….
Russia has been banned from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which it last won in 2008, with Dima Bilan performing his power ballad, “Believe.” Russia’s Formula 1 Grand Prix, scheduled for September in Sochi, has been scrapped. St. Petersburg has lost the Champions League soccer final, which was relocated to Paris.
Russia’s World Cup hopes were dashed on Monday after a dozen countries joined Poland in refusing to play its national soccer team in qualifying rounds. Under intense pressure, soccer’s two main governing bodies, FIFA and UEFA, ruled that Russia was ineligible to play in their tournaments. In Germany, the soccer club Schalke severed a sponsorship deal with the Russian oil giant Gazprom. The National Hockey League also suspended its business dealings in Russia.
Also on Monday, Greece announced that it would suspend all collaborations with Russian cultural organizations. A French former ballet star, Laurent Hilaire, resigned as the director of the Stanislavksi Theatre Company in Moscow, saying that “the context no longer allows me to work with peace of mind.”
This sort of thing has led some of the usual suspects to complain about “cancel culture.” But as we explored in a discussion on this some time ago in Symposium, most of these debates are not really about free speech in the sense of freedom from government censorship. They are about the decisions made by private individuals and institutions about whom they will continue to support. The question is not whether we should draw any lines at all. Was it a good idea to let Hitler host the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, using it as a propaganda tool? Would you have invited the notorious Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl to a film festival in, say, 1940? The conclusion we came to in that discussion was not that we shouldn’ draw such lines, but that we should drawn them rationally, not based on hysteria or groupthink.
In the current case, there will probably be some Russians who are unfairly cut off. But the most prominent case right now, Russian conductor Velery Gergiev, is not one of them. He has long been notorious, not just as a supporter of Vladimir Putin, but as a regime insider who used his connection with Putin to promote his career.
Similarly, I have zero sympathy for the employees of Russian media outlets like RT who are now finding themselves out of a job and deprived of an audience.
The European Commission has said it will ban "the Kremlin's media machine" in the EU. RT, Sputnik and other outlets "will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted. Several companies, including Google, TikTok, Facebook and Microsoft, are already carrying out that ban and are restricting access to Russian state-owned media within the EU. The U.K.'s media regulator, Ofcom, said Monday it's launching 15 investigations into RT, Russia's state-backed television channel. A group of leading Ukrainian media groups wrote an open letter to global TV providers urging them to stop distributing Russian state networks.
If there is one group of people who do not get to cite freedom of speech in their defense, it is paid propagandists working for a dictatorship.
Fewer But Better Russians
There are plenty of Russians far more deserving of our sympathies, particular those who are going into the streets to protest this war in the face of a full totalitarian crackdown. Vladimir Putin seems to be acting on the principle described in an old, grim joke: There are going to be fewer but better Russians.
The free press in Russia is now definitively stamped out.
On Thursday, the pillars of Russia’s independent broadcast media collapsed under pressure from the state. Echo of Moscow, the freewheeling radio station founded by Soviet dissidents in 1990 and that symbolized Russia’s new freedoms, was “liquidated” by its board. TV Rain, the youthful independent television station that calls itself “the optimistic channel” said it would suspend operations indefinitely.
And Dmitri Muratov, the journalist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said that his newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which survived the murders of six of its journalists, could be on the verge of shutting down as well. “Everything that’s not propaganda is being eliminated,” Mr. Muratov said.
Precipitating the outlets’ demise were plans by the Russian Parliament to take up legislation on Friday that would make news considered “fakes” about Russia’s war in Ukraine punishable by yearslong prison terms. The Russian authorities have already made it clear that the very act of calling it a “war”—the Kremlin prefers the term “special military operation”—is considered disinformation.
A Russia academic describes to an American friend the ways in which years of propaganda have hoodwinked many Russian into backing Putin and the war, but also the ruthlessness with which dissent is now punished.
A huge army of siloviki (strongmen). Ukraine’s Maidan could happen because resistance [against the protestors] was not comparable to that of Russia and Belorussia. The Russian government has a huge horde of policemen and Rosgvardiya [National Guard of Russia] who get paid decent money just for brutally beating people who simply show up to a demonstration (and actually get pleasure out of doing so because they are idealistic and see enemies in those who show up). Then they imprison the people for 30 days and then create problems for them in their studies or work. And any resistance leads to a huge prison sentence. I’m not even mentioning, that people can be jailed for several years for tweets or social media posts (this is not an exaggeration!)
So it’s back to the bad old days—but with one twist. The old Soviet Union was officially atheistic, but the new Russian dictatorship has built itself on an Attila-and-the-Witch-Doctor partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church, giving this the character of a religious war.
We in the West have a hard time integrating Putin’s reputation and identity with his unofficial but clear leadership role in the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin is a cold, ruthless, brutal killer comfortable with torture, intimidation, and ruling by fear—an identity that most of us would find impossible to reconcile with Christianity….
In Putin’s mind, all Russian Orthodox believers living in Ukraine (or anywhere else) are Russians, even if they are legally citizens of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is “attacking” and attempting to weaken Russia by luring believers down another path; similarly, Volodymyr Zelensky is “attacking” Russia by convincing these spiritually Russian people that they are truly Ukrainian. Even worse, their efforts seem to be working, as the Ukrainian people seem more interested in being part of the European Union and NATO than being reintegrated into a greater Russian superstate. In this twisted mindset, Zelensky is a devil-like figure, tempting and luring good Russians into the decadent ways of the West.
This is from Jim Geraghty, who finds Putin’s brutality hard to reconcile with Christianity—but I know enough about the history of the Christian religion to find it not surprising at all.
All of this is a disaster for America’s nationalist conservatives, who are suddenly having to backpedal furiously from their previous pro-Putin cheerleading. They have suffered the same misfortune as many previous ideologies: Someone put their ideas into actual practice, for all the world to see. As I observed in Discourse, “Putin’s murderous madness has already exposed the vicious inhumanity of the Christian nationalist and integralist models. How can a man who forces kindergarteners into bunkers claim any kind of moral high ground? But worse, every day that Ukraine holds out exposes the weakness of Putin’s social model. The nationalists like to thump their chests about returning to a stronger creed—but what if modern Western liberalism proves itself the stronger creed?”
We Win, They Lose
Ronald Reagan used to say that he had a plan for how the Cold War would turn out: “We win, they lose.” It was considered a delusional thought, dangerously provocative even to entertain, right up until the point that it actually happened.
We should have the same goal now. As Dalibor Rohac puts it:
To put the cancerous phantasmagory of Russian imperial nostalgia to rest and prevent a war that would involve our NATO allies, it is not enough that Ukrainians fight the Kremlin to a stalemate and then reach an unsatisfying political settlement; Russia must unequivocally, transparently lose this war.
Besides continuing to arm the Ukrainians with any and all equipment they can use, the West must show a willingness to put other, potentially riskier options on the table as well—like aggressive cyberwarfare, the use of proxies, covert operations, and maybe even the much maligned idea of a no-fly zone over parts of Ukraine, along with making it clear that we have more time, resources, and determination to wage and win this conflict than Putin does by amassing a sufficient military presence on NATO’s eastern flank.
The liberal international order—liberal in the political scientist’s sense, meaning advocacy of a free society—must show itself to be the stronger creed. It always has been, and Vladimir Putin’s disastrous overreach gives us the opportunity the demonstrate that to the world once again.