Hello Fellow Patriots:
I have eight infrequently discussed theories on why the war in Ukraine is taking place.
- Because Putin can
- Putin uses wars to solidify his power and control
- Putin needs war to test his weapons
- Putin needs war to keep his fighting forces formidable
- Putin uses war to enhance his stature in the world
- Putin believes he can obtain certain political and economic objectives only through war
- Putin is testing his belief that the West is decadent, in decline, and can only focus its attention for so long
- Putin has never tasted failure
Because Putin Can:
Few of us live lives of white or black, true or false, seeing things in the context of success or failure with no middle ground. Putin does. Putin is very much a student of history. He does not love or hate like so many of us do. He’s a logician that understands that nature abhors a vacuum and like nature does, he fills vacuums. Putin perceives a weakness in the world that is exploitable. That’s why he is in Syria, that’s why he is in Kazakhstan and several other smaller countries, mostly in Asia. Ukraine has natural resources that Putin wants; that’s one significant reason of several as to why he invaded. That theme repeats itself wherever you see Russian military force being applied. Either the specific nation has natural resources or they control access to them.
Ask yourself why is Russia being so brutal? First, military doctrine as classically understood is about killing people and breaking things. Check. The West is much more nuanced about war and protecting non-belligerents. This has proven to be costly for us, prolongs war, and ultimately has largely been unsuccessful. The brutal truth is that this is the only way he can wage war and win. He lacks the resources that America has to stay at war forever. It was costing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2 billion dollars a week at some point in Afghanistan. Putin understands he can’t afford that kind of cost, and in the end, in conducting a forever war, we lost anyway. He believes in fighting his wars the old-fashioned way because it can achieve his objectives more economically and faster. At least that’s what he likely believed at the start of this conflict which he doesn’t even allow his press to call it war under penalty of imprisonment.
Putin Uses Wars to Solidify His Power and Control
Back to that brutality thing. Study how Putin runs his political apparatus at home. It can be very hard to understand the unique setup that allows Putin to stay in power and control his population. Like in 1984, Putin depends on keeping his population misinformed and seeks to destroy any political opposition or differing political thematics. He imprisons his enemies, kills disloyal individuals outright, and empowers over 200 oligarchs to economically run Russia according to his desires. It also helps to be able to simply order these oligarchs to send him money when he demands it! https://foreignpolicyi.org/vladimir-putins-net-worth/
Anyone wanting to effect change in Russia knows the risk they are taking; so, few actually will take the risk. More brutal, the better, as far as Putin is concerned. Russian Mafia, major hacking conglomerates, and various other supporting evil doers all swear an oath of fealty to Putin; or they would cease to exist. Putin runs what amounts to a vast criminal enterprise because he can. War is simply an extension of his internal killing, poisoning, disappearing, and imprisoning of his enemies. Note that Putin has executed various political leaders in Ukraine recently. https://www.businessinsider.com/head-of-mi6-ukraine-executions-part-of-putins-invasion-plan-2022-4?op=1
Putin needs war to test his weapons:
It’s in his playbook. Russia was in a steep decline economically from right after the dissolution of the USSR until the West reinvigorated its oil and gas fields. We created a resurgent Russia. https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/24/business/exxon-bp-shell-russia-oil/index.html Until relatively recently, Russia was unable financially to assert itself to any significant degree on the world stage that it covets. Russia has aggressively played its energy card to its advantage at the expense of the West.
Russia has spent rapidly on advanced technology to deter and defeat the West in some future confrontation. Putin is spending big on a range of technologies including nuclear-powered cruise missiles, hypersonics, stealth aircraft, and first strike weapons such as a hundred megaton underwater nuclear-powered torpedo designed to create massive tsunamis to inundate our coasts. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/carrier-killer-or-overkill-russia-built-100-megaton-nuclear-torpedo-190808 This is not science fiction. It’s diabolical and ultimately clever for someone who has no morality except for the pursuit of victory at any cost. Are we even forming a clever response to what you can see Putin is thinking about? How can he kill massive amounts of Americans cheaply and effectively? We are not even playing the same game as he is. The US has already been defeated so far, through a lack of focus and determination. That must change; but will it?
Putin Needs War to Keep his Fighting Forces Formidable
It is now obvious, with at least 20,000 dead Russians that Putin wildly miscalculated the current war in Ukraine. Let me let you in on a macabre fact. Militaries that don’t go to war regularly lose their ability to conduct successful war. On paper, the European armed forces are very formidable. In actuality, their ability to kit out for war is limited. Let me give you a couple of hard to believes:
- The Dutch army is unionized and can’t be called out to fight without consulting their unions. https://www.liquisearch.com/armed_forces_of_the_netherlands/unionized_military
- Switzerland Air Force is off on the weekends. You can’t make this stuff up! https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/feb/19/swiss-air-force-ethiopian-airlines-hijacking-office-hours
- Germany does not have enough bombs and bullets to go to war if it happened on short notice. https://sofrep.com/specialoperations/germanys-military-readiness-is-considered-abysmal-despite-vow-to-nato/
Have I made my point? For better or for worse, even though we have recently seen Congress trying to experiment socially with our military, we’re a better fighting force due to the continued number of engagements we have been involved with throughout the world. Sad, but true.
Putin watches us closely. He does not model his forces on us. Instead, he looks at our weaknesses and strategies. He politically and tactically seeks to find an advantage over the West anytime he can. He has discovered recently that theory can only be proved right or wrong on the battlefield. Without military experience on the field of battle, you are only a paper tiger. He is learning that lesson again at a very high cost to his people, military, and the previous world view of the 10-foot-tall Russian soldier. https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/rusi-defence-systems/just-how-tall-are-russian-soldiers
Putin Uses War to Enhance his Place in the World:
Sun Tzu, in The Art of War famously said “Know Your Enemy to Gain Advantage”. https://www.shortform.com/blog/know-your-enemy/ One of those advantages is to be so feared that your enemy will surrender without a fight. That was the strategic doctrine that Putin employed in his war with Ukraine at the start. He expected a 3-to-7-day war with mass defections of Ukrainian soldiers, a collapse of support for President Zelensky, and for Zelensky himself, a former comedian to be ineffectual and nothing more than a fool. He was wrong on all counts.
Right idea, wrong implementation. Had Putin been successful in his strategy, it would have changed the calculus for Russia going forward. Putin, much like Genghis Kahn carefully curates an image of someone you would not like to tangle with. Violence, brutality, torture, and even rapes are carefully and precisely encouraged to strike fear into Russia’s enemies. Putin wants you to think of him and Russia as ruthless, unstoppable, and worse. All to deter its enemies from standing up to it and to carve out outsize advantages through such thinking. Fairness is not part of his DNA. I fear that having unmasked Russia as something much less than his ambition would have you think, makes him more dangerous than ever. The West has hold of a wounded tiger; a very dangerous position to be in. You can’t let go now or that tiger will likely kill you! We will have to play out a most dangerous hand.
Putin Believes He Can Obtain Certain Political and Economic Objectives Only Through War:
Weakness. Putin thrives and lives off the weakness of others. Whether domestic or international, Putin seeks advantage in the weakness of others. Except for its nuclear weapons, Russia is a second-rate nation by almost every metric. The GDP of Russia is less than that of South Texas. https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2018/04/17/which-has-the-bigger-economy-texas-or-russia/?sh=37d38ac170b9 Threatening war, veto power in the UN, and constant general Sabre rattling is Putin’s tried and true method to get what he wants through intimidation and deceit. With the West always willing to loan money to him and his cronies, always willing to grant him this or that concession, Putin takes everything he can get and rails against those that would deny him what he wants. It’s been an effective strategy for him.
Ultimately, he’s willing to spill Russian blood in the pursuit of his larger objectives; of which Ukraine is not the main focus, but an appetizer to the main course, the destruction of NATO politically and militarily. Putin was also very aware of NATO’s problems before the invasion of Ukraine. He felt he had a good chance of not only winning Ukraine but also his wider goal of emasculating and castrating NATO. Putin forgot one of the fundamental rules of war…no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. This revealed Putin’s war machine’s ultimate weakness. Running a war directed by the Kremlin, with loyalty as the most important measurement over competence, is doomed to failure as we have seen recently. A command-and-control system has its limits. Russian morale is low, logistics seems to be an afterthought, and the complete failure of Russia to dominate the skies has doomed him so far. The problem with dictators is that they frequently don’t learn their lessons. We’ll see if Russia changes its tactics and salvages a modicum of success in Ukraine. They definitely have completely lost the war against NATO.
Putin is Testing His Belief that the West is Decadent, in Decline, and Can Only Focus its Attention for a Limited Time:
It is the last part of the above statement that I want to focus my attention on. I have to agree with Putin, at least partially, that we are decadent and in decline. Success has in fact weakened our resolve, discipline, morals, and other measurements of a society’s health. But I think we’ll pull through if we discover and correct, at least to a degree, these failings. It’s our attention span that bothers me the most.
As a society, we are too distracted by shiny things, self-esteem, and a decidedly lazy population, measured both in effort and pleasure-seeking. That’s not a good thing. I believe Putin is banking on America to grow weary of this war, no matter how awful it gets. It’s a form of battle fatigue. Both the media and our political leaders will eventually move on. The only way forward is to supply Ukraine with the decisive tools they need to bring this war to a close on better terms than Putin would willingly offer. The signs that we are willing to do so don’t portend well. There are too many things Biden and some NATO members withhold on fears of a wider war. They are wrong. History is replete with failed gestures, strategies, and tactics that don’t shut down aggressors in their tracks. Let there never be any doubt where we stand; it should be all or nothing, in for a penny, in for a pound. That’s what history reveals over and over again.
Putin Has Never Tasted Failure:
This is simple. That clever rascal has played chess better than his opponents so far. Throughout his career, Putin has figured out how to come out on top, through any means necessary. And, he’s gotten away with it…until now. There’s an expression that says “They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.” The West has started to congratulate itself already on how they have comported themselves in this evolving war crime. I strongly caution those that are almost ready to break out the champagne glasses though. War must, by its nature be all or nothing. Trying to measure the aid we are giving Ukraine out of fear of proportionality or other specious rationales is dangerous.
We must defeat Putin on the battlefield. He can not escape only to have him pop back up at someplace of his choosing. We must put a stake through his proverbial heart so he will plague us no more. Don’t we understand that? Putin must not only taste failure, he must experience it and be consumed by his failures. The decency of good people living or dead owes him something less than a sweet farewell. He must be made an example of.
What Putin has started; the West must end. We are at a moment of inflection. My friends know me as the eternal optimist. If we destroy this devil, it will be a well-lit signpost for the rest of the world that clearly implies that there is no room for dictators, war crimes, genocide, and unjust war in general anymore. If we take the right road, this world will be much calmer, less dangerous, and generally a much better place to live and prosper than at present. Yes, the United States does have a special role in ensuring an end to the suffering of others by providing the conditions for all to prosper. Do you think we would allow some nation to start up the slave trade all over again? Why let dictators wage unjust war then? The United Nations needs an overhaul. It has been completely ineffective at calming the world and preventing outrages. It is feckless and self-involved. I don’t think it can be reformed. That leaves us as the ultimate guarantor of freedom, democracy, and keeping the bullies of the world from doing their worst.
I hope you think about these thoughts.
God Bless America and especially at this time of extreme suffering in Ukraine.
Allan J. Feifer