Going back two years, nothing has been going according to plan for me, nor for you. Our plans for health safety, personal freedom, travel, shopping and much more, were upended by Covid.
Vladimir Putin claims his assault on his neighboring country is “going according to plan.” But, Ukrainians have been putting up a fierce fight, far short of the hearty welcome he said he was expecting. And, even his global “friend” China abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly’s condemnation of Russia’s actions against the Ukraine. Abstention from the second most powerful economy and power in the 21 Century sends a powerful message of caution for the Russian autocrat. China didn’t veto.
Now in power for 20 years, in pursuit of a futile dream of reassembling the original pre-1989 Soviet Union, this is looking like anything but “according to plan.” It’s looking like a massive miscalculation, likely to mark the beginning of his autocratic decline.
No matter whether he succeeds in destroying and conquering the Ukraine, his mission appears to portend the likely end of his absolute control of his country and also his influence over other countries. A very heavy toll will be exacted by Western powers, and those won’t end when the fighting ends. His home popularity will certainly wane as his countrymen suffer from the Western response to his autocratic decisions. Money, prices, food, movies, etc. for the common folk. Yachts, villas, foreign bank accounts and travel for oligarchs–and their families.
One is reminded of the later years of Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror. What are the Russian generals and oligarchs really thinking? What are they telling him–only what they think he wants to hear? What are their motives? I assume those motives are fear of reprisal if he succeeds, and hoped continued protection of their finances. They have to know this is not “going according to plan.” They have to know how it went in War Crimes trials for those serving Hitler.
And, for all of us, it’s not going according to plan. We were expecting to start about now to enjoy “normal” lives, due to the decline of Covid viruses. We were hoping to go to the theatre, discard our masks, dine out, and travel to our favored next destinations, which for some might have included Russia or the Ukraine, or neighboring countries. Not going to happen. Instead, we’re going to have to pay more at the pump.
What is the best response for civilized humanity? How to help? What can our wealthy nation do?
- We could install a no-fly zone immediately, along with allies. If NATO won’t authorize and support, there are provisions in the UN Charter to enable such a decision. Some fear this would trigger a nuclear war, but the President of the Ukraine is asking for that, and he knows the odds. Furthermore, Russians have already risked equivalent destruction by their wanton shelling of two nuclear reactors in the Ukraine. It is time to take action. And, we can send weapons, along with those of our allies–fast!
2. We certainly can fly hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians out of Poland to the US. We are better prepared to host them temporarily, than are the neighboring countries. We have the apparatus for the visa process, learned from evacuating Afghanistan refugees.
3. We can contribute our $ to help the people of the Ukraine. That takes discretion as to what charitable organizations to trust, and worry as to how long it will take for the money to get there. That shouldn’t prevent contributing. Let’s do it!
If we did this, all of these, the hoped for result is that any military action continuing would have to be ground only, and the US would only risk its share of drones, aircraft, and airmen, along with those of allies, closely coordinated. Losses for western allies would be limited. Russia would have to fight a ground war with people who are fighting for their country and their freedom, along with their homes and possessions. Refugees would sleep in warm beds with food for their families while their futures are decided.
And, Vladimir Putin would likely see the beginning of the end of his mismanaged and personally aggrandizing control of a great country, and a chance for it to be great again…
… just not his way.