When a madman is at loose expect many Critical Moments. That’s why Russia’s war with Ukraine is a series of near disasters and an equal number of opportunities. Sociopaths do reach high office. Their cunning – which partly describes them – and their pathological fixation on what they want to achieve are a formidable combination, since both are so obscure that they are difficult to see. Do not worry about the leader with John Wayne bravado. He will trip himself up. Watch the cool, unsmiling person who has yet to realise that life is mostly a joke – and always better treated as one. Have pity on that person. Theirs is a sad and dangerous existence.
The world is now faced with a madman. He’s not the only one. There are people on both sides who are certifiable, but Putin is driving the van. There are likely to be many cut corners before the final crash. And there will certainly be many top meetings of opponents to discuss what to do. At present the much needed leadership of the west is missing but there are signs of President Biden stepping up to the rostrum. The next move has to be a serious decision, of course, but I think it has to be a quick one, too. The fact that the Ukrainian army is doing such a splendid job should not allow us to forget that until forces alien to the concept of democracy are crystal clear about democracy’s determination not to be suppressed there can be no peace.
Every top meeting that gathers reaffirms the state of mind of those who want freedom. Ill defined as it is, freedom is something we recognise when we lose it. When we have it we accept it with little thought. That is why those sponsoring autocracy forget that its price is a heavy burden of controls and arbitrary judgments that destroy the meaning of fair and the concept of free. Freedom has to be guarded all the time. Every parliamentary bill is a potential denial of freedom; every law enforcement has the risk of autocracy. These are day to day matters for which we almost totally fail to prepare the young as part of their education. The Freedom of Facebook and the Luxury of LinkedIn demand that we quickly pay much more attention to educating for democratic governance. Only by doing this will we avoid the next (Ukrainian) war with its threat of lurching into World War III. This threat is no hollow thought. We may indeed be near it already.
However, we must not forget that two world wars were entered into too late. You can’t wait for the playground bully to disembowel half the pupils before stopping him or her. At the first sign you stop the wickedness. The weapons we have today are far more damaging than those of the earlier two World Wars. The risk of swift retaliation is greater. It is possible that such a conflict could destroy the planet totally and finish the human race. On the other hand, the swift removal of the cause of all the present trouble involves taking out one person. I cannot believe that the might of the West’s intelligence and weaponry doesn’t allow this single swift action. Maybe it is being planned but there are no suggestions of that yet.
Practically it means helping the Ukrainians much more than we are doing.
And much more effectively – and much more quickly.
How would you decide the next step in the Putin War?
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