25 February 2022   Leave a comment

I am now 0 for 3 in predictions. I never thought Trump would win the election in 2016 nor did I think that Britain would pass Brexit. And now Russian President Putin has massively invaded Ukraine with the apparent intent of changing the government and replacing Ukrainian President Zelensky with a Russian puppet. I thought that by now those who run governments would have understood that overthrowing a government is easy, but occupying a nation is impossible. The US should have learned this lesson when it permitted Vietnamese President Diem to be murdered in 1963 or when it overthrew the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 or when it overthrew the government of Iraq in 2003 or when it allowed Kaddafi to be murdered in Libya in 2011. The Russians should have learned his lesson when it overthrew the Afghanistan government in 1979 or when it repressed governments in East Germany in 1953 or Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968. It appears as if governments are incapable of learning bad lessons when they get drunk on illusions of military power.

There is an argument that Putin has lost his marbles after 22 years in power. I reject these types of arguments. “Crazy” is an impossible analytic framework and very rarely explains much. So I assume that Putin was rational when he decided to invade Ukraine. But he obviously thought the exercise would work. But I cannot fathom why he thinks that installing a puppet regime in Ukraine will serve Russian interests. Such a government would never have the support of the Ukrainian people and thus will be difficult to govern. And a weak government will not be able to reconstruct the damage done to Ukraine which means that Russia will have to shoulder that burden, as Putin has probably learned from the annexation of Crimea. According to the Brookings Institute:

“Trying to create a success story, Moscow has poured in more than $10 billion in direct subsidies as well as funding major construction and infrastructure projects, such as the highway and railroad bridges that now cross the Kerch Strait to link Crimea directly to Russia. On the other hand, small business has suffered, particularly with the decline in tourism, which once accounted for about one quarter of Crimea’s economy. Crimea also remains subject to a variety of Western economic and other sanctions. It is probably fair to say that the reality of the economic situation today falls short of what many in Crimea expected, or hoped for, with Russia’s annexation.”

Ukraine under a puppet government will constitute a serious economic drain on Russian resources and the Russian people can ill afford to see money spent on improving the welfare of others. According to Business Insider: “Despite Russia’s size and wealth in raw materials, its economy is more on par with Brazil than with nations like Germany, France, and the UK, according to the latest nominal GDP data from the World Bank. According to the World Bank, Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s and South Korea’s, two nations with less than half of Russia’s population.”

The sad thing is that the Ukrainian people will continue to suffer quickly while the Russian people will suffer slowly. But military intervention by any state to repel the Russian invasion will vastly amplify the suffering of far too many innocents, so we are only left with tragic choices.

The lesson of this post is that no one should pay any attention to my predictions. As atonement for my sins, here is some beautiful music for a winter’s day.

Posted February 25, 2022 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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