We have stepped into a new future. There are only two pathways forward.
This is a fantastic piece. JVL is Occam, again.
Powerful words. I hope you, and the rest of of us, have the strength to live up to them. I'd add one more item, or sub-item, to your list of things to be done. Chernobyl/Fukushima-shocked Western nations, Germany in particular, must resume nuclear power generation, in order to kick their Russian gas dependence and hit Putin with a boycott that hurts. That has costs and risks too, but they're the lesser evil. For climate's sake as well.
"Through no virtue of our own, we are being spared such a terribly hard road."
So we thought in 1941, as our isolationist nation watched our ally Britain go up in flames. Then, Pearl Harbor. I believe we will not be spared this time, either.
Thank you for your newsletter today about Putin and NATO. It was brilliant. I was born into a former Soviet satellite country - Poland. Your words as an American mean so much.
Re: Your closing lines about what we owe the world.
Per another publication this morning: Not long before the invasion began, Martha Raddatz, reporting from Ukraine for ABC News, received the following message from a Pentagon official...
"You are likely in the last few hours of peace on the European continent for a long time to come."
This likelihood is part of the price to be paid for ours' and other's past defaults in funding our national accounts of grace and determination, firmness, seriousness and resolve. How high the price will ultimately go is up to us. If we don't adequately fund these accounts forthwith and continue to keep them in the black, and 2+ years hence we allow a man back into power who has already bankrupted not only various businesses but an entire political party along with a sizable share of our culture and society, our prospects of future solvency as a truly functioning and whole democratic republic on this continent will most likely involve bankruptcy proceedings themselves. And they will be Chapter 7, not Chapter 11.
The bill for our decadence is due. I pray we find the means to pay it.
We need to assault people like Tucker Carlson with our opinions of his vile support for Russia. He is vile!
And don’t forget Romania. They have a new Russian-backed separatist movement now. I don’t see anything stopping the Russians from swallowing Ukraine whole, then Moldova, and finally an incursion into Romania, triggering Article 5. That’s what we’re facing if we keep acting like Russia has a historical right to any territory she likes.
Tom Nichols touched on this in the podcast with Charlie but did not follow it through.
The History of our species shows that often rulers come to power for whom there is no gradation of utility between complete success and annihilation of everything. That’s “apres moi le Deluge” or Hitler ordering the destruction first of Paris and then of Germany as he was losing.
If Hitler and Stalin had had the power in 1945 that the postwar erstwhile Allies had twenty years later, and it had been Hitler vs Stalin at the Cuban missile crisis, none of us would be here today.
This all comes down to how serious Putin is about his goals to re-subjugate all the former Soviet Union’s pieces, and re-extend hegemony over all the territories on the Russian Empire’s borders at its maximum historical extent. He warned us he plans to use nuclear weapons regardless of consequences rather than back down from this program.
A person in power for whom there is no intermediate preference between winning everything his ambition desires and the end of himself and the entire world is the nightmare fatal flaw in mutual assured destruction.
All my life between my birth and 1989 I lived in Michigan about 80 miles NW of Detroit, and few were the evenings I happened to glance to the East I did not wonder if in a moment I might see the flash of the nuclear detonations over Detroit and Toledo.
It won’t be that light Today if Putin is what I fear he is, and we don’t capitulate. It will be the EMP that takes out our electrical grid and our comms and our civilization.
He doesn’t think we won’t blink. But if we don’t blink he won’t care, because we will all die together.
But what about the truckers coming to DC to protest masks and restrictions? Fox will definitely see them as the bigger story. Their asininity is breathtaking.
"If we choose to oppose the new Russian order, it will be painful for us. It will hurt our economy. There may be cyber attacks impacting our daily lives. It will cost our government money we do not have. Our military will be deployed to places where they will serve as a tripwire against Putin’s aggression."
And herein lies the problem: the majority of Americans will not tolerate this self harm done on behalf of a nation they can't find on a map.
One of the two parties will undermine any effort by the sitting President simultaneously saying whatever he does is wrong, whatever he doesn't do is wrong, and that any success he actually makes is a failure. About half the country is prepared to install an American Caesar who will be an ally of Putin. And as you noted our allies KNOW this is more likely than a coin flip.
So I understand the concern but I really am unconvinced that the American people can muster the unity to confront Putin and Russia. Obviously the talking heads, the pundits, Twitterati and establishment political elites (and I don't mean that negatively) are all gung ho for this fight but not the people who will be voting against it. They will accept a sanctions regime only so long as it doesn't interfere with their lives. They don't care much about their own democracy why on earth would they care about Ukraine's?
God I hope so but I have no confidence in the acuity of the Deity and still less in the non-insanity of homo so-called sapiens
Well written as always Sir, but I personally believe the two rational outcomes are not the only ones. There's also the unexpected and that, which shall not be named ... escalation. One errant missile taking down a NATO asset, especially from the trigger happy commercial airplane shooting crowd there, would require a NATO tit for tat and that kind of dynamic is a slippery slope landing right on those tactical nukes. That's what keeps me awake. If things spiral out of control, then that will surely be visible from 30K feet and we might finally understand the answer to the Fermi paradox. So, I hope those procedural mitigations are in place ... After all, it's not what Putin necessarily wants that happens in the fog of war.
A calm, sobering assessment, to be sure but it spares us the essence of the brutality we may witness and may, at some point, have visited upon us. Tom Nichols Peacefield newsletter describes the worst case scenario and, given the irrational decision-making we have witnessed, not beyond the realm of the possible.
What will you miss the most if it comes to that?
JVL, Thank you for the clarity of your message. I only wish our leaders would provide the same.
The coda is lovely-elegant and simple. I hope we can be serious people again. Enough with the cosplay.
Opening the armories by Saddam Hussein made the US occupation unworkable over time.. We will see how it plays out here.