The skeptical school essentially thinks this whole situation might be a huge bluff: The Russians have deliberately set out to ‘scare the Americans,’ in order to create pressure on Ukraine to change its constitution as the Russians would like, or to put Putin at the center of international attention, or to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence inside old Soviet borders.Anne Applebaum on ukraine, the atlantic
Everyone from diplomats to foreign policy analysts to journalists have been asking the same question about the build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. “What is Vladimir Putin’s end game?” Unfortunately, most of the answers they come up with ignore recent history, specifically the past six years.
If Putin played baseball instead of hockey, he would not be satisfied with singles or doubles. Every time he steps up to the plate his goal is to knock it out of the park. And on more than one occasion, he has demonstrated he is willing to swing so hard he either achieves that goal or strikes out. Ukraine presents just that scenario.
Does anyone believe the Russian leader has forgotten his beloved Soviet Union dissolved in large part due to the occupation of Afghanistan? Or he does not know a NATO boycott of Russian oil would devastate an already struggling economy? Then why would he risk such a calamitous outcome for a few Russian-aligned residents of Ukraine or to deter NATO from welcoming Ukraine as the latest member of the western defense alliance? Putin not only plays the long game as evidenced by his multi-year grooming of the former guy (TFG) to be a Russian asset in the Oval Office, he plays the big game.
Knowing this, there is one and only one question the White House and media should be asking, “What has TFG promised Putin and vice versa for the next level of Western chaos that would follow a Russian incursion into Ukraine?” If you think this is beyond the pale, let me ask you the following question. “What do you think would put a big smile on Vladimir Putin’s face?”
- Watching TFG on every media outlet claim this would never have happened if he was still president and asking voters to remember that during the midterms.
- Putting the Biden White House in the position of either backing down on its promise to deal harshly with the Kremlin or having to convince a deeply divided electorate to financially or militarily support the Kyiv regime.
- Fomenting dissension within NATO over the appropriate response to Russian aggression.
- A GOP takeover of the House and Senate in the mid-terms ensuring minority rule for years to come.
- Setting the stage for a 2024 comeback by TFG.
- Increasing the return on investment from years of priming TFG to take center stage in the U.S. political arena.
- The end of American democracy as it has existed since 1789 and NATO since its 1949 inception.
- All of the above.
And there is only one way and one person who is in a position to help Putin realize his dreams. But what would TFG get in return? A chance to replace Tony Curtis as Harry Houdini in the remake of George Pal’s 1953 production of the magician’s life. Except in the 2022 version, Houdini escapes from the locked and chained safe and eludes accountability for all financial, political and moral sleights of hand and head.
For what it’s worth.