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Democracy under threat (1)

I am worried as to where the world is heading. We are witnessing a proxy war between the United States and Russia brought on by Putin’s unconscionable invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that has impacted the whole world. Life-threatening food shortages, destabilizing oil prices, energy shortages in Europe, trade disruption, inflation hurting everyone, recession looming in many places, and democracy under threat. This is not just a war between Russia and Ukraine, let alone a “special military operation” as Putin perversely declares it. It is a war between Russia and the world. Or, more correctly, between Putin and the world. And the world must stop him.

Putin must be stopped, by any means. As far as I’m concerned, legitimate or illegitimate. I wouldn’t mind at all if a movie-style SWAT team took him down. One man for the tens of thousands slaughtered by him is a very acceptable price. More realistically, the people of Russia should rise up and overthrow him in a people power revolution. But to do that, the West needs to find a way to get the truth out to the Russian public. In today’s hugely sophisticated internet world surely this should be possible. If Russia is to rejoin the community of nations, its people must revolt and elect a truly democratic leader. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look very likely now, he retains firm control. Until he falls, Russia will remain a pariah, shunned by much of the world. China and India are worrying outliers.

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He has lost this war. He may take over a part or even, far less likely, the whole of Ukraine. But the way it’s going, that will take many months, some say even years to be concluded. And once he has taken control, the Ukrainians will continue to fight as insurrectionists. He’ll have territory that can’t be governed. It’s what happens when that realization sinks into his deranged mind that particularly worries me.

What is emerging is that you can’t measure a war by the number of soldiers, tanks, artillery, or even by the brilliance of its strategies. All those count but what you have to also take into account is something that can’t be measured: motivation. When you have a highly motivated, confident army determined to win at all costs fighting a demoralized, disenchanted one wondering what they’re doing there anyway, the odds shift substantially. This human factor is and will continue to make a discernable difference—provided the Ukrainians are sufficiently well equipped. The $40 billion from the US and donations of weaponry from nearly everyone in the Nato will help correct the huge imbalance between what Russian soldiers are armed with and what the Ukrainians have. But the Ukrainian soldiers need the weaponry, ammunition, and equipment provided, as well as more urgent training. Properly equipped, you have a war it would seem Putin can’t win.

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But, as I’ve said before, Putin is a rat trapped in a corner. And, like a rat, may well lash out in horrific ways. The absolute worst of course is if he drops a nuclear bomb — small or large it doesn’t matter. Using a nuclear weapon completely changes the situation in a very fundamental, and entirely unacceptable way. I’ve seen nothing that has said what the West’s reaction will be. And I can’t really figure out what it might be. If he drops a bomb everything changes. The options seem to lead to Armageddon. It’s a horrific possibility, small but it is on the table.

The bottom line must be, as President Joe Biden has said, that Putin and his army must be brought to a position where he is no longer capable of waging any war. As a nonsequitur aside, Biden must also ensure Donald Trump is no longer capable of winning the US presidency if the world is not to be doubly threatened. The end game is not clear at this point. Whichever way it goes, Ukraine and the West will have to learn to live with a weakened and humiliated autocratic Russia.

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TAGS: democracy under threat, Like It Is, Russia-Ukraine war, Vladimir Putin
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