This is part 1. For other parts in this series:
For the sake of laying out the filter I'm working through, I'll first lay out the following: Putin is a thug. Given the environment in Russia, how could he not be? He'd have to be effective and ruthless to gain the respect and obedience of the crowd at the top of Russian society in the 90's. So yes, I'm also sure that some of his building churches and justifications for launching this war - make no mistake - is in part self-serving.
He's also a competent thug. One who through consistent action has demonstrated that he considers and works toward strengthening the resolve, spirit, and culture of the people he rules. And through those same actions wants that culture and those people to be in the same page. And he wants Russia to be respected, a great power on the world stage.
There are of course idiots - many who mocked a candidate but a few elections ago for not giving up the cold war in seeing Russia as a threat - who now see Russians as bad when they don't want to actually take over the world. Worse - their very mindset cripples them to understand that there is a very wide boundary within which Russia can maintain it's security, influence world affairs, and be a respected power without trying to conquer Europe, much less the world.
As to the conflict in Ukraine, and the degree to which Putin's actions may be self-serving... so?
And this is where I start getting confused. Not so much be the facts on the ground, but by the fact that one doesn't have to hear a word of Russian propaganda or news to know that things are not as they seem. Granted, one may need some understanding of history, and the nature of war.
In no particular order:
- Russians are bogged down
- Russians are targeting civilians
- Nuclear plant
- There are no Nazis
- Putin lied to his own soldiers
- Putin is crazy
- Where is "ze"
- Snake island
- Ghost of Kiev
- Laws of War and Cluster Bombs
- Standards and Principles
- Cancel culture
- Security concerns
Last, first, I guess. A simple look at the growth of NATO the last 30 years, and the bases surrounding Russia on every front, should be enough to make one wonder what the hell NATO is up to. Why are they even a thing after 1992? "To prevent Russian incursions like this!"
A 1st world continent with strong industries and an overall population much larger than Russia can't manage to defend themselves? I get, with the EU, extending that to a military alliance, but why are we involved? Did we learn nothing from how the Great War blew up? From the Monroe Doctrine?
Sure, maybe Putin would have found another reason. Given how the US reacted to the prospect of nukes in Cuba, by not even acknowledging the security concerns, or any consideration of the Russian position if we were in their shoes, all we did was hand him an excuse. And we certainly didn't see fit to care. End of history, and all that.
Speaking of which. Without reading too deeply into "New World Order" - those in charge of NATO and the west have very much wanted to create a western liberal centric system of how the world will be managed - and an independent Russia, or any country, that doesn't hew to those principles simply doesn't fit and cannot exist. The world must be made safe for democracy, after all. Whatever those deciding what "democracy" means say it means, and if we break a few omelets on the way?
One wonders how they would do that without eliminating the things that aren't "democracy". Without subsuming and plowing under the cultures and people's that won't play their part nicely. It's basically required, if we're to buy into this end of history, world run by liberal democracies.
The thing is, someone will be in charge of all of that, with no competition at a global scale. One way or another, tragedy of the commons will rear its ugly head, and a world where everyone is special ensures no-one is. Except the handful at the top, utterly unaccountable.
So, again, an alliance composed of people with a worldview that requires global domination keeps edging closer. And closer. Ignoring previous promises the whole time. Until they aim to take over a flat and easy path straight into the Russian heartland.
This is provocation. This is like the classic school bully, or typical mean girl, operating just below the threshold to get teach's attention, tormenting a target until he lashes out, and then blames him for "swinging first" while conveniently ignoring how they provoked the response. Incidentally, as I was mulling over these and drafting this reply, Jon Mollison brought up this point as well.
It's shocking how many self-defense cases there are where the only shot fired was the person defending themselves. Why? Because it is fully possible to reasonably be in fear of one's life, existence, or grave harm, without receiving a single blow, cut, or bullets.
Why none of the above, especially the Cuban crisis comparison, registers with many is a puzzle. Maybe because as a long-time wargamer (vice the typically eurogamer/crappy RPG style "gamer" these days), getting into the head of the other side, knowing their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations, was all part of what you had to learn to do. If you didn't, you lost. Given the popularity of condemning shooters for shooting "unarmed men" that were attacking, and even beating them, plus the attitude-in-practice at schools that "violence" (physical force) is never justified, ignoring social and other lower-grade torment, at least until a kid kills himself, it likely shouldn't be a surprise that true provocation isn't understood either.
One of the first steps in seeing the other side is taking it seriously - and I've long pointed out how the progressive side of the aisle assumes that everyone else is just like us, and that every bit of pushback we get is just a bluff, a negotiating position to jockey for power. They can't possibly mean it when they say they hate us for porn and degeneracy, right? Those people in the English countryside voted for Brexit because they hadn't had a good dose of what foreigners were really like, and all the wonders they bring, ignoring how Rotherham got the foreign culture good and hard.
There are no truths and principles, and what is said is simply jockeying for power.
I'll return for more - this is already long enough - but before I go, I want to point out another excellent recent post by Jon Mollison, related to the above on wargaming, and insight into how motives affect choices based on means available.
In the end, the phrase I use most about my attitude towards what is going on is "what did we think was going to happen?"
Because if we actually gave any credence to what the Russians repeatedly told us their motives were, everything else was inevitable as the tides.