There is a lot of news that Vladimir Putin misjudged the war he started in Ukraine because he acted on misinformation. Corruption’s offspring is not truth.
And, day-to-day it is said he is told what others believe he wants to hear. Or he is told what his most senior officials believe will save their jobs or maybe lives. In short, credentialed commentators imagine Putin is living in a wonderland conjured by fools, incompetents and cowards.
I must imagine too. But, the reports about Russia’s military strength is often told in the currency of intelligence. Regardless I know that wars of choice are not wars of honest grievance. They are radically self-indulgent and for a leader whose country spans nine time zones like Russia to invade a much smaller opponent is an act of cowardice.
So how do self-indulgent cowards respond to calls for peace? Inevitably they say, “what is my prize, I must have a prize.” President Biden was right: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” Because, that is the way the war against the Ukraine will end.
While we are imagining can you imagine a peace resolution that the Ukrainians will support if Putin gets his prize? Remember, Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised that the only peace treaty that will be approved is one Ukrainians will support in a vote.
So back at you President Biden. You were right, now you must lead—lead the coalition against Russia to become a true ally with Ukraine to defeat Putin in the Ukraine. I use the word coalition because to say the West leaves out Japan and Australia and South Korea among others. And a peaceful world is not a regional one.
So what is to be done? Advanced weapons, for sure. Training, if needed. Fighter jets, if needed. Squeezing even further the supply of technology Russia buys from others to manufacture its weapons. And when it comes to sanctions Bloomberg reports that only 50% of Russia’s oligarchs are being penalized. And diplomatic pressure should be intensified toward China and India and their claimed neutrality.
In short the World that believes in a World order must by its actions say enough. Because, if for no other reason, this is now a war against the defenseless. The images from the areas around Kiev, from which the Russians have now evacuated, are horrendous.
Nobody doubts that the Ukrainians who have taken the battlefield have won against Russian conscripts who now fight to defend themselves, not for the glory of Putin. And who knows what fighter pilots and artillery troops who are attacking civilians are being told.
But, Putin knows. You are right President Biden, “For God’s sake….! The next stop should be the criminal courts in The Hague.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.