It will soon (we hope) become a pastime of armchair generals and amateur historians to discuss endlessly whether there has ever been a more vicious, psychotic, or incompetent military operation — special or otherwise — in the history of the world than Putin’s War. If the current president of Russia wanted to ensure that his name would always be remembered as a byword for pure evil, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
As of this writing, even conservative estimates of Russia’s losses in less than a month of fighting against the outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian defenders put them at roughly ten to fifteen percent of the original 190,000 troops committed to the invasion. Higher estimates put the losses at almost thirty percent. A “rule of thumb” in military science is that losses of 20-30% render a unit “ineffective,” and whoever is in charge should “seriously consider” surrender or retreat.
|The Fifth Horseman: Insanity
The fact that Putin’s forces so quickly went from “liberating” Ukraine to what can only be described as genocide suggests that everyone except Putin is fully aware that at this point the only liberated Ukrainian will be a dead Ukrainian — if the Russian army lasts that long. Putin created the entire situation, from his instigating and funding separatist movements, through the annexation of Crimea, to the present charnel house. Instead of undermining the Ukrainian people, however, he has brought them together as never before.
There now remain three questions after setting the stage with the previous postings in this series, “Putin’s Problems,” “Before and After,” and “Russia’s Moral and Financial Default.” One, how could this have been avoided? Two, what can be done now? Three, what should be done to rebuild once the Russians have given up and gone home?
Could this have been avoided? Most certainly. Back when the Soviet Union fell, there was a great deal of talk about how to restructure the economy. This writer put forward a proposal, the Center for Economic and Social Justice worked with Solidarność, the Polish Solidarity Union (and 40,000 copies of the Polish edition of Every Worker an Owner were distributed through Solidarność channels), and members of CESJ even spoke to the Russian national Dumas committee on privatization.
It was to no avail. The powers-that-be listened to the Wall Street “experts” and the country ended up with a kleptocracy. Putin himself may be one of the richest — if not the richest — man in the world, every kopek of which was stolen or extorted . . . mostly from other thieves, admittedly, but it still ended up in Putin’s pocket.
|Lifestyles of the Rich & Despicable
How would the Just Third Way of Economic Personalism have prevented the invasion of Ukraine? Given that the whole thing is evidently Putin’s project from start to finish, anything that prevented Putin from gaining so much wealth and power would have prevented the invasion of Ukraine, both now and in 2014. When property is widely distributed throughout a society, so is political power; as Daniel Webster noted more than 200 years ago, “Power naturally and necessarily follows property.” An economically independent citizenry is a politically independent citizenry, and Putin either would never have been president in the first place, or would never have been able to amass the wealth — and thus power — he now enjoys.
What about now? How would Economic Personalism help the current situation?
Mostly moral (and morale) at the moment, but it could still be powerful. If Zelenskyy were to announce that the rebuilding of Ukraine would be done in a way that would directly benefit every child, woman, and man in the country without taking a dime from any other country, it would give people more incentive to resist and the Russians less incentive to continue. As has been known for thousands of years, people tend to pay more attention to what they own than to what they don’t. As Plutarch related in his Life of Tiberius Gracchus,
“The savage beasts,” said he, “in Italy, have their particular dens, they have their places of repose and refuge; but the men who bear arms, and expose their lives for the safety of their country, enjoy in the meantime nothing more in it but the air and light; and having no houses or settlements of their own, are constrained to wander from place to place with their wives and children.” He told them that the commanders were guilty of a ridiculous error, when, at the head of their armies, they exhorted the common soldiers to fight for their sepulchres and altars; when not any amongst so many Romans is possessed of either altar or monument, neither have they any houses of their own, or hearths of their ancestors to defend. They fought indeed, and were slain, but it was to maintain the luxury and the wealth of other men. They were styled the masters of the world, but in the meantime had not one foot of ground which they could call their own. A harangue of this nature, spoken to an enthusiastic and sympathizing audience, by a person of commanding spirit and genuine feeling, no adversaries at that time were competent to oppose.
The Ukrainians would then not only be fighting for their country as patriots, they would be fighting to defend everything they owned or hoped to own. The Russians would still be fighting for . . . Putin, so that he can wear his $150,000 watches, live in his $1.3 billion dacha, lock up their friends and relatives, destroy the economy, and send them to their deaths so he can sneer at them and call them traitors and scum . . . if their bodies aren’t cremated or hidden in secret mass graves to avoid political fallout.
That’s why what should be done is to assure the Russians that once they get rid of Putin and withdraw from ALL the occupied territories and make reparation, a condition would be added to the peace settlement that Russia must adopt a similar program to spread economic and thus political power out among the Russian people — and the rest of the world, too, for that matter.
A further condition (or suggestion, really) is that a global Manhattan Project-type effort must be made to develop fusion power and other non-fossil fuel sources of energy as fast as possible.
Now, as to some specifics, we’ll cover that in the next posting on this subject.