YOU have to own wrong calls. I wrote last week that I didn’t believe Putin would launch a shooting invasion of Ukraine. It wasn’t a guess. I thought about advantages and disadvantages, the probable costs to Russia – the realpolitic, in other words – and concluded Putin’s real objective was twofold: first, to test the extent of the West’s post-Trump strategic disorganisation and feebleness – though both were justifiably taken as read; and second, to incrementally undermine Ukraine from without until its national independence was extinguished. Now, maybe he wasn’t certain a General Patton response wouldn’t come and only made the decision to invade when he saw the yellows of Biden’s eyes. Either way, I underestimated the Russian President’s liquid resolve.
Besides which, how could a man as canny and ruthless as Putin fail to exploit a ‘Leader of the Free World’ who is not just dilapidated but a degenerate? Michael Costa tonight described Joe Biden as the worst American President in history. Count the ways: as Ukrainian mothers wondered if their sons and daughters would survive the week, the US President was thinking of himself. “We need to be honest,” he lied, and accept that the invasion caused Joe-flation. A revanchist pseudo-Czar only gets one Joe Biden in a lifetime and Vladimir Putin has had his. The two men are equals, morally, but Putin has an edge – only measurable by micrometer, granted – for sincerity. I don’t believe the United States can survive as a recognisable iteration of itself if Biden remains in office till January, 2024. Compare this situation to, say, 1982. Had Ronald Reagan become incapacitated in that year, George H.W. Bush was ready to step in.
Greg Sheridan quoted Jim Molan yesterday saying that when the odds are impossible, soldiers still choose to fight and die – and that their sacrifice is purposeful in the longer historical campaign for liberation. As a mediocre Catholic (and that’s flattering myself), I hear John 15:13 in the sentiment but I also know just war doctrine well enough to know that military leaders may not commit troops to battle unless there are “serious prospects of success.” There are no such prospects in Ukraine. I therefore hope some semblance of order can be established there quickly so as to avoid savageries and vendettas. I have no idea how realistic that is. As for my remarks on the moral degradation of the West and the foolishness of NATO, they stand.