Monday, February 28, 2022

The U.S. and NATO must fight

The U.S. and NATO must fight

(Coauthored with Elizabeth Fama)

Why are we — the U.S., NATO, the civilized western world — not fighting for Ukraine? If we do not fight in Ukraine now, we will fight there later, or in the Baltics, Poland, or Taiwan, at much greater cost. If we do not forcefully reverse this invasion, larger ones will follow.

The next few days and weeks are vital. If the government of Ukraine falls, President Zelenskyy and other leaders of the legitimate government will be jailed or murdered. Russia will annex Ukraine, or install a puppet government with a defense treaty. It will declare Ukraine under the Russian nuclear umbrella. Freeing Ukraine after the fact, re-creating a government, will be much harder and riskier.

Sanctions will not save Ukraine. Sanctions were intended as a deterrent. Sanctions are a punishment. Sanctions are not an effective way to fight a war. They will do little to stop Russia from winning in the next month or two. Sanctions will not achieve what must be our goal: Russian withdrawal, Ukrainian sovereignty, a return to the borders we pledged to uphold in 1994. Cuba, Iran, and North Korea withstood sanctions for decades. So will Russia. 

Now that sanctions have failed to deter Putin, what is the plan? On the current course, if we don’t provide more help, Ukraine loses, the country is destroyed or partitioned, and we settle in for decades of deciding just how much energy Russia sells to Europe, what Europe sells in return, and how much tut-tutting we do about Russia trading with China, Iran, and others. While Putin turns his roving eye to the Baltics.

To save Ukraine, to save its democratically elected government, to save its people, to stop this from happening over and over, allies must  fight.

We have the means. Russia does not have the power of the old Soviet Union, or of Nazi Germany. Russia spends $62 billion a year on its military. The US spends $788 billion. Germany and France spend $53 each, and the U.K. $59. NATO as a whole spends about $1.2 trillion a year on defense, almost twenty times what Russia spends. Our armies are larger, better equipped, and better trained than Russia’s. We lack only the will.

News from Ukraine already suggests unexpected Russian weakness: deficiencies in advanced weapons, tactics, training, supplies, and intelligence. There is a good chance that Russia needs this to be over quickly. If this is true, it is all the more important for us to help Ukraine to hold on.

What can be done in practical terms? NATO can immediately declare a Russian no-fly zone over Ukraine. Denying Russia the skies would critically hamper their invasion. NATO can launch missiles, drones, and airstrikes at Russian army assets. NATO should move invasion forces to the Ukrainian borders. Allies could work closely and directly with the Ukrainian Army, and support their intelligence. The U.S. could unleash our own cyber capabilities. We should protect President Zelenskyy and his government. (The man is a hero.)


We cannot fight, many say, because any engagement of NATO and Russian forces could provoke a nuclear escalation. It’s a legitimate worry. Putin is already capitalizing on this fear by placing nuclear forces on alert in response to sanctions. First, Putin knows the retaliation that would follow. Second, our goal is freedom for Ukraine, not invasion of Russia or regime change in Russia. Nuclear weapons exist to defend a country, not to prosecute aggressive wars, and even Putin knows that. That’s why the potential for nuclear war is higher if we try to free Ukraine after Russia has already subsumed it into its sovereign territory. Most of all, if we cannot ever use our conventional military to stop an unprovoked invasion, we surrender now and watch the Century of Invasions unfold.

We must not fight, others say, in “forever wars” in far-away countries. But in Ukraine we would not be toppling a regime, or “nation-building.” We would be defending and preserving an elected government and its civil society. 

We did this before. In 1990, Saddam Hussein conquered and annexed Kuwait. A coalition of thirty-five nations fought, forced Iraqi troops back to the border, and left. Why did we fight over such a distant piece of land? To stop the next invasion.

We two are not habitual hawks. We recognize that the history of U.S. foreign interventions has included failures. We know that our military cannot rescue millions of people trapped in misery by despots. But the U.S. and our allies must  send a message to those despots that we will not return to a world of naked territorial aggression, and that we will fight, if need be, to stop it.

****

Update.  Bottom line: We must not let Ukraine lose. Do what it takes, calibrate responses, sure, maybe we don't have the right strategy. Maybe big sanctions will do it. Maybe Putin will be overthrown, But letting  Ukraine lose and then settling in for a sanctions negotiation is an unacceptable outcome. Do not let Ukraine lose. 



70 comments:

  1. "Why are we — the U.S., NATO, the civilized western world — not fighting for Ukraine?"

    Maybe because one too many politicians (with war dog economists and media in tow) have lied about the pretext for the US going to war - see LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin incident or how about George W. Bush and his weapons of mass destruction?

    "We two are not habitual hawks."

    Weren't you the one asking for a war with China to justify investment in math and science education?

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    1. I agree.

      A no-fly zone would require the US/NATO to shoot down Russian planes. Are you (Professor Cochrane) ready for this escalation?

      Our founding fathers discouraged foreign intervention/entanglements, and John Quincy Adam said we should not go abroad looking for monsters to destroy.

      We have more than enough problems in the US including a porous border, escalating violent crime, a tattered K-12 educational system, over $30 trillion in debt, and on and on. Plus, as FRestly aptly points out, we have been lied to one too many times (Vietnam, Iraq, COVID, Afghanistan (it was supposed to be a short war that was our longest war and then our exit was tragic) just to name a few).

      Why not pressure the Biden administration to open up pipelines, leases, permits, and encourage companies to drill for and create energy?

      If the US government can pay billions for weak/ineffective COVID vaccines, then surely the US can provide incentives for companies to drill for and create energy not only for the US but so the US can reap the windfall from providing energy for Europe, rather than Putin.

      Under President Trump the US was energy independent, and the US was the largest exporter of energy, so we can do it again and quickly.

      BTW, why is the US currently importing 20% of our energy from Russia? Stop this madness and windfall for Putin!

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  2. US and NATO troops could not defeat Afghanistan.
    How can they defeat Russia?

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    1. Russia has already demonstrated their incompetence. And there's an enormous difference between defense and invasion.

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    2. Could not defeat Afghanistan ... in Afghanistan. That's an argument actually in favor of the ability of defeating Russia in Ukraine

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  3. John,

    I've always enjoy your thoughts. What do you think of the "realist" position (Mearsheimer's position: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrMiSQAGOS4) and how do you reconcile your thoughts with the tough facts they bring to bear?

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    1. Before Mearsheimer was a realist, Hans Morgenthau was a realist. What they both lack is the moral foundation any society must rest upon in order to sustain itself. That created the undoing of communism in Russia because it got to the point where the people were not invested in their nation to the degree needed to compete with the West. The same will be true for China – material wealth will bring demands from the people for more political liberty. What will a communist political regime do then? We are not talking about abstract idealism. What do you think is going on in Ukraine right now? The same thing that went on in the East Bloc after communism fell.

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    2. It is not for Russia, or Russians, to determine what Ukraine, or Ukrainians, should want. If the settlement of the Ukraine situation today were to result in Ukraine becoming neutral militarily but allowed to be democratic and join the EU and "lean" West (like Finland, Austria (especially in the '50s), Switzerland) would Putin accept this?

      I’m reading several news accounts this week, like Mearsheimer's view, of how the U.S. is to blame for Russia/Putin’s action with Ukraine. They say it started with the U.S. attempt to expand NATO when the Soviet Union collapsed. Oh really?

      As I recall almost thirty years ago – the mid-1990s – as we were dealing with a newly created Russia and the questioning if NATO was still needed, what shall we do with NATO? Some of the idealistic talk was that if a new free Russia could liberalize it could join with the rest of Europe economically and a cooperative military arrangement could be made that would work with NATO.

      This talk was not that all idealistic; it was acted on. While Russia was not ready to join the European Union (EU) economically, it was invited and did become a participating member of the G-7, making it the G-8 in 1997. With upgrades to its economy, it could be ready to join the EU.

      Of the former East Bloc of the Soviet Union, all of those countries started their application to the EU between 1993 and 1996 and got their membership after 2000. Russia never applied or started an initiative to join the EU.

      In 1999 the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland became members of NATO – none of them border on Russia proper; Poland borders on Kaliningrad which is part of Russia but separate from the main territory because it is wedged between Poland and Lithuania. So no NATO nation was on the Russian border when Putin came to power in August 1999 and became President of Russia in May 2000. The Baltic States and other nations on Russia’s border joined NATO 2004 and after.

      My point is this: Russia, in the mid-1990s, had two paths to follow. It could liberalize and join Western Europe, or it could remain as it has historically, an East European power. It choose the later, not the former; and when Putin came to power, he doubled down on this. Putin had an opportunity to truly revolutionize Russia’s outlook for the future; but choose otherwise. Germany had a similar opportunity after WWII in the 1950s – to take its traditional role of a Central European power, counter-balancing its interests East and West; or turn to the West and join in an alliance. Konrad Adenauer, the leader of West Germany in 1949, choose a new path for Germany’s future.

      Russia lost its G-8 membership when it invaded the Crimea in 2014. History has no subjunctive case. Here we are. Now what?

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  4. I largely agree, though we need to be careful not to so unsettle Putin that he greatly expands the war out of desperation to hold onto power.

    I do want us to strike now, if we can, as supply lines are stretched and stressed and the Russians are apparently over a barrel. The prospect of watching Russians surrender and/or retreat by the thousands is certainly welcome, as long as we don't push a desperate leader too far.

    Russia cannot meaningfully compete with the West in the short, or long-run.

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    1. NATO countries are thugs in a back alley and can only attack weak countries. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan...

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  5. These summarize my thoughts as well. It's a grim but inexorable conclusion

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  6. There's no need for the US to intervene. The balance of power doesn't shift appreciably in Russia's favor if it wins in Ukraine, and it should be clear by now that the blood price will be substantial. As for the next wars, assuming Russia even has the resources to fight them, Poland will offer even stronger resistance and be defended by Germany, Sweden and probably UK naval and air power. We can't let issues in Europe distract us from the main security theater in the Pacific, where the US needs to unite a disparate coalition of lesser powers against a far more powerful potential hegemon.

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    1. "You have been given the choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor, and you will have war!" - Winston Churchill to the English Parliament, 1938. After the English Parliament's 1938 appeasement in Czechoslovakia.Fascinating how history repeats itself and how short is our memory.

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    2. "You have been given the choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor, and you will have war!" - Winston Churchill to the English Parliament, 1938. After the English Parliament's 1938 appeasement in Czechoslovakia. Fascinating how history repeats itself and how short our memory is.

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    3. Xi makes Putin look like Mr. Sissypants. But America's corporate, financial and media elites do business with China.

      Putin=Hitler, but Xi=Confucianism.

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    4. There is no money in the U.S. budget for the war. The U.S. state can no longer maintain bridges and roads on its territory.

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  7. I must add, I feel uncomfortable supporting war when I am passed the typical age of a soldier and have no children in the service or eligible for service. Sending someone else's kids to die in the name of justified liberty is still hard for me to do.

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  8. I think one thing worth noting, is that President Putin is not necessarily in the correct state of mind. Thus, in some sense, if NATO chooses to conduct military operations in Ukraine, this may indeed trigger Russian to carry out nuclear missile launches. If one were to assume Putin were rational, this need not be such a concern. However, given the numerous intelligence officers who have stated their position on his state of mind, it may be better to avoid any kind of military involvement in Ukraine, but pledge military involvement if other NATO nations are militarily threatened by Russia.

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    1. Yes, those who have closely observed an increasingly isolated Putin over the last two years fear that he will not act rationally if his standing is at stake.

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  9. but what kind of an example would military intervention set for our own corrupt despots? there is a moral hazard here, we cannot let anyone involved in corruption on our side profit from our military actions. let the good name of the clinton family be as sullied among the corrupt as it is already among the honest. then we can at least know whether we are foaming at the mouths for war because we truly believe in it, or is it just because the "legitimate" government of Ukraine has spent a lot on donations to our political leaders...but I dont know...maybe I'm just under the thrall of disinformation...maybe the Clintons and the Bidens and the Bush's are all swell people and only Putin is bad.

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  10. Hi John Cochrane,
    Even though I agree that we should be doing more, we are sending special ops veteran volunteers and there are numerous countries sending their own volunteers as well. It might not be enough in your eyes, however, with how disorganized the Russians are (they aren't even following proper military communication standards) and how many of them do NOT actually want to fight nor have proper training/strategy in how to do so effectively...

    ...I actually think it's more likely we hold Ukraine than lose it. We still hold every major city and we even have Russians surrendering to turn around and fight alongside Ukrainians against Russians now.

    Does more still need to be done? Yes. However, there is also a lot that has already been done and continues to be done or at least considered. Cyber warfare is being considered by Biden already and an execution of such a strategy was suggested to him on a bigger scale than ever before.

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  12. A few of ideas:

    First: The US and the NATO countries have not yet implemented a truly sweeping set of sanctions. They must sanction all imports of oil & gas from Russia. Further, we must seize all properties in New York and London that are owned by Russians of any sort. The same goes for bank accounts and other investments. We need to impose the same sanctions on Russia and Russians as we imposed on Germany and Germans during WWII.

    Second: The bulk of Russian troops are low skill, very young, conscripts on short terms. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/why-the-russians-are-struggling/ What would happen if we offered any Russian soldier who surrenders peaceably, €10,000 in cash, a clean set of civilian clothes, a visa and a work permit for, and a ticket to the NATO country of his choice. I will wager that we would get a surprising number of takers.

    We might pay an additional bonus to any officer who delivers a whole unit. We could also pay for any arms and ammo they surrender. €1,000,000 for an MBT would be cheap. Russian MBTs are over $2,500,000 new. Heck, offer €5,000,000. Still cheaper than blowing them up.

    Third: There are a lot of "contractors" who were employed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They have some very serious skills in the military arts. We could re-up them and subcontract them to the Ukrainian military. they could be in the fight fast.

    Fourth: Along those lines. How about a squadron of A-10 Warthogs. Lend-lease them to Ukraine. Find "contractors who know how to fly them. Send them to Ukraine. They can really mess up a formation of armored vehicles.

    John: These are free to all takers. if you like them please pass them along to H. R. McMaster. He could pass them on to his former colleagues who are still on active duty.

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    1. An extension of my idea 2. We could easily justify paying a tank crew that surrenders an intact MBT peaceably, €1,000,000. The Russian MBTs are priced at €2,000,000+ new off the lot. Late model used vehicles are being sold at like new prices these days, so we could get our money back.

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  13. Professor Cochrane, I agree with you. I have family in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. The city was attacked on the first night by Russian aircraft and on Saturday night by Russian tanks. The tank attack was successfully repulsed. However, I do not know how long the Ukrainian forces can hold out but I pray that they do. I had a Whatsapp message from my cousin in Mykolaiv a few hours ago saying simply "We will win!" My uncle is returning to Ukraine from Italy to join the fight. Even though I have family there, it is not the only reason why I support you. I support you because it is ultimately in the best interests of the US to defend democracy. My family in Ukraine is grateful to the US, the UK, the EU, Australia and Japan, and many others, for the assistance so far given but now is the time to do even more.

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  14. Thanks for the interesting piece. Re "a return to the borders we pledged to uphold in 1994", I am a bit confused - my reading of the Budapest memorandum (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest_Memorandum_on_Security_Assurances#Content) is that the signatories pledged to respect the existing borders, and defend Ukraine in the event of a nuclear attack; but did not commit to defend those borders in the event of an invasion. Can you help me understand if I am missing something?

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  15. John,
    You've said exactly what I've been thinking. Especially when I see that 40 mile long traffic jam of Russian tanks and armored vehicles. But in conversations I get no support. Everyone is afraid of being at war with Russia

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    1. And you use an "Anonymous" name because?

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    2. Remember the "Flying Tigers"? (American volunteers assisting China when Japan's army invaded).
      Imagine a rogue group of A10's savaging that 40 mile column.

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  16. In 2010, the people of Ukraine elected Viktor Yanukovych as President of the Ukraine. In 2014, he was violently ousted from power, leading supporters of that government were killed or imprisoned, and are still imprisoned to this day. Pro-Russia news media and Internet social sites were shut down by the force of the government. Cochrane says the current government is a legitimate, democratically elected government, but arguably that's not true at all. The current government wouldn't be in power if they hadn't recently used violence to kill or imprison their political rivals and crush their news and social media sites.

    Cochrane is advocating military escalation. That will inflict much more suffering on innocent people. If we shoot down Russian fighter jets, what stops further escalation? Cochrane says that choosing war against Russia now will prevent a future military conflict over Taiwan; will it? It seems entirely plausible that the opposite outcome will happen. A horrible war with Russia might reduce the will in the west to fight an even bigger war with China.

    Lastly, this isn't an issue of economics. Cochrane is entitled to his opinion, but has no special background or expertise that makes his opinion necessarily better than any other opinion.

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    1. politepete ........
      1. you should read politico.
      2. you should examine the looting done by Yanukovych.

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  17. Dear John, thanks a lot for your position. I'm from Ukraine, Kyiv School of Economics (VP for economics education). Can i invite you to give a lecture on this in Kyiv (on-line of course)

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  18. You've lost your mind. It's sad to see. A no fly zone means US is shooting down Russian planes. You're basically asking to have a nuclear power actively engaging in military conflict with another nuclear power. Seriously. Think about this. The tail risks. What % odds do you put of miscalculation/fog of war/ escalation to general nuclear exchange? 5%? 10%?

    You should be better than this, and I'm assuming this is heat of the moment, excessive twitter use, social desireability bias madness. But I'd have expected better and think far less of you for this irresponsible post.

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    1. Couldn't agree more. A no-fly zone means war with Russia, and yes, a double-digit chance of mushroom clouds in America.

      And for what? The Russian conventional military has already proven itself pathetic. The odds of them rolling on into NATO territory are miniscule at this point. They know and we know that they would lose if they did. Ukraine will be the farthest west they go, no matter where events go from here.

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  19. John, thanks for posting this, I could not agree more. Going to war to save Ukraine is a very hard decision, but there are times when hard decisions cannot be avoided, and the logic outlined in your piece is brutally clear. Aggression will not stop until we stop it by force. The risk of nuclear conflict frightens me, but if we signal we are the only ones who fear it, and believe Russia does not, we might as well give them back East Berlin already. Our governments are still debating how much economic discomfort we are willing to bear as we impose sanctions, hoping we can soon go back to business as usual. That ship has sailed. Our way of life is under threat, and if we’re not willing not defend it, then we have already lost it.

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  20. John, Elizabeth,

    I am still just stunned at what has transpired here, and it does remind me of Kuwait, when on the dawning day of the start of US actions in the 1st Gulf War, I found it very depressing to think "why did it come to this". At the time I was on temporary assignment in Japan for Intel and my local Japanese engineers were all excited the morning the US attacks began, while I found it very heavy and depressing that it come to that point.

    That said, your OpEd is spot on in that short term situation with the ongoing daily escalating Russian forces, attacks, and sieges of major Ukrainian population centers is very tense, tenuous, and at fulcrum situationally for very different possible futures. Short term, there is an escalating humanitarian crisis for the Ukrainian population, both in already occupied and under siege population centers across the country. Any action of the allies risks rapidly escalating events locally, regionally, globally, e.g., even just declaring and enforcing a no fly zone over Ukraine for purposes of airlifting food and humanitarian supplies would be a major risk for much greater escalations.

    It's a quagmire, with Putin apparently locked into the reactionary position that anything less than a captive Russian state version of Ukraine is an existential threat to the Russian state and people, something he has been moving towards relentlessly for the last 20 years of persistently resenting the breakup of the Soviet Union, and increasing alarm of the western "allies-i-zation" of former eastern bloc countries, even to the point he now regrets having supported US leveraging mid Asian states during a mutually interested fight against terrorism after 9/11 in Afghanistan.

    I have to ask myself, what would other leaders have done here? Biden and Obama before him certainly project weakness, with any commits of real US forces on the ground always the position of last resort, which doesn't work well in the real world or in the playground in the presence of bullies.

    Any real escalation by the US and western allies would be simultaneous to persistent diplomatic efforts to get Putin to accept losing the war and allowing a free and independent Ukraine, which is going to be extremely challenging. You may be right in that the time to act is here, but the risks for larger multi dimensional escalations and with significant long term deleterious effects on many fronts is also real and very challenging ground.

    Regards, Mike Rodgers

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  21. What does game theory say here? We have ceded the nuclear leverage to Putin. He controls the playing field in Ukraine. Belarusians, Chechens, mercenaries, may enter. Others no. What then for South Koreans and Taiwan if this is our playbook?

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    1. Game theory would suggest that if Mr. Putin wants to play Wild West shootout, it's time for the "Dead or Alive" posters to be put up:

      See:

      https://news.yahoo.com/russian-businessman-places-1m-bounty-231620021.html

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  22. Will any of your children be fighting the Russians for Ukraine?

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  23. In 2014, Russian attack to Crimea and Donbass was not punished. True, some cocktail parties were cancelled but otherwise the sanctions were just a substitute for words ”not our problem”. This time Biden promised the same recipe: sanctions but definitely NO more (no force). Putin learned the lesson. And the game continues as long as we rules stay the same.

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    1. See:

      https://news.yahoo.com/russian-businessman-places-1m-bounty-231620021.html

      Has the crowd funding site been set up yet?

      Will the world's first trillionaire be the guy that takes out Putin?

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  24. You are assuming that Putin is rational and will not go nuclear. That's a really bad assumption. We need to reserve taking that risk for an attack on a NATO country.

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  25. It is so tempting to agree. It seems pretty likely that a NATO enforced no fly zone combined with air attacks on Russian forces would have a devasting effect on the invasion.

    But that means many more Russian dead at the hands of US and NATO forces. Might that not strengthen Putin?

    The alternative of leaving the fighting to Ukrainians while providing whatever materiel they can effectively use seems superior-- especially when Russian morale is already so low you see Russian some soldiers abandoning equipment and even pre-emptively surrendering.

    The cost of this approach is move devastation of cities in Ukraine, but this approach still seems like the best approach in the longer run.

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  26. First thought is that someone needs to buy John and Elizabeth a couple of plane tickets to Ukraine or the nearest country so they can join the fight, but leave the rest of the world out of it. I am not in favor of risking nuclear holocaust over the Ukrainian dictatorship. It is amazing how the fury of war propaganda can lead otherwise rational individuals to the conclusion that civilizations end is worth risking. While I love the USA, I am not so young as to think US foreign policy isn't belligerent. Must the USA constantly be at war with someone. 20 years in Afghanistan and all the war in between isn't enough? But this time we won't be pushing around little countries, we will be up against a nuclear power. I could go on about the stupidity of NATO expansion; perhaps looking at things from Russia perspective; the years of hating Russia over what turns out to be a hoax. Talk about mass formation psychosis over Russia and Ukraine!

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  27. I find it hard to fathom how any remotely rational person could be advocating armed conflict between 2 major nuclear powers: especially with questionable and possibly unpredictable leaders in charge. Some suggest Putin has lost his marbles, while other suggest he is merely sowing confusion as a tactic so people don't guess at his real objectives. He has more room to negotiate for what he really wants if people aren't clear what the objectives are and if they think he may go further than is rational in trying to achieve them.

    At the same time, many are concerned about Biden's mental acuity. Even if we can hope that he defers to competent specialists and is mostly a figurehead: he is still the one officially in control and if he is truly not fully competent might perhaps be driven polls to "look presidential" and "do something" and be too aggressive were he to get the US into this.

    Its unclear why the US should risk any actual involvement. Its unclear if even too harsh economic sanctions might lead an unpredictable Putin to over react and pull Nato countries into this and force the US or even more minor nuclear powers into this.

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  28. Great post!

    Simply put. We should be oppossing Russia in Ukraine, the same way that we know now we should have opposed Nazi Germany invading Poland in 1939.

    That simple

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    1. Not that simple. Do you see any Republicans seeking tax increases to pay for this opposition?

      https://taxfoundation.org/historical-income-tax-rates-brackets/

      Tax Rates by year
      1940 - Bottom 4%, Top 79%
      1941 (US Enters WWII) - Bottom 10%, Top 81%
      1942 - Bottom 19%, Top 88%
      1943 - Bottom 23%, Top 94%
      1944 - Bottom 23%, Top 94%

      Instead the federal debt and inflation grows effectively taxing the bottom part of the tax bracket.

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  29. "politepete" is correct.

    John starts with a wrong postulate, the Ukrainian is democratic, and arrives at a wrong conclusion -- it is worth risking a nuclear war with hundreds of millions dead. Let me add that not only Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, but his agreement with opposition leaders to stop violence and to conduct early elections signed with foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland was broken in couple days. The Minsk agreements were never honored as well. Pro-Russian politician, meaning Ukrainians who are for good relationships with Russia and for mutually beneficial economic ties, were prosecuted and sanctioned (both by the US and by Ukrainian government). Russian language was restricted/banned. High ranked Ukrainian officials openly called Russian people and Russian supporters to be second-class people. This all was in the news (not US news, of course, but it was on BBC news).

    John, there is absolutely no problem with voicing your opinion in this blog post. However, for your own benefit, you ought to do some basic research instead of just relaying on American mass media:
    (1) Check on Wikipedia articles about Ukraine-Russia relationships, 2014 war and 2021-2021 conflict (still on-going, unfortunately), Minsk agreements, etc.
    (2) It might be worthy reading about 2003 Iraqi war on Wiki and comparing the two wars (the timelines, events, casualties, etc).
    (3) An article on Wikipedia about the Peace Treaty of Versailles and its consequences is worth reading.
    (3) You might also perhaps find and read an English transcript of Putin's speech dated 02/23, in which he declares the war. Even if you do not believe any single word, wouldn't is be worthy for a prudent researcher to know what the enemy thinks?

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  30. "politepete" is correct.

    John starts with a wrong postulate, the Ukrainian is democratic, and arrives at a wrong conclusion -- it is worth risking a nuclear war with hundreds of millions dead. Let me add that not only Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, but his agreement with opposition leaders to stop violence and to conduct early elections signed with foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland was broken in couple days. The Minsk agreements were never honored as well. Pro-Russian politicians, meaning Ukrainians who are for good relationships with Russia and for mutually beneficial economic ties, were prosecuted and sanctioned (both by the US and by the Ukrainian government). Russian language was restricted/banned. High ranked Ukrainian officials called Russian people and Russian supporters names, openly saying they are second-class people.

    John, there is absolutely no problem with voicing your opinion. However, for your own benefit of a researcher, you ought to do a study instead of relaying on the American media. For example,
    (1) Please check on Wikipedia articles about Ukraine-Russia relationships, 2014 war and 2021-2021 conflict (still on-going, unfortunately), Minsk agreements, etc.
    (2) It might be worthy to read about the 2003 Iraqi war on Wikipedia and compare the two wars (the timelines, events, casualties, etc).
    (3) An article on Wikipedia about the Peace Treaty of Versailles and its consequences is worth reading (hopefully important history lessens have not been forgotten).
    (3) Perhaps you might even find and read an English transcript of Putin's speech dated 02/23, in which he declares the war. Even if you do not believe his single word, wouldn't is be worthy for a researcher to know what the enemy thinks?

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  31. "politepete" is correct.

    John starts with a wrong postulate, the Ukrainian is democratic, and arrives at a wrong conclusion -- it is worth risking a nuclear war with hundreds of millions dead. Let me add that not only Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, but his agreement with opposition leaders to stop violence and to conduct early elections signed with foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland was broken in couple days. The Minsk agreements were never honored as well. Pro-Russian politicians, meaning Ukrainians who are for good relationships with Russia and for mutually beneficial economic ties, were prosecuted and sanctioned (both by the US and by the Ukrainian government). Russian language was restricted/banned. High ranked Ukrainian officials called Russian people and Russian supporters names, openly saying they are second-class people.

    John, there is absolutely no problem with voicing your opinion. However, for your own benefit of a researcher, you ought to do a study instead of relaying on the American media. For example,
    (1) Please check on Wikipedia articles about Ukraine-Russia relationships, 2014 war and 2021-2021 conflict (still on-going, unfortunately), Minsk agreements, etc.
    (2) It might be worthy to read about the 2003 Iraqi war on Wikipedia and compare the two wars (the timelines, events, casualties, etc).
    (3) An article on Wikipedia about the Peace Treaty of Versailles and its consequences is worth reading (hopefully important history lessens have not been forgotten).
    (3) Perhaps you might even find and read an English transcript of Putin's speech dated 02/23, in which he declares the war. Even if you do not believe his single word, wouldn't is be worthy for a researcher to know what the enemy thinks?

    ReplyDelete
  32. "politepete" is correct.

    John starts with a wrong postulate, the Ukrainian is democratic, and arrives at a wrong conclusion -- it is worth risking a nuclear war with hundreds of millions dead. Let me add that not only Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, but his agreement with opposition leaders to stop violence and to conduct early elections signed with foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland was broken in couple days. The Minsk agreements were never honored as well. Pro-Russian politicians, meaning Ukrainians who are for good relationships with Russia and for mutually beneficial economic ties, were prosecuted and sanctioned (both by the US and by the Ukrainian government). Russian language was restricted/banned. High ranked Ukrainian officials called Russian people and Russian supporters names, openly saying they are second-class people.

    John, there is absolutely no problem with voicing your opinion. However, for your own benefit of a researcher, you ought to do a study instead of relaying on the American media. For example,
    (1) Please check on Wikipedia articles about Ukraine-Russia relationships, 2014 war and 2021-2021 conflict (still on-going, unfortunately), Minsk agreements, etc.
    (2) It might be worthy to read about the 2003 Iraqi war on Wikipedia and compare the two wars (the timelines, events, casualties, etc).
    (3) An article on Wikipedia about the Peace Treaty of Versailles and its consequences is worth reading (hopefully important history lessens have not been forgotten).
    (3) Perhaps you might even find and read an English transcript of Putin's speech dated 02/23, in which he declares the war. Even if you do not believe his single word, wouldn't is be worthy for a researcher to know what the enemy thinks?

    ReplyDelete
  33. First, I deeply respect your opinions on economic and related issues. I am always recommending or quoting your columns to friends and family. Thank you for helping your readers make sense of confusing economic events and policies, especially via the sources you cite. Second, who with a human heart cannot join you in wishing -- demanding! -- an end to the death and destruction that Putin is visiting on Ukraine? Third, I wish for Ukraine to keep its national autonomy and the people their political self-determination. Given all that, I am wondering about your opinion of the Ukrainian election that installed the government that was subsequently overthrown by coup in 2014. Was that election rigged, and what of elections held after the coup?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Putin plays chess; Americans play poker. I think Biden has played his cards well, and is still holding. He has been strategically ambiguous, so he has Putin guessing how far to go tit-for-tat up the escalation chain – a strategy that Obama did not want to play.

    First, as long as it is land armies in battle, Ukraine should be able to hold out, if not outright defeat the Russians. The West needs to supply the Ukraine effort and give whatever other support is needed. It is important that Ukrainians win their battle, and not others win it for them. They can do this.

    Second, it is important that the Western Alliance hold together along with the rest of the international community. Biden has done a good job on this, not going too fast for some reluctant NATO members who are now fully onboard. Putin really miscalculated on this, as well as a number of American commentators – Victor Davis Hanson for one, as well as some of your other Hoover “experts”.

    And third, when it comes to Putin’s use of air power and missiles, I think at some point the United States especially, along with other NATO members, will have to militarily intervene.

    Fourth, the sanctions are working. Because Putin invaded, the U.S. and NATO get to play with all the tools of hybrid warfare; something Obama was too restrained from doing. There is still a lot more on the table that Biden and the Alliance have not used yet; so it is going to be drip-by-drip for a while. Get used to it.

    And finally, strategically it is important for the West to stay out this militarily if it can and let the Ukrainians handle it and hopefully have a good outcome. Putin has a disrespect for democracies, and thinks authoritarian rule is more stable than “messy” democratic governance. A Ukrainian victory, where the West stays out of it and only resorts to sanctions and other hybrid/unconventional tactics, would be a tremendous blow to Putin’s ego. And you just may get political change in Russia, from within instead of an outside “conqueror”.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Mourir pour Danzig?

    No, and Putin knows it. Everything was fine with the West when Ukraine was part of the Soviet empire, and Putin knows it.

    There will be some kind of demarche to get some kind of mutually acceptable solution. My question is whether a solution might have been agreed upon before the shooting started.

    I do not know the answer.

    How about a buffer state?

    I do not know whether Putin would accept.

    ReplyDelete
  36. This war against Russia can be won without the US firing a single shot. Find a Treasury Secretary willing to kick gold's ass and this war will soon be over.

    No, anonymous Bitcoin and other digital currencies are not the solution.

    No, raising interest rates (and associated government interest payments) are not the solution because of the Fisher effect and because of the Ponzi limit.

    But since we rely solely on war dog economists for policy advice, this is the road we have been led down.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. A no fly zone would require us to take out air defense systems, many of which are located in Russia. Therefore, for us to provide the support you are suggesting, we would essentially need to strike the Russian homeland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. No-fly-zone is a term that is great against an opponent you have beaten. This is not the case with the opponent in Ukraine. It's another term for war.

      We intellectuals are adept at conducting the war of words.

      Delete
  39. I rarely disagree with your brilliant articles.
    This one is way off.
    Challenging a nuclear power like Putin with a no-fly-zone or similar is like poking in the eye a angry bear, with theather and tactical end strategic weapons. There is a good chance he will use them.
    All for what ? For Ukraine ? a semi-failed state hungry for NATO and EU money with deep historical ties to Russia.
    haven't we had enough of regime change or Democracy building With excellent results in Libya, Iraq, Afgnanistan and Syria.

    ReplyDelete
  40. this was an awful article which reveals serious lack of analytical skills.
    You are relly advocating the dignificant risk of a nuclear conflict in Europe for a failed and corrupt country like Ukraine, Ukarine that only wants to enter NATO e and the UE to get access to billions of euroes and dollars of free lunches? You must be kidding...

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  41. Thanks for saying this John, agree completely and appreciate the facts you present

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  42. If we replaced "Ukraine" with "Vietnam", what would the main differences be?

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  43. The US can do more and should. You are so absolutely right.

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  44. Other than their nukes, Russia is nothing more than a fading, regional power. Their population is dying off, as is Ukraine's. Their army is struggling to capture positions tens of miles from their borders. Yes, it's horrible what they've done, but it's not worth America going to war.

    Go take a look at the German order of battle for the invasion of Poland in 1939. Their invasion force was 15 times the size of what Putin is able to muster to attack Ukraine. Ukraine vs Russia is the international equivalent of bum fights. If NATO wants to intervene so bad, let the Poles and the Germans do it.

    Finally, it's surreal to worry about Ukraine's borders when our own are totally undefended. Every 3 weeks, more illegals invade our country than Russia has troops attacking Ukraine.

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  45. Disagree completely. Putin has finally learned that he cannot make agreements with the west (U.S.) because the west (U.S.) NEVER abides by such agreements... just ask any native american about that. For eight years he's been trying to get Ukraine to abide by the minsk accords, to no avail. The expansion of NATO is the sole cause of Putin's actions and every death there is the result of the U.S. pushing for ever more NATO encroachment to the borders of Russia.

    I guess you missed that bit of history, what.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minsk_agreements#Minsk_Protocol
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO

      Delete
    2. I don't know who you are, but thank God you're not in charge.

      Delete
  46. Someone here wrote: "What would happen if we offered any Russian soldier who surrenders peaceably, €10,000 in cash, a clean set of civilian clothes, a visa and a work permit for, and a ticket to the NATO country of his choice. I will wager that we would get a surprising number of takers." I would say, drop pre-paid phones from the sky with such an offer, with a piece of paper explaining the offer and a number to call. Sort out the evacuation of russian soldiers, and the war is over. Quite cheaply actually.

    ReplyDelete

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