Friday, February 16, 2024

Russia: going slow - by Julian Macfarlane - News Forensics

 Recently, I wrote about American – a.k.a. NATO military strategy, and the Dunning Kruger syndrome which causes West to overestimate its capabilities and to underestimate those of Russia.

I argued that this way of thinking is a unique expression of Western culture and not found to the same extent in Asian cultures. It is not psychopathology as much as it is socio-pathology.

In the West, all communication is based on the notion that people are of one mind, with one Self. Which logically leads to “canceling” those who think differently.

If you are brought up in the US, in particular, it is hard to accept that people in other cultures don’t think as you do. You might tolerate difference – but toleration is not the same as acceptance. When proven wrong, Westerners either just ignore the fact, or try to argue that those who disagree with them are not “right” either.

So Western analysts— while now admitting that Russian capabilities have been “underestimated”— insist that Putin also “underestimated: Western capabilities-- specifically Ukrainian and NATO resolve. We were sorta a little off in our estimates – but he was definitely wrong!

Putin’s task

Putin, however, did not misunderstand the West.

Keep in mind that when he took charge of Russia, the country was on the brink of collapse – with the West ready to move in and take over.

Putin’s task therefore was to reinvent the Russian Federation, despite its size and ethnic diversity.

If nothing else Putin’s recent interview with Tucker Carlson demonstrates his encyclopedic command of historical fact: so he knew from the beginning what would happen if he failed to resuscitate Russia.

In 2014, Russia was still too weak militarily, socially, industrially and economically to come to blows with NATO.

The result was the Minsk Accords. Most people assume that NATO went along with these accords never intending to honor them but rather buying time to build up Bandura Ukraine’s military as NATO’s best, biggest, and baddest army. These accords assumed that Russia was weak. Russia was in weak, of course, but not that weak – just not ready.

For Putin, it was an opportunity to:

  • establish a moral position from which he could rally the Russian people, if not the world

  • gain time to build up the Russian military

  • incentivize Russian industry

It took eight years, during which time, the unelected Ukrainian regime demonstrated its genocidal tendencies.

Putin was careful not to underestimate his opponent.

He only entered the conflict after Donbas and Lugansk guns had voted for and declared independence under international law, asserting their right to self-determination as an ethnic polity not represented by a legitimate existing government. This was the same argument used during the American Revolution for the 13 colonies to declare independence from Britain.

Putin fielded a relatively small Russian force to supplement the existing forces of the two new republics-- plus of course airpower. It was in no way an “invasion”. He was not looking for a quick victory.

Putin was clearly aware that he was not at war with Ukraine but with a huge and powerful delusional Empire—that he aptly named the Empire of Lies.

The importance of process

I have called Putin a Fibonacci Thinker – meaning that he is creative as well as incrementalist. Step by step. For people like this everything is a creative process.

Putin used the SMO to revitalize Russia and purge it of an Atlanticism—which is not inherently wrong but, in the case of Russia, patently corrupt. It also has helped him rein in the oligarchy. Process.

Reinventing a civilization is not just about restoring the economy and industry in giving people jobs-- it is both moral and spiritual – it’s about values. That’s the real basis of “public good”. Process.

Putin always maintained his willingness to negotiate-- although understanding that realistically the West would not and could not do that.


For real negotiation, you would need a level playing field – something the West would never accept.

So the SMO has been slow. Process.

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