Like most Americans, I have been extremely disturbed by the sad news coming from the Ukraine. The images of burning cities and suffering civilians are distressing, and we wish that there was some way that we could stop the carnage.
Personally, I believe that we should render all possible assistance to the Ukrainians short of committing our own military forces. At the same time, we should provide Putin a way out.
My reasoning is as follows:
- Putin is not a madman, and he does not wish to destroy his own nation by initiating a full-scale war against overwhelming power. As he has frequently stated, his goal has been to restore Russia to its old imperial boundaries – no less, no more.
- The strength of the Ukrainian resistance was unexpected, as has been the extremely poor performance of the Russian military. The campaign could drag on for many more weeks and then bog down in desultory guerrilla warfare. The cost to the Russian economy continues to escalate.
- Putin wants out, and what he needs is some way to exit the conflict without suffering a complete loss of face. How can he declare victory and bring his armies home?
I have no respect for Putin. He has proven himself to be a heartless dictator. Nevertheless, we in the West must assist Putin in finding the way out. We do not wish to push him into a corner. A cornered rat is dangerous, and Russia is still a very powerful country. Let’s work with the Ukrainians and Russians to negotiate a end to this tragedy.