Sunday, March 6, 2022

"How do you handle a problem like Putin.."

 (It is a pun on the song "How do you handle a problem like Maria?" from The Sound of Music.)

To date, the Russian attack on Ukraine has followed, loosely, what America and NATO have defined they would tolerate before taking real action. It has been implied, but never said, that we would allow Ukraine to fall, and than a government installed that would promise either to never join NATO or not join for 20 years, or something like that.

But Ukraine has not fallen, and we imposed (and I am quoting here) "crippling sanctions" on Russia. Still Russia slogged on, and starting killing mass amounts of people, destroying homes, hospitals, schools, and more. In doing so, it has committed war crimes on an institutional basis (Russia isn't alone here, America committed mass war crimes in Afghanistan).

AND the fear is we are about to see worse,  a lot worse. Russia has more powerful weapons, many it has not used on the country that Putin has declared "brothers" to Russians. But the new intelligence now points to a increase in military attacks the Ukrainian people, and that would result in huge step up in death and destruction. A step that might bring in other countries.

There is one area that we have not sanctioned yet, even with our "crippling sanctions" and that is sales of oil and gas. The reason we haven't imposed this yet is that it would actually cause real pain in Europe and America (and the world). Prices of energy will skyrocket for a while. Much worse than now. And no leader believes their country would support Ukraine if the gas and heating prices increased by 50%.

And so the question is going to come down to Americans and Europeans. How many Ukraine dead and displaced are worth higher gas and heating prices to rich countries like the US, Germany, Britain and other western countries?

Unfortunately, the response of embargoing oil and gas triggers the question, what comes next? If that sanction, our last resort, is used, what if Putin still doesn't stop? What if he still indiscriminately kills until he installs a puppet government. Or worse, if Ukraine still doesn't fall.

Then, we don't have a "next step". If the public agrees to all pay more, and Putin still kills (let's say) millions, do we just sit by? Is the next step to let Russia roll over the Baltics (Putin has claimed those as well) which are part of NATO? Because we are obligated to go to war on the Baltics side (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).

Each step has both been foretold, and then ignored until it happens. We should have a forward discussion ASAP.

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