Ukraine Crisis, February 14, 2022: The military situation; Putin cannot win

Draft — Developing

In an effort to respond to the rapidly developing situation in and around Ukraine, we are publishing sources and drafts of this article as it is being written.

Because of the “Children Editors” who have been left in charge of the online editions of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the most authoritative and timely articles related to the Ukraine are not always prominently displayed, or even findable, in the digital or online editions of these newspapers.

The fact that it is hard to find Michael R. Gordon’s authoritative account of the Russian forces encircling the Ukraine, even with the listing of Max Rust as an additional author since the original version was published (see below), dramatically makes this point.

While Gordon’s article is listed as one of five links below another story with a different headline, the fact that it is not prominately displayed with its own large headline indicating its importance only underlines the fact that the “Children Editors” in charge of the layout of the online edition have no clue as to what is important, virtually no ability to distinguish between “the latest” and “the significant”.

Journalists like James Reston, Anthony Lake, and Tom Wicker at the New York Times, and David Broder at the Washington Post, must be turning over in their graves.


The military situation

1) Michael R. Gordon Max Rust, “Russian Buildup Near Ukraine Features Potent Weapons Systems, Well-Trained Troops; The forces give Moscow the means to attack Ukraine from multiple directions but aren’t sufficient to occupy the entire country,” Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2022 (1:58 pm ET).

The “Children Editors”

2) “Update (February 14, 2022): The “Children Editors” at the Washington Post and the New York Times,” The Trenchant Observers, February 14, 2022.


Putin Cannot Win

We need to take a deep breath, step back, and ask ourselves, “How is the current Ukraine Crisis going to end?”

Upon reflection, it is clear that even if Vladimir Putin leaps into the abyss and launches an invasion of Ukraine he cannot achieve his crazy objectives, goals which only a madman or a dictator drunk on power could even imagine to be achievable.

He wants all of Europe and the Free World to agree to roll back the history of the last 77 years, since the end of World War II, the founding of the United Nations, and the adoption of of the U.N. Charter in 1945 by all of the nations in the world, and to proceed as if international law did not exist.

It’s not going to happen.

Two of the bedrock principles upon which the U.N. Charter and the post-World War II international legal order is based are the sovereign equality of all states (U.N. Charter, Article 2 paragraph 1), and the prohibition of “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” (U.N. Charter, Article 2 paragraph 4).

These principles are fervently supported by the overwhelming majority of countries in the world today, even by those states which may on occasion resort to the illegal use of force.

Putin is not going to succeed in overthrowing international law and these bedrock principles of the Charter.

He has nothing to offer in their place, except a world of international anarchy ruled by the principle of “might makes right”.

He may invade Ukraine and start a war that could cost tens of thousands of lives, but he cannot win.

In his mad megalomania, he cannot prevail.

His aggression can only succeed if the rest of the world agrees that international relations will no longer be governed by the U.N. Charter, that treaties are no longer to be viewed as binding, and in general that international law will no longer govern relations between states.

That is not going to happen, no matter what Putin does.

If Putin takes a leap into the abyss and starts a war with Ukraine, the world will change drastically, but not in ways that favor Russia.

Moreover, if he leaps into the abyss, the world is likely to change in ways which are not favorable to him personally. The interests of Russian generals and military officials will not be advanced by a bloody war in Ukraine whose irrationality will become evident over time, as Russian body bags begin to return to all corners of Russia.

Government officials and others who run the country and its economy may come to question Putin’s war, while any initial support for the war among the population is likely to wane over time, as it did in Afghanistan.

Putin’s power structure and chain of command could become frayed and even fall apart. Putin is 69 years old. Certainly there are younger men who would seek to take advantage of Putin’s war and Putin’s folly.

Who knows how it will all end?

One thing is certain: Putin cannot win. He cannot achieve his delusional goals by leaping into the abyss of war.

Indeed, he cannot know even how he might land.

Of course, if Putin misses the last exit ramp before war, there may be further exit ramps further down the road.

Whether there will be a further exit ramp he can take and still retain his power, is unknown, and essentially unknowable–even by him.

The Trenchant Observer