Home World News The war in Ukraine still holds surprises. The biggest could be for Putin.

The war in Ukraine still holds surprises. The biggest could be for Putin.

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The war in Ukraine still holds surprises.  The biggest could be for Putin.

The war in Ukraine still holds surprises.  The biggest could be for Putin.

On June 7, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on economic issues via video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. (Photo by Mikhail Metzel / SPUTNIK / AFP)

LONDON – Here’s a surprising fact: At a time when Americans can’t agree on virtually anything, there has been a sizeable majority in favor of providing generous economic and military aid Ukraine in its struggle against the effort of Vladimir Putin to delete it from the map.

It is doubly surprising when you consider that most Americans could not find Ukraine on a map just a few months ago, since it is a country with which we have never had a special relationship.

However, maintaining that support throughout the summer will be doubly important as the war in Ukraine settles into a kind of “sumo” phase: two giant fighters, each trying to push the other out of the ring, but neither. willing to surrender or unable to achieve victory.

French President Emmanuel Macron.  AP Photo / Francois Mori.

French President Emmanuel Macron. AP Photo / Francois Mori.

While I expect some erosion as people realize how much this war is escalating the world energy prices Y the foodI still hope that most Americans will hold out until Ukraine can claim its sovereignty militarily or reach a decent peace deal with Putin.

My short-term optimism comes not from reading the polls, but from reading history, especially Michael Mandelbaum’s new book, “The Four Ages of American Foreign Policy: weak power, great power, super power, hyper power.

Mandelbaum, an emeritus professor of US foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (we wrote a book in 2011), argues that while US attitudes towards Ukraine may seem completely unexpected and new, they don’t. I am.

Seen through the scope of US foreign policy, which your book convincingly recounts through the lens of the four different power relationships the US has had with the world, they are actually quite familiar and predictable.

In fact, so much so that both Putin and the president of China, Xi Jinpingwould benefit from reading this book.

Throughout the history of the United States, our nation has oscillated between two broad approaches to foreign policy, Mandelbaum explained in an interview, echoing a key theme in his book:

“One emphasizes the power, national interest and security and is associated with Theodore Roosevelt. The other emphasizes the promotion of American values ​​and identifies with Woodrow Wilson“.

Although these two worldviews were often in competition, this was not always the case.

And when a foreign policy challenge was presented that was in harmony with our interests and values, it hit home and was able to achieve a broad, deep and lasting public support.

“This happened during World War II and the Cold War,” Mandelbaum noted, “and it looks like it’s happening again with Ukraine.”

But the big, big question is: how long?

Nobody knows, because wars follow both predictable and unpredictable paths.

The predictable thing regarding Ukraine is that as costs rise, dissent will increase, both in the US and among our European allies, claiming that our interests and values ​​have become unbalanced in Ukraine.

They will argue that economically we cannot give us the luxury to support Ukraine to the point of total victory, that is, to remove Putin’s army from every inch of Ukraine, nor to strategically allow us to achieve total victory, because in the face of total defeat, Putin could unleash a nuclear weapon. .

You can already see the signs in the president’s statement Emanuele Macron on Saturday from France that the Western alliance “must not humiliate Russia”, a statement that sparked shouts of protest from Ukraine.

“Every war in American history has sparked dissension, including the Revolutionary War, when those who opposed it moved to Canada,” Mandelbaum explained.

“What our three greatest commanders-in-chief, Washington, Lincoln and FDR, had in common as wartime presidents was their ability to keep the country committed to winning the war, despite dissent.”

This will also be President Joe Biden’s challenge, especially when there is no consensus among allies or with Ukraine on what it means to “win” there:

Is it achieving Kiev’s currently stated goal of reclaiming every inch of its Russian-occupied territory?

Is he allowing Ukraine, with the help of NATO, to deal such a blow to the Russian army that Putin is forced into a compromise agreement that still leaves him in possession of some territories?

What if Putin decides he doesn’t want to compromise and instead wants Ukraine to die a slow and painful death?

In two of the most important wars in our history, the Civil War and the Second World War, Mandelbaum said, “Our goal was total victory over the enemy.

The problem for Biden and our allies is that we cannot aim for a total victory over Putin’s Russia, because that could trigger a nuclear war; however, something like total victory may be the only way to stop Putin from bleeding Ukraine forever. “

Which brings us to the unpredictable: after more than 100 days of fighting, no one can tell you How does this war end?

It started in Putin’s head and will probably only end when Putin says he wants it to end.

Putin probably feels he is in charge and that time is on his side, because he can take more pain than Western democracies.

But great wars are strange things, no matter how they start, they can totally end unexpected.

Let me offer an example through one of Mandelbaum’s favorite quotes.

It is from the biography of Winston Churchill of his great ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, published in the 1930s:

“Great battles, won or lost, change the entire course of events, create new standards of values, new moods, new atmospheres, in armies and in nations, to which everyone must conform”.

Churchill’s point, Mandelbaum said, was that “wars can change the course of history and Great battles often decide wars.

The battle between Russia and Ukraine for control of the area in eastern Ukraine known as Donbas has the potential to be such a battle“.

In more ways than one.

The 27 nations of the European Union, our main ally, are actually the largest trading bloc in the world.

They have already moved decisively to cut trade and investment in Russia.

On May 31, the EU decided to cut 90% of crude oil imports from Russia by the end of 2022.

This will not only harm Russia, it will also cause real pain to EU consumers and producers, who already pay astronomical prices for fuel and natural gas.

However, all of this is happening at a time when renewables, such as solar and wind, have become price competitive compared to fossil fuels and where the automotive industry around the world is increasing significantly. the production of vehicles, electric and new batteries.

In the short term, none of these can compensate for the decline in Russian supplies.

But if we have a year or two of gasoline and diesel prices skyrocketing due to the war in Ukraine, “we’ll see a massive shift in mutual funds and industry investments towards electric vehicles, network improvements, long-life vehicles. , transmission and storage lines that could shift the entire market away from dependence on fossil fuels and towards renewables, ”said Tom Burke, director of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism, the climate research group.

“The war in Ukraine is already forcing all countries and companies to do so advance drastically in their decarbonization plans.

In fact, a report released last week by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air and Ember, a UK-based global energy think tank, found that 19 of the 27 EU states “have significantly increased their ambitions in terms of renewable energy “. deployment of energy from 2019, while reducing the planned production of fossil fuels by 2030 to ward off geopolitical threats “.

A recent article in McKinsey Quarterly noted:

“The naval wars of the 19th century accelerated the shift from wind-powered ships to coal. World War I caused the shift from coal to oil. World War II introduced nuclear power as a major source of energy. In each of these cases, the wartime innovations they flowed directly into the civil economy and ushered in a new era. The war in Ukraine is different in that it is not driving energy innovation per se, but rather your need clearer. However, the potential impact could be just as transformative. “

Imagine: If this war doesn’t blow up the planet, you may inadvertently help keep it going. And, over time, it will reduce Putin’s main source of money and power.

Wouldn’t that be ironic?

c.2022 The New York Times Company

Source: Clarin

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