I thought it was time for a little wishful thinking. After the doom and gloom of the past three weeks it is time to think forward as well as concentrating on the terrible news coming out of Ukraine.
The Russian invasion has made everyone nervous, while bringing together groups that have rarely managed such a feat before. The united front in Europe against Vladimir Putin, and the multitude of substantive supportive actions for Ukraine from around the world, at all levels, has been nothing short of amazing. It goes to show that people can be taken out of their everyday, mostly petty and subjective concerns, if the reason is compelling enough. The cold-blooded execution of the invasion and the supreme commitment of the Ukrainians to defeat it is certainly compelling reason enough. I therefore thought that perhaps it is time to employ the old axiom: Out of every disaster comes opportunity. Wishful thinking, if you will.
Let’s consider, for a moment, where wishful thinking could take us in the aftermath of the Ukraine catastrophe.
Vladimir Putin has obviously miscalculated on many fronts: The efficiency of his army and Air Force; the will of the Ukrainian people and, in particular, the strength of their President; the unity of world political leaders, particularly in Europe and the U.S; the reaction of the private sector in their global, and substantive, support for Ukraine; and last, but by no means least, the protests of the Russian people, despite vicious crackdowns and new laws enforcing 15-year jail sentences for disagreeing with the State “line”.
On a totally, non-sympathetic, basis, I can understand Putin’s surprise/confusion/frustration. It should have been a slam dunk. His tanks should have rolled straight across Ukraine, the Ukrainian people’s army should have collapsed, European and American leaders should have dithered, and the world would have cried “shame” while throwing up their hands in the air, acknowledging the end result of Ukraine’s subjugation.
It didn’t happen and therein lies the “opportunity”, or wishful thinking, if you prefer.
The problem with this surprising process is that Putin will only up his game. He’s in far too deep to simply stop. Besides, the re-establishment of the Soviet Union, if not the Empire of the Tsars, has always been his dream and focus. He is an anachronism, and a relic of the old Cold War. To give up now, he may as well shoot himself, and that’s unlikely. Someone, internally, has to do it for him.
So, what is my idea of wishful thinking?
I wish, with apologies to the Ukrainian people, that Putin will stay as President of Russia for at least a month. That will give the countries that are contemplating joining NATO time to get their applications submitted and approved while the fury at Russia’s actions continues unabated: Those countries currently include Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Switzerland. Once that process of joining NATO is irreversible, Putin should disappear as quickly as possible. (I’ve said before that Russia history shows it is a past master at making people disappear, so it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish, but it must be an internal process. Any external action could well result in World War III).
After that, the next step requires even harder wishful thinking.
A new, younger generation, leader will appear in Russia, who will follow the will of the majority of the Russian people in not wanting any war or conflict with Europe. In fact, a leader who will follow the people’s will that seems to say, we want to be closer, or even a part of, Europe.
Russia would then apply to become part of NATO, as they almost did after the fall of the Soviet Union (so this is not such an outrageous suggestion).
With Russia part of NATO, the trick becomes convincing all of Europe that NATO still needs to exist to face the new threat of China.
Following the concept that bullies need to be treated as bullies, and metaphorically punched in the nose on occasions, NATO and the United States, will effectively make Xi Jinping shelve his land-grab, and world domination, expansion plans, at least for the next twenty-years or so, hopefully longer. Taiwan will be much safer, the countries surrounding the South China Sea will be much safer, and the rest of the world can breathe a little easier.
I still have to factor India into all this. As I have said before, India has already won the demographic war with China: Its total population is creeping up on China’s, and its average age is over twenty years younger. All this requires more thought/wishful thinking, but let’s take advantage of the current opportunity. Unify Europe, get Russia to join NATO, and give China a symbolic punch in the nose.
Wishful thinking, certainly. Possibility, I would like to think so.