The Unavoidable Factor That Might Decide the Ukraine War - Net - Indir

The Unavoidable Factor That Might Decide the Ukraine War

Henry Kissinger hasn’t made headlines in a long time, much less prompted a meaningful debate, but his somber remarks this week in Davos, Switzerland, did both. The gnomish 98-year-old former diplomat told the World Economic Forum’s assembled elites that Ukraine must make peace by giving land to Russia.

His finger-wagging infuriated many people, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who compared his fellow European tragedy victim—both are Jews whose family members perished in the Holocaust—to a Nazi appeaser in 1938.

In truth, Kissinger was speaking as a devotee of “international realism,” a school of thought that prioritizes stability over all else and, as a result, elevates the interests of Great Powers and their spheres of influence over the objectives (however lofty) of less-powerful countries.

One weakness in this thinking is that it ignores the significant changes in global politics since Kissinger’s “triangulation” permitted him to play Washington’s interests off those of Moscow and Beijing as Richard Nixon’s statesman half a century ago. (Things have altered even more since the Congress of Vienna 200 years ago, when Europe’s five great nations divided the continent, as Kissinger explained in his career-launching book A World Restored, written when he was a Harvard political scientist.) First, the end of the Cold War and the ensuing dispersion of global influence has weakened past power centers and blocs’ clout. Second, in today’s increasingly chaotic globe, the agency of medium-sized countries cannot be discounted lightly. Finally, Russia is no longer a big power in most ways, therefore treating it as such is no longer necessary for peace.

At Davos, Kissinger did strike a nerve, and that is a growing dissatisfaction—even among Kyiv’s most ardent supporters—with the length of the war and the extent to which it is harming not only Ukraine but the global economy.

The New York Times editorial page, which has been vocal in its support for Ukraine, issued a warning five days before Kissinger’s speech:

The suffering in Ukraine has inspired Americans, but public support for a conflict far from American borders will not last eternally. Inflation is a far more pressing concern for American voters than Ukraine, and global food and energy market disruptions are expected to worsen… [Biden] should also make it clear to… Zelensky and his people that the US and NATO will only go so far in confronting Russia, and that the armaments, money, and political support they can muster are limited.

The New York Times was concerned that the war would extend and escalate, whereas Kissinger was concerned with maintaining a power balance in Europe that no longer existed. Regardless, the message is the same: a rising dissatisfaction with the war and a growing willingness to end it, possibly prematurely.

The Critical Issues Poll from the University of Maryland also reveals evidence of “public fatigue” regarding the Ukraine conflict. Although a majority of Americans polled are still willing to accept higher inflation and energy prices as a result of the conflict, this percentage has dropped since March, from 65 percent to 52 percent (for inflation) and from 73 percent to 59 percent (for energy prices) (for high gas prices).

Some Europeans are beginning to doubt their promise to stop importing Russian oil and gas. While not as forthright as Kissinger, the presidents of France and Italy are pressuring Zelensky to reach an agreement to terminate the war before a clear (and maybe unachievable) Ukrainian triumph. Outside of Europe, especially in the southern hemisphere, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is little excitement for this war—and much concern about its far-reaching implications.

Zelensky is well aware of — and deeply concerned about — this waning enthusiasm, which is why he continues to deliver rallies distant speeches on a regular basis, pressuring his allies for more heavy long-range weaponry as soon as possible. The campaign is doing well. Biden recently agreed to give the most coveted weapons on Zelensky’s wish list: the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HiMARS), which can reach targets up to 300 miles distant depending on their loads. The Ukrainians have been at a disadvantage in the conflict over Donbas: Russian artillery has been able to target them, but their rockets lack the range to respond. MLRS and HiMARS will level the playing field, if not completely reverse the odds. Ukrainian military may fire much farther into Russian territory with such long-range weapons. This is why Biden was hesitant to deliver the weapons in the first place, and why some people are concerned about the decision to send them now: Yes, that provides the Ukrainians a lift, but if they fire rockets into Russian territory (which Zelensky has pledged not to do), Russia could retaliate by striking munitions stores and supply lines in, say, Polish territory—and then we’re in for a NATO-Russia war. This might lead to additional escalation—or panic at the prospect of escalation—and a hasty, forced end to the war, most likely to Ukraine’s disadvantage.

Because its own interests in this conflict have increasingly evolved, the Biden administration is contributing to the hysteria by increasing military supplies to Ukraine. Last month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that the United States’ goals in the war were to “weaken” Russia as a military power in addition to protecting Ukraine as a democratic sovereign republic and assisting it in fending off Russian invasion. Some authorities were taken aback by Austin’s candor, but no one has attempted to retract his remarks. The onerous sanctions imposed on the Russian economy, its banking tycoons with close ties to Vladimir Putin, and Putin himself are almost probably aimed at regime change.

As a result, the fight has taken on a new dimension: time. It’s not just a military competition between Russian and (Western-backed) Ukrainian forces. It’s also a race to see how long it takes for the West to become wary of continuing the conflict, and how long it takes for Putin (or his regime) to fall. This is one reason why, the longer the conflict drags on, the more intense it will become—and why there’s every reason to expect it will drag on as long as either side can keep it going.

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