Putin is doing what the Kaiser did, a century ago, and for roughly the same reasons: trying one’s luck with war is better than suffering destitution. Like the Kaiser, a century ago, Putin hopes to win, because the democracies are weak, in weapons and resolve. What could go wrong?
Ah, yes, this is less haughty a subject than the first female mathematician, to be given a Fields Medal. Moreover, she is Iranian. She studies practical things, like counting “simple” geodesics on hyperbolic surfaces, depending upon their length. (I am not joking when I say this sort of research is practical: another of the 2014 Field medalist research has already been applied, to. surveillance; Fields Medals were attributed this year to understandable mathematics. Instead of the sort of crazy math I view with a jaundiced eye, as it depends upon infinity all too much.)
In Isfahan with her parents. Isfahan is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The artful architecture above is typical. Visiting such places, one can only be awed by the splendor of the human spirit, and feel compelled to contribute.
Now back to the dismal subject of the Twenty-first Century, out of control Czar. This is a serious problem.
Yet, here we talk about what makes all these fun and game possible, namely the pursuit of civilization. It depends upon crazy people and insane ideas, been kept in check.
The Kaiser was afraid of the Socialists inside the Parliament (Reichstag) that Bismarck had set-up. The Parliament’s power was fictitious. The Socialists wanted to make it real. Such was the inside pressure.
The outside pressure was an admission, by the heads of the military, the Kaiser himself, and his chancellor, top deputies, advisers: democracies were superior to the authoritarian, exploitative regime they profited from. Those German oligarchs recognized that the economic, political, and financial alliance between France, a democracy, and democratizing Russia, was increasing in economic, and thus military power, in a way that the German plutocracy could not match.
It would have been too much against their mentalities to do the right thing, and try to do what the Romanov Czar was doing in Russia: democratizing. Instead they decided to “work on the press”, and prepare the Germans for the world war they had decided to gamble everything on. That was December 11, 1912. (For a 2004 perspective of mine on that, see “To Make War, All You Need Is Love.”)
On June 1, 1914, Colonel House, the adviser of President Wilson of the USA, saw the Kaiser, and proposed him an alliance, against the “racially inferior” French. In exchange, the Kaiser would limit his battle fleet built-up (which upset the unable-to-keep-up British).
Of these little facts, these devils that truly propel history, conventional historians never speak: that is how they earn their keep. Well esteemed professors, their fate is little better than that of mice, scurrying for crumbs below the masters’ tables.
Putin is losing in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has regained much territory, and cut off Donetsk, a city of more than a million, from the Russian military. Defeat is not what Putin wants, he wants an unending war, but one which he wins. Putin is proposing to his captive Russian public opinion, to send a “humanitarian mission” inside Ukraine. In other words, he is preparing a naked invasion.
What can the West do?
Go back to basics. Putin decided to attack Ukraine, after he saw that Western plutocrats, his natural allies, had enough control of the West to prevent a justified strike against that major satanic creature, Assad, son of Assad. That was shown by the defection of the British first. The Assad family has major plutocratic connections in London. Then, while French pilots were already strapped in their seats, Obama called off the attack.
If Assad, a dictatorial monster who started a huge civil war against pacific civilians who just wanted him to go, could get away with a poison gas attack inside Damascus that killed more than 1,500 civilians, obviously, Putin could get away with anything.
Putin wanted the Black Sea oil. That it belonged to Ukraine was a detail, now that Obama and the UK had demonstrated that Western civilization was in recess, and plutocracy reigned. Putin could do what he does best: grabbing what he needs. Like the Kaiser, he could see that gas and oil is all what held his empire together (most of the ex-Soviet “republics” have shown signs of exaggerated affection towards the European Union).
If the Kaiser and his generals had been persuaded that they would lose the war, they would have not started it: after the French nearly annihilated the German army at the Battle of the Marne, Von Molkte, who had done more to start that war than anyone else, was so deeply depressed, that he could not do anything anymore (he was secretly replaced). His mood had completely changed from the one six weeks earlier, when he mobilized the entire German army, catching the world by surprise.
So, if we want peace, we have to persuade Putin he will lose, should he pursue his policy of invasion and annexation. The best way to do this is to intervene in the situation of the Yazidi, an ancient, non-Muslim group hard pressed by the ISIS in Iraq.
This may seem a surprising position for someone who was vociferously against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
However this is now. The ISIS, outwardly Islamist, and full of Jihadists, is getting lots of its backbone from the old army of Saddam Hussein. A demonstration of military power to help the Yazidi could, and ought, to be turned into a negotiation with some of the officers of that old army, and those who regret aspects of the Iraqi state that worked better under Saddam.
In other words: strike, but then negotiate.
There was never any serious negotiation with the secular Iraqi state, in the nearly quarter of century the USA has made war to it (in the hope of some USA plutocrats to grab its oil). Even the Neocons will have to admit that this time has come.
Of course, this is all very dirty, it’s how the sausage of civilization is made. But, if good people do not make it, to the best of their abilities, evil will be in charge.
And then, in the worst possible case, all intellectual pursuits will collapse, as happened after the Roman state streaked out of control, burned and crashed. Next time would be worse.