How Might This War End?

Thomas Friedman is a political commentator and author whose work I have shared before. He is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner who has written extensively on foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues.  In his latest editorial for the New York Times, Friedman details three possible outcomes for the war in Ukraine and I find his assessment thoughtful, and also tragic.  This is a bit longer than my usual post, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read …

I See Three Scenarios for How This War Ends

By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist

March 1, 2022

The battle for Ukraine unfolding before our eyes has the potential to be the most transformational event in Europe since World War II and the most dangerous confrontation for the world since the Cuban missile crisis. I see three possible scenarios for how this story ends. I call them “the full-blown disaster,” “the dirty compromise” and “salvation.”

The disaster scenario is now underway: Unless Vladimir Putin has a change of heart or can be deterred by the West, he appears willing to kill as many people as necessary and destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as necessary to erase Ukraine as a free independent state and culture and wipe out its leadership. This scenario could lead to war crimes the scale of which has not been seen in Europe since the Nazis — crimes that would make Vladimir Putin, his cronies and Russia as a country all global pariahs.

The wired, globalized world has never had to deal with a leader accused of this level of war crimes whose country has a landmass spanning 11 time zones, is one of the world’s largest oil and gas providers and possesses the biggest arsenal of nuclear warheads of any nation.

Every day that Putin refuses to stop we get closer to the gates of hell. With each TikTok video and cellphone shot showing Putin’s brutality, it will be harder and harder for the world to look away. But to intervene risks igniting the first war in the heart of Europe involving nuclear weapons. And to let Putin reduce Kyiv to rubble, with thousands of dead — the way he conquered Aleppo and Grozny — would allow him to create a European Afghanistan, spilling out refugees and chaos.

Putin doesn’t have the ability to install a puppet leader in Ukraine and just leave him there: A puppet would face a permanent insurrection. So, Russia needs to permanently station tens of thousands of troops in Ukraine to control it — and Ukrainians will be shooting at them every day. It is terrifying how little Putin has thought about how his war ends.

I wish Putin was just motivated by a desire to keep Ukraine out of NATO; his appetite has grown far beyond that. Putin is in the grip of magical thinking: As Fiona Hill, one of America’s premier Russia experts, said in an interview published on Monday by Politico, he believes that there is something called “Russky Mir,” or a “Russian World”; that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people”; and that it is his mission to engineer “regathering all the Russian-speakers in different places that belonged at some point to the Russian tsardom.”

To realize that vision, Putin believes that it is his right and duty to challenge what Hill calls “a rules-based system in which the things that countries want are not taken by force.” And if the U.S. and its allies attempt to get in Putin’s way — or try to humiliate him the way they did Russia at the end of the Cold War — he is signaling that he is ready to out-crazy us. Or, as Putin warned the other day before putting his nuclear force on high alert, anyone who gets in his way should be ready to face “consequences they have never seen” before. Add to all this the mounting reports questioning Putin’s state of mind and you have a terrifying cocktail.

The second scenario is that somehow the Ukrainian military and people are able to hold out long enough against the Russian blitzkrieg, and that the economic sanctions start deeply wounding Putin’s economy, so that both sides feel compelled to accept a dirty compromise. Its rough contours would be that in return for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops, Ukraine’s eastern enclaves now under de facto Russian control would be formally ceded to Russia, while Ukraine would explicitly vow never to join NATO. At the same time, the U.S. and its allies would agree to lift all recently imposed economic sanctions on Russia.

This scenario remains unlikely because it would require Putin to basically admit that he was unable to achieve his vision of reabsorbing Ukraine into the Russian motherland, after paying a huge price in terms of his economy and the deaths of Russian soldiers. Moreover, Ukraine would have to formally cede part of its territory and accept that it was going to be a permanent no man’s land between Russia and the rest of Europe — though it would at least maintain its nominal independence. It would also require everyone to ignore the lesson already learned that Putin can’t be trusted to leave Ukraine alone.

Finally, the least likely scenario but the one that could have the best outcome is that the Russian people demonstrate as much bravery and commitment to their own freedom as the Ukrainian people have shown to theirs, and deliver salvation by ousting Putin from office.

Many Russians must be starting to worry that as long as Putin is their present and future leader, they have no future. Thousands are taking to the streets to protest Putin’s insane war. They’re doing this at the risk of their own safety. And though too soon to tell, their pushback does make you wonder if the so-called fear barrier is being broken, and if a mass movement could eventually end Putin’s reign.

Even for Russians staying quiet, life is suddenly being disrupted in ways small and large. As my colleague Mark Landler put it: “In Switzerland, the Lucerne music festival canceled two symphony concerts featuring a Russian maestro. In Australia, the national swim team said it would boycott a world championship meet in Russia. At the Magic Mountain Ski Area in Vermont, a bartender poured bottles of Stolichnaya vodka down the drain. From culture to commerce, sports to travel, the world is shunning Russia in myriad ways to protest President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

And then there is the new “Putin tax” that every Russian will have to pay indefinitely for the pleasure of having him as their president. I am talking about the effects of the mounting sanctions being imposed on Russia by the civilized world. On Monday, the Russian central bank had to keep the Russian stock market closed to prevent a panicked meltdown and was forced to raise its benchmark interest rate in one day to 20 percent from 9.5 percent to encourage people to hold rubles. Even then the ruble nose-dived by about 30 percent against the dollar — it’s now worth less than 1 U.S. cent.

For all of these reasons I have to hope that at this very moment there are some very senior Russian intelligence and military officials, close to Putin, who are meeting in some closet in the Kremlin and saying out loud what they all must be thinking: Either Putin has lost a step as a strategist during his isolation in the pandemic or he is in deep denial over how badly he has miscalculated the strength of Ukrainians, America, its allies and global civil society at large.

If Putin goes ahead and levels Ukraine’s biggest cities and its capital, Kyiv, he and all of his cronies will never again see the London and New York apartments they bought with all their stolen riches. There will be no more Davos and no more St. Moritz. Instead, they will all be locked in a big prison called Russia — with the freedom to travel only to Syria, Crimea, Belarus, North Korea and China, maybe. Their kids will be thrown out of private boarding schools from Switzerland to Oxford.

Either they collaborate to oust Putin or they will all share his isolation cell. The same for the larger Russian public. I realize that this last scenario is the most unlikely of them all, but it is the one that holds the most promise of achieving the dream that we dreamed when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 — a Europe whole and free, from the British Isles to the Urals.

82 thoughts on “How Might This War End?

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  3. Sadly, I don’t think that Putin will stop. He will not negotiate or listen to anyone but his own demented mind. His goal is genocide and domination. Diplomacy has been off of the table for a while. He waited for the Olympics to complete and then proceeded with his genocide of the Ukrainian people. He only wants their land, and he does not care if it lives and breathes ever again. He cares nothing for his people, and he is just waiting for anyone to step in. I do not think he has put all of his cards on the table. Let’s remember that Russia did not remove all of its missiles from Cuba. I guarantee at least one is pointed right towards us… Great post to share, Jill. I wish I had more positivity to add to it, but things are really just sad and scary right now.

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    • You are quite right … Putin will not stop of his own accord, though his own military might one day decide to stop him with a bullet in his head. He has never made any secret of the fact that he hoped to re-establish a Soviet-style empire and this is only his beginning. You are also right that he cares not at all about the people of either Russia or Ukraine, which is why sanctions are less than likely to be an effective deterrent. I’m not so much worried about him striking the U.S. as I am concerned about his next move in Europe … I think probably Poland. But you do make a good point about the missiles in Cuba … definitely something we shouldn’t forget! Yes, my friend, things are sad and scary now and it’s hard to find the silver lining most days. But, we cannot give up hope … I still believe there are more good people in this world than evil ones. We cannot let ourselves sink into despair and depression, so make sure you find something to smile about every day! 😊

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      • Is it bad that I pray for that bullet to happen more sooner than later? If he moves into Poland, it’s going to be WWIII, and I do not think we can afford for that to happen. I am so thankful for friends like you and folks that put themselves out there to tell the truth and to open eyes. I am putting my trust into my faith. All I can do is pray for those beautiful people being destroyed over yonder. Thank you for reminding me to find something to smile about 🙂

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        • No, I think that most of us, if we’re honest about it, feel the same. I keep hoping that one of his close advisors or military generals decides he’s had enough of Putin’s cruelty and assassinates him. The only thing is … I’m not sure that whoever replaces him would be any better. Couldn’t be much worse, but he might be a Putin-clone. I am a non-believer, so I have no religious belief in which to put my trust. I just have to look to the lessons of history and think of the possibilities, then hope for a better outcome. But, I don’t give up hope, or at least I haven’t yet … Yes, we must sometimes chill out and smile … that’s why I do my ‘Jolly Monday’ posts every Monday morning, to give my friends a smile to start the week off right!

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          • I thoroughly enjoy Jolly Mondays 🙂 I have not watched a lot of news the past couple of days while moving my daughter out to her new place. I am about to catch up before bed. Thank you for always giving me a good conversation!

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            • That feeling is mutual, my friend … I thoroughly enjoy our ‘chats’! Moving someone can be so exhausting! You deserve a rest … a good book that doesn’t involve politics at all is what I recommend! 📗

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              • Thank you, Jill! 🙂 I have been reading Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer to take my mind off of things, along with my Bible study devotional. Sometimes I just have to give it to God and my vampires lol.

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                • I should try that! My bedside reading tends to be comprised of dark topics that keep me awake at nights and lately I’ve thought perhaps I should try for something a bit lighter, something to take my mind off the darkness of the day-to-day news! Sometimes I envy those who believe in a god, for they seem to find comfort in their beliefs.

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                  • It really helps to get away from the blue light of our devices sometimes, so the book is a nice change. God is new to my life. I met an amazing friend that brought something that I had suppressed into the present. God had always been a punishment for me by my father when I was young, so I shut it out when I was old enough to do so. When I met my friend, Z, she made me feel that good part of it again. Thank goodness. Everyone needs something to believe in 🙂 Faith comes in many forms, my friend.

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                    • I agree, but of late, even my reading is done on my Kindle, another blue light device! I do love the feel of a ‘real’ book in my hand, but the Kindle is so much simpler … and books are cheaper on Kindle, too! I’m spoiled!!!

                      I was raised in a “mixed” house, with a Jewish father and Catholic mother. I fit in nowhere … sent to Catholic schools, I was “that Jew girl”, but yet I never fit in with other Jewish kids, either. I began asking questions when I was 4 or 5, and it didn’t take me long to realize that nobody had any answers. My father would try, but at the end he would just say, “Go to sleep and don’t worry about it.” And then I began looking around at the horrors that people are capable of inflicting and I just decided that I very much doubted the presence of an “all-powerful, all knowing, kind and loving God”. But that’s just me … as I said, I rather envy those who do have their religion, their faith to sustain them when times are troubled.


                    • I definitely have my collection on my Fire Tablet as well 🙂 Hopefully you are able to use the feature to dim the blue light 🙂 They are much cheaper on Kindle most time though.

                      Your struggle to find your place and fit in is what makes you a beautiful person. Don’t let anyone tell you different. I know it’s frustrating to not know where you fit in…my mental illness does that for me…but the positive side is that you have found a place here in this WP world.

                      Have a beautiful day, my friend. I will continue to lift you up.

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                    • Until recently, most books that cost $24 or more in hardback were under $10 on Kindle. They have increased some, just like most everything else, but they’re still only about half the cost of a hardback. Plus, they are at my fingertips without having to wait for a trip to the bookstore on a Saturday! Of course, since the pandemic, I haven’t actually been able to go to Barnes & Noble since March 2020, but soon I hope!

                      We all have things that somehow set us apart from others, but the important thing is that we are comfortable within our own skin. I learned long ago that as long as my conscience is clear, as long as I’ve done my best, then it really doesn’t matter what others have to say about me.

                      You have a beautiful day also, my friend, and I’m so glad to have you as a friend!

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                    • I am so glad to have you as a friend too! I have never been to Barnes & Noble that I can remember. I think my wallet would suffer immensely if I did 😀 When I walk in a library, that smell of the books, I find heaven on Earth lol. I am such a nerd these days. I had to teach myself to love books and reading.

                      Sending hugs!

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                    • Another thing we have in common … the love of libraries!!! Here, the library is about 20 miles whereas the Barnes & Noble is only about 5 miles, so we more often pay for books than not, but I do love the smell and feel of a library! My house is a mini-library with bookshelves, stacks of books, and boxes of books! Most of them have been read, but some are still patiently awaiting. I really need to get busy and donate some …

                      Hugs back to you, my friend!

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                    • The silence and the smell is just so peaceful in a library. I live with my sister, and my room is gathering it’s own little library. I also have a large collection of paper and pencils that I didn’t realize that I had until I painted my room and reorganized lol.

                      The library in your house sounds like bliss! I would love to look through books like that. I like finding those little mom and pop bookstores to do just that. We need more places like that 🙂

                      Have a great day, my friend! I am finally getting busy…lazy day.

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                    • Amazing the things we forget we have until we clean out a closet or a pantry, isn’t it! You would love my library … I have novels, historical books, civil rights, Supreme Court, presidential bios … almost any topic you could name! No romance novels or sci-fi, though … those are two genres I never took any interest in.

                      My day is winding down and I’m finally settling in to catch up on blogging. Today was grocery pick-up day, and I’ve not been feeling quite up to par, so just that little bit of effort zapped my energy! I hope your day was good and you accomplished what you had hoped to! 😊

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                    • Your library sounds like a place I could get lost in for a while 🙂 I am not a fan of the romance and sci-fi either, so we are alike in that as well.

                      Oh goodness! I hope you feel better. I can related, sadly. I’ve been down with a stomach bug for two days that has me feeling like literal poo. I had a good day though 🙂 It was quiet, and I gathered some of my wits about me lol. 🙂 Rest well when you make it to your pillow, my friend!

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                    • Indeed, I can get lost in there for hours! I’m enjoying finding all the things we have in common … soul sisters!

                      I’m so sorry to hear you are battling a stomach bug! Those are the worst! My own issues have been ongoing since last September when I was suddenly unable to stand up … a few heart problems, but I have made progress and am now able to be on my feet for 15-20 minutes at a time. Some days, though, I’m simply too tired to move out of my chair. Hope you’re feeling better today! Hugs!

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                    • My mom has a heart problem that is causing her that type of tiredness. She had surgery a few months back, but she still gets winded. I will put up some blessings for you 🙂 I felt much better today, thank goodness! It knocked me back a bit, and that’s not easy to do with me. Hugs my friend!

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                    • I concluded that once we reach 70, the body just gives up! I did fine until about 3 months after I hit the big 7-0, and it’s been downhill ever since! I hope your mom will get better with time! And I’m very glad to hear that you are feeling better! I hope you get to do something fun this weekend! It’s 25° here today with snow on the ground, so I’m happy enough to be staying in! Hugs!


                    • Aww! I think some of us just age in our own ways, but I always pray that I make it to 70. Then again, my body has felt that age for years because of all my injuries. It’s all good though 🙂 You and my friend Leslie are both the same age.

                      Burr! That is cold! I haven’t felt those kind of temperatures since 2012 when I was up visiting my daughter-in-law at the time. She lived up in Fort Drum, NY. Hopefully you were able to stay warm and your socks dry! 🙂
                      Thanks for the well wishes for my momma, and I am feeling much better. I had a lazy day watching Yellowstone with my sis all day.
                      Hugs Jill! ❤

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                    • Now you peak my curiosity when you mention “all of my injuries” and you remind me of my own childhood when hardly a year went by that I didn’t break a bone!

                      Not as cold as some times, but still … after it was 70° last Thursday, it seems quite cold now! Yep, I haven’t been out of the house except to feed the birdies and the squirrels this morning, so I’m toasty warm bundled in my sweat pants, sweatshirt and warm woolly socks hand-knitted by my wonderful daughter!

                      I’m glad to hear you’re feeling much better … you’ve got important work to do! A lazy day is always good … I have far too many of them these days, although I did wash dishes and fold two loads of laundry today!

                      Hugs!!! ❤


                    • Yeah I have a few that need fixed. I have had a surgical fusion of my c6-c7, and I have a new herniation at c-5 now. It’s not bad enough for surgery as of yet. My doc is keeping an eye on that one, and then I have a SLAP tear that has came back after fixing it in 2016, along with microtears in my rotator cuff. I have never broke a bone though…just everything that holds them together lol.

                      Hugs ❤ Right back at ya 🙂 Hope you are having a great day!

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                    • I am speechless … I’ve got a heart problem, an ulcer, and Type I diabetes, but nothing like what you are going through! All of mine are manageable, hopefully without surgery! Take care of yourself, my friend … someday you’re going to be a great lawyer, so you just cannot let your body fall apart!

                      A decent day, and now it’s nearing bedtime, so no complaints from me! Hugs and wishes for a sunny, happy day tomorrow!

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  5. Jill,
    I read Friedman’s column when it appeared, and reread it now. I’m glad you posted it and evoked thoughtful discussion on this wrenchingly painful topic.
    I’ve heard several Russia experts say the solution must lie with the Russian people, but there are rumors of martial law and conscription afloat that seem to have tamped down the protests—at least for now. There’s broad agreement that Putin badly miscalculated, and it would appear that the conscription idea is another misstep. With evidence that many Russian soldiers have been halfhearted at best, the idea of forcing demonstrators against the war to go fight it seems kinda nutty.
    One thing I hope we’ve learned from this terrible upheaval: people forced to flee due to war or other disasters are refugees—not migrants—and they deserve our support.

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    • Thank you, Annie! Yes, it seems that Putin thought he could simply walk in and take over, but he got surprised! I admire the portion of the Russian people who have protested, even knowing they would likely be arrested and punished, but as you say, their voices seem to have been tamped down for now. I have a feeling they will rise again, though, for it is their friends and family members that are being killed in Ukraine. AND … the sanctions that have been imposed have to be hurting the Russian people, giving them another reason to object to Putin and his warmongering, his threat to start WWIII.

      Like you, I do hope that all nations have compassion for the Ukrainian refugees. The U.S. and other nations did not have compassion for the refugees fleeing during the Arab Spring, but then … much as I hate to have to say this … their skin was darker and they were largely Muslims, which seems to matter to some people.


  6. Jill, good post. While Putin’s troops may prevail, he has already lost. In less than ten days, he galvanized NATO and EU into opposition that acted, at least financially, but also with weapons to Ukraine. It should be noted that about half dozen Russian planes and even more helicopters have been shot down by Ukraine anti-air missiles. Yet, Putin has also shown to the world who he really is – a malevolent acting autocrat and bully who cares little about the truth, civilians and his own people’s plight as they suffer the sanctions. Business will stay away longer this time, especially when he tries to hold up their assets leaving.

    Plus, he has given an opportunity for the Ukrainian people and their leader to look them in the eye and say this is our country. Even if he prevails, he will not be annexing as many friends as he thought he would be before going in.


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    • Thank you, Keith! I agree … Putin has lost in many ways. Though he may ultimately occupy Ukraine, he will never be able to turn his back, for the people of Ukraine will never accept him as their ‘leader’, and even the people of Russia seem to largely despise him for what he’s done. After all, most Russians have friends and family members in Ukraine … Putin didn’t seem to care about that. And I’m sure the Russians don’t appreciate the financial disaster he brought about with his invasion. One of my readers, Orca Flotta from South Africa, loves Putin and claims he is the most democratic leader in the world and that his people simply adore him. I’m not sure what she’s been drinking, but it seems obvious to me that anyone can see the opposite is true. The one thing that makes me nervous, though, is that if Putin is ousted or assassinated, is it possible that somebody equally vicious or worse could take over?


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  8. An excellent opinion column by Thomas L. Friedman and an excellent share by yourself! One must hope that scenario #3 is the final outcome of this war. Realistically, that is unlikely to happen. “War : First, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.” – Karl Klaus (1874-1936). WHAK!! Thank-you!

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    • Thank you, Ellen!!! We can hope for #3, but I think we all know it’s the least likely. Mr. Klaus is right … at the end of the day, there are truly no winners in a war … we all lose. Tonight comes word that the Russians have shelled a nuclear power plant and it is on fire … how many people will die if that reactor is breached? Sigh. WHAK!!!


    • I think we all … well, the sane among us anyway … like #3 best. Time will tell, but regardless of how this ends, I think the world will never be quite the same. Keep that cup half full, please! I may need to borrow some of it from time to time.

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  9. …and the most dangerous confrontation for the world since the Cuban missile crisis.

    I think I’ve stated this a few different times on other blogs, in particular over on Nan’s. Because we still have aging old Cold War ideologies (i.e. Police States) and those political men in powerful positions around the world who still (falsely) live in a “20th-century Totalitarian Empire/Imperialist” mindset and/or have been heavily influenced by the oppressive mindset from parents, uncle, or a significant role-model, ala Putin (ex-KGB), Kim Jong-un & Kim Dynasty (N. Korea), Berdimuhamedow (Turkministan), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), and to a large extent China because of Mao Zedong, their playbooks have always been quite basic: install pure fear and brutality on their citizens.

    Throughout modern history there has been very few solutions to stop them:

    • Overthrow and ousting, then exile. (Not permanent though)

    • Capture and lifetime imprisonment. (Better)

    • Internal collapse of top subordinate’s support, turning against their Leader along with the Russian people up-in-arms, then the two bullet-points above.

    • Assassination by the Leader’s people or his enemies. (Permanent)

    The one thing that cannot happen under any circumstances is making a martyr out of Putin (e.g. like we avoided with Osama Bin-Laden) or allowing him to flee, escape, only to return a few years later to try again. He won’t repeat previous mistakes if given a second chance.

    Perhaps the second or third of Friedman’s scenarios could happen, but knowing & understanding a former KGB agent taught & trained in Cold War Soviet ideology, and tactics of inhumane brutality… I personally don’t see Putin allowing Friedman’s 2nd or 3rd scenarios to occur. My gut and military history knowledge coupled with the Dictator’s Playbook tell me that my last two bullet-points above will have to happen in order to avoid WW3.

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    • What you say makes sense, Prof … sadly so. It seems that in the case of Putin, the 4th bullet point is the only one that can ensure he leaves and never comes back, but it could very well make a martyr of him. What I don’t understand is how people like Putin, Stalin, Hitler and others are created. True, you mention the mindset of the parents or other role models, but … is there not some point at which some voice in their head says, “It’s not right to kill people”? I’ve largely given up any hope for the human species by now … it seems almost as if we are determined to destroy ourselves … we don’t need no stinkin’ meteor to wipe us out like the dinosaurs … we’re doing a find job of it on our own. Sigh.

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      • They get there by many ways and means. Usually because they are driven by a narrow set of circumstances which puts them in the mindset of ‘The Means Justifies The End’ or to be classical about it ‘Necessitas Non Habet Legem’….., ‘Necessity Has No Law’

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      • Jill, I’ve listened to many CNN, PBS NewsHour, and NPR reporters interviewing actual Russian citizens on the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Norilsk, Volgograd, etc, and many (most?) ordinary Russians—particularly young women—are flat out scared to death of Putin’s Police force, prison, torture, or possible secret death/execution. It’s astonishing to listen to. 😔

        I dated for about 14-mons a 51-yr old Chinese lady who was raised in Hangzhou, China, lived there until her divorce and later move to Kansas City, KS in 2019 when we began chatting then dating. And she told me some remarkable life-stories of China, how it is very similar in many ways to Putin’s Russia, especially when protesting against the Chinese government and their severe corruption. Plus, the women there are treated mostly as sex or marital objects, China-dolls if you will, and thought of as Baby-manufacturers; of boys more than girls! Elite Russian culture—and their mafias too—are practically identical in most ways as in China.

        Incredibly sad to be raised your entire life under daily oppression and fear.

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        • Which is why I am encouraged and amazed by the courage of those Russian people who have been protesting in the streets, knowing they are likely to be arrested for speaking their minds. Thinking of the Russian and Chinese people, it makes the protests here in the U.S. against simply being told to wear a mask when in public seem utterly ridiculous and shallow! People here couldn’t survive in Russia, China, or many other countries with autocratic leaders. Yes, it would be incredibly sad to live one’s life under daily oppression and fear, and we should remember to be thankful for the freedoms we have.

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    • Hi there. I agree with your overall assessment, would just like to add a qualifier. The size and resources of the territory they rule over.
      We still live in the shadow of Hitler’s tenure in Germany. He survived assassination attempts by ‘groups’ rather than the people, more by luck or poor planning that anything else. Even to the end he still held the parts of Germany not overrun by a combination of a military which held to some of the most blinkered ideas of duty, terror, fanaticism and fear of the foe (Russia). The collapse came through a constant, brutal pummelling.
      Now we have to face up to the fact that in Putin and his Court’s case a constant brutal pummelling brings on the spectre of Nuclear Weapons; unless we place our faith in the current applications of a combination of ‘Soft Powers’.
      To avoid the immolation which a head on clash or creeping escalation with NATO would result in we look to a messy and for The Ukrainians a far from satisfactory solution.
      1. There are ‘talks’
      2. Ukraine cedes territory to Russia.
      3. Ukraine remains ‘neutral’
      4. The current ‘soft’ pressure remains on Russia until they back off.
      5. The current isolation of Russia as a state in the Community of nations remains.
      6. Anti-Putin sentiment remains a by-word in the World Lexicon.
      7. We dig out the Kissinger playbook and work the China card (which is pretty hard on the Uyghurs).
      8. We muddle through and wait for Putin’s ‘retirement through ill-health’
      9. Russia learns a hard lesson.
      Messy, messy history.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Very messy indeed Ddwp. Your list is well thought out and extensive. Bravo.

        I personally see #4 and #5 as the best plausible (and relatively safest) of your list. Heard this AM one acclaimed economist with tenure in Eastern European & Euro-Asian markets explain poignantly that unless we unintentionally raise the odds of armed conflict with Russia vs NATO (then by default the U.S.) then our sanctions, escalated up to a full-blown economic embargo of all sectors of the Russian economy until Putin withdraws from Ukraine due unsustainability over time—i.e. bleed him dry economically & in resources to occupy or hold Ukraine—then Putin will find a way (war crimes most likely) not to reverse any of his actions. He doesn’t know the concept of reverse.

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        • Thanks. Being born in the early 1950s my wife andI grew up with Cold War speak as used by both sides and learnt its convoltions with bemused interest.
          However Putin’s outright lies as he inflicts slaughter is one step too far. We turn the volume off and snarl wishes for his fate.

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          • As a former Psych/A&D rehab therapist, I see Putin’s path as a direct line to a slow self-induced suicide or homicide by traitors or a Ukrainian or more at some point when he leaves Moscow’s relative safety—if he is stupid enough to do that. If he never leaves Moscow, then I see him spiraling into psychosis & very acute paranoia—along the lines of Howard Hughes or Adolf Hitler. We all know how those lives ended.

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              • Yes Ddwp, he has insulated himself on several levels. I guess what I was too general about in my last comment is that Putin himself and his closest Loyalists don’t realize their end-game right now, that the more Putin (blindly and/or clumsily escalates this conflict/war—e.g. recklessly bombing nuclear power-plants in Ukraine—and not backing down or withdrawing… he and Russia CANNOT HOLD Ukraine permanently if they do temporarily conquer all of Ukraine. Never. With some 90 nations now allied against Putin and the Russian forces inside Ukraine, plus the economic sanctions will certainly continue to get more & more severe, i.e. he & Russia are bled completely dry and bankrupt, THEN that is the start down the path of what I proposed or foresee.

                Maybe that’s more clarifying as to what I wanted to imply sir.

                Yes, should he continue to escalate and escalate more… he narrows down his “off-ramp,” as many experts have coined in news coverages, until he eventually has just ONE choice remaining: go down fighting, by mutual annihilation with NATO and the West, U.S. included, assassinated ala Brutus by his inner-circle, or killed by a Ukrainian or Ukrainians. He may have already decided on his “final act” alive. Wouldn’t be surprised by that either.

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                • If we come out of this still functioning historians, political scientists and journalists will be producing books. As time goes on some will produce more analytical works trying to get inside what was really motivating Putin and his court in the Kremlin.

                  As you point Professor T, they have lost control of their end-game. All the old adages and sayings about incautious and poor decisions in war are nesting on the Kremlin roof. He has in effect enforced another Afghanistan on Russia, only this time its on the doorstep of a lot of European countries who have been used a measure of stability and not having war a day or so away, and they are kicking back.
                  We should not, however, underestimate the ability of Russia to absorb losses and take on hardships, particularly as the propaganda machine hikes up. Russia has a history of taking losses which would cripple other nations (a bit like China).
                  We cannot be certain if there will be another ‘Decemberist’ attempt, or a 1917 replay. Nor can we be sure if another ‘retirement’ takes places- Khrushchev being a prime example.

                  At present in the amoral world of Realpolitik the ‘best’ solution is a stuttering to a sullen truce, and The Kremlin subsequently whining and protesting about ‘Western’ money flowing into the rebuild those parts of Ukraine still free.

                  The ground being trodden, in European history terms is not new, by any means. The weaponry both military and economic are though, accelerated by computer networks. Thus every day brings a new opinion, a different suggestion and another fear.

                  Let this be a lesson, The fight for Democracy, and Tolerance is a constant and knows no borders.

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  10. Friedman is spot on. I will personally take scenario 3. That’s the one I’m dreaming about, and it’s the one that will relieve the world of a lunatic despot, desperate to hold on to power. Here’s hoping the Russian people do exactly that. They deserve so much better.

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  11. A powerful series of arguments for the three basic scenarios which are before us and for The Kremlin too.
    There is also room for some mixing of aspects of the three basic ones involving flashpoints on the fringes.
    Putin and his Kremlin Court have gravely miscalculated but are unlikely to step down of their own volition.
    This now takes its own momentum. It is no longer Putin’s War. He is War’s Putin. Jeff Danzig saw it coming didn’t he?

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  12. Personally, I think this is a rather simplistic view, but I am Nobody. I have mo exprience in world affairs. Maybe simplistic is the way to approach this “affair.” Putin had more balls than he has brains, and suppoĺ.sedly he has a lot of brains. But he has no heart, and that will be his downfall.
    The question is, when will he fail? What good is an empire if it is being destroyed by climate change, which he is helping along.
    I don’t see any of these outcomes happening as written. Something presently unnoticed will play a big factor. We will notice, if we are still around to have the opportunity.

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