Reading the Runes of War, by Alastair Crooke

Sometimes losing face wins the best outcome, but Western leaders pressing the Ukraine war have the sagacity to recognize that wisdom. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Putin’s policy of cleansing the Augean Stables of ‘predatory western capital’ is music to the ears of the Global South, Alastair Crooke writes.

Of course, the conflict, to all intents, is settled – though is far from over. It is clear that Russia will prevail in the military war – and the political war too – by which is meant that whatever emerges in Ukraine after the military action is complete will be dictated by Moscow on its terms.

Plainly, on the one hand, the regime in Kiev would collapse were it to have terms dictated to it by Moscow. And, on the other hand, the entire western agenda behind the Maidan coup d’état in 2014 would implode, too. (This is why an off-ramp, short of a Ukrainian rout, is next to impossible.)

This moment thus marks a crucial point of inflection. One American choice might be to end the conflict – and there are many voices calling for a deal, or a ceasefire, with the understandably humane intent of ending the pointless slaughter of Ukrainian young men sent to ‘the front’ to defend indefensible positions, only to be cynically killed for no military gain, merely to keep the war going.

Though rational, the argument for an off-ramp misses the bigger geopolitical point: The West is so heavily invested in its fantastical narrative of imminent Russian collapse and humiliation that it finds itself ‘stuck fast’. It cannot move forward for fear that NATO might not be up to the task of confronting Russian forces (Putin has made the point that Russia had not even begun to use its full force). And yet, to cut a deal, to move back, would be to lose face.

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