On the Incentives to Invade Ukraine | Part 1.
Why might Russia want or not want to invade Ukraine?
Well, let’s start with why they might want to. First, Putin is unpopular. Now, that might not seem very important since Russia is by no means a perfect democracy, but the support of the Russian people is still significant. A country in unrest is not a prosperous country. Above all, Putin wants Russia to be an empire, and for that, he wants Ukraine. This is not a new conflict, but today, the situation is different. Now, the U.S. president is Joe Biden.
See, Biden is stupid. He doesn’t seem to understand the doctrine of deterrence. You see, deterrence is the idea that you threaten force, with your vast military that we pour innumerable sums of money into, if someone decides to get aggressive. The aggressive power recognizes that you could destroy them in two seconds if they misbehave, and consequently they back off. This is the idea behind mutually assured destruction, except in that case, both powers have a credible and unstoppable threat against each other, and therefore act in self-preservation and don’t attack. However, deterrence only works if the force behind your threat is real and if your history supports the credibility of your threat. Joe Biden has destroyed that. He decided to end U.S. presence in Afghanistan on the premise that we had spent too much time and too much money in a foreign country, and he did it in the worst way possible.
So, let’s talk about Afghanistan because it’s crucial to understanding the situation we’re in today. Biden said that we were fighting an “endless war” in Afghanistan. The truth was, it wasn’t even a war. What was going on in Afghanistan at the time of the disastrous pullout was a rebuilding effort. It much more closely resembled an occupation rather than a significant conflict. Sure, there were skirmishes here and there, and every soldier’s life that was lost is a moral tragedy. However, from a strategic and foreign policy perspective, we were cruising. We hadn’t had an American casualty in a year and a half, there was finally a president and a semblance of a democratic government, and human rights were at a much better state than they were before, or than they are now. So why did the president pull out? In my opinion, he left because he thought the Taliban were moderating, and that ending America’s presence in the region would gain their favor. Unfortunately, he was completely wrong. And worse, he should have known it.
According to Reuters, “the last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, girls could not attend school and women were banned from work and education. Religious police would flog anyone breaking the rules and public executions were carried out.” Although the Taliban vowed to be more progressive and liberal (though not with the connotations that those words carry in the US), what evidence was there to convince anyone of that? The new interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the leader of the infamous Haqqani Network, a group that is currently recognized by the Director of National Intelligence as a terrorist organization. The Director notes that the group is “responsible for some of the highest-profile attacks of the Afghan war,” including a 2011 attack on the US Embassy and the Afghan Presidential Palace. By the way, the Taliban was labeled a terrorist group in 2012, as Joe Biden’s second term as vice president was starting.
This is only the first part of our deep dive into the situation on the Ukranian border. We'll talk more about the failed logistics of the evacuation planning in an upcoming piece.