For us laypeople, the most useful rule in matters of foreign policy is the old saw, “Those who talk don’t know, and those who know don’t talk.”
That is as true for the retired generals on cable news as it is for the 20-somethings Ivy League grads who are experts because they once visited Poland. And, obviously, it is triply true of newspaper columnists.
But it is a matter of human nature, not foreign affairs, to guess with a relative degree of certainty that when Vladimir Putin isn’t thinking about the battle in Ukraine in 2022, he is thinking about the battle for the American presidency in 2024.
This is where he will extract his revenge for President Biden’s meddling, channeling money to the Republican Party and ginning up the old social media machine to pepper Americans’ feeds with lies and culture-war napalm.
That he blames America for his own failures is hardly surprising. What does surprise, is that so many Americans stand ready to blame America for Russian failure.
Or maybe it shouldn’t surprise, considering this new national psyche of ours that seems intent on experiencing the hangover without attending the party.
You expect the right to go after the Biden administration’s victorious trash talk, but the hand-wringing has extended to the American left as well, for reasons only the American left could dream up. The main line of thought is that a weakened Putin is a more dangerous Putin. There’s also a fear that we are becoming too deeply intertwined in the fight.
OK fine, valid concerns. So let’s ask this: When has appeasement of a bloodthirsty autocrat worked? Ever? Those who fret that Putin might get mad at us ought to consider that he certainly respects us more now than he would have if we had remained on the sidelines. He may hate us, but he hated us before — his backing of Donald Trump isn’t for a love of Trump, but for a logical conclusion that Trump is capable of doing America the most damage.
Putin is a better fighter in the shadowy world of propaganda and deceit than he is on an actual battlefield, so quite honestly, he has a better shot at the 2024 presidential election than he does in his own backyard.
So we shouldn’t “fear” a weakened Russia, as the liberals say, we should welcome it. If Trump or a Trump clone wins the White House, we want Russia to be too compromised to take advantage.
Today, for every bomb Russia drops on Ukraine, it is dropping two on itself. The economic sanctions that Putin has brought on himself have not even begun to have their full effect, and contrary to the respect Putin craves, he has turned the Motherland into a leper colony. All the smartest people are leaving. Technological advancement has been crippled, perhaps for decades.
That’s good. Our best interest lies in Russia being a Humpty Dumpty that not even a Trumpist can put back together again.
But beyond all this, what on God’s green earth is wrong with winning? We’re not just winning, we are crushing — and all anyone wants to do is apologize for it. Biden was reportedly “furious” at leaks of gloating coming from his administration.
No, boss, I guarantee that was nothing of the sort. That was just a statement pumped to the press to take the edge off the critics. In reality, Biden loves rubbing dirt in Putin’s face, and he loves anyone who points out that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Our weapons are flying circles around his. Putin is forced to make do with technology that America left in the dust 40 years ago. The references to “Soviet era” weaponry is code for points and distributor caps, hand-held compasses and bombs that became obsolete in the years following World War II. Putin’s vaunted military machine is all smoke and mirrors, all Putin specialties: propaganda, bluster and lies. He’s been exposed, and we are the ones who have pulled down his pants.
What really must spook the P-dog is that our technology has quite clearly penetrated every inch of Russia, from the top level of the Kremlin down to the lowliest tank crew. We know what they’re going to do before they do.
Our capabilities have stunned not just Russia, but China as well, which has been conspicuously quiet. Tell me that President Xi isn’t worried sick about what we know.
America has regained the international luster lost during the Trump years. We have led the world, orchestrating a united response and teamed with Ukraine and the world to beat down a brute.
We seem worried about this. Like it’s too good to be true, and certainly another shoe will drop. Maybe it will. But that is for tomorrow. Today it should just feel good to be winning so convincingly.
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: America is winning in fight to stop Putin in Ukraine