Posted by Ada Coddington
What caused the war now ongoing in Ukraine? One supposes that the first answer just about everybody would agree on is that Putin caused the war. Clearly, that has to be the first answer. He started it. He made the decision. His reasons were the decisive ones.
We don’t know now what Putin wants from the war. He has a bundle of objectives that look incoherent and spell big trouble for his campaign. He wants to de-Nazify and demilitarize Ukraine, but not to occupy it. He wants to spare civilians, while launching a war where they live. The overall message—we’re going to win but then get out—will remind Americans of a similar promise in 2003, when George Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s enlarged conception went something like this: First, we’ll sweep them from the field, then the United Nations will come in with a lot of peacekeepers and U.S. forces will be gone by the end of the war. Putin’s war is no more hallucinatory than Bush’s war, maybe even less so, but the mishmash of incoherent objectives spells huge complications for his enterprise, whatever it ultimately turns out to be.
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