March 18, 2022

Building Back Better In Ukraine: What Does Victory Look Like?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union Ukraine turned into a dumping ground for narcotics, arms, and as we have come to discover, bioweapons. 

An excerpt from, "Estimating the Flow of Illegal Drugs Through Ukraine" By Mary Layne, Office of Justice Programs, September 2001: 

Ukraine has become a significant conduit for Southwest Asian heroin bound for European markets. Porous borders, understaffed and under funded counter-narcotics entities and the rise of organized crime syndicates have enabled traffickers to utilize Ukraine as a viable transit point. Further, Ukraine has become a legitimate opiate producer in its own right, cultivating approximately 3000 new hectares of illicit poppy fields annually.

Not only is Ukraine a gateway for drugs, it is a global arms depot with untraced weapons ending up in the hands of the highest bidder. 

As the crown jewel of the Soviet military-industrial complex, Ukraine's military industry was well positioned to take advantage of the lucrative world arms market in the post Cold War, especially in the Middle East, where Soviet hardware was in demand. 

Ukroboronprom, the Ukrainian arms monopoly that is state-owned, has come under heavy bombardament since the war began.

Ukraine is a war-making state, but it was not set up to wage a successful counter-war against its much larger neighbour. Under NATO's tutelage it was destined to be a toxic wasteland, nothing more.

It is not beyond the realm of imagination that unregulated and unchecked U.S. bio experiments threatened the long-term health and stability of Ukraine's ecosystem. 

Putin saw the obvious danger but didn't act until it was clear that war was the only option left to him by Washington and NATO.

We don't know yet if Putin's intervention was too late. Maybe historians will say he acted after the horses already left the barn. Maybe there was no saving Ukraine, or even Western-Russian relations.

But what is not in doubt is that Ukraine has been a poorly managed cesspool of corruption that the West saw no interest in reforming in any serious way. 

Ukrainian oligarchs were only too happy to rule over one of the poorest countries in Europe, which, given its natural resources and human potential, is a damn shame.

Russia, if victorious in Ukraine, will not turn it into a wonderland. But at least its leaders are not homicidal maniacs. So far its military has acted honourably, with compassion and restraint.

However, that all could change tomorrow if Ukrainians refuse to lay down. Victory will be hard to grasp unless the minds of Ukrainians are changed.

Victory might not even be in the cards.

Cian O'Driscoll wrote in an article published in December 2019 called, "The myth of victory in modern warfare":

Thinking about contemporary armed conflict in terms of victory is problematic because modern warfare is not configured in such a way as to produce what we might regard as a clear-cut victory for one side and an emphatic defeat for the other. Construed this way, victory appears more mythical than real.

But even if it is a myth, it colors how we approach contemporary armed conflict today, tempting us to believe that clean endings are still a possibility—when they are evidently not. Victory is, in this sense, a red herring.

Russia's war for Ukraine is, as Putin put it, a war to reclaim it as a Russian spiritual and cultural space first and foremost. 

There won't be mass ethnic cleansing campaigns or massive airstrikes against populated cities. 

The war Putin is fighting is not of the flesh.

As any good shepherd, he wants to rule the sheep while the wolves who unlawfully seized power in Kiev want to kill them.