The Cold War, Farcical Version
One reason Western diplomats keep telling themselves a tyrant with openly stated global ambitions doesn’t really mean it, is that they never say anything in earnest, so they cannot imagine anyone else would. Right now, the world is witnessing the results of a confrontation between a man who tells you what he wants to do and then does it, and a hundred and fifty others who deliver addresses and publish white papers describing their long-term wishes in general outline, and then go for lunch with their bankers.
With each passing day, Putin proceeds successfully with his experiment on the world’s level of seriousness. How much can he do, how gruesomely and how bluntly, without the world ever rising to the boiling point? Every day, he is becoming firmer in his resolve and more brazen in his goals, as his experiment proves that there is virtually no limit to what he can do. He will not be opposed with anything but paper-pushing and scolding remarks. He will take any country he chooses after Ukraine. The question of whether he has the resources or the Russian population’s will to hold those territories is somewhat irrelevant to the millions of people who will be killed or displaced by his aggression in the meantime, as the West waits him out to see what his next move might be. And eventually, the “unity” of the international community will begin to break down, as smaller nations under immediate threat or bombing begin to recognize, as Putin has already recognized, that no one outside of Ukraine has the will to stop him, and therefore that resistance to his demands is nothing but a guarantee of great suffering.
One difference between the current situation — a Russian tyranny pushing into neighboring countries and then, inevitably, its neighbors‘ neighboring countries, while daring the world to do anything about it — and the analogous scenario during the previous century, is that this time there is another, even more advanced and sophisticated, tyranny working on its own subtler scheme for world supremacy at the same time. Another difference: This time, the global alternative to tyranny, the “free world,” only cares about its consumer price index and its toys.