Plain English with Derek Thompson - How Putin's War Will End

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Today is our second episode in 24 hours on the war in Ukraine.

Our last episode was about how Russia’s war will change the world.

This episode asks a simpler question.


How will Russia’s terrible war in Ukraine?

And this week?

Paul post a professor of war and foreign policy at the University of Chicago wrote that he envisioned several scenarios for Putin’s military campaign.

These scenarios ranged from failure and Quagmire to the conquest of Ukraine.


To essentially World War 3.

In this episode, we talk about each of these scenarios in depth, the major factors that will shape the outcome of this war.

The Biden administration’s response to Putin, why this war really is reminiscent of both Hitler in Czechoslovakia and Japan’s attacks on Pearl Harbor and the most important things to watch out for in the coming week.


No, big speech for me today.

This is very much a listening and learning episode for me.

I hope you take as much as I did from this conversation.

I’m Derrick Thompson and this is plain English.


My guest is Professor, Paul Post.

He is an associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he teaches classes about foreign policy and War, Professor.

Welcome to the podcast.

Thank you for having me.

You laid out several scenarios for how Russia.


Invasion of Ukraine might play out.

What I’d like to do today is to walk through those scenarios and then I’d like you to tell us which of the scenarios is most likely to you and the key factors that will determine which scenario is most likely.

My only request Professor is that you explain this to me like I am a freshman in your 101.


International relations class.

Is that all sound okay, to you.

That sounds great.


Let’s start with with the scenario, that assumes the least amount of success for Russia.

Shh and then we’ll build toward the scenarios that assume more ambitious and potentially more disastrous plans for Russia in Europe.



Number one is that this is just a disaster for Vladimir Putin.

It is a quagmire.

It is like the Iraq War, the United States on speed that what presented itself to the u.s.

In the 2000s in Iraq, the Russians essentially find happening in a matter of days.


There are already protests across the country.

Russian celebrities have spoken out against the Or Russia stock market is tanks.

The ruble, Russia’s currency has created and the pain might just be beginning if sanctions bite down on Russian, oligarchs and businesses.

So tell me what you see as plausible and implausible about a scenario in which Russia reassesses this Invasion and dramatically scales back its ambitions.


This is indeed a scenario that a lot of analysts have been predicting because of exactly what you said looking at the Iraq War, the u.s.

Experience with the Iraq War, USA experience with Afghanistan.

And let’s be honest.

We could go further back to the Soviet experience with Afghanistan.


That these are all scenarios that we label a quagmire a mess.

The regime is you, maybe the objective was to change the regime of the country and that seemed like a good idea.

The time.

And then suddenly there’s resistance to that and the military forces are bogged down and indeed for all of the things that you just laid out.


This just looks like a bad idea in hindsight.

Is this plausible?

And what would rush to do if this were to happen?

I first of all yes, this is very much plausible.

As as you said, there’s already a lot of resistance it if you want to talk about the notion of like, will obviously you Have the ukrainians.


They are fighting for their country.

They are probably more motivated.

They have more morale than the Russian troops.

And so, these would all be contributors to making us very tough for Russia to accomplish.

The big thing, would be what happens, if that occurs, how would Putin respond?


How would rush to respond?

And that’s something that we can talk about, but I see it as going, one of the two ways.

It could be something where it does indeed.

Russia to scale back.

Maybe even recognize.

This was a bad idea.

Perhaps going all the way out of the country or at least going back to the Eastern.


Provinces, the ones that Putin just recently declared independent or the other one is it could actually lead Russia to lash out further and that’s something that we can talk a little bit more as we get into some of the other scenarios.

But it is something that could potentially happen.


So you’re saying that the scenario of the Quagmire’s extremely plausible, but we remains unknown is whether a quagmire.

And Ukraine either causes Putin to totally rethink his strategy and maybe Retreat to the donbas region in eastern Ukraine or rather.

He’ll say he’s become so frustrated by the Ukrainian fight.


Back by the Ukrainian reaction, to his invasion.

That he doubles down in some way that could become more chaotic.

And catastrophic.

Is that a fair summary?

That is an absolutely Fair summary and that is that can lead into one of the other scenarios that we can talk about here.

Let’s talk about scenario.

Number two, then you called this the Mario of foreign imposed regime change.


Tell me about scenario.

Number two.

So scenario number two would be very similar to what we just talked about except that in this case.

It would be successful that this would be a very quick operation.

The objective is to Simply remove the existing government in Ukraine and input and input in place a government.


That’s friendly to Russia.

The in other words.

Russia is trying to turn Ukraine into what it current that into the kind of relationship that it Currently has with Belarus Belarus under Bush in Co is very much in line with Russia.

You could even say it’s a subservient state to Russia, Ukraine is not that way, but this would be the objective and the scenario to would be that this, this works, right that they go in there.


Able to depose the existing government solinsky’s out.

He’s in Exile and they put in a friendly government.

And then, the forces could either leave or they’re able to stay there by invitation of this new government.

You’ll go opens.

A whole bunch of possibilities for Russia and for Putin at that point.


So again, it’s very similar to the first scenario except that this one would presume that it’s successful.

The big difference between this and say, other scenarios will talk about, is that the aims are more limited.

It’s just simply about putting in as other government and then, at that point stopping.


And so, this wouldn’t be about conquering the entire country.

So to speak, this wouldn’t be about using Russian forces to essentially, patrol.

All the major cities, major towns intersection.

Etc of Ukraine.

Instead this would be an effort to essentially just decapitate install a pro-russia regime in Kiev and used a smaller number of Russian forces to essentially support the pro-russian regime in that Capital so that the Russian forces would be rather more limited to key of itself.



That is exactly the scenario.

This is the scenario that I think if you go back and draw on that Iraq, war analogy, think this was the scenario that the US.

I was hoping for with a rock that would be a friendly government.

Maybe the us could maintain some sort of presence there.


But otherwise, it would be a peaceful existence of east from the perspective of the two governments, in the case of their Rocky example, the United States and Iraq, or in the case, of course, talking about Ukraine, the new Ukrainian government in Russia.


It wouldn’t be this protracted resistance Insurgency, Quagmire that we talked about in the first scenario.

So, the way you could sort of say that, Scenario.

Number one, is that the war in Ukraine?

Could be like an unsuccessful American war in Iraq.

And scenario.

Number two is like what if the Iraq War was more successful?


What if we successfully deposed of Saddam Hussein install the pro American regime?

And basically, there were no insurgents.

There were, there was no years and years of America fighting to Tamp down the Flames of Insurgency throughout Iraq.

Let’s move on to scenario.

Number 3, you call this state death.


What is state?

Death and how does it represent a notch Beyond scenario 2 s regime change?

They death is a phrase that I borrowed from the work of Tanisha Fazal.

She’s a professor of international relations at the University of Minnesota.


And she wrote this very well-received book.

Several years ago called State death.


What is State death?

Well, State death is when a state no longer exists.

And so specifically.

It’s about annexation.

It’s about conquering the country.

Tree and having it ceased to be an independent state.


So, in this case, what that would mean is that Russia’s objective is not just to put in a new government like in scenarios wanted to, but it is to actually take over the entire country and make Ukraine actually part of Russia to where Ukraine would no longer exist as an independent state.


And of course, there is some precedent for this because this is exactly what Russia dig with Crimea.

Russia went into Crimea.

Took control of Crimea and then may Crimea part of Russia.

And so they’ve already done this with part of Ukraine.

This scenario envisions that the objective is to do this with all of Ukraine and based on what Putin has said so far based on just his rhetoric.



Look, what happening on the ground?

Not looking at probabilities, just his rhetoric.

Is he talking about this Invasion as being more of a scenario to Iraq war Invasion or more of a scenario, 3 State death, the end.

Of an independent Ukraine folding essentially this land into what becomes an enlarged, Russia.


If you really look carefully at his words, he I, would be honest.

You don’t even have to look, that carefully at his words, it very much implies that he thinking about making Ukraine part of Russia that he has this desire to recreate the Soviet Union, maybe even the Russian Empire that preceded the Soviet Union and in both scenarios, Ukraine would be part of that, Ukraine would no longer be.


Independence Day would actually be part of this, of this new, whatever Putin wanted to call it the new Russian Empire.

Yeah, exactly, you know, but they would now become part of that.

So let’s go to scenario number four and at this point I imagine some listeners are like scenario.

Number 3 is going to be bad enough.


That’s probably a campaign that’s going to result in thousands and thousands of deaths of protracted campaign.

In order to defeat the Russian people entirely to fold this country into the Russian Empire, but scenario for goes one step further.

This is what you call.

All Imperial overreach describe this scenario for us.


What would the Imperial overreach situation?

Look like the Imperial overreach builds directly?

And what we were just talking about that.

If you take seriously, what Putin was saying in these speeches is the desire to recreate the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union.


Well, that shouldn’t end with Ukraine.

There are many other states former Soviet republics Moldova with Belarus.

Is one even though they have good relations.

They’re technically not part of Russia.

You could look at Georgia, a country that Russia, of course invaded in 2008.


You can even go as far as the Baltic states, the will come back to the Baltic states and one of the other scenarios for specific reasons, but there are these countries that are currently independent states that used to be part of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire.

And so this next scenario, envisions that Putin’s objective is to only start with Ukraine.


And once he successfully conquered Ukraine, the next step is to go further and bring these other former Soviet republics into Russia and to truly recreate the Russian Empire.

Now, the reason why this is called Imperial overreach is because a common thing that happens with a lot of Empire Endeavors, if you will is indeed overreaching.


You overextend yourself, you go too far and then you end up creating an entity that you can’t govern that you can’t control.

And so that their that is the risk that this scenario poses, let alone the fact that there’s the risk of even trying to accomplish the Conquering itself.


But this scenario and visions that Putin’s vision is much greater than just Ukraine.

I think it’s important to tease out two things from Scenario number four, which is that in the short term scenario number for assumes, some level of extraordinary Russian success.


It implies that Russia has been extremely successful at essentially.

Conquering the country of Ukraine, not only installing its own pro-russia, leader in Kiev, but Conquering the entire country and essentially running the country as an extension of the Russian Empire, but scenario for also implies that the confidence that that gives Vladimir Putin encourage him encourages him to keep going to move Beyond to move east, and south of Ukraine into countries, like Moldova to move South into countries like Georgia and that those further Even though they are the fruits of success in Ukraine, could result in what you call Imperial overreach could create their own enormous headaches for an enlarged.


Russian Empire.

Is it fair to say that there’s this sort of short-term success long-term complication inherent in the scenario.


And you put your finger on exactly one of the key things that I think has to happen for this type of scenario to play out, which is Success that he has to become overconfident because he had Success in Ukraine, you can almost draw an analogy back to Hitler and a comparison to Hitler when he was trying to create the Nazi Empire and that he had this initial success Horse, He waltzed right into Austria.


There was no resistance in that case.

Then things got a little bit more difficult with Czechoslovakia and indeed a lot of the build-up to Ukraine was very much being compared to the build-up to Czechoslovakia in 1934 and 1938 39 that scenario.

Then you have course Poland and then because the Polish Invasion by Germany was so successful.


He continued to say, I could keep going, I can keep going.

And so, that’s the concern with this one is that if he’s had success which he has had.

He took Crimea.

If Ukraine ends up being relatively easy.

Would he continued to go just as we saw Hitler, do 80 years ago.


So that leads us to the final scenario that you envision scenario.

Number five, involves.

Not just Just war in Moldova and Ukraine, and Georgia, but also wore in the Baltic states.

That is Estonia, Latvia Lithuania.


Why is scenario 5?

Its own distinct catastrophic scenario.

This final scenario.

I’m calling the major power War scenario.

So in all the other scenarios, this is about Russia attacking the smaller states that used to be part of the Soviet Union, but In this is a key.


But all of these states are not part of NATO.

Not part of the North, Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is, this massive Alliance that is comprised of.

Many of the Western European countries, Eastern European countries.


And of course, the United States in the u.s.

Being the key player in NATO, that becomes relevant with this next scenario, because the Baltic states Sonia Latvia Lithuania, they are also forming For Soviet republics, but they are the former Soviet republics that were able to join NATO and they were able to join the EU.


You also have countries that we’re not former Soviet republics, but we’re very important to the Soviet sphere.

During the Cold War, most notably Poland and they are also a member of NATO and they also border Ukraine.

This scenario, envisions that Russia and specifically Putin decides to go further.


From Ukraine, but not towards the other former Soviet republics but into these NATO countries.

And he could do this for any number of reasons.

One of them could be because of the Baltic states, being former Soviet republics and his desire to rebuild the Empire.

He decides, you know what?


I think I can take them maybe again because he had success in Ukraine.

Perhaps, he feels like the resolve of the West is not very great that he could take the Baltic states.

The other scenario with this one.

Could be that he attacks Poland, not.

So, Much that he wants to make Poland part of the new Russian Empire.


But one thing we know is a lot of Ukrainian refugees are going into Poland.

And if he does face some resistance or he does feel that Poland is somehow enabling some resistance in Ukraine.

He could feel like I need to invade Poland, to stop this.

But if that happens, he’s now attacking a NATO country and the key to Nato is what we call Article 5 Article 5 is a mutual defense clause, which is that an attack on one.


Is an attack on all if that happens and President Biden has made very clear that he’s willing to do this.

But if this happens, then the other NATO countries would come to the defense of that native country.

And then you could have war between NATO and specifically United States against Russia.


So, putting this all together, just giving it my own names, though, the ways that I’m thinking about these five scenarios.

It seems to me that these five scenarios are something like number one.

And unsuccessful Iraq, war equivalent, interact number to a successful Iraq, war equivalent, interact opposing of the central government, but not going further to absorb the entire state.


Number three, these successful conquering of Ukraine folding it into Russia.

Number four is a Russian Empire.

A new Russian Empire.

Essentially, not just conquering Ukraine, but also conquering, Moldova are moving into Moldova and Georgia even With the risk of what you call Imperial overreach number five.


Am I wrong in thinking that this is just World War 3.

This seems to me like World War 3.

That is indeed world war three scenario and we can now start talking about the likelihood of all these scenarios, but I think one thing given that we’re talking about this world war three stereo is, even though I would say this scenario is the least likely of the scenarios.


It is not unlikely.

It is much more likely than It was a a week ago.

It is much more likely and much more realistic than it has been in 80 years.

And so, I think that that’s something that should give a lot of people pause when thinking about that, that wow, we really could be on the break.


There is a plausible path in which a World War 3 could take place.

So let’s talk about plausibility.

You write that in determining which of these scenarios is most likely to come to pass.

It depends on two factors Factor number one.


You say are Putin.

Ames maximalist or limited.

What are those words mean in this context?

Maximalist Ames versus limited Ames maximalist AIMS in this context very much refers to kind of the scenarios where he’s trying to recreate the Russian Empire that it is about for than just you crate.


It is and he has these maximalist views of creating the greatness of the Soviet Union again, the greatest of the Russian Empire and that means Has, he has to seek out and conquer all of these various countries and indeed that ends up that we use that term in political science and international relations water story to explain the behavior of someone like a Hitler where Hitler did at first it was a question of was Hitler Limited in his aims that he just simply want to say unify the German people which was what he was trying to say saying, well, you know, there’s German people in Austria.


There’s German people in Czechoslovakia.

I simply want to bring them together or was he maximalist which is he wants Conquer further lands and try to create a massive German Empire and eventually we found that he was more maximalist than limited.

So in the case of Putin, that would be Maxwell has limited would be is earlier scenarios, which would be no.


His objectives are really just about Ukraine and not even about trying to conquer Ukraine, but just imposed put in a new government, put in a friendly government.

That would be a much more limited a and the Current of Ukraine, the state Destin area is kind of in between the two right eye, because it’s definitely more than just simply putting in a new government, but it’s not at this scale of trying to then go further in, conquering, other countries.


So these you can say the words limited and maximalist is kind of like there’s two categories, but it’s really more of a spectre respect.

You like, you could go War limited all the way to even more maximalist.

It seems to be that factor.

Number two, is really the key factor here because as you say, Limited versus matchless.


Tames can be something that Putin expresses from the safety of his bunker or office, but it’s also responsive to real-world events.

It is easier at this is true of Hitler was true of Hitler.

It’s true of Putin easier to be maximalist when your armies are extremely successful in their early campaigns.


So the second Factor seems really critical and that is what you call operational.

He’s what is This term operational is and how could it be?

Operationally is of invading, Ukraine, be potentially the critical Factor here.

So operational he’s is referring to just if you will the facts on the ground, this is referring.


These are the things that military analyst study.

These are the things that if you were to go to a military academy, you would be learning about is actually the conduct of the military campaign itself.

How is it going how successful, how quickly all of these?


Fine grain details about the military campaign.

How many casualties are you incurring?

How quickly are you covering ground?

How well, are you able to hold the ground?

These are the things that really factor into the operational success.

How expensive does this end up being?


That’s another key factor to it.

So, this is really about those nitty-gritty details, if you will about the military campaign itself, but the reality is, as you were just pointing out these very much feed into Then the political aims, right?


If you are having success on these military details, if you are making progress, if you’re holding territory, if you’re not experiencing a lot of resistance, then that could lead you to update your political aims of saying, maybe we can go further.

Maybe we can go further.


And so that is what we mean by operational ease.

Given everything that we know of what’s happening on the ground right now, the feedback that we’re getting from news reports, CNN social media, anything that you’re seeing from the Russian side of the Ukrainian side.


What is the operational?

He’s so far of advancing in Ukraine.

Has this been a is it’s beginning to look like a difficult campaign along campaign, or is this beginning to look like a campaign?

That is sorry that I don’t have another metaphor top of Mind here, but he’s a little bit more like the American invasion.


And of Iraq where the government was toppled with extraordinary, he’s it was merely the years after it became the Quagmire.

What are we starting to see here from the first first week of War.

I mean, it’s obviously, we’re still very early but one thing that has jumped out at me right away, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty about these reports, but at least reports that I’ve seen from reported by Ukraine itself is the number of casualties the number of fatalities.


Already been experienced.

And if these numbers are accurate, apparently on the Russian side, there’s already been about a thousand fatalities and similar fatality levels on Ukrainian side.

To put that in perspective.

Most wars are not like World War, One, World War two, most wars that we’ve studied and we have these data.


There’s young scholars, like, myself, will collect these data.

And look at them, most wars.

You see about 50, Battlefield deaths a day.

That’s most worse.

So, to have a war on the first day, you’re talking, well, over a thousand fatalities that tells you how intense the fighting is.


This is an extremely intense war, and it’s unclear about how many days it’s going to last, but that intensity, I think is both a function of the speed and scale by which Russia has gone about carrying out their Camp.

A mean they were hitting all of these cities coming from multiple angles.


Invading from the north from Belarus coming in from Ukraine, coming from the East, it was Massive scale Invasion.

I think that’s one factor but also points to that there is resistance and there’s going to be growing resistance by Ukraine.

So I don’t think this is going to be a simple scenario but it does what we can see so far is that whether you want to classify it as easy or whether it will eventually be classified as hard, it is absolutely devastating.


What we’re witnessing given everything that we know now, which of the scenarios one through five.

Do you consider?

You’re most likely at this moment.

I think one thing I can share is kind of where my expectations of this conflict have gone and have evolved over the past few weeks.


So I and I’m very much on record for having said that I thought Putin would invade.

I did think that there would be an invasion and I’ve been thinking this for weeks and I’ve been saying this for weeks having said that I actually thought that his admit I thought that his invasion would be a limited Invasion.


I thought that he would maybe take some small slices of territory, mostly As Way to save face to say, yes, I’ve done this.

Maybe he goes, he moves troops into eastern, Ukraine into the contested territories, and that’s it.

So I will admit that.


I have had to update over the past week, as I’ve been hearing his rhetoric as I’ve been seeing the further mobilization to say, wow.

Do this is going to be actually a large Invasion.

And so I’ve had to update quickly on that and what that means is, given the size and scale of is Invasion.


And then when you Couple that with the rhetoric, I really do think that his objective is some form of annexation.

And so I think at this point that is the scenario that he is most seeking out.

Now whether that will be what he can accomplish is another matter and it does depend on that operational.


He’s so I think that that is the scenario.

That is.

He’s most desire.


I think that is one that we have to put quite a bit of probability on that.

That’s what he’s trying to achieve, but If I had to put a number on it, I think the most reasonable thing that we can be expecting right now as he is trying to achieve regime change.


So I’d say it’s somewhere between scenario to of achieving regime change and then annexation scenario 3 and I can tell you that, there’s some people who are debating about whether kill, Annex the whole country part of the country or not.


So I think right now you’re to most likely scenarios is something between the regime change and the annexation.

In scenario, right somewhere between snow is number two, and number three.

Is there any way?

You know, the way that we set this up made it sound like the sort of this very linear decision tree.


If he gets this far, there’s this outcome, if he gets that far, there’s that outcome.

Is there any way?

The tree could get a little bit Tangled where, for example, Putin fails to conquer the country and it is seen both within his country as a with then people within Russia.


As a wonderful thing that he failed, it seen as a huge embarrassment for his regime, but because of that failure, because of that embarrassment, it causes him to strike out in some other way that were not currently seeing such that he moves right onto snare.

Before he starts to invade Georgia.


He starts to create some other mess because he’s built up this enormous military appetite to cause some kind of Destruction annexation but the Ukrainian people thwarted his appetite in that country specifically kind of going back to what we were talking about earlier and some of the world war three example.


Alright, it’s scenario.

And I said that this is suddenly more plausible than it has been in 80 years and I think part of the reason is because there’s actually two paths to which we couldn’t reach this.

The first path is indeed, what we were talking about, kind of this linear, their success and that breeds success and he keeps going further, but the other thing that makes this a very scary scenario and gives it more plausibility than we.


I’ve had in a long time is exactly what you’re talking about, which is that we could still jump to that scenario.

If first of all, he’s having a lack of success in Ukraine.

Secondly, if he’s experiencing so much economic hardship at home, due to say the economic sanctions that are being imposed, that he could end up in a scenario.


Where essentially, he feels like his back is against the wall.

He has no other options.

He has no other choice, so he lashes out kind of in a desperation move.

In our discipline.

We call this gambling for Resurrection, right?

That you’re worried that you’re going to be.



And so the only way to save yourself, prevent that is to take this high-risk gamble there.

Now, there’s other ways that this has been referred to.

I think it was Bismarck who, you know, who back in 19th century, said something to the effect of its committing suicide, out of fear of death, but basically it’s the idea that you just feel like you have no other choice to, you’re going to go for this and hope that it works out for you.


That’s a scenario that In many ways, we have to take very seriously.

And I also think that this feeds into why, the US and the B Administration is very cautious in their usage of sanctions and doing anything that can make Putin feel like he’s being cornered.



That’s so interesting because there’s a lot of people that I see.

And look, I’m not a military historian.

I’m not a military strategist, but there’s a lot of people that I follow that.

I find a very smart who say something along the lines of why aren’t we going hard enough?

Isn’t it?


That we’re not shutting down Swift and their payment system, isn’t it embarrassing that were not using energy sanctions that were not truly trying to punish Putin?


Maximally right now.

And what you’re saying is and I’m just thinking about this out loud.

Well, of course, we want to save lives and Ukraine, of course, you want to thwart Putin and Ukraine, but we also don’t want to Corner Putin in a way that encourages him in whatever state he is in.


To, as you said, gamble for Resurrection to commit suicide for fear of death.

Which in this case, when you have a nuclear Arsenal at your disposal committing suicide for fear of death, involves the suicide of lots of people who aren’t just you.


So that’s such an interesting.

Maybe just expand on that a little bit, just to the US calculus here.

The US strategic calculus to punish Putin enough that we deter him and other actors.

That might be Like him in the future, but not to hit him so hard that he reaches a level of desperation that causes something even more catastrophic.


Best way that I’ve thought of to explain this to people that, I think they’ll have some familiarity with is especially true.

Of course American listeners is Pearl Harbor.

So Pearl Harbor was exactly one of these scenarios that what had been happening was back in the night.


Late, 1930s into 1940 is Japan had invaded Manchuria and were engaged in a war with China and the US was supporting China time with the US.

Did was they imposed an oil embargo on Japan and started.


Squeezing the government squeezing, the country economically to the point to where the Japanese government realized.

They only had about a year and a half of resources of oil supplies left.

And at that point, they were desperate, they needed to do something to try to get the u.s.


To stop the oil embargo, which of course was being in posed by the US Navy.

So that’s where they took the gamble of Pearl Harbor.

They said Add this, and at the time, and we now know this, because of various documents been released, but a lot of Japanese military planners, knew that this could just end poorly for Japan.


There are like, if we do this, you know, they knew the potential industrial capacity of the United States and I like this is, this is just the high-risk move and it’s likely not going to work out, but they did it.

And of course we know the aftermath of that is that it did lead to the war in the Pacific.


That’s indeed a scenario that has a lot of Eerie similarities to thinking about us economic pressure on Russia now and instead of it being Japan, invaded China and US put an oil embargo.

It’s Russia, invading Ukraine.

If we put the same type of economic pressure.


Could it lead Russia to make a similar calculus to what?

Japan made back in the 1940s?

That’s so interesting.

And it creates a real dilemma.

Because obviously, United States, government doesn’t want to be in the position where we say, we have all these weapons that we can use in the Shelf, but we don’t want to piss off Putin that much and As a result, we’re going to let Ukraine suffer and thousands of people die.


That seems monstrous that seems inhumane.

But within the broader calculus, I can see how it makes a kind of sense putting all this together.

You have Biden’s ear.

You’ve Lincoln’s ear.


That’s, it’s assumed that they give you an audience.


What do you tell them to do?

What do you tell them or NATO more?

Broadly to do that is most likely to stop Russia in Ukraine without funneling.

Kind of militarism somewhere else where Putin continues, this disastrous campaign what you’re putting your finger on is the fact that when it comes to really any policy space, but I think especially in foreign policy in Ash relations, your often facing all bath options.


And so your objective is simply to pick the least bad option and I think that this is indeed one of those scenarios where the binding ministration needs to pay.

Pick the least bad option.

I think they are doing that.


I do think that this explains why they’re not putting all the sanctions on the table yet where they haven’t put them all in place.

I think part of that is to avoid this nightmare scenario.

I think also part of it is that they have some additional.

If you will instruments to use, if it does start to push further.


I think that they need to do more to mobilize forces into Poland into the Baltic states.

To put in place more than what we would call a tripwire force.

And there’s this idea that if you put a few troops in the way of a potentially imposing Army and they die, then that will compel the side that put the troops there to come in and avenge their deaths.


But the reality is that that doesn’t really work.

What you have to do is you have to have enough troops on the ground that it just completely convinces potential can aggressor that this is not going to work.

And so if Back to like the Pearl Harbor example, part of the reason why Japan thought this could work is because the truth, you know, the ships were all docked and it’s like they’re not really paying attention so we can do this.


So you have to have those troops on the reading.

This is something that The Binding ministration has been starting to do.

They need to do more of?

Is that unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of diplomacy which the by Administration recognized, right?

They said we’re not talking to Putin right now.

It is a matter that you have to have if you will that hard power on the ground show that it’s ready to go.


And that’s something that has to be in full force.

So that’s the key thing to be emphasizing with the buying Administration as for Putin.

I don’t know if he can be reached.

I really don’t know if you go back to earlier this week when he had the meeting of his Security Council.


He basically had all the people who do have his ear, they were all just coming up and essentially telling him what he wanted to hear which is that it is time to invade in crane.

It is time to take this measure.

So I don’t know what could be said to Putin to convince him to not pursue any of these options.


I think it’s really about ensuring that the other side’s don’t put Putin in a situation and it’s a fine balance to reach but don’t put him in a situation where he feels like either a, it will be easy to go further or be that he has no choice but to go for a drive, even so helpful and so clear and laying out, these scenarios.


Tell me what you are looking for.

In the next week, the next two weeks to determine the most likely outcome of this war.

So the first thing I’m going to be looking at is what we’ve been talking about.

How is the actual military campaign going does Russia seem like they’re achieving the success quickly if they want to be able to achieve because that’s going to inform a lot of which of these scenarios obviously between like scenario wanted to most apparently, secondly is what is there once?


They’ve captured Keith?

What are they going to do?

Are they going to then put in place a new government?

What’s the response of the existing government?

What does zalenski do?

That’s something else we have to pay attention because that’s going to inform about this regime change foreign, impose regime, change idea.


So this could be two things to me, paying attention to.

But the other one is going to be.

What is NATO doing?

What are they putting in place?

Are they moving these military assets into the East and in particular?

What does the situation look like in Poland?

Because as I highlighted, I really do think that Poland could be the flashpoint.


What are the what’s the refugee situation?

Look like there is what is Russia saying about that Refugee situation?

Could that give us hints that Russia might be thinking about invading into Poland, because again, that is going to be in my view, the potential.


What could potentially bring about that nightmare scenario.

You said something that I want to ask about which was once Russia conquers keys.

I don’t know if that was a slip of the tongue or a revelation of the fact that you think it is just a matter of time before Russia capital captures, the capital of Ukraine.


It’s fine.

It’s not necessarily going to be easy because any time you tried, I mean, the capital is where usually forces try to have their Last Stand, but I do think that they, that is one of their primary objectives.

I We’ll try to accomplish that primary objective and what we’ve seen so far is despite the casualties that Russia’s been incurring.


They’ve been achieving their AIDS.

We yesterday on one of the first things, I got a lot of people’s attention was that Russia went for the Chernobyl nuclear facility and they were able to quickly accomplished that objective.

Same thing with the airport, the major airport outside of key.


They were able to accomplish that.

So there’s they’ve been able to accomplish their objectives so far and you Can tell if they’re setting up then for this campaign on the capital.

So I do think it will be a matter that now, how that campaign looks we don’t know, will it end up being some sort of Siege will be Urban Warfare.


That’ll be the key thing to observe.

But I do think that Russia is making that a primary objective Professor.

This was a little bit scary, but also extremely helpful and I really, really appreciate you walking me through the scenarios and helping me think more clearly about this hotel.

Be back in the podcast very soon.


Thank you so much for having me.

Plain English with Derek Thompson.

It’s produced by Devin.


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