February 26, 2022

SOME THOUGHTS ON PUTIN AND UKRAINE FROM JIM BENNETT:

Putin’s failed coup in Ukraine reminds me a bit of the failed German coup in Norway in April 1940. Of course the Germans ended up taking control of Norway, just as Putin can end up in physical control of Ukraine if he is willing to take the necessary steps and pay the price. But Hitler had wanted the same kind of clean coup in Norway that he had achieved in Denmark — the KIng and royal family held hostage and a formal surrender from the legitimate government, with no exile government or forces. He didn’t get that because the Norwegian resistance was unexpectedly strong, and one cranky old officer on the verge of retirement and a bunch of raw 18-year-old conscripts managed to sink one battlecruiser and put another out of action, incidentally drowning the 1000-man special forces team that had been assigned to capture the King, Parliament, and treasury. By throwing the German schedule off by six hours and losing the element of surprise, all of those targets got away and eventually made their way to London where they set up an effective government in exile. The Nazis had to do with a makeshift puppet regime headerd by the nutjob* Quisling, who had very little credibility with the Norwegians or anybody else.

Whatever else happens now, the Ukrainian forces and government have similarly frustrated Putin’s hope for a swift, nearly bloodless coup and installation of a pliant puppet regime. He can prevail militarily, of course, by the application of much more destructive military force, basically making Kiev a second Grozny. Unlike Grozny, every bloody act will be tweeted, videoed, and shared worldwide with fluent English-language narration. And he would have to maintain a sizeable occupation force, with ongoing casualties, for the foreseeable future.

Alternatively, he could probably accept a ceasefire and maybe a recognized partition of Ukraine, keeping Crimea and some of the Donbas, but not much more — in other words, little to show for his losses, excpt something he might use to save face domestically.

I expect he will continue on the former course for a while, waiting to see how bad the international fallout is, and whether the Ukrainians can hold together. But the further he goes down that road, the harder the climbdown will be.

The parts of the American right that are still trying to sell an isolationist line are looking worse and worse. Biden’s handlers are smart enough to loudly insist they will not send troops. The Ukrainians are presenting themselves well and sympathetically. (We should not forget there is a substantial Ukrainian-American and Ukrainian-Canadian population, and that the Pole and Baltic ethnic communities are pretty well engaged, too.) Lots of Second Amendment types are enjoying the sight of a government handing out AKs to everybody. But I have always felt that Anglosphere populations just don’t have the stomach for a genuinely realist foreign policy. We are seeing that right now.

Getting tagged as pro-Putin is the one thing that is most likely to derail the GOP train in November. The left is starting to see that and put out the Journolist instructions. I hope we don’t have too many idiots on our side falling into their trap.

*Quisling really was a nutjob. As Defense Minister in the 1930s, he threatened to go to war against Denmark over some claims to part of Greenland.

I see a lot more lefties claiming the right is pro-Putin than I see pro-Putin people on the right. But that won’t stop them from lying, of course. It never does.

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