THE CUT GLASS WAR
The heavy hand of the Russian military is prelude to a much larger disaster. The handling of cut glass is a metaphor for what it appears they are about to do: Break something fragile and complex. The jagged pieces will spill all over the international floor. Someone else is going to get cut and bleed.
While the abrasive tools for making cut glass are relatively simple, the skill needed to use these tools is not. Welcome to the Russian military. The poor planning, no evident training, horrible leadership, and even the use of outdated weapons have led to the current situation. Pictures of whole columns of Russian armor destroyed, videos of drones exploding vehicles, as well as the various stories that would make it all laughable if they were not so murderous.
Cut glass is also about the reflection of light: Optics, political optics. Now the Russians have announced convoys of other countries supplying Ukraine are legitimate targets. Some “experts” will suggest this gives further legitimacy to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine. But also, a historical note, presumably the Lusitania was sunk by the Germans because it was suspected of providing weapons against them. Russia does have a pretty good submarine fleet.
As another point of history, it should be remembered that America’s greatest geopolitical strategist, George Keenan, developed the idea of economic containment for stopping the expansion of the Soviet Union. They were not a part of the international economic system until the 1990s. Even then, there are limits. So, this cut glass war has to be seen through the lens of Russian history. Invaded by Napoleon and by Hitler, they have an inherent mistrust of the West which was only strengthened by Keenan’s policy of containment. NATO is seen as a slow motion version of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa. However, not discussed, are the numerous cultural limitations created by a nation that has autocracy in its DNA. These limitations have created the Russian military we see today. Their impaired skills and preparation are a formula for defeat. However, given enough time, just as in World War II, they could eventually figure it out. But will they get enough time? The whole world is watching.
Reportedly, Vladimir Putin made of a point of minimizing civilian casualties. For an invading army, that is always fighting with one hand tied behind your back. There is an argument to be made that Putin was pushed into this war. His skills for working with cut glass were clearly not ready.
The public sees him as the instigator. It is better to see him as the cornered instigator. To the public, trade agreements are boring and not newsworthy. To political leaders they are of vital strategic interest. Recent agreements between Europe and Ukraine may have pushed Putin too far. So, what we have is a dysfunctional nation making dysfunctional plans with a dysfunctional military. We can see the results. It is possible Russia never got over Afghanistan?
They can’t run a war, and they can’t cut glass. Will they learn the lesson? The world is rushing to Ukraine’s aid. The supply of weapons and skilled military assistance will only grow regardless of Putin’s threats. If this continues, there will be a point where the Russians will be pushed back to the borders. Put another way, it looks like the Ukrainians are learning faster than the Russians.
Call to action? Stop. STOP. Both sides should count their losses and stop.