Letter to the Editor: Putin Makes Miscalculation of Epic Proportions


On Feb. 24, Vladimir Putin attacked the sovereign nation of Ukraine without provocation or laudable intent in full expectation of a cakewalk. 

The armed forces of Russia vastly outnumbered those of its southern neighbor, and within a week or so would have amassed a bloodless and historic triumph.

Furthermore, the NATO military alliance, founded in 1949, had been decaying for decades in Putin's view, and would never mount a determined response to Russian aggression. Not only would Ukraine be rapidly overwhelmed, but the western powers would be divided and impotent, unmasked as paper tigers.

But what fools these Russians are. 

Not only has Ukraine repulsed and humiliated numerous Russian army formations and sunk the largest cruiser in the Russian Navy, but it has unmasked the Russian dictatorship as incompetent clowns.

Far from falling to pieces, moreover, NATO has girded its loins and inflicted unprecedented sanctions on the Russian economy that eventually will ruin it. Even more significant, the major western powers have bolstered their forces in the Baltic states and in Poland, the regions most directly threatened by Russia. The imminent accession of traditionally neutral Finland and Sweden to the western alliance, unthinkable just weeks ago, now seems certain.

Putin's misjudgment thus is revealed as a catastrophe of epic proportions. His dream of Russian supremacy has degenerated into a nightmare of Russian debacle. Putin himself was never Mr. Nice Guy in world estimation. But now he has transmogrified into a genocidal murderer, the most hated man on Earth.

In fairness to the historical record, it must be noted that by sheer weight of numbers, Russian regiments finally have forced the capitulation of the city of Mariupol. But this is the exception that proves the rule.

Once home to 450,000, Mariupol is demolished and deserted, its structures empty of people and its parks full of mass graves. In percentage terms, at least, this is the most comprehensive destruction of a European city since the near-annihilation of Warsaw by the Nazis in 1944.

But why conquer a city if it must thereby be destroyed?  Of what value are broken buildings, broken bridges, empty streets? Why not the melody of life rather than the silence of the dead?

As wrote the Roman historian Tacitus two millennia ago: "They make a desolation — and they call it peace."


Joseph Tipler