Vladimir Putin apparently launch Russia’s invasion of Ukraine believing that resistance would collapse quickly. The opposite has occurred: the Ukrainians fought back fiercely to defend their culture and identity. Moscow now realizes if it wants to pacify Ukraine, it will have to wipe out much of the population. The lesson is that while military power can be very efficient at dispatching troublesome locals, it is nearly powerless to destroy who they are or what they believe. The Unites States has learned this lesson over and over again–in Vietnam, in Somalia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. All our fond hopes for reforming wayward nations have been defeated by the deep-seated cultural features of their people. Putin could have learned this lesson from reviewing Russia’s efforts to subjugate Afghanistan a generation ago. Now he too is learning that lesson the hard way. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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