“Why Do We Need a World if Russia’s Not In It?”

Roland Stahl
February, 2022

     This is not necessarily an empty threat.  As I see it, Russia is totally isolated and economically devastated, with more economic collapse coming quickly.  When a wild boar (or Russian Bear) is cornered, he will turn to his pursuers and attack, regardless of his chances of survival.  If Russia is facing an existential crisis, it may just decide to bring the rest of the world down with it.  Yes, of course this is madness, but Russia’s attack on Ukraine can hardly be viewed in any other light.  Can you imagine any possible way this present crisis might resolve in a way that would leave Russia in a better place than before it started down this path of madness?  Even a total “victory” would leave Russia under the weight of the whole world’s opprobrium.  Even China would not support Moscow in this, in spite of China’s desire to rub Western faces in the dirt.  Russia can bask in the glory of enjoying support from Belarus and Chechnya, and that about sums it up.  

     I am reminded of an old story about the Middle East, which seems sort of relevant here.  It seems there was a scorpion who wanted to cross the Jordan river, so he asked a turtle if he could cross over on the turtle’s back.  The turtle replied in alarm that the scorpion might sting him.  “Oh, no,” the scorpion replied, “Why would I do that?  If I stung you, we would both drown.”  So the turtle decided that made sense and agreed to allow the scorpion to ride across on his back.  Half way across, the scorpion stung the turtle.  As they were both going down, the turtle cried, “Why did you do that?  Now we are both going to drown!”   “Well, replied the scorpion, “this is the Middle East.”  The analogy isn’t really all that close, but it is close enough for discomfort.  

     As I suggested in my last article, responsible diplomacy might have prevented things from reaching this stage of madness, and now, again, responsible diplomacy may yet be in time to save the world from total destruction.  So what can I suggest now?  Well, it seems to me that Russia is by now a certifiable basket case regardless of what happens next.  The West could easily offer the same terms as previously suggested (Ukraine neutrality, partition of Eastern Ukraine) without losing a thing.  If the Russian Bear can be persuaded to back off and go back to its lair to lick its wounds, there is nothing to fear from the rump Russia.  Putin would be forced to resign in disgrace; Russia would continue to implode; an internal revolution could even see the end of the Russian federation altogether.  But forcing Russia into total annihilation risks the very real possibility that it may just bring the rest of the world down with it, as it sinks below the Jordan river, bearing the turtle (which bears the world on its back, as per ancient myth, just to sustain the weak analogy) down along with it.  

     I finish with one more old cliché ~ “Here lies the body of Michael O’Day, who died maintaining his Right Of Way.  He was right ~ dead right, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”  

     As the President of Ukraine said recently, “This may be the last time you see me alive.”


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