[NOTE: Modern war, like politics, makes strange bedfellows. The Ukraine war shows this in the case of economics columnist Paul Krugman. He’s a wonk, not a warrior, but his career has some intriguing parallels to that of Army General Mark Milley, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
No wait — consider: they both served early on at Princeton & MIT. Of course, later their paths diverged a bit: while Krugman wonked out publishing 27 books, Milley was accumulating about as many ribbons & medals. Milley wound up earning four stars; Krugman settled for a Nobel Prize.
But comes the Ukraine invasion, and their paths converged, sort of: while the Ukrainians’ courage and fighting skill properly get most of the attention, their battlefield prowess rests on a vast flow of imported weapons, and all those guns and drones and shells cost money. Further, we are told that soon winter will bring a full-on continental energy crisis to Europe, where the most crucial battle, to include tens of millions of civilians, will be to keep warm. And capturing this warmth too will be, above all, about money.
Krugman doesn’t know much about drones or AR-15s. But he knows about money. The dominant idea about money among Russian authorities from Putin on down (and their U. S. MAGA cheerleaders) seems to focus on stealing it. Ukrainian officials are no angels, but their army leans more on using it to get the tools for winning battles. Combine that with guts and brains, and they have survived a brutal invasion and are currently on a roll.
Krugman explores this conjuncture here, from his ivory tower redoubt. I expect general Milley gets more vivid briefings; but even economists — well, they also serve who mainly crunch the numbers.]
On Aug. 29 Tucker Carlson of Fox News attacked President Biden’s policy on Ukraine, asserting among other things: “By any actual reality-based measure, Vladimir Putin is not losing the war in Ukraine. He is winning the war in Ukraine.” Carlson went on, by the way, to assert that Biden is supporting Ukraine only because he wants to destroy the West.
Carlson’s timing was impeccable. Just a few days later, a large section of the Russian front near Kharkiv was overrun by a Ukrainian attack. It’s important to note that Putin’s forces weren’t just pushed back; they appear to have been routed. As the independent Institute for the Study of War reported, the Russians were driven into a “panicked and disorderly retreat,” leaving behind “large amounts of equipment and supplies that Ukrainian forces can use.”
The Russian collapse seemed to validate analyses by defense experts who have been saying for months that Western weapons have been shifting the military balance in Ukraine’s favor, that Putin’s army is desperately short on quality manpower and that it has been degraded by attrition and missile attacks on its rear areas. These analyses suggested that Russian forces might eventually reach a breaking point, although few expected that point to come so soon and so dramatically.