Strategically it is best to see Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine in the context of his intelligence apparatus’s 20-year gray war of psychological, emotional, and political influence against targeted populations in the West. Among strategic objectives leading-up to the invasion of Ukraine Putin pursued a range of combined objectives to avenge the end of the USSR:
(1) to hasten the decline of western morale and deepen cynical fatalism to a tipping point that would enable Putin (and likely Xi) an easier time with phasic imperial expansion;
(2) to urge no-confidence assessments about the U.S. among friends and allies suggesting that the U.S. is not willing to reciprocate in its NATO mutual defense obligations while Russia shows confidence in deploying its forces;
(3) for autocracies to incrementally draw NATO members away and apart to isolate each member from the others, especially the United States; to supplant the West as a partner to nations, states, and non-state institutions in all Hemispheres;
(4) to absorb the material and human influence resources of every territory and nation influenced, engaged, dominated, or occupied to leverage exponential advantage against the United States, NATO, and bona-fide constitutional republican democracies going forward;
(5) to provoke resentment and counter-resentment among free nations so as to drive isolationism, ultra-nationalism, and affinity for the Putin and Xi regimes;
(6) to push tipping points against western democracies globally that enable Eastern alpha-autocracies to feed and drive advantages across domains;
(7) to whipsaw Americans with intensive agitation propaganda campaigns angering U.S. factions at the perceived weakness in leadership of opposing ideological factions and mainstream parties so as to recruit Americans to condemn their own constitutionally established democratic elections, governing systems, federalism, representative government, and judicial systems;
(8) to attempt to agitate witting and unwitting proxies at the fringes of the Right and Left that they may emphasize their most extreme and odious ideas in the public square (squeaky wheels gathering the most press) to influence false conclusions that only a coup, takeover, domestic terrorism, insurrectionist activities, and or civil war can break the stalemate and gridlock; this, with Putin knowing he has the Western media’s help in sensationalizing disagreement, intractability, tragedy, violence, despair, disaster, and other forms of fear.
Some General Strategic Reminders Recommended:
- Use the bully pulpit against Russian agitation and despair propaganda. Remind Americans and allied populations that it is Putin, not the West who started the gray war and now the hot war of aggression against Ukraine.
- Show Executive strength in suppressing pro-Russian and pro-Chinese statist subversion and influence inside and outside the United States, to win Americans’ respect reminding them that the U.S. held back totalitarian expansion in the 20th Century;
- Publicize and emphasize Soviet, Chinese, and Russian roles in driving terrorism that has killed U.S. troops, allied troops, civilians, and innocent bystanders across the globe. Publish this from the bully pulpit and create unity in anti-autocratic interest between Americans and citizens and governments of nations the world over.
- Improve Americans’ awareness of Russian and Chinese use, facilitation, and sponsorship of proxies, terrorists, criminals, and foreign agents that engage in destructive acts and operations and chain-reaction warfare against the U.S. and allies: i.e. forced refugee flows; satellite explosions, drug trafficking, human trafficking, faux-marriages, fraud, insurrection, and more;
- As for U.S. Armed Forces, intelligence, national security agencies, civilians, and NATO allies going forward, none should give autocrat principals, services, or their proxies an inkling of an idea of new technical advances, discoveries, or how they may be used to defeat Russian and Chinese intentions toward the West, other than by a U.S. bias for action that is measured, effective, and reliant on war as a last resort. Eschewing telegraphs, use adaptive, changing, securable communication tactics to leave enemies in a fog.
- Prepare for a decisive victory against all adversaries that would seek the nation’s destruction should war break out, remaining tough yet accessible at the negotiation table. Establish a position of ever-decisive military superiority and strength globally where it matters most. Use an order-of-operations approach staggering deterrent and irregular elements in thwarting imperial autocratic expansion, subversion, proxy warfare, and militant advantage-seeking before it may turn into escalatory war. This includes solid, committed support of free nation allies and friends.
- Build-up multilateral military supply, protected supply lines, coordinated armed forces, collaborative logistics, training, and public support for deterrence and war winning capabilities globally and around the home front.
- Help small businesses and individuals in the civilian sphere find secure interfaces through which to contribute to a whole-of-society approach to defense and security of freedom with their time, talent, treasure, and knowledge in this era of autocratic nuclear power resurgence. Create incentives of value and contribution.