Modeling Putin

(Warning: This is entirely too long for the level of insight provided. The only real value in reading this is if you are curious as how the brain of the Ape Man works when confronted by a mystery).

I have proven that I have no understanding of the human element behind the Ukraine war. In fact, my understanding is so poor it has been almost a good guide in reverse as to what was going to happen. In other words, based on my past performance you would do well to think that the people involved will act in a way that is the exact opposite of what I think they will do. So why have I been so wrong?

It is tempting to throw up my hands and say that the Russians (or at least Putin) are irrational and that is why their behavior does not conform to my expectations. But even irrational people are predictable once you get to know them. Putin has been around long enough and lead Russia in enough conflicts that I thought I knew what the pattern of his behavior looked like. If you look at the conflicts in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and the earlier Ukraine conflicts it seems like a clear pattern becomes apparent.

The pattern seems pretty simple. First you prepare the justification for what you are going to do all the while denying that you are going to do it. Then you use overwhelming force carefully calibrated to be as risk free as possible to accomplish limited objectives. Last, you seek to reach some kind of accommodation that will end the conflict on sustainable terms. Russianphiles would probably argue with first part of this pattern and Russianphobes would object to the last part of this pattern, but to my eyes it still does a pretty good job of describing all of the recent conflicts that Russia has had save the most recent one.

If we take Putin’s war with Chechnya as an example, we can see this pattern in action for the first time. According to many people, the lead up to the war was started by a false flag bombing campaign lead by Russia’s secret service. Naturally Russia denies this and naturally Russia will throw anyone in jail who wants to look into this. To be fair, the Chechens were doing plenty of things that arguably justified the war which makes it a little bit of mystery of why the false flag attacks were necessary (or alternatively why the Russians are so secretive about the bomb attacks if you are inclined to believe them). Regardless of what others may think, the mysterious series of explosions serves as the justification/lying part of a pattern that would be repeated a few times more.

When the Russian nation was good and ready to fight the war, the war itself was fought largely using artillery, air power, and professional soldiers. The break with past Russian military tradition that this represented was largely ignored in western media sources that preferred to focus on the human rights violations that went along with this war. This was because to an American mind the massive use of inaccurate artillery and aerial bombardment was notable chiefly because of amount of civilians that were killed. But if you stopped thinking in terms of morality and start thinking in terms of Russian military history, it really was something extraordinary. In the entire history of Russian offensive military campaigns going back to the first Tsars you would be hard pressed to find another example where the preservation of the common soldier’s life was such a high priority for the Russian military. And this strategic focus on keeping the common soldier from dying (granting the constraints imposed by Russian relative poverty and corruption) was a pattern that would separate all of Putin’s wars from past Russian conflicts up until we get to the current conflict in Ukraine.

But of all the strange things (from a Russian historical perspective) that happened during Putin’s war against Chechnya, the strangest is what happened after the war was over. Although they don’t get much credit for it in the west due to human rights violations that accompanied it, Russia poured lots of money (by their standards) into rebuilding Chechnya. What is more, Chechens have been allowed to arm their own battle formations and make up their own mini army. This is all a far cry from how Stalin or even most dictators elsewhere in the world would have dealt with a defeated hostile population.

That last point is something that I don’t think gets remarked upon enough by Western sources. Your average westerner focuses on how brutal Russia was during the war and all the human rights abuses that occur under the current leadership that Russia has installed. But turning around and arming a people you fought a brutal war to conquer is not normal for your average dictator even if it is a “puppet” that is doing the ruling. The fact that Putin now trusts them enough to use them as a support for his own power is really remarkable if you stop to think about it. It goes to show that the conquest of Chechnya has been more successful on a practical level then any recent western attempt to win “hearts and minds” however it may differ on the moral level.

These same patterns can be seen in the war with Georgia. In the lead up to the Georgian invasion, you see the same old lies. There was a massive build up of Russians soldiers whose government swore they had no plans of attacking. You see (by historical Russian standards) a low casualty invasion. And at the end of the war, you see a strange restraint. They cleared the Georgians out of the parts of Georgia that have pro-Russian majorities and then pretty much leave the Georgians to themselves.

Westerns tend to focus on how wrong it was for the Russians to invade. And it is all well and good to make those types of moral arguments, but if you compare it to the actions of other dictators throughout history the war is Georgia was pretty tame. Georgia still exists as a nation under a government that they have chosen. They are missing parts of their historical territory and they know they are not allowed to join NATO. But they are free to trade with the west and rule themselves as they see fit. On the scale of countries decisively defeated in battle by a dictator, you could experience a lot worse.

The conflict in Syria fits the general profile although it is arguably not over yet. The lying was not as strong as it was in other Russian actions although it was certainly present (they claimed be pulling out when they were not and other lies of that nature). When it came to do the fighting, Russian was careful (compared to their historical pre-Putin norm) to preserve the lives of their troops. And most remarkable of all, Russia took pains to reach an accommodation with the Turks (who were supporting enemies of Russia) and the Israelis (who were bombing allies of Russia without Russia doing anything to stop them). In terms of its actions in Syria (as opposed to its rhetoric) Russia has been more diplomatic then they get credit for in terms of how they deal with the other nation states involved.

Even the takeover Crimea and first attempts at the Donbas region followed this general pattern. There were the lies personified by the little green men as per the pattern of Russian misdirection established by previous conflicts. And the involvement of Russia forces in their disguised state was designed to keep their casualties at a very minimal level. In the Donbas in particular, Russia seemed to prefer to have the locals do the fighting for the most part while supplying mostly artillery support, electronic warfare, and occasionally some special forces/elite formations to enable their proxies to be successful. So they stuck to the pattern of being careful and risk adverse that previous conflicts had established.

Most importantly, the Russian objectives seemed limited. You can argue about whether the Crimea and the Donbas region would have voted to leave Ukraine or not if there had been free and fair elections. But it is beyond dispute that the areas that Russia was trying to take were populated by people who identified as ethnic Russians. In fact, it is a matter of record that some people in Crimea had tried to break away from Ukraine shortly after Ukraine had gained its independence. And while Russian goals would and did deprive Ukraine of millions of citizens and a significant chunk of its GDP, they would not (at least as I and many others understood them at that time) have deprived Ukraine of its economically critical access to the Black Sea or involve taking any large populations that clearly considered themselves to be Ukrainian.

The main difference between Russia’s first adventures in Ukraine and all the other adventures that came before it was that Russia was not entirely successful. Russia was so careful with its use of troops and Ukrainian’s response was so unexpectedly fierce (if haphazard) that Russia did not wind up controlling the entire Donbas region. Up until that point in his career as Russia’s leader, Putin had not failed to achieve his objectives in a military adventure.

But at least at the time, it did not seem like Putin had departed from his previous caution. He did not escalate in a major way. He kept the conflict from gaining a life of its own and he allowed for a ceasefire that more or less locked in the status quo. If you ignore the questions of morality that surround his actions and instead looked merely at how he tried to achieve his goals, I think you could reasonably call his approach to the Donbas conservative and risk adverse. At the very least, it did not clearly break with the strategic calculus seen in the previous adventures that Putin instigated.

So this was the pattern that I tried to shoehorn into the current conflict. Arguably, there were signs right from the start that this was a different type of conflict. But I kept trying to convince myself that these differences were just a result of bad information and mistakes in judgment on Putin’s part. I did not think that the fundamental strategic calculus that Putin was using had changed.

My state of denial ended with the announcement of the annexing of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. There was no way to fit the decisions to annex those oblasts with Putin’s prior strategic calculus. To be clear, it is not Putin’s intentions that shocked me. If secret recordings had come out showing beyond a shadow of doubt that Putin hoped to eventually incorporate all of Ukraine into Russia, it would not have surprised me. But the public announcement made it clear that Putin was not playing the same game he had in previous conflicts.

For one thing, the decision to publically annex those regions removed any possible escape route that Putin might have had. This is not normal behavior for Putin. For example, when Putin invaded Chechnya, there is no doubt that he hoped to take over the entire country. But what he told everyone was that he was only intending to take the northern plain and establish a “cordon sanitaire” against further Chechen aggression. This gave him an out if the war started going wrong. He could just tell everyone that all he intended to take was the flat plains that were easy for Russian amour to take and declare victory if the mountains proved too hard.

In every conflict that came after that, you would be hard pressed to point to any clear statements of Russian objectives. This meant that Putin could declare victory anytime he wanted. It also gave Putin free range to play western powers against each other. Putin could always down play his goals and make them seem more limited than they were. Some or even most in the west might not believe him. But if even only a few believed him, he created some dissent for no real cost from his perspective.

The announcement of the annexing of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts blew up both of those options. Putin now has to take and hold the Oblasts he said were part of Russian territory to have any hope of plausibly claiming victory. Given the recent performance of the Russian military, that is as risky as Cortés burning his ships. Moreover, prior to annexation there was a growing swell of European leaders who were hinting at the need for Ukraine to have some kind of negotiated peace with Russia. The annexation announcement basically put an end to that.

If you had a good imagination, you might have been able to convince yourself that Ukraine might agree to a ceasefire that left the Russians with the Donbas and the Crimea. After all, that is only a little less bad then the situation that Ukraine has been living with since 2014. But only a complete fool could think that a Ukrainian government could give up Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and not wind up hanging from the lamp posts. If Russian does managed to control all the land they supposedly annexed, it will only be after the complete economic and demographic destruction of Ukraine. On the other hand, it is hard to see how Putin’s rule continues if he gives up on land that he publicly said was part of Russia.

In other words, Putin has made this a fight to death, and I don’t understand why he felt the need to do that. Even if you grant that his goal was to take all of Ukraine right from the start, making this clear to the world only strengthens the hands of his enemies. Moreover, he still refuses to declare war even though at this point it is only with the complete defeat of Ukraine that he can get his publically stated goals. So it seems like to me that he has the worst of both worlds. What can explain this change from a man who has been careful and crafty in the past?

The common answer is that Putin had to do this so that he could legally put conscripts into Ukraine. But I don’t think this explanation holds water. If Putin was concerned by the legality (or appearance of legality) of what he did with conscripts, he could have just declared war on Ukraine. This would have been in line with his propaganda about Ukraine atrocities in the Donbas and given him a legal free hand in the calling up and using conscripts. A declaration of war would have had all the benefits of annexing of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia without tying his hands in terms of splitting NATO with the dangled talk of compromise and it would not have committed him terms of committing himself to victory conditions that may or may not come about. After all, if you declare war, you have not necessarily committed yourself any particular way that war is going to end.

But Putin has never been all that concerned with legality or telling the truth. The entire Wagner group is illegal under current Russia law which forbids mercenaries. This law was explicitly legislated to promote the idea of Russian moral superiority against American for allowing groups like Blackwater to exist. Even though that law remains on the books, it does not stop people even in Russia for openly talking about Wagner’s existence in the current conflict. This is another marked change with the past as previously Wagner officially did not exist and Yevgeny Prigozhin denied that he had anything to do with the company. Now he boasts about his involvement and talks about how much better Wagner is then the Russian Military. And yet, nobody has bothered to change the law or is worried about the fact that it is technically illegal.

If concerns about legality don’t explain current Russian behavior, maybe the explanation is that Putin is dying and is making a desperate attempt to take Ukraine as his legacy. This is another popular explanation, but I find it no more satisfactory the purported concerns about legality. In my experience, people don’t suddenly become different people just because they are old and dying. Rarely will you find an old man who has been a miser his whole life who suddenly becomes a spendthrift. Rarely will you find someone who has always been cautious suddenly becoming daring just because they are approaching the age when it is time to check out nursing homes. Of course, there are always exceptions, but if this is really where Putin is at mentally, why does he not go the whole way and declare war? The current situation gives Putin all the drawbacks of a declared war without any of the benefits. It would seem to me that a man who truly felt like the clock was ticking would be less timid about going all out.

A variant on the idea that Putin is grasping for a legacy in Ukraine is that he is too old and ill and is no longer thinking clearly. And perhaps age has dulled his intellect but there is no reason to think that is true to the extent that would explain a complete change in strategic calculus. After all, Mannerheim was 72 when he started leading the fight against the overwhelming Soviet numbers during Finnish Winter War and he seemed to do all right. Going back further in time, the great Greek general Antigonus was 80 some years old when he was cut down during a battle that he came close to winning. Whether Putin belongs in the company with those figures could be debated. But unlike Biden, Putin’s speeches and public interviews do not show any evidence of severe mental decline. Nor is there any whisper of this showing during the conversations that Putin has when he is talking directly to other world leaders. Given the available evidence, it does not seem likely that severe mental decline can explain Russian decision making.

So if the above theories don’t make sense, what does explain Russian actions? With the benefit of hindsight, I would argue that it is a big mistake to think that that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are all about Putin. When one observes an autocratic state, it is tempting to fall into the trap of thinking everything that nation does is all about the autocrat. This is an especially seductive trap when the autocrat in question is a seemingly successful one like Putin. But even secure autocrats are subject to peer pressure. We need only to look at the end of the great Roman general Pompey for an example of how that works.

Pompey was not history’s greatest tactician and I don’t think he would even make most people’s list of the top 100 top tactical commanders. But he was a much better strategic thinker and it was largely through shrewd strategic decisions that he made his reputation. And because of his strategic vision, he was able to make the Mediterranean a Roman lake and massively expanded the Roman Empire.

Now during his life Pompey was known for having a very high sense of his own self worth. He demanded honors that were not legal under Roman law and he ran roughshod over those who opposed him. In other words, he was no Roman version of George Washington and he was not a great respecter of democratic traditions. In spite of this, even his former enemies begged him to become dictator when Caesar turned against the Roman State because he was the only one who had a chance of defeating a tactical genius like Caesar.

And even though Pompey was old and past his prime, he showed that he still had good strategic sense. At the start of the conflict he was forced to flee Rome but he quickly drew Caesar into a trap and had him dead to rights. Even Caesar admits that Pompey had him in a trap and all Pompey would have had to do was hang tight in his fortified position and starve Caesar out. But this success was all for naught because Pompey succumbed to peer pressure from his allies and subordinates and allowed his troops to attack Caesar’s troops. This in turn led to Caesar to win a battle that turned the tables and led to Pompey’s eventual death.

The tragic thing about this is that Pompey had no need to pay attention to those people pressuring him to make what he knew to be the wrong choice. His position was totally secure from both the military and the political point of view. He was militarily secure because he had cut Caesar off from all supplies while being in position where it was impossible for Caesar to successfully attack him. On the political front, he was secure because there was no one else who had a chance to standing up to Caesar on the field of battle and everyone knew it so there was no chance of Pompey being replaced as a leader of the forces opposed to Caesar while Caesar himself was still a threat.

But autocrats are still human. And humans are influenced by the values of their culture and by the desire to impress others who are part of that culture. This is true whether you are talking about a gang leader or a middle class soccer mom. And Pompey being part of a culture that valued glory and being manly could not resist the pressure to do what he knew to be a stupid decision. And so he left his secure defensible position to try to defeat Caesar on the field battle instead of starving him out as Pompey had originally planned.

If I stop thinking about Putin as the second coming of Stalin and start thinking of him as a man like Pompey, I start to pay attention to certain things that I have glossed over in the past. For example, let us look at some of relationships that Putin has with the members of his Security Council.

We will start with Dmitry Medvedev as he is the deputy head of the Security Council (Putin is of course the actual head of the council). Rumor has it that he got this position because he and Putin had a falling out. I think the reason for this rumor is that being the deputy head of the Security seems to most people to be a demotion from Medvedev’s previous job of being Prime Minister. And maybe it is, but if so it shows that having a falling out with Putin is not all that bad. Being deputy head of the Security Council is a long way from being an exile much less getting a bullet in the back of the head.

Regardless of the truth about the current state of their relationship, there are two key things that about Medvedev that I think are very important. The first is that he has no background in KGB or the Russian Military. The second is that he has known and worked with Putin since the early 90s. We will call this a 30+ year working relationships. We will come back to why those two facts are important, but first let us move to the next ranking member of the council.

Nikolai Patrushev is the Secretary of the Security Council. Unlike Medvedev, he did have a long career in the KGB. But like Medvedev, Patrushev has known Putin for a long time. In fact, he has been friends with Putin since the 1970s and he has been working for Putin since at least the late 1990s. So we will call this a 50+ year personal relationship and a 20+ year working relationship. He has been content with being Secretary of the Security Council since 2008 when he gave up being boss of FSB (main successor of the KGB). I guess nobody considers that a demotion because some people talk about him being a possible successor to Putin (I think he is too old for that role myself). And it is worth remembering that technically he is lower ranked on the council then Medvedev.

Next on the council we come to Mikhail Mishustin who is the current Prime Minister. Compare to a lot of people he has not worked with Putin for very long. I can only find for him directly being appointed to a position by Putin in 2010 and he only became Prime Minster in 2020. So compared to other people around Putin he is a light weight in the personal relationship department as we can only talk about 10 years of them working together. Honestly, he mostly seems to have come to prominence through the good graces of Medvedev. However, rumor has it that both Putin and Mishustin really enjoy hockey and have bonded over going to the games together so I guess Mishustin has that going for him.

But if we look at the infamous Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu (who is also a member Security Council) the pattern clearly reasserts itself. Like Medvedev and Mishustin, Shoigu was not a KGB guy. He got his start in construction and from there was appointed the head of the Russia equivalent of FEMA (called at the time the Russian Rescue Corps) by Yeltsin in 1991 and he grew that into a mini empire by absorbing Russia’s fire service and Civil Defense troops into his organization. It was likely sometime in the early 90s while working for Yeltsin that he first came into contact with Putin. And for sure he was one of the leaders who helped Putin co-found the “Unity” party. So we will say that Shoigu has known Putin socially for at least 30 years and has been working closely with him for more than 20 years.

Sergey Lavrov is on the council because he is Russia’s Foreign Minister. Rumor has it he is not part of Putin’s inter sanctum, but Putin must like him because he has been reporting directly to Putin as the Foreign Minister for 18 years. Other than that, not much to say about him because he has been in the diplomatic service since Soviet times saying what he is told to say just as he does now.

Next on our list of Council Members is the current head of the of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. Sergey Naryshkin has known Putin since at least the early 90s. He may have known Putin even earlier as there are blank spots on his resume that seemed to point to KGB work. Regardless, he started in politics in the same way Putin did and has been working with Putin in one form or another since the early 90s at the very least. So he is another man who has at least a 30 year working relationship with Putin.

And I could keep going on with various other personages on the Security Council but I think I have made my point. We in the west tend to think of big company executives or political leaders as being surrounded by the equivalent of mercenaries. There are exceptions, but for the most part, people in the west in those titles don’t work with anyone more then 3 or 4 years at a stretch and they fire or change people out of titles at the drop of a hat. US president rarely keep cabinet level officials in place throughout an entire term. For a US appointed official to go through two terms is even rarer and very noteworthy (someone like Kissinger for example).

By contrast, Putin is surrounded by people he has worked with for a long time. To have only worked with Putin for 10 years or so is to be a short timer. The people he puts in charge of the guys with guns (Defense and Intelligence agencies) all seem to have the longest personal relationships with Putin. And contrary common tropes about Russia being ruled by ex-KGB types, the key component seems to be a long and trusted relationship with Putin and not KGB service per say. Granted, there are lot of KGB types who fall into that category because Putin comes from that background himself. But if you were someone who stood by Putin in the early 90s, you were going to rise in power regardless if you came from the KGB or not.

And it seems like these relationships are pretty genuine. Since the very first signs that war in Ukraine was going badly, people have been predicting the demise of Sergei Shoigu. Who better to blame then the defense minster when things go wrong? And lots of people have been calling for his head. But Putin does not seem to be the type of man who is in a hurry to throw a friend of 30 years out the door. At the very least, he has held on to Shoigu long past the point when a western leader would have fired him.

The case of Viktor Medvedchuk is another example of how Putin takes care of those he knows. Medvedchuk was a Ukrainian politician that Putin has known personally for about 20 years and Putin served as godfather to one of Medvedchuk’s daughters. Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine Medvedchuk spent a long time under house arrest (longer then was legal under Ukrainian law) and when the invasion came he tried to escape but was captured.

But Putin got him out of Ukraine by trading him for 188 members from the Azov Regiment (including survivors of the Siege of Azovstal), various elite members of the Ukrainian armed forces, and foreign volunteers serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces who had been sentenced to death. As a result, Putin paid a heavy domestic political price for this trade as it was very lopsided and Azov fighters had been portrayed in Russia as being the worst kinds of monsters. People came close to criticizing Putin directly about the whole affair which is not normal in Russia. The whole affair demonstrated the value that Putin placed on getting a friend out of a jamb in a manner that one would be hard pressed to imagine Stalin doing.

I am not trying to say that Putin would lay down his life for his friends or anything like that. But common talk in western media makes Putin out to be a new Stalin. They insinuate that everyone around Putin is at risk of getting a bullet in the back of their head at his slightest whim. And while it is true that Putin seems to be complicit in the death of opposition figures and KGB defectors, I have yet to see evidence that Putin orders the killing of his colleagues as Stalin routinely did.

Once you accept the idea that Putin is not Stalin, it is not hard to imagine that Putin is surrounded by what he might consider to be almost his family. If you work with people for 20 to 30 years, it is easy to imagine that there are genuine emotional bonds. And if that is true, it means that Putin can’t help but be influenced by those who are around him. More importantly for our understanding of the Ukraine War is the question of what happens when those people that Putin has genuine emotional bonds with start to disagree?

In a conventional impersonal western business corporation, if there are strong disagreements about strategy and the direction things should be going, people get fired or leave until everyone is pulling in the same direction. In a family corporation, the problem of disagreements is harder to deal with. Someone is in charge, but that does not mean it is easy to fire those who disagree. They are family after all. I suspect that Putin is running something more akin to a family firm then the impersonal corporate power structure most people in the west seem to assume that Putin is running.

If we imagine that Putin is running a family firm, we can start to understand why Putin might have decided the annexation of parts of Ukraine was the right course of action. We shall start with the premise that he is faced with a divided family with one side wanting to go into all out war and the other side wanting to give up the fight and cut the losses. If he does not want an irrevocable break with either side of the family, how is he going to deal with this situation?

If Putin declared war, it would empower those in his circle who wants to go all and do things like use nukes and declare full mobilization of all of Russia. On the other hand, if he fails to draw the line somewhere how is he going to get the reluctant members of his “family” to support the war effort? Possibly he came up with the annexation announcement as a way of forcing the reluctant commit to something that could be passed off as victory while not allowing the dogs of war totally off the leash to do things that might lead to Word War III. If the man you have based your entire career around says that these lands are part of Russia very publicly, how can you hold on to any hope that you can disavow that? And if you refuse to declare war, how can you say that things like full mobilization or nukes are needed to turn the tide?

The decision to annex Kherson and Zaporizhzhia without declaring war seems to be the worst of both worlds if you look at purely external factors. But external factors are not the only things that political leaders have to deal with. And if Putin has to deal with a divided house, it would explain to my satisfaction why Russia has been consistently making strategic decisions that are the worst of both worlds from a purely military view. As a wise man once said, “A good compromise is one that leaves everyone unhappy.”

But we can make up any number of just so stories to explain past actions. The real test of any theory is how much understanding of events they give you going forward. And without a clear understanding of who is for escalation of the war in Ukraine and who is for seeking a way out it is almost impossible to guess which direction a divided house is going lurch. So even if the divided house theory it is true, it does not help us predict the future much. We might say that without a major house cleaning Russia is likely to keep making decisions that seem to be attempting to split the difference between all out war and accepting that Russia needs to pull back. But what splitting the difference look like in practices is hard to say.

Having said that, there are some indications at which way the balance of power is tipping. The people who want Russia to escalate seem to be free to speak where as those who want Russia to look for a way out have to be very careful about how they talk. One might think that this is just because it is more useful to Putin to have the attack dogs bark as that gives him room to point out to his enemies how much worse things could get. But when the head of the Wagner group (a technically illegal organization) feel free to publically threaten a prominent politician who is legally in a place of power, I can’t but help but think that shows were the balance of power lies. To put it bluntly, it appears to me that Putin is protecting those who are more moderate in their views from those who are more vicious. If I am right, Russia will become more nationalistic and expansionistic when Putin dies, assuming the various attack dogs can decided who is to be king without fighting it out.

It seems strange that a losing war could be strengthening the hand of those who want war, but sunk cost fallacy is a real thing with human beings. This is particular true is when the sunk cost is human beings that people cared about. For someone to stand up right now and say in Russia that the war was a mistake is to be faced with a violent backlash from those who are unwilling to accept that all the death was for nothing.

I hope I am wrong about this estimate as I have been with every other estimate I have made about the human reactions to this war. Because if I am right, it means that things will get crazier before this war comes to an end. And that will be bad for everyone in the world.

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