The imminent annexation of Ukraine by the Russian Federation has all the hallmarks of actual post-modern war, like the 30 years of war in the Persian Gulf and the Korean conflict that is now going on three-quarters of a century-old for the East Asian region and its significant players’ global partners.
They are not wars in the sense that the 30 years of World War was, or any of those that preceded it, wars of unrestrained raging violence between adversaries with a suicidal hatred, or with at least one adversary in the throes of some all be damned as they prepared for war.
Instead, they are wars involving two or more rationally self-interested parties. They often exhaust themselves in infinite state intelligence pre-gaming and posturing before coming to blows, like two guys circling each other in the parking lot, puffing up their chests, sizing each other up, and then just jumping the kid that’s standing nearby. Nah, just kidding. They size each other up and then remember how fast coming home from fighting dries up their old lady’s cat and gets drinks instead.
Instead, they are war games, simulations of wars that play out even in the public consciousness as they unfold, wars and rumors of wars that help the post-WWII global powers to catalyze latent impulses to war in less stable situations here and there throughout the worldwide polity and digest them slowly in a more orderly, comfortable, and safe reaction than the fissive combustion of the wars of the pre-atomic era, similar to the way scientists since World War II have been able to create and harness a slow, stable burn of nuclear material to generate electricity to power cities.
In Iraq’s case, even other Arab nations, the global community was united in a coalition of the willing because Hussein’s annexation of Kuwait was considered so egregious a violation of international law. In Korea, the situation has remained remarkably stable for decades. In Ukraine, a nation is stuck in the middle with Europe and Russia. Shaking the babies is not recommended.
If Ukraine becomes more European, the Russian Federation considers the possibilities of Ukrainian easement of European threats without nervousness and treads Russia’s way. Of course, an unwelcome Russian intrusion into Ukraine’s sovereign territory would give Europe all the more nerve and some ascendancy on the world stage.
While it’s entirely possible that a meet-cute and charm offensive could put away any worry that little bear would ever take sides if papa bear and mama bear got to fighting.