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Sometimes the Best Thing to Do Is Nothing At All

Lost in the huge battle cry to do something to Putin is a realistic analysis as to whether any action makes any sense.
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Let's Discuss Nothing

After pointing out how much US and EU sanctions have backfired, someone asked me what I would do.

I responded, why do I have to do anything? 

The urge to do something should not be so intense that it overpowers analysis as to whether any actions can possibly work.

It's Complicated 

Eurointelligence addressed the issue in a post simply called It's Complicated 

The idea of separating the world into goods guys, and bad guys is historically relatively new. The first time we remember ever hearing this phrase was from Bruce Willis, whose career has just ended due to an illness. We think this is an appropriate moment to reflect on binary value judgements in politics.

A war crimes trial can only happen if Russia loses the war, if there is regime change in Russia, if the new government is democratic, and if said government decides to extradite its previous leaders. This is not going to happen. For starters, most wars don't end with a clear winner and loser. This will be one of them. Ukraine was successful in defeating the Russian offensive from the north, but Russia's campaign is succeeding in the southeast. Remember the experienced retired generals who predicted that Russia was facing imminent defeat. The Russian campaign went badly, but they are still fighting. The most potent Russia weapon is not the nuclear bomb, but patience that outlasts the short attention span of western news media. Folks on twitter tend to treat this war like football match and who are getting impatient because the referee hasn't blown the whistle yet.

The reality is that it is complicated. We noted some of our readers are confused by criticism of the western sanctions and our expectations that Russia will be able to get through this in a better shape that widely expected. We are no expert in Russian politics and military campaigns, but we know a thing or two about our own western pain thresholds, and the limits of our solidarity.

What we do see instead of a Russian defeat is that Ukraine and the west will eventually cut a dirty deal with Putin.

If we cannot even get ourselves to end gas imports from Russia, there is no way that we can inflict a defeat on Putin. We give him the euro revenues he needs to fight his war, and the time to make himself economically less dependent on us. If you hyperventilate about something, it should be the weakness of the EU that choose sanctions not with any strategic purpose, but as a virtue-signalling exercise.

The realism we are advocating is the recognition that nobody is winning this war. We have to focus on second and third best outcomes.

Eurointelligence cited Mike Mazarr Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation. 

"Many realist scholars opposed the Iraq war. They seek to *avoid* avenues to death + destruction, not treat such awful outcomes as OK," said Mazarr in a 16 series Tweet.

Here are the two key Tweets.

"Sometimes not intervening is the right choice, despite the suffering underway. Sometimes, not fighting the bigger war is the *only* moral choice."

President Biden on Putin

On March 26, President Biden proclaimed "For God's Sake, this Man Cannot Remain in Power"

The Wall Street Journal and perpetual warmongers agreed. But Biden's staff quickly backtracked on his controversial statement.

A White House official said "He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

If you agree with the statement as made, please tell me how you enforce it. Short of nuclear war, there is no action the US or EU can do to back up the stance. 

I suppose Putin might die of a heart attack or killed by his staff, but neither is likely. Pragmatically speaking, I agree with the Eurointelligence assessment "the west will eventually cut a dirty deal with Putin."

Limits of Western Pain Thresholds

Meanwhile there are limits to the pain threshold in the West, but especially the EU.

Many EU nannycrats refuse to accept reality. Guy Verhofstadt is a prime example.

"Stop Imports NOW"

What a hoot. Yesterday the EU failed to get agreement to even ban coal from Russia let alone natural gas.

Even more to the point, it's futile to try.

Misguided Souls Still Do Not Understand This Simple Truth: Sanctions Don't Work

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On March 29 I pointed out all the loopholes in  sanctions on Russia, For discussion, please see Misguided Souls Still Do Not Understand This Simple Truth: Sanctions Don't Work

When have sanctions ever dislodged anyone?

Q: Venezuela?
A: No

Q: Iran?
A: No?

Q: Cuba?
A: No?

Q: Any Country?
A: No

Certainly doing nothing is better than backfiring sanctions, unless of course your goal is nuclear war with Russia. 

Not Working vs Backfiring

Sanctions that simply fail to work are relatively harmless. The costly sanctions backfire in big ways. 

For example, Putin Will Collect a $321 Billion Windfall Partially Thanks to Sanctions

Also note the global energy disruptions.

Global map from Nations Online Project, annotations by Mish

Global map from Nations Online Project, annotations by Mish

Please consider De-Globalization: New Supply Chains Are Inefficient and Will Drive Up Inflation

Sanctions are typically a lose-lose proposition. In this case, the EU and Russia are both hammered. 

Yet, the battle cry is on for still more sanctions even though the EU cannot even agree to stop coal. 

Take out Putin? How? 

It's a bitter pill for the interventionalists, but sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. 

By the way, US meddling led to these events in the first place. For discussion, please see What's the Real Background Story Behind Russia's Invasion of Ukraine?

This post originated on MishTalk.Com.

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