Dear Vladimir, You Have Already Lost

It's one thing to conquer a nation, another to hold it, writes Yuval Noah Harari
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2022 1:32 PM CST
Dear Vladimir, You Have Already Lost
Russian President Vladimir Putin.   (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – In an essay in the Guardian, author Yuval Noah Harari argues that Vladimir Putin already has lost the Ukraine war. It may seem like an odd sentiment given that Russian forces appear to be on the brink of mounting a powerful offensive that could very well leave the capital and other major cities under Russian control. Doesn't matter, writes Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. "As the Americans learned in Iraq and the Soviets learned in Afghanistan, it is much easier to conquer a country than to hold it," he writes. And what is becoming increasingly clear is that Russia will never conquer the Ukrainian people, who are "resisting with all their heart" and "winning the admiration of the entire world."

The Russian leader surely thought Ukraine's government would cave immediately and allow Moscow to set up a puppet regime. But "with each passing day, it is becoming clearer that Putin's gamble is failing." Putin grew up in an age when stories of Russian bravery in the face of German atrocities proliferated and became lore. Now, similar stories are proliferating, but with Putin "in the role of Hitler." Harari warns that the conflict could last years, though a lengthy duration will not change the fact that Ukrainians have no interest in living "under a new Russian empire. The main question left open is how long it will take for this message to penetrate the Kremlin’s thick walls." (Read his full essay.)

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