I have, of course, been speaking too much time reading about the invasion of Ukraine. I have a small connection to the place, via my publishers there, Bookraine, who brought out a local language version of Felafel last year. I just got a second edition in the mail the other day.
I told them not to send any royalties. I figure they need the money more.
As part of my endless reading, however, I did come across New/Lines Magazine which I’ve never heard of before, but which seems to be really good at its gig - international affairs.
This story, an interview with Burton Gerber, the former head of the CIA’s Soviet Section, was crunchy and dense.
Gerber sees the former KGB officer using an old-school playbook of strategic ambiguity combined with what the Germans would call Zersetzungsdienst, or decomposition, the depletion of morale of your enemy. A prolonged, slow-boil conflict that never quite boils over but keeps everyone guessing will eventually make them grow tired of doing so.
“What I see is that Putin wants to keep the world, particularly the Europeans, on edge. He likes it that way. He’s the center of everything, his preferred state. And they are wholly reactive. By leaving the threat of war lingering, he waits until people get fed up with waiting and their avowed support for Ukraine begins to flag. This is how he creates seams within NATO. Maybe it leads to another stab at diplomacy, eating away at the resolve we’ve seen so far. If this sentiment becomes strong enough, Putin wins because he can outlast NATO in negotiations. Maybe the alliance doesn’t have 30 different viewpoints, but it has at least four or five. He will exploit them.”
The whole thing is worth a look, both the story and the mag.