Conservatives idealize strength, health, and intelligence; liberals fear so much for the weak, sick, and stupid that they penalize the opposite and create impoverished third-world ruins like Russia, Mexico, China, and Brazil.
We might see the error of our political system in the fact that each side defines itself by the other instead of differentiating itself by positive ambition; when you have a buddy to fight with, you no longer need direction, and this is the essence of the codependency of the two-party system.
(Note: every suggestion about how to fix this in fact brings about worse results. The “term limits” people would create a new and bigger Deep State, the ranked choice voting people will create the coalition politics that hobble Europe, and third partiers simply split electorates.)
The problem of politics thus remains inherent: one either strives toward strength or toward fear of weakness, which ironically produces more weakness. When a society loses its drive toward strength, it falls into neurotic confusion and co-dependency results.
With Donald Trump at the helm, the West pursued a policy of strength. It rewarded the good and was intolerant of cheaters. This scared the Left because they fear conflict solely because conflict can lead to loss, and their fear of loss makes them natural appeasers.
However, appeasers usually find themselves in a bad position: once they have let the opposition take an inch, it goes farther than the appeasers are willing to tolerate, but since they have not signaled what the hard line is, the opposition has no idea when it has gone too far.
The first Iraq War kicked off because America signaled soft on Saddam Hussein taking Kuwait, then suddenly reacted with outrage. It was a typical passive-aggressive trap. By appeasing Hussein, America encouraged him to go further, and then suddenly noticed a “crisis” and went to military engagement.
WW2 followed a similar dynamic. The West watched as Hitler seized territory, then at some point said “no more” and maneuvered into war. America passive-aggressively cut off iron exports to Japan, provoking retaliation. You get big wars by tolerating small slights.
Similarly the Korean war involved this dynamic. American intervention was tolerated until China felt a line had been crossed, provoking them to send in massive numbers of troops and escalate the war from a minor police action into a full conflict.
China and Russia have been allied — with some breaks — for the greater part of seventy years. Their economies became interdependent even before Western intervention in Ukraine, and Russia faces the problem of permanent economic malaise due to inability to produce industry.
Ukraine, with its fields of wheat and soy, represents a chance for Russia to give itself two functional industries, oil and agriculture, instead of merely having its oil supplies and otherwise a sluggish economy which has made few inroads into world manufacturing and service supply.
The Asian mind loves a good deeply-plotted chess game, as does the Asiatic side of the Russian character. My guess is that Putin intended to provoke a full response from Ukraine and use that as a pretext for invading the rest of the nation much as he did in Crimea.
His goals here are not merely economic. The Stalin years still poll high among Russians because this was the last time that Russia was of consequence, and it is better to be important and broke than unimportant and broke.
For Putin to remain in power, he needs to either make Russia a thriving first-world economy, or make it broke but important. Ukraine offers a compromise: he makes the Russian bear seem strong again, and he gains some of the most prosperous fields in Eurasia to try to build agriculture.
In addition, of military significance, he gets warm-water ports so that his navy can appear influential again instead of being limited to sailing around in the North Sea. Russia would rise in international estimation with a conquest of Ukraine, once the usual flags-on-Facebook-profiles fizzled out.
China, on the other hand, benefits from a prolonged Russia-NATO war in Ukraine. This would draw out Western forces and deplete weapons supplies, opening the path for China to take Taiwan with a theoretically quick invasion.
With the Strategic Petroleum Reserve drawn down to half of its 2008 levels, and many weapons already committed to Ukraine, the US has like most inter-war democracies made itself unready for war.
While NATO continues, like most peacetime democracies, to avoid firm commitments toward goals and instead reacts to the problem as it sees it in that moment only, Russia will continue its assault on Ukraine, gradually drawing the West further in.
By the time that China takes Taiwan, a depleted West will react too little, too late. At that point, the only option for setting things to right involves world warfare, something that is convenient for all participants.
The West, China, and Russia have all adopted the “mixed economy” — socialist benefits grafted onto free markets — and consequently set the Keynesian circular Ponzi scheme (KCPS) timer running.
No one can afford socialist-style benefits, since those raise marginal costs to the point of crippling productivity, much like the mordida (bribe) of 30% at every level paralyzes third world economies, and at some point the clock runs out.
To a disinterested observer, it might appear that much as the US won the Cold War by outspending the Soviet Union on weapons, the West has been outspending Eurasia on social benefits in order to force the other side to bankrupt itself first.
China is closer to bankruptcy than they will admit, and Russia has been in prolonged bankruptcy for decades. For their systems to survive, they must militarize in order to grow since they have no further room to grow economically.
The West also faces a looming default because no one can actually afford these social services. Deployed as a political tool, they in fact damaged economies by siphoning off a good portion of the wealth into government-created jobs and entitlements.
And thus, the conditions for world war exist. A tower of alliances, bankrupt nations, and unclear touchstone points mean that the world will go to war to fix its economies and stabilize the world order. At that point, we will see the kickoff of a two-front war.
The West will try, as it usually does, to destroy the economies of the rest of the world so thoroughly that only the superpowers remain. We are already seeing that in Ukraine, where the West is trading away the ruin of a country for a chance to shatter the Russian military machine.
The East will most likely win despite gruesome casualties because technology cannot defeat human wave warfare. When five or ten million armed Chinese cross a border, they will make it farther than most armies because of their disregard for losses.
There is a trap in this. If the East prevails in all ways, it will gain a huge economic boost which will go into a system which cannot function without militarization, leading to a quick rise and then equally dramatic fall into poverty and dysfunction.
Most likely, the West has sacrificed so much of its raw human resources that it will not be able to mount a successful campaign. At this point, very few people of competence want to go off and fight a war for democracy, and the command structure has been replaced by affirmative action.
History shows us that Caucasian empires normally fail when they encounter a persistent Eastern foe, and that afterwards they become mixed-race and never rise again. This is the future that people voted for, and it looks like they are going to get it good and hard.