Why War is Like Rain


How the Russian-Ukraine War Will End

The way all wars end.

War is like rain.

Because it always rains. Somewhere.

You just never know when it will start, and when it will end.

You only know that the rain will come. Sooner, or later. Again, and then again.

And when the rain does fall, and then ends…

The air is cleared and the sun shines.

So it is with war.

When wars end… 

The dead are buried and mourned.

And children go out to play.

Will it be the same this time?

If so, when?

When is only important to those who wait.

Who wait for the rain to stop.

Who wait for the war to end.

What occurs between the beginning and the end, those are the details.

And the details are always personal.

We, the non-participants far from the fallen, can’t comprehend those kinds of personal details.

We only know the headlines

Who won, who lost.

How many died. How many wounded. How many endlessly traumatized.

And when the war ends, because all wars end...

The debate inevitably follows...

Was it justified? Was it worth it? Was it noble?

For most of us, we try, or we choose, to simply ignore or forget what happened.

Weary, we want to move on.

That’s the problem.

Our human desire and willingness to keep our skeletons in the closet.

To throw out the old and paint the walls a bright new color.

But this time it will be different (isn’t it always).

We’ve had two World Wars.

Each was the war to end all wars.

So what is different now?

What makes now frighteningly different?

Vladimir Putin’s forbearer, Joseph Stalin, said, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.”

Putin is not so generous with his statistical sentiments.

As an absolute dictator for 20 plus years, he has developed a myopic and warped view of the world outside his Kremlin palace.

His megalomaniacal delusions color his strategic goals and his estimations of Russian military power.

While some of us can admit, to quote Toby Keith, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m good once as I ever was.”

Putin believes he and Russia are undiminished. Just as strong and powerful as ever.

His surprising and embarrassing military defeats, on the other hand – as Russia plays Goliath to Ukraine’s David – has been a rude slap in the face for this Russian emperor with no clothes.

His dream to preside over the glory (that never was) of the former Soviet Union has found him, and Russia, floundering on the merciless rocks of unexpected reality.

And that’s extremely dangerous—for all of us!

This Machiavellian sociopath may not be coping all that well with the reality that he and Russia are not as powerful, not as invincible as he had believed.

Hence, Putin is now like a wounded animal.

Beaten by a Ukraine that hates him.

A free and democratic Ukraine that did not welcome his “liberating” army with roses and kisses—as he thought they would, and should.

For that injustice, his wrath, his vengeance sees no difference between combatants and innocents.

All are equal in his eyes.

They are the lowest of the low.

They are Nazis. Every last one of them.

And they must be scourged. Brutalized. Killed. For refusing Caesar’s “love and affections.”

That’s a BIG clue to where we are heading

Putin lives in a bygone and mythical era.

He longs for the good ol’ days of the Soviet Union.

And he chooses to see the past as the present.

He revels in the glory that never was for Soviet Russia – when he was a “political lieutenant” during the heady days of the Cold War.

His military acumen is also mired in the past. If ever he had any.

Stealing Russia’s oil and gas revenues, he has supplied his army with impressively powerful modern weaponry.

But he and his generals neglected to create the strategy and tactics that could enable his army to wield this wealth of military might on the modern battlefield.

Like the archetypical old general preparing to win a past war, Putin’s military was fashioned to fight and win again WWII.

Russian military doctrine is monolithic

It relies primarily on massive mechanized firepower—tanks and artillery.

Weapons of shock and awe that can overrun and bludgeon any opposing enemy.

But Putin’s army has now been revealed to be poorly trained, poorly led, and poorly motivated.

Yet it as immoral and criminal as it ever was.

Despite his army’s ineffectiveness and loses, Putin’s overall plan and goal remains the same.

To conquer, occupy and own Ukraine

No matter how many mercilessly murdered Ukrainians it takes.

No matter how many Ukrainian villages and cities are pounded into rubble.

And yet, to quote former heavyweight champ, Mike Tyson, “everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

So with his army’s nose now bloodied, but not broken, Putin is marshaling his forces for a more modest, but no less strategic win.

The battle for the Donbas, the Ukrainian industrial and agricultural heartland, and its sea ports in the south.

Pundits believe this battle on the agricultural plains of Eastern Ukraine will be decisive.

Because it may be a battle Ukrainian forces are destined to lose, barring some miracle of armaments and tactics.

Fighting on vast open fields, using tanks and artillery, WWII style, is what the Russian Army was built for.

Ukraine cannot match Russian firepower

They don’t have the tanks and artillery in sufficient numbers to go toe-to-toe with Russia in these forthcoming battles.

However, nothing is ever final until the fat lady sings.

Drone and cyber-warfare has been and can continue to be instrumental in holding back Russian forces.

But Ukrainian forces cannot hold back the Russians forever.

Even if the Russian army is soundly defeated on land, its Navy and long-range weaponry, most notably its missiles, could flatten almost every building and structure in Ukraine.

Thereby driving the entire Ukrainian civilian population to seek refuge in the neighboring countries to the west.

A migration that’s already begun.

Which suits Putin just fine.

He’s not looking to win the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people.

He just wants their land. And he could care less how many civilians he kills to get it.

It’s the same attitude, the same “bomb them into dust” tactics he employed in Chechnya and Syria.

Why the world expected Ukraine to be any different is on us to explain

And yet, this time, the world came together, albeit haltingly, to stop Putin.

But has it been too little too late?

Can guerilla warfare turn the tide of war in Ukraine’s favor?

Guerrilla warfare, urban warfare, armed insurgencies, are only effective if a safe and viable base of operations can be maintained.

If Russia flattens the country, which it can over time, destroying infrastructure and supply lines…

Ukrainian forces will have nowhere to hide, and no way to be resupplied with food or ammunition.

So how does this war end with Ukraine the victor—in control of all its lands, cities and seaports?

The answer is written in the sand

The West, and the United States in particular, is finally stepping up its military support for Ukraine.

And though the flow of weaponry has increased substantially, it’s still nowhere near enough to send the Russians running back across the border.

Yes, the Russian economy is reeling thanks to economic sanctions, but it can still spend close to $1 billion a day to procure more weapons and ammunition.

Much of that cash flow comes from its oil and gas sales.

And it’s no secret that Europe and many other countries, China most notably, rely primarily on Russian oil and gas.

Therefore, realistically, they can’t suddenly stop buying oil and gas from Russia.

It would be economic and political suicide for any government to willingly turn off the lights, the heat, raise prices at the pump and cause inflation to skyrocket.

So, if you can’t quickly wean dependent countries off Russian gas and oil… and thereby cripple Russia’s war machine…

A much quicker, much better option exists

Nevertheless, it has a serious downside.

It will require the Biden administration to tolerate or ignore human rights abuses.

To basically eat its principles and deal with the real world in real terms.

I’m talking about Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a near medieval country when it comes to the treatment of women, non-Muslims and the meting out of punishments for transgressions.

The kingdom’s effective ruler is Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud.

Or MBS for short.

A western-educated, relatively forward-thinking, yet highly unsavory personality.

It’s widely believed he ordered the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, among others.

President Biden doesn’t like MBS

Hence, relations between the U.S and Saudi Arabia are…difficult.

Nevertheless, Washington has asked Saudi Arabia to increase oil production—so that the price of oil will precipitously drop—thereby reducing Russia’s main source of income nearly by half.

But Saudi Arabia isn’t willing to open its oil spigot. Not yet.

Not until Biden bends knee and plays nice with MBS.

Will he or won’t he?

Time will tell.

But we can also substantially increase our oil and gas production—making it easier for Europe and other countries to reduce their dependence on Russia.

So why aren’t we?

Corporate profits.

U.S. energy companies and Wall Street investors are worried current prices will not stay high long enough for them to make a profit from drilling hundreds of new oil wells.

In short, they see the war in Ukraine as a time-limited profit opportunity.

So the ridiculous prices you and I currently paying at the pump…

They will continue.

For as long as the war continues.

Providing oil companies with unrivaled profits.

Bottom line, without an undeserving guarantee that drilling new oil wells and pumping more oil will not reduce their bottom line

As far as many American energy companies are concerned…

The Ukrainians can eat cake

So how long will the war drag on, and to what end?

Time is clearly not in Ukraine’s favor.

It can only hold out for so long.

A war of attrition favors Russia.

As long as their oil and gas is bought, they can continue lobbing missiles and artillery shells into Ukraine.

Until Ukraine has no choice but to surrender or be erased.

Which is basically the same thing.

Alternatively, the West can ramp up the military pressure, directly or indirectly, so Ukraine can defeat or at least stymie Russia in the field.

Which is the direction we’re now headed.

But that’s a risky proposition—and no less risky than increasing economic pressure with sanctions.

Because Putin will then be battling on two fronts.

One in Ukraine, and one in Russia itself.

If Putin feels his hold on power is threatened by military force from the West, or by economic destabilization at home, he will attempt to rearrange the chess board.

Back Putin into corner and he will use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine

Then it’s up to the West to go all in, or out.

Either way, that could be a lose-lose situation for all concerned.

Threaten him personally with defeat—and he will take the world down with him.

And do not think his generals will disobey his orders to unleash a nuclear holocaust upon the world.

Ruthless barbarism is inculcated in the Russian soldier.

In WWII, the Nazis feared no army more than the savagery of the Russian army

The rules of war, and simple human decency, carry no weight in the Russian military, much less for Putin, a former KGB operative.

And don’t forget, Putin has already threatened to use nuclear weapons numerous times since he invaded Ukraine if the West goes too far in confronting him.

How far is too far? He’s left that purposely unclear.

So, is he bluffing?

Who’s willing to place that bet?


How does the Russian-Ukraine war end?

How is a nuclear WWIII averted?

Well, it won't be by wishful thinking.

As much as we would like to see a palace coup, it will not happen.

His generals will not oust him.

Putin will know long before any attempted coup is planned, much less executed.

All the walls in Russia have ears.

So where does that leave us?

As I mentioned in my previous post

If Putin is allowed, under the threat of a nuclear war, to seize Ukraine…

He will keep advancing westward for as long as he chooses.

Explosions are already going off in Moldova, on the western border of Ukraine.

If the West does not stop Putin—what will our future be like?

What kind of a world will we live in?

We can call Putin a monster, a liar, a butcher, a Russian Hitler, the devil incarnate, all of which serves as salve for our collective conscience and pervasive sense of helplessness.

But it won’t save Ukraine. Or us.

So how do we stop Putin?

How do we once and for all time put an end to him and his reign of terror.

A bullet to the head would be my choice.

But where do we find a Michael Corleone and a revolver hidden in the bathroom?

Barring that far-fetched cinematic scenario…

Maybe the least offensive option is to hope Ukraine will be another Afghanistan for Russia. 

But that war lasted nine years before Putin called it quits. Doubtful he’ll make that same mistake again.

Equally doubtful is Ukraine’s ability to survive another nine months, much less nine more years, under current conditions.

It’s therefore very difficult for me to be sanguine about the prospects of an acceptable outcome—for anyone.


However, like the rain, there's always hope.

Hope for a better future. Where the rain will make flowers grow.

And so I have to think, and hope, that the fat lady is not even in the building, much less clearing her throat.

Your turn.

Please leave  your comments below.

1 comment

  • Well said, Barry. I’ll save the long diatribe for another day, but as a retired Army colonel who has experienced combat conditions in Vietnam and with it unclear rules of engagement and lack of a defined win strategy, it appears we, as the leader of the free world, are once again lacking a viable path forward. My view is we have waited too long, and people will soon tire of seeing the devastation of an independent and democratic country. Without playing Monday morning quarterback, I said at the outset of Putin’s encroachment into Ukraine that the free world counties cannot and should not tolerate an innocent free state being overrun by a vastly overpowering nation. It is almost too late to go on the offensive and fight side by side with Ukraine, since we have chosen merely to use the Ukrainian defense forces as pawns by giving defense equipment but not “shock and awe” offensive support through the use of dynamic air, sea and ground power. While I am not a proponent of starting WW III, we should be taking Putin’s threats and intentions at face value and prepare and execute robust and totally coordinated mutual-nation force offensive to counter further destruction in Ukraine while also posturing the massive force deployments at the ready to defend and neutralize any threat to NATO and the rest of the free world. Yes, this is a hard decision, but that’s what proven leadership is all about.
    Bottom line:
    - Organize and deploy a multi-nation force which will seek out snd neutralize Russian forces in Ukraine
    - Employ massive defense forces along NATO’s perimeter
    - Select targets of opportunity in Russia for potential establishment of divergent wartime fronts.
    We, as a free world cannot stand by as irrational and illegal military moves are bent on the destruction of an innocent democratic country.
    If not the US to lead and defend freedom, then who is to step forward? How can we sit by and see the news reporting daily of terror, destruction and attempted annihilation of a free and democratic country while the rest of the world satisfied its guilt by sending billions of dollars in equipment and supplies but cannot serve to send in significant forces to reinforce the Ukrainian homeland protectors?
    If not saving Ukraine, who is next?

    Bob O’Donnell

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