Four months into 2021, the choice of Time magazine’s Person of the Year is a moot exercise. Hands down, barring a dramatic cure for all cancers, the unchallenged Person of the Year is Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Win or lose in the war with Russia, Zelensky has become the symbol of intrepid determination against overwhelming odds, selflessness and courage. He has become the world’s conscience.
Historians have a practice of assigning colorful names to combat between nations. Better to remember them by, for their students too, I suppose. There are The War of the Spanish Succession, the War of the Roses, Queen Anne’s War, the War of Jenkin’s Ear and the French and Indian War, to cite a handful of examples.
Of course, wars may be assigned different names by historians of different persuasions. Americans still can’t agree on the name of our internal combat from 1861-1865. Northerners call the battle to end slavery our Civil War. Southerners label it the War Between the States.
What we in America and most of the planet call World War II, Russians refer to as The Great Patriotic War to honor the more than 27 million Soviet Union servicemen and civilians killed fighting Nazi Germany.
The current conflict initiated by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin against Ukraine in late February may be properly called the War of Unintended Consequences.
As Bret Stephens recently pointed out in The New York Times, “He thought Russian-speaking Ukrainians would welcome his troops. They didn’t. He thought he’d swiftly depose Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. He hasn’t. He thought he’d divide NATO. He’s united it. He thought he had sanction-proofed his economy. He’s wrecked it. He thought the Chinese would help him out. They’re hedging their bets. He thought his modernized military would make mincemeat of Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainians are making mincemeat of his, at least on some fronts.”
Now, six weeks later, according to the DailyMail.com, “Russia’s war effort stalls as the Red Army can’t get replacement weapons or spares for their crippled convoys...because they’re all made in Ukraine” (https://mol.im/a/10677711).
Oh, my! Putin is guilty not just of war crimes but of failing to arrange necessary supply lines of food and materiel for his troops. We have yet to visualize how his incursion into Ukraine will end, but it is doubtful the consequences of his actions will result in what he initially intended.