Great artists know a truth about the road. Doing a one-off show is often harder than preparing a lengthy tour. True whether musically, theatrically or politically.
One date demands as much rehearsal time and clarity as a tour. Far easier to wing things, hoping charisma’s momentum and spontaneity will carry the day. History’s landscape is littered with tattered reputations – from humbled musical legends to political candidates.
War isn’t much different. Consider Tommy Franks’ war plan (albeit with OSD and OVP intrusions) 2002-2003. He cast aside pre-existing plans and comparatively winged it. He also abruptly retired in 2003 before mistakes became obvious. Wolfowitz’s last minute failure with Turkey to create a northern front makes the point. Conversely, American Pacific success 1942-45 famously built on significant amphibious warfare planning from the 1920s.
Germany 1935-45 is the poster child. Germany lost the improvised war by starting it on September 1, 1939. Yet German conceptual and economic preparations for an eventual intercontinental war with the US were substantial. In the European context, Germany’s 1936-37 economic crisis spurred radicalization and thinking about a general war by 1943-45. Still, the Four Year Plan and industrial base began alignment in 1938 for the later ‘inevitable’ world war with the US. The Corporal’s improvisations within this vague overall strategic concept jump started events and doomed both.
Led Zeppelin notoriously devoted an entire month in 2007 to rehearse one 2 hour London show. Decades of calamitously unrehearsed ‘re-unions’ demanded it.
Putin’s war on Ukraine is an improvised gig. And Vladimir Putin is no Led Zeppelin.
Putin launched his attack on or about the night of February 22nd relying only on his closest advisors, meaning almost no one. Assurances from MFA/MID and other senior government officials at the time otherwise meant nothing. He invaded Crimea based on a war plan dating back to the late 1990s to secure the Black Seas Fleet. We disagree with the suggestion that a 2013 speech on the characteristics of emerging war by the General Staff is a modern “Hossbach Memorandum”, proving Putin long planned a carefully considered war of aggression on Ukraine. Such observations ignore the culture, nature and purpose of General Staff discussions.