Saturday, April 23, 2022

Key Learnings from This Weeks Talks

 Here are the lessons on strong leadership who are motivated for the right reasons from this weeks talk. The notes from the email are below:


  1. Strong Leaders are Motivated for the Right Reasons
    Zelensky is in it for the right reasons. He’s been incredibly effective in rallying the Ukrainian people. What we see in the US a lot these days is the opposite. We see people who are good at the politics of subtraction, doubling down on extreme bases within polar-opposite wings of various political parties. I hope that the Ukrainian people help us cherish and appreciate the freedoms we take for granted in the US. We get better as a nation by criticizing ourselves, but we should take a moment to cherish the freedoms we enjoy and appreciate the gift that we have living in free and open societies.
  2. National Defense Recommendations for the Coming Decade
    What’s really important when you’re advising a US President on foreign affairs and national security issues is to have in mind a framework to frame complex challenges, apply design thinking, and then agree on overarching goals and objectives. When you do that, you can make specific decisions. Should we provide big fighters to Ukraine? Should we provide medium-range air defense? What more should we do diplomatically? In Washington, you have discussions about specific, discrete actions, and the tendency then is to confuse activity for progress. There should be four objectives for a framework for Ukraine: 
    • Ensure Russia Fails
      If Russia doesn’t fail in Ukraine, it will not be over. Russia has to fail in Ukraine. 
    • Mitigate the Humanitarian Catastrophe in Ukraine
      Do everything you can to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people. There’s a military dimension of that in terms of what capabilities to give them so that Russia no longer can commit mass murder by the indiscriminate bombardment of cities.
    • Prevent Escalation to Nuclear War
      Aim for this as an explicit objective because when you look at each action, you can evaluate, “Are these contributing to or detracting from this key objective?” 
    • Shift the Balance
      Bend the situation to shift the balance in favor of our free and open societies against closed authoritarian systems
  3. Our Holiday From History is Over
    Major war has returned to the European continent after almost 80 years. What is clear from the horror being experienced by Ukrainian people is that our assumptions about the post-Cold War world are now demonstrably false. Among these false perceptions is the idea that an arc of history had guaranteed the primacy of our free and open societies over closed authoritarian systems.
  4. Hard Power Matters
    When people ask if Putin has gone crazy, my answer is this is consistent for Putin. The renewed assault on Ukraine was not a Black Swan event; it was a Pink Flamingo. What we should have learned is that hard power matters. In retrospect, there’s a lot more we could have done to provide Ukraine with more defensive capabilities that could have convinced Putin that he couldn’t accomplish these objectives in Ukraine at an acceptable cost. It was Putin’s perception of his chances of success that led to the invasion. 
  5. Putin’s Four False Assumptions
    We remember Putin as the great strategist who plays his weak hand better than anybody. That’s all nonsense. Putin has set himself and the people around him up for failure in Ukraine based on these four false assumptions:
    • Ukraine Is a Powerless Nation
      Putin thought Ukraine would collapse, that It was weak. He thought Zelensky was a joke. He counted him and the Ukrainians out. 
    • The Ukrainian Military Would Fold
      Putin thought Ukraine didn’t have the national will to resist enemy forces.
    • Russia's Military Would Get the Job Done Efficiently Because of Their Prowess
      They turned out to be pretty inept because of the rampant corruption across all the institutions within Russia.
    • Global Disunity Would be Created
      Putin got unity instead. We’ve seen a sea change in Europe. It’s a fundamental shift and attitude toward Russia far beyond what people imagined. 


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