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Wisdom of Crowds

Jan 16, 2022

Is a war in Ukraine coming? And what should the U.S. do about it? Putin is sticking to his maximalist demands, which some believe might be used as a (flimsy) casus belli. Samuel Charap, a senior analyst at RAND and author of Everyone Loses, joins us this week to help break down this dangerous moment, explain how we got here, and what our next steps should be.

With few Americans paying attention, this could be a pivotal moment for Russia's broader ambitions in Europe. Despite his relatively weak hand, Putin has been playing it well. Samuel, Damir, and Shadi debate whether the U.S. can or should "do more"—and what does doing more look like, anyway?

Our follow up bonus episode is available here for subscribers. Shadi confides that he doesn't care that much about Ukraine, while feeling somewhat guilty about it. Which leads to a classic Damir-and-Shadi back and forth about counterfactual history and what it means to care about anything.

Required Reading:

  • "A Consensus Proposal for a Revised Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia" by Samuel Charap, Jeremy Shapiro, John J. Drennan, Oleksandr Chalyi, Reinhard Krumm, Yulia Nikitina, Gwendolyn Sasse (RAND)
  • "Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia" by Samuel Charap and Timothy Colton (Amazon)
  • "The U.S. Approach to Ukraine’s Border War Isn’t Working. Here’s What Biden Should Do Instead." by Samuel Charap (Politico)
  • "Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate" by M.E. Sarotte (Amazon)
  • "What Putin Really Wants From the Ukraine Crisis" by Brett Stephens (New York Times)