04 Negotiation

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Slava Ukraini!

First, let’s cut the bull. Lot’s of negotiation ideals start from the now, which does kind of make sense as we are in the now, but it is wrong. It is wrong because negotiation is done by humans that draw their own starting points and their motivation starts from there. People like latin and ancient greek, so I’m going to call the position people need to understand their proto position.

So let’s use an analogy. Ukraine is our house. Russian soldiers have stormed in, killed our goldfish in your front room then failed to get up the stairs as they are drunk on vodka. That is where we are at time of writing (2023). From this point some negotiation models based on logic say that we need to rationally workout who has what, and find common ground with the other side. There are many things you can see are obviously wrong with this. The first is your obvious reaction. This is where the human factor comes in. You are not logically thinking about finding common ground with them and working out what is a mutually acceptable outcome, maybe giving over the land of your front room. No your reaction, which is correct, is


Using the technique of reductio ad absurdum (Latin for "reduction to absurdity”), we can see how models looking to find common ground, find empathy and start now, continually fail. Negotiations happen over time so if all people need to do to defeat these models is to keep resetting it. Keep taking ground. You keep looking for common ground and I’ll keep making ground mine.

To be honest, there is a clue in the metaphor. The phrase is taken from war negotiation. Find common ground. No ground that is Ukrainian can be common. It’s Ukrainian. As long as Russian troops are here the response is only “FUCK YOU RUSSIA”. If I kicked your front room in and took over your front room, what would you do?

Some misguided people think Ukraine is against finding peace as the won’t give up part of their house, which is clearly not true. Ukraine wants peace, Putin, er I mean Russia wants war. Ukraine would agree to peace right now providing Russia called them and said, stop firing and we’ll leave all your territory. I mean how could you say Russia isn’t the problem here, they literally invaded!

So the first route to peace is to give Ukraine their proto position. The second route is for Ukraine to win back their proto position, and they will. Undoubtedly.

Items of mutual benefit can be negotiated, or more accurately, traded. There are two elements currently agreed on between the sides, and that is they are both armies and they can prisoner swap soldiers. Why they swap are different, Ukraine value every life and wants their people back and relatively safe, where as Russia values every life it can throw back at Ukraine as cannon fodder.

But that first point about armies. Clouswitz once said: 

War is just an extension of politics by other means.

This is famous because it is true. I could dive into what civility is here but that’s a massive topic in itself, so let’s look at civilisations at war. You have two opposing ideologies, that is to say the people, every soldier, believe the reason to fight, which in Ukraine’s side is freedom and democracy. If that army were begin to loose, they would disintegrate as an army. But the fight is real and parts of them would break off and keep fighting. As the Russian dictatorship would control the civilian streets the army would have to go into hiding and become what Russia would call a terrorist cell. Here they would not be recognised as army because Russia no longer needs to.

So that is your example but the truth is Ukraine can’t actually loose this war and I state that as a fact. So why would people negotiate. Well it’s for when both sides gain from the trade. Peace is trade deal. The agreement to not rapidly export the front end of bullets into the enemy assets.

We are going to need to understand the psychology of what’s going on here so you need someone with a clue.

*record scratch*
Yep, that’s me. You are probably wondering how I got into this situation.

Well Russia has the KGB *cough* sorry had the KGB and as communism is bullocks, it failed. People want freedom and made an attempt at a democracy, however for that, the military has to be the servant of the government, and there we get the agency problem. The actual agency of the KGB that realises it has no master if it takes the government. Rebranding as a democracy, which required rebranding the KGB as the FSB had some benefits. After some internal knifing no doubt, Putin the dictator emerged. Now the psychology of most dictators is psychopathic narcism and the deluded strongman ideology. They also think capitalist democracies are weak, which is a massive mistake.

You see democracies like to sell their righteous ideology, about equality and protecting the innocent but time and time again dictators move in on the weak and the Western powers do nothing. Worst, often they’ll put a red line down, a ‘do not cross’, and when a dictator crosses it, like the hammering of civilians in Syria, and the invasion of the Crimea, the West does not respond. The dictators are emboldened by their success and declare democracies weak.

The interesting thing is how most people, politicians and dictators seem to have bought into the righteous bullshirt. You see the dictators conclusion is that the West wanted to do the things but was too weak to do so, yet the truth is that the West only thought it wanted to the things, like joining a gym, but when it came to actually exercising it found it didn’t want to.

Most of this is the desire to not spend money. There will be a double chunk of racism in there for places like Syria, that is not white multiplied by not Christian. The cold honest truth is at the Government level, the West simply didn’t care. It didn’t care about Russia invading Crimea.

Post Crimea invasion Ukraine did something amazing. It held on strongly to the European dream, becoming a democracy, modern, technologically forward and flourishing. It also elected a living legend, a verifiable hero politician, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. A man with a clear exit but who stayed. Who voiced Ukraine in Europe and won our hearts but I’m getting ahead.

Putin, deploying the Soviet playbook has sold oil and gas to Europe, trying to turn it into an addict that will allow whatever, just as long as you give it gas and oil. If the lights go out, the economy fails and the politicians fail and won’t get elected again. Also in the playbook is the spending of money to disrupt anything that weakens the leverage. Putin has spent billions on climate denial. Killing the kids future with support for oil sellers lie that where there is fire there is no smoke. Like seriously, you burn carbon with oxygen then deny carbon dioxide. Unbelievable, or at least it should be. Now this isn’t all Putin, but he’s definitely been pushing it with billions. The third Soviet play is when weaker, divide your opponent and have them fight among themselves. You need to look this up yourself but I am in no doubt there is Russian money behind the right wing in the US and Europe and probably on the Brexit campaign in Europe.

Putin also looked to Finland, which he thought he told to not join and they listened, because they are so scared of Russia. So scared that it keeps more than a quarter of a million soldiers on standby. The exact opposite is true. Finland didn’t join NATO because it’s smart and why invite war when it can be avoided, and it isn’t scared of Russia BECAUSE it has over a quarter of a million soldiers in reserve.

So if you look at European gas prices in autumn or if you prefer the fall of 2021 they are starting to go up as the oil and gas reserves are somehow lower than expected. That’s ok, we’ll price up a bit as higher demand will require it but I’m sure we’ll get those reserves in ahead of winter. Except report after report said those reserves were somehow not going up. This is the whole of Europe we are talking about. Mass storage across so very many different companies in so many different countries. This is not demand side. At the end of 2021 I predicted Russia was going to invade Ukraine (the rest of it) in the new year. Now I hadn’t remembered it was an Olympic year and this time it happened to be run by China. China doesn’t like to be embarrassed and they are the only potential real ally that Russia could hope to gain. So it became obvious Russia would hold off until after the Olympics. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics ended on the 20th February and on the 24th of February Ukraine was under full invasion.

Due to swampy lands, roads were used to send in the Russian columns, but they didn’t account for the smartest fighting force in the world, the Ukrainians. Also, although limited in response following the invasion of Crimea, the UK and the US had not sat entirely idle. The UK packed the Ukrainian army with NLAW tank killers and the US gave them Javelins and both gave the training to use it. These are actually complementary NATO powered tank killers in the hands of a highly skilled and motivated Ukrainians. Ukraine held. Kyiv Remains in Ukrainian hands as Tim Man put it.

It was at this point I knew Ukraine cannot loose. You see Zelensky stayed and became a legend. He broadcast from there every day. It was amazing. Europe was impressed. Europe wanted to claim this amazing country and Europe remembered the Soviets.

Iain M Banks’s first culture novel at the end, spoiler horn, describes in fiction where Europe was. The words have stayed with me. I’m going to read the to you and I encourage you to buy Iain’s books, please do. I hope he doesn’t mind me reading this to you but it’s amazing. This is a brilliant observation of humanity.

“Faced with a religiously inspired society determined to extend its influence over every technologically inferior civilisation in its path regardless of either the initial toll of conquest or the subsequent attrition of occupation, Contact [that’s the military component to the Culture, here you can read in, Europe] could either disengage and admit defeat - so given the lie not simply to its own reason for existence but to the only justificatory action which allowed the pampered, self-consciously fortunate people of the Culture [Europe] to enjoy their lives with a clear conscience - or it could fight. Having prepared and steeled itself (and popular opinion) through decades of the former, it resorted eventually, inevitably, like virtually any organism whose existence is threatened, to the latter.

For all the Culture’s profoundly materialist and utilitarian outlook, the fact that Idir [read Russia] had no designs on any physical part of the Culture itself was irrelevant. Indirectly, but definitely and mortally, the Culture was threatened… not with conquest, or loss of life, craft, resource or territory, but with something more important: the loss of its purpose and that clarity of conscience; the destruction of its spirit; the surrender of its soul.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, the Culture [Europe], not the Idirans [Russia], had to fight, and in that necessity of desperation eventually gathered a strength which - even if any real doubt had been entertained as to the eventual result - could brook no compromise."

You see, Ukraine cannot loose because Europe simply can’t let it. It just can’t. This is an attack on European dream, an attack on their ideology. The political issues remain of course and as a constraint but Europe cannot let Ukraine fall. From the day Zelenskyy stayed, and famously said

“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride"

I knew there was only one way. Europe would do the bare minimum to prevent Ukraine falling and as Russia escalates, the minimum will escalate. Europe has been from the start and will continue to do an escalating minimum to prevent Ukraine falling.

This is possible because of NATO and NATO is possible thanks to the might of the United States of America. So I actually want to take a moment here to say thank you. Thank you America for having the biggest stick and thank you for always for making yourself the bastian of global peace by the Soviets and later dictators being afraid of your phenomenal might. Seriously, thank you.

Now NATO was literally built for this, and I mean literally… this. So you have the worlds greatest military alliance, built to fight Russia, behind the Ukraine verses Russia.

Negotiation is simply about finding the optimum solution based on how you can affect the other party and how much you value the cost of that, verses what they can do to you and the cost to them of doing it. Sometimes it’s all positive and that’s called trade and other times not so much. So lets look at the negotiation positions.

Ukraine would like NATO to join the war as active participants. Of course they do. Have you seen the NATO arsenal? This war would be over in a day.
Ukraine would like military aid. War is often economics and Ukraine rapidly is outmatched my Russia. However Russia is second rate just compared to Europe, never mind America, so NATO can outpace Russia, even by just handing over it’s old stock, which is still more advanced.

  • Russia is correctly scared about NATO and so doesn’t want to fight NATO or have its equipment given to the Ukraine.

  • Russia is prepared to flatten cities and doesn’t care for civilians.

  • Europe here, think the EU and the UK as they are aligned on this.

  • Europe doesn’t want its cities flattened.

  • Europe doesn’t want Russia next to it, hungry to take the old Soviet countries.

  • Europe doesn’t want to let civilians die in Ukraine

  • Europe doesn’t want to fight in Ukraine.

  • Europe wants gas and oil to keep flowing to prevent economic collapse.

  • Finland doesn’t want its cities flattened, but would happily kick Russia in the crotch.

  • The US is watching the only other global super power, China. It doesn’t really care about Russia as it isn’t a threat.

  • The US would like to swat Russia and knows it can do so while facing China and it’s main punching arm readied that way. The US can defeat Russia with its one arm behind it’s back.

  • The US also doesn’t want to fight in the Ukraine.

  • The US does want to support its military industry by buying new equipment. The best way to get new equipment is to give away your older equipment and say you have a need. The military and the wealthy industry want this. The industry also wants battlefield testing of its systems so they can prove value and find ways to add more value. We can see this with British NLAWs that are golden.

  • Russia normally likes flatten a town with shells above ground and use chemical and biological weapons to flush people out from underground. As they don’t hold the ground, flushing out won’t achieve much and might trigger a NATO response. Not worth the risk for Russia.

  • Also, nobody wants nukes. Russia doesn’t want a full NATO response and NATO is ideologically against it.

So how does this shake out?

  • Well Russia is in a proxy war with NATO as it’s fighting it’s intelligence and surveillance systems, along with its equipment. Anything Russian trying to shoot these things down will get flattened by these things as a minimum response.

  • Ukraine gets super powers it could only dream of but still has to do the fighting itself.

  • Russia is outmatched and Europe will make sure it stays outmatched. Funding the Ukrainians to fight the Russians is a lot better than fighting the Russians yourself.

  • The escalating minimum of Europe, with US support has consumed Russia. It has ground to a halt.

  • Promises are worth nothing, especially from Russia. So with Russia consumed by war, it cannot declare war. So joining NATO cannot trigger an attack on Finland. Finland joins NATO and Russia is scared of NATO.

So where is this going next and is it time to negotiate. Well Russia is always welcome to leave. Ukraine might even stop shooting at them as they go if they ask nicely. Ukraine can’t loose militarily and so has no need to try and save territory with a settlement. Putin can loose either or he’s done. Game theory shows that if a returning general with an army thinks they are going to be scapegoated by a dictator, they need to kill the dictator that is going to do it. They can’t trust each other not to try and kill the other so they have to try and kill the other. Game theory is fun right.

So Ukraine is maintaining a massive war front and taking Crimea will be relatively easy while hammering the capability of Russia. Also once taken it is easy to defend, freeing up masses of soldiers. From there the Ukraine can liberate the East.

Putin likely won’t survive and might be traded to Europe for iPhones and Mercedes products. If the central railroad hubs get taken out you might even see a breakup of Russia.

The European economy is going to boom like you’ve never seen it. As will Ukraine. Europe is feeling guilty about not fighting and will wish to spread the dream via investment. The UK will hang onto European growth by its coattails but will be likely too late for most things as usual. I would bet the Ukraine will join the EU as it means a lot of cash. A lot of cash. Ukraine will get Russia’s legacy stuff that’s been confiscated.German building companies will do well as will Polands. The US will be happy to have removed Russia from the big boys club, having wasted its power of residual Soviet strength.
China will be enjoying the cheap oil from Russia and won’t care if it breaks up. It will be friendly with whomever controls that bit North East of Mongolia where the oil is. Ukraine might even take that bit of Russia that sits in Europe, now there is an idea.