Vladmir Putin’s swift, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine instantly challenged the Western World and threatens to unravel the Post-World War Two order. Seeing a world already exhausted and eager to “get on” from the two-year old Coronavirus Pandemic, perhaps Putin believed the United States and the West would quickly condemn the aggression and then return to “business as usual.” (Watch conspiracy theorists claim that the Coronavirus was developed in a Russian lab and intentionally released to battle the West.)
President Biden has risen to the challenge and constructed the largest coordinated response to aggression since George H.W. Bush built a “coalition of the willing” following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. In these first days, we seem more unified and in common cause than we have been in a long time.
But it is early in this conflict. This is day eleven. Recall that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan lasted ten years, 1979 to 1989 – 3,650 days give or take.
Only 3,639 days left to go.
As I write these words safe in my home – safe from murder, starvation, and the refugee crisis foisted upon the Ukrainian people – I am reminded of a line from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. “And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know.”
We do not know how this story will end. That is the way of great events. Those who come after us may look back with the clarity of 20-20 hindsight and proclaim the outcome was “inevitable.” Today, far from clear the outcome seems.
We can close the book on the Coronavirus Pandemic (2020-2022) and open the book on Russian Aggression (2022-????).
I expect this crisis will last far longer, cost far more lives, and challenge us more than we expect. For now, we can “like” Pro-Ukraine posts and offer “hopes and prayers,” but the Ukrainian people will need more than “likes,” “hopes,” and “prayers” in the years ahead.
And just like we did with the COVID-19 lockdowns, employers will be challenged to do their part and more to stand with the Ukrainian people. In the coming weeks, I will use this space to try to help employers rise to the challenge to support their employees and their families’ during this next, great test. I welcome your thoughts.