I’m not talking about the current military situation or the ongoing destruction of the Russian armed forces; to be clear I hope Russia suffers a crushing defeat at the hands of the Ukrainians. I’m referring to the damage that the Ukraine war is doing to Russian society. This damage is immeasurable: extreme levels of political repression, the mass emigration of talented young people, loss of trade and direct foreign investment, the list goes on and on.
And then there’s the damage done to their soldiers – tens of thousands of men killed, disabled, traumatized – and the damage these soldiers will do when they return from this brutal war:
This study examines the impact of post–September 11 (post-9/11) combat deployments on crime among veterans. We exploit the administrative procedures by which US armed forces senior commanders conditionally randomly assign active-duty servicemen to overseas deployments to estimate the causal impact of modern warfare on crime. Using data from two national surveys and a unified framework, we find that post-9/11 combat deployments substantially increase the probability of crime commission among veterans. Combat exposure increases the likelihood of gang membership, trouble with the police, punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, property crime, and violent crime.
This war is a catastrophe for the Russians, and the catastrophe will not end when hostilities cease. (And no, for the record, I’m not happy about that. We should do what we can – unfortunately, probably not much – to bring Russia into the community of democratic nations.)