When you've stated your opinion or belief about something important, do you defend your belief to the hilt? Or do you immediately begin questioning your own conclusions? Most of my life, I would defend my opinion to the point of losing friends. Even if I was wrong. Even I knew I was wrong. I'm a coward, what can I say?
I'm trying to get better, though. One practice I've developed and recommend to everyone is pretty simple but difficult. The week between Christmas and New Years, I list my Top 10 Unquestionable Beliefs. Then I try my best to debunk each one.
I don't blog them. I don't carry around my list and review it every day. It's a one-day exercise. And each round begins the same, with the Apostles' Creed:
Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem; Creatorem coeli et terrae.
You could say the Apostles' Creed is eight beliefs, but I consider it one. Then there are other beliefs, like, I am a terrible father and son, I've wasted most of my life seeking instant gratification, and the like. I've never debunked any of those, but I keep trying.
I have debunked a few of my beliefs with this process. One such belief involves my prior faith in the Republican Party to create a more perfect society. I think the GOP would suck less than the Democrat Party. But I no longer trust the GOP, as it's currently formed, to actually improve things very much. There's just too much money and power in perpetuating the crap.
The biggest benefit to my faith challenges, though, has been in my ability to question my own opinions about everything. It's liberating. I finally get to admit I'm wrong when I'm wrong and celebrate that I found a better idea than the one I had.
I mention all this because I've been writing lately about Putin's intentions in Eastern Europe. In What Will Putin Do? I speculate that he will advance into Eastern Ukraine. In What Would You Do If You Were Putin, I point out that Putin's window for restoring Soviet borders and buffers might close with the next US presidential election. In Now The White House Says Russia Preparing to Invade Ukraine, I explain why seizing more land and conquering or intimidating more countries could be in Putin's best interest.
Today, though, I read Charles Hugh Smith's blog Have We Reached Peak Putin? I read it, and I agree with many of his points. I only wish my posts had been as thorough, intelligent, and well-reasoned as Mr. Smith's. His conclusion contradicts my own, as he says:
Given the context laid out above, it seems increasingly likely that we've reached Peak Putin. The capture of a few pawns has cleared the chessboard, but the strategic choices already made have greatly reduced Putin's room to maneuver.
I still believe that Putin is far from finished. I'm not saying Russian tanks roll tomorrow (though they might). I am saying Putin intends to restore Soviet borders and buffers.
Still, you should read Smith's post before accepting my arguments. I could be wrong. Or I could be right. History will tell.