Or a bad one up, it would seem.
Jeremy Corbyn has reminded us why Britain’s Labour party dispensed with his leadership after defeat by Boris Johnson in 2019, when he offered his thinking: on war in general and Ukraine in particular.
We can share common ground with his platitude that it is “disastrous … for the safety and security of the whole world”. Like him we might want the UN to be “more centre stage”. While being a touch more inquisitive as to why it languishes in the wings.
But probably not so much in agreement with his view that “… pouring arms in isn’t going to bring a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war”.
Then again, it’s what some important people in the French and German governments seem to think. They just know that they need to say the opposite in public.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump deplores other people’s pouring and reluctantly admits he needs to be holding the vessel.
And, like Henry Kissinger, Pope Francis wants us to not lose sight of the geopolitics. He urges “simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good and bad, without thinking about roots and interests, which are very complex”.
Unlike the Vatican, Corbyn has never understood the value of an experienced press secretary.
OK – these commentaries predate the recent Ukrainian counter-offensive which seems to be stunningly successful.
Doubts are growing about the ability of Russian forces to manoeuvre, to resupply and even to hold their ground. We are reminded again of the projecting power of the US war fighting machine and led to speculate on the extent and nature of US support (a re-examination of the US influence on the remarkable transformation of Croatian forces during the Balkan wars might be timely).
Indeed, it suggests that pouring in arms (albeit on a limited scale relative to Russian and Chinese resources) could lead to an early termination favourable to both Russian and Ukrainian peoples.
Putin has skilfully surmounted weakness before. But this does seem to be the first time he has actually lost the initiative. His main electorate – the whole of the Russian security and governing apparatus – perceives risk.
All that stands between him and political defeat is the support of enough Russians for his goal of bringing the Russian people home.
Corbyn is surely right that you can’t control a war by pouring in arms. Unfortunately, the non-controllability of war is not always a decisive reason for non-involvement.
Belligerents need to choose between limited aims.
As do non-belligerents.
Nor does achieving limited aims guarantee the outcome you want (reference the oeuvre of comparative literature on the first and second world wars).
The Ukraine war is complex; people are dying; it has tremendous risks for Europe and the world; and it’s surely not the best way for settling disputes between the peoples of the former USSR.
But the institutions which place a higher value on human dignity have an opportunity to inflict a defeat on their opponents. And you just hope that such an outcome is better than the reverse.
The US administration appears confident in its ability to calibrate pouring to achieve the outcome it wants. And who knows, that might even bear some resemblance to those of Henry Kissinger or even Pope Francis.