Horse has left the barn logic

the horse has (already) left the barn from the Free Dictionary:

It is too late to prevent, change, or rectify some problem or situation, as the ill effects have already been wrought.

We are getting this "horse has left the barn" phenomenon a lot from political actors now. "If you elect the other politician, bad event X will happen." The problem with the argument, of course, is that bad event X has already happened. We see this in Gaza, with all of the demands to let in some humanitarian aid to help people who will die anyway and to "prevent" a genocide that has already happened.

Now we're seeing it with Ukraine.

Here's John Mearsheimer in a podcast:

"The real problem is that the Ukrainians could get a better deal now than if they continue to fight and continue to lose more and more territory..."

Now, Mearsheimer is well-intentioned, but it does appear that the horse has left the barn on this one. From Moon of Alabama:

During yesterday's UN Security Council meeting Vasily Nebenzya, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, said:

"This is how it will go down in history - as an inhuman and hateful regime of terrorists and Nazis who betrayed the interest of their people and sacrificed it for Western money and for Zelenski and his closest circle.

In these conditions, attempts by the head of the Kiev regime to promote his formula and convene summits in support of the Kiev regime cause only confusion.

Very soon the only topic for any international meetings on Ukraine will be the unconditional capitulation of the Kiev regime.

Meanwhile, Ukraine -- right now -- has in fact signaled its willingness to get a better deal:

Switzerland to host Ukraine peace summit on June 15-16

GENEVA, April 10 (Reuters) - The Swiss government will host a two-day high-level conference in June aimed at achieving peace in Ukraine, it said on Wednesday, although Russia has made clear it will not take part in the initiative.

Switzerland said in January it would host a peace summit at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and has since held talks with the EU, G7 member states and countries such as China and India to gauge their interest in taking part.

"There is currently sufficient international support for a high-level conference to launch the peace process," the Federal Council said in a statement.

The conference will be held June 15-16 at the Bürgenstock resort in the canton of Nidwalden outside the city of Lucerne. It will aim to create a framework favourable to a comprehensive and lasting peace in Ukraine, as well as "a concrete roadmap for Russia's participation in the peace process".

While Moscow has said it is not against negotiations to end the war, Russian officials have said they will not take part in talks in Switzerland, a country they consider to have relinquished its neutrality with regard to the conflict.

Nothing says "we want more war" more than the creation of an imaginary peace process without the participation of the other side. "Oh, we hope they'll eventually participate," they say. It's easy to imagine the West responding -- with one voice -- to Mearsheimer: "Look! We're trying to get a better deal now! See! We're doing it!"

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Cassiodorus's picture

Dmitry Orlov points out that Ukraine will have no power come next winter:

But I'm sure that making Ukraine a NATO member will solve that problem.

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'French theory is a product of US cultural imperialism." -- Gabriel Rockhill

Pluto's Republic's picture


Good that you posted it.

In my view, this is one of the most informative and intuitive conversations of this entire period. People who watch it are going to catch a glimpse of the underlying cultural and historic dynamics that are shaping the conflicts. It's never been been clearer which sides are standing on the right side of history — and which sides are agreement incapable. Dmitry Orlov, who has recently moved from the US to Russia is reporting on the Russia-Ukraine conflict from there. Thirty years earlier, he made the same trip and reported on the details of Russia's economic collapse. He witnessed the creation of Ukraine in the 1990's. Orlov has a deep understanding of the ongoing cultural clash and the people involved. His insights and predictions have been remarkable throughout.

Dmitry and Nima, the interviewer, have developed a warm rapport over the past six months or so. Together, their conversations spontaneously open expanded vistas on the chaotic endgame, helping us to better understand what will happen next — and why it must. We can see who is flying blind into the chaos; and who has already flown past the point of no return.

Not to be missed.

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The political system is what it is because the People are who they are. — Plato
Cassiodorus's picture

@Pluto's Republic was Orlov's comment on at least the partial destruction of Ukraine's power structure. So what are they going to say to pitch the $61 billion funding deal now? Or for that matter what will they say to pitch the $300 billion confiscation of Russian assets? "Omigod if Congress doesn't vote in the money Ukraine is going to lose the war!" This is the "horse has left the barn" argument. My conclusion is further reinforced by everything the Alexes say here:

Moreover, I think that we can expect this same logic to apply to the next escalation of the wider war in the Middle East. Soon they will be saying "omigod if we don't nuke Tehran there will be a wider war in the Middle East!"

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'French theory is a product of US cultural imperialism." -- Gabriel Rockhill