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Putin Pushes His Luck

February 28, 2022

When Russian supreme boss Vladimir Putin launched his all-out war this past month, trouble had been brewing in Ukraine for at least eight years. Back in 2014, Ukrainians ousted their pro-Russian government and replaced it with one better suited to a sovereign republic. Meanwhile, ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea itched to rejoin their mother country, and Putin was eager to lend a hand. 

Finally, on February 24, as talk swirled of Ukraine joining NATO (and by doing so, pushing the Western alliance deep into former Soviet territory), Putin had all he could stand: he launched an attack on Russia’s sister nation with the intention of subduing it, crippling it, and reducing it to a puppet state. Half the world was aghast, and Western pundits wondered if the former KGB agent was about to follow suit with all the former Soviet republics.

Who are the Ukrainians, exactly? They’re a Slavic people, closely related to the Russians by ethnicity and language, and intimately tied to Russia throughout both their histories. “The Ukraine,” as it used to be called, won a brief independence after the Bolshevik Revolution but was soon absorbed into the USSR as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

When the USSR drew the boundaries of its constituent republics, several million Russians ended up inside the Ukrainian border. It didn’t matter much at the time, because they were all part of the same vast multi-ethnic nation. But when Ukraine, like all the other Soviet republics, declared independence in the early 1990s, it suddenly mattered. Ukraine probably should have held a referendum that would have allowed those ethnic Russians to join their brethren by shifting the border. They didn’t, and trouble ensued

Of course, it wasn’t simply a matter of nationalist pride or stubbornness; there were grudges. Ukrainians remembered how Stalin starved nearly four million of them to death during his forced collectivization of the region’s farms. They remembered the attempts to eradicate the Ukrainian language and church. You can understand their reluctance to forfeit any of their territory, and why they might turn their eyes to the West

Enter Vladimir Putin. The Russian strongman with the disturbingly soulless face… the very model of a modern autocrat, admired by Donald Trump and other would-be autocrats around the world… the latter-day tsar whose political enemies had a mysterious way of disappearing while he piled up his rubles like a Silicon Valley technomogul – this macho-posturing heir to Stalin and Khrushchev decided to start a war. Not a mere series of skirmishes, but the most massive invasion of a European country since World War II. With his limitless military resources and bravado, he’d thrash Ukraine from east to west and make the other former Soviet republics quake at the thought of defying him

What he didn’t anticipate was the brave resistance of the Ukrainian people and their president, former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky. The lone Jewish head of state outside of Israel, Zelensky refused offers of asylum so that he could stay with his people and go down fighting if necessary. By doing so, the amiable 44-year-old father of two was following in the footsteps of Britain’s beloved World War II king, George VI, Queen Elizabeth’s father. And he immediately won a place for himself in the annals of heroic leadership.

The rest of the world responded swiftly. Around the globe, buildings, bridges and monuments were illuminated in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag. NATO reinforced its presence in the Baltic states and Poland. Denizens of Facebook posted pictures of sunflowers – Ukraine’s national flower – on their personal pages, along with heartfelt tributes to a nation they had known little about just weeks before. It was a groundswell of moral support for an embattled people. Putin’s invasion even provoked angry Russians to protest in the streets, and thousands have been arrested.

Meanwhile, President Biden and other leaders imposed severe economic sanctions on Russian banks and oligarchs with the intention of crippling the country’s economy. These actions wouldn’t be enough to halt Putin’s invasion, but they’d cause long-term pain. Maybe they’d cause enough pain for exasperated Russians to overthrow the smug S.O.B. and ship him off to Hades.

How did The New Moderate respond? Immoderately, I’m proud to say. My first impulse was to encourage the U.S. military to drop a well-aimed drone on Putin’s head. I scoffed at the notion that assassinations of enemy leaders are “illegal” according to international conventions. Is it more acceptable to send thousands of innocent young men to kill thousands of other innocent young men and sacrifice their own lives — while the actual warmonger remains untouchable? 

No, sometimes we just need to stop a war where it started. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if some intrepid soul had the gumption to knock off Hitler back in the late 1930s. Then I thought about the potential consequences: how the Russian military might be displeased by our assassination of their leader and, by way of retribution, drop a few well-aimed nuclear bombs on key American cities

It would have to be a covert operation: the CIA and NATO could conspire with Russian insiders to take out Putin. Surely the man must have enemies inside his ranks – even within his own military. They wouldn’t shed a tear over the loss of their master, and neither would most of the world. Best of all, nobody would have to know that we were complicit.

I was shocked that several of my conservative friends – people who generally stand for personal freedom and the American Way – initially rushed to the defense of the Russian warlord. He was just trying to settle an internal dispute among his own people, they argued. (No, Ukraine is a sovereign nation and Putin invaded it.) The current Ukrainian government came to power through a US-orchestrated coup, they informed me. (Nope, it was a popular uprising by Ukrainians who wanted greater independence from Russia.) But it’s a Neo-Nazi regime, they insisted. (With a Jewish president? Sure, tell me another one.) It’s Biden’s fault, they shouted. (Sorry, Biden didn’t start the war. Putin did, and it’s entirely on his head.)

That they were fixating more on Biden than Putin seemed weirdly myopic, even unpatriotic. I suspect that their much-lamented president-in-exile, the Orange Menace himself, was still wafting his warped brainwaves into their heads. Trump had actually praised Putin’s Ukraine campaign as “genius” – although he backpedaled a bit once it became clear that his Russian mentor was waging an all-out war.

Meanwhile, Russian troops and hardware are poised outside Kiev. The Ukrainians have given the Russians more of a fight than they bargained for, but it’s probably just a matter of time before Putin’s boys deploy the heavy armaments. And if they do — if they rain destruction on Kiev and target Zelensky and his family – Russia will be a pariah among nations for at least the next generation. Putin’s victory would be an empty and extremely costly one.

The nuclear threat remains troubling. Putin has put his country’s nuclear “deterrence” force on “high alert.” Is he crazy enough to go atomic? The man has lived in virtual isolation since the start of the pandemic, and some pundits fear that his mind may be unraveling.

I doubt if Putin is demented enough to start a nuclear war. He has to know that his action would immediately trigger a reciprocal response from the US and other Western nuclear powers. Moscow, St. Petersburg and Russia’s industrial areas would lie in ruins, and the terrible onus would be on Putin alone.

Russia is a great but perpetually troubled land that freed itself from communist bondage only to fall prey to another autocrat. But here’s the upside to this whole tragic saga: Putin might push his people’s tolerance to the limit. His megalomania and repressive leadership, coupled with the heavy sanctions imposed by the West, might finally provoke a popular uprising that results in his abrupt removal from power, dead or alive.

But here’s our best hope: Putin’s downfall could spark rebellions against the spreading worldwide wave of autocratic leadership – the kind of leadership that always starts with populist appeal and culminates in tyranny. Let’s look forward to the day that the wiser nations wake up and discover that their strutting emperor has no clothes.

 

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate. His three brilliant but inexplicably overlooked collections of darkly humorous essays are available on Amazon (or wherever else e-books are sold) for the ridiculously low price of $2.99 each – less than a latte at Starbucks, and considerably more fortifying.

All material in The New Moderate is copyright 2007-2022, but feel free to post material from the site as long as you credit Rick Bayan as the author.

243 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron P permalink
    March 1, 2022 12:40 am

    Rick, one of your best articles!. Not much to add.

    To expand on your Putin image, I have found a “new” news source for me that is neither liberal nor conservative. For anyone wanting that slanted propaganda, this would be a bore. It is NewsNation. Tonight during their coverage they were interviewing an international professor from a New York university and he commented that Putin is a master of misinformation. (Benfield, the anchor for the hour did mention that this was supported by the investigation of the 2016 election but mentioned no names) He has convinced many in Russia that the Ukrainians are killing Russians in Ukraine and are controlled by Nazi’s and other anti-Russian people. That is how he has so far retained the support of the Russian people, other than the few willing to get arrested and be “disappeared”. They also reported that there are many Russians living in Ukraine that have lived there for generations and call Ukraine home that are against this war and Putin.

    Newsnation has reporters inside Ukraine providing as much coverage as possible, but still not much detailed info on casualties on either side or 24/7 videos like we watched during desert storm. But with the number of donated planes coming into the country and the drones that have been donated by Turkey, I suspect a much higher casualty rate for Russia gong forward, reported or not. Turkey has also said they will black passage of Russian ships used for military action against Ukraine by sea.

    I will admit I was skeptical as to the resolve by Europe in this whole thing. I am pleasantly surprised at the actions they are taking and hopefully they will continue to grow those actions and not back off. It would be nice to see them admit Ukraine into the EU as an action is response to Putins actions, but I suspect that will take sometime, if time is what Ukraine has.

    What I hope to see from the Pandemic and this invasion is America finally realizing we can not rely on enemies for our products we use daily. We have allowed our security to take second place to “cheap”. We have seen what the pandemic has done to the supply chain. And now major manufacturers are assessing the impact of the war on their already stressed supply chains, as Russia supplies key elements like palladium and titanium. Boeing gets about one-third of its titanium from Russian sources, The auto industry could be impacted on the supply of materials used to produce semiconductors, which are already exceedingly hard to get.

    If war did break out that directly impacted us, we would be screwed for years economically due to reliance on enemies.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 1, 2022 8:49 pm

      Thanks, Ron. I’ve been glued to CNN, which I still trust for its war coverage (just not domestic issues). I’ll check out NewsNation, though. I’d like to see us lend arms to Ukraine without putting American boots on the ground. I don’t get the impression that the Russians are especially enthusiastic about this war; in fact, my brother and I thought that Ukraine should offer asylum to Russian soldiers who’d want to surrender and defect. As for our dependence on products from Russia and especially China, I totally agree; we should move toward cutting the cord. China could really cripple us if, God forbid, we ever got into a fight with them.

  2. Vermonta permalink
    March 1, 2022 9:22 am

    Thank you Rick, very well said.

    As you know, this hits very very close to home with me. Our relatives in Dnepropetrovsk are periodically in the cellar, our relatives in Moscow soon to be living in soviet squalor, I gave up my nice job, although I may have simply been the first off a sinking ship with that company as sanctions take force.

    My wife was actually the founder of a school program in Dnepropetrovsk that taught Ukrainian girls traditional sewing and crafts. It got quite successful and put on fashion shows, won prizes, and was still in existence now and going strong. Now the director of that school is one of Lena’s former students and they stay in touch. You can imagine what the news is from there, life spent trying to help the wounded or displaced.

    I wrote to our dear friend today who had been living half of each year in the US, she was a figure skater and acrobat with the Russian ice circus starting in the 70s. She was also a strong supporter of Putin. I asked her to tell me directly if she still supports him and his invasion, If so, as I said, there is no room in my life for such people.

    Russia may well take Ukraine by brute force and kill or imprison Zelensky, though I think he will die a martyr rather than being taken. If they do, the die is cast and they will have killed an international hero and will not be forgiven. They will really just go back to their soviet past of being a separate society because the West, if it holds firm, will keep their authoritarian quasi-soviet state at arm’s length in economic and other matters.

    I never supported Ukraine being a NATO member. I may hate, loathe and despise Putin, and the principle of each nation having the right to make their own choices is, of course, good in principle but the idea of Ukraine in NATO means, in principle, that missiles could be aimed at Russia in Ukraine a short flight from Moscow. They should have simply admitted the obvious, that this was not going to happen and should not happen. Now, is it obvious enough? The NATO secretary stood firm that Ukraine could be considered for membership and that process was moving along. A giant mistake that is on Ukraine and NATO.

    Putin’s war is of course still not justifiable and is going to cost everyone in blood and destruction. The invasion and the war crimes that Russia is committing are intolerable and atrocious, but Putin has actually been making a reasonable request about not letting Ukraine into NATO for over a decade and nobody has given his statements much respect or consideration. That was a mistake. Most wars could be prevented at some point and Ukraine and NATO pursued a delusional idea, tragically. Of course, Ukraine wanted to be in NATO for the reasons that Putin has shown the world over and over, his KGB vision that Russia should dictate the lives of not only the people in his own country but the people in neighboring countries. Russia under Putin is not a peaceful country (but neither is the US, as we know).

    Unfortunately once again two systems have come into conflict, Western democracy and an authoritarian state run by a man who controls the media since his first years and acquires more power with every passing years. A man who poisons his enemies and attacks his neighbors. We used to fight over the issue of communism, when that fell we hoped we were done with conflict with Russia. Unfortunately the unsuccessful and inebriated Yeltsin pick his opposite as a successor, a KBG man who saw the Soviet Union as his country and wanted it back. With Putin in charge we have not been able to work cooperatively with Russia.

    Also unfortunately Russia and the US are two large countries that have too much military power and are very arrogant, both countries feel it is their right to control world events. I love my country but not blindly, as most Russians do. That is our strength, we are not brainwashed directly by the state and we have a chaotic and sputtering but real democracy. If I had my choice I would have been born in some smaller, less influential, less powerful, less arrogant country, one with a democracy but not with a mission to dictate world wide events.

    I guess that is a tangent. I am trying to be as fair and objective as I can be and not simply say that Putin did this alone. But while other parties in Ukraine and NATO made stupid delusional mistakes, Putin makes stupid delusional mistakes as an Authoritarian ruler for life of a nuclear superpower. It is his choice to bomb civilians (and tell lies day and night to the Russian people for the last 20 years), so this is on him.

    In the happiest outcome Ukraine and Zelensky survive, join the EU but not NATO and Putin can declare victory and Ukraine can declare victory and this horror will end. In the worst case, Putin’s Russia swallows Ukraine, declares it never really was a country anyhow, and things go back to 1960 with Russia and the west on the worst terms short of war.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 1, 2022 1:34 pm

      Roby, very interesting perspective only one in your position can see and communicate.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 1, 2022 9:03 pm

      Thanks, Roby. I like your idea that the best possible outcome would feel like a win-win for both countries, although I suspect it won’t end that way. I’m still hoping for a coup that would overthrow Putin — or even a successful assassination plot. Meanwhile, I hope your wife’s family weathers this ordeal and emerges into a free Ukraine when the fighting is over. And don’t be too hard on your Russian friend; I can only imagine the propaganda they’re fed.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 2, 2022 9:29 am

        Full of emotion, I wanted to say to a Russian supporter of Putin in Russia exactly what I think about Putin, and Russia itself if Russia is Putin. I wanted to shock her. I was polite but very strongly clear. I did not hear back from her, but she did send my wife a few cartoons. The message as I understand it is that she supports Putin but hopes we can leave politics out. I could leave her politics out for more than a decade of our friendship. I told her many times when political discussions started that we should drop it to remain friends. Then nothing was really happening and I could do that. Now, I can’t.

        Actually when she ever has said anything about Ukraine it was not respectful. Another dear friend of our is a Russian from Ukraine. Her brother is fighting near Donetsk. She is having a nervous breakdown, losing it. She is a tough person and in fact she was a well known TV news person in Ukraine during the events of the revolution. All my emotions and heart are with her and not at all with our Putin supporter in Moscow.

      • March 2, 2022 12:03 pm

        Roby, one only has to look to America to understand supporters of Putin in Russia.

        How many Trump supporters would stand behind Trump if hi is reelected and he amassed 500,000 troops along the Mexico border and invaded Mexico for any number of reasons. Right now, I suspect a large number. With his new social media platform that could grow support through more propaganda. The seed of hatred grows guickly.

        What will result from all this is a hardening of hatred for the west in some in Russia, the same as hate grows for hispanics in America with any political action.

  3. Ron P permalink
    March 1, 2022 1:33 pm

    Priscilla, moving over to new articel.

    You said “In any case, I blame Putin 100% for his reckless decision to invade. I blame Biden and NATO for their fecklessness in failing to deter him.”

    I can agree totally with this. But Trump was not clean either in his handling of Ukraine. His ego got in the way because he thought Ukraine supported Hillary in the elections and hide information about Hunter Biden.

    This is an excellent article (IMO). I try to find information that has no slant or credits both parties with good or bad perspectives which is near impossible today. One has to read multiple articles on both sides and then filter out the political crap and put the remaining information together and hope is somewhat accurate. This was in 2019, well before the latest actions were even recognized by the west. I think the information on promising NATO membership and never acting has created an environment making Putins actions much more a reality.

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2019/11/15/president-trumps-instincts-on-ukraine-have-been-bad-but-hes-right-about-one-thing/

    Roby, if your reading, what is your thought on this information since you have a perspective only one with friends and family could have.

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 2, 2022 9:11 am

      Ron, so, my idea that Ukraine talking of joining NATO was a bad idea was a well founded opinion. Under the previous circumstances I would hold the same opinion.

      But these are not the previous circumstances. As of today, Ukraine absolutely should join NATO. Its obvious that they need to. Putin and Lavrov will threaten to blow up Russia and the world, sorry let them threaten. If that works they can simply continue to demand one thing after another. The world remembers Hitler and Czechoslovakia. The world is saying no.

      As of a few days ago I would have said the Ukraine should demand to keep to keep their defensive weapons, join the EU, not join NATO, accept that the Crimea is Russian and demand that Russia pay to rebuild the damage and compensate the families of the dead.

      As of today I think that Ukraine should demand that the Russian GFO immediately, while accepting that Ukraine has the right to join any damn organization it wants to, and demand to be well overpaid for the damages. Forget conceding a damn thing. Give Putin no chance to claim any victory. Demand that the bombing and missiles stop before any negotiations. Delay the negotiations and let the sanctions make their position stronger with every day.

      In my possibly very naïve view, Ukraine has won this war and Putin has lost extremely badly on every front. Everything now hinges on the people around Putin, his generals, his advisors. Yesterday the Ukrainians allegedly killed off two chenen hit squads send to assassinate Zelensky. Allegedly they knew about these two chechen teams because someone in the Russian FSB who wanted no part of this war tipped them off. If true that is incredible, the FSB security service are a nasty group of Russian ultranationalists. I myself made the mistake of asking two of them for directions in Moscow one time and I quickly found out that one should not talk to them.

      Most of the soldiers that Russia sent to invade have turned out to be boys, very recent conscripts. When they surrender, which is happening more and more often, they just want to be fed, have not eaten in days. Bizarrely, some of them have turned out to be middle aged teachers from Donetsk who were ordered to show up for a mobilization, given a uniform and a rifle, and dumped at some unknown location where they surrendered as soon as they could and donated their rifles to the Ukrainian military. This is a solid fact I saw them interviewed explaining their circumstances.

      Perhaps Russia has better troops waiting in reserve, but if this is the Russian army this is pathetic. The miles long invasion column of tanks and trucks has stopped moving, it is though to perhaps be out of gas and food. So this was the best Putin’s generals could do with months of planning? God, if we ever did face the Russians in battle it would be no contest if this is the best they can do.

      Protests are growing in Russia, now its allegedly 6000 arrested, including small children thrown in jail. Soon, the mothers of the 2000-4000 boys killed in Ukraine will be asking where Dmitri is and getting unsatisfactory answers.

      Within 24 hours of the round of sanctions earlier this week my wife’s niece says that half of the workers in her company had been laid off and that prices on everything were sky rocketing. Some experts on the Russian economy have made the perhaps well founded statement that they expect the Russian economy to completely fail within 3 weeks.

      By the way, whatever Biden has screwed up, and there are quite a few things he screwed up, he and his team have performed extremely well on the Russian situation and sanctions. The strength and clarity of the sanction plan depended on all participants American and European, and demanded smart coordination. Bravo to Biden on this!

      My birthday is in early April. It is my hope that by then Putin will be gone. It all depends on the people around him and how much harm they are willing to cause Russia before they stop Putin.

      • March 2, 2022 11:52 am

        Roby, thanks for this update. Much better than anything I have heard on the news.

        My concern in all this is if Ukraine can survive and their govt stands, what is Putin going to leave before he decides he has screwed up or when the people remove him. And will his successor be any better.

        Too bad some country doesnt give Ukraine 3-4 drones and missles they use, even for just a few days. That line of trucks and armored vehicles would be sitting ducks.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 2, 2022 12:19 pm

        Believe it or not, Turkey of all placed did just exactly that and they are being used just that way.

        Now, take all I say with a grain of salt, its probably one sided and too hopeful. I hope it isn’t, but my hatred of Putin’s Russia and my love of the people of Ukraine do not make me the most objective person. Putin as yet has barely used the potential of his air force. He used that pathetic rag tag army because he was so badly informed that he thought it was all that was needed.

        Why hasn’t he used his air power in all its strength? Can’t know that but possibly its a combination of 1) he is keeping within some boundaries so as not to have NATO decide that they have had enough and jump in, 2) he is afraid of what his own population will say if he goes that far, 3) perhaps his generals are not willing to go that far 4) He does not want to go over a line that will see him kicked out of the western economic system pretty much forever 5) the Ukrainians have ground to air missiles and have shot down Russian fighters. Having his jets brought down exposes the vulnerabilities of Russian air power.

        I see this become a door to door war of attrition in the biggest cities. Kiev is huge, one cannot simply take Kiev, its 324 square miles, the population is larger than that of Chicago. Based on how things have gone so far I can hope and imagine that the Ukrainians could set a very deadly death trap for Russian forces in their cities. What they need from the west is a huge amount of many kinds of arms, Drones would be great in the largest numbers, they have the people and the courage.

        I may in the end have my heart broken by events like happened to people who supported the Czechs in 68, but what has happened so far from the Ukrainians is one of the most beautifully inspiring things I have ever seen. Someday, when it is I possible I hope to go there and help them rebuild, that would be an incredible honor to build something with my hands in Ukraine.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 3, 2022 7:59 pm

      Ron, I generally find the Brooking Institute’s policy ideas to be a bit too partisan for me, but, that said, this was an interesting article.

      My main issue with the article is that it claims that there was “no evidence” for thinking that Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of Burisma was sketchy. There absolutely was evidence, and it WAS sketchy. Not only that, but there was evidence that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 American election, at least as much as Russia. https://consortiumnews.com/2019/12/02/yes-ukraine-meddled-in-the-2016-us-election/

      The other issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not NATO should have, or should now, admit Ukraine. I tend to agree with Roby’s take that it has always seemed like a bad idea, but maybe it’s an idea who’s time has come. Putin is a really bad guy, not only for Russia, but for the whole world, an evil KGB killer, who has shown his brutality again and again. I always thought that expanding NATO to include countries that just wanted to get themselves some American protection, without bringing anything to the table was foolhardy, but, now that Russia and China have formed a partnership, maybe we should take the friends we can get.

      On the other hand, why not first try getting rid of Putin, to see if that would be the better way to go?

  4. rondabellelane permalink
    March 1, 2022 2:56 pm

    Excellent. I have no issue with any of your words!

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 1, 2022 10:19 pm

      Thanks, Ronda — I’d be OK even if you didn’t agree with everything, but I’m glad you do.

  5. Vermonta permalink
    March 1, 2022 7:17 pm

    Hi Ron, just pretty much what I am saying about joining NATO. Thanks for the link, lots of other facts in there I did not know. No

  6. Anonymous permalink
    March 1, 2022 8:25 pm
  7. Ron P permalink
    March 2, 2022 12:50 pm

    For those that want a good recap of news, much of it how it impacts the economy, this is a good read. Especially with the Ukraine war, they have very good coverage of the Russian sanctions and global reactions. There is a subscription link, free, if you want it daily on email.

    https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-markets/

  8. Vermonta permalink
    March 2, 2022 7:19 pm

    Well, as Ron would say, hell has frozen over. I am in 100% agreement with Lindsey Graham.

    https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/02/politics/lindsey-graham-trump-putin-mistake/index.html

  9. Claire permalink
    March 2, 2022 7:55 pm

    Yesterday I was feeling such combat fatigue from being a conscientious objector to either side’s constant battle and wounding of those who do not sing to the same choir. (no wonder the former mayor of our small town called me the “Queen of mixed metaphors” with this one). I sent a text to a young Russian woman–36 years old to my 75– I met in November at Friends’ in Portland Oregon, the city where I lived for 17 years and where I have no desire to live again, yet miss those who shared those years with me.

    I copied it to her e-mail address–because texting is so inappropriate to sharing major thinking, and yet besides social networks to which I do not belong, that’s what others do. it said

    “dobrý den! dear Sasha.I want to say something that most people may not think about or take me as the simpleton I am not: I am thinking of the repercussions of what is going on not only on Ukrainians but on Russians as well.. to sum it up: Although I have marched for good causes over the years, one of the reasons I will never be a hardcore activist (perhaps it is still a luxury in my country over others) it is because I believe that polarization forgets people who should never pay for the mistakes of their “Mis-leaders”–of any side–as I call them. I have an M.A. master’s in geography and it is a sibling of History: it shows so well the countries formed back and forth by the parceling by those who deem themselves wiser than the people whose countries boundaries they decide to change. So yes, my main thoughts now are both for Ukrainians and for the Russians, the “regular folks” who do not deserve to pay for the mistakes of those who control them.

    Even if you don’t agree with me I think you will accept my point of view as I will accept yours if it is contrary. I think this type of thoughts are somewhat easier for me to share with someone I don’t know as well, as I don’t feel the potential loss of friendship. Be well stay well and my “Pagan prayers” –no apologies I think they work just as well–are with the people you love in your native country. ” I quickly got an answer thanking me for my support.

    Later on, I was reading an e-book I enjoy which I have been browsing intermittently, rather than “bingeing on,” something I can do extremely well/badly?. Do you know the word “Bibliomancy?”–“Divination by interpretation of a passage chosen at random from a book, especially the Bible.” well for this Pagan, it wasn’t neither the Good Book, nor the “Bad one in any form and shape. But that evening I read a chapter and I fell upon these words in a chapter entitled ” “A Bug’s Death”
    “I began to see that the secret of war – of all mass murder – is to deny the individuality of the designated victim. That’s what makes the killing so damned easy: we convert our victims into abstract symbols.”

    Thank you to the author who will recognize himself and his readers. I slept better last night not that I want everybody to agree with me but that it is soothing when thoughts that matter to me get an echo.

    I shall write some more within a couple of days because this is enough as far as length. It will touch geopolitics as I have learned it in theory and experienced it second hand so someone who lived with the hardships it entails.

    BTW besides the contributors to this site that appeal to me or make me reflect about pretty sizable differences–this place is not as moderate as it seems– I have a soft spot for Ron, besides the fact that is the first one to answer my very first post in November. 1) he is a brother in verbosity 2) he is steady as it goes, the one who is around day in and day out from the time Rick posts his monthly monologue.
    Hence he is the one who gets some of the applause, and the one who gets the criticisms from mild to abrasive, so by the time they get to Rick they no longer sound like the main answer to him haha! All of this all of this said in good spirit. Claire

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 3, 2022 10:43 pm

      Claire: Putin has brought out my immoderate side; I’ve actually been calling for his assassination. Why suggest something so radical, so bloody, so extreme? As a way to restore balance, harmony… i.e., moderation. Sometimes immoderate means are necessary to achieve moderate ends.

      By the way, I’m happy to know that you’ve been dipping into my sadly neglected e-book essays. They’re still my favorite brainchildren — even more so than The New Moderate. I remember having fun writing “A Bug’s Death,” though I genuinely did feel a pang of remorse when I saw the flypaper littered with all those little bodies.

  10. Priscilla permalink
    March 3, 2022 8:21 pm

    Rick, this is an excellent piece.

    I hope that you don’t think that I, at any point, was siding with Putin.

    Quite the contrary…I am angry that the Western powers have not spent more of the past 27 years since convincing Ukraine to give up its nukes, actually trying to deter Putin from doing exactly what he’s done. We could have provided defensive weaponry, like the Stinger surface to air missiles that we only sent over this week, as well as tanks, armaments, etc. Knowing that Ukraine was well equipped to defend itself would likely have made a huge difference. Just as in sports, it is often true that the best offense is a good defense.

    I’m not a big fan of sanctions after an invasion has begun and ground fighting is underway, because I don’t know of a single example of them working in that scenario. Roby or Ron probably know more about that than I do, however.

    • March 3, 2022 9:36 pm

      Priscilla, IMO The best that may happen in less than 100,000 Ukrainians dead and a country that has 10 years to recover from the damage. They most likely will not get much more military help. Thevvworst, and what seems to be a viable outcome is a Russian pulpit govt like in Belarus.

      I could care less how much oil goes to or how much gas increases. America needs to curtail purchases of everything Russian, including oil

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 3, 2022 10:20 pm

        Ron, my primary concern is not with gas prices.

        Jen Psaki said today that the potential of much higher gas prices is the reason why we are still buying 600,000 barrels a day of oil from Russia even now, and I’m opposed to that.

        If I gave the opposite impression, it was definitely unintentional.

        The worst case scenario, at this point IMO, is that we will push a desperate dictator to go to greater and greater lengths to save himself, and use some of his 6,000 nukes to try and do it.

        Plus, if one of the best case scenarios is the oligarchs and/or the Russian people rising up against Putin, crippling sanctions which are perceived as intended to destroy the lives of everyday Russians, could make that less likely.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 3, 2022 10:34 pm

      Thanks, Priscilla. No, of course it wasn’t you. I won’t name names, but a few of my non-NBHS conservative friends were defending Putin and bludgeoning Biden at the same time. (A few of my NBHS friends were just bludgeoning Biden without defending Putin.) One of the non-NBHS friends even sent me a video by an intelligent but loony guy who was ranting about the “New World Order” — and how Putin is the last bulwark against it.

      At this point I honestly think we need to orchestrate an assassination plot against Putin, ideally carried out by some of his disgruntled insiders. If we let him win in Ukraine, evil will have triumphed. If his Ukraine campaign is stalemated, or if he actually loses, he’ll be like a cornered rat and probably resort to nuclear weapons. No, he needs to be taken out by whatever means necessary.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 3, 2022 11:56 pm

        Whew, that’s a relief, lol.

        But, it actually is. I can’t tell you how many times over the last few days I’ve heard/read people calling their friends traitors.

        I’ve read about the NWO. Sounds both batshit crazy and totally true, simultaneously.

        You and I are definitely on the same page when it comes to Putin. He needs to be gone. I just don’t sense that anyone in the Biden admin feels that way. Hope I’m wrong.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 4, 2022 6:22 am

        Needless to say I would love to see Putin assassinated. With the help of the US? You must be mad. You may as well just suggest that we nuke his palace. His own people would be the ones to move against him in some way. The most realistic possibility is his removal as sanctions chew up the Russian economy. If the Russians, mostly the young, could get truly massive demonstrations going that would help.

        Zelensky will likely die fighting although having him move to a safer place than Kiev at some point would be better and then finally to Poland when that time comes as a government in exile to wait out the collapse of Putin over a period of a year or so would be the best thing.

        Sanctions increasing even more over time, that is the way Putin can be brought down. I wish it would happen quickly but how fast it happens is up to young Russians and other officials in the Russian government.

      • March 4, 2022 11:49 am

        Appears to me that Ukraine will end up very much like Venezuela. Russia wins, dictatorial govt aligned with Russia, democratically elected govt in exile, USA and EU govt’s running their mouth, but still buying Russian oil and nat gas, Ukrainians supporting democracy jailed or dead.

  11. vermonta permalink
    March 4, 2022 6:34 am

    Priscilla and Rick, of course Biden is not about to foment a plot to kill Putin! You guys cannot seriously believe that he or any American POTUS would be that crazy.

    We can cripple the Russian economy and kick them out of every international venue, and by we I mean the western world and the 141 countries that condemned the invasion. Then, time, and the Russian people having enough.

    The idea of an American led assassination is bat shit crazy.

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 4, 2022 6:56 am

      A nuclear wwIII is now a small but real possibility. The main reason is that drunken Yeltsin was persuaded to appoint a KGB colonel as his successor.

      If Putin is backed into a corner, and that is surely happening, the outcome of this depends now on Russians outside and inside Putin’s government, and the Russian military. I cannot believe that Russian generals would really order a nuclear strike that would kill Russia.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 4, 2022 11:13 am

      Roby: No, of course the US can’t pull the trigger on Putin in broad daylight. But can’t we work behind the scenes to orchestrate an assassination plot (or at the very least, a coup) using our contacts over there? I haven’t read enough spy novels (any, in fact) to guess how we’d go about it, but as Putin becomes increasingly reckless, and increasingly unpopular in Russia, I’m seeing this as a way to end the bloodshed before he does much more damage. Sanctions will take too long to achieve the desired effect, and they’ll be hurting ordinary Russians at least as much as the oligarchs.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 4, 2022 11:53 am

        Rick No we can’t. Because we would get caught most likely and the chances of a nuclear war would rise from small but measurable to more than even odds. The Russian people have to do this and the other internal Russian heavy lifting on their own initiative. This is not a spy novel and Putin is not Salvador Allende.

        One other thing I will add is that it is highly likely that there are back channels that the Russian and American and other militaries use to communicate with each other to defuse the chance of an accidental misreading leading to a world war.

        But not to even dream of the idea of instigating an assassination.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 4, 2022 5:21 pm

      Roby, how about declaring Putin a war criminal? His unprovoked aggression would qualify, right? And he seems to be about to, or already, committing genocide against the Ukrainian people.

      Then we could semi- encourage his assassination, right?

      • vermonta permalink
        March 4, 2022 7:21 pm

        Well, Lindsey graham talked about assassination of Putin today, and I will admit I agreed with his remarks many of them sound almost word for word like my own comment that it is the Russian people who have to remove putin. But he is not POTUS and he was not actually organizing an actual attempt. What he did was a sort of wishful thinking out loud and stating the obvious that the Russian people are headed for long darkness under Putin if they don’t find some way of stopping him.

        Let’s face it Putin is trying to kill Zelensky, which we find unacceptable right? Like we were trying to kill Saddam Hussein.

        If we start assassinations of foreign leaders, they will respond in kind. Who will win a poisoning contest with Putin? Let’s face it there are different levels of risk if one wants to get involved in assassination, and Putin presents about the highest level of risk.

  12. Vermonta permalink
    March 4, 2022 7:00 am

  13. March 4, 2022 9:33 am

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the above comments regarding the Ukraine situation, but I will. I especially appreciate Roby Vermonta’s insights on this. If it hasn’t been said already, if there was talk and movement toward Mexico joining a Chinese/North Korea/Russia or BRICS version of NATO, right up to our southern border, you know there would be a serious reaction on the part of the U.S. and NATO. In my opinion, the West/NATO poked the Bear. And now we see propaganda narratives wherein Ukraine is fully innocent and Putin is Hitler 2.0. I despise war. I’ve been dedicating the remainder of my life to finding ways to mine the ideas that can eventually lead to an enlightened END of All Wars, but the situation is more complex than the childish good guys-bad guys narrative that our elite media moguls disseminate to their stupid Americans.

    • Rick Bayan permalink
      March 4, 2022 11:29 am

      Pat: I can understand Putin being upset about the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO. But to invade a sovereign nation based on that fear? No, Putin is clearly the bad guy here. We didn’t invade Cuba when they had missiles pointed at us, and I’m sure we wouldn’t invade Mexico if they joined that Pacific alliance. (We might organize a coup.) Besides, NATO is simply a mutual defense pact — not aggressive in any way.

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 4, 2022 11:30 am

      Pat, Ukraine and NATO screwed up recently by being unrealistic about Ukraine joining NATO. I have said that for a long time. But this goes back further than that to 2014 and further. There was an agreement signed that said that Russian would respect Ukraine’s boundaries. After his invasion and filthy actions in 2014 (shooting down a Malaysian passenger jet and blaming Ukraine remember that? he simply said the agreement was invalid. Prior to that most Ukrainians did not want to join NATO. Putin is a soviet KBG man with a long term plan to bring eastern Europe back into Russian control.

      But if you have not seen enough over the years to realize the Putin is actually a potently evil man, then I am not going to try very hard to reach you.

      In Moscow last week the police arrested small children and put them in jail for carrying a sign about the war. The Russian parliament is about to pass a bill that makes it a crime worth 15 years in prison to state a view of events that does not agree with state media. Sound good to you? Yesterday, Putin claimed in a discussion with Macron that Russia is not shooting missiles at Kiev, which is clearly a lie of absurd proportions. It is just a typical kind of statement from him, lies lies lies 20 years of lies to the Russian and other people by a “soft” authoritarian. All the enemies and dissidents he has poisoned? Or is that a western fiction? It isn’t.

      Don’t go all Pat Buchanan on us. The root of this is actually Putin.

    • March 4, 2022 12:08 pm

      Pat, your thoughts on Ukraine being a NATO country on Russian borders would be pertinent has Estonia and Latvia not been granted membership in 2000. This can be part of Putin’s arguement but I think he looks at history and believes Ukraine was and is still Russian territory

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 5, 2022 8:30 am

        Ron, you are probably right about the expansion of NATO being a major cause of this war. Many American foreign policy experts have been warning for over a decade that this would force Russia to push back militarily.

        George Kennan, one of America’s greatest diplomats,and the man who came up with the US Cold War strategy, called the expansion a tragic mistake, which would lead to war.

        Henry Kissinger said basically the same. These are guys familiar with the mindset of Russians like Putin. This is an article from 2014 (not behind a paywall): “The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/henry-kissinger-to-settle-the-ukraine-crisis-start-at-the-end/2014/03/05/46dad868-a496-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

        Why did the US and NATO lead Ukraine down this dangerous path? And, by expanding NATO, we put ourselves in the position of having defend nations without sufficient armed forces to defend themselves.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 5, 2022 9:31 am

        “Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. ”

        Not actually true, though the Russians push this narrative. The Kieven-Rus civilization bloomed many hundreds of years and then fell into decline, before another civilization was founded in Moscow. There is very little connection between the two in reality, they were two separate historical impulses and even the gene pool was far from identical.

        As well, Does this line of thought explain why Russia always has to use the surrounding countries and peoples for their own purposes? I agree that NATO expansion plays on Russian paranoia. But the root of this is the fact that Russian tyrants always want to expand their grip on their neighbors and their own people. I am all for admitting NATO’s mistakes. But, not all that long ago you were pushing the idea that Obama was not strong enough and Biden is feckless!?! So what exactly do you want?

        I am afraid that looking at your comments over the years you have no coherent idea about what we should do (Assassination!) . You are just always sure that whatever the democrats are doing its either too weak or too much.

      • March 5, 2022 11:58 am

        Roby, This was not meant for me, but it responded to me. But I will admit I also believed and still believe Obama did not provide the level of support for Ukraine that was needed. He provided some support, but not what Ukraine may have been able to use to give Russia a harder fight over Crimea. He provided more than Trump claimed in “blankets and pillows” but much more could have been sent. So far Biden has done about as much as possible except banning all Russian imports including oil.

        But I wonder if Ukraine is doing all it can in this war. Where are the jets that were picked up a few days ago from Poland? Or was that a lie and Europe did not give them jets. The Russians are sitting ducks going into kyiv, but there is no coverage of any assault on that convoy for days.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 5, 2022 2:00 pm

        Sheesh, Roby, I have criticized the US government’s handling of the Ukraine situation, going back to the 90’s. That would, I believe, include two Republican presidents.

        My issue is this (oversimplified, in the interest of brevity, but I will provide more detail if asked): The US State Department ( I’ll focus on the bureaucracy, rather than the two political parties) has failed to use diplomatic means to resolve the issue of Russia’s paranoia over NATO’s continued expansion. American politicians of both parties have, since the 90’s helped to install anti-Russian leaders in Ukraine, and turned a blind eye to their corruption, which tends to support accusations that some of these politicians of both parties may have profited from it.

        Many have noted that taking the issue of NATO expansion off the table would have helped. But, instead, it was heavily promoted, despite fears of many that the US would be taking on obligations to go to war to defend nations with which it was never allied or had any common national security concerns.

        My above criticism of the US policy does not mean that I support Russia, for goodness sake. It’s obvious that the current ground war was started by Putin. But wars always have root causes that may or may not be related to the immediate triggering events.

        Do I think the Biden administration has handled this well? Hell no. Its
        ideological refusal to maintain higher levels of domestic oil and gas production has taken away a lot of leverage, among other things. But Biden’s predecessors were not a whole heck of a lot better.

        I know that this issue is emotional for you. But, IMO, seeing it in terms of good guys and bad guys doesn’t really help us find a solution.

        And, it’s not as if we havent engineered the assassinations of other problematic world leaders. At this point, though, that doesnt seem to be a viable solution.

        Have a great weekend!

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 6, 2022 8:34 am

        Ron we are going to have to agree to disagree about Obama’s sanctions.

      • March 6, 2022 11:45 am

        Roby, as with everything on the internet today, I find getting info on this subject difficult without a political agenda. But this one seems neutral. It provides info on the aid provided. What I find is little aid that gives Ukraine any defensive hardware, just superficial hardware.

        https://thehill.com/policy/defense/235334-humvees-for-ukraine-but-no-arms

        I want to understand what info you have that shows where actual military help occurred. Even bullets for guns if that happened.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 6, 2022 8:44 am

        Priscilla, the good guys may not have made the wisest choices and the bad guys may have legitimate grievances but I am still easily telling them apart. I am not implying that you have any problem telling them apart either or pat or Ron.
        We are where we are now regardless of past events and the situation now is that Putin has to be stopped with worldwide solidarity of any actions that don’t lead to a nuclear Holocaust. We have to be very tough but not cross into insanity.

        A nice weekend to all

  14. Pat Riot permalink
    March 4, 2022 2:12 pm

    Whoa! I didn’t say I was a fan of Putin! I thought I said the narrative Americans are receiving is oversimplified.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 4, 2022 4:05 pm

      Hey Pat! I feel your pain, to coin a phrase from our 42nd president.

      While I have said that Putin is entirely accountable for the military invasion of Ukraine, anyone who dares mention that Ukraine, the EU, NATO, or the US made some bad calls- or non-calls- prior to this, which may have increased the likelihood of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, is subjected to accusations of being soft on Putin. It’s as if we’re not so subtly being told that this is our country’s fight too, and that questioning the US role in failing to deter this war gives aid and comfort to the enemy.

      Now, I know the argument is that Putin is going to start WWIII, and it’s a persuasive argument, to the extent that one believes that world wars start because of a single cause, or that deterrence of the two previous world wars – or really
      any war- was impossible.

      Had Neville Chamberlain not appeased Germany by signing the Munich Agreement, might Hitler have been stopped? Certainly, that seems possible…at the very least, the road to war may have been very different.

      Anyway, I think that we should hold Putin and Russia accountable, while not painting every other political player in this situation as blameless and devoid of ulterior motives….

      • Pat Riot permalink
        March 4, 2022 8:26 pm

        Hi Priscilla! Yes, I’m so tired of the top-down scripted narratives that we see in our news media, whether it’s the “white cops shoot innocent black” narrative, or the “only the vaccines can save us” narrative, or the latest “innocent Ukraine against evil Putin” narrative. I shouldn’t be surprised. What do I expect, well-rounded honest discussions of the complicated issues and the faults of all sides?

      • March 4, 2022 8:56 pm

        Pat, there is two ways to get news that is neutral in presentation.
        1) When I hear something, then I search for info myself and try to access either business report or professional organization studies since they provide data with basically no political agenda.

        or

        2) Cable news called Newsnation. So far, anything I have seen in their news ( that usually starts at 5p.m. though primetime) is neutral. I have seen reports critical of Trump and critical of some things Biden has done. They have interviewed those on the right and administration people about Ukraine. There has not been any “gotcha”questions, but good hard questions when needed. Now I have not watched all of their reporters, so not all may be neutral, but so far, as I told a friend, the ones I have watched reminds me of how Tim Russert interviewed and reported for NBC before his death and agenda driven news led by CNN, MSNBC and Fox took over.

  15. Pat Riot permalink
    March 4, 2022 2:32 pm

    “Besides, NATO is simply a mutual defense pact–not aggressive in any way.”

    Quaddafi would disagree, but he’s dead!

    Since the U.S. is the largest NATO member, and since the U.S. military industrial complex is or was the largest military in the world, it can be construed as being duplicitous for the U.S. to take the lead on wars, e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, while new members are added to NATO.

    • Pat Riot permalink
      March 4, 2022 9:28 pm

      Thanks Ron, I will check out Newsnation. I’m getting so jaded. My first thought is that an effort like Newsnation will lure us in with somewhat objective reporting, get a strong following, and then start to be agenda driven. I want to be able to trust again! Peace.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 5, 2022 12:15 am

        Let me know what you think after viewing it a few times.

  16. Pat Riot permalink
    March 4, 2022 3:56 pm

    Now please don’t think I’m anti-American! The U.S. Constitution is near and dear to my heart and soul. But I am…
    anti-war except actual self-defense
    anti-imperialism
    anti-authoritarianism (but not anti-authority)
    anti-global consolidation

    Ron, I like your idea early in the comments about reduced confidence in global supply chains and a re-emphasis on more self-reliance, especially for critical materials and parts. This isn’t a call to swing all the way to isolationism. Global trade is healthy, but not to the point of dangerous dependence on others.

    Peace!

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 5, 2022 6:42 am

      Pat, I don’t think you are anti-American!

      When you read all my comments above you will see that you and I have plenty of common ground. I do see in Putin an insane and evil man who may actually be willing to destroy almost everything if his lies and his intimidation don’t work. But I see many mistakes on the Ukrainian and European sides and I consider both Russia and the US to be far too powerful and arrogant.

      Peace to you too!

  17. Pat Riot permalink
    March 4, 2022 8:41 pm

    Remember when the “pedophile activities of elites” was considered conspiracy theory? And now Melinda Gates talks openly about Bill’s dealings with “evil incarnate” Jeffrey Epstein, and she feels horrible for those poor young girls, and Bill says it was an error in judgment that he regrets. Sorry to digress from the Ukrainian story. Hey, where is Fauci these days? I think I need a break from the news…

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 5, 2022 7:25 am

      Pat, sorry, but the conspiracy theory part is all the other stuff that goes along with Qanon, all of which is really conspiracy theory in it’s most bat shit crazy form. This Qanon idea actually has many right wing believers and followers. That some rich people are pedophiles is not new and not limited to America. Unfortunately, some people are pedophiles and some of them are rich.

  18. Pat Riot permalink
    March 5, 2022 8:23 am

    Vermonta, sure, there’s plenty of B.S., exaggeration, hyperbole, and over-active imaginations out there connecting too many dots, but too often there are important nuggets of truth getting swept aside with the dirt as “conspiracy theories” by “normies” who don’t want their bubbles burst.

  19. vermonta permalink
    March 5, 2022 8:24 am

    https://www.ajc.com/politics/politics-blog/rep-greenes-speech-at-white-nationalist-event-draws-new-calls-for-reprimand/6RZ6WW73I5BKPNQOAIJK5VTTGE/?outputType=amp

    On the topic of assassination Marjorie Greene reacted strongly and even sounded rational and said what AOC is saying about Grahams tweet, until you realize where she is actually coming from, a Putin far right love fest. Meanwhile, oh irony, Ted Cruz said exactly what I have been saying about assassination while Lindsey graham said exactly what I am thinking. He just probably should not have said it publically.

  20. Pat Riot permalink
    March 5, 2022 8:38 am

    Assassination is one strategy. Speaking of strategies…why is there seemingly no air war over Ukraine? I’ve seen video footage of Russia’s long convoy stretching many miles, the vehicles of which seem like sitting ducks. I’ve read about Ukraine receiving additional fighter jets, but Russia’s air force is much larger, but everything seems to be ground war. I have no strong theories on this. What I learned about U.S. convoy strategies while I was a U.S. Navy Seabee was the practice of leaving large empty spaces between clusters of vehicles. In other words, ten vehicles together then a long empty space, then eight vehicles together and a long empty space. This leaves some room for vehicles to move forward or back, away from each other during an attack. The Russian convoy I saw was one long line like congested traffic as though they are expecting no trouble from the air. ? I don’t know.

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 5, 2022 9:18 am

      I wrote about that above. Read my comments.

  21. Pat Riot permalink
    March 5, 2022 11:58 am

    I made the time to read the comments above.

    Could it be that Putin was delusional to this extent about the strength of his ground forces, that he is just finding out about how ill-prepared his forces were for the LOGISTICS of moving mechanized divisions? I know something about the arrogance of power, about sycophants afraid to tell the truth to their superiors, but my gut tells me I’m missing important chunks of information here.

    Perhaps Putin and his generals are proceeding like a game of chess, feeling out the opposition? If Ukrainian forces were to attack the Russian convoys from the air, would we then see the Russian air force unleashed?

    If combat in Ukraine were to go street to street and “door to door,” then Ukrainian forces gain some advantage points, as they know the terrain better and would be more deeply motivated to protect their homeland, theoretically.

    Then I wonder how much Russia and China have hypothesized together about various contingencies in efforts to move away from U.S. hegemony and the petro dollar. I believe Russia’s population is about half the size of the U.S., 150 million to our 300 million, and that the Russian economy is smaller than the economy of Texas, but China is a different story.

    Standing further back from the situation, how much would it be to China’s advantage, and for various levels of desired global re-structuring, for NATO and the West to battle with Russia? From what we’ve seen recently, it would seem the “shock and awe” precision firepower that we saw from the West in the Middle East would overwhelm Russia, but how much is Putin and Russia holding back. Is there “baiting” going on?

    Too many questions and not enough answers. I hear we should stock grain products for upcoming shortages. (?)

  22. Vermonta permalink
    March 6, 2022 8:32 am

    https://www.wcax.com/2022/03/06/vermonters-with-ties-ukraine-host-rally/

    Meanwhile in Russia people had to risk everything to speak but large protests occurred in 29 cities anyhow.

    • rondabellelane permalink
      March 6, 2022 11:05 am

      Yes it is. AP is my ‘go to’ for most news – seldom biased.

  23. Ron P permalink
    March 6, 2022 12:16 pm

    Watched some news last night, may have been a rerun on Newsnation, Benfields hour. Coverage was about the Oligarchs and the impact they have on Putin. Two of them have come out with as much of a comment that could be made concerning their thoughts on Ukraine and the need for peace.

    The interesting thing was the analysis of one of the Russian experts being interviewed. He said that these people had a lot of influence on Putin for years, but over the past number of years, it has become “you can keep your money, but keep your mouth shut” The people that surround him now are the KGB (or whatever that group is now called) and they are not the ones the sanctions are hitting. Those are hitting the super rich or the average Russian. As for Putin, as long as he has the support of these handful of individuals, he will be fine since he is a loaner, stays hidden much of the time and does not need anyone other than these people to kiss his butt.

    As for the asset seizures, it could be that these will be tied up in western courts for years as some have already filed in court that seizure of these assets is illegal.

  24. Ron P permalink
    March 7, 2022 1:33 am

    The only way I see this happening is if world leaders can get the Saudi’s to make up the difference.

    With Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s corrupt leadership, the Russians and Saudis have colluded since 2015 on oil supplies and price manipulation. And if no large producer can expand output, Europe can not cut off 30% of its oil supplies.

    https://www.newsnationnow.com/world/russia-at-war/support-growing-for-ban-on-russian-oil/?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

  25. Priscilla permalink
    March 8, 2022 12:11 pm

    The US and NATO made a huge miscalculation by becoming energy dependent on the Kremlin to appease their domestic Greens. They ignored the obvious danger that their money would fund Putin’s aggression, because they apparently did not believe that Russia would ever invade.

    Our current leadership appears to think our enemies wants what we want. John Kerry’s reaction to this war was to claim that it would hurt the campaign against climate change. As if Putin gives a crap about climate change! Or as if Xi Jinping does.

    Even now, when we could immediately ramp up domestic oil and gas production, we are begging Venezuelan dictator Maduro, a guy as cruel and brutal as Putin, as well as the Iranian mullahs, who want to see us all dead, and the Saudi sheiks, who have recently signed a military partnership agreement with….Russia.

    It makes you wonder what the heck is wrong with our American leadership, who will enrich tyrants at the expense of US citizens…

    • Ron P permalink
      March 8, 2022 12:44 pm

      Priscilla, “when we could immediately ramp up domestic oil and gas production, ”

      I doubt that is possible from information I have read. We are still about 200 rigs less today producing oil. And many of the wells taken out of service in 2020 when they had to almost give it away in January are not back in service. Latest statistics show there were 142,000 oil employees in 2019 before the pandemic. oilandgasjobsearch.com websearch shows they have 18,569 job openings or about 13% of the 2019 jobs not being filled.

      Business news I just read concerning oil ramping up in the USA in response to this war stated “Like many industries during the pandemic, oil producers are struggling with a shortage of workers. They’re also having trouble sourcing some of the equipment they would need to ramp up production, including pipes and specialized sand used in fracking to extract shale oil.They can’t find people, and can’t find equipment,” said Robert McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Energy Group. It’s not like they’re available at a premium price. They’re just not available.”

      So just like so many other industries, when they fired people to cut costs, many of those people either changed professions or they retired. Now that they could get back to producing at the level they had in 2019, they don’t have the people to put the rigs and the wells back into operation.

      And just like taking your car to the shop and needing parts that now take weeks to get instead of days before, parts from wells and equipment also take weeks if not months. That is what happens when nations and industries put all their eggs in one basket, especially China’s where they still have strict covid isolation rules and reduced production.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 8, 2022 1:33 pm

        Ron, articles like this lead me to think that the difficulty of American oil companies ramping up may be exaggerated ( this is from prior to the war, but still post pandemic)
        : https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/11/16/occidental-to-biden-ask-us-to-increase-oil-production-not-opec.html

        The problem I see is that Biden will not increase domestic output, because he wants unaffordable gas to push Americans to buy electric cars.

        Of course, proponents of this strategy never address the issue of how we’ll generate the electricity. Wind turbines and solar?

        What I had not considered, and you have pointed out, is the supply chain issues, as well as labor issues, that might negatively affect any attempt to try and get back to the energy independence that we had under the Trump administration. That’s a good point, but I’m sure that, if we had some creative thinkers in this administration, who actually wanted to increase our oil production quickly, it could be managed. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I think we lack the will.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 8, 2022 4:58 pm

        Priscilla,

        For some reason, this is difficult for me to accept from a business standpount. Maybe oil executive telling Biden to ask oil companies to produce more is a good PR stunt, but oil was at $86+ per barrel on Oct 26th. and according to Statista.com, shale oil break even is $33 for existing wells and $58 for new wells. Why tell Biden to ask you to produce more when the profit margin is $28 a barrel.

        And your comment “That’s a good point, but I’m sure that, if we had some creative thinkers in this administration, who actually wanted to increase our oil production quickly, it could be managed. “…

        When people realize government is the problem and not the solution, we will be much better off. The experts on increasing production is inside the oil companies not the government. If they were experts, they would be making 10 times what they make in government. The only thing they are good at is regulations.

        Any industry that can make a profit of almost 50% on new wells and almost 90% on old wells is going to find ways to increase production without asking the government how to do it. They have found ways to import Canadian oil though pipelines making up for much of what Keystone xL would have carried. That being 830,000 barrels per day starting in 2023. With Enbridge increasing their pipeline by 370,000 and Marathon reversing one that sent finished product to canada, that one can carry over 1 million barrels per day. In October, they were signing contracts and had over 100,000 barrels signed. So that took care of 470,000 barrels this year ,not 2023.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 8, 2022 7:12 pm

        Ron, I totally agree that the oil companies should be the ones coming up with creative solutions to some of these challenges. However, the government, which controls leases and permits, is not allowing them to do it.

        No doubt the pandemic created a slowdown from which the oil companies have not recovered. But, a change in current Biden admin policies would get things going in the right direction. Even then, we are so far behind in production, as you have pointed out, that it won’t happen overnight.

        ” The head of the biggest U.S. oil lobby groups said the Biden administration is “misusing facts” when it claims the industry has more than 9,000 federal drilling permits on which it can drill to boost supply and ease soaring energy prices.

        The Biden administration has repeatedly pointed to the number of approved but untapped drilling permits on federal land when questioned about how U.S. production can rise, and what the federal government can do to help.

        “Just because you have a lease doesn’t mean there’s actually oil and gas in that lease, and there has to be a lot of development that occurs between the leasing and then ultimately permitting for that acreage to be productive,” he said. “I think that they’re purposefully misusing the facts here to advantage their position.”
        https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-administration-misusing-facts-oil-203140624.html

        Biden continues to claim that his policies are not at fault. He blames the shortages on Putin and/or on the oil companies. Liz Warren was out there today claiming that oil companies, which have barely recovered from the oil bust of the pandemic, are looking for “windfall profits.” And, of course, she is promising that Democrats will regulate them so that they can’t make those profits, good little socialist that she is.

        I question Biden’s claim that it’s not his policies at fault, because oil prices were skyrocketing months before the Russian invasion. Biden has been allowing drilling on federal land, but not issuing any permits for state and private exploration and drilling, despite a severe supply shortage. Why?

        When Biden took office, crude was under $40 a barrel. At time of Russia’s invasion, it had risen to $90. By the end of this month, it will likely be $200.

        I have no doubt that there are multiple explanations for this energy crisis, and you have pointed most of these out. But, any intentional effort to make it worse and to buy oil from our enemies, whether it be Russia, Iran, or Venezuela, should be condemned.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 8, 2022 7:29 pm

        By the way, I should have written “In my opinion,” to start off my last sentence there. I don’t know way more than I know, and I feel pretty strongly that our energy policies under this administration are incredibly destructive. But, it’s not as if I’ve never been wrong….

      • March 8, 2022 7:52 pm

        I have no doubts that Biden is going to curtail oil production in the future. But if you have wells just sitting there, you dont need a permit to turn the on. And I add two more things to my list. 1). Demand today is at or exceeds 2019 demand. 2.) 69 oil producing companies went bankrupt in 2020. They no longer pump oil.

        I am not using any news source for my data. All of it is coming from sources specific to the oil industry or a few business news outlets. The oil industry is projecting by 2023 our demand will exceed 13 million barrels of oil. Just 13 is a 7% increase over 2019 and almost 13% over production today. if its 13.5 milkion, that is even a higher percent increase. And 2019 was almost a record for demand.

        Also, dont forget there are 6,521 newly completed wells that are also not pumping oil in seven major oil and shale natural gas basins. Biden has nothing to do with those.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 8, 2022 8:04 pm

        I have no info that comes from oil industry sources, so you’ve certainly got me there. But, if freezing new leases and permits on anything but federal land is a good idea in a low supply/ high demand oil market, while our government negotiates with dictators and anti-American mullahs, in the midst of a brutal ground war in Europe, then I guess I need some reeducation for sure!

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 8, 2022 8:26 pm

        Just one question, since this was very influential to my forming the opinion that I have, and you have much more info. My research indicates that the current ( that is unfrozen) unused permits are primarily dry wells. Is that what you are seeing in your reading? I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what the government won’t permit new exploration and drilling, but maybe I am reading fake news?

      • March 8, 2022 9:44 pm

        P.riscilla.I will try and look up frozen permits, but this is some info on DUC wells.

        https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=49456

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 4:06 am

        There are many reasons that permits can be bought that do not result in productive wells.
        Or even Wells at all.

        Often permits are “defensive”

        Even older drilling involved tapping a large underground body of oil – and you might buy up permits for adjacent land to keep others from drilling and drawing from the same body of oil.

        Fracking agrevates this – as wells are often drilled horizontally – so you need to pull permits much farther away from the well to protect the field from others tapping it.

        And yes, most wells do not end up productive.

      • March 8, 2022 8:50 pm

        Priscilla, it is not smart to cancel lease now, but that impacts production in the future. They have to find the oil, drill the well, install the pumps and machiery, the pipes to get it to storage, etc. That does not happen overnight. And if they cant get 6,000+ wells already drilled and ready to pump pumping, is there going to be companies drilling many more. Just like Keystone XL that was scheduled to start flow in 2023, future oil is not causing what is happening today. To much money was given to people in three checks they did not need in 2020/21. They did not suffer a hardship, lose a job or have financial difficulties, but families still got $3k+ (depending on # of kids was close to $4k) and now that covid has declined, demand exceeds even 2019 supply before Ukraine. Capitalism is raging. Inflation due to demand > supply.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 9, 2022 9:19 am

        Well, we absolutely agree that the humongous stimulus bills passed during covid were a major factor in both the resulting inflationary spiral, as well as the current labor shortage (although that one makes less sense).

      • Ron P permalink
        March 9, 2022 2:03 pm

        Priscilla, now the labor shortage is interesting. There are any number of reasons why, but looking at data that is not written in the MSM agenda format, one can find about four issues that are driving the shortage. Today there are about 11million open positions.
        1) About 1.5 million additional retirement aged individuals retired in 2020/21 than normal.
        2) According to BLS government information, right at 16% of the open positions are in healthcare. Not surprising with the number of nurses that got out either since they were close to retirement or they had burnout. This is a profession where there have been waves of shortages and the pandemic hit just as the late 80’s/early 90’s influx of new hires due to that labor shortage are now at the stage where they can leave. They are in their 50’s, families grown, second incomes really not required or they are just burned out. State governments have historically restricted the number of nursing schools that restrict the number of graduates, and along with some really stressful working conditions in hospitals, there are not enough graduates to replace those leaving.
        3) Retail accounts for 11% of open positions.
        4). Hospitality accounts for 11%..
        5) Food service accounts for 10%

        These four categories account for almost 1/2 of all open positions. What do the last three have in common? They low wage, large percentage female positions. Yes, men do fill them, but not at the same rate as women.

        So today if you are a woman and have one child, to work requires child care for a young kid. That cost has soared to over $11,666 across America. .Prices range from $3,582 to $18,773 per year according to Money Crashers financial website depending on location., if you want to cover just that $11,666 in wages to break even, you have to earn a minimum of $12,632 just to cover FICA tax. That is $6.07 per hour based on full time hours. Now factor into that cost of transportation and other incidentals that range on average $2000, the breakeven wage for a woman with one child is $7.00 minimum. $13.00 if she has two. And in larger cities where more jobs are open, that cost could be double because the $3582 in child care is probably a rural cost. Why would anyone work at a job for $15 when you have these type of issues and that does not even consider any state or local tax if she is married and they make enough that requires some income taxes.

        Those are not all the reasons why workers are not returning to the job market, but I think there are many low income workers that lost their jobs in 2020, and they were smart enough to realize working at a low income wage was not financially helpful, even without stimulus money coming in now. There living conditions did not change much without that job.

        And finally, just demographics create labor shortages. Now there are about 300,000 more reaching 65 than there are reaching 20-22 years old. That means workers can not be replaced in total when they retire.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 3:48 am

        I provided Ron a link to a Tammy article on Inflation.

        It directly addresses the “labor shortage” Fallacy.

        Absolutely all kinds of issues can cause short term price increases in narrow groups of prices.

        But the laws of supply and demand – which are immutable assert that always and everywhere these very price increases will CAUSE subsequent price decreases.

        Further pretty much ALL human history confirms this.

        Price history is invariably DEFLATIONARY. Inflation only occurs when the currency is debased.

        Even in the modern central bank era – where small amounts (hopefully) of inflation are DELIBERATELY introduced, because a central bank can not function without small amounts of inflation, it is STILL true that inflation adusted prices go DOWN overall.

        Regardless when you hear “record inflation”, you KNOW that a recession is coming.
        The only question is how soon.

        The sooner the better – the longer the higher inflation will get and the deeper the recession will have to be.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 4:00 am

        The negative impact of stimulus checks does not actually change because those receiving the check experienced a hardship.

        The govenrment created even more money out of thin air.

        Therefore inflation was inevitable.

        What they spent the money on is irrelevant. to whether there is inflation.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 4:13 am

        Rule of God – i.e. almost universally true.

        When government is involved – whatever it it, gets F’d up and is inefficient.

        https://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/commentary/2022/03/16/ukraine-putin-pennsylvania/

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 20, 2022 2:28 pm

        A much simpler explanation:

        If it was actually possible for the oil industry to make 56% profits – they would.

        The actual average profits in the oil industry are just over 6% and have been consistently for decades. That is LOWER than Walmart.

        It is LOWER than most other industries. Oil profits are low and stable – because the business is large, well established and stable.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 22, 2022 11:49 pm

        Coases Law paraphrased. If there is a problem or impediment, free exchange is possible, and transaction costs are low, trade will result in pareto efficient outcomes regardless of pretty much everything else.

        In practice today – government is the impediment to free markets, and increases transaction costs.

        Coase did not say this – but Even where there are impediments, free exchange is limited and transaction costs are high – trade will STILL result int he most efficient possible outcomes under those conditions.

        Or put more simply – the cost of regulation is lower standard of living.

  26. March 8, 2022 10:02 pm

    Priscilla, here is a good article, even if friends m more main stream media.

    https://www.newsweek.com/have-biden-administration-policies-reduced-us-oil-production-1686104

    By the way, in my searches, I also found an article where greenies are going after strip mining of lithium for batteries in USA. Greenies against clean energy making us deoendent on firiegn land where they cant see the impact of strip mines

    • March 8, 2022 10:04 pm

      OK auto fill screwup “even if from more main stream media”

  27. Vermonta permalink
    March 9, 2022 6:11 am

    Thank you Ron for your calm rational approach and thank you for your hard work digging up facts and data.

    I am done buying anything from China.

    My wife’s niece has left dnipro and is on her way to Poland on a train. Two million refugees already and accelerating.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 9, 2022 9:08 am

      Roby, very glad to read that she is on the way to safety. But what a hideous tragedy to have to leave your home, and everything you own, save maybe a bag of stuff and the clothes on your back, not knowing if you’ll ever be back.

    • March 9, 2022 10:42 am

      Roby, thank you. If one person understands, I have succeeded.

      So sorry for what has taken place and glad your relative left. Hopefully she will have a democratic country to return to, even with all the distruction., If she wishes to do so. I dont know much about Zelenski, but his staying makes me understand why citizens are fighting so hard.

      I did here something that really pissed me off last night on Bloomberg Daybreak (from UK). There is no shortage of oil according oil analyst from Asia. World supplies have not decreased.. There is no reason for $130 world wide price. $80-$90 yes, due to unprecedented demand and Saudi’s holding down production to increase price. But the rest of the $40-$50 is all speculators signing futures contract thinking the supply price will decrease, thus the price goes up now to decrease demand and balance supply/demand. So we get screwed and oil field producers makea huge orofit on something that might happen.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 9, 2022 12:41 pm

        “The math is simple. A child could do it. The reason Europe didn’t have a muscular deterrent threat to prevent Russian aggression—and in fact prevented the U.S. from getting allies to do more—is that it needs Putin” https://the-pipeline.org/vladimir-putin-energy-realist/’s oil and gas.

        Full disclosure: The Pipeline bills itself as an anti-radical environmentalist publication. But I read sources on both sides, as long as they are clear and honest with their bias.

        I’m sure that most here will see this as Pro-Putin. Maybe even anti-Biden. But it’s neither of those things. It simply lays out the case that Ukraine will never get the assistance from NATO that it needs, because NATO needs Putin’s oil.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 9, 2022 2:11 pm

        Priscilla, environmental movement began in 1990 in Switzerland to shutdown nuclear plants, followed in years after by the rest of Europe. They had huge amounts of natural gas in the north slope and found that to be environmentally safe.

        OOPS, the north slope ran out. All their plants except a few were nat gas. Who had the nat gas, Russia. So their only solution was to pipe it in from there.

        Seems they did not follow the Swedes, Finns and Latvians going renewable and now they have their butts in a sling with so much dependence on Russian gas. And they are not going to let their citizen be cold and risk losing government control in the next election.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 9, 2022 4:42 pm

        If I’m not mistaken, Ron, Germany, under Angela Merkel, shut down its nuke power plants, due to “safety and environmental concerns,” and that led to them deciding to go with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which now supplies 40+% of German nat gas needs.

        When Trump came out against the pipeline, claiming it would make Germany, a NATO country, too dependent on Russia, Merkel freaked out. Once Biden got in, he waived the sanctions and approved the pipeline, allowing Germany to bypass Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.

        And here we are. Ukraine is screwed in this war. NATO will try and drag it out, hoping that Putin will face increasing opposition from his own people and quit the fight. But, the NATO countries aren’t going to do anything that would interfere with the flow of sweet natural gas.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 9, 2022 4:20 pm

        The speculators I did know about. Remarkable isn’t it?just like pork bellies.

      • March 9, 2022 4:37 pm

        Roby, this is a good short read explaining how this commodity works. Yes, just like pork bellies, wheat, cirn, soy beans, coffee.

        https://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/determining-oil-prices.asp

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 3:25 am

        While your claimed speculation makes no sense.
        More importantly even if it did make sense – if speculators are right – they make huge profits – true. And if they are wrong they lose their shirts.

        It is commonplace for politicians to blame speculators for the evils of the world – every politician of every flavor in creation has done it.

        I am surprised the we are not hearing about hooked nosed jews causing the price increases.

        As you like WSJ
        https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-american-producers-arent-solving-energy-crisis-price-hike-rise-oil-gas-wells-fracking-shale-lng-climate-change-green-russia-11647354744?st=diyankb8j0euptf&reflink=desktopwebshare_permalink

  28. vermonta permalink
    March 9, 2022 6:22 am

    According to a linked article in your very objective linked article 71 percent support the ban on Russian oil, 22 oppose.

    I have heard some talk of a temporary removal of taxes on gas, which might help a bit.

    There are the strategic reserves as well. My family will just drive less

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 17, 2022 3:56 am

      You seemed opposed to reducing taxes when Republicans did it.

      Regardless, reducing Gas taxes will not solve inflation – at best it will move it somewhere besides Gas, at worst it will drive gas prices even higher.

      Fundimentally the same is true of tapping the SPR.

      I would note that you hate speculation.

      Tapping the SPR works exactly like speculation. Except that it is done by government and therefore the government can manage to lose and waste money – even if they “bet right”.
      otherwise there is no difference.

      The SPR was in theory bought low and it now being sold high – to bring down the price.

      When speculators sell – the price drops too.

      Tapping the SPR is indistinguishable from speculating – except for the intent.

      But the same fact pattern has the same results regardless of intent.

    • March 9, 2022 10:50 am

      Roby, this would help in CA, where the taxes are over $1.35 ( not sure if that includes the $.184 cents federal), so that would bring them down to around $4.00. Wont do much for southern states where its still in the $3.50-$4.00 range

      • March 9, 2022 5:17 pm

        That may be true. I dont know that much about Europe, but it looks like both of us have some facts right.

        I will say one thing. America needs to stop telling the Europeans what to do (i.e. nord stream pipeline) if we ever want them to take the lead on European security. That is no different than Europe sanctioning Canada when we were trying to get Keystone XL operational.

        https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/24/why-europe-depends-on-russia-for-natural-gas.html

  29. vermonta permalink
    March 14, 2022 8:55 am

    Its been quiet here, unlike in the world. So I will contribute this, an excerpt of a letter I wrote to a friend.

    In the beginning I would have given up on Ukraine’s chances of resisting and was hoping that by not fighting too hard they would at least not see their country bombed to the ground. Actually, I was surprised by your take on the war in the first days. It turns out you were much closer to the truth than I was.

    As time has gone on I have become increasingly optimistic that Ukraine will more or less “win” this war, although at a terrible cost. Just as few could have guessed how strong the Ukrainians are and how effectively they fight, few also could have guessed how incompetent the Russians have turned out to be in so many ways and areas. I read semi-believable reports today that putin has arrested the head the FSB and an aid and is charging them with “embezzlement” (apparently, he thinks they stole his credibility). It is thought that they were afraid to tell him the truth about the situation in Ukraine. It reminds me of the phrase, The beatings will continue until moral improves.

    From what I read the Syrian fighters do not number nearly 16,000, are mercenaries not volunteers, and are not likely to be very effective even if some of them do eventually show up. This seems mostly to be something for putin to display on TV as propaganda. This is surprising to me, you would think that putin would not want to signal so strongly that Russians are not getting the job done and even need help from some barbarian arabs from the middle east. I have always thought that he is not so clever as many think. He has been able to successfully lie and murder his way to tsardom and is now too full of himself to think clearly. He spends so much of his life lying to people that he believes he is invincible in his ability to manipulate. If 2022 brings the sight of the air coming out of his balloon that will be a joy to see and the world will be a better place (unless whatever Russia gets after him is as bad or worse and I never underestimate the tendency of Russian to achieve a terrible government with a brutal, dishonest, and or incompetent head.)

    I am probably naïve, but I think he is finished, perhaps within 2 months as the screws tighten on Russia and successes in Ukraine only come at the cost of war crimes that outrage the world and lead to more economic punishment of Russia. I read highly conflicting reports on whether the existing economic measures will very rapidly cripple Russia or whether the Russians can weather them. Time will tell. One thing is certain, Russia has lost nearly all of its economic and diplomatic standing in the world and will remain a pariah with a vastly diminished quality of life inside Russia for a very long time. If Putin were to be replaced by something very different and better they might be able to recover some of that.

    Having lived in Moscow and seen St Petersburg, I was struck by how shabby and depressing most areas I saw were, I have seen official buildings (where I went to have my invitation certified to stay in a Russian home) that looked like the set of a dystopian movie, where people were living in squalor in the bombed out remains of a war. What a strange country of contradictions. Their classical music is at the top of the world, but the country itself is mostly a shithole. There was no more depressing thing I had to do in 2007 than to go to the bank to deposit my paycheck in Moscow, it took an hour of standing in a crowd of large rude pushy slavic women. Its probably worse now. These are the most bureaucratic people in the world. There is a GOST, a federal law, to tell lab workers how to use a pH meter.

    This is a dysfunctional and mostly failed society due to its perpetually terrible forms of government and yet they control a vast land and natural resources and are a nuclear power. Were it not for their nukes they would not be even worth anybody’s time or attention. The idiot head of the Russian space program, Rogozin, apparently wrote an article or a report not so long ago bluntly stating that if American and Russian forces ever did come into head to head conflict the Americans would demolish the Russians in 6 hours. I guess it was a candid plea for military investment and improvement.

    I did have some admiration for some elements of Russian culture and I guess I still do have admiration for its best elements, after all the Russians produce people of such iron balls as Navalny, and ordinary Russians can be very intelligent, kind, and decent in many ways. But as a country, they are pathetic, disgusting, simply a failure and frequently a menace.

    We have friends and family in Moscow, some of them old, some of them young. Things were never so good there but now following putins worst ever blunder they are doomed to live in squalor and privation and will probably wind up drinking even harder than Russians usually drink, unless putin is replaced by something much better.

    Its going to be a very interesting year (the historians curse: may you live in interesting times), full of horrors and depressing tragedies, but I am cautiously optimistic that 2022 will see the end of putins empire of lies and that the Ukrainians have become truly and unquestionably a nation in the eyes of the world. Putin may have performed a large work in that respect.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 17, 2022 3:15 am

      Roby;

      I hope you are right.

      But I would bet money that you are not.

      Putin may be displaced.
      By something better ? Sure, another russian tyrant who does not invade Russia’s neighbors.
      Not much of an improvement.

      Russia’s best chance was under Yeltzin when a real attempt was made to convert to an actual free market capitalist system. That failed as aparatiches from the communist regime fought to personally profit – as also happened in SOME former Soviet countries.
      Countries that managed the transition – like Poland ultimately did well.
      Those that did not are still corrupt and impoverished.

      I see reasons the Russians might get rid of Putin.

      I do not see that resulting in significant disruption of the status quo in Russia.

  30. vermonta permalink
    March 14, 2022 9:04 am

    I am probably guilty of tending to read news items that reinforce my own ideas, but anyhow, here is something I found very interesting from a former Russian Minister of Energy in an interview. The lady interviewing him knows her shit.

    • March 14, 2022 11:35 am

      Roby, this was a very good interview. And she did an excellent job asking the right questions. Much of his comments have been supported by other analysts. One said even though the Russians are living in complete news darkness and overwhelmed with propaganda, Putin can not hide the 6000+ body bags and growing (or disappeared sons) or the 15,000+ injured, many seriously, from Russian mothers. Mothers will talk, will spread news, could be the catalyst for Putins demise.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 14, 2022 12:34 pm

        Ron,

        They can delay the news of the dead for a while but not forever. As an indication of just how black hearted and ruthless putin is, already long ago, in the 2014 era, mothers of dead soldiers who died in the Donetsk region where that supposedly no Russian soldiers were fighting were able to find out by a lot of detective work that their boys died in Donetsk and were loudly furious with putin. He silenced them with his usual brutality. If they had a business, suddenly it had permit problems, etc.

        My wife was married in Ukraine at 18. Her husband was drafted and was killed in a munitions explosion soon thereafter. She had to dig for the truth of how he was killed and where and only found it through a family network of connections because her grandfather was a someone.

        As far as the news blackout goes it is not complete because the Russian internet system is not like the Chinese system, which was built from the ground up to be an internal Chinese system that can be easily disconnected from western sources. Russians who are a bit tech savvy and want to hear the news from outside can still get it with a bit of work and then can spread it. Of course back like in the USSR times everyone is afraid to be spied on talking about the war. We don’t talk about the war with our friends and family in Russia much because we don’t want them in trouble. Sometimes some of them pass on some information, such as the fact that they are being blocked from many of their internet sources like facebook.

        For those who do not believe the Russian propaganda line on TV, being blocked out of the internet only makes them speculate that things must be going very badly. In my opinion if the Ukrainians can hold on for months, Russia will implode.

        I told my wife the other day that Russian leaders do actually get removed from power at times such as Khrushchev did after the missile crisis. She had no idea that he was removed from power. She said they did not teach that in school.

        This was very informative.

        https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/war-censorship-exposes-putins-leaky-internet-controls-83425364

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 2:50 am

        Russians also are more temperamentally and culturally inclined to disbelieve their leaders than the Chinese.

        One of the major reasons that Tianamen Square failed – was because the students running the protest, did not really know what they wanted. Their education and exposures to ideas outside of China was nearly non-existant.

        One of the problems the US has today is that increasongly our education is becoming the same ideological fact free nonsense that the chinese have expereinced for almost a century.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 3:02 am

        Even at the height of the cold war there was substantial effort and substantial success in getting information into and out of USSR.

  31. vermonta permalink
    March 14, 2022 1:08 pm

    Here is one link to 2014 story on putin suppressing Soldiers mothers but it is not at all the strongest one that later reported on him becoming completely ruthless in his dealings with the mothers of dead soldiers. I will dig some more.

  32. vermonta permalink
    March 14, 2022 1:20 pm

    still not the story I am olooking for about how mothers of dead soldiers who got too loud finally had their lives ruined by putin

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/putin-denies-russian-troops-are-in-ukraine-decrees-certain-deaths-secret/2015/05/28/9bb15092-0543-11e5-93f4-f24d4af7f97d_story.html

  33. Priscilla permalink
    March 16, 2022 9:41 am

    Roby, two questions for you:

    1)How do you feel about the possibility that Putin is removed from power, i.e. “disappeared,” as he has done to so many others, and replaced by an even more brutal, more China-centric, more anti-American strongman? Unintended consequences are a big part of history.

    2. Would you be in favor of a NATO military response in the Ukraine war? A no-fly zone in particular, since that is what Zelensky has been asking for.

    • vermonta permalink
      March 16, 2022 3:24 pm

      1, There is no point in replacing putin with some one as bad or worse. They will replace putin to be able to return to Europe and the West and the world economy and also to to some extent escape from the blame for their war crimes. Replace putin and they can blame it all on him, they can say they did not want to do it but they were petrified in fear of him. Replace putin with someone like him and they gain nothing.

      2. I have been to many rallies and Cover the sky is a major theme at them. Needless to say, don’t I wish for that to be possible, I wish for it with all my heart. But one cannot just throw all caution to the winds with a country that is a nuclear power with enough bombs to cause a nuclear holocaust that is ruled with an iron fist by one bad tempered and in my view often delusional dictator. It is wise to believe that a nuclear holocaust is an actual possibility.

      I don’t think it is so technically easy at this point to shoot down all Russian missiles. Had they installed a comprehensive system long before the war much better protection could have been provided. Providing the Ukrainians with jets would be providing them with an offensive more than defensive capability and would likely draw in a much larger attack by the Russian air force, which I believe is likely much more competent than the Russian army. The drones are doing a fantastic job and they need a lot more of those. As well, they need every kind of anti-aircraft weapon and I think they will get that. They have received very good support already in this regard but it can always be even stronger. Its 3 weeks into this and Russia does not have air superiority, one reason they are bombing indiscriminately instead of in a precise manner. Ukrainians have brought down a lot of Russian jets and helicopters.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 16, 2022 4:12 pm
      • adam Smith permalink
        March 17, 2022 2:17 am

        One of the huge negatives of this is that it will result in re-emphasizing Russia as a military adversay – and US planning will revert to atleast partly Europe/Russia facing.

        This is re-empowering cold warriors, neo-cons, and “Russia Desks” throughout the government and military.

        This is almost sort of odd – as Russia is doing very badly. It is already self evident that without using Nukes, Russia would be obliterated by NATO in a few days should it attack a NATO country.

        Regardless, the decision to flip US foreign and military policy to Asia facing from Europe facing which has been proceding slowly for decause, but actually flipped under Trump is correct. Even this Ukraine war proves that Russia is much weaker than we beleived.

        Regardless this will result in too much US focus shifting back to Russia and Europe.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 17, 2022 2:43 am

      What is going on IS messy and complex.

      There is a group of ukrainina freedom fighters – that Google had banned for several years – as racist, fascist, nazis. They are now being allowed to upload videos.

      Putin is wrong, but he is not actually a fascist – though he is being called a nazi and a fascist.

      While still wrong – this is NOT the same as Czechoslovakia or Poland prior to WWII.

      The massive number of mistakes made by the EU, NATO and the US that lead to this do NOT let Putin off the hook.

      But it is Still important that we assess our own mistakes – the majority of americans are probably right – but for Biden and the children’s incompetence weakness, and ineptitude this would likely not have happened.

      “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
      Robert Gates.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 17, 2022 9:12 am

        We will focus on Europe because we are European in our culture and because Western democracies are still by far the most successful way to make the most happiness and well being for the most people. Asia has its own different cultures, with N Korea and China being the least free. China has one 20th the number of nuclear weapons as Russia and the US do and has never attacked a western country or threatened seriously to. In fact, while there is of course Tibet as an exception, China has been a non disruptive force in the world for the most part regarding its foreign policy and its interests lie in getting along with the west.

        Regardless of what many people people may think, putin was always going to use military force to compel Ukraine back into its orbit and take some or all of Ukraine. Its driven the slavic population decline in Russia and about economics as well as the megalomania of the putin version of world history.

        Things are not going well at all for the weird set of views that conservatives followed trump to. As I predicted, eventually they would rejoin the real world and see Russia, with its all powerful tsar and its police state and its 6500 nuclear weapons as the largest existential threat.

        I wish that Biden, NATO and Ukraine had been willing to recognize and state the obvious about the futility of speaking of Ukraine joining NATO, it might have delayed this war. But it would not have prevented it. Biden has done a fantastic job since the war began of finding the correct path between coordinating the attack on the Russians on every front without crossing a red line that could lead to a holocaust.

        The inherent conflict between The west and putins Russia may not seem worth contesting to a rapidly shrinking number of paleoconservatives, but their their time of useful idiocy has clearly past and history will hold them to ridicule.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 17, 2022 9:31 am

        As to what to call the system that Russia has been moving towards during tsar putins reign, its tempting to call him a nazi because of his own idiotic rhetoric and a fascist, well, fascist is an imprecise term that means many things to many people, but putins Russian government is meeting my ideas of fascism in their internal and external policies and they become visibly more deserving of being labeled fascists every day.

        Hitler suffered psychologically induced blindness after fighting in WWI. A psychiatrist hypnotized him and brought his sight back by convincing him that he was going to be a key figure in restoring Germany to its proper place. Hitler had that programmed belief that he alone could save Germany. Likewise putin and many around him have the indestructible belief that he is the messiah of Russian restoration to its greatness that was robbed from it. So, there is a good comparison to be made between putin and hitler, and between putins Russia and nazis that is made all the more tempting by putins claims that he is going to “denazify” Ukraine.

        Putins ideas of the place of Slavs, Russia, and government have a large dose of the DNA of the tsars, lenin, stalin, and the soviet system. Even if they are not exactly the same, they are all somewhere on the spectrum of autocratic rule via endless lies, mind control, and brutality.

        Seeing putin losing to Ukraine and the West at present is a moment in history that all but the paleoconservatives are seeing as incredibly important and positive.

  34. vermonta permalink
    March 16, 2022 3:34 pm

    Things like this
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60763494
    and putins arrest of the head of the FSB (todays KGB) are the kinds of things that make me believe that Russia is imploding due to its losses on all fronts.

    I was correct over the years when I said that the economic and diplomatic weapons would be the strongest ones the west could use on Russia, but what I obviously did not predict, like almost everyone else, was that military aid to a heroic Ukrainian military would play such a large role. I expected Ukraine to be quickly occupied and that economic warfare would then be our best weapon. It turns out that the Ukrainian military and the economic warfare are a very strong two pronged attack on fascist Russia.

  35. March 16, 2022 10:46 pm

    Also reported by Wall Street Journal. Heavy.loses for just 3-4 weeks.
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17963111/putin-loses-fourth-general-blow-invasion-ukraine/

  36. vermonta permalink
    March 17, 2022 8:54 am

    Putin will go if and when his generals and security forces decide he is a larger threat to Russia than the decadent west. That is already true now, but it will have to be massively obvious in order for some group in Russia to act. I give it a month to 2 months but it may take a year or two years or never happen. If it never happens it will mean that Russia has completely followed putin back to their soviet path again without the communism. I would be surprised if Russian will swallow that line for long, they really are not Asian and don’t want to be. They are some form of European and want to be.

  37. adam Smith permalink
    March 17, 2022 6:06 pm

    I can not think of how to say much of this better than Byron York has.

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/romney-stirs-ugly-treason-talk

    Many hear have attacked Trump for much less offensive remarks.

    Regardless, The US is not “at war” with Russia or anyone else.

    While we clearly as a people and as a government have preferences as to the outcome of the wars of other nations. It is not a crime to diverge from the consensus.

    Increasingly Tulsi Gabbard – a lifelong democrat and serious contender for the 2020 democratic presidential nomination is portrayed – by the media, the left – and even those so called republican moderates so many here swoon over as a nazi, a right wing conspiracy theorist, …. She is treated nearly as badly as Trump.

    Regardless, I judge Trump, Gabbard, Romney FIRST on what they DO, and then on what they Say.

    Gabbard has served honorably defending this country for years. She has been deployed in war zones.

    She has earned the right to speak free from the idiotic criticism of Romney.
    Worse still – she is RIGHT and Romney WRONG.

    • vermonta permalink
      March 18, 2022 10:07 am

      Has anyone taken away gabbard’s right to speak? I did not think so. And no one has taken away Romney’s right to speak either and he has said what he thought and I agree with him. Gabbard is an all around gadfly and wack job and her comments are wrong and idiotic and unhelpful to anyone but putin’s government. Although, I guess the winner in the suck up to putin as he massacres civilians and goes full on dictator is the ever putrid tucker carlson, who never stops trying to find some shockingly idiotic way to please his audience of the most extreme and gullible viewers on the right.

      As of today many ideas, movements, and people I despise are in severe trouble, most of all putin, with whom we are Mostly Definitely at war. Led by the Heroes in Ukraine The West is absolutely at war with Russia and it is a very satisfying and inspiring thing to see. This could not have gone more wrong for putin’s Russia. As of 21 days ago it seemed unlikely that Zelensky would be in power or even alive in a short time. Three weeks later it is Russia and putin that are on the ropes, for the moment at any rate, and I and so many others are relishing that moment.

      All this could change very quickly but as of today Ukraine is doing so well that Crimea itself may be out of Russian hands if this goes the distance. The civilian losses are terrible and heartbreaking but in every way Ukraine has Russia on the ropes, with an assist from the West. Today, putin toady and member of putin’s inner circle peskov sounded down right apologetic in backing away from his comments yesterday about Biden in response to Biden’s calling putin a war criminal and and thug. That shows me a lot about how this is going in moscow.

      “US President Joe Biden’s remarks about his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin amount to personal insults, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday.

      “Moscow hears and sees what is already daily statements made by President Biden, which are already, in fact, personal insults of Putin,” Peskov told reporters on a regularly held conference call.
      Speaking at the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day in Capitol Hill on Thursday, Biden said Putin was “a murderous dictator, a pure thug,” who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine.”

      Peskov added that he didn’t want to react harshly to these statements in view of Biden’s “irritability, fatigue and forgetfulness” and so as “not to cause more aggressiveness.”

      “Taking into account President Biden’s irritability, fatigue and forgetfulness, which lead to such aggressive statements, we will not give sharp assessments of his words, so as not to cause more aggressiveness,” he said.”

      Reality of their sinking position is hitting the inner circle of the putin regime.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 18, 2022 10:18 am

        In another really major development, Russian news is actually beginning to honestly admit some of the reality of their costs in Ukraine. Another sign of a changing reality in Moscow, I am actually shocked at what this reveals. The truth about the war is so bad that even the putin regime has decided to begin to reveal it.

        “Russian state TV confirms death of regional airborne forces commander in Ukraine
        From CNN’s Chris Liakos

        At least five Russian servicemen, including the commander of the Kostroma airborne forces, died in battle in Ukraine, Russian regional state TV network GTRK Kostroma reported Thursday.

        During the special operation in Ukraine, according to the Regional Military Commissariat as cited by GTRK Kostroma, servicemen of the 331st Guards Airborne Regiment “gave their lives for the security of [Russia].”

        Among those dead are the commander of the unit, Col. Sergei Sukharev, Senior Sgt. Sergei Lebedev, Sgt. Alexander Limonov, Corporal Yuri Dektyarev and Captain Alexei Nikitin.

        Some background: The 331st Guards Airborne Regiment is considered one of Russia’s elite units. The regiment fought in both Chechen wars and some of its members were directly involved in the Donbas conflict in 2014 to 2015. It took part in the Victory Day parade in Red Square in May 2018.

      • March 18, 2022 10:59 am

        And in addition to those reported in the news, how much longer will they keep secret the loss of the generals that has occurred? Once they begin reporting losses, it cant be long that the news rapidly spreads about those losses.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 18, 2022 11:21 am

        Ron, they already did admit the deaths of the generals. What this may mean is that they realize that this will not end anytime soon and have to prepare the public for that. The longer this goes, the more the advantage goes to to Ukraine. But I would be a fool to believe that Russia has no possibility of turning it around.

        I am in a very good mood today. War is fluid, in a day, a week, a month I could be heartbroken by a turnaround in fortunes. But as of today, this amateur russologist is feeling up beat, probably too up beat, but I will enjoy it while I can.

      • March 18, 2022 11:43 am

        Well one thing I think has made all the difference so far is Zelenski’s actions. He had a choice of running or hiding in a basement like our.president would do, or standing tall and telling Biden he didn’t need a ride he needed ammunition and has been a true leader, inspiring his people to take the fight to Russians.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        March 18, 2022 2:29 pm

        Hi Ron… few here in the US, if our country was under attack, would fault the President for going to the bunker where it was safer and we would continue to have a leader – still on US soil – to safely continue leading… unlike a recent one who went down there with his family for a short time due to citizens protesting.
        Zelenski (I believe) does not have that sort of option on his country’s land, and I DO commend him for remaining – so many other leaders would leave, and have, but a negative comparison to our Presidents on that? I can think of truly, only one.
        Even Bush – on 9/11 – who took to the air instead of the bunker still remained.

        Yes, Zelenski remains – and all Ukrainians who remain to help and fight are the heroes here. The coward Putin (hiding from his OWN people) underestimated Ukraine, and we – along with the rest of the free world – are supporting them, and increasing support.

        I am not a fortune teller. I can hope Putin will be ousted and go to trial – after which I truly believe Russia will not install a like-minded ruler. I can hope this will happen before Ukraine is taken (because Putin will probably increase military strength and experience to take back Ukraine). …and I can hope that Europe (with Putin’s arsenal of short range nuclear weapons) will survive if Putin goes ballistic (excuse the pun).

        As far as we go, I am more concerned about the United States surviving what came out of the Trump era than the limited number of long range weapons Putin could toss our way.

        Fact is, I cannot wrap my head around this becoming nuclear before Putin is overthrown or gives up for some bogus self serving reason). I only hope Ukraine survives. If it doesn’t, the Russian people will suffer greatly – and Putin along with them. Europe is with us on this – they do not want Putin on their doorstep.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 19, 2022 1:24 am

        Biden hid in the basement during the 2020 presidential campaign.

        He did not hide from assassins, or invading Russians.

        He hid from the press and from the american people.

        And he has remained in hiding as president holding few press conferences, few interviews speaking publicly rarely.

        But I doubt this is out of fear – it does nto even seem to be from his own choice.

        There is scant evidence Biden is actually president – meaning making the key decisions of a president.

        Biden was and is still hiding – because he is in decline, and can not handle it.
        It appears the country is being run by incompetent children.

      • Ron P permalink
        March 19, 2022 12:29 pm

        Ronda “As far as we go, I am more concerned about the United States surviving what came out of the Trump era than the limited number of long range weapons Putin could toss our way.”

        Your concern is in the past actions impacting the future. I am much more concerned with current actions impacting the future.

        The democrats are playing a risky game of chicken. They are using the GOP playbook on investigating, commenting and trying to damage Trump so that when he runs in 2024 for a second term, he is a weakened candidate.I dont think it is going to work and if the country is no where near it was economically when Biden took office, Trump has a very good chance of winning. That scares the hell out of me because I can see the GOP capturing congress in 2022 and holding on to it in 2024. I have never been one that supports the president and congress being of the same party and if it were not for Sinema and Manchin, the damage that could have been done already would be huge.

        And Trump having a congress made up of his goons that would support almost anything he did would be far greater than anything the Biden administration has tried and failed to get passed. I have thoughts about 2028 and what the hell Trump would try to be able to run again, evern though the constitution prevents that after his election fraud crap and his January 6th demands to Pence to override the congressional counting of Electoral votes.

        the democrats need to get off their election agenda path and charge Trump with something that would stack. And they also need to try to amend the constitution that would make it impossible for anyone convicted of a felony from holding the office of president.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        March 19, 2022 4:17 pm

        “Ronda “As far as we go, I am more concerned about the United States surviving what came out of the Trump era than the limited number of long range weapons Putin could toss our way.”

        Your concern is in the past actions impacting the future. I am much more concerned with current actions impacting the future.”

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 19, 2022 4:30 pm

        Democrats can not charge Trump with something that would stick – because he has not committed a crime.

        The makeup of the next congress is up to the voters. Trump is as entitled as anyone else to peresuade voters to elect candidates he would prefer.

        Thus far the “Goons” in congress are on the left.

        Thus far those investigating with out legitimate basis – are democrats.

        That may well change with the next election, but the precedent was set by DEMOCRATS.

        It is democrats who keep changing the rules of the house and senate for partisan political advantage.

        I would note that while Trump keeps losing his legal battles to thwart democrats from investigating him without sufficient basis, Those investigations ultimately die because nothing was done wrong.

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 19, 2022 6:36 pm

        You seem to be oblivious to the fact that the countries problems today, Are of our own making. More specifically of our governments making.

        It is not “defending Putin” to CORRECTLY note – WE BOTCHED THIS.

        Putin did not wake up one day and say “I am going to invade Ukraine”

        This was avoidable.

        Covid was not avoidable – but the damage we have done to ourselves in res

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 19, 2022 6:38 pm

        The problems we have today as a country – as a world are NOT accidental.

        We are not suffering from a huricane.

        Nearly all our problems are self inflicted.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 18, 2022 7:25 pm

        Zelensky is doing incredible in this.

        He is Ukraines modern Churchill – and I beleive he has borrowed lines from Churchill.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 18, 2022 7:26 pm

        In bad times some people rise to the occasion. And others do not.

        Zelensky has.
        Biden again has not.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 18, 2022 4:12 pm

        Ronda, Ukraine will survive and more than survive it it will thrive. They are tough tough people. I am married to one, she herself has survived things that would have ruined most people and come out with her mind and soul intact.

      • rondabellelane permalink
        March 18, 2022 8:23 pm

        Actually, those are my positions right now, but that little imp situated in the back of my head keeps whispering… “…what if…” Still, I’m with you.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 19, 2022 1:06 am

        I watched a documentary tonight that addressed the Checken conflict in the 90’s.
        That was brutal, Early on Russian armor was massacred in Grozny, and it took 2 years for Russia to win the conflict.

        Ukraine is substantially larger than Checknya. The U?kraine army has had longer to prepare, They started from a position of actual independence with an established military and government – while The Checkens declared independence and were essentially a guerrilla force.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 19, 2022 1:18 am

        There are very few people who are not rooting for the Ukrainians.

        Carlson is rooting for the Ukrainians. Fox is rooting for the Ukrainians. Trump is rooting for the Ukrainians.

        No one is rooting for Russia.

        Not only do I – but nearly everyone hopes your rosy projections prove correct.

        What conflict there is in the US is not over any desire to see Ukraine kick Putins ass.

        It is over what should the US do, and over what mistakes did the US make that contributed to this.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 18, 2022 6:53 pm

        “As of today many ideas, movements, and people I despise are in severe trouble, ”

        That would not be my impression, based on your posts.

        The right is NOT in retreat – it is growing.

        Putin has had a bad couple of weeks – I share with you the hope that they will last longer – but until the last few weeks he has done well. He has manipulated Europe and Biden and encouraged them to weaken themselves.

        Democrats have had a disasterous year in power – Their only hope is defeat in November so that it will be harder to continue to blame them for the mess they have made. The only bright spot in the entire democratic party has been Sienama and Manchin – who have saved the democratic party from self immolation. And what is the future of the democratic party ? Steve Buttigieg ? Harris ?

        Mostly I see the things you have opposed thriving and the things you have supported withering,

        Reality does nto seem to be your strong suit.

  38. adam Smith permalink
    March 17, 2022 6:14 pm

    ARTICLE Pretty much speaks for itself
    https://news.yahoo.com/boston-blm-activist-husband-indicted-223733651.html

  39. Priscilla permalink
    March 19, 2022 9:51 pm

    1) I have no idea why Trump is part of this discussion. Trump’s fate should be decided by events having little or nothing to do with Ukraine, as it should be. Trying to distract from Biden’s disastrous handling of this (not to mention his handling of Afghanistan, which was arguably worse, at least for a US president) by placing blame on Trump, will simply highlight to many voters, the fact that Trump’s energy policy was the correct one, both from an economic perspective, as well as a national security one. As Ron has pointed out, the Dems are playing a risky game.

    2. We have been meddling in Ukraine for a long time, at least 25 years. We could have prevented this war, but it seems as if there are many politicians on our side who are ok with this. And not just ok, but enthusiastic. I think it’s largely the culmination of what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex’s threat to democracy, as it accumulated almost unlimited money and power.

    It’s no coincidence that Biden’s SecDef, Lloyd Austin joined the board of Raytheon Technologies, almost immediately after retiring from the military. He’ll likely go back when he leaves his cabinet post.. James Mattis, Trump’s SecDef, was on the board of General Dynamics when he was confirmed, and went back as soon as he resigned from the Trump admin. Come on folks, war means billions of dollars flowing into these corporations. Not to mention into the pockets of their board members, who are making national security decisions for all of us.

    3. Now that the NYT has confirmed that the Hunter Biden laptop story is, in fact, true, as opposed to “Russian disinformation,” we know that our POTUS has a crack smoking son, who was laundering him cash from Ukraine while VP. And the FBI knew about it before the election. Now America is sending the same country billions.

    Censoring and suppressing any information that would bring to light some of the conflicts that our very top “leaders” have, and dividing us politically, so that we attack each other’s views and opinions as hateful and treasonous has been an excellent strategy.

    Just not for us.

  40. adam Smith permalink
    March 20, 2022 2:50 pm

    A different persepective on Trump-Russia – and the disasterous effects of the Collusion delusion.

    https://spectatorworld.com/topic/russia-is-the-wests-great-tragedy/

    The “Big Lie” assured that Trump had no opertunity to bring Russia into the west.

    Maybe that was impossible. But who would have thought that the abraham accords were possible ?

    The preception of Trump as a blunderer in foreign policy is incredibly stupid.

    Trumps; foreign policy successes over 4 short years are spectacular.

    Several presidents have signature foreign policy accomplishments,
    But Trump presided over a complete re-orientation of US foreign policy that made the whole world safer and more prosperous.

    And we are seeing that now. Energy policy is inextricable from foreign policy.

    America and the world are Safer when the US is a net producer of energy.

  41. adam Smith permalink
    March 20, 2022 5:34 pm

    https://www.vox.com/2022/3/18/22977801/russia-ukraine-war-losing-map-kyiv-kharkiv-odessa-week-three

    There is a more upbeat spin to this analysis, but most of the facts are essentially the same.

    The fundimental question seems to be one of Russian will against determined resistance.
    If Russia is willing to accept heavy losses and a brutal protracted engagement – Ukraine ultimately loses.

    If not we can expect some kind of negotiated settlement soon in which everybody tries to claim victory.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 20, 2022 7:00 pm

      Russia’s willingness to accept heavy losses has been its advantage in war, for a very long time.

  42. Priscilla permalink
    March 21, 2022 2:40 pm

    “I’m ready for negotiations with him. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations we cannot end this war. I think that we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is a third World War.” ~Volodymyr Zelenskyy

    Yesterday. He said this yesterday.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve about had it with the leader of Ukraine trying to draw us into a ground war in Europe that even the Europeans won’t fight..

    No, I don’t blame him for trying. It’s his country, and it’s being utterly destroyed in an unprovoked invasion by an evil imperialist. But as I have said before, the time to stop Putin from invading was….BEFORE he invaded.

    Despite all of the comparisons to WWII, I don’t see it. I do see many comparisons to WWI, one of the most horrific and unnecessary wars in history.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 21, 2022 2:45 pm

      And, I would like to see negotiations, that’s for sure. Biden is going over there, soon, apparently, to push for a negotiated settlement. But what leverage do we have at this point, other than the threat of intervention? And most of the NATO countries have made clear that they won’t intervene militarily.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 21, 2022 3:26 pm

      I am not a fortune teller and have little knowledge of what is taking place in Ukraine. They say the Russians are demoralized, they are losing thousands and still what we see is a country in ruins. There are now reports that as the Russians take control of parts and whole towns, the citizens are being rounded up and sent to Russia and there is no contact with them. How much longer Ukrainians can hold out is anyone’s guess.

      The other reports that concern a negotiated settlement makes Ukraine just a skeleton of itself. On some Sunday talking head shows, “experts” said Putin is demanding the eastern part of Ukraine and the southern part of Ukraine become Russian territory, as well as some parts of the northern border with Russia. Basically if you look at a map, anything that shows where Russia has invaded. He also demands that the remaining Ukraine agree to become neutral like Switzerland.

      That would be almost a total win for Putin as this would cut Ukraine off to seaports and make them almost totally dependent on Russia for much of their existence.

      All of that is up to the Ukrainians. Live under Russian rule or die trying to stay free.. Not much good in either decision.

      Whatever happens in the end, if I were Xi Jinping, I would be watching closely as to the actions now and into the future for a few months. If what I suspect is going to happen, there will be a negotiated agreement, Russia will get most of what it wants, the west will decide all is good and the economic sanctions will be lifted based on data the administration will feed the public. However, those decisions will be based solely on the 2024 election and the need to fix the economy, get oil prices and wheat prices down and have something good to run on.

      When that happens, Xi Jinping will see that Taiwan is far game and will want to annex that before the new president is inaugurated since he knows the playbook with the current administration, but does not know any future presidents actions. He also knows there is no way in hell economic sanctions to the level that was placed on Russia could ever be placed on China since we are almost totally dependent on China for critical items in any manufactured product in America.

      America in my mind is a super power in name only. And Europe is the impotent cousin. We sanction Russia and it knocks our economy sideways. Europe is the barking mutt at the fence and when approached, turns tail and runs with its tail between its legs.. They still have not sanctioned oil and gas from Russia as far as I know, So tis “we will support you until it makes us uncomfortable”. But try any action against the real super power in the world (China) and they could destroy us in a matter of months economically.

      But hey, there is one positive to that happening. I will be in the dark because I cant get Chinese light bulbs anymore, but I also won’t be complaining about their cheap crap because I wont have access to them,

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 22, 2022 6:55 pm

        None of us are experts at this – and the “fog of war” is quite real.

        Mostly this appears to be going as the year old analysis I have seen suggests – a much longer bloodier slugging match than was predicted by US DoD at the start – but the same outcome – Russia isolates cities and isolates Ukraine and then slowly grinds them down.

        The big deal right now is whether Russia can thwart western resupply – that primarily means closing ports, and then western borders and airfields – with ports being most important.

        If that occurs – and both Russia and Ukraine continue to have the will to fight on with high casualities – this could drag out a year of more with a high cost on both sides. Ukraine will lose – but at an incredibly high price to Russia.

        Conversely if Russia is unable to isolate Ukraine – they will be forced to withdraw.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 22, 2022 10:54 pm

      I would suggest reading “The Guns of August” it is very readable for a history of a War.

      It will also reinforced tremendously your view that WWI was unnecescary.

      Kaiser Wilhelm issued the orders to Stop the war at its start, but it was too later German troops had already started moving.

      There is much much more.

      Because so much of WWI was brutal trench warfare most of us are unaware that the early phases of the war were nearly identical to those of WWII.

      BlitzKrieg was NOT a new invention to WWII, What was true of WWI was that once the war of movement stalled and forces started digging trenches and setup up defenses – progress became almost impossible.

      Regardless it is an excellent book on the early parts of WWI, Also on the essntially incest between european royal families, and their family feuds, as well as how horribly bad diplomacy works.

  43. Priscilla permalink
    March 21, 2022 9:56 pm

    It breaks my heart to agree with you that we are no longer a super power, at least not in the sense that we have been for the past 100 years. I think that a lot of woke Americans are happy about that, because they think super powers are bad. They think of strong nation states the way they think of strong men…that they’re “toxic,” dangerous, and, of course….racist.

    Which leads me to something that I’ve been wondering about, and that Roby is likely knowledgeable about: Ukrainian anti-semitism. There have been a few news stories about the Azov Battalion, which is an openly Nazi, white-supremacist, military unit of the Ukrainian National Guard. It’s as if the US allowed the KKK to have its own special National Guard Unit, with both American and foreign members, from all over the world.

    I get that Ukraine needs every fighting man it can get right now, but this would never be allowed to happen openly in the “systemically racist” United States, war, or no war, and everyone knows that. So, what gives? I know that Zelensky is Jewish, but, if so, why has he let a Nazi militia operate openly in Ukraine for 5 years?

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 21, 2022 10:30 pm

      Just to clarify; when I said “Ukrainian anti-semitism”, I was not generalizing, more like bringing it up as a topic to discuss, if that makes sense.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 21, 2022 10:40 pm

      Also, it should have read “Ukrainian an foreign members” not “American and foreign members”. Yeesh.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 22, 2022 12:00 am

      OK you had me going before you published your correction to American fighters.

      I am amazed at the time it takes to find anything on the internet that is not something the media published any more. I refuse to read that dribble because none of them write anything that does not have some political message to influence the reader into a information path chosen by the writer. Reference material seems to be hidden on the dark web anymore

      So the first thing I could find is this and I know this probably has some hidden message also, but it seems to be just facts and nothing else. I did find some other information that supports what is here so it seems to be apolitical.

      https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/03/02/what-is-ukraines-azov-battalion/

      What I do find so interesting is even the headlines of the articles would make one think the Ukrainian military is a large percentage right wing extremist while they probably have about the same number as most military, they are just all assigned to one unit.

      For instance Headlines:
      Washington Post ..3/13..”Neo-Nazis are exploiting Russia’s war in Ukraine for their own purposes”

      NY Times: 2/25 “Far-right militias in Europe plan to confront Russian forces, a research group says.”

      USA Today 3/5 “A regiment in Ukraine’s military was founded by white supremacists. Now it’s battling Russia on the front lines.”

      NBC News 3/8 “Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t”

      And just like the United states with our far right and far left politicians and groups, Europe and Ukraine is no different. In the last election, a coalition of far right partiesin Ukraine only garnered 2.15% of the votes, probably much lower than what would be found in the United States.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 22, 2022 8:10 am

        Thank you Ron for your dependable stable sanity. The story on the nazi element in Ukraine is a red herring to everything that is most important now. The Ukrainian government and military should not be thought of as if they were our government and military, there is much less actual control and organization from the top down, it’s a country that is barely under control at the best of times. Some group of weirdos like Azov can exist (and here). If tucker carlson and marjorie greene and madison cawthorn and Co. can exist in the US the Azov nuts can exist in Ukraine. It has nothing to do with events except that it gives putins propaganda a grain of salt on which to make their claims of battling a nazi government and tucker and his movement something to use to push their narrative.

        I have cut back sharply on my news reading again and am taking the long view. To read the daily stories about bloody Vlad and his war crimes is too depressing and I can do nothing about it. My wife and I are concentrating on our own sanity.

        The three fronts of this battle, that is, in Ukraine, in Russia itself, and in the international community are not changing so much each day. Its going to grind on like this until a crack develops into a major fault somewhere. For me the biggest question is if and when bloody vlad loses control in Russia itself. This will take place over months or years, although if it happens it will come to a head very quickly. One thing I can say is that the Aleppo approach will play out differently in Ukraine because everyone in Moscow has a friend or relative in Ukraine and grinding Ukrainian cities into dust and using chemical weapons if they do that will slowly but surely become common knowledge in Russia. The absolutely brainwashed older people (we know these people) will never wake up, but in reality half of Russians do not support this war already and never did and the economic pain is just beginning and will get much worse. Which side will have too much pain first?

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 22, 2022 8:12 am

        So, are you saying that the US would allow an openly white supremacist military battalion in its National Guard? I’m gonna have to disagree with you on that.

        Joe Biden says he based his decision to run on what happened at Charlottesville in 2017, and has repeatedly slammed Donald Trump for not sufficiently condemning the neo-Nazis that were there for the rally. (I don’t actually believe that that’s his primary reason for running, but, if you take him at face value, that is what he has said)

        We’ve also had the DOJ and FBI repeatedly claim that white supremacists and Nazis are the biggest threat to our national security, and use that to claim that parents objecting to CRT in their kids’ schools are terrorists.

        We make a big, big deal of condemning and reviling these people. We don’t give them military weapons.

        So, the idea of a Nazi battalion in our military seems unlikely. Or should be, anyway.

        And, in truth, from what I’ve read, the Azovs seem more super-nationalist/anti-Russian than Nazi, although there are many openly Nazi sympathizers in its ranks. It has been an accepted part of the Ukrainian military for some years, and it openly uses swaztikas, and other Nazi sympbolism.

        Would America allow someone like David Duke to form a military unit, accept it into our military, and presumably give it funding?

        I’m pretty cynical these days, but I don’t think we’ve fallen that far yet. Politics and war make strange bedfellows, and the communists and the Nazis have always hated each other.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 22, 2022 9:49 am

        I certainly won’t defend Azov but you cannot compare the way the two countries operate, especially in the middle of a chaotic war. In Donbas where Azov operates the war has been going on since 2014 and 13000 Ukrainians are estimated to have died since 2014 there. There are perhaps 900 members of Azov and it is estimated that 20% are neo nazis. Ukraine is not a white supremacist society and is not about to be but Azov does unfortunately exist in the swamp that is the Donbas region. No one could believe that Zelensky or Ukrainian voters or their government are susceptible to any white supremacist policies. In the big picture right now its the last thing on my mind.

        I should probably leave it at that but my tangential point is that every country has its disgusting extreme elements and those elements do penetrate into society instead of being personna non grata everywhere as we would wish. Consider that the violent extremists in Michigan who planned to kidnap the governor were also very friendly with local law enforcement some of whom defended them after the plot was revealed. Or consider the National GOP calling the Jan 6 events “legitimate political discourse.” Its a very weird and disturbing world even in the US. Duke himself got lots of votes, was elected to the Louisiana House and got plenty of votes in runs for governor and the senate and his views were well known. Everywhere you go you can find despicable ideas and people that push them and they manage to find an audience.

        I do remember the case back in 2014 of one particularly loudly odious member of the rebellion against the Russian puppet government, a large powerful man with a following, I do not remember his name but he was loud and extreme and drew condemnation internationally. The Ukrainians killed him pretty quickly.

        I will give you an example of how chaotic the region is even in Russia which we think of as under strict state control. Do you Shamil Basayev, who was behind the Beslan school massacre and the Moscow theater takeover? He finally was killed in 2006 but meanwhile was operating in Russia with his militia and driving around with his group with its small army. That was 4 years after the Moscow Theater (I was in that theater once) and 2 years after Beslan that he continued to operate his militia and travel fairly freely in the Russian wild zones.

        The slavic region is not comparable to the US.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 22, 2022 4:36 pm

        If every single Ukrainian was a Nazi would that change anything ?

        Russia invades a sovereign self governing country that was NOT threatening its neighbors.
        While I believe Robby is correct that the numbers are small – there are remnants of Nazi groups throughout Europe and even in Russia.

        It is also irrelevant.

        No country went to War with Italy and Germany because they were Nazi’s or fascist.
        They went to war because Germany invaded Poland.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 22, 2022 4:54 pm

        Well Hallalujah, Dave and I agree on something. The Ukrainian nazi issue is irrelevant. And yes there are small numbers of nazis left all over Europe.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 22, 2022 5:07 pm

        US libertarians barely go over 2.1% of the vote in 2016.
        And they are certainly not extreme right wing.

        There is not an “extreme right” group in the US that can get on the ballot.

        There are no right wing monsters hiding in the closet.

  44. Priscilla permalink
    March 22, 2022 8:25 am

    “The Ukrainian government and military should not be thought of as if they were our government and military, there is much less actual control and organization from the top down, it’s a country that is barely under control at the best of times.”

    Roby, this makes sense to me. I don’t find it any less dangerous though. There will come a time when this war is over, and Ukraine has to rebuild. Will these people want a role in that? Of course.

    My disagreement with you would be on your drawing a false equivalency between a Nazi political party in Ukraine, and a mainstream television news host in the US. Carlson is not a white supremacist, a Nazi, or anything of the like. It diminishes the evil of true far right extremism to make those comparisions.

    • vermonta permalink
      March 22, 2022 10:08 am

      I am not one to think its wise to see racism everywhere and in everything, but I do see racism in Carlson. Most of his stuff is more idiotic than anything else and his ideology is to seek attention, but the actual white supremacists see him as their guy and there is a reason for that. There is some overlap between his audience and the audience of people like david duke. Most of his audience are not white supremacists, they simply follow him because liberals hate him.

      For me it is extremely easy to hate a man who putin’s propagandists admire and use to weave their lies. Here is a man who the Russian government admires and the actual white supremacists admire, it is beyond me how it is not obvious to any decent thinking person that he is shit. If he is really mainstream… I think he isn’t and thank God for that.

      All this side issue of American politics aside, for me the most important issues are the terrible suffering of the Ukrainians and the question that will consume the future until it is answered: will the Russian population accept putin destroying both Ukraine and their future or will putin fall and when?

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 22, 2022 1:58 pm

        Like you I hope that “this time is different” and this ends Putin’s regime.

        History suggests otherwise.

        I honestly hope that history as well as my own judgement are wrong.
        I hope Carlson is wrong. Trump is wrong.

        But even if everyone you disagree with is wrong – which is highly unlikely.

        Being wrong (or right) is not racist.

        Valuing black, brown, yellow and white US citizens about white Ukrainians is not racist.

        Making every argument about race – is just more evidence that you are either part of or deeply manipulated by the extreme left.

        You have been lobbing race grenades in arguments that have little connection to race – and to the extent they do appear to make YOU more racist than those you claim are racist.

  45. vermonta permalink
    March 22, 2022 4:31 pm

    I just broke a rule and read an opinion piece by bret stephans in the NYT. It took me only a short time to conclude that this man has no actual knowledge or skills that apply to this war. As can be said of almost the entire commentariat left right and otherwise. They are paid to talk and have to blather something. A few words from an actual military man are worth more than all of the thoughts of the commentariat together. And, I am just as glad that the military guys do not talk too much, when they do they describe Russian mistakes and Russians can read.

    tucker carleson is simply an entertainer with a political shtick. He has no particular expertise about any serious subject other than entertaining his right wing audience. He is like Trever Noah, he does the same thing, except that he entertains a left wing audience, adn to be clear he has no more expertise than carleson. But tucker is a shock jock type, like Howard stern. His specialty is being a bad boy. He has to break taboos on a daily basis to keep his audience. The latest taboo is spinning putin’s spin, which is popular with some on the right. His audience includes the people who have decided to sympathize with putin because “putin is not woke.” Dislike wokeness all you want but admiring a murderous dictator because he is not woke is just sick. I have read the comments of plenty of these so called conservative people. They definitely exist and Marjorie Greene got herself noticed by going off to a white nationalist meeting recently. They started off with a big salute to putin.

    Excuse me, I have loved ones in Ukraine and I do not think this group is merely wrong, I think they are sickening and I loathe them. Being the news network that Lavrov praises is a pretty ugly accomplishment in my household. RR would be puking at the lot of them. This is a time to pick sides and people who pick putins side are as far as I am concerned, the enemy.

    “WASHINGTON — Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is doubling down on her decision to give a speech at a far-right conference with ties to white supremacists over the weekend.
    In a statement released Sunday night, Greene argued that she went to talk to audience members about “America First” policies.
    “We’re going to focus on people, not labels,” she said. “We’re going to focus on protecting the nuclear family, our border, our jobs, and our children.”
    But Greene’s attendance at the event brought critical statements from Republicans like U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as a former county chairman in her own congressional district.

    Romney said during an interview with CNN that “anybody that would sit down with white nationalists and speak at their conference was certainly missing a few IQ points.”
    Greene was in Florida to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, but made a surprise appearance at the America First Political Action Conference, which was organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Both conferences were in Orlando…. When questioned by a CBS reporter about why she spoke at a conference with white supremacist ties, Greene said she was unaware of Fuentes’ views. When she was told Fuentes was a white supremacist, said she did not endorse those views.
    “I won’t cancel others in the conservative movement, even if I find some of their statements tasteless, misguided or even repulsive at times,” she said in her statement.
    Republicans in her own district expressed dismay.
    Andy Garner, the former chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party, said in a statement obtained by the Rome News-Tribune that the GOP party needed to stand up to Greene.
    “This is not who we are,” he said.
    Attendees at the America First Political Action Conference praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine last week.
    “She accepted an invitation and spoke to a group of known white supremacists who cheered Russia and chanted ‘Putin, Putin’ BEFORE she spoke,” Garner said. “She spoke anyway.”
    McConnell in a statement obtained by Politico condemned white supremacists after being asked about the members’ attendance at the conference.
    “There’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism,” he said, though without referring directly to either Greene or Gosar.
    Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, wrote on Twitter that Greene was now using her official U.S. government “congressional account to promote anti-Semitic, white supremacist, pro-Hitler, pro-Putin conference.”

    It is clear to me that tucker is somewhere in this spectrum although his main interest is money and celebrity in any way he can keep it.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 23, 2022 1:09 pm

      Yes, it is clear that Tucker Carlson falls somewhere on the political spectrum to the right of AOC.

      Did you actually read your own post ?

      Lets see – according to you – Rep. Green appeared at an event Fuentes appeared at.
      Feuntes is a white supremecist – because he has purportedly said anti-semtic things – as has all of the Squad – are they white supremecists ?

      By the transitive property of political smears Green is a white supremacist.
      I am not sure how being chriticised by Romney, McConnell, and Chenney fits – as each of them has previously been criticised as a white supremecist, and or Nazi.

      From there the same transitive property places Tucker Carlson – somewhere on the political spectrum.

  46. Priscilla permalink
    March 22, 2022 11:12 pm

    Actually, Stephen’s column is quite good. He’s right , you know.

    Putin DID have every reason to believe that he would be able to get away with invading Ukraine, because he got away with Georgia, Crimea, and Aleppo. He watched Obama draw the phony “red line” on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and then, when that line was crossed, watched our 44th president do jack crap.

    Biden will do in Ukraine exactly what Obama did in Syria. He’s flying over to Brussels tomorrow, to meet with NATO.

    About what? How much oil and natural gas they’re buying to finance Putin’s continued invasion?

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 23, 2022 6:23 pm

      Lets not forget Checknya.

      You may not be aware of this but the stories that Chemical weapons were used in Syria are dubious. Though some international organizations have concluded they were – there is little or no evidence in most cases. Lots of very bad things happened in syria – that was not likely one of them.

      Generally actual uses of chemical weapons are rare – there are so many problems using chemical weapons that it is rare that military condictions such that they provide a predicatble value are low.

      The most common uses of chemical weapons are in terror attacks – not military ones.

  47. adam Smith permalink
    March 23, 2022 2:52 am

    This is an excellent article on Barri Weises substack.

    https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/the-takeover-of-americas-legal-system?s=w

    I would hope this might be a wakeup for those of you here who think there is some consequential threat from the right.

    The only threat posed by the “extreme right” is the potential extreme backlash this nonsense could result it.

  48. adam Smith permalink
    March 23, 2022 3:20 am

    Excellent editorial by Matt Taibbi.
    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/worlds-dullest-editorial-launches?s=r

    I would note one objection – which I made earlier – Elementray schools are not free speech forums. If you decide that you actually want free speech in schools – then you will have no time for actually teaching and spend all time discussing whatever it is appeals to 3rd graders – rather than telling them what they actually need to know to get to fourth grade.

    It is not “censorship” for republican legislators to tell teachers that Parents, rather than teachers get to decide what their children are taught.

    Nor is it improper to tell teachers that if your students can not read, you are not free to waste their time teaching them all about the plethora of genders you invented.

  49. vermonta permalink
    March 23, 2022 5:56 am

    When someone (Stephan’s) says that it’s not such a big deal for Russian and NATO pilots to engage because they did in Korea and nothing dreadful happened that person is just talking empty words. No, not any kind of expert just another opinion journalist hand waving. Nothing would be more viscerally satisfying to me to see our air force demolish theirs and Russia might have to fold, but if that was not their choice then their next option is nuclear. Really want to roll those dice?

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 23, 2022 6:09 am

      Priscilla, there is a lot more to being “right” than someone saying something that feels satisfying to hear. Imagine, about a month back Putin’s fsb experts told him that Ukraine would just roll over and that was satisfying for him to hear. An actual expert opinion that is sound is something else altogether and those opinions do not come from the commentariat very often, these people are not trained in the fields they talk about, they are newspaper writers or TV personalities. They simply say the things that people want to hear. Stephans has no military expertise just a writer on many subjects. Not someone who’s opinion we would risk a nuclear Holocaust over.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 23, 2022 7:22 pm

        We are dealing with a situation where it is not clear what is RIGHT.

        Which is why we need to be doing the one thing the left is abysmal at.
        Listening to MANY voices.
        Rather than deciding what is right based on some combination of guts, tea leaves, ideology and hero worship.

        This is the moment it is most important to NOT listen to the nonsense from Romeny and Chenney about treason or other such nonsense.
        And to actually listen to many competing views – like Carlsons.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 23, 2022 7:26 pm

        Robby, the track record of most of the “actual experts” has been abysmal.

        You can listen to them if you wish. But the argument that we should defer to them has ZERO weight today.

        The people you keep attacking Carlson, Gabbard, Greenwald …. have been right on issue after issue where your government experts have been wrong.

        Read the New York Times – which has bitten the bullet and admitted the Hunter Biden laptop is NOT russian disinformation – as the very people you keep pushing on us claimed.

        No truckload of credentials overcomes a track record of error, and lies.

        These people are not to be trusted.

        And yet you do.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 23, 2022 7:14 pm

      So engage in reasoned disagreement.

      I share with you the view that we should not do anything that pits US soldiers against Russians in Ukraine.

      But I am listening to a variety of views besides my own.

      I have near zero Trust of the Biden admin – they are incompetent leftist children who have no idea what they are doing.
      And I have even less trust of governmentn institutions like FBI, NSA, CIA.

      I have little doubt they would risk nuclear war for more bureaucratic power.

  50. Vermonta permalink
    March 23, 2022 6:44 am

    All the tough talk about how we have been appeasing putin is hot air. So, we should have started a military conflict over Crimea, or Georgia? Rot. It would have been a disaster and the same people who are talking the tough talk would be the same people blaming the POTUS for having been so reckless.

    We, the west, have done the maximum we coudl do with Russia, and it was actually quite a lot. We will beat Russia this time the way we beat Russia last time, containment and economic superiority. It will take time yes.

    There is no wonderful plan some tough guy president could present in Poland this week that would save the situation. This situation is a result of events in Russia, it is not something that we could have stopped by being tough guys militarily.

    Imagine that somehow some tough guy writer like Stephans became secretary of State or defense. He would have no clue what to actually do.

    When the USSR shot down that airliner what did tough guy Reagan do? Nothing. And he was right. Does anyone think he was an appeaser?

    • Ron P permalink
      March 23, 2022 1:46 pm

      Roby, as of now I think the USA and NATO have done as much as they can. There are still some additional sanctions that could be placed and more rich in Russia that could be targeted, but not much more.

      No we should not have started a military conflict over Crimea.. But what I could find was the USA provided military assistance that included the provision of body armor, helmets, vehicles, night and thermal vision devices, heavy engineering equipment, advanced radios, patrol boats, rations, tents, counter-mortar radars, uniforms, and other related items.

      Was this enough or could there have been additional. military hardware provided that included some off the defensive weapons we are providing today? could there have been sanctions placed on Russia back in 2014 that would have brought the Russian economy to it knees like the current sanctions?

      On Feb 24, 2014 Obama said “…..any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe” This was one thing he did get right.

      I just hope that once an agreement is negotiated Putin does not demand sanctions be lifted and allow Russia to go back to pre-war status. They need to leave the sanctions until Russia rebuild Ukraine.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 23, 2022 3:14 pm

        They need to leave the sanctions in place until putin is tried for war crimes and Russia is a democracy with a free press. Which I think is close to what will happen I think, they will have killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, caused incredible structural damage and displaced now they say 10,000,000 people. The sanctions will stay until they have paid for their crimes.

        About 2014, the difference now is that all the surrounding countries are speaking with one voice and helping with sanctions and military equipment. There was no such unity and decisive action by Ukraine’s neighbors in 2014. The US has a huge role but could not do it alone and in 2014 the aid was primarily economic and diplomatic. This time its a real war with a giant using its full force on its peaceful neighbor and evryone in the area understanding that the next country could be them.

        Yes, we have used all our heavy ammunition already economically and more sanctions will have limited effect. What is needed now is to keep the existing pressure in place for as long as it takes, to keep the western unity from fading. Europe needs to get off the Russian energy ASAP and signs that this is a real thing and not just empty talk will be very important. Germany I believe had the goal of a year to be off the Russian energy. By the time this is over Russia is going to be an economic disaster area and their ability to make further trouble should be sharply reduced. My imagination is that the government that follows putin will want to have a very different relationship with its neighbors.

        Of course the other possibility is that putin is not replaced and drags his country back a century and Russians will just have to put up with him living well and them living terribly. But he will have sharply reduced income for mischief and his country will be sick of his wars.

        I keep saying this, I don’t know if anyone believes me, but the job of professional military officers is to make their country secure, Russia’s military is not, in my opinion, liking putins war policy at all, he is putting Russia in danger.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 23, 2022 3:52 pm

        This is very consistent with my point about the Russian military not approving of this war.

        https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/as-russia-stalls-in-ukraine-dissent-brews-over-putins-leadership/

      • March 23, 2022 4:23 pm

        Yes, I have heard this before and also captured Russian forces saying they have no idea why they are there. They report they were told going to Belarus was a training exercise.

        If Russia did lose 5 General level officers in the first couple weeks, that is a heavy loss.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 12:03 pm

        It increasingly appears the most significant thing the US provided was military training since 2015.

        Obama did NOT provide any other consequential MILITARY aide in 2015 or 2016.
        Consequential military aide started when Trump was president – but continued under Biden.

        Some of that aide was viewed by Putin as provocative – still he waited for Biden to act.

        Providing material aide is complex – the more sophisticated the weapons the more training is needed. I have not heard an analyst yet that thinks Ukraine could have used US aircraft without extensive training. But lots of the lighter stuff – anti-tank weapons and low level anti-aircraft weapons are much easier to train. Also the Ukraine can use Russia equipment with minimal training.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 23, 2022 7:36 pm

      Mostly I agree with you.

      But there are some fundimentally different factors.

      This is not afghanistan,
      This is not korea.
      This is not Syria.

      We are on russias doorstep and we are poking the bear.

      It does not matter whether it is a good bear or a bad bear.
      It does not even matter than much if we kill the bear – if we are seriously wounded in the process.

      All of us want the same thing – for Putin to be punished.

      We also do not want a nuclear war or some other bloody mess

      It is not obvious how to get what we want without what we do not,

      And contra your assertions – the “experts” in government do not deserve our trust.

      Not the Biden’s not the Brennan’s not the Clapper’s not their hears. not their underlings.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 26, 2022 12:13 pm

      It is not Treason for someone to present ideas you or I disagree with.

      There is alot Biden can not do – simply because he is Biden. Biden is NOT able to play the “tough guy” – because he isn’t. Biden could say the same things as Trump – and Trump would succeed and Biden fail.

      There has been an accurate perception that Biden was weak before the election,
      That has not improved. That comes at a cost. This is part of that cost.

      Biden is also weak because he has lied repeatedly and been caught at it.

      There is alot that was and is impossible – simply because Biden is president.

      I have not read Stephens – it is behind a pay wall.

      But Biden is the quintesential argument against a weak president – it INCREASES the likelyhood of conflict.

      It is not just about apeasement. Had Churchill been prime minister much earlier – Hitler might have been stalled – or even removed.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 26, 2022 12:21 pm

      That is correct – on occasion after occasion Reagan did little or nothing.
      Reagan as one of the least aggressive presidents in the past 40 years.

      Because he was taken seriously – he did not have to prove it.

      Trump could have done exactly the same things in Ukraine and Afghanistan as Biden – and had different outcomes.

      2:1 americans think Putin would not have invaded if Trump was president.
      They are likely right. The only difference might have been that Putin would have taken Trump seriously. Biden is not taken seriously.

      Since Ukraine was invaded – the more I learn the more I think Biden is probably doing the right things.
      But that does not mean they will work the same.

      Putin does not give a crap about Biden.
      But he is learning the hard way to respect Zelensky and the Ukrainian people.

  51. Priscilla permalink
    March 23, 2022 2:54 pm

    Appeasement always leads to aggression. It’s one of the central tenets of foreign policy. Also, dealing with bullies in general.

    Weak leaders think that acting like a “tough guy” constitutes the opposite of appeasement.

    The opposite of appeasement is deterrence, and it requires assertive action, not just words. Don’t make threats that you can’t back up,essentially.

    Zelensky said, this week, that Biden told him that Ukraine would never be admitted into NATO, but that he (Biden) would publicly state exactly the opposite, that is, that Ukraine would be admitted. https://headlineusa.com/zelenskyy-biden-toy-ukraine-nato/

    It was an empty threat, but one that Putin considered an incitement to Russia’s own foreign policy and national security.

    Poking the bear. Literally.

    • Priscilla permalink
      March 23, 2022 3:05 pm

      Well, ok, figuratively.

      I think that the only way to stop the terrible suffering and destruction is for both sides to give up something that they want.

      This thing looks more and more like a stalemate, and pushing too hard could cause Putin to decide to use more deadly weapons…

    • Vermonta permalink
      March 23, 2022 3:22 pm

      Look Priscilla if you want to get your news from outlets that have stories such as:

      Liberals are FURIOUS that Trump Supporters get this MAGA Wrist Watch for FREE!

      Go ahead.

      Meanwhile, if you think you can make a substantive description of what the correct US and western foreign policy should have been have a shot at it.

      I say that you can’t and will produce nothing but vague statements empty of substance.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 23, 2022 5:48 pm

        Lol. Fair enough.

        In my defense, I was running out, and the video of Zelensky that I saw yesterday had pretty much disappeared from any mainstream search engines ( that often is the case when something shows Joe in a negative light)

        Nevertheless, it’s a somewhat fair criticism ( and it made me laugh, because it was true). I would suggest you find the original video of Zelensky on a site that you trust for accurate info, and you’ll see that it’s legit.

        As far a appeasement goes, I certainly have every right to criticize it, because it is always bad policy, and pretty much anyone who has ever heard the name Neville Chamberlain knows that.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 11:49 am

        Robby,

        Credible news sources are very hard to come by.

        NYT and WaPo do some excellent reporting – but it is increasingly rare and far too much of the media is OBVIOUSLY clueless.
        As good as NYT and WaPo might be sometimes – one average they are so bad that even RT is sometimes more reliable.

        If you want my recomendation – favor independent journalists working inside a domain they have an established reputation for accuracy.

        I would note that NYT has now confirmed the Hunter Biden Laptop – and by extension the Biden pay for play in Europe story.

        That means the journalists that were reporting on the Biden’s Burisma, and Ukraine are high on the list of sources that are likely trustworthy regaring Russian and Ukraine.

        While those sources telling us everything was “russian disinformation” lack credibility.

        Glenn Greewald, John Solomon, Matt Taibbi are people who have a track record of accurate reporting on Russia, Ukraine, national security.

      • March 26, 2022 12:07 pm

        Dave, I dont know much about WaPo. And I cant read many of the NY Times due to the paywall. But when I am able to find anything from the NYT, I find their reporting that is nothing but left wing babble and they don’t change it until they can no longer avoid facts or manipulate facts that cant be used to support their liberal agenda.

        There are very few companies where reporters only report facts and all the facts. NYT is not one of them. Right now one of the few sources that seems to have a neutral position on reporting is Newsnation. All others require multiples searches to find both sides of the facts to allow one to make up their own thoughts on a subject.

        When political movements want to achieve control, their two main targets are the news media and education. Right now the left has made good progress..

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 2:26 pm

        I am unfamiliar with newsnation.

        I tend strongly away from large news organizations and more and more towards growing “freelance” journalism.

        I trust those who have been trustworthy in the past.

        Increasingly those I trust – in the media and in politics are essentially red-pilled liberals.

        But my criteria is NOT politics, nor even qualifications as an expert – but track record for accuracy.

        I have noted the journalists I am following time and again.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 11:51 am

        With respect to Priscilla’s sources – does it matter if an interview of Zelensky was on Breitbart, Inforwars or RT ? Unless you are claiming they faked what Zelensky said.

  52. Priscilla permalink
    March 23, 2022 10:20 pm

    I have searched in vain for the story that I heard yesterday, regarding Zelensky claiming that Biden told him privately no NATO, but that publicly he would continue to support Ukraine’s membership.

    I don’t know if I heard incorrectly, fell for fake news, or both.

    In any case, I’ve searched, and I can’t find any legit source to back up what I said, so I take it back. Not that anyone really cares one way or the other, but when I’m wrong, I like to say so.

    • March 23, 2022 10:36 pm

      Priscilla, I looked also. Even went to Youtube and watched lastbtwo interviews by Zareek Fareed on CNN, one yesterday (23 minutes) and ne 3 days ago. Nothing in either.

    • March 23, 2022 11:12 pm

      Priscilla here is the interview from March 21 on CNN

      When the second segment starts, listen to his comment after Zareek Fareeds question concerning NATO membership. He says ” I have addressed what NATO members told me” or something to that effect. However, there was nothing prior concerning that subject.

      It appears the part of the video they captured has been scrubbed from the Youtube video that is availabke.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 24, 2022 10:41 pm

        Yes, this was the interview I saw. But, you’re correct, the part about NATO is no longer there.

  53. Vermonta permalink
    March 24, 2022 6:04 am

    As this article details the losses of dozens of Colonel are also a huge blow. Another article I found states a us estimate the 40000 of the Russian invaders are dead, wounded, surrendered or awol.

    https://www.aol.com/russias-military-hit-high-ranking-171641095-210816417.html

    Russia held a funeral service for the deputy commander of its Black Sea Fleet in annexed Crimea on Wednesday, the latest in what Ukraine says is a string of hi…

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 24, 2022 7:04 pm

      If Ukraine is actually successfully picking off high ranking Russians in unusually large numbers – I would suggest something else.

      The US may be sharing signals intelligence with Ukraine.

      That is one means of aiding Ukraine that if done incredibly carefully is plausibly deniable, and very effective.

      But if it were proven while the conflict was ongoing, it could push Putin over the nuclear tipping point.

      Regardless, Russian casulties are high.

      They are several times those of the US in the mideast over 20 years in multiple conflicts.

      They are higher than Russian casualties in Afghanistan or any prior conflict since WWII.

      But they are lower than US casualties in Vietnam or Korea.

      We know the Russians tolerate much higher casualties than the US.

      We do not know hoe much higher.

      Maybe this is a tipping point – we can hope.

      I am not sure that Putin cares how many generals or Colonels he kills.

  54. Vermonta permalink
    March 24, 2022 6:06 am

    It is my opinion that Russia will implode within a month, 2 at most.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 24, 2022 6:56 pm

      I hope you are right.

      I beleive you are wrong.

      Regardless, I would like to hear the reasons that you beleive this is true.

      What I know or think.

      On one hand – The Russian people have tolerated this before. Afghanistan, Checknya, Georgia, Crimea, …. They have tolerated fairly high casualties.

      On the other – it is not 1990, I think Russians are better informed and less supportive of leaders.

      Regardless, I would like to here your arguments, your impressions, and whatever you have to support your position.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 24, 2022 9:38 pm

        Because I do not believe that Putin has nearly the full support of the fsb or military. Because murdering Ukrainians is not like murdering syrians to people in Russia. Because the only ticket back to the Western economic system is an about face. Because the scorpions are already fighting each other. Because high level people are fleeing Russia. Because the real economic pain is just starting. Because Putin will have to clamp down so tight and Russians have been accustomed to much more freedom than they had, even in Putin’s Russia. And because I am very possibly indulging myself in wishful thinking.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 11:35 am

        The Russian people tolerated Checknya, Georgia, and Crimea.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 11:39 am

        Robby, I am offering some counter arguments.

        I and most everyone else hopes you are right.

        Some of the biggest unknowns have to do with the russian and ukrainian people.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 24, 2022 9:44 pm

        Also because it’s going to be hard to keep 20000 or so badly wounded soldiers hidden. I used to see afghan veterans triple amputees begging for money on the metro. Everyone looked at their feet and gave them a coin. Nothing more depressing than down and out soldiers abandoned by the government.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 24, 2022 9:59 pm

        Because there are probably five to ten million men of military age in Ukraine and they sound willing to fight to the end. Because Europe is unified and standing together and aren’t showing any sign of backing down. So, it’s really Putin against the world and his country is a dysfunctional shit hole and his military are far from first rate or motivated. These are not the efficient and well prepared Germans that took on the world this is a bureaucratic and badly organized society at the best of times. And, they actually need the west and middle and upper class Russian want the European life, not the Soviet life or the Asian life.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 11:32 am

        One of the reasons it was expected that the Russians would blow through Ukraine in 96 hours was because there was little reason to beleive the Ukrainian army was much different than the Russians. Same weapons – only older, same doctrine and training.

        But that is not what is happening.

        It appears that Russia has not been able to isolate the Ukrainian army – to cut its supply lines, to close Ukrainian ports and land routes.

        This means they Ukrainian army can remain an army. It means that slowly that large military age population can be properly trained and replace army losses and even grow the army.
        Russia too will pull in more forces – but probably not as easily as Ukraine.

  55. vermonta permalink
    March 24, 2022 6:26 am

    McMaster has said an important thing. There should be no partisan divide here, no scoring partisan points. Amen

    https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/business/russia-sanctions-ukraine-biden-mcmaster/index.html

    • March 24, 2022 11:39 am

      Agree. However, there is a difference between criticism and questioning.

      One can question why something was done or not done. For instance, no fly zone.

      When it was announced there would be a no fly zone, it was appropriate to ask why not. Once the answer about direct contact between two super powers was explained, then any future negative discussion on decision becomes criticism and should be held for orivate communication.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 24, 2022 6:21 pm

        As I learn more I MOSTLY agree with what Biden has done SINCE Putin invaded.

        That does not mean the debate is over or that criticism can not be offered.

        I think for MANY reasons a nofly zone is a mistake.

        That does not mean I do not wish to hear the arguments for one.

        We should absolutely have debate – public debate.
        We should absolutely have public criticism of all positions.

        Standing behind Ukraine does not mean an end to debate discussion or criticism even though

        I noted that 2/3 of americans do not beleive Putin would have invaded if Trump was president.

        I agree. But I still want to hear others explain why ? Or those who fell differently explain why not.

        What I am opposed to is those like Romney running arround shouting Treason.

        That is completely absurd – and wrong. It would be worng even if those they are accusing were racist white supremecists – but they are not.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 24, 2022 10:07 pm

        I am not at all opposed to thoughtful debate with good intentions. But unity is the reason the west is beating Putin and people talking crap for their own gain or as part of partisan warfare are very much in the wrong in my world. I despise that behavior.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 25, 2022 9:15 am

        Walter Russell Mead has a somewhat different take. I’m sure he has good intentions, but he believes that the West is alienating the rest of the world:

        “In a development that suggests trouble ahead, China’s basic approach—not endorsing Moscow’s aggression but resisting Western efforts to punish Russia—has garnered global support. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa blamed the war on NATO. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to condemn Russia. India and Vietnam, essential partners for any American strategy in the Indo-Pacific, are closer to China than the U.S. in their approach to the war.

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-west-vs-rest-of-the-world-russia-ukraine-dictators-south-america-asia-africa-11647894483?mod=djemalertNEWS

      • Ron P permalink
        March 25, 2022 12:30 pm

        Priscilla, there are many reasons different countries make different decisions. As the articel states, distrust for the west is part of it. Environmental impacts from greenies imposing their will on other countries could be another. But all of this is a long term look. Sanctions are a shorter term action.

        Brazil is the largest importer of Russian fertiliser. Any cuts in those imports would severely reduce corn and other exports from Brazil world wide. Russia has guaranteed this trade would continue. Any cuts in Brazil ag exports would have significant impacts on poor counties, already feeling the impact of increased wheat cost. It would have significant impacts on the Brazilian economy. And remember, their president is a populist leader and very concerned as to his standing with the people.

        India has other issues. They are caught between the west with many of the democratic guarantees while existing in an undemocratic area. They are dependent on Russia for their oil. And they are making the same decisions to insure oil continues flowing (at a sizable discount to them today from the Russians) while trying not to piss of the rest of the western world.

        Viet Nam is just another communist country following communist thinking. Who thinks they will side with America if push comes to shove.

        Brazil and india are not that far from the Europeans thinking when it comes to natural resources they need to maintain their economies. Europe is still supporting the Russian economy and they are doing that by paying in Rubles. As Roby says the sanctions may take longer to impact the Russian economy, this is one reason it may take longer.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 25, 2022 5:19 pm

        Ron, I’m not necessarily saying that Russia won’t end up imploding because of the sanctions. It very well may. But I don’t think it’s wise for the US to assume that what is good for us is good for India, Vietnam, Brazil, or even Germany. Which (I think) is what you’re saying, too, just from a different perspective.

        I do think that the American media has encouraged an overly emotional response to this war. I have been very moved by the bravery and tenacity of the Ukrainian people, and I pray that they are able to continue holding off the Russian advance. But, I’m not so sure that trying to turn the world against Russia (as opposed to opposing Putin, who is a war criminal) is either prudent or feasible.

        The Saudis are becoming more and more reluctant to help us, as they see the US eager to make a nuclear deal with their enemy, Iran. Israel is reluctant to be forced into helping Ukraine, because they fear instigating Russia , which controls their enemy Syria, on Israel’s northern border.

        There are so many complex geopolitical issues here, and America risks expanding this conflict by getting overly involved, because of its own domestic politics.

        I understand why Roby comes at this from an emotional perspective. But I don’t think that the American government shouldn’t be waving the bloody flag, unless our own national security is directly threatened.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 25, 2022 7:53 pm

        The Iran deal makes Zero sense.

        It never has.

        Even the hint of possibility of a deal has likely kept a repressive regime in power.

        There is plenty wrong with the Saudi’s – but that does not mean we should get in bed with the ayatolah’s.

        Eventually the iranian people will dispose of this regime – but things like this stupid deal make that harder.

        This is a loser deal for the US and always has been.
        There is no chance it will get approved by the Senate
        Which means it lasts as long as Biden is president.

        There is nothing meaningful the US gets from this deal.

        Worse, this is not even a popular deal.
        People are not demanding it. To the extent they care – they oppose it.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 25, 2022 8:01 pm

        As I have said before – the actual immediate economic war against Russia – is NOT sanctions based – it is based on private actors.

        With respect to your observations – those will change over time.
        The harm from this is spilling onto China too.

        Several have noted that Putin attacking Ukraine has united the west as it has not been since Hitler.

        I do not know what Brazil will do – but the long term impact will be China and Russia will grow closer to each other and the rest of the world will grow further from both.

        There are few instances where a country will cease dealing with Russia overnight.
        Though there will be some immediate decline even in hard to shift resources.

        But over the long run Europe and the west will reduce its reliance on Russia.

        The web of impacts is complex – but it will slowly work towards a russia and China versas the world model.

        I expect this will also negatively impavt the warmista’s – europe is learning that the claimate agenda has made them vulnerable.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 25, 2022 8:07 pm

        South Africa is a total F’d up disaster. Things have actually slowly gone to hell since The end of Apartheid. Today they have the highest unemployment in the world – and a few decades ago this was one of the highest GDP countries in Africa.

        I would tend to agree that the impact of this will be greater in the west.
        But I do not think it puts the west at odds with the rest of the world.

        All of Asia is looking to move in on China economically.
        This was true before this. It will be more true after.

        India and China are just short of at war with each other.

        US ties to india were improving dramatically under Trump.
        US relations with asia improved under Trump.

        Biden has been an absolute foreign policy disaster.

        He has done an excellent job of proving to most people how good Trump was.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 26, 2022 6:17 am

        I have no idea why i should think about what India wants at this moment. If we have better relations with them will they stop calling me to offer cancelling all my credit card interest.

        For once the whole western world, including every serious person in the US is on the same page. Putin has invaded a peaceful neighbor for reasons that are fairly similar to Hitlers reasons for invading Czechoslovakia and this time the world did the right thing. From the weird world of right wing contrarians there comes an incoherent set of ideas that echo Putin’s propaganda, and now Putin is accusing the west of trying to cancel Russia and borrowing the rhetoric that the right uses in our culture wars. So far it’s having little effect to distract us but I would be naive to think the resonance between the world of tucker Carlson could not grow to a trump sized movement.

        At this time Putin and Russia are one and the same thing since Putin is for the moment in complete control of every important function there, most importantly it’s military and police.

        At this moment India Vietnam and South Africa are very low on the list of concerns. It’s just one more attempt to distract from the reality that Putin’s Russia is the most important and by far the most dangerous bad actor on the world stage.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 12:25 pm

        Hitler invaded Poland. The Sudetenland was annexed by Germany after the Munich Accords – the infamous Peace negotiations of Neville Chamberlain.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 12:30 pm

        What rhetoric is Putin borrowing from the Right ?
        It is the left that constantly accuses everyone they do not like of being a Nazi.

        There are some similarities between Putin’s actions and Hitler’s – but there are differences.
        The differences do not justify Putin’s actions. but they do likely mean negotiation is more possible.

        I strongly suspect that on “Culture war” issues – there is little difference between Ukraine and Russia.

        Neither are places it is likely safe to be gay or Trans.

        Again this is not about whether Ukraine is perfect.
        It is not about culture.

        It is about the invasion of a soveriegn country.

        It is about the use of force without justification.

        It is about liberty.

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 2:45 pm

        This moment may be the last gasp of significance for much of Europe.

        Europe is not going to hell, just fading in importance.

        We are foccused on Russia and Ukraine – possibly for the last time the world if focused on europe.

        Even you note Russia is a shadow of itself. But for nukes it would be irrelevant.

        The world will be increasingly asia facing for atleast a decade or two.

        It can be asia facing – or it can be china facing. That depends on whether other asian nations look for a parasitic or competitive relationship with china.

        The position of the US in the world depends on its position with the countries of Asia.

        This is part of why Taiwan is in the US strategic interests and Ukraine is not.

        Not standing behind Taiwan will likely drive asia to China.

        Whether the US is still the worlds sole super power, or whether it slowly joins Russia as a superpower in decline. depends on all of this.

        And future US standard of living – depends on this.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 26, 2022 8:28 am

        “But, I’m not so sure that trying to turn the world against Russia (as opposed to opposing Putin, who is a war criminal) is either prudent or feasible.”
        and

        “I understand why Roby comes at this from an emotional perspective. But I don’t think that the American government shouldn’t be waving the bloody flag, unless our own national security is directly threatened.”

        Priscilla, you have been all over the map in your responses, from the insane idea that the US should organize an assassination of Putin and your comment that Stephans was right in his tough guy Times article where he encouraged NATO contact with the Russian air force, to this kind of thing. There is no “there” there in your ideas about Russia’s war on the West. In your latest I hear the echo of the Tucker Carlson world (in the future just TC), and Pat Buchanan of “this is not our war. ”

        I held my tongue as you described the wrongs of appeasement, I did not want to revisit arguments about trump. The appeasement of putin is real enough, it has come, incredibly, from the right, starting with trump and now continued by TC and others, various paleoconservatves and loose cannons like Greene and Cawthorn. The reason that most Americans believe this war would not have happened under trump is that they believe he would have appeased putin again in his incredible pattern. So in the long run we woudl be fucked but in the short run Ukraine would have been fucked. Here is reality: with trump in charge he would have undermined Ukraine and NATO at every turn and putin would have gotten what he wanted without any rise in gas prices etc. to bother Americans. Well, Biden is POTUS not trump and thank god and “America first” is now in disgrace.

        NATO came into existence to contain the USSR and then Russia becasue of the huge real threats they posed and pose. Russia is surrounded by NATO countries because it is surrounded by countries it has bullied, occupied, and generally terrorized and forced into the Soviet and then Russian orbits. When Russia overcomes its history and turns against its perpetual police state dictatorship ruled by a tsar, a lenin, a stalin, or a putin, then NATO can relax and even contract. Until then, Russia will be the most dangerous and destabilizing force in the world. Weren’t you the one whose profile said “Obama doesn’t even think putin is the enemy? It was trump alone among US presidents who did not think putin is the enemy and now we have TC saying “Why do we hate putin? has he called us racist? and you consider him a mainstream commentator and my contempt of him to be misplaced.

        Your thoughts on how to react to this invasion, this disastrous collapse of trump’s false idea that putin is not the enemy and that we can appease our way to good relations have been, I guess the word is, unserious. You have no coherent idea at all of how we should deal with the reality that Russia is a country with an eternal history of oppressing its own people and neighboring countries, a country with 6000 nuclear weapons run by a megalomaniac bent on restoring Soviet “greatness” by any kind of force he can muster from poisoning internal enemies to bombing hospitals and killing civilians in Syria and now Ukraine.

        The issue here is not my emotions, it is that all of Russia’s neighbors are now fully engaged in stopping putin’s wretched assault on Ukraine and the stability of Europe and the world itself and it very most certainly and definitely IS in direct US interests to do all we can to help, with the goal of seriously altering Russian behavior and hopefully its government.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 26, 2022 10:47 am

        Roby, I have been as measured as I can, in response to your repeated and intentional misstating of what I have said here.

        As, always, I have allowed you to trash and insult my intelligence and integrity, and, although you have made a point of attempting tp offend me at every turn, I have ignored and will continue to ignore your hysterical responses to my opinions. For the record, you often don’t know what you’re talking about, and you very frequently misunderstand my POV. That doesn’t mean that I’m right and your wrong, but at least, when I’m wrong, I try to acknowledge that.

        We’re all wrong, and often enough.

        So, allow me to dissect your most recent comment:

        “Priscilla, you have been all over the map in your responses, from the insane idea that the US should organize an assassination of Putin and your comment that Stephans was right in his tough guy Times article where he encouraged NATO contact with the Russian air force, to this kind of thing.”

        I have consistently said that the US has meddled in Ukrainian affairs for a long time, created some of the circumstances that have led to this humanitarian disaster, and failed to deter Russia, when we’ve had the chance.

        I’ve made the point (as you have!!) that Putin, not the Russian people, should be the target of our response. Yes, I agreed with Rick that ridding the world of Putin, via covert assassination, would be preferable, but also acknowledged that it was likely unviable. Read what I wrote.

        ” In your latest I hear the echo of the Tucker Carlson world (in the future just TC), and Pat Buchanan of “this is not our war. ”

        It’s not our war. It’s a European conflict, and one that the Europeans are not interested in fighting. If Article 5 is invoked, it will,unfortunately, become our war.

        “The appeasement of putin is real enough, it has come, incredibly, from the right”

        Bullshit. It has come from both sides. Why didn’t Obama or Biden choose to arm Ukraine prior to the invasion? It’s not as if Ukraine wasn’t asking. Why did the US fail to push NATO to contribute to the military defense of Europe, if Russia was such a threat? Why did the US renege on missile defense systems in Poland? When Hillary Clinton was overseeing the controversial sale of North American uranium deposits to a Russian-affiliated company, Bill Clinton mysteriously received $500,000 for a single speech in Moscow. This is not a right/left issue,no matter how much you personally despise the right for political reasons.

        “Your thoughts on how to react to this invasion, this disastrous collapse of trump’s false idea that putin is not the enemy and that we can appease our way to good relations have been, I guess the word is, unserious. ”

        Are you freaking kidding me?! When did I say that Putin was not our enemy. Ever? Talk about unserious…

        I have compassion for you, because you clearly love Ukraine. I think much of the world is praying that this turns out the way we want it to, which is with Ukraine’s ultimate victory over Putin. Unfortunately, I have some skepticism that this will happen in a way that will benefit the people of Ukraine.

        “The issue here is not my emotions, it is that all of Russia’s neighbors are now fully engaged in stopping putin’s wretched assault on Ukraine and the stability of Europe and the world itself and it very most certainly and definitely IS in direct US interests to do all we can to help”

        All of Russia’s neighbors are NOT “fully engaged” in helping that effort. Which was Mead’s point. And Stephen’s. But you know better, right?

        You’re a smart guy, Roby. But even smart guys are not always right.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 26, 2022 3:09 pm

        “Hitler invaded Poland. The Sudetenland was annexed by Germany after the Munich Accords – the infamous Peace negotiations of Neville Chamberlain.”

        Yeah, I knew that, brain cramp, ooops.

      • vermonta permalink
        March 26, 2022 4:40 pm

        Priscilla I do not think I have much mischaracterized your views, I can hardly understand them since they are a mixture of mutually incompatible statements but they seem mostly to be America first ideology mixed with a wish to remove putin but no means to do it other than some assassination fantasy. We remove putin by fighting Russians and with lethal aid and intelligence to Ukraine and economic sanctions on Russia. I may not like hurting the innocent in Russia, some of them are my own friends and wife’s family, but when a brutal dictator controls a country you fight the country.

        “It’s not our war. It’s a European conflict, and one that the Europeans are not interested in fighting.”

        This is 100% bullshit and it I will admit this crap enrages me. Its a mixture of way overdone cynicism about Europe and the trumpian America first ideology. That ideology is thankfully in sharp decline at this time.

        I read this to say that you believe that this war concerns the Europeans and not us in the US, we should leave it to Europeans to handle. If you mean something else then you need to clear that up. Many of your other comments I interpret in the same way, such as the ones I quoted above. At the same time you were saying recently how sad it is that the US is not a super power any longer and somehow connecting that with the woke! I do not understand you at all or the conservatives who share your ideas.

        I never doubted that you think putin is a problem but you are very comfortable with people like trump and TC who disagree with that and my comment is based on my difficulty in understanding how you are able to stomach the people in the conservative world who defend putin.

        I am terrified and enraged by the so called conservatives who flirt with putin, defend him, and attempt to gum up the efforts to contain or remove him. That idea is, as I said, at a low point now but the republican party and conservative world are so completely crazy at this point that I cannot take it for granted that trump, as the most powerful figure in the GOP in spite of his obvious insanity and toxic personality, will not manage to divert the efforts to deal with putin and his system.

        This is deadly serious to me and here at TNM all I can do is vent my fears and rage at this deadly bullshit. I wish there was something more useful I could do to have some effect on this fucked up situation.

        My wife’s niece got out of Ukraine, but our very dear friend is from Nikolaev, her parents are there and what is going on there is terrible, reports are of rapes by Russian soldiers, abduction of children, arrests of people loyal to Ukraine, which happens because those in Mikolaiv loyal to Russia rat them out. Our friend has not heard from her parents in 2 weeks and has no idea if they are alive, her father is running out of a medication he can’t live without.

        https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/21/europe/ukraine-russia-posad-pokrovske-mykolaiv-kherson-intl/index.html

        Quote this America first garbage around me and expect a hot reply.

      • Priscilla permalink
        March 27, 2022 1:52 am

        Roby, you are addicted to outrage. For whatever reason, you think that anger makes you right. Newsflash: being more angry than I am doesn’t make your opinion more valid and mine less so. It doesn’t mean you’re some righteous warrior and I’m a piece of shit, because my emotions aren’t on the same intensity level as yours. Vent all you want, however, if you think it helps. Frankly, I think it hurts.

        I can’t say anything that you will agree with. When I say that Putin is a thug and a war criminal, you respond by saying that I love Putin.

        When I say that NATO did nothing to deter this invasion, despite saying for years that they knew it was going to happen, you say that NATO has been strong and united in backing Ukraine.

        When I say that American national security is not being directly threatened, you say that it is.

        Was WWI a European war? Originally, yes. Was WWII a European war? Originally, yes. The US got involved in both, because the Europeans started something that they couldn’t finish, and America had to come in and save the world. Somewhat overly simplistic, but that’s what I mean when I say that this is a European war. Problem is, if we had to do it again, it might not work out as well, because, as Ron has observed, we are becoming a SPINO (Super Power in Name Only).

        I’m very sorry for your wife and her family. I mean that. I do pray, although I’m not religious. I will pray for them. I hope this is over soon.

      • Vermonta permalink
        March 27, 2022 10:32 am

        Priscilla, I have as actually not said what you say I have. But it’s not important. I am outraged yes about the incredible behaviors of the political movement you have been part of and defending for the last years. Your pain at being told that there is no consistency or logic in the many phrasings of the remnants of America first that you have posted does not begin to compare to the pain that is occurring in the world today. I think that Bret Stephens, TC, and in general 99 percent of the commentariat are completely out of their depth and full of shit, so it should not surprise or much offend you that I think the same of you. If that is the worst thing happening in your life right now then you are blessed.

        I appreciate your good wishes for Ukrainians. I have the same wishes and prayers along with my prayers that the decent into idiocy that Trump brought to his party and country will fade away in the face of the final products of his misbegotten ideology, which include the disastrous legacy of his dealings with Russia and Ukraine.

  56. vermonta permalink
    March 25, 2022 9:15 am

    Having listed the reasons I think that Russia could implode in a short time, I will list the reasons I may be wrong. First would be that the sanctions of all types may not cause as much pain as I imagine they will. In the first powerful wave of economic responses the ruble quickly dropped and my wife’s niece in moscow reported that half the people at her firm lost their jobs. A month has gone by and she still has her job and the ruble has somewhat recovered. Russia made its debt payment. The news I read and hear from moscow does not suggest that the economy is in free fall or that people are panicking. So the effects of the sanctions may take much longer to develop or may not develop to the point ever that some analysts predicted, such as a more than 10% drop in GNP. Lacking real economic suffering in Russia putin can hold on.
    Second, the Russian military may be able to fix its issues and eventually wear the Ukrainians down. The humanitarian nightmare in the occupied cities may become great enough that Zelensky will negotiate. Putin may be able to claim that he won.
    Third, the military may not like the war but they may not be willing to face putin down.

    All the same, I read that US intelligence puts Russian dead at as high as 15000. They have not even begun to attempt the really difficult and bloody taking of Kiev. Their war dead and wounded and the long term damage to Russian interests is something that will eventually hit home and Russia, never a happy country, will be even a larger mess as years go by even if putin holds on. There are things that putin can delay, but eventually much pain will be felt.

  57. vermonta permalink
    March 26, 2022 8:37 am

    And now, a set of links that support my more optimistic moments. I take all such articles of one person’s opinion, even a military person and russian expert with a large grain of salt. Still, if what Retired US Army Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan says is correct, the most important point he makes is that Russia has already thrown its most capable forces into Ukraine and has nothing serious more to use, then that is a revelation to me, I would have thought that there was a lot left in reserve in the Russian military forces, a lot of people a lot of equipment.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/putin-no-choice-halt-ukraine-invasion-former-US-general-2022-3

    • vermonta permalink
      March 26, 2022 8:41 am

      This quote is from the above and makes me feel optimistic

      “Since the start of the war, the Russian aerospace forces have grown increasingly risk averse, even going so far as to skirt Ukrainian airspace to avoid being shot down by the countries anti-aircraft weapons.

      As of March 19, at least 13 top Russian generals and commanders have been killed in the fighting in Ukraine. “

      • adam Smith permalink
        March 26, 2022 1:53 pm

        Russian pilots are incredibly poorly trained – they just do not get a fraction of the air time they need to be effective.

        This is also an issue should there be a conflict over Tiawan.

        China has a much larger airforce that is better trained than Russia in recent years. It has more modernish aircraft, but these are mostly rippoffs of Russian designs, and China does not have a capable domestically produced jet engine.

        Any fight for Taiwan will be first a fight for control of the airspace.
        And that means keeping US carriers both safe from Chinese land based anti-ship missles and close enough to control the airspace over the formosa straight.

        The Chinese airforce is likely more capable (and numerous) than russia, but it will be facing much stronger opposition.

    • adam Smith permalink
      March 26, 2022 1:46 pm

      This is possible, but there is too much we do not know.

      Russia has taken years to grind down opposition in the past.

      We will probably figure out if Russia is close to collapse or just facing much stiffer opposition than expected soon enough.

  58. vermonta permalink
    March 26, 2022 8:47 am

    And finally this. I feel real pity for the poor Russian teenage kids who were thrown into tanks and told to expect to be treated as heros in Ukraine who instead die in an inferno in a burning tank, and I can honestly pity their mothers and wives and families getting the news some day far in the future that Dmitri is not coming home. But I feel nothing but joy and satisfaction at the news of dead Russian officers.

    How the Russian officer elite is being decimated in Ukraine – 14 generals and commanders who were killed in action

    https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-russian-officer-elite-decimated-9-who-were-killed-in-combat-2022-3

  59. March 26, 2022 11:20 pm

    Another report of Putins declining influence. More and more stories like this are coming out. They are most likely not all incorrect. But dictators seem to always find a way to stay in power.

    https://www.newsnationnow.com/world/russia-at-war/russia-shifting-focus-in-new-phase-of-war/

  60. adam Smith permalink
    March 29, 2022 1:34 pm

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2022/03/29/is_us_piercing_putins_new_internet_iron_curtain__147391.html

    I do not want additional US government funding for a free internet.

    That is unnecessary. What is necessary is for the US government and people to themselves get out of the speech control business.

    The core issue with ALL censorship is “who decides” – and the answer is simple – censorshop will ALWAYS be used by those with power to control those without.
    Censorship is ALWAYS an enemy of liberty.

    In China, in Russia, in the US.

    • March 29, 2022 2:32 pm

      Dave, I have no problem with the western world promoting freedom if nformation flow and speech where information is needed.

  61. vermonta permalink
    April 3, 2022 8:21 am

    This is an excellent interview with someone who actually knows what he is talking about. Its highly realistic and does not play to my wishful thinking. Anyone who cares about the war in Ukraine will find it fascinating. I consider this the gold standard for a prognosis of this war.

    https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/02/opinions/russian-military-invasion-has-peaked-repass-bergen/index.html

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