What a “X” Platform Shadowban looks like

There has been a systematic effort by purportedly “Pro-Ukrainian” but Left/Democratic leaning X accounts to make support of Ukraine a Democrat versus Republican partisan political issue.

I am just one such account which has been targeted in what looks like “partisan battlefield preparation” for the 2024 election cycle.

54 thoughts on “What a “X” Platform Shadowban looks like”

  1. The Ukraine war is very popular with a segment of the Republican Party as well as the Democrats. I was scolded multiple times at neoneocon for posting link to Col MacGregor’s interview with Tucker Carlson. He is a critic or the war and believes Russia is winning. This, in certain American circles, is considered treason and those questioning the war and its importance to the US are accused of being “Putin lovers” or even more obscene terms. I don’t know the truth of the matter but having an other opinion used to be tolerated in this country.

  2. If a supporter of the Administration’s proxy war on Russia finds that he is now on the same side as the entire Democrat Establishment, it might be a clue to start seeking more information and perhaps re-assessing his view of that proxy war.

    It does not seem so long ago that the Democrat Establishment was in lockstep with the German Green Party in being thoroughly anti-war. Now they don’t seem to care how many Ukrainians die — or how their own citizens suffer economically because of the proxy war. Something significant has changed, and it is not obvious what it was.

  3. Something significant has changed, and it is not obvious what it was.

    George Bush went away and his replacement was the anti-war Trump, that’s what changed.

    They can no longer blame the GOP for endless war and reap the political benefits for opposing it, so they just have shut up and pretend it’s treason to disagree with them.

    I note Rachel Maddow shrieked for years that Iraq was an illegal war- and I think even wrote a book along those lines- and then when Trump wanted to remove the US troops illegally in Syria suddenly that was the worst idea ever.

    Everything these people do and say is a sham and a lie.

  4. Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria are not real places. They are just counters on the board in Washington as leverage-points to gaining power there. This was always somewhat true in wars abroad, but increased in Korea, then Vietnam. That lots of Americans actually went to those places undercut the game, but it was still becoming more true. An unexpected downside of the volunteer military is that the elite tribe does not know about the later places we went to war. Their knowledge of other countries is Junior Year Abroad and tourism. The other countries, where missionaries, businessmen, and the military go fade from DC consciousness as real places. The money that gets sent there is not real (though the money that comes back is appreciated).

  5. We seem to be making policy in Ukraine based on sentiment that can fit on a bumper sticker, not strategy. When the Russians first invaded and both the size of transgression and the fact they failed in their initial objectives (“‘I need ammunition, not a ride” meme), you saw that massive outpouring support with Ukrainian flags sprouting everywhere on Twitter. You also saw maximalist pronouncements by Biden and other in DC that Putin had to go, that he was a war criminal that needed to face justice, etc… as if Russia was just a bigger version of 1990s Serbia. The Russians were going to collapse after the failure to take Kiev, with the imposition of sanctions, with Ukraine’s retaking of Kherson and Kharkov, with Ukraine’s 2024 counteroffensive. Just one more push.

    Any deviation from the 100% support of this maximalist sentiment gets you branded a Putin stooge. Not just in the normal liberal corners but also with those on the Right such as the National Review who have arrogated the general responsibility of policing “acceptable” conservative behavior. I feel like I’m 20 years younger in the run-up to the Iraq War.

    To top it we’re seeing, yet again, the problem with a figurehead in the Oval Office. The State Department seems to be running the show in Ukraine, not Defense, not NSA/NSC. When the honest history of the past 10 years of Russian policy is written the central figure will be Victoria Nuland, who based on her wonderful successes to date has now been promoted. I would bet dollars to donuts that the incoherence of our military contributions is due to State running the show and freezing Defense out. This is the type of stuff that a stronger White House would resolve

    If you want to a recent (though imperfect) historical analogy we’re at the period of 1946-1953 where we are starting to realize the threat we face and the limitations in resources to meet it. The problem is that we lack the imaginative thinking that we had back then when our national security cadre was composed of those who helped win WW II. Instead we have a tired group of people who are still stuck in a unipolar mindset. I can understand the logic of how we got here, what I cannot accept is both where we are and where we are going. What we have done over the past 20 years, and cemented in the last 2, is undo Kissinger’s work and bring Russia and China back into alliance and we need to face the fact that we have now turned Mackinder’s Heartland into a geopolitical reality that is our adversary. That we force us into some unpleasant choices.

    I remembered back in the 1980s having it beat upon my head that Kennan’s conception of containment did not mean fighting the Soviet’s on every front but to find strategic points to deflect expansionism and thus allow the USSR’s internal contradictions to manifest themselves. We have seem to have forgotten that. National strategy is not like an 80’s Michelob commercial, you can’t have it all. You need to make choices, hard choices.

  6. I do not support either side in the war. America has no real long term interest, other than concealing how Biden and the Democrats laundered money in Ukraine, and finding out how they did it.

  7. Mike: “… we’re at the period of 1946-1953 …”

    In a sense, I hope you are right. My fear is that a better analogy would be the later 1930s. The situation then was going downhill, with conflicts breaking out from Spain to China. Lots of people could see the black hole into which we were descending — but nobody could stop it.

    Today our de-industrialized import-dependent economy is teetering on the brink. Our Betters are supporting war with Russia (which supplies essential minerals) and want war with China (which supplies much of the goods we used to manufacture for ourselves). And they may get those wars. The consequences are easy to predict. Yet the anti-war movement has died.

  8. Gavin,

    I hope I’m right, though I doubt it. I think your comparison to the crisis we face now to the 1930s is very apt.

    The genesis for my original thought about 1946-1953 came from reading James Hornsfisacher’s “Who Can Hold the Sea”, a book I picked up on a whim for airplane reading given both that this was published posthumously and that I’ve read his Pacific War trilogy.

    What made me open my eyes was its relevance to today. Those seven years was a dramatic change in our country and how interacted the world. The leadership cadre had direct experience of the 1930s and through WW II, but were forced to confront both their professional assumptions and historical experiences to deal with a new reality. Rather than revert to a “peacetime” military as after WW I, they were forced to confront the issue of maintaining large armed forces and the politics to sustain them. Coming from the glorious past of Total War and Unconditional Victory, they needed to in part forswear that heritage in order to fight the limited war of Korea as well as the twilight struggles in Greece and Berlin. They also had to deal with atomic weapons which meant that Total War was off-the-table

    Hornsfischer really brings home how extraordinary those times were. He goes into a part of American policy I was not familiar with; that of Project Solarium which was instantiated in by Eisenhower in order to come up with a strategy that would incorporate the elements I mentioned above. The contrast between then and now, between the serious men and political culture then and what we have now could not be more clear,.

    The other part that leaped to mind was that this (1946-1953) was where the US had to deal with the change of the world transformed from a multi-polar to a bipolar one and in which we had to be part. We are now confronted with another change, that from a unipolar to a multi-polar. It would seem it would call for a 21st Century version of Solarium instead of the clown show we have now.

  9. @Mike K

    “The Ukraine war is very popular with a segment of the Republican Party as well as the Democrats. I was scolded multiple times at neoneocon for posting link to Col MacGregor’s interview with Tucker Carlson. He is a critic or the war and believes Russia is winning. This, in certain American circles, is considered treason and those questioning the war and its importance to the US are accused of being “Putin lovers” or even more obscene terms. I don’t know the truth of the matter but having an other opinion used to be tolerated in this country.”

    As one of those people who has been habitually posting on neoneocon/The New Neo about it (and who even was noted by Neo that on the subject of Ukraine she was co-blogging with me) and who has been a habitual hawk in general and anti-Putin hawk on the whole, I agree the degree to which the left has tried to radicalize and appropriate this issue is even more alarming to me than the war itself. And the war is very, very alarming to me (again, I’m something of a pro-Ukraine hawk who is in favor of broadly open-ended material and political support to Ukraine). It is why up to now and for pretty much any foreseeable future “at present” I am in favor of avoiding US entry into the war or any war at *almost* any cost, precisely because I fear the left abusing this as a means to seize emergency powers and further crush our freedom. I’ve also been clear that if given a choice between Ukrainian sovereignty and US Freedom, the latter must win every time. I may not believe that is a binary choice and indeed believe on the whole both improve each other, but I am not some kind of globalist “US Last”er.

    I also do not condemn people simply for voicing contrarian opinions or seeking out other info, even if I do believe the sources are incompetent, dishonest, acting in bad faith, or some combination of the aforementioned. Especially given the pervasive disinformation here in the West.

    THAT SAID, i have been remorseless on MacGregor (and to a lesser extent Tucker) and other talking heads I view as useful idiots or outright presstitudes for the Kremlin on this issue. MacGregor I believe very firmly falls into that issue and has for a long time, and I think Neo, myself, and others have given solid evidence for why for many, many months.

    https://www.thenewneo.com/2022/04/19/on-ukraine-being-wrong-over-and-over-doesnt-seem-to-stop-colonel-macgregor/

    And my in-depth dissection of an article of MacGregor’s, which I think show he goes well and truly beyond being staggeringly incompetent and ignorant (even in comparison to myself the acknowledged lifelong Civilian keyboard warrior) but to being aggressively dishonest and lacking in anything approaching good faith. Damning accusations sure, but I think I can more than back them up with the analysis. I also believe this establishes that he is acting in bad faith rather than “merely” being acutely biased because he makes several claims that I am pretty sure even he knows aren’t true, chief among them.

    “He is a critic or the war *and believes Russia is winning.*”

    I don’t think he actually believes Russia is winning, for a host of reasons. Starting with the remorseless Kremlin retreats from its originally very maximalist objectives (including “demilitarizing” Ukraine) to at least the fig leaf of more of a negotiated peace. Moreover, the fact that the Russian military has generally been bleeding badly (probably even in comparison to the much-bloodied Ukrainian loyalists) and the Kremlin is openly considering more military callups in spite of those being political poison that Putin etc. al. have taken pains to avoid up to this point also gives good evidence as to the Kremlin’s state of mind.

    Namely, they sure as hell *aren’t acting* like they’re winning this war.

    https://www.thenewneo.com/2023/01/26/open-thread-1-26-23/#comment-2663576

    And the fact that MacGregor tends to be waved around like a talisman or some kind of authority Moreover, Neo and a few others gave you flak for citing MacGregor and Tucker on the issue (IMHO a bit too harshly and without context) here. So I know you know this is an issue.

    https://www.thenewneo.com/2023/08/22/the-shokin-firing-wasnt-about-corruption-after-all-who-would-have-thought/

    I don’t view this as “treason” or the like, but I do believe it is staggering naivety about on par with trusting the likes of Fauci or the Georgia Swamp about things such as Wuhan COVID or a certain alleged “pipe break” around the time of ballot counting. And while I intend to be polite on the matter, I also intend to be upfront and unapologetic about why I think this is the case.

  10. @Gavin Longmuir

    “If a supporter of the Administration’s proxy war on Russia finds that he is now on the same side as the entire Democrat Establishment, it might be a clue to start seeking more information and perhaps re-assessing his view of that proxy war.”

    This meme argument was old and ineffectual long before you posted it here, and it’s still old and ineffectual.

    For the record: I was an anti-Putin hawk long before the Dems were. I was there condemning Obama and Clinton and their “Reset” Policy as not merely a habitual return to ineffectual and appeasing policies, but a particularly disgusting and immoral example of such (because say what I will about Dubya Bush and Bubba Clinton and HW Bush, but they did not insult the war dead of soldiers that had fought alongside us to reach out to Putin like Obama and Hillary did to the Georgians). I was loudly warning about the threats of the Kremlin supporting our Green Eco-Loons in a way the Left never has (precisely because they are the majority of said eco-loons). I view the left’s Russiabaiting as the disgusting, insincere, and johnny-come-lately power grabbing that it is, particularly because I remember occupying my positions and stances towards the Kremlin for long before these clowns tried to co-opt parts of it. And I particularly remember the Left (both international and domestic) helping to midwife the abortions at Minsk and cajoling the Ukrainians to accepting a borderline ceasefire (that didn’t cease as much fire) largely on Putin’s terms.

    So attempts to tar me as some kind of puppet or useful idiot of the Left because I’ve actually paid attention to Kremlin policy and recent Ukrainian history will Always. Fall. Flat.

    Secondly: I’m grudgingly on the same side as “the entire Democrat Establishment” (or at least all but the most fanatical pro-Salafi sleepers) in the war against the Islamic State, and I presume that you are as well, at least inasmuch as we acknowledge Daesh is in fact horrible and bad and would guide us all to the chopping block (and that’s if we’re particularly lucky and get “merely” beheaded rather than burnt alive or the like). Does this mean that we should “re-evaluate” our stance towards the Islamic State?

    No, that’d be foolish, and due consideration of the merits of the case show that.

    You might reply that Putin is not nearly as bad as Daesh, and I would largely be inclined to agree. But the same general principles apply. Especially since it is worth remembering one of his major and most useful vassals – Kadyrov’s Chechnya – is basically the Diet Coke version of IS.

    “It does not seem so long ago that the Democrat Establishment was in lockstep with the German Green Party in being thoroughly anti-war. Now they don’t seem to care how many Ukrainians die — or how their own citizens suffer economically because of the proxy war. Something significant has changed, and it is not obvious what it was.”

    It’s fairly simple.

    A: Putin correctly read Biden’s (fairly typical I hate to admit) first term appeasement policies towards him, and incorrectly read the broader “room”/international situation, which made him believe that a decapitating blow on Ukraine could be obtained fairly readily. Why he believed this and why he opted to try and do so in 2022 and not 2014 (when there was at least a smidgeon of a chance a thunder run to Kyiv would’ve worked) is beyond me, and I won’t rule out there were some ambiguous signals given to the Kremlin from Biden’s puppeteers to encourage that. However, even I the couch potato who briefly considered that conventional Ukrainian resistance MIGHT collapse in one day never believed this would actually be a short war (since if nothing else a guerilla campaign was possible and Moscow’s historically had a long and bloody time asserting control over Ukrainian armed opposition), and the fact that Putin and his senior staff apparently missed all the lessons of the Donbas War (including those little old me picked up) underlines he misplayed.

    B: Putin became a politically convenient boogeyman to justify the left’s grasps for power, and also to smear its opponents with guilt by association. They couldn’t very well choose Red China or most of the Middle East for this, considering how Trump had made confrontation with the former and retaliation in kind with the latter key and visible cornerstones of his policy, so Russia it was. The fact that this involved memoryholeing years of craven appeasement by the Dems and other Leftists towards Putin and ignoring things like Trump giving lethal aid to Ukraine while Obama did not and “supposedly” coming close to starting WW3 by cratering Baathist Syrian airfields used by the Russian and Baathist Air Forces in retaliation for chemical WMD attacks had to be memoryholed? Well, that’s just doing business.

    “In a sense, I hope you are right. My fear is that a better analogy would be the later 1930s. The situation then was going downhill, with conflicts breaking out from Spain to China. Lots of people could see the black hole into which we were descending — but nobody could stop it.”

    I fear that might be the case, but I do feel it’s more likely this is going to be a bloody, protracted, and somewhat decentralized series of conflicts rather than an overlapping one.

    “Today our de-industrialized import-dependent economy is teetering on the brink.”

    Mostly due to our betters.

    “Our Betters are supporting war with Russia (which supplies essential minerals) and want war with China (which supplies much of the goods we used to manufacture for ourselves). ”

    I’m not sure where you got the latter idea, but if anything they have generally been far more appeasing towards the CCP than they have been towards Russia, in large part because they wish to emulate the CCP.

    “And they may get those wars. The consequences are easy to predict. Yet the anti-war movement has died.”

    The Anti-War Movement’s around, it’s just morphed. Especially since rather few people (especially among its diehards) were really “anti-war” in any sort of principled way (I hate her guts but I will admit Cindy Sheehan has given me some grounds to respect her for that). That said for better or worse you’d be surprised at how “anti-imperialist” and pro-Kremlin much of AntifA and so on are, which has given me a pleasant chance to see some Red on Red fighting.

  11. @Mike

    “We seem to be making policy in Ukraine based on sentiment that can fit on a bumper sticker, not strategy.”

    Can’t really agree. I have near boundless contempt for our supposed “betters” but to what credit they can be given, their policies in Ukraine (at least since the full scale invasion in 2022 and to some degree before) have been remarkably rounded and cohesive, far beyond that of a simple bumper sticker. They may be drumming up support using bumper sticker sentiments, but when it comes to pursuing their interests – whether it is diplomatically, on arms sales, or dirty money – they have been remarkably persistent and somewhat thought out, especially by the low standards of this maladministration.

    Of course, I note that I specify *THEIR* Interests, not ours. Because We the American People have no serious interest in protecting Hunter Biden and Burmisa, but they do.

    “When the Russians first invaded and both the size of transgression and the fact they failed in their initial objectives (“‘I need ammunition, not a ride” meme), you saw that massive outpouring support with Ukrainian flags sprouting everywhere on Twitter. ”

    Indeed.

    “You also saw maximalist pronouncements by Biden and other in DC that Putin had to go, that he was a war criminal that needed to face justice, etc… as if Russia was just a bigger version of 1990s Serbia.”

    I agreed the maximalist pronunciations were badly thought out. Though honestly as someone who worked in Russia for a spell and who is a politics watcher “a bigger version of 1990s Serbia” is a decent summary of the Russian Federation now, and I could probably write a fairly long article on it, even if I might overstate the point on a few cases beyond what I think can be summarized. Indeed the recent brouhahas between Putin and the MOD Triumvirs on one side and the likes of Prigozhin and Utkin and Girkin is a sharper and more dramatic echo of a host of conflicts between the Milosevic-led central government and “separatist” vassals like Karadzic and Mladic in Krajina, and more decentralized paramilitary leaders like Arkan. Even much of the iconography and rhetoric is strikingly similar (though not all entirely for similar reasons), as is the nominal form of an Ethnonationalist “Republic”.

    The issue of course is that at a minimum, Putin’s Russia has a UN Permanent Security Council seat and oodles of WMD. Which are of course two VERY important differences.

    “The Russians were going to collapse after the failure to take Kiev, with the imposition of sanctions, with Ukraine’s retaking of Kherson and Kharkov, with Ukraine’s 2024 counteroffensive. Just one more push.”

    Yeah, and to be fair this is something I’ve never been on board with even as something of a pro-Ukraine hawk. This war did not start in 2022 and featured years of grinding, ugly fighting in places like the Donbas. I always figured the most likely result was this war going “long”, and that applies to both sides.

    “Any deviation from the 100% support of this maximalist sentiment gets you branded a Putin stooge. Not just in the normal liberal corners but also with those on the Right such as the National Review who have arrogated the general responsibility of policing “acceptable” conservative behavior.”

    A fair point, and one thing that disturbs me. On the whole I am broadly sympathetic to maximalist objectives in the Ukraine War, in particular because I have long witnesses the nonsense in Russia and believe it is an ugly and unwelcome distraction, while (like Mark Steyn prophetically figured out in America Alone 20 years ago) Putin was never very likely to align with the West. However, sympathetic does not mean I actually believe such objectives are terribly likely, and even if I did I recognize there are limits to how openly we can pursue them without actually undermining our goals.

    To say nothing of unfortunate backfire like allowing the Dems to plunge us into a war.

    ” I feel like I’m 20 years younger in the run-up to the Iraq War.”

    Oh God, the Iraq War. Do not get me started there… Honestly I feel so many of our problems on the right come from Dubya’s unwillingness to defend his own record or point to the hordes of AQ Documentation and Chemical WMD we found there, which in turn cut the legs out from under us. And in particular seeing him be so silent about all that while sniping at Trump is downright enraging.

    “To top it we’re seeing, yet again, the problem with a figurehead in the Oval Office.”

    Honestly Biden being a pure figurehead would probably be something of an improvement (at least practically rather than legally/ethically) because he’s sufficiently stupid, senile, and corrupt his input is rarely beneficial, and he helped cause things like the disaster in Afghanistan.

    “The State Department seems to be running the show in Ukraine, not Defense, not NSA/NSC.”

    The reason State Department *seems to be* running the show is because their main job is to appear as the public face of American policy (or at least the American Government’s policy). Defense and the NSA/NSC are not, at least for the most part. While my contempt for the State Department is VAST – especially given their obsession’s with making good with mortal enemies like the Mullahs of Iran, the CCP, Pakistan, and the Russians helped get us into this set of problems in the first place – this arguably IS where they are supposed to be taking the lead on things, because you don’t want to have what the DoD and NSA are doing frontpage news.

    And indeed I outright raged when Biden revealed some of what Intel was doing, causing a diplomatic incident because he wanted to rub the way our intel had been aiding the Ukrainians into the public’s faces for political gain, no matter the actual damages caused.

    The truth is the DOD and NSC have been fairly heavily involved in Ukraine for quite a while. One thing many on all sides either forget or purposefully choose not to bring up is that the Ukrainians have served alongside us in Afghanistan…

    https://www.kyivpost.com/post/6942#:~:text=The%20Ukrainians%20were%20part%20of,active%20between%202001%20and%202014.

    …. and Iraq.

    https://www.army.mil/article/15056/ukrainians_complete_mission_in_iraq

    And cooperation between us has gone on for quite a bit longer. I don’t think this means US Intel or Military have been controlling Ukraine or that Yanukovych’s downfall was an American Coup, but the influence and ties were there for quite a long time. It’s just largely gone under the radar, even if you can find it with public info. And there’s doubtless more we haven’t heard about.

    “When the honest history of the past 10 years of Russian policy is written the central figure will be Victoria Nuland, who based on her wonderful successes to date has now been promoted.”

    Sorry, can’t agree. Nuland is scum but she’s overrated. The past 10 years of Russian policy’s central figure will have to be Vladimir Putin, precisely because he’s been there for a lot longer than Nuland has and frankly erected most of the underlings there. And if we actually look closely at affairs in Ukraine we can often see how Nuland was outplayed, outpaced, or generally not that dominant.

    “I would bet dollars to donuts that the incoherence of our military contributions is due to State running the show and freezing Defense out. This is the type of stuff that a stronger White House would resolve”

    I’d honestly take that bet and I’d probably enjoy using your dollars to eat donuts, because like I mentioned: Defense hasn’t exactly been “frozen out” of Ukraine (which’d be hard to do with), it has just taken a back seat (which I’d argue WOULD Be proper if I had much faith in the woke leadership of either) for various reasons, but it’d be a mistake to assume they aren’t there.

    “If you want to a recent (though imperfect) historical analogy we’re at the period of 1946-1953 where we are starting to realize the threat we face and the limitations in resources to meet it. The problem is that we lack the imaginative thinking that we had back then when our national security cadre was composed of those who helped win WW II. Instead we have a tired group of people who are still stuck in a unipolar mindset.”

    I think the analogy is somewhat fair, though honestly I think you’re being rather generous to the 1946-1953 generation of leaders that won WWII. Who many people overlook were the very same people who so horribly bungled parts (often large parts) of the early Cold War. This is perhaps most undeniable with FDR’s appeasement of Stalin at Yalta and elsewhere (which we know a lot about) and Eisenhower’s “Pentomic Army” (it’s VERY Rare I give much praise to JFK or US Military leadership circa the 1960s, so the fact that in many ways their reforms were a step up from Eisenhower’s dreams of a “Nukes Nukes Nukes” inflexible doctrine is quite telling), but it also stretched to other things. Marshall’s fanatical Arabism and anti-Israeli bent, Truman continuing our longstanding policy of neutering our major Western European allies like France, Britain, and the Netherlands to help ensure US power, the slow realization of the Communist threat, our Secretary of State flubbing a line that indicated Korea was outside our defensive perimeter (to be fair I figure that the North would have tried an open invasion sooner or later, but it greatly sped up the process), the Dulles Brothers welcoming the French pullout of Indochina because they believed that we could create a ‘purer” anti-Communist Vietnam in the South while ignoring the consequences of giving Ho control over the Red River Valley, MacArthur’s reckless push for the Yalu…

    And I could go on.

    Of course this is accentuating the negative rather than the positive and there is quite a lot of positive (especially compared to current leadership). But I think the myth of the Greatest Generation has blinded us to their very real failings, and how those would go on to hurt us in the early Cold War and beyond. And in particular my opinion of Truman has dropped like a rock the more I learned about his corruption, double dealing, and lapses in judgement. It is still *relatively* positive (and in particular his decision to use the nukes was something my family owes a debt to) but I do not consider him one of our greatest Presidents like he used to be, and in particular the way he defrauded the American people to get more money by feigning poverty is sickening to me on a scale rather like the “Big Guy” (though I’d still take Truman in a heartbeat over any Dem since Zell Miller left the party).

    “I can understand the logic of how we got here, what I cannot accept is both where we are and where we are going. What we have done over the past 20 years, and cemented in the last 2, is undo Kissinger’s work and bring Russia and China back into alliance and we need to face the fact that we have now turned Mackinder’s Heartland into a geopolitical reality that is our adversary. That we force us into some unpleasant choices.”

    Honestly I think blaming us for this is fundamentally mistaken, and while part of this might be a somewhat irrational hatred and disgust at that perverted, morally bankrupt incompetent Kissinger I think it stands.

    I think the attempt to focus so much time supporting the PRC and USSR – and to a lesser degree dividing them – was a classic case of “penny wise, pound foolish”, which made sense in the context of the Indochinese Wars but ultimately didn’t pan out well. In particular Bukhovsky (of the Bukhovsky Archives) shows pretty convincingly in my opinion that Sino-US “alliance” in any real sense was incredibly short lived and didn’t really outlast the 1980s, and maybe not even the 1970s. Hatred of Hanoi and the Soviet puppet state in Afghanistan helped unite us but it was always a fragile marriage, and one that collapsed. In particular Brezhnev in his later years and his successors -including Gorbachev – largely pursued a fairly successful policy of re-establishing the Sino-Soviet alliance (hence why the Soviets supported things like the regime massacre in Tiananmen Square).

    It’s also worth noting that to a large degree the conflicts between Russian and Chinese leadership during the Cold War and arguably before it had less to do with any fundamental, existential antagonism and more to issues like pride, perceived and real interests in their “Near Abroad”, and ego over who was the top dog or the senior partner. That’s largely been settled in favor of the PRC with the collapse of the USSR, and Putin and those close to him have generally pursued a rather heavily pro-Beijing policy.

    I am inclined to think Mark Steyn had it right roughly 20 years ago. That if a US-Russian alliance may be possible, but not under Putin and the other veterans of the “Organs”, who do not believe in alliance with the West (at least not on any terms we’d find tolerable), and who have decided to stake their ties to the PRC.

    We might have influenced how that played out, but fundamentally we’re not at fault for it happening and indeed we took often humiliating and disgraceful steps to try and get Moscow to change its tune, and on both sides of the spectrum.

    Secondly: Mackinder’s book and concepts were interesting, and I certainly am fearful of a Moscow-Beijing Axis, but he seriously, SERIOUSLY overstates the power of the “Heartland” and particularly Eastern Europe. And while part of this might be attributable to him not seeing history before, he write in the early 20th century long after the collapse of such realms as the Habsburg, Polish-Lithuanian (and briefly Hungarian and Ruthenian) states and their dominance over Eastern Europe, so he really has no excuse for having romanticized the “Heartland” to the degree he did, even if I intentionally blind myself to the advantages of hindsight and new scholarship and evidence he did not have.

    Indeed, it’s telling that I can probably count the number of global empires to emerge from or gain power through control of Eastern Europe on one hand (namely: The Habsburgs, the Ottoman Turks, the Second German Reich, and MAAAAAYYYBE the Soviet Union, and that’s being generous). And it’s telling that only the first two were ever the dominant global powers of their day and they ultimately self-destructed by fighting each other and a bunch of pluckier Western powers, not unlike the Germans and Soviets did.

    The Chinese have perennially been the continental juggernaut with great *Potential* that is never fully realized, and in particular their focus on the Stepp and the Silk Road at the expense of maritime technology (as well as an overly centralized, authoritarian, and bureaucratic empire) screwed them over, and to some degree still screws them over.

    These regions still contain great potential, and the players there should be taken very seriously, but they are not on the fast track to control the World Island, much less the world. Indeed, the historical failures of these powers to exert power outside the world island (with the exception of the Habsburgs) is damning.

    As for the threat of a united China-Russia alliance, I would prefer not to face it, but I also do not think there is much we can do with the regimes at play that would be able to change that. Nor do I think the nature of those regimes makes it worth trying to court them in a probably-futile attempt to get in their “Good graces” (to the extent such sharks have such a concept). I don’t envy the prospect, and indeed I fear it, but I fear giving too much ground in the face of it would be worse.

    “I remembered back in the 1980s having it beat upon my head that Kennan’s conception of containment did not mean fighting the Soviet’s on every front but to find strategic points to deflect expansionism and thus allow the USSR’s internal contradictions to manifest themselves. We have seem to have forgotten that. National strategy is not like an 80’s Michelob commercial, you can’t have it all. You need to make choices, hard choices.”

    Agreed there, but I’d argue that Ukraine is one of the most strategic of strategic points, and one area where I agree with Mackinder. If there is a place to make a stand against Russia, it’s here, not least because it is much larger and more durable than say Georgia or other targets, and the Kremlin badly overestimated itself and underestimated the historical difficulties from that.

    If we have to sacrifice Ukraine to preserve American freedom, so be it, it will be a bitter pill but hardly the worst. If I believed that some kind of “Grand bargain’ with the Kremlin where we would give them part or all of Ukraine and the “Near Abroad” in exchange for them actually aligning with us against the PRC were possible, But I don’t think it is under the Kremlin’s current leadership and I got sick and tired of supposedly worldly strategists selling out our interests and honor for a supposed grand deal with Putin a decade and a half ago after Georgia.

    So for better or worse I view it as beneficial that Ukraine serve as the crucible to hammer the Kremlin’s imperial pretensions, political prestige, and military strength, in the hopes something better will emerge or at least that it will sufficiently cripple the striking power of the Kremlin to endanger us later.

    “I hope I’m right, though I doubt it. I think your comparison to the crisis we face now to the 1930s is very apt.

    The genesis for my original thought about 1946-1953 came from reading James Hornsfisacher’s “Who Can Hold the Sea”, a book I picked up on a whim for airplane reading given both that this was published posthumously and that I’ve read his Pacific War trilogy.”

    A very good book and a good author.

    “What made me open my eyes was its relevance to today. Those seven years was a dramatic change in our country and how interacted the world.”

    Agreed.

    “The leadership cadre had direct experience of the 1930s and through WW II, but were forced to confront both their professional assumptions and historical experiences to deal with a new reality. Rather than revert to a “peacetime” military as after WW I, they were forced to confront the issue of maintaining large armed forces and the politics to sustain them. Coming from the glorious past of Total War and Unconditional Victory, they needed to in part forswear that heritage in order to fight the limited war of Korea as well as the twilight struggles in Greece and Berlin.”

    In many ways I feel Hornsfisacher’s specialization on the Pacific Front of WWII greatly undermined him in some ways for this book, particularly because speaking as something of an ETO specialist and avid wargamer of the 19th century and so on, in many ways I’d argue the USN’s experiences in the long 19th century and Europe during the World Wars helped explain so much of how it went about. Because limited bushfire wars and showing the flag were not exactly unknown to the USN ad indeed were a lot of its task. It also helped because those kinds of missions were a lot closer to what it’d do during the Cold War, and planning to do (expeditionary warfare, diplomatic positioning, plans to contain a totalitarian continental adversary while supporting the Land and Air Forces). Obviously this isn’t a 1-1 similarity by a LONG shot (in particular the minimal to nonexistent role of carriers), but comparisons between say the occupation of Veracruz or Port Capiten on one hand and Operation Power Pack were striking for me even though they were decades apart.

    ” They also had to deal with atomic weapons which meant that Total War was off-the-table

    Unfortunately I do think the Soviets did not view it as such, they just focused their efforts – at least until the Cuban Missile Crisis – on trying to build up the right advantages or vantage points -as well as deterrent- to spark a conventional WWIII not unlike how Lenin tried to start WWII in 1919, and how Stalin was planning WW3 in the near future up until his death.

    Mercifully they never were confident enough.

    “Hornsfischer really brings home how extraordinary those times were. He goes into a part of American policy I was not familiar with; that of Project Solarium which was instantiated in by Eisenhower in order to come up with a strategy that would incorporate the elements I mentioned above. The contrast between then and now, between the serious men and political culture then and what we have now could not be more clear,.”

    This is fair, but I do caution against going too far into romanticizing this. Solarium’s findings I find were largely fitting, but part of what prompted them was not. I rank Eisenhower’s Cross of Iron speech as a particularly tin-eared and Team-shooting roles that set himself up for humiliation, while Nitze (who was the guru of one of the gurus of Solarium and essentially tutored Team C) was caught blatantly lying, browbeating prisoners, and generally acting unethically in the Bombing Survey of Japan issue (of which I am most familiar because his lies have been used as fodder by the “No Nukes” crowd). Solarium provided strategic economic and political clarity but led to a comically disastrous military doctrine that even JFK realized was wrongheaded and which a large part of it had to be scrapped

    So perhaps we should be cautious at assuming how serious or unserious people were.

    “The other part that leaped to mind was that this (1946-1953) was where the US had to deal with the change of the world transformed from a multi-polar to a bipolar one and in which we had to be part. We are now confronted with another change, that from a unipolar to a multi-polar. It would seem it would call for a 21st Century version of Solarium instead of the clown show we have now.”

    Honestly we’ve tried that. Indeed to one degree or another we’ve kind of institutionalized Solarium-like processes, and while it’s had many breakthroughs it has also led to a lot of follies. In particular the fetishization with diplomatic engagement has largely tainted their wells.

  12. “I’m not sure where you got the latter idea, but if anything they have generally been far more appeasing towards the CCP than they have been towards Russia, in large part because they wish to emulate the CCP.”

    Also because there are a lot more people making money from China, or hoping/planning to make money from China, than is the case with Russia.

  13. The Russians were going to collapse after the failure to take Kiev, with the imposition of sanctions, with Ukraine’s retaking of Kherson and Kharkov, with Ukraine’s 2024 counteroffensive. Just one more push.

    I believe that was “Butcher Haig’s” complaint after the Somme killed 20,000 men in the first day. Almost the first hour.

    Turtler, There is an old saying around the lower ranks of the military. “Trust no one above 0-6. They are all politicians.” I know a number of retired colonels who are a lot smarter than those who complied and made general. HR McMaster is one. I recommend his book on Vietnam.

    I have a personal friend who was the Marine Corps top pilot in Vietnam (500 missions.). He was passed over for 0-7 by a poor OER written by a general who was his wing commander. in the first Gulf War. The wing commander was unhappy because Bahrain gave my friend a gold medal for saving them from Saddam. The wing commander was later involuntarily retired from the Corps for flying his girlfriend around in a Marine Corps plane. My friend, after retirement, started a business that he sold about 10 years later to 3M for $23 million. Which one was better at his job?

    As for Col Macgregor, lets see how it turns out? That was all I posted and was excoriated for including by you.

  14. The person hiding behind the pseudonym Turtler wrote: “I’m something of a pro-Ukraine hawk who is in favor of broadly open-ended material and political support to Ukraine”

    You did not really have to tell us that — it was kind of obvious. It is also rather obvious that a Democrat Establishment which is providing most of the weapons to Zelensky (and paying pensions to Ukrainian retirees to boot) is in fact a belligerent in this proxy war. Since Biden’s Krew are already active belligerents, we should not be surprised if this conflict explodes beyond the boundaries claimed by the Ukraine.

    President Eisenhower once made a remark about sometimes being forced in this real world to make the “least worst choice”. There are no good choices now in the situation that Our Betters created through their inexorable expansion of NATO — but climbing into bed with Biden, Nuland, and the rest of that crowd is probably the worst choice. However, if that is your choice, so be it.

  15. @Mike K

    “I believe that was “Butcher Haig’s” complaint after the Somme killed 20,000 men in the first day. Almost the first hour.”

    As something of an enthusiast and previous specialist in WWI, you believe wrongly. I have plenty of issues with Haig’s track record, but the broad contours of the Somme Campaign – including whether it was attempted – were not his to decide, having been ironed out by his military *and civilian* superiors in the Anglo-French Calais Conferences of 1915. Even after the British PM that agreed to that policy (Asquith) was dumpstered for Lloyd-George, Lloyd-George ratified the results. And it was made all the worse by the fact that in early 1916, the Germans under Erich Falkenhayn launched Operation Judgement against Verdun, which put massive pressure on the French.

    So even if Haig had wanted to call off the offensive (though he did not), he had no such authority and probably would have been fired had he tried to push the issue (especially given how his relations with Lloyd-George had already started to sour for various reasons). In any case war is a team sport, horrifying as it is.

    Moreover, what a lot of people ignore about the Battle of the Somme is that not only did “Butcher Haig” and the other Western Allies win that battle, but in doing so they destroyed the 20th century’s first totalitarian dictator. As horrifyingly costly as it was, it broke the back of the German army on the Western Front (and the German High Command’s continental strategic reserves) for 1916. Erich Falkenhayn started 1916 as unofficial dictator of Central Europe riding high from 1915 and promising to win the war by taking Verdun. He proved not only unable to take Verdun, but unable to retain German control over the Somme river valley and so ended 1916 in unofficial exile as a “mere” Army Commander in Romania. It’s unfortunate but not the fault of any of the Allied leadership that he was replaced by people who were somehow worse (chiefly Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg), but you have to fight the enemy you face now, not those you might face later. And their response to the defeat on the Somme was to instigate a scorched earth warcrime palooza retreat, “Operation Alberich”, to a new defensive line and stay there for most of the rest of the war.

    And their defeat two years later brought down the Central Powers and ended either the bloodiest or second bloodiest war in history.

    “Turtler, There is an old saying around the lower ranks of the military. “Trust no one above 0-6. They are all politicians.” I know a number of retired colonels who are a lot smarter than those who complied and made general. HR McMaster is one. I recommend his book on Vietnam.”

    I don’t deny that, and I broadly support it. Unfortunately I imagine many of your friends are knowledgeable about a certain classic of military research from Clausewitz: “War is simply the continuation of political intercourse with the addition of other means.” For better and for worse, politics is an important part of war, and so it makes a certain amount of sense for higher echelon officers to be able to be politicians, or at least wear that hat.

    That doesn’t mean it is a good thing, or that I endorse politically motivated disgraces like Austin. The ability to play politician doesn’t mean the ability to play one *well* or honorably after all. But there’s a reason why what survives of Washington’s works during the revolutionary war (mostly letters he wrote that he couldn’t have his wife burn) talk a great deal about politics, and even elections in British parliamentary seats. And for all the many, many works written about the undeniable tactical and operational screwups of Allied arms (American, French, South Vietnamese, South Korean, Australian, etc.) in the Indochinese wars, they ultimately mattered far less than the political matters at home.

    In particular because outside particularly absurd or insubordinate cases, commanders reflect the homefront. And usually civilian leadership. What a lot of people like ignoring – and particularly the likes of Dubya and Obama did – is that if the 0-7s etc. al. are screwing up or worse, committing actual atrocities or doing the wrong, it’s an indication that the rot is much deeper and closer to home. After all, you know what they say about fish.

    “I have a personal friend who was the Marine Corps top pilot in Vietnam (500 missions.). He was passed over for 0-7 by a poor OER written by a general who was his wing commander. in the first Gulf War. The wing commander was unhappy because Bahrain gave my friend a gold medal for saving them from Saddam. The wing commander was later involuntarily retired from the Corps for flying his girlfriend around in a Marine Corps plane. My friend, after retirement, started a business that he sold about 10 years later to 3M for $23 million. Which one was better at his job?”

    I’d absolutely believe your friend was. Which I think goes to the heart of issues with modern American politics and military bureaucracy. The ability to play politics is an important skill for officers (and I’d be willing to argue that SOMETIMES in SOME positions it may be The Most Important part), but it isn’t the only skill and sure as hell isn’t the Most Important Skill overall. Field experience, a good touch with the men and women on the lower levels of the chain of command (including picking suitable subordinates, which I note is one thing even the “Butcher Haig” school of “thought” rarely denies was a gift of his), the willingness to broach unpopular opinions or solutions without fear, the ability to put one’s personal BS on the back burner for the common effort, and a strategic vision are all things that are at least as important as a nose for bureaucratic or office politics.

    That also brings us to the issue. If what you wrote is true, then the General writing that OER was a failure and a disgrace. But the system that allowed him to be in that position and those that signed off on it were even moreso. And I also know plenty of military personnel and civilians that have suffered from it.

    “As for Col Macgregor, lets see how it turns out? That was all I posted and was excoriated for including by you.”

    The issue is that vis a vis many of MacGregor’s claims, we already have seen how they’ve turned out. And unsurprisingly most of them (I’ll be more generous than Neo and conclude it’s unlikely that he got everything wrong) were proven wrong. That’s important to note, especially in terms of commentary and tracking performance. It’s also what Neo pointed out before regarding his predictions on matters like the Ukraine War (and other, less focused on ones like Israel).

    I absolutely despise Lloyd Austin as exactly the example of the worst kind of politician in uniform, and a racist, anti-constitutional buffoon to boot (and I have made that clear many times over). But that didn’t give me an excuse to avoid bringing up the issue when I caught MacGregor lying blatantly about what he claimed Austin said (something I was able to explode by digging up the source material and quoting it in context). It also didn’t change the fact that he was objectively wrong on a number of cases, such as how much longer the war would take, when Russian forces would reach Odessa and Kharkhiv, casualties (as far as we can tell given the fog of war and propaganda, etc).

    These are things we’ve already seen the results of, even if the war is still playing out. Which would also mean that Russia could win the war before I finish typing this and MacGregor’s follies would still be on full display, detonating his credibility.

    As for how this war has turned out, I’ve worked to avoid too much Rah Rah triumphalism, precisely because I don’t know how it ended. And to be blunt I work to keep a jaundiced eye towards the Ukrainian government and reports and our own, for obvious reasons. The Ukrainian government deals with propaganda reporting and corruption, and much of “our government” and the MSM are far worse. I won’t excoriate people for that, especially since I can’t rule out that the Kremlin won’t win, or even win so decisively it will be able to impose its Feb 22nd terms.

    But there’s a reason I’ve come to loathe the likes of MacGregor and Ritter (though to be fair to MacGregor, Ritter is worse both morally and in terms of coming up with competent predictions) and others I believe are Westerners professionally compromised with their ties to the Kremlin. I’ve found Russian and Ukrainian pro-Kremlin sources like Rybar and even the odious Strelkov to be much more cogent in a lot of their predictions and assessments of how the war was going, and so I take them more seriously, and I do indeed hold we’ll have to “wait and see” how they turn out, and I can agree with you on that regarding the overall war.

    And I won’t even discount everything MacGregor and Ritter and co say (though I can forgive some others for being so inclined given their track records). I will continue to assess their claims on their merits, as much as I can tell. Which is also why I didn’t claim MacGregor lied or was wrong about everything, such as his citation of Arestovich, and I’m not afraid of giving credit where I believe credit is due (hell, I’ve even had to defend Literally Hitler as not being QUITE as self-destructive or incompetent as he’s usually made out to be, even if he was still plenty of both and a monstrously evil man).

    But if I’m able to find out more about things such as the siege of the inner cities of Luhansk and Donetsk than a supposed retired and decorated Colonel of the US Army, there’s something wrong. I’m a historically and military inclined autist, but I’m still a civilian without much special training going off of publicly available info, and I try to keep my predictions and estimates cautious precisely because I know how badly they’ll boomerang on me if I’m wrong.

  16. @Gavin Longmuir

    “The person hiding behind the pseudonym Turtler wrote:”

    Do you really find it remark-worthy to see someone writing behind a pseudonym on here? Especially a right-wing American who has concern of what tripe the Left will pull in power? And one who has a certain amount of recognition or brand to that pseudonym?

    “You did not really have to tell us that — it was kind of obvious.”

    I did not have to tell you that, but I felt there was no harm in affirming it explicitly. Interests of full disclosure and putting one’s cards and biases on the table.

    “It is also rather obvious that a Democrat Establishment which is providing most of the weapons to Zelensky (and paying pensions to Ukrainian retirees to boot) is in fact a belligerent in this proxy war. Since Biden’s Krew are already active belligerents, we should not be surprised if this conflict explodes beyond the boundaries claimed by the Ukraine.”

    So much wrong with this it isn’t even funny.

    Let’s go through this. Starting with what’s right. That the Biden Junta is indeed paying the pensions of Ukrainian retirees, and the US (currently governed unfortunately by the “Democrat Establishment”) is providing most of the weapons to the Ukrainian government.

    That’s. It.

    Now let’s go through what’s Wrong, or at best willfully misleading.

    Firstly: “Democrat Establishment which is providing most of the weapons to Zelensky…. is in fact a belligerent in this proxy war.”

    No, *NO IT IS NOT.* And I kindly point you to looking up the actual, legal definition of a Belligerent as it applies in this case, which the US does not fit in regards to this.

    And this is particularly important because it is something the Russian Foreign Ministry has been put on the coals over multiple times in response to the often hysterical BS touted by either lower ranked officials or regime proxies (such as Kadyrov) about how they are “At War with NATO” or about possible attacks on NATO members such as Poland.

    And every time the Russian Foreign Ministry has claimed the following:

    A: That Russia is not at war at all, and thus there is no war with the US or NATO.

    B: That while there is a “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine, and the US obviously supports the Ukrainian government, the US is not actually a combatant or “belligerent party of the conflict.”

    Period. Full Stop.

    It’s also easy to understand why this was a mistake even the corrupt Brainlets at Foggy Bottom realized they could capitalize on. Because they could call the Kremlin’s bluff. Because if the Kremlin DID wish to claim that the US or NATO are belligerents in the War in Ukraine, that would change things.

    Starting with the fact that it would result in the activation of Article 5 and probably the vast majority of other NATO-adjacent alliances in response to an act of aggression by the Kremlin (that act being declaring that Russia views the US as a belligerent in the Ukraine war).

    It is true the US has done just about everything up to the legal lines (and might – for all I know – have stepped over that line using things such as Tier One teams), but that doesn’t make it a belligerent.

    Secondly: “We should not be surprised if this conflict explodes beyond the boundaries claimed by (the) Ukraine”. You conveniently ignore the most likely reasons why that is, and the cases where it is most likely to have already done so.

    Namely Moldova, a country violently in an artificial partition after the Transnistrian War of 1992 (which I’m going to get back to later precisely because of its importance in regards to one of your claims) and which various talking heads (including Lukahsenko) have claimed would be subject to military action “after Ukraine”, Belarus (run by a pro-Kremlin dictator who persecutes people for flying Belarus’s traditional national emblems and who has allowed Russian Federation military units and PMCs to attack Ukraine from Belarusian soil, with retaliatory guerilla actions), and Russia (which has seen a mixture of anti-Putin paramilitaries and grassroots discontent with the “Not-Wartime Wartime Conscription result in some incursions over the border) has led to some low level insurgent activity and some attacks over the border. It also stands to reason that if we saw the war explode beyond the borders of Ukraine (no “the”), it’d be there.

    The issue of course is that not only are all of these attacks ultimately traceable back to the Kremlin’s actions, but they’ve been limited in scale.

    Thirdly: “We should not be surprised if this conflict explodes beyond the boundaries claimed by (the) Ukraine”. Part 2

    The not so subtle implication – though never outright stated – would be this would likely involve a World War involving both Russia and the West. And to be fair that is a possibility. But just because it’s a possibility doesn’t mean it is likely or one we shouldn’t be surprised about.

    Because historically, most countries and regimes do not respond to struggling in a conventional war against a medium-large scale secondary power on their borders by escalating the war by dragging in a bunch of great powers and a super power through their actions. If the Russian military has yet to reach Kharkhiv yet and Moscow is hesitant in how many Petersburgers and Muscovites it is going to call to the colors officially because of how toxic politically that is, it stands to reason it’s unlikely to actually go to Kadyrov and go “You know, that argument you made for nuking Poland sounds great. Let’s do it.”

    Now, to be fair, THERE WERE a couple situations where this happened. The one that I think is most reminiscent is Imperial Japan* escalating the “China Incident” by declaring war on the West. But there was also Mussolini’s invasion of Greece at almost exactly the period his troops were being slapped across the African desert by the British. So the chance is not zero.

    But the thing is: there’s a reason why Imperial Japan and Benito Mussolini aren’t around any more, and that’s because their decisions (especially those) are viewed as catastrophically bad. Most regimes do not like the idea of contributing to their own suicides by fighting more in conflicts they already would be hard pressed to win.

    It’s also worth noting. that from what we can see of Russian and Soviet conduct in recent history, that “the Organs” of Moscow have borne this out. The US was almost as actively involved in the war against the Soviet Union and its Afghan puppet as it is in Ukraine, and Pakistan was even more involved than that since it was actively sending Spec Ops teams under not-very-convincing-covers to fight in the War. Yet the Soviets did not escalate the war by invading Pakistan, let alone going to war with NATO, and ultimately withdrew. Russian threats to invade the Baltics and deniable claims about being at war with NATO have been slapped down with well-timed diplomatic threats and they have withdrawn. And even in regards to fighting a separatist Islamo-kleptocracy inside its recognized borders in Chechnya, Yeltsin backed down in the first war when it became clear continuing it would endanger his regime and Putin won a military victory but still felt pressured to give such far-reaching independence to a vassal Chechen government that Kadyrov’s running what amounts to a friendly Islamo-nationalist dictatorship.

    So yes, we should be surprised if the war breaks out beyond Ukraine’s borders in a significant way. Because for all the pathologies in the Kremlin, it’s not headed up by someone quite as delusional and spiritual as Tojo, and they seem to recognize that victory in the war is dependent on limiting its scope and slowly drawing it out. And all of the other actors except maybe the CCP have no reason to escalate it because they are largely getting what they want.

    Could that change? Of course. Maybe Pakistan gets rash and tries to breach the Line of Contact again and that causes a chain reaction. I don’t know, and as new evidence comes in I’ll evaluate that evidence and adjust it as need be. But at present? Yeah you should be surprised if it explodes beyond the borders, for similar reasons to why Chechnya, Afghanistan, Moldova, and the ongoing generational bloodshed in Georgia haven’t.

    “President Eisenhower once made a remark about sometimes being forced in this real world to make the “least worst choice”.”

    Indeed, and while I do have less fondness for Ike than I once did (especially throwing Truman and the A-Bomb team under the bus for his election time politicized memoirs) that is one of the wisest statements he made.

    “There are no good choices now in the situation that Our Betters created through their inexorable expansion of NATO — ”

    I’m sorry, but if you think this situation was created through ‘the inexorable expansion of NATO” then you might want to look more at the history, both of the expansion of NATO and elsewhere. It seriously guts the narrative that NATO expansion caused this.

    And how do I know this?

    Firstly: Moldova and the Transnistrian War called, as do the Abkhaz and South Ossetian Wars of Georgia among other things. These wars happened not only before Putin rose to power, but when the most recent NATO expansion was in 1982. In which very influential elements of the former-Soviet-now-Russian Bureaucracy weighed in violently on internal conflicts in the newly independent countries to defacto partition these countries. In Georgia at least one can point to generations of ethnic, tribal, and confessional tensions between the majority Georgians and the Ossetians and Abkhaz as well as a fair bit of Georgian cultural bellicosity, but the fact remains that the separatists were supported in outright district based genocide by elements of the newly-formed Russian Fed military there by a mixture of weapons gifts, intel, and even some actual fighting.

    But in Moldova the case was both less bloody but also less ambiguous, with pro-Soviet hardliner Russian colonists revolting to preserve their ethnic and political privilege’s from an independent Moldova (let alone one that might unify with Romania), and Lebed’s 14th Guards Army intervening to largely co-opt their rebellion (to the point of dictating policy to the rebels by threatening violence on their leaders if they did not accept his demands) in order to maintain control of one of Eurasia’s largest arms depots and what Lebed saw as Russian Soft Power. It culminated with an ultimatum from Lebed to bombard Chisinau if the Moldovans did not cave, which they did.

    At the time this happened, the most recent burst of NATO admissions was in 1982, about a decade ago, and leadership among the major Western powers -including “our betters” in the US – were leery at doing so. But to the surprise of nobody, seeing the Russian military engage in violent adventurism on its borders encouraged a tidal wave of nations seeking admission to NATO.

    Judgement I note that has been vindicated in full in light of Putin’s decision to partially dismember and then invade Ukraine, by far the biggest wildcard in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe that intentionally pursued a nonaligned, neutral policy, as well as by the ongoing misery in Georgia.

    Moral of the story: Blaming this on NATO Expansion is AT BEST part of the explanation, and that’s being generous. Indeed, NATO expansion was more of a PRODUCT of this kind of criminality and unpredictability, not its cause, and Sweden and Finland help underline that.

    Secondly: The Kremlin formally acknowledged that Ukraine, Georgia, and a host of other nations had every right to join NATO or any other international alignment voluntarily in the Astana Commemorative Declaration of 2010, which in turn ratified the Helsinki Final Act. Meaning that there is absolutely no legal basis for treating Yanukovych being removed from office by his own Parliamentary Bloc (in response to him fleeing the country to avoid answering pointed questions about his legal conduct) or seeking an EU Association Agreement as a cause of war.

    Now obviously, the Kremlin signed the Astana Commemorative Declaration with fingers crossed behind its back and clearly did not honor the terms. But that doesn’t change the fact that by signing it, they acknowledged Ukraine has every right to join NATO that it pleases, and that carries far more legal weight than any amount of red meat prattle or pontificating to mostly-domestic public.

    Thirdly: It’s worth noting that Putin had no inherent objection to NATO expansion and indeed wished for Russia to be a member of it. But then he was told about the actual entrance requirements and how there was no mechanism to waive them (ironically much like how Ukraine and its most deluded cheerleaders are being told). So that he couldn’t “skip to the front of the line” or “let’s not and say we did” for the requirements. And unsurprisingly, Putin became a lot less interested in joining NATO after that.

    Because Putin wished to get inside the tent with his authoritarian regime intact and to be able to use his power to dominate the “Near Abroad”, and he was only interested in NATO as a vehicle for that, and became opposed when it was clear that wasn’t going to work.

    Fourthly: If anybody tries to bring up the “What if a Pro-Russian government took power in Mexico?” strawman, I’ll slap them down by pointing out “Mofos, Cuba and Venezuela are Literally. Right. There. And the Castros threatened to freaking bring nuclear hellfire on the world. So unless you’re going to try and argue that a neutral Ukraine is a more imminent threat than the Cuban Missile Crisis is, this isn’t an argument you want to make.”

    Yes, Putin and many other Russian government officials have claimed this war is over NATO expansion. But they’ve also claimed explicitly this war is not over NATO expansion (mostly when put under pressure from Foggy Bottom and others avoid what the ramifications of that would mean and how it would amount to a blatant contradiction of the Kremlin’s signature), and the actual outbreak of the war occurred not because of the prospect of NATO expansion (which I note happened with Finland and Sweden) but a bitter conflict in Ukraine over an *EU* Association Agreement.

    We’re happy to conclude Biden, Biden’s puppeteers, and Nuland are willing to lie to us, and we should. Because they are. But it is also to say the “Organs” in Moscow are at least as willing to lie through their teeth to us about that, which is why I discard the canard that this was caused by NATO expansion. NATO expansion is just a stalking horse the Kremlin’s nutjobs wish to use because it makes them look somewhat more sympathetic if we don’t look at their actual actions and reasons.

    And as someone who has been friends with quite a few Russians, Ukrainians, and Georgians, who have all suffered from this and who I fear might lose their lives, this does cut rather close to home. I have my biases, and I recognize the stake I have in it is relatively modest (especially since I argue a further escalation of the war is relatively unlikely, especially in a way that will hit the US). But theirs is a very different lot.

    And frankly, how many decades of tolerating the “Organs” and the rest of the Russian bureaucracy acting like it has a right to rip apart entire nations – including its own I might add (with Kadyrov’s Chechnya persecuting the Russian Orthodox Church if it tries to evangelize) – while courting our worst enemies? And for what, the off chance that the bald dwarf will change its spots and side with us?

    Steyn and others pointed out how unlikely this was for a host of reasons, and I think their judgement holds. I would greatly appreciate a Russo-American alliance, and I believe it would be beneficial to both sides in much the way that Poland has helped tamp down on many of the excesses and sins of NATO and the EU.

    But

    Firstly: After a quarter of a century with the US courting the Kremlin (and most of that trying to do so for Putin) I have scant faith that it will work with a creature of the Soviet era Organs and bureaucracy.

    and

    Secondly: After the Nasty Nineties I can’t fault many Russians for being skeptical of that, and not merely regime diehards, Neo-Stalinists, or NazBols. And looking at our current government and the left I can’t even be sure they’re wrong. Which is also why I focus more on cleaning up our house over Ukraine, and if one has to go I will grudgingly but un

    “but climbing into bed with Biden, Nuland, and the rest of that crowd is probably the worst choice.”

    Given the likes of Nuland, Biden, and co that’s an understandable reaction, but I think it is just that. We can apply similar arguments regarding the expansion of NATO for Xi, Putin, the Ayatollahs of Iran, and so on. And more directly, one of the few things I agree with Nuland, Biden, and the other scum with is that IS is not good for any of us.

    I can’t fault people for hesitancy and distrust. Especially since I’ve been open about my fears of this lot trying to use this to clamp down on freedom at here (which is why I’d be prepared to sacrifice one of the largest and most strategically important countries in the world to a career “Chekist” and ally of the CCP whom I loathe if I believe it is necessary to avoid the Democrats using the crisis to oppress us further). But I figure the answer to that is careful analysis of the issues.

    Which is also why I note: *I didn’t get into bed with Nuland and Biden on this issue. They Got Into Bed With ME*, at least officially. I supported Trump’s policy of providing weapons and training to the Ukrainian Loyalists, I condemned Biden for signaling a “limited incursion’ “might” be acceptable to Putin. I was here first, and I’m not going to get out of my own bed if I don’t see a valid reason to, especially since I am convinced Nuland and Biden are acting in bad faith.

    “However, if that is your choice, so be it.”

    Fair, and for whatever our differences I do sincerely appreciate that. And while I’ve been caustic (and often quite so) on some of your conclusions, let me make it clear: *I also will fight to defend your choice on this matter.*

    Precisely because while I value a defeat of Putin in Ukraine for various reasons, I do NOT value it more than defending American freedom at home, and which is why I will not condemn people to the American Stasi for merely quoting MacGregor or what have you.

    Freedom is the ability to choose one’s own choice, and I respect it. I may savage other peoples’ opinions or beliefs, but I’m not going to connive to blacklist them or throw them in the Jan 6th Gulag. Better I die than that.

  17. @Turtler

    I suspect your key problem is that most Americans don’t really give a rat’s anus about two sets of foreigners they don’t care about killing each other far away.

    I further suspect the regime gave up on the American people supporting their endless wars of choice when they couldn’t socially engineer public favor for an invasion and occupation of Syria. They tried- Barry Obama had his red line- but the GOP somehow managed not be stupid enough to approve a use-of-force resolution for that incipient misadventure. The left wasn’t willing to be on the hook to accept blame because they knew it would inevitably go tango uniform just like the Iraq fiasco, so the invasion never happened.

    Back to Ukraine. I’m cheerfully willing to accept that people disagree with my position on all this, in agreement with Gavin L., for any reason or no reason. But that does not seem to be the position of the various pro-war people I happen to read or what the various members of the hapless Gee Oh Peee establishment have to say on the topic.

    I find it despicable to read that people like Mittens Romney and Lindsay Graham are celebrating the death of Russians in this war, not least because I know they are equally indifferent to death of Ukrainians. When I read that Mike Pence says there is no room for people who disagree with his position in his party, I’m out.

    This war is a ghastly human tragedy that never should have happened. I don’t care about Putin or Russia, an actual friend to Ukraine would have worked to arrange events such that this war never even happened.

    Success: No war.

    Failure: This war.

    Got that?

  18. As something of an enthusiast and previous specialist in WWI, you believe wrongly. I have plenty of issues with Haig’s track record, but the broad contours of the Somme Campaign – including whether it was attempted – were not his to decide, having been ironed out by his military *and civilian* superiors in the Anglo-French Calais Conferences of 1915.

    The French asked him to do a “demonstration” to ease the pressure on Verdun. In spite of your wall of text, I think you need more reading. Look at the Wiki article on him. Ask yourself why Armistice Day was named “Remembrance Day” for all the soldier he caused to die. The quote I posted was about him wanting more soldiers sent after 60,000 casualties the first day. He had them marching into battle with machine guns in rows to keep an even pace with subalterns to see they kept in even rows. They died in those rows.

    He did not trust the lower classes to fight unless in view of their officers. The Germans began that way but learned and attacked in the last offensive with small units allowed to conceal themselves. They almost won but Haig’s tactics had bled them white by 1918.

  19. @Turtler
    “…Mussolini’s invasion of Greece at almost exactly the period his troops were being slapped across the African desert by the British.”

    Just as a point of fact: Italy marched into Egypt in early September. There had been no response from the British when Italy invaded Greece on 28 October 1940. The British counter-attack on Italian forces in western Egypt began on 6 December 1940, over five weeks later.

  20. Yada, yada, yada. You’re not convincing us and we’re not changing your mind. It’s all been written a dozen time over, the thesauri are worn out and the only thing that will matter is where the troops are in three months, six months and so on. Dunkirk II-Crimea won’t be something that can be hidden. Somewhere, in whatever sliver of sanity remains in Putin’s reptilian brain, the thought is lurking that if invading Europe has united NATO more thoroughly than 50,000 tanks in East Germany and Poland that detonating the couple of dozen nucs that it would take to make a difference might have repercussions even he would find unpleasant. And, they wouldn’t rebuild any bridges or resurrect either dead soldiers or trucks.

    A more interesting, though equally academic question is: What would it take to make X an acceptably open forum? Is that even possible? What could Musk do to accomplish that, assuming that is what he desires? In some ways, dealing with government meddling would probably be easier than policing an army of pimply faced dweebs, living in their parents basements with delusions of adequacy.

  21. @Mitch K

    “The French asked him to do a “demonstration” to ease the pressure on Verdun. ”

    This is the common narrative, but it’s only partially true. And what’s more, even a cursory look at the timeline will show why it is only partially true. The Anglo-French Conferences at Calais and Chantilly about wider strategy (including that a joint BEF and French offensive against the Reich would be launched at the Somme) happened throughout 1915.

    https://greatwar-1914.tumblr.com/post/134637210715/december-6-1915-inter-allied-conference-at

    Falkenhayn’s offensive towards Verdun started in late February 1916, and while there was some indication and guessing about it previously it largely caught the Allies by surprise.

    This is important and reinforces my point for a few reasons.

    A: Like I said before, the Somme Offensive was agreed well before the attack on Verdun or need to reduce pressure on it. It definitely did nothing to decrease French cries that the British get on with it (just the opposite), but it wasn’t the primary cause.

    B: That while we can say the French “asked him (Haig)”, they primarily asked the British Government as a whole, including his bosses in the unity governments in Whitehall. Which is important because it goes back to what I said, that the Somme was not Haig’s baby. He was in charge of much of its execution (including his disastrous decision to discard his own better judgement for a shorter artillery barrage in favor of his subordinates’ consensus of a long, “annihilating” barrage that did little but drain shell reserves and alert every German on the continent where the offensive was coming, hence the bloodshed of July 1st, but also the successful ones such as the use of tanks to break the Fleurs front), that is true. But he did not have the liberty to call it off altogether.

    “In spite of your wall of text, I think you need more reading.”

    That’s undoubtable true and it always will be.

    But it’s probably even more true of you, *ESPECIALLY* on this subject. Because I’ve been researching and wargaming WWI for a couple decades now (and it really is more relevant than many people think, from the foundations of modern totalitarianism, the birth of some different forms of globalism, Islamic Jihad, and – I fear in this case most relevantly –the ability of American Progs to use war to stifle domestic freedom).

    So while I will always need to read more, I have already studied and read more than enough to not be wrongfooted by someone using Wikipedia.

    “Look at the Wiki article on him.”

    Firstly: I have. My judgements and claims hold true.

    Secondly: You’re seriously trying to cite Wikipedia, the thing that loudly advertises that it is “Not a Reliable Source”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_not_a_reliable_source#:~:text=Wikipedia%20is%20not%20a%20reliable%20source%20for%20citations%20elsewhere%20on,in%20progress%2C%20or%20simply%20incorrect.

    ….. and which has already been shown to be a leftist propaganda rag engaged in censorship and calculated dishonesty for the “correct” causes?

    https://nypost.com/2021/07/16/wikipedia-co-founder-says-site-is-now-propaganda-for-left-leaning-establishment/

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/wikipedia-bias-socialism-pages-whitewashed

    https://heartland.org/opinion/uncovered-wikipedias-leftist-ties-and-its-censorship-of-the-facts/

    Not exactly the best look if you are trying to pull the “learned, worldly, cynical scholar” approach on me. Particularly on this issue.

    Because I was already inclined not to use Wikipedia for more than cursory exploration (and as a possible starting point to do my own research) well before I learned something of the depths of left-wing censorship and corruption involved in it, after seeing things like a bunch of mostly-Chinese spambots steamroller the Sino-French War page to claim it was a “Limited Chinese Victory on Land” (Spoiler alert: It was not, and it seems like even Wikipedia’s low standards could not support that). Now I use it even less.

    “Ask yourself why Armistice Day was named “Remembrance Day” for all the soldier he caused to die.”

    If you think Armistice Day/Remembrance Day was named purely for “all the soldier (SIC) he caused to die”, you have a SPECTACULARLY immature and incorrect view of WWI (starting with the fact that Haig was only leader of the Western Front from 1915 onwards, and the troops that died on Gallipoli and Salonika would be baffled at the idea he was at fault for their suffering). And there’s a reason why it quickly spread like wildfire well outside his range of influence, as was the case with the French, Italian, US, and Latvian (yes, Latvian; largely to commemorate their own decisive but costly victory in a war for independence from Germany on November 11th, 1919).

    “The quote I posted was about him wanting more soldiers sent after 60,000 casualties the first day.”

    Which turned out to be the correct call, as I mentioned before. Just not immediately.

    “He had them marching into battle with machine guns in rows to keep an even pace with subalterns to see they kept in even rows. They died in those rows.”

    Indeed, and I make no apologies for that. It was a colossal blunder, and one that should’ve been evident was a blunder paid in blood well before it was done, but it wasn’t.

    But to his credit, Haig and his GHQ took a brief pause on the offensive and then reorganized the attack, by studying what had gone wrong on the main frontage and right on the (criminally under-remembered) French sectors of the First Day and the adjacent British ones that had largely benefitted from it. Which is why when the offensive was resumed a few days later it was significantly more effective.

    But don’t take my word for it.

    While we’re on the subject of reading more, I’d highly suggest reading “Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme” by Sir Christopher Duffy, one of the world’s acknowledged experts in WWI and a scholar in multiple languages, who bothered taking the arcane step of *actually looking through the German army and government’s records to see what they were saying* and correlating those with the progress of the Somme Campaign.

    And that tells a very different story of the Somme Offensive that goes well beyond the First Day, and shows how the Reich slowly began to panic as the situation got out of hand and how it led to the implosion of not just their defensive lines on the Somme but in the German military leadership as a whole, with the aforementioned Falkenhayn losing power because of his costly defeats in the West.

    Which definitely puts Haig’s decision to ask for more troops after the First Day of the Somme into a perspective you completely ignore: that of a wider war, and an offensive that lasted more than the first day and ultimately succeeded (albeit far less than the wildest dreams entertained by leadership).

    Which is also where I’ll bring up Crown Prince Rupprecht’s report to the post-Falkenhayn leadership on the Somme, which is eloquent in its brevity

    ‘It is questionable whether (we/the German Army on the Western Front) are still in a condition to stand such defensive battles as the Somme 1916, and it would be better to go back to the Siegfried Line*.”

    * Usually translated (somewhat inaccurately) as the “Hindenburg Line”, and different from the more famous “Siegfried Line” of WWII fame.

    “He did not trust the lower classes to fight unless in view of their officers.”

    This is simply bullshit on a massive level, and provably so. Indeed, it’s basically trusting Marxist class fetish historiography too much. And it can easily be destroyed by a very simple point: Haig’s *Direct BOSS* for most of the war was Field Marshal Sir William Robertson, a commoner who was ennobled for his roles and was the only man in British military history to rise all the way from Private to Field Marshal.

    Firstly: Haig was concerned about trusting *the common soldier* to fight *well or accurately* *out of contact* with his officers *or NCOs*. That’s a similar statement but it has a few key differences. Namely

    A: It wasn’t (primarily) about class.

    B: That it wasn’t about being in sight of the officers but being in contact with the chain of command (which could be done by runners or phone).

    and

    C: It was about keeping touch with the chain of command, which included NCOs.

    This wasn’t the 18th century any more, and that was true even in 1914. The army Haig had entered into had already had commoner officers for more than a century, and it showed. Moreover, while the officers were still majority aristocracy or gentry, most of those were still in the enlisted ranks.

    Secondly: It gets Haig’s personality quote wrong. While Haig was more of a stickler for a rigid chain of command than was good – especially by our standards – he was noted to be much less of it than most of his peers and more trusting that his subordinates could manage their commands with indirect oversight than most. If you want to see someone who truly did not trust his subordinates or the enlisted to do their jobs outside of eyeshot of their officers, kindly observe the career of Horace Smith-Dorrian, who was a contemporary and something of a rival of Haig’s, and who for all of his many gifts regularly did not trust his command to function properly if he was not directly leading them from near the front or even at the front, even when he was a Corps commander.

    Unsurprisingly this actually led to his command starting to functionally break down as there was no longer anyone in the rear “at the wheel” to receive new reports with the full authority to act on them, which led to his reassignment; “Horace, you’re for home.”

    Thirdly: What whoever came up with this adage ignores is the prevalence of small scale “actions”, most notably trench raids, which while often overseen by an officer were also often not. By the start of the Somme the BEF had been extremely active in this (arguably too much for the results they got but that’s another kettle of fish), and a huge portion of the intelligence finding its way to Haig’s desk (or that of other officers on the Western Front) were reports from Trench Raids, and we know Haig clearly believed much of them. So obviously he had more trust in the ability of enlisted to fight autonomously than you’re trying to claim.

    But what do I know? I’ve merely been a learned enthusiast for about a quarter century who has read through many of the defining scholarly works on the matter. I’m sure Wikipedia will give a better summary.

    “The Germans began that way but learned”

    Not really. And indeed by late war they were actually going backwards, with the totalitarianism that had taken root at the center of the government starting to reach down into more doctrinaire obsessions and inflexibility below. This is something German veterans like Rupprecht and Juenger complained quite a lot about.

    ” and attacked in the last offensive with small units allowed to conceal themselves.”

    Which was something that had been practiced by all sides in the Western and Italian fronts for a couple years and indeed was spearheaded by the Germans and French during the fighting around Verdun in 1916 (and indeed for all of the pop culture obsessions with the German Stormtroopers, the French are generally held to have been the most successful early adopters of this kind of warfare).

    “They almost won but Haig’s tactics had bled them white by 1918.”

    Not really.

    A: While the units on the Western Front had been bled white (by Haig and others) the same could not be said for the transfers from the now-won German Eastern Front, who were generally fresh, well-rested, well equipped, and outright eager to attack.

    B: The Germans never really came that close to winning the war in the Kaisershlacht.

    The Germans would generally break the front open at fairly heavy cost and make a pretty impressive but unsustainable advance before running into a reinforced defensive line, beating themselves to a pulp trying to force it, and then have orders from General Command reach them telling them to redirect the thrust of the offensive elsewhere. At which point the cycle repeated.

    This played out about three times (in the Spring Offensives of the Western Front) until the Germans and Austro-Hungarians* just ran out of steam altogether. It’s also why in spite of the seemingly impressive goal of making it to within 20 miles or so of Paris, their actual original goal had been to split the BEF and Belgian army from the French Army by smashing into the Channel before destroying the former. That had failed very early on.

    The Western Allies – for all of their many failings both previously and during the war, and initial surprises with the direction of the offensive and the damage it did – held firm, denied the Germans any of their core objectives (whether a march to the Channel or Paris), and ultimately broke the back of the Germans with a well timed pan-Allied counterattack led by the French at the Marne.

    I’m not perfect or infallible by any stretch of the imagination, and I do need to read more, but on the subject of WWI in particular I need to do much less reading than you do.

    * Yes, there was an entire Corps of Austro-Hungarian troops on the Western Front in 1918.

  22. @houska

    ““The Things That People Saw Happen in Ukraine, Really Didn’t Happen””

    Kindly explain what “Things that people saw happen in Ukraine” i am supposedly saying “really didn’t happen.” Because I’ve actually been one of those people who have happily talked about the effects of pro-Ukrainian lies and propaganda such as the Ghost of Kyiv and the exaggerated confidence of keyboard warriors assuming the Russian military would be turfed out of well-manned fortified positions (often built up for months or in the Donbas years) easily (spoiler alert: that typically doesn’t happen easily).

    So you’re going to have to do better than this.

  23. @Rich Rostrom

    “Just as a point of fact: Italy marched into Egypt in early September.”

    Around the same time as their tentative attacks on Sudan, and about a month after they marched into British Somaliland in August.

    And while they forced the British to withdraw from Somaliland and some of the frontier positions in the Sudan, a mixture of logistical inflexibility and harassment from the British army’s light units broke their logistics and started wiping out entire frontier forts in the Horn of Africa and Libya.

    Which helped cause the Duke of Aosta to withdraw towards Italy’s pre-1940 colonies to defend them, and Graziani to halt the offensive in Egypt and dig in (… in one of the most counterproductive ways possible).

    “There had been no response from the British when Italy invaded Greece on 28 October 1940. The British counter-attack on Italian forces in western Egypt began on 6 December 1940, over five weeks later.”

    Half true. It’s worth remembering that

    A: Operation Compass was originally just one of several similar raiding operations against the Italian Army in North Africa, not conceived of as the giant, Army-killing victory it turned into. And there were plenty of those raiding operations going during the Autumn of 1940 after the Italians stopped.

    B; While the Western Desert campaign was by far the most important objective, there was also the East African front and the Southern Libyan one, where the British, Free French, and even Belgians fought Italian troops, and the British and Free French in particular were sniping one Italian outpost after another in the Southern Desert and had forced the Duke of Aosta to dig in and prepare for a counterattack after conquering British Somaliland but failing to make much headway into what’s now Sudan and Kenya.

    And we know Italian High Command knew this was going on because radio contact with even besieged forts was possible (indeed the Fascists would try and romanticize some of these defeats later) and we have documentation on it.

    So while the main slap would come a couple months after the invasion of Greece, with Operation Compass, the start of the major pushes to destroy Italian East Africa, and the Southern Libyan post grabbing campaign most famous for the conquest of Kufra (and the subsequent Free French oath) the Italians were already bleeding and they knew it. Which is one reason why I find Mussolini’s decision to be jaw-dropping.

    (I can kind of understand Ciano’s reasons, since he was basically petty dictator of Italian Albania living in his own little world, and so he naturally looked South to try and grab more from Greece. But why his Father in Law and so much of the Italian Command did so – even considering their hubris and follies – is jaw dropping to me.)

  24. @MCS

    “Yada, yada, yada. You’re not convincing us and we’re not changing your mind. ”

    Fair enough, but that’s where the question becomes if anyone else can see.

    “It’s all been written a dozen time over, the thesauri are worn out and the only thing that will matter is where the troops are in three months, six months and so on.”

    There’s also the question of logistics, where the troops’ families and national economies will be in three months etc., and the like. Especially for an ugly attritional war like this. And indeed I’d argue that the economic and supply sides are areas where the Ukrainian war effort might break down most without resupply, especially in terms of AA missiles and certain planes. In general if militaries bash their heads (and the bodies of their troops) against a position long enough they’ll figure ways in. We saw this in play at Kharkhiv and to a much lesser extent at the line around Bakhmut. Horrifying but not that unexpected.

    The issue is whether or not they’ll be able to sustain the war effort needed to get the troops there.

    “Dunkirk II-Crimea won’t be something that can be hidden”

    Agreed, and indeed it’s worth noting the Soviets in WWII actually had to run a Dunkirk II in the Sea of Azov around the time there.

    The big issue I see is that it’s a lot less likely to happen overall. Anti-shipping weapons are lethal and cheap in a way they weren’t at actual Dunkirk, which is one reason the Grain Deal was so brouhaha’d about. Dunkirk and its lesser known sisters in Brest and Caen and a bunch of other Atlantic ports were already nearly run things and the Soviets had much less luck with them in Estonia and Crimea just a year or two later. So I imagine one side or the other having to do it in Crimea would go much worse (especially the Ukrainians since they lack a navy and most of the shipping they do still have is slow).

    “Somewhere, in whatever sliver of sanity remains in Putin’s reptilian brain, the thought is lurking that if invading Europe has united NATO more thoroughly than 50,000 tanks in East Germany and Poland that detonating the couple of dozen nucs that it would take to make a difference might have repercussions even he would find unpleasant. And, they wouldn’t rebuild any bridges or resurrect either dead soldiers or trucks.”

    Agreed.

    “A more interesting, though equally academic question is: What would it take to make X an acceptably open forum? Is that even possible?”

    A fair point, and worth getting back to the topic. As for is it possible, I’d say yes. But it’d probably involve a lot more transparency. Bill Whittle talking about Government Power in the Obama Era and the One Ring of Sauron pointed out that “Power, once given, will be used.” Maybe not by the person with it now, but by someone down the line.

    The ability to censor, shadow ban, and so on is too tasty.

    In general, I feel Shadowbanning needs to be removed from the tool kit altogether. The only legitimate reasons I can see for it would be mental health (if you are dealing with someone that obviously disturbed you kind of have to keep them in their own bubble for their own good or at least that of others while you figure something out), or law enforcement (so you don’t let the Epstein Client know you know they are trawling for the bad kind of Cheese Pizza on your forum but don’t want to expose others to that while you take action). But those are incredibly niche issues.

    On the whole, companies and people should be up front with bans, because at least that makes it hard to ignore and makes them deal with it.

    “What could Musk do to accomplish that, assuming that is what he desires?”

    Ending shadowbanning, for one. Being more transparent with “The Algorithm” or flatly discontinuing it for two. Those are just what I have offhand.

    “In some ways, dealing with government meddling would probably be easier than policing an army of pimply faced dweebs, living in their parents basements with delusions of adequacy.”

    Yeah, and that’s the other reason for the Big Gub “Public-Private Partnership” thing being so dangerous. Twitter/”X”* is particularly vulnerable to this because it treats its users not (primarily) as customers but as product to have their data mined, so it doesn’t have to care as much about their thoughts as others, but it is a common problem. It’s easier to deal with one or a handful of fairly united Big Government Voices, and much harder to deal with the Cat Rodeo of a genuinely free marketplace of ideas (and I use the term “ideas” loosely given much of the drivel on social media in general and Twitter in particular). And the temptation to put your fingers on the scales is even more telling.

    * Will someone tell Elon that while I have no love for Twitter on the whole “Black X” is not exactly the best look and undermines the brand?

  25. @Xennady

    “I suspect your key problem is that most Americans don’t really give a rat’s anus about two sets of foreigners they don’t care about killing each other far away.”

    Indeed. I admit I’ve always been a history and foreign policy wonk, and that’s always been unusual. Moreover, as one of the odd “Loyalist Neocons” like Neo over at The New Neo – people who didn’t abandon ship or the party for the Globalists when Trump came – I admit I am badly out of step with public mood, especially given Biden’s abortion of an Afghan withdrawal and the questionable victory in Iraq.

    And honestly, I’ll be the first to say that most Americans are *Absolutely RIGHT* to not care that much about Ukraine now. We have way bigger and more imminent issues, as I’ve admitted. Starting with the crawling leftist authoritarianism at home. And while I’ve been concerned with Ukraine for about 20 years and broadly supportive of the loyalist cause, for now my main concerns are how they will boomerang back on us, namely in terms of more economic chaos in a time where Biden is doing worse, and the threat of the Big Bad Putin being used as an excuse for more political repression (given how they are demonizing Trump) and even seizing wartime emergency powers.

    “I further suspect the regime gave up on the American people supporting their endless wars of choice when they couldn’t socially engineer public favor for an invasion and occupation of Syria.”

    I still remember “the regime” being opposed to the “wars of choice” and indeed that term being used as a smear by Obama against Bush, arguing that Saddam wasn’t REALLLY friends with Al Qaeda (spoiler alert: he was) or didn’t have WMD (spoiler: He did, we found it, and indeed I have a few friends serving in the military and some Kurdish-Americans that helped; it was just way less than the Dr. Evil Doomsday Shopping List “intelligence” said he might have). So Iraq was a “War of Choice” and so on.

    In any case, by the time the Syrian Civil War broke out I recognized it was folly to try and depose Assad. Even if we were capable of doing the job well (and years of Afghanistan and Iraq called THAT into question), the public was in no mood for it and I completely agreed. My view on the Syrian Civil War was roughly on par with that of Michael Totten before he went full TDS retard and started posting about “Russia Hacked the Republican Party” (and had to disable comments because people like me were humiliating him with sources). Namely that Assad deserved to be overthrown, probably wouldn’t, and that it was not worth the US getting involved to try and attempt.

    And I say this as someone who deeply hates Babyface Assad for what he has done to many of my friends and innocent people across the region for his alliance with Iran, sponsorship of Al Qaeda in Iraq and Hezbollah, and deportations. I would happily raise a glass to seeing his severed head on a spit in much the same way the part of me talking to a friend that lost a friend to Lockerbie did to Gaddafi’s demise in spite of vehemently opposing Obama’s intervention in Libya as probably counter-productive and definitely illegal.

    “They tried- Barry Obama had his red line- but the GOP somehow managed not be stupid enough to approve a use-of-force resolution for that incipient misadventure. The left wasn’t willing to be on the hook to accept blame because they knew it would inevitably go tango uniform just like the Iraq fiasco, so the invasion never happened.”

    Honestly I doubt Obama was ever interested in fully invading Syria, both because of how obviously bad the optics would be that they railed on Bush for years for a “War of Choice” and now did this. I think Obama wanted to create another Emirate-style Islamist dystopia like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at the time, using limited intervention such as supporting the “right” (read: wrong) actors, air strikes, and spec ops. That petered out in large part because Assad’s army was not Gaddafi’s, there are far more fanatical Alawites around than there are fanatical Sirte locals, and they’ve been practicing to kill those they call “countrymen” for decades (as Hama learned).

    I hate to say it but it is probably one of the better outcomes that things are more or less where they are, with Assad and the Russians in control of the littoral and most of the Southwest but a decently pro-American Kurdish and Syrian Dissident force out in the Norhteast with most of the anti-government Islamists (as opposed to the pro-government Islamists) crushed. It’s going to be unpleasant as hell but at least it’ll cut down on Assad’s ability to intervene in Lebanon or Yemen.

    “Back to Ukraine. I’m cheerfully willing to accept that people disagree with my position on all this, in agreement with Gavin L., for any reason or no reason. But that does not seem to be the position of the various pro-war people I happen to read or what the various members of the hapless Gee Oh Peee establishment have to say on the topic.”

    Understandable.

    “I find it despicable to read that people like Mittens Romney and Lindsay Graham are celebrating the death of Russians in this war, not least because I know they are equally indifferent to death of Ukrainians. When I read that Mike Pence says there is no room for people who disagree with his position in his party, I’m out.

    This war is a ghastly human tragedy that never should have happened. I don’t care about Putin or Russia, an actual friend to Ukraine would have worked to arrange events such that this war never even happened.

    Success: No war.

    Failure: This war.

    Got that?”

    I got that indeed, and I mostly agree. Especially that the success was avoiding war altogether.

    In the interests of full disclosure: there ARE a *few* Russians (and for that matter Ukrainians) whose deaths I would celebrate. I know I celebrated the death of Dugina and I given her role and some personal beef I had from her party members, and I intend to celebrate the death of Prigozhin if/when I get more solid confirmation. Vladimir Putin and Alexey Bychkov (seriously, disturbing stuff the latter did) come to mind.

    But those are Exceptions to the rule, precisely because of what they Specifically have done. And seeing depraved nonsense like some members of NAFO celebrate a shark attacking a civilian because they were Russian is beyond disgusting and I have always condemned it. Likewise Gunther Fehlinger fetishizing about destroying entire countries with less maturity than the average strategy game player.

    I worked in Russia (albeit Briefly), so I know Russians, and Ukrainians, among others. Indeed, a couple of my best sources on the matter are people who (at least convincingly claim) to be a Ukrainian and a Russian Christian Democrat.

    What a lot of these morally bankrupt morons do not understand is

    A: Both countries run on a conscription system, meaning you have a lot of people who were just called up to fight. And while Russian Law supposedly forbids forcing conscripts to serve outside of Russian territory, uh… “Russian Law” is kind of weak at the moment, and we’ve already seen conscripts be sent in.

    Conscripts are plenty capable of being guilty of lots of crimes (I’ve studied the world wars and a bunch of others too much to deny that), but they deserve a benefit of the doubt.

    B: In Russia in particular a lot of others were people put under immense pressure to serve. Even if outright force “Your signature will be on the paper or your brains will be” scenarios are pretty rare, it’s no coincidence you’ve seen fraudulent references on the contracts and recruitment from prisons (and while I know a lot of the people there are absolutely horrible, guilty people, I also know too much of the Russian justice system to be willing to trust it).

    and

    C: Even the most justified or necessary of sanctions hurt innocent people.

    Mercifully the Ukrainian government seems to know this better than many of its cheerleaders, hence the heavy focus on setting up backdoors to help facilitate defections and surrenders by Russian combatants, and broadcasting it. Obviously, there’s a brutally pragmatic reason for that (an enemy soldier that surrenders is one you don’t have to kill or incapacitate) and a propaganda purpose for it (“Look at how good we are! We da good guys! Pls gib more gibs!”), but I do think it helps remind us of what a lot of these racist spastics forget. This is a human tragedy, and even “the bad guys” are human.

    And on the subject of WWI and this conflict, one of the statements (on a game forum) from an unusually “based” and knowledgeable French friend of mine comes in (please forgive the Reddit citation).

    “But it’s one in the same. Especially when you fight a country that has conscription.
    Look, here is a VDV, one of those you say is ”Acceptable” to kill.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/NonCredibleOffense/comments/ty900a/vdv/

    Does he look like he wanted to be involved?

    The moment you ship weapons of any kind, the possibility they will kill people who are innocent in the grand scheme of things is there.”

    *snip*

    “My position is and will remain that of course everyting is morally grey, and of course both sides did horrible things, however, one side of ww1 very clearly did more wrong than the other.

    And once again, i am primarily talking abot their elites, the heads of their states. I think what i posted about the russians and VDV just above speaks to what i think of the grunts on all sides, of course the common people in all countries are just people like any other.”

    Now I do think that friend of mine felt (and I certainly do) that it was still acceptable to kill a member of the VDV *in combat when they are serving.* But that stops if and when they surrender, ask for clemency, or are protect by a flag of truce or a ceasefire. As should be the case for Everyone.

    (I also note it bitterly ironic how many people slur Russians as “Orcs”, when as a Tolkein fan I note that the actual Orcs – while degenerate and prone to evil on their own -were kept in order by a (supernatural) tyrant using a mixture of terror and corrosive lies, such as that their enemies were far worse than they were and that they were the good guys. And that Tolkein noted that the wise among the free peoples counseled that one should show mercy to the Orcs if and when they surrendered, but that this was often violated in combat.

    In case anybody doubted Tolkien’s knowledge of good and evil, and human nature. Or his applicability today. If only these goons learned.)

    And frankly after Pence’s disgrace on January 6th, I find being in the same party as him to be a mark of shame and I only remain in so because of the likes of Trump, DeSantis, Palin, and co and because I’d much rather try and change the field from somewhat within the tent than make myself more of a target with fewer connections outside.

  26. It would be well if the Biden Administration “slow rolled” aid to Ukraine down to zero. It’s beyond me how anyone can seriously believe that the American people have such a compelling interest in fighting a proxy war against Russia that it justifies the real risk of a nuclear holocaust. Ukrainian zealots pulled off a coup in 2014 against a President who had won an election that international observers deemed free and fair. The next election would have been in a mere 6 months, but they couldn’t be bothered to wait that long. In spite of that, we’re told we’re involved in the war “because democracy.” The immediate fear of the Russian speaking population at the time was that they would become second-class citizens in their own country. That fear was obviously well founded. In the ensuing years we have seen the Russian language, culture, and religion suppressed. Russians have been denied the right to educate their children in their own language. Bandera, a Nazi collaborator, has been elevated to the level of a Ukrainian national hero.

    The reaction of many Russians in Ukraine is reflected in “Torch of New Russia,” by Pavel Gubarev. Gubarev is nostalgic for the days of the old Soviet Union, believes that some “new, improved” version of socialism can succeed, and is an admirer or such dubious characters as Castro and Maduro. That said, he also strikes me as an honest, sincere individual who has published some facts that one is unlikely to find in the remarkably uniform and one-sided propaganda churned out by the western media. He describes how the Russians in Ukraine immediately, and correctly, perceived the Maidan coup as a threat, and one sufficiently serious that they were willing to give up their livelihoods, homes, and, in many cases, lives, to fight back. He claims that, in the beginning, they received no support from Russia at all other than in the official media, and I believe him.

    Gubarev also correctly points out that the regions under contention, what he calls New Russia, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Crimea, and much of the region north of the Black Sea reconquered by Russia from the Tatars and Turks, were never historically part of any geographical or national entity that one could reasonably claim was ever “Ukraine.” Large parts of these territories were tacked onto Ukraine in the 1930’s by Communist bureaucrats for ideological and political reasons. I suppose one can call these actions “legitimate” if one is a Communist sympathizer. Crimea was later added to “Ukraine” as a “birthday present” by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, himself a Ukrainian. In all of these regions the majority language was Russian.

    By all means, read the book. Then look at the reviews. The negative ones have obviously been written by Ukrainian fanboys and zealots who either never read the book, or whose reading comprehension skills are remarkably poor.

    Let’s turn for a moment to the geopolitical position of the United States. The only significant threat we face in the world is not Russia, but China. She has illegitimately claimed much of the South China Sea, and just published a map in which large swaths of her neighbor’s territories are labeled “China.” The idea that she will never make such claims on Russia, a country whose borders with her were the result of what she calls “unequal treaties,” is the purest fantasy. In other words, Russia is a natural ally of the United States and a potentially valuable one against this aggressor state, currently outproducing the US in most of the materials that might be called the “sinews of war” by a wide margin. Alienating her for no good reason whatever is idiocy.

    Another common fantasy, and a very dangerous one, is the notion that our meddling in an affair that doesn’t concern us can’t possibly result in a nuclear holocaust, probably by miscalculation rather than deliberate intent. We are told that the US and Russian weapons are old and won’t work. As it happens, I was involved in one capacity or another with the US nuclear weapons complex for much of my career. I ended it as a classifier with broad oversight over that complex. There is no doubt in my mind that the weapons in our arsenal are reliable and will work as designed. It also happens that, in the brief honeymoon between Russia and the US following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a joint meeting between US and Russian weapon designers and mathematicians at Los Alamos. I had just published a paper on radiation transport, important for many applications, including nuclear weapons, in the “Journal of Computational Physics.” Apparently, the Russians read this paper and specifically asked that I attend the meeting. There I met and spoke with several scientists and mathematicians, most notably from Arzamas 16, a “secret” Russian city devoted to work on weapons. They struck me as very knowledgeable, capable, and hardly the “dummies” who would allow their arsenal to deteriorate to uselessness as occasionally portrayed in western media. Needless to say, I was never allowed to publish anything about my code in the open literature again. In other words, if you think the weapons on either side “won’t work,” you’re dreaming. Tell me, is it really worth the risk?

  27. @Helian/Doug Drake

    Apologies for this, I posted a reply to you but it seems like it is stuck in purgatory for now, probably in part both due to how long it is and the number of links I put. Suffice it to say I agree that memes about “Our nuclear weapons are old/their nuclear weapons are old” are poor basis for decision making and we should assume their and our weapons are active.

    However, I disagree with most else you have posted here, and in particular I would note that when I told a Russian friend of mine that you regarded Pavel Gubarev as an “honest, sincere individual who has published some facts” they claim they laughed out loud. And I can understand why. Gubarev is a monstrous nutcase, being an unironic National Bolshevik tired to at least one Neo-Nazi Party in Russia, and far from reflecting the view of many “Russians in Ukraine” he is viewed as a monstrous freakshow even by most of his fellow Separatist militants (to say nothing of most Rossiyane in Ukraine, who have generally been lukewarm if not opposed to the “Novorossiyan” experiment). He’s also a blatant liar, such as rehashing the meme that Khruschev handed over Crimea as a “birthday present” or due to some national pique rather than because of the fact that the Russian SSR Administration had botched handling it so badly that the Nazis conquered it and once it was retaken rebuilding was painfully slow.

    I also note that while the idea of a Russo-American alliance against the PRC is highly desirable, I have absolutely no faith in Putin or the others of the Russian “organs” doing so. Mark Steyn and others predicted Putin and his ilk would side with the CCP against us in the early 2000s and I believe they have been vindicated in spite of decades of bipartisan attempts at appeasement. I have no confidence in further appeasement changing that, and believe that we are best served containing Russian expansionism for now until we can sort out our own house, so that the CCP’s Northern Ally will be as weak as practical for the immediate future.

    There’s more that I offer at this text dump, in the hopes that the automod will object less to one link than to many. I apologize that it is long, and some of it will be redundant with this.

    https://justpaste.it/a9q8q

  28. You can call Gubarev all the names you want. Nazi, Bolshevik, whatever, although it seems to me they’re not really compatible. He praises diversity in his book, so I doubt he’s a died in the wool Nazi. As I pointed out myself, “Gubarev is nostalgic for the days of the old Soviet Union, believes that some ‘new, improved’ version of socialism can succeed, and is an admirer or such dubious characters as Castro and Maduro.” He can be Satan himself as far as I’m concerned. All I am saying is, read what the man has to say. Most of it can be fact checked easily enough.

    Does it matter whether Crimea was a “birthday present” or not? Is it or is it not a fact that it was detached from Russia and attached to Ukraine? Is it, or is it not a fact that Crimea was never a part of any entity, geographical or national, that can accurately be called “Ukraine?” Is it or is it not a fact that the majority of the people on the peninsula spoke Russian? Is it, or is it not a fact that Gubarev was a successful businessman in Ukraine before 2014? Is it or is it not a fact that he sacrificed his livelihood and personal wealth to fight back against the Ukrainian Maidan zealots. Is it or is it not a fact that he was a “Russian puppet” in 2014. I very much doubt it. The facts regarding these matters, one way or the other, remain facts, whether they are pointed out by the devil himself or not. These and many of the other claims that Gubarev makes in his book are important, can be fact checked, and their truth or falsehood doesn’t depend on whether the Russians you talk to consider the man crazy or not. They deserve our attention because they are never, ever brought up by the propaganda machines that pass for “objective media” in the US and its allies. All I am saying is, read the book. Make up your own mind. Give a fair hearing to people who don’t agree with you.

    In general, I am not impressed by the claim that Gubarev or anyone else is a “Nazi.” There are Nazi insignia and to spare among the Ukrainian forces as well. The praise of Bandera by those in positions of responsibility in the Ukrainian regime is a fact, as are claims that Ukrainians are “pure Slavs,” genetically superior to the “mongrel” Russians. In short, the “Nazi” canard can work both ways.

  29. The filibustering person who hides under the name Tutler wrote: “I kindly point you to looking up the actual, legal definition of a Belligerent as it applies in this case, which the US does not fit in regards to this.”

    Tuttie, old boy, please Get Real! It doesn’t matter how some overpaid lawyer tries to distort the definition of “belligerent”. What matters is the assessment of the country against which Biden’s proxy war is being waged.

    If Russians conclude with good reason that Biden & his minions are:
    (a) giving weapons to their proxy to kill Russians (and Ukrainian citizens who happen to speak Russian), and
    (b) providing (free of charge — not as an honest sale) the ammunition to put in those weapons to kill Russians, and
    (c) providing targeting information to Zelensky’s regime to help them kill more Russians,
    then it is almost inconceivable that the Russians would not quite correctly see Biden & his minions (and unfortunately the rest of us in the US) as active belligerents.

    The good news, Tuttie, is that you do not have to be one of Biden’s minions. You are free to think for yourself. Try it! As for the bad news, that will probably be delivered by ICBM if Biden carries on making us all belligerents in his expanding proxy war.

  30. Turtle,

    I appreciate your outlining the geopolitical landscape of Russia in rgards to the former USSR. You make a good case for Putin being a gangster. My one primary issue with your outline is that there is a different shift in the direction of Russian actions since 1991. Since that and before 2022 (with the notable exception of Georgia) you could make the case that Russian actions while Illegal had as its genesis the protection of Russians trapped outside of national borders after the fall of the USSR, That would be a situation familiar to people who followed European history given the post-WW I aftermath in Central Europe and the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Indeed it’s a process still ongoing in those areas (e.g. Hungary and Slovakia regarding dual nationalities)

    The invasion of Ukraine is more than Russia upping the ante in its near abroad, but rather marking the re-emergence of Russia as a major power on Europe’s eastern boundary. This is something that Bismarck would appreciate. Russia was no longer just be a gas station with an army. I would also argue that it marked Putin’s formal challenge to the existing America-led order not only in Europe but also globally. Putin, as a former KGB officer, would have been well-steeped in Lenin’s revolutionary doctrine and understood how historical events present opportunities.

    So seen through that lens, Ukraine while perhaps instrumental in the overall scheme is not the strategic center of gravity but rather, what, the McGuffin? The device to move the larger process forward? Yes Putin’s coup de main on February 24th failed, but not necessarily his larger scheme.

    So it now appears that we are heading toward, at best, what Milley said 10 months ago – stalemate. The Ukrainian counteroffensive has more than likely failed, I say “likely” because sure there is a small chance that the Russian effort could collapse in the next few weeks. In battles, much less wars, of attrition you can have sudden turn of events such as that; however, that’s not the way to bet. Ukraine had its best chance to escape the trap of a war of attrition with a much larger foe and couldn’t pull it off and has lost the initiative.

    So what would you recommend? Keep in mind that in one sense we (the US) has already lost because we loudly proclaimed last year that we would impose our will on Russia (rollback to pre-2014 lines, Putin dragged to the Hague in chains…) and we haven’t been able to do it. All of what Putin wanted to accomplish in February 2022 is still on the table because while the war has become much costlier than he would ever have expected he can claim that he’s mo longer jus fighting Ukraine, but also NATO and he fought them at worst to a draw.

    The label “neocon” seems to be a bit vague, but I think a definition of intervention abroad undergirded by military strength abroad to promote democracy is probably a good one. The problem with that approach for a country that underpins the international system is that if you are seen as actively involved in promoting a certain end to criteria you set and you fail to accomplish those ends you lose credibility. As a friend of mine teaches in his class Tom Hallion’s great precept that when people are watching, your “a** is in the jackpot” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn28Dz4RUxc)

    Perhaps we should send Hallion as a roving diplomat to defuse global tensions.

    In the big rush to display our virtue last Spring we stuck ourselves in the jackpot in a way that risks our credibility without being able to directly affect the outcome For all the hubub about neocon virtue about promoting democracy and freedom, I have yet to see any realistic analysis on their part of how they would accomplish their objectives based on past experiences Neocons wants us to use Serbia as the exemplar, but not Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan…. no empiricism for us People want to use Tucker Carlson as the face of Putin stoogeism, I want to use the face of Nuland of Kristol on the other side of that bet

    So tell me what’s the path going forward? Tell me how from a neocon situation we can still win. If we cannot meaningfully change the situation from the existing line of contact that we have now, which was about the same as where we were last November when Milley first broached negotiations, then shouldn’t we be trying to shut down the conflict or do we just need to get another 100,000 people killed to get all of this ”You’re either for a total victory or you’re a Putin-stooge” and risk a Ukrainian collapse (and the culmination of Putin’s plans) to get this out of our system? Where’s the off ramp?

    That’s why I’m not a neocon, because not only is it bullying virtue on the cheap but it goes against 70+ years of experience. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pick on you, perhaps I’ll just go back in the Google time machine and get a list of everyone who doubled down that anyone who wasn’t on board with total victory was a Putin bootlicker.

    A few specific points.

    I am not sure going back and pointing to signed treaties that provided for legality of Ukraine’s NATO ascension is… what… relevant? Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was him seizing a unique opportunity to rework the international order, I don’t think shaking pieces of paper is going to work any more than the residents of Prague shaking copies of the Munich Agreement at Hitler’s Panzers did any good. Isn’t one of the bedrock principles of international affairs, the beast that lies beneath the surface of any interaction, that no country will abide by a legal agreement if they no longer feel it is in their best interests to do so? By the same token just because we had a treaty that said we could do so, would it make sense to grant NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine? To the very borders of Russia? Where is the strategic payoff for such a provocative act? The point of having a security alliance, a perimeter if you will, with Article 5 guarantees is that there are countries which would lie outside of hat perimeter because they don’t meet the strategic interests of the alliance.

    I find your dismissal of a pro-Russian government in Mexico to have some holes. You provide Cuba as a counter-example of neighbor that we tolerated having close ties with a major adversary. Of course the problem is that it took the prospect of a nuclear war, the Cuban Missile Crisis, for us to come to that accommodation. I think two better historical examples would be El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s where we not only engaged in a proxy war with the latter but debated whether we would militarily intervene in the former. I guess I can never say never about keeping foreign adversaries out of the Western hemisphere given the way we have allowed China into South America and Iran into Venezuela but Mexico is a big, bright red line. I am sure there is some descendant of Patton somewhere in the military we can haul out and have him re-enact the General’s lightning assault from the 1916 Mexican invasion. In fact given the condition of our southern border and the way the cartels use access to it to allow sorts of bad actors to enter, I would not be surprised to see the revival of punitive expeditions in the not so-distant future under a Republican administration.

    Putin not tangling with NATO? Well from a military standpoint that would be foolish if you want to put it in the historical context you provided. However what would Putin seelkto gain from a military confrontation? Remember my theory is that the motivation for his invading Ukraine was to upset the international order. To do that would mean to expose NATO and the US as paper tigers. Doesn’t have to be much. Maybe some mischief in the Suwałki Gap, maybe a short incursion into Estonia under the pretext that somebody launched some drones from there against the Pskov airfield. Something low-lky that should trigger Article 5 but would be low key enough that it won’t. Give the Americans and NATO an excuse to not respond and they don’t then you have split the alliance and Putin wins. Risky?

    Being a belligerent in Ukraine? I find the example of Afghanistan to be weak, you could toss in Soviet involvement in both Korea and Viet Nam, not to mention in China in Korea, into that same category. Both Korean and Viet Nam are a long way from American borders and in the case of the Soviets they decided to keep their involvement fairly low-key. As far as the Chinese involvement, we did eventually allow it but only after dismissing our theater commander when he demanded direct attacks against China. Afghans? You could make the case given its proximity to Tajikistan but we at least we kept it at the level of covert aid with a few people in theater and Pakistan. As you say, it’s all a polite fiction but we are clearly playing on the edge. Forget those secretive tier one teams; we have people seeded all through the rear areas in support roles from maintenance to logistics to intelligence. Sooner or later somebody is going to get killed or if the Russians get moving, captured. More importantly we are heavily involved in providing intelligence to the Ukrainians through both aircraft and satellite, those River Joint flights off Crimea are something, and I gotta believe that involves targeting information. What if the Ukranians hit something big and the Russians lose it and start targeting those recon assets? Sure the Iranians hit an RQ-4 of our several years ago and we didn’t go to war, but nothing spells danger so much as escalation with desperation and we’re doing everything we can to kill Russians short of pulling the trigger

    I’ll throw one more general point at you that touches how our belligerency is dancing on the edge. We are basically heavily involved in killing the soldiers of a nuclear power on their doorstep. In 1968 when the Soviets decided to invade a sovereign country with 800,000 men and crush the Prague Spring we did… basically nothing. Why? Because there was a common understanding that peace in Europe was based on each side staying on their side of the frontier and out of (at least overtly) the other’s sphere of influence. Now we’re doing exactly that today only 1200 miles closer to the Russian border. What does 1968 have to teach us today about dealing with a nuclear power? Or is it just that neocons like dancing with a train?

    Help me through this because I don’t think anyone has a clue. We seem to be stuck in a strategic dead end that sorry, one could see from a long way off in March 2022.

  31. @Helian/Doug Drake

    “You can call Gubarev all the names you want. Nazi, Bolshevik, whatever, although it seems to me they’re not really compatible.”

    I never claimed it was terribly logical, because unfortunately human psychology isn’t like that. In any case, the National Bolsheviks beg to differ, and while they have a surprisingly long history (going back to Weimar) they seriously took off in the former USSR.

    “He praises diversity in his book, so I doubt he’s a died in the wool Nazi”

    He was certainly involved in paramilitary ops with the RNE/Russian National Unity Party, which was eventually banned after outliving its usefulness as a Neo-Nazi Party and happily embraced the role.

    In any case, the fact that he’s a whacky totalitarian nutjob is less important in this context than the fact that he’s a very easily provable liar, including about his supposed areas of expertise. I go more into it in more detail in the linked post, but suffice it to say as a native Russian speaker he’d have easy access to the actual Soviet order transferring Crimea from the Ru SSR to the Uk SSR (and indeed my contacts in Russia confirm they can still access the relevant documents without VPN or other disguising techniques). And that’s just one place where he provably lied.

    “Does it matter whether Crimea was a “birthday present” or not?”

    Yes it does matter. For starters, it proved that the man that you said struck you as a sincere, honest man lied to you. Blatantly and rather undeniably (unless we want to go with the idea that he simply did not bother researching the actual reasons for the transfer, but that would still make him guilty of intellectual dishonesty for purporting to speak on something he did not check).

    It establishes a threshold for his conduct and how trustworthy a source he is (or is not). It also helps underline why he is not viewed as a reliable source or honest and sincere by most nonaligneds or Pro-Ukrainian sources (while some of his other antics like NazBol conduct help explain why he is not viewed as an honest or sincere person by just about anybody else, pro-Kremlin fighters included).

    Morever, Gubarev, Putin, and a number of others feel it does because they feel the need to lie about it. Why else would Gubarev include it in his book? Why else would Putin continue to have trusted mouthpieces implicitly and to some degree explicitly play into this narrative when (as my contacts established) the historical truth is not so covered up the actual documents were not present?

    If he’s willing to lie to your face when he really doesn’t need to, what else is he willing to lie to you about?

    Especially since the documents in question regarding the transfer decision are not state secrets. They are publicly available, including in Russia. They explain who authorized it and why in extreme detail, which can then be correlated with other primary source documents such as the post-war Postmortems on Crimean recovery. There is essentially zero dispute on that beyond the extremely political (which is also why the Crimean Senate didn’t claim it was done by Khruschev or was illegitimate, because they’d get shot down).

    And yet, he lied to you about that. And if he’s willing to lie that blatantly on a subject where the evidence is there and relatively well known, what do you think he’s willing to lie to you about when he thinks you won’t know?

    And by all means, don’t believe what I told you. Feel free to check. I provided one link, and I can provide other sources.

    ” Is it or is it not a fact that it was detached from Russia and attached to Ukraine?”

    It is a fact.

    It is also a fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union this was ratified by both the Ukrainian Government and the Russian Federation, much like a whole lot of post-Imperial borders were.

    “Is it, or is it not a fact that Crimea was never a part of any entity, geographical or national, that can accurately be called “Ukraine?””

    In a word: No, it is not a fact.

    Gubarev lied again, “conveniently” ignoring the fact that the Ukrainian National Republic governed the peninsula for about a year between 1917 (when German and Ukrainian Nationalists took it over from the occupying Bolsheviks) and 1919 (when the German Empire collapsed and civil war re-entered the territory, leading to the Russian Whites bouncing it off). And the Ukrainian National Republic is obviously and not seriously in dispute as a “national entity” that can be called Ukraine, considering it not only called itself as such but “Petliuraites” was a common Tsarist and Bolshevik epithet for Ukrainian Nationalists (and indeed it is what Bandera’s band was called).

    I go into more details about the finer points of this in the response I linked, such as the grey areas, but if you want a simple yes or no, the answer must be no.

    Moreover, it’s simply irrelevant. The Ukrainian SSR is obviously identifiable as Ukraine. The current Ukrainian Republic is recognized as a legal successor to it, including by the Russian Federation. And previously to this the Russian Federation agreed that it would respect Ukraine’s territorial borders as is. Had the Russians wished to change that, they could have. But that would mean re-negotiating the likes of Budapest and a few others. Which Putin had no love for.

    ” Is it or is it not a fact that the majority of the people on the peninsula spoke Russian?”

    It is a fact.

    ” Is it, or is it not a fact that Gubarev was a successful businessman in Ukraine before 2014?”

    I do not know enough about his life, much less what qualifies as “successful”. So I will have to punt on this issue.

    “Is it or is it not a fact that he sacrificed his livelihood and personal wealth to fight back against the Ukrainian Maidan zealots.”

    It is obviously Not a fact, considering his personal wealth exploded during his time as a supposed revolutionary leader. In large part by allowing looting.

    “Is it or is it not a fact that he was a “Russian puppet” in 2014. I very much doubt it. ”

    Your doubts are incorrect. he very much WAS a Russian Puppet, one of several paramilitary leaders kept in power by direct transfers of Russian military equipment across the border. He submitted to the command of warlords such as Girkin, who promptly marginalized him.

    As we can assess – again – if we bother to follow the acknowledged deployment of Russian Federation military forces and affiliated personnel in Ukraine, as well as that of Russian Federation exclusive militaria.

    Gubarev never bothers to explain how a GAZ Tigr appeared in the Donbas in mid-2014, because he cannot.

    Gubarev never bothers to explain how extremely exclusive Electronic Warfare suites exclusive to the ground forces of the Russian Federation appeared in the Donbas during mid 2014, because he cannot.

    Gubarev cannot explain where the heavy artillery support fired from across the border during crucial inner city sieges like those of the Luhansk and Donetsk Airports came from, because he cannot.

    And no matter how much you “doubt”, neither can you.

    Especially since the Ukrainian Army’s main artillery stores and ranges (Which I note were hideously underused) were primarily far to the South in Crimea (where they were captured unused) or to the West in Cherkassy and Vinnytsa, well outside the reach of the “Separatists” in the Donbas.

    Meaning that while there was and is the factor of defecting troops and captured equipment, it does absolutely nothing to explain where the “Separatists” got all those artillery pieces they used in the crucial, grinding sieges that dominated 2014 and 2015. While Open Source Intelligence pointed to frequent shelling from across the Russian border.

    But I’m supposed to believe a man who spews a Big Lie about everything from Castro’s reign of tyranny to the glories of the Soviet Union is going to be perfectly honest about his own conduct (in a political autobiography) and be completely forthcoming about where and when equipment came in?

    Does that sound like a sane assumption to make?

    “The facts regarding these matters, one way or the other, remain facts, whether they are pointed out by the devil himself or not.”

    I absolutely agree. Which is why I spent far less time on Gubarev’s political affiliations (beyond the fact that he is hated and distrusted even by his peers) and far more on the evidence proves that he is a liar. Nor should this be some kind of remarkable shock that a NazBol warlord trying to claim he was a justified freedom fighter representing a grassroots movement would lie and shape a narrative towards that.

    “These and many of the other claims that Gubarev makes in his book are important, can be fact checked, and their truth or falsehood doesn’t depend on whether the Russians you talk to consider the man crazy or not.”

    I agree. Which is why I spent sizable amounts of time fact checking his posts, both here and in the post I linked. And why they *simply. Do Not. Add Up.* I routinely research pro-Kremlin sources on the matter, and even those of other Neo-Soviets and Neo-Nazis. But Gubarev is both a proven liar and so small fry -and whom I have already dealt with (and that others have ) – that I feel inclined to discount him.

    “They deserve our attention because they are never, ever brought up by the propaganda machines that pass for “objective media” in the US and its allies.”

    That’s fair, and I agree the ignorance of Ukraine, its geography, and history is often a problem. People are correct to trust the propaganda machines in the West (though I fail to see why we should not scrutinize the propaganda machines from Russia and the occupied Donbas and Crimea, given how their track record in many ways just as bad or worse). In particular Gubarev only seems convincing because he is both a native and knows a fair bit about how to manipulate people who are not very familiar with the region, its history, or its politics.

    (Which is also probably a large reason why his book – from what we can tell – gets most of its sales in the West. Because he’s not exactly popular with his peers).

    “All I am saying is, read the book. Make up your own mind. Give a fair hearing to people who don’t agree with you.”

    I might, but I’ve already read a lot of Gubarev’s crap and found it to be monstrously unconvincing. If a man is willing to lie to you about what is in black and white in the public domain, what else are they willing to lie about? It’s also why I feel no particular obligation to buy or read the hagiographies of people like Fauci and Obama. That does not mean I view those who would do so as a traitor (and indeed I believe that people like Bill Whittle do amazing work with that kind of granular analysis). But I feel secure enough based on cross-checking a host of sources against Gubarev’s public domain claims to close the book on him.

    That does not mean he is literally wrong about everything (and I’ve admitted that; while I’ve pointed out he is happy to lie about everything up to and including the time of day I did accept that Crimea is majority Russian Speaking and was at the time of the transfer). But it does mean he does not deserve any particular merit or consideration in comparison to other claims sources, for the same reason I’m not giving a twig about Daszhak unless I’m directly addressing him.

    And I’d also extend the same adage about reading the work of those that disagree with you. A lot of what I’ve written is going over material I covered in my original, linked response.

    https://justpaste.it/a9q8q

    The choice is yours, of course, but I’d suggest it in the same spirit you tell me. And unlike Gubarev’s book, this one is free and less prone to totalitarian shilling. Also probably shorter.

    “In general, I am not impressed by the claim that Gubarev or anyone else is a “Nazi.” There are Nazi insignia and to spare among the Ukrainian forces as well. The praise of Bandera by those in positions of responsibility in the Ukrainian regime is a fact, as are claims that Ukrainians are “pure Slavs,” genetically superior to the “mongrel” Russians. In short, the “Nazi” canard can work both ways.”

    I completely agree, and I’ve routinely been stomping on Pro-Ukraine shills that deny the presence of Fascist thuggery among Ukrainian Loyalists. It’s why I have no love for the likes of Right Sector or Azov, and will happily (well, “happily” is probably the wrong word but you get the idea) talk about loyalist atrocities.

    In any case, I thank you for your service in spite of our differences, my link is there should you wish to check.

  32. @Gavin Longmuir

    “The filibustering person who hides under the name Tutler wrote:”

    Incorrect. The name I hide under is Turtler. T-u-R-t-l-e-r. I will have you get that right.

    “Tuttie, old boy, please Get Real!”

    I am real. Both in the Descartian “I think Therefore I am” sense and in that I am the one making reference to the actual laws defining belligerents and parties to war. And if you beg to differ, I ask you to cite the relevant definition.

    “It doesn’t matter how some overpaid lawyer tries to distort the definition of “belligerent”.”

    Considering said overpaid lawyers were the ones that wrote the definitions of that?

    “What matters is the assessment of the country against which Biden’s proxy war is being waged.”

    CORRECT.

    The *PROBLEM* with your claim, dear Gavin, is that we know the assessment of the country (or at least the national government).

    Which is why there has been a fairly predictable ring-around the rosie where Kremlin-friendly but unofficial mouthpieces (or the occasional nutjob who thinks the Kremlin is too soft) talks about being at war with NATO, the US, or so on.

    The US, NATO, etc. ask for clarification from the Russian Government if this reflects their views, with the obvious understanding that if this does, NATO/etc will have to take action.

    At which point the Russian Government quickly shoves one of its credentialed talking heads in front of a camera to loudly state NO, WE ARE NOT AT WAR WITH NATO/THE US/POLAND.

    https://sot.com.al/english/bota/sergei-lavrov-i-prere-rusia-nuk-eshte-ne-lufte-me-nato-n-nuk-po-kercenojme–i509920

    And then the cycle repeats.

    So whatever personal or *unofficial* feelings the Russian Government or its various minions may feel, the official assessment of the Russian Government is that no, Russia is not at war with the US, NATO, or so on.

    Indeed, Russia claims it is not even at war with Ukraine, but admits that it is in a Special Military Operation against the Ukrainian Government. Just that said SMO does not target NATO/The US/etc.

    And that, for the time being, is where the matter rests legally and as a matter of fact.

    “If Russians conclude with good reason that Biden & his minions are:
    (a) giving weapons to their proxy to kill Russians (and Ukrainian citizens who happen to speak Russian),”

    Firstly: Not even Ukraine’s local Neo-Fascist Bandera Cultists are going around killing “Ukrainian citizens who happen to speak Russian.” Indeed, the core of Ukrainian Neo-Fascism is in the Russian-speaking East of the country, with Right Sector having its core of support around Kharkhiv. Which is one reason why those units have been so popularly propagandized. Both because they are legitimate scum with a toxic ideology, and because the language similarity allows them to conduct infiltration operations against DNR/LNR units and even RF Regulars with a fair bit of success.

    Now, with a slight adjustment….

    “If Russians conclude with good reason that Biden & his minions are:
    (a) giving weapons to their proxy to kill Russians (and Ukrainian citizens who happen to be collaborating in a foreign invasion of Ukraine)
    and
    (b) providing (free of charge — not as an honest sale) the ammunition to put in those weapons to kill Russians, and”

    What the heck is an “honest sale” for the purposes of this?

    “(c) providing targeting information to Zelensky’s regime to help them kill more Russians,
    then it is almost inconceivable that the Russians would not quite correctly see Biden & his minions (and unfortunately the rest of us in the US) as active belligerents.”

    Again, Putin and the Russian Government have made it VERY clear they do NOT in fact see the US as Active Belligerents. And indeed Putin and Lavrov have repeatedly pointed this out.

    Now this doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t HAVE justification for a casus belli on the US. Frankly they do, and it’s one reason why I’m irritated at how blatant Biden’s junta has been at teasing that (such as openly admitting to helping with the targeting).

    But the Kremlin has no reason to pull that particular trigger. Especially when they are still struggling to hold onto the territory they already occupy in Ukraine, and since they remember their little invasion of Georgia did not trigger WW3 from the US.

    So for now, as a matter of fact, we have proof positive confirmation that as a Matter of Law and a Matter of Fact the Russian Government does not, in fact, consider the US to be a belligerent, belligerent party to a conflict, or so on.

    “The good news, Tuttie, is that you do not have to be one of Biden’s minions. You are free to think for yourself. Try it! ”

    You actually think I’m one of “Biden’s minions”, and yet you blather about how I’m the one that needs to be free to think for myself?

    Great strawman.

    “As for the bad ne:ws, that will probably be delivered by ICBM if Biden carries on making us all belligerents in his expanding proxy war.”

    Biden didn’t start this war. Putin did. And if Putin truly is willing to throw ICBMs around over a conventional military humiliation by his largest European neighbor with support from *non-belligerents*, then I fail to see why I should want to simplify his ICBM targeting lists by removing Ukraine from said list.

  33. @Mike K

    Better a wall of text than a post that serves no purpose whatsoever. Like this one. Especially given Brandolini’s Law.

    PS: bother trying to check out “Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme” by Duffy yet? I’m still staggered you thought citing Wikipedia was a good look.

    But then I checked and realized even Wikipedia mentions the Somme’s role in Falkenhayn’s downfall ( on the Battle of the Somme article, his own, and those for Ludendorff snd Hindenburg), the disasterous effect it had on the Westheer when coupled with Verdun, and Haig’s commoner subordinates and superior (in particular I’d suggest actually reading Sir William Robertson’s page). I have my own issues with the coverage of Wikipedia b it at least it did not butcher its stated job so badly as I have seen it in this case, and you really have zero excuse for not knowing better. The fact that you think I need to read more is this technically correct, but nowhere near as true as it is in your case. It also does you no favors for your claims of “Let’s wait and see what happens” when you seem unable to actually assess events that happened more than a century ago.

    By the way: a French friend of mine – someone who reads tactical manuals in their original French and English – was aghast at reading what part of your post was dedicated to WWI. Their response was even more scathing of your ignorance and hypocrisy than mine was, And I quite:

    “Hardly a line goes by without a big mistake”

    “The worrying part is how common that type of view is”

    They also pointed out something I knew but had overlooked when replying to everything else and directed me to ask you if you even knew about the spacing of the “rows” you mentioned British troops advanced in. Which they helpfully described as a “potential trap” to check if you could muster anything about the quality of your reading in this subject.

  34. @Turtler

    “He’s also a blatant liar, such as rehashing the meme that Khruschev handed over Crimea as a “birthday present” or due to some national pique rather than because of the fact that the Russian SSR Administration had botched handling it so badly that the Nazis conquered it and once it was retaken rebuilding was painfully slow.”

    From the Soviet archives:

    (the cession of Crimea was a) “noble act on the part of the Russian people” to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the “reunification of Ukraine with Russia” (a reference to the Treaty of Pereyaslav signed in 1654 by representatives of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate and Tsar Aleksei I of Muscovy) and to “evince the boundless trust and love the Russian people feel toward the Ukrainian people”

    There is no question that the transfer was initiated by Khrushchev. So, tell me, Turtler, who’s the liar, you or Gubarev?

  35. @Mike

    Thanks for the in-depth response, and sorry for all the wordiness. This is going to be a LOOONG one. Hence why I will need to break it up.

    Part 1

    “I appreciate your outlining the geopolitical landscape of Russia in rgards to the former USSR. You make a good case for Putin being a gangster.”

    Fair, and I try. I may not be the most notable one but still.

    “My one primary issue with your outline is that there is a different shift in the direction of Russian actions since 1991. Since that and before 2022 (with the notable exception of Georgia) you could make the case that Russian actions while Illegal had as its genesis the protection of Russians trapped outside of national borders after the fall of the USSR,”

    Honestly I don’t think so. But for the sake of the argument, if the Russian military did act to protect ethnic Russians or Russian citizens from unprovoked attack or persecution by others, I would be one of the first to defend them (as indeed I regularly do in regards to the Chechen Wars and Dagestan). My contempt for Putin’s regime does not mean that I have any intention of lying about the merits of the case.

    But I do not think for one second this is actually about protecting Russian ethnics or citizens abroad. The Kazakhstani government has been vastly more repressive of Russian-speaking and Russkiy (ethnic Russian) citizens than the Ukrainian Government has been, with them having not merely public education in their language but most private education banned, being subject to “Affirmative Action from Hell”, and so on. Which is why they’ve actually been one of the largest ethnic Russian sources of immigration to the Rodina in recent decades.

    But most people haven’t heard about it because

    A: The MSM can’t be trusted to know where Kazakhstan is.

    B: They and the Left can DEFINITELY not be trusted to say much bad about a Muslim nation unless it’s in the service of making an even worse Muslim faction look good.

    C: The Russian Government has historically been quite quite chummy with the Nazarbayev-Tokayev “Dynasty” and Kazakhstan is an important strategic piece in Russia’s plans (in large part since it is where their space center has been), so complaints by dispossessed or persecuted Russkiy go out the window. Sometimes literally.

    “That would be a situation familiar to people who followed European history given the post-WW I aftermath in Central Europe and the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Indeed it’s a process still ongoing in those areas (e.g. Hungary and Slovakia regarding dual nationalities)”

    Agreed, and that’s also why to be honest I wouldn’t be that inherently opposed to the idea of a Russian Federation Crimea or parts of Donetsk and Luhansk joining with Russia, after proper legal procedures and consideration being given to both sides. After all, I’ll be the first to talk about actual Georgian war crimes in their long internal conflicts.

    But I am opposed to the violence, fraud, and terror the seizure of those by Putin’s regime.

    And I’m also opposed to Putin’s interest in never putting these conflicts to bed with some kind of definite resolution, as the case of Moldova and Transnistria show clearly. Because it isn’t in his interests to have a clean, legal break. Whether it is by Transnistria/South Ossetia/Abkhazia/Crimea/Donetsk/Luhansk cleanly reintegrating to their recognized owners, or breaking away and being recognized as fully independent nations or territory of the Russian Federation. Because the instant that happens, Georgia/Ukraine/Moldova/etc can and probably will rush to join NATO.

    Especially since the invasion has shown the folly of trusting a Neutral Foreign Policy like was traditional in Ukraine up to 2014. That kind of behavior is something I find distasteful and ugly even when done by the US or other “Good Guys” in cases like the Congo, Libya, or so on and I’m certainly not going to ignore it here.

    “The invasion of Ukraine is more than Russia upping the ante in its near abroad, but rather marking the re-emergence of Russia as a major power on Europe’s eastern boundary.”

    Honestly I’m leerier. Russia was already a major power on Europe’s eastern boundary. In particular it made bank getting Europe hooked on its petros and even re-engineered the old Bismarckean Berlin-Moscow Axis that helped fuel German unification and Russian Revanche for its defeat in the Crimean War by shattering the Ottoman Balkans. Moreover, the reliance of Russia on its mystique as being one of the few great powers of the world – and particularly for having a fairly large and relatively modern* militaries that was supposedly a worthy peer competitor to the whole of NATO was a major “force multiplier” in terms of diplomacy. Much of that has gone down the tubes or at least has been badly diminished, and this is particularly showing in its relations with the major Nonaligned Countries. India in particular had been getting more and more disgruntled with Russia or at least Russian services on their equipment for quite some time, but have moved to cut a good number of their contractual ties since the war continued and have been made to more vocally and publicly oppose the Kremlin on some aspects (especially regarding the grain deal).

    * And while I know it’s a common meme that the Russian military isn’t modern, and I like a good meme, by global standards the Russian military (outside of its Navy and even then that has capabilities few nations have) IS quite modern. And they have been fighting the highest intensity conventional war for years now and giving almost as good as they’ve gotten. I remember studying their performances in Georgia and especially Syria, and while there are more problems with both than I can shake a stick at (and Georgia in particular revealed many deep seated weaknesses that were largely downplayed due to facing a weak enemy taken by surprise with its best troops in Iraq but which would be exposed in Ukraine) they have also been able to succeed in some very grinding siege battles and movement operations.

    “This is something that Bismarck would appreciate.”

    I’m not so sure. Bismarck I think is mildly overrated (still one of the greatest diplomats in history but people tend to forget his failures, especially those in late life) but he was savvy enough to realize the importance of mystique and getting sufficient support. It is also why when his post-1871 attempts to bait France into a war failed (multiple times over) he’d have the good sense to beat a retreat rather than try to double down at the risk of alienating the Russians and British even more.

    “Russia was no longer just be a gas station with an army.”

    It never really was, and if anything I’d argue the war is at risk of making it more that, only with its army and arms production becoming more and more into disrepute.

    “I would also argue that it marked Putin’s formal challenge to the existing America-led order not only in Europe but also globally.”

    Agreed, though I’m not sure this was intended to be such a formal challenge. Putin’s usually favored short, sharp engagements that lead to long, interminable frozen conflicts, and I do think he believed that he believed this war would be much easier and shorter than it has been. He also seems to have understood Biden was a weak moppet who was even weaker when allowed to act under his own steam and “discretion” (especially after Kabul) and read things like German appeasement and Biden’s “limited incursion” line.

    That backfired because the Ukrainians fought like I had no doubt they would (I might have doubted whether they could win or if conventional resistance would last a day, but I never doubted that fight, not after nearly a decade of war in the Donbas). So I believe Putin intended his truly “formal” challenge to happen much later, after Ukraine was forced back into the fold, in a wider play against NATO’s Eastern Fringe to try and play Divide and Conquer before its more Leftist, generally pro-Russian Western Front and its more Conservative, Anti-Russian East (with of course some wild cards like Hungary and Orban). But that isn’t how it turned out.

    And it’s one reason why one of the comparisons I often go back to is oddly that of the Japanese invasions of China in the 1930s, since while it was nowhere near as united or premeditated, the Japanese did view “unity” with China as basically a stepping stone to greater things such as a challenge to the Soviet Union, the Western Powers, or both. Which is also why they seriously underestimated China and just how draining a war this would be. (Of course, as many people will realize, that is not the most reassuring of analogies given what happened after enough years with the Japanese bashing their heads in the “China Incident”, and while I do think other conditions make that Less Likely to happen such as Putin being less likely to enter a war he is flatly told he cannot win while still fighting other conflicts, I cannot rule it out altogether.)

    “Putin, as a former KGB officer, would have been well-steeped in Lenin’s revolutionary doctrine and understood how historical events present opportunities.”

    Agreed. Though I do think the is more of a student of Stalin and Ivans III and IV.

    “So seen through that lens, Ukraine while perhaps instrumental in the overall scheme is not the strategic center of gravity but rather, what, the McGuffin? The device to move the larger process forward? Yes Putin’s coup de main on February 24th failed, but not necessarily his larger scheme.”

    Agreed. Which is also why I have been leery of the more extravagant peace feelers and appeals for a ceasefire from Moscow lately, especially given the damaging nature of a frozen conflict like we’ve seen before and the importance of time and space in constructing defenses for positional fighting. The Ukrainians clearly seem to believe that (with Western and other support I must note) they would do better pressing the advantage now than taking a breather for some months or a year or two, and I am inclined to give them the support for them to make the attempt so long as our own domestic situation or another crisis front does not start melting down more catastrophically than is already the case (though if it becomes time to Boogaloo at home, of course, all bets are off and I have to wish the Ukrainians an earnest “Good Luck For Now” as we deal with the despots here in the States).

    “So it now appears that we are heading toward, at best, what Milley said 10 months ago – stalemate.”

    Agreed, on the whole. Or at least an attritional slog. That’s been the norm for this conflict outside of a few medium sized exceptions such as the initial Russian Invasions + Separatist uprisings in 2014, the Kremlin’s February Offensives, the Ukrainian Northern Counteroffensive, etc. That’s ugly but it’s also not a deal breaker, and frankly I viewed a semi-frozen conflict in which the Ukrainians slowly regain occupied territory (as was the case for most of the war between 2016 and the mass invasion at the start of 2022) as being the best outcome from a US/Western POV, since it still weakens and humiliates Putin and calls into question his pro-CCP and anti-Western policy, but it does so in a less dramatic and seemingly existential fashion that would make it more likely for him (or whoever might succeed him) to do something truly stupid/reckless/destructive.

    It’s one reason why I was so incensed at Western weakness and especially Biden’s telegraphing that a “limited incursion”* might be tolerated.

    * Note: Putin doesn’t really do “limited incursions” and historical Russian doctrines have disdained them as well. There are exceptions like the surgical wars in “Francafrique” but those tend to be for diplomatic reasons and involve deniable assets rather than outright identified elements of the Russian Federation’s military. If he is going to acknowledge something, he generally prefers trying a systematic buildup and then smashing with overwhelming force with a push to the enemy’s capitol and other centers of gravity (in keeping with literally centuries old Russian military traditions and more universal maxims of war). Which is one reason I was so incensed.

    “The Ukrainian counteroffensive has more than likely failed, I say “likely” because sure there is a small chance that the Russian effort could collapse in the next few weeks. In battles, much less wars, of attrition you can have sudden turn of events such as that; however, that’s not the way to bet.”

    Honestly I’m more sanguine. The Ukrainian counter-offensive’s been hideously costly but for both sides, and it has made a fair amount of progress such as breaching the Surovikin line, the first major defensive line in the sector, and is still continuing. And that’s important because the center of gravity in the war – at least for now – has moved to the South-East, in the center of the country where this fighting is. It’s important because while there’s really no realistic way the Ukrainians can hold their entire border with Russia (and Belarus) in the North or Northeast (because the Russian MOD and other assets can simply sweep right back across the border) gains in the South are far easier to take and hold because it’s their territory and there’s less in the way of diplomatic or political issues with maneuvering.

    It’s also more important because Crimea is the crown jewel of Putin’s “Novorossiyan” project, especially in comparison to the rust belts of Donetsk and Luhansk (which proved to be vastly less receptive to his project than he, I, or frankly most people expected and also way harder to take and hold, and which would also need expensive investment and rehabilitation the Kremlin can ill afford to give), and that means sustaining both the Kerch Bridge and the overland route. The more territory Ukraine can take in the South, the more they can endanger both of those through long range fire, and also create new cracks to exploit.

    I do not think this is going to be the knock out blow Reddit’s NCD or NAFO fangirled over or that I frankly hoped it might be, but it is a bloody eye for the Russian MOD and a step towards consolidating gains in the South that can then be consolidated for. And historically the Ukrainians have had great successes with this (such as the liberation of Kherson, and the incremental gains that characterized the Donbas War from 2016-2021).

    “Ukraine had its best chance to escape the trap of a war of attrition with a much larger foe and couldn’t pull it off and has lost the initiative.”

    It hasn’t quite lost the initiative yet, so we’ll see. Also honestly the Ukrainians were never likely to escape the trap of attritional war for that, and you might be surprised that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for them. Or at least, it might not favor Putin quite as much.

    Ukrainian war enthusiasm has slackened, and casualties have been high, but the “Sacred Union” as the French have referred to has generally held and frankly I’m inclined to think that Ukrainian leadership think a bad deal as Minsk I and Minsk II are seen as (I think correctly) would be a greater threat to themselves and to the nation as a whole than continuing the fight.

    In contrast, the Russian military has suffered massive problems trying to recruit for itself, as well as proxies. This isn’t like in Moldova or Georgia where the local Kremlin client states have fairly solid paramilitaries that can hold their own under their own steam with some resource and intel gifts. The Transnistrians fought for more than a year with “volunteers” and aid from the Russian military, and the Abkhaz and South Ossetians have generally proven more than a match for the Georgian infantry squad in light infantry combat (even if the Georgians typically had an advantage over them when they could bring in combined arms). In contrast the DNR and LNR are gutted, having resorted to universal male conscription months ago and with disastrously high losses. That means that Russia proper has to not only fight its largest post-WWII war, but also field a much higher percentage of the combatants on its side than it is used to.

    Public support for the war in Russia remains, but public support for “not getting sent into the meat grinder” is apparently significantly higher. Attempts to entice more Contract-Soldiers (professional soldiers that can be legally used abroad) with truly staggering by Russian standards deals fell largely fallow. Recruitment rates from the prisons dropped off a cliff (admittedly in large part due to the behavior of Wagner and a bunch of other regime-affiliated PMCs being so callous with life that even hardened Vory y Zakone started being staggered and that Might change with the MOD taking prominence, but a lot is also due to the populations being hollowed out as the “low hanging fruit” has already been picked). Recruitment rates for foreign troops has been significantly below what was expected.

    So the decision has been made to roll out yet another wave of mobilization, and that’s been received dubiously at best with a growing endemic of mobilization and recruitment office bombings or arsons that don’t SEEM to be tied to the known anti-Putin paramilitaries active in Russia (the hard cores). That in my opinion indicates we’re seeing something like a Vietnam-like backlash.

    Which isn’t that surprising. Afghanistan was already a watershed moment in Soviet/Russian history, and it featured far fewer losses from a pan-Soviet Empire over a longer period of time. Whatever the track record of the war as a whole is, performance in the war can’t be playing terribly well in Russia (and it isn’t, as my contacts can attest). The fact that Putin has decided to try caressing the third rail of more mobilization in spite of this I think speaks to some profound difficulties on the RF’s side, and the fact that he has decided not to risk a formal declaration of war that would allow him much more leeway in deploying the seasonal conscripts I think speaks volumes about how he fears it would go. I think for good reason, especially given how word is already trickling out about complaints regarding the Kremlin “altering the deal” with its Contractniki in a Russian form of stop-loss, as well as screwing over its auxiliaries like the PMCs and foreign volunteers.

    I think the Ukrainians have concluded that a war of attrition is far more favorable to them than a simple tally of populations and weapons indicates, and have concluded that pushing the lines will put Putin in an even tighter domestic squeeze while – IF things go well – allowing them to consolidate gains going to the crucial South and Southeast. There’s also the fact that they generally seem to figure they are getting the better of the attritional trade both in terms of troops (since they have seriously depleted the trained and experienced cadres of Russian combatants, with the Kremlin having to pull in combat units from as far away as Kamchatka and cannibalize training cadres) and even moreso equipment (though a lot of that is due to Western largesse).

    In general, casualties and losses have been heavy on both sides but somewhat heavier on the Russian side, but the unequal mobilization’s meant the Russians are suffering worse from it. We’re at the point of the war where destroyed T-80s and T-90s (to use just one example) are getting replaced with T-72s and destroyed T-72s with lower grades of them, while killed/crippled/captured/defended Russian veterans or regulars are replaced by new recruits. The Ukrainians have had a similar effect but on a much lesser scale since they are still conscripting en masse from their population base and sending them to fight, meaning while “the old guys” get hit a lot they get hit less per capita than the Russian ones did (made worse by the costly early days when Putin wasn’t mobilizing from his population), while the equipment losses generally have a good chance of being replaced by even better kit.

    Of course, all of this could backfire horribly on the Ukrainians, especially if Putin does finally bite the bullet to declare war and a general callup and the Russian public goes along with it and proves to be remarkably more competent. But I think they correctly calculate that’s a whole lot of ifs and is less likely on the whole.

    “So what would you recommend?”

    Depends, but honestly? Get Biden and co to STFU about the degrees to which we are helping or not. Deniability is a glorious thing when used to a good purpose.

    Also drown out idiots like Gunther Fehlinger, who like loudly blathering about a partition of Russia or “decolonization” and thus providing the Kremlin’s propagandists with ammo. Even if one hypothetically DID seek to outright remove Russia from existence (and I FANATICALLY DO NOT because again, Russia has problems but it is still an actual nation with people who deserve better), one should *not advertise that fact precisely BECAUSE, pace the Great Patriotic War, it is great recruitment.* And frankly one of the few things likely to re-energize the Russian public is the fear of a direct conflict with NATO or that their nation’s existence is at threat.

    Which we should be working to reject and downplay at every turn, pointing out that this is Putin’s war (and that of the “Organs” in Moscow) and is if anything undermining the possible survival of Russia due to the demographic losses, not helping said survival.

    We should also look into helping the Ukrainians find ways to destroy the Russian Black Sea Fleet. They apparently nearly did so before Musk torpedoed the idea, but they already landed a majorly crippling blow with the destruction of Moskva, and it should be possible to finish the job with some resources, intel, and inventiveness. That’d help ensure peace in the long term once this war is over and put Russia on parity with its weaker neighbors and victims.

    But honestly? Largely continuing the path as is would probably yield a lot of beneficial results. The Kremlin’s not fared that well in this war, and while it’s no Three Stooges (in spite of the similarities Putin, Shoigu, and Surovikin have on times) that cannot do anything well it has blundered badly and costily. There’s probably a reason they are making such a strong peace offensive and it is not because of actual interest in peace but because they think they need a breather to try and take stock of the losses and dig in. So not giving them a break is probably a good idea.

    “Keep in mind that in one sense we (the US) has already lost because we loudly proclaimed last year that we would impose our will on Russia (rollback to pre-2014 lines, Putin dragged to the Hague in chains…) and we haven’t been able to do it.”

    I categorically reject the conclusion that we have “already lost.” We haven’t been able to do it yet, but we have good progress in that direction. Putin’s largely undermined Russian prestige and power with this costly war, and also helped push de-entanglement with the Kremlin and to a lesser extent even the CCP. Moreover, he’s already had to walk back a lot of his maximalist declared war aims (at least temporarily) such as regime change in Ukraine.

    And indeed the war in general I think shows that when not much is going on too loudly, the Ukrainians tend to be good at rolling back Russian/Separatist troops (albeit slowly and at a cost). This was the main track record of the 2016-2021 “Donbas” phase of the war and it’s generally been happening now. So while somewhat unlikely barring some major political changes in Russia, I do think a return to the 2014 Start Lines is possible.

    As for Putin being turned over to the Hague, that is Unlikely *and we should not condition it as one of our primary objectives* but I do think it is more likely than many think. While the NATO bombing campaigns in Bosnia and Kosovo are the most well known and the latter was the final political straw, his wars were ultimately lost by the patient buildup of the Croatian and Bosnian armed forces who then proceeded to rip the Serbian military (which I note inherited most of the former Yugoslav military’s assets) and that of its clients/puppets/frenemies like the Serbian Krajinian Army new ones in things like Operation Storm-333. Moreover, Putin’s already personalized this war even more than Milosevic did in Bosnia and Croatia, especially with the purges of anti-Putin pro-War Hawks like Prigozhin and Girkin.

    (In case anybody does not understand, I realize that Serbia is not Russia and vice versa, especially given the WMD. I also AM NOT in favor of some kind of NATO military intervention like the strikes or even “peacekeeping” troops on the ground, for the obvious reasons.

    But the situation does not HAVE to be equivalent in every way for there to be some damn important parallels, and the Bosnian and Croatian wars show how a numerically, demographically, and militarily superior enemy can be worn down and beaten. It is not the only such case, nor is it even what I’d argue is the most applicable one since I’d probably give that to the Iraqi defensive campaigns against Iran from 1983ish onwards, but it is a good reference to show how more than one leader has been turned over to the Hague by their own people for it, as Karadzic, Mladic, and Milosevic found out.)

    “All of what Putin wanted to accomplish in February 2022 is still on the table because while the war has become much costlier than he would ever have expected”

    True, but again: a return to the 2014 Borders and Putin being sent to the Hague are also still on the table.

    “he can claim that he’s mo longer jus fighting Ukraine, but also NATO and he fought them at worst to a draw.”

    That doesn’t work for a few reasons.

    Firstly and most importantly: his claim was that he would “demilitarize” Ukraine. That’s no longer seriously on the table, especially not in any kind of schedule that would go well. Which is one reason he’s walked back. While some (including some pro-Ukrainian commenters like Perun) have argued the Kremlin has broad narrative control and so can define victory how it wants, my contacts in Russia and some others (including pro-Kremlin accounts like Rybar) DO note the original terms for victory and how they have been dropped or downplayed, so flip-flopping does not help the regime.

    Secondly: He can’t really claim to be fighting all of NATO, or especially not to a draw. He’s been losing ground fairly consistently and at significant cost that is getting the Russian home front irritated. That and you have the periodic humiliations from that kind of posturing with NATO going “Cyka X said that Russia is at War with NATO/ Russia should consider Nuking Poland/Russia plans to go into Moldova; does this reflect the beliefs of the Russian Government?” or the “Russia puts nuclear services on alert” only to be told by everybody up to and including the CCP “Dude Cut that Out, We can’t back this.” Which generally leads to climb downs.

    This DOES seem to be a case where narrative control has helped the Kremlin, since my Russian contacts generally knew only a few cases (and I expect the Russian everyman knows even less), but it does provide an avenue.

    And finally, there’s the fact that the Kremlin’s probably not going to be able to field an army or equipment as good as the one that went into the meatgrinder in early 2022 again in a generation’s time. The ranks of the veterans of Afghanistan, Georgia, and Syria are far, Far narrower than they were by a wide margin, as is that of the professional cadres and the top tiers of the Kremlin’s functional equipment. Even if the war stopped tomorrow that’d take a long time to rebuild, and the war almost certainly isn’t going to stop tomorrow.

    “The label “neocon” seems to be a bit vague, but I think a definition of intervention abroad undergirded by military strength abroad to promote democracy is probably a good one.”

    Somewhat agreed. There used to be a much more specific term since it originated with leftist converts to the right (whether actual or apparent) but that’s been diminished seriously.

    “The problem with that approach for a country that underpins the international system is that if you are seen as actively involved in promoting a certain end to criteria you set and you fail to accomplish those ends you lose credibility. As a friend of mine teaches in his class Tom Hallion’s great precept that when people are watching, your “a** is in the jackpot” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn28Dz4RUxc) ”

    Agreed, and it’s one reason why I’ve come around (if grudgingly) to a more isolationist and protectionist policy, less because that is my sincere belief on what is optimal than because I sincerely believe it is what the American people both need and want after the humiliations and frustrations in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’d be the case even without the left and Islamist rot in our institutions and threats there, but it goes on here.

    “Perhaps we should send Hallion as a roving diplomat to defuse global tensions.”

    I’d be game.

    “In the big rush to display our virtue last Spring we stuck ourselves in the jackpot in a way that risks our credibility without being able to directly affect the outcome”

    I can’t agree. There have been a whole bunch of times when we have rushed into things because of virtue signaling but *This Really Isn’t One Of Them.* We’ve been supporting the Ukrainians and they’ve been supporting us for a long time, even before the 2014 invasion. We inked the Budapest Memorandum on their borders in 1994 with the Russians and British, and they served with us in both Afghanistan and Iraq (albeit on small numbers) as I believe I linked somewhere (will have to check).

    (Of course we can note that not all of that support was necessarily GOOD or beneficial, especially when it comes to private graft and corruption such as between the Biden Crime Family and various interests in Ukraine, or the sketchy US use of Ukrainian labs for research to do an end run around Congressional oversight that Nuland lied about, and the Kremlin briefly tried to claim was a reason for the invasion because “Biolabs” before that got torn to pieces by official scrutiny and people like pointing out that A: This would mean Yanukovych continued authorizing the US using “Illegal Bioweapon labs” in Ukraine with Putin’s knowledge, and B: that the Russian Military thought it was a good idea to *freaking dump explosives in and around said bioweapon labs.* )

    We also had surprising consensus in condemning the Kremlin’s nonsense in Ukraine, though Obama was largely ineffectual in doing so as far as we know while Trump provided lethal aid starting in 2016.

    So it’s been our policy to do this for QUITE some time, and Trump was in support of it, contra BS trying to paint him as pro-Putin or some kind of appeaser.

    “For all the hubub about neocon virtue about promoting democracy and freedom, I have yet to see any realistic analysis on their part of how they would accomplish their objectives”

    Which is quite understandable, and I’ll be the first to admit that my peers seriously screwed up in Afghanistan and to a somewhat lesser extent in Iraq. Which is why I try to provide a remedy for that, to be judged as I will.

    “based on past experiences Neocons wants us to use Serbia as the exemplar, but not Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan… no empiricism for us .”

    Understandable, but I think that’s largely because the situations for most of those are different even moreso than Serbia is to Ukraine. But if I had to pick one of those choices, it’d probably be Libya, both during our onesided “Cold War” with Gaddafi and the Libyan Civil War that saw his demise.

    In particular his occupation of Chad and ultimate defeat by Habre I think proves a decent -if obviously imprecise – model for this, in particular because it shows a conventional WARPAC style military taking advantage of civil strife to invade a weaker neighbor and claim territory, propping up local collaborationists and trying to dictate terms while the US (and France) supported his enemies. In particular the schism in GUNT and the pro-Western faction becoming the government while the anti-Western one was beaten down by defections and battlefield defeats that left the Libyan conventional military exposed in a foreign country surrounded by people who didn’t like them and dealing with outdated, inflexible WARPAC style officers and an egotistical dictator is notable.

    Obviously a bunch of Toyota Hilux are not going to be anywhere near as useful in this war as they were in that one, but it does provide it.

    Afghanistan (the Coalition’s, the Soviet, and the various mostly successful British ones) I can KIIND of see some narrow parallels with in that it’s a war that is lockstepped by political obligations and supposedly hard and fast borders that tribal and political ties ignore, leading to a war spilling over the borders, along with the importance of courting nonaligned opinions. But it is mostly too different. The armies involved are too large, too regularized, and too non-Tribal.

    Iraq you might think would be a more approximate parallel to Afghanistan but it’s not in the same way because once Saddam went down our main state opponents never bothered confronting us in the open on Iraqi soil with flags flying, limiting it to proxies and deniable spec ops assets. It also was far more tribal and focused on fighting for urban sprawls with a side helping of clearing the countryside. Had we been talking in 2021 I’d say that Iraq offered a number of striking parallels, and even moreso in 2015 when the sieges of Donetsk and Luhansk airports were still ongoing. But with the Kremlin dropping the pretenses and turning this into a hot conventional war most of those break down.

    So I do think Serbia – or rather the Croatian War and Bosnian War- is much closer to the correct analogy.

    “People want to use Tucker Carlson as the face of Putin stoogeism, I want to use the face of Nuland of Kristol on the other side of that bet”

    And I absolutely agree, with the caveat that I don’t really think Tucker is the face of Putin Stoogeism. In 2021 I’d have put Biden’s ugly mug there, but now I’d shift it to being Schroeder.

    And while I take GREAT issues with Tucker and no longer like him quite as much as I did once Bill O’Reilly got thrown out I am indebted to him for his domestic work.

    “So tell me what’s the path going forward? Tell me how from a neocon situation we can still win.”

    I hope I’ve been explaining that so far. But on the whole, modifying a few things (in particular to neutralize the Russian navy) and continuing to support Ukraine’s pushes.

  36. @Mike

    Part 2 (again, Apologies for the wordiness and the length. I fear this really will seem like a filibuster, pace Gavin)

    “If we cannot meaningfully change the situation from the existing line of contact that we have now, which was about the same as where we were last November when Milley first broached negotiations, then shouldn’t we be trying to shut down the conflict or do we just need to get another 100,000 people killed to get all of this ”You’re either for a total victory or you’re a Putin-stooge” and risk a Ukrainian collapse (and the culmination of Putin’s plans) to get this out of our system?”

    I’d agree on the whole, *if* we could not meaningfully change the situation on the existing line of contact.

    But I don’t think that is the case, and the Ukrainians seem not to think so either. While there is the chance their analysis is being affected by things like perverse incentives (whether directly from the US and other sponsors, or from at home with things like national pride, revanchism, winning the next election or opinion poll or contract), I don’t think that’s the bottom line. On the whole the Ukrainian government and military have played their cards pretty well over the past years (not perfect by ANY stretch of the imagination, and in particular their navy got destroyed at port quite early due to bad policy and they failed to guard the Crimean Isthmus well, but still good), and I think their calculus that continued fighting is the more likely path to success sounds fitting from my POV. In particular in bleeding the Russian military of its best troops and equipment.

    ALSO IMPORTANTLY is that we have the benefit of hindsight. We KNOW what focusing on “shutting down the conflict” to the expense of all other considerations has done. It’s gotten us Georgia and Moldova, and in Ukraine it led to Minsk I and Minsk II. Georgia and the Minsk cases are particularly damning because they didn’t even successfully shut down the conflict, and people I know have had their families get dispossessed during the supposed “peacetime.”

    Which is why I largely believe in peace through strength when possible, and I’m broadly inclined to continue supporting the Ukrainians in like for as long as they are interested in continuing the fighting, and particularly for the immediate future, *barring changes in circumstances for us or our closer allies.*

    “Where’s the off ramp?”

    I’d say the key to this is not looking for the off ramp ourselves so much as bloodying the Kremlin so badly they seek one.

    HOWEVER, for the sake of the argument if you told me that the US MUST have peace in Ukraine or at least a “Frozen Conflict” by the end of this year, here’s what I’d say:

    Number One Priority: SINK THE RUSSIAN BLACK SEA FLEET. Period. This is probably the Kremlin’s single biggest force multiplier in the region and also the hardest for it to replace, especially since it’s overwhelmingly of Soviet vintage, the modern Russian Navy sucks in managing it, and most of the massive Soviet shipyards for the Black Sea fleet are now *Ukrainian* (with Moskva infamously being built at Mykolaiv). For now Turkish neutrality (ANOTHER ironclad sign that NATO is not a belligerent to this war and Russia does not consider it) blocks the passage of warships through the straits and means the Black Sea Fleet’s bottled up there, so those ducks are in a very hot pond.

    Blowing them up will not only make the Grain Deal more secure (and thus help calm the global situation and economy) by making it less likely the Kremlin will attack ships transporting them, it’ll greatly weaken the Kremlin’s power on the global stage and also force them to make difficult decisions during peace. Do they detach ships from their other fleets to replace the losses in the Black Sea Fleet? or do they abandon half a century of hard fought dominance in the Black Sea? And while the Kremlin’s dealing with that, they can devote less time and resources to bothering us during peacetime. Moreover, I believe this is quite possible with relatively modest resources as the Moskva showed and supposedly the nearly-successful attack on the Russian fleet in port that Musk helped scupper.

    Secondly: Come up with some deal to help the Ukrainians in terms of Airpower and Naval Building. Whether it’s continuing to supply them with F-16s and a “loan” to commission ships at their major ports, giving them some of our mediocre rust belts (to try and help spur Congress to get a naval building program), or some mixture of them. Naval Power and Air Power have been the two greatest force multipliers the Kremlin has had in the Ukraine war in particular and the Black Sea in general. Giving the Ukrainians competitive resources for that would make resuming war for the Kremlin a lot, Lot less pleasant.

    Thirdly and Optionally: Demand withdrawal of both sides’ combatants from contested areas like the Donetsk and Luhansk (as much as I hate them possible Blue Helmets might intensify) and demand open votes overseen by muh international community. No Crimean Surprises.

    Fourthly and Optionally: Some kind of wording in the ceasefire permitting large scale nationalizations of Russian *GOVERNMENT* or Government-affiliated-entity/individual* assets in the West should it be determined that the Russian Government is at fault for resuming the conflict.

    The Third and Fourth are optional and would largely be ideal. The first two though I think are necessary for any “winding down of the war”.in the way you describe.

    Ideally I am still sympathetic to the maximalist view of throwing Putin over the 2014 lines, and maybe (though I’m not going to press) Putin being sent to Den Haag, but those are the conditions I’d aim for in trying for a “Quick Wind Down.”

    This is also stuff I just came up with “firing from the hip” so I’d probably give more and better after some careful consideration. But I do think these goals are highly important but also fairly modest for accomplishment.

    “That’s why I’m not a neocon, because not only is it bullying virtue on the cheap but it goes against 70+ years of experience. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to pick on you, perhaps I’ll just go back in the Google time machine and get a list of everyone who doubled down that anyone who wasn’t on board with total victory was a Putin bootlicker.”

    Oh no worries, and that’s perfectly fine. And you’re not wrong, many of my peers have covered themselves in disgrace they will never wipe off. It’s also why I do not intend to emphasize my stuff.

    “A few specific points.”

    Fair.

    “I am not sure going back and pointing to signed treaties that provided for legality of Ukraine’s NATO ascension is… what… relevant?”

    In terms of practical on the ground effect it’s not relevant. However, justifications are important, and pointing to these are relevant because it blows up the idea that this war happened because of NATO expansion (something that was already repeated a couple times over, including by at least one person who strikes me as fairly intelligent).

    I’d have hoped the application for and ascension of Sweden and Finland into NATO would’ve put this narrative to bed, but hope in one hand and….

    In short, wars aren’t just fought with bombs and bullets but they’re often fought by claims and ideals, and the Kremlin’s had centuries of institutional experience with doing this. So being able to pin them down and hammer various claims they’ve shotgunned out in the hopes of courting an audience helps, in much the same way that being able to pin Obama and Biden down and humiliate them does here.

    “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was him seizing a unique opportunity to rework the international order, I don’t think shaking pieces of paper is going to work any more than the residents of Prague shaking copies of the Munich Agreement at Hitler’s Panzers did any good.”

    I agree. However, Munich showed even most profoundly “simple” people what Hitler was about and how he could not be trusted. Budapest, Astana, etc. al. also show them.

    It also helps by undercutting his stated pretenses for the war and actions. For instance, being able to point to the South Tyrol Options Agreement Hitler signed with Mussolini in 1939 effectively selling his co-ethnics up a river in the face of truly brutal Fascist Italian persecution would’ve been a good way to undercut the idea that his hunger for the Sudetenland was genuinely about the (often discriminatory and imperfect but NOWHERE near as bad) Czechoslovak problems. Which is probably one reason why Hitler was shrewd enough to only make that agreement After not just Munich but after he broke Munich. But the issue predated that and pointing to the wider South Tyrol forced Italicization would’ve been able to undercut Hitler’s posturing about protecting Germans and also try and drive a wedge between Adolf and Benito.

    Likewise, being able to to point to Kazakhification and Putin’s disregard for it undermines the idea he is acting to defend “Russian speakers” or “ethnic Russians.” in Ukraine (most of whom seem to have no great love for him as Kharkhiv shows). Pointing to Astana and Budapest helps destroy the idea this war is about NATO expansion.

    And so on, and so forth.

    None of these are particularly important by themselves. But taken together they help indict Putin and his ilk as insincere, hypocritical goons spewing insincere, hypocritical justifications that cannot and should not be taken at face value.

    “Isn’t one of the bedrock principles of international affairs, the beast that lies beneath the surface of any interaction, that no country will abide by a legal agreement if they no longer feel it is in their best interests to do so?”

    Absolutely. But it also stands to reason that countries will shake legal agreements and use them as propaganda or bedrocks if they feel it is in their best interests to do so. I have issues with many of these (and the Astana Declaration of 2010 I think barely qualifies as an agreement), but they exist. And they can and should be hung over Putin’s head and used to slap him, much the same as we can do the CCP’s lip services about the Law of the Seas and supposed Human Rights.

    “By the same token just because we had a treaty that said we could do so, would it make sense to grant NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine?”

    At present we can’t grant NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, so that’s academic. Georgia was ineligible almost from the start due to the separatist conflicts at play, while Ukraine spent the first two decades after independence pursuing neutrality and cooperation with both Russia and NATO, and after that changed due to 2014 they now had an ongoing war.

    If those issues could somehow be dealt with, I would be broadly open to Georgia and Ukraine starting on the path to NATO membership, assuming no “cheats” or short stops, but if the American Public disagreed then so be it, and US disapproval would torpedo that.

    “To the very borders of Russia?”

    NATO’s been on “the very borders of Russia” since 2004, and it widened to include Finland. And on the whole that policy has proven very successful, especially for us. If nothing else it spreads the danger by preventing the Kremlin from the divide and conquer strategies its Tsarist precursors employed very effectively in the 1700s and the Soviets did in the interwar period. So I am personally supportive.

    “Where is the strategic payoff for such a provocative act?”

    For starters? Strategic Buffer. A Russian military that has to shoot its way through the Baltics or Poland to get to Central Europe is going to be less potent a threat to us than one that can start there like in the Cold War.

    This was recognized fairly early on after WWI, when the Western Allies helped support the newly independent nations in Eastern Europe against the Bolsheviks, helping to turn back Lenin’s attempt to start WW2 in 1918-1921. It was also remembered after WWII with the large scale (and almost forgotten) post-WWII Guerilla Wars in Soviet Space (of which Bandera’s OUN/UPA are probably the most relevant and infamous but which happened from the Forest Brothers in the Baltic through to the Home Army in Poland) when the CIA conditionally supported a host of anti-Soviet guerilla operations throughout Eastern Europe, keeping fighting going on (albeit in an increasingly small scale) until the mid 1950s. Which was probably a contributing factor to why we avoided a Third World War due to Stalin feeling he’d need to get his house in order before he could build up a nuclear arsenal, and in turn that he’d need a nuclear arsenal strong enough to deter Western response before he could try and rerun Lenin’s dream like it was 1919.

    In the end he simply ran out of time.

    And that was with gaggles of disorganized, cellular volunteer units and light infantry that often fought each other, not nation states.

    Moreover, it stands to reason that if making the Russian military shoot through the Baltics to Germany or wherever the “start line” is will weaken them, giving the Baltics/Romania/etc some modern kit and pointers on how to fight will do that even more effectively.

    Secondly, it helps keep the general peace. For all the talk about NATO expansion being a cause of the war, the point is that of all of the Russian involved military adventures in its ‘Near Abroad” exactly zero of them have been against a NATO signatory nation. And that’s for good reason. Because of Article 5, and the knowledge by Putin that if he took his military against NATO without intensive preparation, he would lose and lose quite badly and unambiguously.

    Thirdly, it gives us ready stockpiles of former WARPAC equipment and significant familiarity with the Russian language, so we can better understand many of our most likely opponents, who tend to be either Russia itself or other WARPAC armed or derivative offshoots, including the PRC itself and most of the Rent-a-Whackjob Islamists around.

    Fourthly, if worst comes to worst it will force the Russian government to allocate its WMD over a much wider spectrum of targets while ours can remain concentrated. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want nukes flying at all. However, with all due respect to the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, if they HAD to fly I’d much rather some of them fly to Helsinki or Vilnius or Kanaus or the Lapland than towards the US. Brutal yes, but that’s realpolitik and MAO for you.

    Fifthly and as a side benefit, it helps reinforce these countries’ ties to us. Which has a number of beneficial advantages, starting by detaching them from Russia and also serving to help bring their more “based”, conservative viewpoints into the alliance when it is badly needed, especially given the West. The Poles have been one of most useful and important allies, and were the third ally in Iraq, and the other Eastern Bloc countries show similar signs.

    “The point of having a security alliance, a perimeter if you will, with Article 5 guarantees is that there are countries which would lie outside of hat perimeter because they don’t meet the strategic interests of the alliance.”

    Of course. But by its nature this also should make membership in that perimeter ATTRACTIVE to those outside of it, so that they are incentivized to apply even if all of the member states reserve the right to veto (as Turkey did regarding Finland and Sweden until recently).

    This is something that much of the Old Guard NATO members badly underestimated during the twilight of the Cold War and particularly the Nasty Nineties, and which I see many of those blaming NATO expansion for this (and particularly the idea it was some conscious and consistent policy by the US) miss. While HW Bush and many others (especially in Germany) were just as inclined to roll up the alliance and go home (in Germany’s case conveniently AFTER bringing its Eastern third aboard and kicking the ladder down), a stream of former Pact members took a look at the failed Soviet Coup in 1991, the implosion of Yugoslavia, and the host of wars in the old “Near Abroad” (not all tied directly to Russian Gov’t misadventures but most so), and they streamed in droves to get in. This more than anything is what prevented the rollup of NATO and helped cause it to expand.

    And I think the reasons for that expansion were quite sound.

    “I find your dismissal of a pro-Russian government in Mexico to have some holes.”

    Fair.

    “You provide Cuba as a counter-example of neighbor that we tolerated having close ties with a major adversary.”

    It wasn’t merely “tolerated for “having close ties with a major adversary.” Fidel Castro quite literally tried to start a nuclear WW3 on false pretenses, underneath the noses of his Soviet patrons, and this was ratified by Che’s apocalyptic ravings. This is on top of literally everything else they did such as a host of foreign misadventures and sponsorship of terrorism.

    I’ve seen the Cuban Missile Crisis analogy be bandied about a lot by those claiming they are trying to understand the Kremlin’s actions and motivations, or outright trying to whitewash them. So it’s worth going back to brass tacks to talk about what the Cuban dictatorship did and what the Cuban Missile Crisis Was (as well as how the US responded to it, with both a strong front of blockade and threats for military action, and concessions such as promising htere would be no Bay of Pigs 2, accepting the presence of Tactical Nuclear Weapons on Cuban soil to defend against invasion but without the strike capacity to hit the continental US, and most famously removing the Minuteman rockets from Turkey and a host of others).

    “Of course the problem is that it took the prospect of a nuclear war, the Cuban Missile Crisis, for us to come to that accommodation.”

    The prospect of nuclear war was brought about by the intrigues of the Castro government, who specifically asked for and received the stationing of a full spectrum of nuclear weapons on Cuba, both those that could only be used defensively against another attack (or if we’re really generous in the most ineffectual firsts trike imaginable by nuking Gitmo), and those capable of offensive action by hitting the US.

    So the analogy for this would be Ukraine and Georgia actively asking for and being given many of the best WMD in the nuclear arsenal (this is also why I placed such high emphasis on slapping down the “bioweapon labs” nonsense, even as I pointed to the US Government and Nuland’s lies and evasions about biological research agreements in Ukraine).

    Only then that gets compounded by Ukraine and Georgia being ruled by terrorist nutjobs who promptly try and get the US to launch a nuclear first strike on Russia because reasons. That’s the reason for the Cuban Missile Crisis in a nutshell, and it’s safe to conclude this is not on par with it and that the Kremlin knows it is not as shown by how its actions, while serious, are not comparable to how it has acted during what it perceives as actual existential threats. Including very recently (such as the Chechen Wars and the high point of the 2008 Georgia Crisis when there was a real prospect that the forward elements of the Russian Military might run into a perimeter of US Troops around Tbilisi).

    Now in the interests of full disclosure I have seen SHADES of the sort of reckless Castroite pronunciations and scheming by Zelenskyy with his claims that the US should impose a No Fly Zone that would almost certainly bring us into the war, and I’ve condemned and criticized that. But at the same time even the worst Zelenskyy has said and done is not comparable to this. Zelenskyy is a politician and head of state during war who is advocating for his country or at a minimum his government/himself who talked about military actions to secure Ukrainian interests. Fidel Castro talked about global apocalypse and Cuba* being nuked into oblivion to help prepare the way for global revolution. One does not have to believe in the Cult of St. Zelenskyy or even agree with my stances to recognize the important differences.

    * It’s at this point I’ll note that it’s probably not a TOTAL Coincidence that Fidel Castro’s father was a Cuban-Spanish Royalist who fought against Cuban Independence, was defeated, and went to Spain before being unable to make a living there and returning, where he basically ran as a petty tyrannical hidalgo.

    “I think two better historical examples would be El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s where we not only engaged in a proxy war with the latter but debated whether we would militarily intervene in the former.”

    That’s a fair argument, but I don’t think it holds.

    Firstly: It’s worth reminding where El Salvador and Nicaragua are today, especially the latter. Decades later and even an electoral ouster, Comandante Ortega is back in power in Nicaragua and – surprise surprise – has turned out to be the totalitarian dictator the much-maligned Cold Warriors said he is, and has been murdering people and sponsoring our enemies with scant opposition from us.

    Secondly: We did engage in a proxy war with Castro’s Cuba too, including supporting probably the largest guerilla war in this hemisphere’s century in Oriental Province and the surrounding regions (ironically the cradle of Castro’s revolution) where the plucky, habitually rebellious locals realized they’d been scammed into Peso Store Soviet Union by taking up arms. Indeed, much of the intelligence we had on Red troop positions and Intra-Red arguments came from CIA-sponsored guerillas and a few infiltrating agents.

    Thirdly and most importantly: Nicaragua and El Salvador have never been as central or important to the US as Cuba has been. We can make an argument on whether or not Cuba is truly as important to the US as Ukraine is to Russia, but we can agree that Ukraine is of vast importance to the US and I think it is fairly simple to make the argument that Cuba is more analogous here. It also helps reinforce that the US has quite literally been willing to co-exist (and I’d say to a disturbing degree forgive and forget) the actions of a regime that tried to nuke us. That’s a hell of a lot more of a threat than a merely pro-Russian government popping up in say Venezuela (which happened) or Mexico (which debatably has happened) as this hypothetical usually posits.

    In any case, it’s not seriously debatable that the US has acted with a heck of a lot more restraint to a hell of a lot worse provocation in the case of Cuba than is the case of Russia in Ukraine. And Russia/the Soviet Union’s response to the closest situations it had to that in say the Turkish Straits and Nuclear Missile crises were much, MUCH different than what we see here, in large part because it recognized the stakes were higher.

    Which is my issue with the “What if Mexico sided with Russia?!?” strawman. Not only does it patently ignore the often sordid and dangerous history of our near abroad and Kremlin and CCP interference in it, but it also ignores how the Kremlin has actually acted in the close parallels to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    “I guess I can never say never about keeping foreign adversaries out of the Western hemisphere given the way we have allowed China into South America and Iran into Venezuela but Mexico is a big, bright red line. I am sure there is some descendant of Patton somewhere in the military we can haul out and have him re-enact the General’s lightning assault from the 1916 Mexican invasion. In fact given the condition of our southern border and the way the cartels use access to it to allow sorts of bad actors to enter, I would not be surprised to see the revival of punitive expeditions in the not so-distant future under a Republican administration.”

    I’d hope so, but we’ve let Mexico slip to a horribly disturbing degree. The US certainly has taken the threat of a hostile Mexico very seriously (and sometimes to extreme degrees), such as our efforts to rein in Huerta’s abuses and ties to the German Empire by occupying Veracruz in 1914 and supporting (IMHO wrongly) the PRI, but we’ve also allowed AMLO to take power, walk hand in hand with the cartels, and court the Kremlin, Hispanic American Bolivarians, and to a lesser extent the PRC. Admittedly part of this is due to the calculated neglect and embrace of Mexican pathologies by the Donks, but it isn’t only that.

    So I find the idea that the US would go to war over a “comparable event” to Euromaidan (MexMaidan?) bringing a pro-Russian government into Mexico to be quite easy to vote down by pointing to AMLO and to a lesser extent Ortega in Nicaragua. Whether or not we SHOULD go to war over this kind of nonsense is another question (though even as resident Neocon warhawk imperialist colonialist I REALLY don’t see the benefit to the country doing it), but the fact is we haven’t.

    It’s also worth noting that at the time in 2014, Putin furiously denied the very obvious facts that his troops had invaded Ukraine (and brought much of their top end gear with them) or that he was fighting the new Ukrainian Government(s) over Euromaidan. And there’s a reason for that. He knew full well that “Ukraine now has a government we don’t approve of” was not actually a justification for invasion and war that would fly. It’s only now, years later when the occupation of Crimea and parts of the Donbas that now stand as a fait accompli, that he, his apologists, and various “useful idiots” now argue that the mere existence of a “Pro-American” (or not explicitly Pro-Russian) Government in Ukraine as a result of Euromaidan justified the military action that he spent nearly a decade claiming he had no involvement in (and that his government and various affiliated proxies like the aforementioned Gubarev still deny in spite of how we can count GAZ Tigrs in the Donbas and cross-border artillery strikes pre-2022 almost as well as they can).

    It’s a feeble and unjustifiable excuse from the Kremlin and I am inclined to treat it as suck.

    “Putin not tangling with NATO? Well from a military standpoint that would be foolish if you want to put it in the historical context you provided. However what would Putin seelkto gain from a military confrontation? Remember my theory is that the motivation for his invading Ukraine was to upset the international order. To do that would mean to expose NATO and the US as paper tigers. Doesn’t have to be much. Maybe some mischief in the Suwałki Gap, maybe a short incursion into Estonia under the pretext that somebody launched some drones from there against the Pskov airfield. Something low-lky that should trigger Article 5 but would be low key enough that it won’t. Give the Americans and NATO an excuse to not respond and they don’t then you have split the alliance and Putin wins. Risky?”

    I largely agree, and I think this is what he would’ve intended as his more formal challenge to the US-led world order, having subdued Ukraine and any other significant “easy targets”/nonaligned like Georgia and Moldova he wanted to help set the stage. I believe he intended something like this fight to happen much later and further to the West, in the Baltics and/or Poland.

    But that didn’t happen. He seems to have learned a lot of the lessons of the Donbas War worse than I have* and to have badly underestimated the Ukrainians and Western resolve. Which is why he’s now here.

    * And lest people think I am tooting my horn, I failed to learn MANY of the lessons of the Donbas War, including believing Putin would not escalate the invasion of Ukraine back in 2022 and thinking the Crimean Isthmus would be fairly easy to hold. So I am by no means infallible (and that should be kept in mind with the rest of my writing).

    That said, to his credit he does seem to have feared some kind of push back, even if not to this. Which is probably one reason why he avoided pulling the sort of stunt you describe or even the escalated invasion of Ukraine off during Trump’s first term. He had tango’d with Trump before and gotten his face slapped (mostly in Syria and Ukraine), and because doing this against Trump would’ve been doing it against a fairly strong and proud national leader while also giving him a golden opportunity to forever destroy the “Russia Collusion” narrative. In contrast Biden was and is weak, early first term US Presidents of both parties usually worked to appease him (and Biden was no different), and the Dems have generally been more committed to the “WHY DO THEY HATE US!??!” school of diplomacy, including with Putin detente.

    “Being a belligerent in Ukraine? I find the example of Afghanistan to be weak, you could toss in Soviet involvement in both Korea and Viet Nam, not to mention in China in Korea, into that same category. ”

    And if the US can be shown to be sending serving military personnel and units in to conduct deniable combat operations in Ukraine like the Soviet Military did (as opposed to actual volunteers leaving service and enlisting in another) in Korea and Vietnam, *I WILL NOT HESITATE* to acknowledge the US as a Belligerent in the Ukraine War. Especially if the Russian Government points that out.

    But until then, I return to my response to Gavin.

    I can believe it is possible and have talked about the potential elsewhere. Certainly Clancy wrote less credible material, and black ops is secret for a reason. That’d be doubly so here.

    “Both Korean and Viet Nam are a long way from American borders and in the case of the Soviets they decided to keep their involvement fairly low-key.”

    Sure, but again. This involved the use of serving military personnel and units fighting in the war, albeit usually under some pretext or cover (and sometimes like in North Vietnam not even that). That’s not something we have evidence for in Ukraine yet (and I’ve been looking, including on pro-Kremlin or other anti-Western sources). Which is one reason I restate my key point, as well as the fact that Russia can and does not consider us a belligerent in this war and that they have been forced to make that admission many times over. That might change (like I said to Gavin) but I only have access to the situation now.

    “As far as the Chinese involvement, we did eventually allow it but only after dismissing our theater commander when he demanded direct attacks against China.”

    Even then they were technically “Volunteer Armies”, in spite of how everybody and their mother could see they were redirected units including conscription.

    “Afghans? You could make the case given its proximity to Tajikistan but we at least we kept it at the level of covert aid with a few people in theater and Pakistan”

    Indeed. The Soviet War in Afghanistan I think is more important because the Pakistanis actually did field combat troops in the war (admittedly they probably fielded them against us during our war in Afghanistan but if so they kept it on the down low). It got to the point where the Pakistanis actually had to deal with a Communist (Soviet and Afghan Red) prisoner uprising in Badaber, the capital of one of Pakistan’s districts. This’d be a bit like if, in the middle of the Korean War where the Soviets are definitely and totally not involved, American and South Korean prisoners that supposedly don’t exist revolt in Vladivostok, where they are not supposed to be.

    Hence why I have no compulsion against identifying Pakistan as a belligerent and party to both our Afghan War and that of the Soviets.

    “As you say, it’s all a polite fiction but we are clearly playing on the edge.”

    Agreed.

    “Forget those secretive tier one teams; we have people seeded all through the rear areas in support roles from maintenance to logistics to intelligence.”

    Oh absolutely, and the US has been quite public about that.

    “Sooner or later somebody is going to get killed or if the Russians get moving, captured.”

    This is true, but in general both ourselves and the Russians have an ugly understanding where advisors and support personnel getting killed are more or less “fair game”, not to be (usually) targeted directly (at least, not if you get caught), but not something to throw the nukes if it happens. More likely the Russians will be interested in capturing them alive for intelligence and then trying to ransom them back in a prisoner exchange or for other concessions.

    All of that would be bad, but it’s not something I am TOO worried about causing a direct war, let alone nuclear apocalypse.

    “More importantly we are heavily involved in providing intelligence to the Ukrainians through both aircraft and satellite, those River Joint flights off Crimea are something, and I gotta believe that involves targeting information.”

    Oh yeah, it definitely applies to targeting information. Our Glorious Leader Joe R*tard Biden admitted that.

    So I frankly couldn’t entirely blame the Kremlin if they have considered shooting down or nudging us away. But at the same time they’ve played this game before and they also understand that would be just about the quickest possible way they can lose this war.

    “What if the Ukranians hit something big and the Russians lose it and start targeting those recon assets?”

    That’s what scares me, precisely because it’d be every excuse the left needs to try and declare war (while painting any objecting as a Putin stooge) and then use the emergency powers there to crush us. Mercifully they do love fighting outside of established declarations of war, but I can’t count there.

    But practically speaking, under current “leadership” I fear the result would be one of the extremes. Either open war, or almost nothing effective. Both of which are bad for different reasons.

    Under more effective leadership? I’d wager “Operation Praying Mantis II: Skyward Boogaloo” where we go about shooting down everything with a red star and wings and sinking their navy, threatening Article 5 loudly, giving the mother of all aid packages to Ukraine, or some mixture of them.

    HOWEVER, and MERCIFULLY, I don’t think “the Russians lose it and start targeting those recon assets” is likely to happen. The Russians have already lost one of their flagships – and the Black Sea Flagship – when the Moskva went down, and their response was a mixture of incompetent denials, lies, and jamming whatever AA they could onto their ships no matter how ineffective it is. Any such target would have to be pretty big and egregious to outclass the Moskva as a loss.

    There’s also the fact that as far as recon assets go, NATO members have generally downplayed or tried to smooth over things that might trigger Article 5. I’ve seen a recent conspiracy theory that the deaths caused in Poland by a Ukrainian SAM were in fact caused by the Russians but this was hushed up, and we definitely have proof a Russian drone landed in Romania and was briefly covered up. Those are way less extreme than actively trying to splash USAF or USN planes, but it’s also far from the most egregious thing the US Has covered up or the worst Kremlin lie the Biden Gov’t has gone with.

    “Sure the Iranians hit an RQ-4 of our several years ago and we didn’t go to war,”

    Indeed, though I can’t rule out combat operations like “Operation Skyward Mantis” in this situation, though I don’t think it would come to that.

    *Knocks on Wood.*

    “but nothing spells danger so much as escalation with desperation and we’re doing everything we can to kill Russians short of pulling the trigger”

    The thing is, we’re not. We’re doing an awful lot (and more than enough that would get a war with other countries), but there’s plenty more we could do to crank up the pressure, such as starting to gift more Abrams and the F-35 to the Ukrainians. We’re definitely sharing information but there’s no chance we are sharing all of the information we’re getting from spies inside the Kremlin who are just too valuable to be worth exposing over this. The situation is dangerous, but there’s incentive by both major players to step back from the brink because they both know the other can do much worse to them than what said other side is already doing.

    And I think it’s particularly potent in the Kremlin’s case because their war isn’t going well.

    “I’ll throw one more general point at you that touches how our belligerency is dancing on the edge. We are basically heavily involved in killing the soldiers of a nuclear power on their doorstep.”

    This is true, and I agree. But we’ve been here before (albeit mostly in the 1940s and 1950s, and to a lesser extent 2008, though the Georgian War was over so quickly we didn’t have this kind of support effort going we had trained and equipped the Georgians and they fought alongside it). So the risk is there. The question is deciding what the appropriate level is for what You/I/We want to get.

    “In 1968 when the Soviets decided to invade a sovereign country with 800,000 men and crush the Prague Spring we did… basically nothing. Why? Because there was a common understanding that peace in Europe was based on each side staying on their side of the frontier and out of (at least overtly) the other’s sphere of influence.”

    The problem is the Prague Spring happened in a Warsaw Pact country that was clearly in “the other’s sphere of influence.” The US was not going to ride to the rescue to protect Dubcek when the Soviets were (horrifyingly) cleaning their own house. But Ukraine is not acknowledged as their house like Czechoslovakia in 1968 was, and the Kremlin was forced to admit this many times over in things like Budapest 1994. Legally speaking no great power or European country recognizes a sphere of influence by another, and while “legally recognize” is very different from defacto recognize that’s still completely different from the situation in Hungary and Poland in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 where their memberships in the Soviet sphere was inked in blood, written into explicit treaties, and visible for all to see.

    (And even then the Kremlin should be aware of how we have good knowledge that we saw things like British intelligence operatives on the ground in Budapest in 1956 helping to arrange the capture and “extradition” of either a T-54 or T-55 for study, one of those; I’ll need to check) and how many of the WARPAC deaths from “accidents” during Prague Spring were likely caused from undeclared skirmishes with NATO troops on the border trying to protect fleeing refugees.

    “Now we’re doing exactly that today only 1200 miles closer to the Russian border.”

    We were doing a hell of a lot more than that a lot closer to the Russian Border in the Baltics following WWI and WWII, as US support for the Estonian and Latvian Nationalist Governments in their wars of independence and Partisan Fighters in post-WWII Operation Jungle show. Which brings us back to the issue of how both sides have far more power.

    “What does 1968 have to teach us today about dealing with a nuclear power?”

    For starters? Get your connections written in treaty. Waving treaties in front of tanks may not be a great way to get them to stop, but it is a spectacular way to justify getting tanks to start. It also serves as a nice leverage to hit the other side over the head with, as I pointed out in regards to Putin re: Astana and Budapest.

    Secondly: Know when to pick your fights and how much to commit. The US supported nonaligned and anti-Communist partisans (often including very nasty people) during their armed rebellions against Soviet authority in the 1940s and 1950s, but avoided becoming too embroiled in them so that the US could walk away.

    Thirdly: If a nuclear power judges the risk of escalation to be more than a provocation is worth, they will probably try to ignore or let slide things they would strike at in different circumstances. The Soviets ignored the Czechoslovak border skirmishes and a few of their troops getting outright shot dead by ours in 1968. The Soviets shot at least one of our uniformed military attaches in East Berlin accused of spying at another time and we let it slide.

    Fourthly: One needs to have a healthy respect for one’s enemies and rivals, neither being too overawed or too contemptuous. The Soviets planned the seizure of Czechoslovakia with the expectation they might face widespread resistance like in 1956 and they did it carefully. The US understood Combloc power and so avoided confrontation on that note. Dubcek also realized Soviet power and advocated non-resistance.

    In contrast Putin badly underestimated Ukrainian resistance and did not respect them, which is why he tried to invade a country the size of Ukraine with vastly fewer troops than the Soviets did in Czechoslovakia decades ago, without declaring any mobilizations. And we saw the consequences.

    Fifthly *and arguably one of the most important; It is BETTER to have your enemies and strategic rivals tied down putting out fires in Their backyard with either Their People or “Their Backyard’s People”, than it is to have them mucking around in yours. WARPAC occupation in Czechoslovakia and its strange love-hate relationship with Ceaucescu’s Romania tied down resources and focus that could have been used elsewhere to worse effect, and Putin’s troops and equipment lost in Ukraine are not going to be able to muster again to fight. And morever even nonmilitary pressure such as propaganda, agitation, and sanctions can help weaken a rival before they get too powerful.

    This is a lesson we should’ve applied more consistently to both the Soviet Union and especially the PRC, but it’s not too late to learn.

    ” Or is it just that neocons like dancing with a train?”

    I mean, many of them do. But it’s important to remember that the Kremlin’s Train to Victory is currently stuck outside places like Bakhmut and going nowhere fast, and in many cases is actually going backwards. Which would put the “dancing in front of a train” analogy in a new light, even if it would still be foolhardy.

    It’s also why I broadly support Ukraine’s current strategies and current policy, with some notable adjustments I hope I have explained (starting with blowing up the Russian Black Sea fleet).

    “Help me through this because I don’t think anyone has a clue. We seem to be stuck in a strategic dead end that sorry, one could see from a long way off in March 2022.”

    That’s ok, and fair I don’t claim to have all the clues myself, and I am certainly not impartial. But I am a history nerd who has been watching this situation for several years, so I’d like to think I know better than many. And hopefully people can take a look at this and judge what they thing, and drop critiques.

    PS: Sorry for the massive length of this post.

  37. @Helian/Doug Drake

    Why don’t you actually provide a link or quote to the actual Decree? Which cites the Presidium’s authorization of it as well as the reasons why.

    I’ll provide a link here.

    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/decree-presidium-ukrainian-supreme-soviet-concerning-submission-rsfsr-supreme-soviet

    Suffice it to say, Gubarev is the liar. And so are you if you continue this.

    Trying to act as if Gubarev is not a liar and his myth that Crimea was a “birthday present” is not a lie just because “Khruschev initiated the transfer*” is classic shifting of the goal posts, as I pointed out.

    I never denied Khruschev played the leading role in the transfer. I flatly rejected that he acted alone, that he did so for national reasons, or that he did it to be a birthday present. And indeed, the formal Presidium’s decree refutes all of those things either implicitly (in the case of the last) or explicitly.

  38. @Helian/Doug Drake

    For the purposes of convenience, I shall copy/paste the full text of the decree as published here

    “Decree of the Presidium of the UkSSR [Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic] Supreme Soviet “Concerning the Submission of the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic] Supreme Soviet Presidium Concerning the Issue of the Transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the UkSSR

    13 February 1954

    Kiev

    Having discussed the submission of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR concerning the issue of the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR submitted for the consideration of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, for its part the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR considers that the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR is completely advisable, considering the commonality of their economy, the territorial proximity, and the close economic and cultural ties, and is evidence of the unlimited trust of the great Russian people in the Ukrainian people.

    With sincere gratitude and approval the Ukrainian people welcome the decision concerning the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR as a new manifestation of the concern of the CPSU and Soviet Government concerning the further strengthening of the unbreakable friendship and fraternal ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. The government of Ukraine will devote proper attention to the further development of the welfare of the workers of the Crimean Oblast’.

    In accordance with the submission of the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet decrees

    Request the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to transfer the Crimean Oblast’ from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

    Chairman of the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet D. Korotchenko

    Secretary of the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet V. Nizhnik”

    Note the fact that while Muh Fraternal Brotherhood Between People stuff is mentioned, the central focus of the decree is coldly practical.

    “…for its part the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR considers that the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR is completely advisable, considering the commonality of their economy, the territorial proximity, and the close economic and cultural ties, and is evidence of the unlimited trust of the great Russian people in the Ukrainian people.”

    “The government of Ukraine will devote proper attention to the further development of the welfare of the workers of the Crimean Oblast’.”

    (Note the backhanded insult at the RSSR’s bureaucrats who had not “devoted proper attention…”)

    Also note how Khruschev’s signature does not even appear on this, not because he was not involved or not the leading role but because – contrary to Gubarev – he neither acted alone nor for nationalist reasons.

  39. @Helian/Doug Drake

    Found the source you “used” (really, chopped to pieces almost beyond recognition).

    Linking it here. Will follow with transcript.

    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/meeting-presidium-supreme-soviet-union-soviet-socialist-republics

    But suffice it to say while the 300th anniversary is mentioned it is safe to conclude from what else was discussed that this was anything but one of the primary reasons for it, and why it is not mentioned in the formal decree published on the matter (which was also not timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Pereyaslav Agreements either under Old School or New School).

    “ N. M. Shvernik. Comrade members of the Presidium, the proposal concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic has great historical significance, and is a demonstration of the fraternal friendship between the peoples of two great socialist republics.

    The Crimean Oblast’ plays a considerable role in the economy of the USSR as a region of ferrous metallurgy, viticulture, winemaking, the canning and fishing industries, animal husbandry, and as land growing high-quality wheat. The Crimean Oblast’ borders the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. This fact is responsible for the development of common cultural and economic ties of the Crimean Oblast’ and Soviet Ukraine.

    To a certain degree all this dictates the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.”

    Note: that’s not Khrushchev speaking.

  40. @Helian/Doug Drake

    Full transcript in context. Suffice it to say, I think this very definitively puts Gubarev’s claim that Crimea was a unilateral birthday present from Khrushchev because he was Ukrainian in the dirt.

    “ Meeting of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet
    19 February 1954

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. I declare the meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics open.

    Today we are to discuss one question – the joint submission of the Presidium of the RSFSR and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    Are there any other proposals?

    (Presidium members: “No” “Adopt”)

    The proposal concerning the agenda is considered adopted.

    We move to the discussion of the question. The floor is given to Cde. Tarasov, member of the Presidium and Chairman of the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, for a report.

    M. P. Tarasov. Comrades, the question of the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Federation to the Ukrainian SSR has been submitted.

    The Crimean Oblast’, as is well-known, occupies the entire Crimean Peninsula, territorially adjoins the Ukrainian Republic, and is a sort of natural continuation of the southern steppes of Ukraine. The economy of the Crimean Oblast’ is closely tied to the economy of the Ukrainian SSR. The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the fraternal Ukrainian Republic is advisable and meets the common interests of the Soviet state for geographic and economic considerations.

    The Ukrainian people have tied their fate with the Russian people since olden times. For many centuries they fought against common enemies – tsarism, serfowners, and capitalists, and also against foreign invaders. The centuries-long friendship of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and the economic and cultural link between Crimea and Ukraine were consolidated still further with the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

    The issue of the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Republic is being examined in days when the peoples of the Soviet Union are marking a notable event, the 300th anniversary of the reunion of Ukraine with Russia, which played an enormous progressive role in the political, economic, and cultural development of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples.

    The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Republic meets the interests of strengthening the friendship of the peoples of the great Soviet Union, and will promote the further strengthening of the fraternal link between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and the still greater prosperity of Soviet Ukraine, the development to which our Party and government have always devoted great attention.

    The Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet with the participation of the executive committees of the Crimean Oblast’ and Sevastopol’ City Soviet of Workers’ Deputies has examined the proposal of the RSFSR Council of Ministers about the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian SSR.

    Considering the commonality of the economy, the territorial proximity, and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimean Oblast’ and the Ukrainian SSR, and also bearing in mind the agreement of the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet, the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet considers it advisable to transfer the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    I submit for your consideration and approval the 5 February 1954 Decree of the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet:

    “Concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

    Considering the commonality of the economy, the territorial proximity, and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimean Oblast’ and the Ukrainian SSR, the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet decrees:

    Transfer the Crimean Oblast’ from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.

    This decree is to be submitted to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet for approval.”

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. The floor is given to Cde. Korotchenko, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR.

    D. S. Korotchenko. Comrades!

    The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR completely shares the proposal about the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian SSR which was described here by the Chairman of the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, Cde. Tarasov.

    The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the great Russian people for that exceptionally remarkable act of fraternal aid which is the subject of today’s meeting.

    The transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR, considering the commonality of economic development, the territorial proximity, and the growing economic and cultural ties between the Ukrainian Republic and the Crimean Oblast’ is completely advisable and is a very great friendly act demonstrating the unlimited trust and love of the Russian people for the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian people well know that to be in friendship with the great Russian people, with all the peoples of our country, means to go victoriously along the path pointed out by the Communist Party, along a path of a free and happy life, along the path to Communism…

    The Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet asks the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet to approve the joint submission by the Presidium of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic about the transfer of Crimea from the RSFSR to Ukrainian SSR will be greeted with gratitude by all the Ukrainian people.

    Allow me to assure you that the Ukrainian government will give proper attention to the further development of the economy of Crimea and an increase of the material and cultural welfare of the workers of the Crimea Oblast’…

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. Who wants the floor? Cde. Nikolay Mikhaylovich Shvernik has the floor.

    N. M. Shvernik. Comrade members of the Presidium, the proposal concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic has great historical significance, and is a demonstration of the fraternal friendship between the peoples of two great socialist republics.

    The Crimean Oblast’ plays a considerable role in the economy of the USSR as a region of ferrous metallurgy, viticulture, winemaking, the canning and fishing industries, animal husbandry, and as land growing high-quality wheat. The Crimean Oblast’ borders the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. This fact is responsible for the development of common cultural and economic ties of the Crimean Oblast’ and Soviet Ukraine.

    To a certain degree all this dictates the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    Such a transfer of a very large oblast’, rich in raw material resources with a large, developed industry, and valuable natural therapeutic factors can be accomplished only in the conditions of our socialist country, forever liberated from the oppression of capitalist landowners, in a country where concern for the person and his material and cultural needs is at the forefront.

    There is no doubt that this very important historic act will serve the further continuous economic and administrative development of the Crimean Oblast’ in the Ukrainian SSR. One also ought to point to the fact that the Crimea is a health resort of world importance. An enormous number of workers are treated and rest in its numerous sanatoria and rest homes…

    The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian SSR will be greeted by our people with great enthusiasm, for they see in this a guarantee of the wise leadership of the Communist Party and the concern of the Soviet government for the further development and prosperity of Soviet Ukraine.

    The unbreakable and eternal friendship of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples will be a guarantee of the further economic strengthening of the Soviet Union, which is developing along the path of Communism.

    I fully support the proposal to transfer the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. Cde. Rashidov has the floor.

    Sh. Rashidov. Comrades…The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian SSR is occurring in remarkable days, when all the people are marking the 300th anniversary of the reunion of Ukraine with Russia, and is a new, vivid manifestation of the wise nationality policy of the Communist Party directed at the comprehensive development and flourishing of the creative and spiritual forces of all the peoples of our country. This is possible only in our country, where there is no ethnic strife and there are no national differences, where the lives of all the Soviet peoples pass in an atmosphere of peaceful constructive work in the name of the peace and happiness of all humanity, where concern for the individual is the highest law of the Soviet government and the Communist Party. I heartily support the joint submission by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Presidium and the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet Presidium concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. Cde. Kuusinen has the floor.

    O. V. Kuusinen. Comrades!…Only in our country is it possible that such a great people as the Russian people magnanimously transferred one of the valuable oblasts to another fraternal people without any hesitation. Only in our country is it possible when such very important issues as the territorial transfer of individual oblasts to a particular republic are settled without any difficulties, with complete coordination, guided exclusively by considerations of advisability, economic and cultural development, guided by the common interests of the Soviet state and the interests of the further strengthening of friendship and trust between peoples…

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. No more have registered [to speak]. Who wants the floor? No one. The floor is given to Cde. Pegov to read the proposal.

    There are no other proposals.

    N. M. Pegov. It is proposed to adopt the following decree:

    “Considering the commonality of the economy, the territorial proximity, and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimean Oblast’ and the Ukrainian SSR, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics decrees:

    [“]Approve the joint submission of the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.”

    K. Ye. Voroshilov. There are no other proposals?

    (Presidium members: “No”).

    Permit us to vote for only the proposal which was read by Cde. Pegov. Whoever is for the proposals, those please raise your hand. The Presidium members vote. Please put them down. Who is against? None. Who abstained? Also none.

    The Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is adopted unanimously.

    Comrades…this remarkable act of great state importance once again confirms that relations between the sovereign union socialist republics in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were founded on the basis of genuine equal rights and a real understanding and respect for mutual interests directed at the prosperity of all union republics.

    Under capitalism this would have been impossible. In history there could not be and cannot be such relations between republics. In the past, and especially under capitalism, desires for territorial seizure and the desire of strong countries to feast on the territories of weak countries formed the very basis of relations between countries. Only in the conditions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was such a just solution of all territorial issues between union republics possible based on administrative and economic advisability with complete mutual friendship and the fraternal cooperation of their peoples. The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR meets the interests of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples and the overall state interests of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics…Both in the distant and not-so-distant past enemies repeatedly tried to take the Crimean Peninsula from Russia and use it to pillage and ravage Russian lands, and to create a military base there to attack Russia and Ukraine. But more than once in joint battle the Russian and Ukrainian peoples severely beat the insolent invaders and threw them out of Ukraine and Crimea. Ukraine and Crimea are closely tied by a commonality of economic interests; this has already been eloquently said here by both the presenters and the comrades who spoke. The cultural ties between Crimea and Ukraine have especially grown and deepened. The transfer of the Crimea Oblast’ to the Ukrainian SSR will undoubtedly strengthen these traditional ties still further …

    We know and are glad that the Russian, Ukrainian, and all the other peoples of our boundless country will henceforth develop and strengthen their fraternal friendship. Let our great Motherland, the fraternal Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, strengthen and develop!

    We have no other questions today.

    I declare today’s meeting closed.”

  41. @Mike K

    No, I generally do not. It is one of my greatest strengths and also greatest weaknesses. But it does wonders when dealing with Brandolini’s law and attempted drive bys.

  42. There’s no need for all these Victorian novel length comments, Turtler. I repeat, from the Soviet archives:

    “(1) the cession of Crimea was a “noble act on the part of the Russian people” to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the “reunification of Ukraine with Russia” (a reference to the Treaty of Pereyaslav signed in 1654 by representatives of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate and Tsar Aleksei I of Muscovy) and to “evince the boundless trust and love the Russian people feel toward the Ukrainian people”

    There is also no question that Khrushchev initiated the transfer. For example, from:

    https://english.pravda.ru/history/107129-ussr_crimea_ukraine/

    “Khrushchev informed his comrades of the decision to deliver Crimea to Ukraine incidentally, on the way to lunch. “Yes, comrades, there is an opinion to deliver Crimea to Ukraine,” he said casually. No one dared to express any protests, because a word of the first face of the Communist Party was law.”

    In view of this easily accessible information, calling a man a “liar” because he characterizes the transfer as a “birthday present” is nothing but a piece of gratuitous slander. You are the real liar, Turtler. I regret the need for such a harsh comment, but I merely judge you according to the standard you apply to others.

  43. @Helian/Doug Drake

    “There’s no need for all these Victorian novel length comments, Turtler.”

    Obviously there is, considering how you insist you are quoting “the Soviet archives” but are in fact quoting an article put out by the Russian-based and government-censored Pravda.

    *I ON THE OTHER HAND * am the one who ACTUALLY quoted from the Soviet Archives, as retained by the Wilson Center.

    Moreover, anybody familiar with nested comments could see that, since what you quoted was an alphabet stew of different quotations (and non-quoted material) stitched together like a Frankenstein. As opposed to my links and sources, which can be quoted at length and in one continuous source, complete with Soviet shclock.

    They contain everything your source quotes, as well as the rest. Including context.

    They do not, however, give edification to Pravda’s tripe that Khruschev made a “gift” of Crimea to Ukraine in order to win the favor of the Ukrainian Party Leadership or what have you. And even if that were so, it would do farq all to explain why the rest of the Presidium went along with it.

    It also destroys Pravda’s pretention that this was done casually or unilaterally over lunch, or that none dared to voice objections.

    “In view of this easily accessible information, calling a man a “liar” because he characterizes the transfer as a “birthday present” is nothing but a piece of gratuitous slander.”

    If you’re going to be an intellectually bankrupt liar, at least be more artful about it.

    Firstly: the “information” you posted is “easily accessible.”

    However, EASILY ACCESSIVBLE DOES NOT EQUAL TRUE. After all, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is eminently easy to access. But to argue that we are supposed to believe it simply because it is easily accessible is laughable.

    I will note that someone unironically quoting Pravda during a time of wartime censorship in Russia without factoring in due context would be correctly laughed at because of how absurd it is. Why would you accept this metric when Pravda spoke about anything else?

    Secondly: Slander is spoken. In print, it’s libel. Do some basic research.

    “You are the real liar, Turtler.”

    No, you are.

    Moreover, I’ve proven that quite simply.

    “I regret the need for such a harsh comment, but I merely judge you according to the standard you apply to others.”

    By all means, be an idiot and a liar. Because that’s all this comment says.

    And no, I don’t think for a second you “regret the need for such a harsh comment.” if you did, you would not have sloppily and dishonestly raced to do it because I remain consistent.

  44. The question some of us are wondering — is Tuttie an AI? Some poor machine that has been loaded up with a whole bunch of irrelevant training materials which it spews out on cue?

    But AI means “Artificial Intelligence” — and we are not seeing demonstration of a whole lot of the second word in that term. Would it be possible to program in the essential benefit of conciseness to a filibustering machine?

  45. @Helian/Doug Drake

    Since Doug Drake’s decided to reveal themselves to be a rather idiotic liar by uncritically repeating the same BS from Literally Pravda without scrutiny, let’s double check.

    Firstly, there’s an important element of Doublethink at play with Doug’s acceptance of Pravda’s narrative.

    Let’s

    “He* was conducting a struggle against “people’s enemies” when he served as the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party from 1938 to 1947 to win the support of the Ukrainian leadership. That is why he gave the resort peninsula on the Black Sea coast to the republic.

    Khrushchev informed his comrades of the decision to deliver Crimea to Ukraine incidentally, on the way to lunch. “Yes, comrades, there is an opinion to deliver Crimea to Ukraine,” he said casually. No one dared to express any protests, because a word of the first face of the Communist Party was law.”

    Let’s focus.

    “(Khrushchev) was conducting a struggle against “people’s enemies” when he served as the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party from 1938 to 1947 to win the support of the Ukrainian leadership. That is why he gave the resort peninsula on the Black Sea coast to the republic.

    (SNIP)

    No one dared to express any protests, because a word of the first face of the Communist Party was law.”

    So we already a couple problems here.

    Firstly: We’re supposed to believe that Khrushchev felt the need or inclination to pander to the “Ukrainian leadership” of the “Ukrainian Communist Party”, but that he was simultaneously able to cow the *Far Senior and More Powerful* members of the Presidium into unthinking obedience for fear of death?

    (Nevermind how we have clear evidence of this Presidium disagreeing with Khrushchev at various points here? Especially Voroshilov, who would oppose Khrushchev alongside Molotov etc. al. and would be stripped of power by the end of the 1950s?)

    This is what we call magical thinking, and what Peterson identified as a key point of a conspiracy theory. Where “the enemy” is simultaneously immensely powerful and utterly weak. It SHOULD have tipped Doug Drake off that MAYBE Pravda wasn’t being so honest or that at a minimum there was an alternative explanation.

    Secondly: There’s the basic question of time. Pravda wants us to believe that Khruschev made this decision to reward the Communist Party of Ukraine because of his struggle against “the peoples’ enemies” from 1938-1947.

    The problem of course is that the decision to transfer Crimea was made in 1954 as the ACTUAL Soviet Archives which I have linked and quoted show.

    And Khruschev was a USSR-wide leader since 1949 at the latest, and was unquestioned dictator of the party by Spring 1953. So why the delay?

    Pravda offers no explanation (because they can’t), and Doug Drake does not deign to foffer any.

    ““(1) the cession of Crimea was a “noble act on the part of the Russian people” to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the “reunification of Ukraine with Russia” (a reference to the Treaty of Pereyaslav signed in 1654 by representatives of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate and Tsar Aleksei I of Muscovy) and to “evince the boundless trust and love the Russian people feel toward the Ukrainian people””

    This is tortured at best and most likely flatly untrue.

    While the minutes of the Soviet meeting merely mention

    “The issue of the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Republic is being examined in days when the peoples of the Soviet Union are marking a notable event, the 300th anniversary of the reunion of Ukraine with Russia, which played an enormous progressive role in the political, economic, and cultural development of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples.” – Mikhail P. Tarasov, Member of the Russian CP and Chairman of the Presidium

    It is then literally never mentioned again. Not in the minutes of this meeting (which I note were never intended to see the light of day), nor in the decree issued. And this isn’t surprising because neither this meeting nor the decree’s publication was timed to coincide with any date of importance for the ratification pf the Pereyaslav Agreements of 1654.

    Which shouldn’t be surprising since these were Marxists who did not really give too many figs about “Bourgeoise Nationalism” and even if they did they wouldn’t want to make a point off of a seminal moment for both Tsarist Russian Nationalists or Ukrainian Nationalists.

    Secondly: While the quotations about the fraternal love of the Soviet peoples was true and cited (albeit massively taken out of context), the key focus – especially when you filter out the obligatory Communist Fluff and Filler – was about economic and political development.

    This is spelled out in the actual, published decree.

    “Having discussed the submission of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR concerning the issue of the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR submitted for the consideration of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, for its part the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR considers that the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR is completely advisable, considering the commonality of their economy, the territorial proximity, and the close economic and cultural ties, and is evidence of the unlimited trust of the great Russian people in the Ukrainian people.

    With sincere gratitude and approval the Ukrainian people welcome the decision concerning the transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR as a new manifestation of the concern of the CPSU and Soviet Government concerning the further strengthening of the unbreakable friendship and fraternal ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. The government of Ukraine will devote proper attention to the further development of the welfare of the workers of the Crimean Oblast’.”

    This is also spelled out in the Presidium Meeting.

    “The Crimean Oblast’, as is well-known, occupies the entire Crimean Peninsula, territorially adjoins the Ukrainian Republic, and is a sort of natural continuation of the southern steppes of Ukraine. The economy of the Crimean Oblast’ is closely tied to the economy of the Ukrainian SSR. The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the fraternal Ukrainian Republic is advisable and meets the common interests of the Soviet state for geographic and economic considerations.’ – Tarasov

    “The transfer of Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR, considering the commonality of economic development, the territorial proximity, and the growing economic and cultural ties between the Ukrainian Republic and the Crimean Oblast’ is completely advisable and is a very great friendly act demonstrating the unlimited trust and love of the Russian people for the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian people well know that to be in friendship with the great Russian people, with all the peoples of our country, means to go victoriously along the path pointed out by the Communist Party, along a path of a free and happy life, along the path to Communism…” – Demian S. Korotchenko, Chairman of the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR

    “Comrade members of the Presidium, the proposal concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic has great historical significance, and is a demonstration of the fraternal friendship between the peoples of two great socialist republics.

    The Crimean Oblast’ plays a considerable role in the economy of the USSR as a region of ferrous metallurgy, viticulture, winemaking, the canning and fishing industries, animal husbandry, and as land growing high-quality wheat. The Crimean Oblast’ borders the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. This fact is responsible for the development of common cultural and economic ties of the Crimean Oblast’ and Soviet Ukraine.

    To a certain degree all this dictates the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

    Such a transfer of a very large oblast’, rich in raw material resources with a large, developed industry, and valuable natural therapeutic factors can be accomplished only in the conditions of our socialist country, forever liberated from the oppression of capitalist landowners, in a country where concern for the person and his material and cultural needs is at the forefront.” _ Nikolai M. Shvernik, Chariman of the Presidium for the Russian SSR

    “The transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian SSR is occurring in remarkable days, when all the people are marking the 300th anniversary of the reunion of Ukraine with Russia, and is a new, vivid manifestation of the wise nationality policy of the Communist Party directed at the comprehensive development and flourishing of the creative and spiritual forces of all the peoples of our country. This is possible only in our country, where there is no ethnic strife and there are no national differences, where the lives of all the Soviet peoples pass in an atmosphere of peaceful constructive work in the name of the peace and happiness of all humanity, where concern for the individual is the highest law of the Soviet government and the Communist Party. I heartily support the joint submission by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Presidium and the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet Presidium concerning the transfer of the Crimean Oblast’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.” – Sharof Rashidov, Chairman of the Uzbek SSR Presidium

    “Only in our country is it possible that such a great people as the Russian people magnanimously transferred one of the valuable oblasts to another fraternal people without any hesitation. Only in our country is it possible when such very important issues as the territorial transfer of individual oblasts to a particular republic are settled without any difficulties, with complete coordination, guided exclusively by considerations of advisability, economic and cultural development, guided by the common interests of the Soviet state and the interests of the further strengthening of friendship and trust between peoples…” Otto W. Kuusinen

    Detecting a pattern?

    So literally every Soviet official in the Presidium that bothered to speak emphasized the importance of developing Crimea. Which isn’t surprising given the failures of the Ru SSR’s bureaucrats or the materialist, anti-nationalist bent of Marxism and Leninism. This included officials who had opposed Khrushchev before and would go on to oppose him again like Voroshilov, and who in any case held far more power than the Ukrainian Party Leadership that Pravda wants us to pretend Khrushchev was focused on winning of (in spite of having been Ukrainian Com Party Leader for nearly a decade and being the “Grey Eminence”).

    If what Pravda and Gubayev argue sounds sane or reasonable to you, you might be engaging in motivated reasoning.

    Though frankly I struggle to call it “reasoning” when you are limited *literally uncritically accepting the words of Freaking Pravda and a Russo-Ukrainian Fringe NazBol And Proven Liar.*

  46. @Gavin Longmuir

    “The question some of us are wondering — is Tuttie an AI?”

    Ironically my boss (who works in AI) said that they weren’t entirely sure I wasn’t.

    Probably jokingly.

    Probably.

    But I for one am sure that I am not an AI, and I have enough scars and memories of blood to prove it.

    “Some poor machine that has been loaded up with a whole bunch of irrelevant training materials which it spews out on cue?”

    This is rich coming from someone who quite literally assumes that if someone opposes your poorly-put-together arguments, they must support Biden. That’s ironic considering how I’m also demonized for (actually) supporting Trump and assuming I support Russia (because I condemned WWI German Atrocities.

    Yes, Really.)

    NPCs gonna NPC.

    “But AI means “Artificial Intelligence” — and we are not seeing demonstration of a whole lot of the second word in that term.”

    Says the person who can’t argue my points worth a damn.

    “Would it be possible to program in the essential benefit of conciseness to a filibustering machine?”

    It probably is, but unfortunately for you I’m not a machine, and living in California during the height of the Hollywood Pro-Jihad Movie Bombs failed to program me. So I welcome your attempts to try.

    Honestly, you attempting to try anything would be a welcome alternative to your track record so far.

  47. @Gavin

    “The question some of us are wondering — is Tuttie an AI? Some poor machine that has been loaded up with a whole bunch of irrelevant training materials which it spews out on cue?”

    It does beg the question, doesn’t it? Pretty lame software if true, though.

  48. I would suggest “Turtler” get his/her ? own substack account and see if anyone is interested enough to subscribe. Hijacking a blog’s comments section is not nice.

  49. @Johnathan

    Fair, my apologies for that. I am trying. Issue is that I have had a few cases where the comment will not show for reasons I am not sure of. Which is why I have felt the need to sometimes break them up (especially with links).

    It doesn’t help that I am a history nerd and a lot of pretty arcane stuff. And it was made worse by Doug Drake deciding to lie through his teeth by misidentifying an editorial from Pravda as “from the Soviet Archives”. Which of course meant I had to provide linked to the actual sources

    @Helian/Doug Drake

    Lame is uncritically believing an article on Pravda while it is under wartime censorship and the words of a NazBol who was willing to lie through his teeth about the timing, dating, and reason of things like the transfer of Crimea because they fit your biases.

    Lame is also resorting to ad hominem because you screwed up your source attribution and got caught lying about it.

    So if I’m pretty lame software, that would make you even lamer than the lame software, in addition to being a rude liar and intellectually lazy. That’s not a good track record.

    @Mike K

    Fair, but not overly interested. Besides, it was not my intent to “hijack a blog’s comment section.” Hence why I do not respond without reason. And why I am limiting these responses to one comment.

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