These are all great and I subscribed.
As a total amateur SAMs discussion makes sense. Assumes they are still operational and Ukraine has the know how? Should be well worth the effort. Putin reaction seems irrelevant since if he is intending to escalate he will do it regardless.
Abramson, I dunno
Abramson only says the half of it. The West (and the Bulwark) has focused on the wrong part of the economic war, and has deluded itself about how cleverly we are back footing Russia economically.
Wrong! The advantage in the economic war is on Putin’s side. He can take the immediate pain we are inflicting, but is preparing a death blow we don’t even see coming, and which, due to our divisions and unwillingness to endure discomfort, let alone any real pain, will have an effect on us many times as effective as the effect of our efforts on Russia.
America is a fragile, teetering, termite ridden economic structure lacking only a stiff breeze to knock it down. The only reason the US has not already become Argentina several times over is the dollar happens to be the world reserve currency and no adversary has even tried to create an alternative. This is a historical accident and not a fact of nature. Putin is putting together a coalition of fossil fuel states, third world states, and states that look to dethroning the dollar as their long term goal, to crush the US political will to resist with inflation in general and fossil fuel inflation in particular.
He knows that the higher gas prices go the more certain the US will return his agent to power. Trump restored is even better than a battlefield victory.
He also knows that the chaos associated with that event, and the consequent internecine internal war in the US which he has been fomenting for decades, will eventually result in a flight from the dollar. This in the long term (a Half decade to a decade) will render the US as helpless and irrelevant in the next century as China was in the 19th century. This outcome is why China is carefully going along. Putin is not just trying to restore the Tsarist empire. He aims for Russia to be in the world what America has been after 1945.
We are focused on military outcomes and smugly imagine we are strong economically where the adversary is weak, but the fact of the case is entirely otherwise. Oblivious to the actual economic war that is underway, we are advancing cluelessly into a Cannae.
Yes, the Abramson essay is dense and interesting. But seems to me a tad fevered. Something to keep in mind: Sociopaths of the Putin-Trump variety, whether consciously or not, seek to set us off balance, loose touch with the quiet still center, entangle us in their nuttiness. We must avoid allowing this to happen. Also, I would guess that the writer is an ultra-materialist, and might fail to take into account the human spirit, which can, sometimes, accomplish mighty and unexpected feats. No, hope's not a strategy, but is an essential element of the struggle. Stay calm and carry on.
There's a lot in the Abramson piece. Hard truths. "I told you so" promotions of his books and theories. Valid criticisms of ignorance-of-the-obvious by elected officials. But also extrapolations that become shakier as they get farther from today. And a strong tendency to ignore the timeless odds that sheer ineptitude and narcissism (see Menace, Orange) are more likely causes of bad acts than overt cunning. This is not to minimize the threat posed by the Orange God King and his cult - and certainly not the threat posed by Vlad the master manipulator. There's no way will 1996 be restored anytime soon, which I think the Euro leaders understand but most Americans don't want to accept. The clear and present need is for all fans of freedom and democracy to (a) understand that WWIII started a while ago, (b) the liberal world order essential to economic well-being of all is under siege not seen since 1945, and (c) join the struggle for survival, any way they can, every day.
I know Abramson built a career writing critiques on Trump but had no idea he would generate so much controversies in the comments. On balance, his opinions are not that outlandish and we know Trump is Putin's secret weapon to break NATO.
So Trump is the American kleptogarch ? I hope we have the courage to accept and act upon these observations. Protect home court people !
My view is probably about as pessimistic as Abramson's.
My pessimism does not derive from my perception of the strength of the Russians (because barring nuclear weapons, they actually aren't all that strong). It derives from the weakness of the United States--and that weakness and lack of information and stupidity is not rooted in the person of Joe Biden. He (and/or his people) seem(s) to have a pretty good grasp of what is going on.
The problem is that one of our 2 major political parties sees the other party as a greater danger than the Russians--and if they have to support the Russians to get over on the other political party, they will do so, in the end.
They will do whatever they think it will take to get back into control of Congress and the Executive--and then we are screwed.
Yes, Putin cannot afford to wait until 2024, but he might be able to wait until midterms, in the hopes that the GoP will regain the House and Senate. That will hobble any US response.
At this point I think there will be continual pressure (and agitprop) aimed at slowly ramping up Ukrainian casualties (especially civilian) without the Russians actually getting bogged down in urban combat in a big way.
There will be plenty of people to apologize for and to excuse what the Russians do--especially in the Right in the US. I think that Putin has much more time than people tend to think he does. At some point the US public will (as they always do) get fed up.. especially if the economy weakens and gas prices stay high and get higher.
In the end, we will sacrifice the Ukrainians to our own selfish desires... if Putin has the time and patience to use it.
I fear this is too optimistic.
The motto of the athletic part of my university is "Those who stay will be Champions"
To the eternal shame of this institution, that seems to Putin's motto as well.
I agree with JVL that the Abramson article is too pessimistic in some ways. don’t think Putin can wait until 2025 to have Trump break NATO for him. He’s burning through men and money too fast. I think he needs a solution in months.
Here comes MY pessimism, though. The more I think about this, the more likely it is that Putin uses a nuclear weapon.
He needs to win fast. This means he either needs to knock Ukraine or NATO out of the fight. Now that NATO is putting up a united front, messing with them will just trigger a proportional response. This would expand the conflict rather than end it.
What will we do if Putin nukes Kharkiv, tells Zelensky to surrender or Kyiv is next, and says that any NATO intervention in Ukraine will be met with an immediate nuclear response?
Zelensky will probably surrender to prevent Putin from exterminating his nation. NATO will probably not do anything because Ukraine is not a NATO member and we don’t want to trigger an immediate nuclear exchange. Putin would then have what he wants!
JVL - can’t thank you enough for being so laser focused on the Ukrainian conflict and guiding us to the best resources on the subject - extremely helpful in cutting through the noise. Mark
Why does it seem that only the Ukrainians remember that the USA, Russia, UK and others all signed an agreement to honor Ukrainian sovereignty when Ukraine agreed to give up their nuclear weapons. The blatant obliteration of that agreement should give NATO rights to give MIGs and all other non nuclear weapons to Ukraine.
Abramson's right about one thing for sure: we *are* already at war with Putin. Armaments shipments and economic sanctions may not feel like the real deal yet, but they're not just diplomatic maneuvers. We're at war with Putin. All of NATO and more besides. Some of the Russian people are also at war with him, which complicates things even further.
I'm a bit of a historical Marxist at heart and always disliked the Great Man Theory of history, so I'm annoyed to admit that I was blindsided by how impactful singular personalities can be in shaping grand events over the past few years. Putin is one. Trump is another. These are creatures that somehow command vast swathes of people to go temporarily insane. I really struggle with this.
What’s the over/under on how much longer this Republican aversion of Putin will last? My guess is about two more weeks. I fully believe this will shift quickly to a anti-NATO position. Basically, it’s NATO’s fault for being willing to “expand”. How dare fully autonomous countries seek protection against poor old Vlad. He’s just trying to protect his borders from a big, bad treaty. Heck, if we want to protect our southern border we should just invade and annex the first 50 miles into Mexico. I was watching Bill Maher and Batya Ungar-Sargon from Newsweek seemed to blame Ukraine for the invasion. She then advised that Ukraine should compromise with Putin as quickly as possible even if it means giving up territory. I’m sure Putin will learn his lesson then. She then criticized Obama for not doing more after Crimea. WTF!
I have no idea of whether or not Russia is in fact "in a stronger position than we think." But I believe it's certainly in a stronger position than any of us would like to think. It has nuclear weapons and a man holding the power to use them who I believe is just as likely as not to do so in some way if circumstances lead him to believe that he cannot "win" this war he's started, or that he may lose his grip on power before he does. And if that doesn't scare the bejesus out of us and the rest of the free world, it should. But it should also steel our resolve to decide that this is the time - here and now - to stand up to this threat in any way necessary, otherwise the consequences for us as a free nation will be more dire in the long run than any of us would like to think either.
Seth Abramson has no less than 5 degrees from 2 Ivy League institutions and two other notable universities. It would require a good portion of the alphabet following his name to account for his obviously "higher education". I have nothing following my name other than the term American. But if Abramson really believes Biden is unaware of the "true stakes" involved in the situation in which we and the rest of the free world find ourselves, then he's no smarter than I am and might want to ask for a refund on some of that pricey tuition.
Sleepy Joe is certainly no charismatic firebrand, and yeah, he's old. So, by the way, am I. But the man's not stupid. We've seen what that looks like in a Commander in Chief. And he's not asleep at the wheel, as recent actions have demonstrated. And I expect if there's anyone aware of the true stakes in this ugly game, it is the President, considering he's privy to information that Abramson and all the rest of us are not. I don't know how the man sleeps at night. Realistically speaking, I don't know squat, and my head doesn't rest so easy on my pillow these days.