The Ukraine War: How Does It End?
Plus, The ‘Great Replacement’ Delusion.
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GISELLE DONNELLY: The Ukraine War: How Does It End?
The stunning success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive east of Kharkiv and the accelerating progress made toward Kherson in the south has, to astute observers, brought to mind a famous line from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Drinking with his buddies, the character Mike Campbell—a kind of “proto-bro”—is asked how he became bankrupt. “Two ways,” he replies. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
As Lawrence Freedman notes, the sort of collapse we’re seeing from Russia’s forces is familiar to military historians. “What appears to be a long, painful grind can quickly turn into a rout. A supposedly resilient and well-equipped army can break and look for means of escape.” Freedman analogizes Russia’s current conundrum to that of the Afghan National Army last year, but the story of the German Imperial Army in late 1918 is also worth pondering.
After the euphoria of the last weekend’s Ukrainian counteroffensive, which recaptured three major towns and dozens of villages on some 1,000 square miles of territory at lightning speed, the Ukrainian troops’ advance has slowed down—but they seem to still have the momentum. Meanwhile, on the Russian side, the rhetoric grows shriller and crazier, the big chill gets bigger and chillier, and Vladimir Putin is acting more and more like a cartoon villain. And yet, here and there, signs of sanity crop up.
First, just a few words about where the Ukrainian offensive stands. The Russian frontline in the Kherson region in the south has not collapsed as it did in the Kharkiv region. There are conflicting reports about whether Ukrainian troops have recaptured the village of Kiselivka, fewer than ten miles from Kherson itself. Fighting also continues in the Donbas, and a spokesman for the “Donetsk People’s Republic” has said that Ukrainian troops are about six miles from the enclave.
Too few workers, too much inflation — these are confusing times for our economy. Plus, the myth of a manufacturing comeback, and the slow-moving employment crisis among teachers, cops, and other public servants. Catherine Rampell joins Charlie Sykes.
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JOEL NEWMAN: The ‘Great Replacement’ Delusion.
As the midterm elections draw near, Republicans have seized on inflation as their prime weapon for bludgeoning Democrats. Yet at the same time, most Republicans are hostile toward one of the best tools available for reducing inflationary pressure: immigration.
For decades, the Republican party wasn’t uniformly hostile to newcomers. It was conflicted on immigration, as the libertarian and pro-business elements of the party coexisted fitfully with immigration opponents—although the two factions were held together by a shared law-and-order opposition to illegal immigration. That coalition fell apart with Donald Trump’s takeover of the party in 2016. Ever since, the GOP has overwhelmingly opposed immigration, legal and illegal alike, largely on the grounds that it changes the racial and ethnic composition of the country—a conviction exacerbated by the so-called “great replacement” theory, which holds that liberal elites are behind the decline in the portion of the population that is non-Hispanic white.
SHAY KHATIRI: Zelensky Reminds Us What Politicians Are Good For.
The rapid success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive has caught almost everyone by surprise. Among the most surprised might be the Ukrainian military itself, which was reportedly against starting the counteroffensive too early and worried “that such a large-scale attack would incur immense casualties and fail to quickly retake large amounts of territory.” Senior officers thought that they needed more time and weapons, while President Volodymyr Zelensky wanted to start the operation before the end of the summer. He was right, and it’s a good reminder about what politicians—statesmen—are good for.
The Ukrainian military consists of excellent warriors, but war is more than fighting, it is also politicking. Zelensky has to consider the morale of his people, the state of his country’s economy both now and after the war, the state of Ukraine’s internal politics and the dangers from collaborators, and, crucially, Ukraine’s relationship with its partners and allies, each with its own aims, restrictions, capabilities, and internal politics. Reportedly, Zelensky wanted to begin the counteroffensive quickly to forestall the possibility of a Russian “referendum” in Kherson as a prelude to annexation. The leadership of the Ukrainian military worried that they lacked the manpower and supplies to match Zelensky’s timeline. Yet it’s almost a law of military affairs that every commander always wants more men, supplies, and time. It falls to the politician to consider the broader context, which Zelensky did, and he was right.
If it’s Thursday… It’s time for TNB! You won’t want to miss one of my favorite guests, Amb. Eric Edelman to talk about what’s going on in Ukraine.
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