Ukraine’s Momentum, Putin’s Fears
Plus, the Risk of the Right-Wing Push to Rewrite the Constitution.
Recently at The Bulwark:
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
The story is by now a familiar one: In May 2021—the original deadline for a full American military withdrawal from Afghanistan, as stipulated in the prior administration’s Feb. 2020 agreement with the Taliban—the United States began pulling out its remaining 2,500 troops from the country. The beginning of this withdrawal provoked the launch of an aggressive military offensive by Taliban fighters who in the following months would systematically seize control over the country’s districts. Their advance was violent and swift, and the Afghan government collapsed far more quickly than even U.S. intelligence analysts had originally predicted.
Kabul fell on August 15, 2021. With all other border crossings under Taliban control, Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) became the last route out of the country for anyone who wished to flee.
It’s all very digestible when presented this way.
The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta joins Sarah to discuss whether Ohio is really more Trump+8 than R+8 — and to debate Tim Ryan's chances against J.D. Vance. Meanwhile, in Michigan's governor's race, Gretchen Whitmer hits Tudor Dixon on her biggest vulnerability — abortion — while facing lingering resentment over her Covid response.
Zelensky continues to rally his country and the world, Trump planned to never leave, and Republicans splinter on culture war issues. After a summer holiday, Will Saletan is back with Charlie Sykes for Charlie and Will Monday.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
CATHY YOUNG: Ukraine’s Momentum, Putin’s Fears.
“We haven’t lost anything. And we’re not going to lose anything,” a defiant Vladimir Putin asserted last Wednesday, at the plenary session of Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, answering a question about what Russia had lost and gained because of the war in Ukraine that began on February 24.
Putin’s declaration may not make it on a list of famous last words, but it did effectively signal the start of a spectacular rout of Russian armed forces in Ukraine. On Thursday, the long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, which at first appeared to fizzle or at last slow down dramatically near Kherson, took off for real in the Kharkiv region. Advancing Ukrainian troops plowed rapidly and ruthlessly through Russian lines, recapturing the towns of Balakliya, Kupiansk, and Izium—a key point on Russian supply routes—as well as numerous villages. On Sunday, the Ukrainian government said its forces had retaken over retaken over 3,000 square kilometers (1,100 square miles) of territory; these claims are still unconfirmed, but the Institute for the Study of War also tracks stunning Ukrainian gains..”
JAMES M. BANNER, JR: The Risk of the Right-Wing Push to Rewrite the Constitution.
Radical conservative activists are working with Republican state legislators to trigger an extraordinary special convention to rewrite the Constitution of the United States. The possibility of it actually happening is real enough that everyone needs to pay attention—fast.
In a sense, this is old news: According to a New York Times article published over the Labor Day weekend, “Elements on the right have for years been waging a quiet but concerted campaign” to force an amendatory convention. Likewise, organizations in the political center and on the moderate left—including Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, and the AFL-CIO—have long followed the progress of the scheme and tried to alert the public to its grave dangers. So have authoritative voices from both sides of the ideological spectrum, including late Supreme Court justices Arthur Goldberg, Warren Burger, and Antonin Scalia and such prominent constitutional law scholars as Laurence Tribe and Walter Olson. Even a few unimpeachably conservative groups have published criticisms of the idea, as the Heritage Foundation did in a 2011 blog post noting “the lack of precedent, extensive unknowns, and considerable risks” of such a convention.
Happy Monday! I hope that you had a great weekend. Is it time we say goodbye to the American mall?
On Ben Stein… Will Leitch has a great column you should read. I met Stein at young conservative conferences in the early aughts, and it’s sad to see how far he’s strayed from sanity. (While I wasn’t on his show, I did win a bet that resulted in me netting some of Ben Stein’s money.)
QAnon and Evangelicals… A history.
Congrats to Cade York! I may be pausing my Browns fandom because of Jimmy Haslam and DeShaun Watson, but a 60 yard FG to win a game, your first game, is quite the feat.
How OSU pulled off the drone halftime show… Something we can expect in the future to grow.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.