NOTE: On a day off from the January 6 Committee hearings, it’s a suitable time to ponder the Ukraine war, and how it has scrambled long-held beliefs & positions for many people. Here are two perspectives: first, that of an internationally-noted public scholar, and the other from a writer who interviewed & wrote about many combat veterans who strongly opposed the U. S. War in Iraq, but now feel supportive of Ukraine’s resistance to Putin’s invasion. Like the Ukraine war, these mostly inward struggles seem likely to continue.
The least we owe Ukraine is full support, and to do this we need a stronger Nato
For me, John Lennon’s mega-hit Imagine was always a song popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine that “the world will live as one” is the best way to end in hell.
Those who cling to pacifism in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine remain caught in their own version of “imagine”. Imagine a world in which tensions are no longer resolved through armed conflicts … Europe persisted in this world of “imagine”, ignoring the brutal reality outside its borders. Now it’s the time to awaken.
The dream of a quick Ukrainian victory, the repetition of the initial dream of a quick Russian victory, is over. In what looks more and more as a protracted stalemate, Russia is slowly progressing, and its ultimate goal is clearly stated. There is no longer any need to read between the lines when Putin compares himself with Peter the Great: “On the face of it, he was at war with Sweden taking something away from it … He was not taking away anything, he was returning … He was returning and reinforcing, that is what he was doing … Clearly, it fell to our lot to return and reinforce as well.”
More than focus on particular issues (is Russia really just “returning”, and to what?) we should read carefully Putin’s general justification of his claim: “In order to claim some kind of leadership – I am not even talking about global leadership, I mean leadership in any area – any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty. Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.” Continue reading Think Pieces: Peaceniks Still Struggle With Ukraine War Support→
Gwynne Dyer is a UK-based Canadian journalist and long-time commentator on international affairs.
OPINION: How would we know if the United States is deliberately starving Ukraine of weapons in order to force it into a compromise peace settlement that leaves some Ukrainian territory – maybe even a lot – in Russian hands?
You can imagine the White House having such a strategy, though it would never admit it. After all, if Ukraine managed to drive the Russian army out of the whole country, Moscow might panic and escalate to nuclear weapons.
President Biden’s prime duty is to keep the United States safe, not to put the Ukrainian border back where it used to be.
For Ukraine, the war is literally existential. Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants not only to conquer Ukraine but to erase its very identity, so President Volodymyr Zelensky would risk anything, including nuclear war, to prevent it. Continue reading Ukraine: Now to the “Drip-Drip” War?→
[NOTE: It pains me to be hoping this opinion column is correct. I’m new to the business of promoting wars. But here I am, still rooting for Ukraine to avoid the destruction and erasure planned for it and its people by Putin, and knowing no other way. No surprise that I’m also thinking today of Walt Whitman, and the closing stanzas of his long poem, Song of Myself:
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
[Tho in my case, that last line should be, “I am large, my doctor keeps saying, get smaller.”]
In Ukraine, is the balance tipping in Moscow’s favor? Not yet.
Russian military advances in eastern Ukraine this month have raised growing concern in the West that the balance of the war is tipping in Moscow’s favor. But Biden administration officials think these fears are overblown, and that Ukrainian defenses remain solid in this ugly war of attrition.
“We share the concerns, but for now we believe the Ukrainians are well-positioned and equipped to hold off the advances, while the Russians have their own sustainment challenges,” a senior administration official told me Tuesday.
Ukrainian officials have argued that they need more heavy weapons, fast, to hold the line against the Russian offensive in Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in the east. To take just one example, Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior Ukrainian official, tweeted this week that his country needs 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, or MLRS — nearly 30 times what’s on the way.
The example illustrates a weapons-supply problem that worries many American experts. Just four MLRS rocket launchers have actually been delivered, officials say, with eight more arriving soon. “Twelve is not enough. Not even close,” counters retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, who commanded U.S. Army troops in Europe. “It seems like we keep pulling our punches, and all that does is prolong the war.” Continue reading Ukraine: Not Losing, But Not Winning→
AP News: In Wake of Ukraine Invasion, global food crisis looms
June 8, 2022
The consequences of the war are being felt far beyond Eastern Europe because shipments of Ukrainian grain are bottled up inside the country, driving up the price of food.
Ukraine, long known as the “bread basket of Europe,” is one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but much of that flow has been halted by the war and a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. An estimated 22 million tons of grain remains in Ukraine. The failure to ship it out is endangering the food supply in many developing countries, especially in Africa.
Russia expressed support Wednesday for a U.N. plan to create a safe corridor at sea that would allow Ukraine to resume grain shipments. The plan, among other things, calls for Ukraine to remove mines from the waters near the Black Sea port of Odesa.
[NOTE: Repression of dissent is a communicable disease. How many variants are loose in our own atmosphere? And are we preparing to resist their spread?]
New York Times Thousands Swept Up as Kremlin Clamps Down on War Criticism
The arrests are a stark gauge of how the Kremlin has intensified repression of critics. At least 50 people now face years-long prison sentences.
By Neil MacFarquhar and Alina Lobzina
June 3, 2022
Vladimir Efimov, a local politician on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East, was charged with “discrediting the army” and ordered to pay a $500 fine three times in recent months over antiwar images that he displayed on social media.
When he continued, reposting battlefield pictures like the wholesale destruction of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol under Russian bombardment, prosecutors ratcheted up the charges and accused him of a felony — punishable by up to five years in prison or stiffer fines.
“They thought that I would be afraid,” Mr. Efimov said, that the fines “would give me cold feet and make me hide away.”
Three months ago, President Vladimir V. Putin signed into law draconian measures designed to silence war critics, putting even use of the word “war” off-limits. They prompted some Russians appalled by the invasion to flee the country, forced independent news outlets to shut down, and created a climate of suspicion in which neighbor turned on neighbor.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will almost certainly not be in power three years from now. The war he foolishly began in Ukraine has fatally undermined his political credibility among the Russian elite (and among a large though mostly silent part of the population). One way or another, he will be replaced.
He may even save everybody the trouble by dying before he can be removed. He definitely doesn’t look well, his behaviour is increasingly erratic, and rumours that he is suffering from some terminal disease abound.
Russia is not a fascist state, just a kleptocracy where the thieves and the thugs have taken power, but Putin’s personal behaviour does begin to resemble Hitler in his bunker in the final days, and Hitler too was very ill.
Putin knows nothing about military matters, but he is reportedly micro-managing single ‘battalion combat groups’ (about 1,000 men) in the currently stalled Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, trying to retrieve a military situation that has sunk into stalemate. Very Hitlerian. So what will become of Russia when he goes? Continue reading Russia’s Future; Taiwan, Ambiguity & Ukraine→
Opinion: Thanks, Vladimir Putin, for greatly strengthening NATO
From Max Boot – May 17, 2022, in The Washington Post
. . . The unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine has given the [NATO] alliance a new lease on life, making it more politically united and militarily formidable than at any time since the end of the Cold War.
. . . Sweden and Finland, which have long maintained their neutrality, are declaring their desire to join the alliance. . . .
With Sweden and Finland as members, NATO will hit the strategic jackpot. Admitting them to NATO isn’t an act of charity. They are formidable military powers in their own right that can substantially contribute to deterring further Russian aggression.
Finland has a massive artillery force of 1,500 cannons along with F-18 fighter jets, multiple launch rocket systems, armored howitzers, a variety of precision-guided munitions and other high-tech systems. Helsinki is increasing its defense spending and recently finalized a deal to buy 64 F-35 fighters. Its active duty military is small (only 22,000 personnel), but it maintains conscription and can quickly mobilize 280,000 troops — a far larger force than what Russia sent into Ukraine. Continue reading New Nordic Math: NATO+ Finland & Sweden = VLAD’s Ukraine Boomerang→
Washington Post: Hacking Russia was off-limits. The Ukraine war made it a free-for-all.
Experts anticipated a Moscow-led cyber-assault; instead, unprecedented attacks by hacktivists and criminals have wreaked havoc in Russia.
By Joseph Menn — May 1, 2022
For more than a decade, U.S. cybersecurity experts have warned about Russian hacking that increasingly uses the labor power of financially motivated criminal gangs to achieve political goals, such as strategically leaking campaign emails.
Prolific ransomware groups in the last year and a half have shut down pandemic-battered hospitals, the key fuel conduit Colonial Pipeline and schools; published sensitive documents from corporate victims; and, in one case, pledged to step up attacks on American infrastructure if Russian technology was hobbled in retribution for the invasion of Ukraine.
Yet the third month of war finds Russia, not the United States, struggling under an unprecedented hacking wave that entwines government activity, political voluntarism and criminal action.
Digital assailants have plundered the country’s personal financial data, defaced websites and handed decades of government emails to anti-secrecy activists abroad. One recent survey showed more passwords and other sensitive data from Russia were dumped onto the open Web in March than information from any other country. The published documents include a cache from a regional office of media regulator Roskomnadzor that revealed the topics its analysts were most concerned about on social media — including antimilitarism and drug legalization — and that it was filing reports to the FSB federal intelligence service, which has been arresting some who complain about government policies. Continue reading War Notes, Monday Threefer: Hackers Attacking Russia; Ukraine’s female minesweepers; and Sketches from Ukraine’s “International Legion”→
From: How to End the War in Ukraine, by Alfred McCoy
Alfred McCoy is Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of A Question of Torture, and In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Dispatch Books). His newest book, just published, is To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change. Full post at TomDispatch.
As the war in Ukraine heads for its third month amid a rising toll of death and destruction, Washington and its European allies are scrambling, so far unsuccessfully, to end that devastating, globally disruptive conflict. . . . [Their efforts] range from economic sanctions and trade embargoes to the confiscation of the assets of some of his oligarch cronies and the increasingly massive shipment of arms to Ukraine. Yet none of it seems to be working.
So while the world waits for the other combat boot to drop hard, it’s already worth considering where the West went wrong in its efforts to end this war, while exploring whether anything potentially effective is still available to slow the carnage. . . . Continue reading A New Idea to End Putin’s War→