Category Archives: War Notes

Pope Francis and his “Secret” Ukraine Peace Mission

[NOTE: For very orthodox Catholics, the Church is at the center of history, and the Vatican  is at the center of the Church. Hence if there is some major disturbance, such as war, the Church “naturally” should have a role in ending it and repairing the damage.

But on the battlefield, it is fighting that counts: victory, defeat, stalemate — the outcome depends on weapons, valor, leadership, stamina, and, sometimes luck.  Churches come later, unless their leaders bring tanks and drones.

Thus Pope Francis, despite all the to-ing and fro-ing recounted here, is shown to be essentially a bystander, and whether he and his diplomats will have any actual role in hastening the war’s end is by no means clear.

Continue reading Pope Francis and his “Secret” Ukraine Peace Mission

Here’s One I Missed: “Why Do Russians Still Want to Fight?”

NOTE: I recognize a lot in this article, though I’m no Russian expert. What’s familiar are the parallels with my own generational experience, and one of its central traumas: the Vietnam war.

Yes, I was an antiwar protester. There were lots of us; we repeatedly filled Washington’s main streets with our anger. I have friends who went to Canada, and considered it myself.

But while noisy and self-important, we peaceniks were always a minority. Most of our peers who were summoned to war complied; some relished the chance.

Their motivations, like ours, ran the gamut from noble to cynical. But among the compliant, for many, war and veteran status offered steps up the class ladder — assuming you survived — or at least into honorable public memory — your name on the stunning Vietnam Memorial, if you didn’t.

The costs, personal and generational, were high. But the ladder worked for many, particularly those who weren’t finishing college, as I was. And the cultural fissures thus highlighted are with us still, even as the last of our contingents straggle toward the exits.

I searched for an appropriate gesture of regret, respect and remembrance, for those of us here in the Vietnam years, and the many facing their fate in Ukraine and Russia. Then I remember these lines from Carl Sandburg; maybe they’ll suffice:

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.   
Shovel them under and let me work—   
            I am the grass; I cover all.   
And pile them high at Gettysburg   
And pile them high at Kherson and Kyiv
Shovel them under and let me work.   
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:   
            What place is this?   
            Where are we now?   
            I am the grass. 
            Let me work.
A Russian war cemetery

Why Do Russians Still Want to Fight?

Marlene Laruelle and

Ms. Laruelle is a professor at George Washington University, where Mr. Grek is the deputy director of the Russia program.

From the perspective of a Russian soldier, the war in Ukraine must look nightmarish. In over a year of combat, nearly 200,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded, according to American officials, in a military operation that has proved both incompetent and ill equipped. Morale is reportedly low and complaintscommon. And yet a significant number of Russian men are still keen to fight — more, in fact, than at the war’s outset. What explains the disconnect?

Continue reading Here’s One I Missed: “Why Do Russians Still Want to Fight?”

Is Ukraine Fighting a U. S. “Proxy War” With Russia? The Answer Is . . .

. . . Yes. No. Both. Maybe. Or —Or What??

Washington Post — April 18, 2023

An intellectual battle rages: Is the U.S. in a proxy war with Russia?

Vladimir Putin says the West is trying to ‘finish’ Russia. The Biden administration denies the accusation. But leaked documents reveal the extent of U.S. involvement in the Ukraine fight.

 Continue reading Is Ukraine Fighting a U. S. “Proxy War” With Russia? The Answer Is . . .

Spring in Ukraine: Time for An Offensive/Counter-offensive?

[Note: Some said it would happen in winter; it didn’t. Some now say it will happen soon, in spring. Some say of it, wait & see.

”It” is a Ukrainian counter-offensive. Ukraine’s war goal is to get Russian forces out of all its claimed territory.  To win, they’ll have to push them out. That would require a massive counter-offensive.
Continue reading Spring in Ukraine: Time for An Offensive/Counter-offensive?

Wikipedia vs Russia: The War comes Out in the Open on the Web

[NOTE: In my view, Wikipedia is just about the best thing in the web. I consult it almost every day, donate when they ask, and respect what seems to be their increasing credibility and comprehensiveness as a source of reliable information.

But “reliable information” is a hotly contested commodity, and in many places part of a larger battlefield. And a much more important indicator of Wikipedia’s importance than my regard, is the fire they’re drawing from state actors and other militants who want to bend its information to their partisan narratives and disinformation. Continue reading Wikipedia vs Russia: The War comes Out in the Open on the Web