65 Comments

Catching up here but I suspect the UK's eagerness to drop sanctions reflects how much they benefited from being a financial and real estate laundry for Russian oligarchs and members of Putin's government. Sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas, guys.

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I just found this buried in my inbox. All solid stuff.

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I wonder if there is a way to confiscate any Russian assets in the US and sell them to support Ukraine. We did this to Germany during WW2

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Belarus is now the wild card in the deck. A month ago it was generally expected that they would join the Russian attack. But Lukaschenka apparently didn't think he could risk it. Belarus has become "the dog that didn't bark", and everyone seems to have forgotten about it. But what if he's overthrown? What if a new government in Belarus tells the Russians that they have to leave? What if a new government comes in on Ukraine's side if they refuse? A whole range of assumptions would suddenly need to be recalibrated.

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So if Putin somehow manages to disappear into the ether, who takes over? Lavrov? Vladimir hasn’t exactly groomed an heir apparent.

Biden stating his personal opinion, which we all share, that Putin should not be in power anymore, was nice to hear. He sounded like an actual human being with a visceral dislike of a bloody, dictatorial butcher. And while it was clarified that he was not stating that we should send Seal Team 6 to put him out of our misery (that would be more Lindsey Graham’s speed), he hasn’t exactly totally disowned it. Good. Yet it is possible to sound tough without intimating that you’d bomb Moscow (goodbye Trump Tower Moscow).

If Zelenskyy signs a peace treaty of any sort with Putin, perhaps it should contain a clause reassuring him that Ukraine would not wage a peremptory strike on Russia in the future.

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There has been a lot of talk about what we should do if Russia uses chemical weapons or tactical nukes. I think there's an obvious answer, as long as you can get NATO agreement. After all, we've left ourselves a good amount of room for escalation by drawing our own lines. So make it clear that if he crosses lines, so will we.

One could leave it at that, although I think in this case, clarity would be best.

Simply put, if he uses chemical/nuclear weapons, NATO goes into Ukraine. And we end this.

As much as I love Tom Nichols and JVL, I just don't buy that the mere act of defending Ukraine risks global nuclear war. It is certainly reasonable to assert that even a small chance of nuclear war is worth avoiding. But we can't let that possibility completely disable us.

Right now this is a game of managing expectations. Our fear of provoking Putin seems mostly driven by uncertainty about how he would react to an unexpected escalation - would he lash out in desperation and do something crazy? The more time he has to consider ramifications of a response, the more likely it will be rational. So for example, Putin knows what will happen if he goes into a NATO country, so we can expect that he won't; if he does, he's (somehow) made a clear choice, and we don't have to worry about "provoking" him. Had he expected this in Ukraine, he almost certainly wouldn't have gone in.

So sending NATO military into Ukraine *now*, unprovoked, would be a clear violation of expectations, and would trigger the aforementioned worries. But not if we establish conditions. Go ahead and let him price that in to his calculations. There is almost no way he could do so and still cross that line. We can let him guess what happens if he escalates beyond that. But so far, he seems only emboldened by the knowledge that anything short of attacking NATO soil will have us sitting on the sidelines. I think narrowing his decision space a bit would be prudent.

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The president only said out loud what everyone in the world already knows. Putin is a war criminal by any definition of the term. He is destroying his own country by having launched this stupid war. The only way a lasting peace comes to Ukraine is if Putin is not in the political position he is in now.

I have a very hard time envisioning any of the involved parties (Ukraine government, ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Putin, NATO member states, EU member states) agreeing to a compromise that allows Russia to stay in control of any Ukrainian territory. Such a compromise would be an extremely bitter pill for the allies to swallow; it would mean Putin won and, Ukraine suffered massive destruction for nothing. And it would only teach Putin that he can and should try again. I also think that an anti-Russian insurgency in the conquered territories would be almost inevitable. Just like South Vietnam after 1954.

Likewise Putin, by settling for far less than what he told everyone, including his own people, were the just goals of the invasion would also be admitting defeat. And he would not stay defeated.

I've thought from the start of this that Russian regime change is the only solution that would result in lasting peace and nothing I have seen thus far has changed my mind.

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Fact check: Mariupol, on the verge of Russian occupation, is Ukraine's 10th-largest city. Kherson, already occupied, is #14. You write that Russia has not taken any major cities.

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To be fair about the Republican criticism of Biden, there’s no real Republican Party line on anything, and hasn’t been for ages. The GOP is merely a coalescence of factions opposed to Democratic political, cultural, and social hegemony. That’s why the house of cards jerry-rigged by a small coterie of Reaganite intellectuals collapsed so quickly when Trump took over the Party; they had no ideology, and neither did he. Now, everyone from segretarians like Rand Paul, Evangelical “Constitutional Conservatives” like Ted “Zodiac” Cruz, and old line “Establishment” Republicans are in thrall to the Orange One, and can’t figure out a way to extricate themselves.

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founding

RE: #2 in today's Triad

A short time ago I posted this on Morning Shots. It's also apropos here, and since it is something I feel strongly about, I'm reposting it here with a minor addition...I'm not actually taking a position on whether or not Biden should have spoken those "9 words" out loud when and where he did. I look at it from the standpoint of regardless of what any of us may think about that, the words were spoken and now they're out there. So if you happened to have already seen my post and read it in Morning Shots, thank you. But nothing new here other than this clarifying note.

As someone who is interested in language and words and their power of communication among ourselves, and therefore a proponent for naming things properly, the recent descriptions of Vladimir Putin as "the world's bloodiest terrorist" are, I think, absolutely 100% spot on correct. Technically, he is indeed a "head of state". But in reality (and more importantly) his actions in Ukraine are in my opinion concrete evidence of the validity of the "terrorist" appellation. And going forward, that is how he should be thought of. He may indeed be the top political dog and the "leader" in Russia, but Osama bin Laden was the top dog and leader of Al-Qaeda. And while the details of their motivations for their actions may differ, the only other substantial difference between them is that Putin has the resources of a large country, a large standing army and nuclear weapons at his disposal, and bin-Laden did not. Beyond the direct military-on-military actions Putin's forces are engaging in in Ukraine, not one thing they are doing there can properly be considered as war-making. It is terrorism. State conducted terrorism. Not military action. Not war. Terrorism. Period.

So, let's start calling this slaughter and bloodshed what it is. And the man who is propagating it what he is. And let's quit agonizing over the fact that the leader of the United States said out loud what all have been too timid to say up until that point. Does anyone really, truly believe that Putin doesn't already know - and has known for a very long time - that if the West had a button connected to some magical weapon that could remove him from power without the risk of a huge conflagration ensuing that there wouldn't be a dog fight to see who could get their finger on that button first? And does anyone believe he isn't perfectly cognizant of the deterrent effect of his nuclear arsenal? And does anyone actually believe that he felt more threatened the day after those words were spoken than the day before? I guess some do. And there are no doubt cadres of experts continuing to consider that very question as I write this. But from where I sit, as an admitted non-expert on statecraft or geopolitics, this is all bullshit. And the sooner we gather it up and dump it in the compost pile where it belongs, the better. Are you listening, CNN et al? Of course not. Wouldn't be good for ratings, would it?

We can argue all day long about what should or shouldn't be done to defend - or at least help to defend - Ukraine from what has now become an act of state directed terrorism in furtherance of a political goal. We can debate what has been done rightly, and what has been done wrongly. But let's flush this debate about Biden's words down the toilet where it belongs. Let those words stand as the expression of what all of us who believe in and cherish freedom and liberty - wherever in the world we live - are truly thinking in our heart of hearts, regardless of our views on tactics or levels of involvement of our respective governments and countries. Because by doing so we can say that if nothing else, we at least got that right.

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founding

Thank you for the clear and succinct overview. And it was hard to stomach the criticism of Biden’s unscripted remarks. Where would be if the former guy was still in office? Breaking up NATO? Refusing support to Ukraine?……

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Actually the Dumper would probably joined Putin and sent in US troops to help so he could dig up more dirt on Hunter Biden.

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The administration deserves a solid A for policy and likewise for execution, but barely a C for communications

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Mar 28, 2022Liked by Jonathan V. Last

I'm just an internet rando, but I might offer to lift the sanctions if Russia withdrew its troops from everywhere but Crimea. If the Russians take and hold Mariupol, though, then no deal of any kind.

Re: neutrality, what do you think the margin would be in a popular referendum on joining NATO "a few months after Russian troops withdraw?" 90/10 yes/no? With some people only voting "no" because "we don't need those pansies, we just need their missiles!"

On that point, Ukraine can be "neutral" (as in not a NATO member) and still be armed to the teeth with NATO weapons. I'd love to see their air force, for example, operating something like 3-5 squadrons of F-16Vs (the model we sold to Taiwan) and one squadron of UK-spec F-35Bs that can fire the MBDA Meteor long-range air-to-air missile...

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Yes. Russia should not be granted Mariupol. It’s like trashing a kid’s birthday party and the bully being awarded the cake. The devastation there breaks my heart.

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Your point #2 is well taken but I don't consider a Russian withdrawal to the status quo ante 2014 to be impossible or even unreasonable as a Ukrainian condition. Perhaps the establishment of Crimea as an independent state would qualify as a goal to keep sanctions in place.

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Regarding “Republican Outrage” … just another example of taking extremely complex, difficult decisions, full of trade-offs and risks, and looking only at the bad outcomes, as if it was an easy decision and any competent leader would know the right thing to do. This is a core element of Republican messaging on the Biden admin. The definition of "bad faith".

Analogous to a doctor’s decision on whether to do risky emergency surgery on someone who might otherwise die without the surgery. Republicans stand ready to attack the medical team for not doing the surgery (“the doc is clueless and uncaring – just stands by and lets the patient die!”) or for doing the surgery (“the doc’s reckless decision killed this poor person”), while reveling in the bad outcomes as an opportunity to bash the doctor.

Unfortunately – “the patient” is our country (and in this case our allies).

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Republican outrage has kind of turned into a joke. Is there anything that they are NOT outraged about, from whatever direction they need to take in order to BE outraged?

Outrage loses its meaning/power when it is the ground state--it is kind of like using profanity all the time until it just becomes meaningless noise.

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In addition to Tucker, there appears to be a core of 8 GOP members of the House who are all-in on Russian propaganda. The usual suspects, including MTG, Gaetz, and Boebert, who voted against stripping Russia of most-favored-nation trade status, for example. So what can be done about the Putin Caucus? They are immune to shame.

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Have any of them tried claiming that Ukraine is Biden’s attempt to distract from the NY Times’ admission that Hunter Biden’s laptop does indeed exist in time and space?

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Comments on The Hill think the laptop is the default comment re the Ukraine.

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