This insider perspective is one of the things I’ll miss most about Twitter if it crashes and burns. Yudin is Head of Political Philosophy at The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences
Tag Archives: Russia
Intercepted Phone Call To Ponder
From The New York Times.
A Russian solider, Sergey, to his girlfriend.
“We detained them, undressed them and checked all their clothes.Then a decision had to be made whether to let them go. If we let them go, they could give away our position….So it was decided to shoot them in the forest.“
“Did you shoot them?“
“Of course we shot them.”
“Why didn’t you take them as prisoners?“
“We would have had to feed them, and we don’t have enough food ourselves, you see.”
Paragraph To Ponder
From the New York Times, “Ukraine Routs Russian Forces in Northeast Forcing a Retreat“.
“For the moment, the Kremlin is sticking to breezy denials of defeats and business-as-usual insouciance by Mr. Putin, who, as Russian lines buckled on Saturday in the Kharkiv region, inaugurated a giant Ferris wheel in a Moscow park. Reports from social media said the wheel quickly broke down, leaving riders stranded in the air.”
Who Will Get Rid Of Putin?
Oleg Kashin’s cogent, depressing answer. No one.
“At the popular level, things are no better. The initially promising protests against the war have been completely choked off by the threat of prison time. Critical public statements, let alone rallies or demonstrations, are now all but impossible. Wielding repression, the regime is in full control of the domestic situation.
Instead, the factor seriously threatening Mr. Putin’s strength today is the Ukrainian Army. Only losses at the front have a realistic chance of bringing change to the political situation in Russia — as Russian history well attests. After defeat in the Crimean War in the mid-19th century, Czar Alexander II was forced to introduce radical reforms. The same thing happened when Russia lost a war with Japan in 1905, and perestroika in the Soviet Union was driven in large part by the failure of the war in Afghanistan. If Ukraine manages to inflict heavy losses on Russian forces, a similar process could unfold.
Yet for all the damage wrought so far, such a turnaround feels a long way off. For now and the foreseeable future, it’s Mr. Putin — and the fear that without him, things would be worse — that rules Russia.”
Monday Required Reading
Only one long one. The Making of Vladimir Putin by Roger Cohen.
The ‘Thin Veneer’
Why Ukraine Has Captured The Global Imagination
From Kara Swisher’s conversation with Clint Watts on her podcast, Sway.
Swisher asks Watts why Ukrainians have captured the global imagination so much more than most other victims of war.
“Several factors have changed over the last decade that are important. One, cell phones in everyone’s hands worldwide. Two, social-media platforms of all stripes connecting everybody at the same time. But the bigger ones, just to be honest, are, this is a predominantly white, predominantly Orthodox Christian population in Europe. And so the West cares. Having worked on Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria over the last 15 years, which is how I got into this, I’ve never seen so many people care about what’s going on.
People see that fight, and they see themselves. It’s implicit bias in social media. You like information from people that look like you and talk like you. And you’re seeing that kick into full gear with this battle. And people can identify with themselves, particularly in Europe. Poland — very worried about what’s going on. Germany, all of the sudden, has kicked up its military commitments. We begged them to do this since World War II with NATO, and they didn’t do it. So I think that is the biggest driver of it.”
Swisher points out that there has been horrific imagery from other conflict zones to which Watts responds:
“Absolutely. And I think if you went to the Middle East today and listen to discussions, they’re like, oh, everybody cares now. What about last decade when all of these invasions and battles, and Assad is barrel-bombing? Oh, you don’t know what’s going to happen in Kyiv? Maybe you should have watched Aleppo, or maybe you should have seen in Grozny. That’s their perspective on it.
And I think there’s an importantness, which is the power of translate today compared to 10 years ago. You can engage with Russian content on Twitter or Google when you do a search on a website. You can read it now. It almost magically switches, right? So that’s allowing the West to engage in languages and platforms that they otherwise would have to — they wouldn’t even know existed. They wouldn’t be able to compute it.”
Later in the conversation Watts asserts:
“We could find several Ukraines around the world right now.”
He references the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar specifically.
Our compassion, activism, and charitable giving doesn’t have to be a finite, zero-sum game. We should extend just as much compassion, activism, and charitable giving to all victims of war regardless of their skin color or religion.
my emphasis added
Paragraph To Ponder
From Tom Friedman in the New York Times.
“If Putin goes ahead and levels Ukraine’s biggest cities and its capital, Kyiv, he and all of his cronies will never again see the London and New York apartments they bought with all their stolen riches. There will be no more Davos and no more St. Moritz. Instead, they will all be locked in a big prison called Russia — with the freedom to travel only to Syria, Crimea, Belarus, North Korea and China, maybe. Their kids will be thrown out of private boarding schools from Switzerland to Oxford.”
Who To Believe?
Could a Republican please explain why we should believe the Tweeter-in-Chief instead of The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray, and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel.
From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
“U.S. intelligence officials warned Tuesday of increased threats to national security from tighter cooperation between China and Russia, while also differing with President Trump in their analysis of North Korea’s nuclear intentions and the current danger posed by Islamic State.
The warnings were contained in an annual threat assessment that accompanied testimony by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray, Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel and other leaders of the U.S. intelligence community, who appeared Tuesday before a Senate panel. The annual exercise affords the public a look at imminent challenges facing the country, such as cyberattacks, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
The assessment cautioned that Beijing and Moscow are pouring resources into a “race for technological and military superiority” that will define the 21st century. It said the two countries are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.”
The report didn’t make any mention of a new and improved border wall, but did say:
“China . . . could disable U.S. critical infrastructure ‘such as disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks.'”
And the intelligence leaders’ assessment also differed with President Trump in its analysis of North Korea, Syria, Iraq and other hot spots:
“On North Korea, the assessment raised questions about President Trump’s predictions that he will be able to persuade Pyongyang to give up all of its nuclear weapons. While North Korea ‘has reversibly dismantled portions of its [weapons of mass destruction] infrastructure,’ the report said, U.S. intelligence ‘continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities. North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival.’. . .
On Iran, Mr. Coats said U.S. intelligence officials didn’t believe the nation was developing a nuclear weapon, challenging assertions from Mr. Trump that the nuclear pact he withdrew the U.S. from last year was ineffective.’
Mr. Trump has also justified plans to withdraw troops from Syria by arguing that Islamic State was defeated. But the intelligence assessment said the terror group would ‘very likely continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and western adversaries, including the United States.'”
In response, we got this “intelligence”. Read from bottom to top:
Granted, at times, US intelligence has proven seriously flawed, but when asked to decide between our top intelligence officials who lead thousands of people who work tirelessly at home and abroad to provide the best possible intelligence and a man who watches cable news and does not read, is there any reason to side with the Tweeter-in-Chief? I wish at least one of the 60-63k people who “liked” the T-i-C’s tweets could explain the flaw in my thinking.
In response to those tweets, Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said in an interview that Mr. Trump’s disparagement of the intelligence agencies risks demoralizing the spy agencies’ work forces, tarnishes their credibility with allied security services, and rattles foreigners who spy for the U.S.
Again from the Wall Street Journal:
“’This is a big deal,’” said Mr. Morell, who served both Republican and Democratic presidents and now hosts the ‘Intelligence Matters’ podcast.
‘Presidents have the right to disagree with the analysis that’s put in front of them. Presidents have the right to take their policies in a different direction than suggested by the intelligence they receive. Never should a president critique his intelligence community publicly. It’s dangerous.’
Republican Rep. Michael Gallagher of Wisconsin said the Trump administration shouldn’t see the spy agencies’ assessments as an attempt to undermine the president.
‘Obviously, the intelligence community is not omniscient,’ Mr. Gallagher said. ‘But they are doing a very difficult job, and they are actually trying to advance the president’s priorities.’
Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted: ‘It is a credit to our intelligence agencies that they continue to provide rigorous and realistic analyses of the threats we face. It’s deeply dangerous that the White House isn’t listening.'”
Add the Tweeter-in-Chief’s ego to the things I fear.
Paragraphs To Ponder
John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, on what the Russians most likely have on Trump:
“I don’t think it’s the infamous pee tape because even if real, the pee tape might not sink Trump. I think it’s money — that Trump’s entire company, and therefore his personal wealth, is held afloat entirely by Russian money and Putin could pull the plug on it with a snap of his fingers. But whatever it is, it seems clear there’s something they’ve got on him.”
“I’ve been thinking for a few months now that the most powerful person in the world isn’t Trump or Putin but Rupert Murdoch. If Fox News turned against Trump — not against Republicans, not against conservatives, but only against Trump and his family — it would sink Trump’s presidency within months. Politically, Trump couldn’t breathe without the support of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch could make that happen.”