Monday Reads: “There’s no such thing as a winnable war”Posted: March 7, 2022
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I feel as though I’ve become addicted to War Porn. I usually do not watch TV at all over the weekend but I couldn’t help but check the news. I spent yesterday talking to Alex several times asking about his 8-year-old daughter who is now with her mother in a town near Moldova with papers and passports ready should they need to cross the border. The schools are gone so she is learning English online. His elderly mother refuses to leave and is determined to fight. He’s ready to defend his country on whatever level he can. We get interrupted a few times as he tells me and our other friends from all over the world with similar concerns that the sirens have gone off again. Yesterday, he says, the Russians took out their airport and schools. I haven’t heard from a friend in Hungary all weekend. Refugees are fleeing What next?
I think what next is the question of this decade. Yesterday, as I watched Russian artillary kill a young mother and her two small children while their dog screamed out I was stunned and out of it for hours. The NYT photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s “security advisor (e.g. mercenary) runs and screams medic for a helpful family friend who still had a heart beat while the children and mother lie in the street pale and lifeless. I can’t imagine ever forgetting that image.
These are war crimes, captured as they occur on TV. They are not the grainy black and white film we have as Holocaust survivors appear after being liberated by US and allied troops years but we see these years after the crimes themselves. It’s not the film of Soviet Tanks running over Czechlosavkia, Hungary, or Poland in short snippets during the 6 p.m. news carefully scripted and edited by news editors. This is real-time and we continue to see it. There was the slaughter of the Kurds at the hands of the Turks as Donald Trump abandons them. The flood of refugees trying to flee Afghanistan with their Taliban overlords ready to blow them up. The flattening impact of Russian bombs during the attack on Aleppo. Our shock and awe attack on Baghdad instigated by Cheney and Bush. Over and over we see these things. We see reporters lining up to get their wartime credentials but this time I sense Ukraine has made them shell-shocked early and less enwrapt in the image.
Spies in Russia’s infamous security apparatus were kept in the dark about President Putin’s plan to invade Ukraine, according to a whistleblower who described the war as a “total failure” that could be compared only to the collapse of Nazi Germany.
A report thought to be by an analyst in the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, said that the Russian dead could already number 10,000. The Russian defence ministry has acknowledged the deaths of only 498 of its soldiers in Ukraine.
The report said the FSB was being blamed for the failure of the invasion but had been given no warning of it and was unprepared to deal with the effects of crippling sanctions.
The whistleblower added that no one in the government knew the true figure of the dead because “we have lost contact with major divisions”.
FSB officers had been ordered to assess the effects of western sanctions, they said, but were told that it was a hypothetical box-ticking exercise. “You have to write the analysis in a way that makes Russia the victor . . . otherwise you get questioned for not doing good work,” they wrote. “Suddenly it happens and everything comes down to your completely groundless analysis.
“[We are] acting intuitively, on emotion . . . our stakes will have to be raised ever higher with the hope that suddenly something might come through for us.
“By and large, though, Russia has no way out. There are no options for a possible victory, only defeat.”
The letter said that Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader and an ally of Putin, was on the verge of outright conflict with the Russians after his “hit squad”, sent to kill President Zelensky, was destroyed by Ukrainian forces.
Even if Zelensky were killed, the report said, Russia would have no hope of occupying Ukraine. “Even with minimum resistance from the Ukrainians we’d need over 500,000 people, not including supply and logistics workers.”
Well, that doesn’t sound good does it?
How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said NATO is looking at more permanent troop deployments in the Baltic region as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.
Asked if the U.S. will send troops to the Baltic region permanently to protect NATO countries, Blinken told reporters that the alliance is “looking at questions of more permanent deployments.”
“We’re continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis in Lithuania.
“All of that is under regular review, and we’re engaged with NATO Allies in doing just that,” he added.
The secretary emphasized that “When it comes to NATO, the line is very clear,” pointing to article five of the North Atlantic Treaty.
“If there is any aggression anywhere on NATO territory, on NATO countries, we the United States, all of our allies and partners, will take action to defend every inch of NATO territory,” Blinken said. “It’s as clear and direct as that.”
It’s good they’re still trying to talk but so far the Russians can’t even deliver safe corridors for the women, children, and elderly fleeing the war zones.
I had a friend here in New Orleans who now refers to looking for updates on Ukrainia as “doom-scrolling”. That seems an apt description. However, this has me thinking about little 8-year-old Vera with her mother. From The Washington Post by Chico Harlan: “After Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Moldova worries it might be next”. Moldova maintains permanent neutrality per its constitution.
There have been no air raid sirens in Moldova, no explosions and no casualties, but already some of the turbulence and anxiety of war is starting to build.
People trade jittery messages on social media as Russian troops move through neighboring Ukraine. Some Moldovans are stockpiling foreign currency and drawing up plans to flee. Many, seeing how abruptly lives collapsed in Ukraine, say they fear the potential for catastrophe in their own country: All it takes is for Russian President Vladimir Putin to expand his ambitions.
“You never know what is in the mind of a crazy person,” said Evgheni Liuft, 32, who lives in Moldova’s capital of Chisinau.
Ten days into a conflict that is shifting alliances and upending the world order, the repercussions are hitting most directly in countries such as Moldova — post-Soviet nations that balanced for years between East and West, and are now realizing the middle ground is untenable.
In Moldova, the war has accelerated the drive to align fully with Europe. On Thursday, the country signed an application to join the European Union, in what its prime minister described as a vote for “freedom.” Moldova has also strained to accommodate more than 250,000 Ukrainian refugees who have crossed its borders, the prime minister noted. In a visit Sunday to Moldova’s capital, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the country a “powerful” example of a democracy moving forward, not backward.
Despite calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine Airspace, people in the know say it’s ” War with Russia by Another Name”. This is from Crisis Group: Some current and former officials, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, call for Western powers to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. This Q&A explains what a no-fly zone would entail, where similar zones have been established before and the dangers of that option in Ukraine.
Those advocating for a no-fly zone over Ukraine have not clarified the precise contours of such a military operation, including whether it would be limited to excluding Russian aircraft from Ukrainian airspace or, as occurred in Libya with different actors, also entail attacks against Russian ground forces. In any event, a no-fly zone would likely require not merely the threat of the use of force, but actual U.S. and/or allied attacks on Russian forces. To be very clear, a U.S. no-fly zone over Ukraine would necessitate a direct military confrontation with Russia, and as noted above, President Putin has said he would regard this as bringing the U.S. into the conflict.
Yevgenia Albats, who serves as editor-in-chief of the independent The New Times magazine, says Russian President Vladimir Putin “wants to have the kind of international order that Stalin agreed to have with Roosevelt and Churchill,” at the end of World War II.
“That’s what he wants, he wants to think himself as a nowadays Stalin.”
Albats says she believes Putin decided to invade Ukraine months ago, “when he realised that he was unable to force the West to provide him with the kind of world – international arrangements – that he wanted, that is to say that he wanted to divide the world into spheres of influence and assign Russia all the former Soviet Republics … he decided to start the war”.
On UpFront, Yevgenia Albats, a journalist and author; Stefanie Babst, the former deputy assistant secretary-general of NATO; and Agnia Grigas, an author and Atlantic Council senior fellow, join Marc Lamont Hill for a roundtable discussion looking at Putin’s possible reasons for launching the invasion of Ukraine and the likely consequences of his war – not just for Ukrainians, but for Russian citizens as well.
Well, this is another mess you’ve gotten us into Vlad the Mad Bomber! I’m going to read something and quit doom-scrolling for a while. The artists featured are all Ukrainian.
What’s on your reading and blogging list!?