Mar 9, 2022·edited Mar 9, 2022

You're wrong. We're going to stick with this. Russia has never been weaker - at the top is a class of corrupt, lazy drunks who vastly overestimate their ability/talent and could barely manage to host a winter olympic games at an exorbitant cost. This grueling war against an outmatched opponent has really exposed Russia for what it is.

Maybe you don't feel like it's enough, but you can't un-ring the bell of what the West is doing in response to this aggression. Europe in particular is going to find a new normal that excludes Russia from their economies as much as possible. For the U.S., losing Russia as a trading partner is pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. And, most importantly, Biden I'm sure realizes that this is a proxy war against Trump, Xi, and the other wannabe tyrants of the world. We're not going to back down and hand a victory to Putin here - it just doesn't make any sense. There will be an independent Ukraine after this, period.

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In Ms Charen’s “Thank God Trump Isn’t President Right Now” she says

“ Failing to enforce his red line in Syria and inviting Russia to assert dominance there”

Obama didn’t fail to enforce the line, Congress made it clear that they wouldn’t approve of his doing so. He should’ve consulted with Congress first and either gotten their assent, or known that he wouldn’t and therefore could not draw the red line.

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A good offering today Charlie! With one thing I think is missing: saying 'never again' is only something you say out of guilt of what happened before; it's not a promise for the future. Because no two things are ever truly alike. As horrible as World War 2 was, we're not living in a time when that's going to happen again. World War 3 might happen, but it won't look anything like World War 2, just as it didn't look anything like World War 1.

I said this before the war started: the foreign policy establishment has done next to no actual outreach to the American people, and has done no persuading of them in regards to things like actual world war. They spent twenty years burning capitol telling Americans to trust them, only to find that they have no more credit to burn. And this refusal to actually face reality, that public opinion is mostly against them in terms of the consequences, is one of the major problems the foreign policy establishment has. If we're always fighting the last war, then the people in charge of our military have not yet bothered to realize they aren't prepared for another one.

That said, we need to take a step back and reevaluate 'realism' in terms of world politics, in that it may be impossible to actually think and act on a global scale. One of the benefits of integrating the globe is that there has been a net increase in prosperity. But one of the drawbacks is that humans are not designed to think about the world. For most of history, people didn't leave within a hundred miles of where they were born. Trying to solve world problems, or trying to consider them at all, exposes our minds to a fundamental problem: most problems on that scale are so large and complex that they cannot actually be solved.

Take for example, this war in Ukraine. Putin is undoubtedly going to commit more horrible atrocities. He might even irradiate the entire area. He might simply set up concentration camps and exterminate it's people. And yet, it is nothing that has not been seen before, is it? It's nothing we don't put up with from the Chinese. It's nothing we don't accept from the Saudis. This isn't an invocation of whataboutism. I mean that in a world where information is being sent at you every single minute of every day, where every new fact is immediately commodified and sold to us, the brain simply becomes overwhelmed. The scale of the world immediately makes one feel helpless.

After all, we're all individuals. We all sit here talking about things like genocide as concepts, that are at best academic matters for us. But none of us is expected or expecting to actually do anything about it, because we can't. Reality is that we get up, eat breakfast, and go to work, while child soldiers are killing each other in Africa and Putin is murdering the Ukraine and China is running concentration camps. We ignore these things because we cannot actually do anything about them. You cannot end war through war, after all. And you cannot stop humans from acting badly.

But this extends to lots of other things on a more personal level. We spend a lot of time trying to deal with things like poverty and crime. We quibble over tax rates and funding and talk about people's lives as political matters, and at our core we accept that in the end, not much is likely to change or get done. This is similar to what happened after 9/11, and very few policy makers actually bothered to study it.

Here's the thing: bravery is hard. I don't mean that in terms of action. I mean that telling yourself that what you're doing is brave creates stress on the mind that makes life harder. Saying 'I'm being brave by going to work today' is the sort of thing that wears on a person. After 9/11, there was a lot of 'you need to go out and see concerts and things to show people you're not afraid!' And then one day, people just stopped caring. They became numb to it, and the invocations of danger stopped mattering.

A similar thing happened with Covid. Mass death is still with us. Over a thousand Americans are dying every day. It's not over. But we don't care anymore. We don't, because spending two years in a high stress posture has numbed us to it. We no longer care if we live or die from covid. Oh, we say we do. But we're not going to advocate or even take actions that would back this up. Instead we'll discuss it academically, in terms of what we could have done or what we could do, but we all know that we won't actually do anything.

Ukraine is no different. It's no different when an earthquake hits Haiti or a hurricane hits New Orleans. We are immediately struck by the images, but as we see them, we stop caring, because we cannot continue to care at that level forever. As anyone who has had a dying family member knows, it's hard to deal with them when they linger. It's taxing on the mind. Even if you love them, even if you hate what's happening, you become selfish and start thinking of yourself.

I don't mean to be cynical about this. But when I hear things like 'never again' what I see are emotional pleas to remember other terrible events and the attempt to link them. But the thing is, we're already numbed to those too. Most people can't bring themselves to do even the most basic things to accommodate others; I'm autistic, I've dealt with it firsthand.

But go beyond that. The very backbone of conservative ideology, that people are naturally evil and thus central authority is to be mistrusted, goes against the very idea of something like invoking 'never again.' If collective action is impossible, or downright evil, then trying to create it through such invocations makes no sense. But it speaks to our sense of helplessness that when we encounter such large problems, our first instinct is to go 'well why isn't anyone doing anything? Why can't we deal with this?' We immediately become children, asking our parents to explain why they won't do what seems obvious to us, because we can't imagine the consequences yet.

It is, in a word, harrowing. But the greater danger to ourselves is that we become cynical and closed off and we retreat from the world entirely; see the political disengagement after various world events for example. But it's equally foolish to meet these sorts of challenges with the sort of naivete that tells us that if we just acting, we could fix these problems. Some problems cannot be fixed. People can't be changed. And ultimately, we're all entirely helpless before the actions of people we'll never meet. So it has been, so it will always be.

I'm not sure what we can really do, when it comes down to it. We can admire Zelensky, and we can take his attempts to shame us into action to heart, but we must also know that he's only trying to save himself and his people, and that if we did what he asked, billions might die. The human race might die. It's said that all evil needs to win is for good to do nothing, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions too, isn't it?

We're unfortunately trapped in a sad reality of the modern age: that we know about every bad thing as soon as it happens, and we are forever made aware that we can do nothing about any of it. None of us can stop the war in Ukraine any more than we can stop a hurricane from forming, but we're going to have to watch it happen all the same.

Truly, it is harrowing. Trying to process all of this, trying to take in the scope of everything, truly makes one feel small.

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Mar 9, 2022·edited Mar 9, 2022

I terribly want Joe Biden to succeed, first because the Trump/Trumpist alternative would be so ruinous for this country, but also the incredible stakes in Ukraine at this time, obviously

But I would note that the Reagan/Weinberger (very expensive) arms buildup wasn’t popular in the US at all, people feared the Soviets at that time -assumed they weren’t going anywhere regardless of what we did - plus our economy was in the toilet.

Much like how FDR led a semi-hesitant nation into a necessary war to defend freedom, Reagan SOLD the country on what needed to be done— and what price needed to be paid for it

He told us ‘the Russians aren’t 10 feet tall’, and in the response to the perceived need for social programs at the time, he said if we don’t defeat the Soviet Union ‘they’ll be no need for any social programs’.

All it took was vision, principled determination, leadership skills, and the ability to communicate what needed to be done

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We should have done whatever was required to get those Polish planes to Ukraine as soon as possible. Now is the time to stop Hitler.

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Where is *our* Zelensky?

Why is it that 98% of our elected Senators and Representatives are posers?

We have Trump, McConnell, Graham, Cruz, Rubio, Hawley; my God, the list is never ending.

Where is *our* Zelensky?

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Remember that Mona (and Bill Kristol as well as much of/most of the Bulwark staff) was/is NeoCon and fully supported the disastrous Iraqi invasion (on false pretenses) and the “forever” occupation of Afghanistan. She also advocated for the U.S. to intervene in Libya and Syria. She has shown, and continues to show, a tremendous lack of humility in examining her previous “traditional” Republican positions.

“Inviting Russia to assert dominance [in Syria]…”. Good luck with that. No foreign country really asserts dominance in the Middle East. It is where empires go to die. Obama was 100% correct in choosing not to intervene in Syria or Libya.

I believe it was SecDef Robert Gates who said “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined.” He was right, on so many levels.

Her main point that we should be grateful that Trump is not President is 100% right. But she has been so wrong on so many other calls before that she basically has zero credibility with me.

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Apparently the Polish government sprang this announcement on us and there's a lot of stuff to do to those planes before they can get sent to Ukraine, i.e. removing newer avionics that we don't want to fall into Russian hands. There's also the problem of getting them to Ukraine without them being shot down on the way there.

The US answer wasn't "No" it was not as fast as Poland wants to do it.

The one excuse I don't actually care about is that Putin will see this as an escalation. Putin sees anything short of giving in to his demands as an escalation.

p.s.: I also wonder if Russia tried to use nukes, after seeing the condition of his army, is if they would even work.

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As someone who was present for the destruction of Fallujah & Ramadi, and who then got to watch the destruction of Tripoli/Benghazi/Aleppo/Idlib on TV later on, it's REALLY weird seeing how much more Americans seem to care when it's white European cities getting bombed out of existence compared to when it's a mostly Muslim city that's in some part of the MENASA. Like, there is a stark difference between how Americans perceived the tens of thousands of innocent Shia and Sunni we bombarded with bad-intel airstrikes, white phosphorus munitions, HIMARs rockets, drone strikes, and roadblock shootings over the last 20 years compared to how we react to when Russia is doing it to white Europeans. Like, am I the only one who notices this disconnect or nah? Maybe we ought to think about our principles sometimes and think about why it is that we care sometimes and not so much others. It's telling the world a lot about ourselves.

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Mar 9, 2022·edited Mar 9, 2022

"The hard truth is that greatest and most powerful nations in the world will watch as Putin pummels and destroys Ukraine." I don't think I've seen a sadder statement in all my life.

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Thanks for not letting Bill Barr off the hook. He is the worst Attorney General in our nation's history, despite stiff competition from John Mitchell.

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I am too old to fight. But we do not want to make a mistake here.

Let us also separate the question of whether we are able to fight or willing to fight for Poland et al. This is entirely different - because we have time and because our Nato allies are not surrounded or trapped by Russia and its puppet. The Ukraine was trapped before the war started

We did not create the relationship between the Ukraine and Russia (so long ties etc). Nor did we create the history of the past 80 years.

We can prepare conditions that will allow for NATO to be well defended. It will take a build up, but Russia has created the incentive.

So... despite all the heroism displayed by Ukrainians - this is not the place to make a strategic error. And the history of war shows many errors or assumption about what someone else would do.

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Not sure what planet Mona is coming from but her "opinion" is nothing short of BS. With people like her writing this crap it is no wonder people are unwilling to see all of the very good work the President has done. While I am a huge believer in FREE SPEECH I wish she would just STFU!

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In the last couple of days I have been thinking of that bankruptcy quote from The Sun Also Rises. I do think it could be applied to Russia in this war.

Question: Mr. Putin, how did you lose this war?

Answer: Gradually, then suddenly.

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The last few weeks have been an awful flashback to my Army days in the mid-80s, running maneuvers in the woods and fields of Germany in preparation for the Russians coming through the Fulda Gap. The survival time for my unit was predicted to be 12 minutes. The pictures I’m seeing are nothing short of an abomination, and I wonder how the West will navigate the tripwires ahead.

I listened to Charlie’s podcast today with General Hertling, and I had to admit his breakdown of the incomprehensible tactics, delusional strategy, and logistical vacuum was riveting. The lack of initiative (or living/training conditions or a strong professional core at any level of the bulk of their military) has apparently never changed and is proving a major weakness of the Russian military even decades later. With the size and lack of humanity of the Russian military, however, I can only hope that the Ukrainians have enough fight and fighters left to hold firm when the Russians attempt to hold what they take. I must admit that I was ashamed to listen to the general’s ray of sunshine at a possible outcome – it seemed a betrayal to let my mind skip over what the Ukrainian people will be suffering for the foreseeable future. I understand the dangers of beginning yet another world war, but bowing to threats and blackmail will only grant the world another temporary reprieve. Events may force our hand. Slava Ukraini!

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Vice Ukraine: I can not believe I am saying this; generally see fighting wars as senseless suffering; generally upon innocent civilians.

But I see no alternative here. Even if Putin takes a hit in his ability to control, he will remain in power as long as he is useful to the oligarchs and their financial well being. If they are not willing to oust him now, they likely never will be.

If he stays in power, eventually he will convince himself that he won in Ukraine, no matter how obvious the loss. We need look no further than Florida to see how deluded those in power can become. Nor need we look far to see their ability to fool “some of the people allof the time”.

Inevitably, then, he will do this again. Surely, the Baltic nations and the entire EU see this.

My opinion, free and likely barely worth that, is that they, the EU and Baltics give Russia an ultimatum, back by preparation; either Russia stop bombing cities and civilians in Ukraine and withdraw or we go to war.

If not now, then the only question will be, who is next.

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