Opinion Shifting Against Ukraine War Effort

Featured image As I’ve written before, Americans are remarkably united on the Russia-Ukraine war. Almost everyone is on Ukraine’s side, and almost no one wants us to send troops. So differences in opinion are relatively nuanced: how far should we go to support Ukraine’s war effort? How one answers that question depends partly on whether one sees a risk of wider, possibly nuclear, war, and partly on how one sees our support »

A Nuanced View of the Russia-Ukraine War

Featured image For me, the war in Ukraine is simple: Ukraine didn’t invade Russia, Russia invaded Ukraine. So I am on the Ukrainians’ side. But at the same time, my perspective is nuanced. The nuance consists of wondering whether it really is in our interest to send tens of billions of dollars worth of war materiel to the Ukrainians. What interest, exactly, do we have in the conflict that makes such an »

Collusion revisited — again

Featured image I badly mangled this post when I sought to correct a link in it yesterday. I’m taking the liberty of reposting it as intended below the break with apologies to readers who may have seen it in its mangled form. * * * * * The late Richard Pipes’s narrative history The Russian Revolution is a great work of humane learning. Pipes’s mastery of the sources shines through his text. »

Collusion revisited

Featured image The late Richard Pipes’s narrative history The Russian Revolution is a great work of humane learning. Pipes’s mastery of the sources shines through his text. The text itself reflects a lifetime of study and reflection. Reading Gary Saul Morson’s essay/review linked in the adjacent post, I was reminded of Pipes’s chapter 7 (“Toward the Catastrophe”), covering the assassination of Rasputin. It includes this passage on the November 14, 1916 speech »

March 1917 revisited

Featured image The current (May 12) issue of the New York Review of Books carries Gary Saul Morson’s chilling essay/review (behind the NYRB paywall) taking up March 1917: The Red Wheel/Node III (8 March–31 March): Book 3 and Between Two Millstones: Book 2, Exile in America, 1978–1994, the most recent of the books by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to be translated and published in English. Professor Morson channels Solzhenitsyn’s thinking on the preface to »

Putin Sings

Featured image In 2010, a number of celebrities were invited to St. Petersburg, Russia, to participate in a fundraiser for a children’s hospital there. As an added treat, Vladimir Putin took the stage and sang Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill.” He played the piano, too. Sort of. You pretty much have to see it to believe it. See how many American celebrities you can spot: It’s pretty surreal. Sharon Stone talks about her »

The Inexorable Logic of Dictators

Featured image Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its rapid stall out from effective Ukrainian resistance, there has been a lot of talk, backed up with appropriate quotes from Sun Tzu and other classic authors on strategy, that we need to contrive some kind of graceful “offramp” for Putin. This seems like unpromising advice. Time to recall once again the counsel of Churchill, made for a foolishly hopeful American »

Disinformation, American style (3)

Featured image In its lead editorial this morning the Wall Street Journal turns its attention to President Obama’s performance at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics/Atlantic Disinformation Conference this week. The editorial is headlined “Barack Obama rewrites his Russia history.” It opens this way: “As somebody who grappled with the incursion into Crimea and the eastern portions of Ukraine, I have been encouraged by the European reaction [this time],” Mr. Obama »

Ukraine, the Russian Perspective

Featured image It is hard to think of a recent policy issue on which American public opinion has been so unified: just about everyone is pro-Ukraine, but hardly anyone wants American troops to fight on the ground. Despite this apparent consensus, various public figures, including Donald Trump, have been vilified as pro-Russia. It light of recent revelations about Russian atrocities, it is safe to assume that essentially no one–certainly no politician or »

Our Ukraine Dilemmas

Featured image A certain amount of caution is recommended about reporting and commenting on the Ukraine War, mostly because solid facts are hard to come by (the “fog of war” and all that), and judgment about what to do is in equally short supply, especially inside the head of our president. A few things appear certain. First, the Ukrainians have fought with great skill and effectiveness, and surprised the world with their »

Got half a mind to ramble

Featured image President Biden’s public appearances in Europe this week have made for a dangerous spectacle of debility and senescence. It does not serve Biden’s interest to take notice. The media have therefore pitched in to airbrush the spectacle. That is the point Kyle Smith makes in the New York Post column “Media works overtime to clean up Joe Biden’s word salads.” In his Wall Street Journal Best of the Web column »

The madness of Vlad the inhaler

Featured image Vladimir Putin is willing to destroy Ukraine to express his love of the Russian people. He spoke on Wednesday at a “Meeting on socioeconomic support for regions” via videoconference, on socioeconomic support for the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. He spoke for some 37 minutes and took up a variety of issues bearing on his war on Ukraine. At the moment video of the full speech with inadequate translation »

The madness of slow Joe, Iran edition (10)

Featured image In her JNS column on the Biden administration’s imminent deal with Iran, Melanie Phillips concludes: “Its’s hard to believe, but through its double-dealing with both Russia and Iran, America is now working with a lethal enemy of the west — to empower a lethal enemy of civilization.” That has been my point in this series, though I am afraid that isn’t the half of it. Foundation for the Defense of »


Featured image Z was the 1969 political thriller that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Referring to the political assassination with which the film begins, “Z” stood for “he lives.” I hope that when the Russia’s war on Ukraine comes to an end, “Z” can stand for Zelenksy and his survival will be literal rather than metaphorical. Zelensky’s appearance before Congress yesterday prompts these obvious thoughts. • Ukraine is an »

Zelensky speaks…to Congress

Featured image Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak to Congress later this morning. The AP has just published Lisa Mascaro’s preview of Zelensky’s remarks in “Zelenskyy center stage: Facing Congress, pleading for help.” In “Zelensky speaks” on March 4 I observed (forgive me for quoting myself): “As the fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance Zelensky is the man of the hour. He harks back to the old-fashioned virtues. In the battle »

The madness of slow Joe, Iran edition (8)

Featured image I have on a few occasions in this series assessed with moderate confidence that the Russian wrinkle in the conclusion of our imminent nuclear deal with Iran will be ironed out. The Biden administration has of course relied on its friends in the Putin regime to work out the deal with Iran on our behalf and then, at the last minute, insisted that it needed an accommodation regarding sanctions. As »

Is Russia’s Invasion Failing?

Featured image It is hard to know what information to trust about the situation in the Ukrainian war. A few days ago the Financial Times, which isn’t perfect (what media outlet is these days?) but fairly sober about its news reporting standards, ran a long story outlining what it saw as the significant failures of the Russian invasion: In the first phase of its offensive, the Kremlin’s military story is one of »