Links 3/25/2023

The Little-Known World of Caterpillars The New Yorker

A ‘Traffic Light’ Outlook on the Kitchen and Bath Industry John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “A bellwether for consumer spending on home improvement.”


EU governments sued for violating human rights through climate inaction France24

Fifty Degrees in the Persian Gulf London Review of Books


What will the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on a Navajo Nation water rights case mean for other tribes? Colorado Sun


Assessing COVID-19 pandemic policies and behaviours and their economic and educational trade-offs across US states from Jan 1, 2020, to July 31, 2022: an observational analysis The Lancet. This factoid jumped out: “Employment, however, had a statistically significant relationship with restaurant closures and greater infections and deaths: on average, 1574 (95% UI 884–7107) additional infections per 10 000 population were associated in states with a one percentage point increase in employment rate. ” Summary at CIDRAP.

‘The Rage Would Come Out of Nowhere’: Personality Change Has Emerged as a Symptom of Long Covid Rolling Stone


War with China ‘not inevitable’, but helping Russia in Ukraine widens conflict: US General Mark Milley South China Morning Post

Why Is China Strengthening Its Military? It’s Not All About War RAND

Hong Kong government announces measures to lure wealthy family offices Channel News Asia

Vietnam the epitome of a Belt and Road hedge Asia Times


US to announce more sanctions against Myanmar junta and Russian support for Myanmar junta ‘destabilising’ Southeast Asia: US envoy Channel News Asia. No, it’s really not. Myanmar is all too stable, Russia or no. Sanctions won’t help. Nor will NGOs. What would help the NUG is a few shipping containers of rifles and machine guns. Of course, that’s no guarantee of a humane outcome, even if the NUG were to “win.”

European Disunion

Is France on the road to a Sixth Republic? FT. Commentary:


Dear Old Blighty

“We Will See a Reunification Referendum Within the Decade” Der Spiegel (Furzy Mouse). Ireland.

New Not-So-Cold War

A Year Into War, Ukraine Faces Challenges Mobilizing Troops WSJ

No Letup in Bakhmut as Ukraine and Russia Brace for Battles Elsewhere NYT. Visegrad is Ukrainian disinformation and propogangda. So FWIW:


Ukraine: “This is the final chance….” The West: “To the bare walls!” (except not really).

* * *
Blinken dismisses China’s ‘marriage of convenience’ with Russia Channel News Asia

Biden thinks world ‘vastly exaggerate’ China-Russia alliance Andalu Agency and Joe Biden says no sign yet of China sending Russia weapons Al Jazeera

* * *
Denmark invites Nord Stream owner to recover mystery object Hurriyet Daily News. Wut.

* * *
‘Now or Never’:The Immediate Origins of Putin’s Preventative War on Ukraine Journal of Military and Strategic Studies

Why pushing for the break up of Russia is absolute folly Responsible Statecraft

This NATO Ally is Building Strongest Army After Ukraine: Military Analyst Newsweek. Love the “This” clickbait. Poland.

* * *
What to do about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant Brookings Institute. I searched on “shell[ing”]. The only usages where an agent is named come from Ukrainian sources, the agent being “Russia.” Guys, come on.

Apocalypse: Operation Barbarossa Big Serge (Carolinian). A good read.

Biden Administration

Munitions Return to a Place of Prominence in National Security War on the Rocks

CFPB funding is constitutional, 2nd Circuit court rules Banking Dive

Congress sat back and let trucks become heavier, taller, and deadlier. Now pedestrian fatalities are at a 40-year high.Business Insider (Rev Kev). SUVs too.

This is an extraordinary amount of lying Tucker Carlson, FOX. More than a little partisan. But impressive!

B-a-a-a-d Banks

Germany’s Olaf Scholz dismisses fears over Deutsche Bank FT

World stocks gyrate as bank contagion fears bite Reuters. Capital allocation is an important social function, and delegating it to easily panicked herd animals makes total sense, in this best of all possible worlds.

First Republic Bank Founder Earned a Big Payday—as Did His Family Members WSJ. My bad. I meant to say “easily panicked corrupt herd animals.”

Executive pay at Silicon Valley Bank soared after big bet on riskier assets FT

Bank failures and rescue test Yellen’s decades of experience AP

Jeffrey Epstein banks to face sex-trafficking case BBC


Trump Exploits Little-Known Legal Loophole Where You Avoid Indictment By Not Committing A Crime Babylon Bee

DeSantis walks back ‘territorial dispute’ remark on Ukraine AP

Supply Chain

Russia slashes refining to maintain oil exports amid output cut – sources, Reuters calculations Reuters

Intelligence Community

Exclusive: FBI Agents Accuse CIA of 9/11 Coverup Spy Talk

Police State Watch

Police Sue Afroman for Humiliating Them By Making Art Out of Their Raid on His Home Jezebel


ChatGPT’s API. A bug, instantly fixed, according to the thread:


OK, now do the intelligence community’s back doors.


American Airlines to Temporarily Suspend Route Due to Boeing Dreamliner Delays WSJ

Sports Desk

How to fix baseball The Writing Shed

Feral Hog Watch

These Graphics Show Just How Bad Canada’s Invasive “Super Pig” Problem Really Is Field and Stream

Zeitgeist Watch

How Cookie Jars Capture American Kitsch Eater

Imperial Collapse Watch

Twenty Years Ago, the Iraq War Changed Everything — and Taught Elites Nothing Jacobin

20 Years Later, NYT Still Can’t Face Its Iraq War Shame FAIR

Selling the Iraq War: a How-to Guide Counterpunch

Amazon kills DPReview, the best camera review site on the web Tech Crunch. Reading betweem the lines, Amazon never figured out how to enshittify it. I wonder if the DPReview could follow the successful Defector model, and form a co-op.

Class Warfare

Steady Jobless Claims Show Labor Market Remains Strong WSJ

Whitmer repeals right-to-work, reinstates prevailing wage in Michigan Free Press (MN).

How the War On Sex Work Is Stripping Your Privacy Rights Report Espler Project

Your Landlord Might Be a Baby Curbed

Joy is good for your body and your mind – three ways to feel it more often The Conversation

People Can Win Matt Taibbi, Racket News

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Wukchumni

    Goooooooood Mooooooorning Fiatnam!

    Everybody in the Unit was acutely aware of the War On Cash, but few were cognizant of the war on cash deposits, as the platoon patiently stood at attention in a line which stretched around the block with hundreds waiting for their chance to withdraw from polite society, or as some called them: banks.

    This of course called for a cadence even though our march was glacial, but never the less:

    ‘I don’t know but i’ve been told, only 71% of them are dead presidents-if I may be so bold, sound off 1-2-5-10-20-50-100’

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Navajo water rights–

    This brought back some memories. Back in the early 80s, I practiced law in New Mexico as a young associate in a Santa Fe law firm. While I was never involved in water law cases, I did have occasion, while condemning carbon dioxide pipeline right-of-way for Shell, to come up against the state’s most feared water rights lawyer, William Schaab of the Rodey firm in Albuquerque (the Rodey firm is a model for Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill in “Better Call Saul”). Schaab represented several of the New Mexico pueblo tribes in a water rights case quite similar to the Navaho case discussed in the links, and initially, it was unclear whether he and his co-counsel would even be allowed to represent the tribes. The federal government and the State of New Mexico both argued that only the feds could represent Indian tribes in federal court. Eventually, in 1983 in a case originally brought in 1966, Schaab and the pueblos prevailed in a case titled State of New Mexico vs. Aamodt, a Tenth Circuit case that completely shook up water rights in New Mexico.

    Aamodt was still in litigation when Schaab was brought in by the Rodey firm to assist in representing a big ranching client of theirs who was tired of pipelines and pipeline companies. Once that happened, none of the partners in my firm were interested in going up against “the best lawyer in the state,” who also sported an “Editor of Yale Law Review” on his CV. So a green associate who had been with the firm less than six months ended up with the task.

    I first met the intimidating Mr. Schaab during a mass deposition held in Shell’s HQ in Houston. It was late afternoon, and he had just flown in from DC where he was testifying before a Senate committee on Indian water rights, and he was tired. We had had most of the day to prepare for him, and he didn’t get much out of those depositions. And at trial, we had the law on our side once we figured out that a lot of the substance of the Interstate Commerce Act was actually drawn from earlier common law common carrier cases. That was important because Shell had oh-so-cleverly managed to escape federal regulation from either the ICC or FERC by arguing that CO2 didn’t fall under either agency’s jurisdiction.

    It’s too bad that the Navajos didn’t benefit from Mr. Schaab’s expertise. They might have secured their water rights decades ago.

    1. MaryLand

      Thanks for the insight. Also interesting that Better Call Saul was modeled on that particular law firm. That show was fascinating.

  3. griffen

    Selling the Iraq War, well in retrospect was it ever really that hard to sell and dupe many Americans? I speak from experience of being thoroughly duped. Okay and yes, maybe the Powell speech before the UN stirred some quiet doubt but the younger version of me basically trusted the federal government. I knew there was dissent in the usual places but I never bothered to follow that particular thread. Get Saddam and ask deep questions later.

    What a stupid I am, to borrow a quote from a sports writer. Thankfully a few of these key personnel have passed on to A. linger in heaven or B. burn in eternal hell. Some are still scheduled to join their dead fellows, after all pacemakers can’t outrun the grim reaper can they ? Can They ?

    1. Mildred Montana

      For me the tipoff was that, after Powell’s UN presentation, both France and Germany refused to join the “Coalition of the Willing”. I said to myself, Well, if two countries which surely have better intel than the average TV-watching newspaper-reading citizen aren’t buying it, then neither am I. And I didn’t.

      1. Questa Nota

        They did not pry those French Fries from my fingers!
        Never believed the farce by Powell and his ilk.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Powell’s jar of white powder prop was a pretty big tell that it was all a charade.

      2. Pat

        Aspects of Powell’s testimony were shown to be false by no less than the BBC in less than 24 hours. Didn’t stop most of Britain from following Blair the poodle. (I am pretty sure that it did however guarantee that the BBC News was gutted of actual journalists that would check government claims.)

        But I had already realized that if you kept track all the evidence of WMD and chemical weapons fell apart usually within 72 hours of them being the leading headline on every major news outlet. And corrections either didn’t happen or were in fine print buried under the least viewed area if they did. Which meant I was waiting for that testimony to fall apart so the only surprise was where I saw it happening.

    2. dao

      The clue when you are being lied to is they tell you: “Trust the experts”. They never offer specific, verifiable facts to support their contention.

      “Russia hacked the election” used the same playbook. They never cited specific examples of Russian social media posts that “influenced the election” in all the stories they ran about the “story”.

      Same deal with Hunter Biden’s laptop. The experts said it has “all the hallmarks” of a Russian disinformation campaign” so it must be so.

      They primarily rely on innuendo when they tell lies. Most Americans at one time believed Iraq was behind 9/11,

    1. Viscaelpaviscaelvi

      From the article:
      “A third, widely underappreciated reason owes to national prestige. Like autocrats elsewhere, Chinese leaders regard a powerful military as a sign of national status and as a way of whipping up patriotic enthusiasm. ”
      So all those Top-Gun movies have nothing to do with national status and whipping up patriotism because the US is a democracy. Good to know there is a bright white line between us and them.

    1. mrsyk

      What a handstand! The young man’s luminous pride for the pup makes me like humans again, at least for a moment.

      1. Pelham

        Exactly my reaction! Also reminds me of how special dogs are with their eagerness to please.

    2. Chas

      On the first antidote, I think the monkey shows a resemblance to Biden’s foreign policy operative Neil Sullivan.

  4. mrsyk

    Ukraine “This is the final chance…” TV Preacher “Keep those cards and letters coming…”

    1. Polar Socialist

      Well, without all the money and weapons coming from The West there are no Ukrainian state or armed forces. After Ukraine lost half it’s population and most of it’s electric grid and industrial base, it can’t pay for it’s civil service or for any other service, or keep it’s soldiers fed and armed.

      So yes, keep those checks coming, indeed.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        The Walk of Death

        (Sung to the tune of “Walk of Life “ as performed by Dire Straits)

        Here comes Vlod he’s hosting EU toadies
        Be-bop-a-Lula baby what I say
        Here comes Vlod he’s singin I got a green screen, down in a tunnel tryin to make a play

        He’s handin’ out battlefield promotions
        Oh yeah, war boy cosplays
        Manipulation, emotions
        Turning wunderwaffen into beta decay

        The songs about a slaughter on the steppe
        The play is gonna turn out like MacBeth
        Ya do the walk
        Ya do the walk of death
        Ooh the muddy walk of death

        Here comes Vlodsky, gonna tell you the story
        In his Hand me down combat boots
        Here comes Vlodsky with the shock-n-awe glory
        Beat back the Kremlin dudes

        He’s Handing out battlefield promotions
        Oh yeah, our boy cosplays
        Manipulation, emotions
        Turning all the landscape helllish and gray

        The song about the new counteroffensive
        He do the song about azov right
        While they do the walk
        They do the walk of death
        On the muddy road of death

        Here comes Vlodsky, he’s hostin’ western toadies
        Be-bop-a-Lula baby what I say
        Here comes Vlod he’s singin I got a green screen, down in a tunnel tryin to make a play

        He wants reaction
        It’s pure emotion
        Oh yeah the boy cosplays
        Manipulation, emotion
        Turning all The landscape hellish and grey
        And after all the violence and double talk
        We’ll just disown him for the trouble and the strife
        You do the walk
        The muddy road of death

        1. hunkerdown

          Noice. That song’s been stuck in the back of my head for a while now. I propose a couple of edits:

          “Down in a bunker/salt mine tryna make a play”
          “We’ll just disown him for the drama and the meth”

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Perhaps that section of the verse could go like this:

            Here comes Vlodsky sayin’ I need mo weapons, down in a salt mine tryna make a play

        2. Eclair

          “Here comes Vlodsky …. / In his Hand me down combat boots…..”

          Gosh, I remember so well the first time I saw a photo of Paul Bremer, US civilian administrator of Iraq, wearing his spanking new desert tan combat boots, to complement his dark Armani suit, white shirt and tie. So important for these men who have never been in combat to dress the part.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Most war could be prevented if these men were required to rotate to the front and get some mud on their boots.

  5. LawnDart

    Re; This is an extraordinary amount of lying

    That subject’s been on my mind a lot recently, as it feels that the lying has become much more widespread, commonplace and shameless.

    I strongly feel that this is an example of “the fish rots from the head.” I noted in a comment earlier this week that I observed a great amount of fraud and deceptive practices since covid, and that this appears to be backed-up by statistics from the FTC: the rot has spread.

    Peer-pressure, affirmation, are very real things: when impressionable people see authority-figures or persons of social influence demonstrate behaviors, do they not mimic or ape such behaviors themselves, seeing these as legitimate and acceptable?

    Western societies are seriously screwed.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I for one can attest to considering or engaging in behaviors modeled or hinted at by our elites that prior to the financial crisis, I would never have considered.

    2. GC54

      Add complete disregard for traffic control. Every day i see red light runs and illegal turns. I call BS on that being due to Covid brain fog.

  6. Wukchumni

    Headed off into the wild bluebird skies wander, walking the planks @ China Peak ski resort with a gaggle of friends.

    The lodge and rooms were built in 1959 and frankly hardly updated since then-some of the rooms feature mutual toilets and showers down the hall, you don’t see that much in these not so united states.

    Luckily we’re only there to ski and the lifts are modern and its a nice mountain which very much reminds me of SoCal ski resorts when I was learning the tricks of the glade.

    They’ve received 668 inches of snow this winter-thats over 50 feet, gad zooks!

    Funny thing about skiing & boarding, the amount on the ground is important when there is hardly any, but once you’ve got good cover of say 3 feet, you’re aces. Having a 20 foot base isn’t really any different, aside from added obstacles in the way of what are called ‘tree wells’, which is the outside area emanating from a pine tree which extends around 5 feet from the tree in circumference, and in the winter of record for the past 125+ years, should you fall into one of these, you might go down 10 feet and be well and truly stuck, and boarders are most susceptible, so no forays into the forest to ignite a fancy pre-rolled, ixnay.

    The Estonian-American ski club holds a weekend get together @ China Peak every year for the past 55 years or so, and they dress to the nines, and very graceful skiers too!

    Oh You Fancy, Huh… [China Peak]

    1. Watt4Bob

      Slipped into one of those tree wells some forty years ago up at the Big Mountain in Montana.

      My back against the trunk, and my right ankle firm against my face, the boot still firmly gripped in the binding and the ski tip pointing straight up, and my eyes just about level with the surface.

      I managed to get my ski loose and not drop it to the bottom of the well.

      It was not so easy to climb out of that thing.

      Lucky to have had a friend close behind who witnessed my ‘disappearance’.

      It’s easy to imagine the possibility of falling deeper, and not being able to get out.

    2. JP

      I fell in one when just learning. Found myself upside down hanging from my skis. Looked a lot like a beached whale getting out of that.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Twenty Years Ago, the Iraq War Changed Everything — and Taught Elites Nothing”

    But I disagree. It taught the Elites plenty. It tought them that they could lie their faces off and nobody would ever suffer any consequences. Bush never did and the wife of a Democratic President gave him a public hug to show that he was fully redeemed. It taught them also that the main stream media would fall in line and amply anything that they came out with while sacking any that disagreed with the narrative. It taught them of how they could make actual personal fortunes from these wars. And that retired military officers on the payroll of defence contractors could go on TV and spout the official line while never being challenged about this conflict of interest. And the result of all this? Well for a start Russiagate, the recently terminated money-washing machine known as Afghanistan and now the defacto war against Russia and soon China. So it actually taught them a lot.

    1. LawnDart

      I fully agree with your assessment, but none of what we say matters because a million dead and eight million displaced don’t include any of our elites, right?

      Here’s to a hope that the protesters in France get their hands on Macron and introduce him to the unretired madam– face-up. Cheers!

    2. Acacia

      Yeah, and meebee the editors at Jacobin should click on over to Cheney’s “What I Got Right About The Iraq War” at The Onion.

    3. pjay

      Marcetic still has a few lessons to learn as well:

      “And of course, it’s not just US leaders: Russian president Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine has followed Bush’s playbook almost to a T, from faulty intelligence and expectations of being greeted as a liberator to poor war planning and empowering local extremists.”

      Maybe this is nitpicking, since I agree with almost everything else in his article. But if Marcetic can argue for the equivalence of these two events, then I’m afraid his usefulness is limited. All the reasons listed for the US invasion of Iraq were *lies*. Now, Branko, please read Putin’s list of reasons for the (limited) invasion of Ukraine and tell me which is a lie.

      I like Marcetic generally; in my view he’s one of the best contributors to Jacobin. But apparently this “leftist” needs to read Geoffrey Roberts to enhance his cardboard understanding of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    4. spud

      and thats why they can’t be left off of the hook. grab them whilst they are still alive, and get to the bottom of all of the advisors and financier’s.

      oliver cromwell knew how to do it.

  8. Stephen V

    Breathtaking set of links today, Lambert. And I don’t even care if I have icing on my face or if the police are coveting the cake I said I didn’t touch.

  9. Mikel

    “Germany’s Olaf Scholz dismisses fears over Deutsche Bank” FT

    I read that Cramer also said it’s all good with DB.
    So everything should be fine.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If you look on Google News, you will see a lot of stories about Deutsche Bank today. Too many. Based on stories that Clive told in comments some time ago, I am betting that Deutsche Bank may be getting ready to implode as the contagion spreads. And with people like Olaf Scholz in charge, it is going to be a mess.

    2. griffen

      Well with Credit Suisse now out of the way, the Global Finance Problem Child milk carton needs a refresh and DB fits the billing for Big Important non-US based financial problem child. Yeah I’m sure the German governmental leaders are wanting to avoid the scenario of having to admit the quietest part out loud.

      No Banker Left Behind ! Life imitating Blazing Saddles. Protect our phony jobs.

    3. timbers

      The guys over at New Atlas briefly wondered how much Deutsche Bank lost and to what extent Nord Stream being blown up by USA might contribute to their troubles, but got sidetracked before going into details.

      1. bwilli123

        And then there’s the alleged assistance to Warburg, Hamburg based and Germany’s largest private bank.

        “…The private lender’s former boss Christian Olearius was charged over serious tax evasion last month. He denies the charges.
        This is where Scholz, the head of Germany’s three-party coalition government since last December, enters the picture. According to the Warburg boss’s seized diary, cited in court and leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Olearius met Hamburg’s then mayor (Olaf) twice over a two-week period in 2016 while the bank was already under investigation by financial authorities and faced having to pay back €47m in taxes.
        Shortly after the meeting, Warburg was told by Hamburg authorities that it did not have to pay the bill after all – a decision partially revoked a year later by the federal finance ministry in Berlin.
        When asked about the meeting by a parliamentary committee last year, Scholz said he could not remember the content of the conversation. He insisted he had given no “special treatment” to the banker, whose lending house plays a powerful role in Germany’s second largest city and played a part in rescuing the local shipping company Hapag-Lloyd from a sale in 2008.

        Olearius’s diaries also note, however, that Scholz called him on his mobile two weeks later, asking him to send his legal reasoning for why his bank did not have to make the tax repayments to the then state finance minister, Peter Tschentscher.

        Tschentscher, in turn, passed on the seven-page document to the relevant caseworker after annotating the bank’s defence in ministerial green ink – a clandestine bureaucratic code, Scholz’s critics allege – that urged authorities to adopt Warburg’s line of argument and meant, they claim, the mayor had managed to bail out the lender without leaving his fingerprints on the backroom deal…”

        1. Ignacio

          That might be one of the reasons explaining Scholz’s weakness. Another NC commenter (or yourself, bwilli?) from Germany whose name I can’t recall commented other (or the same?) past sins by Scholz.

  10. The Rev Kev

    ‘What would help the NUG is a few shipping containers of rifles and machine guns.’

    I’m not so sure of that. Rifles and machine guns is only the start as you need hundreds of tons of ammo for them to shoot over an extended period and the Ukraine right now is mopping up a lot of the excess ammo. In any case Myanmar shares a border with Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh. I doubt that they would be happy to see a failed State on their borders whose instability might bleed overt into their own and maybe cross-border attacks. Certainly they would not want the place to be turned into another Syria with terrorist attacks, bombings, murders and the like. Nobody wins is a scenario like that.

    1. some guy

      However much guns and ammo anyone sends NUG, Russia ( and maybe China helping) will send several times more to the CoupGov in response.

      Is there some thresh-hold level at which the Friends of NUG ( as if such existed) could send NUG so much guns and ammo that even ten times that much in CoupGov hands wouldn’t save the CoupGov? If not, then there is not even a theoretical point in sending guns and ammo to the NUG.

      That Tatmadaw CoupGov is a Darwin filter which the Nug will have to learn how to pass through or fail to pass through on its own, without any outside help, because it won’t get enough to mean anything. And if the NUG can pass through the Darwin filter alive and successful, they will probably want to kill every Tatmadaw from the field to the Seat of Government for the same reason that the Haitians tried to find and kill every TonTon Macoute they could find and reach. At that point it would be interesting to see if any of the Ethnic Armies are in fact Ethnic Crime Armies who would change sides and support the Tatmadaw in order to save their own criminal rackets. I’m not saying that some are, I’m just saying it would be interesting to see if some of them are.

      1. some guy

        I begin to think that whatever happens, Myanmar will emerge as the ” Haiti of Southeast Asia”, and will stay that way for decades to come.

        If the Tatmadaw CoupGov wins, then Myanmar will have a sort of ” Collective Papa Doc” government for decades to come. If the NUG wins, then I don’t know what form the ongoing Hatianization of Myanmar will take.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > you need hundreds of tons of ammo

      Let’s not be tediously literal-minded. Of course a competent hidden hand would add the ammo.

      As for failed state, Myanmar is a failed state now, glued together only with, well, really fearsome fascists who make the Azovs look like choir boys, and who even with a famously brutal playbook can’t hold the countryside (the majority of the land and the population). Unfortunately, I don’t think these particular fascists are agreement-capable (even with the ethnic militias). One necessity is that outside powers great (India, China, the U.S., to a degree Russia) and small (Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh) keep hands off and let the Myanmarese fight it out among themselves (which, I think, makes sense to all those powers, because they don’t want Vietnam Wars of their own).

      IMNSHO, the only way out is the other necessity: The NUG drags the junta to the Myanmarese equivalent of the Piazzale Loreto. For that, they need weaponry and not much else (making the entire situation a natural experiment in whether a sufficiently aroused and organized populace can overthrow a fascist regime, which is why I watch the story more than might seem reasonable at first glance).

      Commentary welcome from Myanmar hands. (Also IMNSHO, the NGOs and humanitarian assistance crowd is completely hopeless.)

      1. some guy

        India, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh would like to keep it contained and low-intensity enough that fresh millions of refugees don’t enter one or more of these countries. They would probably like China and Russia to do the same. ( The AmeriGov appears pre-occupied with other pots to stir.) China itself has a border with Myanmar and would like to keep disorder contained and business conditions good for China.

        The RussiaGov has no such border and no such concern. If the anti-Tatmadaws can tear down the Tatmadaw government, the RussiaGov will fear it makes a “color revolution by any other name” appear possible. So the RussiaGov will support the TatmadawGov as hard as it can given its other burdens. The RussiaGov will consider a Tatmadaw victory against Myanmar as almost as existentially important to Russia as a Russian victory against Ukraine. If any “hidden hand” gets meaningful amounts of weapons to the Opposition in Myanmar, the RussiaGov will get as many multiples of meaningful amounts of weapons to the TatmadawGov as it possibly can. The RussiaGov will want the uprising stamped out with as many casualties and refugees as it takes for the Tatmadaw to win. That’s my prediction, which will subject me to being laughed at if the RussiaGov ends up not supporting Tatmadaw to total victory.

  11. mrsyk

    I see that “Macron’s watch” is a freshly minted metaphor. He’s no David Copperfield.

      1. mrsyk

        From the wiki. “”Image 3850″ had been downloaded only six times prior to Streisand’s lawsuit; two of those being by Streisand’s attorneys.[15] Public awareness of the case led to more than 420,000 people visiting the site over the following month” heh heh

  12. OwlishSprite

    Why do people keep falling for this?

    OpenAI revealed Friday a bug exposed some ChatGPT users’ personal information and credit card details to others using the service.
    The bug was spotted Monday, when a ‘small percentage’ of users this week could see chat titles in their own conversation history that were not theirs – but the issue is much deeper than previously thought.
    OpenAI said Friday: ‘It was possible for some users to see another active user’s first and last name, email address, payment address, the last four digits (only) of a credit card number, and credit card expiration date.’
    The announcement stated 1.2 percent of ChatGPT Plus subscribers. The San Francisco-based company has around 100 million users, but it is not clear how many are paying for the service.
    The news of the leak offset OpenAI’s massive upgrade to ChatGPT, which allows it to access the internet to provide users with real-time data.

  13. Mikel

    “World stocks gyrate as bank contagion fears bite” Reuters.

    “…Traders have also priced in U.S. rate cuts of about 90 bps basis points to about 3.9% by the end of the year ..”

    There go the anonymous traders with their “pricing in.”

  14. Lex

    Re: trucks. I drive a (company) Ford Ranger, essentially imported from Australia and about as big as an Aussie truck gets. It’s hardly a small truck and dwarfs its namesake, but it’s also dwarfed by current F150s. Maybe the biggest difference though is the front end design. The top of the hood on my ranger is not only significantly lower than a US design F150, it has an obvious downslope as opposed to the slab front of the F150. Just eyeballing the two truck types side-by-side says that a pedestrian is much more likely to survive getting hit by my 4×4 ranger than an F150.

    1. Carolinian

      Styling trends are bizarre. Once it was tail fins and lately it’s the folded paper look where your car looks like it has been in an accident even though it really hasn’t been. Perhaps like those hulking hoods this is meant to make vehicles look more aggressive and techno. Another adjective might be ugly. IMO.

      1. Randall Flagg

        Though I have to argue that long before Covid Fog,
        in my opinion Cell Phone Fog (purely speculation),was the cause of lots of unfortunate interactions. Amazing to watch people walk for long stretches down the streets just staring into their phones. Experienced it personally doing some window repair work on a building years ago and debating to move or not the stepladders on the sidewalks as a pedestrian ambled down towards us.
        Sad so many live their lives looking down into their hands.

    2. timbers

      Just this morning on the way to grocery store, a large wide SUV was blinking to turn left waiting for on coming traffic to pass. Behind it was a similar large wide SUV. And behind it, was me. While the 2 lane road is easily wide enough such that a normal sized vehicle could easily go around the stopped SUV, this one could not do so because of the combined widths of both vehicles. So we all stopped to wait for the first vehicle to turn. This is becoming increasingly common. Traffic as a result is moving slower.

      1. Jason Boxman

        The vehicles are so large, I can’t see to get back out of the parking lot down by the lake any more. I’ve taken to parking in two spots with a tree on one adjacency just to ensure I have some visibility. So many super sized SUVs and extended cab trucks.

        No one seems to notice the murder headlines many newer vehicles have that blind you at night; I’m not exactly sure what purpose the NTSB serves? Another hollow regulatory agency in a nation that exists to serve the two rules of neoliberalism.

        1. timbers

          Regarding lights, my take is blinking right/left lights are getting harder to see. To me, they often are drowned out by the headlights, so I have to look longer and harder to spot them or don’t notice them at all. Meaning, do I slow down and let them turn? Or if they intend to turn, I don’t notice it.

          So either my eyes are aging, or blinking lights are be drowned out be increased headlighting.

        2. petal

          Murder headlights: yes, I do, and so do my mechanics. We’ve talked about it multiple times. Whether as a driver or as a pedestrian. While walking my dog at night, we get blinded. I turn away or hold my arm up to block it, and I have to angle my dog so that he isn’t facing the beams. Those lights make me furious and wanting to punch the owner or take a baseball bat to their lights. One of these days I am going to ask them if they realise they are blinding people. Chalk up one more reason the govt is useless(for us).

          1. some guy

            Would it be illegal to carry a small-ish mirror to reflect the blinding light back at the perpetrator-driver?

            1. ambrit

              Generally, yes. We once had a neighbour who mounted a light bar on top of his SUV. (1980s time period.) He added Cessna small airplane landing lights to the light bar and made it work. People who did the “high beam hustle” to him got a flash of truly blinding light. A month or so later, the State coppers paid him a visit and told him to remove the aircraft lights. He was ‘officially’ a “public menace.”
              Today, on the other hand, drivers and pedestrians must make their own “personal protective” decisions concerning such road hazards. /s
              Science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke used your question as the plot basis for one of his short stories. [“Let there Be Light” from “Tales From the White Hart.”]

          2. LaRuse

            Yes! As a pedestrian (runner), the “muder lights” wreck my night vision when I am runing before dawn in the dark months. Then drivers add their high beams because “ERMHAGAWD there’s a runner on my street!!!” and it is a huge hazard for me. Bad enough on small cars but on the huge trucks, it’s the worst. During those times of the year, I have taken to wearing a hat in the dark so I can angle my face down and block high beams with the brim.

        3. Daryl

          I found driving a smaller car in Texas at night to be particularly harrowing because of the prevalance of poorly installed super-bright aftermarket headlights. Basically like having highbeams behind you at all times.

    3. LaRuse

      I had a 1999 Ford Ranger for years – parted with it in 2014. Fantastic little truck. We still own a 2002 Ford F150 and when I recently spotted a new “Ranger”, it was at least as large as my 21 year old F150. Horrible.

  15. JTMcPhee

    “ Twenty Years Ago, the Iraq War Changed Everything — and Taught Elites Nothing”

    Except confirming their impunity and easy access to corruption and confirming their successful program of disinformation by bush-wahing the American public into believing Total Untruth(tm) Narrative. And so much more!

  16. The Rev Kev

    “We Will See a Reunification Referendum Within the Decade”

    Sun Tzu once said ‘Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.’ I think that this can apply here. The Demographics are in the Catholic’s favour and if given enough time, reunification would just be a given if not a formality. If they tried to press for it now, you would end up with a helluva fight back among the Unionists as they still have a power base.

  17. timbers


    “The United States launched airstrikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria on Thursday after a U.S. contractor was killed and five U.S. service members and another contractor were wounded…Less than an hour later, said the officials, three suicide drones attacked the Green Village, a U.S. installation in the area. Two were shot down and one damaged a building. There were no injuries. Earlier Friday, a 10-rocket attack on Green Village had yielded no casualties or damage, according to U.S. officials.”

    The US is becoming increasingly isolated in Syria. A bit surprised more powerful weapons have not accidentally found a way into the hands of those seeking to eject US occupation forces of this oil rich area of Syria. Seems it would quite easy for some large powerful nations see that happen. Ronald Reagan famously decided to close down a US base that was bombed in Beirut resulting in 241 dead US troops, saying it was an unnecessary sitting duck of a target.

  18. Polar Socialist

    Apocalypse: Operation Barbarossa Big Serge is indeed a good read, but it does get some things, well, not right.

    Stalin’s purges of had much less effect on the Red Army officer corps than the enormous build-up in the few years preceding Barbarossa. It was necessary to cut the officer training to half to get enough officers for all the new formations that sprung up everywhere. So the bulk of junior officers were fresh out of school, inexperienced with minimal training.

    Also, not to be neglected, Soviet Union had just expanded to West to create a buffer zone against Germany. So the still incomplete Stalin-line build previously close to the border became obsolete. So over half of the trucks of the western military districts were commandeered for the construction of the new defensive position along the new border, rendering divisions immobile when the Germans attacked. Or at least having to leave all their heavy weapons behind.

    And then there’s the thing about the German kesselslachts in the first weeks of Barbarossa; they were possible, for a big part, because Wehrmacht had more manpower on the battlefield. Soviet units were bigger and had more firepower, so Germans need plenty of infantry to contain the encirclements.

    Just like Bakhmut today, Russians have the firepower and the mobility, but Ukrainians have more men and can prevent the city from being totally encircled.

    1. rkka

      Barbarossa was an underpowered gamble on a Soviet politico-military collapse in 4-6 weeks.

      The Barbarossa plan estimated that the Soviet population was roughly 180m. That’s the last thing they got correct.

      Using standard strategic planning factors for a normal war (say, over a stretch of important territory, or to impose a big change in the target country’s foreign policy), the Germans figured the Soviets would put up about 200 divisions.

      But the Germans were not planning a ‘normal’ war, but a war of extermination against shambling, Jew-Bolshevik-ridden Slavic untermenschen. And for this war for their own literal biological existence, the Soviets ultimately generated a force of 700 divisions.

      Oooops…. The vaunted German general staff explicitly planned to wage a war of extermination, but expected the Soviets to respond with a ‘normal’ war effort, and then to say “Ok, we give up.” when their army was destroyed.

      And everything Big Serge describes follows from that fundamental blunder the German general staff made.

    2. Carolinian

      I don’t think his statistics agree with you since he says the German tanks were moving so fast that their infantry couldn’t keep up. So in effect they were more like reserves in the beginning just as the Russians had vast numbers of reserves but out of the conflict. He says it was the Wehrmacht’s overwhelming firepower that quickly achieved a Pyrrhic victory against a country that could absorb the blow.

      In that sense perhaps it is like now since Biden/Blinken thought they would quickly achieve their aims.

      1. Polar Socialist

        The statistics say that in 1937 Red Army had 1.3 million men and in 1941 5.5 million men. That’s fourfold increase of manpower in four years. No army in the world can do that and retain professional office cadre. Does it really matter if 9% (top heavy) of the officer corps was purged, when 75-80% of the officer corps anyway had less than 4 years of experience.

        The statistics also say that in 22nd June 1941 Red Army had 2,680,000 men in the Western Military Districts, while Germany and it’s allied had 3,700,000 men. That is 1.4:1 ratio for Germany. Since Germany had the initiative, it was likely close to 3 or 4 to 1 in the break trough sectors.

        Red Army was way more mobilized than Wehrmacht. In June 1941 it had 29 Mechanized Corps at various level of forming up – that’s 1 million men having wheels or tracks to carry them around. If the German infantry was so slow to move, why didn’t the Red Army formations run circles around them? Especially since the German tanks were far away and would have been in serious trouble if the German infantry was decimated?

        Simply because the Red Army formations did not have their trucks with them. Either they had not been allocated yet, they had been taken away to haul military or construction material from the old defense line to the new line. What they had Luftwaffe destroyed on the roads.

        It’s easy to encircle the enemy when they are outnumbered, immobilized and can’t implement the doctrine they have trained for.

        1. Carolinian

          I’m not quite sure what your dispute is, but it’s with Big Serge, not me, non-historian. He says what you said about the ample size and equipment of the Soviet army but says they were unprepared for the speed and ferocity of the “combined arms” German tactics. He also makes a big point of the poor Russian radio communications and therefore poor ability to quickly respond to events. A great deal of their front line equipment was destroyed on day one.

          However his overall point is that no matter what happened in the opening weeks the Germans were still bound to lose in the long run. In his view it was the strategic mistake that matters more than the details.

      2. fresno dan

        In 1940, while preparing for Barbarossa, German army staff gamed out a scenario where the Soviets could mobilize 40 fresh divisions. This was wildly out of touch with Soviet capabilities. Instead of 40 divisions, by December 1941 the Red Army managed to mobilize a staggering 800 divisions and equivalently sized units, deploying over 14 million men. Just by the end of June alone the Soviets had already managed to call up five million reservists. This means that in less than two weeks, the Red Army was able to call on a manpower surge roughly 60% larger than the entire German invasion force. Of course, these men were not available for combat immediately; they had to be equipped and organized, and new formations had to be assembled in the rear before deployment. But they were there, and it gave the Soviet Union a depth of defense that no other country on earth could match.

        Thus, we arrive at the basic paradox of Operation Barbarossa. From an operational perspective, it was one of history’s greatest victories. The Wehrmacht utterly shattered the frontline Soviet armed forces and overran the Soviet Union’s western rimland in a matter of weeks. Yet this operational success was paired with one of the great military intelligence misfires of all time, with the Germans flying blind as to the USSR’s mobilization capacity.
        You read that and wonder if military intelligence believed that because in the German political system they were operating in, they had to believe that. Certainly compares to what the present US believes about Russia, and about what anyone at the CIA who is hired, promoted, and advances has to believe

      3. John k

        Yes, seems Germany then and nato now had great expectations.
        Since 1990 the west seems to have dissipated whatever capacity it had to wage a land war vs a peer while Russia has regained it, not least ussr military industrial capacity. And such capacity is clearly growing rapidly. Beyond that I’ve heard they have 25 million reserves… amazing with less than half us pop, or 1/5 of combined nato pop… granted, 40% larger than in 1941 when they fielded millions.
        And we’ve opened a pandora box of taking out international infra.
        It seems strange to hear repeatedly ‘putin must be jailed, or shot, or tried in The Hague…’ or that Russia should be broken up. The mice worked out a neat solution: the cat should be forced to wear a bell. We are drunk mice.

    3. Mikel

      I always thought Japan’s 1930s invasion of China was comparatively ambitious (including the scale of territory covered)and bloody.

      1. LY

        China’s armies (yes, plural) were much more of a mess, since they were in the middle of fighting a civil war. Chiang Kai-shek was taken hostage by his own general to force a deal with the Communists to fight the Japanese. The Japanese also had significant collaborators, ranging from the last emperor to the former Premier Wang Jingwei.

    4. Karl

      I was struck by this, that things turned against the Germans when the mode of warfare became one of attrition rather than maneuver:

      The German forces painfully blasting their way forward towards Moscow were hardly recognizable as the same world class troops that had shaken the pillars of Europe. Their speed, precision, and vitality was gone. Instead of fighting a war of maneuver and movement (the type of war that Germany excelled at), they were now waging a battle of attrition, which was the sort of game that the Soviet Union was always going to win. One German officer explained, “We gradually lost the ability to manoeuvre. War became one of linear movement… We were no longer instructed to surprise, outflank, and annihilate the enemy. We were told: “you will hold the front from such a point to such and such a point, you will advance to such a line”.”

      I wonder if the same applies in this current war of attrition in Ukraine: is this one that the Russians are destined to win? I heard that NATO trained Ukraine for a war of maneuver, which they’ll probably attempt if they go on the offensive. It does seem as though history is on Russia’s side.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Denmark invites Nord Stream owner to recover mystery object”

    It’s a set up. Nobody believed the story of the yacht Andromeda and the crew of Ukrainian saboteurs so Biden is trying something new. When divers go to the bottom to retrieve that object, they will also ‘”accidentally” find the boat used to blow up those pipelines laying on the sea floor in the dark. Hopefully nobody will comment on the name of this boat written on the rear – the SS Minnow.

    1. Screwball

      I think you are right. I expect more lies. That’s all this administration has; lies, and more lies.

      I’m not sure the SS Minnow is accurate though. Gilligan wasn’t on the boat. He’s the Commander in Chief.

        1. ambrit

          This plot has the fingerprints of Stanley Motss all over it. Call Central Casting. We should soon see the production credit for this Ukraine Adventure property switched to ‘Alan Smithee.’

    2. Mikel

      Rev…stop stealing my thunder. I’ve been meaning to work in an SS Minnow joke for weeks now. :)

    3. Mark Gisleson

      I’ve heard that NYC prosecutors have been talking to Ginger Grant about her one night stand with Trump at Gilli-con IX.

      1. ambrit

        I read somewhere that she was pissed off, not on, that he only made it half way around the world. It was supposed to have been a three hour tour.

  20. pjay

    – ‘Exclusive: FBI Agents Accuse CIA of 9/11 Coverup’ – Spy Talk

    There have been a lot of good retrospectives on the Iraq War recently, including the lies leading up to the invasion. But in my view, a thorough examination of 9/11 is an important part of that inquiry. Unfortunately, that subject is beyond the pale of acceptable critical discussion, even among most critics of US policy.

    There is good information scattered through this account, but it is not new. While the source might be recent, the information itself, and much more besides on other hijackers, the Saudi’s, and CIA cover-ups have been available for some time, from many reliable sources. Paul Thompson, Kevin Fenton, Nafeez Ahmed, and Peter Dale Scott among many others have covered this territory well. As each little bit of classified information slowly trickles out over the decades, we find, as usual, that the “conspiracy theorists” may actually have been right about significant parts of the story. But oh well, no matter. That was over 20 years ago. Surely not relevant to anything going on today.

  21. tevhatch

    Bank failures and rescue test Yellen’s decades of experience AP
    Dr. Richard Wolff, her classmate at Harvard, must be saying God Help US. :-P

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Why pushing for the break up of Russia is absolute folly”

    No shortage of neocon wingnuts who want to see this happen, particularly in the EU Parliament, so I wondered how they could do this. I would guess that they would get a war going in the Russian Federation. Probably one against the Islamic-majority Republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia. Navalny would be ideal here as he already hates anything to do with Islam and this would serve to split up the Federation for sure. Yes, there would be a massive butcher’s bill but Russia would be so weakened that the west could move in and pick up all the natural resources of Russia on the cheap. Some of the European politicians actually drool when they talk about it. Then after this, then comes China.

    1. timbers

      But breaking up Russia China fill in the blank isnt aggression or declaring war, it’s Rules Based. So Russia and China are starting the war(s). The West can openly declare and debate how Russia is to regime changed and chopped up with zero references to her government and people, but that’s not war.

      1. ambrit

        If the “The Jackpot” CT is anywhere near true, we are talking billions of dead, not millions.

        1. some guy

          Unless every evil neocon life can be terminated first in time to make a difference.

          But of course there are more than just neocons seeking Jackpot. Davos Man, the Overclass in general, their agents and henchmen within the CDC, WHO, etc., all want Jackpot and all work to engineer it and move it along.

  23. Alice X

    Someone help me out here:

    While the M$M was pounding on the Russia, Russia, Russia meme a few moaned: but what about Israel? Bamford still says that the Russians hacked the DNC emails, but that has been established as a leak elsewhere, amiright?

    Bamford was on DNow yesterday which led me to this piece. But still no mention there of the twitter files, Hamilton 68, or Jeff Gert’s massive tome debunking the RussiaGate hoax. Tsk, tsk. But still this piece is well worth looking into.

    James Bamford at the Nation

    The Trump Campaign’s Collusion With Israel

    While US media fixated on Russian interference in the 2016 election, an Israeli secret agent’s campaign to influence the outcome went unreported.

    Moi – Oh, and the US media’s fixation included DemocrayNow which had Marcy Wheeler on a number of times spouting the same crap, IIRC.

    1. ambrit

      The real story is hidden in plain sight.
      The “problem” hasn’t to do with who is doing the influencing. The “problem” is in the fact of “influence” being exerted on American policy at all; regardless of the source of said “influence.”
      The old joke, “The best government money can buy,” is the sickest of sick jokes.

    2. Pat

      Anyone who doesn’t understand that Israel exerts huge influence on American politics has not been paying attention. And most of it is legal. AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson, etc it is no different than the outsized influence the fossil fuel industry or Wall Street has. Not only do outsized campaign donations speak loudly, but after office opportunities can mean much more comfortable retirements. They have the best government money can buy.

      And it isn’t limited to National office holders. See the multiple state and local laws aimed at crippling to destroying BDS.

  24. KD

    This site is truly amazing. I am continually impressed by the breadth and the quality of the links and articles, with everything from finance to politics to geopolitics and diplomacy.

  25. Stephen

    The Immediate Origins of Putin’s Preventative War by Geoffrey Roberts

    This is long but well worth a read.

    By far the best and most comprehensive factual analysis I have seen of what specifically led President Putin to launch the SMO. It is a classic diplomatic style history that assesses what Putin actually said and did rather than ascribing all sorts of imputed rationales in the way that western media does. Reminds me a little of AJP Taylor’s Origins of the Second World War in which he assessed the specific decisions Hitler took in the run up to September 1939 as opposed to the earlier assumed explanation that he had planned it all in advance and always sought war because he was evil. Not that I would in any way equate Hitler and Putin. Obviously. We also do not have to agree with Putin either (Roberts feels that he over perceived the threats to Russia) to be able to explain why he did what he did.

    My own take away is that Roberts takes the line that the perceived security threat to Russia from de facto NATO expansion, the creation of an anti Russia on Russia’s doorstep and that anti Russia then potentially hosting nuclear weapons were the crucial factors for Putin. He does not assess western actions too much in this essay other than to note that different behaviour likely could have preserved the peace.

    Roberts also notes that the actual western response and unexpected (at least from western public pronouncement) resilience of Ukraine has likely convinced Putin that he did the right thing. He quotes a speech from the Autumn in which Putin says that if Russia had not acted now then it would have had the same conflict in a few years time but in worse circumstances. This is why I think Roberts describes this as a preventative war: war wages now in order to avoid a perceived threat of war in the future.

    Interestingly, Roberts rejects the idea that this was a preventative war in the sense of opposing an impending Ukrainian invasion of Donetsk and Luhansk. He does not see evidence for that although he notes the intensification of shelling in February 2022.

    To most readers of this blog, none of this will likely be earth shattering but the evidence and chronology presented are worth review. My principal reflection on it might be that he over emphasises Putin as THE decision maker except in one section where he refers to a televised meeting of the Security Council discussing the opposition Communist sponsored Duma request to recognise the Donbass republics. Russia strikes me as more pluralist than we sometimes like to think. People such as Medvedev, Lavrov, Shoigu must be big influencers and a full account would need to examine their role. However, to be fair we do not have the evidence to be able to unpick that and probably will not for many years. So Professor Roberts has done the best work that one probably could do with the evidence we do have. But additional commentary to recognise this pluralism might be helpful.

    Overall this is excellent though. Thanks to Lambert for linking to it. Am sure it is not a link that mainstream media will be drawing attention to any time soon.

    1. hk

      There is a lot to rethink about democracy, pluralism, and liberalism (and their interactions) in the present world, for sure. I find myself wondering about this whenever I hear the hackneyed hectoring about “defending our/western values.”

    2. David

      Agreed. The main weakness, one that you often find among diplomatic historians, is the assumption that Putin (or any other national leader) decides everything, writes everything and so forth. Putin’s speeches would have gone through a number of drafts, even if he would have had the final say on the texts, just as military and diplomatic options, ideas for dealing with foreign leaders etc. would have been worked out by a number of different people. It’s obviously difficult to be sure who played which role (though Lavrov obviously would have had an influence) but the description of the Security Council discussion suggests that actually the decision-taking process in Russia is relatively generic in nature, with Putin being a strong but not all-powerful chairman. But all that said, this analysis makes a refreshing change from the usual garbage.

    3. LifelongLib

      I generally stop reading anything that says “Putin’s X” (war, invasion, blah blah) like there’s no such thing as Russian foreign policy, but I guess I’ll have to give this a look. Thanks.

      1. Stephen

        I do too but I know that Geoffrey Roberts is a serious historian and not Russophobic.

        Anything by Anthony Beevor is best ignored, for example.

    4. Maxwell Johnston

      It’s an excellent article. The meeting of 21 February 2022 was memorable; I especially recall Naryshkin’s obvious discomfort. I usually disagree with Mark Galeotti’s views (let alone those of the Moscow Times), but in this article Galeotti did a good job capturing the mood of this tense and consequential meeting (I’m not endorsing his conclusions, but it’s a good read):

      RU was preparing for this conflict for a long time. My wife owns a small farm at the edge of Moscow oblast. In summer 2021, she received a rather odd letter from the local authorities asking her to provide detailed info re the farm’s anticipated production for 2021, plans for 2022, and what preparations the farm had in the event of any national emergency. I don’t recall the exact details of the letter (anyway I wasn’t in RU at the time, she emailed me the letter), but we discussed it at length by phone that same evening and we wondered what on earth it meant. Clearly something was up; even in mid-2021, low-level bureaucrats had received instructions to start getting ready for something. Regardless, I was taken by surprise on the morning of 24/2/22: I expected a war, but not so soon. Oh well, my bad.

      “All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, as Tolstoy begins his novel Anna Karenina. In the same way, I would say that while no two wars begin for the same exact reason (and we can study their causes until sunset without reaching any agreement), all wars end the same way: one party to the conflict (or sometimes both) decide to stop fighting. And this is how the UKR war will end. I simply cannot imagine a scenario in which RU is the party that begs to stop the fighting. No analysis of how this conflict began, however perceptive, can change that reality.

      1. Lex

        I think they were preparing and hoping it wouldn’t come to this but assuming it would. It would have been criminal misconduct to not prepare from it as the west was obviously not going to abide by or enforce Minsk. Putin says he was “led by the nose” but that’s for public consumption. If the Russian government had not been preparing, then the US sanctions plan would have worked.

        It could be argued that the Kremlin didn’t prepare sufficiently for the military aspect. Caught napping on drones is a serious example. Though on that I think the lack of preparation was mostly about not being prepared for the US/NATO to go all in. Big mistake to assume that US leadership would make the rational choice in that situation.

        1. Stephen

          I agree. Roberts notes the preparation too. It shows that the Russian government perceived the possibility of war but does not prove that they were set on taking that course.

  26. Lexx

    ”The Rage Would Come Out Of Nowhere’ -Rolling Stone

    Uh-huh… but is this global, or can we place these Long Covid symptoms next to that graph showing the Western World with our West Diet having the highest incidences of IBD on the planet, and then not be very surprised it’s mostly Americans and Europeans?

    Are we who we think we are? If we’re 70% bacteria/30% human cells, what really is the basis of our personalities? I think the balance of our gut microbiotia matters in how we define ‘normal’, at least internally and our outward expression. The greater the gut chaos, the more outer disruption. The transmission lines are inflamed. Most of our nervous system runs upward to the spinal column… so Long Covid might be something like ‘rate limiting’/’capacity limiting’/’throttling’?

    “Cool people” by their “nature” don’t need to control the world around them. What’s been lost in Long Covid is the neurological basis of their confidence in marshaling their own resources to handle calmly any situation necessary. (Sensory stimuli doesn’t hit the same way.)

    Damage has been done… can we over time create new neurological pathways to the former definition of ‘normal’?

    I’m just finishing up C.J. Hopkins third collection of essays – ‘The Rise of the New Normal Reich’. Yes, this is my idea of vacation reading… highly entertaining too. I think C.J. would read this and say it was an aspect of the new totalitarian normal. When he says GloboCap wants to control every aspect of our ‘reality’, it may include our poopers. Sure, why not? No detail too small if it represents ‘the resistance’ that must be destroyed or brought into compliance. (Snort laugh.)

    1. OwlishSprite

      Are we who we think we are? If we’re 70% bacteria/30% human cells, what really is the basis of our personalities?

      Mental masturbation, according to Castenada’s Don Juan.

    2. Jason Boxman

      It isn’t real in America until it has a billing code:

      Although “personality change” may seem like an imprecise, colloquial way to describe what happens when someone’s character or temperament shifts, when it’s the result of an illness or chronic condition, it’s known as “medical personality change,” (MPC) and is an official diagnosis with its own billing code.

      Such a civilized place to live.

  27. chris

    Anyone else having problems accessing Sy Hersh’s substack to read about his latest “Cover-up” article? I keep getting a time out.

      1. OwlishSprite

        I seem to remember there was a segment of pipeline that was supposed to blow up but did not. Is this ‘unidentified object” the thing that did not ‘go off’?

        1. jo6pac

          I don’t think so, both lines were destroyed. I have no idea what it might be, it will be interesting to see if Russia bring a deep diver remote sub to the sight to look at. No reason to risk a human divers life.

  28. AndrewJ

    Three ways to feel joy… all of which are social, requiring friends or family. I’m an atomized American. Joy is for other, more fortunate people.

    1. flora

      Joy is where ever you find it. Someone else’s list of must-haves isn’t necessarily my list. / ;)

    2. kareninca

      Now that my church is on zoom, we have people joining us in worship who are clearly very lonely and are at our post-worship social time for the company. Wednesday evening (7 p.m. Eastern) it was one lady in her 70s, one lady in her late 60s, me (late 50s) and a guy in his 40s. The guy seemed very happy to just sit around on zoom with us, talking about the weather and cooking projects and arcane texts from the 1600s (the time our sect originated). I think for him it was like being at the kitchen table with relatives, and we were very happy to have him there. We’re spread out all over the country, and zoom is a great thing. The guy may end up in Ohio this summer for the big get-together, but really he doesn’t have to; he fits in just fine even if we never see him in person, and he is cared about by us. And we have no idea what his religious beliefs are, and haven’t inquired in the six months or so that he’s been showing up. I’m not saying church is the only answer for loneliness; of course it isn’t, but it is an option even for agnostics.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not just anti-war. The Germans have been cracking down on Palestinians living there and simply wearing the traditional Palestinian head scarf – the Keffiyeh – can get you arrested. So of course protesting the latest Israeli massacre will also get you arrested. And of course there is the German journalist Alina Lipp who is facing three years in prison in Germany for her reporting on crimes committed by Ukrainians. That is real banana republic stuff that.

  29. Jeff W

    “Reading betweem [sic] the lines, Amazon never figured out how to enshittify it.”

    The key phrase in TechCrunch appears to be this:

    “Somehow Amazon never really found a way to capitalize on this one-of-a-kind asset…”

    The last line is

    “Here’s hoping the talented and knowledgeable team lands on their feet, and Amazon comes to regret its decision.”

    The powerful never regret—or even have to learn—anything (see also the headline in Jacobin about the Iraq War having taught the elites nothing).

    At least the engaging Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake have landed at PetaPixel. And while Amazon itself has made no plans to preserve the contents of the site (not surprisingly), the entire site will be archived by the Internet Archive, according to this Ars Technica article.

    1. OwlishSprite

      The powerful, in my experience, won’t ever admit they have anything to regret. And in a way, that is very Zen, and in reality, it means they will never deign to do anything differently. And that is the definition of insanity.

  30. Carolinian

    That’s a good FT backgrounder on France.

    Since Macron became president in 2017, popular anger has targeted him. It was said of US President George HW Bush that he reminded every woman of her first husband. Macron reminds every French person of their boss: an educated know-it-all who looks down on his staff. He understood that Hollande had lacked presidential grandeur, and cast himself as “Jupiterian”; but most voters just saw a jumped-up little ex-banker dressing up as king. Even many who voted for him never liked him, nor felt that they were endorsing his platform, with its pledge to raise retirement ages. In both the 2017 and 2022 run-offs, the other choice was Marine Le Pen. The French president has gone in 60 years from “man of providence” to “not the devil”.

    The article talks about the bubble world of Paris and those of us who know more about French movies than the place itself (have spent some time there) can testify to how they adore NYC–famously lampooned by that New Yorker cover as a province in reverse. In the movies intellectualism is put at high premium. Truffaut even made a movie about books (Farenheit 451) and Godard somewhat more playfully had characters reading from them, both making fun of himself and showing off (and also padding out the improvised scenes). He satirized the middle class but seemed to have little interest in the peasants.

    Anyhow the article says there may be hope for constitutional changes and reform. Wish we could say the same. Gaullism seems to be the goal of Biden and the Dems.

    1. David

      It’s not bad, but the writer seems unsure what point he’s trying to make.
      The Sixth Republic idea has been around in one form or another for the best part of twenty years, and it means essentially a return to the Fourth Republic, which fell apart in 1958. If you want an idea of what that would be like, the current situation of a hopelessly divided Parliament will give you an idea. If you imagine a Sixth Republic after the next elections, when Macron’s Party has largely evaporated, you can look forward to a National Assembly where a government has to try to put together a coalition from a rainbow of political parties, but excluding Le Pen’s mob, who can probably expect to increase their representation. We’ve already seen the shambles that produces, in Paris for example. As an idea, it’s probably one whose time has passed: heaven alone knows what kind of government would emerge, if any did.

      He’s right about the Paris bubble, or rather the itinerant bubble that the political class carries with it. But this is to do with the decay of the political class as a whole, and has nothing especially to do with the current institutional system. And judging from the rather complacent remarks about how well the economy is doing and how people aren’t grateful to Macron, I rather suspect he lives in the bubble himself.

      1. Karl

        Thanks for bringing your informed perspective on the situation in France. Most of what I know (or think I know) about modern France, besides a few visits over the years, is from the book “Sixty Million Frenchmen can’t be Wrong.” A thoroughly enjoyable read, published in 2003.

        I gather from your essays and posts that things have gotten much darker there, as elsewhere in Europe. How can NATO hope to rally Europe against Russia with so much discontent on the home front–massive strikes in U.K.; protests throughout France; factories closing in Germany; bank crises (partly due to sanctions-induced inflation and higher interest rates); and Biden approval at a nearly all time low.

  31. Some Guy

    The Der Spiegel interview with Mary Lou McDonald was interesting, both for McDonald’s commentary and also with some entertainment value for her effortless slapping down of some of the idiotic lines of questioning. Would have been good to have an audio version to capture her tone on this exchange,

    ‘DER SPIEGEL: Your rise in the republican movement is astonishing though. You’re from Dublin. You’re from a middle-class background. You’re a woman. You don’t speak fluent Irish and you once said: “I hate Guinness.”

    McDonald: Drinking Guinness is not a requirement for political leadership in Ireland.”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Not familiar with Schmidt myself, but Taibbi mentioned she worked for WaPo and doesn’t mention Fusion GPS.

        Just found this WaPo article from 2017 that is highly critical of Fusion GPS, noting its work on behalf of Theranos among others, and it mentions its ex-employee Schmidt’s involvement thusly-

        “Fusion founder Glenn Simpson, an accomplished former investigative reporter with expertise digging into financial crimes and corruption in Russia and elsewhere, left the Wall Street Journal in 2009 to start a research firm with Susan Schmidt, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner from The Post. Without Schmidt, Simpson created Fusion GPS the following year, teaming up with former Wall Street Journal editor Peter Fritsch and a former Treasury official.”

        But her wiki page says different as you noted-

        “In April 2009 she and Glenn Simpson left SNS Global and formed Fusion GPS to work for private clients. ”

        She got a Pulitzer for exposing Jack Abramoff’s corruption, but also had her byline on a phony WaPo Jessica Lynch story.

        Then there’s this 2018 article on Fusion from the NYT that concentrates heavily on Glenn Simpson and barely mentions Schmidt at all –

        “In 2009, Mr. Simpson announced he was leaving the profession to start SNS Global, a research company that predated Fusion, with a Journal peer, Susan Schmidt.”

        That one also mentions that Fusion did oppo research on Bill Browder in an effort to overturn the Magnitsky Act, although the NYT says that like its a bad thing. For those not familiar with Browder, he was one of the Western pillagers of Russia back in the 90s and was accused of some serious tax evasion by the Russian government, which promoted him to start a serious anti-Putin propaganda campaign. Those allegations that Putin is the richest man in the world you might hear from time to time pretty much all trace straight back to unfounded claims by Browder.

        So Schmidt’s involvement with Fusion seems unclear unless you take wikipedia at face value. Simpson however seems like a weasel who will do anything for a buck, even if his targets are sometimes actual bad actors. Maybe Schmidt cut ties with Simpson for a reason?

        I got that last NYT link after searching for “Susan Schmidt leaves Fusion GPS”. Pretty much nothing specific came up and as a subscriber to Racket, I’d like to know more about her, and what, if anything, she did with Fusion. Like you said flora, I guess we’ll have to see how she does at Racket and judge by that. But after reading Taibbi for the past 20 years or so, I only remember him partnering with the good guys. Hopefully it stays that way.

  32. fresno dan

    DeSantis walks back ‘territorial dispute’ remark on Ukraine AP
    In the interview with Morgan, DeSantis sought to toughen his position toward Russia, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and arguing that his detractors had incorrectly characterized his “territorial dispute” remarks.
    We are back to having only 1 politician, Trump, who is willing to say we should not be in a defacto war with Russia…

  33. Jason Boxman

    This is more pathetic “can’t do” from our elite. Maybe just require vehicles to not be tanks?

    “Frontovers are tragically killing and injuring children, demanding Congressional action,” Blumenthal told Insider in a statement. “My STOP Frontovers Act requires all car manufacturers to install technology like cameras or sensors to help detect small kids or pets in front of the car and calls on NHTSA to improve data collection and reporting of these incidents. I will be reintroducing this measure and pushing for its swift passage to put an end to frontovers — preventing more families from suffering this horrific heartbreak.”

    Instead, technology!! to save everyone. maybe take the obscenities off the road instead? It’s pathetic that this hopeless half-measure couldn’t even come up for a vote, because of the rules of neoliberalism. Remember. Go die.

  34. Glen

    So probably not covered too much in the MSM, but should be:

    Critical infrastructure gear is full of flaws, but hey, at least it’s certified

    Um, what can I say? When I get asked about this stuff, all I can say is that I spent forty years TRYING to get everything in the factory networked, and it was much later that I realized this was going to become an attack vector.

    Good thing those corporate IT guys are maintaining a killer corporate firewall. Oops, we outsourced to a company that went around our firewall with a flash drive when they updated the software in a paint booth? [Family blog, family blog, family blog] happy days are here again, and I’m going to use that 72 hours of overtime I just worked to buy something nice for the wife…

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