Friday, March 31, 2023

Robert Kagan, The Ghost at the Feast

At Amazon, Robert Kagan, The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900-1941.


On Instagram.

You Can't Cancel Me, I Quit

It's Mary Eberstadt, at the Wall Street Journal, "I was supposed to speak at Furman University. I decided to beg off rather than indulge an angry mob":

I was scheduled to give a speech on Monday at Furman University about my recent book, “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics.” I canceled it. Here’s why.

In the spring of 2014—in retrospect, the dress rehearsal for cancel culture—some commencement speakers around the country were disinvited or withdrew themselves from consideration owing to left-wing protests. I wasn’t among them. A few faculty members at Seton Hall University tried to have my invitation rescinded on the grounds that I wasn’t what they meant by “Catholic”—progressive. They failed. I delivered my address as scheduled at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Arena to some 6,000 graduates, families and friends, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

It was a thrilling event. I enjoy talking to students. I teach graduate students and young professionals, and I founded an organization that helps mentor hundreds of women involved in journalism and media, many of them right out of college. Those experiences probably explain why I had never been the object of protest by students.

But 2023 is light years from 2014. Some months ago, the head of Furman’s Tocqueville Program invited me to give a public lecture about “Primal Screams.” Not knowing a soul there, I googled. Nestled in scenic Greenville, S.C., the university was founded in 1826 by the Southern Baptist Convention. Furman’s website features young people said to be “innovative in their thinking, and compassionate in their approach to career, community, and life.” The Tocqueville Program has hosted impressive speakers. This seemed a promising opportunity to visit an attractive campus, befriend some students and faculty, and talk over ideas. What could go wrong?

Well, consider what happened to the speaker who preceded me last month in the same series: Scott Yenor, a professor of political science at Boise State University.

Mr. Yenor had been invited to speak on “Dostoevsky and Conscience.” An inhospitality committee sprang into action, “triggered” not by his speech topic but by opinions that he had expressed elsewhere, including his critique of feminism and support for “sex-role realism.” Scores of faculty and student protesters “silently” objected inside and outside as he spoke. Three armed policemen were assigned to his protection. Within the auditorium, protesters lined the walls the professor had to pass, holding posters with ad hominem slogans and quotations of his taken out of context, staring balefully at him throughout.

I called Mr. Yenor to ask for his take. “Never in my life have I experienced a crowd so uninterested in learning, and so unwilling to hear,” he said. “They were simply filled with malice.” No one in the administration commented on his treatment, much less apologized for it.

Soon after, something called the Cultural Life Program at Furman, which requires students to attend a certain number of public speeches, mysteriously decided to deny credit for mine unless the program inserted a different faculty interlocuter rather than the one who had invited me—presumably because the latter would have been too supportive. An article was posted by the independent online student newspaper, the Paladin, attacking the Tocqueville Program, applauding the public abomination of Scott Yenor, darkly noting that Catholics had been invited as speakers, and taking potshots at me. There’s no evidence that the indignant writer had read my books or even knew their titles. The piece accused me of perpetuating “dangerous” (dog whistle) myths, adding that students “demand to interrogate” (another whistle) the Tocqueville Program.

Posters advertising my speech disappeared en masse around campus the week before the event. They were replaced and disappeared again. Furman community members following social media and conversations on campus relayed independently that the protest was expected to be “substantial,” as two put it. They also informed me about a letter that was sent by some students to the Cultural Life Program’s committee, caricaturing my work and calling me names in an effort to revoke credit for attending my speech.

As I mulled what to do about such unexpected hostility, different calculations came to mind. What might be the odds of an ugly Yenor-style experience? Likely high.

What about the odds of physical injury? Low, but not nonexistent...

Keep reading.


Sean Hannity Indicts the Trump Indictment (VIDEO)

Well, it's outrageous.


Twitter's Transgender Ideology Problem

From Amuse, "Twitter's Transgender Day of Rage":

Twitter suspended more than 5,000 conservative accounts for sharing evidence of far-left incitement from The Trans Radical Activist Network (its account wasn't suspended).

Not since the conservative purges related to January 6th and Covid-19 have so many Twitter accounts been locked and suspended in such a short period of time. Twitter’s head of trust and safety said she suspended more than 5,000 accounts for sharing evidence of an event titled “The Trans Day of Vengence” scheduled on Saturday by a group called The Trans Radical Activist Network in Washington DC. Many of us who didn’t share the details of the event got caught up in Twitter’s pro-trans dragnet. In my case, my account was locked for tweeting this:

The left’s constant narrative to children and individuals who struggle with identity is that anyone who opposes surgical intervention for children is “literally trying to kill” them making violence like we saw yesterday in Nashville ‘justified’ in the eyes of many Democrats.

~ @amuse

Eventually, I was allowed to delete the offending tweet and my account was restored. Out of an abundance of caution, I deleted every tweet and retweet related to the transgender movement I had made since the Nashville shooting—clear evidence of the chilling effect of Twitter’s continued censorship regime. I wasn’t alone. Federalist CEO Sean Davis was locked out of his Twitter account after reporting on the “Trans Day Of Vengeance”. Davis wrote,

“The cold-blooded mass murder at a Christian school in Nashville by an apparent transgender person came just days before a planned ‘Trans Day Of Vengeance’ organized by the Trans Radical Activist Network.” ~ @seanmdav

Davis chose not to manually delete the tweet as I did. Twitter already removed the tweet but requires in some sort of “Orwellian re-education exercise” that users ALSO delete the tweet—Davis has refused.

Twitter also locked Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's congressional account @RepMTG after she criticized The Trans Radical Activist Network’s plan to hold their "Trans Day of Vengeance" despite the Nashville school shooting by a transgender activist.1 Ironically, the group’s own Twitter account @Trans_Radical was not suspended despite using it to promote their planned vengeance event in Washington DC on Saturday.2

Independent journalist Andy Ngô’s @MrAndyNgo account was locked after he pointed out that The Trans Radical Activist Network had locked its own account after it was caught promoting its vengeance event outside the Supreme Court...

Keep reading.


Brandon Sanderson's Fantasy Empire

At Esquire, "Welcome to Brandon Sanderson's Fantasy Empire: The genre's most popular writer is determined to upend how books get made. We visited his mind-blowing headquarters in suburban Utah, where he and dozens of employees are working to restore power to the reader."

White House Calls on Russia to Release Wall Street Journal Reporter Evan Gershkovich

A journalists worse nightmare.

At WSJ, "Biden Calls on Russia to Release Journal Reporter":

WASHINGTON—President Biden urged Russia to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich Friday—shouting “let him go” as he boarded a helicopter—amid a rift in U.S.-Russia relations already so wide that the two powers barely maintain diplomatic communications.

Mr. Biden said the U.S. didn’t plan any expulsion of Russian diplomats. “That’s not the plan right now,” he said from the South Lawn of the White House before departing for Joint Base Andrews.

Past expulsions have prompted tit-for-tat retaliation from Moscow, leaving both the U.S. Embassy in Russia and Russia’s Embassy in Washington with skeleton staff.

More than three dozen top global news organizations joined in the call for Mr. Gershkovich’s release, saying they were deeply troubled by his detention.

“Gershkovich’s unwarranted and unjust arrest is a significant escalation in your government’s anti-press actions,” they said in a letter to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. “Russia is sending the message that journalism within your borders is criminalized and that foreign correspondents seeking to report from Russia do not enjoy the benefits of the rule of law.”

The sunken state of U.S.-Russia ties will make any agreement on the release of Mr. Gershkovich, 31, difficult to secure as he heads toward a trial in a court under the control of Russia’s security service, the FSB, U.S. officials say.

Such a court is expected to operate on the orders of the Kremlin, increasing the prospect of a conviction after a trial that may be held in secret. The FSB said Thursday that Mr. Gershkovich was detained Wednesday for alleged espionage while on a reporting trip to the Russian provincial city of Yekaterinburg, around 800 miles east of Moscow. The Journal vehemently denied wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Gershkovich and called for his immediate release.

In Washington, President Biden urged on Friday Mr. Gershkovich’s release. “Let him go,” he said.

Kremlin watchers say Mr. Gershkovich was likely detained so Moscow could use him in a prisoner swap. The fact that Russia has charged him with espionage, rather than a common criminal offense, suggests the Kremlin will want a big prize in return for his release, said John J. Sullivan, who served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow until last year.

“This is not an arrest that the local police or FSB would do on their own,” said Mr. Sullivan, now a distinguished fellow at Georgetown University in Washington. The charge of espionage, he said, is a big development and a very bad sign.

The arrest of Mr. Gershkovich, a Russian speaker whose parents came to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union, marked the latest diplomatic flashpoint between Moscow and Washington. The two countries, already on opposite sides of the war in Ukraine, have also clashed over the arrests of each other’s citizens and the state of nuclear-arms treaties. The U.S. has also led an array of countries in imposing sanctions on Russia in a campaign to choke its economy following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich,” the Journal said. “We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family.”

Although Moscow has arrested American citizens on espionage charges, the detention of a journalist is rare. The last U.S. journalist to face such a charge was U.S. News & World Report journalist Nicholas Daniloff in 1986.

In that case, Moscow had a clear motive: Three days before Mr. Daniloff’s arrest, the U.S. had detained a Soviet employee of its United Nations delegation in New York in a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting. After intense negotiations, Mr. Daniloff was released less than three weeks later in an exchange for the diplomat. Mr. Daniloff denied the espionage allegation.

A swap for Mr. Gershkovich could be more difficult today because of the poor state of U.S.-Russian relations, former diplomats say. In 1986, relations between Moscow and Washington were on the upswing, and both sides were anxious to try to preserve some of the progress.

Today, ties are on a downward trajectory, and Russia’s rhetoric suggests it sees itself in an existential conflict with the U.S., said Andrew Weiss, a vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he studies Russia and Eurasia.

Along with diplomacy, people-to-people contacts between the two countries have dried up, and the business relationship, which was never extensive, “is largely in tatters,” Mr. Weiss said...


Monday, March 27, 2023

Justine Bateman Defends Her 'Old Face' (the Decision to Grow Old Naturally and Forego Cosmetic Surgery, Etc.)

She says she doesn't give a s***, but you know she does. Why is this even news?

See, "Justine Bateman confronts obsession with her ‘old’ face: ‘I don’t give a s–t’."

She appeared recently on "60 Minutes Australia."

Left Is Not Woke

From Susan Neiman, at UnHerd, "The true Left is not woke: Progressive activists have forgotten their roots."

CHANGE: 32 States and Counting: Why Parents Bills of Rights Are Sweeping the U.S.

From Stephen Green, at Instapundit, “'The proposed laws have fueled questions about the role parents should play in their children's education. At the same time, they have fanned partisan flames, weaponizing a longstanding concept – parental rights – that academic experts and advocates alike say should not be politically charged'.”

Americans Pull Back From Values That Once Defined United States, Poll Finds

I teach this. My son was just saying, "This is nothing new to you." He's right. It's not. But it's cool to have a WSJ article I can share with my students and use in assignments.

See, at Wall Street Journal, "America Pulls Back From Values That Once Defined It, WSJ-NORC Poll Finds: Patriotism, religion and hard work hold less importance."

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Custom Leather Sheath for Buck 110 or 112. Water Buffalo Antique Brown Leather Sheath. Right-Hand Cross Draw to fit on The Left Side

At Amazon, Custom Leather Sheath for Buck 110 or 112. Water Buffalo Antique Brown Leather Sheath. Right-Hand Cross Draw to fit on The Left Side. Strong and Durable; Made in USA; Sheath ONLY.

Sonora Jha, The Laughter

This is a great novel.

At Amazon, Sonora Jha, The Laughter.

Corporate Diversity Pledges Fizzle Amid Layoffs, GOP Backlash


At Bloomberg:

Workplace diversity and inclusion efforts adopted in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and ensuing protests are fading as sweeping layoffs blunt companies’ bold commitments to boost underrepresented groups in their C-suites and ranks.

The global Black Lives Matter movement that followed Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in 2020 prompted a hiring boom for diversity, equity, and inclusion professionals and pledges by major employers to address racial inequality in the workplace.

But many of those hired—largely people of color—to diversify the workplace have been let go over the past year amid ongoing layoffs as a cost-cutting measure. Employers have cut DEI roles at a higher rate than others, according to a February study from workforce analytics firm Revelio Labs.

More than 300 DEI professionals departed companies in the last six months, including Inc., Twitter Inc., and Nike Inc., the report found. These diminishing roles have left observers questioning whether the sense of urgency to increase workforce diversity that corporate leaders made almost three years ago was genuine or simply a reactionary business decision to mitigate reputational risk.

“They heard concerns about the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Fast forward to three years later, that push isn’t that much present in the media every day and prevalent on social media,” said Robert Baldwin III, founder and managing attorney at Virtue Law Group, a plaintiff-side labor and employment firm.

“Since that push isn’t that prevalent,” they don’t feel the pressure to prioritize racial diversity and inclusion, he said.

DEI U-Turn

The slashing of these roles indicates that some companies don’t see DEI as essential, said Jean Lee, president and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, which advocates for diversity in C-suites.

“This is concerning,” because prospective workers from underrepresented backgrounds might get discouraged from seeking employment at companies that have taken a drastic U-turn with their diversity and inclusion efforts, Lee said.

It may also take a toll on the output and morale of remaining workers, who would question their employer’s commitment to diversity and be forced to take on the responsibility of reporting workplace issues to management and advocating for their needs.

“I think the most important thing employers must consider is the message they’re sending” if they’re cutting back DEI initiatives, Lee said. “That affects your brand and communication.”

Lee, who advises employers on DEI matters, said many companies are grappling with how to use layoffs to cut costs amid inflation and rumblings of a looming recession without undermining their diversity efforts.

Liability Potential In addition to potentially harming employee morale and hiring efforts, employers risk exposing themselves to litigation because DEI leaders are often the ones who spot pitfalls and report unaddressed workplace issues that carry serious legal consequences, employment attorneys said.

Research by a US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission task force found that a lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace can promote discriminatory behavior and allow such conduct to go unchecked.

“When you are gutting the roles of people tasked with holding you accountable and ensuring your workplace is diverse and inclusive, what follows is increases in instances of bias,” said Samone Ijoma, an employment attorney at Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP.

“I do think that getting rid of the people with that expertise, and who are working to change corporate culture, would likely lead to more lawsuits in that realm,” she added.

Diversity shouldn’t be treated as a project to fill a quota, but must be viewed as a business strategy that leads to better outcomes, she added...

Beautiful Lady

On Twitter.

There's No Such Thing as Being Transphobic

It's Megan Murphy, on Substack, "Spoiler: it's because there's no such thing as a trans person":

The easiest way to combat transgender ideology is to simply not go along with it. Don’t play along with the notion that one must use “preferred pronouns.” (Sexed pronouns are not a matter of preference, they are not an opinion or a judgement, they are a matter of grammar.) Don’t play along with the idea that it is possible to be “born in the wrong body.” (You are born with a sexed body, and unfortunately you don’t get a say in that.) Don’t play along with the idea that it is somehow special or original to not relate to every single stereotype associated with "masculinity” or “femininity.” (No one does. We are have our own personalities and preferences, and while femininity is more commonly associated with females and masculinity with males, how we feel about those sterotypes does not dictate our sex. If it did, we would be changing sex all the time and we would all be “trans.”)

“Trans” is not a real, valid category with a coherent definition, which means that “transphobia” is also not a real, valid, or coherent concept. I realize some make the argument that being “polite” about such things is a better means to bring people over to “our side” or open people up to listening to our concerns, but I actually think it just creates an incredibly confusing conversation. It also opens us up to debates around things like “trans rights” (not a valid concept) or which kids are “really trans,” and therefore would benefit from being medicalized as “trans kids” (no child should be and there is no such thing as a “trans kid”).

I fail to see why lying is polite or useful when talking about things like legislation and policy. It certainly isn’t polite or useful when dealing with kids whose brains are not fully developed and are at risk of having their bodies destroyed for life on account of said lies.

You might like to think of yourself as a “live and let live” kind of person. You might think there are more important issues than transgenderism. You might think, “Why not just let some people identify however they like.” But we are talking about something much bigger: the truth. And reality. We are also talking about women’s rights and the safety and wellbeing of kids.

But if anything, truth and reality are hills worth dying on.

Trans activists are manipulating reality and impeding our ability to speak the truth via language. Don’t play along.

Has Ukraine Exposed the Russian Military as a Paper Tiger?

At the National Interest, "While Russia may have large amounts of Cold War hardware, the military's performance in Ukraine indicates that its true capabilities may only be a fraction of what most of the world previously envisioned."

12 People Have Died After Record Snows in the San Bernardino Mountains

At the Los Angeles Times, "12 have died since massive snowstorms cut off California mountain towns, official says."

And, at Red State, "Death Toll Climbs to 12 in San Bernardino Mountains, While Newsom's Focused on Walgreens Instead."

Abigail Shrier:

For Hillsdale College:

Mexican Drug Gang Turns In Members It Blames for Americans’ Deaths

Don't travel to Mexico. You're likely to be killed.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Gulf Cartel faction left five men tied up in downtown Matamoros with a sign apologizing to victims and their families."

Also, "Americans Kidnapped, Killed in Mexico Were Victims of Violent Border City: Matamoros is the birthplace of the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico’s oldest and most powerful criminal organizations."

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Ryan O'Connor, The Voids

This is a phenomenal novel I can't recommend enough.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today.

See, Ryan O'Connor, The Voids.

Dubious Alliances: Germany’s New Peace Movement Has Some Explaining to Do

At Der Spiegel, "Putin’s war in Ukraine is unsettling many in Germany. A new peace movement is forming in the country, but it is stirring up the ghosts of German history – and has an open flank to the extreme right":

No, she says, she’s not a "Putin sympathizer." And she has nothing at all to do with right-wing agitators. Antje Döhner-Unverricht sees herself as one of many in Germany who long for an end to the war in Ukraine, a segment of the German population that feels politicians are doing too little to make that happen.

So, the 52-year-old from Dresden took action: She signed the "Manifesto for Peace" organized by German author and feminist leader Alice Schwarzer and the far-left Left Party politician Sahra Wagenknecht. The "manifesto" calls on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to support negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. "A compromise with Putin is by no means the capitulation of democracy," says Döhner-Unverricht. She speaks calmly and reflectively.

As a psychologist, some of those to whom she provides care are traumatized patients who "are very worried about the current state of war and are having a hard time dealing with it."

"My daily work is about ensuring that we maintain dialog with one another," says Döhner-Unverricht. "That dialog is currently missing from the political landscape."

The Dresden psychologist opposes arms deliveries to Ukraine. "Russia wants to win the war by any means necessary," she says. "We keep escalating it, where will it end?"

Almost every second person in Germany shares Döhner-Unverricht’s view. German society has been divided ever since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine a year ago. Some are in favor of supplying weapons to Ukraine. Others are opposed – sometimes more and sometimes less strongly – because they fear it could escalate the war and make it go on forever.

Open letters have been published for and against Germany's role in the war, with prominent supporters for each argument. But the "manifesto" brings a new dimension to the debate.

What is happening now, namely the attempt to establish a new peace movement, hasn't been seen in Germany in years. More than a half-million people have signed Schwarzer’s and Wagenknecht’s "Manifesto for Peace," while over the weekend, major protests were held across Germany in support of the manifesto, with at least 13,000 taking to the streets in Berlin alone.

Right-wing extremists mobilized diligently in recent days to hijack the marches. People like Antje Döhner-Unverricht, who distance themselves from Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and from Putin's propaganda on the petition platform and in comments to DER SPIEGEL, want nothing to do with them. They say they are uncomfortable with the idea that right-wing extremists share their position.

But the issue is too important to them to shun involvement just because of the interference from the right wing. With the result that it’s hard to tell who comprises the bulk of the manifesto’s signatories: moderates or radicals.

In the manifesto, Wagenknecht and Schwarzer warn of a "world war" and "nuclear war" and call on the chancellor to "stop the escalation of arms deliveries" and to work for "peace negotiations" between Ukraine and Russia.

What's lacking in the petition, though, is a coherent explanation of how negotiations might look with someone like Russia's president, who clearly isn’t interested in negotiations.

Wagenknecht and Schwarzer have been criticized for their initiative because it lacks clear language distancing itself from the right. Some of that criticism comes from Wagenknecht's own Left Party, but a number of the initial signatories to the manifesto have begun backing away from it.

Theologist Margot Kässmann, the former head of the Protestant Church in Germany, continues to support the "manifesto," but said last week she would not attend demonstrations in support of the movement in Berlin. "There are attempts by the right-wing fringe to hijack criticism of arms deliveries," Kässmann says, lamentingly. "I care about who I am associated with." The AfD, for example, whose chair Tino Chrupalla recently shared Wagenknecht’s and Schwarzer’s petition on Twitter, represents "inhuman views," says Kässmann. "I don’t want to be associated with them," Kässmann says. "Let them hold their own demonstration."

Meanwhile, Roderich Kiesewetter, a politician with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has launched his own counter-initiative as an alternative to that of Schwarzer and Wagenknecht. In it, he and other signatories write: "Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian women and children in this country, whose husbands, brothers and fathers are fighting on the battlefield right now, are shocked at these ideologues who insist on 'peace' by manifesto, whatever the cost might be."

The debate shows that more than 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germans still don't know who they want to be. The thoroughly militarized East Germany was supposedly committed to world peace. And West Germany had a strong peace movement that emerged as a response to the NATO and Warsaw Pact arms race.

Then the war in Kosovo in the 1990s, which saw Germany's Green Party vote in favor of the German military's first intervention since World War II, shook pacifist certainties in both the east and west of the country. On February 24, 2022, though, it because glaringly obvious that the country had never really addressed a number of central issues – the country's defensive capabilities, for example, or the, question of how to deal with an increasingly aggressive Russia...


Epic Tank Battles in Ukraine

Interesting piece.

At the New York Times, "In an Epic Battle of Tanks, Russia Was Routed, Repeating Earlier Mistakes":

A three-week fight in the town of Vuhledar in southern Ukraine produced what Ukrainian officials say was the biggest tank battle of the war so far, and a stinging setback for the Russians.

KURAKHOVE, Ukraine — Before driving into battle in their mud-spattered war machine, a T-64 tank, the three-man Ukrainian crew performs a ritual.

The commander, Pvt. Dmytro Hrebenok, recites the Lord’s Prayer. Then, the men walk around the tank, patting its chunky green armor.

“We say, ‘Please, don’t let us down in battle,’” said Sgt. Artyom Knignitsky, the mechanic. “‘Bring us in and bring us out.’” Their respect for their tank is understandable. Perhaps no weapon symbolizes the ferocious violence of war more than the main battle tank. Tanks have loomed over the conflict in Ukraine in recent months — militarily and diplomatically — as both sides prepared for offensives. Russia pulled reserves of tanks from Cold War-era storage, and Ukraine prodded Western governments to supply American Abrams and German Leopard 2 tanks.

The sophisticated Western tanks are expected on the battlefield in the next several months. The new Russian armor turned up earlier — and in its first wide-scale deployment was decimated.

A three-week battle on a plain near the coal-mining town of Vuhledar in southern Ukraine produced what Ukrainian officials say was the biggest tank battle of the war so far, and a stinging setback for the Russians.

In the extended battle, both sides sent tanks into the fray, rumbling over dirt roads and maneuvering around tree lines, with the Russians thrusting forward in columns and the Ukrainians maneuvering defensively, firing from a distance or from hiding places as Russian columns came into their sights.

When it was over, not only had Russia failed to capture Vuhledar, but it also had made the same mistake that cost Moscow hundreds of tanks earlier in the war: advancing columns into ambushes.

Blown up on mines, hit with artillery or obliterated by anti-tank missiles, the charred hulks of Russian armored vehicles now litter farm fields all about Vuhledar, according to Ukrainian military drone footage. Ukraine’s military said Russia had lost at least 130 tanks and armored personnel carriers in the battle. That figure could not be independently verified. Ukraine does not disclose how many weapons it loses.

“We studied the roads they used, then hid and waited” to shoot in ambushes, Sergeant Knignitsky said.

Lack of expertise also bedeviled the Russians. Many of their most elite units had been left in shambles from earlier fighting. Their spots were filled with newly conscripted soldiers, unschooled in Ukraine’s tactics for ambushing columns. In one indication that Russia is running short of experienced tank commanders, Ukrainian soldiers said they captured a medic who had been reassigned to operate a tank.

The Russian army has focused on, and even mythologized, tank warfare for decades for its redolence of Russian victories over the Nazis in World War II. Factories in the Ural Mountains have churned out tanks by the thousands. In Vuhledar, by last week Russia had lost so many machines to sustain armored assaults that they had changed tactics and resorted only to infantry attacks, Ukrainian commanders said.

The depth of the Russian defeat was underscored by Russian military bloggers, who have emerged as an influential pro-war voice in the country. Often critical of the military, they have posted angry screeds about the failures of repeated tank assaults, blaming generals for misguided tactics with a storied Russian weapon. Grey Zone, a Telegram channel affiliated with the Wagner mercenary group, posted on Monday that “relatives of the dead are inclined almost to murder and blood revenge against the general” in charge of the assaults near Vuhledar.

In a detailed interview last week in an abandoned house near the front, Lt. Vladislav Bayak, the deputy commander of Ukraine’s 1st Mechanized Battalion of the 72nd brigade, described how Ukrainian soldiers were able to inflict such heavy losses in what commanders said was the biggest tank battle of the war so far.

Ambushes have been Ukraine’s signature tactic against Russian armored columns since the early days of the war. Working from a bunker in Vuhledar, Lieutenant Bayak spotted the first column of about 15 tanks and armored personnel carriers approaching on a video feed from a drone.

“We were ready,” he said. “We knew something like this would happen.”

They had prepared a kill zone farther along a dirt road that the tanks were rumbling down. The commander needed only to give an order over the radio — “To battle!” — Lieutenant Bayak said. Anti-tank teams hiding in tree lines along the fields, and armed with American infrared-guided Javelins and Ukrainian laser-guided Stugna-P missiles, powered up their weapons. Farther away, artillery batteries were ready. The dirt road had been left free of mines, while the fields all about were seeded with them, so as to entice the Russians to advance while preventing tanks from turning around once the trap was sprung.

The column of tanks becomes most vulnerable, Lieutenant Bayak said, after the shooting starts and drivers panic and try to turn around — by driving onto the mine-laden shoulder of the road. Blown-up vehicles then act as impediments, slowing or stalling the column. At that point, Ukrainian artillery opens fire, blowing up more armor and killing soldiers who clamber out of disabled machines. A scene of chaos and explosions ensues, the lieutenant said.

Russian commanders have sent armored columns forward for a lack of other options against Ukraine’s well-fortified positions, however costly the tactic, he said.

Over about three weeks of the tank battle, repeated Russian armored assaults floundered. In one instance, Ukrainian commanders called in a strike by HIMARS guided rockets; they are usually used on stationary targets like ammunition depots or barracks, but also proved effective against a stationary tank column...


Alex Epstein Explains the Real Climate Crisis (VIDEO)

For Prager University:


Lovely woman.

On Instagram.

Biden Administration to Adopt Trump-Era Policy on Those Seeking Asylum in the U.S.

This is actually an amazing story. 

Sometimes policies have path dependence. Earlier policy choices can have powerful effects on what comes later, and in this case, migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. are going to be in for a shock.

At the Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: Biden’s new asylum proposal could affect the border forever."

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Carmine Gallo, The Bezos Blueprint

At Amazon, Carmine Gallo, The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World's Greatest Salesman Hardcover.


I love this woman.

On Instagram.

The Conversation About Ukraine Is Cracking Apart

From Stephen Walt, at Foreign Policy, "What government officials are saying in public, and private, is fascinating—and full of contradictions":

I attended the Munich Security Conference for the first time this year, so I may be a member of Washington’s so-called Blob after all. I was grateful for the opportunity and enjoyed the experience, but I can’t say that I came away from it feeling better about the current state of the world.

The war in Ukraine dominated the proceedings, of course, and there were two important dividing lines in the collective conversation.

The first gap was the vastly different perceptions, narratives, and preferred responses between the trans-Atlantic community on the one hand and key members of the global south on the other. Several important media outlets have described this gap already, and a new report from the European Council on Foreign Relations contains compelling survey data documenting it. I attended several sessions and private dinners focused on this issue, and the discussions were revealing.

Diehard Atlanticists tend to portray the war in Ukraine as the single most important geopolitical issue in the world today. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said the war had “far-reaching global ramifications,” and the head of one U.S.-based think tank called it “the fulcrum of the 21st century.” Similarly, when asked how the war might end, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock replied that anything less than a complete Russian defeat and withdrawal would mean “the end of the international order and the end of international law.”

In this narrative, in short, what is at stake in Ukraine is the future of the entire rules-based order—and even the future of freedom itself. Some American and European speakers seemed to be competing to see who could give the most Churchillian speech, insisting that there was no substitute for victory, dismissing any risk of escalation, and calling for Ukraine’s supporters to give Kyiv whatever it needs to win a quick and decisive victory.

The rest of the world sees it differently. Nobody was defending Russia or President Vladimir Putin in Munich, and the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine “immediately, completely and unconditionally” passed with more than 140 votes a few days later. But states outside the trans-Atlantic coalition (including important powers such as India, Brazil, or Saudi Arabia) have not joined Western-led efforts to sanction Russia and do not see the conflict in the same apocalyptic terms that most officials in the West do. Atlanticists in Munich seemed baffled by their stance, and a few people were sharply critical. I heard another Western think tank head chide nonaligned states by saying, “This conference is not about moral ambiguity.”

In fact, this gap is not that hard to understand. For starters, people outside the West view the rules-based order and Western insistence that states not violate international law as rank hypocrisy, and they were particularly resentful of Western attempts to claim the moral high ground on this issue. In their view, not only do Western powers make most of the rules, but they are also perfectly willing to violate these rules whenever it suits them. Not surprisingly, representatives from the global south were quick to bring up the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003—where was the rules-based order then? Similarly, several speakers pointed out that the same Western governments warning that Russia is violating the post-World War II norm against acquiring territory by conquest did nothing to stop Israel from conquering the Golan Heights and West Bank, annexing the former and filling the latter with settlers. Russia is now heavily sanctioned—understandably—whereas the United States gives Israel generous economic and military aid as well as uses its veto to shield Israel from criticism in the U.N. Security Council. Such blatant double standards make Western moral posturing hard to swallow.

Furthermore, key states in the global south do not share the Western belief that the future of the 21st century is going to be determined by the outcome of the war. For them, economic development, climate change, migration, civil conflicts, terrorism, the rising power of India and China, and many others will all exert a greater impact on humanity’s future than the fate of the Donbas or Crimea. They wonder why Western governments quickly found tens of billions of dollars to send Ukraine but wouldn’t pay enough to mount an effective global vaccination campaign against COVID-19. They ask why Ukraine is now in the spotlight 24/7, but the West devotes only intermittent attention to the lives being lost in sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, or other trouble spots. They are angry watching European states welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms, given their prior hostility to refugees fleeing equally horrific situations in Syria or Afghanistan. And because the war is affecting their interests adversely (e.g., through higher food prices), they are more interested in ending it than helping Kyiv achieve all its war aims.

The global south’s measured stance does not mean it is “pro-Russian”; it means those states are merely as self-interested as other countries are. It also means the gap between the West and the so-called rest is not likely to go away.

The second gap I observed in Munich was a gulf between the optimism that top officials expressed in public and the more pessimistic assessments one heard in private. In the main events featuring officials such as Harris, Baerbock, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and others, one heard upbeat tales of Western unity and long-term prospects for victory. U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky echoed this message during Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv last week. While acknowledging that difficult days lie ahead, the focus in Munich was on the victory that would one day be won.

In private, however, the conversations were much more somber...

Keep reading