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Ukraine 14 - Back to the Mud


Maithanet
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2 minutes ago, Toth said:

Two thirds of his Gau, there were still 60.000 murdered and 170.000 deported. Let's not be too generous to a guy who was hanged at Nuremberg, though it is indeed an astonishing fact that his way of determining whether someone was German was to have someone walk up to them and ask "Did you have German ancestors" and when the reply was anything other than a clear no, the interviewee was considered German, somehow.

To be clear, he was also a vicious anti-Semite. He only looks good compared to people like Arthur Greiser and Eric Koch.

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1 hour ago, Zorral said:

Don't know what's happened to Chomsky,

Nothing's happened to Chomsky.
If you value human life above all, then war is the ultimate enemy, and doing what you can to prevent it, as well as making it as short as possible should always be at the top of the list.
It's not like we don't know what war entails. We also know that those who suffer the most are always regular folks.
It's really not rocket science. If the global superpower can't find peaceful ways to solve conflicts between nations that can't compete with it, then perhaps it isn't trying.
Perhaps it's got geostrategic objectives of its own. Perhaps it's got weapons to sell. Perhaps it doesn't actually care that much about other peoples' lives.
Russia is economically much weaker, so the West could have hurt its militarism preventively, but it was far more advantageous to keep trading and rely on war by proxy as a plan b. Besides, war by proxy happens to be good for business as well. It's a win-win scenario where everyone benefits - apart from the Ukrainians... and Russians.
But the Ukrainians get to fight for the values we hold dear (and how proud they make us!), and the Russians are the bad guys anyway, so we don't care about them.

A simpler way to put it is that Chomsky's nearly bottomless knowledge about international relationships and propaganda allows him to see that "just wars" are almost always fabricated. If the media can convince people that there is an enemy somehow worse than war itself, then perhaps they won't ask too many questions about whether there were alternatives to war, and what it all means.
Of course, without historical perspective, Chomsky's point loses its pertinence in any single situation: after all, you can't expect war to be avoided every single time. Sometimes an enemy is actually too dangerous, too barbaric, too crazy to be contained or reasoned with.
But when it's a pattern stretching for as far back as we can remember, and that every single time the "other", the "enemy" is eventually revealed to having been so much weaker than your own camp, one has to wonder whether preparing for constant war isn't really official policy.
From there it's a quick step to realize that having the people fight and die for the values of our socio-economic system is not an exceptional situation, it's a feature of the system itself, because it's a socio-economic system that does not value human life in the first place. It's not that the system creates antagonists (militaristic autocrats) ex nihilo, but at the very least it's content to let them thrive, and actively supports them in quite a few cases - whenever convenient. Then, at some point (arbitrary in many cases, but not in this one), they cross a line and -surprise!- they must then absolutely be dealt with militarily, lest they become an existential threat to everyone. And by then, if you ask why they were able to cross that line in the first place, it's already too late, and no one seems to care about that anymore.
It's a story that keeps repeating itself. It's not about "everything the US does" being evil, it's about the fact that it just keeps going the same self-serving route rather than truly committing to humanist values.
If you're cynical, then that's simply asking too much. There's no denying that US imperialism is better than all known alternatives.
But Chomsky's point comes from a deeper place: it's about bearing in mind that there shouldn't be anything inescapable about having to choose the lesser of evils. That the elected government of a hegemon could conceivably adopt long-term policies that aim at lessening the chances of war breaking out in the first place, and that there are reasons why it doesn't.

Trump just happened to get it right on Russia for all the wrong reasons. This is where it shows that Chomsky's getting old: he -partly- forgot to anticipate the attacks against him (or just doesn't care anymore) and didn't underline that Trump's position on the US military budget showed that he was merely about choosing different antagonists, ratherthan being genuinely better in any way.
If you live outside the US, whether US foreign policy will be better for you under Democrats or under Republicans is kind of a die roll. Historically speaking, one shouldn't bet on the Dems being better though: liberals love war.

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According to US defence intelligence sources, the Russians have been pushed back 40km from Kharkiv and in some places the lines are perilously close to total collapse. Russian Telegram channels have gone into meltdown describing the situation as majorly FUBAR.

How bad this is, if it threatens Izium (where the situation is somewhat chaotic after the artillery attack yesterday that took out more than a dozen officers) and if Russia can recover is another question.

It looks like Gerasimov did evade the attack yesterday uninjured. Reportedly his helicopter left the command post 90 minutes before it was attacked.

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RIP made many points but he missed THE POINT: a once perspicacious intellectual and scholar said loud to the world that gangster Donald Trump is the only right thinking one of politicians / world leaders, because gangster Trump endorsed another politician/gangster who is, right in front of our faces, committing mass murder, destruction and theft, and screwing up the global economy now, in tandem with covid -- while continuing, of course to plunder and appropriate and steal, as well as murder of course. Which is what Trump endorses doing as well.  No informed, right-thinking person can endorse anyone thinking that. No informed, right-thinking person could say what he said.  It's very sad, but it isn't defensible, unless one is a Russian, I guess?

 

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9 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

But the Ukrainians get to fight for the values we hold dear (and how proud they make us!), and the Russians are the bad guys anyway, so we don't care about them.

Correction, Ukrainians fight to prevent themselves from being murdered, their wives and/or children from being raped, and their children from being kidnapped (in the short term), as well as for continued existence of Ukrainian state and language (in long term). If you don't care about that, it is easy to philosophize about evil US imperialism.

And I agree that nothing new has happened to Chomsky. He's been a genocide-denying asshole for at least three decades, who sometimes happens to find himself on a right side of an argument the same way as broken clock sometimes shows the correct time.

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13 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

It's really not rocket science. If the global superpower can't find peaceful ways to solve conflicts between nations that can't compete with it, then perhaps it isn't trying.
Perhaps it's got geostrategic objectives of its own. Perhaps it's got weapons to sell. Perhaps it doesn't actually care that much about other peoples' lives.
Russia is economically much weaker, so the West could have hurt its militarism preventively, but it was far more advantageous to keep trading and rely on war by proxy as a plan b. Besides, war by proxy happens to be good for business as well. It's a win-win scenario where everyone benefits - apart from the Ukrainians... and Russians.

I’ve seen this argument floating around the internet, on both crazy left and right. The major flaw in all of it is that it totally removes Putin from the equation. It relies on ‘if we’d only given Putin what he wanted’ or ‘if we’d only punished Putin enough’ then none of this would have happened. The problem is, that doesn’t really seem to be the case, Putin has been pretty clear about his aims, the only way this war would have been stopped would be to just let Putin have Ukraine, either directly or as a vassal.

Youve also basically parroted the claims that this war is being fuelled by the weapons industry, which is dangerously close to conspiracy theory 

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Yeah I agree with Ripp on one thing - nothing's changed with Chomsky.  He's never had nor acquired any special knowledge, insight, and certainly not expertise when it comes to any form of political analysis -- and indeed he generally derides those who do.  Chomsky the political pundit is actually the epitome of an anti-intellectual, and in this way it should be no surprise he's praising Trump.  They're kind of kindred spirits.  Hell, Trump's got nothing on Chomsky - he's been spouting the same bullshit that is demonstrably wrong and laughed at for 50 years.

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29 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

Nothing's happened to Chomsky.
If you value human life above all, then war is the ultimate enemy, and doing what you can to prevent it, as well as making it as short as possible should always be at the top of the list.
It's not like we don't know what war entails. We also know that those who suffer the most are always regular folks.
It's really not rocket science. If the global superpower can't find peaceful ways to solve conflicts between nations that can't compete with it, then perhaps it isn't trying.
Perhaps it's got geostrategic objectives of its own. Perhaps it's got weapons to sell. Perhaps it doesn't actually care that much about other peoples' lives.
Russia is economically much weaker, so the West could have hurt its militarism preventively, but it was far more advantageous to keep trading and rely on war by proxy as a plan b. Besides, war by proxy happens to be good for business as well. It's a win-win scenario where everyone benefits - apart from the Ukrainians... and Russians.
But the Ukrainians get to fight for the values we hold dear (and how proud they make us!), and the Russians are the bad guys anyway, so we don't care about them.

A simpler way to put it is that Chomsky's nearly bottomless knowledge about international relationships and propaganda allows him to see that "just wars" are almost always fabricated. If the media can convince people that there is an enemy somehow worse than war itself, then perhaps they won't ask too many questions about whether there were alternatives to war, and what it all means.
Of course, without historical perspective, Chomsky's point loses its pertinence in any single situation: after all, you can't expect war to be avoided every single time. Sometimes an enemy is actually too dangerous, too barbaric, too crazy to be contained or reasoned with.
But when it's a pattern stretching for as far back as we can remember, and that every single time the "other", the "enemy" is eventually revealed to having been so much weaker than your own camp, one has to wonder whether preparing for constant war isn't really official policy.
From there it's a quick step to realize that having the people fight and die for the values of our socio-economic system is not an exceptional situation, it's a feature of the system itself, because it's a socio-economic system that does not value human life in the first place. It's not that the system creates antagonists (militaristic autocrats) ex nihilo, but at the very least it's content to let them thrive, and actively supports them in quite a few cases - whenever convenient. Then, at some point (arbitrary in many cases, but not in this one), they cross a line and -surprise!- they must then absolutely be dealt with militarily, lest they become an existential threat to everyone. And by then, if you ask why they were able to cross that line in the first place, it's already too late, and no one seems to care about that anymore.
It's a story that keeps repeating itself. It's not about "everything the US does" being evil, it's about the fact that it just keeps going the same self-serving route rather than truly committing to humanist values.
If you're cynical, then that's simply asking too much. There's no denying that US imperialism is better than all known alternatives.
But Chomsky's point comes from a deeper place: it's about bearing in mind that there shouldn't be anything inescapable about having to choose the lesser of evils. That the elected government of a hegemon could conceivably adopt long-term policies that aim at lessening the chances of war breaking out in the first place, and that there are reasons why it doesn't.

Trump just happened to get it right on Russia for all the wrong reasons. This is where it shows that Chomsky's getting old: he -partly- forgot to anticipate the attacks against him (or just doesn't care anymore) and didn't underline that Trump's position on the US military budget showed that he was merely about choosing different antagonists, ratherthan being genuinely better in any way.
If you live outside the US, whether US foreign policy will be better for you under Democrats or under Republicans is kind of a die roll. Historically speaking, one shouldn't bet on the Dems being better though: liberals love war.

There are worse evils than war.

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US briefing saying that Russian forces in some areas of the Donbas are advancing to a town or village, occupying it for a few hours, and then pulling back. In some cases, intercepts in the clear are saying they've taken the village but the soldiers don't stay. It's unclear if this is disinformation or if the Russian forces are doing the bare minimum to achieve their mission objectives and then heading back to more defensible positions.

 

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This article is flawed in several key respects, most notably by saying that the war is not taking place in the USA's backyard. That is true, but it is taking place in NATO's, and in Poland and Romania's. That should keep a lot more attention and focus on the situation than was ever the case in Syria.

The idea that Russia might pivot to a Syria-like "frozen conflict" approach, using UN mechanisms to freeze lines and then take advantage later on, is a real danger, though I think simplified by the lack of as many different sides as in Syria. The key will be to retain the focus and objective on returning (at a minimum) to February 23rd lines. Allowing Russia to keep any of the territory it has taken is simply permitting a threat to remain to the rest of Ukraine in the medium to long term.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Rippounet said:

Nothing's happened to Chomsky.
If you value human life above all, then war is the ultimate enemy, and doing what you can to prevent it, as well as making it as short as possible should always be at the top of the list.
It's not like we don't know what war entails. We also know that those who suffer the most are always regular folks.
It's really not rocket science. If the global superpower can't find peaceful ways to solve conflicts between nations that can't compete with it, then perhaps it isn't trying.
Perhaps it's got geostrategic objectives of its own. Perhaps it's got weapons to sell. Perhaps it doesn't actually care that much about other peoples' lives.
Russia is economically much weaker, so the West could have hurt its militarism preventively, but it was far more advantageous to keep trading and rely on war by proxy as a plan b. Besides, war by proxy happens to be good for business as well. It's a win-win scenario where everyone benefits - apart from the Ukrainians... and Russians.
But the Ukrainians get to fight for the values we hold dear (and how proud they make us!), and the Russians are the bad guys anyway, so we don't care about them.

A simpler way to put it is that Chomsky's nearly bottomless knowledge about international relationships and propaganda allows him to see that "just wars" are almost always fabricated. If the media can convince people that there is an enemy somehow worse than war itself, then perhaps they won't ask too many questions about whether there were alternatives to war, and what it all means.
Of course, without historical perspective, Chomsky's point loses its pertinence in any single situation: after all, you can't expect war to be avoided every single time. Sometimes an enemy is actually too dangerous, too barbaric, too crazy to be contained or reasoned with.
But when it's a pattern stretching for as far back as we can remember, and that every single time the "other", the "enemy" is eventually revealed to having been so much weaker than your own camp, one has to wonder whether preparing for constant war isn't really official policy.
From there it's a quick step to realize that having the people fight and die for the values of our socio-economic system is not an exceptional situation, it's a feature of the system itself, because it's a socio-economic system that does not value human life in the first place. It's not that the system creates antagonists (militaristic autocrats) ex nihilo, but at the very least it's content to let them thrive, and actively supports them in quite a few cases - whenever convenient. Then, at some point (arbitrary in many cases, but not in this one), they cross a line and -surprise!- they must then absolutely be dealt with militarily, lest they become an existential threat to everyone. And by then, if you ask why they were able to cross that line in the first place, it's already too late, and no one seems to care about that anymore.
It's a story that keeps repeating itself. It's not about "everything the US does" being evil, it's about the fact that it just keeps going the same self-serving route rather than truly committing to humanist values.
If you're cynical, then that's simply asking too much. There's no denying that US imperialism is better than all known alternatives.
But Chomsky's point comes from a deeper place: it's about bearing in mind that there shouldn't be anything inescapable about having to choose the lesser of evils. That the elected government of a hegemon could conceivably adopt long-term policies that aim at lessening the chances of war breaking out in the first place, and that there are reasons why it doesn't.

Trump just happened to get it right on Russia for all the wrong reasons. This is where it shows that Chomsky's getting old: he -partly- forgot to anticipate the attacks against him (or just doesn't care anymore) and didn't underline that Trump's position on the US military budget showed that he was merely about choosing different antagonists, ratherthan being genuinely better in any way.
If you live outside the US, whether US foreign policy will be better for you under Democrats or under Republicans is kind of a die roll. Historically speaking, one shouldn't bet on the Dems being better though: liberals love war.

So… if Ukraine fights back against the Russian invasion the war is Ukraine’s fault?  The proper response to coercion by military force is to refuse to fight back?

Don’t engage in self defense because if you do you’re as bad as the person trying to kill you?  Is that the score?

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison
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I don't think it's worth relitigating the huge 3-page digression we had on this last time.

I think the overwhelming conclusion was that, although desiring peace is indeed a good thing, a peace at any cost and a peace that sets up the conditions for future war is not, and that ultimately the only country that can answer the question of what peace it is prepared to accept and on what terms is Ukraine itself.

Nobody wants the war in Ukraine to go on for a second longer than is necessary to ensure a proper, lasting peace.

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18 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

So… if Ukraine fights back against the Russian invasion the war is Ukraine’s fault?  The proper response to coercion by military force is to refuse to fight back?

Don’t engage in self defense because if you do you’re as bad as the person trying to kill you?  Is that the score?

You see, the thing about Chomsky and some.other left leaning people (though they are very much a minority in the left, should be said) is that they have so much contempt for the West and capitalism that they refuse to entertain the idea that someone, let alone the majority of a huge nation, might willingly want to be a part or allied to it (let alone a country that used to be a part of the great opponents of American capitalism), and that the majority of the West might be on the right side of history for once, many huge corporations included. Their entire worldview was based on a fanatical worldview that West/Capitalism= THE GREAT SATAN that they don't know how to cope with having to side with them, even if the other side of the discussion is a fascist committing genocide for imperialist purposes.

So they have to come up with increasingly unlikely explanations to be opposed to the West in this instance without openly supporting Putin: the war is caused and/or fueled by the Western military industrial complex, Zelensky is a US puppet, Ukraine should surrender because fighting will lead to more deaths, Ukraine has a huge fascist influence, etc, all of this so they don't have to say the US and the West are right, even once.

Of course, they do this while living in Western countries, speaking Western languages, using Western goods, with free speech and liberties that would never be tolerated in places like Russia or many of the other countries they tend to support for being anti-Western, but their aren't big on irony.

Speaking of that, Putin is a fascist kleptocrat that oppresses his people, sends gays to jail, built a state whose economy is based on fossil fuels and even see global warming as an advantage, invades other countries as part of an imperialist project, has a cabal of capitalists working for him, and has zero respect for minorities to the point he's even denying one of them (Ukrainians), there's probably no one in the world who could be more of an example of anti-democratic and anti-left values...except he says America and West bad, so that makes it all not so bad apparently.

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Interesting. US intelligence now believes that the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics will hold referenda on joining Russia in mid-May, based on the borders that are achieved by that point. I wonder if this may be an alternative to the full mobilisation and long, drawn out war that people seemed convinced was going to happen last week, but which various Russian insiders have been throwing water on because the danger of fermenting political unrest in Russia is too high and the military advantages of sending half a million conscripts into the grinder without more and better equipment is too limited. If it happens, it'll be down to Putin himself making that choice.

Annexing the DPR and LPR and effectively making them like Crimea, and considering them part of Russia itself for future defence justification purposes, is a more grey-zone, classic Putin move, and of course allows him to rebuild his military for expanded operations at a later date (albeit at the risk of letting Ukraine arm too heavily in the meantime to be easily subjugated at all).

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6 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Nothing's happened to Chomsky.
If you value human life above all, then war is the ultimate enemy, and doing what you can to prevent it, as well as making it as short as possible should always be at the top of the list.
It's not like we don't know what war entails. We also know that those who suffer the most are always regular folks.
It's really not rocket science. If the global superpower can't find peaceful ways to solve conflicts between nations that can't compete with it, then perhaps it isn't trying.
Perhaps it's got geostrategic objectives of its own. Perhaps it's got weapons to sell. Perhaps it doesn't actually care that much about other peoples' lives.
Russia is economically much weaker, so the West could have hurt its militarism preventively, but it was far more advantageous to keep trading and rely on war by proxy as a plan b. Besides, war by proxy happens to be good for business as well. It's a win-win scenario where everyone benefits - apart from the Ukrainians... and Russians.
But the Ukrainians get to fight for the values we hold dear (and how proud they make us!), and the Russians are the bad guys anyway, so we don't care about them.

A simpler way to put it is that Chomsky's nearly bottomless knowledge about international relationships and propaganda allows him to see that "just wars" are almost always fabricated. If the media can convince people that there is an enemy somehow worse than war itself, then perhaps they won't ask too many questions about whether there were alternatives to war, and what it all means.
Of course, without historical perspective, Chomsky's point loses its pertinence in any single situation: after all, you can't expect war to be avoided every single time. Sometimes an enemy is actually too dangerous, too barbaric, too crazy to be contained or reasoned with.
But when it's a pattern stretching for as far back as we can remember, and that every single time the "other", the "enemy" is eventually revealed to having been so much weaker than your own camp, one has to wonder whether preparing for constant war isn't really official policy.
From there it's a quick step to realize that having the people fight and die for the values of our socio-economic system is not an exceptional situation, it's a feature of the system itself, because it's a socio-economic system that does not value human life in the first place. It's not that the system creates antagonists (militaristic autocrats) ex nihilo, but at the very least it's content to let them thrive, and actively supports them in quite a few cases - whenever convenient. Then, at some point (arbitrary in many cases, but not in this one), they cross a line and -surprise!- they must then absolutely be dealt with militarily, lest they become an existential threat to everyone. And by then, if you ask why they were able to cross that line in the first place, it's already too late, and no one seems to care about that anymore.
It's a story that keeps repeating itself. It's not about "everything the US does" being evil, it's about the fact that it just keeps going the same self-serving route rather than truly committing to humanist values.
If you're cynical, then that's simply asking too much. There's no denying that US imperialism is better than all known alternatives.
But Chomsky's point comes from a deeper place: it's about bearing in mind that there shouldn't be anything inescapable about having to choose the lesser of evils. That the elected government of a hegemon could conceivably adopt long-term policies that aim at lessening the chances of war breaking out in the first place, and that there are reasons why it doesn't.

Trump just happened to get it right on Russia for all the wrong reasons. This is where it shows that Chomsky's getting old: he -partly- forgot to anticipate the attacks against him (or just doesn't care anymore) and didn't underline that Trump's position on the US military budget showed that he was merely about choosing different antagonists, ratherthan being genuinely better in any way.
If you live outside the US, whether US foreign policy will be better for you under Democrats or under Republicans is kind of a die roll. Historically speaking, one shouldn't bet on the Dems being better though: liberals love war.

 

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The Russian foreign ministry is doubling down on insulting Israel, which is an odd flex to take. So far Russia has gone to some lengths to maintain friendly ties with Israel, possibly with an eye to their mutual interests in Syria. Pissing Israel off so it starts sending more capable equipment to Ukraine or starts meddling with Russian operations in Syria is not a good idea.

Good thread below on the dangers of mobilisation. Also an interview here indicating that some in Russia want to use mobilisation and militarisation to revamp the Russian economy and make it self-sufficient, but in a way that reduces it to the Soviet Union of the 1970s/1980s. That argument has not necessarily been won yet. More here on how the militarisation of the Russian economy is not a quick fix.

 

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The usual caveats about him, but the below, long Galeev thread is interesting. It covers the relationship between "Russia" (basically Moscow, St. Petersburg and the other big western cities) and its provincial view of the various regions, including how Russia has ensured that the bulk of the fighting and dying in Ukraine is happening to provincial soldiers.

Striking is the sample of 1,774 Russian casualties where only 10 came from St. Petersburg and only 3 from Moscow, but 125 from Dagestan and 85 from Buryatia, where there is now significant opposition to the war (and even an organised free speech movement, though mostly underground).

Particularly interesting, and in accordance with the FSB insider leaks, is that only 3 casualties are from Chechnya, the same as Moscow. It looks like Kadyrov has deployed his troops mainly in rear echelons, only going to the battlefield when it is secured to take social media pics and videos, and staying out of the heavy fighting. This is allowing Kadyrov to maintain his military power base whilst other Russian regions expend theirs. That puts Kadyrov in a good position with a mostly-intact military should the situation continue to degenerate.

Galeev also hypothesis that Moscow sees this as an opportunity to redress Russia's demographic problems, where much of the western regions are seeing sharp birth rate drop-offs but many of the regions in Siberia and the Caucasus are seeing sharp birth rate increases, threatening a future where white Slavic Russians are no longer a majority in their country. That might take a while (white Russians are 80% of the population, the rest combined about 20%), although most of Russia's white population is also quite old, so the shift could happen quite fast over a period of one to two decades.

 

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53 minutes ago, Werthead said:

The Russian foreign ministry is doubling down on insulting Israel, which is an odd flex to take. So far Russia has gone to some lengths to maintain friendly ties with Israel, possibly with an eye to their mutual interests in Syria. Pissing Israel off so it starts sending more capable equipment to Ukraine or starts meddling with Russian operations in Syria is not a good idea.

Good thread below on the dangers of mobilisation. Also an interview here indicating that some in Russia want to use mobilisation and militarisation to revamp the Russian economy and make it self-sufficient, but in a way that reduces it to the Soviet Union of the 1970s/1980s. That argument has not necessarily been won yet. More here on how the militarisation of the Russian economy is not a quick fix.

 

The insults to Israel are just so Russia can add antisemitism to their propaganda arsenal to motivate their citizens...to fight Nazis. Before Hitler appeared, you could argue there was no nation in the world with a bigger antisemitic history as Russia, and even after Hitler, Stalin continued with persecutions. 

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