Paul Krugman | War, Inflation and Squandered Credibility – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“What does Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, understand that Vladimir Putin doesn’t?

OK, I know that may sound like a trick question, or a desperate effort to offer a counterintuitive take on recent events. We may say that the Fed has gone to war against inflation, but that’s just a metaphor. Russia’s war on Ukraine, unfortunately, is all too real, leading to tens of thousands of deaths among both soldiers and civilians.

Yet the Fed and the Putin regime have this in common: Both took major policy actions this week. The Fed raised interest rates in an attempt to curb inflation. While Putin announced a partial mobilization in an attempt to rescue his failed invasion. Both actions will inflict pain.

One important difference, however — aside from the fact that Powell is not, as far as I know, a war criminal — is that the Fed is acting to maintain its credibility, while Putin seems determined to squander whatever credibility he might still have.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Did I write before that I love Paul Krugman. His columns are almost always excellent, and always challenging. It is good for the brain, like doing a hard jig saw puzzle, only you learn more reading Krugman than doing a jig saw puzzle,– about economics, politics and the world. The commenters here think Krugman has made a mistake in his assumption that a dictator has to worry at all about his credibility. They are wrong. Remember the French revolution. Where they might be on to something, it is hard to think of many examples were credibility is more important than raw power. There are more examples if you scrape. The Confederacy miss-estimated that England would support their uprising, because England valued their cotton more than it valued the human rights of slaves. My fear is that Putin will use these poor, pressed, 300,000 young men to secure the large eastern part of the Ukraine, and keep it. So I want NATO and the US to dramatically increase its support, and possibly even take over the Black Sea, for humanitarian reasons. The United States might have to go onto a war footing, without declaring war, to fight two wars at once. We need a war to slow the climate crisis, and a war to stop the spread of Putinism and fascist overreach. But we should not get confused. The climate crisis is the larger danger to our national and personal security. David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion on 18th century Vietnam and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Marlene Laruelle | Russia’s Putin Is in Trouble – The New York Times

Ms. Laruelle is a professor at the George Washington University and the author of “Is Russia Fascist?”

“In the wake of a stunning counteroffensive in which Ukrainian forces reclaimed over 1,000 miles of territory, Russia is uneasy.

The country’s political talk shows, usually so deferential, have given the floor to more critical voices. Opponents of the war have weighed in — about 40 officials from municipal councils signed a petition requesting the president’s resignation — and previously loyal figures have begun to mutter about the regime’s failings. In a sign of general discontent, Alla Pugacheva, Russia’s most famous 20th-century pop star, has come out against the war. Six months of consensus has started to crack.

That consensus wasn’t as cast-iron as it might have seemed. While many Western observers tend to view the Russian regime as a monolith, the reality is more complex. Though the war has significantly reduced the scope for dissent, there are still several competing ideological camps within the ruling elite capable of making their voices heard. For example, the so-called systemic liberals, mostly concentrated in state financial institutions and among oligarchs, have expressed concerns about the war’s consequences for the Russian economy. But it is another group, emboldened by the Kremlin’s failure to deliver victory in Ukraine, that is putting ever more pressure on the regime.

Call it the party of war. Made up of the security agencies, the Defense Ministry and outspoken media and political figures, it encompasses the entire radical nationalist ecosystem — and its adherents have been mounting a sustained critique of the Kremlin’s handling of the war in Ukraine. Powerful, well positioned and ideologically committed, they want a much more aggressive war effort. And judging from Mr. Putin’s address on Wednesday — where he announced the call-up of roughly 300,000 troops, gave his support to referendums in the four occupied regions of Ukraine on joining Russia and repeated the threat of nuclear escalation — they seem to be getting their way.”

Thomas L. Friedman | Three Paths Toward an Endgame for Putin’s War – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

MUNICH — Last week was an interesting week to be in Europe talking to national security experts, officials and business executives about Ukraine. Ukraine and its allies had just forced Russian invaders into a chaotic retreat from a big chunk of territory, while the presidents of China and India had seemed to make clear to Vladimir Putin that the food and energy inflation his war has stoked was hurting their 2.7 billion people. On top of all that, one of Russia’s iconic pop stars told her 3.4 million followers on Instagram that the war was “turning our country into a pariah and worsening the lives of our citizens.”

In short, it was Putin’s worst week since he invaded Ukraine — without wisdom, justice, mercy or a Plan B.

How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step – The New York Times

“Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick.

The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

More than four million people around the United States had taken part, experts later estimated, placing it among the largest single-day protests in the nation’s history.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine.

More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other.

It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.”

Bret Stephens | Five Blunt Truths About the War in Ukraine – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Five sentences sum up the war in Ukraine as it stands now.

The Russians are running out of precision-guided weapons. The Ukrainians are running out of Soviet-era munitions. The world is running out of patience for the war. The Biden administration is running out of ideas for how to wage it. And the Chinese are watching.

Moscow’s shortfalls with its arsenal, which have been obvious on the battlefield for weeks, are cause for long-term relief and short-term horror. Relief, because the Russian war machine, on whose modernization Vladimir Putin spent heavily, has been exposed as a paper tiger that could not seriously challenge NATO in a conventional conflict.

Horror, because an army that cannot wage a high-tech war, relatively low on collateral damage, will wage a low-tech war, appallingly high on such damage. Ukraine, by its own estimates, is suffering 20,000 casualties a month. By contrast, the U.S. suffered about 36,000 casualties in Iraq over seven years of war. For all its bravery and resolve, Kyiv can hold off — but not defeat — a neighbor more than three times its size in a war of attrition.”

Thomas L. Friedman | The Ukraine War Still Holds Surprises. The Biggest May Be for Putin. – The New York Times

     Opinion Columnist

“LONDON — Here’s a surprising fact: At a time when Americans can’t agree on virtually anything, there’s been a consistent majority in favor of giving generous economic and military aid to Ukraine in its fight against Vladimir Putin’s effort to wipe it off the map. It’s doubly surprising when you consider that most Americans couldn’t find Ukraine on a map just a few months ago, as it’s a country with which we’ve never had a special relationship.

Sustaining that support through this summer, though, will be doubly important as the Ukraine war settles into a kind of “sumo” phase — two giant wrestlers, each trying to throw the other out of the ring, but neither willing to quit or able to win.

While I expect some erosion as people grasp how much this war is driving up global energy and food prices, I’m still hopeful that a majority of Americans will hang in there until Ukraine can recover its sovereignty militarily or strike a decent peace deal with Putin. My near-term optimism doesn’t derive from reading polls, but reading history — in particular, Michael Mandelbaum’s new book, “The Four Ages of American Foreign Policy: Weak Power, Great Power, Superpower, Hyperpower.

Mandelbaum, professor emeritus of U.S. foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (we co-wrote a book in 2011), argues that while U.S. attitudes toward Ukraine may seem utterly unexpected and novel, they are not. Looked at through the sweep of U.S. foreign policy — which his book compellingly chronicles through the lens of the four different power relationships America has had with the world — they’re actually quite familiar and foreseeable. Indeed, so much so that both Putin and China’s president, Xi Jinping, would both benefit from reading this book.

Throughout U.S. history, our nation has oscillated between two broad approaches to foreign policy, Mandelbaum explained in an interview, echoing a key theme in his book: “One emphasizes power, national interest and security and is associated with Theodore Roosevelt. The other stresses the promotion of American values and is identified with Woodrow Wilson.”

While these two world views were often in competition, that was not always the case. And when a foreign policy challenge came along that was in harmony with both our interests and our values, it hit the sweet spot and could command broad, deep and lasting public support.

“This happened in World War II and the Cold War,” Mandelbaum noted, “and it appears to be happening again with Ukraine.” “

David Lindsay: Bravo Thomas Friedman.  Here is a comment that supports us Ukrainiacs.

Citizen
NYC June 7

Interesting take on the conflict. Speaking of Putin, I’ve come to the conclusion that Putin is doomed. His biggest miscalculation (in a sea of many) is not understanding the national interest of his biggest ally and neighbor, China. Apparently, China was not consulted in Putin’s Ukraine ‘adventure’. But China was expected to back up Putin when his adventure went awry. However, China has it’s own reasons to refuse–and not simply because of threats by the West not to intervene. The reason is, Putin did not give a thought to China’s global aspirations, which are bigger than Putin’s delusions. China has had a longstanding initiative with respect to Asia, and in particular, Africa, called the “Belt and Road” initiative, which aims to provide African infrastructure in exchange for access to Africa’s continental (and under-utilized) resources. And right now, Putin’s adventure is causing a serious food shortage in Africa and parts of Asia. In short, Putin’s adventure in Ukraine is hurting the leaders China needs to do business with. Even if it wanted to help Putin, it cannot be seen to be assisting the very cause of Asia and Africa’s deepening food crisis. Add in his impetuous behavior, and lack of care as a neighbor, and China may well decide it has nothing to lose by letting Putin (and Russia) twist in the wind. Bordering Russia’s unpopulated Far East, China billion+ population stands to gain from an AWOL Russia. Russia’s High Command knows this. Putin is toast.

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Opinion | Russia Is Down. But It’s Not Out. – The New York Times

“. . . But appearances can be deceptive. After all, many of the army’s initial failures stemmed from Mr. Putin’s misplaced assumption that the war would be short and sharp: Russian troops were simply not prepared or organized for a serious campaign. Yet in recent weeks, as Russia revised its war aims to focus on the Donbas in Ukraine’s east, Russian forces have adapted and begun correcting some of their earlier incompetence. Russia has been making incremental gains, revealing Ukraine’s military position to be precarious in some areas.

What’s more, the war in Ukraine has done little to affect Russia’s more destructive military capabilities. It isn’t modernized Soviet tanks or Russia’s dated air force that most concern the United States and NATO; it’s Russia’s submarines, integrated air and missile systems, electronic warfare, antisatellite systems and diverse nuclear arsenal. These capabilities, which have gone almost completely untouched during the war, remain available to the Kremlin.” . . . . .

Thomas L. Friedman | Putin’s Ukraine War Woke Up Europe – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“BERLIN — I’ve been writing nonstop about the Ukraine war ever since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, but I confess that it took coming to Europe and meeting with politicians, diplomats and entrepreneurs here for me to fully grasp what happened. You see, I thought Vladimir Putin had invaded Ukraine. I was wrong. Putin had invaded Europe.

He shouldn’t have done that. This could be the biggest act of folly in a European war since Hitler invaded Russia in 1941.

I only fully understood this when I got to this side of the Atlantic. It was easy from afar to assume — and probably easy for Putin to assume — that eventually Europe would reconcile itself to the full-scale invasion Putin launched against Ukraine on Feb. 24, the way Europe reconciled with his 2014 devouring of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a remote slice of land where he met little resistance and set off limited shock waves.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This invasion — with Russian soldiers indiscriminately shelling Ukrainian apartment buildings and hospitals, killing civilians, looting homes, raping women and creating the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II — is increasingly seen as a 21st-century rerun of Hitler’s onslaught against the rest of Europe, which started in September 1939 with the German attack on Poland. Add on top of that Putin’s seeming threat to use nuclear weapons, warning that any country that interfered with his unprovoked war would face “consequences you have never seen,” and it explains everything.”

Opinion | President Biden: What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine – The New York Times

Mr. Biden is president of the United States.

“The invasion Vladimir Putin thought would last days is now in its fourth month. The Ukrainian people surprised Russia and inspired the world with their sacrifice, grit and battlefield success. The free world and many other nations, led by the United States, rallied to Ukraine’s side with unprecedented military, humanitarian and financial support.

As the war goes on, I want to be clear about the aims of the United States in these efforts.

America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.

As President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said, ultimately this war “will only definitively end through diplomacy.” Every negotiation reflects the facts on the ground. We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.

That’s why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Joe Biden, and bless you. I agreed to recommend many of the top accolade comments. But I want more. I would have preferred a sentence about how important our NATO allies are, and how they were not all reluctant partners. I would like to see NATO and the US lift the blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Asimov, even if that means removing the Russian navy from those bodies of water. While most of us agree, we want Ukraine to be able to win this war, some of us also want to do it soon enough, so there is something left of the Ukraine when they do finally expel the Russians.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion,” historical fiction about war in18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Russian Military Is Repeating Mistakes in Eastern Ukraine, U.S. Says – The New York Times

Helene Cooper

May 31, 2022,    Helene Cooper
Gen. Aleksandr V. Dvornikov was appointed by President Vladimir V. Putin to revamp Russia’s war campaign in Ukraine.
Credit…Vasily Deryugin/Kommersant/Sipa, via Associated Press

“WASHINGTON — The Russian military, beaten down and demoralized after three months of war, is making the same mistakes in its campaign to capture a swath of eastern Ukraine that forced it to abandon its push to take the entire country, senior American officials say.

While Russian troops are capturing territory, a Pentagon official said that their “plodding and incremental” pace was wearing them down, and that the military’s overall fighting strength had been diminished by about 20 percent. And since the war started, Russia has lost 1,000 tanks, a senior Pentagon official said last week.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appointed a new commander, Gen. Aleksandr V. Dvornikov, in April in what was widely viewed as an acknowledgment that the initial Russian war plan was failing.

Soon after his arrival, General Dvornikov tried to get disjointed air and land units to coordinate their attacks, American officials said. But he has not been seen in the past two weeks, leading some officials to speculate as to whether he remains in charge of the war effort.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending NYT comment:
Thank you Helene Cooper for this excellent report. I would like to know more about how does Turkey restrict Russian ships in the Black Sea, while the Russians can still shut down Ukrainian ports? What is the SWOT analysis of NATO taking control of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azimov, to allow and protect Ukrainian shipping, especially of grain for the developing world?
SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of “the Tay Son Rebellion” about war in 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.