“On April 12, 1861, rebel artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, beginning the U.S. Civil War. The war eventually became a catastrophe for the South, which lost more than a fifth of its young men. But why did the secessionists believe they could pull it off?
One reason was they believed themselves to be in possession of a powerful economic weapon. The economy of Britain, the world’s leading power at the time, was deeply dependent on Southern cotton, and they thought a cutoff of that supply would force Britain to intervene on the side of the Confederacy. Indeed, the Civil War initially created a “cotton famine” that threw thousands of Britons out of work.
In the end, of course, Britain stayed neutral — in part because British workers saw the Civil War as a moral crusade against slavery and rallied to the Union cause despite their suffering.
Why recount this old history? Because it has obvious relevance to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It seems fairly clear that Vladimir Putin saw the reliance of Europe, and Germany in particular, on Russian natural gas the same way slave owners saw Britain’s reliance on King Cotton: a form of economic dependence that would coerce these nations into enabling his military ambitions.”
(David Lindsay: I am not active on Instagram, but today I was glad to have an account there.)
“I thought that if my husband and I died, Vira could find who she is,” the mother, Oleksandra Makoviy, recalled.
For Vira, standing in a diaper in their house in Kyiv, the writing on her back was a game. She didn’t know that the bombing had begun.
Ms. Makoviy’s desperate attempt to prepare her daughter for the possibility of being orphaned as the family attempted to escape the Ukrainian capital during the Russian invasion has become a wrenching symbol of the anguish of a nation of parents.
A photo of Vira’s back that Ms. Makoviy shared on Instagram has been seen hundreds of thousands of times, after it was amplified by Ukrainian journalists and government officials. Messages of support poured in from people all over the world — many Ukrainian parents said they had taken similar action, and others turned the image into art honoring the country’s innocent on social media.”
“We knew this was coming.
“George, you have to understand that Ukraine is not even a country. Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us.” These were the ominous words of President Vladimir Putin of Russia to President George W. Bush in Bucharest, Romania, at a NATO summit in April 2008.
Mr. Putin was furious: NATO had just announced that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually join the alliance. This was a compromise formula to allay concerns of our European allies — an explicit promise to join the bloc, but no specific timeline for membership.
At the time, I was the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia, part of a team briefing Mr. Bush. We warned him that Mr. Putin would view steps to bring Ukraine and Georgia closer to NATO as a provocative move that would likely provoke pre-emptive Russian military action. But ultimately, our warnings weren’t heeded.”
David Lindsay: I am running out of patience with Putin, which is a bad reaction, perhaps. Here are two comments I recommended.