Learning more about Russia than I expected


Today, I have ended up in Wisconsin, just for the day, and I thought it was going to be time to play with a 3-year-old. But hey, here’s an interview with Stephen Kotkin that I thought was a solid overview of the Russian perspective. And it turns out my daughter Skatje is a moderator for r/russian, and knows a fair bit about the language. I should have expected that, since she’s working on a PhD in computational linguistics and specializes in the Russian language. Russian is close enough to Ukrainian that she can read that, too.

Anyway, I’m busy for a day. Three year olds are not that interested in Russian politics.

Comments

  1. says

    My last girlfriend was a Russian National. She served with Putin in Afghanistan. Knew him personally. The man is a snake. NEVER assume Putin is making a mistake. He always has some sort of plan. He’s a master of manipulation. Right now he’s playing the mad dictator with nuclear weapons. He’s not insane, he’s just a sociopath who changes and mutates his persona at will. By pretending to be unhinged, he adds that extra chance that we might face nuclear Armageddon.

    If it were me, I’d start using some of those stealth bombers we spent oh so much money on and start launching sorties against the Russian supply chain. They can fly from American airfields all the way to Ukraine (with mid air refueling) and strike precisely enough to kill their supply convoys. Personally, I think it’s worth the risk.

    The madman persona is a scam. A very good scam, but still a scam.

  2. bcw bcw says

    The New Yorker article addresses Mearsheimer’s claim that it’s all NATO’s fault for expanding NATO and everything would be fine otherwise, with “John Mearsheimer is a giant of a scholar. But I respectfully disagree. ”

    I respectfully disagree with Kotkin, in that I have no respect for Mearsheimer. Mearsheimer is a guy with his theory and nothing in the real world will dissuade him from this theory. This kind of blind devotion to some kind of organizing principle in the face of facts is some of the worst of “scholarship,” and has given us stuff like the nonsense from the Chicago school economists that so distorts public policy and bull like homeopathy and the like.

  3. raven says

    If it were me, I’d start using some of those stealth bombers we spent oh so much money on and start launching sorties against the Russian supply chain.

    Two A-10 Warthog jets destroyed 1,400 Iraqi trucks and armor during Iraq 1 on the Highway of Death out of Kuwait.
    All we would have to do is give the Ukrainians a few A-10s.
    Or some large drones with a lot of anti-tank type missiles.

    It is a good thing that I have zero influence on American (or NATO) foreign policy or the US armed forces. I’d be a lot more aggressive than Biden and would call Putin’s bluffs and raise the stakes.

  4. KG says

    Right now he’s playing the mad dictator with nuclear weapons. He’s not insane, he’s just a sociopath who changes and mutates his persona at will. By pretending to be unhinged, he adds that extra chance that we might face nuclear Armageddon. – Ray Ceeya@1

    Oddly enough, I’m not ready to risk nuclear armageddon on the assurance of your last girlfriend. Even if she was right about Putin when she knew him, why is she so confident he hasn’t changed in several decades? Twenty years as effective dicatator doesn’t do a lot for the subject’s rationality. He has quite evidently been badly misled – or badly misled himself – about the response of both the Ukranians and “the west” to his “special military operation”.

  5. raven says

    We’ve seen enough to know that the Russian military is a paper tiger. A lot of weapons and vehicles that exist on paper that are poorly maintained, obsolete, and used by conscript soldiers who don’t see the point of the war they are in.
    In any sort of war with the USA/NATO, they would lose and lose rapidly.

    Right now they are vulnerable to an attack any where else. Because Russia is a big country with a very long border. Even I wouldn’t launch a second front attack even if it would mess them up seriously But nothing stops me from thinking about it.
    The Roman empire had the same problem. Long borders and there were always wars somewhere and often more than one.

  6. KG says

    It is a good thing that I have zero influence on American (or NATO) foreign policy or the US armed forces. – raven@4

    I could not agree more wholeheartedly!

  7. blf says

    @4, I seriously doubt the Ukrainian aviators have any idea how to fly an A-10, or that the Ukrainian forces have the necessary equipment to maintain (or even service (e.g., refuel?)) Nato-spec aerocraft. Should those aerocraft and equipment be supplied, what about the just-about-certain needed training?

  8. raven says

    Should those aerocraft and equipment be supplied, what about the just-about-certain needed training?

    That might be a problem.
    The time to transfer some A-10s or large drones was a year or two ago. Give them time to train some pilots.

    I have to give the Ukrainians a lot of credit for being able to run a modern society. Half their electricity comes from nuclear power plants, 15 reactors. This is high technology and requires a lot of educated and trained people. Here in the USA, we invented nuclear reactors and still have a hard time getting them to work right for power generation.
    They have talented and determined people.

    The obvious solution to the A-10 pilot problem would be…mercenaries. They could hire ex-servicepeople who used to fly A-10s. Maybe even ones whose last day in the US Air Force was…yesterday.
    (You didn’t hear that from me and I’ll deny ever saying it if the subject comes up again.)

  9. dstatton says

    One scholar said that it’s not NATO, but the spread of democracy that Putin fears the most. Makes sense.

  10. hemidactylus says

    Well I think expansion of NATO, for better or worse, at least gave Putinism its talking points of a shared grievance. Back in the day it was merely how East Germany would be addressed vis a vis NATO. And there was (“looked into his eyes”) Dubya’s missile shield.

    And I can’t quite stomach this paean to end of ideology neoliberal triumpalism: “The West is a series of institutions and values. The West is not a geographical place. Russia is European, but not Western. Japan is Western, but not European. “Western” means rule of law, democracy, private property, open markets, respect for the individual, diversity, pluralism of opinion, and all the other freedoms that we enjoy, which we sometimes take for granted. We sometimes forget where they came from. But that’s what the West is. And that West, which we expanded in the nineties, in my view properly, through the expansion of the European Union and nato, is revived now, and it has stood up to Vladimir Putin in a way that neither he nor Xi Jinping expected.”

    But I agree having countries like Poland in the fold is a position of strength, plus beneficial perhaps from Poland’s POV after its past problems with Russian hegemony. Zbig Brzezinski and Joseph Retinger were both of Polish descent, which especially in the case of the former had profound impact on the Atlanticist/globalist perspective that somewhat shaped events in my lifetime. Zbig was at least cuddlier than Kissinger. I wonder what he would make of the current situation.

  11. says

    raven@9

    Looks like it’s time to resurrect the flying tigers.

    Or maybe NATO could buy and donate some more TB2’s, for plausable deniability.

  12. raven says

    But I agree having countries like Poland in the fold is a position of strength, plus beneficial perhaps from Poland’s POV after its past problems with Russian hegemony.

    I was vaguely aware that the Polish people don’t like Russia very much. I wasn’t sure why, since the history we got in school in the USA was superficial and US oriented. So I looked it up.

    .1. Hitler and Stalin had an agreement which divided Poland in half. Both the Germans and Russians then started killing Polish people that were in their way. “,,,estimated Poland’s war dead at between 5.6 and 5.8 million Poles and Jews, including 150,000 during the Soviet occupation.”

    .2. After the war, the Russians stole part of Poland like they did to Finland.

    Wikipedia
    At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union annexed most of the territory it had invaded in 1939.

    and

    According to official data, during the state-controlled expulsion between 1945 and 1946, roughly 1,167,000 Poles left the westernmost republics of the Soviet Union, less than 50% of those who registered for population transfer. Another major ethnic Polish transfer took place after Stalin’s death, in 1955–1959.

    Polish population transfers (1944–1946) – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Polish_population_transf…

    The Russians then solved their Polish problem by kicking them out to Poland.
    They did give part of what was Germany to Poland though, as a consolation prize since the Germans lost the war.

    .3. Then there was that whole satellite nation Cold War thing where Poland was under the control of a communist government that wasn’t all that popular.

    I’m seeing a pattern here.
    I wouldn’t much like the Russians after all that either.

  13. ealloc says

    Seems worth reading each of Mearsheimer, Kotkin, as well as any other “experts” one comes across to get different perspectives on why this war started, and collect the facts different people think are important. There is certainly a wide variety of divergent views. All can be criticized.

    As for this interview, his criticism of dictatorships or personal rulers who have nationalist ideals seems like it could be a good description of the reality. His analysis of how Russia is in control of a small faction of ex-intelligence hardliners matches my impression.

    The part of his interview that seems off to me are the sections where he anthropomorphises Russia and says that dictatorship, war and an inferiority complex are in its historical pattern, comparing Putin to the Tsar. It has a whiff of ethnic determinism, that nations of people have an inevitable character, which makes me uneasy. Russia doesn’t always follow a pattern: It is one of the few countries that went through a full communist revolution. It is now an authoritarian welfare state and petrostate, a world apart from the serf economy of the Tsar’s time. The comparison doesn’t work for me.

  14. says

    hemidactylus@11

    The growth of both the EU and NATO is because nations want to join, not because we wanted or forced them to. In fact, growing the EU has not always been popular in the existing EU countries. And it could be argued that some of the more recent members are not completely there yet w.r.t. requirements of membership.
    In the case of the EU, most countries clearly see the benefits of joining a large trade block. If anything, Brexit has brought those benefits to the foreground.

    And in the case of NATO, a lot of the countries close to Russia have good cause to not like the Russian regimes of the last century or so. It has been argued elsewhere that Putin’s NATO arguments are a red herring. The mistakenly published “new world order” article shows Putin’s real colours. He wants to be Tsar of a new Russian Empire. The thing is, almost nobody wants to be part of that.

  15. Walter Solomon says

    hemidactylus @11

    Zbig was at least cuddlier than Kissinger. I wonder what he would make of the current situation.

    You should ask his daughter Mika. She’s still on Morning Joe I believe.

  16. PaulBC says

    I often have trouble resisting the urge to chime in (like now) but I can resist the urge to propose a winning military strategy for Ukraine. Wars pull in armchair generals from the least likely places. I expect that if an actual war comes to me, my roles will be limited to “refugee” or “casualty.”

  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    hemidactylus @11:

    But I agree having countries like Poland in the fold is a position of strength

    It’s worth noting that the Battle of Britain may well have been lost without the participation of Polish and Czechoslovak pilots/ground crew fighting with the RAF. Yeah, we want them on our side.

  18. Tethys says

    Russia doesn’t always follow a pattern

    Except when it does, which it is currently repeating. It’s an 800 year tradition for Russia to be the aggressor against its neighbors because it claims their territories for Russia.

    Poland was partitioned more than once. You need to go back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to get the full history of the current crisis.
    Prussia doesn’t even exist anymore.

  19. Rich Woods says

    @raven #6:

    The Roman empire had the same problem. Long borders and there were always wars somewhere and often more than one.

    This is why Russia has always wanted to be surrounded by client states. They need expendables to soak up the initial damage from a new Napoleon or Hitler and give Mother Russia time to rally her loyal troops before the filthy foreign invader can ever set foot upon her holy soil.

    Putin has the Central Asian Republics in his back pocket, counting them somewhere between safely neutral and sufficiently friendly; he’s conquered the Caucasus and can read his Lermontov with amusement; he’s always had Belarus, and so Ukraine was next on his list. If he’s not stopped he’ll go for Finland, then the Baltic republics, and finally Poland to secure that last land border and Kaliningrad. That pretty much just leaves Mongolia and China, one of which he won’t see as a plausible threat and the other is one with which he can make an accommodation in order to to secure his warm-water ports (although he’ll be well aware that it was economic failure which brought down the USSR and China is set to be another such risk). If there was a land bridge to Alaska and Kamchatka was in any way traversable to an army, you can bet he’d have his eyes on rejecting the 1867 sale.

  20. Rich Woods says

    Gah! Should have been ‘last European land border’. Preview is your friend, Woods. Never forget that.

  21. birgerjohansson says

    Dmitry Glukchovsky, the author of Metro2033 is writing a lot about the invasion in western media. He is grateful the system is so dysfunctioal and corrupt as this will make it possible for Putin, and the inherently bad imperial system to collapse.

  22. says

    @ealloc #14
    Russia had a full communist revolution, true, but that fell apart almost immediately as an autocratic regime under Stalin seized power.
    I am not an expert on Russia, but folk wisdom here in CZ says that there is a reason why both the communist revolution and the dissolution of the USSR failed to bring in some sensible government, and goth ended up as an autocracy instead. And that reason is – Russia did not have anything other than an autocracy for hundreds of years. There is no tradition in self-governance whatsoever. There is, however, a long tradition of obeying what those at the top say “or else”.
    Czar was an absolute ruler, and he got exchanged for an absolute ruler in the persona of Stalin, whose successors were only marginally less brutal and autocratic.
    Like all folk wisdom this needs of course to be taken with a massive amount of salt, but I do think it has some truth to it.

  23. hemidactylus says

    Funny how the current crisis is dovetailing with my readings on elite transnational organizations in the Cold War and concomitant NATO membership (bye bye France and the testy de Gaulle). Plus the past Bilderberg participant deliberations per nuclear strategy, per one of my books, are retrospectively chilling yet now quite current. So much for the magical time of 1989-1991. Right back where I was as a kid in 70s-80s.

    In The Trilateral Commission and Global Governance: Informal elite diplomacy, 1972–82 Dino Knudsen mentions the Chatham House Rule about keeping sources of discussion content publicly unidentified. Seeds of unhinged conspiratorial responses. Seems said Chatham House goes back as far as the CFR and still says stuff:

    https://www.chathamhouse.org/2022/03/devising-strategy-deter-russia-and-weaken-putin

    One part sounds a bit manipulative: “There are two things to get right – firstly, front load the full sanctions package to maximize the pain on Russia and give it less time and scope to adjust and, secondly, keep public opinion – worried by rising inflation and energy bills – on side for as long as possible.”

    Good luck with that. We already have an uphill battle with tankies in the GOP not to mention the alt-right as potential fifth columnists. At least old-school Cold War hawks haven’t capitulated and ironically Romney was right (contra Obama) ca. that election cycle. Viva Pussy Riot.

  24. says

    Charly@25

    Russia did not have anything other than an autocracy for hundreds of years.

    A counterpoint would be that the same was basically true for all the European nations.
    It took centuries for the kings in Europe to be ditched or relegated to mostly ceremonial duties. And there were a lot of false starts along the way. There are several examples of polities moving from monarchies to republics and back.

    OTOH, some cities and organizations (guilds) in Europe had special privileges w.r.t. self-government. (Honestly don’t know enough Russian history to say if that was ever the case there.)

    So, what you are saying could certainly play a role, but I don’t think it is a complete picture.

  25. birgerjohansson says

    In Russia, the eldest sons of aristocrats did not inherit all from their fathers, splitting up the wealth so the czar did not suffer rivalry from big-time aristocrats to the extent common in western Europe. Also, Russia lost approximately two centuries of development under the Mongols.
    Finally the judiciary was even less separate from the politician than in the contempirary western countries.
    There are surely other factors.

  26. seachange says

    quoting You have an autocrat in power—or even now a despot—making decisions completely by himself. Does he get input from others? Perhaps. We don’t know what the inside looks like. Does he pay attention? We don’t know. Do they bring him information that he doesn’t want to hear? That seems unlikely. Does he think he knows better than everybody else? That seems highly likely. Does he believe his own propaganda or his own conspiratorial view of the world? That also seems likely. These are surmises. end quote

    This sounds like Trump and the current Republican Party. You sure that this article was about Russia and Putin?

  27. hemidactylus says

    @15- rsmith
    Yeah I agree countries have self-determined themselves into NATO and even Ukraine and Georgia should have that freedom. With the EU I cannot help but be sickened by the tiering and let’s just get the pejorative PIGS acronym out in the open. Imposition of austerity and debt-barrel structural readjustment, from my ignorant perspective of favoring the underdog makes me wanna retch. May as well put entire countries into a debtors’ prison, but that problem extends well beyond Europe. On the flip side EU or NATO newbies have a nationalism problem stemming from hatred of brownish/Muslim Other migrants and…well Soros (da Jewz). Not great. The US has much the same issues.

  28. Carl Andersson says

    I’d like to ask: Where the FUCK were when Mosul was wiped out? Where the FUCK were you when Syria burned? Where the FUCK were you when the US rubberstamped the Israeli counquest of the Golan Heights?

    Where the FUCK are you when half of the middle east is about to go into food insecurity because of this little shitshow between NATO and russia?

    I get it, blond blue eyed kids from a nation closish to you are worth more than brown people

    Fuck you all, and I hope the current “disturbance” ends up fucking up the entire EU

  29. Carl Andersson says

    @33 Right? maybe you made an angry tweet about it?

    How the hell would you get your local congrescritter to get the (insert world authoraty) to press charges on a US President?

    How the hell are we supposed to feel good about the crap that the US is spewing about while your forme president bush is sitting aroung making shitty paintings?

    Also, oliver fucking north is apparently a smei-respectable pundit nowadays? You should all be ashamed of yourselves

  30. Tethys says

    Hmm, another troll perhaps?

    The US just can’t win, either we are somehow responsible for protecting all other countries against fascist invasions, or the fascists complain that the US is attacking them via the existence of NATO. Stop acting like it’s the job of the US to police the damn world, and then complaining about US over reach if we do get sucked into policing the damn fascists.

    Everybody hates Olly North and shrub, however in shrubs case, blame Dick Cheney. Shrub can’t think his way out of a paper bag, but he isn’t a fascist.

    Incompetence is not a crime, and nobody respects

  31. Rob Grigjanis says

    Carl Andersson @34:

    Right? maybe you made an angry tweet about it?

    What did you do?

  32. says

    @36 Thanks. @34 I protested and marched for what ever that was worth. I’m no keyboard warrior, I’m a life long SJW but this is a top down problem. FWIW We’re getting a new district here in Oregon and the Blue America candidate won’t shut up about blockchain and crypto. I wanted to donate to the chosen one (even though I live paycheck to paycheck) but talk about a deal breaker. Sorry Matt West, you should have stayed home.

  33. hemidactylus says

    @34- Carl Andersson

    I doubt you will find many Ollie North fans here. Another chapter alongside the Arbenz coup in devastating Central America and why we have migrant convoys. The Contra part of Iran-Contra speaks for itself along with South Florida political peculiarities (right wing Cuban exilios). That said the shenanigans North et al pulled off were genius (evil though). We are still not really paying the price especially given the Iran part was an echo of the Mosaddegh coup however distant.

    BTW wasn’t it Congress critters that enacted the Boland amendments? And prosecuted Iran-Contra?

    Ironically libertarian nutter Ron Paul and Klan critter Robert Byrd were among the few (only?) against invading Iraq.

  34. StevoR says

    @ Carl Andersson : pretty sure most of the people here all opposed and protested and argued against the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan Israel’s ocupation of Palestine, US adventurism in SW Asia and central & South Americaetc ..

    If you really want to know you can look back and find posts like this using the search box or Google :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/04/07/another-day-another-war/

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/07/20/whoops/

    Or recently like this week :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2022/02/26/shouldnt-reporters-be-expected-to-know-a-little-history/

    Read the posts, read the comments, maybe reconsider where you are directing your anger and whataboutery here.

    What do you think we can do and want us to do here exactly? What are you doing to help here yourself?

  35. birgerjohansson says

    I am aware of oddities like Ron Paul.
    But from my distant perspective the US political spectrum is limited to absolute evil vs mostly evil (with traces of good).

  36. StevoR says

    Also @ Carl Andersson :

    1) Who are you referring to exactly with your vaguely directly “ÿou” here?

    2) Many of the folks here are already ashamed and angry about and doing what they can to change American foreign policies like those you mentioned.

    3) Are you really saying that because Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, etc,, suffered war and invasion and occupation from Western powers (incl. Australis, my nation) that somehow makes Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine in any way acceptable? Fuck one group of innocent people because other groups of inocent people have also been invaded and bombed and suffered? Two wrongs somehow make .. what?

    Are you seriously saying Ukrainians should suffer and die because Iraqis , Afghanistanis, Syrians, Libyans, etc got bombed, invaded and occupied by people that the Ukrainians had NO power or very little say in stopping or controlling or really influencing much at all?

    That because some – okay many American wars from Vietnam onwards happened and are still happening that makes what Putin is doing somehow justified? We shouldn’t criticise Putin because of what Bush, Obama, Reagun, etc.. did – which, again, many of us did criticise at the time.

    Almost all wars are wrong. It is quite possible to be consistent and oppose all needless wars of choice and state that military violence must only ever be a very last resort resorted to only in the most extreme circumstances eg self-defence against an invading army.

  37. Tethys says

    I expect that Russias invasion is going to have a beneficial ripple effect on the US Congress.

    Some of those congress critters are absolutely compromised by their cuddling up to Putin, and they are up for re-election this year.

  38. hemidactylus says

    @40- birgerjohansson

    I must in full disclosure admit to a fellow Swede, I got sucked into cheerleading the run up to Iraq. I am much worse than Ron Paul or Robert Byrd and the many who opposed that bullshit. Unlike Christopher Hitchens I changed my mind and regret my gullibilty.

  39. John Morales says

    Tethys @42,

    Some of those congress critters are absolutely compromised by their cuddling up to Putin, and they are up for re-election this year.

    Just read an article in Slate related to that:
    Republicans Will, Eventually, Pivot to the Position That Zelensky Is a Secret Sex Criminal Who Invented COVID

    Snippet:

    According to an Economist/YouGov poll, Americans view Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky favorably by a 60–17 margin and believe by a 70–11 margin that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ordering the commission of war crimes. According to the Navigator group, Putin has a “net favorability” rating of negative 79 even among Republicans.

    How could this happen, given that only two years ago the mainstream Republican position was that the Ukrainian government was corruptly involved in supporting the Biden family (or something) and framing Russia for the theft of Hillary Clinton’s emails? And that until just two weeks ago the right-wing media were praising Putin for defending heterosexuality and free speech?

  40. Tethys says

    Rand Paul is definitely evil. He managed to shove his head up both Putins and Trumps ass, simultaneously! Here is a snippet from a politico piece on his trip to Moscow and his delivery of a letter to Putin from the orange one.

    The letter highlighted how the U.S. wants to continue to work together with Russia on “countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges,” Paul said.

    Paul emerged as one of the few prominent defenders of Trump after his controversial summit with Putin in Helsinki last month, during which Trump publicly sided with the Russian president over U.S. intelligence agencies regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/08/rand-paul-delivers-letter-to-trump-from-putin-766743

  41. jrkrideau says

    @ 1 Ray Ceeya
    My last girlfriend was a Russian National. She served with Putin in Afghanistan.

    She was KGB?

  42. StevoR says

    @ ^ Tethys : He managed to shove his head up both Putins and Trumps ass, simultaneously!

    Made easier by the fact that Trump’s head is also up Putin’s arse like the worst, ugliest possible set of Russian wooden nesting dolls – and the xenophobic, hypocritical, reich wing is, of course, just fine with this because Putin has somehow come to own them as well as their cult leader.

    It really seems rather strange how the once McCarthyist “Red scare” mob of anti-Soviet “patriots” have become so utterly smitten with the ex-KGB Russian war criminal. Fascists flocking together I guess..

  43. jrkrideau says

    @ 1 Ray Ceeya
    My last girlfriend was a Russian National. She served with Putin in Afghanistan.
    She was KGB?

    @8 blf
    I seriously doubt the Ukrainian aviators have any idea how to fly an A-10….
    You are not supposed to interject logic.

    @ 25 Charly
    And that reason is – Russia did not have anything other than an autocracy for hundreds of years. There is no tradition in self-governance whatsoever.
    Exactly. Weirdly enough, from what I have read, Russian peasant communities had fairly democratic self-governing communities as did many 15–16th Spanish communities but this did not apply above the village level. After that it was straight autocratic rule. Ivan Grousny was not a demorcrat. In the Russian case it may have been the percieved need to deal with the Mongols and later the Swedes where one needed a single united front.

    Forget the salt.

    #@ 41 StevoR
    Are you really saying that because Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, etc,, suffered war and invasion and occupation from Western powers (incl. Australis, my nation) that somehow makes Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine in any way acceptable?

    I believe @34 Carl Andersson is condemning the hypocrisy of madly protesting and sanctioning an invasion of Ukraine and not condemning the invasion of Iraq or the brutal bombing of Libya.

  44. StevoR says

    @ 29. birgerjohansson :

    Also, Russia lost approximately two centuries of development under the Mongols.

    The ancient Mongols conquered a lot of people throughout Asia and well into Europe up to the gates of Vienna. They notably founded the Yaun dynasty seen by Marco Polo with Kubilai Khan being the grandson of Genghis Khan. The (possibly mistaken?) impression I get is that Yuan China was pretty advanced and sophisticated and impressive yet it had literally just been taken over by the Mongols.

    Of course, China and Russia are pretty different nations and cultures and I gather (again perhaps mistakenly?) that China was coming off a comparitively more technologically and culturally richer history by that stage already? I understand also that the Mongol descended Yuan rulers weren’t the same (though presumably very similar) as the also Mongol descended Golden Horde or the Ilkhanate branch which then ruled much of Southwest Asia including Persia and the Levant too. However, why you think the Mongols held back Russia so much when it seems they didn’t hold back other conquered lands like China and maybe Persia / Iran /Turkey etc.. that much? Or did they? Was there something specific about what the Mongol conquest and rule did to Russia that held it back a lot more or a lot differently to other places?

    FWIW. I did modern European history including the Russian Revolution and transformation from Tsars to Communists in high school and recall being fascinated by Russian history and have picked up a bit from just reading over the years but I’m certainly no expert or historian here.

  45. nobgu says

    Not that relevant, but while looking up sth about Osip Mandelstam I came upon this:

    https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-note-on-brodsky-and-ukraine

    I really like Brodsky’s writing. Reading ‘Less than One’ was a revelation and my Russian speaking friends tell me, his poetry is great, too. But as a Russian Language extremist he could probably get behind Russian nationalism and be in favor of Putin’s war (if he were still alive, that is). At least it looks from Google results like his unpublished poem on Ukrainian independence is well known in Russia. The world is a sad place.

    Nationalism just leads to toxic masculinity. Not that the world was any better before nationalism, but we need to get beyond this us vs them.

  46. StevoR says

    @ jrkrideau :

    I believe @34 Carl Andersson is condemning the hypocrisy of madly protesting and sanctioning an invasion of Ukraine and not condemning the invasion of Iraq or the brutal bombing of Libya.

    Which would be fair enough if he wasn’t so over the top about it and if that was really all he was saying.

    We can all scroll up and see it for ourselves but Carl Andersson actually wrote :

    I’d like to ask: Where the FUCK were when Mosul was wiped out? Where the FUCK were you when Syria burned? Where the FUCK were you when the US rubberstamped the Israeli counquest of the Golan Heights? Where the FUCK are you when half of the middle east is about to go into food insecurity because of this little shitshow between NATO and russia? I get it, blond blue eyed kids from a nation closish to you are worth more than brown people Fuck you all, and I hope the current “disturbance” ends up fucking up the entire EU

    &

    @33 Right? maybe you made an angry tweet about it? How the hell would you get your local congrescritter to get the (insert world authoraty) to press charges on a US President? How the hell are we supposed to feel good about the crap that the US is spewing about while your forme president bush is sitting aroung making shitty paintings? Also, oliver fucking north is apparently a smei-respectable pundit nowadays? You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    Which seems unfair in that he seems to be blaming commentaters here for more general (American public?) hypocrisy, implying we’re happy about things that most of us aren’t at all happy about and have already condemned multiple times and are racist and should be trying to, um, looks like arrest the POTUS ourselves or get our* Congress reps to do that somehow? Because that’s meant to be a thing we can totally just make happen by asking for it I gather?

    Oh and again, he wants to see the whole of the European Union fucked up in the end by what he calls the “current disturbance” referring to Putin’s invading and bombing Ukraine as if it’s Europe’s fault (& Ukraine’s?) that the USA had and has some awful foreign policies and has launched and is still fighting wars in SW Asia, etc..

    So, yeah, your description of what Carl Andersson is saying seems to be rather inadequate, insufficient and deceptively omtting key things to put it mildly.

    Overlooking the fact that many of the commentators here aren’t even in or from the USA and thus don’t even have Congress Reps or Senators. I’m sure a random person contacting American officials will be able to get the flippin’ President of the USA arrested just for asking for it via being prompted by a random blog commentator huh?

  47. StevoR says

    Huh. What is happening to asterisks* on this blog? Could swear I had one before that last bit as a footnote-y thingamajig..?

    **

    Hmm.. double asterisk’s appear but single and triple ones dont? Whaa?

  48. StevoR says

    @ 52. nobgu :

    Nationalism just leads to toxic masculinity. Not that the world was any better before nationalism, but we need to get beyond this us vs them.

    Quoted for Truth. Yes. Yes we do.

    Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot speech summed it up perfectly.

    As did Isaac Asimov in this quote from his memoir which can also been seen more fully here :

    https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/93498-the-earth-should-not-be-cut-up-into-hundreds-of

    The Earth should not be cut up into hundreds of different sections, each inhabited by a self-defined segment of humanity that considers its own welfare and its own “national security” to be paramount above all other consideration. … (snip) ..There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity. ”

  49. John Morales says

    Huh. What is happening to asterisks* on this blog?
    […]
    Hmm.. double asterisk’s appear but single and triple ones dont? Whaa?

    Combox processing seems to frown on enumerations and lists.

      * single asterisk;
      ** double asterisk;
      *** triple asterisk.

    (Simple fix; just use non-breaking spaces ( ))

  50. raven says

    Huh. What is happening to asterisks* on this blog?

    Single * Asterisks* aren’t* the problem*.
    If you have one on the left margin it gets cut off but single asterisks inside are OK.

    .* A period and then an asterisk also works.

  51. John Morales says

    Just a note: what Russia is doing is not nationalism (though it is employed for the purpose), but rather imperialism. Modus: hegemonic.

  52. jrkrideau says

    @ 53 StevoR
    Overlooking the fact that many of the commentators here aren’t even in or from the USA and thus don’t even have Congress Reps or Senators. I’m sure a random person contacting American officials will be able to get the flippin’ President of the USA arrested just for asking for it via being prompted by a random blog commentator huh?

    I really do not understand this rant. I certainly am not from the USA.

  53. John Morales says

    jrkrideau:

    [1] I really do not understand this rant. [2] I certainly am not from the USA.

    Fair enough. Matches expectations.
    Implying anyone not from the USA is unlikely to understand it?

    Salient section you apparently missed: “Overlooking the fact that many of the commentators here aren’t even in or from the USA and thus don’t even have Congress Reps or Senators.”

    (hint, hint)

    Gotta face it. You’re now a chewtoy,

  54. birgerjohansson says

    Remember this name.
    Vasil Arkhipov (1926-1998) saved the world during the Cuban missile crisis.
    The submarine captain and the political officer were convinced war had started, and were about to launch nuclear torpedos.
    Arkhipov was not supposed to have been on the sub, but outranked the other both. He vetoed the order and the world survived.
    20 years later there was, wossname Petrov that other Russian officer, this time with the strategic rocket forces. A surveillance satellite malfunctioned and reported a US missile launch, you have probably heard of the incident.
    And in a third occasion the Politburo thought a big naval exercise by NATO was the beginning of the war but KGB talked them out of it.
    And there is a fourth time stdrr on Frethoughtblogs posted, an American naval vessel that mistakenly got ordered to fire their BOMARC missiles on China.
    As a species, we are way too stupid to survive, we have only made it this far by dumb luck.

  55. StevoR says

    @ jrkrideau : “I really do not understand this rant. I certainly am not from the USA.”

    Nor am I. Nor is John Morales and many others who comment here.

    So what influence do we have that would get the President of the United States of America arrested or charged as #34.Carl Andersson seems to demand we do? Does that demand and his apparent blame and attack on us seem reasonable to you? It doesn’t to me.

    I think it’s odd that you consider my pointing that out to be a “rant” yet Carl Andersson wishing the EU “fucked up” by the “disturbance” that is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine because of American violent foreign adventurism is merely “condemning hypocrisy” in your view.

  56. PaulBC says

    Carl Andersson@34

    How the hell are we supposed to feel good about the crap that the US is spewing about while your forme president bush is sitting aroung making shitty paintings?

    I must have missed the part where anyone is feeling good about anything.

    As to @32, well, better late than never. You’re right that Americans and the “West” in general care about Ukrainians more because they’re white. That’s disgraceful, but you can’t fix it by not caring about Ukraine. (One could have made the same point about Rwanda vs. former Yugoslavia in the 90s.)

    Anyway, to be clear. I’m not feeling good, nor am I asking anyone else to. I do have some expectation that sensible people won’t shill for a nation that is carrying out a massive invasion and bombing civilians. Believe it or not, I had the same expectation during the Iraq war, though I was sadly disappointed. In this case, the media at least seems aligned in the most obvious understanding of which nation is the aggressor.

  57. says

    @PaulBC 63

    We Europeans care more about Ukraine because Ukraine is next door and Putin is on a murderous Soviet Union Nostalgia tour where he plans to make Russia great again with blood, bombs and bullets. It’s that simple. I bet the average American would also care more if Putin had invaded Canada.instead of Ukraine. War right on your doorstep tends to do that.

    That “Carl Andersson” persona is playing by the Putinist troll playbook where they can only go “whaddabout, whaddabout”, as if any of that matters. Putin isn’t invading Ukraine to avenge Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan. Even if he was, Ukraine wasn’t involved there anyway. It’s just the usual gaslighting effort the Putinist trolls have played for a decade now.

  58. John Morales says

    AugustusVerger,

    We Europeans care more about Ukraine because Ukraine is next door and Putin is on a murderous Soviet Union Nostalgia tour where he plans to make Russia great again with blood, bombs and bullets. It’s that simple.

    Yes.

    I’m not European, but I sure see the situation.

    Yes.

  59. KG says

    Where the FUCK are you when half of the middle east is about to go into food insecurity because of this little shitshow between NATO and russia? – Carl Andersson@32

    Quite apart from the callousness of referring to an invasion causing thousands of deaths and millions of refugees as a “little shitshow”, it’s odd that Carl Andersson hasn’t apparently noticed that the primary cause of that food insecurity is precisely the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine (like Russia) is a major grain exporter, but if a country is being invaded, extensively trashed, its ports attacked, millions of its people displaced, many others feeling they have to take up arms against the invader – that will tend to disrupt grain exports. It’s true that the retaliatory sanctions against Russia will inevitably have secondary effects on poorer countries, and there is therefore an obligation on the rich sanctioning countries to help them; I’m sure many here will be taking up that issue with their national governments, as well as the hypocrisies Andersson is rightly angry about. Many here, including me, are long-term members and activiists in peace and anti-imperialist movements.

  60. KG says

    AugustusVerger@64, John Morales@65,

    There’s also the point that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine poses a much greater threat of escalation into a war between nuclear-armed powers than any aggression launched anywhere by any state for several decades. Possibly Carl Andersson feels that a nuclear holocaust would at least kill a lot of wicked American hypocrites, but it would probably produce even greater food insecurity in the middle East than the current “little shitshow”.

  61. lotharloo says

    I get Carl Andersson’s anger though. The current situation has proven beyond shadow of a doubt that there exists a hierarchy of “worthwhile” human beings at the global scale and that some humans are just worth much more than others. It’s not just the economic sanctions against Russia that shows the hypocrisy, it is everything from Russian athletes getting banned, companies severing ties. facebook/twitter policing their comments and so on that shows this conflict for some reason (easy to figure out what) is considered more important, more tragic than other at least equally horrible tragedies.

  62. submoron says

    Re Russian autocracy: I am reminded that there was a nineteenth century tsar who interrupted one of his ministers who had referred to the “Russian government”. There was no such thing, he was told, there was the tsar and his servants.
    I think that it takes a while for democracy to “bed in” and Russia didn’t get stable enough for long enough.

  63. hemidactylus says

    @1- Ray Ceeya

    Did Putin serve in Afghanistan? I thought his KGB career brought him to East Germany.

  64. KG says

    On historical contrasts between eastern and western Europe, an interesting read (although certainly not the last word on the subject) is Perry Anderson’s Lineages of the Absolutist State. Contrary to many people’s misapprehensions, absolutism was an early-modern rather than a medieval phenomenon in Europe: medieval states largely lacked the military and administrative machinery to be absolutist. Anderson notes that while a trend toward absolutism occurred in both eastern and western Europe, in the former this coincided with a strengthening of serfdom, in the latter (where the trend appeared earlier), with its gradual disappearance, along with the early stages of incipient capitalism. Anderson traces the cause of this contrast a long way back – indeed, to the Greco-Roman heritage of western Europe – see his earlier Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism.

  65. says

    @71 hemidactylus
    He was there. She was a medivac pilot in the Soviet Army. She chauffeured him around in a helicopter. He was KGB and an ongoing war required their attention. Putin is absolutely 100% NOT insane. He’s a cold calculating bastard. Here’s a hot flash for you, He speaks better English than Trump. He speaks through “translators” to destabilize his opponents. He’s not a “madman” though. Just your common every day sociopath.

  66. StevoR says

    @ ^ Ray Ceeya : “He speaks better English than Trump.”

    Well, there’s a low bar for ya! ;-)

  67. StevoR says

    @36.John Morales & 57. raven : Re : asterisks here thanks.

    BTW. What are non-breaking spaces? Dunno what that means,sorry.

  68. richardh says

    StevoR @ 75 What are non-breaking spaces?
    You type them like this:  
    Formally, they tell the browser “leave a space here, but don’t consider it as a possible location for splitting the line.”
    In practice they get used for all kinds of other HTML hacks when something doesn’t look quite right.

  69. PaulBC says

    AugustusVerger@64 I agree there are other reasons for being more concerned about the Ukraine invasion than any recent war I can think of: its scale, its proximity, and certainly the fact that Russia has nuclear weapons.

    It’s also undeniable that sympathy for the victims has a racist component at least among some viewers. But that’s not my point. My point is that even if you concede this, the conclusion is not that you should feel less concern over Ukraine as a way of not being a hypocrite.

    Personally, I think it’s better to be a hypocrite who gets something right every once in a while than someone who is 100% consistently on the wrong side.

  70. says

    There is a theory that Putin may have been involved in a false-flag event involving military explosives (search: putin hexanitro) – I’m curious what the commentariat here thinks about that. I have not been able to decide.

  71. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @79: The search didn’t yield anything, but do you mean the 1999 invasion of Chechnya, supposedly because of bombings in various Russian cities? I do remember some articles that pointed at Putin as the architect of the bombings. I’ll look around.

  72. raven says

    Incoherent troll:

    I’d like to ask: Where the FUCK were when Mosul was wiped out?

    We were there when Mosul was rescued and liberated from ISIS.

    Wikipedia
    The Battle of Mosul (Arabic: معركة الموصل, Ma’rakat al-Mawṣil; Sorani Kurdish: شەڕی مووسڵ, Şeriy Mûsil) was a major military campaign launched by the Iraqi Government forces with allied militias, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and international forces to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIL), which had seized the city in June 2014.[
    and
    An international coalition of 60 nations, led by the United States, supported Iraq’s war against ISIL, providing logistical and air support, intelligence, and advice.[109]

    The USA supported the actual fighters which were the Iraq and Kurdish armies. As you forgot to mention, the terrorist group ISIS is now all but wiped out in the middle east.

    So where the FUCK were you when Mosul was liberated? Posting Russian troll farm propaganda from St. Petersburg?

  73. says

    Marcus @79: The search didn’t yield anything, but do you mean the 1999 invasion of Chechnya, supposedly because of bombings in various Russian cities?

    Yeah. I had to force the word “hexanitro” which brought me to this 2017 post by Marcus:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/stderr/2017/06/26/he-has-been-accused-of-growing-authoritarianism/

    And there he points to this Wikipedia article, which gives the basics:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_apartment_bombings

  74. hemidactylus says

    @79 Marcus Ranum

    Are you talking of the apartment bombings? I had read some bios of Putin around a decade ago and found that a curious episode.

    There’s also the infamous Kukly puppet show on NTV that helped put Vladimir Gusinsky in hot water with the Kremlin. Satire and unflattering portrayals are a staple for shows like Saturday Night Live in the US. It didn’t go over well in Putin’s Russia and that was right as he was emerging. The subsequent response toward NTV served as a preview of coming attractions.

  75. says

    I do remember some articles that pointed at Putin as the architect of the bombings.

    Yes, the argument is that the terrorists used military explosives that are rare even in the military. I’m not convinced by that but Putin has been known to sign his work.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_apartment_bombings

    Yeah that’s me being wary of “some people say” reports regarding terrorism.

    I guess one question is if Putin has revealed himself to be the kind of bastard who might do that. I’m not 100% but before I was around 5% and now I’m more like 15%.

  76. says

    So where the FUCK were you when Mosul was liberated? Posting Russian troll farm propaganda from St. Petersburg?

    I’m just curious and I’ve become infinitely cynical so, may I ask where the fuck you were?

  77. says

    @85;. I was.protesting that war, but my brother was in Mosul. We sent him cans of silly string that year because it turns out it’s the best stuff for finding hidden tripwires.

  78. says

    I was.protesting that war, but my brother was in Mosul.

    So, like the rest of us, you did fucking nothing?

    I did a few useless angry blog postings, and you sent some silly string. Fuck me, we’re helpless. But you don’t seem to be in a position to yell at someone else for doing nothing, if you had a family member and, wow, protested and sent silly string. You’re pretty hardcore, eh?

  79. blf says

    @86, “We sent him cans of silly string that year because it turns out it’s the best stuff for finding hidden tripwires.”

    Interesting! And yes, A Serious Use For Silly String (2006), the stuff is apparently quite good at identifying tripwire booby-traps:

    Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

  80. says

    @87. Dipshit
    No I marched. I held.up signs. I voted left. What else was I supposed to do. Kill the president? Jesus man. The silly string was an anecdote about how poorly our army was prepared for a decades long war.

  81. says

    @87. Dipshit
    No I marched. I held.up signs. I voted left. What else was I supposed to do. Kill the president? Jesus man. The silly string was an anecdote about how poorly our army was prepared for a decades long war.

  82. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @87:

    you don’t seem to be in a position to yell at someone else for doing nothing

    So if Carl Andersson yells at you, you can’t yell back? Interesting standard.

  83. says

    No I marched. I held.up signs. I voted left.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you wasted your time.

    What should someone do? I don’t know. But a real radical would be waking up every morning trying to destroy the USA, not raining shit on someone like you did with your reveil for radicals “where the FUCK where you when Mosul was destroyed?” I was probably comfortably behind my keyboard with a cup of delicious coffee. But what I was not</> doing was criticizing someone else for our shared disempowerment and lack of militant resolve.

  84. Tethys says

    I see the Carl Andersen troll has successfully started shit with their accusation of nebulous responsibility for Mosul and other military quagmires.

    Any reasonable human being sees these events as morally reprehensible, so it’s a broad target. The ‘debate’ technique of distracting from the issue at hand by pulling skeletons from closets is a classic abuse tactic.

    The idea that any individual could have changed the course of past events is a rather pointless argument. I was very against military action in all of these wars, and Russia needs to get out of Ukraine now.

  85. blf says

    The protests following the murder of George Floyd were a waste of time — an interpretation of the “dipshit”‘s disdain.

  86. says

    @92 Dipshit
    Again, what was I supposed to do? I did everything within my power as a civilian short of domestic terrorism. I’m too old to join the army and too poor to make any monetary contributions.
    P.S. Marcus Dipshiticus: please stop being a team killing moron. We’re all on the same side here.

  87. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @92: You seem to have missed where the yelling began. Scroll up to #32. If some twit does the “where the FUCK were you?” crap, and tells me to fuck off, I’m quite likely to ask said twit where the FUCK he was. Note that he hasn’t answered that. Probably because his work here is done.

  88. says

    Again, what was I supposed to do?

    I’m not making recommendations about that.

    As I said, I don’t think anything any of us can do will affect the imperial machinery in any way.

    Anyhow, regardless of who’s asking “where the Fuck were you?” is a stupid question. A revolutionary who was doing things would not be reading and commenting on a blog; therefore I assume that all blog-commenters are helpless and disempowered do-nothings, including myself. The asker is, 100% of the time in my experience, also a disempowered do-nothing.

  89. Tethys says

    But ‘we’ did do something..we got a wannabe tyrant out of the Oval Office with the power of voting. It’s not perfect, but can you even imagine how much worse the situation in Ukraine could be if the orange man was still POTUS?

  90. PaulBC says

    “Where the FUCK were you…” For all you know, I was in a broom closet with a flashlight masturbating to vintage Victorian bondage porn.

    Suppose for the sake of argument that I was. How the “FUCK” does that invalidate my reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

    Even if you claim my past actions reduce my credibility in some way, it’s still better to get one thing right than everything wrong, isn’t it?

  91. says

    @PaulBC #78

    Would Putin not have invaded Ukraine if we had thrown constant welcome parties for everyone coming from Africa or the Middle East? No, of course not, his goal is to make Russia Great Again, not avenging poor refugees. This is a completely irrelevant sidetrack to confuse and obscure the unjustifed war of aggression Putin wages against Ukraine.

    And considering he supported right-wing xenophobes the world over, clutching your pearls about the treatment of middle-eastern and african refugees is cynical beyond belief.

    Stop making yourself an asset to Russian propaganda.

  92. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @98:

    Anyhow, regardless of who’s asking “where the Fuck were you?” is a stupid question.

    Yet you asked it yourself in #85.

    A revolutionary who was doing things would not be reading and commenting on a blog

    Unless, perhaps, propaganda was part of their “doing things”.

  93. Pierce R. Butler says

    What about those asterisks?

    I did not use standard html tags to italicize that last word in the preceding sentence – I put (ta-dah!) asterisks around it.

    The same trick did not work in other FTB blogs’ comments, but it has worked for me in Pharyngula. No, I dunno why, and don’t care enough to do systematic experimentation.

    Congratulations to Carl Andersson @ # 32 & # 34 on a threat derailment worthy of a KGB-officer judoka!

  94. PaulBC says

    AugustusVerger@101

    Stop making yourself an asset to Russian propaganda.

    Gimme a break. I am not an “asset to Russian propaganda”. As for your reference to a “completely irrelevant sidetrack to confuse and obscure” I think most commenters here are capable of keeping multiple ideas in their minds simultaneously and cannot be confused or sidetracked as easily as you imagine. It’s a smart crowd, the occasional troll not withstanding.

    the unjustifed war of aggression Putin wages against Ukraine.

    Yes, it is all that. Did I ever suggest otherwise?

  95. birgerjohansson says

    NB -today is the 82nd anniversary of the end of the Winter War 1939-1940 between Finland and the Soviet union; a war that shows strong similarities with the invasion of Ukraine.
    The last surviving Finn veteran of the war participated in the ceremony of rememberance.

  96. hemidactylus says

    @105- PaulBC

    And your broom closet reveal was a welcome change of tone for the better. Plus I can now search “Victorian” to skip over the testy parts of the thread.

  97. Louis says

    @100 PaulBC

    You too?

    Damn! Luckily it wasn’t the same closet…unless.

    Erm, is your name really “Mildred” and do you have a large, purple dinosaur costume?

    Louis

  98. Kreator P says

    Wait, I’m confused. Unless raven and Ray Ceeya are the same person, then there might have been some sort of misunderstanding earlier…

    Post #81: raven asks: “So where the FUCK were you when Mosul was liberated? Posting Russian troll farm propaganda from St. Petersburg?”

    Post #85: Marcus replies to raven’s question at #81 with one of his own: “I’m just curious and I’ve become infinitely cynical so, may I ask where the fuck you were?”

    Post #86: Ray Ceeya drops in and answers that question instead of raven

    Post #87: as far as I can tell, Marcus replies to #86 as if Ray Ceeya had actually asked raven’s original question at #81, then things get hotter from there… What gives?

  99. andrei613 says

    @63.

    The Bomarc was a surface to air missile.

    The Boeing CIM-10 BOMARC (Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Center) (IM-99 Weapon System[4] prior to September 1962)[5] was a supersonic ramjet powered long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) used during the Cold War for the air defense of North America. In addition to being the first operational long-range SAM and the first operational pulse doppler aviation radar,[6] it was the only SAM deployed by the United States Air Force.

    Also, it was never carried on any ship or sub.

  100. unclefrogy says

    the point of the article was to hear the views of Kotkin.. He makes the point among others that Putin is not trying to resurrect the soviet union but to re-establish the Russian empire the soviet era was just a continuation of the Imperial history of Russia.
    It is that ambition so nakedly demonstrated by this invasion that has europe and the rest of the world so disturbed. It is the recognition that the ruthless ambitions of the nuclear armed Putin is a clear threat to all He has the capability to strike any where on earth with devastating force and it is only his will that is in command and he has demonstrated that he does not gave a tinkers dam about who he has to kill and abuse to get what he wants.
    the racism aside his threat is of a completely different level to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or any other country or area you can name. Even China does not raise to that level nor does it have the same kind of ambition, It seem content for the moment at least and is doing very well getting what it wants exploiting the capitalist market place world wide and does not want to rock the boat very much. Unlike Russia which only has the commodity advantage of a colony
    where has the Russian troll gone by the way?

  101. outis says

    Concerning that comment about “Europeans caring about Ukrainians ‘cos they is white”, it’s true that little fact has thrown our little racists in a bit of a spin. Normally they go on about “brown people coming over there”, now they are confused about them people being whiter than they are. Oooops.
    About the war however, there is a difference between all the horrid conflicts up to now and this one: today the agressor has a lot of nukes, and looks unhinged enough to use them. THAT is what sending everyone up the wall.
    Plus: to quote John Oliver (I think), “war in Europe” is right up there with “you are fired” and “it’s malignant” with the phrases you never, ever want to hear.

  102. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 112 & # 113 – Thanks for the formatting lesson.

    We can only imagine the fierce behind-the-scenes politicking whereby only some FT Blogs use/allow this markdown.

  103. ealloc says

    @25 Charly, @28 rsmith

    Re: Whether Russia has a history of self-government

    The Cossacks come to mind, since by one definition they were self-governing communities of escaped serfs and other displaced people in the “Wild fields” of eastern Ukranine. (Though, if if one is really dedicated to ethic determinism, perhaps one would classify them as Ukranian and not Russian, to explain the current russian state).

    My instinct is that social conditions and beliefs can change quickly enough. Arguments like Kotkin’s that some nations of people have 200 year long entrenched psychological biases for authoritarian rulers seems akin to the xenophobic descriptions of “uncivilized” people in Africa, India, China by western chauvinists. Incidentally, that kind of viewpoint often seems paired today with rabid anticommunism, and Kotkin seems to have that leaning too, judging from the interview.

  104. birgerjohansson says

    Andrei613 @ 109
    My bad. I confused the Bomarc with another early cruise missile (they would fall out of favor as rockets became more reliable and accurate).

  105. John Morales says

    birgerjohansson, reliable is good, but accurate is not necessary when using a weapon for the purpose of terrorising civilians. Just shoot them into populated areas.

    You know, dispose of old munitions and soften up the actual military assault to come.

  106. raven says

    My instinct is that social conditions and beliefs can change quickly enough.

    Cultures can change rapidly in real time.
    Just look at what happened in Singapore, South Korea, or Taiwan. Or compare South Korea with North Korea, both starting from the same point as just Korea.

    Even the northern California culture I live in today isn’t much like the one I grew up in, 1950s rural west coast.

  107. Tethys says

    Cultures can change rapidly, especially as seen throughout the various countries that underwent Colour Revolutions since the fall of Soviet Russia. More than anything, Putin fears that Ukraine’s Orange Revolution will become a Pink Revolution within Russia.

    It is only Russia which has yet to change from rule by authoritarian autocrats, and currently seeks to expand its borders through terror and death.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colour_revolution

  108. F.O. says

    @Tethys

    More than anything, Putin fears that Ukraine’s Orange Revolution will become a Pink Revolution within Russia.

    This is a very good point!

  109. raven says

    Kreator P

    Post #87: as far as I can tell, Marcus replies to #86 as if Ray Ceeya had actually asked raven’s original question at #81, then things get hotter from there… What gives?

    LOL

    This is your first time on the internet.
    FTBs is an open forum with very few rules and anyone can post whatever they want to.

  110. Kreator P says

    Thanks for reminding me why I try my best to stay away from comment sections, then. Hj Hornbeck is a very wise person for not enabling them.

  111. birgerjohansson says

    Other near misses;
    Stanislaw Petrov (1939-1997) saved the world 26 september 1983.
    And the Soviet naval officer who vetoed the use of nuclear-tipped torpedoes during the Cuban missile crisis when the captain of the sub believed war had started.
    So that crisis saw two separate incidents where nuclear war nearly started by mistake.

  112. StevoR says

    @ ^ birgerjohansson :Yikes. Thanks for that I guess. Disturbing and grimly interesting stuff and seems we’ve come much closer to nuclear war than most of us – me included – once thought.

    BTW. Did you see my comment #50 here and please would you respond to that and tell me if there something specific about what the Mongol conquest and their Godlen Horde brabch rule did to Russia that held it back a lot more or a lot differently to other places eg Yuan dynasty China after its takeover by them?

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