You won’t be surprised to learn where Freethoughtbloggers stand on the Ukraine war


I await the announcement from various regressives that this isn’t really “freethought” because we are unanimous in condemning the war.

Can everyone just go home now and begin to rebuild?

Comments

  1. ardipithecus says

    Military backed imperialism was all the rage from antiquity. It is over now, though some people haven’t yet caught up with the times.

    Now is the age of billionaire backed economic imperialism.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @1:

    I am against all war

    As with many pithy slogans, it’s hard to translate this into an actual position. For example, do you think the US should not have declared war on Japan in 1941?

  3. StevoR says

    @ ^ ardipithecus : Is it?

    Maybe it has been, maybe it will still be. Maybe we can stop it. Can we?

    Meanwhile it is also very definitely the age of Global Overheating and poles melting and the Anthropocene Mass Extinction event and can we stop those or slow them or survive them?

    It is also still the Space Age and the Internet Age and the who knows what future historians will call it age.. if any future historians exist?

    The age of the proverbial “Chinese” curse about “intreresting times”” although ,.. when hasn’t that been the case?

  4. StevoR says

    @ Rob Grigjanis : it’s hard to translate this into an actual position.

    Absolute pacifism? Against all war.

    Each and every war is a crime.

    Seems pretty clear to me.

    Or is it that war is sometimes necessary but always still a crime? Just like justifiable homicide / manslaughter in certain situations?

    Can’t speak for Marcus Ranum but it seems a position for me.

    Personally, I do think context matters. In this specific case, I think the Ukrainians are absolutley justified in fighting back against Putin’s absolutely unjustifiable invasion of their nation.

    The Vietnamese wre justified in fighting back against their invasion too.

    The side that invades another without exhausting every other option first is almost always wrong. Yeah, weasel words because, reality is .. messy.

    WW II? Should Nazi Germany have been stopped earlier and war started earlier? Was it wrong at all? If so at which point? When Hitler died? When Hiroshima was bombed? When Nagasaki was bombed? When it was clear the Axsi powers had lost? When it started to begn with? Was that in Poland or the Sudetenland or China? Or the end of WW I and the punitive peace agreement that embittered and in reyrospect amde it oen long Wold war according tocertain schools of thought?

    Dunno myself.

    My expertise and qualifications here is .. minimal. Just a lot of reading and thinking and yeah, just that really. I coud very wellbe wrong. Still.

  5. PaulBC says

    Rob Grigjanis@4 It’s the actual position of Quakers for instance.

    You can say that it’s not a good position, but it’s an actual position that can be stated without internal contradiction, and it’s one that some people actually hold.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    StevoR @6: That’s one possible reading. But it’s one that essentially gives aggressors whatever they want. Whether they’re Macedonians, Persians, Mongols, Spaniards, Americans, Brits, Germans, Japanese or Russians

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    PaulBC @8: I’m not judging the position. Just seeking clarification as to what it actually is. I don’t remember Marcus criticizing people who fought wars opposing imperialism.

  8. christoph says

    I probably posted this before, but there’s a quote in the novel Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein) to the effect that “all wars are wars of acquisition.” Either you’re invading for gain and profit, or you’re defending against it. Any other excuse is misdirection.

  9. whheydt says

    Re: Rob Grigjanis @ #4…
    As I read the record, it wasn’t quite like that. FDR went to Congress and said that, “a state of war exists” with Japan because of their attack on Pearl Harbor. Congress agreed. The Japanese government tried to finesse an actual declaration of war by having their ambassador deliver an ultimatum an hour before the attack, but there were delays and the ultimatum was delivered after the attack started, though Sec. of State Hull had the full, translated, document on his desk when Ambassador Nomura arrived.

    Three days later, Hitler declared war on the US in keeping with their pact with Japan. The US government response amounted to, “well…in that case..” and went after Germany first.

    As noted elsewhere in this thread…reality is messy.

  10. PaulBC says

    Heinlein is about the last place I’d go to for a nuanced understanding of war and peace. I think Gandhi’s approach to pacifism is more practical than the Quakers’ though I am sympathetic to the latter. A satyagraha campaign is not a lack of conflict but “war without violence” . It can be very effective. On the other hand, I believe there are many cases in which it would not be. There have been too many documented cases of genocide to imagine that every opponent can be swayed on moral grounds or made to acknowledge your shared humanity.

    So I don’t know. I am not really a pacifist though I might have said so in the past. I am also not prepared in any sense to fight a war, nor have I ever been. I refuse to cheerlead for any side in a war. Ukraine has my support as they defend their sovereignty, and I admire their courage, but it’s their fight, not mine.

  11. John Harshman says

    #11 Not exactly.

    This is the quote from Starship Troopers, from Rico’s H&MP instructor at OCS: “All wars arise from population pressure…any breed which stops its own increase gets crowded out by breeds which expand.”

    That strikes me as serious bullshit, and in fact no justification is offered for the claim. And it seems to have nothing to do with Putin’s reasons for invading Ukraine either. Best to let Heinlein stay dead.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    christoph @11:

    Either you’re invading for gain and profit, or you’re defending against it. Any other excuse is misdirection.

    Acquisition itself can be a misdirection. See The Falklands War, 1982.

  13. says

    Here’s how I see it – I’m against all war, BUT – what does that actually mean?

    When the US entered WW2, it didn’t make war where none existed. Refusing to fight would not have meant no war, it would have meant a very one-sided war that continued until a majority of humanity was either exterminated or enslaved. Oppression is a war against the oppressed, whether or not the oppressed fight back.

    I’m against all war, but that’s not the world in which we live. War exists, right now, and will doubtless continue to exist well past my lifetime. I’ll do what I can to bring about world peace, but I see no evidence of it happening any time soon. In the meantime, the outcome of any particular war can have a great deal of influence on how much war there is in the future. Unless I’m very much mistaken about my readership, I have zero power to influence the course of events. I’m not sure what should be done, beyond avoiding direct war between nuclear powers.

    I don’t think it’s inconsistent to be against all war, and also to support a particular side in a war, or even to participate in that war.

  14. gnokgnoh says

    I’m reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. I am appalled at his clinically detached, well-written, fictionalized narrative of the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. Should Lincoln have let the South secede – not in hindsight – purely from the perspective of the purpose and justifications for war?

  15. John Harshman says

    #17 gnokgnoh:

    Technically speaking, Lincoln didn’t start the war, the South did, by firing on Fort Sumter. Of course he could have evacuated all U.S. military bases in the South and so averted war, but that’s a different matter. He was clearly not inclined to allow secession, but he was also careful to make the Confederates begin active hostilities.

    All technical trivialities. Of course he was right. Of course he shouldn’t have let them secede. Shame on Buchanan for letting it get that far. And so we are forced to conclude that there is such a thing as a justified war.

  16. PaulBC says

    Fuck Heinlein, and for that matter fuck Niven and Pournelle, though the latter did have some interesting extraterrestrials (Moties, Ringworld builders). Honestly I can’t think of anything Heinlein had going for him.

    I think wars are rarely fought as acquisition or a response to population pressure. In terms of mutual benefit, trade agreements between comparable partners (i.e. not colonialism) nearly always create a surplus and avoid the destruction and tragedy of warfare (which is not to suggest they’re perfect or fair, and perceived unfairness may be a cause of war). Wars may often boil down to pure tribalism, and once a war gets going, it takes on its own logic.

    Wars may not always be avoidable, but they often are. The problem is a large class of people who lack incentive or believe they lack incentive to avoid war. It is not a rational response to conditions in most cases, as much as certain smug science fiction authors would like to insist.

  17. says

    Leaving aside the jus cogens questions of “Is war ever justified?” for the moment — and anyone who pretends there’s a simple answer is more of a simpleton than Simplicio — there is one thing that I think it entirely appropriate for Freethought blogs/bloggers to agree upon regarding the circumstances in Ukraine:

    Without claiming that Ukraine is Utopia (let alone “perfect”), it’s clear that Russia is, and is acting as, a totalitarian regime as to Ukraine. That is fundamentally inconsistent with any internally consistent and intellectually honest depiction of “free thought.” Therefore, “unanimity” among Freethoughtbloggers in supporting Ukraine in the current conflict with Russia is both expected and appropriate.

    Arguing about whether “war can ever be justified” and then attempting to apply thaqt analysis to Eastern Europe with incomplete information is one of the sillier things that we could be wasting our time doing this afternoon.

  18. PaulBC says

    John Harshman@18

    And so we are forced to conclude that there is such a thing as a justified war.

    Only if we assume there is such as thing as justice.

    I prefer to think in terms of action and understandable consequence. Lincoln’s choices are certainly understandable to me and I can’t propose a better alternative. But as far as I know, there is nobody actually keeping score, so the question of whether the actions one takes are “justified” seems irrelevant. I hope not to be responsible for making decisions that cause harm to anyone. If I am, the harmful and good outcomes are there whether anyone decides they are “justified.” How can that possibly matter?

  19. PaulBC says

    BTW, John Harshman’s avatar/icon thingy looks way too much like you know what (at least to my eyes). I say this not as a slur, since we don’t get any say about the default design. However, it is an ongoing nuisance to me, because I often like working on symmetrical patterns, either for mathematical or artistic aims, and 90° rotational symmetry has an unfortunate tendency to produce such artifacts. It really pisses me off, because it’s a very nice kind of symmetry.

  20. PaulBC says

    christoph@22 Not out of any necrophilic urge, anyway (and Niven is still alive I see). I did not mean it literally. I hope you gathered that.

    While it may be unfair to single out these three, they’re the ones who come to mind. I object to their outlook that war is unavoidable and often a commendable response to a situation, their contempt for resolving conflict in other ways, and their use of fiction to propagandize this viewpoint through sock puppets.

    Hopefully, that provides some context, though I thought it should be clear.

  21. crimsonsage says

    christoph@22 I dont know about Pournelle, but Heinlein and Niven are/were unalloyed fascists. Heinlein is an interesting character because he was originally a sort of SocDem/New Deal Liberal but slowly transfigured throughout his life into a sort of apologist for Social Darwinism and Libertarianism, which in function is just fascism in function, and wrote some really appalling stuff by the end of his life. Niven I dont know as much about, but I do know that for much of his work he is an apologist for the far right, ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’ in particular is a nasty piece of ‘Right Makes Right’ neo-reactionarism.

  22. PaulBC says

    crimsonsage@25 Pournelle identified as, or at least accepted the term paleoconservative. He was very rightwing though in idiosyncratic ways. He’s the only one of themI ever saw in person, as he was invited to speak at my club’s fledgling science fiction con in the 80s. In fact, he held some views that would be unusual in today’s rightwingers, such as apparently a desire to prevent people from using the internet (he wasn’t quite that specific) to find recipes for explosives and other dangerous material that would have been harder to obtain without the free flow of information. (Or maybe I misunderstood, but that seemed to be the gist of his views on then growing computer networks. We need to lock it all down and pronto!)

    Actually, my first brush with him was his “Chaos Manor” columns in Byte magazine, consisting mostly of jovial accounts of his adventures in early microcomputers that “alas” (his favorite exclamation) would often fail in amusing ways. This left me with a different first impression than I might have gained from reading dreck such as The Mercenary. That came later.

    The Mote in God’s Eye (Niven and Pournelle) still impressed me with its imaginative vision. Maybe I should look again and see if it holds up.

    Lucifer’s Hammer I don’t remember so well except that there was an asteroid collision I think, and then some kind of Red Dawn scenario where Boy Scouts save the world. (Again, this may be totally wrong; it’s been a while.)

  23. R. L. Foster says

    I have my own take on why this war in particular is resonating so strongly with Europeans and westerners of European extraction (Americans, Canadians, Australians, et al.) It’s not because the victims and combatants are White, though that certainly must be factored in, but because it’s happening in Europe and not in remote places like the Horn of Africa or the mountains of Central Asia. I would hazard that we all share a collective memory of the horrors of WW1 and WW2. When we see Mariupol or Kyiv being bombarded the images are evocative of London during the Blitz or the Dresden firebombing. A modern European capital being reduced to rubble by artillery fire may as well be Warsaw in 1944. Ukrainian troops dug in to the muddy ground is eerily reminiscent of trench warfare. And, let’s face it, when Europe goes to war it usually leads to a world war. We know that no matter how awful things are in Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan chances are good that we won’t be directly affected (though 9/11 was an exception). We in the U.S. and Western Europe know instinctively that if this conflict isn’t ended soon it may spiral out of control. We aren’t on the front lines, but that could change. Putin could unleash his Internet Research Agency and tomorrow we could wake up to find that our power is off. Our tap water isn’t running. The internet is down. Gas station pumps don’t work. The supermarket shelves can’t be replenished. It’s not bombs and missiles, but give it two weeks and it could feel almost as bad.

    I could be wrong. I may just speaking for myself. My mother was a refugee from west Prussia. She and her mother literally ran for their lives in the ice and snow to stay ahead of Ivan in the winter of 1945. I listened with rapt attention to her tales of the war. So, I may be overly sensitive to anything that has to do with the Russians. But, the truth is, I haven’t felt this enraged by a conflict since Vietnam. Back then when the American military was thwarted it developed the “kill everything that moves” mindset. Now it’s the Russian army resorting to similar tactics when it can’t prevail in a fair fight. I find myself cheering every Ukrainian victory, but I fear what Putin may do if this war becomes a stalemate and his army is bogged down.

  24. gnokgnoh says

    @PaulBC, you wrote, “I prefer to think in terms of action and understandable consequence…there is nobody actually keeping score, so the question of whether the actions one takes are “justified” seems irrelevant.” What do you mean by that?
    Belligerent aggression is not justified by any measure. International criminal law, almost any criminal law, examines intent. Premeditated, negligent, accidental are all terms that measure justification. While the US is not a party to the ICC, we have ratified all but the two 1977 protocols of the Geneva Convention. Your country and descendants keep score. History keeps score.

  25. PaulBC says

    gnokgnoh@28 First off, I was talking specifically about Lincoln, and however you judge him morally, the Union cause was not an act of “belligerent aggression.” It was an act of war. Thus, a pacifist could question its “justice” as with any war. But the judgment of “aggressor” simply does not hold up (and I know some southerners would disagree, but screw them).

    International criminal law, almost any criminal law, examines intent.

    And yet people often disagree on the intent and the moral weight to give it. That suggests that “justice” is effectively a subjective human concept decided in courts and not a well-defined philosophical abstraction.

    Your country and descendants keep score. History keeps score.

    Sure. And in that sense I misspoke. But the score has no consequence on those who committed the act. I can form my opinion of Lincoln or, say, Vlad the Impaler. Neither of them are affected by my opinion nor by the weight of history.

  26. says

    There are Fascists in Ukraine. They just happen to be aligned with Moscow. The Donbas Separatists are 100% fascists. They want to “cleanse the region”. They are in the minority, but they are a violent minority. Sound familiar?

  27. PaulBC says

    This might not be clear from what I wrote: my dislike for statements about what is “justified” does not stem from a nihilist view that moral judgment is irrelevant.

    The main problem for me is that it results in complacency. OK, some war or other was “justified” so I guess we can all sleep easy about it. None of that negates the harm done. An unwillingness to cause harm also does not “justify” passivity. None of it is justified from the perspective of innocent lives lost. So I can look at Lincoln’s choices, hold back from criticizing them, since I would not have done any better, point out the that end of chattel slavery was long overdue, but still agree that the US Civil War, like all wars, was horrific and not a cause for complacency.

    If it makes anyone feel better to ask what is “justified” then that is their business. I do not consider it to be the relevant question to ask of anyone pushed into desperate circumstances in which all outcomes will cause great harm to innocent people.

    My heuristic is to ask if something is justified as a wake-up call but not as a snooze button. If you feel outrage that something is unjustified, that can spur you to action and be a force for good. If you feel reassured that some horror was “justified”, then spend more time thinking about the horror and not about justice.

  28. says

    @ Ray Ceeya #30:

    There are also at least some fascists fighting for Ukraine. And neither of those facts makes the Ukrainian government fascist.

  29. jrkrideau says

    There are also at least some fascists fighting for Ukraine. And neither of those facts makes the Ukrainian government fascist.

    Agreed. But I think we may be underestimating the amount of fascist infiltration.

    I don’t see Zelenski as anywhere near fascist but he does not have his own power base, so his maneuvering room is limited. The fact that the outright Nazi Asov Batallion got itself enrolled in the National Militia is distressing.

  30. says

    @jrkrideau #33

    Are you one of Putin’s paid shills or are you simply that deluded?

    The only thing costing Ukrainian lives right now is Putin’s Murderous Soviet/Tsarist Remebrance Tour he started purely out of toxic nostalgia and hybris. NATO plays no role in this. His own “war declaration” was all about bringing the poor Ukrainians “home” because he didn’t even acknowledge them as their own people who deserve to determine their own fate.
    He can end this war by ordering his thugs out of Ukraine and any day he doesn’t do so means any dead, maimed and traumatized that day are on him and him alone.

  31. gnokgnoh says

    @jrkrideau #33
    Zelensky offered neutrality and that Ukraine would not join NATO in negotiations with Russia. But they also required security guarantees put in place by signatory countries and the ability to defend Ukraine. Russia wanted disarmament. Go figure.

  32. says

    I think the 1st step is distinction between “war of choice” and “war of necessity”
    Ukraine is fighting 100% war of necessity as the alternative is to be subjugated by autocracy who wants to deny them their right to exist as distinct nation.
    I would also assume that humanitarian intervention may be a war of necessity rather than war by choice, but that will be always tricky.
    If some dictator starts genocide of an ethnic group and we can militarily stop him I would consider it as justified war of necessity.

    Interesting thing with current war is that modern military technique used in attack is extremely expensive and this expense increases exponentially with the length of the supply lines. Except USA no big country can really invade another big country, especially over water, because distance favors defender, terrain favors defender and defensive systems are much cheaper to buy and use than tanks and planes. Russia Ukraine is an outlier due to Ukraine being surrounded from 3 sides.
    Proliferation of MANPADs and exercises with Ukraine (later) to teach how to defend against stronger enemies may lead to discontinuation of large scale symmetrical armed conflict.

  33. raven says

    But they also required security guarantees put in place by signatory countries and the ability to defend Ukraine.

    They already achieved that.

    NPR Feb. 2022

    Ukraine suddenly found itself independent and the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Thousands (5,000 nuclear weapons) of nuclear arms had been stationed on its soil by Moscow, and they were still there. In the years that followed, Ukraine made the decision to denuclearize completely. In exchange, it would get a security guarantee from the U.S., the U.K. and Russia, known as the Budapest Memorandum.

    After the USSR fell, Ukraine had 5,000 nuclear weapons.
    They traded them for a security guarantee by Russia, the USA, and the UK. And look how well that worked for them.

    At least the USA and the UK didn’t invade Ukraine. Russia of course, has violated the agreement many times starting with Crimea.

  34. raven says

    Hmmm, I’m sure about now that the Ukraine is wondering about that ill fated agreement. Everyone thinks twice before invading a nuclear weapons state.

    Yeah, I know they didn’t have the launch codes.
    I don’t think that would be much of a problem.
    The launch codes are just wiring and software. They could just tear them apart and rebuild them.
    Or just use the components to make simple 1940 style nukes.

    The Ukrainians get half their electricity from 15 nuclear reactors. Even we in the USA struggle with nuclear power plants. The Ukrainians are a talented and educated people and their survival is on the line.

  35. PaulBC says

    Gorzki@37

    I think the 1st step is distinction between “war of choice” and “war of necessity”

    A good distinction, but I like asking “Whose troops are inside whose borders?” It won’t necessarily answer your question, but it provides a heuristic that works in most cases.

  36. PaulBC says

    (Talking to myself here. I know.) I wrote the following before taking a closer at the wikipedia page on Jerry Pournelle (me@24):

    I object to [Heinlein, Niven, Pournelle’s and others’] outlook that war is unavoidable and often a commendable response to a situation, their contempt for resolving conflict in other ways, and their use of fiction to propagandize this viewpoint through sock puppets.

    But now I read:

    James Wheatfield wrote that “Pournelle delights in setting up complex background situations and plots, leading the reader step by step towards a solution which is the very opposite of politically correct and … defying a dissenting reader to find where in this logical chain he or she would have acted differently.”

    Right! What I said!

    Or anyway, Wheatfield’s is one way to put it. If you’re the one writing a story, then you can set up the premise in any way to make something horrific seem like the best possible choice: And that’s why I had to eat my friend’s liver while he was still alive and begging me to stop… You’d’ve done it too.

    What such story writers fail at is mapping their pathological scenarios back into the real world. You told a story. it may be an entertaining story. I may even learn something about human nature. But it cannot provide a blueprint for how to behave almost all the time in the real world, where your scenario is very rare. And indeed the business of society should be to reduce the occurrence of cases in which the law of the jungle applies and increase the occurrence of those in which peaceful, consensual solutions can resolve most conflicts.

  37. NitricAcid says

    I know I should be just as outraged about Yemen and other places. But I happen to be more outraged about Kyiv because a) I’ve spent a lot of time there, and b) I have a limited amount of outrage before I simply cease to function. That’s just me being human, for which I apologize.

  38. birgerjohansson says

    NitricAcid @ 42
    Yes, I also suffer from outrage depletion, especially as the world has been crazier than usual for many years. I try to focus on local issues where I have a theoretical chans of making a difference.
    When all else fails, I remember to donate to causes and to feed the wild birds so I will have made a tiny fraction of the universe slightly better.

  39. raven says

    But it cannot provide a blueprint for how to behave almost all the time in the real world, where your scenario is very rare.

    Yeah, that was one of my problems with Sam Harris and the Dark Web.

    They come up with very unrealistic scenarios and think they prove a point.

    Q. There is a kitten in front of you. You have a loaded gun pointed at the kitten. If you don’t kill the kitten, a nuclear weapon will go off and destroy New York City. What is the moral choice here, one dead kitten, or millions of dead New Yorkers?

    A. You pet the kitten and give it some food. There is no gun or nuclear weapon because the whole situation would never exist.

    All it shows is that Sam Harris isn’t worth paying attention to.

  40. says

    @38 raven
    language of memorandum is inconclusive a bit, also memorandum has not as much power as official treaty, especially confirmed by congress in case of US
    It would be different this time if there were guarantees (US promises to intervene and if it doesn’t than everyone else from Taiwan to everyone knows US guarantees are useless).
    But that’s unacceptable from USA point of view, gives them nothing while puts a burden on them

    @40 Paul BC
    Well, if your troops are inside someone elses borders it is less likely you had to go to this war and if opponents troops are inside your borders, it is unlikely you have chosen this war

    @42 NitricAcid
    As far as I know Yemen is a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and neither side really represents the victims so it’s hard to root for any side (it probably also works for Syria). It’s isolated geographically from “the west” thus making it not existential to us. Neither Saudi’s nor Iran have thousands of nukes and started the war to show people what would happen if someone dreams of sharing your values.
    Both stakes and emotional attachment is likely to differ

  41. andrei613 says

    @33, jrkrideau:

    Bwahahaha ! What utter drivel that Lascaris loon spouted.

    When does his Fox News/Russian State TV show start ?

  42. chrislawson says

    You can safely ignore jkrideau. Every single thing he’s posted here this year has been unalloyed Putinist bullshit. What I don’t understand is why he thinks che will achieve anything by endlessly repeating the same old lies and psychopathic justifications for mass-murder that this audience has already rejected.

  43. chrislawson says

    The longer this goes on, the more I suspect jkr and his fellow trolls are paid Putinist shills. Most mid-century Soviet apologists like Sartre changed their minds after Russia crushed the Hungarian Revolution…and what we’re seeing in Ukraine 2022 is much, much more violent and morally putrescent than Hungary 1956.

  44. dean56 says

    When Pournelle worked for Boeing in the 1950s he outlined the concept of “Rods from God”, giant tungsten tubes that could be dropped on targets from satellites. When Reagan had the “Citizens’ Advisory Council on National Space Policy” meet for three days at Larry Niven’s house Pournelle led the meetings, and the “Space: The Crucial Frontier” document was the result. In it Pournelle stressed that space opened up large opportunities for “decisive military and economic advantages”. 

Niven and Pournelle self-identified as “right-of-center” libertarians (which alone brands them as terrible people) and Pournelle claimed he was a “cold warrior”. 

Pournelle went on to lobby hard for Reagan’s asinine “strategic defense” (the missile defense crap). 

So yeah, not a lot to recommend either Niven or Pournelle.

  45. says

    StevoR @6

    Personally, I do think context matters. In this specific case, I think the Ukrainians are absolutley [sic] justified in fighting back against Putin’s absolutely unjustifiable invasion of their nation.

    The Vietnamese wre [sic] justified in fighting back against their invasion too.

    The side that invades another without exhausting every other option first is almost always wrong. Yeah, weasel words because, reality is .. messy.

    Why do I suspect a lot of this is to allow wiggle room to say it’s different for Palestinians should that be brought up?

  46. StevoR says

    @ 41. PaulBC : Well, FWIW, I’m reading that side track on SF authors I used to love reading.. Sigh. Gotta admit I was badly let down by Orson Scott Card too. They wrote entertainingly but yeah, their politics and that bit about setting up readers to make the worst possible answer the – fictional -correct choice? Yeah. That leaves kinda a bad taste in the mind -metaphorically speaking.

    What such story writers fail at is mapping their pathological scenarios back into the real world. You told a story. it may be an entertaining story. I may even learn something about human nature. But it cannot provide a blueprint for how to behave almost all the time in the real world, where your scenario is very rare. And indeed the business of society should be to reduce the occurrence of cases in which the law of the jungle applies and increase the occurrence of those in which peaceful, consensual solutions can resolve most conflicts.

    Quoted for truth.

    @ 40. PaulBC : “Whose troops are inside whose borders?’

    Works well in this case and many others but a tougher and more complex when the borders are uncertain (Kashmir? India / Pakistan / China?) and the cause of the conflict or when a nation is having a Civil War eg Yemen, Syria, American War over Slavery, etc .. But yes, more often where you have a clearly defined aggressor as with Putin here.. yes, that works a s a godo ruleof thumb.

    @28. gnokgnoh : “History keeps score”

    Does it? What’s the soere then adn counted how exactly?

    OTOH there’s the old adage about history being written by the winners..

    See :

    https://shubhamjain.co/2018/12/01/history-written-by-victors-foolish-phrase/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CHistory%20is%20Written%20by%20Victors,narrative%20down%20on%20the%20people.

    Plus note that interesting enough a strong case that Gustave Whitehead was actually the very first to fly a heavier than air craft instead of the Wright bros.. making the “claim that the latter were “truly revolutionary” historically unclear.. Which seems rather apt in this context actually!

  47. StevoR says

    @ ^ Typos fix : What’s the score then & how is it counted exactly?

    @50. Tabby Lavalamp : I was badly wrong and said some awful things about the Palestinians here many years ago which I am now ashamed of and deeply regret. I won’t be discussing that issue here. Suffice to say they are every bit as human and individual as me and they deserve their Human Rights, basic humanity and legitimacy fully respected and the Israeli Occupation needs to end.

  48. KG says

    Three days later, Hitler declared war on the US in keeping with their pact with Japan. – whheydt@12

    The pact with Japan did not oblige Hitler to declare war on the USA – that would only have been the case if the USA had attacked Japan. Doing so was one of Hitler’s stupidest decisions, freeing Rooseveldt from the necessity to persuade Congress to agree to war with Germany rather than focusing on Japan.

    I don’t see Zelenski as anywhere near fascist but he does not have his own power base, so his maneuvering room is limited. The fact that the outright Nazi Asov Batallion got itself enrolled in the National Militia is distressing. – jrkrideau@34

    Dubiously worth answering this arsehole, but perhaps worth pointing out:
    (a) That Zelenski won an overwhelming victory in the Presidential election of 2019, with neaerly twice the vote of the runner-up in the first round, and nearly 3/4 of the vote in the run-off against Poroshenko. The “Servant of the People” party, which supports him, won 43% of the vote and a majority of seats in the Parliamentary election. (It has since lost its overall majority but remains by far the largest party in Parliament). Since the invasion Zelenski has adroitly won both overwhelming support at home, and widespread admiration abroad.
    (b) While the incorporation of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion into the national militia is, as I have argued elsewhere, a real blot on Ukraine’s reputation, this took place before Zelenski became President. And somehow, jrkrideau seems unbothered by the presence of fascists among the invading forces, as well as the support for the invasion from the extreme right in the USA.

  49. christoph says

    @John Harshman, # 14: Damn, did I get the quote wrong? I could have sworn it was from Heinlein. Anyway, the point was that wars are always (or almost always) driven by greed. Some of them may have been driven by tribalism or just plain hatred, but I’m sure there was some acquisition (looting) involved.

  50. christoph says

    @PaulBC, # 24: Thanks for clearing that up-I gather you just dislike their writing styles and/or philosophies. I feel the same way about John Updike, BTW. The one book of his I read was depressing and morbid (Witches of Eastwick).

  51. KG says

    Oh, and further to #53:
    (c) In the 2019 Presidential elections the candidate of Svoboda, the neo-Nazi party, got 1.62% of the vote. In the Parliamentary elections, the party received 2.15% of the vote.

  52. KG says

    I think wars are rarely fought as acquisition or a response to population pressure. – PaulBC@19

    On the second of these I agree, and in fact would be inclined to say “never”. On the first, I strongly disagree: from the earliest war we have any record of (the conquest of Lower Egypt by the King of Upper Egypt (Narmer/Menes) in about 3100 BCE) through to most major wars of the last few centuries, it has been a prominent motive, to judge by the behaviour of the rulers/elites involved.

  53. Rob Grigjanis says

    One of the founts of tankie wisdom is a ‘journalist’ called Pepe Escobar. Read this brilliant analysis by him, written on Feb 24;

    https://thecradle.co/Article/columns/7266

    Apparently Ukraine lost the war in the first hour;

    Timed to the end of Putin’s speech announcing the operation, the Russians decapitated with precision missiles everything that mattered in terms of the Ukrainian military in just one hour: Air force, navy, airfields, bridges, command and control centers, the whole Turkish Bayraktar drone fleet.

    And it was not only Russian raw power. It was the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) artillery that hit the Armed Forces of Ukraine headquarters in Donbass, which actually housed the entire Ukrainian military command. This means that the Ukrainian General Staff instantly lost control of all its troops.

    This was Shock and Awe against Iraq, 19 years ago, in reverse: not for conquest, not as a prelude for an invasion and occupation. The political-military leadership in Kiev did not even have time to declare war. They froze. Demoralized troops started deserting. Total defeat – in one hour.

  54. PaulBC says

    KG@59 Fair enough. I think I was trying to get at something else. If the goal is outright theft of land and raw materials, then wars of acquisition are effective, especially against much weaker opponents. The genocide of Native Americans is a case with personal significance. I “own” a tiny parcel of Ohlone land and could retire comfortably–somewhere else–if I sold it.

    Between equally matched nations with comparable technology, I think a trade deal would nearly always provide greater material benefit to both sides. The reason to have a war instead is not because you acquire more, even if in some cases, there is a “winner” who does (but a negative sum overall). It’s most likely because of a preference to throw power around and build an empire.

    What I probably should have said is that acquisition is insufficient to explain many wars. Specifically, I think civil wars resulting in subjugation and genocide (e.g. in former Yugoslavia), while they may provide material to the “victorious” side are not really undertaken with that as the goal. They’re fueled by tribalism.

    What I dispute (though I am not even certain who’s right above about Heinlein’s position) is that wars are for the most part a rational response to anything. Wars against much weaker opponents may be “rational” but immoral. Wars against defenders capable of fighting back to any degree are usually done for reasons other than calculated benefit.

  55. christoph says

    @Raven, #44: “A. You pet the kitten and give it some food. There is no gun or nuclear weapon because the whole situation would never exist.”

    Good point! I heard the same argument used to justify torture, “If you needed information from a suspected terrorist about an impending nuclear explosion, would you be willing to torture his or her child in front of them in order to extract information?” That set of collective circumstances is so unlikely to exist that it’s a stupid question.

  56. DanDare says

    “Ukraine has my support as they defend their sovereignty, and I admire their courage, but it’s their fight, not mine.”
    Then they came for Poland but its not my fight.
    Then they came for Finland but I am not Finnish.
    Etc.
    Etc.

  57. John Morales says

    [PaulBC:

    DanDare@65 I’ll bite. What exactly are you doing for Ukraine?

    Um.

    You want DanDare to be a hypocrite? Good luck with that.

    The reference is to a particular sentiment, which exists whether or not DanDare partakes of it]

  58. PaulBC says

    John Morales@68 I don’t know DanDare, or care much if he or anyone is a hypocrite.

    He quoted me, @13, making what I still think is a reasonable and accurate assertion that Ukraine’s war is not mine and I’m not fighting it with them (and in context, will not be doing any cheerleading, because I don’t do that, not for my own country either). It would interest me to hear if anyone on this blog is really doing more for Ukraine than just reading news and commenting. That could include humanitarian aid, even hosting refugees, which is admirable (but no I’m not doing that either). I’d be extremely surprised to hear if anyone on the blog was planning on going there to fight. If so, I still wouldn’t take back what I said. I was making an assertion about how I actually approach war.

    Shame on me if evil triumphs because I have done nothing. But I’m far from unique in this regard.

  59. John Morales says

    Paul,

    It would interest me to hear if anyone on this blog is really doing more for Ukraine than just reading news and commenting.

    Ah, personal interest. Fair enough.

    (Was a rather direct question, to your credit)

    Shame on me if evil triumphs because I have done nothing.

    I too was brought up Catholic, but it didn’t take.

    (Manichaeism is too simplistic a way to see reality)

    There’s a thing where the motivation for action (or, here, inaction) is supposed to be of significance. In some senses, sure. But then, there’s “intent is not magic”.

    Anyway, for you, all I do is just reading news and commenting.

    (I mean, I could go to the streets with a sign or something, but that’s not my thing.
    Obviously, had I friends or relatives there, I would attend to the situation more practically)

  60. NitricAcid says

    I’m setting up a fundraiser for the Red Cross that will involve shaving my beard and possibly my head. And after the war is over, my family and I may very well go there to do some volunteer work (if I can figure out anything this old body can help with beyond supervising my teenagers).

  61. NitricAcid says

    @65- Actually, after Ukraine it will be Estonia, then Latvia and Lithuania, then Poland. Then Moldova, and then the big Finnish.

  62. DanDare says

    I have been unemployed for 4 years. I’m 60 and broke. I live in Australia that limits what I can do personally.
    Howver I see this problem as effecting our lives in many ways. Its not just “Ukraine’s problem”. So I encourage friends, familly and contacts to consider that perspective. Where they can contribute they do usually with $, lobying governments and boycots. That is simply all I have for this at the moment.
    What resources I can muster personally go into fighting with my own government over climate change and their hateful treatment of refugees.
    Anyone able to apply external pressure on Oz, please do.

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