2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine (Part 1)


as I read around “left” reactions to the war I find that some are focused not on such solidarity but on rather alienated discourses of great power politics, some of which masquerade as “anti-imperialism”. Usually we have a pro-forma declaration that Putin’s aggression is “criminal”, but then a rather abstracted discussion of whether it is nevertheless understandable in some way. Perhaps, even, the supposedly supreme strategists in the White House and Pentagon are those truly responsible and have sought to provoke or ensnare Putin into a disastrous war. Milder versions of this thesis abound, shared across a wider gamut of politics, asking whether NATO expansion was a mistake. Well maybe, though to be honest I lack the capacity to run the counterfactuals in my head and work out how history would have run if this or that decision had been taken differently in nineteen-ninety something. I suspect that most of those writing glib pieces of grand strategy from a “left” perspective also lack that capacity, but somehow the urge to play toy soldiers takes over anyway. In any case, none of these strategic calculations could justify maiming a single child, let alone the unburied bodies on the streets of Mariupol.

Perhaps the owl of Minerva will get to tell us what the underlying explanations and calculation were, if we all get to live that long. Of course we have to think about how we got here, but our first thought has to be with the displaced and the murdered and with those who today resist displacement and murder and not with how it all fits in to our grand theoretical schemas.


Very powerfully put. And as to…

(Not your quote, I know)

There is a not very fine fine line between a need to ‘understand the criminal’ (criminal psychology or ‘gee, Officer Krupke, I’m depraved because I’m deprived’) and stopping to do so while he is in the middle of a particularly heinous crime. I’m sick of some of those lefties (and righties, TBH) bleating about how we need to understand why he is doing this - how he has been driven to it - especially while the crime is ongoing.

And Putin / Russia is not deprived (despite what he fantasises about reinstating Greater Russia) - but Putin IS depraved.


This is probably in reply of japan stating their plan to recover the Kuril Islands.


It takes a lot for me to choke on my morning coffee. Well done.



OMG I want to believe.
Fascinating if true.

And I hear you @teknocholer … I am hoping the story is true. If I have time today, I will dig around in French news media to see if there’s any story there.


Thanks for posting that. While we haven’t seen many Useful Idiots or tankies here, there are far too many people on the political left who’ve been indulging in the sort of “realist”/Great Power critiques that are usually the province of the cold-hearted conservatives who use them to excuse (instead of decry) the misbehaviour of Western nations and alliances.

Progressives and liberals should be better than that, always understanding that this is more than an intellectual exercise or ideological/geopolitical chess game for the humans on the ground in this dreadful situation.




@GagHalfrunt posted an update from The Guardian.

Two Russian activists have been arrested after breaking into and occupying a luxury villa in Biarritz owned by Vladimir Putin’s former son-in-law.

Pierre Haffner, of the Svoboda Liberté Association, whose blog appears on the Mediapart news website, and Sergey Saveliev entered the eight-bedroom Alta Mira property in the French coastal resort, popular with Russian oligarchs. They announced on social media that they had changed the locks and would offer it to house Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

The property is said to belong to Kirill Shamalov, a Russian billionaire and former husband of Putin’s younger daughter Katerina Tikhonova. Haffner and Saveliev claimed to have found one of Shamalov’s passports and a translation of a Moscow electricity bill.


It’s already happening. A well known movie database backend for the popular Popcorn Time app (basically a kind of netflix but of pirated movies), was hosted on a ru domain. After a brief period of confusion, they rehosted it on a ga (for Gabon) domain. I know is not as schadenfroide-ry as those domains you mention, but still, it proves it already is happening.


(NYT reprint)


including the thousands of civilians the u.s. killed in iraq. i don’t intend to get into a cycle of whataboutism but i find it peculiarly hypocritical for americans to loudly complain about the civilian death toll in ukraine.

i apologize for bringing this up if you are not from the u.s. and i apologize profoundly if you are from one of the nations in the vicinity of ukraine and russia. as an american i feel strongly that our behavior on the world stage of the past 20 years or so has greatly diminished our credibility on that score and it is to biden’s credit that he has managed to rally world opinion so strongly as to create a sanctions regime with serious teeth. if only some nation had been able to rally world opinion against us in advance of the iraq catastrophe. unfortunately, most of the global powers jumped on the bandwagon as a way of excusing their own bad behavior.

having said that, i want it understood that i intend none of what i have written above as showing any form of approval for or sympathy with the putin regime’s actions which have been horrific echoes of the kinds of actions taken against ukraine by previous russian autocratic regimes. still, i feel that having as much blood on our hands as we do it is extremely disquieting to see so much self-righteousness about russia’s actions.


Yes, as a USian, I’ve been troubled by all of that oblivious hypocrisy too, which is why I posted that blog link and excerpt above, which helped me sort through misgivings I have about the current whataboutism emanating from certain sectors of the left, and at first, from me too.

When this war began, I too felt that such hypocrisy should be pointed out, but now, I think of it more as something to instead keep in mind, especially in the future. I do think it’s worthwhile to watch for US overreach, as we scramble to not only fight back against Putin, but also to further advance the US’s own corporate, oligarchic, kleptocratic etc. interests.

At the moment, it seems unhelpful at best to say, “Yes, Putin’s actions are horrific, but look at what the much bigger US empire has done, and is still doing,” etc., instead of focusing on stopping what Putin’s doing, and on helping his victims.

And to be clear, I’m not saying anything against what you’re saying. Just explaining some of how I’ve been sorting through that conundrum.

All of which also has me wondering how those from outside the US feel about this sort of (pathetic?) handwringing by USians lodged in relative comfort and security inside Fort US of Fuckin’ A.


i’m not carrying out a full “whataboutist” monty so much as saying that american self-righteousness about this is really hard for me to take, especially given the level of abuse i took during the spring of 2003 here in my part of texas for my stand opposing the invasion of iraq to the point that i received some credible threats against my continued employment. i don’t intend to belabor the point any further than to say that.


His brother was Christopher Hitchens… :expressionless:


So it’s genetic?


kid GIF