Why the culture war is global and there will be no insurgency in Ukraine
I have a few issues with this article because it cherrypicks instead of being genuine.
1. It's untrue to say Russia hasn't been a fixation of US foreign policy pre-2013. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and president Bush considered sending troops to Georgia (in the end, only humanitarian aid was sent). A year later, US started military training to Georgians. The reason why it escalated in recent years is not LGBT issues but the fact that Russia gets more and more aggressive towards its neighbors (massive military buildup in Kaliningrad, de-facto vasalization of Belarus, continuous incursions into Norwegian, Polish, British and Baltic air spaces, submarines 5 miles from Stockholm etc.) as it goes out of its post-USSR slump and invests in military with oil money.
2. Russia is an irreligious country. Anti-LGBT laws are not justified by Christianity at all. Of the 8% of Russians who attend religious institution at least once a month, most are Muslims in Caucasus and Tatarstan. Instead, Putin constantly referenced traditional values and low fertility rate. This is not Poland where anti-LGBT laws are indeed fueled by the religious right.
3. The NYT article is about rise of authoritarianism in Eastern Europe. Easy to understand why Ukraine is not covered - in Freedom House ranking, it goes up (from 55 in 2017 to 62 now) while the other countries go down (e.g. Poland from 89 in 2017 to 82 now). So the direction is opposite.
Also, to say what happens in Poland is mostly liberal hysteria is unserious. State TV is basically worse than during communist times; the news is "5 minutes of hatred" towards the enemy of the month, usually the opposition or gays or Germans. There's no news anymore, the typical segment goes like "Germans furious about Polish wealth", "Disgraced opposition wants to take away your money", "Disgusting attack on Christianity by the gays" (they started an LGBT support group for Catholics), "Government bravely solves inflation". Last year, they tried to force the main independent TV station out, only a strong reaction from the US made the president to back out and not sign the bill. The state oil monopoly bought regional media and installed literally party apparatchiks in the newsrooms - you can go on.
4. The map of elections from 10 years ago is hardly relevant now. The 2014 aggression really solidified Ukrainian national identity as it became clear that Russia is not a brother but rather your mom's abusive boyfriend. Usage of Russian dropped significantly and in last year's election, the only relatively pro-Russian candidate, Boyko, got less than 12% of the vote, almost exclusively in the areas immediately bordering the separatists republics in the East (and in rural areas around Odessa).
5. The TFR argument misses a valid point. TFR of 1.2 doesn't mean most people have 1 kid. While technically a possibility, in case of Eastern Europe it's actually more common that some people have 2-3 kids but lots of people have 0 kids. And while below-replacement-level fertility is a relatively new phenomenon, there is actually quite a bit of examples where populations with such fertility started insurgencies: East Germans, and lately Georgians and Armenians.
There's plenty of arguments why America should not interfere or at least not be as invested in Ukraine and this piece touches on some, but some are real misses.
The only major event that got overlooked here is the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. That was the earliest I can remember of the PR onslaught about Russia's anti-LGBT policies. Since the Olympic viewership is so overwhelmingly Acela corridor and Pelaton class, that may have been another major dose they got that primed them for Russiagate. I remember a number of AWFLs who were theatrically outraged after learning about Russia's policies as if they were throwing gay men off roofs. As Richard so clearly and correctly points out, they couldn't have cared less or were psychologically incapable of criticizing the countries where that was actually happening. I often wonder if I'm too much of a simpleton for chalking up so much of the synthetic left's worldview to White Man Bad™. The more I observe though, the more that explains it. One thing I've come to realize is that people my age (35) are getting up there and are stuck in 2006 the same way that any GOP fossil is stuck in 1978. So many of my friends honestly think that corporate boardrooms and places of serious influence are stuffed with Jesus-land era evangelicals. I don't have a lot of optimism that they are capable of even considering shifting their paradigm and narratives like Russiagate will unfortunately continue to feed that impulse.
Couple of notes:
1) On the odds of a successful insurgency: terrain isn't just mountains and swamps, urban guerillas are a thing, and fighting insurgents in cities and towns is by far more annoying and more of a nightmare than fighting them in, like, hills. To boot, Ukraine also has a marshy Big River that offers the actual swamps, and I wouldn't want to be tasked with rooting out amphibious vodyanoy-taliban squatting in the labyrinthine lagoons of the Dnieper.
2) On the odds of a successful insurgency 2: demographics. While the quip about birth rates predicting willingness to fight and the implied dig at western unwillingness to sacrifice the slightest inconvenience for an ideal is funny, it only applies in aggregate or on average. But you don't need everyone in the country to be involved in the insurgency, you just need a motivated minority. Ukraine might be below replacement, but you will absolutely find more than enough people to form a local Vietcong/Taliban in case the Russians actually invade.
3) On the odds of a successful insurgency 3: kit. Russia has the tanks, but Ukraine has the Saab next generation anti-tank weapons. Assymetry being the central theme of modern warfare. Having the costly kit that can be taken out by squatting slavs in bushes, for pennies, is actually a strategic weakness.
3) If Russia invades, and does in fact run into a local Vietcong/Taliban equivalent, and gets embroiled, it might well be morally *worse* for Russia than Vietnam or Afghanistan were for America - in addition to the usual humiliation and hit to national self-confidence from a defeat at the hands of a bunch of angry rednecks, there is also the matter of a war on Ukraine being essentially fratricidal. It is one thing to "go blow up coloured devils of some sort" halfway across the planet, and another to go shooting literal cousins. And then lose. Notably, this is the typical argument for why an Appalachian Hillbilly Resistance would probably succeed against the US government.
4) Russia cares more than America, but America should realize this is about the future of its empire and its credibility as an ally, and adjust its commitment accordingly. Ukraine isn't just about Ukraine, the stakes are broader - I am Czech, and we are watching Ukraine with *extreme* attention to see how credible America is as an ally, especially given the history of western betrayals and being repeatedly sold out for the sake of short-sighted, temporary appeasement of implacable imperialists (Munich conference, Yalta). If NATO allows Putin to take Ukraine, then the Baltics and Poland can reasonably expect to be next, and they will start taking steps to ensure military security outside the NATO framework. Putin counts on this - the stakes here are actually the loyalty of the entirety of Central-Eastern post-communist Europe. We are scared.
Don't be the Neville Chamberlain to Putin.
5) Full agreement that America no longer promotes ideals that would inspire anybody normal. Aspiring to democracy and peeping westwards through the barbed wire of the Iron Curtain under the Soviet yoke was one thing. If the American empire was still 1980s Reagan-Rambo-TopGun-GreedIsGood, we'd all be on board 100%. Being lectured on pronouns by non-binary avocadoes is another, substantially less inspiring story. I understand the American empire needed a new universal Casus Belli after "democracy" succeeded and became the global baseline (except for a few holdouts where it will conversely never be a thing, and so is equally useless as a propaganda device), but I feel y'all could have done a lot better coming up with an ideological justification for imperialism than wokeness, possibly the least appealing cause of all currently in circulation except for kicking puppies - not least because it smells very similar to stuff post-communist countries (as opposed to pre-communist ones) already tried and are currently trying to get as far away from as possible. Of course, it's possible and even likely that "wokeness" is the cold-war era work of our own intelligence agencies, currently dismantling the American empire by the all-conquering centrifugal force of pure cringe, the universal solvent of civilizations.
"“white conservative Christians bad” is fundamental to their worldview"
This is a great point and also explains elite hysteria at immigration restriction in the West while completely ignoring it in developed East Asian countries. Even as someone generally pro-immigration I've found the double standard bewildering.
Someone pointed out a few years ago that when elites were freaking out about Le Pen potentially being elected, South Korea was having an election where the candidates were all - across the board - exponentially more restrictive on immigration. But the latter got 0 attention from the media/journalist class. In fact, Moon was portrayed as a liberal/progressive hero.
This is a very useful article, both because of the content, and because it really distills both what I really like and really dislike about Richard's writing.
On the one hand, the connection between LGBT issues and elite views of Russia is very real, and well stated. The partisan shift in the past ten years from Romney's debate-stage comment is really shocking if you take a step back and think about it. This part of the piece is well documented and really hard to argue with. Even if I didn't have similar suspicions before, I think I would find it convincing.
On the other, parts of this post are underdeveloped and a little too cute. The part about how "no country or region with a total fertility rate below replacement has fought a serious insurgency" jumped out at me. Leaving aside the question of how "serious" is serious, it ignores just how historically weird and recent it is to have sub-replacement fertility rates at all, and how strongly this correlates with modern economic development - and therefore fewer wars in general. Let's ignore insurgencies for a moment: how many countries with a sub-replacement fertility rate have been actually invaded by another country, ever? Even most industrialized Western countries had TFR's slightly above replacement rates until after WW2. I honestly don't know off the top of my head how many invasions we're talking about, but I suspect the answer is in the single digits. You really need to know that in order to figure out a reasonable base rate for serious insurgencies in invaded countries with sub-replacement level fertility rates.
So while Richard might be right, this might very well be a spurious correlation. And that's exactly the sort of observation that I find so frustrating in Richard's writing: it's an interesting thought that a lot of mainstream writers either wouldn't think of or wouldn't write, it's facially plausible once you think of it, but....he hasn't actually done the work to show that it's true.
Almost completely in agreement, except for a concern about the bit about "right-wing populists" criticizing Biden's withdrawal. I may be one of them; I think it was absolutely the right thing to do, long overdue, but implemented very carelessly. I don't think that's an unusual opinion on either the right or left.
Of course there's no reason to think Trump could have done any better -- I suspect that someone like Tulsi might have made less of a mess of it, but all that is pure speculation...
Why Did Russia Give Away Crimea Sixty Years Ago?
US "color revolution" coup in Ukraine is a crime against and tragedy for both beautiful Ukrainian and Russian people who share so much history.
Crimea was part of Russia from 1783, when the Tsarist Empire annexed it a decade after defeating Ottoman forces in the Battle of Kozludzha, until 1954, when the Soviet government transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics (RSFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkrSSR). The transfer was announced in the Soviet press in late February 1954, eight days after the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution authorizing the move on 19 February. The text of the resolution and some anodyne excerpts from the proceedings of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet meeting on 19 February were published along with the very brief announcement. Nothing else about the transfer was disclosed at the time, and no further information was made available during the remainder of the Soviet era.
Not until 1992, just after the Soviet Union was dissolved, did additional material about this episode emerge. A historical-archival journal, Istoricheskii arkhiv (Historical Archive), which had been published in the USSR from 1955 until 1962, began appearing again in 1992 with transcriptions of declassified documents from the former Soviet archive.
That the transfer was justified solely by Crimea’s cultural and economic affinities with Ukraine is -- far-fetched. In the 1950s, the population of Crimea — approximately 1.1 million — was roughly 75 percent ethnic Russian and 25 percent Ukrainian. A sizable population of Tatars had lived in Crimea for centuries until May 1944, when they were deported en masse by the Stalinist regime to barren sites in Central Asia, where they were compelled to live for more than four decades and were prohibited from returning to their homeland. Stalin also forcibly deported smaller populations of Armenians, Bulgarians, and Greeks from Crimea, completing the ethnic cleansing of the peninsula. Hence, in 1954, Crimea was more “Russian” than it had been for centuries.
Crimea had originally been an “autonomous republic” (avtonomnaya respublika) in the RSFSR, but its status was changed to that of an “oblast’” (province) in the RSFSR in 1945, ostensibly because the forced removal of the Crimean Tatars had eliminated the need for autonomy. After the Crimean oblast was transferred to the UkSSR in 1954, it retained the status of an oblast’ within Soviet Ukraine for 37 years. In early 1991, after a referendum was held in the UkrSSR and a resolution was adopted a month later by the UkrSSR parliament, the status of Crimea was upgraded to that of an “autonomous republic.” Crimea retained that designation within Ukraine after the Soviet Union broke apart.
A tragic irony of the Crimean transfer is that an action of sixty years ago, taken by Moscow to strengthen its control over Ukraine, has come back to haunt Ukraine today.
Key players in the Russia-gate hoax and impeachment “entertainments” are now hyperventilating about “all but certain major war in Europe a la WW2” – ghouls Adam Schiff, colonel Alexander Windman (an Ukrainian) and Fiona Hill (a Cold War warrior on National Security Council). Same lying bastards who led the scam of the century concocted by the SAME lying team -- Obama-Biden-Hillary-Pelosi-Schumer-Schiff and the rest of DNC-CIA/FBI cabal.
Adam Schiff has been, for years, a leading recipient of huge “donations” by arm industry – his main source of funds. Remember when Raytheon in 2013 put on a Beyonce concert to promote Adam Schiff? This despicable -- that human excrement and serial liar is among leading Congress war-mongers and recipient of arm industry donations.
Schiff is now driving government’s domestic terrorism legislation !! In his free time this loathsome grifter wants to write a novel – of all things about Holocaust.
The entire Russia-gate lying team is back in FULL power -- we are now paying the price for not fully unmasking the brazen scam of the century. Of course, Trump and GOP lunatics were and remain VERY bad, however – however, DNC lying and warmongering team is INFINITELY more dangerous. They will likely try to prevent 2022 elections - as "illegal" - in order to stay in power.
Also remember – Biden was the governor of Ukraine under Obama – selecting and removing heads of industry and Ukraine’s puppet government after successful US coup there. The immense corruption of Biden family still needs to be investigated – Hunter’s Burisma was used to ‘wash” their dirty money. Thanks heavens that recent “colored revolution” coups in Belarus and Kazakhstan were not successful.
WHO will be the first current or former Democrat Congresswoman/man or Senator to publicly acknowledge and confirm the brazen scam of the century – DNC’s + CIA/FBI security complex (St. Obama/Biden/Hillary/Pelosi/Schumer, Jammie Raskin, etc. + Brennan, Clapper, Hayden, etc.) Russia-gate hoax and subsequent conspiracies, including 1/6 “armed insurrection”?
War-monger vampires must be stopped. Military-industrial complex must be defunded – US main “products” and exports are now weapons, coups and immense and all-encompassing corruption. China is far more capitalist than the US, Russia has not been Communist for 30+ years, while the US is a corporate socialism (more polite term for fascism)
This article is way off, way off the reality of the Eastern Europe.
Mr. Hanania can find Ukraine on a map, I presume, but that is about everything he knows about this land and its people.
It is very disappointing to see people pontificating on matters related to Eastern Europe when they do not know much about that part of the World.
Mr. Hanania is not alone in his predicament, generally reliable political commentator Tucker Carlson of Fox News also does not have a clue about what is going on there.
Your theory about fertility rates and insurgency is about to be tested even if Ukraine doesn't get invaded. Burma has been hovering right around replacement rate fertility for awhile and is about to fall below 2.1 in 2022, yet has a large ongoing insurgency. https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/MMR/myanmar/fertility-rate
Sorry to say I can't read anything you write seriously after this piece. Being wrong on the internet masterclass material.
It's amazing. All those journalists Putin killed and not a peep just a few years later. And PUNDITS, who you think would care, nada. I'm gay as a goose, but Putin's killing of journalists and opposition politicians has always bothered me more than his anti-gay stuff.
Surprised this hasn't been deleted yet. How can one person be so wrong?
Iraq, famous for its verdant forests...
So, how about Finland (and Sweden) joining NATO? Practically, they're already half-way in. I'm just dying to wait for ignorant takes from IR pundits who know next to nothing about these countries.
Worth carefully reading the translation on the subject -- outstanding Brazilian politician
Inequality versus Woke BS