Feb 22, 2023Liked by Michael McFaul

I know this has been said in some comments here, but I think it is worth stressing again. I think Putin wants to run this into the US 2024 election. Without Biden, or certainly another Democrat as president, the unity will fail. The Ukrainians know this too. If Trump himself is elected, or anytime trying to appease his base, the support will end. The drumbeat has already started some time ago. It will not be a geopolitical argument here domestically, but rather a purely nationalistic financial one.... “How come we spend all of this money on Ukrainians...?” It will ignore all of the facts that Dr. McFaul and others have laid out here and that will have a visceral impact on those less engaged in these complex debates. So, time is running out... The Congress and the White House could be in Republican hands by Jan. 2025, less than two years from now and support will end, it seems to me.

This will also fracture the coalition Biden, and perhaps only Biden with 50 years of experience, built.

I know some will say that there are “normal Republicans” out there that see the bigger picture of this, but since 2015, they have been invisible on a range of issues.

It seems that there are many Republicans in power now who have a decisively Pro-Putin stance that seems hard to explain...

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Excellent analysis. Putin has only one option left: to bleed Ukraine dry, both army and civilians. He's prepared to sacrifice as many Russians in that effort as it takes. We've seen already that sharp blows on his armies can trigger a local collapse. What is needed is a breakthrough of such magnitude the the whole rotten edifice of the VSRF gives way. That will not be achieved in dribs and drabs.

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Totally agree with everything you conclude Mike. Thanks for your report from Munich, and thanks for both the short & the long view. It is essential to end the war as quickly as possible and that means weapons delivery now, including tanks & planes. The sooner we supply needed arms the sooner we end it. To prolong this butchery is to doom the Ukrainian people for generations, and the more we benefit that butcher Putin. Delay is heartless and sickens me.

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Thanks for the summary of the Munich meeting. It's disheartening to hear about the leaders still wringing their hands and being indecisive. Anne Applebaum's column today in the Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/02/biden-trip-ukraine-kyiv/673134/) said the same thing, that too many people haven't grasped the situation and think all will go back to normal any day now. Will Biden's visit to Kyiv today change some of these minds, or maybe his speech in Warsaw tomorrow?

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Thanks for your observations as always. We must act now to support Ukraine and communicate the need to ensure our timeline matches Ukraine need.

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The war in Ukraine is perhaps best seen as one small battle in a very long, much larger war between civilized people and violent men.

The Ukrainians are fighting for their lives, so it would be completely unreasonable to expect them to be focused on that larger picture at this time. But somebody needs to be, because it is the bigger picture which will decide our future, and not the war in Ukraine.

Some segment of the elite class needs to keep it's eye on the bottom line of the larger war. And in that larger war the enemy is not the Russians, Chinese, Iranians or any other group in particular, but violent men in general as a class of human beings. Violent men are a small percent of the human race which is responsible for the overwhelming majority of preventable problems. That's the target we should be aiming at.

In any war the first step is to identify the enemy, and in the larger war I'm referring to, we haven't really done that yet. And so we have no strategy for defeating the real enemy at the heart of ALL these particular conflicts, because so far at least, we seem not to be clear on who the real enemy is.

It's entirely possible that there are intellectual elites who are already writing on this very topic in earnest, and I just haven't found them yet. If anyone should know where such folks are working, I'd be grateful for any pointers.

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Given that Russia is clearly 'all in' on this war I cannot see why Ukraine's backers can't be. I'm certainly all for even more generous arming of the the Ukrainians. But I'm not sure that time is on Putin's side. The Ukrainians aren't going anywhere-there commitment is as unshakeable as you can make it. With time the sanctions will bite and there's every chance that war-weariness will get started in Russia. It's clear their heats aren't in it to the extent of the Ukrainians. The impact of large numbers of wounded soldiers talking freely can't be discounted. Putin isn't going to rule forever too.

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I remain troubled by the image of intelligent, well educated experts poring more jet fuel exhaust in to the atmosphere so that they can fly around the world and watch presentations on a screen, a communication that can be done over the internet. It's not just the jet fuel burning that makes me squirm in my seat though. It's what the jet fuel burning represents.

On the one hand, the words of elites tell us that nukes are a crisis, Ukraine is a crisis, climate change is a crisis, species extinction is a crisis etc. On the other hand, the actions of elites all across the board are communicating that it's safe for our culture to continue on with the same old business as usual routines. The disconnect between these messages is like a corrosive solvent gradually undermining my confidence in the very concept of "elite". Maybe elites are just people who can afford classy suits?

I remain worried that the attention of elites seems to have been captured by the details of day to day headlines, and that the larger picture that will decide our future is being lost in the shuffle. Winning in Ukraine will prove meaningless if some coming conflict spins out of control, because then nobody will win, and everybody will lose. It's not the war in Ukraine that will decide our future, but rather an ongoing pattern of reckless geopolitical competition that we're unlikely to successfully manage forever.

I remain somewhat exasperated that nuclear weapons experts and activists don't seem to grasp that if we got rid of every last nuke violent men like Putin would then just immediately turn their attention to other means of mass destruction, which an accelerating knowledge explosion will be happy to provide. And then in no time at all, we'll be right back where we are now, worrying about the survival of this civilization. I remain annoyed that a total nobody has to explain to them that it's not the weapons which are the problem, but the violent men who would use them, and as many times as that's explained it goes in one ear of the experts and out the other.

Saddam Hussein is dead, and so we don't have to worry about Iraqi nukes, or a nuclear arms race between Iraq and Iran. This seems a pretty clear example of how violent men are the real problem. But I've never read a single expert speak this seemingly obvious truth.

I remain concerned that being an intellectual elite is a business, and that any business is pretty much chained to the group consensus. Experts can't afford to explore too far outside the status quo or they'll get branded as crackpots, an existential threat to their careers. This would be ok, except that the status quo group consensus is a proven failure, or after 75 years we wouldn't still be worrying about what some Russian dictator might do with their nukes.

I didn't take comfort from Munich, and I'm not going to join in the applause. Instead, I'm going to go watch some Greta Thunberg videos, and try to learn from an almost child how to speak truth to power.

All that bellowed, I will report that I agree with very close to everything that Mr. McFaul is writing about Ukraine, and admire the skill with which he says it. But, you don't belong on Twitter sir, none of us do.

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