Russia wishes Europe a miserable Christmas

December 26, 2022 • 9:25 am

The article and video below were published in both Newsweek and the New York Post, so I think you can take the video, put out by RT News, as genuine. And it’s pretty horrible, as it’s a Russian-made video telling Ukrainians (and Europeans in general) what a lousy holiday season they’re going to have after the Russians keep bombing them. It’s really a piece of propagandistic blackmail.

First, what is “RT News”? Wikipedia describes it as

RT (formerly Russia Today or Rossiya Segodnya (Russian: Россия Сегодня) is a Russian state-controlled international news television network funded by the Russian government. It operates pay television and free-to-air channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in Russian, English, Spanish, French, German and Arabic.

. . . RT has regularly been described as a major propaganda outlet for the Russian government and its foreign policy. Academics, fact-checkers, and news reporters (including some current and former RT reporters) have identified RT as a purveyor of disinformation and conspiracy theories. UK media regulator Ofcom has repeatedly found RT to have breached its rules on impartiality, including multiple instances in which RT broadcast “materially misleading” content.

That, then, is the source. Click below to see the Newsweek report and then the dreadful video.

An excerpt:

Russian state TV released a Christmas message to Europe recently amid Moscow’s faltering invasion of Ukraine.

The video, released by Russia Today (RT), comes as the Russia-Ukraine war enters its 10th month on Christmas Eve. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military has struggled to achieve substantial goals in Ukraine throughout the war, with Ukraine’s spirited defense—bolstered by aid from the West—blunting military gains. Throughout the fall, Ukraine retook thousands of square miles of formerly occupied land.

Most of Europe rallied around the Eastern European country, providing humanitarian and military aid to Kyiv, much to Putin’s dismay. Many European countries have also issued sanctions against Russian businesses, including oil. Russian oil has long been used across Europe, and these sanctions have been attributed to rising energy costs in several European countries.

RT highlighted the rising cost of oil in a new propaganda video, which aimed to illustrate the effects of rising energy prices on Europeans.

The video—first reported by BBC’s Francis Scarr on Twitter on Friday—starts off by showing a scene from Christmas 2021, in which a young girl received a pet hamster wearing a bow for Christmas, while the holiday classic “Silent Night” plays in the background.

One year later, the girl’s father is seen creating a contraption for the hamster to generate electricity for the family, presumably because the cost of powering and heating their home has become too expensive due to sanctions against Russia. The hamster, running on a wheel, creates energy to light the Christmas tree as the family sits on a couch, dressed in coats and earmuffs.

The video then cuts to Christmas 2023, when the family, now appearing to live in poverty, is eating their Christmas dinner when the father finds the hamster’s bow in his soup, implying they were forced to cook the pet for a holiday meal.

“Merry ‘anti-Russian’ Christmas! If your media doesn’t tell you where this is all going, RT is available available by VPN,” text displayed at the end of the video reads, revealing it as an advertisement for the Kremlin-tied news outlet.

The video was met with mockery on social media, where Twitter users largely ridiculed its hyperbole and fear-mongering.

Journalist Dave Keating tweeted on Friday: “Russia not even trying to disguise its energy blackmail any more.”

This is pretty Nineteen Eighty-Four-ish: a mean-spirited holiday message that says, “Give up now or you’ll soon be eating hamsters in the dark.”  I imagine it would only further energize the Ukrainians!

h/t: David

The Nazi Holocaust archive

June 20, 2022 • 1:45 pm

Here’s a 60 Minutes segment I found both intriguing and touching. The show reveals a ton of Nazi documentation on the Holocaust (50 million pages!) that has only recently been made public. The documents and artifacts were found by the Allies after the war and sequestered in a town called Bad Arolsen (you can even search the archive here).

The Nazis were obsessive at recording everything, including details of the victims they killed in the camps. Why? Because they wanted to prove to their superiors that they were “getting the job done.” The minutiae recorded, including the number and size of the lice on prisoners’ heads, is amazing.

Some of the most moving parts include showing three Holocaust survivors their own records, records they’d never seen before. One rolls up his sleeve to show a tattooed number corresponding to his camp document.

The attrition of Ukraine

June 5, 2022 • 10:30 am

I, for one, never thought deeply enough about the Ukraine/Russia war to think about the simple issue posed by this Quillette piece (no, it’s not a right wing rant). Click on the screenshot to read it:



The dilemma is expressed in the title and in this paragraph by Lloyd, a contributing editor at the Financial Times and co-founder of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism:

An existential choice faces Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. It is perhaps the worst choice facing any head of state in the world—between capitulation before Russian President Vladimir Putin and continued resistance to the Russian invasion. If Zelensky chooses the former, there is no guarantee—or even a realistic hope—that any agreement to end hostilities will be honoured a minute longer than Putin finds convenient. On the other hand, continued resistance guarantees that many more Ukrainians—military and civilian—will die and many more cities and towns will be reduced to rubble, even if victory (whatever that looks like) is achieved eventually.

Although I thought the war would be over quickly, with Russia the victor, I still think Russia has the upper hand. As the NYT reports today, Russia is firing more missiles at Kyiv, and Putin has threatened to stat firing at new targets if the West supplies Ukraine with longer-range missiles. The Donbas region is well on its way to complete control by Russia, and reports of Ukrainian advances are rare.  This makes the “existential choice” more likely. Is there anyone who still thinks that Ukraine will expel Russia entirely?

The West, too, is starting to pressure Ukraine to settle. Germany has failed to come through with promised weapons, probably because it stands to lose the most in terms of Russian gas. France is waffling too; from the NYT:

President Emmanuel Macron of France’s assertion that Ukraine and its allies should refrain from humiliating Moscow to improve the possibility of a negotiated settlement touched off a fiery response from Kyiv. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said that such statements “can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.”

Refrain from humiliating Moscow? They conducted a brutal invasion, killing thousands of civilians, and committing numerous war crimes, and we shouldn’t “humiliate” them?? There’s only so far you can go with Realpolitik, and giving in to Putin doesn’t include that. But what’s the alternative?

Lloyd gives two reasons why Putin invaded:

So, why did Putin do it? For two reasons, above all. First, he was tormented by the prospect of Ukraine becoming wholly democratic and pro-Western—an example he feared would inspire the very many Russians who wish to see their own country develop an active civil society. Second, were this to happen, it would thwart Putin’s clearly expressed aim to merge the three Slav states of the former Soviet Union into a partial reconstruction of the Russian empire—Belarus is already in Putin’s pocket; Ukraine is now fighting to stay out of it; and Russia has allotted itself the role of imperial master. In a 5,000-word essay published in July last year and titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” Putin denied that Ukraine is a separate state, and warned that Russia could not permit it to drift into the West’s orbit.

He suggests, giving a link, that Putin may be seriously ill, and thus trying to cement his legacy:

He has come to see the reconstitution of the most important part of the Russian empire as his legacy. If rumours of Putin’s failing health are true, that legacy may soon become operative, which has led observers to speculate that the precipitate invasion was the decision of a sick man in a hurry. Putin’s imperial ambitions and iron determination make him an impossible interlocutor—a man determined, as Emmanuel Macron has discovered, not to give an inch.

The more I watch this war (and remember, I’m no pundit), the more I think Lloyd is right. Every day 100 Ukrainian soldiers die—and there’s a finite number of them—the more I think that Zelensky will have to cut some kind of deal with Putin. The problem, of course, is that Putin is a liar and a cheat, and his promises are worth nothing,

It’s a bad business all around, but I don’t think Ukraine will do anything more than survive as a smaller portion of itself (and without NATO membership). But let’s take a poll, and explain your opinion below.

What will be the result of the Russia/Ukraine war?

View Results

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h/t: Steve

Russians destroy world’s largest airplane in Kyiv

May 19, 2022 • 12:45 pm

This article was in the April 22 issue of the New York Times, but has languished among my 1,737 draft posts. And compared to the toll of human lives following the Russian invasion, this can only be a footnote. But it’s an intriguing footnote, for it describes how a Russian hit on Antonov airport near Kyiv, in Ukraine, destroyed the world’s largest aircraft. That would be a plane manufactured in the Ukraine when it was part of Russia and flown (as a cargo plane) by Ukrainian pilots.

That plane would be the  Antonov An-225 Mriya. How big was it? Let Wikipedia give the stats:

With a maximum takeoff weight of 640 tonnes (705 short tons), the An-225 held several records, including heaviest aircraft ever built and largest wingspan of any aircraft in operational service. The Mriya attracted a high degree of public interest, attaining a global following due to its size and its uniqueness. People frequently visited airports to see its scheduled arrivals and departures.

. . . Initially, the An-225 had a maximum gross weight of 600 t (660 short tons; 590 long tons), but from 2000 to 2001, the aircraft underwent modifications at a cost of US$20 million, such as the addition of a reinforced floor, which increased the maximum gross weight to 640 t (710 short tons; 630 long tons).

Both the earlier and later takeoff weights establish the An-225 as the world’s heaviest aircraft, being heavier than the double-deck Airbus A380. It is surpassed in other size-related categories, but Airbus claims to have improved upon the An-225’s maximum landing weight by landing an A380 at 591.7 tonnes (1,304,000 lb) during tests, and the Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the Spruce Goose, has a greater wingspan and a greater overall height, but the Spruce Goose is 20% shorter and overall lighter, due to the materials used in its construction. In addition, the H-4 only flew once and for less than a minute, making the An-225 the largest aircraft in the world to fly multiple times.

And from the NYT:

At 276 feet long and six stories high, the plane, designated AN-225, was bigger than any other in the sky. It boasted 32 landing wheels and a wingspan of 290 feet. Its maximum takeoff weight stood at a staggering 1.4 million pounds, far more than a fully loaded 747. Its nose cone flipped up so that big objects, like turbine blades or even smaller jets, could be slid into its cavernous belly.

Here’s why people would watch it take off:

And look at its main landing gear!

Six engines, six contrails:

A Russian missile scored a direct hit on Mriya’s hanger, turning it to fragments. Here’s a video about that:

The NYT describes the sorrow attending the destruction of this one-of-a-kind plane, especially from its pilot:

In the case of Mriya, which took a direct hit during the pivotal battle at that airport, the damage to the aircraft has stirred an incredible outpouring of what can only be described as grief. Heartbroken airplane buffs around the world are getting Mriya tattoosA sad cartoon has been circulating, with tears streaming out of Mriya’s eyes.

“If I were not a man,” he said, “I would cry.”

The plane after it was hit.  The NYT says that “All might not be lost, though. The Ukrainian government, knowing the power of Mriya’s symbolism, has vowed to rebuild her with war reparations it hopes to squeeze from Russia.”  I wouldn’t hold my breath.

From the NYT: Haluneko finally worked up the courage to visit the plane to see the damage to the plane he flew many times:

And another photo from the NYT: of Halunenko with his beloved plane:

And another epic takeoff for you plane buffs:

Andrzej’s ode to Karolina

May 17, 2022 • 9:00 am

Karolina and her mother Natasza have returned to Kyiv from their sojourn in Dobrzyn, where they stayed two months after fleeing from Ukraine. Andrzej put together a paean to the child (Andrzej loves kids). He wrote it in Polish (I’ll put his original text below the fold), and Malgorzata translated it into English (below). And there are a bunch of pictures.

The update is that two days ago Karolina and her mom returned to Ukraine to be with the father and the other son, who is twenty. Reports are that everyone is safe.


An almost eight-year-old girl, in the atmosphere of panic and terror of war, landed for less than two months in a place completely alien to her world. I remember the uncertain look on her face when she got out of the car, and the first day in the garden when the sight of an airplane in the sky caused her a sudden fear. These fears quickly dissipated, though they could be seen in her drawings and in her anger at the sight of Putin’s photo when she saw it while looking over my shoulder as I read the news on the computer. It seemed as if she had forgotten her nightmares overnight.

I knew it wasn’t true, but it wasn’t a constant fear anymore, and Karolina’s love of cats overrode everything else. She was fully bilingual in Russian and Ukrainian, so the third language of Polish entered her mind at an impressive pace. We played with the language and later I spoke only Polish to Karolina. Sometimes she glared at me and said, without a hint of a foreign accent, “I don’t understand.” She came to a house where cats, flowers and people are photographed (although the latter are the least numerous—unless they are children). I wonder what will remain in her memory of this short stay, and what will affect her, even though she will likely forget most of it? I’ll never know.

Like all children, she loves absurdities and paradoxes, so I can hear her amused voice as she screams “Andrzej” (with mock indignation) when I tell her that the frog has eaten a hippo.

Below are a handful of photos from this stay, some taken by me, others by our Paulina. (It’s easy to recognize, because Paulina’s photos are always better.)

Click “read more” to see Andzej’s original text in Polish:

Continue reading “Andrzej’s ode to Karolina”

A repost of a post by Matthew: Belgian resistance fighters try to free a trainload of Jews headed to Auschwitz

April 19, 2022 • 11:30 am

Exactly two years ago today, Matthew, who’s studied European resistance to the Nazis and written books about it, wrote on this site about a daring and largely successful attempt of three members of the Belgian Resistance to free a trainload of Jews being taken to Auschwitz. It’s a great story about a horror that has so few upsides, and I’m going to link to it again today. Simply click on the title below to go to Matthew’s 2020 post.

Bravery in the midst of horror: the attack on Convoy 20 to Auschwitz

Matthew Cobb

77 years ago, on the evening of 19-20th April 1943, an audacious operation to save Jews being deported to Nazi Germany took place in Belgium. This was the only known organized attempt in the whole of Occupied Europe to stop the deportation of Jews. What follows is an extract from my book The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis (2010). These passages are based on Marion Schreiber’s excellent 2000 work, translated in 2004 as The Twentieth Train: The True Story of the Ambush of the Death Train to Auschwitz.

What will happen to Ukraine?

March 13, 2022 • 11:00 am

Most of us, including me, aren’t political pundits, but I’m providing a space for people to prognosticate about the Ukraine. This is not a poll, just a place to tell others what you’re thinking.

I’ll give my own view of Ukraine’s future:

1.) Ukraine will lose the “special military operation” to Russia. This seems to me a foregone conclusion, even though some are still hoping that Ukraine will push out the Russian Army. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance of hell in that.

2.) Russia will continue its scorched-earth policy, and Ukrainians will fight on courageously, until Zelensky realizes the inevitable and surrenders. I predict that the Russians will want an unconditional surrender.

3.) Many more will die on both sides, and far too many civilians since they appear to be deliberately targeted by Russia. Not one person had to die; it is Putin’s decision to launch this killing spree.

4.) The big question: what will be the political fate of Ukraine? I predict that it will either become Russian territory or a Russian puppet state, ruled by a Russian-picked stooge. It will be like the Eastern Bloc countries before 1989. And it will be depopulated (2.7 million of its inhabitants have already become refugees).

5.) Zelensky will most likely be captured unless he manages to escape. If he is captured, the Russians will surely imprison him and may kill him. (If they do get Zelensky, I predict he won’t want to be taken alive.)

6.) Russia will continue to be a pariah state, economically punished and its people suffering from the sanctions.

7.) The second big question: does Putin have ambitions to take over more territory beyond Ukraine? This I don’t know. The obvious targets are the Baltic states, and even Poland has been mentioned, but those are members of NATO and that alliance is obliged by treaty to defend them if they’re invaded.

What I’d want, of course, would be for Ukraine to win and Putin and others be tried for war crimes. But both of these are off the table. (I keep hoping that Mossad would somehow kidnap Putin the bring him to the Hague for trial.)

Of course my opinion isn’t worth more than anyone else’s, much less those who do have greater insight into the situation. But weigh in below.

Now they’re worried that sanctions will make Putin behave even worse!

March 4, 2022 • 12:30 pm

Remember, I am not a political pundit. All I can do is express an average liberal American’s worry about politics. So this average liberal was concerned by the NYT headline below (click on screenshot):

The normal first reaction would be “What the hell? First Biden threatens, and implements, in cooperation with other European and First World nations, extremely strict sanctions designed to make life very uncomfortable for Putin. Now, however, they’re worried that the imposition of those very sanctions will anger Putin even more, so that he’ll lash out like a fighting bull stabbed by a picador. Who’s in charge here?” From the NYT:

Senior White House officials designing the strategy to confront Russia have begun quietly debating a new concern: that the avalanche of sanctions directed at Moscow, which have gained speed faster than they imagined, is cornering President Vladimir V. Putin and may prompt him to lash out, perhaps expanding the conflict beyond Ukraine.

In Situation Room meetings in recent days, the issue has come up repeatedly, according to three officials. Mr. Putin’s tendency, American intelligence officials have told the White House and Congress, is to double down when he feels trapped by his own overreach. So they have described a series of possible reactions, ranging from indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities to compensate for the early mistakes made by his invading force, to cyberattacks directed at the American financial system, to more nuclear threats and perhaps moves to take the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.

The debate over Mr. Putin’s next moves is linked to an urgent re-examination by intelligence agencies of the Russian leader’s mental state, and whether his ambitions and appetite for risk have been altered by two years of Covid isolation.

. . .Nonetheless, Mr. Putin’s reaction to the initial wave of sanctions has provoked a range of concerns that one senior official called the “Cornered Putin Problem.” Those concerns center on a series of recent announcements: the pullout of oil companies like Exxon and Shell from developing Russia’s oil fields, the moves against Russia’s central bank that sent the ruble plunging, and Germany’s surprise announcement that it would drop its ban on sending lethal weapons to the Ukrainian forces and ramp up its defense spending.

But beyond canceling the missile test, there is no evidence that the United States is considering steps to reduce tensions, and a senior official said there was no interest in backing off sanctions.

And indeed, from what I hear, the sanctions are playing hob with the Russian economy, exactly as intended. The Ukrainians, though doomed, are fighting back gallantly, earning the admiration of all lovers of democracy. So why are people worried even more now? Well, the nervous Nellies have three concerns:

1.) More hacking. From the NYT:

“If the situation escalates further, I think we are going to see Russian cyberattacks against our critical infrastructure,” said Representative Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, a member of the House Intelligence Committee who served as co-chairman of an influential cyberspace commission.

I’m sure the Russians are already hacking the U.S. and our allies as hard as they can. But of course we can do the same to them.

2.) Further expansion by Putin. 

Another possibility is that Mr. Putin will threaten to push further into Moldova or Georgia, which, like Ukraine, are not members of NATO — and thus territory that the American and NATO forces would not enter. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is making Moldova one of his stops on a reassurance tour that began on Thursday.

There’s not much more escalation we can use to deter Putin from expanding into other non-Nato countries—or even NATO ones. Will the U.S. be willing to start WW III if Putin decides to take over the Baltic countries, which are NATO members? I doubt it.

3.) Putin goes for the nuclear option, perhaps only as a threat. 

There are larger worries, involving potential nuclear threats. Last Sunday, as the fighting accelerated, Belarus passed a referendum that amended its constitution to allow for nuclear weapons to be based, once again, on its territory. American officials are expecting that President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko may well ask Mr. Putin to place tactical weapons in his country, where they would be closer to European capitals. And Mr. Putin has shown, twice this week, that he is ready to remind the world of the powers of his arsenal.

Don’t forget that tactical nuclear weapons are not huge A-bombs like those used in WWII (or the later H-bombs). They are smaller, less powerful, and yes, tactical. They are battlefield weapons, not meant to vaporize cities.

The thing is, Russia doesn’t need them to conquer any of the non-NATO countries in Europe. Though Russian forces advanced more slowly than anyone expected, Putin won’t need nukes to take the entire Ukraine. It’s anyone’s guess what would happen if the Russians used tactical nukes, but it is unnecessary for them to get what they want. They are really threatening the use of major nukes, I think, as a form of psychological warfare.

All bets are off, of course, if NATO declares a U.S. no-fly zone over Ukraine. That would mean allied planes shooting at Russian ones, and that’s a huge escalation of the hostilities—something I would worry about. But we should give Zelenskyy all the damn planes he wants, up until the point where the war is clearly lost. He wants a no-fly zone, and NATO has properly said “no.”

As I’ve said repeatedly, trying to suss out Putin’s mentality reminds me of Tom Nagel’s famous article, “What is it like to be a bat?” (See original paper here.) All I can think of when I try to psychologize Putin are these two lines from the Doors’ song “Riders on the Storm.”

There’s a killer on the road
His brain is squirming like a toad

We don’t know what he’s thinking or what he’s capable of doing. But when you see headlines like the one above, which implies that U.S. defense strategists are second-guessing the Biden administration’s actions, it worries me. Good therapists will not diagnose patients they haven’t met, and even if they do, they cannot predict what a maniac like Putin will do.

And don’t get me started about those liberals who blame Putin’s invasion on the “expansionism” of the U.S. and NATO.

Trump, praising Putin, shows his inner ghoul

February 24, 2022 • 1:45 pm

Just looking at the NYT headline below made me ill.

Now we all knew that Trump is a man without scruples, morals, or empathy, but I’m hoping that, by supporting Putin, he’s gone too far this time. Most Americans are on the side of Ukraine (after all, we still stand for democracy against dictatorshis); though, curiously, the Democrats seem more hawkish than the Republicans.  But Trump. . . . well, he’s rootin’ for Putin. And why not? Trump aspires to be like Putin.

Click to read, if you can bear it

Only hours before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, former President Donald J. Trump again praised the cunning of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia while lashing out at the intellect of President Biden.

“I mean he’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin to donors and Republican lawmakers at Mar-a-Lago, his private club, on Wednesday. “I’d say that’s pretty smart.”

The kind words a former president gave a foreign adversary locked in a geopolitical showdown with the United States — and committing the most egregious act of aggression in Europe since World War II — would be virtually unprecedented, except that Mr. Trump himself had praised Mr. Putin only a day earlier, saying his aggression was “genius” and “very savvy.”

Most Republican leaders, though not all Republicans, have condemned Putin’s arrant action, and though some Republicans don’t care, I haven’t seen any save Trump actually praise Putin.

Later on Wednesday, after the fighting had begun and explosions could already be heard in Kyiv and around Ukraine, Mr. Trump called into Fox News, where he claimed that the crisis would not have happened if he were still in the White House.

Both in his speech and on Fox News, Mr. Trump repeated his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

“He was going to be satisfied with the peace,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin, “and now he sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity of this administration.”

Now it’s not clear that Trump actually said that Putin is doing a good thing by invading Ukraine, for his praise of Putin preceded the actual invasion. But in saying that “the crisis would not have happened if he were still in the White House,” I’m pretty sure that Trump means, “Putin and I are pals and understand each other; we would have cut a deal that would have prevented the equation.” He’s not saying, “Had I been President, I would have used the U.S. military to prevent this crisis.”

One hopes that Trump has shown his ultimate rottenness here, and that even many of his supporters will be revolted by his praise of Putin during the invasion of a democratic country. But never underestimate the ability of Republicans to cling to Trump like remoras to a shark.  Most of them probably don’t even care what’s happening in Europe.

Zoe Strimpel on Bari Weiss’s site: “Let’s get into this war!”

February 24, 2022 • 12:30 pm

Below is the first person I’ve read who has explicitly come out and said that we should be fighting the Russians—not with sanctions but with weapons. The author is Zoe Strimpel writing at Bari Weiss’s Substack site. Click on the screenshot below to read (and subscribe if you read frequently).

Strimpel is identified this way:

Zoe Strimpel is a historian of intimacy and gender, journalist, author and commentator based in London.

And she’s a columnist for the Sunday Torygraph.

Strimpel’s thesis is that we must show Putin that we’re resolute, and Biden is too dotty or too cowardly to do that. So long as we respond timorously, says Strimpel, and with tepid sanctions instead of flying lead, Putin will steamroller eastern Europe. Why would he stop at Ukraine?

Not only that, but if we don’t defend Ukraine, why would we defend Taiwan, which the Chinese have been eying hungrily for some time. This is all in Strimpel’s article, and I’ve put two excerpts below:

There is only one country that can bring this relitigation to an immediate end and restore order not only to Ukraine but the whole of Europe. To do that, the United States would have to convince Putin that it is willing to go to war to protect Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. But no one believes it is.

“Deterrence is a simple equation: capability times will,” former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told me. “I think that many of our adversaries today think our will is about zero. I think we’re set up for a cascading crisis now in large measure because of the perception that our will is diminished.”

The problem is not just that the United States has, over the past two decades, waged two unsuccessful wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor is it just that Americans are tired of fighting and don’t care about the former Soviet Union, although there’s some of that. (In a poll just released by the Associated Press, just 26 percent of Americans say the U.S. should play a major role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.) Nor is it just that Joe Biden is a weak president who lacks the energy needed to do battle with the likes of Vladimir Putin. (See, for example, the statement Biden put out shortly after the invasion was announced.)

. . . .When Putin announced that the war was starting in a televised address Thursday, he emphasized that any countries that interfered would face “consequences they have never seen.”

The question is: Will anyone test that threat? Will anyone interfere?

The Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Estonians—they’re wondering: What happens if Russian troops steamroll over us, too? If one of those countries was invaded by the Russians, it would, no doubt, invoke Article Five of the NATO treaty, which would compel all other NATO members, including the United States, to come to their defense. But would they? Or would they retreat and cower? Would they say what so many myopic and inward-looking voices have been saying for years: The Soviet Union is dead. Or, Putin just wants to control his sphere of influence, just as we do ours. Or, Who needs NATO?

What about China? The Chinese are watching the showdown between Russia and Ukraine, and they are thinking, If the Americans won’t defend Kiev, will they defend Taiwan? Will they?

So, not only do we have to convince Putin that we’ll go to war with Russia if he doesn’t back off; but to make that threat credible—because you know Putin isn’t going to believe us—we must actually go to war with Russia in defense of Ukraine. That’s what Strimpel is suggesting, or so I think.

Now we all have immense sympathy for the long-beleaguered Ukrainians, who will die by the hundreds, but deaths would skyrocket if we follow Strimpel’s advice. Has she forgotten what would happen if the U.S. and Russia cross swords? Does she not know that Russia has nuclear weapons, as do we, and that Putin has already threatened to use them should anybody intervene? Does she know that Russia does not have a “no first use” nuclear policy, and that Putin himself said that he’d be okay about responding to conventional weapons by using nuclear ones?

And even if there’s some gentlemen’s agreement that both sides will rely only on conventional weapons, Putin is not going to fold and retreat once the U.S. military starts shooting. It would be a long and bloody battle, and America doesn’t have the stomach for it more of its citizens coming home in body bags for a cause that is not crystal clear. And if we intervene, we’d have to occupy Ukraine for ages, as we did in Afghanistan.\

Following Strimpel’s advice would, pure and simple, launch World War III

Unless I’m missing something in this article, Strimpel is on the fringe of being unhinged, if she’s not there already. It’s simply too damn late to convince Putin that we would go to war if he doesn’t back off, and a threat that is idle isn’t a credible threat.

How much blood does Strimpel want spilled? And are the deaths worth the gain? These are questions she doesn’t ponder.  And all I can conclude from reading this saber-rattling from a Brit is that Bari Weiss herself has no problem with Strimpel’s views. Her site is not an op-ed site where all views are aired, and I haven’t yet seen a column that I didn’t think Weiss would approve of.

Of course, if you think we should begin shooting at the Russians, by all means say that in the comments and defend your views. In my own view, Biden and the allies have done a pretty good job so far. Now if Putin decides to really play Hitler and go after more Lebensraum, then all bets are off.