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How to Make Sense of Russia’s War on Ukraine Right Now

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Why would Vladimir Putin start a war in Ukraine?

Putin wants democracy to fail, not only in Ukraine but across the West too, Anne Applebaum writes. “He wants to put so much strain on Western and democratic institutions, especially the European Union and NATO, that they break up. He wants to keep dictators in power wherever he can, in Syria, Venezuela, and Iran. He wants to undermine America, to shrink American influence, to remove the power of the democracy rhetoric that so many people in his part of the world still associate with America. He wants America itself to fail.”

Is this World War III?

Not likely, but it might be practice, writes Tom Nichols. What’s more, Uri Friedman writes, “Putin’s actions have opened our eyes to how dependent we all are on the whims of one man and his nuclear arsenal—or even the missteps or miscalculations that fallible, emotional, semi-rational human beings make when moving quickly in crisis.”

So what would start a world war?

If Putin attacks a NATO country, other NATO countries are pledged to come to that country’s defense, enlarging the conflict. Read more.

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How can Putin be defeated?

Through a combination of three main ways: sanctions against Russia, military support, and a strong European alliance to secure the Ukraine-Russia border, Eliot A. Cohen writes: “The Western objective must be to leave Russia profoundly weakened and militarily crippled, incapable of renewing such an onslaught, isolated and internally divided until the point that an aging autocrat falls from power.”

Evidence suggests that these strategies are already helping Ukraine, Cohen writes. “The failure of almost all of Russia’s airborne assaults, its inability to destroy the Ukrainian air force and air-defense system, and the weeks-long paralysis of the 40-mile supply column north of Kyiv are suggestive. Russian losses are staggering.”

But Tom McTague suggests that other strategies may be promising, too: Read him on why Putin needs an off-ramp.

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Do sanctions work?

Not always: Annie Lowrey talked with the historian Nicholas Mulder, whose work shows that “sanctions have often failed to achieve their desired political outcome, for all the damage they cause.” And no sanction comes without collateral damage, Conor Friedersdorf writes.

But the sanctions currently employed against Russia could be effective. “The only question is whether they might do more damage than Western governments might wish,” David Frum writes. “They could potentially bankrupt the entire Russian banking system and push the ruble into worthlessness.”

Moreover, sanctions against Russian oligarchs do seem to be working, at least insofar as some of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs are now calling for an end to the war, the sociology professor Brooke Harrington writes. “The wealthiest Russians are far better placed than the average citizen to communicate to Putin how his invasion is devastating his own country. And the lavish lifestyles that oligarchs and their families lead mean they’re highly vulnerable to external pressure.”

How will average Americans be affected by the war?

Sanctions and supply-chain disruptions will increase the price of goods, David Frum writes.

But the war will affect sports, entertainment, and even space. Various Russian teams have been suspended from international play, May’s Champions League final has been moved from St. Petersburg to Paris, and the Formula 1 Grand Prix, set to take place in Sochi in September, has been canceled, Yasmeen Serhan writes. Russia has also been disinvited from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. And Marina Koren reports that the director of Russia’s space agency has suggested that the sanctions could affect its cooperation with its International Space Station partners.

Overall, the Russian economic blackout may spur futures for clean energy, increase Russian reliance on allies such as China, and reconfigure agricultural-trade boundaries in the Middle East, Derek Thompson writes.

Is the war to blame for rising food prices in the U.S.?

Many factors—including COVID-19 and labor shortages—are to blame, but yes, war is one reason. Conflict will block ports and prevent crops from being planted, which will in turn cause price increases, David Frum writes. “The upheaval will touch every food consumer on Earth, even those living in food-secure countries such as the United States. Food prices are set in efficient global markets. All countries face similar prices, whether they are sellers into those markets or buyers from those markets. If the price goes up for anyone, it goes up for everyone.”

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Why are some Republicans siding with Putin?

Although most Republican leaders have denounced Putin, some members of the party’s base—including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz—have not. They may be acting out of shared values, allegiance to Donald Trump, or fraught self-image, Tom Nichols writes.

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What is Russian public opinion about the war?

It’s difficult to tell how everyday Russian citizens think, because the Kremlin has made it illegal to call this a war or spread information counter to the official Russian narrative. But many Russians support Putin, writes Olga Khazan, who has been watching Russian state TV. “Russians, with dwindling news options, tend to buy what their government and its media allies are selling. Russians with Ukrainian relatives buy it … The alternative—that the invasion is not justified, that Russians are the aggressors—is too horrific to entertain.”

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What should I read to learn more?

Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism is as timely as ever. And these nine books offer context about Eastern Europe’s past and present.

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How long will this last?

A long time, Yasmeen Serhan writes. “If conflicts in places such as Ethiopia, Palestine, Kashmir, Syria, and Yemen have proved anything, it’s that wars are easy to start, but are also brutal, intractable, and difficult to end.” This assumes the war stays in Ukraine. “The other, perhaps greater, risk is that Russian aggression could spread even farther afield, to the Baltics, which would not only draw NATO into a potential conflict, but also fundamentally threaten the post–Cold War order.”

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How will it end?

In one of five ways, according to Paul Poast, a professor of foreign policy and war at the University of Chicago: “a disastrous quagmire or retreat for Russia; violent regime change in Kyiv; the full conquest of Ukraine; the beginning of a new Russian empire; or a chaotic stumble into something like World War III.”


What other questions do you have? Send them to ukrainefaq@theatlantic.com.

Nancy Deville, Aithne Feay, Elizabeth Hart, and Yuri Victor contributed to this report.

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Politics

Kellyanne Conway Takes Aim at Everyone But Trump

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Washington Post: “Part personal chronicle and part political journey, Conway’s book is filled with the sorts of barbed one-liners and bon mots that she dispensed on cable news on Trump’s behalf, becoming — depending on one’s perspective — increasingly famous or infamous.”

“Unlike many other Trump-focused tomes in the post-presidency era, Conway has not set out to pen a scathing tell-all, in which she distances herself from the president or administration she once served.”


Here’s the Deal: A Memoir

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Conway, Kellyanne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages – 05/24/2022 (Publication Date) – Threshold Editions (Publisher)

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Nuts & Bolts—Inside a Democratic campaign: Don’t let others redefine you

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Redemption and Love stories define our culture

I want you to sit back and think about all the great movies and films you’ve seen over your lifetime. Think about the driving forces within those stories. The majority were built around either the concept of redemption of a character or love for another character. These two forces are so profoundly built into the human experience that we seeing them, even fictionalized, motivates us. 

When we see them in a way we think is not fictionalized, like reality television, we can feel sucked in or emotionally involved with people we barely know. It isn’t that we have any great connection with them on real interpersonal grounds, it is our own understanding of a redemption story or a love story.

I’m now going to present an example in a fictional campaign. Sarah Flowers is running for a city council position in her mid-sized city. Let’s say 100k voters. At a certain point in the story, it becomes known that in the mid-1990s, while in high school, a nude photo of her circulated and is now in the hands of someone else. There will be people around who will tell her how terrible this is, how damaging it is to her campaign and some will ring their hands and say “it’s over”. I want to point out: I have seen exactly this situation happen with almost exactly this type of events, and Democratic support system come up with exactly this conclusion.

What should Sarah do? She has her own story, and her story is the truth. She was young, in love, and unfortunately, that was taken advantage of; she has never regretted falling in love, she learned a lot from her youth, and she feels sorry for those who want to traffick in kiddie pornography photos of her in order to harm her. This is enabling the vengeance of someone else, but she’s just sad that they are doing it. 

She can look at that photo now and say: yes, that’s me. It’s who I was then, and I don’t regret the love I had. I can’t regret the terrible actions taken by someone else, that is on them. We have all done things in our youth we wish we hadn’t done. 

You can own something, ask for redemption and point out that the redemption your asking for has limits. You aren’t asking to be redeemed for something that isn’t your fault. You can tell a love story where one side is broken-hearted. 

In other words: it is perfectly okay to have regrets. Everyone does. Share them with others and people will relate to you. Offer flat affect responses and people will wonder why you aren’t more emotionally in touch with who you were and who you are now.

When others define you, you lose.

One of the greatest failures of a campaign is to just assume that a story will “go away”. It is a Friday story and no one will care is something that was true in the pre-internet era and it is no longer true. Once a story is available, people will speculate, find interest, recirculate and continue to discuss it. They want to choose a side. They want to understand what is going on. People who were committed to vote against you have made up their mind before they read the first sentence. 

For everyone else, though, they are looking for a common ground that defines you. Let’s take another candidate. Billy is running for the state legislature. Billy is pressed by the fact that a few years ago he was divorced from his wife of 8 years and has since moved on. The advice given to Billy is “say as little as possible”. There is some value in that. Saying: “I think it is best to protect my children and my former spouse that I don’t want to speak to harm them, and I’d encourage people to keep them off limits, because I still love and care for what happens next.” Or any similar response. Billy might also respond by saying that he once loved his partner, things changed and they grew apart or whatever reasoning. 

People are OK with simple understandings. What Billy can’t do is get angry about the question, change the narrative to a challenge of his opponent or make demands of someone else as a response. The moment you try to go on the attack when you can shut something down through an answer, people will continue to ask the question. The press is not your enemy. They have inches to fill and columns to write, and if you give them content they will generally run it. If you stonewall instead, or if you let your own anger and dismissiveness take over, you are going to be in trouble. If anyone on your campaign advises you to stonewall the press, unless that press source is one you know specifically is already in the tank against you than that advice is generally bad advice, in my opinion and the opinion of the vast majority of campaign workers who have helped build this series.

In the end, when it comes down to conveying who you are to a voter the reality is simple: be yourself and don’t let others define who you are because you refuse to do so. If you can hold strong to that piece of advice you will already be ahead of a great number of candidates — ask soon to be ex-representative Cawthorn.

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ROGER STONE EXCLUSIVE: Guilt by Association Smears Just Won’t Stop

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Guest post by Roger Stone

Guilt by association smears just won’t stop. 

Webster’s dictionary defines “guilt by association” as moral guilt or unfitness presumed to exist on the basis of one’s known associations. It is the favored tool of the fake news media and it grows tedious.

In an all too familiar pattern of smear, conjecture, supposition and good old fashion “guilt by association” the New York Times last week attempted yet again to imply that simply because I know President Donald Trump and I know or came into contact with members of the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers that I must surely have been involved in some way with the illegal acts went down at the Capitol on January 6th. Wrong !

TRENDING: Name Them and Shame Them: Glenn Greenwald Releases Video on ‘Typhoid Mary of Disinformation’ Nicolle Wallace

Neither of CNN’s previous claims that they were in possession of “secret encrypted ” text messages regarding arrangements for a perfectly legal speech that I gave at a legally permitted rally on January 5 nor the new New York Times claims that my inclusion in a chat room that was neither initiated nor administered by me prove in any way that I was involved in the politically counterproductive and illegal activities at the Capitol on January 6th. That Reuters reported months ago that the FBI had concluded that neither Alex Jones nor I were involved in any illegal conspiracy is just ignored in the rush to slander me.

In a repeat of the same slander, I experienced in the two-year ordeal in which I was the target of a politically motivated witch hunt designed to pressure me into testifying falsely against President Trump in which I was wrongly charged with “lying to Congress” about Russian collusion that we now know definitively was an entirely false narrative propagated by the Clinton campaign and accelerated by their many handmaidens in the fake news media.

Incredibly some former prosecutor named Glenn Kirschner who previously accused me of being a Russian spy now insists that I will go to prison in a January 6th matter or that I will flip and somehow testify against President Trump. Ridiculous. Kirshner has no evidence of wrongdoing on my part and his comments come excruciatingly close to defamation. There is nothing to ‘flip” about.

The continued attacks on me are motivated largely by bloodlust and the fact that the hysterical left cannot get over the fact that I avoided the deadly snare so cleverly set for me by corrupt and politically motivated prosecutor Robert Mueller and his cohort Congressman Adam Schiff.

Let me say it again. Any claim assertion or implication that I knew about, was involved in or condoned any illegal activity on January 6th at the Capitol or any place else at any other time is categorically false. If Kirschner or any of his ilk have any evidence to the contrary they should produce it. There is no document, communication or witness who can claim otherwise.

Perhaps this new round of baseless attacks on me is based partially on the fact that the gross criminality and total fabrication of the entire Russian collusion hoax by Hillary Clinton and her lawyers and top Aides is collapsing around their ankles in the DC courtroom where Special Counsel John Durham is prosecuting Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman.

In fact, former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook admitted that Hillary herself signed off on a statement by her national security advisor accusing Donald Trump falsely of having some involvement with a Russian bank. The Clinton campaign’s funding of the entirely bogus Steele dossier, compiled with the assistance of Russian intelligence assets, has already been firmly established. How ironic that this is the same Robby Mook who attacked me relentlessly as a”Russian collaborator” during the Soviet-style show trial I was subjected to in Washington DC in early 2020. Mook was lying then and he actually knew it.

These recycled personal attacks grow increasingly tedious and expensive. My wife and I are already burdened with unpaid medical bills from her recent cancer treatments as well as massive legal bills for defending myself before the January 6th committee as well as in six baseless civil lawsuits against us including a Biden Department of Justice civil suit which implies but does not claim that we somehow cheated on our 2006 income taxes. This is called lawfare which is the filing of false but sensationalized civil claims against an individual to generate negative media coverage and run up huge legal bills for the target.

People who want to help us in our never-endings struggle with the Deep State Democrat/Media cabal can go to StoneDefenseFund.com

(Please help Roger Stone if you can.  Thank you.)

 

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