Dark Side of the Moon
no news from Kiev. "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
Despite the Western Establishment trying to will it into existence, there was no Russian invasion of Ukraine this week1.
There were no battles, no gunshots2.
There is a certain amount of doubling-down going on; feelings that the lack of invasion this week means the invasion will certainly be next week.
but first, the week’s news:
Don’t forget your
towel hat: Lea Kissner is a name that strikes fear into those who know what LOAS3 stands for. They have recently put out a story about hats and managing fear which is essential reading.
San Francisco elections: In a shocking result, three members of the San Francisco board of directors were recalled from office (ref. SF Chronicle). The result itself wasn’t particularly surprising, but the margin was. Alison Collins (the most odious of the board members) got nearly 80% of the vote against her. To get 80% of San Franciscans to agree to anything is difficult — to get 80% to oppose someone claiming they are “liberal” is remarkable. Nellie Bowles has the litany of sins in her column.
Heavens to Betsy: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 70th anniversary of her accession earlier this month. In a palace letter, she spelled out many of the formalities. In particular, the phrase “when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King” stands out as noteworthy. In a certain sense, it is unthinkable to even hint that Her Majesty the Queen might ever die. In a different, more practical sense, she is likely to die in the next 5 years, and The Crown is publicly preparing for that eventuality. Breaking: the palace has reported that Her Majesty has a mild case of COVID. When you are over the age of 90, even a mild case of COVID can be deadly. We wish her the best of health.
Ramranchers: A new word has been established. It is “ramrancher”. It refers to a certain type of agent provocateur, as discussed in material on the recent Canada protests. The etymology is from an obscene and musically-painful YouTube video that we will not link to. However, we will link to Tim Wilson’s Booty Man to give a vague (and PG-13) sense of the tone.
The concept has been on the internet for quite some time; quite a lot of historical material referencing “4chan” is actually talking about ramranchers.
No News from Kiev
Waiter: What would you like, Mr. Sartre?
Sartre: Coffee, with sugar and no milk.
Waiter: Sorry, we’re out of milk. Can I get you a coffee with no cream instead?
It turns out that no amount of hyper-ventilating inside news agencies will cause a war to develop in Ukraine. On February 11, a “Nick Schifrin” of PBS News claimed the invasion was likely to “begin next week”.
For a variety of reasons, I gave up hope of convincing people they were wrong in their arguments that Russia had compelling strategic reasons to launch a war of aggression in February. Instead, I am simply planning to point out after the fact that they were wrong.
Take The Daily Beast (please!):
The news media is operated by idiots who see Russia building a bridge in Belarus and say weasel words like “analysts fear the bridge could be one of many potential routes for Russian forces”.
Russia (very publicly) is conducting military exercises. One of those exercises is “build a pontoon bridge”. And of course the Russian army isn’t going to use a pontoon bridge to cross between two points in Belarus as part of an invasion of Ukraine. They will take the highway.
If Russia can also publicly humiliate news media outlets such as The Daily Beast, that’s just bonus points. You could say that The Daily Beast is rehearsing their coverage of an invasion, but … that is admitting they are idiots. Normal journalists don’t publish fake news stories.
Full Moon Rising
There was chatter on Twitter about how CNN reported that February 16 would be the day of the invasion. This appears to be fake news - a misinterpretation of the Ukrainian president’s remarks sarcastically attacking fake news stories like that.
First, I cannot find any reliable source that demonstrates CNN made such a claim in its own voice.
Second, presumably some genius checked an astronomical calendar and noted that there was a full moon on February 16. If one is starting an nocturnal military operation, it makes some sense to do it during a full moon. On the other hand, nocturnal military operations are always difficult and there is no reason for doing one here. After all, everyone agrees that Russia would easily win4 a conventional military engagement.
Third, even if Russia did feel that a surprise nocturnal military operation was necessary, it would certainly not do so on a date widely announced by the international press.
News from Moscow
While the people claiming a literal war would develop this week are now historically wrong, the figurative war proceeded according to plan. When the history books are written, they may in fact point to this week as when Russia’s annexation of the Donbas became inevitable.
According to Deutsche Welle, the Russian Duma voted on February 15 to recognize independent governments in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. This is, roughly, equivalent to their treatment of Transnistria, or Abkhazia, or other territories.
As an outsider to Russian politics, my understanding is that the Russian system has two steps to establish policy. First, the Duma passes what Putin tells it to pass. Second, Putin announces that the measure has passed.
The Russian playbook is clear. Unlike Crimea, there is no compelling5 reason to annex Donetsk and Luhansk. However, it appears Putin prefers that the informal autonomy of the region become official autonomy. The drawback for Putin is that pro-Russian candidates are more unlikely to win elections in Ukraine.
Perhaps it was clear to Putin that pro-Russian candidates would not win in Ukraine even if he did nothing. After the 2004 and 2010 elections revealed a divide as strong as the “red state v. blue state” divide in the United States, and after the pro-Russian Crimea seceded from Ukraine, it may have simply been a matter of arithmetic that the pro-Russian bloc did not have the votes.
So Putin is taking his marbles (and, if he can, the Donbas) and leaving.
Know Which Way The Wind Blows
After consulting various authorities on the topic of Weather, the Yevaud Newslettr is of the opinion that winter is likely to end in the next few months. In an astronomical sense, it is expected to end in March; as far as the risk of snow and cold is concerned, winter will likely continue through April.
Presumably Putin will have a formal invitation from the self-styled nations of Donetsk and Luhansk to send in multi-national peacekeepers in May. All the powers of the world (in particular China [ref. the Manchester Guardian], the United States [ref. Joe Biden speech], and various constituent nations of the European Union [ref. al-Jazeera]) have already agreed this will not be a casus belli for World War III.
A variety of “pundits” who don’t know what the word “appeasement” means think otherwise. However, they don’t get a vote.
And, as a final (editorial) note: Vladimir Putin is a student of history. He must know he cannot establish6 a second USSR. But he may be hoping to establish a second Holy Roman Empire.
We are never quite sure which week it is on Sundays. This is delayed from Thursday, so according to some people it is “last week’s news”. According to others, the new week starts on Monday and it is still “this week’s news”.
Well, actually, there was some shooting. There has been a “brush war” in Donbas for the past 8 years. It’s amazing how many of the pontificators don’t think to point that out to their audience.
LOAS stands for “Low Overhead Authentication System”.
There is a difference between winning battles, and winning a war. There are many opinions on whether Russia could win a war. But only fools and plants would suggest that the Ukrainian army could defeat Russia on a battlefield.
The compelling reason to annex Crimea was the Russian naval base in Sevastopol.
There have been various “Union State” efforts to politically integrate Russia and Belarus over the past two decades. All of them have failed, in various ways.