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Russia’s war against Ukraine goes badly: the Russian army retreats and the Kremlin seeks help from Iran and North Korea. But we must not forget that the Russian military is murdering Ukrainian civilians as a price for Moscow’s self-induced humiliation – and Russia must pay the price for these atrocities.
But first, here are three new stories from Atlantic.
worse than war
Russian TV talk shows are a hallucinatory experience, a kind of feverish nightmare shot on sets that look like a dark mash-up of a manic game show, Fox News, and The Office of Dr. Caligari. But the Star Chamber’s spooky vibe and dizzying camerawork are perfectly suited for the deranged rantings of hosts and guests. Russian presenter Vladimir Solovyov is among the worst works of this cadre: dubbed “the voice of Putin” in Russia, he called for the destruction of Kyiv and declared that a nuclear war with the West was inevitable.
And yet, even in the middle of this cuckoo’s nest, there are some small chirps of concern. On Sunday evening, as Solovyov gave his usual smirk about the death and misery inflicted by Russia on Ukraine, one of his guests had had enough. “It’s obscene; it is not constructive; it is criminal to bomb peaceful cities,” former Israeli diplomat Yaakov Kedmi interjected. “These things shouldn’t even be uttered – ‘wiping a city off the face of the earth’ is obscene.” Soloviev tried to oppose it, but Kedmi insisted. “There are 1,001 ways to fight without hitting civilians.”
Kedmi isn’t some squishy pacifist who was pulled from Tverskaya Street to be a designated punching bag for a talk show. He was born in Russia, emigrated to Israel and returned several years ago as a supporter of the Putin regime on Russian television. He said great things about that great ‘statesman’ Joseph Stalin, and he warned last spring that Russia could bomb Britain ‘in the Stone Age’ if the British didn’t take care of their own affairs concerning Ukraine.
Why were Solovyov and Kedmi having this conversation? Because the Russian war in Ukraine is no longer a “war” in the sense that most people would conceive of a military struggle between two states over some quiet or tangible issue. It is by no means the kind of conflict that academic “realists” would understand as some kind of Russian exercise in balancing power in the face of an external threat. Instead, the invasion of Russia is now an ongoing mass murder operation.
I asked Julia Davis, a daily beast columnist who monitors the Russian media, why someone like Kedmi would change his mind. She thinks Kedmi, who lives in both Russia and Israel, feels that “the winds are changing,” that Putin is now seen by Russian elites as a loser, and that Russian cheerleaders in the invasion face a growing risk of “backfire in civilized countries”. country” for the conduct of their country during the war. Davis sees it as a positive sign that Kedmi — and perhaps even Soloviev, who she says is an opportunist playing the role of a cartoonish warmonger — might be worried enough about Russia’s defeat to start moderating. its position as a bulwark against too close an association with Putin.
Russia, as Kedmi and others now seem to realize, has gone way beyond all the rationalizations Putin deployed last winter to save Ukrainians from “Nazis” or any other such nonsense. The Russians kill innocent civilians in imperial retaliation for their defiance. The putative military objectives have disappeared; Moscow’s goals turned into furious bloodshed. Every Russian retreat brings a rain of missiles against civilian targets, and the Kremlin doesn’t even bother to make a military case for these strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and homes. Such bombings are civilian reprisals no different from Nazi reprisals against the French and other occupied peoples for the resistance of partisans and militias. I taught for many years at a US military college and I think these are obvious war crimes.
Russian ‘strategists’ – if there really are any – might claim the goal is to demoralize Ukrainians into giving up their loyalty to their government and surrendering. But the laws of war do not allow civilians to be terrorized into submission, and anyway the Russians have almost no hope of occupying much more than the shards of “annexed territories”. they currently hold. Moscow’s continued attacks, particularly judging by the anger of the Russian media, appear to have no other purpose than revenge and the intentional killing of civilians in an effort to save the egos of the incompetent Russian military and to appease their despairing Commander-in-Chief.
This holiday season, many of us will seek peace and a reset before the New Year by connecting with family, taking a break from work, and observing the rituals of our faith. We tend, during this period, to empty our mind of unpleasant things. But as Americans, citizens of the greatest democratic power in the world, we must not forget that the greatest European conflict since World War II continues to burn in Ukraine. A democratic nation refuses to be conquered by a vengeful imperial power, and it pays for it with the lives of innocent men, women and children. As we celebrate the season, let’s remember that the Russians have shown no intention of taking a killing vacation.
- The suspect in Saturday’s shooting in Colorado Springs is being held on a murder and hate crime charge for killing five people and injuring at least 18 others.
- An earthquake in Indonesia killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds more.
- Team USA tied Wales in today’s World Cup game.
An upgradable magic trick appears everywhere
By Carrie Arnold
Thousands of miles from his home in the scorching Amazon rainforest in the mid-1800s, British naturalist Henry Walter Bates had a problem. More than one, really: there were thumb-sized biting insects, the ever-present threat of malaria, poisonous snakes and molds that threatened to snatch his precious specimens before they could be sent back to England. But the nagging scientific problem that bothered him concerned butterflies.
Bates had noticed that some of the bright colors Heliconius the butterflies in the forest did not flutter like the others; they moved more slowly. When he captured them and examined them under his makeshift microscope, he discovered that they weren’t really Heliconius at all, but amazing lookalikes.
Read the article completely.
Lily. “I was wrong about so many things”, a poem by Eugenia Leigh.
“About your eyes, not the eyes of a savior / but brown as blood. I was wrong / about the God I twisted / into a weapon, a garrison. / Bad about love, too.
look. Fleishman is in troublean FX/Hulu television series based on Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel about a midlife crisis.
Play our daily crosswords.
I’ve been one of Donald Trump’s adventures columnists on Twitter for the past few decades, and I know I’m supposed to be angsty about his return to the platform. I’ve been horrified by Trump’s presence in American public life since the 1980s, when I first became aware that I shared the solar system with him. But I’m not particularly upset that new Twitter owner Elon Musk is lifting Trump’s ban on the social media platform. And I have no intention of quitting Twitter; I’m too old and grumpy and stubborn, and I’m not gonna just pick up and run just because the place is now owned by a grown man who has the childish sensibility of an ill-bred prepubescent boy.
Instead, I agree with my colleague Quinta Jurecic, who wrote yesterday that this drama with Musk and Trump “is awfully stupid”, a story that “revolves around the whims of two self-centered wealthy men who don’t value nothing more than public attention”. This whole thing “is a huge waste of everyone’s time,” she adds, “and I don’t like having to think about it.” I agree. Trump, however, is the leader of the Republican Party. It doesn’t matter if he’s on Twitter: he’s a danger to this country, wherever he is.
– To M
Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.