The Ukraine War, Chris Christie, and Vivek Ramaswamy. Part III.
Claire, I had your piece on Vivek Ramaswamy in mind when I read Margaret Sullivan’s column in The Guardian, Vivek Ramaswamy is America’s demagogue-in-waiting. It recaps Vivek Ramaswamy’s performance in Wednesday’s Republican presidential debates, and what the media had to say about it. (Here is a link to the article) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/aug/24/vivek-ramaswamy-demagogue-in-waiting
She writes that, sadly, much of the media commentary was about Vivek’s style (aggressive, polished and at ease in front of a mic) rather than the substance of what he had to say, which was bellicose, boorish and ill-informed.
His effusive praise of DJT, “the best president of the 21st century” (she helpfully points out there have been only 3 others, two of whom were Democrats) suggested that he is auditioning for a spot as Trump’s Vice President, assuming of course that Trump is allowed to run for anything from behind bars.
Generally speaking, the media coverage was apparently full of “Vivek Won! “and other, meaningless gushy sentiments. MS did slip in some interesting quotes from other journalists.
“Ramaswamy is like Trump in the larva stage, molting toward the full Maga wingspan but not quite there yet,” wrote Frank Bruni in his New York Times newsletter. “His narcissism, though, is fully evolved.”
Quote - Charlie Sykes, editor in chief of the right-leaning Bulwark, was blunt, calling Ramaswamy “facile, clownish, shallow, shameless, pandering”, but, then again, “exactly what GOP voters crave these days”. Unquote
Thanks for nothing Claire! There I was, gearing up to excoriate Vivek Ramaswamy, and you've left me with nothing to add to the Jovian thunder of your critique except two thumbs up and a 101-gun salute.
There will not be peace in Ukraine or in Europe ever until Russia undergoes Liberal Democracy-affirming surgery, a miracle (because like transitioning doesn't change sex, it wouldn't change Russia's history of exceptionalism and aggression)-- or... what's more realistic, Ukraine is helped to decisively triumph over Russia, taking the Donbas and Crimea, with more Patriots, F-16's and ATACM's. Which is all still an entirely plausible conclusion. It's commonfuckingsense to me. Dominic Pino wrote a great article on the cost of the war in National Review the other week. He says we haven't increased spending but only allocated 9% of our defense budget, we haven't raised taxes to pay for the war. It's costing us next to nothing. We give an enraged Ukraine advanced weapons to destroy a two-bit Soviet era Russian army, powered by semiconductors diverted from washing machines, so they can fight Russia so we don't have to. They're testing new weapons that we will use later. They've encouraged our NATO allies to increase defense spending. NATO has become stronger with the addition of Finland and Sweden. And finally helping Ukraine bolsters deterrence in the Pacific. It also helps us build alliances with Japan, South Korea, India and Vietnam. If we can't help Ukraine, then we can't help Taiwan, and our Pacific allies will start trying to appease China. To see what happens when you draw down American hegemonic power, Pax Americana whatever, look at how Biden is failing in the Middle East. Since we just capriciously gave up Afghanistan and resolved to make Saudi Arabia a pariah state, the Arab League has just readmitted Assad, China is brokering a chimerical peace with Saudi Arabia and Iran. And now Biden is trying to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together. It's not going to happen. No one should have ever even considered pulling out of the Middle East for anything. With Iran on the brink of building nukes, now with the US apparently resolved to complete the pivot to Asia, it's basically open season for Iran to annihilate Israel and for jihadism to surge. There's no alternative but for Ukraine to beat Russia. And that's just chapter one. Second Iran has to destroy their centrifuges or get bombed. Third XI needs some red lines. Not cooperation on the climate. And of course, it goes without saying-- Forget all about the climate. National security comes first. Russia-Ukraine is America's and the West's opportunity to assert ourselves and stop wallowing in self-pity over "forever wars." What we need on the contrary, is an unapologetic heroic foreign policy that actively prides itself on forever wars. After World War Two we wisely took for granted that humanity would always be at war, and so the only way to guarantee peace was to perpetually be engaged. The West and in particular America needs to recover that Cold War Era sense of tragic mission to militarily guarantee a liberal democratic world order. We have allowed ourselves to be consumed with Virtue to our immense detriment, so we conveniently forget our tragic obligations in our vulgar pandering to constituencies besotted with self-importance. God I need to stop commenting here, or I'll go on forever. I have no problem with forever wars, but one should certainly know when to stop making and repeating and reemphasizing
Let’s hope Vivek reads this and realizes he has a lot to learn.
Vivek has a knowledge gap about threes, whether the Triad or the KMT, the former dictatorial party of the Republic of China (ROC).
Economic and personal ties between Taiwan and the PRC are extensive, with ROC managers leading China to its current industrial competence, and still the stereotypical factory floor manager, yelling in the ears of the Communist super-power's working class.
KMT is already fashioning alliances with Xi.
If Taiwan's people know that the U.S. is going to abandon them once we achieve chip independence ("No friends, only interests."), super-shark Vivek doesn't realize that they will cut their own deal with China first. China will gain Taiwan and the TSMC juggernaut without firing a shot.
Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan will follow.
A most accurate and articulate précis. Thank you.
One excellent full-length treatment of this topic is Owen Matthews' 𝑂𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ: 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝐼𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑑𝑒 𝑆𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑃𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑅𝑢𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑎’𝑠 𝑊𝑎𝑟 𝐴𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑡 𝑈𝑘𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑒 which came out in April. It's the best source I've found so far.
On the China-Russian alliance. It will never happen in practice. These two cultures have always harbored hatred and contempt for one another. Each expects to extract tribute from the other eventually. That's what all the talk of "friendship" and etc. actually means, and both sides obviously know it. All this is common knowledge in places where it counts, so Ramaswamy is merely using scare tactics. So nothing to worry about there.
You've articulated what every kid on the playground knows: bullies bully. The only answer a bully respects is a punch in the mouth.
This piece is why everyone should be reading Cosmo(glob).
A) As I have said before, Ramaswamy has out Youngkinned Youngkin and cannot build the coalition necessary to beat even a Trump running from Valdosta State Prison. He’ll be portrayed as another effete liberal shamming and glamming as a Trumpist and as a South Asian, thereby negating any attraction he has for the Teahadists. I mean, we all know he’s just trying to tickle the erogenous zones of the neo-progressive, pseudo-Chomskyite, Oliver Stoned activist plurality, right? He’s J.D. Vance in mufti without the impoverished upbringing. B) Buying Greenland was one of Trump’s saner ideas; everything has a price. C) Thank you for recommending Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Oistrakh, Rostropovich, and Richter in the AMA. I found a recording of that terpsichorean troika conducted by von Karajan and added it to my collection. Quite a musical treasure! Also interesting to see a de-Nazified conductor and three fairly staunch Soviet virtuosi working together.
Hi Claire - really good read (again). I am still learning a lot beyond the surface arguments of the war in Ukraine, but my one feeling (and this maybe too simplistic?) is that China isn't interested in defending Russia because it still needs the US, and as you pointed out, their property market is well and truly in the toilet, high youth unemployment, and a falling birthrate all of which are problems that need their immediate and full attention. Being forced into a war they can't afford economically or socially doesn't seem like a smart move.
This is a crucial analysis, Claire. It is deeply disturbing that stabilizing policies for the past 80 years are being ignored. With modern bioweapons and nuclear weapons, a global war will make WWII will look like a dormitory food fight.
Claire: you made me think (and maybe change my mind) about Vivek.
First on the Russians.
We (the west) are a constant reminder of Russian failure as a society to realize their potential. Having failed to surpass (or even equal) our societal achievements, they are now focused on pulling us down to their level.
The Russian oppression organization has renamed itself many times (Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKGB, NKVD, MGB and KGB). Only the people remain the same (those whom they don’t kill in frequent house cleanings). The sociopathic characteristics remain the same.
Very good points about Vivek’s foreign policy statements; I had not focused on them before your column.
(The cauldron of primaries has a way of revealing weaknesses – whether Americans care at this point is debatable. Whether Vivek is mature enough to learn/change is also an open question – he has certainly showed himself to be a fast learner in the past.)
But you also point out the failures of the west to honor the commitments made at Budapest.
And we can’t forget the moral turpitude shown by Germany in the face of financial benefits; is there a word for national prostitution?
Ukraine certainly has the knowhow to produce nuclear weapons (Japan and South Korea are arguably a weekend away from being nuclear powers).
North Korea has demonstrated that a nation with nukes is in a much stronger position than one without nukes.
The nuclear genie is getting out of the bottle; does anybody really think that Pakistan or North Kora can be trusted not to use their weapons? Add Iran and Saudi Arabia to the mix and the odds of avoiding a nuclear conflict get smaller.
I support an assertive America opposing the breakdown of the current world order.
Merci', Mahalo, Thank You, for that devastating take down of Vivek. When I first heard some soundbites from the guy. I thought maybe he is the rights Mayor Pete. Then I heard blathering BS at 200 words per minute about Ukraine and I realized he was extraordinarily unserious. But I had no idea he was utterly clueless about government and foreign affairs. How is I knew about the Triad at age 13, and he is 38 and clueless about it and running for President? Unfuckingbelieveable
This article from the June issue of Harper’s explains why Claire is wrong about almost everything she’s said about the War in Ukraine.
You make some good points, but I still like my man Vivek.
I’d really like to see you break down RFKJ’s analysis of the Ukrainian war. I saw the interview he did with Tucker Carlson on X. He made sense to me, but I’m sure you could point out flaws in his argument.
Would that the team prepping the debate moderators read this
Good stuff. Mr Ramaswamy should get to read it - it might change his ideas (or is that a foolish notion?)