Jan 29Liked by Claire Berlinski

"Why do many on the Trumpist Right in the US side with Russia? Are there Rightist factions in Europe who side with Russia for similar reasons, or for different reasons?"

I enjoyed reading this question and am glad you addressed it in the podcast. Thank you. My own take:

Culture-war Conservatives in the western world are in the process of losing a lot of battles (from interracial marriage in the 60s to gay marriage in the 00s). Russian conservatives are still holding the line on many of them, or at least are willing to pay lip service to them. This is a desperate bid to pull out the feeling of scoring a victory, despite losses on home turf. The "traditionalist" movements in 2015 were essentially the meme versions of this feeling, and they were very excited about ethnically homogenous and regressive cultures, like Hungry. It should come as no surprise that "winning" was such a catch phrase after Trump's election, because that feeling of victory isn't going to come often when you're trying to turn back clocks.

Expand full comment
Jan 30Liked by Claire Berlinski

That was a really good interview. I learned a lot Mr. Davidzon. I enjoyed his nuanced position on things. If only we had more of that.

Also, you understood my question perfectly. Thanks!

I think you are 100% correct when you assert that the stability of the world depends on military deterrence (in other words, US military deterrence). The problem, however, is that that has already been lost. Why did the Russians invade Ukraine? Because they're Russians and it's Ukraine. Why did they invade on February 24 of last year? Because of the loss of deterrence in the US's disastrous withdraw from Afghanistan. The question of deterrence is gone, now it''s a question of damage control.

Unfortunately, I think this is going to be a very long war, probably with Ukraine losing. The world cannot rely on the US to keep the peace, anymore, and, given our internal divisions, it's probably only a matter of time before the US stops supplying the Ukrainians with Western military aid, and I highly doubt the Europeans are going to step up to the plate.

I really hope I'm wrong, but given the sheer size Russia vs Ukraine (in terms of economy, manpower, etc.), I think of it like this: the smaller kid can break the bigger kid's nose, but he can't KO him. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

Lastly, we get it, you don't like Tucker Carlson. I'm not defending him. I have no idea what he puts out there, so you may be 100% justified in saying he's putting out Kremlin talking points. I used to occasionally watch part of his show, but within the past year or so I haven't watched any cable news (much to my betterment, I think). I'm mentioning this because it just doesn't seem to add anything to the conversation to hear one journalist call another journalist a "traitor". I'd rather hear you refute him than call him names.

Expand full comment
Jan 29Liked by Claire Berlinski

Two made it to Apple in a row! Thanks, Claire & Substack!

Expand full comment

The podcast was entertaining and very informative. Mostly it was convincing but not entirely.

(1) Claire’s confidence that after the U.S. picks up most of the cost of the war, the EU will pick up the costs of reconstruction is dubious at best. Her comment that the EU is good at this type of thing doesn’t ring true. Perhaps it once was, but given the economic and political realities, it is unlikely that the EU will stand ready to rebuild Ukraine. Germany barely permitted the EU to rescue Greece. The ambivalence Germany is demonstrating about the war is likely to carry over to the rebuilding phase.

The EU has never created a rescue package costing in excess of $1 trillion. The only nation on the planet with the resources and political will to rebuild Ukraine is China. Given two bad choices, Russia (at least initially) will be happier to have a Chinese satrapy on its border than NATO. The chances are reasonably good that Ukraine will end up as exactly that; a Chinese satrapy. In the long run, this could be even more damaging to the West than a Russian victory.

(2) Like the United States in Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia is learning that it is hard to emerge victorious when invading a fiercely nationalistic country. The invasion makes the invaded nation even more willing to fight to the death than it was before. That’s why the United States lost its wars and it’s why Russia may very well lose in Ukraine.

But there’s a difference that our podcasters missed. It was key to Kennan’s argument. When the Americans lost in Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq, we licked our wounds and departed from these nations which were thousands of miles away. Russia will border Ukraine forever. Whatever happens in the current war, Russia will be incentivized and capable of making Ukraine’s life miserable far into the future. Barring a liberal revolution in Russia, which is so unlikely that it’s practically unthinkable, Russia will never permit Ukraine to live a normal existence. That’s why a solution satisfactory to both Russia and Ukraine is the only thing that will bring peace in that region.

(3) Vlad suggested if Ukraine emerged victorious, the most likely reason Ukraine’s ascension to NATO would be delayed is because of technical reasons that take time to comply with. I couldn’t disagree more. Germany will not want Ukraine in NATO; France will probably not either. As it’s doing with Finland and Sweden, Turkey will come up with numerous reasons to object. The end result is that Ukraine almost certainly won’t be joining NATO any time soon.

Given this reality it was diplomatic malpractice for Biden to refuse to take Ukrainian membership in NATO off the table in the hopes of deterring a Russian invasion. We will never know if it would have worked. What is obvious is that Biden goaded and hectored an agitated Putin before the war. Biden did this because he was anxious to prove that the U.S. was once again leading the world (and Europe) in the aftermath of Trump. Putin’s Russia is a revanchist power. Biden’s United States is a pale reflection of a revanchist power in its own way. Why is the American political establishment so nostalgic for the Cold War?

(4) The podcasters acknowledged that millions of single women are unlikely to return to Ukraine when the war ends. That should make for millions of unhappy Ukrainian single men. Even before the war, Ukraine was one of the most demographically challenged nations in Europe. It was even more demographically challenged than Russia (primarily because Russia has a fecund Muslim population).

Where are the future Ukrainian babies supposed to come from if the single women never return? Who will work in the farms and factories? Where will the men of fighting age be in the late 2030’s when a hostile Russian neighbor will still be there?

Poland, Germany and other European nations are having trouble maintaining their economic prosperity in the face of real declines in population. Given this reality, how is Ukraine supposed to rebuild almost from scratch if the population plummets as Ukraine’s single women live happy lives in the West?

Expand full comment

This is a question I probably should have asked before you recorded but what is the Ukraine view on the future of Transnistria and how are Russia's troops there currently being resupplied?

Expand full comment