Claire, I know it’s past the deadline, but I’ve been drinking Calvados this evening and it stimulated a brain wave. The true, certain, undoubted and obvious title for this podcast is “The Elephant Cage with Claire and John.” In eau de vie veritas.

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Mar 7Liked by Claire Berlinski

OK, I always heard the name as TransDnistria and Wikipedia doesn't have a recording of the pronunciation or one of the name Pridnestrovie. The Romanians would say NIS-trah-nee-ja I think. So. (The national anthem is more impressive than the country it seems to me.)

At any rate: Transnistria is hopelessly indefensible. It's essentially the eastern side of the valley of the Dniester, minus the section near the Zblack sea, minus any kind of mountains on the border with Ukraine, and it has about 1000-1500 Russian troops. Annexing itself to Russia would make it Russian territory, whereupon the Ukrainians could scrape up around 7500 National Guard troops and throw them at the Russians and totally overwhelm the defenders. It would be child's play to break through to the river at multiple points and pin the Russians into individual pockets, that could then be reduced piecemeal. The Russians have no access to supplies except existing stockpiles - when those are gone it's all over. Muttering about annexing the place is Putin trying to stir up trouble and anxieties without having to do anything. It's much the same as all those other empty threats Putin has made that resulted in no action.

My main question is still why hasn't Ukraine cut an under-table-deal with the Moldovans - the Ukrainians flatten the place, annex it, and swap the western 60% of the Budjack region to the Moldovans in exchange. The population and total amount of territory would come out pretty even. Moldova would get sea access, the Ukrainians eliminate the threat, and the borders would return to to being similar to the historical boundaries of old Bessarabia. The Russians might declare war on Moldova though, so...


As for Gaza, the war has been pretty badly conducted (in the operational and strategic sense) which is probably why the IDF is ready to mutiny. Hamas may be eliminated in some sense but it won't be gone. Replacement Hamas will have things in hand soon enough. That's actually an ok outcome for Bibi - he wants the threat to remain as a political crutch, so he doesn't want the war to end until he has a symbolic victory in hand and the hostages back. Which is precisely why Hamas doesn't want to give them up - they need the IDF committed and inflicting endless damage on Israel's image.


the politics of abattoirs

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Can I ask an open question to people here who are pro Israel but thinking of not supporting Biden in the fall? Why does Israel and Jews deserve a state while Ukraine and Ukrainians do not? Is it because of Holocaust and what happened to Jewish populations in much of Europe? What about Holodomor? Was the Holodomor simply not as bad as the Holocaust? Because let's not beat around the bush if you vote Trump in the fall because you think Biden is too pro Hamas you are saying Israel deserves a state but Ukraine doesn't.

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Respectfully, Tim, I think your question is silly. There are no ethnic or national groups that “deserve” a State. There are only groups that are powerful enough (for whatever reason) to achieve one.

The groups who desire to form a nation of their own but have been unsuccessful is long and varied. To name just a few (in no particular order) the Rohingya, Nubians, Kurds, Tuareg, Tamil and the Bangsamoro. Then there’s the Palestinians and in Europe the Catalans and Basques.

None of these groups desiring an independent state deserve success any more or less than the Israelis or Ukrainians do. Whether or not they successfully achieve their national aspirations has nothing to do with the legitimacy of their case.

One of the most ludicrous rules of the post war American-led world order is the idea that national boundaries shouldn’t be changed through violence or war. National boundaries have always been determined by war; there is no other way to define them.

It’s primordial; all primates (including Homo sapiens) are intensely territorial. Our closest biological relatives (the chimpanzee which share close to 95 percent of our DNA) are as intensely territorial as humans are and engage in remarkably violent behavior to protect and sometimes extend their territory.

The idea that borders shouldn’t be defined through violence means in reality that they can never change because history demonstrates that there is no other realistic way for borders to be defined. There are exceptions (e.g. the Czechs and Slovaks) but they are few. The logical outcome of this is that current international borders should be immutable and that groups desiring to break away and create their own states should never be successful.

The liberal Western idea is that none of this matters because democracy and pluralism should insure that a multitude of ethnic groups should live amicably together in the same nation as equal citizens. If we’ve learned anything in the past twenty years, it’s that this philosophy is nonsense. The American and European effort to impose this ideology on the rest of the world has met with disdain. Worse than that, by trying to impose this ideology on the rest of the world Western neocons have caused almost immeasurable tragedy.

Of course, the West doesn’t even practice what it preaches. When the United States and Europe decided to unilaterally alter the borders of Serbia by creating a state for the Kosovar Albanians it was happy to utilize violence to achieve this goal. As you’re old enough to remember, Tim, Bill Clinton gave birth to Kosovo by using some of the same tactics President Putin is using in his war with Ukraine. Both Clinton and Putin bombed the electric grids of the nations they desired to bring to heel.

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Remind me again about why an American should care about anything that happens in Transnistria. I can’t think of a single reason why anyone should give a damn about this.

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First they came for the Transnistrians, but I said nothing because it was difficult pronounce...

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Why do Americans like yourself care about Hamas, Gaza, and Israel?

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Well one reason Americans should care about Hamas is that over 20 American citizens were murdered in the recent Hamas attacks inside of Israel. Three Americans are still being held hostage assuming that they are still alive. Several other Americans were killed in previous Hamas terrorist attacks.

If I’m not mistaken, the dispute over Transnistria has not resulted in any terrorist attacks against Americans.

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Mar 6Liked by Claire Berlinski

I gave it three days, and I'm not a fan of the podcast. Doesn't feel like it's playing to your strengths - I don't think I learned anything much about Transnistria for example, except for its new border with Romania?

If you could rope in a real Bessarabian to talk to, that would be something.

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How would you improve it?

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Mar 9Liked by Claire Berlinski

First suggestion, don't pay much attention to me because I'm much more of a stack-reader than podcast-listener anyway. But I gave this a go because it was short.

Second: what I value about CG is roughly (1) pointing out serious stuff in corners that most media has stopped paying attention to (eg Sudan - RSF); and (2) digging deeper into more mainstream stuff than the mainstream generally is willing or able to do (eg Israel/ME or China Collapse). And a brief review of Top Stories is really neither of those things. I can get similar in "press review" slots all about the place.

So an obvious improvement for me would be: do less, deeper! (Лучше меньше, но лучше as Lenin would say.) Pick one angle, and mine it. Ideally with a relevant expert, though I get that's not easy - but Vlad's contribution was definitely welcome, and I bet he knows where Tiraspol is!

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That's helpful, thank you! I'll bring this up with John.

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...or maybe an Uzbek Banderite would do ;) ??

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Ok, just got finished reading all this.

I was interested to learn that Hamas has, shall we say, suffered a certain hit to its approval rating among Palestinian Gazans. If so, that’s encouraging. I’ve always been of the opinion that the Palestinians, having been marinated in Jew hatred for decades, constituted the most fundamental obstacle to a settlement of the long-running conflict between the Jews and the Arabs. But perhaps, just perhaps, the present war has reality-checked Gaza’s Palestinians, opening a window of opportunity for a fresh start. We can but hope…

Criticisms of the IDF’s conduct of the war in Gaza need to be received with a certain skepticism. To review the early record of the US armed forces in World War Two is to be reminded that democratic states have frequently been unprepared for the crises that burst upon them. That’s the downside of a liberal political order: Leaders tend to follow the path of least resistance. Yes, Israel’s political and military leaders were probably remiss in this or that aspect of their duty. But Israel is not the Jewish Sparta, nor the Jewish Prussia—it’s more like the Jewish Athens, a turbulent democracy. And it has responded to October 7 in much the same way that America responded to December 7.

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Mar 6·edited Mar 6Liked by Claire Berlinski

So Benny Gaetz came over to America on his own initiative, reportedly against Netanyahu’s wishes, and what kind of a reception did he get at the White House? They yelled at him.

What has to be understood is that the Gaza War has become for Biden & Co. a problem of presidential politics in an election year. Lots of people in the Democratic Party base are mad at Biden for supporting Israel. So Biden’s trying to appease the river-to-sea jihad vote while supporting Israel, an exercise in doublethink that won’t end well.

Here in the US, Israel is still strongly supported in public opinion. It’s a 70-30 issue. But as things stand at the moment, Biden’s losing the 2024 election to Trump. He and his people are petrified by the thought that his support for Israel could alienate progressives and Arab-Americans. That’s what Biden is thinking: that this Gaza thing could cost him the election.

I know these are serious issues, but I can’t help smiling over Biden’s predicament. The brush with which he was painted into this corner quivers in his own palsied fist.

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I for one am actually smiling at yourself, Claire, and everyone else here's predicament. Choose Israel or choose Ukraine? You can't have both as I suggested on October 8th. The real blackmail going on is the nuclear blackmail by basically all of America's large treaty allies like Poland, Japan, Korea etc. along with Ukraine itself which are basically blackmailing the 20 or 30 percent of Americans that are pro Israel and open to voting for Biden(seperate from the 30 percent that is pro Palestinian). Essentially people like Radosław Sikorski(who BTW has a Jewish wife Anne Applebaum) is basically telling the middle of American politics that either get Biden across the finish line or the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty will be finished by Poland, Korea, Japan etc. and I think most would agree that as a general rule widespread nuclear proliferation would shall we say be quite bad for Israel. So Ukraine and it's allies are directly blackmailing the US but indirectly blackmailing Israel which some allies of Netanyahu do seem to get(but not Bibi himself) and trying to at least do something on Israel's part to shore up Ukraine.

**Again I kind of predicted this back on October 8th.

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Mar 7·edited Mar 7

There are many people many including many people here at the Cosmopolitan Globalist that I think in a true emergency would choose Israel over Ukraine for very longstanding reasons of cultural affinity, history, the holocaust, etc. When Radoslaw Sikorski goes on American TV(Bloomberg) and talks about the NPT and how Poland will NEVER go back to eating grass at the behest of Russia(he used some analogy about eating grass) he was essentially putting a 357 magnum to the head of centrist Americans(and Cosmopolitan Globalists everywhere). Get Biden the win or else. Using Nuclear Blackmail to force Israel and the US to do things they really don't want to do.

BTW, I think Michael Oren for one in Israel understands quite well the Sikorski and Zelensky are trying to do and Oren's manifesto about an Israel more independent from the US is a response that. Oren suggests that in retrospect Israel should have gone to war with Saddam Hussein in 1991.

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Mar 6Liked by Claire Berlinski

How about "Hot Air: Claire Berlinski and Joxley's unscripted takes on the stories that rise to the top each day".

More seriously, how about something like: "The globe in brief: Claire Berlinksi and John Oxley's daily take on world news"

I enjoy the great pertinence of all definitions of brief (sharing information, concise summary, short duration) to your podcast concept.

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Mar 6Liked by Claire Berlinski

Transnistria doesn’t really seem that tricky to pronounce, unless I’m supposed to do the local accent. No unusual vowels or consonant combinations. There’s a missed opportunity to locate electrical component factories there and call it Transistoria, but what can you do.

As to why they spoke up now, I’m guessing they were hoping for a collapse after the fall of Avdiivka and wanted to lay the groundwork in case they could officially join Russia.

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Mar 6Liked by Claire Berlinski

It's harder to pronounce when you realise there's a silent 'd' between the first 's' and the second 'n' (River Dniester, other side of...)?

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@johnoxley, here's what ChatGPT suggested. Like any of them? What does everyone else think?

"Global Snapshots with John & Claire"

"World Briefing: John & Claire Unplugged"

"InsightCast: John & Claire's International Update"

"15 Minute Globe: John & Claire's Take"

"World in Focus: The John & Claire Podcast"

"The International Scoop with John & Claire"

"John & Claire's Global Digest"

"The World Explained: John & Claire Edition"

"In the Know with John & Claire"

"Around the World in 15 Minutes: John & Claire's Podcast"

"Global Insights: The John & Claire Show"

"Worldview Snap: John & Claire's Podcast"

"Globe Talk: John & Claire's Quick Take"

"Global Dispatch: John & Claire's Update"

"Around the World in 15: John & Claire Edition"

"The World at a Glance: John & Claire's Podcast"

"International Dispatch: John & Claire Unfiltered"

"Global Roundup: John & Claire's Insight"

"Quick World View: John & Claire's Podcast"

"Global Scan: John & Claire's Briefing"

"World Pulse: John & Claire's 15-Minute Update"

"The Global Report: John & Claire on the Beat"

"Insight Brief: John & Claire's World Edition"

"World Spin: John & Claire's Snapshot"

"The Global Scoop: John & Claire's Briefing"

"The World Whirl: John & Claire's Insight"

"Quick Globe View: John & Claire's Podcast"

"Global Whispers: John & Claire's Take"

"Around the Globe in 15: John & Claire's Edition"

"World Buzz: John & Claire's Quick Dive"

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Those sound like things AI would cough up. It's in the uncanny valley of FP program names.

Crossing Borders doesn't sound too bad. What comes to me is either "World Around" or "World 'Round" since the world is round. (In Heinlein's grumpy kvetching about history textbooks from 1980 he referred specifically to a textbook his father has been assigned in a commuter college in the 1890's and said that a book like couldn't be thorough "but at least it treated the world as ROUND".) Otherwise you could just default to Cosmopolitan Globalist podcast.


i ponder some more

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