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Interesting talk with Mr. Davidzon. I like listening to what he has to say.

You're spot on, Claire, about the egalitarian nature of American society. I was one of the National Guardsman who went up to DC for Biden's inauguration. We all got to talk to a few congressman here and there. Nancy Pelosi even handed out sandwiches.

I don't understand why Donald Trump is considered such a threat to "democracy". Mr. Davidzon, I think was spot on when he said that the liberal side of the aisle shouldn't be condemning Trump supporters as a bunch of red-neck hillbillies.

When Trump won the 2016 election, the Democratic party had two options:

Option A: Man, how did we lose? Why did a considerable part of the country actually think that it was in their best interest to vote for Donald Trump? How have we lost connection with traditionally Democratic , blue-collar voters?

Option B: It's because they're a bunch of racists!

I'm generalizing, of course, but you see my point. Personally, I think Obama was a much more divisive president than Trump was, but I wouldn't call him a threat to our government. Rather, it is the electorate that votes for these guys is who we should all be worried about.

The way you keep talking about Tucker Carlson, I'm beginning to think you might have a crush on him. I'm joking, of course, but I don't think Tucker is shaping American opinion. In fact, Fox News is getting sued by Dominion Voting Systems because all their major hosts decided to run with the story that those voting machines were faulty, even when they knew they weren't. They thought it was what their audience wanted to hear, and they were right. Dare I say that Fox News was... fake news.

I think that the Iraq War may have more to do with the resistance about arming Ukraine than anything, or anyone, else. I'm just a tad bit too young to remember it, but at the height of the Iraq War, it was pretty unpopular to publicly support it. Bush, for instance, wouldn't have had a Surge if he had been running for re-election. Now, flash-forward 20 years, and the same people who largely contributed to the troops who went to Iraq and Afghanistan (lower/middle class Americans from the "fly-over" states) and who supported those wars even when it was unpopular to do so are now being asked to donate billions of tax-dollars during a recession or they're cowardly? I'm not quite sure about that.

Lastly, I'm working towards a bachelor's in mathematics and I've found your father's books very helpful and illuminating. Especially "A Tour of the Calculus". I'm probably going to have to re-read it soon. He refers to "the calculus" with the same sort of reverence I've heard machinegunners use when referring to "the Fifty".

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Mar 24, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

"I don't understand why Donald Trump is considered such a threat to "democracy."

He and his dearest fans are willing to use violence and crafted lies to cancel lawful process and the peaceful transition of power. The world has seen the consequences of that, yet he continues to play the same game. This is what the beginning of an autocrat's journey looks like, we've seen it many times before. Please don't smoke screen this with a casual shrug-off.

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If you're referring to January 6 as the attempt to cancel lawful processes and the peaceful transition of power, I agree insofar in that Trump behaved badly. Was it an attempted coup? I'd hardly say so. It more resembled a group of looneys parading around the Congress than anything else. The only person killed was an unarmed woman who was shot by a Capitol Hill police officer. There's an ample amount of evidence that there were FBI agents in that crowd that may have aided and abetted the people who "stormed the Capital".

I suppose I may have a jaded opinion because I was one of the Guardsmen was who sent both to the George Floyd riots in 2020 and for the inauguration in 2021. There was a world of difference between the two, and the media narrative certainly wasn't accurate in either case.

I don't mean to excuse anything they did. The protestors behaved badly and Trump should have known better.

If Trump was truly an authoritarian figure... don't you think it would have made more sense for him to attempt some sort of power grab during Covid? I think this goes back to what I was saying in my comment. Are the people who voted for Trump just being duped by an authoritarian figure who panders to what they're complaining about... or is there really something serious that he's addressing that a lot of people didn't think was getting attention from their politicians?

Globalism has brought a lot of wealth and prosperity to the world. No doubt. However, I grew up in a small town that only survived because it had one of the largest hospitals outside of Birmingham in central Alabama. If you drive through just about any downtown in smalltown, USA, all you'll see is a bunch of dilapidated storefronts. On top of that, we have a major drug addiction problem and illegal aliens are, in fact, taking lower-class American's jobs. As I type this, there's a group of Hispanic men across the street working on a roof.

Another reason that Trump was elected was because he said the quiet part out loud. Before 2016, being called a racist was a big deal. Nowadays, who cares? Of course I'm a racist. I voted for Trump, didn't I?

With all that being said, I do think that the Republican party should move on from Trump. The 2020 election wasn't really between Biden and Trump, it was between Trump and Not Trump, and the country chose Not Trump. I'd say that Trump is probably the only candidate that could lose and election to Joe Biden, if Biden will be running next year.

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Hey, I pay my taxes, man.

As far as I can tell, that makes me a paragon of civic virtue.

Argue with a different narrative? I’m afraid I don’t understand. I’d like to think I look at events as they actually happened.

I didn’t mention Officer Sicknick’s death because it wasn’t caused by a direct act of violence on that day. Compare that to an unarmed woman and Air Force veteran who was shot in the throat by a law enforcement officer.

Again (again), what happened on J6 was detestable. It should never have happened. Was it an actual attempted coup by Donald Trump/his supporters? I just don’t see the evidence to back that up. In fact, there’s considerable evidence that shows that the FBI had undercover agents that aided and abetted the protestors to “storm the Capitol”.

Now why would they do that (if they did)?

I have my own nasty opinions on that, but I don’t know of any evidence to support those opinions; they’re just suspicions that I’ll keep to myself.

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"Was it an actual attempted coup by Donald Trump/his supporters? I just don’t see the evidence to back that up."

If only there were interviews, arrests, confessions, convictions and guilty pleas that could convince you. Oh well, I'll try and find one.

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Yes, I am aware of these.

Anyways, I'm sure you believe what you do because you've seen the evidence to prove it. I'm in the same boat. It looks like the democratization of information has some unintended consequences lol.

At least we can agree, however, that it is time for Donnie T to go. Other than my own personal experiences and the culture in which I grew up, I would say a large part of my thinking on Trump as a political phenomenon was shaped by Victor Davis Hanson's book, "The Case for Trump". I think he was very prescient in his views on how Trump would be seen in his post-presidency (albeit, that was before Covid, but I think his conclusions are still pretty accurate).

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Ouch. Sickens?

The LODD was actually a death by natural causes. Now, was the stroke that Officer Sicknick suffered caused by the actions of that day? Probably, but the narrative that he has been beaten to death with a fire extinguisher turned out to be false.

Again, what happened on J6 was lousy and detestable, but to think that goonballs wearing shaman hats were actually going to overthrow the US government is, well, just kind of silly.

Am I supposed to have a certain political opinion as a member of the military? That’s news to me.

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"Now, was the stroke that Officer Sicknick suffered caused by the actions of that day?" Yes. Per the coroner's report. And his department. LODD. I know you prefer to argue with some other narrative, but I'm the one calling you out on either omitting or forgetting that. You should be a better citizen than that.

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That sickens me. You rebrand the attempt to stop an election as loonies on parade, then failed to include the LODD of a police officer in your math. Especially heinous as a guardsman. If they're loonies, you're carrying water for them by repeating their excuses.

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I agree completely. It's a well-known and dangerous trajectory.

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Addendum:

To Mr. Davidzon:

You may have spent a lot of time reading the wrong books, but at least you learned something.

Any time spent reading Thomas Sowell is time well spent.

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Here’s an extremely interesting article about what might come next in Ukraine. It suggests that both the U.S. and the U.K. have committed to sending shells made from depleted uranium to Ukraine. If the author is correct, the United States is addicted to the use of these weapons.

There’s a reason to believe that the use of these shells might provide an excuse to Putin for the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Personally, I doubt he will need an excuse; if a Ukrainian offensive against Russian positions in Crimea looks potentially successful, Putin will use nuclear weapons happily or not.

Once the taboo against the use of these weapons is breached, our world will be changed forever in a horrible way.

All for what?

The author also suggests that the Biden Administration is pressuring Zelensky to attack Crimea because Administration officials are convinced that Ukraine can be successful and that a productive Ukrainian assault on Crimea might result in Putin’s overthrow. Who knows if this might happen but it seems remarkably unlikely to me. The chance that Putin would use battlefield nuclear weapons to save Crimea seems far higher than the likelihood that a Russian failure in Crimea will lead to the overthrow of Putin. Who do you suppose is more politically popular in his country; Putin or Biden, Macron, or Sunak. Who will be deposed first; Macron or Putin?

I listened to the Davidzon and Berlinski podcast and they both seem really down in the dumps. We haven’t even witnessed the Ukrainian offensive yet. Isn’t it a bit early to be sitting shiva?

But if things do end up turning out badly for Ukraine (which might actually end American hegemony permanently) there’s something Vlad and Claire seem unwilling to admit. If Ukraine loses perhaps it’s not because NATO didn’t deliver weapons fast enough. Maybe it would just be because Ukraine never had a chance against a stronger, wealthier, and better armed adversary. If this is true, it means that interventionists who were the chief cheer leaders for this war, adopted a remarkably bad strategy that could result in Ukraine being dismembered. It would be just one more in a long line of American policy failures.

Anyway, here the article. It’s worth a look.

https://weapons.substack.com/p/depleted-uranium-ammunition-and-crimea

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Mar 23, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

Thanks for the link, WigWag.

An interesting article right up to this point

"Ukraine is being asked by the US and NATO to launch its offensive against Crimea, starting when sufficient equipment arrives in Ukraine and when the weather is right for a land offensive"

at which point his commentary derails into Never-Never Land.

Any assertion must include support or it is nothing more than a non-informed opinion. This author makes an assertion and then fails to support it. Oh sure in the **next paragraph** he offers a link that purports that Nuland, the US, and NATO "support" Ukraine's decision to strike targets in Crimea, which is far different than asking or even commanding Ukraine where to wage its war.

The remainder of the commentary is similarly slip-shod...

"The hatred in Washington for Vladimir Putin appears to have no limits."

Is it too much to ask for the author to qualify/support "hatred" and "no limits"...? Oops, the author does not even try. And that all is before he repeats Russian propaganda talking points.

I acknowledge I have a high standard. One reason you can find me at CG.

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I don’t disagree with anything that you’ve said, David. There is quite a bit of conjecture masquerading as informed commentary. On the other hand, this seems par for the course for almost anything I read about Ukraine. Authors who think the war was necessary and support Ukraine exaggerate how well the Ukrainians are doing and authors who think prolonging the war is a tragic mistake tend to exaggerate the prospect of a major Ukrainian failure. Personally I find it very hard to get an idea what the status of things really is.

That’s why I try to read pundits with a variety of different perspectives.

But yes, you’re right. There’s a lot of malarkey out there.

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Mar 23, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

"On the other hand, this seems par for the course for almost anything I read about Ukraine... That’s why I try to read pundits with a variety of different perspectives."

And here in lies the problem. Pundits are not the answer. The intel nerds are.

Don't despair for not knowing what the next phase of the war likely is. I loved Vladislav's percentages in this podcast, not necessarily because I agree with them, but because it is the essential acknowledgement that we can only conjecture what comes next.

If you haven't listened to any of Dan Carlin's work on World War I, I heartily recommend it. He really describes the absolute chaos of the early offensives, and how it seemed the war could swing in either direction at any moment. We only have the luxury of our perspective to know how it turns out. You don't know if the stalemate will break until tanks and combined arms theory gives the Entente the ability to break through German defense in depth. Today we're waiting to see who launches a real offensive next, where, and all the while trying not to be pulled into a feint (again).

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This guy thinks he knows a lot more than he actually does.

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He seems well-credentialed. But I’m not that big on credentials.

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Mar 23, 2023·edited Mar 23, 2023Author

I'm going to leave it to you as an exercise to skim through the rest of his posts to see if you can find the telltale signs that he's not writing this in good faith.

I'll even give you a start, here: https://weapons.substack.com/p/zelensky-wants-the-west-to-use-nuclear. That video is mistranslated--clearly deliberately. Zelensky doesn’t say that “they could use nuclear arms against Russia”. He says they should “prevent Russia from using nuclear weapons." The opposite of what the subtitles indicate.

Here's the full speech, at the Lowy Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9plcAPFQrHY&t=1531s. Note that the video is from October 6, 2022: It isn't new and it isn't news.

Ask yourself what he's reading to have come across such a serious and deliberate mistranslation. (I'll help: If you check pretty much any disinformation monitor, this comes up as something that began circulating all over the European far-right in mid-February.)

See, e.g.: https://www.factcheck.org/2023/02/posts-misinterpret-zelensky-quote-on-preventive-actions-against-russia/.

Or: https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/truth-or-fake/20230208-debunking-claims-that-zelensky-asked-nato-for-pre-emptive-nuclear-strikes-against-russia?fbclid=IwAR0UAUyEy2X68O52tY4THFAcu5XpYM0vXjgIdHq7sYPyzwvMYX5un_gYtq8

This article, in Ukrainian, also discusses it: https://www-pravda-com-ua.translate.goog/news/2022/10/6/7370702/?_x_tr_sl=fr&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

Google translate will work very well.

Now ask yourself: Why he didn't think to check the translation, given how obviously newsworthy--and incendiary--it would be if Zelensky had really said that? Any reliable scholar or journalist would have done so, immediately, before he would even dream of posting it.

Now note that someone even pointed out the mistake in the comments--but he didn't check, retract, revise, or update his remarks. He was perfectly happy to leave what he must now know is disinformation on his site -- along with his confident assertion that this proves Ukraine is losing the war and desperate. (In fact, Zelensky is talking about the period before the February 24 invasion. And he's talking about economic sanctions, not nuclear strikes.)

So we can conclude that this writer is an enthusiastic and credulous consumer of Russian disinformation. And we can also conclude that he's writing in bad faith. He knows what he wrote is untrue, but either this was deliberate or he doesn't care.

The idea that the use of DU weapons will cause Russia to go nuclear comes from the same place he got this idea: Russian propaganda. His source, and his only source, is an unconcealed Russian propaganda rag--the Eurasia Times. But yes, Russia has been going all-out on the depleted uranium nonsense. They put this stuff out in the hopes that people like this guy will write exactly this kind of article.

That depleted uranium is a standard component that has nothing to do with nuclear weapons is something Putin knows well, not least because Russia has of course used those weapons in Ukraine: Russia's tanks have been equipped with DU rounds for decades. You would think someone who claims to be an expert in modern weaponry would know this, wouldn't you? And might at least mention it? Instead, he makes it sound as if DU is exotic and only the US and UK use it. It

https://edition.cnn.com/2023/03/21/europe/russia-depleted-uranium-warnings-intl-gbr/index.html

I remember the last time these "horrifying depleted uranium weapons!" rumors did the circuit--it was during the Iraq War. Probably spread by Russia then, too. Russia knows that many Westerners will find the word "uranium" inherently terrifying and will have no idea that Russia is using it *right now* in Ukraine--not to mentioncluster bombs, thermobaric bombs, phosphorus, etc. etc. So they're hyping up the idea that these are radiological weapons--probably this info op is specially aimed at Germany, given German neuroses about all things that sound nuclear.

Here's ISW on this gambit:

"Putin portrayed the Western provision of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine as a significant escalation in order to bolster information operations aiming to deter Western security assistance to Ukraine and to place the onus for negotiations on the West. Putin claimed on March 21, while discussing the Chinese peace plan, that the West is beginning to use weapons with a “nuclear” component in a response to the UK’s announcement that it would provide Ukraine with shells with depleted uranium.[11] Putin claimed that the UK’s provision of depleted uranium shells indicated that the West is not ready for a “peaceful settlement."[12] Anti-tank munitions in the West are commonly made of depleted uranium—that is, uranium that is less radioactive than natural uranium—due to its high density and the penetrative effect it generates. Such munitions cannot be used to produce either nuclear or radiological weapons. Putin seeks to portray the provision of depleted uranium shells as escalatory in order to deter Western security assistance despite the shells not containing any fissile or radiological material."

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-21-2023

The sad thing about these information operations is that they work.

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"Ask yourself what he's reading to have come across such a serious and deliberate mistranslation. (I'll help: If you check pretty much any disinformation monitor, this comes up as something that began circulating all over the European far-right in mid-February.)"

This should not go ignored.

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By whom?

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Mar 22, 2023·edited Mar 22, 2023

Something I do want to point out is actually more members of Congress than just Barbara Lee opposed the Iraq Invasion in 2003. I think one problem over the long term has been that in both the US and France the people who opposed the invasion are actually a pretty heterodox bunch ranging from people like Howard Dean, Ned Lamont, and now Emmanuel Macron who are basically relatively centrist and support Ukraine but did NOT support the invasion in 2003 for discreet reasons to elements of the anti American far left(and now the Tucker Carlson far right).

Perhaps the real elite failure in the US was not Iraq in 2003 but failing to stop 9/11 as France did with it's own attempted 9/11 style attack. The fact the US already had essentially the Al Queda playbook from Air France flight 8969 but "still" couldn't stop 9/11 was perhaps the greatest form of elite failure in the US in my lifetime.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_8969

**I believe there are several movies in France about flight 8969 that the Cosmopolitan Globalist's Arun Kapil has reviewed over the years.

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There was also a lot of pushback from the Intel services. So much so that the administration created "analysis" specifically to counter it, which is exactly the kind of warning sign we should always be on the lookout for. Regan did it too.

To me the most likely explanations for that move are either a cynicism with monstrously little care for truth, or a level of motivated rationalization that is astounding and we need to beware of. Claire, it drives me crazy when you belittle that as a "conspiracy theory," especially since both are so utterly mundane and human.

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It seems like most "conspiracy theories" from 5-10 years ago were all true. What a world.

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Oh man, the theorists you hang out with must be tame compared to the nutjobs I hang out with...

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Excellent talk. I just listened. Just reading the comment above me, i’m disinclined to think Putin invaded Ukraine largely because he thinks we failed in Iraq. It was more the widespread perception that we failed which is what he seized on for his own preconceived ends. He would be designing on Ukraine, Moldova Georgia, regardless of whether we intervened in the middle east. Only when we got cold feet about it, did he get excited though. Obama encouraged Putin to start making expansionist moves and then Trump of course excited him enormously, also Xi. The Populist domestic reaction to intervention within America, not the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in themselves, is encouraging our adversaries. Biden’s terrible decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was probably very significant if not pivotal to putin deciding to invade Ukraine. Populism.

And I was glad you guys touched on the civic virtue problem. That is the root of the issue for me. We wouldn’t have such abysmal leadership in America if we weren’t so deluded and superficial as to elect charlatans, posers, buffoons and idiots, Obama, Trump, Biden-- if the people weren’t so shallow and stupid that we think we can take whoever is superficially appealing in the most vulgar way without there being real consequences. But the American character over the last decade has been utterly transformed from the inside out. That’s hardly the elites’ fault. They are accountable to we the people. It’s our damn fault.

I take Tom Nichols’s and George Will’s line on this. It’s the coarsening of our civic bonds and our excessively permissive licentious culture, the entitled pseudointellectual rot bred in our universities, phone addiction, nonexistent parenting. People can barely read or write or reason anymore. They wear their political affiliation like a sports jersey. Why can’t we realize our international obligations to Ukraine and Europe? We can’t see past our fucking petty narrow little identities! I blame what Tobias Smollett in the 18th century decried as “Luxury.” Definitely get Chuck Schumer on. If there is anyone who can persuade our self-involved leaders to arm Ukraine, it’s you guys. Great talk. Very intelligent.

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Rush Limbaugh once said that America could survive a second term of Obama, but it couldn't survive an American electorate that would give him a second term.

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Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was a) not really his decision - the deal was made under the Trump admin b) 20 years in Afghanistan and nothing to show for the blood and sweat and 100’s of billions means that Biden made a rational decision: cut our losses and get the hell out. Of course, he was probably given an optimistic assessment of how the US-backed gov’t forces would fare once the US pulled out, and yes, the exit was messy and tragic, etc. etc. but it was the necessary decision, and therefor, as right as such a thing can be. My opinion, worth every penny, it goes without saying.

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After 20 years of fighting terrorism we gave afghanistan up to a terror group. The war was a success. Al Qaeda was annihilated. Osama Bin Laden had declared a global war on the west. He and all of his affiliates had to be wiped out. And Afghanistan is historically a hotbed for extremism. There was a deterrence argument for bringing it under our control. And it was working. We gave them democracy. They did not want us to leave. We should not have.

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Mar 21, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

(caveat - I read the transcript because I don't have time today to listen to the podcast).

Some random thoughts;

* I agree with Mr Davidzon on Iraq. I remember my sense of dread at the likely foolish American response to 9/11, and the Iraq invasion was so obviously a bad idea. I submit that the connection between Ukraine and Iraq is actually even stronger, because without the Iraq invasion there would very possibly have been no invasion of Ukraine - Iraq is what triggered the decline in US prestige and influence (and arguably the various internal declines) and created a lot of the geopolitical reality we're now living through.

* Not being in the US, I don't have a feeling for how much influence Carlson has, but I'll reiterate a point I've made here before - when you say Carlson, you should be saying "Murdoch". Unless something has radically changed in the way the Murdoch organisation works, people like Tucker Carlson don't make news policy, and the people who do are doing what they're pretty confident Rupert wants. Instead of asking why Tucker Carlson wants to undermine Ukraine, ask yourself why Rupert (or Lachlan) Murdoch wants to - and the answer will be, because they think it is better for business. Either the small scale (but highly profitable) business of Fox News, or the larger scale business environment in general - possibly they think the war is too disruptive, just like those in the British elite who wanted to get rid of Churchill in the early '40s and come to an accommodation with Hitler.

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