Weekend Reading #6

Ahmari and Schmitz argue that Trump is still the One at Compact.

Katya Sedgwick looks at Russia’s Western Face at The American Conservative.

Pedro Gonzalez on the contradictions facing Giorgia Meloni at Chronicles.

Patrick Deneen never pulls his punches. Over at The PostLiberal Order he argues that the great awokening is the poisoned fruit of liberalism.

Is it done, Yuri? Big Serge thinks the War in Ukraine has only just began.

Sam Kriss at The Lamp looks at a new translation of Gilgamesh and reflects on the shadow of death.

Finally, Erwin Wolff at The European Conservative discusses the unsolved theft of Van Eyck’s “Just Judges”.

14 thoughts on “Weekend Reading #6”

  1. Thanks Dover – Liked Painting sums up Wife in her sunroom sitting on couch under sunlight window reading

    For me liked – Big Serge Thoughts – The War Has Just Begun – The Winter of Yuri

    I have been attempting for several days to collect my thoughts on the Russo-Ukrainian War and condense them into another analysis piece, but my efforts were consistently frustrated by the war’s stubborn refusal to sit still. After a slow, attritional grind for much of the summer, events have begun to accelerate, calling to mind a famous quip from Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

    In all, it is clear that we are currently in the transitional period towards a new phase of the war, with higher Russian force deployment, expanded rules of engagement, and greater intensity looming. Season 2 of the Special Military Operation looms, and with it the Winter of Yuri:

    In any case, what is far more interesting than the technicalities of the referenda is what the decision to annex these regions says about Russian intentions. Once these regions become formally annexed, they will be viewed by the Russian state as sovereign Russian territory, subject to protection with the full range of Russian capabilities, including (in the most dire and unlikely scenario) nuclear weapons. When Medvedev pointed this out, it was bizarrely spun as a “nuclear threat”, but what he was actually trying to communicate is that these four oblasts will become part of Russia’s minimum definition of state integrity – non-negotiables, in other words.

    Annexation confers a formal designation that a territory has been deemed existentially important to the Russian state, and will be contested as if the integrity of the nation and state is at risk.

    The large scale view of force ratios is as follows:

    Ukraine has spent much of the combat power that they accumulated with NATO help during the summer, and will have an urgent need to reduce combat intensity for refitting and rearming at precisely the same time that Russian combat power in the theater begins to surge.

    Simultaneously, NATO’s ability to arm Ukraine is on the verge of exhaustion. Let’s look at this more closely.

    Depleting NATO

    One of the more fascinating aspects of the war in Ukraine is the extent to which Russia has contrived to attrit NATO military hardware without fighting a direct war with NATO forces. In a previous analysis I referred to Ukraine as a vampiric force which has reversed the logic of the proxy war; it’s a black hole sucking in NATO gear for destruction.

    There are now very limited stockpiles to draw from to continue to arm Ukraine. Military Watch Magazine noted that NATO has drained the old Warsaw Pact tank park, leaving them bereft of Soviet tanks to donate to Ukraine. Once these reservoirs are fully tapped, the only option will be giving Ukraine western tank models. This, however, is much harder than it sounds, because it would require not only extensive training of tank crews, but also an entirely different selection of ammunition, spare parts, and repair facilities.

    What is not explicitly mentioned in the press release is that the HIMARS systems don’t exist in current US inventories and will have to be built, and are thus unlikely to arrive in Ukraine for several years.

    The Winter War

    Nordstream and Escalation

    And so, we return to elementary analysis, and ask: Cui bono? Who benefits? Well, considering Poland celebrated the opening of a new pipeline to Norway only a few days ago, and a certain former Polish MP cryptically thanked the United States on Twitter, it is fair to make a few guesses.

    Let us briefly meditate on the actual implications of Nordstream’s demise.

    1. Germany loses what little autonomy and flexibility it had, making it even more dependent on the United States.

    2. Russia loses a point of leverage over Europe, reducing the inducements to negotiation.

    3. Poland and Ukraine become even more critical transit hubs for gas.

    Russia clearly perceives this as a bridge burning move of sabotage by NATO, designed to back them into a corner. The Russian government has decried it as an act of “international terrorism” and argued that the explosions occurred in areas “controlled by NATO” – the concatenation of these statements is that they blame NATO for an act of terrorism, without explicitly saying that. This precipitated another meeting of the Russian National Security Council.

    On the Precipice

    I am fully cognizant that my views will be spun as “coping” after Ukraine’s gains in Kharkov oblast, but time will tell out. Ukraine is on its last legs – they drained everything usable out of NATO stockpiles to build up a first tier force over the summer, and that force has been mauled and degraded beyond repair just as Russia’s force generation is set to massively increase. Winter will bring not only the eclipse of the Ukrainian army, the destruction of vital infrastructure, and the loss of new territory and population centers, but also a severe economic crisis in Europe. In the end, the United States will be left to rule over a deindustrialized and degraded Europe, and a rump Ukrainian trashcanistan sequestered west of the Dnieper.


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  2. Sucks to be Socrates!

    Sure does. Interesting parallels between Socrates in oligarch-controlled Athens and us Cats now. (Socrates should’ve gone off with Xenophon, he’d’ve had a lot of fun – Anabasis is an awesome road trip story.)

    The article by Mr Kriss would scare the socks off most people I suspect. I like it a lot. As a Christian though we have the words of St Paul: death has lost its sting.

    My favourite take on Gilgamesh is a science fiction novel. Wilson Tucker’s “The Time Masters“. Fine story, sadly I can’t see an ebook version available though. It provides the same flavour of gritty reality and existential depth of time as the epic itself.


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  3. Perhaps I missed a lot in weeks and months gone by, but I’m enjoying the current clear direction as to what each reading is about and therefore helping to decide what to read or pass by.


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  4. PS. Since you seem to be knowledgable in the area, have you heard of a Polish (?) artist, one Z. Gryfita? I have one of a series of ‘Poppies’, clearly WW2, but cannot find any other information. Thanks


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  5. Katya seems to think Russians hanker for restoration of imperial glory. I suppose poms do too. And Turks. Australians maybe. And of course Romans.
    None seem likely to get it and the magic realism that relies on those thoughts seems to be delivering nothing but more pain.
    You’d have think Putin is cactus.


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  6. Katya seems to think Russians hanker for restoration of imperial glory.

    Vlad fairly famously likened himself to Peter the Great. I’ve long wondered that he might be angling for a return to the Tsarist model, which had a fair bit going for it – perhaps as a constitutional monarchy like the UK. But sadly he’s faceplanted this time, so that is no longer possible.


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  7. “he might be angling for a return to the Tsarist model”
    I don’t think any one (even Vlad) could revive a constitutional monarchy in this day and age. They are relics of a bygone era, of which the last, and arguably the greatest, was Lizzie. We were fortunate to have been here.


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  8. I suspect that the imperial project is in any case doomed. Losing Lyman is going to leave about 2500 soldiers to be either captured or killed. It also gifts Ukraine the logistics base that has been the local hub.


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