The Volokh Conspiracy

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I came across this passage from the New York Times (Andrew Kramer):

Asked if he was afraid of dying in the war, [Volodymyr Zelensky] said everybody has such fears…. "[I]f a person is not afraid of losing his life, or the lives of his children, there is something unwell about that person." He added, though, that as president, "I simply do not have the right" to be afraid.

(The Times of London had also reported that Zelensky had been the target of three recent assassination attempts.) And this reminded me, as other things have in the past, of two different but related passages from Rebecca West's Epilogue to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon pp. 1125, 1130 (1941), writing of the English right after the fall of France:

It was good to take up one's courage again, which had been laid aside so long, and feel how comfortably it fitted into the hand….

Let nobody belittle them by pretending they were fearless. Not being as the ox and the ass, they were horribly afraid. But their pale lips did not part to say the words that would have given them security and dishonour.

NEXT: "Suggestion of Sexual Conduct Alone Cannot Constitute Obscenity,"

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  1. Can someone explain why Putin can make 3 assassination attempts on Zelensky and advocacy of killing Putin is beyond the pale?

    Any lawyer objecting should be arrested as a traitor, tried and executed. It should become war policy to kill oligarchs, their families, and heads of state. They are causing $trillions in damage and millions of deaths of innocent people.

    Why is this not self evident and adopted? Because war would cost $millions, and not $trillions enriching the pockets of our oligarchs, so that doctrine is beyond the pale.

    1. Oh sure. There are two proposals here

      1. The US (or a NATO ally) assassinates Putin (or tries to)

      This is beyond the pale because it opens up US leaders or NATO allied leaders to being assassinated in response, not to mention making the war between the Russia and the US and much broader...and worse.

      2. Ukraine assassinates (or tries to assassinate) Putin.

      This is more defendable (since Russia is trying to assassinate Zelensky), but it's against Ukraine's interests currently. Broadly speaking, it would be counterproductive. If (a big if) Ukraine succeeds in assassinating Putin, it loses a lot of the goodwill Ukraine has from the West. In addition, typically if country A assassinates country B's leader, that really upsets country B. And if Country B has the power, they typically don't suddenly back away from country A, but hit harder....

      The truth is, assassination only works if the first country is far more powerful (and the second country can't effectively strike back), or if the assassins are unknown (and the second country doesn't know where to strike).

      1. Armchair. So the destruction of $trillions in infrastructure and the killing of millions is not beyond the pale. National leaders and the oligarchs they all represent are unreachable.

        That does not comply with utilitarian analysis. I know the lawyer has limited math, but this is a third grade addition word problem.

        Kill Putin and his klepto oligarchs, the people of Russia thrive, and kiss our hands. Their income will immediately double, because it is no longer being stolen. Everyone wins saves the oligarchs. The scumbag lawyer profession is the servant of these oligarchs, and just represents their interests. That is enough incentive to round up their hierarchy, try them an hour, and shoot them all in the court basements. I consider endowed chairs to be part of the hierarchy because they indoctrinate intelligent, ethical studens into sicko supernatural doctrines and make the profession super toxic.

        1. "Kill Putin and his klepto oligarchs, the people of Russia thrive, and kiss our hands."

          Or, they get pissed off that foreigners have killed their leaders and strike back. Or other "klepto oligarchs" take power instead.

          I know it sounds good in your head. But the people of a country rarely, if ever, are happy when foreigners assassinate their leaders.

          1. Indeed. Many Russians probably have only the vaguest idea what is happening in Ukraine:

            They are not likely to suddenly become better informed if Putin gets assassinated.

            1. If Iraq had killed Bush, would you be better off after $trillions did not get wasted on war justified by a bogus excuse? Wages would not have stagnated because our klepto oligarchs should have been killed by Iraq along with Bush. Who made the $trillions from that war?

              1. Imagine that Iraq did assassinate President Bush. Would Dick Cheney have been less aggressive towards Iraq than Bush was?

                Or were you thinking of GHWB?

                Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden have all applied a simple but effective rule: Pick a VP that your opponents think will make an even worse president than you.

                1. Bush represented the West Texas oil oligarchs, who kicked the ass of the Takrit oil oligarchs in Iraq. Cheney represented the arms dealer oligarchs. They made the most. That is who got out $trillion and returned nothing of value. Kill Cheney and his oligarchs too. We all do well, the Iraqis, and the American worker who gets a raise when the next dipshit in Washington is deterred.

                  We shoudl amend the constitution to criminalize rent seeking, then to kill any leader and its oligarchs for rent seeking wars.

                2. "Bush II, Obama, Trump and Biden have all applied ..."
                  It sure looks that way, except that Cheney was perfectly up to ruling.... Oops!

                3. Michael P, what makes you suppose Trump opponents did not think Pence would be a better president than Trump?

    2. Because the US has not declared war on Russia, so if someone assassinated Putin inspired by that particular request Russia may see it as an act of war and respond accordingly.

      (remember, countries that just had their dictator assassinated tend to react in unpredictable ways)

      1. How would Russia find out who sent a drone made in Turkey?

    3. Can someone explain why Putin can make 3 assassination attempts on Zelensky.....etc

      No, but I can explain why :

      (a) a Times of London report that there have been three recent assassination attempts on Zelensky is a different idea from

      (b) the idea that there have actually been three recent assassination attempts on Zelensky.

      Trumpet, flashing's a newspaper report.

      True the Times is not notably left wing, but it's very establishment and the establishment is very pro-Ukraine anti-Russia at present. Also we're deep in the fog of war and the black arts of war propaganda. And, at the risk of repeating myself, why would you believe anything you read in any newspaper ? Have you not read enough obvious crap in newspapers to develop a sceptical nose ?

      None of this is to even hint that Mr V. Putin would be above such a thing. Far from it. Though it's hard to see what he would gain from it beyond creating a martyr. But a number of his previous efforts seem irrational too. So who can say ?

      Anyway. Do not believe everything you read in a newspaper. Even a non lefty newspaper.

      1. In utility, Putin must go because he is Hitler Jr., not because of reports of 3 assassination attempts. He is the cause of damage. End his life and that if any successor who behaves the same way.

        Ukranians would carry out the execution by drone. Real time intelligence would assist them.

        I find the opposition to that self defense by lawyers to be outrageous. It justifies collaborator charges.

        You could reply, do the same to Bush by Iraq. Bush promoted the interests of West Texas oil oligarchs. The ordinary person in the US would have much better off if that had happened. Utility for the US would support that. To deter.

      2. Have you not read enough obvious crap in newspapers to develop a sceptical nose?

        Rejection of everything in every newspaper is very far from using a skeptical nose. It is kind of the opposite of skepticism. More like stupidity attempting to augment itself.

        If you have an actually useful skeptical nose you can read with profit whatever you want, without too much concern about being misled. You know when to withhold judgment. Not that I think many folks have that capability. It seems almost totally absent among right-wingers.

        1. Part of the Journalism Code of Ethics requires verification. Media making unverified claims and failing to label them as such should be severely punished.

      3. Given that Putin has engaged in assassination of dissidents in other countries, this is not unreasonable at all.

      4. Trust the Times or not, all the information on the assassination attempts is from a biased source, the government of Ukraine. The "ammunition, not a ride" quote is also single sourced from a single unnamed official. Either or both could be true.

    4. Third parties risk becoming belligerents. Now, the idea that a lawmaker could say, "Hey, Yo! You Rusaian are getting a raw deal. You might want to consider a leadership change. Do what you gotta do!Go git 'em". That is just propaganda

      Anything related to payments or bounties would be in the same vein as the Palestinian payments to bombers family.

    5. As the US said during various gulf wars, the enemy head of state is a fair military target.

      So should it be here, a 2-way street, though whether other nations want to get directly involved is another question.

      Gee. Imagine if Ukraine decapitated Russia.

  2. Say what one will, Vladimir Putin has finally made the public really see and appreciate the image of courage and bold leadership he has long sought to project.

    But he didn't mean for us to see that in Zelensky.

    1. Between Trump and Zelensky, Putin really has to hate these TV stars turned President. They're surprisingly hard to deal with.

      Putin really must like these nice, predictable politicians who stay bribed. Like Yanukovych and Biden.

      1. Trump didn’t give shit about Ukraine (neither did Obama). The only Americans that cared about NATO and Ukraine before two weeks ago are senators like McCain and Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy…and the senators are the group of Americans that will get blame/credit for however this plays out. Did you celebrate when North Macedonia was admitted to NATO in 2019?? Did Trump run on bringing North Macedonia into NATO in 2020?? Here is an American entity that happens to be Senator Johnson’s top donor celebrating North Macedonia in NATO:

        The U.S. Army Contracting Command – Detroit Arsenal (ACC-DTA) announced that it has awarded Oshkosh Defense, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK), a $152 Million order for Joint Light Tactical Wheeled Vehicles (JLTV), companion trailers, and associated kits.

        The order includes Oshkosh JLTVs, trailers and kits for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy, as well as NATO allies Lithuania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, and Romania.

        Do the math brainiac!!

        1. What's math got to do with it? Have you ever been to North Macedonia? Know any of its history? Have any idea why they would want to join NATO?

          Having spent almost a month there over the winter I can tell you a little about its recent history:

          Up until 1912 N Macedonia was a province in the Ottoman Empire, then Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece alliance to take as much territory as they could from.the Turks. Serbia wanted Albania, Greece wanted western Thrace, and Bulgaria wanted North Macedonia and all of Eastern Thrace that they could get including the European side of Istanbul. Bulgaria got beat in Eastern Thrace but gained some territory, the Albanians became independent, and the Serbs moved in behind the Bulgars and scooped up N Macedonia. And Greece got western Thrace. So ended the first Balkan War.

          A year later Bulgaria being pissed off they did most of the fighting attacks its former allies Serbia and Greece to get their fair share, including N Macedonia. They lose again and Serbia keeps N Macedonia. Then comes WWI, and N Macedonia is incorporated into Yugoslavia

          Then comes WWII, Germany attacks Yugoslavia, their allies the Bulgarians not only occupy N Macedonia, southern Serbia, and parts of northern Greece, they formally annex it all.

          So finally N Macedonia becomes independent for the first time ever when Yugoslavia splits up, and probably the only reason Serbia lets them go is they are busy with the Croats, Bosnians, and you can bet Bulgaria lurking over the border was a factor too.

          Then N Macedonia is free but Greece blocks them from the EU for decades over the name controversy, that finally gets resolved.

          Now Bulgaria is blocking them from joining the EU, why? They want them to change their history textbooks and quit calling Bulgaria fascists for allying with the Nazis in WWII and play up more historical links to Bulgaria.

          I'd want whatever security I could get too, N Macedonia isn't worried about the Russians, its their neighbors, as unlikely as it 2022.

      2. Trump's hard to deal with? LOL. Stroke his ego and he's as compliant as a well-trained dog.

        More alternate reality from AL.

        1. Too bad the Democrats didn't figure that out from 2017-2020. Gosh, they could've passed almost any legislature they would've wanted, if they'd just stroked Trump's ego. Universal health care, mass citizenship, solving climate change...if only they had stroked Trump's ego.

        2. The US should seize the apartments Russian oligarchs bought to appease Trump. Put 8 homeless in each at the Trump Tower until Trump shuts up about Putin.

  3. Mike Pence just came out with a statement that there is no room in the GOP for Putin apologists

    I agree and add their is no room for Putin apologists in either party - post invasion.

    Because if you want to compare Putin pre-invasion to Xi then you can clearly see Xi is much more authoritarian, more aggressive, and with more blood on his hands. Uighur genocide, Hong Kong takeover, South China Sea territory grab, Taiwan saber rattling, etc. Putin is a bad man but Xi is right in that same neighborhood.

    So don’t try to roll back the clock and start using the Putin card unless the Xi card is on the table too.

    And there are a lot of people in Washington, NY, LA, Silicon Valley on both sides of the aisle with entire collections of Xi commemorative cards.

    1. Chinese firms are set to become a major trading force in the global liquefied natural gas market in coming years, thanks to liberalisations at home and recently signed long term contracts for record amounts of LNG from U.S. suppliers.

      1. This is only useful under the theory increased trade makes war less likely.

        If it enriches your poverty-strewn-due-to-dictatorship nation so you now have real money to rattle your missiles, well surprise surprise.

    2. What are you talking about? Lots of China apologists in the US? Beyond the tankie set, I don't know that I see that very often.

      More like this is a rewarming of the 'soft on USSR' redbaiting the GOP used to push.

        1. They think that if you say a dog's forepaws are hands, the dog has only two legs. Calling China's government-run efforts to collect information in violation of export control and espionage laws "spying" is politically incorrect.

        2. The China Initiative is being cast aside largely because of perceptions that it unfairly painted Chinese Americans and U.S. residents of Chinese origin as disloyal.

          It's the freaking subheading.

          1. Because of "perceptions", not "reality". You're not examining the root cause(s) but only a convenient excuse.

      1. Well there of course was John Kerry arguing we shouldn't ban solar cells made with slave labor.

        And there is this:
        Over 40 progressive groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden and lawmakers on Wednesday urging them to prioritize cooperation with China on climate change and curb its confrontational approach over issues like Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong and forced detention of Uyghur Muslims.

        "We, the undersigned organizations, call on the Biden administration and all members of Congress to eschew the dominant antagonistic approach to U.S.-China relations and instead prioritize multilateralism, diplomacy, and cooperation with China to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis.” a group of 48 progressive groups wrote to the White House and Congress in early July."

        One of the groups is the Union of Concerned Scientists. Is that you? I certainly hope not, most of them.aren't actually scientists anyway.

        1. Foreign trade, especially in areas that shore up America's infrastructure, is not support for Xi.

          Scientific collaboration is *certainly* not support for Xi.

          Yep, it's lame redbaiting.

          As an aside, buy America is trickier than you think. Plenty of things, you buy them overseas, or you don't buy them at all. If they're used in technology development, you're hamstringing yourself for no real benefit.

          1. Don't confuse me with an America Firster, I read Ricardo as a teenager. I don't believe in buy American, I believe in comparative advantage. I think American Capitalism and cheap foreign factories to produce goods cheaply is the greatest increase of world productivity since the advent of modern day farming

            I'm actually in Cambodia now within a half hours drive of a hundred factories making Americans clothes, mostly owned by Tawainese corporations who contract with international
            and American brands.

            1. Fair enough.

              I'm dang near a free traider myself, absent humanitarian and environmental restrictions. Mostly because that ship has sailed; you're not going to bring those jobs or even that critical infrastructure back with a mere law. At least not in a capitalist country.

              1. Sarcastro, jobs and products which went overseas via legal changes can come back. Bring them back via the same policy-jiggery route they took going away.

                Those jobs did not disappear overnight; they won't all be home tomorrow. But this nation has paid a terrible price for offshoring, and especially for undue reliance on comparative advantage. However beautiful that notion looks in the abstract, it has proved a flawed concept in practice, at least for this nation. Perhaps it has enriched the world in the aggregate. It has utterly crushed America's rust belt, and damaged most of the rest of this nation's economy. Worst of all, destabilizing economic effects brought on by comparative advantage continue to inflict a fearsome price on national politics.

                U.S. over-reliance on comparative advantage has been a boon for foreigners, a bonanza for folks who control economic levers in the U.S., and a multi-faceted catastrophe for others—including a large majority of Americans. Probably the best way to start fixing that mistake would be to single out for protection critical U.S. industries which should never have been off-shored in the first place. Enact slowly-phased-in import bans on stuff the nation absolutely requires, to give domestic industry a chance to ramp up.

                Begin with easy stuff—light industries, which can respond quickest. A good example would be medical protective equipment—masks gowns, gloves, etc. Those are in chronic shortage during medical crises, because as soon as any crisis subsides, domestic suppliers get under-cut by Chinese prices, and hospitals go back to buying abroad. When the next public health crisis arrives, foreigners make the decisions about who gets what, when, with deadly delays as U.S. industry struggles to recover.

                Move from there to tariffs applied to key developing technologies, to keep this nation's workers active in their development—stuff like solar cells, battery development, and vaccine manufacture. On those kinds of goods, assess later whether the tariffs are enough, or whether import bans might need consideration for them too. Pay attention to raw materials bottle-necks (rare earths, etc.), and promote with law and policy whatever domestic supply sources can be accomplished).

                Thereafter, begin to subsidize generously the really tough-nut stuff, like semi-conductor manufacture, which requires billions, and years-long development. The overall aim should be to armor-plate the national economy against crises in critical areas of industrial need, while improving domestic job opportunities in the process. Economic orthodoxy should take a back seat to a goal of secure supply. A side benefit would, of course, be freedom to practice a less dangerous and less combative foreign policy. Americans will not always and forever want to defend Taiwan, at the risk of nuclear confrontation with mainland China. The best time to start backing away from that would have been decades ago. Right now will have to do as alternative.

                With that done, maybe the nation can continue to enjoy the fruits of comparative advantage regarding products consumers buy more-optionally—food stuffs, household appliances, clothing, maybe some building materials and other commodities, for instance. But there should always be a wary eye out for uncontrollable consolidations abroad, among the suppliers of actually necessary goods. You do not want the American food supply to depend on anything like an OPEC-modeled food cartel abroad.

                The comparative-advantage auto-pilot has not delivered the nation where it needed to go. It is time to put humans back at the controls.

                1. The 1920s called; they want their economic policy back.

                  1. Nieporent, go to Binghamton, NY. Poke around for a day or two. Then get back to me.

                    1. And as the famous economic aphornism goes, "As Binghamton, New York goes, so goes the nation."

                    2. Go there for a day or two, Nieporent. You would learn a lot about the nation. It's the place which gave the nation Rod Serling. And before that, Petroleum Vesuvius Nasby—a humorist much admired by Mark Twain.

                      Did you know that Binghamton and the small cities around it was the locale where IBM got started? Or that Binghamton had an exceptional history of labor–management comity, and resultant widespread prosperity. It was a prosperity so widely enjoyed that labor built monuments to celebrate it. Big name labor leaders came to town, looked around, and told the workers not to organize, they had it too good.

                      The place is mostly in ruins now, including the monuments. There are also a lot of folks pretty frustrated that an anticipated fracking boom didn't take off.

                      But as a bonus, you could enjoy a look at a piece of the Ukrainian diaspora, if that even interests you. They are struggling too, of course. You can meet their kids working at McDonalds.

                      Surprises me that the NYT seems not even to notice onion dome churches so close to Manhattan. But the fact is, Binghamton is pretty discouraging. Like the whole rust belt.

      2. But Sarcastro, don't misunderstand my point: pre-invasion Putin was no worse, and less of a threat than Xi. I don't really expect a serious argument on that point.

        So anyone who said we had to engage Putin and find areas of cooperation pre-invasion is no more guilty of some sort of a moral offense than John Kerry saying:
        “Well, life is always full of tough choices in the relationship between nations,”
        “Yes, we have issues, a number of different issues. But first and foremost, this planet must be protected. We all need to do that for our people.”

        Or Pelosi saying:

        “Having said all of that … we have to work together on climate. Climate is an overriding issue and China is the leading emitter in the world, US too, developed world too, but we must work together. We have to have a level of communication, whether it’s COVID, whether it’s terrorism or whether it’s climate.”

        I'm not saying we should put the same level of sanctions and opprobrium on China as we currently are on Russia, of course I'm not saying we shouldn't either.

        What I am saying is treating Russia pre-invasion the same way we are and have been treating China isn't any sort of black mark on a politician.

        1. The Chinese government, because of the CCP, is terrible for its people and humanity in general. But they haven't tried to take over any sovereign nations. The most they did was accelerate their timetable for turning Hong Kong into just another CCP enclave. Russia has invaded its neighbors and provided both military and financial aid to destabilize others.

          1. "But they haven't tried to take over any sovereign nations. "

            Tibet disagrees.

            1. That is debatable at best: Tibet was only independent de facto, and only between 1912 and 1951 -- it was never independent de jure, or recognized by notable world powers. And if we go back to 1951, then we should look also at the USSR gobbling up most of eastern Europe just years before then.

              1. "USSR gobbling up most of eastern Europe"

                Sure, neither country is nice.

                "and only between 1912 and 1951"

                So, it was independent for longer than Poland or Czechoslovakia were before the USSR occupied them.

        2. Nothing you just quoted is anything like Trump's praise for Putin the man both before and after the invasion.

          1. Well great,I don't pay a lot of attention to Trump's every word.

            All I ask is people restrict their cites to Trump encouraging an invasion, or praising Putin after the invasion, that's the point I'm making.

            1. My point is that saying we should be diplomatic is not being a China apologist, or a Xi fan.

              So your original point still seems unsupported to me.

  4. Who in the the Fetterman Fight was the most courageous?

  5. A less misleading post title would be “courage” rather than “fear”

    1. Is not the point of the post that the two are related ? If you don't feel fear, it's hard to say that what you do - however death-defying - is courageous. Thus courage consists not in doing the death-defying deed per se, but , if not in conquering your fear, then at least in subduing it sufficiently to act, despite your fear.

      1. Attributed to Franklin Jones:
        "Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid."

  6. A. J. P. Taylor wrote a book "The Origins Of The Second World War" with a thesis that if Hitler had never been born some one would have had to invent him. Post WWI Germany was cut off at the knees by the peace treaty and who ever was in charge there would have had to strike back at Europe to stay in power.

    To a great extent Russia felt humiliated by the way the US and EU treated it after the USSR fell apart and there is still a lot of resentment in Russia about it. If Putin was not in charge someone like him would be. Not to mention Ukraine is not the shining example of democracy it is made out to be; in fact it is one of the more corrupt countries and a leader in money laundering. While I don't buy all the Putin to Hitler comparisons I do think both were/are buffeted about by events that dictated their actions.

    It amuses me to see claims that if we could only assassinate Putin and a few of his henchmen the Russians would wind up holding hands around the campfire singing kumbaya. Not trying to say personalities don't matter; just that sometimes events over take them.

    1. Germany was cut off at the knees for several reasons:

      * The Kaiser deemed himself selected to lead by God and that God would not let him make mistakes, therefore he could ignore all Bismarck's careful politicking and just make off the cuff decisions, such as telling Austria-Hungary to go ahead and attack Serbia, thus starting WW I.

      * Germany had laid harsh conditions on France after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Now that Germany had lost, even harsher conditions were appropriate for the much harsher war.

      * The war had taken place almost entirely outside German, in France, and reparations were entirely appropriate to rebuild France. Russia was a different matter, having had a revolution in 1917.

      Whether or not these justified the treatment Germany got, I will not debate. But they were real arguments. It is ludicrous to call them stupid now, 100 years later, just because they spawned Hitler.

    2. Post WWI Germany was cut off at the knees by the peace treaty

      It's a bit of a myth that reparations doomed Weimar Germany, as most of it never got paid. It was more that Germany had paid for WW1 with borrowing (unlike the Brits, who paid by hiking taxes); and then post WW1, the Weimar politicos never attempted to balance spending and taxes. They just carried on printing. (As well as dipping their long fingers deep into the trough, by using political pull to get bank loans to buy real assets. Contempt for the Weimar Republic wasn't just to do with the inflation, it was also to do with the corruption.) I highly recommend :

      which has a lot of contemporary accounts.

      But i agree, post 1991 Russia is a bit like post WW1 Germany in the sense that to the common man, their country's Great Power status just seemed to vanish for no reason. The action took place off screen, not in Russia / Germany, so myths about a stab in the back, or some kind of cheating could easily sprout and be burnished to a fine sheen.

      Unlike Germany after WW2, where when enemy tanks are parked all over your country, the towns and cities are in ruins and half the female population is being raped by the Russkies. It may be hard to take, but at least it helps you avoid the delusion that you haven't really lost.

      1. I have read that one reason for demanding unconditional surrender was to avoid a repeat of Germany not thinking it had lost. But I have also read it was a spur of the moment decision by one allied leader (Churchill? FDR? Stalin? don't remember) which ended up stretching out the war as desperate Nazis saw no way to, say, assassinate Hitler and surrender with the government intact.

        1. You can find various opinions. Here is one source that suggests Churchill and FDR were in agreement about unconditional surrender for Germany and Japan, but not in agreement about Italy (Churchill wanting to keep the option of a negotiated peace with Italy). But FDR, accidentally or on purpose, extended that to Italy at a press conference.

          Another common suggestion (not mentioned at that link) was that Stalin was deeply suspicious that the Allies would make a separate peace with Germany at his expense; publicly renouncing that option took that off the table to some degree.

          Whether the war (in Europe) would have ended sooner without it is hard to say. If you look at, say, the fall of 1944, the Allies are breaking out of Normandy and the Russians are well into Poland. The Stauffenberg ploy was on July 20. Suppose it had succeeded, and whoever ended up taking over wanted to surrender on terms other than unconditional surrender. What terms would have been acceptable to Stalin? What if the Germans said 'OK, we're not going to fight the Western Allies, we're just sending all our troops to Poland to fight the Russians'. What orders do you give Patton? Let them disengage? Do you let the Ruhr keep sending tanks to fight in Poland? Pretty sticky wicket, I think.

          1. $%^&&&* s/ploy/plot/

            1. Nixon's tragedy was becoming president rather than secretary of state. You need nice guys like Jimmy Carter domestically, and realists like Tricky Dick when dealing with the less nice countries in the world.

              The West did try to aid Russia post breakup. Autocracy to democracy is a hard road with no history of democracy.

        2. You really think the Russians were going to stop before Berlin in any case? Once they got there they actually tried to get to Hamburg before the allies to cut off the Jutland Peninsula so they could occupy Denmark too.

          And geopolitics aside, were they going to just let the concentration camps go? Let the Germans tidy up and set up a replacement government with the few Nazis that might wonder if they really were the "baddies".

          It made more sense to let Japan conditionally surrender, but that wasn't going to happen either.

          1. "You really think the Russians were going to stop before Berlin in any case?"

            I'd be really surprised if they would. In fact, even if the Germans had just laid down their arms in the west and let Patton take Berlin, I dunno what Stalin might have done.

            "were they going to just let the concentration camps go?"

            Well, if the Western allies made a separate peace with Germany, then the terms of that armistice would govern. I think not eliminating the Nazis would have been very unpopular domestically.

            (FWIW, my sense is that you are thinking I think a separate peace would have been a good idea. Not so - I was in fact trying to point out some of the practical problems it would have caused)

  7. Ukrainians would be better off if Zelensky surrendered. He is just getting a lot of them killed unnecessarily.

    1. Lie back and accept the imperialist boot - it's utilitarian!

      Easy for you to say - it's not your nation.

      I'm not huge on a lot of nationalism, but so long as we have nations it's pretty dumb to pretend it doesn't exist.

      1. "Better Red than dead."

        Who knew?

    2. So, using the historical analogy in Prof. Volokh's post, the British should've surrendered to Hitler after the fall of France?

    3. A lot of people think there is nothing worth fighting for. But let the Ukrainians decide for themselves.

      1. "A lot of people think there is nothing worth fighting for."

        They tend to be sitting in safe, free, prosperous societies. Or atop dictatorships.

    4. "Britons would be better off if Churchill surrendered. He was just getting a lot of them killed unnecessarily."

      "Americans would be better off if FDR surrendered. He was just getting a lot of them killed unnecessarily."

      1. And if the Revolutionary Founding Fathers hadn't been so full of themselves, imagine how powerful woke could be with no First Amendment to get in the way!

        O what sorrow.

        1. Do I exaggerate? Dear readers, there is a contemporaneous article on Volokh of some shameful professors lamenting free speech has gotten in their way as government officials slamming down and hurting someone with which they disagree, so they wrote a letter to let everyone know, in their unofficial capacity, that they frowny-face the First Amendment-qua-Scooby-Doo-meddling-kids.

  8. Wesley Clark on a no-fly zone.

    "Q: You advocate a no-fly zone?

    A: Absolutely. The airspace belongs to Ukraine. If they ask for help, why can’t we fly airplanes in there? Say, oh, it’s because of the Russians, they might come up and contest it. That’s the Russians’ problem. They’re going to get shot down. Okay, then what? Putin says he’s going to use a nuclear weapon. If we back away from that challenge, if we don’t confront it, this is like a two-pair poker bluff, for incredibly high stakes."

    I don't always agree with him, but he's dead on here.

    1. The Biden administration IS confronting that challenge. But for some reason they're doing it by demonstrating that they can negotiate to ensure a nuclear Iran while doing essentially nothing to protect Ukraine from a nuclear-armed invader.

    2. You want a shooting war between 2 nuclear nations?

      Because that's how you get shooting war between 2 nuclear nations.

      Ukraine is absolutely in the right here, and Russia's imperialism is bad for the world. But sanctions seem to be working fine, thankyouverymuch.

      1. Sanctions seem to be working fine, thankyouverymuch. said someone in his comfy armchair thousands of miles away. I'm sure the folks in Mariupol' agree.

        1. That's World Police thinking.

          We can't use our military to combat every ill without thought of the broader consequences.

          Moral idealism is great; but you need to at least sidelong glance at morality.

          1. The full quote includes important context.

            “We cannot alone act as the policeman of the world. "

      2. "You want a shooting war between 2 nuclear nations?"

        Yes, I want a shooting war between 2 nuclear nations.

        1. Because I think the risk of that war sooner or later is high regardless of how we proceed.

        2. Because I think we minimize harm by ending this war quickly.

        Clark is right here. The odds of there being any real nuclear threat here, vs. the odds of Putin punking us by capitalizing on our fear of a nuclear threat, are very low. Putin has way more to lose than we do, and the costs of inaction are high.

        1. TwelveInch, Putin has more to lose than we do? Just by counting people we've got more than twice the stake Putin has—if he even cares for Russian people at all, which is doubtful. Of course if you are talking about stuff, then what we stand to lose is way more than 2 to 1 against us.

          But it is plenty stupid even to say what I just wrote. Because you are talking about mutual annihilation—with horrific consequences world-wide. After that, there really isn't any who-lost-what reckoning that matters.

          And by the way, what makes you so sure the U.S. could win that conventional war you are spoiling for, even if you could get it? Ukraine is convenient to Russia, and damned inconvenient for us, from a conventional war standpoint. For starters, trying to get our tanks to Ukraine would come at the cost of plunging Europe into war. We wouldn't even try to get to Ukraine, we would just attack Russia outright. Then, after you get into a conventional war with Russia, why aren't you just back to Napoleon, and an un-winnable war against an enemy who can retreat until you lose. Pretty obviously, before it is over that one has to go nuclear too. The Russians are not likely to retreat past their launch sites and just turn them over unused.

          You sound like someone who could use a visit to an atmospheric thermonuclear bomb test, where you could stand 50 miles away and feel the heat. Then go and get the debriefing, to help you understand that the war you want would touch off about 10–20 of those simultaneously, in and around every notable U.S. city. Maybe 50-each of them for the big cities.

          Are you just trolling, or are you really that stupid?

          1. "You sound like someone who could use a visit to an atmospheric thermonuclear bomb test"
            Unfortunately the number of people who have seen such a thing is extremely tiny. As for national leaders, that set is empty.

            1. Yup. A long-standing problem for foreign policy.

        2. I think we minimize harm by ending this war quickly

          The justification for horrors since at least WWI.

          Russia is struggling now, though they'll probably win for a bit. I don't see this US will have to use troops prediction.

          1. "The justification for horrors since at least WWI."

            Lol. Inaction has been the justification for plenty of horrors as well, remember WWII? Geez.

            1. That's a false choice, of course. It's not inaction or invasion.

        3. Ukraine is not a NATO member. That has to mean something.

          But Biden is not doing all he can short of a shooting war. There was a report I read last night or this morning that Poland is willing to send planes to Ukraine, as long as we guarantee Poland we'll replace them. And we've been reluctant to make that guarantee.

          1. Tonight it is looking more like Poland is reluctant to pull the trigger on the deal. For which I can hardly blame them.

            Is it really plausible to suppose that 60 or 70 older-technology fighter jets will turn the situation around in Ukraine? Russia's mobile anti-aircraft missile systems are reportedly efficient. My guess is that a few thousand of the most recent model stinger missiles would do a lot more, with the added advantage that personnel trained to operate them will not suffer attrition nearly as fast as Ukraine's limited supply of jet fighter pilots.

      3. Didn't you say in the other thread that Russia was no threat to the US?

        1. By your logic, Pakistan is a threat to the US.

          Being nuclear means some extra concerns, but it doesn't keep you from being a strictly regional power.

          1. Pakistan has (wiki) 165 warheads. Their biggest test was 40kt. Their longest range delivery system has a range of 1700 miles, which covers India, the 'stans, and a bit of the Middle East.

            Russia has (wiki again) 5977 warheads, of which 1600 are strategic. Yields are in megatons, ranges can cover the entire U.S. (even from Russia proper, never mind SLBMs).

            One of these things is not like the other.

            1. I get the enough difference in degree becomes a difference in kind argument, but I don't see how it applies here.
              Just because Pakistan can't nuke us specifically doesn't mean we don't treat invading them more carefully as part of the nuclear club. Just as we do Russia.

              Modern warfare requires power projection. Which doesn't just mean blow up, it means sustained presence. Russia doesn't have that beyond locally. Geopolitically, it is not a threat to the US, and that is how we've treated it since the fall of the USSR.

              1. "Geopolitically, it is not a threat to the US"

                Are you making the implicit assumption that we have withdrawn from NATO or something?

                If Putin is unhinged enough he might, say, attack the airfields in Poland where supply planes are arriving, or decide to shoot down one of the AWACS we have airborne just inside Poland, so they can't pass info to Ukraine. If he does, we are at war with a country that can deliver city buster nukes to Nebraska in 20 minutes or so.

                If Pakistan is unhinged enough they can ... sell a warhead to Al Qaeda? Let Al Qaeda try to ship it to New York undetected, knowing they have committed national suicide whether Al Qaeda succeeds or not?

                These are not at all like each other.

                1. We are not in NATO to save our own skins. NATO is about collective security; about worldwide stability. Different goal, different tactics on the table.

                  1. I agree - if we withdraw from NATO, Russia isn't our problem[1]. If we intend to honor our commitments to NATO, it is.

                    Germany in WWII is the same - if we didn't object to Hitler's plans for Europe he probably wouldn't have attacked us, at least not right away. The same is true for Japan, as well, if we hadn't objected to their invasion of China they wouldn't have attacked us (again, at least when they did). Probably both, in the fullness of time, would have eventually found their new empires more than they could handle and fallen on their own.

                    So, absolutely, if we tell Europe they are on their own, then we don't have to do Cold War 2.0 (or 1.0!).

                    To be clear, I disagree that we should adopt a policy of strict isolationism, but agree that if we do, overseas aggressors will have less reason to be unhappy with us.

                    [1]probably. Those nukes would still be targeted on Omaha. If you take Putin at his word, he is attacking Ukraine so it can't attack Russia. Maybe he's unhinged enough to apply the same logic even to a completely isolationist US. Crazy is hard to predict.

            2. More to the point in Ukraine. Russia has roughly 2000 low yield nuclear weapons some as small as 1 kT. If necessay Mr Putin might be tempted to use one in Ukraine

              1. Shooing down Russian planes will not help with that. TiP's idea remains a bad one.

          2. "Pakistan is a threat to the US."

            You don't think Pakistan had anything to do with our issues in Afghanistan? It's not a big threat, but it's a threat.

            1. I don't think we're defining threat the same way. By your low bar, any country can be a threat.

              But this is no longer the era of asymmetric warfare. It's the era of great powers competition, baby!

          3. Yes, Pakistan - and India - are threats to the US. So is North Korea.

            Thankfully, we're on the friendly side of India these days, and Pakistan isn't too hostile. But they are capable of doing severe damage to the US - megadeaths, in the original meaning. Russia can do better: 30 minutes after a Putin phone call, half the US could be dead.

            This is why I agree with you that it is better to avoid open conventional war between the US and Russia. Because Russia is a threat to the US.

      4. sanctions seem to be working fine

        Um, not really. Yes, the Ukrainians are holding out, but for how much longer? Russia already controls major territory, including some cities; they're likely to wear down Ukrainian resistance eventually (unless the West steps in).

        1. Yes, sanctions are not a great tactical threat. But that's not their job. Denying Russia access to the world's markets makes this not a very viable long-term strategy.

      5. According to Putin a no fly zone is war, sanctions are war, and military aid is war. So we're already in a war on the second and third grounds. Will a few Russian airplanes blowing up make it more of a war to Russia? Does it matter to Putin if a Patriot missile is formally transferred to Ukraine before it is launched? After the Cold War we learned the American notion of how the Soviet Union ought to escalate a war was not actually the doctrine on the Soviet side.

        But just to be cautious, I would rather transfer some long range SAMs to Ukraine and let a uniformed officer of the Ukrainian military press the button. It might win us a few PR points compared to flying NATO planes in.

        1. Maybe don't take Putin at his word. We are not currently at war with Russia.

          1. I don't take Putin at his word when he says a no-fly zone will result in a nuclear attack, either.

            1. Neither do I. That's why I said 'a shooting war between 2 nuclear nations' not 'the nuking of America.'

            2. I don't take Putin at his word when he says a no-fly zone will result in a nuclear attack, either.

              First order effects? Second order effects? You get that ongoing combat delivers dynamic change, right? Your objective is to use that dynamic change to deliver defeat to Putin. A question is what happens if that dynamic change begins to look like an existential crisis not for Russia, but for Putin.

              Does he seem the type to say, "Oh well, I screwed up and I'm dead because of it. I best not try to do more to save my skin, because too many others could get hurt?" Is that the Putin you think you know?

              If you think Putin deciding to escalate in that situation is unlikely, how unlikely? Given the stakes if you are wrong, what is the advantage of playing your odds?

        2. Will it matter if a Russian plane shoots down an American plane, or two, or three. Mr Biden's team has already said that would not be tolerable, and hence there won't be a no-fly zone. NATO will not enforce it

          1. Just to reiterate: a no fly zone is more than just shooting down enemy planes. It's also proactively bombing SAM sites and other air defense installations. We spent a decade doing that in Iraq between the wars to enforce the no fly zones there. That's going to kill Russian ground troops. That's really really bad if we're trying to avoid nuclear war.

    3. Clark maybe right here, I don't know. But if he is right about Putin trying to bluff us then he was wrong about Trump.

      Putin's not going to try that 'I'm the craziest guy in the room, don't try me" crap with Trump. Why? Because Putin isn't going to have a lot of confidence he is the craziest guy in the room.

  9. I'm not sure I understand the formalities of "an act of war", but for sure I understand the concept.

  10. Speaking of hurting Putin by putting on sanctions, I saw a report that Shell is still.selectively buying Russian oil. They snapped up a tanker load at $28 a barrel, which is about a 75% discount. That may hurt Putin with the oligarchs more than losing a dozen tanks.

    I suppose you could condemn Shell for that, but we are still buying Russian oil too, so I guess you just have to give them credit for driving such a hard bargain.

  11. “Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate:
    To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods”

    Speaking of heroes on bridges, Vitaly Skakun Volodymyrovych deserves a mention. Though we should be realistic about how we take a first report out of a war zone from one of the combatants.

  12. Reading those poetic words, I couldn't help but well up with a tear or two.
    Whenever we contemplate war, and the savagery that flares up between tribes, I believe in turning to Mark Twain's "War Prayer."
    Have you seen USAF Capt. Robert Salas on YouTube tell of the several times that aliens appeared to have disabled our nukes in their silos at Malmstrom and Minot? They did it to the Soviets too, during the Cold War. One missile launched with a dummy nuke warhead from Vandenberg a UFO shot down. I wish they'd do it again, this time permanently. Igor Putin is just crazy enough to try and turn Manhattan and Los Angeles into smoking radioactive craters. And that would spell the end of the world.

  13. I don't remember why Ukraine is not in NATO and the Baltics are. Putin better remember, because if he doesn't, then there will be a war that he can't win.
    It's not clear that he can even win a war against Ukraine. At least not at a cost acceptable to his supporters.
    Viva Ukraine! Viva Zelensky!

  14. Even in the fog of war Russia seems to be rolling, not stumbling, towards complete control of the South coast cutting off Ukraine's access to open water. While Ukraine never had a real navy they just scuttled there only real modern ship in Odessa as forces from the East and the Black Sea close in; not to mention a possible threat from Russian supporters in Moldova in the West.

    My money is still on a partition of Ukraine with Russia getting some regions in the East and all of the Southern Coast to Moldova.

  15. For those confident that nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia won't happen, how much do you think you know about the details of getting missiles into the air? I am pretty sure I don't know anything about that, so I worry about made-up scenarios.

    Suppose, for instance, that U.S. experts think they can monitor Russian pre-launch activity, and predict a launch far enough in advance to nuke the silo before the Russians get off their shot. Maybe our experts think they can see a launch coming 45 minutes in advance (signals intercepts, or something). And we have their missiles targeted for 30-minute destruction, give or take a minute. Would that make us more secure, or more insecure?

    How would you factor in the state of Putin's knowledge (or ignorance) of U.S. capabilities, for instance. How many scenarios can you imagine regarding Russian launch readiness, given all the variations in what we might be able to do to respond, and what Putin might know, or misunderstand, about that kind of top-secret stuff?

    I worry about the details, the practicalities, the happenstance, and people who get confused.

    1. Solid fueled, silo-based ICBMs do not need conspicuous preparation. The IR signature of a launch is probably the first reliable indication we'll get.

      If a Russian missile submarine is being trailed by one of our attack subs _and_ the attack sub has been given the order to shoot on launch preparation then it would probably be taken out before it could shoot its full load. First the submarine has to go to shallow depth, which is suspicious but not grounds to pull the trigger if you aren't at war. Then it opens a missile tube cover, a clear hostile act, and now the torpedo firing sequence begins. Then it launches a missile every 10 seconds or so (according to a quick internet search) until it runs out.

      In either case, our signals and human intelligence is likely to pick up indications before the first missile is launched.

      1. Here's another way to think about it. A goal of mid- to late Cold War nuclear deterrence was to give the executive a chance to launch the missiles on warning of an attack before the bombs hit. For shots over the pole you about a half hour to process the attack warning, ask the boss whether to launch, wait for the order, and execute the order. The system was prepared launch ICBMs on a few minutes' notice even if the world was at peace moments earlier. Bombers would be more vulnerable at low alert levels, and submarines were not meant to respond quickly to a first strike. Luckily the false alarms were recognized as such before the button was pressed.

        See _Command and Control_ by Eric Schlosser for a disheartening look at our Cold War nuclear arsenal.

        1. John Carr, I have a copy of Schlosser. I have read it twice. But I think you missed my point. If you focus narrowly on hardware capabilities, all presumed to operate at maximum efficiency, then your analysis looks spot on. My point is that you and I have no idea what the real analysis looks like, and that matters. It matters much more if the people doing the real analysis know imperfectly what it looks like.

          For instance, can the U.S. still tap Russian military communications efficiently in real time? Are there other leading indicators of a Russian launch intention we might be monitoring? If so, you might suppose those capabilities can deliver a saving advantage. My point is that might be mistaken. The more complicated the analysis becomes, with unknown factors about opponents' knowledge playing a face-down hole-card role, the more likely it seems that interplay of factors, and misinterpreted cues, could conspire to reduce security instead of enhance it.

          Good poker players can sometimes make it a point to be readable except when they intend to confuse. Sometimes their opponents see intentionally readable signals as attempts to confuse. To depend on high-confidence quick decisions in a thermonuclear hall of mirrors may prove riskier than anyone knows—and a lot of folks already suppose it is horrifyingly risky. I am not a big fan of signaling aggressive intentions by conspicuously ratcheting up launch readiness.

          By the way, I do not take you for one of the folks with a lot of false confidence that the U.S. could win a nuclear war, whether against Russia or any other nuclear armed party.

  16. Let's forget about the Russian-Ukrainian war right now and talk about something far more important.

    It is truly and absolutely disgusting that so called "Professor" Eugene Volokh has DONE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to help the USA address the increasingly common issue of cyberstalking and online harassment.

    Rather, Eugene Volokh has tried his best to HARM victims of cyberstalking by trying to argue, incorrectly and foolishly, that online harassment and cyberstalking is "Free Speech". He fights for the "rights" of a bunch of criminals, sociopaths, and mentally ill malicious individuals who want to use the internet to ruin innocent victim lives.

    Eugene Volokh, in his many "papers", completely ignores the impact of cyberbullying, cyber-harassment, doxing, and stalking to the VICTIMS of malicious mentally-ill cyber-stalkers and sociopaths. Instead, he works hard to protect the rights of these mentally ill criminals and leave victims with no legal recourse to regain their lives and stop this atrocious behaviour. Eugene basically supports the criminals.

    Who in their right mind thinks "Free Speech" should be abused by plainly malicious individuals who are often mentally ill and are purposely using the internet to harm the victims by revealing private, personal information (doxing) or slandering them online, or posting their personal private pictures?

    Rather than help the courts in the USA understand that cyber-harassment is NOT protected speech, Eugene Volokh has taken money ("bribes") from Google, Big Tech to peddle the false notion that harassment websites dedicated to tormenting a victim are "Free Speech" and "one-to-many speech." Eugene has disclosed that several of his "First Amendment" papers were funded by Google. Not surprisingly, all of his papers have concluded that Google should be able to do whatever the fuck it wants while having no responsibility for removing harmful content.
    He is a dishonest speaker taking bribes from Big Tech that favour lack of regulation and allowing crimes to take place online.

    Plainly, Eugene Volokh's First Amendment absolutism is dangerous for America because it allows cyberstalking, cyber-harassment, doxing, and online abuse to flourish, totally ignoring the social harm of this type of criminal behaviour. Eugene Volokh seems blind to the reality that Free Speech especially on the internet needs to be balanced against other "rights", such as a victim's right to be free from harassment, right to be left alone, right of privacy.

    Sadly, Eugene Volokh completely (and purposefully) ignores the impact of these crimes to the hapless victims. He doesn't understand the nature of the internet yet poses as if he's some "First Amendment" expert.

    Eugene also tries to make it as difficult as possible for cyberharassment victims to file a civil suit against their perpetrators using a "pseudonym", to protect their privacy from even further harm. Rather than sympathizing with the unfortunate and undeserved situation of the victims and finding ways to help these people stop their attackers, Eugene dishonestly tries to argue that for the victim to file pseudonymously would be somehow "unfair" to the malicious defendant, a psychopath who DESERVES to be held accountable for his criminal and harassing behaviour.

    Eugene Volokh reminds me of a wolf in sheep's clothing. He has an agenda - to de-regulate Big Tech so they can maximize profits at the expense of making Americans totally unprotected from cyber-harassment, doxing, and cyber-stalking by mentally ill individuals online. He probably gets a cut of this profit, at the expense of American victims of cyber-stalking.

    Try and refute me, Eugene Volokh. Everything I said was fact.

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