Rhetorical Questions

While the UK succumbs to self-imposed political, economic and regulatory destruction, the Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to repel Russia’s increasingly desperate attempts to bring literal destruction to their country.

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2 October 2022

Ukraine Regained

The speed of the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s advances over the past 48 hours has been breathtaking. They appear to be retaking cities in the Donetsk oblast. Izyum has been liberated. Partisans in Mariupol have raised the Ukrainian flag over key buildings. There are reports that Ukrainian forces were 15 kilometres from Kherson city yesterday, and of explosions in Melitopol. Retaking the latter would put the AFU within missile range of the Kerch bridge connecting Russia and Crimea.

It’s slightly frustrating to be surrounded by wall-to-wall royal news in the UK when one of the most spectacular counteroffensives in history is underway.

10 September 2022

Civilian Targets

Western coverage of Ukraine receded in recent weeks as Russia scaled back its attacks in the East. With the loss of Sievierodonetsk over the weekend, and a Russian missile attack on Kremenchuk, eighty miles from the front line, on Monday, that’s changing.

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29 June 2022

Woe vs Rage

The 24th of the month is proving an ominous date in 2022, first with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and now with the Trump-packed Supreme Court overturning almost fifty years of constitutionally protected nationwide access to abortion in America last Friday.

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29 June 2022

Raining Fire

The Davros-like Henry Kissinger has declared from Davos that Ukraine must give Russia territory (archived) and that the West must “stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, [as] it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe”.† President Zelenskyy’s response was masterly, as always:

Mr. Kissinger emerges from the deep past and says that a piece of Ukraine should be given to Russia. So that there is no alienation of Russia from Europe. It seems that Mr. Kissinger’s calendar is not 2022, but 1938, and he thought he was talking to an audience not in Davos, but in Munich of that time. By the way, in the real year 1938, when Mr. Kissinger’s family was fleeing Nazi Germany, he was 15 years old, and he understood everything perfectly. And nobody heard from him then that it was necessary to adapt to the Nazis instead of fleeing them or fighting them. … “Great geopoliticians” are always unwilling to see ordinary people. Ordinary Ukrainians. Millions of those who actually live in the territory they propose to exchange for the illusion of peace. You must always see people. And remember that values are not just a word. … We must do everything possible for the world to get a permanent habit of taking Ukraine into account. So that the interests of Ukrainians are not overlapped by the interests of those who are in a hurry for another meeting with the dictator.

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27 May 2022

Warnings From the Ages

Nobody will read this essay in 200 years.

The essay’s initial target, Jason Stanley, is right: it’s really good. It also prompted me to start reading his 2018 book How Fascism Works, and although I don’t know whether it will last 200 years, it takes a broad enough historical view that it might—and more importantly it’s very much a book for right now. I keep thinking of how many of his points apply to the last few years of Boris Johnson’s government, not to mention the last few months of Russia going off the deep end, and it’s an urgent reminder that the danger of Trumpism persists despite the change of US president.

Gawker has changed the title of McClay’s essay to “It’s Very Unlikely Anyone Will Read This in 200 Years”. Where’s the fun in that? Leave the circumspect language to academic articles that it’s very unlikely anyone will read in 200 days.

Get yer 200-year-old coincidentally relevant essay right here.

3 May 2022 · 1 Comment

Weeks Turn into Months

Russia’s genocide handbook. Russia’s genocidal identity. The words that lead to mass murder. The novel that mapped out Putin’s war plan.

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30 April 2022

The Horror

Reports on the weekend of the bodies of mutilated children left behind by retreating Russian troops in Bucha, just outside Kyiv, confirmed the worst fears of recent weeks.

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7 April 2022

Stirring Up Dust

Sometimes when a musician dies unexpectedly, an Elliott Smith or a David Bowie, I end up bingeing their back-catalogue and becoming a bigger fan than when they were alive. It feels as if the war in Ukraine has had the same effect, teaching me so much about the place that I find myself wishing I could visit places that are now gone. It’s been eye-opening to learn about its archaeological urban sites as old as Mesopotamia, its Korean community who have lived there since the 1960s, and other features of its pre-war life and culture.

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1 April 2022

The Fog of War

Has Russia’s invasion stalled? Or is the war just beginning?

“The TV is winning.”

“We’re living a nightmare.”

A century of Russian colonialism.

Arrested for holding up a blank sheet of paper.

The attack on Zaporizhzhia was more dangerous than first thought.

Debunking Russian claims of bioweapons labs.

Archivists scan documents around the clock for fear of “archivocide”.

Putin has already deployed a chemical weapon—in Salisbury.

Zelensky warned us.

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15 March 2022