Phillips P. O’Brien/Twitter:

A thread about how we report supposed victories in war (this one and others), why they dont matter nearly as much as people claim, and how they actually deceive us into understanding what really matters. Partly motivated by this @nytimes headline.

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The New York Times is reporting this morning that the Russians are making ‘significant’ gains in Ukraine. In specific they are pushing into Mariopul, and they have hit two Ukrainian military facilities with long-range missile bombardment. Pretty dramatic and breathless stuff.

Read this whole thread, and in addition, appreciate the work Kos is doing (see, e.g., Ukraine update: Russia has lost its initial campaign, and shows zero ability to adjust) in updating us about Russia’s multiple failures. It isn’t just about Russian advances. It’s a complicated war with a lot of moving parts (including difficulty in live coverage under duress).

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Here’s another subject matter expert explaining how logistics matter more than explosions you can see on TV:

Trent Telenko/Twitter:

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Alright Lady’s & Gentlemen, boys and girls, it is time for another Truck logistics thread🧵 for this latest Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

In it we are going to discuss the concept of “Operational Attrition” as applied to the Russian Army truck fleet in combat.

In my now widely read thread on poorly maintained, cheap Chinese made, truck tires, I explained how Russia lost trucks & mobility by not maintaining tires.
This loss of vehicles without a shot being fired is referred to as “Operational Attrition.”

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So where is it all going?

This sounds like a reasonable guess (full thread here):

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John Nichols/The Nation:

The Loathsome Hypocrisy of Republicans Who Now Applaud Volodymyr Zelensky

When congressional Republicans had a chance to impeach and convict Trump for blackmailing Zelensky, 247 of them refused.

The political pendulum swings so fast these days that it is easy to forget what was happening barely two months ago, let alone two years ago. But in late 2019 and early 2020, Ukraine was at the center of a national debate about Trump’s lawless presidency, and his political extortion of Zelensky.

On July 25, 2019, Trump phoned Zelensky with the express purpose of pressuring the newly elected president of Ukraine to support an investigation into the family of the political rival he most feared, Joe Biden. Trump admitted that he mentioned the military aid that Ukrainian officials felt they desperately needed. Yet, instead of signaling that it would be delivered, Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” the situation with Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump said, “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”

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Michelle Boorstein/WaPo:

Researchers warn that Christian nationalists are becoming more radical and are targeting voting

New research linking Christian nationalism with a desire to limit voting. People citing their faith as the reason they support trucker convoys that shut down the border over covid protections. And the fact that Jesus’ name appeared all over the place during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Concern about rising radicalism among a segment of White American Christians led this week to what some religious extremism experts call the biggest Congress-related event on the topic in years.

The Thursday evening briefing, called “God is On Our Side: White Christian Nationalism and the Capitol Insurrection,” was hosted by the Congressional Freethought Caucus, a group that includes Democratic House members Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Zoe Lofgren of California and Steve Cohen of Tennessee.

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Brian Klaas/Atlantic:

Vladimir Putin Has Fallen Into the Dictator Trap

Reality doesn’t conform to the theory of the rational, calculating despot who can play the long game.

In the span of a couple of weeks, Vladimir Putin—a man recently described by Donald Trump as a strategic “genius”—managed to revitalize NATO, unify a splintered West, turn Ukraine’s little-known president into a global hero, wreck Russia’s economy, and solidify his legacy as a murderous war criminal.

How did he miscalculate so badly?

To answer that question, you have to understand the power and information ecosystems around dictators. I’ve studied and interviewed despots across the globe for more than a decade. In my research, I’ve persistently encountered a stubborn myth—of the savvy strongman, the rational, calculating despot who can play the long game because he (and it’s typically a he) doesn’t have to worry about pesky polls or angry voters. Our elected leaders, this view suggests, are no match for the tyrant who gazes into the next decade rather than fretting about next year’s election.

Reality doesn’t conform to that rosy theory.

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Steve Coll/New Yorker:

The Complexities of the Ukraine Dilemma

The aid offered by the West may help, but it cannot relieve Volodymyr Zelensky of the terrible predicaments he must manage in the weeks ahead.

Since Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, on February 24th, the United States has acted as if to redeem itself; the Biden Administration has led its nato allies to airlift planeloads of Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukrainian forces, while pledging billions of dollars more in military assistance and imposing punishing sanctions on Russia’s economy and Putin’s élite. More than three weeks after the crisis began, the mood in Western capitals remains pugnacious and emotive. Last week, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, appeared by video before Canada’s Parliament, and, the next day, he addressed a joint session of Congress. In both venues, politicians rose to applaud and chanted an improbably viral invocation of Ukrainian glory: “Slava Ukraini!

Yet nato has declined to provide Ukraine what Zelensky has repeatedly sought—a no-fly zone to ground Russian warplanes or a transfer of fighter jets—for fear that such actions would bring the U.S. and Russia into direct combat. “We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine,” Joe Biden reiterated on Twitter recently. “A direct confrontation between nato and Russia is World War III. And something we must strive to prevent.” The President is, of course, right about that, and yet, as Russian planes and artillery daily pound Ukrainian apartment buildings and hospitals, he can surely understand why Zelensky is pressing for more.

Zelensky has been justly celebrated for his personal courage and his adaptations of Churchillian rhetoric for the TikTok era. His presentation to Congress last week was a study in discomforting moral provocation. He invoked Pearl Harbor and September 11th to describe Ukraine’s daily experience under Russian missiles and bombs, then showed a graphic video depicting the recent deaths of children and other innocents. Later that day, Biden called Putin “a war criminal” and announced a new package of military supplies, including anti-aircraft systems and drones. The aid may help, but it cannot relieve Zelensky of the terrible predicaments he must manage in the weeks ahead. Ukraine may be facing a long war costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, a war that may not be winnable, even with the most robust assistance that nato is likely to provide. In any event, nato’s greatest priority is to strengthen its own defenses and dissuade Putin from attacking the alliance.

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The Conversation:

Ukraine: what might happen if the war spreads to a Nato country

The possibility of a unit from the Russian or Belarusian military stumbling across a border is also high. Mistakes happen in all military organisations, something shown starkly in recent days when India accidentally launched a missile into Pakistan – two nuclear armed nations in a state of high tension. The possibility of retaliation by Pakistan was significant, but unlike in Ukraine there is no open conflict to confuse the situation. Had such an event occurred between Poland and Russian forces in Ukraine, for example, it’s unlikely that the Polish government would have been convinced the missile launch had been a mistake.

Concern regarding Russia’s intentions is at a higher level in the eastern nations of Nato than those to the west. On March 15, the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic risked a train ride into Ukraine to meet the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv. Those countries face the risk of being next in line if Russian expansionism continues – as some expect it to. Vladimir Putin’s statements appear to threaten the Baltic states, and he seems to want to re-establish Russia’s dominance over other neighbouring nations which was lost with the fall of the Soviet Union. Those states have substantial minorities of ethnic Russians and have experienced unrest in the past few years.

The potential for escalation increases when we consider the actions of the rank-and-file soldiers on the ground, who are cold and frightened. A single shot across an otherwise quiet but tense border, or a junior non-commissioned officer misunderstanding a particular situation and taking aggressive action, could initiate a fight that quickly escalates beyond the control of local commanders.

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Hunter Walker/Rolling Stone:

Exclusive: Witness Claims Trump’s Chief of Staff Was on Phone Call Planning Jan. 6 March on Capitol

Trump’s team agreed it would encourage supporters to march, but try to “make it look like they went down there on their own,” Scott Johnston tells Rolling Stone

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff and a national campaign spokesperson were involved in efforts to encourage the president’s supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. That’s according to a person who says he overheard a key planning conversation between top Trump officials and the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally on the White House Ellipse — and has since testified to House investigators about the phone call.

Trump and his allies have tried to minimize his role in calling his supporters to the Capitol and argue he was simply participating in a lawful, peaceful demonstration.

Scott Johnston — who worked on the team that helped plan the Ellipse rally — says that’s just not so. He claims that leading figures in the Trump administration and campaign deliberately planned to have crowds converge on the Capitol, where the 2020 election was being certified — and “make it look like they went down there on their own.”

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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