Another abominable Putin-verstehener: vanden Heuvel in the WaPo

November 15, 2022

Another abominable screed by a Putin-verstehener who’s been peddling Kremlin propaganda since the start of the war. Why is WaPo publishing this drivel, I do not know, but I do know that they have TWICE now rejected my submissions for the alternative view of what needs to be done.

Quick summary of falsehoods and idiocies in this article:

1) Milley is NOT “pushing the Biden administration to press Ukraine to seek a diplomatic end to the war” — he said that negotiated peace cannot happen until both sides realize that a total military victory is not possible (which is true), and expressed hope that the winter might provide some opportunities for that (this is not going to happen though because neither side will stop fighting despite the weather)

2) “Exercising diplomacy is just common sense” — no, it is not. The author is absolutely clueless about the literature on war termination, which specifies conditions under which negotiations could be expected to yield results, along with reasons NOT to engage in them (maintaining unity of a coalition, for example, is among them)

3) “Putin’s dreams of annexing Ukraine are shattered” — no, they are not. She has no evidence to support this claim, which is a dangerous delusion. ALL evidence we have, from both internal economic measures, military tactics in Ukraine, and public statements point to the exact opposite — Putin has altered his strategy but still aims at achieving the dismemberment of Ukraine and subjugation of the government of whatever rump state remains

4) “there is little chance that Russia can be dislodged from much of the Russian-speaking east, much less from Crimea” — the cover slips here with the phrase “Russian-speaking east” which is somehow clearly meant to imply popular support for the Russian occupation there (this is a favorite talking point of Putin-versteheners), but let me just point out that vanden Heuvel has no idea what she’s talking about — Crimea is almost wholly indefensible given the problem with the bridge; in fact, military experts expect that the Ukrainians would take it much more easily than the fortified Donbas, where the Russians had been digging in for years (whether it’s wise to take Crimea right now is a separate question)

5) “Sanctions imposed against Russia have contributed to what looks to be a cruel recession in Europe” — now that these useful idiots had to abandon the narrative of a cruel recession in the US (where none might actually materialize), they are sticking to the “Europe will freeze” nonsense — this is the clearest sign that one is in Putin’s pay — what does vanden Heuvel imagine will happen to Europe if we abandon Ukraine to Russia? And the notion that the GOP would block aid to Ukraine — with or without control of government (I guess she did not update the article to reflect the midterm results) — is also laughable. And no, the progressives that had been forced to withdraw their idiotic missive about Ukraine did not “have it right”, which is why they withdrew it.

6) The “administration has orchestrated a number of leaks” might be true but it’s not in order to force Ukraine into negotiations but to demonstrate to the Russians that we are not afraid of their empty threats and to shore up support in wobbly European governments by showing that the Ukrainians are reasonable — the ball on peace is firmly in Russia’s court and will remain there while they still occupy so much of Ukraine

7) there might be an “imperative to bring the war to an end” but vandn Heuvel is pathetically silent on what this means except for offering some nonsense about diplomacy taking time — diplomacy has no chance to work when one of the sides has no interest in a settlement on terms acceptable by the other side, and no amount of diplomacy can overcome that

8) of course, vanden Heuvel has to end this with another Kremlin talking point about “the risks” that “keep growing” — actually, the risks have declined considerably as both China and India have come out against potential use of nukes, and Russia has been forced to rely on conventional strategy that will bankrupt the country and alienate the population.

Leave it to the useful idiots like vanden Heuvel here to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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