The Manafort “hoax”

Apparently there’s a hoax going around that Putin stooge Paul Manafort actually managed Trump’s 2016 campaign. Matt Yglesias has the goods.

Where’s Senator Joe McCarthy when you need him? We need a new HUAC to flesh out all these Putin sympathizers in Trump World. Perhaps he could start with this “hoax” from 2016:

The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.

Throughout the campaign, Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.

Still, Republican delegates at last week’s national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.

PS. Here’s a good article on the American right’s love affair with people like Putin.

PPS. What are America’s young conservatives up to? For those who missed the 1939 pro-Nazi rally in NYC, check out this video.



58 Responses to “The Manafort “hoax””

  1. Gravatar of Danae Azaria Danae Azaria
    27. February 2022 at 20:13

    I’m sure this will get me “canceled”, or called a “Russian troll”, but academics are going to have an intellectual conversation, then can we at least get the facts right? Please read to the end, before making your rebuttal. Rebuttals that attack substance are the preferred variety.

    ‼️Fact 1. In February 2014, a coup overthrew the Ukrainian government which came to power in an election certified by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation). The president, Viktor Yanukovich, was forced to flee for his life.

    ‼️Fact 2. The coup was instigated by mostly United States officials. Neo-conservatives such as Victoria Nuland and John McCain actively supported the protests. As confirmed in a secretly recorded phone call, Nuland had determined the post-coup power composition weeks in advance. She bragged they spent $5 billion in the campaign over two decades. Nuland managed the coup, while Vice President Biden had oversight.

    ‼️Fact 3. The coup government immediately acted with hostility toward its Russian speaking citizens, which make up 30% of the population. On the first day in power, the coup regime acted to make Russian no longer an official state language. This was followed by more actions of hostility. As documented in the video “Crimes of the Euromaidan Nazis”, a convoy of buses going back to Crimea was attacked. In Odessa, over thirty opponents of the coup government died when they were attacked and the trade union hall set afire.

    ‼️Fact 4. During World War 2, there were Nazi sympathizers in western Ukraine when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. This element continues today in the form of Svoboda and other far right nationalist parties, all of which have been covered extensively by the NYT and Reuters (pre-2014). The Ukrainian government has even passed legislation heroizing Nazi collaborators while removing statues honoring anti-Nazi patriots. The situation was described three years ago in an article “Neo-nazis and the far right are on the march in Ukraine”. The author questioned why the US is supporting this.

    ‼️Fact 5. The secession of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk are a direct result of the 2014 coup. In Crimea, a referendum vote was rapidly organized. With 83% turnout and 97% voting in favor, Crimeans decided to secede from Ukraine and re-unify with Russia. Crimea was part of Russia since 1783. When the administration of Crimea was transferred to the Ukraine in 1954 they were all part of the Soviet Union. This was done without consulting the population.
    In the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk on the border with Russia, the majority of the population speaks Russian and have no hostility towards Russia. The Kiev coup regime was hostile and enacting policies they vehemently disagreed with. In spring 2014, the Luhansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics declared their independence from the Kiev regime.

    ‼️Fact 6. The Minsk Agreements of 2014 and 2015 were signed by Ukraine, Ukrainian rebels, Russia and other European authorities. They were designed to stop the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine and retain the territorial integrity of Ukraine while granting a measure of autonomy to Luhansk and Donetsk. This is not abnormal; there are 17 autonomous zones in Europe. These agreements were later rebuffed by the Kiev government and Washington. This led to the decision by Russia on 21 February 2022 to recognize the Peoples Republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR).

    US intervention, both open and secret, has been a major driver of the events in Ukraine. The US has, by any objective standard, been the major instigator of the conflict.

    I believe all intellectual conversation must recognize both points of view, and recognize only the facts. This is a good starting point for that conversation.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. February 2022 at 22:35

    Danae, You said:

    “I’m sure this will get me “canceled”, or called a “Russian troll”,”

    You’re half right, I’ll label you a Russian troll. I stopped reading after so-called “Fact #1” Do you think I’m an idiot?

  3. Gravatar of BC BC
    28. February 2022 at 00:41

    Less so now, but there used to be a part of the far left that was reflexively anti-American. They viewed American foreign policy as imperialist, reflecting either corporate interests or an unsophisticated cowboy mentality. So, in a sense, anti-American foreign policy among the left reflected their antipathy towards domestic groups that they disdained.

    Now, a Global Order led by America also happens to be a global order led by American elites (the “bipartisan consensus”). Since the populist right disdains American elites, they reflexively oppose that global order, leading them to support all the unsavory anti-Order (and anti-American btw) bad actors of the world: Putin, Orban, Xi, Kim, etc. Probably, the only reason they don’t support Maduro — or do they? — is because there are still some members of the left that have socialist sympathies for him.

    That’s the problem with the enemy-of-my-enemy mentality, especially when one’s perceived enemies are other Americans.

  4. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    28. February 2022 at 01:03

    Scott, a few simple yes/no questions

    1. Did Obama administration supply letal weapons to Ukraine?

    2. Did Trump admin do it?

    3. Did Trump warn Germany that they were making a massive mistake by increasing their reliance on Gazprom?

    4. Did Trump warn Germany and other NATO members they were not spending enough on defence?

    5. Has Germany just done exactly what was asked 4 years ago and both shelved Nord Stream 2 and increased its defence budget?

    6. Did Trump admin help both US and Europe enjoy reasonable oil and gas prices by allowing fracking and Keystone pipeline?

    7. Has Biden admin hurt both AND helped Russia by reversing previous decisions?

  5. Gravatar of bill bill
    28. February 2022 at 05:35

    My recollection is that Trump only asked for this one change to the platform. That document is how many pages? And he comes up with one change about a pretty esoteric topic? And doesn’t even have the intelligence to ask for a few others to make this seem less bizarre?

  6. Gravatar of David S David S
    28. February 2022 at 05:40

    The real hoax is the implication that ANYONE managed Trump’s campaign, or any aspect of his presidency, business, post-presidency, etc…
    Trump seems to operate purely from impulse, and he has amazing instincts for sensing weakness in others, and leveraging that for his personal gain.

    We could go mad debating to what degree Putin based his invasion of Ukraine based on mistakes made by Obama, Trump, or Biden. My sense is that Trump’s volatility only impacted Putin’s timing. Putin probably started thinking about how to restore the Russian empire/USSR in 1991.

  7. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    28. February 2022 at 08:23

    Mearsheimer has been on point regarding Ukraine since 2014. Why don’t you engage with serious thinkers here instead of being King of the Strawmen?

  8. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    28. February 2022 at 09:15

    @Brian Donohue
    Could you please drop this Mearsheimer idiocy? There’s hardly anyone who’s been wrong more often. Ever. On anything. Oh my god.

    I know him quite well unfortunately, but I still briefly watched the video that Kevin Duda linked in the other thread.

    I know his arguments so I just jumped in somewhere. You can take almost anything because it’s so funny (if it wasn’t so sad).

    So I clicked somewhere in the video and ended up at minute 28. Here’s just minute 28, where you get those great theses by him:

    1) Putin is NOT the main cause.

    2) Putin is NOT irrational but a “really smart strategist”.

    3) Putin is NOT trying to create a greater Russia of former glory (with Ukraine and Belarus), because that would be insane and really bad for Russia, and this won’t be happening at all, because (you assumed it) Putin is so smart.


    Unvelievable, how can one person be more wrong in 60 seconds?

    As I said, that’s just one minute from this guy. This video has aged really, really great. Just like Kevin Duda said.

    What were you saying about this guy being on point since 2014?

    This guy is worse than tossing a coin.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. February 2022 at 09:16

    BC, Good comment. There were times when the left was correct about American overreach. The real problem was when they supported the bad guys in response—the same problem the right now has.

    Joseph, Not sure what your comment has to do with this post.
    What you don’t understand is that presidents don’t have that much power. Yes, the Trump administration was much less pro-Putin than Trump himself. This post is about Trump and the new right.

    By the way, when the Trump administration was acting normally, Trumpistas complained that Trump was being thwarted by the “deep state”; now they use the deep state’s actions as a defense of Trump.

    Bill, Good point.

    David, No mystery as to why he didn’t invade when Trump was in office, Putin liked Trump.

    Brian, You said:

    “Mearsheimer has been on point regarding Ukraine since 2014.”

    I’ve been right about Putin and the Ukraine for the past ten years, and all I got in the comment section was complaints that I was being hysterical, and that the real threat to peace was China.

    In case you don’t know it, Trump is the leading candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination. So he matters a lot more than Mearsheimer.

  10. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    28. February 2022 at 09:39

    Scott, the point of my post was to establish whether there any facts at all that we both accept. As I expected you don’t want to answer directly and prefer to divert by making unrelated statements. It’s your blog of course, but it says something about intellectual honesty.

    I have to call your BS. It was not “an administration”, it was Trump personally talking to Germany and NATO allies. Of course back then you were calling it bulling, were you not? Well, so much better to be bullied by Putin under a watchful eye of super-professional Biden admin who have refused to lift restrictions on oil production internally and prefer to ask Saudis to do more.


  11. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    28. February 2022 at 10:07

    No mystery as to why he didn’t invade when Trump was in office, Putin liked Trump.


    And that’s good news. It saved the lives of tens of thousands of people at the time. It was worth it and probably still would be woth it today.

    There is this thesis of a German (ex-)navy general that Putin always wanted some kind of “respect” above all. He got this respect from controversial “evil” politicians such as Schröder and Trump. So what? Maybe it was worth it.

    Scott is caught in black and white thinking here. All the positive things about the administration, according to Scott, came not from Trump himself, but from those around him. All negative things are supposedly Trump’s own responsibility.

    In reality, Trump is a very ambiguous person with good and bad deeds. It is interesting that Scott does not want to see this in Trump’s case, although in other cases Scott is a master at recognizing ambiguity.

  12. Gravatar of Brian Brian
    28. February 2022 at 10:10

    Regarding Russia and China: we should trade for freedom of expression for populations under authoritarianism. Trade restrictions can start with 10% tariffs and 10% fewer student visas if there is no progress towards freedom of expression after 1 year. If necessary 50% after 3 years and 110% after 6 years. Some goods will get re-routed so their origin is hidden but still this plan has leverage and some cheaters will be discovered. Don’t trust and do verify. Are people arrested or harassed or discriminated against for political expression or accessing websites or sharing links or talking to foreigners? Are news and commentary and social media being censored? Are foreign journalists being monitored or arrested or are their movements restricted? The West should crowdsource side-by-side browser views of translated text of major western newspapers. Side-by-side views provide a check against twisted interpretation. Do translations of western news media and get censored? Crowdsource or subsidize translated and subtitled YouTube and other crowdsourced news content and commentary. These are the considerations for deciding if tariffs need to be increased.

    This plan essentially has consumers in the West making a financial sacrifice to “purchase” freedom of expression in authoritarian countries. It is a form of foreign aid. Consumers who think this is too high a price to pay are being short-termist. We need to reduce the annual expected value of the cost of a major war with nuclear armed authoritarian regimes. Tariffs collected can be used to subsidize translation in cases where crowdsourcing is insufficient. Original spontaneous content from within authoritarian regimes would expressly receive no external financial support so it cannot be labelled foreign propaganda.

    People differ what details they are willing to support but across the political spectrum there is support for the general shape of this plan.

  13. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    28. February 2022 at 10:23

    ‘Mearsheimer has been on point regarding Ukraine since 2014. Why don’t you engage with serious thinkers here instead of being King of the Strawmen?’

    Mearsheimer might be a ‘serious thinker,’ but that doesn’t make him correct about, uh, anything.

    @ Christian List: What good deeds has Trump done?

  14. Gravatar of vince vince
    28. February 2022 at 10:34

    The Money Illusion. A slightly off-center perspective on MONETARY problems.

    Maybe the NAME of this blog should be updated, giving fair warning to viewers.

  15. Gravatar of Dr Richard Dr Richard
    28. February 2022 at 10:40


    Can you make a post talking about the financial implications of the sanctions towards Russia? I can’t see how they won’t be devastating to their economy.

  16. Gravatar of Dr Richard Dr Richard
    28. February 2022 at 14:12


    What is the impact of Russia banning Short selling? I’m seeing conflicting information on whether its a good thing. The blogs I’ve read said that short selling provides a necessary service in the marketplace. If so, what sense would it make to ban short sells?

  17. Gravatar of steve steve
    28. February 2022 at 14:50

    Mearsheimer has been shown to be wrong with Putin now invading. However his whole argument was based upon the premise that Ukraine had no sovereignty. That Putin had a right to dictate to Ukraine. I watched that entire video and it was painful.


  18. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    28. February 2022 at 17:40

    It is painful indeed. One grotesque thing is that there are still people under these videos who write, “Oh my God, he is right about everything.” I mean, Brian and Kenneth here did the same. He is objectively so far off in this video, he often says the opposite of what happened by now, but people are still coming up with: “Oh my God, he was right about everything.” – He is way worse than a coin toss. Sorry, but I expect more from a professor in his field of expertise.

    Joseph named a few deeds. I’m honestly sick and tired of always having to defend Trump, that idiot. I’m just saying: for being such an idiot, surprisingly little negative has happened during his time in office. And he was surprisingly quite right quite often.

    I mean even regarding Covid he doesn’t look so bad now. I am a general practitioner who was very concerned, about Covid, but by now I have to say: we resp. many western governments have overdone it and now under Omikron it is extremely overdone in some cases. I mean, I see 200-300 people a week and today I had the first seriously ill person with Omikron in the whole year 2022. It is currently really over, every strong influenza wave is worse, but the rules in Germany are still not lifted. What actually happened to our basic rights?

    The invasion of Ukraine came under Biden, Merkel, Obama. Why is that? I’ve come to prefer Biden over Trump in general, but it seems to be the other way around with Putin. So this is something to consider.

    Two other points: 1) Scott’s method of blaming all good deeds on Trump’s environment, his administration and not himself, doesn’t work. You don’t do that with other presidents either. Does Scott think Biden comes up with foreign policy ideas? How often and with how many? Lol.

    And then when you ask Scott who was so great in Trump’s administration, who got all these ideas, then all the other members are also very bad. So that is a dead end, really. It doesn’t make too much sense.

    2) Trump is an idiot, but the media coverage was never balanced. Obama and Merkel were portrayed as brilliant strategists, but it was these two administrations that invented absurdly inhumane policies like: Ukraine will only get “non-lethal weapons” from the West, which was the Orwellian neologism for helmets. Ukraine got helmets and body armor, and Obama and Merkel called this “non-lethal weapons”. This policy was unsurpassed in shortsightedness and stupidity, but the two were celebrated like heroes by our press for it. Imagine Trump doing something so stupid. Can you imagine the press celebrating him for it? No, you don’t. The press would have never done that with Trump, and for all the right reasons. So why in the world with Merkel and Obama. This is just so sick.

    This was just as absurd as anything that happend between Trump and the press, but it never got a similar coverage. There was no critical distance. One had the feeling that the press and the government were in the same boat. And in Germany, this was the case for an incredible 16 years. This must never happen again.

    Or consider Obama’s fight for a “nuclear-free world.” Oh my God!!! Unbelievable. In which world was Obama living, really??? Where was the crushing criticism? There was none. How naive and how stupid can one actually be? That was politics for Putin 1:1. Instead of dealing with real politics, he’s been dealing with this nonsense. It was simply unbelievable. And the press celebrated him for it.

  19. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    28. February 2022 at 18:15

    Manafort was a mistake by Trump. He was also a very green political resource poor politician at that point. It was a mistake.

    But the Ukrainian army has held up far better than expected. Most of its development was under the Trump administration. And he does have his loud vocal comments warning Germany to get their act together. Slowed Nordstream which was then greenlit by Biden.

    Sure we are better off with someone more balanced like Desantis,

    But trying paint Trump as a Russian plant is off.

  20. Gravatar of Classical Liberal Classical Liberal
    28. February 2022 at 19:10

    It just occurred to me that Russia is getting cancelled.

  21. Gravatar of Don Don
    28. February 2022 at 19:36

    I like the idea of HUAC. We need the Clintons, Bidens, McConnells, and a whole lot more people put in the pokey. Alas, the corruption is too deep and we’ll end up with some truckers behind bars.

  22. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    28. February 2022 at 21:18

    I always found the pro-Russian movement under Trump to be decidedly misplaced politically. As far as I can recall, it was a republican position to contain Putin. Remember Obama’s flexibility toward Russia after the election etc.

    Now we have the DSA stating that US policy is to blame for the war in Ukraine because NATO expansion should always have been unequivocally off the table.

    DSA reaffirms our call for the US to withdraw from NATO and to end the imperialist expansionism that set the stage for this conflict.

    During the Russian collision madness one stark element was how the party roles seemed to flip-flop overnight. Pro-Russian Hillary became “a victim of Russian Hackers sent out to defeat her anti-Russian self.” Say what. It was head spinning.

    Meanwhile … this week Mr Donald “Putin is a genius” Trump tells us that under his 2nd term this invasion never would have been allowed to happen.

    I am going to venture that Trump is such a pragmatist that you cannot reasonably figure out which statements / positions are bait and which are real. It’s almost all drivel to get everyone else to show their hand.

    Isn’t that what Casey Mulligan wrote in his book “You’re Hired”? Seems like the only accurate accounting of trump put to press.

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. February 2022 at 21:59

    Joseph, If you are asking whether we should be bullying our allies such as Germany, the answer is no. But yes, Trump did pressure Germany to stop the pipeline.

    I’ve argued many times that Germany should not have shut down those nuclear plants. But in the end it’s their decision.

    Sean, You said:

    “Manafort was a mistake by Trump. He was also a very green political resource poor politician at that point. It was a mistake.”

    Trump has made dozens of pro-Putin remarks. Were they all “mistakes”? Didn’t he recently say he thought Putin’s actions were “smart”?

    I also like “at that point”. You mean at the point he was running for president? I mean, shouldn’t an uninformed person start with something less important? Senator? Governor? Dogcatcher?

    I recall when Trump was committing impeachable offenses there were GOP insiders quietly telling reporters that it wasn’t his fault because he didn’t understand the rule of law.

  24. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    28. February 2022 at 23:59

    Scott, you’ve answered one of my questions and it turns out our answers match. Why did you also answer a question I didn’t ask? There are 6 more questions in my post – why not answer these? Somehow I feel there may be more facts that we may agree about.

  25. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 00:42

    I honestly don’t fully understand the Western strategy anymore. We have effectively given up on Ukraine, only the Ukrainians don’t know about it yet.

    It looks like a “phoney war” to me like in 1939. That will not work. Michael Sandifer is right, we urgently need boots on the ground. We need a second Korea. A Western liberation army led by the US and most Eastern European states. The Russian army is already having a really hard time against the Ukrainians. It would collapse against NATO within days.

    We need extremely clear announcements to Putin that he can and must accept: Putin gets all of eastern Ukraine up to the Dnieper (that’s actually a lot), but everything else is off limits.

    Kiev is taboo. Any Russian unit west of the Dnieper, that does not immediately withdraw, will be attacked and destroyed. Every base in Belarus and Crimea that does not give rest will be destroyed. Any use of nuclear weapons will be met with the nuclear destruction of Russia. Any attack on a NATO country will trigger the alliance and will lead to the destruction of the Russian government.

    These are announcements Putin understands. But Putin calculates that the West will not deploy its own armies. He calculates that the West only talks and that we let others fight for us. That the West is weak and degenerate and that Korea is long gone. And unfortunately he seems to be right with his calculation.

  26. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 01:38

    I just read that John Cochrane wrote something similar (thank you, Michael). I mean what happend to us? This case is so clear-cut, it’s unbelievable. The US did it in Korea (against China!) and in the Gulf War. What happened to us?

    Biden needs to make a massive course change. Putin has changed course massively, but Biden not at all. It does not fit together anymore.

    And Biden has only 1-2 weeks to do it, if at all. Sanctions are a preventive method, they do not replace acts of war or boots on the ground. The situation looks really grim right now, one can only feel ashamed.

  27. Gravatar of steve steve
    1. March 2022 at 06:09

    Countries with nuclear weapons have avoided fighting directly against each other. I think that’s a good idea. I also think Ukraine is a sovereign country.Russia is clearly in the wrong and there is no reason Ukraine has to give up part of their country. We can supply arms and money and make the costs high for Russia and Putin in particular.


  28. Gravatar of Classical Liberal Classical Liberal
    1. March 2022 at 06:28

    I’m with Cochrane.
    (Here’s the link again):

  29. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 06:55

    Nuclear weapons are not used between two nuclear powers, because then you get destroyed yourself. Hell, Russia doesn’t even use it now, why not? Think about it.

    A direct confrontation between two nuclear powers is not that problematic if you let the opponent save face (i.e. the whole of eastern Ukraine, for example). On the contrary, nuclear weapons have a really nice restricting effect. As soon as another nuclear power enters the war for the other side, the war is basically over.

    What happened? When did we become such selfish cowards? We are betraying all our values — and Trump is not even in charge!

    As soon as a Western liberation army would enter Ukraine from the West with maximum determination and corresponding clear announcements to Putin, the spook would be over. Putin is crazy, but not so crazy, that he wants Russia atomatized.

    The whole grim situation only arose because the opposite was done. Putin was sent one grotesque invitation after another. Ambiguity was resolved, but in the completely wrong direction. They told Putin over and over again that NATO would never ever intervene. How stupid can you be? This was basically like drawing an invasion map for Putin. “Hey Mr. Putin, go here, here, and here!”

    Often they didn’t even supply weapons. Not even instructors. More invitations are hardly possible. This war is also on us. Mass murder by neglect. Is Biden even in the White House? And what in the world is he doing?

  30. Gravatar of steve steve
    1. March 2022 at 08:34

    You do realize we have war-gamed this? It ends in nuclear war. What you pre suppose is that everyone behaves exactly they way you hope they will behave. In real life people make mistakes, they panic, they guess, they make assumptions. If we have a nuclear war we dont get a do over. This is all why nuclear powers have not directly fought each other. I hope that if we do at some point everything goes just right and we dont have a nuclear war. (Were you in the military? If you were then you should be disabused of the idea that the military never makes mistakes.)


  31. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    1. March 2022 at 08:47

    Christian List,

    Yes, it is a respectable argument to say that direct intervention by the West will increase the odds of further escalation, and even nuclear war. However, one cannot assume that it will make nuclear war very likely.

    I think MAD is likely widely underestimated as a deterrent.

  32. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    1. March 2022 at 08:50

    Given reports of some Russian units surrendering without a fight, the West should consider offering permanent visas, if not citizenship to all Russian troops who surrender without firing a shot.

    Of course, we’d have to get that news to the Russian soldiers.

  33. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    1. March 2022 at 08:54

    I hope those who absolutely oppose direct use of force by NATO will at least admit it should be tempting to destroy the miles long columns of Russian invaders stalled on highways. Easy targets for NATO aircraft.

  34. Gravatar of Classical Liberal Classical Liberal
    1. March 2022 at 10:09

    If we lose Ukraine I think Putin tests NATO in two years or so. And when he does, there will be a LARGE American chorus that will sound something like this:

    “It’s crazy to war against Russia for Estonia. After all, Ukraine at least had ground forces to hold the Russians off and we could have just supported them with air power. But we wisely did not. For Estonia, we’d need boots on the ground. Estonia is small, is it really worth WW3? Ukraine was a larger more important country and we didn’t go to war for it. The NATO charter is just a piece of paper. We should evaluate things on a case-by-case basis from now on.”

    And then he will have taken Ukraine and broken NATO. And the only price will have been to become more beholden to Beijing.

  35. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 10:32

    Following your argument, Putin can do whatever he wants forever because he has nuclear weapons. That just doesn’t make any sense. So what actually stops him from attacking NATO countries in the future? Nothing at all. He has nuclear weapons. What a silly argument that is, really. We commit suicide out of fear of death.

    I also hold it with the Chinese and the Japanese, and many other Asian peoples, probably the Russians as well: There are far worse things than death. What about our freedom, our democracy, our honor, our values? What about that? We are losing face right now. That is so much worse. I want to be able to look in my mirror at the end of the day — and right now I can’t because Putin is slaughtering innocent democrats by the thousands — and we watch out of fear.

    What you pre suppose is that everyone behaves exactly they way you hope they will behave.

    Sorry, you are the one that believes in war-gamed scenarios with
    a fixed result. I don’t. The future is uncertain but fear must never control us.

    I don’t fear death, why should I? And why should you? This all-around fear of death makes no sense to me. Dead is dead, why even fear it. I think Scott thinks in a similar way.


    Yes, it is a respectable argument to say that direct intervention by the West will increase the odds of further escalation.

    It is not. It is only a theory. Just as well the opposite could be true: A non-intervention increases the risk immensely, because Putin then considers himself untouchable, his theory was confirmed: The West is degenerated and weak. So why not go further and further? Hitler thought the same thing in 1939 — and he was extremely successful with it until at least 1941. People tend to forget about this, really.

    The time for intervention is now. The Russian army struggles. Putin has reportedly told Maduro that he wants Crimea and the areas around Luhansk and Donbas. This is just a small part of eastern Ukraine. These are statements on which he must be pinned down by force — always in such a way that he saves face of course — but Putin is a KGB man, he understands that the West must also save face.

    And we are not saving our face at the moment. FDR would have understood that, Truman too, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan. Clinton and Bush as well. Maybe even Trump. What about Biden? What kind of advisors does this man have? This structural pacifism must stop now, it is not the right time.

    In fact, it would be perfect for his (so far) failed presidency: The man who stood up to Putin. He would go down in the history books. At the moment he can forget about that: The man who presented Ukraine to Putin. Ehhm. That’s just great.

  36. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 10:44

    @Classical Liberal
    That’s exactly my point, too. If we don’t even protect Ukraine, then all of NATO is badly damaged. Already hardly anyone believes that NATO would start a war because of the Baltics. It just doesn’t make any sense. We grant Ukraine with 40 million people to Putin, but in case of the Baltics (just 6 million) we would react differently? Why would Putin believe that? It simply doesn’t make much sense. Believing that is borderline insane.

  37. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 11:17

    Last point for now, sorry:

    Currently, the Poles had plans to let Ukrainian fighter pilots take off from Polish bases. This is exactly what we need right now, and we need it fast. Putin fears NATO territory like the devil fears holy water.

    Let Putin threaten all he wants, he has long proven that he is a coward at heart. Unfortunately, the Poles have meanwhile backed down. This backing down is absolutely deadly. It gives Putin further encouragement. What must he think now? “Quickly, quickly, before NATO makes up his mind.” – There is no other conclusion.

    The Poles and the Balts are checking with Stoltenberg and Biden way too much. It doesn’t work that way. Don’t ask, you fools, just do it, do it, do it.

  38. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    1. March 2022 at 11:20

    I have expressed the same concerns about lost NATO credibility and we should not forget that, as dumb as it would be, Trump or some imitation, maybe in the White House again soon. I too am concerned about the possibility of another invasion if Putin is allowed to swallow Ukraine, however costly.

    That said, the sanctions imposed over the weekend have impressed me so far. I didn’t expect NATO to imposed such restrictions. We should go much farther still, but we are causing Russia real pain at the moment, and seemingly more than Putin expected.

    This, and risks that come with escalation, must be balanced with what seems like a golden, fleeting opportunity to heavily punish, if not vanquish an over-extended enemy in the field. This is an enemy reportedly in the process of brutalizing civilian populations and wrecking a country currently being formally considered for EU membership, as crazy as that is.

    I don’t agree with any who think this is an easy decision and I lack the expertise to have a useful opinion, but my instinct is to attack.

  39. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. March 2022 at 11:21

    Joseph, Perhaps a good place to begin is with the Keystone pipeline. You say it reduced gas prices. How?

    Many of your claims are true, but completely meaningless. When you say “Trump administration”, are you trying to imply that Trump agreed with these policies?

  40. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    1. March 2022 at 11:29

    I just saw an idea floated that has popped in my mind a time or two, and that is to pull the old trick of supplying American and European jets to Ukraine to be flown out of Poland, some piloted by volunteer western pilots. This is akin to what the communist sponsors of North Korea and Vietnam did in those respective wars.

  41. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 11:46

    @Michael S.
    The possibilities and tricks are almost endless. But the window of opportunity is not endless. The Poles must act now so that there are still cities and people to liberate.

    The Poles should know what it’s like to be invaded and left alone by the Western world. And what did the Western world gain from that at the time? Nothing. It brought the West to the edge of defeat. Less luck at Dunkirk and bye, bye Western world as we know it.

  42. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    1. March 2022 at 12:05

    Christian List,

    Yes, and another point occurs to me that I haven’t seen mentioned. Russia is still selling natural gas to key NATO members, and the revenues make up a significant portion of Russia’s fiscal budget. This is another potential constraint on Putin, should we strike his invasion force in Ukraine. There’s a reason he hasn’t cut gas supplies to NATO countries.

    That said, I don’t want to make it seem I’m underestimating the real risks here.

    Since you brought up World War II, there were certainly volunteer RAF pilots from the US, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere in the world, during the Battle of Brittain.

  43. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 12:18

    Michael Sandifer,

    yes Russia is still selling oil and gas en masse, and the EU and the US are stil buying it. There is extreme hypocrisy on both sides — that does not match the talks about “nuclear war” at all by the way.

    The risk of nuclear war is close to zero. We are once again committing suicide out of fear of death. Like we kind of did with Covid.

    Ukrainians deserve better, they were so naive and trusted the Western world. These people still believe in values that we cynics no longer wanted to believe in: Heroism, democracy, freedom, sacrifice.

    Give them something to believe in for God’s sake — or the Western world as we know it is finished. Then Trump has finally won. The cynics would have won.

    I mean this situation could so much be the hour of Biden. Where in the world is he? Did he die from old age by now?

  44. Gravatar of steve steve
    1. March 2022 at 14:22

    What stops Putin? You make it cost too much. His oligarch buddies get mad at him. I think Mad is actually functional but it is the reason we dont fight to begin with. If we do fight I think in theory both sides agree with MAD but it then becomes too easy tomato a mistake and kill each other out of error.


  45. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2022 at 14:48


    but it then becomes too easy tomato a mistake and kill each other out of error.

    Okay, but how is that going to happen in reality if you have no incentive to use that weapon. One has an incentive only if the opponent has no nuclear weapons, as now in the case of Ukraine vs. Russia.

    It makes no sense to use this weapon in a war on neutral territory, even if Americans and Russians would be fighting each other directly on this neutral battlefield.

    This might have been Biden’s biggest mistake in the last few days: he had all Americans evacuated from Ukraine on the grounds that America wouldn’t even evacuate Americans from Ukraine through simple rescue missions because according to him that would mean World War 3 already. This is just gutless crazy talk, really.

    In doing so, Biden gave Ukraine to Putin even before Putin invaded. This is just an incredibly bad way of deterring Putin. What was he thinking, really?

    With the same justification, he can evacuate any NATO country now: better get out of there, the Russians might be coming.

  46. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    1. March 2022 at 15:42

    Scott, as I said from the beginning, my questions were simple yes/no. There is really no point in making it any more complicated before the facts have been agreed.

    To answer your question about KXL, don’t you – I am sure correctly – write about setting expectations all the time? When one admin talks about being energy independent and reinforces words with actions the prices go down. When the other says it wants to suppress fossil fuels now before there is any viable alternative and acts upon it we get exactly the opposite and pretty quickly.

    Regarding your other question, again, until we agree on the facts I don’t see the point of discussing the implications. “Many” is not precise enough, sorry.

  47. Gravatar of steve steve
    1. March 2022 at 20:45

    We were at Cold War for a long time with Russia. To date they have also followed the rule. No direct war. Note that he didnt invade the Baltics. He went after the country that was not in NATO. Yes, if he invades a NATO country things change. Then we are all at risk.

    At present we are not at war with Russia. The person monitoring our ICBMs sees something funny due to an artifact but doesnt panic and make a mistake because he knows we have no reason to launch. If we are at war he is more likely to believe and report that we have launched. Americans over value the ability of our military and that of the Russians. I dont think most people realize how close we have come to nuclear accidents in the past or even war. Talk with some of the old SAC guys. Who do you think is watching those monitor screens at 2 AM? Its often someone a lot younger with less experience than you would think.


  48. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    2. March 2022 at 05:34

    Russians are still advancing on the battlefield and they are incinerating people in cities. Ukraine is not a domino. The world looks more like it did before WW I than before WW II and escalation is the greater danger than appeasement. Russian people will feel our sanctions this time but, in the long run, we are accelerating a trend where others decouple from Western institutions to limit their reach. Our systems are becoming regional. This is not a war to determine the fate of humanity…unless we escalate. Let us keep those things in mind as we make our decisions about escalation versus possible compromises such as Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea and perhaps a demilitarized zone in exchange for cessation of hostilities.

  49. Gravatar of steve steve
    2. March 2022 at 06:53

    Carl- Cool. Can we invade Canada and in return for agreeing to stop hostilities we get Alberta?


  50. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    2. March 2022 at 07:46


    This is not a war to determine the fate of humanity…unless we escalate.

    This is true about close to everything and certainly about every country in Europe. From this point of view, Putin may now attack every European country piece by piece.

    When did the West become so cynical? What have we done? Trump’s cynicism has now finally won. And it’s not just Trump supporters who are arguing this way, it’s everybody arguing this way, Scholz, Biden, the whole Democratic Party, many party supporters. How disgraceful, how shameful. The Western world is morally finished.

    If we ever had a face of honor, we lost it with this war.

    We watch Putin slaughter the Ukrainians — and feel morally superior about it! How sick can a human being become? So many cynical pigs in the Western world, and this is putting it really mildly.

  51. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    2. March 2022 at 09:49

    Joseph, Given that the questions you ask have no bearing on this post, I expect that you are correct—it would be a waste of time to debate the issue here.

  52. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    2. March 2022 at 11:29

    Of course, any way to avoid admitting you can’t actually disagree with any of the statements I made. Disagreeing would be simply dishonest and I never suspected you of it.
    Well, this means you agree with the facts but interpret them differently from the way I do. This is fine but surely you must experience cognitive dissonance when your head and your heart tell you Trump is a bad man who is either in bed with Putin or at least is happy to sell anything just to be the ruler once again but the facts in this specific case clearly show it’s Democrat’s (and green’s around the developed world) hopeless policies that enabled the bastard whereas Trump admin did quite a lot to make it more difficult for Russia to advance. If only people listened back then. And no, it doesn’t matter whether someone says he was against something, what matters is the ultimate decisions made were way better than what Obama admin did and on some of the issues better than what Biden admin did.

    Separately, you really need to remember in your calculations: Trump is an old man. Quite old. I don’t know what he thinks but I know that becoming a dictator at 75+ is a pretty pointless exercise.

  53. Gravatar of steve steve
    2. March 2022 at 14:32

    ” I know that becoming a dictator at 75+ is a pretty pointless exercise.”

    I think this is akin to telling some rich guy he has enough money. They almost never have enough money.


  54. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. March 2022 at 13:57

    Joseph, Just give up. Your claims have no bearing on this post. The fact that you think they do means that you don’t understand my views.

    It’s like claiming, “Don’t worry, Trump failed to overcome the “deep state” in his first term, so we know that he’ll fail to overcome the deep state again in his second term.”

  55. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    3. March 2022 at 16:53

    Please show me where I said my questions (or claims) have direct bearing on your post. Oh, wait, you can’t – the same way you can’t honestly answer “no” to any of them. I am just disappointed you keep bringing up unimportant points when there is an elephant in the room.

    And by the way your example implies you didn’t understand/ignored why I mentioned Trump’s age.

  56. Gravatar of MIchael Sandifer MIchael Sandifer
    4. March 2022 at 06:21

    Steve and Carl make some good points. The question is, how much, if any, increase in the risk of nuclear war is tolerable in defense of Ukraine?

    I think it’s somewhat plausible that the actions NATO has already taken have at least slightly increased the risk of nuclear war, but can anyone be positive? Can we know for sure we haven’t reduced the risk, of at least unilateral use in Ukraine by Putin? That is, it’s not completely inconceivable that, absent NATO’s actions, with the Ukraine war going poorly, Putin would use, say, a tactical nuclear strike to intimidate Ukraine into surrendering.

    I have no reason to believe Putin would do this, and it seems extremely unlikely, but can we say the probability is zero?

  57. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. March 2022 at 11:15

    Joseph, If people aren’t understanding you, try writing more clearly.

  58. Gravatar of Joseph Joseph
    4. March 2022 at 11:51

    Beat TDS – your life will never be the same.

    On a serious note, you ask something then ignore answers, it’s not helpful.

    And of course when you say “people” – speak for yourself. You don’t want to take into consideration a simple fact: someone who is 75+ can’t be a dictator for long. That’s ignoring the fact that only someone who controls at least internal law enforcement can actually dictate – and Trump never did and never will. So instead of talking about how awful he is just admit that he was actually right when he personally delivered a message to Germany about Russian gas and financing NATO. And all of the US and European shitty media alongside people like you and many others who cannot see a valid point behind the posture were wrong.

    There were a lot of Russians who supported Putin until 24.2 (I am not one of them). Many were horrified when he started this war and found it in themselves to write that they were wrong in their assessment of Putin’s plans and behaviour. It’s too late but still a good first step to admit one’s mistake.

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