Life comes at you fast: pundits on Russian TV realize that their military is failing and their country is in trouble. They are starting to play the blame game. Some of them finally understand that their genocidal denial of the Ukrainian identity isn't working in Russia's favor. pic.twitter.com/jNNn5xifI5
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) September 11, 2022
the accidental Russian nationalist syllogism
Ukraine is Russia
Russians are unbeatable!
therefore Ukraine is unbeatable https://t.co/XhIuP7XteE
— James Palmer (@BeijingPalmer) September 10, 2022
The reason Western militaries are so weak compared to the almighty army of the Soviet Empire is that they waste time teaching soldiers pronouns, genders, the concept of not abandoning your own comrades and driving tanks without crashing into trees. https://t.co/hdNGmcosXV
— Jakub Jaraczewski (@J_Jaraczewski) September 9, 2022
this has to be the most humiliating defeat of a global power since the russo-japanese war or maybe the crimean war before that. can’t remember who lost those wars, won’t be looking it up.
— bearded guy that yells at school board meetings (@CalmSporting) September 10, 2022
Any multipolar realists calling for Russia to accept the inevitable and cede territory now, or does that only go one way?
— ?????? ?????????? ?????????? (@vanillatary) September 10, 2022
it absolutely rules that all of these choads are seeing their influence completely evaporate in real time https://t.co/Xyc6FoZNTZ
— GONELIKEHELLMACHINE (@golikehellmachi) September 11, 2022
It's only a Nazi if it's from the Nationalsozialistische region of Germany. Otherwise it's just sparkling right-wing totalitarianism. https://t.co/F5Rgxwu1Fn
— Noah Smith ?????? (@Noahpinion) September 11, 2022
I have way too much riding on this. Putin can’t give up now!
I love this website. pic.twitter.com/oOerm32M66
— Oz Katerji (@OzKaterji) September 10, 2022
Reupping this for no particular reason. https://t.co/0n7sNqcndl
— Jeff Fecke (@jkfecke) September 10, 2022
A tough day for Russia apologists is a good day for the world.
— Jort-Michel Connard ?? (@torriangray) September 10, 2022
As Ukraine is making history with its counteroffensive, there's much witty sarcasm hurled at those who are being proved spectacularly wrong: those who predicted Ukraine's quick defeat at Russia's hands, urged territorial concessions to Russia, peace talks and West's abstention.🧵
— Mariana Budjeryn (@mbudjeryn) September 11, 2022
I have been thoroughly enjoying reading these stabs here on Twitter. But resisting the non-negligible urge to join in, I want to give those analysts a fair trial. After all, social scientists are notoriously bad at predictions, especially about the future.
It is also fair that few, outside of the US intel community, anticipated a full scale Russian invasion, few were unsurprised by Ukraine’s capable and fierce resistance and Russian military’s inaptitude, and few are observing the developing counteroffensive without a sense of awe.
Yet the analysts and politicians (we all know who they are) of whom I write are a different breed. What they share in common and what sets them apart from the rest of us whose expectations are overtaken by events is two things: arrogance and self-righteousness.
It is also remarkable that these analysts fall into two diametrically opposite theoretical camps: so-called realists and so-called pacifists. Their premises are entirely different but their predictions and prescriptions converged.
Realists looked at the balance of power, defined in material terms. They counted Russian tanks, airplanes and troops, pointed to Russian nukes and GDP per capita, and concluded that Ukraine didn’t stand a chance.
They also looked at the balance of interest in Ukraine between Russia and the West, and stated, as a matter of an axiom, not an argument, that Russia wanted Ukraine more, that the US had no vital interest in Ukraine, so it should not get involved.
The pacifists started from the premise that no military solutions of any security problem are legitimate; in Ukraine they are also not possible. No explanation given, but if one were required, see realists above.
The pacifists’ urge for concessions and peace negotiations stem from their declared concern for civilian lives, which concessions and negotiations would save. Western arms supplies, they argued, would only prolong the war, which Ukraine would likely lose anyway.
Both realists and pacifists make their assumptions and theoretical commitments transparent. The problem is that neither is falsifiable. No new evidence, scholarship, even unfolding real-time events are likely to sway them to rethink the merits of their assumptions.
In that, realists and pacifists are not theoretical traditions. They are ideologies. They have already decided how the world works and if it might appear that the world doesn’t work like they think it does, it’s the world’s problem, not the problem of their theories.
It’s not that most realists and pacifists knew little about Russia and even less about Ukraine. It’s that they didn’t even care to learn. They could take just one look at Russia and see a great power, take a glimpse at Ukraine and conclude that it’s weak and worthless.
I might have indulged in a bit of strawmanning, but not much. I do hope, however, that both realists and pacifists can take a hard look at Ukraine today and use it as opportunity to learn in earnest: revisit their assumptions, gaps in understanding, and ethical commitments.
Arrogance and self-righteousness is no way to go through life; it is also no basis for advocating policy that can make or break a people about whom you know or care next to nothing. END