Thursday Open Thread

“Nothing is more terrible than to see ignorance in action.”

–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gilpin Guy says:

    Thanks Pols for the great quote today.  Just reading it made me think of Blowbert and her daily activities.

  2. ParkHill says:

    Noah Smith on "War Got Weird"

    Includes the hit song "Bayraktor".

    Eight years ago I wrote an article for Quartz boldly predicting that drone weaponry would cause a massive upheaval of society. That hasn’t come to pass yet, but drones are certainly being used more on the battlefield. Azerbaijan’s use of Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 drones to essentially wipe Armenian armored vehicles from the battlefield in 2020 was an unusual case; in Ukraine, modern Russian air defenses are having some limited success against the cheap, light remote flyers. But still, independent analysts find that Ukraine’s TB-2s are exacting a significant toll on Russian armor, immortalized in the now-famous Bayraktar Song.

    But if drones have made the battlefield marginally more dangerous for armored vehicles, portable anti-tank weapons have been an absolute game-changer. Antitank guided missiles like the U.S.-made Javelin can kill armored vehicles at a range of more than 2 km, while lighter weapons like the British/Swedish NLAW are useful at shorter ranges. These and other portable weapons have been supplied to the Ukrainians in great numbers by the U.S. and Europe — more than 17,000 so far. That’s probably more weapons than the Russians have vehicles — if a Russian Battalion Tactical Group includes about 100 armored vehicles, and the Russians have sent 75% of their standing force of 160 BTGs into Ukraine, then the Ukrainians theoretically have the capability to blow up everything that Russia has sent into their country.

    As long as they don’t miss much, of course. But the antitank weapons’ guidance systems appear to be so accurate that a large percentage of the shots hit their mark — one estimate early in the war guessed that 280 out of 300 Javelins fired had scored a hit. Even if the number is only half that, the Ukrainians seem to have enough firepower to devastate the bulk of the world’s third-largest military, simply by walking around on foot with 25-lb or 50-lb gadgets. They’ve already taken out thousands of Russian vehicles

    • DavidThi808 says:

      And the cost of a javelin is what – maybe 1/100 the cost of a tank. The training of 1 soldier to fire a javelin is nothing compared to the time and money to train a tank crew.

      It is ridiculously lopsided in favor of soldiers with a javelin over a tank & crew. This war may make the tank obsolete just as the tank & machine gun made the calvary obsolete.

      • ParkHill says:

        Yes, but…

        Follow Markos as he has specific battlefield experience with managing a mobile missile launch team. Very interesting to listen to someone who was almost an NCO.

        He points out that the Ukrainian resistance works well in the West and North where there exists some terrain and tree cover, not to mention mud season and river barriers. In the South, the terrain is flat and tree-less, sort of like Eastern Colorado. Without the protection of tanks it is pretty hard to go on the offensive. Also, the Russian airforce has been somewhat active.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        “may make the tank obsolete…..”

        Reminds me of a Bill Maudlin line in his chronicle of World War II, “Upfront.” One GI says to another, stating his preference for foxholes: “a moving foxhole (tank) attracts the eye.”

  3. DavidThi808 says:

    Ukraine update:

    This remains the key battle between Democracy and Autocracy. I worry that some of the key people in the U.S., NATO, etc. are looking for easy shortcuts to an end to the fighting. These same people, if they get their way, will then be shocked when Putin launches his next adventure.

    Ukraine needs to recover all of their land. And Russia needs to remain sanctioned as they pay for the damages. Anything less and we'll have this same problem again, with Russia better prepared.

    On the good news side, Ukraine can win this thing. Mariupol is now the key fight. If Ukraine can hold here, then Russia does not have their land bridge to Crimea. If Ukraine holds here and gains a corridor back to it, then the tide of the war has turned.

    What the U.S./NATO needs to do is give them everything they can including aircraft, tanks, more sophisticated anti-aircraft. and tens of thousands of javelins, stingers, etc.

    Also thought for the day. I think Russia has a new even more important reason they don't want Ukraine in NATO. They don't want the Ukrainian army as part of NATO – because that means in a fight on the ground they will lose.

    • Voyageur says:

      The economist John Maynard Keynes, in his prescient essay “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, proved the folly of the Versailles treaty’s effort to force Germany to pay huge reparations while simultaneously depriving it of the ability to earn hard currency in trade.

      David, you want to destroy the Russian economy with crippling sanctions while making them pay to rebuild ukraine?

      How?

      That could lead to WwIII.  The U.S. and E.U. Should pay most of the cost of rebuilding Ukraine — because we can.

      • ParkHill says:

        I would distinguish between the Russian people and the Putin dictatorship.

        I agree with the idea that WWII came about due to the impossible reparations bill given to the Germans, and the fact that post WWI Germany was therefore unable to integrate into the economy of Europe. On the other hand, there were some lingering colonial interests that also contributed to WWII.

        The equivalent insight wrt Russia is to see what happens as Russia commits suicide and then disintegrates. The fault lines in Russia will become more apparent:

        Russia vs Putin
        Putin vs Oligarchs
        Regional ethnicities vs Russia
        Regional economic interests vs Russia.
        Demographic change (Asian and non-Russian minorities are growing.

        Adding… Not to mention the rising power in the wings, i.e. the United States

      • DavidThi808 says:

        You bring up a good point on not signing a peace that guarantees another war 20 years later. And too harsh a peach can be every bit as bad as too light a peace.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      One important thing to keep in mind, everyone wants a fast victory, like the Battle of Midway or the Thunder Run into Baghdad. But war is rarely like that.

      While Midway was one of the key battles where the war in the Pacific turned, the other two were Guadalcanal and the fight back and forth over the Owen Stanley mountains. Those battles lasted close to a year and were touch & go.

      We have it in our power to give Ukraine what they need to win. But that requires additional more advanced weaponry and continuing to deluge them with what we're already sending.

      And to be prepared for this to take a year to settle on the battlefield and maybe as much as 5 years for the sanctions to get us to an equitable peace.

      Well worth reading:

      And question of the day – why is there any secrecy around who owns anything? We have these trusts and front companies and other stuff. But what is the logic as to why this is allowed?

  4. davebarnes says:

    Another crazy idea.

    The USA should declare war on Ukraine. Then, we could march our troops into the country "legally".

  5. skeptical citizen says:

    "Don't poke the bear". How far do you taunt the crazy bastard running a giant gas station armed with nukes, and now in a super-sized hermit kingdom.

  6. ParkHill says:

    Josh Kovensky at TPM Reminds us that "The First Impeachment was about Ukraine."

    Before Volodymyr Zelensky faced down Vladimir Putin, he stood up to another megalomaniac.

    The first impeachment of President Trump is just over two years old, but it remains lost on many Americans that it was all about Ukraine. And not just about Ukraine in a generic sense, but specifically about Trump using Ukraine’s vulnerability to Russia to pressure it to find dirt on the Bidens.

    To force Ukraine’s hand to his advantage, Trump thwarted longstanding U.S. policy to support and arm its ally in the face of the Russian threat. Zelensky didn’t waver.

  7. DavidThi808 says:

    Welcome to today's edition of grading our Senators.

    First up, in order of seniority is Senator Michael Bennet. While I was not fan of Bennet for his first 6 or so years when he was representing Wall St, I have come to appreciate him as he has evolved into someone representing the people of Colorado. And looking to improve things for everyone, even at the expense of Wall St.

    Looking at the legislation he is sponsoring this session (35 bills), we see several good ones and one strong one for the war against autocracy:

    S.3936: A bill to provide for the use of seized Russian assets to provide support to citizens of Ukraine who have been made refugees as a result of the illegal invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and for other purposes.

    We give Senator Bennet a grade of B. And we have hope that if he applies himself, he can raise that grade.

    Second we have Senator John Hickenlooper. He's been quiet to date as a Senator except for the brief attempt to run for President which was met with a yawn.

    Looking at the legislation he is sponsoring this session (17 bills), we see nothing significant (granted some of the bills are useful). And nothing focused on the war against autocracy.

    We give Senator Hickenlooper a grade of C-. And he only gets that because he's a reliable backbencher quietly toeing the party line and voting with the party on all key legislation.

    Like the star football player in High School who's too dumb to actually pass any class but gets the grades for the sake of the team, we have no hope that we'll see any improvement here.

    It's too bad because with his background in Oil & Gas he's be a natural to take the lead on crafting legislation for energy security for the democracies.

  8. MichaelBowman says:

    Not that this surprises anyone.

    Preface: Phil’s Gazette

    Anschutz's management team – if not Anschutz himself – were directly involved in massaging, organizing, and altering news stories published by The Gazette while I worked there, and at least through early 2016 (I resigned in July 2014; Clarity Media Group, which Anschutz owns, purchased The Gazette in November 2012).

  9. Voyageur says:

    This is Transgender Day of Visibility, sayeth the Washington Post.  That makes this as good a day as any to note that people are more than the sum of their labels.

    Dominos Vobiscum, Trans Folk.

    May laughter and love lighten your burdens.

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