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Sep 20, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

“And when Russia becomes a normal country, it’ll have Ukraine to thank, for finally and forcefully destroying its imperial illusions.” I hope this occurs in my life time.

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Not every SSR was a nation state (some were notionally autonomous within Russia). They created as many “nation states” as they could get away with for UN votes, not realizing how ineffective the UN would be.

It was and still is a multi-ethnic empire, even though it was controlled centrally (with nominal regional governments ) and quite of few of those enclaves are still in Russia proper (see link). Russia is not really Russian. The problem is what we consider “Russia proper” isn’t Putin’s view. And Ukraine from an historical point of view has closer and more important linkages to Russian than Chechnya or Dagestan do.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_Soviet_Socialist_Republics

It is as if we had a drunken President who let Puerto Rico go. We wouldn’t let them ally with Russia or China. This is not difficult to understand.

The Crimea SSR wished to be autonomous from Ukraine (voted for that twice in the early 1990s). Ukraine said no. There wasn’t exactly a lot of resistance when the little Green men took over in 2014.

I am not excusing or defending Putin’s wars of aggression. But if Russia backed a coup in an independent Puerto Rico I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the US intervened (not that it would make it right).

I agree this is probably Ukraine’s first war of independence and hopefully Ukraine will emerge with security guarantees and integration with the EU, though likely at the cost of ceding Crimea

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It feels a little bit rich to call the victory of phonics a victory for "progressives" as well as conservatives. Phonics is (plus or minus a rebranding) has been the normal way to teach literacy in alphabet-based languages for thousands of years. Progressives (I'll drop the scare quotes but please consider them to be still there) invented a whole new approach and managed to get it universally adopted without ever checking whether it worked, then conservatives fought against it, and after several decades of this the conservatives were proved right and the progressives eventually backed down when confronted with ovewhelming evidence.

I guess you could call it a victory for the Monte Carlo theory of social progress, in which progressives suggest a social change in a random direction, conservatives oppose it, the two groups fight it out for a while as we implement the change and figure out whether it's actually a good idea or not, and then one side backs down and we either keep the change or discard it. This way of running society actually works pretty well, but neither side seems to actually understand that this is the game they're playing -- they both seem to have a deep conviction that their side is always right, and a very short memory for all the times that their side has been wrong.

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Sep 21, 2023·edited Sep 21, 2023

I might be over-analyzing, but I think it's interesting because to me it's pretty easy to see how the culture war elements fell as they did.

Phonics (and direct instruction, and drilling your multiplication tables, etc) have a kind of mean, fascist, eat your vegetables attitude! The children will be told what they need to learn, and they will do the damn work until they get it right! Same approach you take to make an athlete or a soldier - you practice and drill.

The new age learners want to love the children. Those little beauties are precious nuggets full of potential waiting to be released, just held back by the constraints of society, man. Drill & kill makes them sad and turns them off to the whole scene. They aren't your little robots! They can find their way to greatness if we just encourage them.

Obviously sarcastic versions of both sides - but like, KIND OF true at the extremes, no?

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This feels more like a left-wing vs right-wing thing than a progressive vs conservative thing.

Of course right-progressives haven't been much of a force in the last 79 years or so, but there's nothing inherently left-wing about progressivism or right-wing about conservatism, that's just the sort of progressivism we've been dealing with recently.

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Phonics by any name came into being in the 16th Century but only became common in the US in the 19th Century. Whole language methods were first employed in teaching deaf students to read in the 1830’s; Horace Mann encouraged its use with hearing students and the Boston Primary School Committee adopted it in 1837 but the backlash began almost immediately. In other words, the controversy over phonics vs. whole language methods is almost 200 years old. Those framing it as a progressive vs. conservative issue ignore this long history.

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Of course, this same process (try idea, reject or phase in) would occur in the absence of conservatives but not in the absence of progressives. /S

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"This episode, happily, seems like a win for both conservatives, who thought of an idea that worked, and for progressives, who followed the evidence." Yes, the Eagle Forum was weird, and it was weirder that they chose to promote phonics. Now, I am a fan of phonics. It has a strong and useful role to serve in learning how to read. But the conservatives certainly did not invent phonics. I was taught initial reading with phonics in the 1960's. One account attributes the origin of phonics to Quintilian in the first century AD: https://www.memoriapress.com/articles/history-phonics/. In my view, the either/or argument of phonics or whole language is misguided. Phonics is a valuable step in the process of learning how to read, analogous to numbers and arithmetic being early steps of learning mathematics.

It is encouraging to read that some state, especially Southern, are rediscovering the power of phonics.

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“ For example, Martinez (2018) looks at satellite photos of night lighting compared to GDP. He finds that in autocratic countries like China, there’s a much steeper relationship between night lights and GDP;”

That’s a metric he devised himself - it’s clearly full of holes.

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author

What's an example of such a hole, in your assessment?

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If China’s GDP were significantly lower then world GDP would be lower, and exports from and imports to China would be lower than what was reported. This you would think would be measurable. If not, economists should get better at measuring.

The night lights makes no sense - not only is it not clear on a map that China is less lit up - the populated eastern provinces are as lit up as the eastern seaboard of the US, but he’s assumed his own conclusion - that this measures GDP somehow.

Is that even true? It’s not clear at all that it is. How bright a country is from space at night depends on public investment in street lighting and how bright the lights are - LEDs are brighter than sodium. In this map:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe_at_Night#/media/File%3ACity_Lights_2012_-_Flat_map_crop.jpg

The Midwest as a whole seems brighter than the West. The east too but you would expect that. California is however dark outside the cities, yet it is an economic powerhouse. Eastern China is well lit up, but India is brighter than China as a whole, and than most of the US too. However nobody really doubts that China is richer per capita than India.

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"If China’s GDP were significantly lower then world GDP would be lower, and exports from and imports to China would be lower than what was reported." <-- This seems obviously false to me. I don't see any reason this would be true. All that would happen is China's ratio of exports to GDP (which is now pretty low) would be higher than currently reported.

"The night lights makes no sense - not only is it not clear on a map that China is less lit up - the populated eastern provinces are as lit up as the eastern seaboard of the US, but he’s assumed his own conclusion - that this measures GDP somehow." <-- His measurements of night lighting are quantitative. It's very precise.

So unless autocracies have some reason for systematically using dimmer lighting than democracies for the same economic purposes, his comparison across the two should hold.

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Yes, there could easily be cultural differences in the use of night lighting not related to GDP. China is a relatively new wealthy country and old frugal habits die hard. China, for instance, has a much higher personal savings level and difficulties in encouraging a consumer economy. I would suggest these are cultural abnormalities and not directly linked to GDP.

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The paper did not calculate GDP from lightning, but tried to calculate changes in GDP from changes in lightning.

If the GDP-lighting correlation holds in China&the West, other cultural factors regarding lighting are not relevant.

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Let's hope that the Dark Skies movement creates such a hole. Not likely, but good to hope for.

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I was going to share the exact same links! The Sold a Story podcast has been shared all over my tiny slice of internet.

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I think you were slightly mis-characterizing Yglesias’ view on economic issues vs social issues. He has pretty routinely argued that Democrats should do things that are popular, and avoid focusing on things that are not currently popular. I think you (in Hexapodia) and he were basically on the same page.

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Oh. I don't really know what's popular, so I don't really have much of an opinion there!

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Ironically it is Putin who suppresses the worst instincts of Russian ethnonationalism, as he consistently talks about the importance of multiculturalism in Russia (whether there's actually ethnic harmony is a different story of course). And Alexei Navalny's controversial comments come from his phase when he was supporting the nationalist crowd against stuff like Central Asian migration.

As you reference it points to complex tradeoffs between imperial polities and nation-states, where empires can actually be models of tolerance even if there can also be oppression imposed by the dominant ethnicity. Compare Austria-Hungary to Nazi Germany, for instance; while Nazi Germany may have been a more competent and coherent state, it was only pleasant if you were German, which was not necessarily the case for Austria with its multiethnic parliament.

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Correct, of course. But modern Germany is a quite stable, free, and effective country!

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True, but that only occurred after Germany was totally defeated and occupied. Even in the best case scenario that won’t happen with Russia, making a full-on liberal transformation far less likely.

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Your comment highlights why I am so concerned about this issue. Noah is very much in line with the people currently making policy for Russia-Ukraine, and are so utterly delusional about what's realistic.

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"But modern Germany is a quite stable, free, and effective country!"

That is currently considering banning a political party.

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Luckily Russia already thought of that with the Eurasian Economic Union!

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Only problem with the rosy picture you paint about the phonics "debate": we already knew phonics worked, it is built into the structure of the language. The pro-phonics people you thought were fringe in the 90s were always *obviously* correct, and only their opponents' academic credentials blinded people to that fact.

The academization of basic education research is, in fact, the problem. People waving degrees and meaningless research in our faces is what convinces us to give up functioning systems in the first place.

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It's also true that the switch away from phonics came at a time when we were not making consistent upward progress toward universal literacy, especially in the South post-Brown. Once Black kids were brought into a single school board system, it became a lot harder to ignore the really terrible reading outcomes and widespread illiteracy in the Black community. Many white kids exited the public schools for the segregation academies, but the public schools started throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what could solve a very real problem.

I grew up in Mississippi in the 1980s, when the phonics debate was extremely influenced by the legacy of segregation. Phonics was a conservative issue for groups like the Eagle Forum because it was a wedge to continue government funding for white students to attend the private segregated schools. This wasn't ancient history, either -- I started first grade in 1982, and segregation was still legally in effect when the seniors graduating that year had started first grade. I went to a segregation academy in 1989-1990, which had admitted its first black student three years prior. This wasn't a quiet dog whistle and people were very open about it even into my teenage years, so the merits of phonics got caught up in the legacy of segregation. That may not have been the case outside the South, but it was very much present in that time and place.

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The truth can only be a dog-whistle for racists if everyone else insists on telling lies.

The idea that phonics (a system that worked for immigrants and refugees from everywhere in the world) was the problem for black kids in America is, again, obviously false. Only the veneer of academic legitimacy would have allowed it to pass the smell test and become public policy.

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Yes, Noah's story is a microcosm of the debate on communism throughout the 19th and 20th century. It's foundational problems were easily identifiable early on, there were a litany of examples of its failures, yet it took until the fall of the USSR for the idea to be fully discredited.

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Yes, and there too: access to the prestige of the Academy gave the ideology an air of respectability that was completely undeserved. Communists should have been regarded as economic flat-earthers. Instead they were given a space in debate just because some of them had nothing better to do in their 20s than earn a PhD

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Yes they should have. The problem was that during the 1st half of the 20th century everyone who was hip and "with it" in society was a communist. Oppenheimer showed a small window into this, but pretty much every actor, writer, scientist, musician, intellectual, etc was a red, or at least very sympathetic to them. So who would have kept them out?

And this phenomena continues today with a slightly different ideology, yet proponents of that ideology are so convinced that this time everyone important supports it because it's correct.

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Phonics wasn't really that controversial outside the US, where it became a culture war. It was troubling to see teachers reject it there because Bush was in favour of it. The research had been settled decades before

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I did a couple of years of undergrad psychology back in the mid-90s.

One thing they regarded as a pretty robust experimental finding was that explicit instruction in phonics resulted in better outcomes in reading than teaching approaches that didn’t include them.

It’s not like the psych department was some conservative corner of the university either.

And yet it seems that an entire generation of educators have been taught, and practiced, less effective methods.

Sad.

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Yes, it's a bit hard to untangle the damage that might have been done. Nelson Rockefeller (NYS governor, and twice presidential candidate in the '60s) and his siblings had reading and language difficulties - they went to an expensive "progressive" school, and I've always wondered about how they were taught to read. Same with Dubya, who had language difficulties which I don't encounter at all in regular middle-class life.

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My wife was a resource specialist and special ed teacher for more than 30 years. During that time she determined by the use of various methods that phonics was THE most effective way to teach reading, especially with learning handicapped children. She fought the prevailing non-phonics dogma practically the whole time, but the saving grace was the clear, superior progress her students made using phonics-based reading techniques. She only regrets that there was so much progressive resistance to phonics and the constant push for "new" alternate methods regardless of the obvious results and outcomes. US school children are still suffering from the previous abandonment of the use of phonics in teaching reading.

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Thank you for another thoughtful post. I especially appreciated your insight that "interesting ideas are the raw material of intellectual progress." As an avid reader and fellow book blogger, I couldn't agree more. I've certainly learned a great deal from exploring the diverse perspectives and fascinating concepts you highlight in your writing.

As you noted, it's important we seek out and engage with novel concepts and viewpoints that challenge our thinking. Doing so stretches us intellectually and pushes discourse forward. I try to approach new ideas with an open yet critical mind, evaluating them on their merits while being aware of my own biases. There are always multiple lenses through which to analyze an issue.

I'm glad we have forums like this to exchange and debate ideas in a thoughtful manner. The free flow of information and ideologies serves us all. I look forward to continuing this conversation and encourage others to share their perspectives as well. The path of lifelong learning has endless vistas to explore.

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"... higher education seems to be becoming an ever-larger determinant of the cleavages in American society. This is fundamentally a class divide for the age of knowledge industries..."

What do you mean by "determinant" in this context? I suspect the class divide precedes the decision to attend college.

From Nate Cohn in the NYT in 2021 [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/08/us/politics/how-college-graduates-vote.html]: "College graduates attribute racial inequality, crime and poverty to complex structural and systemic problems, while voters without a degree tend to focus on individualist and parochial explanations. It is easier for college graduates, with their higher levels of affluence, to vote on their values, not simply on economic self-interest. They are likelier to have high levels of social trust and to be open to new experiences. They are less likely to believe in God."

None of the views that Cohn ascribes to college graduates are necessarily learned in college, though they may be reinforced there.

Does anyone know of a study of generations of college graduates within the same family, and the effect on their views? I'm also curious whether college graduates continue to be more likely to encourage their children to attend college.

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" It is easier for college graduates, with their higher levels of affluence, to vote on their values, not simply on economic self-interest."

This is deceptive. There's no evidence that non-college whites vote in their "economic self-interest"; if they did, Biden's infrastructure and climate legislation, which is disproportionately benefiting red states, would be improving Democrat ratings in those states. In fact, Democrats have a much better record on attempting to help poorer or blue-collar workers. One of the long-standing conundrums is how oligarchic Republicans keep convincing their base to vote *against* their economic self-interest. The answer is that they vote on their values as well, but those values are shaped by the right-wing rage-generating media, and are based on cultural rather than economic factors.

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I agree with you that Cohn's statement is not convincing. But "economic self-interest" is not an easily defined term without context, and the context can lead to opposite decisions, and even illegal ones.

Maybe a word like "incentives" is closer to what Cohn means, and what you're pointing out. But there are long-term and short-term incentives (and various definitions of long-term and short-term) which compete for attention.

I don't think you need to modify "rage-generating media" with "right-wing" or "left-wing." We have both.

I'm still not sure what any of this says about what is taught or learned in college, versus (1) what is reinforced in college and (2) what people expect to gain from a college degree, which is different than what they were actually taught.

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There’s a lot of things that would be interesting to know about first generation students this way!

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Man, on the Hexipodia podcast, Brad badly mischaracterized Matt's argument (that defining contested issues as clear moral ones on which there can be no compromise is bad) on the podcast to the point that one of his counter arguments (that Democrats have a winning issue on abortion) restated something Matt advocated for in the text: "abortion rights are generally more popular than the Democratic Party, and Democrats do well post-Dobbs to talk a lot about their support of a woman’s right to choose."

... which made it hard to make any sense of what the articles you guys were arguing about were actually about or if you were just putting words in the author's mouths.

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I have to say, phonics-like instruction methods for math might be reasonable in general, but the idea of combining them with a policy of forbidding advanced students from opting out sounds truly nightmarish...

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

I wrote this as a Reddit post but posting it here Noah what do you think in regards to #2 of this post.

Vivek Ramaswamy as a presidential nominee would be more of a negative than a positive for Indian Americans & Hindus.

CONTEXT: https://www.tiktok.com/@waltermasterson/video/7280311753739750699?is_from_webapp=1&web_id=7280435312252913194

Disregarding his policies and character as an observer who would not like to see any religious discrimination and racism, specifically against Hindus and Indian Americans, I find it distressing to contemplate the potential backlash that might follow the election of an Indian American and Hindu president. The possibility of prejudice and bigotry directed toward Indian Americans sadly eclipses the joy and sense of representation that Indian Americans would experience from having one of their own as the President of the United States.

Seeing Rishi Sunak win the PM title in the UK certainly would express the same joys Indians & Hindus across the globe would feel if Vivek Ramaswamy won the nomination let alone the presidency. As an American observing the UK reaction to PM Sunak it seemed they never cared about his skin color or religious views but will he fix the issues in the country and do a good job as the PM. Watching Vivek clips on his campaign trail, it seems people's main focus has been his religious and cultural background.

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Russia is always cast as a villain, I am not normalising things that Russia did but so do all the other states. Poland deported ethnic Germans post WW2. If Russia sees that Ukraine is mistreating ethnic Russians in Ukraine (increasing marginalisation of their language, etc. etc.), what was it supposed to do (maybe more talks but maybe that didn't work)?

When Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb 2022, nowhere Putin mentioned that he wanted to annex Ukraine, maybe just a more favourable govt & make it harder for NATO integration (still bad.. but not unique -> Iraq, Libya, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Central American countries, etc. etc. etc. -> most of them today are dysfunctional states apart from Vietnam and that is only because Vietnam won). Only after seeing that Ukrainians would fight for their country that Putin settled for limited goals of annexing Russian majority oblasts.

We forget that Cuba is still sanctioned even after more than 50-60 and long after Cold war has ended. And the current political discourse in America of declaring cartels as terrorist groups and hitting them inside Mexico..

And do we really think that America won't do anything if say tomorrow Mexico allows China military access.. Nahh.. they would go all Rambo style and probably annex remaining Mexico (current Mexico is less than half of the original :) ).

I have not even mentioned Hawaii, Puerto Rico, native Americans, etc.... Maybe they are happy now or maybe not but they didn't have any say in deciding that..

Russia is not collapsing, it would continue to pound Ukraine and turn it to a truly rump state (nice term John Mearsheimer) and what would Ukraine gain.. nothing... EU won't admit Ukraine, they have got enough problems of their own..

Sensible thing would have been for Ukrainians to commit to neutrality and serve as bridge between between Russia and EU.

When you are stuck with a bear in a cage, maybe you know, not poking it would be a sensible thing to do.

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 21, 2023

Poland deported Germans after they had been their oppressors for years, committing insane atrocities. Stalin/USSR simply decided Poland had to move West after co-attacking it with Germany a few years before. Polish and Soviet behaviour are not at all comparable.

"Cuba is still sanctioned"

Sactioned <<<<<<<invaded, bombed and ruled with an iron fist of violent repression

"When Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb 2022, nowhere Putin mentioned that he wanted to annex Ukraine, maybe just a more favourable govt "

We don't know with certainty what Putin's war goals were. If you want to get an idea of the overall Russian mood and ideas, I recommend to watch some Russian state TV, or look at English language summaries if you can't.

"Only after seeing that Ukrainians would fight for their country that Putin settled for limited goals of annexing Russian majority oblasts."

Why would Putin not pursue far greater goals under less Ukrainian resistance? We don't know what Putin's endgame was in case of a successful invasion, and looking at Russian conduct in the occupied regions, I really don't want to know.

His current goals are what may be realistic if some western political developments go Putin's way. He would certainly go for much more if he had the military leverage.

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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/05/we-knew-putin-would-attack-ukraine-back-in-2011-says-bill-clinton

Vladimir Putin told Bill Clinton three years before his 2014 attack on Ukraine that he was not bound by the Budapest Memorandum guaranteeing the country’s territorial integrity, according to the former US president.

The revelation raises questions about whether the US and its European allies should have been more prepared for the 2014 attack, when Russia annexed Crimea and attacked the Donbas.

...

“I knew from that day forward, it was just a matter of time,” the former president said of Putin launching an attack.

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Also would like to know your opinion on America's actions.

I don't want it to sound like whataboutery argument but want to emphasize that states do what they do because they like to maximise their security often at the expense of others and we should recognise that instead of arguments based on "moral or values". And recognising this would have probably avoided the war.

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If "maximizing your security at the expense of others" justifies (or at least predicts) Russia's invasion, then surely it also justifies (or at least predicts) the US's support of Ukraine? We're destroying Russia's army without a single US boot on the ground - it's the most efficient our military has ever been.

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I agree.. It's the best decision for US. It has also highlighted the lack of industrial base in US to support a long term war like the one in Ukraine which will hopefully be corrected now.

But probably not the best decision for Ukrainians.

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"Poland deported Germans after they lost the war they started, having suffered insane atrocities." -> True that.. one of the main justification Hitler gave for invading Poland was to safeguard Germans living in Poland. But it is also true that Russians living in Ukraine were marginalised. This may be due to the result of increasing nationalism in Ukraine and need to distance themselves from Russia. But if you are living near Russia, you should have been more careful.

and also can you clarify "Stalin/USSR simply decided Poland has to move West after co-attacking it with Germany."

Sanctioned <<<<<<<invaded, bombed, ruled with an iron fist of violent repression -> Can you clarify this? I thought it was the Americans that bombed and invaded Cuba and it was Americans that supported Castro initially. And maybe Fidel Castro grew paranoid because US was actively trying to remove him from power. Anyway isn't it the civilians that suffers most under any sanctions?

I think that in today's era where nationalism is the prominent ideology, it is damn near impossible to annex or subjugate a country if its citizens don't support it. We have seen it since every war post WW2. Anyway Putin initially invaded with a force of just 100,000 or maybe a bit more but nowhere enough to forcefully annex it (again John Mearsheimer). But you are right we can't be sure of Putin's war goal.

I still think they would have probably created a collaborationist govt. like the one US did in Afghanistan and in Iraq and would have probably failed and settled for limited annexation like the one we see today.

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Regarding Poland and the USSR, post WW2, the USSR annexed the Eastern part of Poland and deported the population there.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact also contained a secret clause that Germany and the USSR would jointly attack and partition Poland. The USSR joined the invasion of Poland a few weeks after Nazi Germany started it.

"I think that in today's era where nationalism is the prominent ideology, it is damn near impossible to annex or subjugate a country if its citizens don't support it."

In Russian nationalist discourse, Ukrainians are not really different people, but misguided Russians who should be happy to rejoin the Russian Mir. If you look at the initial Russian invasion, it was clearly designed around the assumption that the Ukrainians would at least accept, perhaps even welcome Russian rule (directly or via client governments) after the Zelensky government collapses. The determined resistance caught Putin off guard. And Bucha shows why the determined resistance is necessary.

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Meanwhile "authoritarian" Azerbaijan is pounding "democratic" Armenia.. anyone cares..

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The difference is that Azerbaijan (unlike Russia) is reclaiming its internationally-recognized territory.

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Nagorno-Karabakh region has been historically inhabited by Armenias.

And also how is internationally recognised territory defined if not bilaterally or a strong state reinforcing its own territory over weaker state?

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

>nowhere Putin mentioned that he wanted to annex Ukraine,

At the very start of the invasion, a Russian news site published an article praising Putin for "finally returning Ukraine to Russia," which they had to hastily retract when it turned out that Ukraine was actually fighting back. Taking the whole thing was definitely the original plan, even if Putin didn't openly say he wanted to annex Ukraine.

(Also, Russian media has continued to publish stuff along the lines of "Ukraine was never a real country, we're fixing Gorbachev's mistake," etc.)

>We forget that Cuba is still sanctioned even after more than 50-60 and long after Cold war has ended.

Look, this is a subtle distinction, but sanctioning a country is not the same thing as invading a country, bombing its cities to rubble, and ethnically cleansing your newly occupied territory. The sanctions on Cuba are dumb, but not murderous.

>And do we really think that America won't do anything if say tomorrow Mexico allows China military access.

Again, Cuba. It literally hosted Soviet troops and nuclear missiles (unlike Ukraine, which had no US or EU soldiers in it, and at best might have theoretically joined NATO many years from now) and the US managed to avoid invading it. (The Bay of Pigs doesn't count, that was like a thousand paramilitary guys and lasted three days, it was the most half-assed invasion ever). Russia can afford to be at least as nice to Ukraine as we were to Cuba.

>Russia is not collapsing, it would continue to pound Ukraine and turn it to a truly rump state (nice term John Mearsheimer) and what would Ukraine gain.. nothing...

There are possible outcomes besides "Russia collapses" and "Ukraine becomes a rump state," you know. Status quo ante bellum (or status quo + Crimea reconquered) are both plausible outcomes even if Russia doesn't collapse.

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Russian media arguments -> That's just propaganda stuff... We can't be sure what was the real intention of Putin. Maybe it was annexing Ukraine or maybe it was to install a collaborationist govt.

Cuba -> Hello, Bay of Pigs invasion. And just because US invasion failed doesn't mean it doesn't count. And Cuba isn't hosting now USSR's army or nuclear weapons but still sanctioned. And US did managed to bomb & invade multiple other countries which were acting within their sovereign right to do stuff (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc. etc.)

Mexico -> That's what I was trying to say, you can be a sovereign country but still you have to be respectful of your powerful neighbour's security concerns. "When you are stuck with a bear in a cage, maybe you know, not poking it would be a sensible thing to do."

Russia Collapsing -> Yes all are plausible scenarios but Russia collapsing is the least favourable one.

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