Obligatory shilling. I wrote a piece for the Spectator World about the war and Poland.
My piece for The Critic about left-wing institutional capture in Edinburgh is now online.
For my paying subscribers, I wrote about school, discipline and individuality. I also wrote for my paying subscribers about the war as seen through social media. Finally, I wrote for all of my subscribers about walking around Warsaw.
Shitpost diplomacy. On Tuesday, Tanner Greer commented on the overvaluation of social media sassiness:
We came of age on Twitter, Tumblr, and 4chan, and still see the world through their frames. We find it harder and harder to distinguish the actual from the image; we struggle to disentangle perception management from problem management. This is what it looks like when the terminally online ascend to positions of real responsibility. Welcome to the age of shitpost diplomacy.
What is astonishing is how quickly the Ukrainians have upgraded their PR. Their combination of courage and cocky defiance has been irresistible for millions around the world. One minute Zelensky was posting bleak little updates from his iPhone and the next he was filming eloquent speeches and sneering expressions of resistance. What happened here? Of course, the victim of an aggressive war is naturally sympathetic but Ukrainian propaganda has expressed victimhood and strength with unparalleled skill. How it came to be will make for an interesting story. Still, this quote from a piece about Hong Kong that Greer links to is worth bearing in mind:
And they saw their own photographs and memes being uploaded and looking great and the mass hashtags showing their numbers, and they saw foreign newspapers fawning and international leaders speaking out, and with that all the disinformation of modern social media, of Epoch Times articles and clickbait journalism and people from all over the world who they’d never met expressing support, and this became their new reality; the world versus ChiNazi. Their behaviour became unmoored from strategy and their tactics thus dissolved.
Don’t. Start. A. War. With. A. Nuclear. Power. It should be obvious. But is it? Zack Beauchamp lays into unhinged fantasies of a “no-fly zone”:
This is a catastrophic idea. Stripped of cant, the US announcing a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be an American declaration of war on Russia — the first major conflict between the two nations that, put together, control 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
“A No Fly Zone is not a magical umbrella that prevents planes flying in a given area. It’s a decision to shoot at planes that fly in a given area,” explains Olga Oliker, the International Crisis Group’s director for Europe and Central Asia. “To put in a no fly zone is to go to war.”
Have people forgotten what nuclear war would entail? The fate of Kiev has got me on the edge of my seat as well. But nuclear war could seal the fate of Kiev, and London, and Paris, and Rome, and Warsaw, and Washington DC, and Moscow, and everywhere from the grandest of cities to the cosiest of villages. I know Putin putting his nuclear forces on alert is probably an exercise in intimidation. But it must still be taken very, very seriously.
Hard power in hard times. Aris Roussinos reflects on Europe waking up to the realities of power:
The Russian invasion has done much to reinvigorate the Atlantic alliance, but it has also exposed Europe’s utter dependence on US arms at a time when America’s greatest strategic threat is in the Pacific. America cannot, and will not, fight a two-front war in Europe and the Far East: a serious threat to American hegemony in the Pacific will force Europe to shoulder much of the burden for its own defence as Washington’s attention and industrial might focuses on China.
All the earlier appeals to the rules-based order by EU officials have been exposed as dangerously empty rhetoric: in a world of hard power, it is only those capable of imposing order that get to write the rules.
Still, this conflict will also remind us of the realities of war. There is courage, and there is honour, but there is far more fear, pain, and grief.
I do not have anything else to link to because like most of you I have been following updates about the war. I hope that it will soon make sense to discuss something else.