Scott Ritter's Switcheroo: "Why I Radically Changed My Overall Assessment" MIKE WHITNEY • MAY 16, 2022 •
On Sunday, the foreign policy blogs were abuzz with the news that Scott Ritter had done “an about-face in his assessment of the war”. It appears that the ex-Marine had examined recent developments in Ukraine and concluded that it’s going to be much harder for Russia to win than he had originally thought..
Naturally, the news of Ritter’s reversal sent shockwaves across the internet, especially among the people who follow events in Ukraine closely and who greatly admire his even-handed analysis. Some of these people clearly felt betrayed by Ritter’s comments and blasted him as a “concern troll” which refers to a person who feigns sympathy while actually feeling the opposite. This is a terrible way to treat a guy who’s devoted so much of his time to informing people about an issue of which they might know very little without his research. Besides, Ritter is no hypocrite. Quite the contrary.
It’s fair to say, however, that Ritter has probably been the most outspoken proponent of the “Russia is winning” theory, a hypothesis that runs counter to everything we read in the legacy media or see on the cable news channels. Unfortunately, Ritter’s views on the matter have changed dramatically, and that’s due almost entirely to developments on the ground. As Ritter candidly admits, “The military aid the west is providing to Ukraine is changing the dynamic and if Russia doesn’t find a way to address this meaningfully… the conflict will never end.”
That’s quite a turnaround from a statement he made just weeks earlier that, “Russia is winning the war, and winning it decisively.”
So, what changed? What are the so-called developments that led to Ritter’s volte-face?
Here are a few excerpts from the interview that triggered the fracas. Ritter was joined by Ray McGovern and host Garland Nixon on Saturday Morning Live. (The quotes are copied from video. I accept blame for any mistakes.)
Scott Ritter (start at 47:50 minute mark) — “The thing that frustrates me… is that, it was my assessment that it would be very hard for Ukraine to absorb this new equipment and material (Material– the additional lethal weapons that have recently been shipped to Ukraine) but the howitzers are already operating against Russia. (And) They are having an effect in the Kharkov region. Not all 90 of them, but they have several batteries in place that are being used.
How did this happen?
And this is why I have radically changed my overall assessment, because I had been operating on the assumption that Russia would be able to interdict the vast majority of this equipment, but Russia has shown itself unable or unwilling to do this and– as a result– the Ukrainians are having meaningful impact on the battlefield. Not in the areas of main contention, like the Donbass, but on the periphery. This is why Russia has carried out tactical withdrawals north of Kharkov, because in order to match Ukraine’s best capabilities, Russia would have to divert resources from its main effort which Russia has decided not to do. So, they are re-configuring the battlefield. (trading land in different areas)…(“Saturday Morning Live with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern, You Tube)
So, while Ritter’s sympathies have not changed in the slightest, it’s clear that his analysis has. At first, he didn’t think that the deluge of lethal weaponry would affect the outcome of the war. Now he’s not so sure. It’s a honest mistake but, still, he needed to ‘come clean’ and explain the factors that contributed to his U-turn. Here’s more from the same interview:
Scott Ritter– This is a transformative moment in the war, because what it means is that demilitarization is not taking place. For all the forces Russia is destroying in the east, Ukraine is rebuilding significant capability (in the west) I liken this to Moscow in December 1941, when the Germans were moving towards Moscow and the Russians just started throwing things at them., sacrificing everything to slow the German offensive. until General Winter and the combination of Siberian divisions gave them the ability to counterattack. The Germans were bled white and they were stopped and turned back. If Russia doesn’t change the calculation, then that is the trajectory we are heading on., because 200,000 troops–however capable they may be, are only capable of doing so much. And the fighting that’s taking place right now –even though it is slaughtering Ukrainians– it isn’t cost free to the Russians. They’re losing equipment, they’re losing men, they’re losing material, and unless Putin mobilizes or transfers forces in, those aren’t being replaced. So, instead of having 200,000 online, Russia might have 180,000 men. And if you don’t think removing 20,000 men doesn’t change the options available to the Russian leadership, then you don’t know anything about war.”
So, I believe Russia is going to win in the east, they are grinding them down as we speak, they are slaughtering them; the amount of death and destruction that is being dealt to the Ukrainians is unimaginable, but I believe the Ukrainians are willing to take these losses in order to buy time to reconstitute a military that will challenge Russia Because unless Russia is willing to jump across the Dnieper River and head into western Ukraine where it can eliminate the strategic depth that the Ukrainians are being gifted by the Russians, then demilitarization of Ukraine is not going to take place. It can’t take place when tens of billions of dollars of equipment is pouring in and Russia is not able to interdict it. The fact that these advanced howitzers are operating on the front lines right now, shows there’s something wrong with the Russian methodology. And–unless they alter that methodology– I think we’re in for a very long summer.” (“Saturday Morning Live with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern, You Tube)
It’s hard to grasp what Ritter is saying here. Is he actually suggesting that Putin expand the current “special operation” into a full-blown World War? At one point, he casually opines that Russia will have to mobilize 1 and a half million men (Note: Russia currently only has 200,000 in Ukraine) if they want to prevail in Ukraine and then move on to Finland. It’s impossible to tell by Ritter’s tone whether he is simply making an objective observation of ‘what is needed’ to succeed or if he is making an explicit recommendation that he thinks Russia’s High Command should consider. I can’t answer that. Here’s more from the interview:
Scott Ritter(5:20 mark)– “The idea that the Ukrainian military has been eliminated as an effective fighting force is a flawed concept, and unless Russia broadens its special military operation– probably to the point of changing it form a special military operation to a war which includes the totality of Ukrainian battle-space–(then) this is a conflict that is dangerously close to becoming unwinnable by Russia which means that while they can complete their objectives in the east with 200,000 troops, they aren’t able to prevent Ukraine from rearming and reequipping when Ukraine is being provided with tens of billions of dollars of equipment by NATO —Whenever you provide your enemy with “safe space” to rebuild military capability, you’re never going to win. …
Yes, Russia is winning in the east which is what they said their objective was all along. And they are accomplishing that. That is the special Military Operation. But now we’re talking about “war”, and I don’t think Russia has made that transition yet. This is a defacto proxy war between the west and Russia using Ukrainian forces as NATO’s sword. The object of this is to “bleed Russia dry”. And if Russia doesn’t change the dynamic, Russia will be bled dry.” Zelensky has indicated that he’s willing to mobilize a million people, at a time when the west is ready to provide the funding and equipment to turn those million men into a real military threat.
So, I see what has been happening in the last few weeks as being decisive.
The military aid the west is providing is changing the dynamic and if Russia doesn’t find a way to address this meaningfully, and to eliminate it as a military capability… then the conflict will never end.” (“Saturday Morning Live with Scott Ritter and Ray McGovern, You Tube)
There it is from the horse’s mouth. Readers will have to draw their own conclusions.
IMHO, Scott Ritter is gradually adjusting to the idea that the conflict in Ukraine is not a just regional skirmish between two quarrelsome neighbors, nor is it a proxy-war between NATO and Russia. No. Ukraine is the first phase of a broader plan for crushing Russia, collapsing its economy, removing its leaders, seizing its natural resources, splintering its territory, and projecting US power across Central Asia to the Pacific Rim. Ukraine is about hegemony, empire, and pure, unalloyed power. Most important, Ukraine is the first battle in a Third World War, a war that was concocted and launched by Washington to ensure another unchallenged century of American primacy.
Ron Jacobs has offered a consummately judicious summary in regard to Ukraine. It's interesting, however, that this is now a minority view on Counterpunch. The nature of American hegemony, and the responsibilities of a credible antiwar movement are elided more often than not.
Allegations have emerged recently that Ukrainian children are being forcibly removed from their country by Russia. Once there, they are put up for adoption.
These tactics are horrific, but far from rare. There is a long history of military aggressors forcibly transferring enemy children from their home countries as a means of sowing chaos and terror and weakening resistance.
In the U.S., the government conducted child abductions to quell the military resistance of America’s Indigenous peoples and prevent future opposition.
In signing on to the genocide convention – an international treaty that criminalizes genocide – in 1948, the U.S. agreed that forcible child transfers constitute genocide. Yet it continued its own practice of Native child abductions for another 30 years.
Seizure of luxury yachts of Russian oligarchs is not serious.
Popular support for Ukraine presents REAL socialists with huge opportunity to campaign for exposure of shell company/money laundering game and for seizure and sale of assets of not only Russian but also Ukrainian assets, plus those of war profiteers.
"Open the books. Expose the true owners of all shell companies.
Seize/expropriate and sell the full assets of all Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs with the money to go to pay for Ukraine’s fight against the invasion as well as to rebuild Ukraine.
Seize/expropriate the wealth of the war profiteers, first and foremost the oil companies, with the wealth used for the same purpose as well as to repay the working class, which has had to pay for this war through its taxes."
Ron Jacobs has offered a consummately judicious summary in regard to Ukraine. It's interesting, however, that this is now a minority view on Counterpunch. The nature of American hegemony, and the responsibilities of a credible antiwar movement are elided more often than not.
Son of a public employee and fan of the Bidens, Payton Gendron received his neofascist indoctrination over the Intertubes. His father bought him a hunting rifle when he was sixteen but there was. as far as anyone knows now, no familial indoctrination into fascism. From an article in the Washington Post.
Gendron did not consider himself a true racist, he wrote in the messages, until 2020, when he began reading an anonymous Internet message board, 4chan, where users celebrate racist violence.
In June of last year, Gendron underwent a psychiatric evaluation after he said in an online high school class that he planned to commit “murder/suicide.” Gendron wrote that he was cleared after he told the evaluators he was joking to get out of class. “It was not a joke,” he said in the Discord messages. “I wrote that down because that’s what I was planning to do.
The W.Post article ritualistically decries "hate" in the abstract and discusses mental illness in a way that no doubt functions to place the emphasis on individual psychology rather than the social pervasiveness of ideology. I suppose, given the context these are elements of what might metaphorically be considered a "frame," though I would prefer to call its constituents plain old topics of rhetoric, dogwhistles, or cliches that are part of an ideological rhetorical strategy. Why multiply entities unnecessarily?
NB: WaPo article also fails to mention the fact that in several places in his lengthy manifesto, Gendron identifies himself as a "fascist" or "Nazi."
If you really want to delve into Gendron's rhetoric, the thing can be downloaded as a PDF from http://www.kevinmacdonald.net/spree-killer-manifesto.pdf. I downloaded it out of curiosity and because I wanted to verify that he really does identify himself as a fascist or Nazi. I have no intention of reading the whole thing and plan to delete it, as it is quite a large file.
I note that G. gets all cutesy in the m. about being both left and right, which is IMO just redbrown obfuscation--as is also, I suspect, his invocation of depression, etc as a motive for the attack. I suspect that is just a piece of leadfooted cleverness intended to invoke a "liberal" topos, beneath which Gendron chuckles like a blood-soaked leprechaun. Look at me--I'm not crazy, but the soyfolk will empathize with my youthful trauma.. How cleverly I have tricked them!
So clearly Gendron thinks he's a fascist and has numerous explicit connections to neofascist ideology. This IMO supports the use of the term "fasicst" by John Reimann.
Amy spoke with journalist Billy Nessen while explosions were happening all around him. To me, his is a fairly rare perspective.
I have pasted in the part where he talks about "Russian imperialism" and the role of and attitudes toward Azov. His view, based on what he has heard from people in Ukraine, is very different than some reports but certainly worth considering in my opinion.
AMYGOODMAN:— you’ve had a long, storied career in journalism. You worked for the United Nations covering South Africa in South Africa. In the Global South, there is a lot of criticism of the United States andNATOreally provoking this war, not to say there isn’t criticism of the brutality of the invasion, but the ever eastern inching ofNATO toward Russia. And now you have Sweden and Finland saying they’re going to join. Why did you decide to come to Ukraine?
BILLYNESSEN: You know, I have not only been a journalist, but I was an activist much of my life and working and oriented toward issues of the South, or what we used to call the Third World. So, I am very much attuned to that. And I had actually put down my — I had stopped working as a journalist, and I had focused on raising a family. And when Russia invaded Ukraine, I thought I had to come here. I can understand the perceptions that the South has that this is somehow a battle of West and East or of some part of the world versus American imperialism. But I thought, even though those issues are there, I thought there was also a Russian imperialism. And if you know the history and the perceptions of people all around Russia, you begin to understand that there is something called Russian imperialism, and at times it can be worse than American imperialism. And I thought this was one of the times.
AMYGOODMAN: We’re talking to you right as the soldiers have given up, the Ukrainians, at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. How much information are you getting about that? What effect does that have on the Ukrainians where you are?
BILLYNESSEN: Yeah. I mean, we have an internet — so, I should say that we don’t have cellphones. We don’t have any water. We don’t have electricity except a generator. And we’ve got this Starlink from Elon Musk, is the only way that we’re speaking to you. I mean, everyone is cooking outside. There’s no fuel to cook. There’s just wood. I saw people and filmed people cutting down dead trees today in order to cook the food. People here are staying alive because of the humanitarian aid that’s coming in. And I’m speaking to you from the large center of that. So, we get news from the outside, and we also hear from talking to soldiers and special forces and the police every day.People see that situation, Mariupol, and those people who fought there as heroes, as their “lions,” they call them. And even though they have now been defeated, they see it as an enormous victory of Ukraine, that, you know, if you — they’re going to fight. They see it as an existential question. If they don’t fight, then Russia is going to take over. So there’s no choice for them. And as I say, they look to the Mariupol defenders as the heroes of this country.If Putin wanted to get rid of the Nazis, you know, or the fascists, as he called them, Nazis or fascists, he has actually ennobled those people who by the West were considered, you know, conservative or right-wing or fascist. I think that’s — you know, we get a lot more information talking to people. I’ve talked to people in the Azov Battalion or brigade. They exist all throughout eastern Ukraine. And they long ago were put into the National Guard, and they’re professional. And for a lot of people, the fight that they waged shows how professional they are.
AMYGOODMAN:Can you talk about the Azov Battalion, the brigade? I mean, for people here who have been following it for years, you’ve got — it’s a white supremacist, right-wing brigade. And the idea that you’re saying, that it had become mainstreamed — I mean, there was a time when the U.S. put restrictions on weapons being sent, that would end up in the hands of this brigade.
BILLYNESSEN: Well, listen, you know, the job first of a journalist, I think, is to communicate what the people in a place feel or think, and then secondarily is the analysis. And I think figuring out exactly who is who and what was what is something that is going to go on for a long time.If you say to them, the people here, that Azov are fascists, they laugh at you, you know, or you say that fascists have a lot of support in Ukraine, people say, “But the one party that was considered” — out of 39 parties, I think — “that was considered sort of far-right or fascist got less than 2% of the vote,” I think, in a field of 39 other candidates. Zelensky is Jewish. He won 73% of the vote in the second round. You know, I think they’re probably more — one, they’ll also say that here there might be some fascists, but in Russia they’re in power. And they look to the vote in France, or they know about Trump, and they think, well, America and France have far more far-right people than they do in Ukraine. People laugh at it. You know, they don’t have popular support at all in terms of an ideology, but they’ve gotten even more support, Azov, as a fighting unit.But I don’t think it’s a far-right battalion anymore. It once was, but it’s been integrated into the army. And I think people in America and some in Europe on the left, generally, want to say that that means that the military — and then, therefore, the government — is far-right or fascist, rather than that these far-right people don’t dominate that battalion and don’t dominate the military in any way.
Not entirely correct, John, about the 3:1 ratio. There are other factors involved and if the Malvinas War proves anything it is a total strategy that must be looked at: logistics, air power, morale, and MOBILITY. The ration that defeated the Argentinians army was about 10:1 in favor Argentina. The key is that smaller mobile forces can always defeat an entrenched static force. Mobility is key to all this in any battle. Fascinating points about this "Russian Officers Assembly". I suspect there is a lot of dissent amount the officer ranks. Of course there are not that many of them. There appears to be something of a void from sergeants on up to captains (or the Russian equivalent) and why so many Russian generals are fighting from the front.
How should we respond to people who equate communism and fascism?
There is a renewed effort to lump those that started the Holocaust in with those that ended it based on simplistic ideas of 'totalitarianism' — this ignores fundamental differences in intent and outcome, explains the MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY
A Soviet anti-war poster
ANTI-COMMUNIST propaganda takes many forms. A recent trope, associated with the Prague declaration promoted by European right-wing forces, claims that abuses of human rights by communist governments were as bad as those of the fascists. Fascism is almost universally condemned; so if people can be persuaded that communists committed similar atrocities, they will shun communism too.
To challenge this distortion it’s not enough just to point out that communists have always been the most active opponents of fascism, that fascists have targeted communists as the first group to be eliminated, that it was the efforts and sacrifices of the Red Army and the Soviet peoples that did most to defeat the Nazi armies and liberate eastern Europe.
This is necessary — but not sufficient. The propagandists can reply that communism and fascism are rival “totalitarian” systems so of course they are each other’s main enemy.
Fascism and communism each can mean two different things; the nature and characteristics of a state and the beliefs and policies of political parties which have that state as an objective. There have been a number of fascist states in the past — and some indeed exist today. But no communist state has ever existed — only socialist states at various levels of development, led by communist parties.
Fascist and communist parties indeed had one feature in common — their leading role in trying to transform the state, seeking to guide the whole population’s thought and action in definite directions. These were similarities of form, but their content — the class content — and their objectives were very different.
Fascist states and parties were the instruments of the dominant sections of the capitalist ruling classes in imposing and aggressively pursuing violent repression of the citizenry and destroying democratic and progressive organisations, particularly those of the working class.
In 1935 Georgi Dimitrov told the 7th Congress of the Communist International that fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.
Communist states and parties, on the other hand, whatever their shortcomings, were the instruments of the working class and its allies in attempting to build a new and fairer form of society, free from capitalist exploitation.
In carrying out this task in a still largely and extremely hostile capitalist world, communist governments, especially the Soviet Union during Stalin’s leadership, trampled on socialist legality, executing or sending to labour camps many people on false charges of subversion.
These were crimes committed in the name of communism, a stain on the communist record which has been acknowledged by Marxists and communists over many years. But even so they were very different from the crimes of fascism — in two ways.
First, in scale. The many who died or suffered without cause in the lands building socialism are dwarfed by the tens of millions who were victims of the Nazis and other fascist regimes particularly during the second world war mainly in Europe and Asia.
And those regimes were imperialist and were intent on continuation of imperialism and colonialism of powerful capitalist states. Millions were to suffer exploitation, oppression, famines, slavery and death, adding to the suffering, death and impoverishment of millions during previous centuries of capitalist colonial conquest and imperial rule.
Second, in intention. Fascism openly espoused the destruction of socialism and the enslavement and genocide of groups of people based on racial ideology as a road to world domination. The crimes of the Stalin era were committed by communists striving to build a new society in the face of capitalist encirclement and threats. They were the work of leaders imbued with a siege mentality arising from capitalist invasion, sabotage and civil war.
Among the charges against communism laid by the right-wing adherents to the Prague declaration is that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were equally responsible for the outbreak of the second world war. They maintain that the non-aggression pact of 1939 encouraged the Nazis to attack the West.
This is a travesty of history. War was built into fascist strategies for world domination, into the very essence of the fascist outlook. In Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler wrote “In eternal warfare mankind has become great — in eternal peace mankind would be ruined.” Mussolini and the Japanese imperialists made similar pronouncements.
In contrast, communism has always sought world peace. In 1918 at Brest Litovsk the Bolsheviks made territorial concessions to secure peace with Germany. In the 1930s, in the face of growing threats from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, the USSR advocated collective security agreements with the democratic capitalist states.
It was only after Chamberlain’s pact with the Nazis at Munich in 1938 that the Soviet Union made a non-aggression pact with Germany, securing a little time to prepare for the Nazi attack it knew to be inevitable.
Unlike the long list of fascist aggressions against independent states and of more recent incursions by US imperialism, the Soviet Union only twice invaded other lands — Poland and Finland in 1939. In both cases the motive was to secure lines of defence against invasion and the actions were ended as soon as this aim was achieved.
Later Soviet military interventions in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan were — rightly or wrongly — intended to prevent imperialism from establishing bases from which to attack socialism and not — like so many US and British actions — to bring about regime change.
Communism and fascism are not only different things; they are different kinds of things. Communism is a distinct economic and social system, the antithesis of capitalism. It is guided by Marxism, a rational philosophy arising from the study of human history.
Fascism is not a distinct system; it is a way of running the existing capitalist system. Instead of a consistent ideology, it seeks to influence the masses with a ragbag of notions, including national mysticism and pseudo-scientific racism.
The most telling contrast between fascism and communism is in the outcomes of their rule. Far from restoring national dignity and pride, fascism led the German, Italian and Japanese peoples to the utter destruction of their economies and societies.
By contrast within the Soviet Union the development of socialism, led by the Communist Party, modernised the ramshackle tsarist empire, educated its backward largely peasant population, laid the basis for a land of equality and fellowship.
After defeating the Nazis it rebuilt a shattered country and resumed a rate of economic growth that was higher than that of the West. All this was accomplished without foreign aid or private capital.
The Soviet Union eventually succumbed to a counter-revolution rooted in the Communist Party’s own weaknesses and errors and in relentless pressure from encircling capitalist imperialism. But it had shown that it was possible for the working class and its allies to seize state power and construct a new type of society.
Now communists in Cuba, China and Vietnam are engaging, in their own distinctive ways, in the same historic task. Their parties too have made mistakes. But their focus is, ultimately, on the wellbeing of the people as a whole, including their engagement and participation in building a society free from the distortions of capitalism — all are a vivid demonstration of the fact that communism and fascism are totally different.
Details of Marx Memorial Library events together with copies of previous Full Marx answers in this series (this is number 79) can be found on the Library’s website: www.marx-memorial-library.org.uk.
The liberals are once more pressing the issue of gun control following the murders in Buffalo. This is their "go to" response to every such event. It avoids the main question, which is why the US is such a violent and alienated society. However, I do think that the mass ownership of assault rifles is insane. Contrary to the claims of some, ownership of such weapons has nothing to do with hunting. That is clearly documented in the book "Gun Fight", written by a former top executive in the gun industry named Ryan Busse. In it, Busse explains how the gun industry was originally centered around hunting, whose advocates also tended to be environmentalists. Among other things, many in the industry actually opposed adoption of assault weapons as something alien to hunting. But the NRA chiefs had their own right wing agenda, which they married to Christian fundamentalism and racism, and they forced it upon the executives of several of the gun manufacturers. The NRA imposed what amounted to an industry boycott of any gun company that showed any tendency to compromise over the question of regulation of ownership of assault weapons. Other executives, of course, saw purchase of assault weapons as a sales opportunity and readily embraced it.
The history of the popularization of assault weapons in the US shows that it is an absolute lie that ownership of assault weapons has anything to do with hunting. They are bought to kill people. Simple as that.
I think the way this New Politics article portrays matters is unbalanced. It seems to me that the main danger as far as US policy regarding Ukraine is that the US will push Ukraine to accept a "peace" deal that the majority of Ukrainians are not prepared to accept. I am referring to a deal whereby Russia is conceded additional territory over what it gained after 2014, when it annexed Crimea and set up the two fake "republics" in Luhansk and Donetsk.
That tendency in US policy is expressed by the likes of militarist columnist Michael Friedman of the NY Times and political science professor at U. of Chicago John Mearsheimer.
As far as that comment from Lloyd Austin: who knows whether it actually expressed a general policy or whether it was just a careless remark? What we do know is that US support for Ukraine has been hesitant for years and remains so. Alexander Vindman pointed that out in an article in the journal Foreign Affairs. "In the two months since Russia attacked Ukraine, the United States has thus far lived up to this ambivalent reputation. It has committed aid to Ukraine in fits and starts and has sought to avoid an escalation with Russia at the expense of more uncompromising support for Ukraine’s defense," he wrote.
I think this is accurate. For months, Zelensky was calling for heavy weapons and was criticizing what he felt was insufficient US military aid. Of course, he had to do so in muted terms, but he was doing so nevertheless.I think that many socialists who support aid to Ukraine are nevertheless somewhat defensive about that support. They - we - may be a little intimidated by the clamor of the "socialist" majority about US imperialism and NATO being responsible, etc. etc.
Of course, it is, or should be, up to the people of Ukraine to decide whether to keep fighting. So far, they seem determined to fight to prevent Russia from gaining any additional territory over what it gained after 2014, and possibly even to settle the issue of Luhansk and Donetsk by taking back those "republics". I think the major danger of US policy may be to push Zelensky to accept something significantly less before the Ukrainian people are willing to do so.
When just a few military leaders speak out against a policy, that is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Khodaryonok is not the first, nor probably the most powerful former officer to criticize the war. Back before the invasion even started, retired Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov openly opposed the invasion. He criticized not just tactical shortcomings, but the invasion itself. Ivashov is (or at least was at the time) the head of the All Russia Officers Assembly, and he said he was speaking on behalf of that organization, which is composed of retired officers. In a clear reference to NATO, by the way, he said that "nobody threatens us".
I think what has happened, though, is that Putin has played a game similar to that of Stalin in which he keeps all top leaders permanently insecure. In that way, an opposition cannot coalesce.
Incidentally, on that "golden rule" that attackers need a 3:1 numerical advantage over defenders: From what I understand, that mainly applies to a past form of warfare, something similar to how wars were fought in WW II, or maybe even WW I. Today, flexibility, mobility and technological integration are factors that can tend to override that ratio and, possibly even more important, so does the question of morale.
In his new book Nazi Billionaires, David de Jong explores the damning history of companies who have refused to examine their murky history with Hitler
and Confederate statues toppled. Looted objects returned by contrite museums.
Tainted family names such as Sackler expunged from buildings.
A worldwide reckoning with the past crimes of great powers is under way. But is
there a glaring omission?
A new book, Nazi Billionaires, investigates how Germany’s richest
business dynasties made fortunes by aiding and abetting Adolf Hitler’s Third
Reich. It also examines how, eight decades later, they still escape close
scrutiny and a nation that has done so much to confront its catastrophic past
still suffers a very particular blind spot.
The Long Game of White-Power Activists Isn’t Just About Violence
By Kathleen Belew
It’s not immediately obvious how the “great replacement” theory, often framed as anti-immigrant doctrine meant to preserve predominantly white societies, is connected to the shooting of Black customers and employees at a grocery store in Buffalo last weekend. Those at the store, who lived over 100 miles away from the man accused in the killings, were simply going about their lives (picking upgroceries, buying a birthday cake, taking their children for ice cream).
But the explanation for both the choice of targets and the brutality of an attack that killed 10 people can be found in the history of the theory. In the American context, it has in its cross-hairs a host of future targets, among them democracy itself.
The great replacement is the latest incarnation of an old idea: the belief that elites are attempting to destroy the white race by overwhelming it with nonwhite groups and thinning them out with interbreeding until white people no longer exist. This idea is not, at its core, about any single threat, be it immigrants or people of color, but rather about the white race that it purports to protect. It's important to be cautious and not too credulous when reading the writings of assailants in attacks motived by race, but we should note an important pattern: their obsession with protecting white birthrates.
For decades, white power activists have worried about their status as a majority. They see a looming demographic crisis, and talk about when their community, town or the United States will no longer be majority white. Even when demographic change slows, this fear has not abated.
This belief transforms social issues into direct threats: Immigration is a problem because immigrants will outbreed the white population. Abortion is a problem because white babies will be aborted. L.G.B.T.Q. rights and feminism will take women from the home and decrease the white birthrate. Integration, intermarriage and even the presence of Black people distant from a white community — an issue apparently of keen interest in the Buffalo attack — are seen as a threat to the white birthrate through the threat of miscegenation.
In the United States, it is clear that this is never only about immigration; when gunmen write about “replacers,” they might just as easily mean any person of color, whether they have American roots or not. Replacement theory is about the violent defense of whiteness.
The reason we often think of replacement theory as a specifically anti-immigrant ideology is because of two key writings — “The Great Replacement”by Renaud Camus and “The Camp of the Saints”by Jean Raspail. Both have gained currency in white- power and militant-right circles in the last decade. “The Camp of the Saints,” from 1973, is essentially a dystopian, fictional precursor to “The Great Replacement,” published in 2011 in French, which argues that white Europeans are being replaced in their countries by nonwhite immigrants. That “The Camp of the Saints” was recommended by Stephen Miller, who later became an architect of the Trump administration’s cruelest immigration policies, reveals that replacement theory is known, if not embraced, by some in the Republican Party. Both are built around the fear of nonwhite — including Islamic — immigration into Europe as a major threat of cultural collapse and extinction of whiteness.
White-power extremism reveals that the core of this ideology is not the victims it attacks, but rather the thing it attempts to preserve — and the mechanism that transfigures this ideology into racial violence. It imagines that a conspiracy of elites, usually imagined as Jewish “globalists,” are deliberately working to eradicate both white people and white culture. This is why white nationalism is so often virulently antisemitic, and also why it feeds on deep distrust of the media, education, science and other arbiters of expertise.
Replacement theory in America has domestic antecedents much older than Renaud Camus and Jean Raspail. Henry Ford, among other Americans, promoted “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which — through an entirely fictional depiction of a powerful Jewish conspiracy that controlled world events — has influenced racist theories and beliefs from its initial publication in the early 20th century.
Worries about the body politic and threats to the racial composition of the nation inspired eugenics campaigns, anti-immigration activists, and other Progressives, including Theodore Roosevelt. These ideas have been braided with environmentalism not only by ecofascists in the recent past, but by late 19th- and early 20th-century environmentalists who worried about population burdens and wondered how to preserve nature for white people.
When neo-Nazis, Klansmen, militiamen and skinheads came together in the 1980s and 1990s, they worried about the “Zionist Occupational Government” or the “New World Order.” They also clarified that their nation was notthe United States, but a transnational body politic of white people that had to be defended from these conspiratorial enemies and from racial threats — defended through violence and race war. That current still runs through the writings of those associated with the Charleston, Christchurch, Oslo, El Paso, Pittsburgh and Buffalo attacks.
It is impossible to separate replacement theory from its violent implications, as decades of terrorism by its adherents shows us. The mainstreaming of replacement theory, whether through Tucker Carlson’s show or in Elise Stefanik’s campaign ads, will continue to have disastrous consequences.
The long game of white-power activists isn’t just to terrorize and intimidate nonwhites: As “The Camp of the Saints” shows, these activists fear apocalyptic extinction if they don’t take up arms. The American equivalent, “The Turner Diaries,” imagines what it would be like to establish a white-dominated world through race war and genocide.
Why wouldn’t people immediately condemn such an idea?
Thoughts and prayers are never enough after a mass shooting, but even these messages seem more sparse than usual. Wendy Rogers, an Arizona state senator and member of the far-right extralegal Oath Keepers militia that was involved in the storming of the Capitol, suggested online that the shooting had been a false flag operation perpetrated by a federal agent.
Clearly this is not a fringe idea anymore. Decades of violence at the hands of extremists tell us that such ideas will lead to further violence; mainstreaming of the idea means that the window for action is closing.
Kathleen Belew is the author of “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America” and is incoming associate professor of history at Northwestern University.
OK. I have no particular objection to this post, though I disagree with its tenor, to the extent that I think that is clear. It's also, of course, comically supercilious and pedantic in tone. But that's allowed.
A couple of corrections, however:
The term "postmodernism" is not confined to art history as the second definition states. There is postmodernism in philosophy in particular. That discussion should at least include Habermas as well as Lyotard, if one wishes to "go there." But the term may IMO with perfect propriety be used in a broader and more intuitive sense without requiring the recapitulation of a college reading list.
You left Saussure out of your family tree of the concept of the arbitrariness of the sign. This is strange, as Saussure is regarded by most as the "father" of this doctrine in modern linguistics
Some physicists express themselves very clearly in plain English. I had the privilege of interviewing the late Eugene Parker at some length in the early 1990s for a video that I had written and was producing for the Space Physics Division of NASA. He had no trouble at all discussing subjects such as the question of how the solar corona is heated. At the time, Parker--who had first proposed and then verified the existence of the solar wind--was proposing an experimental space mission that was defunded together with the now-forgotten Great Observatories campaign, but was revived decades later as the Parker Solar Probe, which Parker lived to see launched successfully.
This kind of communication has strict limits, but that is true of scientific and technical communication in general. Nobody has truly encyclopedic knowledge, but that does not mean that one cannot find one's way successfully around the numerous scientific and technical disciplines that impinge on our lives. The kind of universal polymath that Derrida--apparently absurdly--pretended to be is not really needed as long as one understands and can live with the limitations imposed by legitimate specialization.