Bullies love bullies

Ukraine

More and more, the story of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has become what was, at its outset, dismissed as hopelessly delusional, about a Russian defeat and potential humiliation,[1] potentially leading Vladimir Putin to go nuclear.[2] The trouble isn’t just that a face-saving solution for Putin would, in effect, reward him, but that it will fail to convey the message that he and Russia must never do this again.[3] Humiliation will be the one and only thing that Putin understands.[4]

And this isn’t just about Putin, as serious as his case is. It is also about those toxically masculine right-wingers who celebrate Putin’s example, who elect the likes of Donald Trump and Viktor Orbán to high offices, who embrace the notion that “might makes right.” Bullying must be defeated by abjectly and undeniably humiliating force; it is the only thing that works.

An example of this can be seen with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s objections[5] to Finland and Sweden seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in response to the invasion,[6] in which Sweden in particular has been insufficiently cooperative in Turkey’s efforts to repress separatist Kurds and both countries have restricted arms sales to Turkey in response to those efforts. Erdoğan likes his empire and wants to keep bullying Kurds to keep it. It follows that Erdoğan has also been much friendlier to Russia than much of the rest of NATO, resisting pressure, for example, and like his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Mihály Orbán, to join sanctions against Russia.[7] Bullies like bullies, which is also why India won’t even condemn the Russian invasion,[8] and they are intractable. There’s no way to persuade them to behave except through the one thing they respect: sheer, brute force.

Julia Ioffe, “About a Boy: The Roots of Putin’s Evil,” Puck News, May 10, 2022, https://puck.news/about-a-boy-the-roots-of-putins-evil/

Matthew Lee, “US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame,” Associated Press, May 11, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-europe-western-nato-a990adcad47a34764d64b03bdcd69f7b

Dominic Nicholls, Joe Barnes, and JohnJo Devlin, “Finland and Sweden joining Nato shows just how terribly Vladimir Putin has miscalculated,” Telegraph, May 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/11/finland-sweden-joining-nato-shows-just-terribly-vladimir-putin/

Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Finland Says It Will Apply to Join NATO in Response to Russia’s Ukraine Invasion,” Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/finlands-leaders-announce-intention-to-apply-for-nato-membership-11652340796

Pjotr Sauer, “‘They were furious’: the Russian soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine,” Guardian, May 12, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/12/they-were-furious-the-russian-soldiers-refusing-to-fight-in-ukraine

Mark Trevelyan, “Russia says Finnish entry to NATO poses threat to which it will respond,” Reuters, May 12, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/kremlin-says-finland-joining-nato-is-definitely-threat-russia-2022-05-12/

Lawrence Freedman, “When will Vladimir Putin realise it is time to cut his losses in Ukraine?” New Statesman, May 13, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/05/war-in-ukraine-putin-losses

Ross Douthat, “There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks,” New York Times, May 14, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/opinion/ukraine-russia-putin-biden.html

Natalia Drozdiak, “NATO Expansion Could Finally Shore Up Alliance’s Weakest Flank,” Bloomberg, May 14, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-14/ukraine-war-nato-expansion-could-finally-shore-up-alliance-s-weakest-flank

Liz Sly, “Russia is furious that Finland is joining NATO but can’t do much about it,” Washington Post, May 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/14/finland-russia-nato-ukraine-retaliation/

Joe Barnes, “Sweden’s bid to join Nato ‘shows Vladimir Putin’s aggression doesn’t pay,’” Telegraph, May 15, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/15/sweden-set-follow-finland-joining-nato-despite-threats-vladimir/

Bloomberg, “Ukraine Latest: NATO Embraces Sweden, Finland; US Aid Vote Nears,” May 15, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/ukraine-latest-nato-has-frank-talks-with-turkey-on-accession

Deutschewelle, “Finland officially announces support for NATO membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/finland-officially-announces-support-for-nato-membership/a-61803764

Deutschewelle, “NATO: Turkey outlines demands on Finland and Sweden membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/nato-turkey-outlines-demands-on-finland-and-sweden-membership/a-61806003

Kati Pohjanpalo and Niclas Rolander, “Finland, Sweden Set to Seek NATO Entry in Historic Shift,” Bloomberg, May 15, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/finland-sweden-set-to-apply-for-nato-entry-in-historic-shift

Richard Spencer, “Third of Russian invaders destroyed,” Times, May 15, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/third-of-russian-invaders-destroyed-002xrvfsq

Guardian, “Russians and Ukrainians battle around Izium as Sweden joins Finland in Nato bid,” May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russians-and-ukrainians-battle-around-izium-as-sweden-joins-finland-in-nato-bid

Jon Henley, “Turkey says it will not approve Sweden and Finland joining Nato,” Guardian, May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russia-finland-sweden-nato-ukraine-war

Matthew Karnitschnig, “Europe’s leaders fall out of key on Ukraine,” Politico, May 16, 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/europes-leaders-fall-out-of-key-on-ukraine/

Jared Malsin, “Turkey Lays Out Demands as Finland, Sweden Plan NATO Entry,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkey-lays-out-demands-as-finland-sweden-plan-nato-entry-11652722492

John Revill, “Neutral Switzerland leans closer to NATO in response to Russia,” Reuters, May 16, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/neutral-switzerland-leans-closer-nato-response-russia-2022-05-15/

Rozina Sabur and Nataliya Vasilyeva, “Wounded Ukrainian defenders rescued from Mariupol steelworks to be exchanged for captive Russians,” Telegraph, May 17, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/16/russia-says-willing-evacuate-wounded-ukrainian-troops-mariupol/


Democrats

Benjamin Hart, “The Democratic Party Is Extremely Unpopular Right Now,” New York, May 16, 2022, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/05/the-democratic-party-is-extremely-unpopular-right-now.html


Student loans

When I think about tuition increases, I think about the school where I obtained my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, now, California State University, East Bay, previously, California State University, Hayward. That name change was controversial and, as I faintly recall, was a factor leading to a vote of no confidence by the faculty senate in the president of the institution who had driven the change.

The president, in due course, resigned and was replaced by another, whom I recall often parading around the campus with two aides, always in lock step, one slightly behind him to his right, the other slightly behind him to the left. Honestly, you couldn’t miss this: They were typically the only people you’d see the entire day in suits and ties.

The school embarked on a construction spree. Part of this was the old and unlikely to have been lamented Warren Hall, which was an old skyscraper type building much too close to the Hayward Fault, which runs through a ravine a few hundred feet west of the campus. A new administration building was constructed to replace it, along with a new business department building, along with a student union expansion, along with a new exercise facility, and along with several new dormitory buildings (the school had previously been principally what they call a “commuter campus” with not many students living on campus).

I’ll never forget how they took down a tree that was in the way of that new exercise facility. A large backhoe with a suitable attachment literally tore the trunk in two. It was bad enough the tree had to be removed; I was offended by the sheer disrespect.

All this happened while a number of academic programs were starved for funding. I suppose it’s possible to argue that the university needed to attract more students and that most of this (all except the administration building replacement) was a means towards that end. But I’m skeptical that the numbers ever came out; what I really suspect was presidential self-aggrandizement, which, of course, is a factor Lee Gardner does not talk about.[9]

Lee Gardner, “Why Does College Cost So Much?” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/why-does-college-cost-so-much


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Russia marks WWII victory overshadowed by Ukraine,” May 9, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-europe-world-war-ii-2d4f0f3a1e59cdad92b26c521ed08669; Max Boot, “Putin is trapped in a quagmire and doesn’t know how to get out,” Washington Post, May 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/09/putin-victory-day-russia-ukraine-quagmire/; Ross Douthat, “There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks,” New York Times, May 14, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/opinion/ukraine-russia-putin-biden.html; Lawrence Freedman, “When will Vladimir Putin realise it is time to cut his losses in Ukraine?” New Statesman, May 13, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/05/war-in-ukraine-putin-losses; Matthew Lee, “US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame,” Associated Press, May 11, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-europe-western-nato-a990adcad47a34764d64b03bdcd69f7b; Dominic Nicholls, Joe Barnes, and JohnJo Devlin, “Finland and Sweden joining Nato shows just how terribly Vladimir Putin has miscalculated,” Telegraph, May 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/11/finland-sweden-joining-nato-shows-just-terribly-vladimir-putin/
  2. [2]Ross Douthat, “There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks,” New York Times, May 14, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/opinion/ukraine-russia-putin-biden.html
  3. [3]Associated Press, “Russia marks WWII victory overshadowed by Ukraine,” May 9, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-europe-world-war-ii-2d4f0f3a1e59cdad92b26c521ed08669; Max Boot, “Putin is trapped in a quagmire and doesn’t know how to get out,” Washington Post, May 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/09/putin-victory-day-russia-ukraine-quagmire/; Ross Douthat, “There Are Two Endgames in Ukraine. Both Carry Big Risks,” New York Times, May 14, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/opinion/ukraine-russia-putin-biden.html; Lawrence Freedman, “When will Vladimir Putin realise it is time to cut his losses in Ukraine?” New Statesman, May 13, 2022, https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/ukraine/2022/05/war-in-ukraine-putin-losses; Matthew Lee, “US, Western Europe fret over uncertain Ukraine war endgame,” Associated Press, May 11, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-europe-western-nato-a990adcad47a34764d64b03bdcd69f7b; Dominic Nicholls, Joe Barnes, and JohnJo Devlin, “Finland and Sweden joining Nato shows just how terribly Vladimir Putin has miscalculated,” Telegraph, May 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/11/finland-sweden-joining-nato-shows-just-terribly-vladimir-putin/
  4. [4]Julia Ioffe, “About a Boy: The Roots of Putin’s Evil,” Puck News, May 10, 2022, https://puck.news/about-a-boy-the-roots-of-putins-evil/
  5. [5]Deutschewelle, “NATO: Turkey outlines demands on Finland and Sweden membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/nato-turkey-outlines-demands-on-finland-and-sweden-membership/a-61806003; Jon Henley, “Turkey says it will not approve Sweden and Finland joining Nato,” Guardian, May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russia-finland-sweden-nato-ukraine-war; Jared Malsin, “Turkey Lays Out Demands as Finland, Sweden Plan NATO Entry,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkey-lays-out-demands-as-finland-sweden-plan-nato-entry-11652722492
  6. [6]Joe Barnes, “Sweden’s bid to join Nato ‘shows Vladimir Putin’s aggression doesn’t pay,’” Telegraph, May 15, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/05/15/sweden-set-follow-finland-joining-nato-despite-threats-vladimir/; Bloomberg, “Ukraine Latest: NATO Embraces Sweden, Finland; US Aid Vote Nears,” May 15, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/ukraine-latest-nato-has-frank-talks-with-turkey-on-accession; Deutschewelle, “Finland officially announces support for NATO membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/finland-officially-announces-support-for-nato-membership/a-61803764; Natalia Drozdiak, “NATO Expansion Could Finally Shore Up Alliance’s Weakest Flank,” Bloomberg, May 14, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-14/ukraine-war-nato-expansion-could-finally-shore-up-alliance-s-weakest-flank; Guardian, “Russians and Ukrainians battle around Izium as Sweden joins Finland in Nato bid,” May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russians-and-ukrainians-battle-around-izium-as-sweden-joins-finland-in-nato-bid; Kati Pohjanpalo and Niclas Rolander, “Finland, Sweden Set to Seek NATO Entry in Historic Shift,” Bloomberg, May 15, 2022, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-15/finland-sweden-set-to-apply-for-nato-entry-in-historic-shift; Liz Sly, “Russia is furious that Finland is joining NATO but can’t do much about it,” Washington Post, May 14, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/14/finland-russia-nato-ukraine-retaliation/
  7. [7]Deutschewelle, “NATO: Turkey outlines demands on Finland and Sweden membership,” May 15, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/nato-turkey-outlines-demands-on-finland-and-sweden-membership/a-61806003; Jon Henley, “Turkey says it will not approve Sweden and Finland joining Nato,” Guardian, May 16, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/russia-finland-sweden-nato-ukraine-war; Jared Malsin, “Turkey Lays Out Demands as Finland, Sweden Plan NATO Entry,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/turkey-lays-out-demands-as-finland-sweden-plan-nato-entry-11652722492
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Tangled webs, already woven,” Not Housebroken, April 23, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/04/23/tangled-webs-already-woven/
  9. [9]Lee Gardner, “Why Does College Cost So Much?” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2022, https://www.chronicle.com/article/why-does-college-cost-so-much

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