A Cornered Beast

Left:Blinken/Biden peace protesters; video from CBC; Right: Tucker Carlson, screen cap from Putin interview; Blinken and Carlson both frequently wear the same cornered ‘mask’ face, as do Biden and Trump and many other politicos and public figures

Watching the interview of Vladimir Putin by Tucker Carlson, I was struck by, among other things, Carlson’s trademark ‘look’ when he’s interviewing: It’s like a concerned but impenetrable stare and frown all in one. The guy’s been interviewing people forever, so presumably he’s cultivated this look deliberately. But why? My guess would be that it’s defensive: He’s used to being attacked and criticized, so this ‘mask’ is in place to prevent him revealing either his fear or his ignorance. He has to look strong.

And then I realized where I’d seen this look before: On the faces of Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and many, many of the other senior administrators of the Euro-American Empire. The look of a clueless, cornered beast, trying to look strong in the face of a horrific predicament. In the face, perhaps, of nagging doubts about the credibility of their entire worldview, as everything, increasingly obviously, is falling apart.

This might be the signature ‘look’ of collapse: “No, that can’t be right; it’s contrary to everything I’ve ever learned and believed. You must be mistaken.” It’s a look of denial, of resistance, of refusal, and of desperation.

It’s the look of a child who’s just been told there is no Santa Claus.

Here’s what I wrote to a friend who asked for my comments on the Putin interview:

I found everything Putin said in this interview to be both credible and consistent with my understanding of historical events. Which is much more than I can say about any of the recent pronouncements by Biden or Trump.

I’ve listened to Putin’s speeches before, in the few places we westerners are actually allowed to access them. He strikes me as a shrewd, knowledgeable and intelligent man. Of course he is playing to the ‘home crowd’, and has been carefully provided with talking points that show Russia and its government in a favourable light, but it’s pretty hard to refute his arguments.

I love the fact he has the courage and integrity to say “I don’t know”, and to refuse to answer questions about what he thinks might have motivated other people to do certain things, saying, quite politely, “ask them“.

I think it’s fascinating that western journalists say Carlson didn’t challenge Putin on anything he said. Perhaps that’s because Putin just told the truth and laid out the facts, so there was really nothing to challenge? Carlson asked him questions on a lot of diverse subjects, jumping all over the place from one to another (religion, China, AI, international trade, imprisoned journalists, etc), and Putin showed himself to be well-versed in, and articulate in, speaking about all of them. And the fact that western journalists complained that the first 45 minutes of the conversation was a “harangue” about the history of Eastern Europe says more about those journalists’ (including Carlson’s) utter ignorance of that history than it does about Putin.

He also made the important point that the diplomatic process mostly involves excruciatingly complex, delicate and time-consuming negotiations, and it’s naive to think anything will be accomplished, like in a Hollywood movie, by one leader picking up the phone and calling the other and saying “let’s end this”. The work of peace will happen, or it will not, based on what hundreds of people are negotiating behind the scenes. That is, as long as bozos like BoJo don’t fuck things up at the last minute.

The reason this interview will come as a shock to many in the west is that they desperately want to believe either Biden or Trump has it right in their assessment of world events, and Putin made it clear just how wilfully ignorant, deceived, deceitful, and/or in denial the two American ‘leaders’ really are, to anyone who actually listened to what he said.

Or they want to believe Tucker Carlson is right — in his claim that the real enemy of lovers of freedom and democracy everywhere is China, not Russia. And Putin patiently corrected Carlson on this as well, explaining that China has no motives for world domination or war, and why that’s the case. Watch Carlson when he explains this — the stare-frown is intensified. “OMG, what if he’s right?”

Unsurprisingly, western journalists screamed in unison “No, no, that isn’t right!” in their hatchet-job responses to the interview, led by the once-respectable Guardian and New Yorker.

That’s not to say Putin is all sweetness and light. There are always IMO alternatives to war, and in my view he didn’t try hard enough to avoid the one in Ukraine, for all the provocations he had to deal with. And clearly he doesn’t treat his domestic political opponents very well.

I don’t think Carlson is a very bright guy, but my opinion of him going forward will depend on whether he now does his homework on world history and stops China-bashing, or not. I’m not optimistic. Some people are inclined to investigate and learn when they hear credible ‘inconvenient’ facts, and others are not.

I think it’s increasingly dawning on the corporate-controlled western professional-managerial caste (PMC) which currently runs most western governments (regardless of who is actually elected or what their policies are), that the Euro-American Empire is collapsing, and that it has been an unmitigated failure. The PMC really thought that this Empire would win over and conquer the entire world, creating a unified, peaceful, efficient, global state that the PMC, which considers itself the smartest group in the world and the world’s inevitable leaders, would manage for everyone’s benefit.

The result of this dawning has been the usual response to any sudden unexpected terrible event — horror, disbelief, denial, anger, blame, grief, guilt, and shame. This is the same wrenching response I saw when some corporate leaders finally realized that our global ecology had been essentially destroyed on their watch, and that ecological collapse and some degree of runaway climate change is now inevitable*.

This sudden worldview-crashing realization is a sickening feeling, whether it applies to our political/economic systems or our ecological systems. These systems are all falling apart, and our convictions about their solidity were founded on false beliefs, and on wishful thinking.

We’re seeing, I think, the early stages of this worldview-crashing realization about how global politics actually works now. There’s denial and blame and anger (and propaganda and censorship) — directed towards everyone and anyone who didn’t fall in line and “get with the program” — Russia, China, Latin America, the Middle East, the Global South, and blacklisted local contrarians like Noam Chomsky.

What we’re finally seeing in the western media I think are the very first early glimpses of profound shame — these media have (sometimes knowingly) lied to western citizens for decades, in the belief that the end (One World under benign PMC rule) justified the means (overthrowing ‘unfriendly’ governments, censoring the truth, launching endless senseless wars, and spreading endless propaganda). And now they’re realizing that the end, which was never more than an ideological pipe-dream anyway, never justified those means.

I think it will take time for most of the PMC, and for the citizens who have long supported their unipolar neoliberal ideology, to cease denying and lashing out over this failure, to cease being defensive about it, and to start to actually accept it and act realistically and collaboratively with their declared “enemies”. Like all ideologically-blinded crusaders, they were doing their best with the best of idealistic intentions, and thought their ‘side’ was (inevitably) ‘winning’.

In the meantime, I think the clumsily-managed western Tweedledum/Tweedledee ‘leadership’ (the PMC) has been desperately doubling down on its failures and pretending they aren’t happening, and pressing on with their failed dream no matter what the cost, in the hope that somehow it will all turn out right. As Biden, in one of his more lucid moments, admitted about Yemen: The bombing is accomplishing nothing, but they intend to continue it anyways. When the only tool in your toolkit is a hammer…

When you think you’re in control, and suddenly you find you’re not, and suddenly you find you’re cornered, with no way out, that’s when you’re most dangerous. It’s at least a 50-50 bet, I think, that WW3 will occur before the PMC get to the ‘acceptance’ stage. It’s just too much defeat and disgrace for them to face.

This is where we are now, I think — in parallel stages of denial, outrage, and shame, about the collapse of our dysfunctional political/economic systems and the collapse of our ecological systems. We’ll soon see whether our political representatives (who actually represent their corporate donors, lobbyists and sponsors, not the voting public) have the sense to accept their failures, and start to work with their global counterparts to address the consequences of these failures.

Or whether, instead, like defeated, cornered beasts, they’ll just blow everything up in a defiant, final, fuck-it-all pique of excess — as their corporate counterparts seem to have decided to do with respect to accelerating climate and ecological collapse as we blow past 1.5ºC of warming.

We’re now “all in”, and the Great Mandala is spinning one last time. All that remains to do is to watch. One way or another, the world we thought we knew for the last century is soon going to end.

* I had the chance to witness this deer-in-the-headlights shock first hand when I was invited to attend a couple of candid behind-closed-doors presentations by climate scientists to senior corporate executives a number of years ago. The look on the executives’ faces was the same ‘cornered’ look I see on our western so-called-leaders’ faces when they speak about anything these days. How could they ever explain what they’ve allowed, and even contributed to, to their children?

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23 Responses to A Cornered Beast

  1. Or whether, instead, like defeated, cornered beasts, they’ll just blow everything up in a defiant, final, fuck-it-all pique of excess — as their corporate counterparts seem to have decided to do with respect to accelerating climate and ecological collapse as we blow past 1.5ºC of warming.

    I think this answers your question:

    It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It

  2. Joe Clarkson says:

    I think it is interesting that not one single country, great power or not, has decided to power down, limit population to a very low level and become a low-energy-consuming agrarian country with no military in a bid to avoid environmental and climate collapse. This is the bare minimum required to live in harmony with the natural world, although doing only indigenous-style hunting and gathering would be much better.

    I wonder what your explanation would be for this course of action never being taken by anyone (or why our current situation has always been determined)?

  3. Jane says:

    According to Timothy Snyder, everything Putin said was historically incorrect. He was just making stuff up to bolster his point. Please do your research.

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    Joe: “Countries” don’t decide anything; they’re merely a construct, an idea. If you mean “federal governments”, they don’t have the power to transform the economy unless they control it (ie nationalize it). They don’t, and won’t try to invoke that power. What is happening is the collective result of 8B with varying degrees of power doing what they think is best. That’s how complex systems work. They change at a glacial pace, which is usually OK for natural systems, not so good for artificially-made complicated systems in an advanced state of collapse.

    Jane: Snyder is a rabid, ideological, war-mongering Russophobe. Perhaps your idea of “doing research” is listening to a guy who bizarrely claims that Ukraine would have already “won” the war if only it had been given ten times the weapons by other countries; it’s not mine.

  5. Brutus says:

    So much here to respond to. I don’t yet have the time to consider things fully. Will circle back in time. However, I watched the full interview and am frankly unprepared historically and politically to evaluate and refute (the secret, illicit desire of the chattering class) any claims. However, on its face, what Putin has on offer — negotiation, diplomacy, and conciliation in the service of a stable, prosperous, mutually beneficial world order — were a far cry from the continuous provocations and warmongering of the West. That all by itself makes me a Putin apologist, I suppose, to cite an ugly meme. Could only dream that U.S. leaders might be even half as lucid and circumspect as our putative enemy.

  6. Joe Clarkson says:

    I had never heard of Timothy Snyder. I read his February 11th post on Substack and, not being very conversant with the history of Ukraine, I went to various Wikipedia sites to follow up on some of his analysis and found it corroborated.

    Snyder is a historian, professor at Yale, and has published several books on the early and modern history of Ukraine and surrounding countries. I see little reason to totally dismiss his critique of Putin’s account of Ukrainian history or of the recent invasion of Ukraine. I encourage you to read his post. Perhaps you can point out his factual mistakes.

    I also suggest that resorting to ad hominem attacks on Snyder (“rabid, ideological, war-mongering”) do little to inspire confidence in your assessment of his views.

  7. Joe Clarkson says:

    Brutus said,

    “what Putin has on offer — negotiation, diplomacy, and conciliation in the service of a stable, prosperous, mutually beneficial world order.”

    I suggest that your description – “stable, prosperous, mutually beneficial world order” – is far more applicable to the world before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that the invasion has done far more to disrupt world order than serve it.

  8. Dave Pollard says:

    Well, Joe, I had previously read several of Snyder’s articles, but your comment inspired me to read a few more.

    What I read is utterly inconsistent with all the credible reports I have read about the events from 2014 onwards, including the current state of the war. Snyder apparently spends lots of time in Ukraine, cheerleading for them and lobbying the US to send them more money and arms, and is actively fundraising for Ukraine on his website. His writing appears in the official Ukraine papers, all of which have been taken over and controlled by Zelenskyy’s administration since the war began.

    To say “war only ends when one side wins” is, to me, a rabid statement. It’s war-mongering, plain and simple. His insistence that Ukraine must and will inevitably win and only needs more bombs and guns contradicts everything I have read and heard from people who are actually in the war-torn Donbas region, and who reiterate that the Ukrainian army has been decimated and is now operating basically without skilled, experienced, competent soldiers, relying on untrained, older recruits and on drones and other forms of foreign support. And he says “Ukrainians are making a war in the Pacific much less likely by demonstrating to China that offensive operations are harder than they seem.” WTF? What the hell is he smoking? I would call that ideological, in the extreme.

    And his loathing for Putin and Russia is relentless in his writing, accusing them of deliberately targeting civilians (it was the Azov Brigade from Ukraine that targeted Russian-speaking civilians in Mariupol), and of operating “concentration camps”, “torture chambers” and a campaign of “genocide”, which is pure propaganda. Genocide against whom? Those caught in the crossfire of the war since 2014 have been mostly the citizens of Donbas, who are mostly Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and those are the people Russia is trying to protect.

    So believe what you want. I’m no more inclined to try to refute his nonsense than I am to try to refute the arguments of the MAGA mob.

  9. Ray says:

    The controlling elites of the great western Empire admitting failure and reaching out to find a joint solution for humanity’s problems?
    Nah! Not going to happen. In any case humanity’s problems fall in the category “predicaments”. There are no slutions.
    If there are no solutions it’s tempting to play Samson and pull down the pillars on everybody. Much more fun than admitting failure.

  10. Vera says:

    Hah. Permit me to weigh in briefly. I looked up this Snyder person, and apparently he is hotly defending a “defiant democracy” in Ukraine. Sorry, but I am not looking further. Anyone who calls Ukraine a democracy is bald-face lying. It’s been “governed” (read looted) by a bunch of repugnant kleptocrats from the get-go, and since 2014, these same kleptos have gone genocidal, against their own people.

    That a person would egg on this disaster, so that more and more Ukrainians may be slaughtered, is to me unconscionable.

    To see a bit of the background on the conflict within Ukraine, look up Odessa massacre, & Alley of Angels. For deeper history, Volyn massacres, and the celebration of Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych.

  11. Joe Clarkson says:

    I’m sorry Vera, but your contention that Ukrainian kleptocrats are forcing the Ukranian people to fight the Russians against their will is not born out by any poll on the views of Ukrainians toward the war or any about their support of the government, support for both of which remain high. Polls also reveal that Ukrainians fervently believe that they deservedly have their own country and language.

    It’s true that the war in Ukraine would be over in an instant if only the Ukrainian people would decide that they want to become part of Russia, as Putin’s “special military operation” is so gently requesting. In the end, I think that decision still remains with the people of Ukraine. I can’t help but find it odd that so many people want to completely disregard the views of those who have so much at stake. It’s also strange to me that so many people find it perfectly appropriate that Russia attempt to annex Ukraine by military invasion.

    Then again, if Ukraine is already part of Russia (and always has been) as Putin is asserting, any Ukrainian who resists the dictat of the Russian government is a simply a criminal. Which brings us back to one of the original topics of this post, Putin’s history lecture to Carlson in support of his contention that Ukraine is now and has always has been part of Russia.

    Jane commented that Snyder provided evidence that Putin’s take on Ukraine’s history was factually incorrect. After looking into the matter, I agree with her about Snyder and have not seen anything from the pro-Putin cohort here to dispute Snyder’s account of Ukrainian history. There is also, of course, the history of the December 1, 1991 referendum on Ukraine independence and the December 26, 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    Dave explicity finds Putin credible but I think Snyder presents an exhaustive case as to why he is not. Until I see otherwise, I will continue to believe, unlike Dave, that Ukraine is a real and separate country, deserving its own governance, just like most of the people living there do.

    It’s also kind of interesting to see how pro-Russia views about Ukraine have shifted. Early on, it was contended that even though Ukraine was a country, it was being manipulated by Western powers to threaten the sovereignty of Russia. It was all NATO’s fault that the war started. Now, Ukraine isn’t even a country, just a rebel province of mother Russia.

  12. Vera says:

    Hey, Joe. I never said the kleptocrats are forcing the current fighting. I said Ukraine is not a democracy, and that the kleptocrats began a civil war against their own people (in the Donbas). Perhaps I was unclear.

    My impression of Putin’s historical discourse was more complex. Western Ukraine was part of Poland and Austro-Hungary. Ruthenia was bounced back and forth and I think Hungary has the biggest claim. It was part of Czechoslovakia before the war, and the Soviets took it by force. Eastern Ukraine is currently Russian-speaking and identified. And yes, particularly western Ukrainians are very patriotic, and want to have self-determination. Each “chunk” has a different history. There is a small piece that has Romanian speakers living there, and may have been part of Romania before. It’s a tangled ball of yarn.

    As for Snyder’s account, I can’t comment, since I don’t read propagandistic liars voluntarily. He may well have valid points. I am sorry for not being able to contribute to that aspect of the discussion.

    If you believe the people there deserve their own governance, how do you see the refusal of Kiev to grant the Donbas regions precisely that? All they wanted was some form of federalism. Instead, they got their own countrymen pounding them with shells, now for nearly 10 years.

    There is no pro-Putin cohort here. Why are you repeating slurs toward those who don’t accept the Washington narrative?

    Personally, I don’t see Ukraine as part of “mother Russia.” I do expect that the Donbas areas will choose to remain with Russia simply because of the hate directed at them (by the Kiev regime), and the killing.

  13. Joe Clarkson says:

    “There is no pro-Putin cohort here.”

    At least two members are here, Vera –

    Dave Pollard (from his post):

    “I found everything Putin said in this interview to be both credible and consistent with my understanding of historical events. Which is much more than I can say about any of the recent pronouncements by Biden or Trump.

    I’ve listened to Putin’s speeches before, in the few places we westerners are actually allowed to access them. He strikes me as a shrewd, knowledgeable and intelligent man. Of course he is playing to the ‘home crowd’, and has been carefully provided with talking points that show Russia and its government in a favourable light, but it’s pretty hard to refute his arguments.”

    Brutus (from his comment):

    “That all by itself makes me a Putin apologist, I suppose, to cite an ugly meme. Could only dream that U.S. leaders might be even half as lucid and circumspect as our putative enemy.”

  14. Vera says:

    C’mon Joe. Brutus was being ironic. Because anyone who dares to suggest anything positive (like Brutus welcoming the offer for negotiation) is branded Putin’s lapdog nowadays.

    As for Dave’s comments, I also see Putin as shrewd and intelligent. Psychopaths usually are.

    I fear you have fallen for the official narrative. Have you?

  15. foglight says:

    ‘I think it will take time for most of the PMC, and for the citizens who have long supported their unipolar neoliberal ideology, to cease denying and lashing out over this failure, to cease being defensive about it, and to start to actually accept it and act realistically and collaboratively with their declared “enemies”. Like all ideologically-blinded crusaders, they were doing their best with the best of idealistic intentions, and thought their ‘side’ was (inevitably) ‘winning’.’

    i like your comments about westerners’ dawning realization of the threats to economic/political stability coinciding with their dawning awareness of ecological collapse. our systems are indeed all collapsing at once.

    i think israel’s utter obliteration of gaza, with US/canada/UK’s full financial & material support, has led to a new awareness among some of the cost of our privilege = the cost to us in terms of forfeiting any claim to upholding human rights, justice or morality; the cost to others in terms of tortured, starved, mutilated, traumatized bodies.

    but not all have reached this awareness. the alternative to acknowledging our complicity (pogo, the enemy is us) is scapegoating & defensiveness, “j’accuse” to those who don’t perceive the events of oct 7 as the original sin in the current catastrophe.

    a few of the scapegoaters may change their perspectives with time. but i have zero expectation that any significant-enough number to matter will ever “act realistically and collaboratively with their declared “enemies”.” i anticipate that the 8B of us will fight tooth & nail to the bitter end. that’s a sad thought because i’ve always found the suffering resulting from man’s inhumanity to man more painful than that resulting from fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, drought, where nature isn’t consciously targeting any particular group of humans.

  16. Joe Clarkson says:


    I think it would be a mistake to assume that there is anywhere near-universal sympathy for neoliberalism in the PMC. As a long-time member of the PMC (college degree, management jobs, middle class), I can attest that many members of the PMC are collapse-aware (probably a far higher percentage the non-members) and not at all in sympathy with neoliberalism.

    The PMC supplies most of the world’s:

    I find most members of these groups to be admirable.

    Most of the people I know that are members of the PMC have a widely varying responses to a number of hot-button political issues. If I take myself as an example,
    I would be found in the camp of those who:

    Think Covid dangers were real and required a significant public health response (admire the response of Japan which included no lockdowns but universal masking).

    Think Israel is at fault for a great deal of the death and destruction in the Levant (I lived in Beirut for two years) and have a great deal of sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people.

    Think Trump is an asshole (pardon my ad hominem sentiment) who thinks almost entirely about what would benefit his ego.

    Think modernity is a blight on the face of the earth and can’t last much longer. The sooner it goes, the better, but there will be a great deal of suffering and death before the human population gets back below true carrying capacity.

    Think prudent preparation for the end of modernity is in order. On an individual family basis that means preparing to live without using money.

    Think the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake. Ditto the Iraq war and Afghanistan (after the initial pursuit of Bin Laden).

    Think that Taiwan and Ukraine deserve to be self-governing and that neither should be invaded.

    Think the biggest failure of politicians in my lifetime (born 1948) is that nuclear weapons still exist.

    Think the second biggest failure is to build an entire global civilization on fossil fuels, a finite and dirty resource.

    Think Jimmy Carter was the greatest president of my country during my lifetime, with Eisenhower, and Clinton running a close second. Johnson would be up there but for Vietnam (civil rights legislation and medicare).

    Think that being called “woke” is a compliment.

    Think that Biden’s biggest accomplishment is initiating a complete revamp of the miserable anti-trust enforcement in effect since the Reagan administration.

    I doubt that these are issues about which I will “change my perspective” in the few years I have remaining. Too bad if you think I am totally unaware and defensive.

  17. foglight says:

    You sound neither unaware nor defensive, except maybe about being perceived as defensive :) I wasn’t referring to anyone in this comment thread in my response; rather, to certain folks I come across IRL.

    I’m jealous you lived in Beirut for two years. I always wanted to spend time in that part of the world but it’s seeming increasingly unlikely (I’m 10 or 11 years your junior, still working, with 3 family members plus cats at home). I did spend several years in Southeast Asia among other places outside the US & crossed paths in Hanoi with an ESL teacher who’d worked with Hanan Ashrawi at the American University of Beirut way back when. Strange how much places can change in the course of our short lifetimes.

    Regarding unaware & defensive, I have a contingent of idealistic US friends & acquaintances who are educated but to my mind parochial, the votebluenomatterwho types who empathize with certain diversities but not others (Arabs, let’s say); who fret about one side of the economic coin (homelessness) while ignoring the flip side of the same coin (billionaireness); who still believe in some universal “we” who will eventually pull together to solve symptoms of overshoot like climate change. However, just like Beirut 1964 is nothing like Beirut 2024, the systems we’ve grown up with & come to take for granted in this privileged (overall) North American corner of the world are a’changing, faster than expected, & our future will be nothing like our past. A win for Biden in Nov, a sweeping of the homeless folks downtown, solar panels – none of that will make a speck of difference to the forces already in motion.

  18. Joe Clarkson says:


    Indeed, the forces already in motion are about to sweep everything away. It’s sometimes hard to take anything in the modern world of today seriously, including war and politics, yet we still have to live in the world as it is and do the best we can to prepare our families and communities for the very hard times to come (or already here in some places), and to mitigate gratuitous damage whenever possible.

    Overshoot and collapse mean a lot of people are going to die prematurely, but I think it still means something if as many as possible are spared violent deaths and meet the forces of collapse in solidarity with people who care for each other as much as they can, even when that care will never be enough.

    As a nearly lifelong doomer-prepper, I do think it is possible to increase the odds of having one’s family swept away, if only slightly. In that regard, I’m jealous of those who live in the southern hemisphere, farthest away from a possible nuclear winter. My family once tried to move to New Zealand, but their immigration law at the time just wouldn’t allow it.

    I’ll just have to console myself with living as far south as one can be in the US, with a small off-grid farm and a year-around growing season. Our small flock of sheep recently increased by seven this lambing season, and watching young lambs and their mothers is always a joy. Seeing lambs nurse reveals the origin of the saying, “as quick as two shakes of a lamb’s tail”. One needs to take every opportunity for joy possible, if only to avoid the ever-present sense of foreboding for a while.

    If you live in a city, leave as soon as possible. And good luck!

    PS My wife and I were in Beirut from fall of 1972 to summer of 1974. It was generally a fabulous time to live there. We were able to travel throughout the middle east, including Syria, Jordon, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel without any hassles at all. We still have a coffee table made from a big copper tray we bought in the copper souk in Aleppo.

    We were once on a day trip to Damascus and happened to see President Nixon traveling through downtown in a open convertible with President Assad. Talk about a bizarre sight! The convoy was moving quite briskly, however.

    Lebanese blonde was pretty cheap, too.

  19. Joe Clarkson says:

    Yikes! Should be “odds against having one’s family swept away”. An edit function would be nice.

  20. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments and for keeping the tone civil despite differences of opinion.

    I’ve got another article in the works about Aurélien’s latest, about moving ‘beyond hope’ while not falling into despair, and I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on that. It’s about resistance and refusing to go along with outrage, even though it’s futile. It’s about what Adam Gopnik calls “a thousand small sanities”, doing what you can do that needs to be done and actually makes a difference, no matter how small. And it’s about that terrible word “grace”. https://aurelien2022.substack.com/p/a-postcard-from-the-far-side-of-despair

    Links of the month coming up first, however.

  21. Joe Clarkson says:

    With regard to your next post (after links of the month), you may want to check out the latest from Jem Bendell if you have not already seen it.

  22. Brutus says:

    Well, I was gonna circle back, but having been purposely misread and not interested in mincing words with bad faith commentators, I defer.

  23. Siyavash Abdolrahimi says:

    Well, this was a hot post; lots of opinions!
    I share your distrust of Timothy Snyder, not sure I’d go as far as you in how you describe him.

    I reread your comments on Putin to see where it might seem that you are an apologist for him. I can see where people might accuse of that, but I think it is in what is left unsaid or understated.

    I was in Russia during the Second Chechen War. That was a brutal and genocidal military campaign and from the perspective of Chechens the seventh genocide committed against them in the space of less than 200 years.

    We can’t forget that Feb. 23rd (which ironically is Defender of the Fatherland Day and also a kind of Men’s Day in Russia) is 60th anniversary of the deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people’s. Pretty gruesome. In the space of just one day, a whole people (actually two peoples!) rounded up and put on cattle cars, sent in cattle cars to Kazakhstan by Stalin for being under suspicion of being Nazi sympathizers (from what I know, they weren’t).

    Of course, with the unaided eye one can see that in terms of being genocidal, Putin is no more or less than many (most?) US presidents…

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