Current Warfairs - I’m sure the Kurds are shitting themselves at the thought of being targeted.

The editor in me is wondering if they could have written a longer headline.

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‘Kurds lonely, add Israelis’.

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Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

Anne Applebaum has sloppy and mediocre opinions, which makes her a good exemplar of the modern centrist journalist. Corey Robin, a much more careful and erudite thinker, who is (probably not coincidentally) an academic rather than a journalist, has done good work showing that Trump is merely a continuation of the GOP’s policies for the last several decades. Really, what Applebaum and her kind deplore so much about Trump is his vulgarity and lack of respect for “norms,” not any particular destructive policies he may or may not enact (because they will be largely or entirely insulated from those policies…at least in the short term) but the way in which he advocates for those policies.

Changes to Suicide Tactics in the Battle for Mosul.

It doesn’t get any better than Glantz on the Eastern Front.

Ok, maybe I’m a wimp but does any of this shit just scare the hell out of anyone else? Like, literally keep you up at night?

I’m too dense to figure out what threats are real and what are just Putin’s wet dream. I was raised in the 80’s where I literally had to go and see a shrink in 3rd-4th grade because everyone kept talking about nuclear war (and ABC aired the damn The Day After and ran so many commercials I was scarred for life). I had left that shit behind, but with all this crap with Putin and Korea it’s all coming back. I think it’s because I have kids and I’m terrified for them.

When you guys read all this stuff, doesn’t it get to you? How do you let it not?

Maybe it’s just me. As I mentioned, I’m a wimp.

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I don’t have kids. I gotta say I think climate change is a much bigger threat, racing with continued improvement in autonomous systems (and no, I don’t think “strong” AI is a legitimate worry) as to which will make life on Earth a living hell for the non-propertied majority.

On the other hand, I don’t actually worry about it, because ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Maybe there’s something wrong with my brain, but burgers still taste pretty good right now, and there isn’t a fuckton I can do about everything else. I’ve lived with existential horror for years, for various political and philosophical reasons, and I feel like it just…doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m gonna die. For now, I have not.


I was quite complacent about nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War. I checked out targeting maps and all kinds of stuff when I was in university, seeing just what the plan was when the nuclear shit hit the population fan, and it was all very remote and now-we-look-back-on-follies-and-chuckle-dryly. Then I did some more reading and realised we’re past the high point of nuclear tension, but nuclear armament is still very real, there’s still plenty of it around and it could conceivably do the job to the extent the majority of us would care.

Anything else is, barring some sort of Holocaust for everyone not to the right of Hitler, peanuts. I’ve watched Threads, man. You can’t scare me with conventional warfare. And I don’t have kids to fear for.

Putin’s Russia is officially Not Very Nice. They don’t have the muscle to really be a global power, but they’re still a serious force, and what we saw in the Crimea was nothing more than trying to bully the Ukraine into staying away from NATO and the EU, and to just allow itself to be dominated by Russia. It got out of hand, the Ukraine didn’t fold, and the West backed them up. Their shenanigans in Syria are the perfect example of a kind of low-budget yet all-star performance: they get to test and display kit, they get to flex some muscle, they avoid taking lots of casualties, they get to talk a good game.

Putin doesn’t want a proper fight, he wants to stay in control and make Russia stronger. The people backing him who keep him in power will only do so for as long as he looks good. If he starts a war with the West, even a win would be so costly as to see him deposed, and I don’t think Russia could win. A very bloody stalemate, perhaps. Nuclear arsenal is essential to their prestige, but Russian thinking about use of nukes has always been different to the West.

As for Korea, I think the very worst case scenario would be a limited nuclear exchange. Messy, but very one-sided.

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I tend to think we live in a world of easily-disseminated manufactured crises.

It’s a trivial example, but I remember a year ago there was a deluge of stores about how the Midwest was going to see an epidemic of ticks like we haven’t seen in ages, and how everyone and their pets was at risk for Lyme disease. I’m an outdoorsman and I didn’t see a single tick all year last year. I know it’s anecdotal, but it exemplifies how every story gets turned into a crisis. Obama let Ebola into the country, until he didn’t; blizzards are going to destroy New York City, until they get a dusting; etc.

It’s less Hakuna Matata and more high tolerances on my BS detector, but until a Russian shows up in my yard with a global warming laser, I tend to take it easy.

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Exeunt McMaster, enter Bolton.

The problem is even if this stays as a “limited” exchange I fear for a “dambreaking” after the “first” exchange the desensitization mentality sets in. If they do it why not Pakistan and India as well? Or the Iran (someday)?

The use of nuclear weapons has been thinkable since they were conceived. It’s down to Pakistan and India, fortunately or not. Same with Israel and whichever neighbour is feeling their oats at the time. Those kind of exchanges are awful, but relatively small in scale compared to the spectre of mutually assured destruction you get with a US-Russia or US-China-Russia full size exchange.

I feel the line between conventional and nuclear warfare is somewhat arbitrary. The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki is not any better or worse than, say, the firebombing of Tokyo. People die. Dying in a nuclear blast or of radiation poisoning is not better or worse than dying in a firestorm or of smoke inhalation.

You are never going to stop war. We love war. The best thing you can do is limit it or channel it and ameliorate the worst effects.

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