“Why Does This War Get Sympathy While Other Conflicts Do Not?” – TTG

“The citizens are here and we are here. We will defend our independence. That’s how it will go,” said the Ukrainian president in a defiant video with fellow officials on the streets of Kyiv. “Glory to our defenders, both male and female,” he added. “Glory to Ukraine!”

One of the things that has been noted is the different attitude regarding refugees and interest and assistance that has been given to Ukraine compared to other conflicts. People have noted the easier time Ukrainian refugees have had getting accepted into  other countries compared to, say, Syrian refugees. Others have noted the rush to support one side over the other, and so on.

Various theories are stated, and certainly they have validity. Racism and other forms of ethnocentricism and bias certainly play a role, but, I think, there’s a larger reason for it. Humans tell stories.

This seems like a bit of obviousness too stupid to even mention, but the human use of storytelling exceeds merely entertaining each other. It informs how we view the world, how we interpret events. It’s such a fundamental part of our psychology that even in things that are as far from fiction as you can imagine, storytelling is critical in effective messaging.

These days my full time job is working in a field where we produce reports on decisions made regarding environmental assessment. When we write those decisions, it’s not just a simple, rote, recitation of facts and what the decisions based on those facts are. You have to tell a story, to allow the audience to understand why that decision was made, build up how the evidence was presented.

Lawyers I work with have told me the same thing. When you present the case, you frame it as a story, guiding the jury or the judge toward the conclusion that story is inevitably leading to. When a prosecutor describes the crime, it’s not a simple recitation of facts, it’s the story of the events.

The Biblical parable, meant to teach morality or religious truth: stories. The “word problems” given to teach math: stories. How we tell our co-workers about the great party we were at over the weekend: told as a story. Logic puzzles: stories. How we relate sporting events: stories. We do it so often people don’t even realize it’s being done. It’s just the way we do things. And the ones that grab our attention, the ones people remember and pay attention to, are the ones that make the best stories.

Odds are the vast majority of people are unfamiliar with the Jewish Revolt of 66-70 CE. Even the ones who do know about it might only know the basics: some kind of revolt, Romans eventually burned Jerusalem and the temple. I mean, I’ve studied that era probably more than most people, and off the top of my head, that’s all I can really tell you.

But if you ask someone the story of Masada, odds are there are a lot more people who could tell you about that. Outnumbered rebels, the inevitability of Roman victory, the choice of death over capture and slavery. Pretty damn epic. May not be entirely true but hey, still pretty damn epic. People might not even be aware of the conflict it was part of, but they will at least be vaguely aware of Masada.

So let’s go to the present day. Why are people more fired up about Ukraine than, say, Syria? Why are people so more vocal about this than, say Israel and Palestine? It’s because, well, Syria is a civil war, and civil wars can often get fuzzy, especially if people aren’t familiar with the country. Yes, one side is demonstrably worse than the others, but, well, the problem is there are others. You’ve got democratic reformers versus the existing dictatorship versus radical jihadists versus who knows who. There’s no simple good guy and bad guy. it’s not a simple story to tell.

Israel-Palestine falls into the same boat. One can argue about which side is more responsible, but at the end of the day both sides have their share of asses which make the boundary fuzzy. This week the Israelis might be shooting up a Palestinian settlement. Next week someone is blowing up a bomb. There’s no easy to understand story, and no easy story about what anyone can do.

Putin’s mistake was screwing up an existing, fuzzy plot. The status of Crimea, while a land grab, had some uncertainty, and the separatists in the Donbass, well, we’re back to the fuzzy civil war. Had the Russians simply openly rushed into the separatist region and stopped, basically enforcing their bullshit “republics”, I really don’t think there would have been that much of an international reaction. Pressure would have been on the Ukrainians to find some sort of settlement. But the Russians screwed it up. Their assaults on what were unquestionably not separatist regions, the obvious attempt not to merely secure their puppet states in the Donbas but to take over the whole country, that simplified the story.

It wasn’t a civil war. It wasn’t a conflict over disputed territory. It was a bully attacking someone smaller. It became the story of the evil empire, and I use the term deliberately, trying to take over its next victim. And out of that came the outnumbered few willing to stand and say no, the underdogs who, despite all the odds apparently against them, who were holding out. The men and women taking up arms to defend their freedom.

That is an epic story. But then came the atrocities, the murders, the outright calls for genocide. This wasn’t just the story of the underdog anymore, this was the story of good versus evil. This was the Rebel Alliance versus the Galactic Empire, and any more traditional story, real or imagined, that might come to mind. And it makes it easier to decide who to support, who is in the wrong, who needs to be defeated.

Yes, the real world is vastly more complicated. Yes, there are other places, and other people, who deserve, or should have received, similar attention. But they weren’t the beneficiaries of simple, straightforward stories. The kind people have gut reactions to. The kind that don’t require a lot of examination to decide who are the good guys and who are the bad guys and don’t require someone testifying at the UN about WMDs to try and make the case about who is who. Where simple facts on the ground make it quite clear who, exactly, is the aggressor and who is the innocent victim who not only needs the sympathy but the support to fight back. And a bully that the good folks have finally stood up against because they’re tired of his shit.

Ukraine is a simple story.


Comment: This is a good editorial, in my obviously biased opinion. The comments are also worth a read.  A lot of this does boil down to telling a story or, in military terms, running an information operation. For over twenty years, the story of Putin’s Russia was the story of a magnificent ascent from an abject disaster. I was watching from the inside when Putin’s people were beginning to gin up his IO campaign. There’s a lot of truth to that story, but now we’re seeing another side. That has to cause a lot of cognitive dissonance and rationalization among the true Russophile believers. And now there is Zelenskiy and the Ukrainians. Now he knows how to craft a story. And it’s a damned fine story… so far.


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64 Responses to “Why Does This War Get Sympathy While Other Conflicts Do Not?” – TTG

  1. Ben says:

    What happens to the US public faith in government when the same people that told us about Syrian head chopping moderates or Afghan democracy or Afghan government holding out for 6 months or Iraqi WMD find out Russia isn’t losing and in fact is winning?

    • Mikew says:

      I have wondered the same thing. All we see in the US is the relentless pro Ukraine propaganda. What will people think when the inevitable Russian victory occurs? It’s already happening. Higher that expected losses don’t mean a lack of victory. The Russian advance into Germany cost a staggering amount of military loss by the commies but no one would say they lost the war.

      It will be spun somehow that Russia has really lost and despite the sanctions hurting the west more than Russia, they will be seen as a devastating economic blow. It’s all so tiresome. Zelensky is a con artist.

  2. Fred says:

    “the human use of storytelling… informs how we view the world, how we interpret events. …. storytelling is critical in effective messaging.” ….”And now there is Zelenskiy ….he knows how to craft a story.”

    Black lives matter, “hands up, don’t shoot”, and, of course, George “I can’t breathe” Floyd. He recieved 3 televised funerals that were not, unlike religious services – including Easter celebrations, cancelled ‘by covid’. Now George has been resurrected – in the form of Zelinski. It’s a damn fine story, so far. It’s even driven Fauci and Covid right off the world news.

    Zelinski and the Ukrainians hav3 been lucky in their enemies. Imagine if they were ISIS, Boko Haram, or even Saudi Arabia. Having decades long connections to the US military, the State Department, and various ‘development’ agencies and NGOs hasn’t hurt the Ukrainians, either. Neither did having a major Ukrainian oil firm employ the sons of leading US politicians. Now no US politician would dare the concentrated Western media by asking where all that money and other aid is going, or ask about any such things predating Putin’s folly. Just look at what they did to the nobody running “libs of tik toc”. (I’m sure no member of Congress will ask why the German government helped fund that ‘hate speech’ doxing.)

    • TTG says:


      If Ukraine was fighting ISIS or Boko Haram, that would be one story. If they were fighting Saudi Arabia, the fight would have been over and forgotten. The Saudis can’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

      • Fred says:


        You wrote a post based off a Canadian editorializing on DailyKos about the importance of storytelling. I certainly agree it is important, and made some connections to prior stories we’ve been told these past couple of years. You respond with saying Ukraine could kick Boko Haram’s ass, which kind of implies Nigeria, even with US help, can’t. Yemen fought Saudi Arabia to a standstill and didn’t get any Western help doing it. Their story isn’t bad, they just aren’t important to the political class in D.C. or other Western capitals.

        • TTG says:


          I said Ukraine would kick the Saudis’ ass. The other two, I’m not sure what would happen. It would be a much different kind of war. Read a little closer and I’ll try to write a little clearer.

  3. Barbara Ann says:


    You may not be surprised to learn that I do not agree with your characterization of the linked piece as a “good editorial”. The author is right about one thing; the invasion is a gift to the Manichean narrative craftsmen in the MSM. Zelensky = good, Putin = evil – in fact better still; all things Ukrainian = good, all things Russian = evil. Yes, Russia is clearly the aggressor, but we are on very slippery moral ground if we simply equate aggression with evil. Didn’t we invade Iraq to remove an evil? But then the author does cite Gulf War II as an example of where the “good guys” and “bad guys” are not so easy to identify (in hindsight presumably. I don’t recall this being a popular story line at the time).

    The main issue of course is the author’s conflation of story telling with “effective messaging” (the author’s phrase). Messaging is used to send messages and extremely simple messages are always best. The media’s function is not to tell stories, it is to tell us what to think – usually to tell us who we are supposed to consider the good guys and who are the bad guys. Decent investigative journalism used to tell stories, but the Messagers seem to have killed off that art almost entirely. The ‘news’ consumer is never encouraged to think about plot complexities, if so he/she may come to consider the “good guys” bad and the “bad guys” good. God forbid. I am no longer a ‘news’ consumer and instead prefer to make my own judgment after carefully weighing up as many sides to a story as possible. I have very rarely been persuaded of a true evil arising in world events (the WEF’s Great Reset plans being one exception). The story is so much more enjoyable this way too.

    And I will not let the author’s dismissal of the Israel-Palestine issue slide: “There’s no easy to understand story, and no easy story about what anyone can do”. Well it’s pretty easy to understand when both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International describe the reality of Israeli occupation as “apartheid”. And guess what, there’s a real easy story about what you can do to punish the “bad guys” (apartheid is till “bad” yes?): https://bdsmovement.net.

    If you prefer your news to be easily consumable and the white and black hats pointed out for your convenience, you probably don’t belong in this place.

    • TTG says:

      Barbara Ann,

      We hear very little about Myanmar or the Uighirs, either. Even the Yemenis are almost invisible, except for here. But you’re right about the tendency to divide any issue into absolute good and absolute evil.

  4. Muralidhar Rao says:

    Sir thank you for your well thought out post. However I disagree with your assessment of the issues.
    It seems to me that you have conveniently forgot to mention the Iraqi war of liberation (so that is what the MSM fed the unwashed masses), where thousands of civilians were killed in massive bombing of Iraqi infrastructure and cities the MSM didn’t lend a tear for the hapless Iraqi’s suffering from the bombing? So if you describe the bombing of infrastructure as smart bombs as if they don’t harm people standing around because they are smart and precise. Then we have so called, maternity ward bombing, or Bucha massacre neither of which were properly investigated but promoted as an evil act of a barbarian Putin. If the Bucha massacre were true why did the British representative of UN security council block the Russian request for debate and investigation? This doesn’t meet the smell test.
    So if the corporate media with an agenda promotes those unsubstantiated claims why wouldn’t people feel sorry for them?

  5. Clueless Joe says:

    Oh the writer is perfectly right. This war is mostly storytelling, I’ve thought this for weeks. What he should add is that storytelling is, basically, just another word for pure propaganda and no true facts. Both sides are talking BS most of the time, and contrary to other wars, even the Syrian one, you can’t point this out and try to pick the tiny bits of truths amidst bogus from both sides, because you’re immediately accused of being pro “the other guys”. Sad, as the previous president would’ve said.

  6. Eric Newhill says:

    That editorial and your agreement with it is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the US government, military and society in general. It should be considered shameful.

    Snotty, arrogant elites think they can do whatever they want and tell “stories”, “memes” and “narratives” (AKA “manipulative BS”) to sell whatever is, for them, personally profitable, face saving, career enhancing, power increasing or simply idiocy masking, to the ignorant unwashed dupes (AKA “The People”). Since the deep state and what is truly a uni-party government and their media lackies are not accountable and live sequestered from their subjects, they think they are clever and getting away with it.

    Well, they’re not. There are objective facts that matter and if you don’t communicate those and build policies based off them, then you are leading the country into a mass delusional state that ends in ruin. That the alternate schizophrenic reality is phony is apparent to most; not on every issue, but on at least some issues for everyone. What was that Lincoln said about fooling people? The lies – excuse me, “stories” – erode trust in our institutions and diminishes civil society. And, of course, must result in material failure unless dumb luck intercedes (broken clock/twice a day).

    You could not run a successful business long term by telling stories about account balances, orders, market trends, etc. In fact, you just might get arrested for fraud if you did. That is a critical consequential difference between people that actually work for a living and today’s government.

    Oh what tangled webs we weave when at first we practice to deceive isn’t just a neat little saying for grade schoolers.

  7. Christian J. Chuba says:

    1. There is a large Ukrainian diaspora in the U.S. as opposed to say, Yemenis.
    2. Okay, don’t call it ‘racism’, call it cultural bias. The people in our MSM relate to Ukrainians. There were at least two cable hosts who said, ‘this is different from Afghanistan, these are cities just like ours’
    3. Our MSM is following the lead of our govt like good little puppies. Ukrainians good, Yemenis are ‘Iranian proxies’.

    I’ve stopped watching the news. I cannot stand them doing a close up where they pan between two buildings and talk about bombing as if they are showing hundreds of buildings. I cannot stand hearing, ‘normally on a day like today, the market would be filled with people but now they are huddled in bomb shelters …’

    The reason I cannot stand it is because the Saudis have done much, much worse to the Yemenis without a peep from cable shows. The Saudis have done this with the full support of our govt media complex. Yes, the Ukrainians deserve sympathy and the attack on Ukraine is in the top 5 of the worst things that have happened in the past 10yrs.

    We have and are becoming a worse country by the day. We are filling our heads with the notion that we lead the forces of good against the forces of evil. Lift a finger to stop the genocide in Yemen? Heck no, we are fighting Iranians expansion.

    I am hoping God sorts this out because I am past any delusion that we will redeem ourselves.

    • Christian J. Chuba says:

      I said, Ukraine is in the top 5 of bad events over the past 10yrs yet we treat it as if we are on the brink of a new Holocaust.

      Here is a list of things I can think of off the top of my head that are in that mix.
      1. Yemen. MbS used the same pre-emptive self-defense argument as Putin. The preemptive self defense argument makes me cringe. After Yemen the rest are in no particular order.

      2. Libya. The civil war that followed our destruction of Gaddafi’s govt has cost over 40,000 lives.

      3. Israel’s bombings of the the open air prison camp known as the Gaza Strip. They bombed infrastructure and leveled several apartment buildings, they almost did not bother to say, ‘human shields’.

      4. Israel’s continuous bombing of Syria as the Syrians are still being ambushed by ISIS and suffering under our cruel embargoes and partitioning of their country.

      5. The U.S. alliances attempt to destroy Syria starting in 2013 followed by our theft of their few natural resources preventing re-construction.

      Ukraine is in the pack somewhere as we use Ukraine to re-kindle a mindset where we approve of the destruction of other countries we consider evil.
      Where we dismiss restraint and negotiations as appeasement. Forget about the JCPOA, Yemen, or pulling Israel back from the ledge from doing their next preemptive on their neighbors. We are too busy fighting evil to worry about the evil we do.

  8. Isn’t the story about Kos, that he was a CIA stringer in South America?
    It’s like these people think everyone was born yesterday. We all just went through four years of Trump being blamed on the Russians. The story about Hunter and Joe getting lots of money from Ukrainian oligarchs hasn’t totally been memory holed, even if some would like it to be.
    The fact is these people are zombies. They spout whatever line suits them for the moment and have no compunction of changing it on a moments notice. The whole mess is starting to resemble a scab, totally separated from any living tissue.
    Moon of Alabama did an article today on something I’ve been pointing out for the last month. Those weapons are going to be fueling terror and crime around Europe for the next several decades and will Markos ever think, hey, maybe it’s not as black and white as I tried painting it? Of course not. Morality is a con for people like him.
    Why does anyone get suckered by this bs, unless they want to believe?
    People are herd animals.

    • PeterHug says:

      Do you have a link that backs up your assertion about Markos and the CIA? I haven’t heard that anywhere else but here, in a few comments you have posted.

      • Good old google;

        In a June 6, 2006 speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Zúniga stated that he had spent between six months and two years training at the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC. In this speech Kos said began in 2001, before he started DailyKos,[5] and continued until the beginning of his involvement with the Howard Dean presidential campaign (late 2003/early 2004), which would mean that Zúniga was in training with the US CIA for as much as two years.[6]

        The reference to being in South America might take a bit more searching, but it’s not illogical he might have been there during the course of events.

        • Oops, been trying to clear up my Hughesnet reception. Make it;

          • TTG says:

            John Merryman,

            In training could mean a host of things; legal, area studies, linguist or analytical training or even contract work. Doesn’t sound very sinister to me. His family lived in El Salvador for four years when he was a kid.

          • PeterHug says:

            Per his Wikipedia entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markos_Moulitsas), Kos moved to the US from El Salvador in 1980 (BTW, he was born in the US, so he is at least as eligible to be President as Cruz is…); in 2001 (which is when your source suggests he started to work with the CIA), he would have had his undergrad degrees in philosophy, journalism, and political science, have served for three years in the US Army, and have gotten his JD as well as a certain amount of hands-on software development work. Combine that with the fact that he speaks (at least) English and Spanish fluently, and I could see that the CIA might have been very interested in convincing him to come work with them.

            I’m really not sure how this is somehow disqualifying in any way, shape or form, even if it’s true, and this is the ONLY reference I can find to this.

            I rather think there are a number of people on this site who have at least that much association with the US Intelligence Community… (/s)

  9. Leith says:

    “Why Does This War Get Sympathy While Other Conflicts Do Not?”

    It gets my attention because I’ve always liked to see someone punch above their weight. That is the same reason I sympathize for the Houthis in Yemen. Doesn’t everyone like to root for the underdog? I had thought so. But I guess not, judging by some comments here and on previous threads.

    • The question is whether it’s Russia versus Ukraine, or Russia versus the West?
      So who is the underdog?
      If you can think through the larger picture of Ukraine being used to take down Russia, that would make the West culpable.

    • Steve says:


      This is a proxy war between the US and Russia. Ukraine is less of an underdog than a tethered goat. Washington, at the executive and legislative levels has made clear its preference for keeping this war going “as long as it takes”. How long will that be? How many on both sides must die? It’s like watching Mike Tyson beat a welterweight to pulp while the crowd cheers on the little guy to get up and be beaten some more. I don’t find that sentiment to be at all supportive.

      Why doesn’t Zelensky sue for peace? There are answers to that question and they’re not too difficult to find.

      • TTG says:


        Washington has made it clear that it wants Ukraine to win, to defeat the Russian invasion. We’d rather that happen tomorrow or next week, not go on forever. But, so far, we seem willing to support Ukraine as long as it takes. Why doesn’t Zelensky sue for peace? I take it you never heard the Emiliano Zapata phrase, “Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” If you can’t understand that, I feel pity for you.

        • Steve says:


          What does “win” look like?

          All the evidence to date shows that Ukraine will be subdued: militarily beaten. Do we really want them to be destroyed and humiliated? I certainly don’t.

          Those are fine words when you’re not doing the dying. And that’s the current reality. Zelensky is between the rock and the hard place. Who wanted this war? Not Zelensky and certainly not the Russians.

          • TTG says:


            What does win for Russia look like? How about any one of the following conditions.

            Installing a Moscow friendly government in Kyiv – failed miserably, had to withdraw fron Kyiv front.
            Occupying all of Novorossiya – Odessa is out of reach, grabbing all of DNR and LNR still possible, being able to hold it long term in the face of continued opposition is not likely.
            Demilitarizing Ukraine – Ukraine’s reserves are still being mobilized, equipped and trained. One tank brigade recently deployed. The reserves exceed Ukrainian losses. Western aid still pouring in. Not goingto happen.
            Fracturing NATO – the exact opposite has happened, looks like it will expand this Summer.

          • zmajcek says:


            Let’s suppose the Ukraine beats back the Russians.
            For sure that will be celebrated as a great success, and Ukraine will continue to arm itself and integrate with NATO at breakneck speed.

            Where do you think that will eventually lead ?

          • TTG says:


            Where will a Ukrainian victory lead? It will lead to a Ukraine not dominated by Moscow, armed and well integrated into NATO, though not necessarily a full member. There will be a more united and invigorated NATO, probably expanding with Finland and Sweden joining. NATO will revert to its original defensive purpose and stop looking for missions and partnerships around the world. Russia will continue and even thrive, maybe with a renewed internal effort to dismantle the kleptocracy that hurt her armed forces so badly. The world economy will realign, perhaps with a greater push towards national self-sufficiency.

          • Steve says:


            Where are you getting that information about reserves? There’s been a lot of draft dodging in Ukraine and pity the ones who are caught…. As for the weaponry, it’s being destroyed long before it can reach the front lines.

            There is no “win” for the Ukrainians and they know it. For all the Madison Avenue-like nonsense floating around Zelensky has a responsibility to his people, not to the DC “principle”, and he should salvage what he can and prevent even more death.

          • jld says:

            “NATO will revert to its original defensive purpose and stop looking for missions and partnerships around the world. “

            Where do you get this “funny” idea from? 🙂

          • zmajcek says:


            I guess you are an optimist. Based on previous experience I see the West, lead by V. Nuland types, marching forward with renewed triumphalism, attacking Russian interests everywhere and trying to beat them into total submission.

            This would be dangerous to the extreme.

          • TTG says:


            Yes that would be dangerous to the extreme. But I still see a general reticence to confront Russia among Western leaders. Perhaps they realize any attack on Russia would elicit the same level of resistance among Russians as we are now seeing among Ukrainians.

    • Leith says:

      John M & Steve –

      Ukraine did not invade Russia. Neither did the West. This invasion of a neighbor makes Putin culpable. Biden and the borg are not smart enough to trick Putin into invading. Same goes for Boris J and Jens Stoltenberg.

      As for Mike Tyson, I’ve known some little guys half his weight that could take him down. They wouldn’t fight by the rules, but then neither does Mike.

      “What counts is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” And Ukraine has a home court advantage. I understand that Putin’s FSB is now “conducting a purge of the political leadership of the LNR in retaliation for its failure to achieve military objectives since February 24.” Which is kind of self defeating, because LNR military is under the command of Russia’s Southern Military District.

      • Steve says:


        Where are getting your information about “purges”? I’m not seeing it and as you say, that would be an act of stupidity unless the units were going to be absorbed into the Russian army. Do you believe the Russians to be stupid? Time will tell.

        The little guy is on life support right now. Why do you think there’s this desperation to push more equipment to them? Haven’t we been hearing for so long that the Ukrainians are beating Russia, destroying all their materiel, demoralizing their troops? Meanwhile, in the real world, Ukrainian supply dumps and routes are taking a nightly pounding from the sky and their troops are surrendering in droves. It’s bloody criminal to keep this war going.

        • Leith says:

          Steve –

          Russians are an intelligent people. But Putin unfortunately is vindictive. The purges there have happened previously. You are right that time will tell. We’ll see if LNR Forces Commander Yan Leshchenko ‘disappears’ along with LNR Security Chief Igor Kornet. Or will Putin aim higher and take out Pasechnik and Koslov?

          I’ve not heard of Ukrainian troops surrendering in droves as you claim. What is your source, Moscow? I’ve heard just the opposite. Even back a month ago in mid-March there were so many Russian POWs that Ukraine had to build full-fledged POW camps for them.

          You are right about it being “bloody criminal to keep this war going”. Putin could stop it in a heartbeat. He should withdraw immediately.

  10. Babeltuap says:

    The sanctions are not working. In some aspects Russia is getting stronger. We will find out together how long the “narrative” foundation holds but tea leaves are saying it’s already compromised. There were many checkpoints to make peace. Zelinksy scoffed at ALL of them and is only asking for more weapons. He was never going to come to the table. That is crystal clear by now. It’s all or nothing. He better be careful with NATO. They are a den of thieves and liars and there is no honor among thieves and liars. They will stab him in the back and not think twice about it.

    • TTG says:


      One thing’s for certain. All these discussions are showing who the true surrender monkeys are. But I do agree there appears to be a continuum of commitment within NATO. The closer one is to Russia, the more committed one is.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        All these discussions are confirming who the Kagan/Nuland/Borg/neocon stooges are. Mostly no surprises with one big exception.

        One is only surrendering if one considers the party one won’t fight to be an enemy. My country has not been attacked by Russia. Russia has threatened nothing of interest to me. On the other hand, my country has definitely been attacked and harmed by the Kagan/Nuland/Borg/Marxist stooges running the swamp.

        Since you take it to a personal (Lithuanian) level, Russia has helped my blood. They have protected Armenia and they protected Syrian Christians (many of whom are Armenians) form the scourge of Jihadists that the Kagan/Nuland/Borg /neocon + stooges unleashed on them. I could care less about Lithuanians or Ukrainians or slavs generally.

        • TTG says:

          Eric Newhill,

          Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia is Ukraine’s enemy. That is crystal clear, unless you subscribe to that Ukrainians are Russians and just don’t know it nonsense.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            I am not Ukranian and I don’t give a f**K about Ukrainians or slavs.

            I also think the reason that Russia invaded is important. Courts of law consider such things for a good reason. Motive counts. Self-defense is even considered a valid to reason to kill another person. You can’t just glide past motives/background. I mean, I guess can, have and will, but that is an obviously lousy story for lots of us. Next time you see the Kagans and Nulands you let them know they need to up their story making; maybe hire a new bunch of professional beak nosed BS slingers. As it is, what they’re paying for really sucks as perceived by most people above the 40th percentile in IQ.

          • Leith says:

            “beak nosed”?

  11. Outrage Beyond says:

    To paraphrase a notorious Russian, “how many divisions has Zelensky?”

    Rational reports suggest it’s a small number that is rapidly shrinking.

    Regular readers of this site may recall that just a few weeks ago, certain esteemed individuals were crowing that the RF armed forces were on the verge of collapse. Did that happen according to those predictions? Or not.

    Were such predictions the result of fraudulent “intel” from “connected” insiders with security clearances?

    For those who made such claims, as they say in Congress, do you wish to revise and extend your remarks?

    • TTG says:

      Outrage Beyond,

      Zelenskiy is only now beginning to commit units from Ukraine’s 100,000 strong reserve force beginning with the 3rd Armored Brigade. He has more. Russia’s reserves are a long way off. I wasn’t certain of an impending Russian collapse, but it still seems very possible that Russia will lose by not winning.

  12. TTG,

    I’m not so much suggesting sinister, as making an objective point about where his sympathies lay. I have a number of family in the military and friends of friends in intelligence. My sense is it’s a pretty dense and connected network and those pulled in at the bottom tend to be in awe of it. The politics is cutthroat.

  13. English Outsider says:

    I’m sorry,TTG, but that article! It’s a vain attempt to put lipstick on the pig. We need only examine one section to see how vain:-

    ” Had the Russians simply openly rushed into the separatist region and stopped, basically enforcing their bullshit “republics”, Pressure would have been on the Ukrainians to find some sort of settlement. But the Russians screwed it up. Their assaults on what were unquestionably not separatist regions, the obvious attempt not to merely secure their puppet states in the Donbas but to take over the whole country, that simplified the story.”

    1. I believe that’s what the neocons were expecting. That the Russians would simply move into the Donbas and leave it at that. This isn’t correct, though – “I really don’t think there would have been that much of an international reaction.”

    As soon as Russian troops moved in that would have been the trigger for a new sanctions war. Stopping NS2 would have been the least of it. There would have been no “Pressure … on the Ukrainians to find some sort of settlement.” There never has been. Instead there would have been precisely what we’re seeing now. Pressure on Germany to cut trade ties with Russia. If possible to get a German embargo on oil and gas supplies from Russia.

    2. Moving Russian troops into the Donbas would not have solved any problems. The Russians would still have been facing the best of the Ukrainian army on the other side of the Line of Control. That Ukrainian army would have had full freedom of manoeuvre, unlimited supplies coming in freely from the West, and reinforcements from the rest of the Ukrainian army whenever needed.

    In those circumstances, moving Russian troops into the Donbas only would have been foolish. It would still have triggered sanctions and it would have left the Russian forces at a severe disadvantage.

    One need be no Russophile or Putinversteher to see that the writer of that article is writing tendentious nonsense. The omission of any reference to the Russian attempts to get Minsk 2 implemented shows that. The more serious omission of any reference to the fact that our unfortunate Ukrainian proxies were subject to a government physically threatened by neo-nazis demolishes the piece entirely.

    It’s worrying, all the same. I see the same sort of material put out in the UK. Also in Germany. The point is, one can only get away with that sort of nonsense if one has superior power. But we don’t in this case, either militarily or economically.

    So Biden and Borrell and von der Leyen are walking us into disaster – and all the writer of this piece is doing is keeping us happy with his invented history until such time as reality hits.

  14. Peter,

    I’m not saying anything other than, in the current political situation, his biases might cause him to take a certain view, that once he adds a moral aspect to it, invites moral criticism, from those who feel it’s not taking a larger view into consideration.
    In 1938, I’m quite sure there were plenty of otherwise nice, intelligent, moral Germans, who thought Hitler was just trying to get Germany back on its feet and push back a little against the results of WW1. If they still were holding onto those views by 1945, possibly their biases could be considered to have overridden any better judgement.
    At what point do we start to realize the US has been spiraling into an economic fantasy of infinite growth, that requires subjugating everyone and everything to continue and any claims to morality, especially after the disastrous wars of the last couple decades, is nonsense?

    • It could be pointed out that both Trump and Zelensky won their respective elections on platforms pointing toward peace. What underlaying elements caused them to effectively reverse course? Was it driven by morality, or desire for power?
      Not to say power is objectively bad, but if it’s not influenced by any better judgement, it’s like bacteria, with no concept of the petri dish. There are limits to everything and intelligence is our ability to come to terms with them.
      Our billionaires think they can conquer space, now.
      The bull is power. The matador is art.

  15. ked says:

    All that I’m learning from these comments is what I learned in college in the early ’70’s: “what you see depends upon where you stand.” or, in this specific case; “I believe stories that reinforce my existing beliefs, and reject those that do not.” bonus: a fine filter for selecting evidence. {by the way, don’t ALL good stories contain kernels of truth?}
    I don’t know how long Putin’s regime will last… or Zelensky’s for that matter. But it’s pretty clear (to me) Ukraine will be fighting until the story’s ending satisfies it’s people’s drive for independence from a deeply hated Russia. That might take a half-generation. While the commentariat on the sidelines pitch their favorite short stories among themselves.

  16. Jovan P says:

    One of the reasons why I like SST is my impression that it’s articles are written, read and commented to a good extent by ,,old guard” American and western intellectuals. These kind of intellectuals, even if at times totally biased, have the bigger picture, i.e. broad view of life, history, faith, science, etc. It reminds of the times when competing with the Soviet Union, the West had to offer something to the rest of the world, even in terms of propaganda. From that time I remember the beautiful Disney cartoon Talespin which you could compare with today’s Disney’s cartoons, and then compare them to today’s Russian made cartoon Masha and the bear.

    People with life experience, knowledge and integrity (although these traits often lead to higher temptations) are something the US badly needs. So instead of story-telling idiots, the western leaders need quality analysis, integrity, sane reasoning . This again reminds me of the time when the US media parroted the narrative that the Russians would be bogged down in the Syrian mud, while Obama’s advisor who spread the narrative was some kind of story teller, who probably couldn’t find Syria on a world map. The above article spreads the same ,,story-telling” BS, while people are dying, because decisions are made based on fiction. Same applies to forcing the woke ideology on the western societies and individuals, which undermines both the free individuals as well as the whole society. It’s the same malevolent ,,storytelling” to underage kids.

    Story-telling per se is not bad (even Christ spoke in a story-like matter), the point is what is the goal. If the goal is to deceive (WAMD in Iraq, Libya must be destroyed because of…, in Ukraine there are no nazis) and many people will perish because of it, then it’s damned.

  17. Stefan says:

    My background is partly Ukrainian. Like most Americans, I am a true mutt. It doesn’t mean much, I was not raised in a manner that reflected my marginal Ukrainian heritage. Listen, read up on epigenetics. The experiences of your parents, grandparents and further directly impact the way you respond to things. It helps to explain the response of Jews and Israelis in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The experience of their near ancestors plays a direct role in their biological response to things. It doesn’t justify the actions of the Israelis, but it sure does help you understand why they do things and helps you understand what their responses are likely to be in the future.

    Russians lost more than 20 million civilians to the Nazis in WW2. Fast forward to 2014 and next door they saw a society where the modern incarnation of the Nazis played a leading role in the events of 2014. The main Nazi paramilitary was given its own official military formations and subsequently credible allegations of war crimes were made against these Nazi units for crimes against the Roma and ethnic Russian communities in eastern Ukraine. A society where significant sections of the community venerate the Ukrainians who fought for the Nazis and committed mass murder against Jews, ethnic Russians, gypsies, you name it. True cogs in the Nazi industry of mass murder. Their leader who refuses, to this day, to condemn these same Nazi collaborators.

    I am not a fan of the Russians anymore than I am a fan of the Israelis or the Saudis. But anyone who expected the Russians to sit still and watch, what they perceive as a growing threat on their border, certain has NO clue about Russian history, mindset or the term “never again”.

    Those 20 million Russian civilian dead at the hands of the Nazis are never far out of the minds of average Russians. Their mothers, fathers, grandparents lived through it. In tens of millions of cases, they did not live through it. It is a loss felt across the board in Russia. Forget that, or under estimate that, you will get the Russians wrong. Every.Single.Time. Agree or not, for them it is an existential fight, whereas for NATO is a war of choice, political and hegemonic machinations. In the minds of the Russians it is fight a war on their territory, or wait, and subject Russian civilian population to another attempted genocide.

    I don’t think this would have happened, but I am not Russian and didn’t have to grow up missing large segments of my society and my family. It doesn’t matter what we think, it matters what the Russians think. We, in the west, EU, US, UK, NATO, all got it wrong and a heavy price is being paid for it. Understanding the Russian mindset is key to ended the conflict.

    • TTG says:


      Excellent comment. It does explain Moscow’s emphasis on denazification as a war aim. I think that mindset would have been justified as a reason for fully invading Ukraine in 2014 when the right wingers and neo-nazis were in the ascendancy in Ukraine. That was a dangerous time and we in the US had a hand in it. But since then the neo-nazis and right wingers were on the decline. A Russian speaking Jew was elected president overwhelmingly in 2019. All right wing parties combined failed to get enough votes to get one seat in the Verkhovna Rada.

      • Stefan says:


        A Russian speaking Jew who still cannot get himself to condemn Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, even when interviewed by Jewish media. I think too much is made of his religious background. The history of the Holocaust is full of many instances where Jews worked with the Nazis. He can’t condemn those Ukrainians who participated in the Holocaust and he supports formations that came from a Nazi paramilitary and are named after this paramilitary. Not only does he accept it, under his leadership they were expanded.


        This area of the world is a mess, before WW1 and WW2, and especially so after these wars. National monikers, citizenship means precious little when ethnicity trumps it all. So when one talks about “Ukrainians” one has to ask “which Ukrainians” because it does matter. In situations like this Ukrainians all too often get lumped together when that is anything but the case and shows either a bias in the person talking or lack of knowledge. One could rightly called those fighting with the Russians in the east Ukrainians, they are after all vastly those who hold Ukrainian citizenship. But this doesn’t matter to them, nor did it to their ancestors. They are ethnic Russians and this is what is most important to most of them. It is what makes this area of the world so complicated and dangerous because national boundaries are often secondary to ethnic boundaries. Often they wont fight over a national boundary but will fight with everything they have to defend their ethnic interests.

        I think those of us here in the US/Canada and Western Europe have very little to compare this to. Ireland? Maybe, Walloons and Flemish in Belgium? Hard. We just don’t understand the well where these feelings and emotions come from.

        What bothers me is the western media trying to lower this whole conflict to the lowest common denominator, to the point where what is coming out of our media actually means literally less than nothing. All to support a given narrative. We saw it in 2002-2003 in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, we see it now,. Our populations are more than happy to jump on whatever bandwagon is being provided today and our educational system insures they have neither the drive nor the ability to come up with any thought out and informed opinion on their own.

        You might agree with the opinion pushes this time, next time you might not. I remember being a lonely voice in 2003 against the Iraq war. I don’t support their Russians today, but I do support intelligent, well thought out and researched discussion on the issue, but we are not getting that. It is a complicated issue and our media does us a massive disservice by dumbing down discussion to the point of meaningless whilst at the same time promoting one side in the conflict to the point where they have dropped their notepads and adopted pom-poms instead.

        • Leith says:

          Stefan – “So when one talks about “Ukrainians” one has to ask “which Ukrainians”

          That is true. Just as one has to ask “which Russians” when talking about the 20 million dead civilians on the Eastern Front in WW2. In your comment above you seemed to imply they were all ethnic Russians. That was definitely not so. As for those in LNR and DNR fighting with Russia they are a small pittance of the 40 plus million population of Ukraine. And some of those LNR & DNR fighters were forcibly conscripted. Just as Putin is attempting to do now in occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

          You were not a lonely voice in 2003. I was against the US invasion of Iraq; as were many if not most of the commenters here. And as were somewhere between 40 to 50% of the American people depending on which polls you believe.

    • Leith says:

      Stefan –

      Fully one quarter to one third of those Soviet dead civilians in WW2 were Ukrainian. 16.3% of their population, one in six died in that war. Compared to 12.7% or one in eight within the Russian SFSR, and many of those were non-ethnic Russians from the many Autonomous republics and oblasts.

      The Belorusian SSR suffered the worst losing over 25% of their population killed in the war. One in four. Hard to imagine that amount of devastation.

      • Leith says:

        PS –

        The Lithuanian SSR suffered just as badly. They also lost 12.7% of their population just like the Russian SFSR.

        The Latvian and Armenian SSRs suffered worse than the Russians, losing 13.7% and 13.6% respectively of their populations.

      • Leith says:

        PPS – Those stats are from a Russian historian.

    • d74 says:

      Stephan, thank you.

      European history is very complicated. Its past, and the pasts of all the peoples of Europe, impose themselves on us, whether we like it or not. The collapse of the USSR and its breakup has released ‘tectonic’ or historical forces.
      It seems that the exemplary reconciliation between Germany and France has not been followed.

      Have you read Wlodzimierz Odojewski’s novel “And the snow covered their tracks” ?
      Or the one by Constantin Virgil Gheorghiu? An author whose youth was so far from God and so close to many enemies? “the Twenty-fifth hour, the one that comes after the last hour, the one where even the coming of a Messiah would not solve anything.”
      So much simmering hatred. Nothing that prosperity or “economism” can relieve.
      These are novels, but true ones that allow us to ‘feel’ and experience, beyond time.

    • Barbara Ann says:


      I’ve seen it suggested that Russia’s true national religion is the Great Patriotic War. Putin’s July 2021 essay on Ukraine and his actions since February indicate he is a believer.

  18. peter mcloughlin says:

    Governments make righteous claims about human rights, foremost the right to life, that there’re inherent and inalienable. But they are conditional, on whatever serves the interests of that nation. They are expendable in the pursuit of power.

  19. Sam says:

    Another $500 million today:

    Feb. 26: “Biden approves $350 million in military aid for Ukraine”

    Mar 16: “Biden announces $800 million in military aid for Ukraine

    Mar. 30: “Ukraine to receive additional $500 million in aid from US”

    Apr. 12: “US to announce $750 million more”


    A microcosm of the attitude of BOTH parties. Spending today by borrowing money from future generations. My grandma used to say: “Do you think money grows on trees?”. Apparently our politicians, corporations and even us citizens believe that and have done so for decades. All one needs is look at the chart of Total Credit Market Debt as a ratio to GDP.

    • blue peacock says:


      Some moons ago, current generations strived to leave savings and a nest egg for future generations. The focus was a better future and standard of living for their progeny. That attitude seems so old fashioned now. Current generations leave their grandchildren and their children debt and they didn’t have any choice in the matter. It appears “Me. Me” is being taken to the stratosphere.

  20. mcohen says:

    Probably slice the cake down the middle with the dnipro river as the new border.Turn kyiv into a east west Berlin.That looks possible.Big guy had me in a headlock on the ground long ago.Could not get out.I grabbed him by the nuts and he let go.Ukraine either grabs the nuts or surrenders.Crimea should be the main objective for ukraine.The crown jewels.

  21. LJ says:

    In terms of narrative, I think there is a better and more accurate way to frame it. Russia has been maneuvered into a position of zugzwang, the position in chess in which every move is a losing move. Therefore, Russia chose a direction that might give it a winning position if the West misplays. Winning for the US/NATO ultimately means leaving Russia still standing as a nation state and the reverse is losing. Therefore, the current war is one of WWIII. Neither side can lose and remain viable. As time passes, the fighting will escalate in scope and intensity.

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