Excuse me? Are you really serious, Mrs. Appelbaum? Only a Ukraine equipped with nuclear weapons could have secured peace? If such a judgment came from a small member state of the international community, it could be excused as an expression of a feeling of inferiority. Ms. Appelbaum, however, lives and writes and teaches in the United States. I fear that it is precisely this kind of half-blind perception of the present and unilateral obliviousness to history that serves as a compass for U.S. political action. But if a defective navigation device determines the actions and strategy of a hegemonic power, one must come to a different conclusion. Anne Appelbaum's military policy recommendations seem cynical and arrogant to me. I readily concede that her judgment in the current conflict is biased, but the choice of words in her criticism of Russian conditions would already be unacceptable in peaceful times. In these warlike times, this language exposes itself for what it probably wants to be: incendiary diatribe.

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I almost 80. I had a professional career that mostly overlapped the First Cold War including some successful code-name projects NOUGAT, GEMINI, APOLLO.

I see that we are now in a Second World which will include some aspects of how the Russian "Z" campaign finally winds down. I do not think it will degenerate into a nuclear exchange. Still, there are mostly unknowns in an ongoing war. I am awed by Ann Applebaum's ability to distinguish those unknowns from what we do know reasonably well.

As a student of military history, I was gratified to see a definitive account of the Russian-led Anglo-Austrian and Prussian campaign against Napoleon, 1812-14, written about 200 years later by Dominic Lieven.

Also, a hundred years afterwards, we are learning a lot about World War I, not least about Lawrence in Arabia, from Scott Anderson. It turns out he was also in Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, and Syria at the time and dealing with various Jewish factions in what would become Israel as well as the Seven Sisters, the SIS and CIA back in the day.

Now, going on nine years into a war between Ukraine and Russia including about one month of the "Z" campaign, I appreciate Ann Applebaum's well-informed approach to what have to be strategic decisions taken in the political present. I think her most useful advice is decisive action against kleptocracy. That would not just be the war on yachts but the war on dysfunctional democracies like ours that complement the fake democracy in Russia.

The keys to both are contingent-fee "bond-lawyers" and "merchant bankers" looking back and digital predation looking forward. These are essentially Cold War privateers. They are now just pirates without Congressional Letters of Marque but the equivalent of them issued by the FCC and Federal Reserve, respectively.

Here in the U.S., lawyers and bankers started the Civil War only to emerge from it and Reconstruction more powerful than ever. They did much the same after the end of the First Cold War in 1991.

They adjudicated legalistic and autocratic versions of kleptocracy that converged at Davos and in Cyprus. The key to maximizing the effect of "economic sanctions" on a foreign country" is disabling its domestic enablers. These exploit "unwritten rules" like that governing taxation of municipal bonds,

On the potential for nuclear war:

Both the U.S. and Russian military have dealt with this in at least three previous nuclear wars. The first of these was a weapons effects test of two different bomb designs on Japanese populations. Actually, the Emperor had already decided to surrender to the Americans before losing more sacred territory to the Russians. The Soviets won both the war against Germany and Japan. We were decisive logistically but failed to take even German forces in Northern Italy.

The second nuclear war, called the Cuban Missile Crisis, did not happen. Still, J. F. Kennedy was assassinated; and N. S. Khrushchev was removed from his office. The third nuclear war was won by Israel at the expense of both the Soviet Union and NATO. I think a politician like Putin will not try to get his remaining generals to use nuclear weapons and I wish President Biden was not so intimidated by the possibility he might.

To crush kleptocracy, do not look at the seeming principals, Putin or Trump, look at the legal, financial, and political intermediaries like Deutsche Bank and mercenary companies like the late, unlamented, Black, Stone, and Manafort.

If the "demented", "weak" American President is to tackle kleptocracy, he will probably need to replace his vain, cowardly Attorney General as fast as Ukrainians can kill Russian generals. He needs to deny enablers of Russian kleptocracy access to corrupt or just unpatriotic bankers and lawyers in New York, Houston, and, yes, Wilmington, Delaware.

Our oligarchs do not have nearly as extravagant yachts as their Russian counterparts. They are pirates of the Caribbean, not the Mediterranean. Still, they enjoy the same qualitative economic privilege, legal immunity, and criminal impunity as the inner circles of Putin and Trump.

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