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The End of an Era (Again)

The Post-Cold War Era now officially has birth and death dates: It was born on November 9, 1989, which is the day when the Berlin Wall fell, and it died on February 24, 2022, which is when Russia invaded Ukraine. Those 32 years, 3 months and 16 days were not all great (and I need to stress, this is putting it lightly). But within that era, the world was as open and to some degree unified as it had ever been, we were all connected through a global information network, for good and ill, and during that stretch of time, the prospect of being fried in nuclear annihilation was remote as it had been since the Soviets gained their own nuclear capability.

Today, tens of thousands of Belgians picked up iodine tablets from pharmacies, which is a pretty good sign that the Belgians, at least, think the halcyon days of not worrying that we’ll all be turned into silhouettes on the sidewalk are over. War is in Europe now, not for the first time since World War II, but on a scale that doesn’t leave much doubt that we’ve stepped through to a new and uncertain time, at least until the leadership of Russia is swapped out for something less twitchy and warlike. That might take a while.

There are some small things that are not bad, or should I say, slightly better, about this new era. The polite fiction that Russia (specifically the Putin government) is not a bad actor with regard to propaganda and purchasing conservative politicians and commenters in the west is now officially dead, and good fucking riddance to that. All but the most obtuse of conservative politicians and talking heads have gotten the memo in the last week; it’s been fun watching them denounce Putin with the same lips they’d been kissing his ass with days before. There’s also a vague look of confusion and panic in their eyes; they’ve been on the payroll for so long, or have benefitted from the Russian disinformation strategy of undermining Western democracy, that it’s clear they no longer know what to think or how to say it without direction. I don’t regret these terrible people being lost at sea, rhetorically speaking. I hope they drown there.

Beyond that, there’s not much to look forward to in the near future. The idea that Putin will not try to execute on his plan to subjugate Ukraine seems remote. He’d assumed the invasion would be quick and easy, and was embarrassed and humiliated when it wasn’t. Putin does not strike me as the sort of person to take embarrassment and humiliation in stride, and it’s pretty evident he doesn’t actually care about how many people he’ll kill, either his own side or among the Ukrainians, in order not to be humiliated more than he already is. The west has aligned itself with Ukraine and its government as it exists, and is strangling Russia economically. I am not to be relied upon as a competent observer of events here — I’m not an expert on Russia, Ukraine, or the west’s economic tactics — but with that caveat given, I’m not sure there is an easy way out here, or an “off-ramp” that can be given Putin that soothes his feelings while leaving Ukraine intact.

One thing that can be said is that the Biden administration, which warned us all for at least a few weeks that Putin and Russia would do what they did, and was widely mocked and derided on the right for it, got it right — and by all indications had conferred with key allies prior to events so as not to be caught entirely by surprise. It appears once Russian boots were on the ground in Ukraine, Europe moved faster than the US (in no small part thanks to an impassioned plea to European leaders by Volodymyr Zelensky), but everyone moved in more or less the same direction, and Biden’s people helped set the direction.

Bluntly: What a relief that is. Our fatuous windbag of a former president, speaking of right wing politicians who had been kissing Putin’s ass, likes to suggest that none of this would have happened had he been president. What a contemptable lie that is. If he were still president, Putin would have had an ardent ally in the White House, one more than happy to squash the brakes on a coherent western response to the invasion. The same man who had been impeached for trying to lean on Volodymyr Zelensky to smear Biden would have been perfectly happy to have the Russians hang him from a crane.

Instead, we have a president who saw Putin for what he was and what he intended to do. Biden, bless his heart, is not a perfect president, nor is his administration doing everything I want it to do at the rate I want it to be done. But on this, at least, he and it were where they needed to be, doing what they needed to be doing. If the post-cold war era is ending, the president overseeing it on our end understands the gravity of the change, and the messages the United States should be sending about it.

I’ll miss the post-cold war era, and the idea that our entire planet could be connected in ways it hadn’t been before. I don’t know where we go from here. I would like to think that at the end of it we’ll be someplace better than we are now. So much depends on the choices we make today, from the national level down to each of us in the voting booth. We’re living in history again, whether we like it or not.

— JS

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

71 replies on “The End of an Era (Again)”

Ukraine is not Putin’s game. It is a means to an end. The end is the destabilization of the US and NATO. So he will happily slog on for years as long as it hurts us. He does not believe that we have the backbone or stamina for a long battle. We need our creature comforts.

the idea that our entire planet could be connected in ways it hadn’t been before

I think that will be coming to an end. Or rather it has been for some time, it will just speed up and become more obvious..

The Great Firewall, of course. But most countries are now acting like they’re at least vaguely aware of the risks, and most of those are at least talking about doing something. Some are much farther along, and I expect the US to become somewhat more intrusive in this respect. (They already are in some industries.)

The weaponization of SWIFT and other economic networks is not novel, but the scale and visibility is much more significant than other examples of weaponized interdependence we’ve seen. I suspect this is the beginning of a lot more of that sort of thing, and a resulting fragmentation of global payment systems.

[Deleted because while I find it amusing people forget I wrote professionally about politics before I become a novelist, as a general rule, people who tell me to “stick to novels” can go fuck themselves sideways. I write what I want, especially here on my site. No one makes you come here, folks – JS]

Excellent post, John. It is truly a pleasure watching Carlson and other Putin mouthpieces and apologists squirming as they face widespread condemnation for their sycophantic behavior.

The most concerning aspect of this whole mess to me is the future of NATO, and the unspoken reasons for NATO to exist:

With NATO, America has been able to put a lot of troops and tanks and planes on German soil, with which to assure the German folks that hey we’re RIGHT HERE and have your back, so there’s no need to ramp your terrifyingly efficient, inventive, and misguided war machine back up.
To also remind Germany that hey, should you ever decide to ramp your war machine back up, we’re RIGHT HERE and will shut it down even faster than we did in the past.

Now we have Germany feeling very uncomfortable and planning to ramp up its war machine by 100 billion Euros.

I really hope that they stop there.

I personally am much more concerned by a re-armed Germany that’s looking for an excuse than I am by Putin’s unpopular and unfunded filibusters.

Wow, language! I think i will stick to your novels. I have too much respect for you to use foul language in a discussion. But respect doesnt mean you are always right

It is still possible a coup could be pulled off by enough angered oligarchs.
The odds of a new guy having pro-democratic, pro-western views is as close to zero as can be, but it can give the country a way of saying, “It was his fault, we’re stopping that.” As long as Putin is in power, I don’t think he can back down.

Karthik:

“I have too much respect for you to use foul language in a discussion.”

Uh-huh. “Stick to novels” is essentially “fuck you,” so, no, in fact, you’re perfectly comfortable using foul language, and I eliminated the middleman and euphemism in responding. Again, if you don’t like what I write here, you don’t have to read it.

That said, this is aside from the discussion, so it’s tabled.

I breaks my heart that a whole generation of our population is essentially missing three years of education during a time when humans are sponges for knowledge. Make no mistake, most parents are unable to adequately educate their children during this interminable pandemic.

America already has a sizable population of idiots and morons, so it is troublesome that we may be adding to those numbers while kids are locked away with their crazy Qanon parents.

A lot of kids are being taught something entirely different than your excellent summary of this madness, Scalzi, and I hope there are enough level heads remaining when the dust settles. Thanks for speaking out.

[Deleted because I said the discussion was tabled. Karthik, you can continue to comment otherwise, so long as you stick to the actual subject under discussion — JS]

I grew up in McLean Virginia with at least 3 primary targets within 5 miles of me and with the air raid sirens being tested monthly. By the time I was in my teens in the early 80’s I was aware of how precarious the situation was. Sunday I was driving along feeling like the 80’s were closer than the 2000’s. Possibly because I was listening to the new (and pretty good) Tears For Fears album.

But thinking that I hadn’t expected to be contemplating evacuation routes in my late 50’s.

Weird to realize that Mikhail Gorbachev is still alive and watching all this go down.

I would feel better if government officials would run their statements past a “Paranoia Sensitivity Reader” before speaking:

Biden, tonight, saying “he doesn’t know what’s coming”. UK foreign secretary Liz Truss calling for regime change, which was later walked back by Downing Street.

It would be nice if statements were kept within the realm of things that we would actually do, statements that won’t encourage Putin’s finger toward the button.

@ joelfinkle An oligarch coup is probably the main reasoning behind all the economic warfare. Good chance they’re not up for Putinka’s death ride. crosses fingers

@ JS I’m gonna be 70 this year. This ‘history happening’ shit is gettin’ on my nerves.

If Trump were in charge, we know what he’d have done – fired the Secretary of State, then complained that the media wasn’t praising him for his bold, decisive leadership.

Europe moved faster than the US (in no small part thanks to an impassioned plea to European leaders by Volodymyr Zelensky), but everyone moved in more or less the same direction, and Biden’s people helped set the direction. >

I think Europe moved faster than we did because Biden made sure that the US would be seen as supporting a European consensus rather than leading the way.

He knows Putin would like to make this about the US versus Russia, both for the propaganda of it and to muddy the waters, shift the focus from what’s happening on the ground to a big ol’ imperialist dick-measuring context, where he could more credibly rattle his nuclear sabers and frame it as Russia versus the oppressors. And Trump, even if he didn’t fall in behind Putin, would have fallen for that like a ton of Trump brand bricks. He’s never been in any situation he didn’t want to make about him.

Biden, though, is a lot smarter than Trump. By letting Europe take the lead (and from what I’ve read, encouraging it behind the scenes), he keeps the focus where it belongs, on what’s happening in and to Europe. And Putin looks like what he is, an aggressor and a madman threatening to nuke one of his neighbors.

[I also like how other former Soviet states (aside from Belarus, which is occupied by Russia) declined to send troops — why would they want to encourage Putin to attack and absorb former soviet states, when they could easily be next?]

Putin wants a Cold War, but he’s stuck being the guy who started a hot war, because the international reaction won’t let him blur those lines. And a lot of that is due to Biden making sure the US looks like it’s in support of Europe, rather than leading the way.

We’re living in history again, whether we like it or not.

Plus, of course, we’ve been living in history all along, as Palestine and others can attest. It’s just that history is now happening to white people again.

I lean toward Putin’s supporters not liking their assets being frozen — or, next week, actually seized. When their children start being interned as enemy aliens, the ice under Putin’s feet will crack.

On another point, the most historically significant thing that has happened since the invasion is the Swiss picking a side. That has never happened before, and it signals something.

I guess Democrats are better than nothing. I wish I had anything pithy or funny to say, but we just need to see how the next weeks play out.

Everybody wants to rule the world. Ok, that was at least a little bit pithy, right?

@Nebris “An oligarch coup is probably the main reasoning behind all the economic warfare. ”

Also the economic warfare is a way to try to get at Putin, since Putin doesn’t exactly have investment accounts in his own name. Much of his wealth may be managed under the names of oligarchs.

“Plus, of course, we’ve been living in history all along, as Palestine and others can attest. It’s just that history is now happening to white people again.”

As much as people like the moral superiority of this dunk, it’s not like people, on the whole, cared about the last invasion of Ukraine in 2014, even though that only involved white people. This one is different because of the simple nature of the narrative: bad guy Putin made wild claims about Ukraine and invaded, good guy Zelensky stayed in the warzone to lead his people. (If he’d fled, I think we’d have seen the same indifference we saw with the Crimean invasion.)

“I saw it begin,” said the Lord Digory. “I did not think I would live to see it die.”

There were a lot of good things about this era, and a lot that were terrible too. But the future is not yet set.

Dear Mr. Scalzi,

I read here, many who recommend a Coup d’état for Russia. It worked well in Ukraine when the duly elected President was overthrown in 2014, so why not Russia. The USA has much practice in this, replacing many independent governments with compliant ones. Maybe it will work in Russia, too…

But that is Russia’s fear, that their government will be overthrown, their culture will become erased. that they will become just another copy of the USA…

Tonight, Biden is joyful to announce that all flights in and out of the USA for Russia are canceled, forbidden. How will Russians get home? They are de facto prisoners of the USA. They are terrified. Will they be taken away in the middle of the night?…

…and the finger moves closer to the button… *sigh

PS: Is that portal to the Kaiju Preserve still open? Those monsters, I can deal with… Also, love to Charlie and the cats. I look forward to the next fur-kid instalment from the Scalzi Compound.

How will Russians get home?

A connecting flight?

[I do not know how many countries are not allowing flights into Russia, so I don’t in fact know if one could fly to Russia via China or Japan or Turkey or wherever. So Russians in the US may be de facto prisoners, or they may have options.]

There was a (very short – maybe 2 years?) time in the early 1990s when I dared to hope that “the idea that our entire planet could be connected in ways it hadn’t been before” was actually a good thing.

I am not claiming any kind of prescience or arcane knowledge about Something Going On back then. But the 1992 election made me twitchy. The beginning of a really outsized role for money in electoral campaigns and the early rise of the PACs. Newt Gingrich and his politics of degeneration and cruelty.

And then the wave of offshoring and money-hiding and cross-border investment that started piling up the mega-fortunes. And then Fox News and the media consolidation. NAFTA as a tool for advancing an international cheap-labor economy.

Technology that initially looked like it was going to usher in a benevolent utopic sci-fi future somehow twisted into enabling international crime cartels, oligarchs, and white-collar crimelords to create ever more efficient ways to crime. With ever greater impunity.

I’m not an isolationist. I think America has an important role to play in the world. We still have the potential to advance geopolitical evolution in positive directions, if we can get past the current Putin-instigated internal divisions. But even if we do, I think we need to be more careful about who we’re building connections with, and why and what for.

The 12-Step community has a saying about “slippery people, places, and things”, meaning that if you’re trying to build a healthy recovery, you need to improve your judgment about who to hang out with, where to go, what to spend your time on. We’ve been on a terrible bender for a long time. If we want to recover, we need to make thoughtful choices.

Maybe putting some guardrails on the whole ‘anyone can connect with anyone’ thing is worth discussing.

So now I need to come to Whatever to learn what happens in my own country! 😂

Just to reassure you – and the 30,000 Belgians who picked up iodine in pharmacies – the authorities have confirmed there is no reason to ingest those just yet.

In fact free iodine has been available in Belgium for year, authorities recommending that people within a certain radius from a nuclear plant to keep some at home in case of hazard.

So yeah, recent events may have rekindled the interest for this otherwise little known Belgian quirk. But it’s far from immediate panic here in the streets.

Not to minimise the gravity of what is happening on the other side of the continent, to the contrary. I just wanted to thank you for a well-needed laugh in the current doom.

The “prisoners of the USA” is pure drama. Russians can get home from the USA via Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Casablanca, etc. Plus more roundabout routes through Asia. There are flights tomorrow from NYC starting at a bit over $700.

I grew up during the Cold War and have vague memories of the Cuban missile crises. Everyone was fearful of a nuclear war. I truly believe that Putin is not a rational actor at this point and I do worry what his end game is here.
I have been impressed by the courage of the Ukrainian people and my heart breaks for them because for a lot of them their lives will never be the same.

A connecting flight?
Dear Kurt Busiek,

There are no flights to Russia leaving from any country in Europe, or Canada, or USA, or China, so there are no connecting flights that can cross into Russia. And, at this time, flights originating in Russia are forbidden from crossing the air space of the surrounding European countries. Even the polar route is inaccessible because of Greenland’s restricted airspace. Russia is effectively blockaded for all air travel into or out of Russia. So Americans, Europeans, and Canadians in Russia, have no way home, either. Biden’s declaration has effectively stranded them all.

My greater concern, though, is for the Husbands, Fathers, Brothers, not able to accompany their families out of Ukraine into welcoming countries because the Ukrainian President has denied them exit from Ukraine. If this President were so popular, wouldn’t they just stay on their own? They may never see their families again, and their families may never know what has become of them. I’m supporting UNICEF. At least there’s hope for all the children.

“All but the most obtuse of conservative politicians and talking heads have gotten the memo in the last week; it’s been fun watching them denounce Putin with the same lips they’d been kissing his ass with days before. There’s also a vague look of confusion and panic in their eyes; they’ve been on the payroll for so long, or have benefitted from the Russian disinformation strategy of undermining Western democracy, that it’s clear they no longer know what to think or how to say it without direction.”

John, I wish I could share your optimism, but if the last few years has taught us anything, it is that these rancid bags of mince will double-down on their lies, misogyny, homophobia and hatred of anything that is different, that they do not understand or that they can’t profit from.

I don’t really want to argue about how connecting flights work, but you don’t have to connect only through Europe, North America or China, nor do you have to pass through European or polar airspace.

Still, if you’re convinced you can’t get there from here, so be it. That wouldn’t actually make someone a prisoner of the US, just a Russian expatriate, since there are lots of places one could go to from the US.

But there’s not much point to arguing about geography. I’m unconvinced, but I won’t make an effort to convince you. Have a good night, or morning, or whatever applies.

day drinking… solves nothing but make it possible to endure a slow slide into barbarism…

for a couple days I genuinely thought there’d be a more overt supply chain into Ukraine to restock consumables (bullets-missiles-etc) as well to make it clear that NATO will do everything but man the barricades… listing such a honking huge flow of war material that Putin’s subordinates would understand this was an unwinnable war… who would then decide their boss would commit suicide by way them each firing a bullet into the back of his head simultaneously… nope… I was wrong…

doubtful it will go to DEFCON 1 and swapping nukes… but it will be a brutal slog in Ukraine and millions will scatter as refugees and war wounded…

it was a nice planet once… pity what we did to it…

The only reason it didn’t end in 2014 is that Europe was still burying its head in the sand that Crimea would be enough for Putin, rather than just a beachhead.

We’ve finally woken up to the fact that Putin has been fighting a cold war for a decade now, and that we need to be ready to fight back.

If we’d acted swiftly and brought Ukraine into the EU/NATO after Crimea then we wouldn’t be where we are now…

@Jake Errs: Why should you be any more worried about a “re-armed” Germany than you are about France, Italy or the UK? Germany is a western-style liberal democracy and does a better job of living up to the philosophies inherent in that system than many others. You might recall that as recently as just over a year ago Angela Merkel was widely considered the leader of the free world (since the person holding the office usually granted that sobriquet clearly had no claim to it). The German mainstream right is well to the left of any American Republican (even somebody like Larry Hogan or the leftiest R in Massachusetts) and even to the left of several conservative Democrats).

And I put those scare quotes around re-armed for a reason. German troops fought alongside the US in Afghanistan and serve as peacekeepers all over the world. The increased spending that’s been proposed will get Germany to the stated NATO goal of 2% of GDP. It’s time to forget 80-year-old wartime attitudes and look at the real world.

The post cold war era ended with the invasion of Georgia in 2008. There Putin’s playbook worked like a treat – after a rapid occupation of the Georgian capital two puppet states were created on the Russian-Georgian border, to make sure the Georgian borders are not undisputed and block it from joining NATO, and after ~8 years of humiliation, a pro russian president of Georgia was elected.

Ukraine was meant to be a repeat, only it’s capital is holding… for now. Unlike with Georgia, the EU has a border with Ukraine, so it’s harder for pro russian, right wing “European isolationinsts” preaching equivalence between US and Russia to sweep the invasion under the rug.

Excellent commentary, but I have a small bone to pick with your final sentence. We have always been living in history. Some of us have been lucky, however, and it has been kind to us.

@Luke

I was going to say– I likewise hope that John is correct on this point, but I cannot help but notice that one of Trump’s responses to recent events was to denounce Canada as “left-wing fascists” and to decry the threat of “woke tyranny” in the U.S. He received a standing ovation at CPAC for these comments.

Meanwhile, in the Ukraine….

@ Karthik:

“But respect doesnt mean you are always right”

If I may offer, next time try using a factual argument, rather than an insult followed by vague platitudes. It’s difficult to offer counter-arguments against a non-argument, so your comment can be interpreted as trolling.

@ Anya Aleksandrovna:

“But that is Russia’s fear, that their government will be overthrown, their culture will become erased. that they will become just another copy of the USA…”

I don’t doubt that this is the case with many Russians. However, people who choose to believe this believe it as a result of state propaganda, not any objective, independently verifiable facts.

No one has laid a finger on Russians in Russia, or threatened to change the “Russian way of life” (whatever that’s supposed to mean – I guess if you keep your statements vague enough, no one can argue against them) in any way. The notion of “the west” using Ukraine to launch some sort of invasion on Russia is beyond absurd – no one in “the west” wants what Russia has, and even if someone were insane enough to contemplate it, the ex-Soviet nuclear stockpile is a more than effective deterrent.

It is Russia who made the decision to threaten the territorial integrity of a sovereign neighboring nation, first in 2014, then again in 2022, by sending troops and heavy ordnance across internationally recognized borders. Borders that the Russian government itself signed off on after the collapse of the USSR.

In that context, your complaints about Russians being stranded outside their country’s borders, while the Russian government gleefully stomps over these same borders to shell and murder civilians, including children, are bizarre, and frankly sickening.

@ Jake Errs:

“Now we have Germany feeling very uncomfortable and planning to ramp up its war machine by 100 billion Euros.”

I can see why the notion of “oh noes, ze Germans are re-arming” is attractive from a apocalyptic speculative perspective. Certainly brings some fun fictional scenarios to my mind. But that’s all they are – fictional.

Old-school fascism was born in an era of burgeoning populations, following a century or more of rapid industrialization, and significant accumulation of resources and capital that could be efficiently mobilized to drive armed expansion (and, perhaps more importantly, created millions of aggrieved people living in abject poverty). Fascism was an offspring of imperialism, with esoteric nonsense about “manifest destinies” and “chosen races” slapped on top of colonialism and European territorial grievances, some real, most imagined. WW1 was imperialism/capitalism taken to the extreme, WW2 its unfortunate second act.

Times change. “The west” has seen decades of economic stability and prosperity no previous generation has known. Populations within European borders are declining, and the battle-cry of Lebensraum rings false. Europeans (for the most part) no longer see their neighbors as bloodthirsty maniacs hellbent on conquest or mutual annihilation. The impetus for large-scale war in an era of MAD has fizzled out.

Modern fascism, as a result, tends to be isolationist/protectionist. There is no interest in expanding, when there’s more than enough country to go per capita. Hang onto what we’ve hoarded, keep the Wrong People out of our borders, keep the plebs inside our borders from getting a fair share of wealth relative to their expended efforts to generate it. Right-wing movements in many “Western” European nations are a textbook example. The recent fascist actions by Russia, an economically unstable petrostate ruled by a band of far-right kleptocrats, are a last desperate salvo from an old and lost war, not the opening hostilities of a new one.

“The “prisoners of the USA” is pure drama.”

Well of course it is. It doesn’t even make consistent sense across two sentences. The fact that you cannot get from Point A to Point B doesn’t make you a DE FACTO PRISONER of Point A. Nobody is telling Russians currently in America that they can’t leave. You know – the actual definition of what it means to be a prisoner. They just can’t get directly from here to there. They are instead limited to the trivial count of every other location on earth.

You could certainly make people de facto prisoners by doing something like, say, preventing them from flying. In a country with the land mass of the US – not to mention the fact that the two countries it borders are also sizable – that could effectively prevent someone from leaving. But that’s not remotely the case. Russians who want to leave are free to do so.

Dare I say – you may not be able to get directly home, but you certainly don’t have to stay here.

This Russian invasion of Ukraine reminds me (8 years old) of watching the evening news when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1968 on the family black & white Zenith TV. And at the same time the US war in Vietnam was escalating. They were very sinister times, and we seem to be going back to them.

No worries, John. Sorry if I took the bait, there.

I remember the feeling in the 80s of waking up and wondering…is the cold war going hot? Is it going to start over brinkmanship? I remember in the 90s the feeling of relief when the USSR broke apart…even though in some ways there was the danger of rogue nuclear states.

That the invasion has not gone to plan or as smoothly as Crimea is something of a relief, but only just so. I do worry that people are going a little too far in lionizing Zelenskyy…not because he isn’t doing the job or worthy of recognition of such. But I feel like people are raising him on a platform that he eventually must tumble from, to his disappointment and theirs. I remember when Rudy Giuliani was ‘America’s Mayor’; he did his job when it needed doing, too. Which is not to say that Zelenskyy is that kind buffoon, but it could be setting people up to be shocked when things settle down.

Otherwise, there’s just a certain degree of helplessness in this situation. The only source for de-escalation is for an irrational demagogue to become somehow more rational. At least Biden has the right approach to engage (or rather not). The BBC has a video interviewing Americans in my area (greater Philadelphia) and some of them had some astonishingly naïve ideas about taking some sort of ‘tough’ stance against Russia, though none of them seem to know what to do if things escalate. Putin would love the US to get directly involved, which is exactly why Biden won’t do it…thanksfully.

I’m going to pretend for a moment that “Anya” is an actual Russian who is actually stuck in the US because my curiosity has gotten the better of me: What exactly would it look like for Russian culture to be “erased” and replaced with a copy of the US?

I’m pretty sure I know where this is going, “Anya,” but it’s nice to get things out in the open.

@Jake Err
Germany already has everything it wanted–reunification, leading the EU both politically and financially, excellent healthcare and 13 weeks of vacation. They’re not about to screw that up.

@wiredog and Terry
I still remember the short-lived hardliner coup in the 90s. And sitting on a hard target (DoD contractor.). We knew we were all targeted for direct nuclear strikes. It just seemed like a better choice to be vaporized so quickly that your nerves literally wouldn’t have enough time to carry the pain signals rather than going home and worrying. The Russians stopped the coup, unfortunately we got Yeltsin and later Putin as a result. Hopefully Putin gets the retirement plan that pretty much all fascist dictators seem to get–a bullet in the back of the head from erstwhile cronies and a shallow dirt grave. Which I suspect will happen once his oligarch pals start hurting too much financially. And yeah, Gorbachev must be dying inside, watching the world peace he helped create die in stupidity and tribalism.

@Matthew Hughes
Yes, it means the Swiss have now realized that the mountains aren’t the barrier they once were. And that “neutral” means “alone with no allies and Russians on the border”. Also, if the Swiss want to stay an economic powerhouse, they better get on the right side of history. The Nazi gold and the various divestment movements must surely be in the back of their minds… along with the fact that they could be next, after the former Soviet states.

@Howard_NYC
I doubt we’ll go to DEFCON 1 too, Biden is too smart for that. Plus, the US and Russia aren’t the only nuclear players… even a serious threat of nuclear first strike would likely bring a preemptive attack by all the other players. Dune’s Great Convention: You nuke anybody and we nuke you.

I’m more concerned about Putin’s predilection for biowarfare, even as a spoiler farewell/FU. Russia had a pretty robust biowarfare program and it’s a not so secret secret that Biopreparat was heating up & weaponizing smallpox and other pathogens. Putin launched a test missile in the 90s that had heat sinks and dropped tiny little bomblets… you don’t need heat sinks for nuclear missiles and you don’t need intercontinental missiles for conventional ordinance either. And it’s pretty well known that Russia lost control of its smallpox stocks, some of which are credibly suspected in Iran & N. Korea’s biowarfare programs. Hell, even the other Russian scientists refused to work or acknowledge the Biopreparat scientists, called them all pigs. I’m also concerned about a conventional strike on nuclear power plants, both as an act of war and a spoiler–if Russia can’t have the Ukraine, neither can the Ukrainians. Chornobyl the sequel.

@Anya
Really? If Putin’s oligarchs were actual prisoners, they’d be wearing orange jumpsuits and be behind bars. Unlike your wonderful Russian system of jurisprudence, they wouldn’t be forced to stand in cages during their trials either.

What the stranded Russian oligarchs are is inconvenienced. And apparently in no rush to go home to Russia. If they really wanted to go home, they could book a flight to Europe or China and then travel overland. If they have to do it on the crappiest mule train through the ‘stans or through China, so be it.
Although I do wonder how they’d pay for it.
But don’t worry! Even if they are stranded in the US and run out of money, there’s always the American food stamps (actually debit cards now but the program name stuck), soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The latter two of which should provide some insight as to how refugee Ukrainians are currently living.

If they really wanted to go home, they could book a flight to Europe or China and then travel overland.

Or book a flight to Kazakhstan or even Mongolia, and fly from there. Even if they couldn’t get there via an easier transfer point, as was mentioned earlier.

@Audrey

…oligarchs?

What on earth are you talking about? I’m talking about the hundreds of thousands of Russian people who are traveling or living in the USA who meant to go home again sometime. Just ordinary people.

@just different

If I am “actually” Russian?

You deny me my heritage, erase me without even knowing me at all whatsoever. What would the erasure by USA of entire Russian culture look like? Just like Anytown USA. But you might like that.

@Fatman

You make yourself a Strawman with this “but what about” argument. It’s possible to be aggrieved by the devastation happening to innocent children in Ukraine, AND be concerned about the stranded Russian and USA citizens who just want to get home.

@Don @Kurt Busiek

Leaving USA, is not the same as going home. For Russians in the USA and EU, as well as many other countries, there are no flights going to where home is.

@Susan

Connecting flights…

Please refer to the US State Department site declaring that Passengers with itineraries terminating in Russia will not be boarded onto their flights from USA. Also, Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, and Casablanca have all canceled their flights into Russia. I checked. But thank you for the suggestion. Also, Flights from Russia to these destinations have also been canceled as they have been advised their aircraft will not be allowed to land.

To all who responded to my response…

It remains of great interest, the openness and vigor, with which the world is responding to the crisis in Ukraine. Only history will decide who was right and who was wrong, for, after all, history is written by the victors.

As I mentioned in my original comment, my heart remains with the children, all of them, who suffer in this conflict. I continue to support UNICEF for their sake.

Mr. Scalzi, Thank you again for the entry key to the Kaiju Preserve, via The Kaiju Preservation Society, arriving 15MAR. I shall very much enjoy my visit there. (for those still connected to internet, available on Kindle also) Much love and success to you!

It remains of great interest, the openness and vigor, with which the world is responding to the crisis in Ukraine. Only history will decide who was right and who was wrong

I honestly don’t think we need to wait for history’s verdict on this one. But you do you, I guess.

@ Anya Alexandrovna:

“It’s possible to be aggrieved by the devastation happening to innocent children in Ukraine, AND be concerned about the stranded Russian and USA citizens who just want to get home.”

Maybe check the meaning of “strawman”.

My point is simply that both the suffering and death of civilians in Ukraine, and the “plight” of Russians unable to fly home, are the result of actions taken by the Russian government in their aggression on Ukraine. As a Russian citizen, the best way to fight against both would be to express disagreement with the actions of the Russian government. Instead, your invoking of nebulous claims like “erasure of Russian culture”, inventing a US-backed coup d’état in Ukraine (talking about strawmen), and referring to the Russian aggression on Ukraine as a “crisis” indicate that you see this aggression as necessary, or at least excusable, so your concern rings false.

Your viewpoint that “devastation is happening” to innocent children in Ukraine is also disturbing. Devastation isn’t “happening” to Ukrainian civilians, like some Old testament plague. They are being brutally murdered by Russian troops. However, this could be a matter of something getting lost in translation.

“Only history will decide who was right and who was wrong, for, after all, history is written by the victors.”

As a Russian, you ought to know how hideously, tragically wrong that approach has gone for Russians (and many others) in the past.

The reason why, even when I am cranky, I don’t fire a round or two in a crowded mall is because of, well, you know. Therefore I can’t see Putin lobbing one or two nukes at NATO.

So every time I hear “finger on the button” I roll my eyes and mutter, “Don’t feed the troll.” As I said back during the Cold War, “I can’t see Russia declaring war on the entire free world.”

As for a no-fly zone expanding to war against Russia, this begs me to ask, “Why not Korea?” During that UN “police action,” when communist fighter pilots had Chinese/Russian (Tartar) facial features, so that we knew they weren’t Korean, nobody followed them home to bases in China or Russia. The “kill zone,” as it were, stayed Korean.

In my own lifetime, there were no SAS raids, or Argentine raids, on any navy ports outside of the actual Falklands. The (forgive my euphemism) “action zone” stayed in the Falklands.

As a former member of the campus Ukrainian Student Club, I’m a bit biased, but I sure wish we could have a “no-fly zone” in the Ukraine.

“Only history will decide who was right and who was wrong, for, after all, history is written by the victors.”

Well, going by my own memories of Russian education, I fully expect future Russian history books to paint Putin as a noble hero bravely fighting to save Russia from a sinister Ukranian threat. But unless you expect him to victoriously invade every other country on Earth, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a kind verdict elsewhere.

As for a no-fly zone expanding to war against Russia, this begs me to ask, “Why not Korea?”

Because if we fight Russian soldiers in Ukraine then we are directly pitting NATO forces against Russian forces. We are, directly, going to war with them.

@Anya
Unlike the Ukrainian refugees, the “hundreds of thousands of Russian people who are traveling or living in the USA who meant to go home again sometime” may still have a home to go home to.

Also, that’s quite the conversational drift. You’ve gone from “Russian prisoners of the US” (factually untrue) to “hundreds of thousands of Russians who want to go home”.

Do you get the news via Internet, newspaper, phone, TV? Check out the footage of Ukrainian refugees. That’s what hundreds of thousands of people on the move look like. If there were that many people in the US trying to get to Russia, it would be pretty obvious. There would also be footage of it. Feel free to provide some. Or any evidence, really. And not the flimsy pretext kind, like the footage of that one burning power line and some fitfully smoldering brush that was Putin’s pathetically thin casus belli.

Also, if you are really concerned about Russians being able to go home, you might want to check this out:
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/captured-russian-soldiers-cry-tell-26367528

“You deny me my heritage, erase me without even knowing me at all whatsoever. What would the erasure by USA of entire Russian culture look like? Just like Anytown USA. But you might like that.”

Have you looked in a mirror lately? What with the accusations thing.
The US is a pretty diverse place. Unlike the homophobic white supremacist version of Russia that Putin is trying to create.

Also, what part of the Russian culture are you worried about erasing? The racism, fascism, corruption, homophobia, or failed economic model? No one is rolling tanks into Russia to make Russians stop speaking Russian, wearing the clothes they choose to wear or the food they want to eat. Although it is noteworthy that some of the hottest black market items during the Cold War were… American jeans. And not the faux French designer kinds. Levis, Lees, all the American brands.

The banking sanctions specifically targeted banks known to support–and hold–Putin’s money. The ruble is in freefall because it’s the currency of a country run by a sociopathic homicidal maniac. Oddly enough, no one wants to do business with those kinds of regimes. It’s the same reason why the Somali currency or the Venezuelan currency is worthless too.

If you are so worried about children dying, maybe stop supporting the fascist who is bombing them? Especially when he deliberately targets hospitals?

“Only history will decide who was right and who was wrong, for, after all, history is written by the victors.”
Pretty sure the early verdict is in.

Anya needs a clue that this isn’t the first time around the “erasure” pole for a lot of us. We can cut through the BS pretty quickly; kinda boring, because we deal with that crap all the time.

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