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Starve, stretch, scream
Today is a special day. Russia has again blockaded Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and attacked grain elevators with supersonic missiles along the coast, including in Odesa and Mykolaiv. All seven of Russia’s Onyx missiles found their targets.
Team USA’s reaction: meh. UN reaction: meh. Ukraine’s reaction: $%^&*
It’s summer and many eurocrats are on vacation, attempting to escape this year’s hotter than usual heat wave.
The last person we want to hear blabbing about the war is David Petraeus, the disgraced ex-CIA director turned talking head Ukrainesplainer. But we listened anyway, because he thinks Kyiv is cool.
Precise attrition, mobility kills and out-suffering invaders, David says. In the second part of the chit chat, he talks about mistakes Team USA made in Afghanistan and Iraq, but declines to answer a pointed question about not safeguarding secrets. In addition to paraphrasing British intelligence reports, he plugs his new book (about war).
Whenever I think about David, which is as seldom as possible, I also think about Lara Logan.
Kyiv is not cool. Kyiv is a hot mess.
The starve, stretch and scream strategy of this episode of the war could last for months.
The above doozy of a nutgraph is less than enlightening, though. As we have pointed out several times, Ukraine will not be invited to join the alliance until its elected leaders start behaving like adults. No one wants one more illiberal democracy to join the military bloc. Until then, bilateral military assistance will have to suffice.
Recall the lopsidedness we complained about the other day, the imbalance between need and supply, swell-sounding promises Z makes versus the unremitting dysfunction of institutions which are needed to provide the agency he so desperately seeks2.
Peace and war can occur in the presence of commitment problems, but these can be reduced by institutions of good governance or, alternatively, state capacity which can be considered a collective good in and of itself. External actors, including Team USA, have been far too reluctant to publicly call out Z for failing to get Ukraine’s democratic act together while simultaneously ignoring requests for long-range missile systems the country’s top generals say are necessary to knock Russia off its feet3.