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The last touch
Recall the observation last year that it would be a great idea to ignore analysts and stay away from experts. As well as warnings about TikTok crusaders and war-adjacent content millers, not to mention Ukraine’s moron politicians, whose self-aggrandizing wishful thinking has often been at best misguided, at worse ridiculous.
Writing for Foreign Affairs this week, Phillips O’Brien says expectations of Ukraine experts and pundits have indeed been wildly off the mark, at least as wacko as the distilled wisdom in leaked classified documents smeared across the Internet by The Washington Post, where editors thought it was a great idea to amplify talking points concocted by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
Leaked intelligence, as we all know, is a double entendre, that is, open to two interpretations, one of which is usually indecent or risqué, in this case the latter. There are upsides and downsides to throwing operation security out the window, depending if you’re standing in a dark trench near a wooded area between open fields, or merely a voyeur pundit staking out a large Beltway bathroom.
They all have screwed up: war bloggers at ISW and Rand Corp, along with dozens of ex-US generals turned tv talking heads, anonymous Pentagon officials and their jingoism-resistant narrative shaping buddies.
I don’t want to suggest that it is a bad idea to rely on analysts, experts and the news to learn about Ukraine. Each way of learning has its value. It’s about how we bring them together: the in-depth understanding that only personal interaction can give us, the focus on the powerful and unusual that the news offers and the psilocybin-enhanced barroom-style approach that offers a different insight into the reality of people around us.
The War That Defied Expectations. What Ukraine Revealed About Military Power (Foreign Affairs. July 27, 2023)