Discover more from ukraine@war
Practical Homicide Investigation
Ukraine's counterfactual scad
Dialogical hooey — nodal points of history and contrastive explanations — is an annoying feature of Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine. Thoughts about how this bloody mess might have turned out differently are known to psychologists as counterfactual thinking, or un-thinking, as it were.
Today the ISW team, along with the UK’s Ministry of Defence, churn out daily briefs about the event they told us was “highly unlikely” to happen. Ukraine invasion updates are the bread and butter of Fredrick W. Kagan, who argues that negotiations with Russia are futile.
I attempted to read Fred’s 1,400-word analysis, titled “The Case Against Negotiations with Russia,” without much success.
But this passage jumped out at me.
When it comes to written news reports, a corpus analysis (n ≈ 1 zillion words) reveals that Russia-invasion news reports contain startlingly high proportions of certain difficult-to-process impenetrable features – including extra hard-to-pronounce letter combinations and weird-looking first- and last name suffixes relative to baseline genres of written and spoken English.1
Fred’s fears about Ukraine becoming “a permanent economic basket case” are passé because the country has been one for, er, the last 30 years. Maybe remaining would be a better word to use. Kudos, though, for spelling Zaporizhia correctly.