Has the tide really turned in Ukraine?

(Photo by Sergei Bobok/AFP/Getty)

Over the past month or so, the dominant media discourse on Ukraine has shifted from “heroic Ukrainians repelling a mismanaged Russian invasion” to “ill-armed Ukrainians unable to halt Russian advances in the East” (resulting in a lot of joy tastes of Glenn Greenwald). While commentators have pointed out that Russian war aims have drastically diminished – from capturing Kyiv, to overthrowing the Ukrainian government and replacing it with a puppet regime, to capturing and holding all regions of Donetsk and from Luhansk to Ukraine and the expansion of Russia’s small puppet states into those regions – a Russian victory in eastern Ukraine would always be very bad news. It would reward Russia’s war of aggression and enslave hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Ukrainians to a brutal occupation that explicitly seeks to eliminate their cultural identity. It would also force Ukraine to make concessions (which France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz were clearly encouraging, with all talk of letting Vladimir Putin save face). Even the Biden administration seemed to be lay the blame to Ukraine for ignoring early warnings of Russian invasion.

But now the momentum seems to be shifting back to Ukraine. Macron and Scholz (as well as the Italian Mario Draghi and the Romanian Klaus Iohannis) come from visited Kyiv and proclaimed loud and clear their solidarity with Ukraine and their attachment to the Ukrainian victory. A spokesperson for Zelensky has refuse any pressure on Ukraine to negotiate. The Biden administration reaffirmed its support for Ukraine and approved another billion dollars in military and humanitarian aid, in addition to the 5.6 billion dollars sent since the start of the invasion. Germany and France announce their imminent or the current delivery of heavy artillery systems to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the latest reports from Donbass stress that Russian progress in the East, achieved by incessant bombardment (largely in urban areas), is extremely slow, even blocked; that’s not much to show for all that firepower. In many cases, Russian gains were followed by Ukrainian successes. counter-offensives.

One theory, by Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), is that some of the dire reports result from a deliberate exaggeration by the Ukrainian authorities of their predicament, in order to accelerate Western arms deliveries:

Given that many Western countries have been slow to deliver on their promises, I can’t exactly blame the Ukrainians if they actually overestimated the danger of Russian victories.

Even with accelerated arms deliveries, no one should expect a quick Ukrainian victory. If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that it’s going to be a long work. But the shifting news should be a reminder to resist the temptation of storytelling, whether it’s “Ukraine kicking Russia’s ass” or “Ukraine getting roughed up.”

It’s usually more complicated than that.

In April I have wrote about the ultra-weird Russian “political scientist”, the crazy ultra-nationalist guru or perhaps the postmodern con man Aleksandr Dugin. A few weeks earlier, I written about some Kremlin facilitators in Russia (including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill) portray Russia’s war in Ukraine as a crusade against the homosexual threat from the West.

Now, here’s a weird social media moment that brings the two together.

Pro-Ukraine Twitter accounts posted a screenshot of Dugin’s account on one of the Russian social media sites:


Make no mistake: Greater Russia is fighting a life-and-death battle with the West, but what will be the cost if we lose? Our immortal souls will be plundered and thrown into Hell if these satanists prevail! The West itself is founded on the principle of universal sodomy. Let us recall that the first act of the French Directory was the legalization of homosexuality; remember that British King William recruited boys from the oligarchs’ rebellion as lovers, not to mention the Greek pederasty that inspired the British school system; also remember that the Roanoke settlers went into the desert to commit bestiality with the barbarian natives. Defeat in the special military operation will mean that NATO soldiers, the majority of whom are mulattoes, will go from house to house all over Russia, brutally raping everyone on the orders of their masters! Of course, it is better to die in battle for the glory of God than to be thrown into this pit of vipers!

(Come for homophobia, stay for racism?)

He’s, don’t forget, a guy who may or may not be Vladimir Putin’s “whisperer” as some claim, but who ran a political think tank at Moscow State University until 2014. , author of a manual that became part of the curriculum of the Russian army. academies, advised several prominent members of Russia’s political elite and arguably played a key role in launching Putin’s ‘Novorossiya Project’ in eastern Ukraine, which set the stage for the current invasion .

Meanwhile, closer to home:

The Republican Party of Texas adopted its latest platform on Saturday, including two sections of anti-LGBT beliefs.

In the voted platform by delegates to the biennial party convention, a section – titled “Homosexuality and Gender Issues” – states that “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice”.

Chris Halbohn called the line “an unnecessarily gratuitous addition to the Texas Republican Party platform.” Halbohn is president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston, an organization that represents LGBT conservatives.

“We exist to advance that niche voice within the Republican Party, because there are a lot of gay conservatives, there are a lot of lesbian conservatives, and a lot of trans conservatives,” Halbohn told the Texas Newsroom on Saturday. . . .

The Texas Republican Party has been embroiled in controversy over its stance on LGBTQ+ issues, including excluding Texas Log Cabin Republicans from the convention.

The party has twice rejected the group’s request to have a stand at this year’s convention.

David Palmer, public relations director for Log Cabin Republicans of Houston, said there was no legitimate reason for the rejection.

(There’s also a board that says the party opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”)

What the hell is this? It has a real feel of “the 1980s called and they want their rhetoric about social issues back.” Did someone from the Texas GOP executive steal Marty McFly’s DeLorean? Or an overdose of stranger things? Has the escalation of tensions with Moscow, from the Cold War to the proxy war, caused a time warp?

Additionally, this convention tidbit shows how “political correctness” has now become “everything to the left of the Westboro Baptist Church”:

Will this kind of ultra-reactionary stuff hurt Republicans at the polls? The consensus seems to be no.

For a variety of reasons, right-wing crazies don’t seem to backfire on Republicans these days the same way left-wing crazies backfire on Democrats. Yet, it’s worth noting that Donald Trump Jr. criticized the Republicans’ exclusion from Log Cabin:

Don’t be surprised if Trump supporters try to make that sound, at least to some audiences, because “Yes, some Republicans in Texas are too extreme, but the MAGA world is a moderating force.”

Is it possible, as The reasons Jesse Walker suggests that social conservatives are confusing public ambivalence on transgender issues with hostility towards LGBT rights in general?

That may well be the case. I don’t think most Americans would sympathize with the Texas GOP platform’s militant rejection of any acceptance of transgender identities. In a Washington Post/University of Maryland survey released last week, more American adults said they think increased acceptance of transgender people is good rather than bad for society — by 41 to 25 percentage points:

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At the same time, only a minority believed that male-born transgender athletes should be able to compete in women’s and women’s sports:

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(In case you missed it, I wrote last week on the controversial on trans athletes in women’s and women’s sports and reported similar results in an earlier Gallup poll.)

You’d probably get equally complicated answers if you asked people how to approach underage gender transition. For a time, the progressive position was essentially “a child’s declaration of transgender identity must be presumed valid”, and people who tried to sound a warning (like the journalist jesse singal) have been called fanatics.

Now the New York Times published a nuanced piece on the controversy of writer Emily Bazelon.

Bazelon explores topics whose mere discussion has often been attacked as transphobic: for example, evidence that some children and adolescents adopt trans identities due to the influence of online groups and peers and that some minors may be precipitated into transition by irresponsible clinicians.

On Twitter, Bazelon has been, predictably, accused of everything since”both sidesism” at parrot neo-nazi website daily storm be part of a clique of “cis journaliststhat ignore trans perspectives. Given the ugly and overbearing forms, the anti-trans backlash takes on the right, including attempts to investigate parents for child abuse for allowing children to transition or even to take them drag watch– there is an understandable desire to rally around a beleaguered minority. But there are definitely issues on which “both sides” have legitimate arguments. Open discussion and debate are absolutely necessary. I hope Bazelon’s article helps move the needle towards such a debate.