Two battles for democracy – The Atlantic

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Democracy is under attack everywhere, and today I want us all to remember that as we calmly peel back the layers of the January 6 plot, people are dying for their right to be free in Ukraine.

But first, here are three new stories from Atlantic.


no respite

The January 6 committee will be back in session tomorrow, when I will report on what we are learning about the struggle for democracy in America. (I personally already enjoy the clip of White House attorney Eric Herschmann telling blow whisperer John Eastman, indeed, to go home and get his shine box.)

In Ukraine, however, another battle for democracy is being fought not with papers, emails and text messages, but in blood, ashes and fire. This is all happening because a Kremlin dictator told Ukrainians to bow to him, give up their freedom and become his subjects, and they refused, some at the cost of their lives.

The Ukrainians are surviving for now. The Russians, defeated in the Battle of Kyiv, are now waging a savage war of attrition on Ukraine’s eastern front. Vladimir Putin’s dream of capturing the country is over, but the short-term operational goal now seems to be to crush the Ukrainians, soldier by soldier, and seize territory, meter by meter, in the Donbass.

This is why Western strategists are watching the Battle of Severodonetsk so closely. The city is wedged between two large areas under Russian control, and capturing it would solve a lot of Moscow’s problems. The city, now “cut in two”, is in danger of falling. This is important because afterwards it may seem like the Russians are stalling or giving up, as they more likely consolidate a significant gain on the eastern Ukrainian front that will allow them to launch a major offensive later in the year. year.

So far, the West is doing the right thing – or at least most of the free West is doing it. Yet we need to do everything faster and bigger. In The New York Times yesterday Bret Stephens referenced a quote from Richard Nixon that I had never heard; When told what help the Israelis needed to defend themselves during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Nixon ordered his staff to “double up” and then “get out of here and get the job done.”

That’s good advice for the Biden administration, which this afternoon pledged an additional $1 billion in aid. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was in Brussels today, leading a ‘contact group’ of nearly 50 countries to help secure even more aid for Ukraine and to get Ukraine through from Soviet era weapons to modern NATO weapons.

I want to add a word here about Secretary Austin. When he was appointed, I was uneasy. I’ve worked for the MoD for a quarter of a century, and I’m pretty old school in my reluctance to appoint senior officers to cabinet posts (unless your name is George Marshall). I prefer civilians, who have not acquired the ingrained habit of military obedience to the president, which is why I warned against Donald Trump’s fascination with hiring generals in the White House.

And yet, Austin’s nomination turned out to be a fluke.

In less dangerous times, it would be great to have a defense intellectual in the Pentagon who can work with the president on a vision for a better, more modern Department of Defense. However, when Russia launched the biggest war in Europe since the Nazis marched east, the United States and NATO needed a military leader who understood field operations and types of in-game weapon systems. Austin has a lot of experience, including serving as commander of Central Command and his time in Syria. Now is not the time for a lot of big thinking; now is the time to talk to our friends and allies in very detailed terms about weapons systems and how to get them where they need to be. Austin is the right man for that.

Moscow’s hold on Ukraine has been broken. But the war is not over and we have to get rid of the romantic notions that the Ukrainians will move forward and take back all occupied Ukrainian territories. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has often compared his country’s fight against Russia to World War II, a fight between a free people and a barbarian invader. He’s right, and it won’t be over anytime soon. We must remain firm in our support.

Further reading:

Read all of our coverage of the war on Ukraine.


Today’s news
  1. The Justice Department has charged the Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect with 26 counts of hate crimes and weapons violations.
  2. The Federal Reserve has announced the largest interest rate hike since 1994 as it tries to fight rising inflation.
  3. The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by several Republican-led states to defend a Trump administration immigration policy.

Dispatches

Evening reading
(Illustration by Oliver Munday. Sources: Gallo Images / Getty; Ed Habershon / BBC)

They got down on their knees and kissed the sand

Cullen Murphy Story

When Olivier Bancoult boarded the ship that was to take him 1,000 miles across the Indian Ocean to the Chagos Archipelago – his childhood home, from where he and his fellow islanders had been expelled 50 years earlier – he carried five wrought iron crosses.

Read the article completely.

More Atlantic


cultural break
A painting of books lying on a table
(Getty)

Lily. Life after deathby Julia Alvarez, is a philosophical novel that also happens to be a page-turner.

Or try another pick from our reading list of books you may have missed as the world shut down in 2020.

Look. by Steven Spielberg Minority reportreleased 20 years ago, offers a technology warning that the world is only beginning to heed.

Play our daily crosswords.


Speaking of Spielberg (and WWII), every year on Memorial Day there are a lot of viewings of Band of brothers, HBO’s stunning mini-series about a company of American soldiers in Europe. But don’t overlook Michael Kamen’s majestic score throughout the rest of the year, including soulful sequels you haven’t heard on the show.

– To M

PS Our podcast team wants to hear your questions about Dobbs vs. Jackson and the future of abortion rights. Please send a voicemail of approximately one minute or less to [email protected] to tell us what you think of the legal, practical and other implications of the SCOTUS decision.

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.

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