Friday 25 February, 2022

Tulip Mania

Quote of the Day

”All men are brothers, but, thank God, they aren’t all brothers-in-law.”

  • Anthony Powell

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Randy Newman | Sail Away | Live in London, 2011


Long Read of the Day

Putin has taught us a brutal lesson

By Frank Bruni in the New York Times:

What I see on the faces and hear in the voices of so many of the people around me is sheer disbelief about Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and a brutal war in Europe: Aren’t we supposed to be past this? Didn’t history move on? The Wall came down, the Cold War ended, and democratic liberalism was the wave of the future, which wouldn’t be so kind to strongmen like Vladimir Putin.

Well, Putin didn’t get the message. Nor did plenty of others around the world. Our notions about history were innocent and disregarded most of it. They also depended on a solipsistic projection of Western — and, especially American — culture and beliefs onto nations that share neither.

Rueful wisdom of hindsight.

Madeleine Albright on Putin

In the piece above, Frank Bruni mentioned her recollection  of meeting Putin when he was Acting President of Russia. Here’s the money quote:

In early 2000, I became the first senior U.S. official to meet with Vladimir Putin in his new capacity as acting president of Russia. We in the Clinton administration did not know much about him at the time — just that he had started his career in the K.G.B. I hoped the meeting would help me take the measure of the man and assess what his sudden elevation might mean for U.S.-Russia relations, which had deteriorated amid the war in Chechnya. Sitting across a small table from him in the Kremlin, I was immediately struck by the contrast between Mr. Putin and his bombastic predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

Whereas Mr. Yeltsin had cajoled, blustered and flattered, Mr. Putin spoke unemotionally and without notes about his determination to resurrect Russia’s economy and quash Chechen rebels. Flying home, I recorded my impressions. “Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.”

And this invasion is the latest instalment of that project.

My commonplace booklet

  • A Twitter stream aggregating material from Ukraine Link

  • Robert Reich: Eight sobering realities about Putin’s invasion Link

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