A Vision So Noble



Welcome to the website!

Most of the papers here are from my studies at King's College London in an online "programme" for mid-career British Army officers called War in the Modern World. About half were indeed British Army, including a captain who deployed to Afghanistan midway through the four years. (Alas, upon his return he dropped out of the course, left the army, and began to study law instead.) The rest of us were from militaries and civilian life, from a Danish pilot to an assistant to the prime minister of Singapore. I learned a great deal, and this website is to share it more broadly.

Europe's latest war is one year old today

[February 24] "Russia will not become a democracy until it falls apart. That's because Russia is not really a nation-state but the same premodern multiethnic empire living on geographic expansion and resource looting as 300 years ago -- and is thus doomed to reproduce, again and again, under whatever ideological cover, the same prison-ward-like political structure that alone keeps it together." -- Oksana Zabuzhko, The Problem With Russia Is Russia in the New York Times.

Why has so little changed in Russia since the days of Ivan the Terrible? A Ukrainian poet and novelist, Ms Zabuzhko has the answer. Last spring, as I read about the behavior of "Russian" troops (who are often not Russian at all, but from an ethnic minority), it was like being thrown back to my research for Poland's Daughter and learning how in 1939-1940 Stalin's troops stole the very brooms from Polish closets, tore up the floorboards, and put everything on trucks to send back to the worker's paradise then ruled from Moscow. "Russia" today is still an empire made up of captive nations, even if some of them have since escaped.

Here is more good reading about Russia's return to its colonial past, when empires regularly pitched Europe into total war:

One year later: How Russia came to fail in Ukraine, battle after battle in the Kyiv Independent -- usually the first thing I read every morning. I took it for free during the first few months of the war but then began to pay a token $5 a month.

Timothy Snyder, Putin and the Presidents on YouTube, a PBS Frontline interview. Mr Snyder is the most compelling professor I have ever encountered in my seventy-odd years of trying to learn about the world. He's a bit obsessed by one of our recent presidents, but about Ukraine and Russia he has no peer, as you will discover if you audit History 247 at Yale, also on YouTube. Sally and I watched some of the lectures two and even three times.

David Remick, Putin, Ukraine, and the Preservation of Power in The New Yorker. Another good one, eerily published the day before the Russian army made its triumphant dash for Kyiv in what we all thought would be a three-day war. Clausewitz said it first, but Mike Tyson said it best: "Everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

General David Petraeus, How the war in Ukraine will end -- transcript of a CNN interview with a man who knows more about war than most Americans in positions of authority today.

Blue skies! -- Daniel Ford. You can send humanitarian aid through Razom for Ukraine (a tax-exempt US-based charity). Or donate to the military directly through the National Bank of Ukraine.

The essays (in more or less chronological order)

Other good stuff to read

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Looking Back From Ninety

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Posted February 24, 2023. Websites © 1997-2023 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved. This site sets no cookies, but Mailchimp and Amazon do, if you click through to their services. I never see those cookies.