• Pragerisms

    For a more comprehensive list of Pragerisms visit
    Dennis Prager Wisdom.

    • "The left is far more interested in gaining power than in creating wealth."
    • "Without wisdom, goodness is worthless."
    • "I prefer clarity to agreement."
    • "First tell the truth, then state your opinion."
    • "Being on the Left means never having to say you're sorry."
    • "If you don't fight evil, you fight gobal warming."
    • "There are things that are so dumb, you have to learn them."
  • Liberalism’s Seven Deadly Sins

    • Sexism
    • Intolerance
    • Xenophobia
    • Racism
    • Islamophobia
    • Bigotry
    • Homophobia

    A liberal need only accuse you of one of the above in order to end all discussion and excuse himself from further elucidation of his position.

  • Glenn’s Reading List for Die-Hard Pragerites

    • Bolton, John - Surrender is not an Option
    • Bruce, Tammy - The Thought Police; The New American Revolution; The Death of Right and Wrong
    • Charen, Mona - DoGooders:How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help
    • Coulter, Ann - If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans; Slander
    • Dalrymple, Theodore - In Praise of Prejudice; Our Culture, What's Left of It
    • Doyle, William - Inside the Oval Office
    • Elder, Larry - Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose
    • Frankl, Victor - Man's Search for Meaning
    • Flynn, Daniel - Intellectual Morons
    • Fund, John - Stealing Elections
    • Friedman, George - America's Secret War
    • Goldberg, Bernard - Bias; Arrogance
    • Goldberg, Jonah - Liberal Fascism
    • Herson, James - Tales from the Left Coast
    • Horowitz, David - Left Illusions; The Professors
    • Klein, Edward - The Truth about Hillary
    • Mnookin, Seth - Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media
    • Morris, Dick - Because He Could; Rewriting History
    • O'Beirne, Kate - Women Who Make the World Worse
    • Olson, Barbara - The Final Days: The Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House
    • O'Neill, John - Unfit For Command
    • Piereson, James - Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism
    • Prager, Dennis - Think A Second Time
    • Sharansky, Natan - The Case for Democracy
    • Stein, Ben - Can America Survive? The Rage of the Left, the Truth, and What to Do About It
    • Steyn, Mark - America Alone
    • Stephanopolous, George - All Too Human
    • Thomas, Clarence - My Grandfather's Son
    • Timmerman, Kenneth - Shadow Warriors
    • Williams, Juan - Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It
    • Wright, Lawrence - The Looming Tower

(There was no real “Viet Cong,”)

Refighting the Vietnam War

Triumph Regained shows that America’s war in Vietnam could have been won earlier at far less cost, and in fact almost was, even belatedly by 1968.

By Victor Davis Hanson at American Greatness:

February 26, 2023

Military historian and Hillsdale College professor Mark Moyar has just published Triumph Regained: The Vietnam War, 1965-1968, which is the second in what will become a massive three-volume revision of the entire Vietnam War. It is a book that should be widely read, much discussed, and reviewed in depth regardless of one’s view of that sad chapter in American diplomacy and conflict in Vietnam. 

The first book, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 appeared in 2006. It gained considerable attention for its heterodox analysis of the postwar origins of communist aggression against the South, beginning with the disastrous French colonial experience and its transference to the Americans. Moyar described the Byzantine intrigue through which the Kennedy Administration inserted American ground troops into Vietnam, and why and how his successor Lyndon B. Johnson rapidly escalated the American presence.  

Moyar’s controversial argument in volume one centered on the disastrous decisions of these two administrations that ensured Americans would be sent into an uninviting distant theater of operations in the dangerous neighborhood of both communist China and Russia. Worse, they would be asked to fight under self-imposed limitations of the nuclear age in which their leaders could not achieve victory or perhaps even define it.  

Still, Moyar argued that there was nevertheless a chance to achieve a South-Korean-like solution at much less cost, one that was thrown away through a series of American blunders. Most grievous was the American support for the 1963 coup that removed South-Vietnamese strongman president Ngo Dinh Diem and led to his almost immediate assassination‚ even as he was evolving into a viable wartime leader.  

Moyar additionally deplored the biased and lockstep reporting of anti-war media, including its icons David “The Best and the Brightest” Halberstam and Neil “A Bright, Shining Lie” Sheehan, who operated on ideological premises far different from reportage in World War II and Korea. Both characteristically exaggerated American shortcomings consistent with their theme that Vietnam was an anti-colonialist war of liberation rather than a Cold War proxy fight over unilateral communist aggression. 

Moyar’s Ho Chi Minh was not so much a romanticized “Uncle Ho” national liberationist of the anti-war movement, as a hard-core Stalinist whose agenda at any cost was always the absorption of all of Vietnam into a Soviet-satellite communist dictatorship. 

This new second book of the saga follows and expands these themes, with the same scholarly rigor and comprehensive documentation that includes translated North Vietnamese archives as well as a number of memoirs of key American figures that have appeared in the 17 years since the appearance of the first volume. Most importantly, Triumph Regained is the first comprehensive combat history of the war that documents all the major battles of these four years, which saw U.S. troop levels in Vietnam peak in 1968 at well more than a half-million soldiers.  

There appears a tragic monotony to these accounts of near weekly battles: initial communist probing attacks are designed to prompt an American response. The subsequent ambush of U.S. troops follows as they are air dropped into these remote jungle and mountainous theaters. Then like clockwork a quick recovery ensues as Americans size up the enemy landscape, call in murderous artillery and napalm attacks, and inflict terrible casualties. Then a few hours or days later, Americans fly out of the now abandoned combat zone. They usually suffered “moderate” numbers of killed in action, characteristically a tenth to even a hundredth of the losses inflicted on the North Vietnamese—but all to be reported from the front as a futile wastage of American lives. 

Still, Moyar shows that too often the United States lacked a comprehensive strategy of victory and was shackled by unworkable rules of engagement—a now familiar dilemma in the half-century that followed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most grievously, the military was too often blocked from fully interdicting supplies and manpower of the communists at their sources in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Yet the more enemy men and materiel entered the theater unimpeded, a frustrated administration sought to compensate by single-mindedly increasing the numbers of American soldiers, purportedly in the fashion that had finally brought a stalemated “victory” in Korea.  

Moyar’s President Johnson at times seems a tragic Hamlet-like figure. LBJ always claimed that he did not wish initially to send troops to Vietnam. But he was purportedly persuaded to do so by his hawkish Kennedy-leftover advisors—only eventually to be lectured to exit ignominiously by the very former zealots who advised him to escalate in the first place. Moyar’s late-phase Johnson remains a complex character, subject to constant bouts of self-doubt, self-pity, and lethal indecision. Nevertheless he harbored a natural—and correct—suspicion of his condescending and politically fickle old-time liberal Cold Warriors, especially the fixer Clark Clifford, the former whiz kid Robert McNamara, and the Brahmins Averell Harriman and the Bundy brothers. Yet when it most counted, LBJ ultimately yielded to their flawed, politically motivated reversals, and rejected the sounder realist assessments of his inner circle of Ellsworth Bunker, Dean Rusk, Walt Rostow, and Maxwell Taylor. 

Moyar offers a number of reassessments that may surprise both diehard critics of the war and those who felt victory was “forsaken” by Congress and our so-called wise men. Gen. William Westmoreland, for example, is usually written off now as the father of futile “search and destroy missions” that defined progress only by inflating enemy “body counts” and sent American soldiers into remote jungles where they were easily ambushed. Not quite true, Moyar shows.  

Westmoreland’s forward deployments prevented the North Vietnamese from massing troops for major attacks, and kept them away from South Vietnamese population centers. That buffer was one reason why ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) forces steadily grew and by 1968 numbered over 1 million troops, and often were achieving parity against the North Vietnamese. Moyar believes that the pacification strategies—championed by the media hero John Paul Vann—were demonstrably flawed in comparison. 

There was no real “Viet Cong,” a construct that Moyar shows was not much other than a few thousand communist agents in the South who posed as a large popular resistance movement. In truth, most hostiles in the South of any size were always North Vietnamese infiltrating communist troops and they had almost no popular support among the South Vietnamese.  

The media continued to peddle fake news. Despite the claims of journalists and antiwar activists (often the same players), American public opinion supported the war for years. The people did not begin to turn against Vietnam until they tired of futile policies that either could not or would unleash the military to win the war. Moyar suggests Americans were willing to assume enormous costs in the Cold War, but not in ossified theaters where their sons’ sacrifices were not in the service of victory. 

It is also not accurate that Johnson’s “Rolling Thunder” air campaigns were nonsensical indiscriminate area bombings that slaughtered civilians without achieving much utility, in supposed contrast to the deadly Linebacker I and II precision and smart-bombing campaigns that followed in the Nixon Administration. In fact, North Vietnamese archives reveal that even Rolling Thunder terrified the enemy, especially during the abject obliteration of Tet forces surrounding Khe Sanh. Most of the communists’ later diplomacy was designed not to achieve a two-nation settlement but to stop at any cost the devastating bombing. The costly American missions had finally been honed to cripple severely communist supplies that were not declared politically out of reach. They killed thousands of enemy troops in the field, and helped to force the Vietnamese to the Paris Peace conference.  

Far from the Tet Offensive being a pivotal communist victory as reported by the media, the 1968 North Vietnamese holiday surprise attacks proved a veritable bloodbath for the North. After their unsustainable losses, the North Vietnamese essentially gave up major conventional offensive operations and in fear of American firepower withdrew a credible presence in the South—even as Walter Cronkite and the network news declared enemy corpses on the Saigon embassy lawn were veritable proof of a fatal U.S. defeat warranting withdrawal. 

General Creighton Abrams, the successor to Westmoreland as commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, was indeed an inspired supreme commander. But he was not necessarily always the corrective to a supposedly incompetent Westmoreland. Moyer controversially argues that Abrams wisely continued Westmoreland’s search and destroy missions for a time. He eventually stopped them not because they had failed, but rather because they had successfully eroded communist concentrations to such a degree that they could be slowly discontinued. 

The disconnect between the American media and the realities of the war, evidenced in the North Vietnamese official archives remains striking. Moyar juxtaposes a media assuming the inevitable victory of the North Vietnamese with the communists despairing they were losing the war to the Americans. Each evening at home, as the American public was told we were being systematically killed and crippled by far more adept “jungle fighters,” the communists were mired in depression as they saw their mounting losses as unsustainable and found no other alternative than to go to Paris to negotiate a reprieve. The American military leadership that the media mocked as inept, and the soldiers who were caricatured as drug-ridden, crazed, disobedient, and near insurrectionary were never seen as such by “Charlie” who had to fight them. No wonder then, by late 1968, the Soviets were finally preferring an end to the war, while their Chinese rivals eventually gave up on their North Vietnamese clients. Both feared the growing likelihood of an independent and pro-Western Vietnam in Southeast Asia. 

What undermined the Johnson Administration’s war effort ultimately was its rank politicization of the conflict. LBJ became terrified that the left-wing anti-war movement would force him out of office in 1968 in favor of an anti-war candidate unless he capitulated and ordered a bombing cessation, froze troop increases or pulled soldiers out of Vietnam, and perhaps agreed to the unhinged calls for a “coalition” government in the South. Johnson’s despair, of course, was ironic since, for most of his tenure, the old politico enjoyed a Democratic supermajority in the Senate and a huge majority of over 150 seats in the House, ensuring the Democrats could do anything they liked in the war, which of course they had begun and owned.  

To the degree Johnson gave in to the pacifists in his circle, the increasingly viable American effort stalled. After his refusal to seek reelection in early 1968, LBJ then found himself in a truly Orwellian situation. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, both to win the nomination and the 1968 general election, felt he would have to insidiously distance himself from his president and boss. By November, the politics became more surreal. LBJ had to endorse Humphrey even as he realized that Nixon would far more likely continue LBJ’s effort that by 1968 was finally winning the war—while his own party would end it and destroy all the hard-won progress of the last two years.  

We talk today about “collusion” and “political interference” in our elections, without remembering that Johnson and his subordinates were past masters at it. Most White House discussions about the peace talks and their connection to bombing halts were predicated not just on military efficacy, but on what might play best to the Democratic anti-war base and could win back the American electorate in 1968.  

Moyar relates that the communist world and Europe openly rooted for a Humphrey victory over Nixon and was willing to interfere in our elections. Indeed, Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin secretly offered the likely nominee Humphrey and his campaign a sizable campaign donation among other aid (refused, but not disclosed by Humphrey) to defeat the globally detested Cold Warrior Nixon. In a familiar example of left-wing “projection,” LBJ and his advisors were convinced that some in the 1968 Nixon campaign were colluding with the Saigon leadership to halt any concessions at the Paris talks. No such proof was ever found. No matter: Johnson wiretapped U.S. citizens in a vain effort to prove the empty rumors. That smear was demonstrably false, but in truth Johnson himself halted the bombing, and his team grew lenient in Paris to aid the suddenly surging 1968 Humphrey campaign. 

 We talk of a “Vietnam War.” In fact, it was a Cold War communist proxy effort that saw over 100,000 Chinese auxiliaries engaged in supply and repairing Vietnamese infrastructure, while thousands of Soviet “advisors” manned tanks, flew planes, and organized and operated anti-aircraft systems. Vladimir Putin’s current objection to U.S. military aid to Ukraine is again ironic, given Russia was historically an active participant on the ground in Vietnam and both directly and indirectly killed Americans in efforts to defeat the United States.

Moyer ends volume two on a mixed note. An exhausted and beaten North was negotiating in fear that its massive losses of 1967-1968, if continued, would have threatened the Hanoi regime itself. An elected Republican hawk Richard Nixon, inheriting a war that already had cost 35,000 dead, was now opposed by the same Democrats who started it. A growing number of frustrated Americans wanted either to win the war or to get out. Nixon would soon take the gloves off, ensuring that a nearly defeated North would be subject to greater bombing pressures—even as the anti-war Left enjoyed complete control of a Congress that was suddenly liable to cut off aid to Saigon, could more easily mobilize against a now oppositional and conservative White House—and the ingredients of the Watergate debacle were on the distant horizon.

Moyar draws on a tradition of Vietnam War revisionism, especially Don Oberdorfer’s corrective on the Tet offensive, Lewis Sorley’s thesis of a radical American improvement under Creighton Abrams, and Michael Lind’s unorthodox but well-argued thesis that the “necessary” Vietnam War sought to ensure American Cold War credibility and diverted communist aggression from other more strategically important U.S. allies and vulnerable neutrals.

The role of Encounter Books should also be noted and congratulated for assuming publication of the series from Cambridge University Press, the original publisher of volume one that somehow did not follow up on its initial much-discussed and reviewed book.

Finally, Moyar does not answer in this second volume the existential question that has haunted America long after the war; namely, was the price tag of 58,000 dead Americans and trillions of dollars in treasure worth the cost and effort of 10 years of war to keep South Vietnam autonomous and to check Soviet expansionism? Or would a far better-managed effort leading to a free Vietnam at even far less cost even have been worth it?

For those answers, we await Moyar’s third and final volume of this landmark work. These first two books have been well argued, meticulously researched, engaging to read—and are anathemas to the all too often orthodox view of an imperialistic American meeting its destined comeuppance through the folly of trying to save Vietnam.

Triumph Regained shows that America’s war in Vietnam could have been won earlier at far less blood and treasure, and in fact, almost was, even belatedly so by 1968.

Volume three no doubt will assess whether the war should have been fought.

“What could go wrong in 2024?”

February 27, 2023

The Solution to Ballot Fraud

By Jay Valentine at American Thinker:

The irresistible force is mail-in ballots, nonexistent signature verification, phantom voter rolls, a feckless Republican Party, Republican governors donating tax money to a George Soros–funded entity to clean voter rolls — election commissions changing ZIP codes so mail-in ballots stack up — courts refusing to remove dead people from voter rolls unless they miss two consecutive elections, and a Republican presidential candidate who thinks he can win with ballot-harvesting.

What could go wrong in 2024?

In 2000, the national realization was that election fraud is industrial-scale, committed by election commissions or with their acquiescence.  It is a sovereign crime.

The 2020 realization is that voter integrity teams cannot remove phantoms from voter rolls — even with death certificates.

This irresistible force will not dissipate.

Wisconsin advanced the state-of-the-scam to further flood voter rolls with anyone claiming existence. 

Forty years of Republican acquiescence and temerity brought us here — the end of free and fair elections.  Election fraud is baked into every state’s voter rolls — protected by government.

This week, we demonstrated a solution.

We sent an open letter to ERIC, the organization, ostensibly founded with help from George Soros, managing voter rolls for almost 30 states — many Republican.  We sent George a copy.

The letter, and the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) we tested for 23 months, speak for themselves.  Visit our site www.Omega4America.com and read both.

MVP is not just a baseball term — it means the minimum capabilities to immediately solve a vexing problem.  Enhancements come later.

MVP capabilities are listed on the site, no need to review them here — except one.

Voter rolls must be made visible to all citizens — like personal property rolls — period.

If America continues to tolerate leftists making voting more insecure with mass registrations and mail-in ballots without signature verification — a counterbalance is needed.

That counter becomes the Immovable Object — deep public scrutiny.

The key to cleaning voter rolls, to the leftists’ dismay, is not finding dead voters.  It is finding legitimate addresses — that cannot receive a ballot. 

If a voter integrity team challenges a dead guy, it is challenging a person.  There are decades of law, from our leftist pals, to thwart removing the dead from the voter roll.

Leftists built an entire infrastructure around protecting the guy — not the address.  Knock on a couple of doors to see if Pedro lives there, and you get a visit from the Justice Department. 

Addresses are a different matter. 

Our team, with leadership from Nevada and Wisconsin — figured this out — thus the potential for a 2024 Immovable Object.

Current methods don’t remove phantoms.  Here’s a better way!

Software-profile every address in a state — compare the address on the personal property tax roll with the same address on the voter roll.  We did this in Nevada, and the results change the game.

Join me on a trip to Nevada, soon to be Wisconsin and several more states who have seen the light!

Addresses are wonderful entities.  They are public.  They pay taxes consistent with the most minuscule improvement.  Bureaucrats drive around to see if a homeowner added a tool shed. 

Addresses are endlessly complicated.

Any address can be presented in over 1,000 ways — understandable to a human but unrecognized by a computer.  1234 Christo.pher Ave is obvious to a human — Christopher.  Not to a computer.  Multiply this by over 100 million addresses, across thousands of databases — you see the issue.

An apartment building may have 134 units, each with a different number.  It has a clubhouse getting vendor bills.  It has a repair facility with a different address — same building.

Multiple entities can receive mail — but not a ballot!  Fractal profiling determines this for every address in the county.  We just did it in Nevada!

Fractal determines that a ballot can go to any of those 134 units.  The property tax database gives the square footage.

Several units house 20 people each.

Current election integrity teams challenge 20 people living in an 800-square-foot space with one bath.  Bad move.  They went after the guy — protected by decades of leftist law.

The Fractal user calls the Health Department! 

“We have 235 apartment units, across your county — each with more people than your Health Department allows per number of baths!  Either clean up those voter rolls or clean up those apartments!  Or we will litigate!”

What is happening here?

For the first time, “data silos” are weaponized (oh, my, what a scary word).  Why not?  The leftists weaponized the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department — so it’s a thing!

Counties allow voters to have one address in their voter record while their tax authority shows that no such person can legally live there.  One set of government records contradicts the other set — they do not reconcile.  These are data silos invisible to each other.

Oh, my!

This happens in every county in America.  They have SQL, relational technology.  They cannot do deep comparisons.  Nothing reconciles.

Wait until we release the cross search with the FEC contribution database.  In the same period, Jack uses one address to vote, lives at a different address, and contributes from a third!  Jack did three bad things!

Coming in April!

Mike Lindell told us to analyze Nevada a couple of months back.  We compared Nevada tax records with its voter records.

Now we are demonstrating the power of Fractal analysis against these monumental databases daily, in podcasts and in person.  In March we visit Arizona; April, Georgia, Massachusetts and Illinois.

It’s harder than it appears. 

There are over 1,000 building types described on property tax rolls.  They change by county — one calling it a shed, the other a lean-to.  We spent months, and lots of artificial intelligence, building the “canonical model” to make these play well together.

Now it’s time to bring every swing county in every swing state on board.

We are fortunate that several state organizations are raising the modest funding to make Fractal analysis available in their states.  As more states join, we identify patterns from one state applied in another.

Our leftist pals spent 40 years padding voter rolls with phantoms and passing laws to protect them from removal.

They didn’t spend a dime on addresses. 

Our UnDeliverable Ballot Database identifies every location that will receive a ballot — but there is not someone there to legally vote it. 

The Immovable Object is visibility of electoral data for any citizen from his phone — cross searched against property tax records — and dozens of other databases — at silicon speed.

When citizens, of any party, realize that their county registrar has voters living in banks, 7-Elevens, public parks, and their own homes — to their surprise — they experience what disenfranchisement means.

Visibility to evil drives social change.

It’s our turn!

Jay Valentine led the team that built the eBay fraud detection engine and the underlying name matching technology for the TSA No-Fly List.  Jay can be contacted at www.Omega4America.com and is on Twitter: @jayvalentine99.

“This President’s Day, our president was overseas promising money to the Ukrainian president!”

Biden’s Ukraine Serenade

This President’s Day, our president was overseas promising money to the Ukrainian president, while Donald Trump offered aid and comfort to American victims in East Palestine. 

By Roger Kimball at American Greatness:

February 25, 2023

Once again, Elon Musk nailed the zeitgeist, or a least a hefty portion of it, in a meme he tweeted. The image shows a soda dispenser. Two spigots are visible, blue on the left, red on the right. The index and middle fingers of someone’s right hand are pushing buttons to dispense blue and red fluid, respectively, into a single cup. A label on the left dispenser reads, “Laughing at WWIII memes.” On the right, the label reads, “Kinda being worried about WWIII.” Is there any sane person who, contemplating what is happening in Ukraine, does not share that ambivalence? 

Until recently, worries about nuclear Armageddon seemed so 1950s and ’60s. Ancient history. The era of “duck and cover.” That “public service” film started life in earnest but in time became a joke. A comment on an internet posting of the clip summed up the attitude: “When I watched this film in grade school in the ’50s, I believed I’d soon be dead, crispy-fried. I just watched again here and laughed so hard I couldn’t finish.”

Why the laughter? Partly because everyone realizes that crouching under a desk with your hands over your head will not afford much protection against a nuclear blast. (Hence the frequent, somewhat rude addendum to the precautionary instructions: “Crouch down under your desk; put your head between your legs; kiss your ass goodbye.”)

Decades went by. There was no nuclear attack. Therefore there would never be a nuclear attack. That was the unspoken if faulty logic. 

There are several different currents of thought and sentiment that make up the dominant consensus. One flowed from the doctrine of deterrence and “mutually assured destruction.” That seems to have worked for decades, bolstering both faith in the doctrine and the widespread forgetfulness about the stakes behind the policy. 

At the same time, critics have pointed out that “MAD” was an appropriate acronym for a doctrine that seriously contemplated incinerating tens or hundreds of millions of people. Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove” (with its biting subtitle “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”) gave a darkly humorous voice to that recognition. Most people, I suspect, are divided in their minds, recognizing the potential enormity of the doctrine while appreciating the wisdom of Benjamin Jowett’s comment that “Precautions are always blamed. When successful, they are said to be unnecessary.”

The drama unfolding in Ukraine has palpably affected public sensitivity about a possible nuclear exchange. Lots of websites are advertising, or warning about, “the return of ‘Duck and Cover.’” Many politicians, mostly but not exclusively on the right, are warning about the prospect of “World War III.” And entities like the World Health Organization are advising people to stock up on medicines that can help protect against “radiological catastrophe.” 

Such anxieties have been in circulation to some extent ever since the United States began its ostentatious support of Ukraine shortly after Vladimir Putin attacked that country a year ago. At first, the wise men who teach us “what is what” said Russia would easily crush that former Soviet state. But the Russian army showed itself to be a bumbling mess while the Ukrainians fought stalwartly for their country. Almost overnight, the regime narrative turned itself inside out. Now Russia was sure to lose, and soon. 

That hasn’t happened. Indeed, although the United States has sent more than $100 billion in aid to Ukraine, the war on the ground grinds on in its bloody way, chewing up men and matériel. According to some estimates, 150,000 Ukrainians are dead. The Russians are poised to mount a huge new offensive. One estimate says there are 700,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s Eastern border. As the West wrings its hands and tightens sanctions against Russia, the Chinese are reported to be about to supply lethal weapons to Putin even as they, along with India and other states, are availing themselves of discounted Russian oil and natural gas. 

For his part, Putin has deployed ships armed with tactical nuclear weapons for the first time in 30 years. He has also pulled Russia out of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), a decision that, according to Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary General, dismantles “the whole arms control architecture.”

The fact that Putin controls more than 6,000 nuclear weapons is a sobering fact that has been mentioned regularly ever since his latest round of aggression against Ukraine began a year ago. At first, it seemed little more than a data point, as people who might be aghast at Putin’s aggression nevertheless wondered what America’s national interest in Ukraine might be and whether the United States—deeply, irresponsibly in debt—should really be funneling so much money to Ukraine, a besieged but also a deeply corrupt country. 

Those pragmatic questions continue to resonate but seem to have been supplanted by more urgent questions of national security. Russia is engaged in blatant nuclear saber-rattling even as the Chinese deploy surveillance balloons that traverse the entire continental United States before being taken out over the Atlantic. What was that all about? No one really knows. 

There are many other imponderables. What is the significance of China’s apparent willingness to supply lethal aid to Russia? How will China react to the United States quadrupling its forces on Taiwan? And behind all this, of course, are some nagging “what if?” questions. What if Russia actually uses tactical nukes in its campaign against Ukraine? Do we respond with nukes ourselves? We’ve all heard lectures about how far superior American forces are in comparison with the Russian military.  Would it be worth testing that judgment in an actual nuclear exchange? 

The fact that there are people in positions of power and influence who would say yes to that last question must give us pause. 

This past week, Joe Biden paid a surprise visit to Ukraine. Rumors that his son Hunter asked him to pick up his missing paychecks are, of course, just vicious conservative taunts. Questioned about public support for U.S. spending on Ukraine, Joe Biden suggested that most people are behind it, except for “right-wing Republicans” and “the MAGA crowd.” 

At the same time that Joe Biden was serenading Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev, Donald Trump was visiting the people of East Palestine, Ohio, which was reeling from the effects of a terrible toxic catastrophe after a freight train derailed and caught fire. Some observers noted the irony that on President’s Day, the U.S. president was visiting and promising money to the Ukrainian president while Donald Trump went to a local disaster in the United States and offered aid and comfort to American victims. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) spoke for many when he observed that “you can either be the party of Ukraine & the globalists or you can be the party of East Palestine & the working people of America.”

For many, that is the choice we are facing. The introduction of nuclear weapons into the calculus only sharpens the dichotomy. 

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books.