Ukraine and Russia: War and Consequences

No tremors in his hands. Perfect coordination with the papers. Must be a practical special effect like:


Terrible management skills without tremor are maybe explained by a sufficient dose of vodka prior to the call:

However, when a long-term drinker suddenly quits drinking, the brain continues to function as if it were still exposed to alcohol. In this accelerated state, a person will begin to feel the symptoms of withdrawal, including tremors, anxiety, sweating, an elevated heart rate, and nausea and vomiting.


Biden and NYTimes get Russia and Ukraine to reach agreement:


The interesting element of the Biden* Mal-Administration’s silly effort to blame the Ukrainians for blowing up the 50% European-owned expensive NordStream pipelines is what the impact will be on German support for Zelensky’s regime. Will the Germans cool towards donating more money & weapons to people accused by the US of destroying German property and undermining German prosperity?

No wonder the Ukrainians are denying the Biden* accusation!


Has anyone done a serious Cui Bono analysis of this disaster?


I’ve previously pointed out the fact (and it is an admitted fact – against interest) that the prediction “markets” (at least the ones that aren’t real money markets) fail at the extremes of probability 0 and 1. That said, Metaculus has nearly a 1 in 50 chance of Putin nuking Ukraine this year:

If this is the “true” probability, there is no way the financial markets have discounted this risk of a “black swan” event IN THE NEXT YEAR!!!

Pascal’s Scams, as I’ve also previously discussed, involve extremely low probability events with enormous conditional absolute value – but IF we are going to tolerate enormous concentrations of wealth/power, THEN we must also insist that the fiduciaries possessing that wealth/power perform due diligence to discount those probabilities.

I’m sure that many would say prediction markets that end up with probabilities like 2% for nukes detonated in anger in the next year should not be taken seriously because those prediction markets aren’t designed for black swans.

Very well…

But that leaves the question:

Where is the work on prediction markets that attempts to overcome their weakness at the extreme probabilities of 0 and 1?

Now, I can understand in the case of government concentration of wealth and power since it is that very concentration that results in brain damaging insularity from consequences. There is no hope that the conventional minds ruling the world will be capable of so-disciplining themselves.

However, reading through “The Powers of the Earth” by Corcoran how crucial prediction markets are in the mythos of anarcho capitalists, one should certainly expect anarcho capitalist literature to have addressed this weakness of prediction markets. This is particularly to be expected since anarcho capitalists have no difficulty with enormous centralizations of wealth (hence power), so at the very least there will be fiduciaries answerable to stockholders for such due diligence.

Hello? Is anybody out there?


Some might argue that the situation is worse than that – probabilistic predictions for unique one-of situations are meaningless, if not outright dangerous.

The classic example is Bill Gates’ zero entry fee Russian Roulette – while Bill watches, spin the chamber and pull the trigger; either the player walks away with the prize money Bill put on the table … or he does not. Any statistical prediction market would say that the game has a positive Expectation Value – so play. Realism says there are only two possible outcomes, one of which is unacceptable; therefore, don’t play.

The foolish assumption the DC Swamp Creatures seem to be making is that any use of nuclear weapons would be limited to the territory of the Ukraine. A moment’s thought shows that any use of nuclear weapons by any participant in Biden*'s proxy war must necessarily & quickly escalate to a global thermonuclear war. No-one will choose to be the sole loser in that war. And that is an unacceptable outcome for the human race. Prediction markets are worthless in this kind of situation.


I don’t see why this is an obvious or even probable outcome. There are only two parties who could transform the Ukraine conflict into a global thermonuclear war: the U.S. and Russia. I do not believe there are any circumstances under which the U.S. would be first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict that did not involve its own territory. That leaves Russia. Should Russia use one or more tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Ukraine, is the U.S. going to respond with an “empty the silos” wargasm salvo against Russia? Of course not—that makes no sense and would only invite retaliation against which the U.S. has no defence. Would the U.S. employ its own tactical nuclear weapons against Russian forces in Ukraine? What U.S. tactical nuclear weapons? According to a Federation of American Scientists report, “Status of World Nuclear Forces” issued on 2023-02-23, the U.S. has only 100 deployed nonstrategic warheads, all B61 bombs stored at six bases in five European countries. And the B61 is a pretty beefy “tactical weapon”, with a maximum yield of 340 or 400 kilotons depending upon the model. Yes, it can be used in a primary-only mode at a yield of 300 tons, but that’s a waste of a very limited asset.

Personally, I think the most likely outcome if Russia uses a few tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine is the U.S. transferring some precision guided munitions to Ukraine, including conventional cruise missiles, but nothing more provocative because of the eruption of a “peace now” movement in the U.S. and cold feet among the military who realise the whole racket will come to and end if they actually have to use their nuclear weapons.

As regards threatening the U.S. with strategic nuclear weapons, I am reminded of Thomas Sowell’s observation that Japan in 1945 was a lot tougher country than the U.S. is today, and it only took atomic bombing two cities to bring them to surrender. (OK, there were also a lot of other things going on which motivated that decision.) But then he asked, how many cities would it take before the U.S. signed the act of capitulation on, say, the aircraft carrier Khomeini in Chesapeake bay? Probably less than five.

Here is Herman Kahn’s 44 rung escalation ladder from his 1965 book On Escalation.

Now, there’s no guarantee things will go in a linear fashion or that decision makers act rationally in reaction to reverses in conflict, but there’s a long way from rung 21 (“Local Nuclear War—Exemplary”) to 44 (“Spasm or Insensate War”). I cannot conceive of circumstances where one jumps directly from the first to the (in every sense) last.


But would the countryside be happy enough with “Khomeini’s Gift” to accept yet another theocracy, even if not as malign as the one currently operating out of the aforementioned parking lots? Probably not – which is why none of the nuclear-capable BRICS nations have supplied a “Khomeini” with the requisite nukes (or, in the event they are already forward-deployed – detonated them). Don’t want to give those redneck Christians something for nothing. Better to just keep infiltrating and tormenting them with the current theocracy until they say allahu (UNCLE) akbar!


You might be right. But what if you are not? What if Iran, or North Korea, or even China decided to stir the pot by slipping Zelensky a nuke? Doubtless anonymous sources in the Biden* MalAdministration would blame any nuclear explosion on Russian territory on a handful of Ukrainian patriots (probably the same ones who blew up the NordStream pipelines). Everyone else would still blame the US.

Unfortunately, I do not share your sanguine belief that the Biden* Krew would not be the first to use nuclear weapons – or to surreptitiously slip a nuke to Zelensky rather than see him fall. We have seen no evidence of common sense & humility among the Swamp Creatures – the same Swamp Creatures who cannot articulate what interest the people of the US have in supporting a Zelensky regime which has waged civil war against fellow Ukrainians for 8 years; which failed to implement the Minsk treaties it signed; which locks up opposition politicians; which bans opposition political parties; which censors & distorts all media; which press-gangs young & old into untrained military service; which even has seized control of churches.

The occupant of a comfortable Think Tank can certainly lay out 44 possible steps to nuclear Armageddon – but that does not mean those steps will get followed sequentially in a rapidly-evolving crisis. Russian commentators suggest that President Putin faces a lot of dissatisfaction from Russians who oppose his slow measured approach to the war in the Ukraine. At some point, a Russia which believes itself to be facing an existential crisis may decide to roll the dice by cutting off the head(s) of the NATO snake.

The risks of the course that the US/NATO are on now may be bigger or smaller, but the consequences of the outcome could be immeasurable.


Yours is the pessimistic viewpoint: John is the optimistic one. Usually the results end up being somewhere between the two.


Martin van Creveld published a short piece recently (link)

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Indeed! Things end up usually not as bad as we feared – nor as good as we hoped. Even so, I don’t like the prospect of something midway between global thermonuclear war and business as usual.

Notice that in an unusual display of bipartisanship, Democrats and Republicrats in the Federal House joined hands to vote down a motion to pull US forces out of the long-running war in Syria. (How many Americans even know we have been paying for a war in Syria for years?). Our “representatives” love war. That is the kind of straw in the wind which does not give us pessimists much room for hope.


Thanks for that link gms. I should have gone looking for what MVC had to say as he’s one of the few “adults in the room” when it comes to geopolitics – which is to say he actually understand that politics is the continuation of war by other means aka advanced generations of warfare that – truth be told – revist ancient Chinese wisdom in The Art of War.

MVC writes: “Second, in the case of Europe in particular, because allowing Putin to retain at least some of his conquests would mean the end of the post-1945 world order which was based, if on anything at all, on the non-use of force in order to change borders.”

Too bad the West couldn’t have learned from the history of The Thirty Year: That its end required permitting people to assortatively migrate to provide border exclusion of ideological contamination under Cuius regio, eius religio to reduce religious pluralism. But then that might have required giving The Hitler His Due regarding The Transfer Agreement and by the end of WW II there were no adults in the room to craft a reasonable treaty. Given that reality, Patton was right and he was assassinated for it.


The Western unipolar regime seems to be firmly planted on a trajectory of doubling down on conflicts of choice that are unencumbered by the thought process. Other than maximizing MIC profits… there was no upside for Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc… Now Ukraine. Cui bono?


My guess remains that everyone involved has miscalculated.
US citizens thought they lived in a democracy, where the government has the best interests of the people at heart.
DC Swamp Creatures thought they could use the Ukraine to frighten Russia into a highly profitable (for Swamp Creatures) color revolution.
The hapless Ukrainians thought they could run an extended civil war against ethnic Russian Ukrainian citizens without triggering a Russian intervention.
Russia thought that a token demonstration of force would cause the Zelensky regime to cry uncle, forgetting that the Zelensky regime is a mere puppet of the DC Swamp Creatures.
And now here we are, stuck in a morass with no clear way out.
Cui bono? – No-one, really.

What the world needs is for some European leader to emerge and cry “stop”. But it is hard to put “European” and “leader” in the same sentence.


You miss a huge one. Dems sought to use the war to mask their destruction of the US economy.

How many times have you heard them blame inflation on “Putin’s illegal war”?

They reverse cause and effect. Oil was $36 before the 2020 election and essentially continuously increased for the more than 15 months until the war. Also natural gas. That run up gave Putin the financial reserve to go to war.


Gm & CTLaw provided the best explanation yet that I’ve heard for what’s happening between Ukraine and Russia. Thanks for your expertise.


While that is largely true, there are other important factors at work, completely ignored in the “news”. First, Russia - and by that I mean most of that nation, not just Putin - regards Ukraine as historically part of itself (if you are unfamiliar with the history, search “Kievan Rus”) going back a millennium; NATO ensconced on that particular border - after it already repeatedly broke its promise to move no further eastward after the collapse of the USSR - would be, to an objective observer, the equivalent of Soviet Missiles in Cuba: an existential threat.

Secondly, if you read Putin’s speeches, it is clear there is a civilizational aspect to this war, also seen as an existential threat (hell, it is an existential threat here!) and I believe Putin speaks not only for himself. He describes the moral decay and insanity in the west - amply documented here in “The Crazy Years” thread - and says, paraphrasing, “bless your hearts, do whatever you want, confuse men and women, etc. but we are not going there”. This suggests Russia will not go ‘woke’ any time soon. How pitiful that this woke insanity has actually captured all formerly trusted institutions, including the swamp in firm control of the US, hence NATO and Western Europe. If Americans were actually exposed to Russia’s point of view (and perhaps some of them can still think critically, despite public “education”), they might find this fight understandable and even in their long-term interest.


“Blame my name on my raisin’
Blame my raisin’ on my name
Blame my lack of common sense
On a public education”

from It Ain’t My Fault by the Osmond Brothers.