There’s an ongoing argument about NATO expansion after the fall of the Soviet Union. Within the western political science community, there have been a number of sub-arguments, including whether Russia was promised that NATO would not expand. That has more or less been settled: Although some statements were made to that effect, they were not official commitments.
More broadly, arguments about NATO expansion tend to assume that if NATO hadn’t expanded, Europe would look about the same as it does now, but Russia would be less aggressive, and more accommodations would be possible.
Having co-chaired a NATO Advanced Research Workshop in Estonia and spent some time working with Estonians on a major environmental cleanup, I’ve recognized that there were many paths that could have been taken by the many actors involved, which could lead to quite different outcomes.
Would the newly independent countries trust Mother Russia? Could Mother Russia keep her hands off them? It would not be a single big decision, but a series of small ones.
At the Duck of Minerva, I’ve written a counterfactual in which NATO doesn’t expand. I’ve based it on events that have actually happened, although in different historical order. The outcome is different than has been assumed. It was fun to write and I think will be enjoyable to read.
Tom Barrack was the chair of Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. He had been a Trump confidant and financial backer for some time, and thus not surprising he would get a job like that. Today he was arrested for acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates and trying to influence the President in their favor.
Sometimes I think the pandemic will never end, but I remind myself that it will.
Numbers are headed up again in the US and skyrocketing in other countries. A Yankee – Red Sox game was postponed because of 19 positive tests within the Yankee organization. One wonders what the vaccination status is of the Yankee organization.
This is how the pandemic will end.
People who are not vaccinated will become sick and die. Those who recover will be immune to the disease. Either way, they will be removed from the susceptible pool. People are being vaccinated every day. They are removed from the susceptible pool after the appropriate number of shots and waiting period. The numbers of the susceptible decrease every day.
The alarmist takes that immunity will wear off and that variants will get around immunity are wildly overblown. I have seen no evidence for either of those and good arguments that our multiple-barrier immune systems react well to the vaccines and infection, except for small numbers of people with weakened immune systems. Every day that passes argues that immunity is not wearing off. If we eventually find a decrease, we can deal with it from a base of immunized people.
As the numbers of susceptible people decrease, we can concentrate attention and vaccines on hot spots or boosters if we learn that they are necessary. At some point, we will even quench the hot spots.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s not clear when we’ll get there. My estimate is that it will be five years before the world is back to something close to pre-pandemic normal. It will be uneven for different places, as the pandemic has been all along.
We recently passed four million recorded deaths from COVID across the world. The total is undoubtedly higher and will go higher still.
We must speed up vaccinating people. The longer the pandemic goes, the higher will be the death count. And pretending we are back to normal now delays the end.
Following up on science stories that have been badly handled by the media.
I am tempted to refer to this phenomenon as “flying saucers” to emphasize the nonsense that surrounds it. The report was released last week and seems to have been drowned out by Critical Race Theory and other shiny objects thrown out to distract from real issues.
Kelsey Atherton comprehensively explains why, no matter what UFOs may be, the military will never tell us everything they know. Everything they know would inform adversaries of the capabilities of military sensors and other things we’d rather they not know.
Here’s another view of the reporting on UFOs and other things, and I’m quoted.
Zachary Cohen called me with not enough information on this reported leak. The odd thing about it was that France had notified the United States, and high-level US meetings were reported. So: secretive country, nuclear leak. Hard for me, even, not to feel resonances with Chernobyl. My early guess from the information we had was that it was a broken fuel element, and that’s what it turned out to be. The reason France contacted the US had to do with sharing nuclear information. When a country gets nuclear technology from the US, restrictions are attached about sharing it.
Justin Ling covers the major claims about a laboratory escape being the route of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into humans and finds them wanting; further, that a natural pathway from animals to humans is more likely. Long article and may have a paywall. This one should become the standard reference for refuting the lab leak bros.
What can we expect from the summit meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin?
That is the expectation that Biden is setting. There will be no grand pronouncements, no reset, maybe not even a perfunctory statement of agreement on a minor point. That is part of the reason that Biden plans to hold a press conference by himself. The other part, of course, is in contrast with Donald Trump’s disastrous showing at Helsinki.
But the meeting is necessary and important. Russia is a major country, with a nuclear arsenal equivalent to America’s. Russia is adjacent to our allies in Europe and supplies energy to many of them. It has a long land border across which untoward things can happen. Those are reason enough for the leaders to meet.