Vladimir Putin has made clear his ambition to reintegrate Ukraine into a Russian Empire. Russia expanded from the Ukraine-Moscow-Novgorod area across Asia over a period of centuries. By 1721, it was at its maximum extent, including colonies in North America. Like other empires, it indulged in various forms of genocide as it incorporated peoples of many languages and living conditions.
The Soviet Union grew out of the Russian Empire and continued its imperial characteristics, but its rhetoric denied those characteristics. It was the friend of oppressed people everywhere, and the members of the Union were happy to be part of it, so went the official line.
The polling/pundit debacle that predicted a “red wave” in the election has reminded me of this brilliant title of a short story by James Tiptree, Jr. Except that’s Alice Bradley Sheldon. Back in the day, a sure way not to be seen was to have a name coded as female.
Names coded as female are more acceptable now, but, as in Shelton’s story, much that is female is still not seen. We could still be traveling down to Mexico to get a lift to other solar systems, and nobody would know. The story is told from the limited viewpoint of a man who stumbles into two women’s vacation to Mexico. He cannot understand the women in any way but as sexual targets.
A great many pollsters live in a similarly limited world. Theirs depends on their models and the limited worldview those models encapsulate – gasoline prices, inflation fears, what they sometimes call kitchen table issues. Additionally, a conventional wisdom of how elections play out and fluctuate. No space for self-determination being taken away from half the population.
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s National Security Advisor, has been in contact with Vladimir Putin’s advisors over the past several months. This is no surprise, because contact is particularly important in times of conflict. The US maintained contact with the USSR, and has maintained contact with Russia in regard to both countries’ activities in Syria. This is diplomacy.
The Biden administration is also urging Ukraine to signal willingness to talk to Russia. That would mean dropping or softening insistence that diplomacy can talke place only after Putin is no longer in power. This is diplomacy.
A New York Times reporter responded to the WSJ news by saying that The Letter – the one that Dan and Rob have written about – made a difference. I am sorry to see that a reporter from the Paper Of Record has such a naïve view of how things work. I’ve lost the tweet.
If the administration leaked this news, it is because diplomacy has been going on for weeks to months and has some stability. A too-early leak of such information can damage or end the connection. So all this diplomacy was in progress before The Letter.