Showing posts with label 2024. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2024. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

13: Ukraine

Ron DeSantis Thinks Trump Didn’t Go Far Enough Ron DeSantis’s “The Courage to be Free.” It’s not a good book, exactly. But it is a revealing one. ......... what DeSantis wants to do, but hasn’t yet done. He thinks the federal government has become too “woke” and too liberal, and Congress should “withhold funding to the offending executive branch departments until the abuses are corrected.” ......... Schedule F that can reclassify around 50,000 federal employees to make them more like political appointees, enabling the president “to terminate federal employees who frustrate his policies.” .......... he has called for a national “reckoning” on Covid and promised to hold people like Dr. Anthony Fauci “accountable” for the damage he believes they’ve caused. ........ “For years, the default conservative position has been to limit government and then get out of the way,” DeSantis writes. Such reticence about using the power of government to fight back against the arrayed forces of the left — including Facebook, Disney, the government, the schools, the media and much else — means “essentially greenlighting these institutions to continue their unimpeded march through society.” .............. Trump often appears in DeSantis’s book as a faintly comic figure. When DeSantis requests federal aid after Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle, Trump says, according to DeSantis’s recounting, “They love me in the Panhandle. I must have won 90 percent of the vote out there. Huge crowds. What do they need?” It is left to Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to beg DeSantis to delay announcing the aid because Trump “doesn’t even know what he agreed to.” .............. He describes winning Florida’s governorship and ordering his transition team to “amass an exhaustive list of all the constitutional, statutory, and customary powers of the governor.” Much of the rest of the book is an exhaustive, and at times exhausting, account of how he used them. ............ DeSantis is portraying himself as the figure liberals have long feared: a Donald Trump who plans, a Donald Trump who follows through. ............. Part of Trump’s appeal in 2015 and 2016 was his willingness to defy conservative orthodoxy. He promised to raise taxes on rich guys like himself, leave Medicare and Social Security alone, and make sure everyone had great health care. Polls showed he was viewed as a more centrist candidate than Hillary Clinton. .

Saudi Arabia and China Flaunt Growing Ties at Investment Forum The kingdom hosted a lavish Arab-China business conference days after a visit from the American secretary of state, inviting companies blacklisted by the United States. .......... “If you want a trusted partner in the world — one of the best partners in the world — it’s the People’s Republic of China,” Mohammed Abunayyan, the chairman of a Saudi renewable energy company, declared from the stage, to resounding applause. “China is a partner you can depend on,” he said on Sunday, the first of two days of meetings. ........... The event, attended by more than 3,000 people, came days after a visit to the kingdom by the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, who reaffirmed the U.S.-Saudi relationship after a period of strained ties — including a blowup last year over oil production. Yet at the conclusion of Mr. Blinken’s visit on Thursday, the Saudi foreign minister said that while the kingdom values its close relationship with the United States, it has no plans to distance itself from China, its top trading partner. .............. Saudi officials often complain that they feel like they cannot rely on the United States, their historical security guarantor, and are seeking to forge a more independent foreign policy. ......... many Saudis can’t help but frame their growing ties with China in contrast to the waning influence of the United States in the kingdom. .......... In the newest terminals at Riyadh’s airport, directional signs include not only Arabic and English, but also Chinese. ......... “In human history, every 20 or 30 years there’s something big happening, and the last big economic thing that happened was perhaps the opening of China,” said Ronnie Chan, a Hong Kong real estate developer. “I am witnessing something today in the kingdom that reminded me of what happened 30 or 40 years ago in China.” .

Fear and Mayhem as Russia’s War Comes Home Attacks from Ukraine have killed at least a dozen Russian civilians and displaced thousands. But they have not fundamentally changed the calculus for Vladimir Putin. ............ Almost all of the 40,000 inhabitants had fled ......... Mounting attacks on the Russian side of the border have killed more than a dozen civilians and pushed tens of thousands of people into Belgorod, the capital of a region whose rich soil and manicured streets once earned it the sobriquet “little Switzerland.” ......... ‌If the intention has been to shake support for Mr. Putin, or Russian resolve in his war, or to make ordinary Russians feel the pain of the conflict for themselves, then the attacks from Ukraine may have had some marginal effect, but they have not changed anything fundamental. ......... he can still count on support from most of a population cowed by his increasingly repressive 23-year-old rule. ........ an estimated one million of those opposed to the war have fled the country. ‌ ............ None of the Russians interviewed drew a connection between their plight and the 8.2 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled Mr. Putin’s brutal war. Constant propaganda has twisted the conflict into a defensive Russian war against the “Nazis” and “Fascists,” backed by the United States and Europe, who, in the Russian telling, gave Moscow no choice but to take military action........ On the ghostly streets of Shebekino, Viktor Kalugin, 65, complained that Wagner mercenaries and Chechen fighters, both renowned for their ruthlessness, had not been allowed to take care of things. ............ “I hope our forces will not allow the Fascists to enter here,” he said. “As long as we have Putin, nobody will be able to take Russia. If only he could deal with the generals.” ............. An offer from local authorities of 50,000 rubles, or about $650, for those displaced by the fighting provoked flashes of outrage when it was announced on Thursday. ......... “They unleashed a war and now they want to close people’s mouths with pennies,” wrote Svetlana Ilyasova in a chat group of Shebekino residents on the Telegram messaging app. ......... “This is Russia against the collective West,” a senior official in Moscow, who declined to be named, said in an interview. “Ukraine is just the land where the performance is going on.” ......... has attributed the attacks, which had no apparent military target, to Russians fighting for two paramilitary groups, the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, that have embraced the Ukrainian cause as a means to “liberate” Russia from Mr. Putin. ............ Above him was a giant billboard declaring, “Glory to Our Air Defense!” Beside him, one man wore a dark blue NYC hat and another a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Los Angeles.” Russia’s radical turn away from the West is still a work in progress. .

How to Use A.I. to Automate the Dreaded Office Meeting Generating a slide deck, talking points and meetings minutes can all be done in a snap. All you need are the right prompts........ As with text and image generators, the more detailed your prompts, the better. ....... A word of warning: Generative A.I. systems are vulnerable to a phenomenon called “hallucination,” where the model makes up plausible-sounding nonsense. Especially in a work setting, it’s vitally important to triple-check that no inaccuracies have crept in. .......... “act as if…” is one of the golden prompts for using generative A.I. ............ Zoom and Google include tools that use A.I. to automatically transcribe speech from a meeting into a text file, as long as the meeting is recorded with everyone’s permission. You can then paste the transcript into a chatbot and ask it to summarize it. ............. If you use Google Meet with a business license, meeting transcripts are turned on by default and a link to a Google Doc gets emailed to the host. ........ If you’re using Zoom, you will need a business, education or enterprise license with cloud recording enabled in the account settings. When the Zoom meeting starts, enable cloud recording. Once the meeting ends, the service will automatically generate the transcript. .

After a Rocky Year, Zuckerberg Lays Out Meta’s Road Map to Employees In an internal all-hands meeting, the chief executive explained his plans for artificial intelligence, the metaverse and rebooting Meta’s culture.......... Zuckerberg has spent the last nine months against the ropes ........ how Meta’s work in artificial intelligence would blend with its plans for the virtual reality it calls the metaverse. ......... Zuckerberg’s talk was an attempt to rally staff after the most tumultuous period in his company’s 19-year history. .......... Executives also spoke about Project 92, a long-rumored social app in development at Meta that will function similar to Twitter. .......... detailed plans for artificially intelligent assistants that aid people across all Meta’s apps, including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. .......... “Democratizing access to this has a bunch of value,” Mr. Zuckerberg said, according to the two people who shared remarks with The Times. “But it’s also aligned with the product vision of enabling a lot of different A.I.’s instead of just trying to consolidate this ourselves into one singular A.I. that’s going to try to rule everything.” ............. He envisioned A.I. assistants that help people “create content to express yourself and your ideas so much better,” or perhaps some artificially intelligent version of “a coach that gives you advice, encourages you.” .......... A.I. agents could serve customers in products like WhatsApp, the globally popular messaging app that Meta has been focused on turning into an important tool for business owners and customer service. And every business could use a personalized A.I. algorithm. ........ The company has spent billions over the past decade building systems to run A.I. and attracting top researchers to work on some of the world’s most difficult computer science questions around A.I. ........... Mr. Zuckerberg also said he hoped for a world where people could build as many different A.I. programs as they wanted, rather than relying on a few provided by two or three large technology companies. ............. Programs using new generative A.I. technology, he said, could eventually help people build new virtual world items and experiences. ............ “Our vision of the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social and about people interacting and feeling closer in new amazing ways. By contrast, every demo Apple showed was someone sitting on a couch by themselves.” .

Why I Can’t Bet Against Apple’s Mixed-Reality Prowess There are plenty of reasons the Vision Pro could flop. But we shouldn’t forget that Apple has a knack for entering a product category at just the right time......... I’ve been a virtual reality skeptic for years, and I have long wondered why the technology hasn’t gone mainstream, even as headset quality has improved. I was always dubious about Mark Zuckerberg’s pitch for the metaverse, which had “personal conquest” vibes more so than “actual market demand” vibes. ....... it could be a big deal, and possibly even the first hint of a revolutionary new computing platform. ......... there just aren’t a ton of people in the world who are interested in reading their emails in V.R. ........ (Apple is now the No. 1 watch brand in the world, and it sells an estimated 40 million watches every year. I wear one, as do many of my friends and relatives.) ........ Now, we assume that people who check their watches at dinner are probably trying to avoid pulling out their phones, which would be ruder and more disruptive. In other words, mass adoption killed the taboo. ......... Apple has a knack for entering a product category at just the right time. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone in 2007, or even the first touch-screen smartphone. The iPad wasn’t the first tablet. But in both cases, the company brought excitement and sex appeal to products that hadn’t previously had it. Apple let other companies make some of the expensive mistakes, and it focused on making a great product. .......... virtual and augmented reality are fundamentally bad ideas, and the market for these devices may be destined to remain small. But it could be that the market just needed Apple to arrive. .

The Hottest Thing in Real Estate Is a Loan From Two Years Ago Real estate agents are pushing sub-3 percent mortgages as an amenity, just like marble countertops or a view of the mountains. .

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Asana CEO: ‘The way we work right now will soon look vestigial. Here’s how A.I. will make work more human’ employees at JPMorgan may already be suffering under that dynamic due to the company’s powerful employee monitoring tools........... a world where people are thriving in their jobs because of A.I., not in spite of it. ........ Software can help you screen notifications, for example, by intelligently analyzing whether an incoming alert is both important and urgent enough to interrupt your focus. It can organically synchronize your moments of collaboration with others, evolving us past today’s rigid system of recurring meetings and calendar blocks that fracture your days. Perhaps most importantly, it can encourage you to take breaks, even vacations, when you’ve been working too long (thus improving impact over longer cycles, in addition to well-being). .............. we’re at our best when we’re engaged in tasks that are distinctly human, the ones that allow us to infuse our creativity, empathy, and judgment into them. A.I. can enable our days to be filled with these, when we leverage its comparative advantage to do more of the “work about work” that slows us down, like compiling and sharing status updates. .......... A.I. can jump-start employees’ onboarding and institutional knowledge by becoming a personal tutor that brings every individual up to speed with expert patience and grace. Unfamiliar acronyms, custom Slack emojis, and project code names—all the tiny nuances that make up the connective tissue of culture—can be alienating to those unfamiliar. A.I. can decode company or team culture, replacing the uneasiness that accompanies transitions with a quickly achieved sense of belonging, and making it easy to start contributing to the team’s goals. Reducing this friction is empowering for individuals, making it easy to leave managers that don’t treat them well. ............. A world with more breakthroughs, bigger ideas, better execution, and faster progress. A world full of happy individuals, living their best lives at work.

Thursday, February 16, 2023


The Drone War in Ukraine Is Cheap, Deadly, and Made in China Crowdsourced donations are fueling eyes in the sky. ...... It’s grimly reminiscent of European conflicts of the 20th century—but it’s also the first war in history where both sides have made extensive use of cheap, startlingly effective small drones, the kind that can be bought at electronics stores or built with simple hobby kits. ........ One company dominates the market. In early 2013, Chinese drone hobby company DJI released the Phantom 1, one of the first out-of-the-box consumer drones that a total novice could use to take aerial photos. Today, DJI is the overwhelming global king of the consumer-drone market, selling extremely affordable, sophisticated, and easy-to-use products that are useful for everything from construction mapping to filmmaking—whose positive attributes tend to overshadow ongoing controversies about just how secure these Chinese-made drones really are. And much to DJI’s irritation, the affordability and accessibility that make their drones so appealing to civilians are also very attractive to soldiers. .......... Ukrainians and Russians certainly aren’t pleased about their reliance on a single product made by a Chinese company .......... and price hikes in Russia, after DJI pulled out of the market there ........ While both Ukraine and Russia are working furiously to spin up their own in-country drone-manufacturing projects, they still need access to huge quantities of consumer, off-the-shelf drones, as well as hobby-grade drone components (which are almost all produced in China). But DJI says that it does not “market or sell our products for combat operations”, and as of April 2022, the company doesn’t officially sell its products in Ukraine or Russia, either. ........... The fact that DJI drones are explicitly sold as consumer, non-military products also makes them much easier to transport across international borders than more heavily controlled, explicitly military technologies ......... Drones are really just flying cameras with pretensions, and what they’re most useful for is looking at things, gaining a perspective you can’t get from the ground, with an intimacy and stealth that planes can’t match. .......... surveillance: tools that fighters can use to figure out where they are, who’s in the area around them, and to project that information out to the rest of the world ........ Ukrainian fighters regularly stream data feeds from consumer drones back to centralized command centers, often relying upon tools as mundane as Google Meet. ........... the ability to send accurate latitude-longitude coordinates back to both centralized command centers and pilots on the ground. .......... At night, drone pilots take advantage of small drones equipped with thermal sensors, devices that are widely used in the civilian world for tasks such as infrastructure inspection, farming, and search and rescue. ........... They’re also a PR tool. Hundreds of war-focused Telegram channels, YouTube accounts, and Facebook pages, maintained by people on both the Russian and Ukrainian side of the conflict, now post dozens and dozens of battlefield videos collected by drones every day—dramatic footage that is constantly replayed by the global news media, shaping narratives and opinions. .......... The world is seeing the Ukraine war through the gimbal-mounted digital eye of a drone: the first war everyone can follow from the god’s-eye perspective of a flying, zoom-lens-equipped camera hovering hundreds of feet over the bloodshed. ........... While drones are best for looking at things, they’re also pretty good at dropping explosives. At the very start of the war, the vast majority of small-drone bombing videos on social media came from Ukraine’s Aerorozvidka unit, which used custom-built, thermal-sensor-equipped, eight-armed multirotor drones to precisely drop modified, often Soviet-era, grenades onto Russian equipment. .............. and increasingly, those grenades were being dropped by DJI drones equipped with 3D-printed dropper devices, which can be ordered in bulk on AliExpress ........... Ukrainians, too, have taken advantage of tools capable of interrupting consumer drone signals, such as the Lithuanian-made EDM4S anti-drone jammer. ........... In late November 2022, a Russian Wagner fighter surrendered not to a human, but to a drone. As the aerial camera watched, he threw down his weapon and began walking in the direction of Ukrainian lines—and he lived to tell the tale for Telegram. ........... Ukraine quickly capitalized on the video’s popularity and began posting detailed instructions on how to surrender to a drone for Russian fighters, part of the evocatively named “I Want to Live” project ............ In January, Ukrainian fighters used a hook-carrying DJI drone to remotely grab a Russian walkie-talkie that had been abandoned on the battlefield. They claimed they were able to then listen in on Russian communications for nine days. .......... small drones continue to exist in an uncertain space in international humanitarian law, and we still lack real mechanisms for telling friend-drone from foe-drone way up in the air. .......... The skies over 21st-century battlefields are going to be filled with dirt-cheap and startlingly effective eyes in the sky for a very long time to come.

The Contradictions of Ron DeSantis He has ignited so many cultural confrontations that they’re difficult to keep track of, but he has acted most aggressively on education......... his record as the chief executive of an economically thriving state ....... DeSantis, through his escalating attacks on what he calls “woke” ideology, has signaled that if he runs, as most expect, he will seek the GOP nomination by emphasizing the same cultural grievances about racial and social change that former President Donald Trump has stressed. Those messages have enabled Trump to energize hard-core conservatives, but at the price of repelling many well-educated suburbanites. .......... DeSantis winning about three-fifths of Florida’s college-educated white voters in a year when that group provided crucial support to Democrats in many other states ......... DeSantis has ignited so many cultural confrontations that it’s difficult to keep track of them, but he has acted most aggressively on education. ............ and “intersectionality,” an academic analysis of how forms of racial, class, and gender inequity intersect ........ This week, after the College Board openly criticized his actions on the AP African American–history course, DeSantis suggested he may try to end Florida’s use of other AP tests and even the SAT. Those threats echoed his successful drive to strip the Walt Disney Company of special administrative privileges for its theme park in Orlando after the corporation criticized his “Don’t Say Gay” bill. ........ DeSantis has been fulsome in his denunciations of “woke ideology” but stingy in his definitions of exactly what he considers that to be. ......... defined woke as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.” ......... By refusing to more precisely identify what concepts the state considers objectionable, he says, DeSantis has created a “chilling effect” whereby teachers self-censor in fear that “everything and anything” about race, gender, and sexuality “can become fodder for punishment.” ......... copycat bills in many of the other 21 states where Republicans hold unified control of the state legislature and the governorship. .......... the voters most attracted to limiting what students learn about race and gender are those who are already receptive to core Trump cultural messages. ...........

For many GOP voters, “this is a psychological, not policy, threat”

........... “The feeling is the other side is calling me racist, calling me and my country evil, and blaming me as a man for every problem … It’s about shame, guilt, and self-worth, and it’s existential—for them and their country. Obviously, that’s going to motivate Republican base voters more than crime policy or inflation.” ............ these ideas generate much less demand outside the red states ........ frame these moves as an attempt to empower parents against an arrogant educational bureaucracy and other “elitist” forces, like Hollywood and teachers’ unions. ......... For many GOP strategists, the proof that these ideas appeal beyond the conservative base was Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the 2021 governor’s race in Virginia, a state that had been steadily trending blue, after he stressed “parental rights.” ........ majorities of voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who argued that schools should focus less on racism and more on core academic subjects ........... backed a “Don’t Say Gay” law for the early grades; would give parents more control over curriculum; and would ban transgender girls from high-school sports ........... not only did about four-fifths of 2020 Trump voters say they would support a candidate expressing each of those beliefs; so did about one-third of those who voted for President Joe Biden. ......... a significant majority said they worried less that kids are being taught values their parents don’t like than that culture-war fights are diverting schools from their real mission of educating students .......... a two-to-one majority said that providing schools with more resources was more important than providing parents with more say. ............. “Banning books is very likely to raise eyebrows and opposition among the narrow segment of voters who truly are swing voters” .......... the larger implications of the DeSantis agenda are likely to turn off the suburban swing voters the GOP is hoping to recapture in 2024. .......... not “let him claim to be there speaking for parents; what this is really about is politicians coming in and deciding what is going to be taught.” .......... people will definitely trust teachers and principals way more than they trust politicians ........ Trump has already released a pair of bristling videos staking out militant positions on censoring teachers and restricting LGBTQ rights (to combat what Trump called “gender insanity.”) ......... the GOP primary could see a culture-war arms race that tugs all of the contenders to the right and creates more hurdles with swing voters for the eventual winner. ......... In the Democratic portrayal, DeSantis looks like an intolerant bully with authoritarian and bigoted inclinations; in the Republican version, he’s a buttoned-down, business-friendly manager imposing commonsense constraints on unaccountable forces threatening families. The picture that ultimately commands the frame will likely determine whether DeSantis can broaden the GOP’s appeal beyond its constricted boundaries under Trump.

Dismiss Ron DeSantis at Your Peril political analysts and journalists marvel at, chew over and second-guess his failure to return Donald Trump’s increasingly ugly jabs. ....... where those critics spot possible weakness, I see proven discipline. Brawling with Trump doesn’t flex DeSantis’s muscle. It shows he can be baited. And it just covers them both in mud. .......... DeSantis “has a lot more in common with Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan” when they were gearing up for their first presidential bids than with Walker, Kamala Harris or Rick Perry, whose sizzle fizzled fast. ........ DeSantis has the very venom that Bush didn’t. He’s a viper to Bush’s garter snake. ......... A few months ago, “Ron DeSanctimonious” made its puerile and lavishly syllabic debut. “Meatball Ron” is apparently under consideration. .......... And this month Trump insinuated on social media that when DeSantis was a secondary school teacher decades ago, he behaved inappropriately around female students. ......... DeSantis’s response? “I spend my time delivering results for the people of Florida and fighting against Joe Biden,” he told a reporter who asked him about the vague and unsubstantiated allegation. “I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans,” he added. ........... What he mostly spends his time doing is peacocking and planting unignorable markers along every fault line in the culture wars. ........... He’s methodical and relentless, and that compensates for his oratory, more yawn-stoking than heart-stirring, and his debating, more bluster than luster. ......... Attention to politicians on the rise and on the make comes in predictable phases. They are built up, each observer outdoing the breathlessness of the previous ones, until they must be torn down, because the existing story is stale and new adjectives and anecdotes are in order. ......... So DeSantis has gone from cunning (which he is) to unlikable (ditto), from someone who has outperformed expectations (that 19-point margin) to someone who cannot possibly meet them.

What Putin Got Right The Russian president got many things wrong about invading Ukraine—but not everything. ........ He exaggerated his army’s military prowess. He underestimated the power of Ukrainian nationalism and the ability of its outmanned armed forces to defend their home soil. He appears to have misjudged Western unity, the speed with which NATO and others would come to Ukraine’s aid, and the willingness and ability of energy-importing countries to impose sanctions on Russia and wean themselves off its energy exports. He may also have overestimated China’s willingness to back him up: Beijing is buying lots of Russian oil and gas, but it is not providing Moscow with vocal diplomatic support or valuable military aid. ........... No matter how the war turns out, Russia is going to be weaker and less influential than it would have been had he chosen a different path. ........... The Biden administration hoped that the threat of “unprecedented sanctions” would deter Putin from invading and then hoped that imposing these sanctions would strangle his war machine, trigger popular discontent, and force him to reverse course. Putin went to war convinced that Russia could ride out any sanctions we might impose, and he’s been proved right up till now. There is still sufficient appetite for Russian raw materials (including energy) to keep its economy going with only a slight decline in GDP. The long-term consequences may be more severe, but he was right to assume that sanctions alone would not determine the outcome of the conflict for quite a while. ............ Putin correctly judged that the Russian people would tolerate high costs and that military setbacks were not going to lead to his ouster. He may have begun the war hoping it would be quick and cheap, but his decision to keep going after the initial setbacks—and eventually to mobilize reserves and fight on—reflected his belief that the bulk of the Russian people would go along with his decision and that he could suppress any opposition that did emerge. .......... Putin understood that other states would follow their own interests and that he would not be universally condemned for his actions. Europe, the United States, and some others have reacted sharply and strongly, but key members of the global south and some other prominent countries (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel) have not. ............. Putin understood that Ukraine’s fate was more important to Russia than it was to the West. ......... Given this asymmetry of motivation, we are trying to stop Russia without U.S. troops getting directly involved. ......... If you listen to them, Russian control over Crimea or any portion of the Donbas would be a fatal blow to the “rules-based international order,” an invitation to China to seize Taiwan, a boon to autocrats everywhere, a catastrophic failure of democracy, and a sign that nuclear blackmail is easy and that Putin could use it to march his army all the way to the English Channel. Hard-liners in the West make arguments like this to make Ukraine’s fate appear as important to us as it is to Russia, but such scare tactics don’t stand up to even casual scrutiny. ............ The future course of the 21st century is not going to be determined by whether Kyiv or Moscow ends up controlling the territories they are currently fighting over, but rather by which countries control key technologies, by climate change, and by political developments in many other places. ........... because a nuclear exchange is such a fearsome prospect, bargaining under the shadow of nuclear weapons becomes a “competition in risk taking.” Nobody wants to use even one nuclear weapon, but the side that cares more about a particular issue will be willing to run greater risks, especially if vital interests are at stake. ............. we cannot entirely dismiss the possibility that Russia would use a nuclear weapon if it were about to suffer a catastrophic defeat, and this realization places limits on how far we should be willing to push it. Again, not because Western leaders are weak-willed or craven, but because they are sensible and prudent. ........... neither the United States nor the Soviet Union ever engaged in successful nuclear blackmail during the long Cold War—even against non-nuclear states—despite the enormous arsenals at their disposal. ............ The more aid, weaponry, intelligence, and diplomatic support that the United States and NATO provide to Ukraine, the more their reputations become tied to the outcome. This is one reason why President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainians keep demanding more and more sophisticated forms of support; it is in their interest to get the West tied as closely as possible to their fate. .......... In 1969, Henry Kissinger understood Vietnam was of little strategic value to the United States and that there was no plausible path to victory there. ........... The more arms we commit, the more committed we become. ......... when both sides start thinking that their vital interests require inflicting a decisive defeat on the opponent, ending wars gets harder and escalation becomes more likely.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Prashant And 2024

I think Prashant Kishor is going to be forced to run for parliament.

You can't do a Padyatra and not launch a party. You can't say I will sit 2024 out, and launch a party for 2025. That would not work.

Prashant is the only person who could form an all India coalition of opposition parties. Congress would be the junior partner.

This should not be an alliance but a confederation. All MPs of the alliance would come together to form a formal decision making body. It would elect its leader. Simple as that. I don't think Rahul stands a chance.

The Mahatma's magic is not in his last name, although it is good branding. The Mahatma's magic is in his thoughts, ideals and methods.

Remember, he experimented. My Experiments With Truth? He asks you to experiment. He does not ask you to simply accept his conclusions like rote learning.

The rule for the alliace would be, only one candidate per constituency.

You do those two things, and you put yourself in a position to collect the 60% of the votes that have always been out of reach for the BJP.

Prashant Kishor is not a political consultant, or a political strategist. Those terms don't describe him. He is a political talent. I can't think of another example like him on the planet. And I follow the politics of many countries.

I think he could give India a 20% growth rate. Perhaps not in year one, or year two, but by year three or four.

That would be world changing. Literally. Most of the poor people on earth live in India. It's not Africa.

I have a suggestion for a name for his party. Navajagaran. Meaning: New Beginnings. The current fashion when you launch a political party is to give it a one word name.

Prashant could get his party to contest every seat in Bihar, in Uttar Pradesh, and also Madhya Pradesh. Yes, the Congress has been number two in many contituencies in MP. But if you have been number two election after election after election, that is not being number two. You need to vacate the scene. Possibly even a chunk of Maharashtra, a chunk of Gujarat.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Bobby Jindal 2024

photo of gurudwara ponta sahib
photo of gurudwara ponta sahib (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • You have to be yourself. If you talk fast, if that is you, don't slow down. You can be only one person, and that is you. Just be yourself. You slowed down artificially for that speech in 2009, and that was the beginning of your end. 
  • You became particularly shrill after that. Two reasons. One, the Great Recession hit you and your state. When that happens, people sometimes end up in dark corners. Two, that counter Obama speech in 2009 put you at the receiving end of racism. People who say they are only individuals, they don't have group identities are two dimensional creatures. And racism is a three dimensional reality. When 2D creatures get hit with a 3D reality, they don't know what hit them. You got infantilized. That was racist. But you will not understand if you keep claiming you are only an individual. 
  • I have had hundreds of meals at the local Gurudwara. India is sorry 1984 happened. Now own up to it. You are Indian. Like JFK was Irish. He wore it on his sleeve. You are Indian, your wife is Indian, your kids are Indian. Your Indian identity goes back thousands of years. America would not be great if it did not allow you room for your Indian identity. I mean, my favorite thing about America are inter-racial, cross-cultural kids. But that does not take away from heritage, mine, or yours, or anyone else's.
  • On social issues you may hold any view you want, that does not bother people. But to say the alternative view is not valid is Taliban, it is not America. So on the social issues, you have to be live and let live. And since America is a free country, and social views don't change fast, it is best to push the social views to the background. You know where you stand, you respect where others stand, and you make them feel like you respect them, and you are done. No one is convincing nobody. Everybody is too smart by one and a half. 
  • And focus hard core on the economic issues. This is where you will sink or swim. If you can show America you can help create the industries of tomorrow, you will regain your pre-2008 aura and seeming invincibility. Barack Obama is a tough guy to go against. Hillary knows. So do you. But she is running again. 
  • As for the industries of tomorrow, talk to Vivek Wadhwa, the smartest dude in Silicon Valley. He was your active supporter, before you became shrill. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

AAP Will Emerge The Second Largest Party In 2019

The Aam Aadmi Party's spectacular victory in Delhi was way better than even their own best predictions. It was obvious they would win, but their margin of victory has been surprising. There is no question now that Kejriwal will stay Chief Minister for the next five years, likely 10, make that nine. And he has to perform. He has to deliver. Protest to sab karte hain. Deliver karo. 

And it is a good thing that AAP is thinking in terms of contesting state elections far and wide. The BJP has become the new Congress, the new natural party in power. But the Opposition space lies vacant. AAP is best positioned to grow into that space.

The Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, for example, is just the UP version of Laloo Yadav. Laloo challenged caste dynamics, and kudos to him, but there was zero deliverance on governance. Agar usi Mulayam ko Nitish apna neta mante hain to Opposition space mein ane ke liye the so-called Janata Parivar bhi right mindset mein nahin hai. 

That leaves AAP to fill up the space. And that is a good thing. AAP has the potential to also spill over into the neighboring countries. AAP doing good work makes democracy an export item for India. That is just so wonderful. Why only Bollywood? Also export AAP.

Nitish will do well in Bihar. But his national options have been curtailed by his reliance on tired faces like Mulayam.

Modi has been doing good work, and I think he will be rewarded accordingly in 2019. The BJP might go for a one party government at the center after the 2019 elections. Might as well. But maybe in 2024 it will be Kejriwal's turn to take the helm. Don't underestimate the power of a common man.

Dono bania, dono halwai.

The Opposition Party has to be a party that is ready to take power. That is not the Congress, and that is not Mulayam's Janata Parivar. Independence ke momentum ne Congress ko 40-50 sal diye. Uska baad Mandal politics aya. Ab kamandal+development politics chal raha hai. Uske baad common man ki baari ayegi. 

AAP's landslide victory in Delhi: ET examines the party's future prospects in 10 states
Instead of the scattershot approach which it adopted in the Lok Sabha election, AAP now wants to be methodical in its expansion. The Delhi win changes little on the ground in most states; the strategy to build ground-up had begun in June 2014, one of its main objectives being to beef up units across the country. ...... it is only a question of time before the party becomes a national political alternative, but it will have to first deliver in Delhi. Never mind that some of its prominent faces in the rest of the country think the iron is hot enough. ...... it needs to do what it did so effectively in Delhi: engage with the electorate long before an election through initiatives like 'Delhi Dialogue', which Sanyal calls a "game-changer" for the party.