The 11/16/21 dispatch.

Happy Tuesday! Hope everyone had a great weekend!

I’ve come across several great reads since the last edition.

First, we’ll start with just an incredible piece by Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic magazine. Titled, “The Bad Guys are Winning,” Applebaum lays out a compelling case for how democracies are losing ground across the world.

Applebaum writes the following: “If the 20th century was the story of slow, uneven progress toward the victory of liberal democracy over other ideologies — communism, fascism, virulent nationalism — the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse.”

And then Applebaum lays out a scary set of data points of how democracies have fallen away, in places like Belarus, Turkey, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and other countries. And while in the past, pressure from the West has helped contain (and often reclaim) countries that spiral into authoritarianism, these days those countries are welcomed into all kinds of trade deals and support from countries such as China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other autocrats.

In essence, the West hasn’t found a solution for this growing problem.

One thing that I loved about the piece is that she takes to task both the left and right in America, for no longer wanting to push democracies abroad. Of the right, she says:

The Trump presidency was a four-year display of contempt not just for the American political process, but for America’s historic democratic allies, whom he singled out for abuse. The president described the British and German leaders as “losers” and the Canadian prime minister as “dishonest” and “weak,” while he cozied up to autocrats — the Turkish president, the Russian president, the Saudi ruling family, and the North Korean dictator, among them — with whom he felt more comfortable.

And she also lambasted the left.

At the same time, a part of the American left has abandoned the idea that “democracy” belongs at the heart of U.S. foreign policy — not out of greed and cynicism but out of a loss of faith in democracy at home. Convinced that the history of America is the history of genocide, slavery, exploitation, and not much else, they don’t see the value of making common cause with … any of the other ordinary people around the world forced into politics by their experience of profound injustice. Focused on America’s own bitter problems, they no longer believe America has anything to offer the rest of the world: Although the Hong Kong prodemocracy protesters waving American flags believe many of the same things we believe, their requests for American support in 2019 did not elicit a significant wave of youthful activism in the United States, not even something comparable to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s.

Again, it’s a great piece if you get a chance to read it. And subscribing to The Atlantic is inexpensive (I think it’s 4.99 per month from the app) and it’s worth every penny. (I’ve been a subscriber for a while now.) Here’s the link again: “The Bad Guys are Winning.”

The second great read I came across was about China, written by former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.

McFaul writes that Biden and his team have framed their policy towards China as one of competition, but should also add the words of containment and cooperation to their agenda.

You can read his entire threat below. (I must say it helped open my eyes a bit about our stance toward China.)

Finally, I came across a BRILLIANT piece on Russia by Tom Nichols, a long-time expert on Russia, who’s taught at the U.S. Naval War College for 25 years and has written too many books to name.

Titled “The Russia Rules: How to think about dealing with Moscow,” the piece talks about the threat that Russia still presents and why things could unfortunately unravel into serious conflict. The piece did a couple of surprising things for me.

First, it actually calmed me down a bit about China; not easy to do.

And it also made me realize that my leaning toward a more-aggressive stance against Putin might be a bit foolish.

Nichols writes:

Russia is a weak but exceptionally dangerous country.

Add to all of this that Russia is an insecure giant, a resource-rich nation whose GDP is still stalled somewhere between Brazil’s and Canada’s but whose military is outfitted with excellent arms—and, of course, nuclear weapons. We actually have more reasons to fight with China in the coming years than with Russia, but China — rich, rising, and in need of continued prosperity — is more committed to the status quo than Russia is.

Putin, by contrast, has nothing to lose from continued conflicts around the world and much to gain by presenting himself as a powerful and levelheaded leader who always backs his friends and never throws them over, no matter how awful they are. (Just ask Bashar al-Assad in Syria.)

Here’s the link again: “The Russia Rules: How to think about dealing with Moscow.” It should be free to read.

Now, for some lighter stuff. Literally.

You probably heard about the Russian space incident this week: Russian anti-satellite missile test endangers space station crew.

To help put the article in perspective, below are a couple of photos that show what even a small piece of plastic in space will do to an object in which it collides.

In other news, Iran really pushed its luck with this little stunt.

My thoughts on the above video, which apparently involved some drones, as well, is that we allowed them to get too close. No drone, which could potentially be loaded with explosives, should be allowed to get that close.

I'd like to see the Biden administration warn the Iranians in the strongest possible terms that this better never happen again. There’s simply too much risk for our sailors and Marines for them to be doing this.

Now for something much lighter.

In cool, good news this week, there was this:

Give it a read if you get a chance.

And finally, let’s wrap up with something motivating. How about this, from Inspired Motivation Quotes.

That’s it for this post.

Let me say before we depart with this edition that we all need to be kinder in our online interactions with strangers, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or wherever.

Please work daily to unite our country again and constantly remind yourself that the vast majority of Americans are decent, loving, great people.

Please don’t name-call the other side. They are mothers and fathers and folks not much different than you.

As always, please share this post if you enjoyed it, as well as comment below.


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Semper Fidelis,

Stan R. Mitchell

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I write fast-paced military and mystery thrillers. You can find all ten books here: