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Showing posts from April 9, 2015


Preparing for trench warfare in Ukraine

- Photos: Askold Krushelnycky

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — On the edge of the city here, members of the 37th Mechanized Infantry Battalion are living in cramped bunkers sunk about 8 feet into the black earth of farm fields. The small spaces are jammed with bunk beds, weapons, food and the occasional stray cat or dog.

The conditions are rough, but not dismal, and reflect the battalion’s motto, “Nobody But Ourselves,” a nod to the reality that Ukrainians — and particularly members of this volunteer battalion — have to rely on their own resources to defend their country.

When the fighting started last spring, Ukraine had approximately 4,000 combat-ready troops, serving in a military debilitated by corruption. The military’s best weapons had been sold off and training was minimal. In response, many Ukrainians began organizing themselves into volunteer battalions, like the 37th Mechanized Infantry Battalion.

With about 430 men, the 37th battalion is one of over a dozen private battalions that have spr…

Six things you didn’t know the U.S. and its allies did to Iran

It’s hard for some Americans to understand why the Obama administration is so determined to come to an agreement with Iran on its nuclear capability, given that huge Iranian rallies are constantly chanting “Death to America!” I know the chanting makes me unhappy, since I’m part of America, and I strongly oppose me dying.

But if you know our actual history with Iran, you can kind of see where they’re coming from. They have understandable reasons to be angry at and frightened of us — things we’ve done that if, say, Norway had done them to us, would have us out in the streets shouting “Death to Norway!” Unfortunately, not only have the U.S. and our allies done horrendous things to Iran, we’re not even polite enough to remember it.

Reminding ourselves of this history does not mean endorsing an Iran with nuclear-tipped ICBMs. It does mean realizing how absurd it sounds when critics of the proposed agreement say it suddenly makes the U.S. the weaker party or that we’re getting a bad deal beca…