On NATO’s Expansion and Its Cultural Shockwaves

Justin E. H. Smith in his Substack newsletter, The Hinternet:

I said last week that Putin has “taken the world hostage” by threatening to use nuclear weapons in order to defend the territorial sovereignty of Russia, and I certainly count my own mind and faculty of attention among the captives. Some of you might be tired of this subject by now, which now enters its fourth week as my exclusive focus in this space. I expect I’ll get back to regular programming soon, as, God willing, the font size of the New York Times’ front-page headlines begins at long last to shrink back to something closer to normal. You might be particularly tired of hearing from me on the subject, as plainly what you are seeing here is not expert analysis, such as you might expect from, say, Timothy Snyder or Anne Applebaum, but rather the essayistic laying bare of unstable convictions, fleeting worries, and divinations from long-ago memories of formative experiences in Russia.

So I begin today with a two-part warning. First, please don’t take what I have to say as if it were coming from a self-styled expert. Read me, but don’t “listen to me”. Second, don’t listen to the experts either. For the most part, they are only resorting to old-fashioned Kremlinology, which is itself a variety of divination, as for example when they try to read secret meanings from the expression on Defense Minister Shoïgu’s face when Putin says Russia will make use of any defensive measures necessary, “… в том числе и ядерные / including atomic weapons”. The heart is a dark forest, and the face is seldom a true window of it, and if that’s all we’ve got, we might as well just admit our ignorance.

More here.