Happy holidays from my mom’s house. I converted to Judaism years ago, which I try to use to get out of doing a lot of obligatory activities around this time of year, but my religious freedom has been largely ignored by my parents who insist I still “help cook” and “come on the hike.” But Christmastime will not curtail this column. Let’s get into it.
→ Ukraine wants to mobilize 500,000 more soldiers: The war in Ukraine is dragging on, nearing its two-year mark, and the Ukrainian soldiers that are being drafted to the front are getting older. Like, I don’t want to say a 50-year-old is an old man because I know I’ll get selfies of sinewy readers doing CrossFit, but let’s be real here. President Zelensky says Ukraine needs to recruit 500,000 more fighters, and this week The Wall Street Journal brings us a harrowing story of middle-aged men being yanked from their normal activities (hanging out, getting haircuts) and forced into heavy battle. One 47-year-old was detained in a draft room for two days before signing up: “Physically, I can’t handle this. I’m deeply disappointed that I’m no longer 20.” To get a lighter job, he’d have to pay a bribe but couldn’t afford it. I’m not a military expert, but if you’re detaining old men (again, nothing but respect, don’t yell at me) and forcing them into battle and saying you need 500,000 more of them. . . maybe it’s time to make a deal? I was shouted down at dinner the other day for saying this. I don’t want Europe to fall. But just. Feels like we’re losing a lot here? And we should keep some elderly Ukrainian men alive?
One other question: If Trump was a Russian asset, as I was told and truly believed for years, how do people explain Putin waiting until Trump was out of office to do his territory expansion plans? Doesn’t that sort of undermine that one? Too soon?
→ Speaking of expansion plans: The world has decided it’s remodeling season! China’s Xi told Biden that he’s planning on taking Taiwan pretty soon, just FYI. According to NBC News: “Xi told Biden in a group meeting attended by a dozen American and Chinese officials that China’s preference is to take Taiwan peacefully, not by force, the officials said.” Oh, they prefer to take the country peacefully. When I invade a nicer house down the block, I say the exact same thing. I come in peace to this ensuite master bath, no sudden movements. You bring war only if you say no.
My theory is that Trump was not a fearsome military thinker but just an erratic one, and world leaders could never be sure how he would respond to something, just as we could never be sure if it was “ten White House tweets about Roseanne day.” Anyway, Biden’s administration is more like *wink wink* China, you’re so naughty, bad boy! So everyone is announcing their land grabs before the election. Because if China takes Taiwan under a Trump presidency, he honestly could send them a bottle of champagne. Or he could announce nuclear war. We literally have no idea. Anyone who says they do is lying.
→ Global shipping disrupted by beloved freedom fighters: More than one hundred massive container ships have been rerouted to avoid sailing by Yemen, where Houthi militants are doing their best to destroy everything that passes through. It’s expensive for the U.S. to fight: naval missiles can cost $2 million, while Houthi drones cost a few thousand each, so the math gets weird fast. Now, I’ve noticed this before but it’s growing: Western Intelligentsia, or at least the Instagram Story Commandos, have come out strongly pro-Houthi, a take that is growing more confident this week. Here’s the chief executive of Flexport, a big supply chain logistics company that’s obviously impacted:
To understand why we’re all #StandWithHouthis, you can read this Houthi explainer in The New York Times: “People have hailed the Houthis as one of the few regional forces willing to challenge Israel with more than harsh words.” The first quote in the news story: “What they did has given us dignity, because they did this in a time when everyone was watching idly.” So beautiful. How I learned to stop worrying and love the Houthis!
In another piece, the Times calls the IDF the “Israeli occupation forces.” Once enough people noticed, they changed it online, without adding any note or correction. (H/t to journalist Lahav Harkov for noticing this one.)
The language and politics of fringe postcolonial studies seminars is now mainstream. They want to convince you that Israel is just a bad idea, a colonial concept, not a real country with millions of real people. Millions of Jews, if we’re going to get specific.
There’s a lot more TGIF behind the paywall you are about to hit. But good news for you: this week only, we’re offering a 25 percent discount on a yearlong subscription to The Free Press. And why stop at just one? Skip the scented candles and get your loved ones something much more stimulating this Christmas. Click here to take advantage of the offer. And now more TGIF . . .