Tom Nichols Profile picture
Staff writer at @TheAtlantic. Curmudgeon. Cat guy. Democracy enthusiast, defender of experts.
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Oct 3 5 tweets 2 min read
The war in #Ukraine is not just about Ukraine: Putin has made it clear that he's at war with the entire international order created after 1945. After failing in a stupid gamble on imperial conquest, he's trying to raise the stakes and pit #Russia against the world.

/1
He thinks that by doing so, he's showing resolve. What he's actually doing is admitting that he has screwed up so colossally that his only way out is to challenge the entire global system of cooperation that has thwarted him. /2
Sep 14 18 tweets 4 min read
If you read @tzimmer_history's thread, and you'd like to read my explanations at more length about why democracy is under global attack, I wrote an entire book about it.
amazon.com/Our-Own-Worst-…

But a longish (and incomplete) thread on MAGA follows. /1 Prof. Zimmer chafes - understandably - at the "nihilism" argument as too simple. And he has a point that some of the putative leaders of MAGA world do have something a racial and religious fascist ideology. But he's missing something important. /2
Sep 6 8 tweets 2 min read
I have a suggestion about better Twittering. This is not about any one subject (because this happens in cycles; the last time was about student loans).

It's about disagreements and long debates. And I mean this as sincerely meant (and constructive) advice. /1 If you don't happen to like my (or anyone's) position on something, that's fine. But check the date of the posts to which you're responding. If you're weighing in four days later *for the first time*, the odds are that the person "keeping it going" is...you.
/2
Aug 7 6 tweets 3 min read
I agree more with @JRubinBlogger here than @pashulman. Rubin says women should think twice about attending schools where women's rights have been curtailed, Shulman argues this would make things worse. But it's not the job of a freshman to improve the political situation. /1 @JRubinBlogger @pashulman It may be true that the institutions had nothing to do with the decisions of the state legislature, but thats' not the point. Going to college isn't some duty to go rescue the institution. If a woman feels uncomfortable coming to your state, that's your problem, not hers. /2
Jul 31 9 tweets 3 min read
So, tonight's @MeTV Star Trek TOS is "A Taste of Armageddon." I actually require my @HarvardExt students in my Cold War pop culture class to watch this. A thread on Star Trek and the Cold War.

Energize.

/1
@MeTV @HarvardExt This and "A Private Little War" are among the many ST:TOS eps that were Cold War influenced. The Memory Alpha site claims this one was influenced by Vietnam casualties; can't verify that but seems sensible. It's about fighting wars by spreadsheets and computers. /2
Jul 25 6 tweets 2 min read
A lot of you are asking why I think this is a very bad idea. A few notes.

First, I am in *favor* of dumping NATO's tactical inventory. During the Cold War, different story; our strategy was to use them if overrun. Today, no point to them. But this offer is bad. /1 It's an offer that violates some basic diplomatic common sense. Russia attacking UKR should not generate an offer from NATO to denuclearize. That's like being blackmailed and offering stuff the blackmailer didn't even ask for. /2
Jul 15 5 tweets 2 min read
Yes, and the folks mad at me for saying SNW > TNG? Here's the thing: I *never liked TNG*, with the exception of one episode: "Yesterday's Enterprise." I found TNG touchy-feely, and instantly disliked Wesley, Troi, and Data as stunts. (Don't even start me about Guinan.) /1 TNG was very much a product of the 90s: Let's talk about our feelings! Also, space is really pretty safe most of the time. "Our mission, captain?" "To the 7/11 for beer, Number 1." That's why they had to invent the Borg: Because otherwise, it was just a living room in space. /2
Jul 2 4 tweets 1 min read
Shadi, I'm sorry, I always read you and find your views interesting, but this is a plea to treat certain voters like unstable children. Their sense of humiliation and resentment comes from within - it's more "ressentiment," a term I know you understand. Yes, a powerful force. /1 But people like Carlson and others are not lashing out because Jon Stewart humiliated them. They lost their bearings when Trump forced them to make moral choices for which they were not prepared. They failed a test of character and chose fame and money over principle. /2
Jun 27 8 tweets 2 min read
The thing about resentment as a force in politics is that there is nothing you can do about it. You can try to be respectful, you can try to compromise. It won't matter. Because it's not about any of that. It's about the itching sense of inferiority in the other guy. /1 To compromise with people who are suffering from this kind of existential resentment, you'd have to stop being you, you would have to stop time from being 2022, you'd have to be able to turn back the clock and undo a million of their life decisions. /2
Jun 25 4 tweets 2 min read
@Patterico To return the issue to the political process 50 years later, based on what Alito wrote, is not rectifying the judicial activism of an earlier century, it's six people who personally are anti-abortion figuring out a reason to dump a precedent they hated.
/1
@Patterico This isn't, say, 1978. It's not the court trying to unscrew something new and pull back some lower court or clarify its own decisions. It's overturning decisions from 50 and 30 years ago. "We're not the activists" is, to me, completely a rationalization. /2x
Jun 16 9 tweets 2 min read
For those of you who are Massholes, skiball is on the decline, but I remember fondly summer days with my aunt and uncle at the Salem Willows.

I will now tell a story about my Uncle Steve.

/1
I know many of you think I come from a comfortable suburban background. That's wrong. A local floozy in Greece got pregnant during WWI and she was shipped off to America to have the baby. My dad was born in Boston, and then given to a Greek immigrant family. /2
Jun 7 11 tweets 3 min read
So, this dumb Counterpunch thing leads me to a story about working for the Navy. It's a story about challenging conventional wisdom, and how the military can be both good and bad about that. Mostly, it's a positive thing, even if it realllllly pissed me off when it happened. /1 Almost ten years ago, I wrote a book called "No Use," about nukes. It was a pretty hard critique of U.S. nuclear policy, which I said had become reflexively dependent on nukes as a kind of placeholder for strategy and hadn't let go of stupid ideas about nuclear conflict. /2
Jun 5 7 tweets 2 min read
Also, I’ll respond to @mehdirhasan’s accusation of Whataboutism: This whole ruckus is because I said that looking around Vegas it seemed to me the real epidemic - one we have given up on - is obesity.

But I was also making a point about politics. /1 COVID is now a stand-in for political identity. If you remain in Full Emergency Mode, you are ostensibly a caring and empathetic liberal. If you are in Vaxed and Done Mode, you are a heartless righty, even a gleeful MAGA jerk.

Most of us fall in between.
/2
May 20 11 tweets 4 min read
I think @ericowensdc has this wrong. It's not that people leave, it's that the people who stay have this sense of FOMO that's created by a nationalized culture - meaning, a culture that is no longer a quilt of different regions, but a national, homogenized, consumer culture. /1 @ericowensdc Used to be that there were variations in the national culture that made it so that you wouldn't want to leave your hometown because it was different from the cities. But the culture of the cities is now a national culture (due to media and internet and TV, etc.) This matters. /2
May 16 5 tweets 2 min read
This is an amazing excerpt from Russian nightly television, which is usually nuts.
This guy puts it out there: We screwed up, the world hates us, this was a mistake. Watch the full clip.

A couple of thoughts about behind the scenes.

/1 The first thing I thought: Who let this segment happen, and why?
The host is treading water, but she's failing. The other guests look downcast. As they should. So I don't think this was some kind of kabuki. They know what this guy writes. They knew what he'd say. /2
May 9 6 tweets 2 min read
So, I'm still waiting for a full text of Putin's VE day speech and I have to run out and do some stuff. But seems to me that he chose the "We had to do it" line, but without declaring either victory or escalation, and will now continue to grind away at the Ukrainians. /1 I have some ideas about why this is, but they're just WAGs at this point, so I won't share them. I will note that Putin phrased the attack as preemptive war against an imminent threat - a danger I've been warning about since I wrote "Eve of Destruction" over a decade ago. /2
May 7 11 tweets 3 min read
In forty years of studying #Russia the thing I always struggled to get my arms around is that this remarkable and immense nation, a source of cultural and scientific genius, is also so riven by ignorance and insecurity that it is incapable of living in peace with the world. 🧵 /1 I'll write more on this another time, but it is astonishing that Russia - a nation also capable of remarkable feats of heroism and achievement - has never been able to overcome its own political culture. You can blame the Soviets for a lot of this - I do - but not all of it. /2
Apr 27 9 tweets 2 min read
If Putin insanely decides that this is a war for the survival of Russia, then we are faced with World War III. Not the rhetorical World War III loosely talked about now, but the real thing, including the deaths of hundreds of millions - in both conventional and nuclear war. /1 This could happen because of how badly the Russian military and Putin have screwed everything up. But if the only alternative is "surrender Ukraine and then all of Europe," then the world will have to fight it. It will be Russia's choice. There is no policy that will stop it. /2
Apr 15 5 tweets 2 min read
The hardest thing I'll tweet today is that @RichLowry has a point about the use of the word "genocide."
Also:
- Others have said the same
- TASS picking up his piece is not his responsibility
- But "Presidents should be careful about words" seems a new concern for him. /1 Before all of you go berserk over WHY ISN'T IT GENOCIDE, read this @zackbeauchamp piece in Vox. It's not a purely academic exercise. It matters, and there's disagreement out there over the word.
vox.com/23020696/ukrai…
But with that said, Rich's shot at Biden is bad faith. /2
Apr 2 6 tweets 1 min read
A short thread on ICBM tests *in the middle of a war.*
There two things to consider.
1. Strategy
2. Risk

/1
Strategy:
Do not interrupt your enemy while he is hurting himself. ICBM tests can wait. Putin is basically blowing himself up in Ukraine and the world is focused on that. Why you'd want headlines (that you can't control) saying US TESTS MISSILE DURING CRISIS I have no idea. /2
Apr 1 4 tweets 1 min read
Another important thread from MG Ryan. Amazing how the Russian military is giving briefings about the murder of their own brothers in Ukraine as if it's a normal military operation. The curse of Cain and a stench that will hang on Russia for generations. /1 Yes, you could argue AFG and Chechnya already have cast a pall on the Russian military. But I think this is different. These Russian attacks are pure murder in places their grandfathers fought to liberate. The war is a desecration of the graves of Soviet soldiers. /2