"Tellingly, the notion of urbicide coined by anarchist science-fiction author Michael Moorcock in 1963 was first taken up by critics of urban redevelopment in the United States, to characterize the bulldozing and reconstruction of American cities around the needs of the car."

Ha. The master work on this very matter is Robert Caro's magnificent, "The Power Broker" detailing Robert Moses destruction of great swathes of New York. Unforgettable read. Meanwhile, we all wait and pray that Mr. Caro, now well into his 80s, completes his fifth and final volume of his even better bio of LBJ. If you want to understand American politics in the raw, start there. Thousands of pages in toto. Unputdownable.

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Intense, informative, gut-wrenching. Thank you as always for the nitty gritty facts and timely situational history, AT. Now I have to go have a whisky, or three. Whew.

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There will be no more Mariupols. Its unique strategic value lies in its status as a key port, a blockage of the land bridge to Crimea, and an obstruction to Crimea's water supply.

No other Ukrainian city is worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.

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But Russia has not yet demonstrated that it has the capacity to mount an urban assault intense enough to deliver the symbolic victory that Putin needs.

Really? Mariupol is at most one week away from being cleared from Azov battalion (and other AFU units). There is really very little unclear why Mariupol met this fate.

For Ukrainians:

- tie down as many Russian and DNR/LNR troops as possible to ease the pressure on fortified Donbas line which is cracking

- do not give an intact city to DNR. It is clear that Mariupol will never return to Ukraine therefore why not destroy it. It is also a punishment for generally Russian-speaking and supporting population (it easily fell to DNR after the Maidan coup, there is a reason why Azov was posted there as punishment)

- annihilation of Azov is of great convenience for Zelensky - far-right is seriously competing for power in Ukraine an in many ways holds the government hostage.

For Russia:

- ticks the "denazification" box in Putin's stated as one of the objectives (there is plenty of other Nazi units in Ukraine, but annihilation of Azov is highly symbolic and probably over 50% of their strength, by far the best and most committed forces)

- rounds up the stated goal of reach the administrative borders of DNR (after that Sea of Azov becomes fully a Russian lake)

- "correcting" the 2014 mistake (for which many in Russia hold Putin accountable) that he ordered retreat from Mariupol

- warning to other besieged cities in Ukraine of possible fate that can await them.

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There is a reason that the main Western militaries not only study IDF tactics in urban warfare but then warn that in its concern to avoid civilian casualties, Israeli ROE are overly restrictive and place their own soldiers at unnecessary risk.

Whether that’s the case or not, the evidence is stark, especially given the fact that Hamas, unlike the Ukrainian military, intentionally embeds its fighters and equipment among the civilian population (a violation of LOAC copied by Hezbollah in Lebanon). In the most recent round the combatant to civilian casualty ratio neared 1:1, far better than any Western army under less trying circumstances. Not even The NY Times, after investing much time and resources (and not for lack of trying given its coverage), could find evidence of any war crime committed by the IDF, thereby unintentionally establishing the difference between wartime anti-Israel propaganda and reality.

Any overview of Gaza itself, photographic and otherwise, revealed the targeted and limited damage - which is the same reason that decades before Darwoush could drink his coffee in Beirut safe in the knowledge that he could do so in complete safety because it was Israel attacking and not Syria, Russia or anyone else. Mariupol and for that matter Grozny and Aleppo should have been as fortunate.

There is no evidence that Russia has ever concerned itself with the safety of a civilian population, even one that is separated from military infrastructure. It has always relied, and seems to continue to rely, on fairly indiscriminate missiles and artillery bombardements to instill terror in the population as a means to bring pressure on the political leadership. Were Russian troops to actually enter a contested city, it would be flattened unlike, say, how the IDF operated in Jenin.

War is, as General Sherman famously observed, “all hell.” Very few non-Western styled militaries bother with such things as adherence to the LOAC let alone go to the lengths the IDF does. As we watch the Russian way of war play out yet again, its violations of the laws of war or of humanitarian law are breezily dismissed, denied or blamed on the other side. So goes the world.

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The main force defending Mariupol is actually the Azov Battalion (much larger than a battalion in size). Here's a recent interview (in Russian) with its commander on what the conditions are likehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YbJMEhUjsw

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Very interesting read.

I might add that per Russian Military manuals psychological warfare explicitly calls for targeting civilians. cfr “Прогнозирование характера и содержания войн будущего: проблемы и суждения” (Forecasting the nature and content of wars of the future) Checkinov Bogdanov

As someone deployed back in 95 96 to that area I saw in person the effects of it (those manuals were part of the doctrine and were integrated after).

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In Mariupol, Azov's fighters are supplemented by units from Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces.

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What is old is new again.

Sun Tzu said stay away from cities… 2500 years ago.

As necessity strips away moral pretensions in war cities are leveled or bypassed, or blockaded (hunger) or besieged. The Russians decline urban warfare because they have no need, there’s nothing in it for them but more casualties to no gain. Maripoul will fall, so will Kharkiv if they want it.

One can also find 4th generation warfare in the Old Testament, one can see all of the Ukraine so far in the Peninsular War.

War is a litany of horrors, its normal enough at first sight for a person to think no such evil ever walked the earth- but all our ancestors did this very thing and worse. War strips away pretensions and the naked ape is revealed.

As for urbicide nothing new, it was just a shock to those new to war.

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Fascinating. It sheds light on why the Russians stalled out not just in Kiev, but in Kharkiv, which is right on the Russian border. Enter at your own risk.

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sorry ---I believe the template for Putin is the Chinese invasion of Vietnam in February 1979---if this is correct the Russians will not be staying as long as the US foreign policy wishes so Putin gets dragged into a new quagmire

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This historic change has not been so much the process of urbanization (there have been cities after all for over 2000 years). Instead, it is the post Vietnam unwillingness to pursue civilian bombing and the complete razing of cities. For decades, the US was all too comfortable, as were the British, along with most other states, to pursue coercion strategies predicated on civilian punishment. By the end of the Vietnam War and its associated deaths of a million + civilians, it became clear that coercion of autocratic regimes by punishing civilians was ineffective and grossly immoral. The latter in particular because of the former. Killing civilians is really bad. Pointlessly killing them is, if possible, even worse. But this kind of sensibility is new to humanity. Once in place it required new ways to reduce resistance in cities, hence the attempts to develop now doctrine starting in the 80's and 90's.

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