“Things seem to be changing for the worse. Putin put in ‘Big Jake’ [his nickname for Putin’s new general], a yes-man psycho as his new military commander who prefers bombs and big guns to infantry assaults. Molotov cocktails, Ak-47s, Stingers and Javelins are no match for tanks, artillery, and Russian bombers. Putin is now targeting civilians.”

Surfer-turned-war-crimes investigator Peter Maguire skewers West over Russian invasion of Ukraine, “Putin’s ‘failed blitzkrieg’ is a figment of the western imagination as fast, easy victories are not part of Russian history or the Russian psyche…Putin is now targeting civilians!”

“This is not Afghanistan or Iraq. This is the Eastern Front during World War II. Putin has called the West’s bluff.”

While I am impressed by the courage and resiliency of the Ukrainian people during the first phase of Putin’s Gambit, this war has only just begun.

In the months leading up to the invasion, multiple military and intelligence sources told me, with absolute certainty, that Russia would invade Ukraine.

I underestimated the scope of Putin’s territorial ambitions, and thought that Russia would only take eastern Ukraine, but was wrong.  

My sympathies lie with the Ukrainians, but as I pointed out in Ukraine Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, this is not a simple conflict, and we ignore the deep, tangled, historic and economic roots at our own peril.

Over the weekend of February 26–27, western politicians and the vast majority of the media reverted back to the same, stale 9/11 formula that failed in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan.  

They painted a monochromatic, monocausal portrait of the plucky forces of good, epitomized by the fictional “Ghost of Kiev” and the heroic soldiers on Snake Island, standing up to the forces of evil, personified by Vladimir Putin.

Many gushed optimistically about “regime change,” the possibility of a Russian palace coup, or even “a Caesar solution.”

This magical thinking, however, raises as many questions as it answers. If Putin is assassinated, who will replace him? If there is a civil war in Russia, what will happen to one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals?  

Did “regime change” and the deaths of “evil” tyrants like Saddam Hussein, Muammar al-Qaddafi, the heads of Al Qaeda and ISIS bring peace or stability to Iraq, Libya, or Syria?

The sad truth is that the failed Global War on Terror has left America with no coherent foreign policy, an embedded foreign policy establishment and a mainstream press that no longer tolerates dissent.

Both should have been discredited long ago, but they remain and serve as the living embodiments of the Peter Principle.  

“Putin’s failed blitzkrieg” is a figment of the western imagination as fast, easy victories are not part of Russian history or the Russian psyche.

The outcome of this war will be decided on the battlefield, not the bargaining table, because economic sanctions will not stop Vladimir Putin.

The West’s leverage over Putin is limited because Europe depends on Russia for natural gas, oil, wheat, corn, aluminum, and many other necessities.

Moreover, Russia has large foreign exchange reserves and low national debt. Whatever technology they cannot get from Taiwan or Korea, they can make themselves, buy from China, or find on the black market.

Even the much-vaunted expulsion from Swift will only hurt, but not cripple, Putin.  Like the Iranian banks, Russia can make and receive payments, use banks in third countries, or even shift to the People’s Bank of China’s CIPS network.

My associate, “Nug,” has spent the past month in Ukraine.

Yesterday, after visiting a military hospital filled with civilian casualties, he wrote, “Things seem to be changing for the worse. Putin put in ‘Big Jake’ [his nickname for Putin’s new general], a yes-man psycho as his new military commander who prefers bombs and big guns to infantry assaults. Molotov cocktails, Ak-47s, Stingers and Javelins are no match for tanks, artillery, and Russian bombers. Putin is now targeting civilians.”

Nug pointed to the Russian artillery, rocket, and cluster bomb attacks on Kharkiv to support his claim that Putin has taken off the gloves.

“This is not Afghanistan or Iraq.  This is the Eastern Front during World War II,” he wrote, “Russia will now use the big guns and the big bombs. Putin has called the west’s bluff.”

If nothing else, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced China, America’s greatest strategic threat, out of the closet.

Beijing has not condemned Russia and will aid and abet their ally because they have similar territorial ambitions.  

Unlike western political leaders, tech plutocrats, and multinational corporations who turn a blind eye to China’s concentration camps, genocide, imperialism, and blatant racism in order to increase their profits, China is not burdened by such hypocrisy.  

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s ongoing predations in the Pacific Rim and Africa have exposed neoliberalism/globalism’s Achilles heel— unprecedented and amoral greed that created a strategically dangerous dependence on Russia and China.

After the Cold War, in the West, the multinational corporate state overthrew the sovereign nation state in a bloodless coup and the leaders of the new corporate state declared the playing field level. Anti-trust laws, unions, banking rules, workers’ safety regulations, and environmental protection, were deemed outdated and unnecessary hindrances to “the free market.” 

The politicians they owned and their mandarins in the press agreed. Increasingly overweight westerners flocked to warehouses full of cheap food, generic clothes, disposable furniture, and electronic distractions, most of it made in foreign sweatshops. Soon everyone had 500 channels, giant flat screens, and streaming porn.  

As long as the rich had cocaine, Cialis, Concerta, and Oxy, and the poor had crack, smack, and crystal, nobody seemed to notice the greatest consolidation of wealth in human history.  

Had Marx lived long enough to witness this strip mining phase of capitalism, he would have called it laissez-faire anarchy. In the end, these vast accumulations of wealth enervated the west’s transnational ruling class.

Not only did they grow complacent and self-congratulatory, but their belief that the rules of geopolitics no longer applied led to strategic shortsightedness and imperial overstretch.

Today, the policy and press minstrels who helped to create this mess clutch their pearls and gasp in disbelief.  

However, not all of us turned a blind eye to larger strategic plans of Russia and China and the inherent weaknesses and dangerous conceits of globalism/neoliberalism.  

It was clear to see if you cared to look.

Once again, Sven Lindquist said it best, “You already know enough.  So do I.  It is not knowledge that we lack.  What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions.

“We have to take a hard look at ourselves as a nation and not in five-year election cycle time frames. China is becoming incredibly powerful.  China doesn’t think in five-year time frames, they think in fifty and hundred-year time frames.  They’re lovin it!  They’re buying our debt, buying our steel, and they’re laughing at us.  They’re a real power.  Russia’s a real power.  Vladimir Putin is a tough guy, he plays hard ball, and for Bush to say, ‘I looked him in his eye and saw his soul,’ Putin’s just laughing! Bush said, ‘See Vladimir!  We’re proud of our houses here, we own them unlike you!’ and Putin’s just going, ‘OK pal, sure.’  So I think this game we’re playing is a dangerous one.  We’re over extended.”

(Editor’s note: Peter Maguire is a surfer, war crimes investigator and author ofThai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade (movie rights optioned by Kelly Slater), Law and War, Facing Death in Cambodia and Breathe, the new bio on jiujitsu icon Rickson Gracie. Ain’t much ol Petey can’t do. The following story, appears on Pete’s substack Sour Milk, subscribe, it’s free etc.)


The surfers wore jerseys with the name of a women who had inspired them today. My personal favourite was Jadson Andre’s quite hilarious choice of Jess Miley-Dyer. In a weird way it was very on-brand. The surfers wore jerseys with the name of a women who had inspired them today. My personal favourite was Jadson Andre’s quite hilarious choice of Jess Miley-Dyer. In a weird way it was very on-brand. Genius gamesmanship or the greatest burn ever? You be the judge. (Kelly, meanwhile, chose fellow Floridian and four-time Champ Lisa Andersen.) | Photo: WSL

Kelly Slater shocks world with first round loss at Supertubos, Portugal, in surf deemed so terrible WSL “sends women out first to enjoy it!”

"Kelly's Pipe win could well be a heavy curse he carries all year. The curse of unrealistic expectations."

Four men’s heats completed.

Worth a report?

I think so.

Supertubos looked nothing like it should today. The wind was howling cross-off and it was frankly junk.

In honour of International Women’s Day, presumably, they sent the women out first to enjoy it.

There was a new addition to the booth in the form of Paul Evans. No stranger to commentary, of course, though normally relegated to the lower leagues or Nazare comps no-one gives a whistling shit about.

Being a Portugal veteran, he’s no stranger either, I would presume, to the occasional bifter at Consolacao pier along the beach and some crumbly peaks that don’t involve your face being chewed off by rabid bodyboarders at Supertubos. And I guess that only through personal experience of fleeing there or Molhe Leste just to the north in search of a more relaxing atmosphere. Supertubos is tough when it’s on and often only borderline makeable for non-freaks who prefer waves on their feet.

For my money Evans is one of the sharpest wits in surfing. Good on him getting one up on his pal Ben Mondy, who’s left writing articles on the WSL site with titles like “Five Moments That Lifted The Mood And Made Us Smile In 2021”.

Cutting edge.

I hope we hear more from Evans at this level. Shame about the accent, really.

The surfers wore jerseys with the name of a women who had inspired them today. My personal favourite was Jadson Andre’s quite hilarious choice of Jess Miley-Dyer. In a weird way it was very on-brand.

Genius gamesmanship or the greatest burn ever? You be the judge.

And anyway, WSL, International Women’s Day isn’t til March 8th, but today is World Book Day!

Why not have the surfers put the names of their favourite literary characters on their backs? Is it because it would be all Gruffalos and Harry Potters?

Except for Nat Young (Legolas), Leo Fioravanti (Christian Grey) and Kanoa Igarashi (Draco Malfoy).

Slater faced off against two sparky rookies in Sammy Pupo and Imaikalani deVault. Both appear to be made from elastic and semtex and spun wildly and cleanly, leaving Slater looking dated and forced to surf in the losers round. This was always the danger in anything but huge reef barrels.

The Pipe win could well be a heavy curse he carries all year. The curse of unrealistic expectations.

Pete Mel rolled out a classic euphemism in saying that Slater “wasn’t super excited about these waves”. Strider was more blunt in saying he was “pretty vocal about not wanting to surf today”.

Kelly doesn’t like the cold, apparently. Makes sense. It’s warm in hell.

Just on that “cold” thing.

Portugal is not cold.

There’s never been a proper cold water wave on the WCT and that’s a major oversight.

Aside from the fact that everyone involved in making these decisions is soft, why not add a cold water spot? There are plenty of world class options and it would add a fascinating new dynamic to the tour and a challenge for the surfers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: the tour needs a real cold water stop.

Paul Evans played a welcome aggravator in Kelly’s heat by prodding Pete to see what he thought of Kelly’s scores. He was awarded a 4.67 for three unremarkable backside turns, which did perhaps look a little odd in the context of deVault score a minute later of 6.40 for three slightly better backside turns.

Pete thinks Kelly’s been underscored this year. Kaipo thinks he’s being unfairly judged against old Kelly. “The numbers seem a bit suppressed in the context of his actual performance,” Kaipo claimed.

I say nonsense.

Do the claims (from two men of Kelly’s age) have any validity? You tell me.

The debate and push-back against the judges and scoring was welcome contrarianism instigated by Evans. Was he freestyling? Or are the powers-that-be in their ivory tower listening? Regardless, I hope there’s more.

Italo was utterly dominant to close out the day. Ferreira and Portugal go together like MDMA and house music.

Put some euphoric bets on that.


"Like water through my hand, so are the BeachGrits of our lives..."

Breaking: Anti-depressive surf website has official Instagram account violently ripped down without warning stunning followers and causing much fear as to the potential unmitigated revenge of one-time nerd, current big wave charger, Kauai local Mark Zuckerberg!

Shot across the foil.

Hours ago, BeachGrit, a website with a tagline “Ultra Hard Surf Candy” and a generally anti-depressive aesthetic had its official Instagram account violently ripped down and without warning. A simple message of deletion followed by a strange blink of light then nothing. As proud purveyor of other Instagram accounts that have been disappeared (@reportsfromhell 180k followers, another which I can’t remember at 20k followers), this one was different as there were no messages detailing violation previously.

Zero anything leaving the 115k sometimes loyal followers to wonder if, perhaps, Mark Zuckerberg’s embrace of the big wave life has, possibly, emboldened him thereby sparking a revenge of the nerds, scorched earth approach to his perceived “enemies.”

Cancellation came directly after this posting.

In truth, BeachGrit, as official policy, has endorsed and celebrated Zuckerberg’s discovery of ocean games I mostly think.

Well, @beach_grit is gone replaced by @beach.grit (follow here) which will likely be replaced by a return to Twitter.

David Lee Scales and I discussed the joys of Jack Dorsey today along with Kelly Slater’s continued push into toxic print media.

Listen here if you are brave and don’t fear death and/or disappearance.


Open Thread: Comment Live Day one of the MEO Pro Portugal presented by Rip Curl!

Back!

Sorry for late. It’s show time!

Watch here!


Ultra-adorable extreme sport prodigy Sky Brown signals intent to both surf and skate for Britain in upcoming Paris Olympics: “It’s gonna be pretty hard but I’m gonna try my best because I love them both.”

Exciting times.

But didn’t it feel like just yesterday that surfing made its glorious Olympic debut there in suburban Tokyo? Entire globe on edge of seats watching Kanoa Igarashi, Carissa Moore, Italo Ferreira paddle out into hearts and minds. A massive success that launched our World Surf League into a catastrophic, much-hoped-for, collapse and here we almost are again.

Paris ’22.

The surfing portion, in two years’ time, will take place in Tahiti and I have it on decent enough rumor that Kelly Slater’s true intention this year is to qualify for the Team U.S.A. Is it possible? Anything is possible for NEGSOAT (Not Even Greatest Surfer of All-Time). But who will surf for Britain?

Well, maybe just maybe the ultra-adorable extreme sport prodigy Sky Brown.

Brown, 13, who won bronze in park skating at Tokyo, has signaled her intention to do both in Paris.

The Independent reports today:

She may be known for her skating prowess but Brown is multi-talented (she won a US TV dance show aged nine and released a song last year) and she is almost as prodigious on a surfboard as a skateboard. Her next ambition is to compete at the Paris Olympics in two years’ time in both skating and surfing. That will present practical challenges, given one competition will be held in Paris and the other off the Pacific island of Tahiti, as well as the sporting test of preparing for two disciplines, but then Brown has overcome greater challenges already in her burgeoning career. “It’s gonna be pretty hard but I’m gonna try my best because I love them both.”

True ambition.

The piece describes Brown’s family life, how she wakes up early to surf Huntington Beach then skates Venice or nearer parks until the warm sun sinks below the pacific. Living the London dream. It also describes how her father tries to pump the breaks on her competing so much.

Hmmmm.

But here, anyhow, is to Paris. Here is to the future of dual threat extreme sportists.

Viva la France.

Watch Sky boost here.