Ooobie on Everything

Who Dunnit?

Today’s ghastly news includes the sad passing of Boris Nemtsov of Russia. Nemtsov was once upon a time a golden, favored politician, a darling of the Westernizers and the West. This all happened under the long-ago reign of Boris Yeltsin. Since leaving the seat of power, where he was a deputy prime minister, he has hounded the various governments and Putin for the corruption of the government, for incompetence, and for various abuses of human rights. He was gunned down on a public Moscow street while chatting away with a Ukrainian citizen. The Ukrainian was unharmed. Nemtsov was supposedly about to announce earth-shattering proof that Russia was responsible for creating the separatist movement in Donbass, as if we need an investigation to believe it. God help us if he was relying on Ukrainian government information in seeking the truth of things.

First reaction: wow, Putin murdered the guy. And that is exactly what I think you are expected to think. Putin foe, opposition rally, assassination.

On the other hand…what if it wasn’t Putin or his government?

Here are the possibilities and not necessarily in order of likelihood: a) Putin ordered the killing to prevent Nemtsov from stirring up the next day’s protest; b) a killing was ordered by another non-official enemy of Nemtsov to pay him back for perceived treachery to Russia; c) he was killed by somebody else for entirely non-political reasons; d) the Ukrainian government had him assassinated to provoke a Russia Maidan and the collapse of Putin/Russia; e) one of the east European countries of NATO connived to have him assassinated to create a Russian Maidan and the collapse of Putin/Russia; f) the US covert services set up the contract killing to implicate Putin on the eve of a big protest thus provoking a Russian Maidan and the collapse of Putin/Russia.

With regard to option a, it strikes me as implausible that Putin would choose such an obvious “assassination” if he wanted to eliminate the pesky Nemtsov. (Nemtsov, by the way, was a bit of a has-been and had been eclipsed by such activists as Alexander Navalny.) Putin would arrange an accident that really looked like an accident. This was an act intended to maximize impact at a moment of anti-Russian hysteria in the west and anti-western (especially anti-US/NATO) hysteria in Russia. It was aimed at “the Russian state” as one Russian commentator said, and Nemtsov was the unfortunate route to a political goal: chaos in Russia. Here’s another thing I find provocative: he was out walking with a Ukrainian woman, perhaps as part of his “investigation” into Russian official involvement in events in eastern Ukraine. If someone wanted to know where Nemtsov was they had an accomplice. Still, in this land of mirrors — it is just possible that Putin had him killed to allow him to show that it was a foreign hand and thus crack down on opposition politics. I doubt it, but it could be.

As with Putin, I do not entirely rule out the possibility that US covert services were involved in some way in planning the action but think it unlikely. It is entirely possible, however, that some American or two may have known that this was going to happen and offered tacit encouragement.

It is possible this was a free-lance nut who hated Nemtsov, or who was owed money by Nemtsov, or by a political group opposed to Putin. All such things are within the realm of possibility.

I think thusly: there is a foreign hand involved. Not in the shooting itself, although the assassin could be Ukrainian, but certainly in the planning. It is suspicious that the Ukrainian companion was unhurt. Makes me think maybe she was part of it. I think the foreign hand is most likely Ukrainian and others, take you pick: Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, even the rash of Georgians now staffing the Ukrainian government. Mikhail Saakashvili,former Georgian president and invader of S. Ossetia, got his ass kicked by the Russians and has been nurtured since being voted out of office by the USG through various agencies. Now at US urging he is advising Ukrainian President Poroshenko. This is so insane that I can only shake my head. Will the crazy Georgian advise Poroshenko, perhaps, to try to take back Crimea and Donbass by force? Then call in NATO to help? Anything is possible.

Putin has condemned the killing and ordered top judicial and prosecutorial officials to conduct an  immediate investigation. He has insisted it is a provocation. He is not alone in thinking so. Even prominent opposition members think it stinks of an effort aimed at Russian stability above all. Irina Kakhamada, a Japanese-Russian politician and Nemtsov ally, echoed that thought. It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation,” she said in remarks carried by RIA Novosti news agency. Kakhamada also shared the view expressed by others that the atmosphere of tension with Ukraine and NATO has heightened domestic tensions and that this killing could be a result of that.

But you can be sure of one thing, the USG and the US media will be pounding away on the anti-Putin message and make the most of this incident. If it wasn’t manufactured by the west, it is pure manna from heaven.


The Hawks (?) of War are Flocking

The entire time I have been writing about the US sliding into war, I was certain that somebody of supreme common sense would intervene to stop it. Boy, was I ever wrong.

But my predictions have not been wrong. Today we see Russia taking the land bridge that it so obviously needed to secure Crimea. It is widening the territory it controls. It is re-arming. It is, in sum, reacting the way any great nation reacts when threatened by another great nation or, in this case, an entire aggressive military bloc.

I don’t want to hear how good NATO is and how bad Russia is. It isn’t the Russian border that encroached on NATO since the collapse of the USSR, is it? NATO has vastly expanded its territory and every time it expands it needs more expansion, because the newest members also want a buffer zone between them and Russia. That is the very definition of expansionism, which NATO expansionists claim this process of expansion is NOT. Russia is the only country that doesn’t get a buffer zone, and how do you figure that? How likely is it that Russia agrees that Poland gets a buffer zone (Ukraine) and Russia gets none? Or that Romania, or Hungary, or Bulgaria get buffer zones, but Russia gets none? I am guessing there is zero likelihood.

And I also don’t want to hear that lame excuse that these other countries want to be NATO members. How is it that NATO ceded its authority to determine who is a member to any country that wants to be a member? How about if Russia said, we want to be a member of NATO too! Would NATO say, “what can we do, Russia wants in!” Fat chance. So we assume that NATO expansion was a deliberate policy with a specific goal, that of hemming in the beast, Russia.

It isn’t Russia who is putting missiles, tanks and other sophisticated weaponry into place along the US-Mexican border, or Russia who is sending specialists to make their proxies assault-ready in Mexico, or Canada, or both. It is the US via NATO, with a powerful dose of manipulation by NATO’s eastern members, that is driving us toward a nuclear war with Russia.

Take that knucklehead, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that air-headed little Danish puppet who declared Russia an adversary for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Having declared Russia a foe, Rasmussen now is enraged that Russia is acting as if it has been challenged by a … foe. Rasmussen, thought to be long gone, surfaced just today with a story about how Russia is going to try to move militarily against the Baltic states. The man is totally certifiable, and yet he is greeted as an oracle among the militarists of the west.

Rasmussen’s hysteria indicates the level of Russophobia in the west, which is reaching an alarming level among the political elite. The latest stupid drivel to emit from this government was a Pentagon report, prepared by some low-level drones without a shred of evidence, that Putin is autistic. How the hell did those morons suppose the autistic Putin survived in Cold War Berlin and in that vicious group of aspiring spies, the KGB? There was nobody less tolerant of any kind of weakness or flaw than the KGB. This is an example of the psy-ops that are now actually being practiced on US citizens by their own government to convince them to support a mad policy of militarization and confrontation that is going to cost the entire globe dearly.

John McCain for me is the face of that hawkish mob. A man who never saw a war he didn’t like, a mean-spirited, deliberately rude and aggressive man without much in the brains department. He tried to fob a PhD student off as a doctor of great experience who no doubt earned a hefty salary on his committee seeking to overthrow Assad in Syria. Now he’s looking to overthrow Putin in Russia and heaven only knows what kind of charlatans he has advising him, since he personally is totally ignorant on the subject. It is typical of the thickness of such so-called leaders that they have no comprehension whatsoever of Russia, it’s history, its sufferings. McCain doesn’t care! America Rocks! Bring on the jets!

This attitude provokes the exact same attitude in Russia. Russia is going to survive one way or the other and it isn’t going to be under NATO’s boot. The Russian people are now far more fully engaged than the American public, and every bit as angry at both the US and NATO, who represent The Enemy for them. And NATO and the US certainly haven’t seemed friendly ever since they carried out that coup in Kiev a little over a year ago. Suddenly NATO and the EU and the US seem to think they have ownership rights in Ukraine.

But the drums of war are reaching a crescendo now. The steps the US is taking are a direct threat to vital Russian national security interests. I don’t know about Putin, but here’s what I would do. I would send in my army and take the entire Donbass and Lugansk regions under occupation. I would let NATO deal with that de-facto partition of Ukraine, thus short-circuiting NATO plans for eastern Ukraine. I would say, let your lousy sanctions roll. You have pushed us against the wall and this is step one of pushing back. If you want eastern Ukraine, you must take it by force.

Well, that’s just a guess. Putin, that autistic idiot polyglot, might be more subtle, but time is a-wasting. NATO is fully under control of its malicious little Russophobes in eastern Europe and there are enough useful fools among the rest to allow them to work their mischief. I expect things are going to heat up.

Message to world: is there a sane leader in the West who will stand up against this There should be a prohibition against any further expansion of NATO and a declaration of guaranteed neutrality for the rest of the former Soviet Union. I am one American who doesn’t want to go to war for the west Ukrainians, or for Moldova or Georgia.

 


Obama Continues the Crusade for Communism

The Republican-led House voted Wednesday to overturn President Obama’s immigration actions from last November — and to unravel a directive from 2012 protecting immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children — sending the bill to the Senate where it faces an uncertain fate.

So sayeth Fox News. The House has acted to rein in the Emperor O, who in my mind is eternally wearing a leopard-skin cape over a scrawny hairless chest with a golden spear in one hand. I guess that is ethnocentric; he could as easily be pictured as a really bad white high-school teacher who fancies himself a Marxist, sleeps with students, and doesn’t know his supposed subject. Mr. Obama says he will veto the defiant House bill that dares to question Obama’s authority, and the Republicans are unlikely to find the needed votes to overrule. (And isn’t that sad, all by itself?) It makes no difference that the majority of Americans want Obama’s immigration edicts swept into the trash bin. The man rules from such heights that you and I could never hope to understand how  little he cares about us way down here. In some circles, that is referred to as psychotic or creepy. Many call him The Savior, or Jesus, but those folks have IQs south of 70 and require a boundless faith that there is still more booty to be had if they can only keep The One in power, or somebody who will continue the give-away (that would be you, Hillary “The Hips” Clinton). His supporters can’t think deep enough to worry about the fewer and fewer who are actually producing and not just consuming, wondering what happens when there aren’t enough producers to continue the handout.

But wait, at the very same time that we hear about the courage of House Republicans in facing down Obama over his imperial tendencies than we also hear that the GOP is quietly working on an immigration proposal that will satisfy everybody except the Party’s own constituency. Or at least the numerous and un-monied part of its base, the stooges that keep voting Republican year after year, regardless. I don’t think there is in anybody’s mind a belief that appeasing the illegal alien community is going to increase GOP vote share. I’d guess the opposite. Mostly the GOP leadership wants a) the issue to go away and b) enough cheap labor to keep big business happy, big business being seen inexplicably as the root of GOP success.

As a mere observer, it looked to me like Big Business jumped on the Obama bandwagon and they were slavishly attentive to the Clintons when those two dirtied the White House with their scandalous goings-on. Churches want believers and entrepreneurs want near-slaves, and the Democrat (Socialist) Party wants voters. All the forces are aligned against the idiots who populate this country but count for next to nothing except as rhetorical devices.

How about that State of the Union? It should have been called “Stake through the Union.” It is absolutely no surprise that Obama chose ideology over pragmatism. He really thinks he’s got the US engine going, with an oil boom he despises and opposed that seems to this observer to be highly vulnerable to collapse on two grounds: those troubling earthquakes that have begun in the regions of fracking and the new oil’s own downward impact on prices necessary to sustain the fracking industry. Obama also boasted about the great employment scene, but not a word about the incredible shrinking labor market (it’s just the Boomers retiring) or the poor quality of jobs on offer. And he wants to make higher education free, two useless years of community college. There is already more pay for a tradesman with a real skill than for any community college graduate. Why not fund tech schools? Why  not let kids who want to work and not study segue into a technical institute where they can learn a trade for their last two years of high-school ? Why waste the money by giving grown adults with no skills the chance for another two years on the public dole that will provide them with very few new useful ones? If they want those low-cost two years of education (already subsidized by states and cities) then let them invest in them with their own labor, or hard work, two dirty terms under the left. Obama’s brand of governance is what I call highway-robbery, where the tax burdens on the individual indirectly or directly, are growing so the Big Give-Away can continue from the productive level of society to the non-productive bottom of society, now relabeled “middle class.” His constituency can be considered middle-class like I can be considered a shy and retiring type. Every freeloader in America is a Democrat, I’m convinced of it. And tell me that doesn’t affect who they vote for?

The EU is unable to shake off its slump, Russia is hurting, China is slowing down — but the US is going to keep going strong? The page is turned? And yet terrorists are likely to launch some attack here at home at any time now, but it won’t affect us? We’re up to our eyeballs in military adventurism around the globe, at risk of triggering some calamity while championing freedom, while illegal immigrants hoist banners at home reading “the border is illegal, not the people who cross it” and thousands await the next signal to flood the US border. How is that? I’m just a little more cautious than to believe his rosy picture of a US socialist paradise. I think the world is more insecure than ever before. I don’t think the jihad is “dying out.” I don’t think NATO is spreading peace, but war. I hardly believe anything the USG says anymore. And that is both at home and abroad.

The Republicans of course trashed a trash-able presentation by the President, but that’s not news. I anxiously await the next practical steps in the Republican revolution against the tyranny of government being constructed by Obama and his leftist clique. The solution isn’t for the GOP to wring their hands, then defy public will and collaborate with the Democrats on doing whatever it is the Democrats want to do. It is to offer alternatives. Where is the insurance bill that will free up health care coverage and make pricing competitive? Where is anything to do with Obamacare? Stop leaking information about alleged immigration proposals and share them with us. Stop your war on conservatives and rein in USG super-agencies with strict oversight and accountability and a veto power for Congress over any agency administrative decree costing taxpayers’ money. Let’s hear a call for the criminal prosecution of Lois Lerner, and John Koskinnen, and others in these public institutions who are acting for partisan political goals.

If the GOP thinks it can sit around and take the pulse of the public for two years, they’re smoking something.

 


Random Musings on Life

They say that a person becomes wiser as they grow older. I think that this process is an inevitability unless somebody spends his whole life scooting over the surface of life and never paying attention. There were quite a few years in my own life where that would describe my approach to disasters: don’t dwell on it, there are a thousand other mistakes yet to be made!

But in the last decade a far more contemplative self has emerged as the other end of the journey peeps over the horizon. I remember Jane Fonda (no fan am I) saying that these days she cries at everything. I can sympathize. What happens to us women (somehow I can’t see this happening to my husband) that makes us so overly sad even when everything is going just fine? How can a dog dying trapped in a sewer in India send a tear down the cheek? But then I think, well, heck, old people have a lot more to be sad about than young people do. There is a lot of loss as you get older, not only of your own youthful attributes but of people and places and things. No more Merry Christmas! You’ll have to make do with your memories. All these sadnesses just mount up until they’re ready to express themselves in tears over silly things and not just momentous tragedies.

And this morning I noticed that somebody beat Alabama, and I guess that would be football. My dear friend Eleanor, a direct descendent of Thomas Jefferson and a southern lady to the tips of her polished nails, would have been really disappointed, I thought, although maybe she was an Auburn rooter. I told her as much in my mind, saying “good thing you’re not around now, Eleanor.” I realized that I spend a lot of time in my mind talking to lost friends and loved ones and then it occurred that maybe that’s what happens with very old people. They talk in their heads with all those who have gone and since there are more and more of those, and fewer and fewer real people they even know anymore or even want to know, they just find a comfort zone in their interior landscape and stay there.

For the nonce, however, I am still in the here and now where I can hardly tear my eyes from this car-crash known as US foreign policy. And the thought that the hawks in the McCain camp (and that includes Democrats) will have the upper hand now doesn’t improve my mood. I find it fascinating that the Obama clique now want to soothe Russia’s ruffled nape. As with the Cuban desperado brothers, Fidel and Raul, the US president hopes to turn all expectations on their head by emerging as dear friends with a far more understanding and cooperative Putin. If that fails, he can shrug his 3000 dollar suit shoulders and say he tried.

Of course this is silly, what the two sides demand are light-years apart at this point. If NATO isn’t prepared to ebb from Russia’s borders, there can’t be any deal. Here’s what Russia wants: an agreement to cede Crimea to Russia to be concluded with Kiev; Ukraine to be fully federated, as in Germany, with the eastern provinces having an equal say in the country’s federal affairs; international recognition of the autonomy of the two break-away Georgian regions and Russia’s commitment not to annex; the neutral status of all remaining non-NATO states of the former Soviet Union internationally guaranteed; the right to trade according to a  nation’s own interests affirmed. Agreement would lead to a corresponding series of Russian measures to back down from its aggressive posture.

What the USG is asking might be Russia out of Ukraine; Crimea unsettled but not closed either; agreement to the freedom of the remaining former Soviet republics to associate with NATO and the EU; withdrawal of Russian forces from eastern Ukraine; involvement to far greater degree of OSCE and other international bodies in eastern Ukraine. The carrot is the lifting of sanctions that are hurting Europe as well as Russia, and an easing of the propaganda war against Russia, a kind of second chance for Russia to become a US lackey.

I rate the chances of success at about zero, although out of respect for Kissinger’s intelligence and rationality on most things, the Russians could agree to some window-dressing measures. They would like a return to Minsk and the inclusion of the rebels and Russia, too. The Kievan government will resist all the measures aimed at appeasing Russia at their expense, and the right wing will continue to grow stronger in that part of the country. I am utterly charmed by the west Ukrainian skill at dumping people into disgusting trash bins whenever they say something the mob leaders don’t like. What a collection of allies the US has gathered.

If there is one offer that I think could work, it would be to declare NATO off-limits to the remaining non-NATO countries on the territory of the former USSR. If this were done with the agreement of all, then I believe that Russia would make significant gestures of its own and we could climb down. But as long as NATO sits on Russia’s doorstep picking its teeth with missiles, Russia isn’t going to budge.

And here at home, we have public figures egging on the blacks and hispanics against whitey and “the people” against the police; this is provoking counter-racism, which isn’t pretty either. We have organizations openly working to make immigration easier than ever (Wall Street Journal) and Republican representatives embracing them and their ideas, and we have cyber-hacking of pretty much everything.  There is some prospect of another Clinton-Bush race, but please, God, spare us from both.

Happy New Year.


The Year Ends

Gads, it’s the end of the year. When did life start picking up such speed? I remember being a kid and thinking I would explode if I couldn’t grow up and SOON. All the Golden Oldies are playing on our multi-media devices, it’s almost like having Santa in the room these days. We just got a super-dooper and frighteningly large television (I guess that is what they call them still) for our bedroom and it’s as if I’m watching Playhouse 90 again, it is the “studio effect.” Look how fast technology is changing, I’m sure in a year there will be something totally retro in this tv set and every six months it will become more so. You used to be able to keep a television set forever.

Oh, yes, politics. Well, as I have been saying since November, I’m waiting. There seems to be civil war brewing in the Congress and maybe it is about “pragmatism” versus “ideology.” This is true of both parties, although the Dems are splitting over the issue of being “left” and the Republicans over who is “true conservative.” That is good. I like the idea of keeping at least the GOP on its toes and considering this simple fact: we are watching you. Otherwise, the genial barkeep Mr. John Boehner is likely to reach some compromise over something fundamental (Obamacare? Immigration? IRS? EPA?) that is going to pull the rug out from under GOP cohesion. It will be war and the outcome foreordained. The GOP only wins if it pulls together all the discontented toward a re-consideration of the state of the union. To do that, it has to show it CAN do it. I’m waiting. I’m watching. I don’t need a list, I just count the whole bunch of them as guilty if the party doesn’t act appropriately.

On to that never-ending circus, the foreign affairs arena. North Korea hacks a damned film studio and we act as if they bombed Pearl Harbor. Of course it’s a cyber-crime, and Sony should sue or otherwise retaliate. It has the means to pay for a little assistance. Instead top US sages practically call for bombing North Korea and claim it is war against America. Furthermore, somebody surfaces the absurd claim that China, Russia, and Iran are also behind it. That is just so neat, tying up a handful of your deadly foes (per Washington) in one more global rumor intended to blacken their names. Psy-ops. Then somebody disrupted the internet system in North Korea and people have been quick to speculate that it was the US, just to show we can. But as my wise husband said, “they’re  doing the North Korean government a favor by doing that — the government would love to knock out the internet in North Korea!” And everywhere else if possible.

The US is not only saber-rattling in Russia’s face, it has two swords out and is making a terrible racket. Russia is now good and roused and the Bear is getting its own swords honed. The US Congress has authorized the US President to provide lethal military assistance to the government of west Ukraine and to impose still more economic sanctions, but it is up to Obama if he chooses to use the authority or not. Over in Russia, the Duma revoked the authority it gave Putin to act militarily and immediately in defense of Russian interests in event of a crisis, but it did so at Putin’s request as a “confidence-building measure.” I’m sure it was tongue-in-cheek for Mr. Putin, as “confidence building measures” (or CBMs in the industry) is a concept from west European leftists who promoted the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to build bridges to the East that are now being burned down by the EU. Now the Duma is about to give the authorization to Putin again. I don’t doubt he will use it if necessary, but I think Russia prefers that this be settled through federation of Ukraine rather than continuation of an unsuccessful unitary state. On the other hand, it all depends on how the US proceeds. A course of militarizing Ukraine in NATO’s favor is going to lose Ukraine all its eastern sector and the south, too.

Russia isn’t ceding an inch, no matter what pressure the West exerts. Their money plummeted under what I am quite sure was a deliberately-provoked hysteria, but now the Central Bank is intervening and there is some stabilization. Russia is demanding its giant enterprises (LUKoil, Rosneft, etc.) sell part of their foreign currency domestically to ease the pressure and all of them are stepping to the plate (or else, no doubt), having sold a reported one billion dollars worth in the past days.  The US and EU have tried to injure Russia through the financial system the West controls, and Russia has responded by creating its own alternative systems, a growing trend among the world’s regional powers.  Russia is not denominating future contracts in US dollars and that, too, is a trend. Russia-China trade is one billion dollars — and it is being denominated in yuan or rubles henceforward. Everybody is learning from Russia’s trials, learning that the US is not trustworthy, that NATO is aggressive, and that the West will use any measure, regardless of how hurtful to ordinary populations, to impose its will. The only answer is to become independent of such channels of pressure. It is happening.

When Sweden complained that a Russian jet-fighter came too close to a Swedish plane and wasn’t using its transponders, the Russian military responded that NATO flights close to Russian borders had increased to 3,000 in the past year, and that NATO jet fighters fly without transponders along Russian borders and have had numerous documented near misses with Russian aircraft. He added that Russian maneuvers close to EU airspace are as dangerous to the EU as NATO flights close to Russian airspace are to Russia. In response to US military activity in eastern Europe, Russia is certainly going to be redeploying its own forces. In fact this was hinted at during the press conference when a woman from Kaliningrad (a Russian enclave surrounded by NATO) complained of the hateful propaganda coming at Kaliningrad from the west and the increased military activity at the territory’s borders. She asked if Russia would be deploying military assets to Kaliningrad to protect them. Putin carefully did not answer the question in his response.

And finally — how can I not mention Cuba? The resumption of diplomatic relations with this seedy little island, emigrants from which are among my relatives and friends, is being done “for the people of Cuba” and because we  now see that economic sanctions don’t work. I have never known the USG to do anything for anybody else; it is always a matter of US interests, as it should be. And second, on the sanctions thing — does this mean the US will be lifting sanctions elsewhere, like against Russia? Or Iraq? I mean — if a seedy little island can resist the full force and will of the US for all these years, do they really think Russia is going to cave?

Well, I sure hope the New Year brings us some people with clear vision, common sense and the right experience to guide our foreign policy, which is sinking into a bog of mistakes. And John Boehner — I’m watching you.

 

 

 


Straight to hell, full speed ahead

You probably think I’m talking about the Republican party conciliators a la Boehner, but no. I’m talking about the whole world.

Every day the news seems to this observer to get worse and worse. Our compulsion to bring down Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has become a matter of global record, blatantly illegal under international law, as our politicians publicly discuss how they can make an army out of a wide variety of murderous gangs in Syria, how many arms they can provide these laughably-named Freedom Fighters, and how much logistical support we can throw in. This isn’t highly hush-hush back-door double-dealing as in Kosovo, where we secretly helped the KLA against Belgrade while pretending to act as peacekeepers. This is open, in-your-face, whadda ya gonna do about it militarism and yes, that silly word, imperialism. There are now rumors that the US would like a little regime change in Israel, which just goes to show how quickly a government can become a “regime” if the US is offended. Since we have an imperial president, we should have no problem with our imperial foreign policy, under which we occupy not so much territory, beyond all the US and NATO military bases we are establishing in other people’s countries, but markets — arms markets, oil markets, consumer markets.

Moving along from one quagmire to the next, the West under US guidance is currently waging a ferocious economic war against the Russian Federation, that country that stretches eleven time zones, and it is doing a good job of damaging the Russian economy. But if Serbia could withstand the sanctions and punishments of the West for as long as it has, Russia can withstand it even longer. Furthermore, the fall-out from Russia’s woes will not be, cannot be, confined to Russia. Russian  money has been a boon to the EU countries, and that money is going to pull out of the EU as Russia circles the wagons and prepares to defend its life. As Stratfor analyst George Friedman said in a post I  copied here the other day, Russians suffer better than practically anyone in the world (except maybe the Chinese). West Europeans do not suffer well at all. And the struggling economies of eastern Europe (looking from Moscow) are of course most vulnerable to the loss of easy trade to the east. At this point, what the West is doing is focusing the attention of the Russian nation and making it feel in a very real way the threat that emanates from the West. It is unifying the Russians like nothing else possibly could. By attempting to move militarily into Ukraine, the West forced Russia to make its military counter-moves and now the West is elevating the threat level. The latest news is that NATO has admitted an increase in its presence in the Russian border region, but insists everything is on the up-and-up, totally transparent and above-board (unlike those sneaky Russians). So is a train rolling toward you at 200 mph. Totally straight-forward. Still I have yet to hear something from NATO HQ or even NATO loose lips about the issue of flying without transponders — do NATO jets turn off their transponders in the vicinity of the Russian border? A simple yes or no will suffice.

From the Russian side, Lt. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev had a few words in response to western indignation over the recent near-miss of a Swedish civilian plane and combat aircraft out of Russia:

… Lieutenant-General Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s joint military command center told Bloomberg news that NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe is becoming a concern for Moscow. “The Russian Defense Ministry leadership has repeatedly expressed its concerns over the significant increase of NATO military activity near the Russian borders,” Mizintsev said. The General was quick to point out that NATO’s flights have doubled to about 3,000 this year. Mizintsev told Bloomberg that foreign jets were flying in “dangerous proximity” to Russian long-range military aircraft at least on 55 occasions at a distance of less than 100 meters, in 2013-14. Russia’s missions were “as risky as NATO aircraft flights near the Russian border can be considered risky,” Mizintsev said.

I sit here wondering who the hell is making these mad decisions. Gen. Philip Breedlove, an American in NATO and its woefully wrong-footed SACEUR, is getting to be openly referred to among Russians and many Europeans as well as Dr. Strangelove. The man comes across as a Cold War relic, a bellicose, arrogant and demanding American. But it isn’t only Breedlove; the entire professional apparat of NATO, including a slew of recycled retirees from the Cold War gang, are demanding NATO step up to the plate over Ukraine. And at home of course, we have not only the usual cohort of Russophobes and warmongers, to include John McCain, but we have the human rights crowd on the left, which lives off the detritus of war through the many NGO money-suckers.

We are picking up speed toward a grave encounter. The West has its claws in Ukraine and Russia won’t give it up without a fight. In the meantime, watch for the European pacifists to begin agitating and organizing as Russia redeploys its weapons closer to its western border and ramps up rearmament and modernization. Those are things Russia can do without help from the West or the expenditure of a single dollar. The future is looking pretty bleak — the closer and tougher we get with each other, the more likely that a single miscalculation or misunderstanding can be the spark that ignites the war. It pains me that so few people seem to care.

 

 

 



Madhawk on the Loose

Finally something worth writing about, and I am talking about The Man, John McCain. Today he showed the whole word how close to dementia he truly is when he declared that a NATO ally is headed by a modern-day Hitlerite and chastised said Storm Trooper for having friendly relations with Russia. Speaking with regard to the pitiful nomination of another Obama entertainment hack as US Ambassador to Hungary, McCain declared her unfit to hold that position when “Hungary is on the verge of losing its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dicator Victor Orban, who is in bed with Vladimir Putin.” Wow. I’m gasping in amazement. In one sentence, McCain managed to link his favorite boogie-man Putin (much scarier than any ISIS beheader) with someone edging up at the rail, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, alleged fascist. McCain also managed in that one sentence to mortally offend the Prime Minister’s supporters and many others in NATO’s ex-Warsaw Pact group of members who think their countries gave up one master for another (and resent it). He is becoming the poster child for a nation very ill with regime-change-itis and thrashing around the globe like a wounded beast. The US eagle is in danger of morphing into McCain’s gloating ancient mug. I know a lot of people who would give him credit for Vietnam but I’m afraid Vietnam was only the beginning of his readiness for war. Only  problem is, the next one he could drag us into isn’t going to be nice, like Vietnam.

Here’s another good bit. Putin pulled the rug out from under the EU, which was running around twisting the arms of Russia’s supposed partners in central/eastern Europe on the South Stream oil pipeline. One of those subject to extreme pressure is not even an EU member (Serbia). The EU is insisting that no EU member (or anybody who even dreams of one day being a member) is allowed to participate in a pipeline that is owned by the same source as the energy (in this case gas) that flows through the pipeline. In reality, this is about checking Russian influence in Europe and hurting Russia financially. It is about opening a market for the US shale oil industry. Back in June of 2014 the EU used threats to block South Stream to force Russian recognition of the Kiev government. Seems clear that Europe’s primary interests are other than the stated ones and involve a desire to dictate to Russia it’s foreign policy and to subordinate it to the US/EU axis. Russia’s partners looked set to make a fool of Russia, hemming and hawing, promising a decision but never giving one. The Serbian President only recently gave two interviews back to back, in the first stating that Serbia was not an EU member and would do what was in its interests vis a vis South Stream; and in the second stating that Serbia had to do whatever the EU told it to. Russia had enough of the waffling and decided to cut its losses.

Putin unexpectedly announced with deep regret that Russia was jettisoning the project as a result of the great pressures brought to bear by the EU on the countries involved. Even though Austria and Turkey said they would cooperate, other countries were over a barrel. He said it would be a blow to those countries that had been counting on the income and the jobs, but that Russia had no choice. How could it be expected to invest the billions needed in a project that could never be completed? Russia would be directing the gas that would have flowed via that route (paying out fat transport fees to the partner countries) to other buyers (sub-text: never to return). It is rich in irony that one of those upgraded customers is Turkey, which has wanted to be a member of the EU forever and has been a member of NATO forever, and at last is able to thumb its nose back at the EU. As a non-member with no likelihood of entry into the EU in the near future, it is free to follow its self-interest. I am sure that the spineless political leaders in more than one NATO country look on in envy. In fact Putin’s decision has been like an explosion in the countries concerned. For a good glimpse at what is going on, I recommend a Financial Times article, Anger and Dismay as Russia Scraps $50bn gas plan.

Serbia provides another example of the things countries give up with their membership (even potential) in the EU. Serbia is not a Union member and there is no guarantee when it might be invited to join. If ever. But the EU did not hesitate to threaten Serbia’s prospects for membership and other Serbian interests should Serbia not concede on South Stream. It is clear that the Serbian government did not manage to resist the threats and it was at that point that Putin made a command decision. Russia won’t be asking again for cooperation from Europe. It will build its interests away from Europe with the bulwark of Russia itself between them and the EU/NATO. The idea of not relying on the other guy cuts both ways.

On another subject, I note that the government of Ukraine, so-called, has now given over-night citizenship to three foreigners to help them run that so-called government as top officials. One is an American of Ukrainian parentage who worked in the US State Department and is a west Ukrainian zealot. As my better half has noted, not exactly the best type to have sent to the US Embassy in Kiev (but the Statement Department did send her there, perhaps while Victoria Nuland was handing out cookies to the Maidan mob). The other guy is a Georgian who just finished serving in the Georgian government, so I guess it is musical governments on an international level. The third guy is a Lithuanian businessman who will now be minister of economics. This all sounds like some hare-brained US/EU scheme to salvage a failing state. What other self-respecting state picks its top officials from foreigners? (Yes, I know, the Lithuanians and Latvians, but they had the decency to make them all ethnic Lithuanians or Latvians.) Ukraine is getting to look a lot like Chernobyl.

And back to US politics. I’m not sure what is going on. It’s pretty much back to smokey room politics, with cozy meetings between our new Senate majority leader and the President. I know  immigration is right up there among the top ten priorities for the GOP, but I don’t have any idea what they are planning. My guess is it will be amnesty for millions, with some window-dressing along the border. The stationing of US troops along our own border would probably be considered too Rand Paul for most of them. Same on Obamacare — do they have a plan? We’re waiting. I really hope they do some good work, and they are under the gun. In two years, if the GOP has failed at major tasks, it’s back to ground zero and the return of the zombie left.

 


Regime change here, regime change there

The Republicans are back in control of Congress and the war drums are louder already. The US has opted for in-your-face regime change in Syria, largely dropping the fig-leaf of an anti-ISIS “air campaign” and openly recruiting for fighters to take down the legal Assad government. We always knew the ISIS crap was just that. ISIS was the Obama Administration’s Osama bin Laden, our creation, and we aren’t even trying that hard to defeat them in Syria and Iraq. America only wants that military opening it needed to contrive some reason to get on with the damned “air campaign.” I was pretty convinced that was the game after the US had to be dragged away, kicking and screaming, from a bombing war against Syria over chemical weapons even when Syria conceded the terms. The US was never satisfied, and always warning that bombing might be necessary. Now it’s marauding inside Syria without so much as a “may I?” to the Syrian government, able to ship weapons around at will, able to arm a bigger proxy army against Assad. It is all utterly disgusting. Why is it that everybody can see what is going on in this country, and so few care? Don’t Americans realize what they look like more and more abroad? A brute with a big military machine.

I’d really like to know all the ins and outs of this US obsession with a man (it is always one man, never a people or country) that Hillary Clinton had declared okey-doke not long before she put out the contract on him. Of course Saudi Arabia has its oily paws in there, and so does Turkey with its own time-bombs ticking in the form of ethnic rebellion. But what is in it for America? I hesitate to say O – I – L but I bet most people don’t.

Okay, so the Mideast is on fire and getting worse, as the US promises air campaigns to the left and to the right to stop the flames. But in Europe, things are if anything worse. True, nobody is beheading anybody, but the re-armament of Russia is well underway on all fronts. The US, EU and NATO are digging themselves ever deeper into the business of west Ukraine in the hopes of capturing pro-Russian east Ukraine and its riches and its delicious proximity to Russia itself. In response, Russia has ever more overtly sent in its military equipment and personnel to support the east Ukrainian separatists. The West itself precipitated these radical developments in Ukraine by making existential threats against Moscow. Ukraine should never have been included by NATO as expansion territory, not even as a Partner for Peace, aka Junior NATO. Russia’s top officials have now openly warned America that if the US moves to provide lethal weapons to west Ukraine it will be a game-changer. It stands ready to do more, including moving in missiles (I would guess) and elements of the Army itself. If it does so, it will take everything it needs as it moves, including roads, bridges and airports.

Russia has also moved to more active engagement with Georgia’s two separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The two regions broke away from Tbilisi in the early 1990s with some Russian help and have existed as independent entities under Russian protection since then. A Georgian effort to recapture one of these regions by force in a rather pitiful “blitzkrieg” sent a spike through international nerves in 2008, when Russia struck back, sent the Georgian Army running, and officially recognized the independence of both regions. Annexation by Russia may now be the only safe haven now for these two national groups.

Russia’s responses to NATO policies and actions is absolutely logical, they were predictable, and they were predicted. And to what end? Why is the US seeking constant eastward expansion toward Russian borders, knowing from a simple reading of history that this is the trigger for war? Now Henry Kissinger, one of America’s greatest diplomats, has given an interview to a German newspaper in which he laments the West’s actions in Ukraine and its failure to recognize the peril of trying to expand into an area of extraordinary Russian interests and historical importance. Kissinger suggested that Ukraine should be removed from NATO’s ambit entirely. On trade, that is another matter and Ukraine should be free to trade with whom it chooses.

Again, to whose benefit all of this confrontation and permanent warfare? Weapons manufacturers? NGOs distributing disaster relief? International bureaucracies? Deep pockets? A fellow blogger points out that there are oil interests in eastern Ukraine now that science has shown us how to suck up every ounce of oil within the earth through fracking (and remember that Ukraine has a part claim on the Black Sea resources, too). He suggests that perhaps groups led by such people as Joe Biden’s son might have an interest in a military solution that secured east Ukraine’s natural resources for international sharing. One thing is for sure: it is not happening to make you and me safer, or to bring democracy to a kleptocracy. There are money interests there, under all the pony poop.

 


Gruber the Goober and Other Things

More observations on the latest news.

First we have the case of the insufferably smug Jonathan Gruber. I bet Gruber was the butt of a lot of jokes when he was a kid. No doubt the nerd thought to himself, “I’m smarter than they are! Just wait!” And he sure paid back every bully who ever lived and all the bystanders, too. But here is the thing: Gruber is not actually as brilliant as he thinks he is. And here is the evidence: would a strategic, brilliant thinker have carried off a shameful act of treachery against the American people and then boasted about it openly and often? Wouldn’t a bright fellow have thought, uh-oh, if people know what a slime-bucket I am and realize I connived to cost them hundreds of dollars a month in unnecessary health coverage so as to carry out a Marxist agenda for re-distributing wealth, somebody might have a grudge against me? I think its always a good rule of thumb that if you can’t be honest and decent, at least don’t brag about being deceitful, self-centered and treacherous. Our new Congress claims it is going to look into this and make sure the American public hears the facts, as the state media over at such places as NBC don’t think we dummies need to know a thing. I hope the Congress acts. We need to document this government’s abuse of Constitutional rights for all future generations.

Then there are foreign affairs where there are some really interesting developments on several fronts. Let’s start with Syria, where the US has now thrown all pretense aside and is behaving in true bully fashion. As we are currently flailing on the ISIS front — and flailing could be too soft a word after the latest beheading of a well-meaning but misguided American. I don’t know if they are right, but the Iraqi Kurds fighting ISIS in Syria claim the jihadists have an army of 200,000 fighters from everywhere. Of course they are guessing, but about these vermin crawling in from every side they are right. The US is judged to be under-reacting with its leisurely pace of bombing, but I think the reality is there is nothing to bomb. Only human beings, and even if some of them are evil, some of them are just human beings. I don’t understand people who think day/night, 24/7  bombing runs are the solution. I’m afraid all our up-ending and mischief-making in the Middle East is coming home to roost (and poop) right on our heads. Everybody is out to kill everybody else, and us above all. We must more and more often resort to force, because we can’t choose between what is vital (checking ISIS is) and what is not (overthrowing Assad). Our alliances are increasingly confounded and twisting and intertwined. We are responsible for the security of so many countries today it could only appeal to a One Worlder hoping to be the Vanguard and not the down-trodden.

Now even the once-sensible Gen. Dempsey is suggesting that the US (flopping on the ISIS front) should turn its sights on Damascus and its legally elected president, Bashar al-Assad. For the moment, open, in-your-face regime change is on the front burner, defeating the jihadists rampaging and murdering is somewhere back there, but not necessarily in second place of importance. Turkey is on fire, the Kurds want to dismember Syria and make their own country out of part of it, other countries in the region are increasingly imperiled, and all the US is doing is throwing money down the drain with a sort of dilettantish bombing campaign. As for dismembering Syria — the kind of partitioning and regime change that was good for Serbia under NATO’s heel, but not good for Ukraine under Russia’s heel — you can take this to the bank: the US is actively encouraging the Kurds to believe that if this works out and they can oust Assad the US will make sure they get a big chunk of Syria for their very own homeland. All they have to do is fight off the Jihad. What a coup! Think about all the upsides for the US: Assad, the man we could do business with only a few short years ago per Hillary Clinton, would be gone and probably murdered in some shameful fashion by our proxies; our friends would now suddenly be the government; Turkey would be rid of the troublesome Kurds; Syrians would be punished for being recalcitrant and supporting Assad when told not to; and best of all, Russia, the patron saint of Syria, will be shown up! In fact I’d guess that showing up Russia is probably our number one foreign policy goal these days.

Which brings me to all things Ukraine. Russia has decided to emulate NATO boldness in Syria and elsewhere with its own boldness in what it considers part of the Russian homeland, eastern Ukraine. It is pretty openly moving in the heavy weapons and tanks to hold the territory its proxies now control in eastern Ukraine,maybe taking some more before it allows a line to be drawn, while NATO arms and trains up its proxies in western Ukraine. Simultaneously, Russia has made a move to forever partition Georgia (a la Serbia) by formally recognizing the independence of Georgia’s two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is some expectation that Russia will then offer to take those territories into safe waters by bringing them into the Russian Federation as autonomous republics, perhaps South Ossetia uniting with North Ossetia to form one entity. This also buffers them against international retaliation. There still remains Moldova and I haven’t heard anything from that quarter. On the other hand, it would not surprise me to see Russia move to fortify its position in the Transdnestr. All of this enrages NATO and especially its easternmost parties and “partners.” The US just used the occasion of the G-20 to castigate Russia for doing the same kinds of things the US is doing at this very moment elsewhere (and in Ukraine, too).

Henry Kissinger just gave an interview in Der Spiegel. He lamented that the West had made a terrible blunder in Ukraine when it pushed so hard to get an exclusive position shutting out Russia, and that it was time for the EU/US to simply admit they had gone down the wrong path. Kissinger thought the western parties ought to have included Russia as an equal player in settling issues. He didn’t condone Russia’s extreme response, but he thought it was predictable. George Kennan, God rest his soul, made opposition to NATO expansion his last cause because he thought it was a grave error that would lead to global war again. And here we are, face to face in Ukraine, and not because Russia has expanded.

Then there is China, where President Obama was treated to the fly-by of drones built on the basis of technology stolen from the US.  Having watched Obama give America the finger so many times, it was kind of fun  to watch him get it back.