Ooobie on Everything

Fifty ways to smear your rival

I’ve been cowering in anxiety over these many weeks, watching the madness unfold. Even as we in the US speak of using tactical nukes when needed and train our European allies how to operate the mechanics using real nukes, we narrow inexorably our diplomatic contacts with Russia. Like, why do you need contacts when you, like, really really hate the other guy? Of all the loonies, the US and UK are the absolute worst, although they have a cause (war with Russia), while so many EU and NATO member countries merely have interests, none of which actually include war with Russia.

Let’s start with the case of the Skripals, who were living peacefully under the aegis of the UK Government, which had years ago traded some Russian spy cooling his heels in a UK prison for Father Skripal, a man who gave the UK/NATO secrets for money, but who was never a KGB/FSB agent. Just a greedy Russian, well-placed. Oddly enough, the daughter has been allowed to wander to and fro freely between Russia and the UK, never having been raped or even given a secondary examination at any Russian entry point. (A totally inadvertant pun.) I can’t vouch for the British.

Dang, every time NATO or its members need a boost for some cock-eyed idea or adventure, the Russians pony up the needed boost. Look at all those brilliantly timed cw attacks in Syria, which allowed the US to bomb some derelict Syrian aircraft and give Nikki Haley her “Die Hard” lines. From the moment this story emerged I said (I really did), “let us await the miraculous recovery of said duo.” And bingo. Yulia, daughter, told her cousin by phone (and I’ll get to that) that she and Dad were just hunky-dory and no problems. Do not worry! And yes, now the Brits tell us, both the Skripals and the inadvertent cop who ran to their assistance are all well and recovering at meteoric rates. It’s a miracle. Not to mention the miracle that this hyper-deadly substance snagged only three people! But then…

Then there is the bizarre case of the dead pets. Supposedly when the animal-loving Brits swarmed over the Skripal home, discovering the cw-smeared front door knob, they never noticed two cats and a guinea pig — no doubt in a big cage! Squealing! Now those beloved family members are dead after gruesome weeks of what? Was it cw that killed them, after untold suffering? Or was it starvation and dehydration, leaving the victims so far gone a vet had to put them down? This also raises the question of whether, in fact, the Skripal home was really “searched,” as they surely knew where the cw was — on that front door knob that nobody but the two Skripals apparently touched. But they missed the squealing guinea pig! It had better be cw or I’m writing to PETA. And SPCA. And if those animals died of cw contamination — egads. The Russians came up with a deadly agent that allows humans miraculous recovery one hundred percent of the time, but murders household pets without exception.

Do you remember the neutron bomb? People hated the very idea, because it killed people but left property values unchanged. Well, at least it left property undamaged. This is called “precision targeting.”

If the Skripals ever doubted who owned them, now they really know.

Okay, back to the phone call. How was this woman, still under intense security, and in a hospital, manage to call Moscow, a call monitored of course by the loathsome FSB? Doesn’t that ring a little odd to you? Did the Brits not know she had a mobile phone? Did she borrow a phone from another patient and call home to Moscow? And how embarrassing that Moscow immediately made it known that the two Skripals were fine, straight from the victim’s mouth.

Okay, so I don’t believe a word of what either the UK or the NATO chorus tells us is so. I am awaiting the evidence, which nobody except NATO and close friends are allowed to see. Guilty until proven innocent prevails, and those dropping bombs for democracy see no conflict.

In any case, the scientists at the UK’s Porton Down, located only a few miles from where the Skripals allegedly fell into comas on a park bench, seemingly decided to save their consciences and screw the government. They made public what they had previously leaked: there is no way to trace back the substance used to who made it. Amazingly, trace cw doesn’t usually have fingerprints or DNA. Now Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Minister, and everybody else declare they never said it came from Russia. I have to wonder, do they really think us so stupid that we can’t remember what they were screaming at us a few days ago?

So the UK has had to very slightly amend their statement that the stuff “no doubts about it, slam dunk,” came out of Russia, to “it is beyond any reasonable doubt that…”. I really appreciate that droll irony the Brits unfurl when needed, now citing due process to explain why due process was unnecessary.

As for that useless Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), it has thrown its reputation to the winds by violating its own rules and denying Russia access to any information being used as the basis for such a grave allegation.  Instead OPCW cites the need for UK “good will” in allowing the rules to be followed. Fat chance. What a bunch of weenies, and to think, our lives are in their hands.

One last word on the whole farce. Just in the past couple of days, the OPCW showed up for a surprise inspection of cw-free (as declared under international inspection) Russia. Recall that the US is still drawing out the process of destroying its own significant cw stockpiles, which probably contain Novichok-type cw. So not only is Russia unfairly charged, tried and convicted absent any pretense of due process, but now it is singled out for “special inspection” by the very organization denying Russia access to information. Stinkeroo.

Next. Syria. This is why Trump’s governance makes you dizzy. He is panting to get out of Syria, but the Generals, his besties, are not. Some generals are talking about that glorious day when Assad is deposed and democracy rules in Damascus. Hello. ISIS is a goner and if we cooperated with Assad, would be gone. Only five percent of the country is in terrorist hands and Assad has reasserted control (to great popular relief) over most of the country. But still we want to set up illegal bases and act as lightning rods for malcontents? Puh-leeze. Trump, follow your instincts. Pull our guys out and set them up on the US southern border.

And the Mexican invasion. I have to say, I was impressed at the rapidity with which Peña Nieto stopped the looming caravan of unwanted’s that threatened our border. Once Trump pulled out his wallet and saw no money for Mexico and a lot fewer jobs for all those pent-up Mexicans after a NAFTA rewrite or death, the path forward was clear. And I know how venal our friends in Latin America are from close experience. Still, overnight is impressive. I favor the use of the national guards on the border and the wall, physical and technical. Once again, I urge that a country needing lots of manual labor develop a migrant program based on existing ones, where families remain back home, and worker spends no more than half a year working and the other half back home. Then we all are satisfied except those who just want slave-wage labor.

Finally, Mueller. Does this guy know that Ukraine and Russia are no longer, after thousands of years, the same thing? The Russians sometimes get similarly confused. So far, he has zip except on financial shenanigans in Kiev (gasp) that are not supposed to be his bailiwick at all. I figure the worst crime by Manafort was representing the guy who liked Russia, rather than the guy we were about to put into power via a putsch. Rosenstein, another presumed member of the Secret Society mentioned by Romeo and Juliet, told him to go ahead. Dive in! Find out anything on anybody in the entire Cosmos as long as it isn’t Hillary Clinton!

Another hint to Trump: get a new FBI director, assistant director and top bureau officials. Start laying down the law of “Strict Neutrality” and acting against those who still want to wage political warfare using our civil service. Take another look at the Justice Department. And be prepared to go outside the system to get a house-cleaning long, long overdue.

 

 

 


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.

 


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 Goths are Coming

sackrome

The amorphous international community seems to be drawing together in agreement that the ISIS/ISIL/Caliphate crowd has to go. The jihadist murderers are overrunning country after country and can my beloved Amsterdam be far behind? They’re headed for us and ours, too, and you can put money on it. From within we will be beset, even as we waste our precious resources trying to settle family quarrels around the world and confine the fire to other people’s countries. All our interventions have done is serve as a recruiting tool among the far too numerous offspring of the Moslem world. I’m all for hitting these loathsome creatures wherever we can, but I don’t think we’re going to defeat them overseas.

It’s pretty certain that the US will get another chance to try out the latest military tech by hitting the jihadists in Syria. Maybe we’ll hit a leader or two or three, and you can be sure we will kill a lot of civilians, too. But it all depends on how the US approaches this impending military action that will determine if it will have any success as we now define it. I hope that building this “coalition” means getting people together to fight a common threat within another country with the permission of the government and that it doesn’t mean “coalition against Assad, too.” If we ignore regional realities and rivalries and try to regime change again, this fire is going to have jumped the break. In the meantime, nobody in charge seems too concerned about the deliberately-provoked deluge of the US southern border, which mass migration was sprinkled with a sufficient number of abandoned children to make this into a sob story about poor orphans. Nobody is writing much about all the flotsam and jetsam that washed over the border along with the abused children whose parents got them off their hands. That’s because nobody knows who they are, just ask Immigration or Homeland Security. We won’t know who they are until heads are being cut off in tolerant places like Minneapolis or tunnels are collapsing leading into major cities. Things like that.

So what’s the point of a bombing campaign in which, quite possibly the NATO crowd aka the US will ignore the government of Syria and bomb at will? What if NATO decides not only to bomb away inside Syria, as if the Assad government had already been deposed, but to put “boots on the ground”? What’s a border to NATO, unless it belongs to a NATO member or maybe a non-NATO member seen as cooperative? If NATO does act against ISIS without Assad backing them up, NATO will fail in its ultimate goal, the decimation of ISIS and the mad jihadists. This is a case of shared interests. Are we too blinded by our sense of moral superiority that we can’t see that? If the US does try to use one pretext to take care of other business, it will have blown a great opportunity to get past the pout stage of US foreign policy and onto realpolitik. In the latter world, Assad could be a sort of ally, or as much of one as we have anymore, whom we are not trying to oust or have murdered and with whom we work together to corral those varmints and kill them. It’s easy to be friends. And morally you can justify this course by adding up the numbers of civilians killed by the US and by Syria to point out that the US has a far more grievous record on that score than Syria could even aspire to.

As for Ukraine, wow, that went so fast it took me by surprise. We began with a junta-led military offensive against a civilian population and a separatist faction in eastern Ukraine, under direction of a right-wing defense minister and assisted by neo-Nazi volunteers. Then there was an “election” and Poroshenko was in power, and he wanted to show he was as strong as he looks. He really unleashed the military against civilians, even going so far as to lob short-range ballistic missiles into populated areas with never a peep from NATO or the EU about human rights. Kiev bombed schools and apartment blocks and churches and WWII monuments. Old ladies sleep on cots in damp dark basements that will soon be frigidly cold. Nobody gives a damn. It’s all balance of power and world hegemony.

Kiev was winning the fight, surrounding the terrorists, and NATO membership was just at Kiev’s fingertips. When wham. A sudden turn-around. More soldiers, more and better arms. Russia, without ever putting demonstrable “boots on the ground” in Ukraine, turned back Kiev’s forces. The rout, which was apparently a small demonstration of what could be deployed against Kiev, seems to have convinced everybody that a settlement was a sensible course to pursue.

Russia’s first victory was the inclusion of the separatist leaders in the negotiations in Minsk, for the first time and against Kiev’s protests I am sure. The second victory was tentative agreement, supported by the OSCE, on substantial autonomy in eastern Ukraine. I’d guess the West, particularly Germany and the US, played a role in convincing Poroshenko to give it up. The only end result of heightened military confrontation would be more civilian deaths, more and destabilizing sanctions, and greater likelihood of Russia simply seizing eastern Ukraine. This is the face-saving solution. The Americans and Europeans will say, we brought peace and prevented further Russian penetration. Russia doesn’t need to say anything.

I never did play chess and while the Cold War was rife with intrigue, it was never so open as now. Putin may be the bogey-man for the West, but hopefully they are coming to realize that this isn’t a good case for regime change. Putin is a strong leader, but he’s strong because he capsulizes the sentiments of a nation in its vast majority. It is Russia that is ready to rock, not just Putin. The West went too far in Ukraine, and threatens to do as well in Moldova and Georgia. They should reconsider. It would be very easy to dismember Moldova, with the eastern region ready to go with Russia. In Georgia, Russia might lose its once and no doubt always-beloved neighbor to an enemy alliance, but Georgia will forever cede two sizable territories to Russia.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. What are these national leaders thinking? Is there nobody out there to counsel them the virtues of neutrality, internationally guaranteed with ratified treaties? One in which they trade where they want, but don’t threaten anybody. A status that allows them to eschew military blocs and avoid wasting money on unnecessary military activities. Ask Finland how good neutrality was. They got fat and rich on it. I bet Finland wishes they hadn’t cozied up quite so close to the EU and NATO in these days of sanctions and counter-sanctions.

Neutrality: it’s an unpopular view today, but things change.

 

 

 


The Tar Baby: Irresistible but Deadly

brer-foxThe tar baby was my favorite Uncle Remus story. That rabbit was so smart, and Brer Fox was only half smart. Great story. Unfortunately, it seems to me that we as a country have fallen for the ruse, attacking the tar baby of “unacceptable behavior” by other (weak) countries over and over as the world’s number one power and global cop. It was fun for a while, a piece of cake, really, but then things started to get harder for America. It realized the sinkhole of debt it was sitting on, added to by every expensive military adventure, while the folks at home grew sick of waging wars against countries they don’t know or want to know for unconvincing reasons, none of them having to do with US security, and none of the results being particularly impressive. But in the end, there’s no way to get free of the tar baby. If the US shows enough common sense to say “fix it yourselves,” the whole world will hoist a glass of champagne to the demise of America as a global superpower and proceed to settle those old unsettled quarrels. The obvious weakening of US authority, above all, invites adventurism on the part of other regional great powers that mirrors what NATO has done internationally. The rising countries, like Russia and China and Iran, do it for their own national interests and also to show their contempt for the myth of America, the World’s Only Superpower.

We are gripped by Messianism, as if we, a single country, are the hand of God (if we believed in God anymore). We feel ruling the world (though not occupying it, as we are quick to point out) is our destiny. It is even in a sense our moral obligation and thus we continue to intervene in every event anywhere in the world, at great expense to the US taxpayer and without his consent or support. There is very little focus or stratification of our interests from vital to non-existent. Our foreign policy disarray today reminds me of the 24-hour news stations that tell us all about the lack of US border security or a car chase or a dog caught in a drain pipe in some Podunk, all with the same rapt attention and sense of urgency. Fox News covers all the trash we wish they wouldn’t just because it exists, and so must be reported on. Thus with our international affairs. We intervene because there are places that practically beg for intervening. They exist, and therefore we must.

And so the US keeps doing the same thing over and over. We find an opposition group in a country where we want some regime change, we funnel money, we arm, we intervene. It has become so expected, this interventionism, that every group or party opposed to a US-hostile regime or government invokes America’s name as its savior who must step in for the sake of democracy. The pressure is tremendous. We now intervene because “they want us to intervene.” The kink in this reasoning is that “they” are never the country as a whole, but only a faction that we have chosen to support. What we end up with after all those collateral deaths are puppet governments incapable of ruling their countries or keeping them together; what we get are scores that will wait to be settled until the US is no longer in the picture, i.e. violence postponed.  And we should remember that it is only in propaganda that “they” are transformed into “freedom fighters” from the fanatics and fascists that our allies so often are. Even now, knowing who the opposition really is in Syria — Al Qaeda affiliates gaining experience for future fights elsewhere — we are sending in armaments to help bring down Assad. The idea seems to be “we’ll deal with the terrorist problem later.” General Dempsey recently said before the Atlantic Council regarding Syria “I’ve heard it described as a succession of conflicts. You have the conflict that currently exists; then there’ll be the second conflict, which is kind of an internal conflict; and then there’ll be the third conflict against the terrorist organizations that are growing. That’s probably right.”  Is this a sane foreign policy?

In Ukraine, the US has met the unmovable object. It was irresistible for the US and the Eastern European fringe of NATO to try to snatch the cradle of Russia right from under Russia’s nose and hopefully make Crimea a US naval base in the near future. Talk about encirclement wet dreams! But the Russians were ready with plans no doubt long in the perfecting. It was able to prevent the establishment of the new regime’s authority in southeastern Ukraine and as the prize for enduring such insulting US treatment of Russian interests, it took Crimea without a single shot fired and without having to invade. It is prepared to invade southeastern Ukraine if need be, but that seems unlikely now. Instead we had a referendum, however flawed, showing a strong anti-Kiev vote (whipped up by Kiev’s inept military assault against the “terrorists”) and a subsequent request from Donetsk authorities for annexation by Russia. Russia is being coyly silent about the request, but the tacit threat is real: continue meddling in Ukraine, and we’ll accept the request for annexation. This ace in the hole gives Russia what it needs to force an agreement for a federal Ukraine with significant powers held by the provinces. That in turn ensures Russia’s continued dominant influence in southeastern Ukraine that will almost certainly make it impossible for Ukraine to join NATO — Russia’s ultimate goal.

tar babyThat the strategy is succeeding is suggested by the sudden visit to Ukraine by the German Foreign Minister to encourage direct talks between the two parties and rumors that Kiev is being pressured to accept the federal solution. Germany is the number one opponent of any action by NATO vis-a-vis Ukraine and will spare no effort in heading off the American hawks. It isn’t just war with Russia that frightens, but the damage further sanctions can do to the German economy. The US meanwhile continues its tough talk, in an increasingly futile effort to look like it is still in control of events unleashed by its proxies in Kiev. The one bright spot is that, so far, the US has resisted the temptation to haul off and whack the tar baby one more time. That is good. If we put our boots in Ukraine or try to fly over and drop some bombs, the US would find out what it’s like to be stuck so deep you can’t get out — no matter how much you want to.

 


There’ll be a change in the weather

supposed imageryI am absorbed with events in Ukraine. There is a growing possibility that a military confrontation between NATO and Russia is in the offing. If things go awry, I’d bet right now that it will be occasioned by the miscalculation by NATO of Russia’s will to fight on its 10-yard line. NATO thinks if things get tough enough for Moscow economically, or if NATO ramps up its military presence in Russia’s backyard sufficiently, Russia will break. Moscow will decide it doesn’t want to test NATO, it will cry uncle and give back Crimea and put its troops and military equipment somewhere far from the Ukrainian border so NATO doesn’t have to worry.

Of course that is a big load of horse poop. Russia isn’t going to do any such thing. Russia is mad as hell and it isn’t going to take it anymore. NATO has vastly increased the security of its original founding members over the past twenty years by eating away at Russia’s safety zone. It did so in violation of an agreement between western heads of state and high officials with their counterparts in the USSR that NATO would not expand eastward. And in exchange for that security guarantee, the USSR withdrew 400,000 troops from eastern Europe and made possible German reunification and continued NATO membership. I read today that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that an agreement (such as that with Gorbachev) made between officials authorized to make such agreements has legal standing as a treaty, even if oral and thus not ratified by the Senate. So from the start of Russia’s rebirth as a non-communist nation, it has seen the West renege on commitments vital to Russian interests.

NATO has gone as far as it can go without provoking a predictably horrible ending. The US deliberately flaunted its support for the mob in Kiev that ousted a legal government, immediately adopted the self-declared authorities as its own, and now is pushing itself more aggressively into internal Ukrainian affairs. It is patently clear that the objective is to “score” Ukraine for the western team, thus denying it to Russia. Victoria Nuland was choosing government officials in an intercepted conversation, and I hear John Brennan, the  man who tries to be the least untruthful he possibly can, has already been in Kiev advising. Our military is everywhere, working with the police and military. This is exactly what NATO did in Kosovo prior to their bombing — they used their “legal” cover to carry out subversive activities including liaison and coordination with the KLA and target acquisition. So I don’t get it — how do they think making Russia hyper-reactive and utterly paranoid is making Ukraine more secure? If I know what the US is up to in Kiev, so do the Russians and in far greater detail. If we turn Kiev into an anti-Russian bastion, its future is in dire peril. And the only way that the US can protect it is with war.

So here we are again at this fundamental question: do Americans want to die in Ukraine for a non-NATO member in opposition to the regional power with a rightful and vital interest in what happens in Ukraine? Russia cannot ignore or be indifferent to whether Ukraine, under the impulse of an illegal overthrow of power, moves into an enemy military alliance,  or whether it is a friendly neutral nation that doesn’t threaten Russia or anybody else.

There are all kinds of rumors floating around that NATO is planning on deploying missiles in Poland. To what end? Such a missile system isn’t going to save Poland  if Russia and NATO go to war. That is a pipe dream. Even back in the 50s we knew that nobody wins a nuclear war, and Russia will use nukes rather than tolerate NATO aggression. All that deploying a  missile defense is going to do is further heat up the re-arming and re-militarization of Europe. Russia is apparently dumping the US dollar for its gas and oil trade, it is reconfiguring its industry to enhance self-reliance and it is dealing like crazy with China. We are at the point of diminishing returns. The uglier NATO gets in its tone toward Russia, the hotter the Russian nationalist fire is burning. And they are igniting the pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine at the same time. This is the scary story many Russians grew up on, NATO with a knife at Russia’s throat.  Now Russians see this as not about Ukraine at all, but about Russia and long-time foe NATO. Their reactions from here on are going to be those of a nation that perceives itself to be under immediate threat.

I won’t be around in thirty years when historians are writing about this period of history, but I think this is the point at which the unipolar world collapses, just as did the USSR. We can actually see the new balance of power emerging. It is the first time since 1991 that NATO has had any opposition to its will worth mentioning, only third-rate opponents that could never hope to fend off NATO militarily. Now it is between the big boys. Will it be war or some form of mutually acceptable accommodation?


And one thing begets another…and so on

natoukrainaThere has been the first outbreak of violence in newly-annexed Crimea. Snipers fired on a military base guarded by the Crimean Self-Defense force. According to RT, the events took place at a small  Ukrainian military topography research center, and the majority  of the staff who work there are women. The center’s area is  rather small, and servicemen have only six machine guns and three  Makarov guns to provide security. The center reportedly decided  to join up with Crimea and Russia and was preparing paperwork to go over. The snipers launched the attack from a nearby high-rise apartment building under construction of some kind, drab in the way only the communists can do. Two people were killed including a Ukrainian soldier and a local self-defense force member.

There were two known snipers, one of whom escaped and one of whom is in Russian hands. The initial information is the sniper is a 17-year old from Lvov (or Lviv as the Ukrainians spell it) near the Polish border. It is rumored he is a member of Right Sector, the party of the goon who suggested blowing up Ukraine’s pipelines. According to the authorities, the previous evening there had been attempted break-ins at several military bases in the region. Rossiya  24 is showing footage of three leather-jacketed thugs roughing up a pro-Russian deputy in his office at the Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev. His crime had been watching Putin’s speech on tv.

At the same time, in Sevastopol, at the HQ of Ukrainian fleet, a mob stormed the premises, hauled down the Ukrainian flag and replaced it with Russia’s flag. They demanded the Ukrainians leave the base. After “negotiations,” the commanding officer and thirty Ukrainian naval personnel left the premises. The Russians said they have authorization now to use force to defend themselves following the events at Simferopol in Crimea.

dogsThese are not encouraging signs. We are hanging over a precipice. There are many hands in the pie now, meddling has gone into hyper-drive. My suspicion is that rabid anti-Russians in NATO countries like Poland and Latvia and Estonia are involved and have been since before the events of Maidan. Russia can take eastern Ukraine at any moment, and Putin said as much in his address welcoming the Crimeans into the Russian Federation. A break-away region of Moldova (a former Soviet republic) that has its own government has now petitioned Russia for annexation. It is pro-Russia with a population equally divided between Russians, Ukrainians and Moldovans. There is Abkhazia and South Ossetia, all pawns on Russia’s side of the board. Every step forward now rests on a fragile basis. Russians will be making a list and checking it twice. It will not tolerate further NATO encroachment on its borders. There will be an immediate response if NATO pushes to absorb these currently non-threatening territories into the western military alliance, depriving Russia of its last buffers. In that case, Russia will take its only remaining viable option and absorb those territories for itself before NATO can do it. Russia will perhaps move on one or more fronts on the assumption that is better to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

I do think that Europe, at least, is loath to go to war for any reason at all. Their economies could really be hurt by the tit-for-tat sanctions that seem to be ready to escalate in an instant and they have no interest in risking nuclear annihilation for a government that has been corrupt ever since it declared its independence and isn’t even a NATO member. And even prominent analysts in the west are speaking out against escalating the quarrel with Russia. Jack Matlock, a career diplomat and former US ambassador to Moscow, argues that Russia should be allowed to have Crimea which would remove a “complicating” factor in patchwork Ukraine defining a national identity.

The biggest hawks are in the US, far from the tensions that are gripping the Europeans. The GOP is mistakenly taking this conflict between Russia and Ukraine as America’s big chance to show we’re still top dog. Their campaign theme will perhaps be “Nuke Russia.” Or maybe “Nuke Iran.” And of course China did not vote on the US side in the Security Council, so maybe “Nuke China.” John McCain in particular needs his lips sewn shut so he can stop embarrassing himself. Here is an instance in which I personally bless Obama’s inability to take action. We need to pause and reset (for real). Russia needs a security buffer. One still exists. NATO’s choice is to allow this status to continue without disturbing it and thus calm the Russian bear; or become even more aggressive in seeking to draw the concerned countries into NATO’s military web. In which case, the snowballing of events will continue, picking up speed and slipping from our clumsy hands.

This is a moment when what our future is depends on how the West responds. Is this a crusade or the real world?