Ooobie on Everything

McCain Wins. Trump Succumbs to Terminal Stupidity, Taunts Russia to Strike Back

This is the straw that broke this camel’s back. Trump will never get my vote again. I won’t be voting for his communist opposition, but that won’t help Trump.

I voted for him because he said he was sick of seeing the US fight phony wars for phony reasons. We needed to bring the troops home, secure our border. He has done none of any of it. He isn’t a pragmatist, a realist, a thinker, he is a deal-maker, and boy, is that ever what we are getting. Lots and lots of deals with Democrats, a supine GOP-controlled (hah!) Congress and a fool for a president. Frankly, he deserves what is coming for him, because he proved an utter loser as a leader.

We are on the brink of war. Putin has said that Russia will blow the missiles and the carriers that launch them out of the air and sea. Trump says, oh, yeah? We have lots of missiles and can blow you and Syria to smithereens! Go home, Russia! Or else! And behind him stand small the UK and France, co-conspirators in this farce, and all those other countries like Germany who wouldn’t mind heading by tank to Moscow, again. In the end, what they all want is the stupid Americans to settle their centuries-old quarrels. Forget that Russia has been invaded by Poland, Sweden, France, and Germany multiple times. Russia should shut up and enjoy it. A moan of pleasure would be appreciated.

So in the end, Trump actually swallowed the Russian conspiracy theory. Think about it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel truly sanguine about this. Here is an illegal military bloc (our guys, of course) banding together  on a cooked up cw incident (their favorite kind, always impossible to prove!) to wage war and risk nuclear war. The latest pronouncements from the US are so inflammatory and provocative (as they have been now for two years) that any nation would be forced to respond forcefully. As in the bogus Skripal cw poisoning in the UK, Russia is asked to confess, this time that the US is right about long-term ally Assad and accede to another US illegal war. Absent any form of evidence that there even was a cw attack, other than a spurious video of suffering children. Trump told Putin to get his guys out of the area or get destroyed by the US. And what do you think Putin is going to do?

I read that Theresa May is hesitant to go to war against Russia based on cw claims. Understandably, having been snookered by UK and US intelligence in the faux cw attack on England, she might want to see something more than a video made by a personal phone. Especially when the Russians have been to the site and assert there is no cw trace, no victims, no reported respiratory emergencies that were cw-related. Especially since the OPCW that is supposed to stop the use of cw, even by US proxies, has agreed to Russian and Syrian demands for an urgent investigation at the site allegedly hit with who knows what. Chlorine, or even maybe it could be chlorine and a nerve agent, also unknown. There’s the bottom line: unknown. We know squat other than that somebody brought a heart-rending video and spread it around among the Agit-Prop corps on CNN and MSNBC. This made Americans so sad, used as they are to Hollywood tripe, that they supposedly now are ready for war with Russia. The Russian Government alleges that the rush to military action is intended to strike the area at issue and leave nothing behind with which to conduct an OPCW investigation. It makes me sick to know that I think they’re right.

I have a big announcement for the war-makers of America: the era is over when the US can decide who is bad, what he can and cannot do, when he has to leave government and who can govern in other countries — when we ginned up false flag operations to pave the way for a long-anticipated war. As the Russian UN ambassador said, who named the US world policeman, jury, executioner? I’ll tell you who. The military-industrial complex and all the US officials in all branches whom they have put in place with their war booty. Why do you think Arlington and Fairfax Counties, snuggled up and sucking at the Federal teat in Virginia, are the richest places in America? Coincidence?

I’m getting this out before they shut down the internet for security reasons, which would be to stop the outpouring of anger at Trump’s stupidity in capitulating to the McCains of America. The internet it hopping with the outrage of people who were led down the garden path by the bungling Trump, led to believe his wishes for a better US-Russia relationship and an end to regime change. As Trump has demonstrated with China as well, he’s pretty contemptuous of the other guy unless the other guy goes along with Donald. This kind of relationship may hold for a moment, while the other guys recalculate and rearm massively, but eventually it ends in conflict.

If there were an anti-war movement in America, I would be part of it. Instead I hear only rabid jingoism from our media, barring OAN and Tucker Carlson. Americans are frothing at the mouth in a mindless hysteria, wanting to wreak havoc on Russia. Our Russophobia, so helpful to the arms industry and its many tentacles, is destroying international stability. But if that’s what it takes to open up some new arms sales, and to launch the bombs, so be it. The Agit-Prop agents won’t talk about the likelihood that the cw attack was false or the reality that we Americans go to war when the Generals tell us to. And the Generals’ armorers.

This is really the twilight of the American Empire, the glory of which once shone out to Americans as a reason for optimism. We squandered the greatest power any empire ever knew, gifted to us for our persistence in simple defensive military and political/diplomatic policy that allowed the natural demise of the grotesque Soviet system to occur. But we took it as some Iwo Jima moment, look, we won! we won! We were arrogant and pushy and greedy and totally oblivious to the damage we were leaving in our wake, as we decided who could rule and who could not and used our military to make it happen. Now we have decided it is time to cage Russia in and punish it “very bad,” as our ignorant president says. But our Congress has decided it is not a big enough issue to open to debate and a vote for war. Trump has limited war-making powers, and they say this with a straight face knowing the potential that it is not only limited, but full out war. Let us see what happens.


The Spirit of Oppression

I find the atmosphere of the no-longer quite free America suffocating. I watch people who want us to trust and believe them in their role as journalists openly  carry out the function of party propaganda organ for the Democrats. They gloat in their new-found freedom to lie, cheat and manipulate, without need for plausible deniability, because now it has been declared (by them) to be patriotic and noble to lie to Americans and hoodwink them as often as possible. They are engaged in jihad against a Bogey-man who is nominally Donald Trump, but in reality is you and I and everybody else who will vote for him. Look at the duplicitous fool Dan Rather, who tried to tilt an election with phony material, advocating to American Left thuggery that they “shame” us for supporting Trump. And this from a group of people who have cast all notion of shame aside. Biased, and proud of it! should be stamped across all their heads as a warning. Who would have guessed America was spawning its very own TASS and Pravda?

Trump says  things that are stupid, but his words are instantly exaggerated or distorted by the reporters of the Democratic Machine, by the Dems, and by the Republican Royalist camp. I can only wonder at the number of worms that have come wriggling out from the decaying mass of the GOP, in a frenzy to be seen as Clinton supporters. “I understood exactly what he meant, but he needs to be more careful with his words!” struggles with “Ugh, he said something mean and petty and is unfit to serve!” (The latter from, say, billionaire Mitt Romney, or any unknown Podunk Republican trying to hold onto that sinecure in whatever publicly-funded body he pollutes.) I am utterly disgusted with The Disgusted. They deserve what they are going to get.

The point is, if you question every word out of a person’s mouth, twisting it cleverly to say something never said or  meant, that person just might choose to shut up. Of course, it will never work with Trump. But for the record, let me point out the lack of outrage from the same crowd of Republican Elite and Democrats when Elizabeth Warren said she wanted Ted Cruz, I believe, to disappear. I get the feeling that disappearing people and ideas and whole cultures seems to be the number one goal of the left and, by gum, the Bushies are down for that.

As Trump is blackened and brutalized, Mrs. Clinton is protected. The media and the Establishment drown out the stories of her email treachery, her psychopathic lying, the DNC hackings that revealed manipulation of the primaries, the dirty Clinton Foundation/State Department nexus, or her bad health. They cover up such things as Abedin’s email comment that Clinton “is easily confused.” Where is the medical report, Hillary? I promise, they’ll black out your weight.

We are now truly living in the Age of Transformation, where the lines between branches of government, the media, the military and the judiciary are all disappearing and what is emerging is The State. We are lied to routinely by both the government and the media on matters both domestic and foreign, and challenging the lie becomes a dangerous thing to do. The Pentagon spokesman, an Admiral, suddenly morphs into the State Department spokesman. The IRS sends its crooked chief to stonewall before Congress about politically targeting subjects of special “investigation” in order to nullify their political voice. Cops have a target on their back from the Black Lives Matter contingent, recently honored at the Democratic Convention. The religious are ridiculed (where’s our Hate Crime legislation, Obama?) and murdered in the Middle East, but the people we are bringing in in large numbers from the regions we are destroying are the Muslims. What is wrong with this picture?

 


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 your 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.


Human Rights and Foreign Policy

humrtsHo-hum, human rights. The issue has become so over-used that just hearing the words makes my mind wander off to more interesting subjects. The thing is, human rights was Jimmy Carter’s brain child and it is made in his image — full of idealism and poorly adapted to reality. Human rights today is the only thing that it could possibly be — a political football.

The issue that immediately comes to mind is the just-issued report from a UN panel or committee or “body of nosy parkers” about the situation in Ukraine. I am looking for the original report, but the Fox News synopsis says the report “suggests” an increase in violence in southeastern Ukraine by the “insurgents” or “armed groups” (never Freedom Fighters). The report calls on Russia to urge restraint on those who were behind the “violent take-over of towns” that was made possible by local politicians and police engaged in illegal activity. The report assures the pro-Russian Ukrainians that the government in Kiev means them no harm and there is no reason for any kind of uprising against the government. If this description of the report’s conclusions is correct, then it is hard not to take Russia’s view that the report is a whitewash of the reality in Ukraine in the service of the US and NATO. A rather bone-headed one, at that, as it ignored major human rights’ abuses that continue to this day against the pro-Russians (and not just where the patched-together Ukrainian military is trying to bomb the resisters out, but in Kiev itself). There was never, for example, any follow-up on the “widely accepted view” that the snipers were trained in Poland and Lithuania. No, it was the Berkut riot police. No proof, but hey. And of course the report didn’t concern itself with Kiev; the goal was to whip up some sort of official sounding document in no time flat that absolutely confuted every argument the pro-Russians could ever have for resisting Kiev, thereby making the “insurgent struggle” illegal and unacceptable in the eyes of that phantom “international community.” As if such a conclusion would put paid to what by now is a genuine civil war.

The report made no reference to the burning alive of 40 or so people who had taken refuge from a Kiev-loyal group of paramilitary thugs who were armed and extremely violent. The latter threw Molotov Cocktails into the building and set it afire. Others made it out of the building but were then killed — beaten to death — by the Kiev fighters. A Kiev official even apologized saying it was an accident. Then we got the revised explanation: the victims had “accidentally set the building on fire.” They killed themselves, it seems. And it apparently satisfied the EU and Washington, who took the line they no doubt suggested to Kiev and played it back for the world. Terrible tragedy, those guys shouldn’t be fighting Kiev, tsk tsk. Ho-hum.

Instead the report seems to have been obsessed by the detentions of journalists, suspected Kiev spies, and western military attaches parading as (and apparently ex post-facto deputed as) OSCE “observers.”  For observers, they showed a bit too much concern for observers’ safety issues for good taste. They ought to have focused on the fear and suffering of the Ukrainian population. Just my opinion.

political footballBut this is just one example of the double standards of human rights, which utterly undermines the credibility of the subject. Here are a few more: NATO bombed Serbia for 70+ days because of alleged ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. However, when the Kosovar Albanians who had been given Serbian territory as a gift from NATO began their own ethnic cleansing against Serbs, well, there was nothing NATO or the US or the EU could do, was there? NATO couldn’t very well bomb again, could it? So it downplayed the significance of the Kosovar Albanian violations of human rights and the outflow of Serbs from the province. Nor did subsequent investigations into NATO’s contentions of “mass graves” and other Serb atrocities prove the claims true.

Or how about this one: in Honduras, both of the country’s major parties agreed that the populist left-wing president had violated the Constitution by illegally preparing ballots (in Venezuela!) for an illegal referendum to change the Constitution and allow him to stay in power. The legislature voted to impeach him and remove him from office, the judiciary had already ruled that it was a Constitutional violation, and the president was arrested. Then the Hondurans sent him into exile to Costa Rica, that tropical playground, rather than jail him. This exile was then twisted into a human rights violation, allowing the US and the OAS and other “human rights” champions to claim that the Hondurans had illegally removed an elected president and had to allow him back home to resume his role as president. Imagine. The Hondurans defied the US, for once, and defended their Constitution (one the US had backed strongly) rather than do as the US wanted. Then we come to Ukraine again — where a mob of people who were protesting government corruption and other grievances were used as a springboard to power by the opposition, elements of which were involved in the killings that triggered events. This putsch was immediately recognized by Washington and all the major European capitals as well and good. Even if their legislature in Kiev voted under duress for a change of president, the Western arbiters of legitimacy declared the vote fine and got down to directing the junta in its “roadmap” to fend off Russia. How can a junta be legal, and yet a legal impeachment and removal of a president be illegal? It’s all a matter of what your interests are.

chrkillOr look at Egypt, where we were light-headed with euphoria (or Hillary Clinton was) at the Arab Spring’s results. The Beast, Mubarak (a close friend, despite being thoroughly corrupt, since the 80’s) was dumped in a heartbeat to let the people’s voice be heard. Of course, it was the voice of the Moslem Brotherhood, which immediately launched a campaign of murder and harassment of Christians and non-backers of militant Islam. The US had to zip its lip or look stupid, but Washington was not against the military taking control to oust the Moslem Brotherhood. Today the military de facto rules Egypt. Good going. So in one country we can’t seem to make up our minds which set of human rights abuses are tolerable and which aren’t.

I could go on and on, and all of you can add a few yourselves, to the list. But I won’t go on. It’s too boring.

 


Here we go, take a deep breath…

people jumpingWe are at the very precipice, the very eleventh hour before Russia invades eastern Ukraine to stop the mayhem that is now spiraling out of control. My husband and I agree that the military operation underway in eastern Ukraine by the so-called Army and Kiev’s leading fascist group is being run with the advice of NATO (US in first place) military and intelligence. The Right Sector is probably coordinating with the Army but they are doing their own vicious thing there, and it is igniting the eastern Ukrainians as never before, literally. This is the perverse effect of murdering whole groups of people you don’t like, by however brutal a means is available. Burning them to death or forcing them to jump to death to escape the fire is as good as a laser ray as far as these testosterone-laden Neanderthals of the far right are concerned.

The Russians got it right when they said that this new violence against the pro-Russians has taken things to the point of no return. Russia went to the UNSC but know as well as anybody that this is not going to do anything or go anywhere. Nevertheless the Russians have been busy checking off all the boxes, from the quick Geneva accord that obligated both sides to disarm thugs and free occupied public buildings, to the multiple appearances at the UNSC, to intervention to free from the pro-Russian forces the western military attaches to Kiev masquerading as OSCE observers. Kiev decided it could escape the need to try (fruitlessly) to disarm the Right Sector and its allied goon squads in western Ukraine by deputizing same and “allowing” them to continue “guarding” the public places. Russia in return did nothing to calm down its side, which is now busy agitating that ancient Russian instinct to rally when the village bell sounds warning. People are dying now. A 70-year old eastern Ukrainian told a reporter that the people have no choice but to take to the streets now, they are abandoned by everyone and must defend themselves however they can. This is civil war, not the earlier stalking and marking of territory by proxies of the two chief foes, Washington and Moscow. Now the population in both Russia and eastern Ukraine is engaged and angry and frightened. Every ugly thing they ever heard about NATO is very real for them now.

For those who think NATO is trying to calm things down, the comments by Alexander (Sandy) Vershbow the other day should give pause. Vershbow is very smart and somewhat scholarly, a professional US diplomat who served as US Ambassador to both Moscow and to NATO. In his retirement years, he has become a no doubt highly-paid NATO apparatchik and it was in this capacity that he was speaking. What he said was that NATO now (reluctantly) had to put Russia in the enemy category. Also as a consequence, NATO should start beefing up its eastern member states militarily and even arming the remaining buffer states (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) with so-called defensive arms immediately.  This is a man with a deep knowledge of Russia and he’s demanding NATO rush to encircle Russia as far as it can and to do so in the spirit of enmity? I ask you: what is Russia to do? How is Russia to react?

great gameWhatever Russia may have wanted prior to the Kiev putsch, it was faced afterwards with a situation that directly affected its vital interests (the ultimate alliance of Ukraine). The EU was aggressively pushing its own interests as opposed to Russia’s and in many ways to the disadvantage of Russia, and Moscow knew that the ultimate goal was Ukraine’s membership in NATO. It was with reference to this that Putin, after he annexed Crimea, said that had Russia not acted, the historic Russian territory would be hosting a NATO naval base. It was not going to happen. Russia is world-class when it comes to Realpolitik. After Kiev it was clear where this was heading. No international organization was going to keep Ukraine out of NATO, so Russia would have to do it — through forceful diplomacy or force. Moscow has pushed negotiations aimed at creating a federal state in Ukraine that gives eastern Ukrainians equal power with Kiev and treaty-based neutrality for the nation. EU/NATO and their puppet regime in Kiev reject federalization although they have deigned to recognize the majority-language of eastern Ukraine (Russian) as a legitimate and legal language (although not through legislation). Their overt concern is that Russia will manipulate that federalism to Kiev’s disadvantage. As for neutrality, it is of no interest whatsoever to the ever-expanding western military bloc.

Now Russia will do what the US would do in an analogous situation (far more serious than that in, say, Grenada in the 1980s). It will invade and occupy and reassert order. And whether the outcome is federalism or an independent eastern Ukraine or an annexed eastern Ukraine, things are unlikely to revert to the status quo ante.

Everything beyond that certainty is open to chance. How will NATO respond? Can  Germany continue to block US ambitions to push NATO right up physically to Russia’s border? And how about our publics? In the US, a WSJ poll just found that a majority of Americans want a pull-back in America’s presence abroad and an end to wars. By a huge margin they want the US to keep out of Ukraine and let the Russians do what they will. They oppose war against Syria. They don’t think the US owes Ukraine anything, much less a defense against Russia. In Germany, there is plenty of opposition to NATO expansion and threats against Russia, and don’t even mention the possibility of going to war against Russia. This sector wants Germany to keep out of the Russia-Ukraine squabble and in many European countries there is a strong resistance to any further economic sanctions. Despite the unanimity of will NATO leaders point to, it doesn’t exist. The fractures are there and they are deep and NATO’s latest threats against Russia have inaugurated a new era in international politics.

 


Top Three Reasons for Russia to Take Eastern Ukraine: Location, location, location

Ethnolingusitic_map_of_ukraineThe Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Gen. Philip Breedlove, has told the US Congress that Russia is building up forces along its border with Ukraine. He worries that these alleged military exercises are neither exercises nor consistent with peaceful intentions. He thinks Russia is about to take over eastern Ukraine. I also read that the Pentagon claims the Russians are camouflaging their men and equipment, and that raises suspicions as well. Of course, troops on maneuver do use camouflage and so maybe it’s just camouflage. Maybe it’s just exercises. But NATO thinks not. The western military bloc doesn’t want to be caught asleep at the switch again, so soon after the Crimean embarrassment, and so now everything Russia does makes them jump. But NATO could be right. It could be home-coming time for the eastern Ukraine.

I haven’t gotten a call on my red phone telling me what Putin is really planning. If I had to guess, I’d say he is, like a good Boy Scout, always prepared.  I also have an idea what he is saying to the West: Here we are; we are ready to roll; we will roll if need be. We will ourselves start WWIII rather than allow NATO (the alliance in which old foe Germany is the US deputy) one more inch of territory toward our borders. We will answer sanction with sanction and if Russians suffer, so will you. Kiev is where the Russian nation was born and the territory is vital to Russian security in many ways. If Russia can prevent it, Ukraine will never be a member of an enemy military bloc.

I know that it is an EU association that Yanukovych rejected in favor of a Russian offer, not a NATO association. But in fact the EU has been NATO’s cat’s paw in bringing more countries into the Alliance. Where goes the EU, there goes NATO. Unfortunately, the disorder spreading throughout Ukraine is not going to be contained from Bonn, from Washington, or even from Warsaw, which is implicated in the sniper shootings at Independence Square in Kiev. You can say “those dirty Russians,” but the violence is real and it is ethnically-based. With five billion dollars worth of US encouragement, per the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, the western Ukrainians flipped the bird to Russia and to the eastern Ukrainians and now it is a no holds barred fight. Russia is exploiting the resentments between these two intimately-related Slavic tribes for all they are worth; and the western Ukrainians are counting on the EU, US and NATO to pull their anti-Russian chestnuts out of the fire. Russians are being hounded and persecuted by extreme right Ukrainian thugs, whom neither the EU nor US seem able to control, while Russians won’t hesitate to use the back of their hand or the pressures of a mob against the Ukrainians. None of this was necessary.

failed stateUkraine is in grave danger of falling apart under pressure of ethnic strains, weak rule of law, and a divided national identity. It is in dire peril of becoming a  failed state as defined by NATO.  A failed state is something that explicitly would, under NATO doctrine, allow NATO to intervene militarily and unilaterally as a preventative humanitarian action. Of course, that apparently only applies in cases where NATO holds the clear upper hand. In the case of eastern Ukraine, I think it will be the Russians who assert their moral obligation and absolute right to intervene in the Ukrainian failed state to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. As the Russians are the heavy majority in eastern Ukraine, that rationale certainly has some gravitas.

Here’s another thing to consider, one of many ills to result from this stupid confrontation: Russia is now committed to investing many, many billions into defense research and development of new weapons systems, upgrading or more likely replacement of outworn equipment, and improved military training. The Russians have even offered to give the Ukrainians the military equipment that belongs to the units that refused to go over to Russia. I have to assume that is because the equipment is worthless or close to it. No doubt Russia will be happy to share its latest generation military output with any number of other countries who might or might not be on a US/NATO blacklist and who are willing to pay for what they get. Russia will before long be a threat, once again, to US military might and certainly so within the Russian sphere of influence.

And back to eastern Ukraine — if Russia has concluded that this is going to come to confrontation with the EU and NATO sooner or later, it will absolutely need to make Crimea into a naval fortress armed to the gills. Armed perhaps with tactical nuclear weapons and/or medium range missiles. And to do that and secure its fortress, it needs its eastern transport corridor, from Russia through a region heavily populated by Russian speakers, to Crimea, predominantly ethnic Russian. From this perspective, it should be assumed that Russia will, indeed, take that corridor. I would also assume Russia has activated within other areas of eastern (and western) Ukraine cells for the creation of disorder to impede any military action by Kiev or its allies in reaction to an occupation and incorporation of eastern Ukraine into Russia.

Tneutralityhese are very dangerous times. It’s at a moment like this I weep with relief that John McCain isn’t the president. I find comfort that from both Europe and America, from the right and the left, from the ordinary observer and from the experts, comes the voice of reason. We need a step-down by both sides and a reconsideration of true European security imperatives. Crimea may be part of Russia and not open to discussion, but the larger question of a buffer zone between the political rivals remains unsettled. Treaty-guaranteed neutrality of the last non-NATO countries born of the former Russian Empire would defuse the NATO-Russia quarrel without damaging the fundamental security interests of the countries involved. Austria thrived for a long time as middle ground where both sides did their business and dropped their money. Finland has made itself prosperous catering to the interests of the USSR and then the Russian Federation and any move to NATO status can only damage that economy. These other countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus) would be wise to think about what they want to be, and whether being the point man for NATO, with a short life expectancy, is more in their interests than playing the favored nephew to both East and West. We all have to decide if we will thrive together or perish apart.

 

 

 


Russia Annexes Crimea

CrimeaI just watched Vladimir Putin address the Russian Federal Assembly, including Duma and Federation Council deputies, regional governors and public figures. When Putin entered, the audience clapped wildly and then stood to their feet. Putin was nearly in tears and at first had trouble speaking. This was a historic moment. Russia was taking back what belonged to it and screw NATO. And that is the bottom line of what Putin said, bringing tears to the eyes of his audience and joy to their faces.

kosmpaKosovo indeed was a linchpin of Russia’s legal argument, which had several other legs, including protection of human rights, self-determination, and the right to defend ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers. Putin skewered NATO, pointing out that the Alliance went to war against Serbia without any UN authorization, in absolute violation of international law, on the grounds that there were a lot of human rights abuses and victims in Kosovo. Putin looked incredulous and said: if you can ignore international law on the basis of human rights, then Russia is on solid ground. It was deeply concerned about potential human rights violations, which thank God, he said, had not happened, and why, he asked, didn’t they? Because Russia acted swiftly to protect the Russians and pro-Russians in Crimea, who turned to Russia’s government with a request for help. You can be sure, he said, that if we hadn’t acted there would have been many human rights violations. Putin listed as evidence all the actions the illegal government in Kiev had taken against Russians, from threats to physical violence to cultural suppression. As for its military movements, Russia had not invaded Ukraine, though it could have. It did not kill anybody. It had done nothing beyond the limits of existing military and legal agreements regarding Crimea.

Furthermore, Crimea had not been consulted or given a voice when the territory was transferred from Russia to Ukraine under the Soviet regime. A historic injustice, Putin said, and  one worsened by the subsequent governments because “we” did not make a more urgent issue of the territorial delineation talks that the Ukrainians had obstructed from the beginning, refusing to allow clarification of the future for Crimea and other areas. Think about what would happen to us if NATO made Ukraine a member: the Russian fleet would be surrounded by NATO. Russia’s belly would be open to the enemy. This isn’t going to happen, he declared. The injustices had now been righted. For the first time ever, the Crimeans were given the chance to vote on their future and they voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. And now, he announced, Russia and Crimea were one. All the steps were being taken to integrate Crimea into the Federation. Putin said Russia absolutely guaranteed the Tatars their special rights, as fellows of the Crimean peninsula, including full rights to preserve their culture and religion and language as distinct from other nations. He declared Crimea to belong to Russians, Ukrainians and Tatars equally and declared all three languages to be official languages of the Crimean peninsula.

Putin cited Libya and Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria and Serbia as places where NATO and the US had set international precedents that today Russia is using to defend its own genuine vital interests, and the west rejects Russia’s and others’ right to do so. Why? he asked. Because it wasn’t in their interests to have Ukraine allied with Russia. Putin scoffed at NATO’s claim that Kosovo was a “special case” and not a precedent. He listed all the subsequent actions taken to give an international imprimatur to the actions taken by NATO in Serbia, including UN blessings for the independence of Kosovo. It was established law, now, he said: the UN had declared that (and he quoted) national law (Constitutions, e.g.) does not require a group asserting the right to secede to gain the approval of any central authorities nor can domestic law (Constitution) be cited as a reason to deny a people’s right to self-determination. Thus the assertion that Crimea had violated Ukrainian law by asserting its independence was simply wrong according to the UN itself.

natothreatI think there is a dawning recognition, at least in Europe, that Crimea’s majority did want to secede and join Russia and that Russia has been pushed by NATO as far as it will permit. It will not allow further threats from NATO, nor further encroachment on Russian borders. Putin himself stated flatly that Russia did not have any intention of invading any NATO countries, so that was a false issue. As for Ukraine, he did not directly say he wanted a neutral Ukraine, but only that Russia wants an undivided Ukraine that respects the equal rights of the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Tatars. He said Ukraine had changed government illegally, with the participation of far right elements who provoked the violence and the ousting of a legal government. Ukraine had to observe its own laws because to do otherwise risks destabilization of Ukraine due to its mixed population. He did make clear that Ukraine is a special zone for Russia, a land in which Russians were co-equal, that those sitting in Kiev are traitors to Ukraine and Russia, and that Ukraine is not going to fall to NATO. Other than that, Russia can deal with Ukraine’s normal relations with the west. He even said Russia doesn’t object to cooperation with NATO, but solely if such cooperation is non-military (such as disaster reaction). It doesn’t seek to subjugate Ukraine. But Ukraine will never be allowed to be a threat to Russia. (That earned another standing ovation.)

Putin’s address was a masterful use of national pride and national humiliation, feelings he obviously shared, to further Russian national interests. He admitted that there were those opposed to Russia’s position within Russia itself, but described such disagreement as normal and asserted forcefully that the vast majority of Russians stand with the government. There was little doubt about that judging from his audience’s reactions. I can only describe it as euphoria, and again I am reminded that the humiliation of nations, such as was indulged in at Versailles at Germany’s expense, only leads to future conflict. The ruined national pride must be recovered and the wrongs made right. Now Gorbachev himself, the man who made possible the collapse of the Soviet Union, has spoken in support of the annexation of Crimea as righting what was done wrongly. This is the moment when Russia’s sense of destiny and self-realization has fully awakened. There is no daylight on these fundamental issues of national survival between the Communist Party and those who ousted it. NATO has to recalculate the costs and benefits of further threats.


Kosovo raises its ugly head

nato and serbiaWay back in 1999, when NATO was revving up the bombers headed for Serbia, the Russians were pleading with the west not to act militarily against Serbia. It was a blatant violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity for a very flimsy reason and it would be a dreadful precedent in future. I bet even then the Russians were thinking of where the Kosovo precedent, set despite Russia’s strenuous opposition, could be used to Russia’s advantage in future. I’m sure one of those places was Ukraine.

kosovosplitToday I watched a press conference in Simferopol by Rustam Temirgaliev, a man who is obviously by name and demeanor someone derived from the Golden Horde of the Mongols. He is the Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Council of Ministers. He began his presentation by asking the press why the West refuses to recognize Crimea’s decision to break from Ukraine, but had no problem recognizing Kosovo’s independence. This, he argued, is a double standard. Temirgaliev also insisted that the post-1991 agreement establishing Ukraine as a nation guaranteed to the people the right to reject an illegal government established by force in Kiev. (I’m sure western Ukrainians had Russia in mind; the Russian part had NATO in mind.) As there had been an unconstitutional seizure of power in Kiev, Crimea would now exercise the right to defend itself (by secession and incorporation into the Russian Federation). Furthermore, he argued, Crimea asserts the same right to self-determination that was used by the US and EU  to partition Serbia and wrest Kosovo from the country. In Crimea, the people now wish, as a result of events in Kiev, to become a subject of the Russian Federation. In that respect, everything is being carried out now to establish the administrative changes that will take place in all fields (banking, currency, police, etc.) The number of flights with western Ukraine have been greatly reduced (by both sides, no doubt) although there are still a couple of flights. Crimea’s civil aviation is being taken under control by Russia’s aviation system.

He also spoke about the Crimean Tatar problem, noting that an official guarantee has been issued that the Tatar language is co-official with Russian, that they have full rights and are guaranteed proportional representation in the legislature, that they can practice freely their culture and religion without interference. (Note: I’m sure there are other goodies thrown in under the table that might guarantee as well the cooperation of the key Tatar authorities in this transition. We will see how that goes.  But that’s tomorrow’s problems.) He was later asked about the rights of the Ukrainians in Crimea, shouldn’t they have the same rights as the Tatars? The Deputy Chairman launched immediately into statistics about Crimean population which have changed slightly with dips in both the Ukrainian and Russian populations but the Russians have 60 percent and 22 percent Tatars and 16 percent Ukrainian. I didn’t hear the rest on that question but I’d guess the gist was that there aren’t enough Ukrainians to be treated like the Tatars (and the unspoken would be “Ukrainian will be an official language when hell freezes over”).

osceTemirgaliev says that there will be international monitors of the election in Crimea and says that the mission members will travel to Crimea via Russia as Ukraine will not allow them to use Ukraine as a transit point (and there is a point where Russia and Crimea are extremely close). He also makes known that the OSCE was asked to send monitors and refused to do so because doing so would recognize Crimea’s referendum. Of course, it is entirely up to the OSCE governments whether they can participate or not — there is no law that says being there to witness and report means we accept you. But that would be the position taken. That way there is no inconvenient evidence in your hands to show the election was actually free and fair, leaving you a future issue to use in this power struggle.

There is much more of a  more mundane but urgent nature (shortages, banking, money, the bureaucracy) but the main points of his press conference internationally are those stated above. It is significant and worth noting because it is the first time I am aware of that the Kosovo precedent is being openly asserted in regard to Ukraine. The Russian legal argument will be very tight and it will be a very tough thing for the EU and US to prove that there is any difference between the precedents set and results of US/EU/NATO action in Serbia and what is underway in Crimea. The ethnic question will be dominant, of course, because self-determination is dominant. And there is no question who the majority is in these areas of Ukraine.

helpI’ve been reading a lot of hawkish commentary lately from people who think that the answer to Russia is to become even more threatening than we already are. The assumption here is very macho: we’re bigger than they are; we’re better than they are: come on, we dare you. But somebody needs to beat some sense into them. Russia is dead serious. NATO is never going to regain Crimea or the eastern part of Ukraine. If it comes to war and the West starts to push Russia, Russia will push back however necessary. All of this for a country of charming people of viciously anti-Semitic sentiment and the potential for the EU and NATO’s biggest nightmare ever. But it isn’t for Ukraine at all, or we’d be pushing national neutrality for Ukraine, not membership in NATO and the EU. It is for power, because NATO and the EU have become the world’s new imperialists. They see no borders to their authority or their right to the use of power. It is all going to boomerang.

 


Putin Takes the Stage: Great Performance

natoukraineI’m watching Vladimir Putin now on Rossiya 24 (satellite tv) in a brilliant press conference of the sort Obama can only dream of giving. The Russian leader is speaking spontaneously (the way Marco Rubio can) from the heart and he is speaking directly to the heart of every Russian in the world. This is that long-awaited NATO-Russia moment and Putin is quietly furious. There is no other word for it. He is quite proper with the press. He appears to be calm and at ease and friendly. His arguments are multi-faceted and factual but emotional, too. The putsch in Kiev he calls a “coup” and then explains why it is legally an armed and anti-constitutional overthrow of a legal government. He says every single post-Soviet Ukrainian government has left the poor and disenfranchised Ukrainians as bad off as ever, and he names the culprits, the ex- and current presidents of Ukraine. He admits that Russia has vital interests in Ukraine for many, many reasons. I look at the faces of the press, pounding away on computers, their faces stern and unhappy. Some may disapprove of what Putin has done; I’d bet most agree and are glad that he went to the aid of the Russians under threat in Ukraine. I bet many are mortally offended by the in-your-face Russophobes now in charge in some of Ukraine’s most powerful ministries. And despite twenty years of post-Soviet history, I’d also bet many are absolutely convinced that NATO means ill for Russia and this was provoked by certain sectors of the West.

reasonable manPutin is a man in charge of every pertinent fact, familiar with the history, and sure that he is expressing Russia’s heart and soul and still adhering to the letter of the law. Putin pointed out that the origin of the current problems was Yanukovych’s decision (a legal decision fully within the Ukrainian President’s powers, says Putin) to put off — not even deep-six — the association agreement with the EU (as opposed to one with Russia) because, as Yanukovych told Putin, there was stuff in that EU agreement that was worrisome for Ukraine. They wanted to control Ukraine’s bilateral agreements with Russia. Ukraine is highly dependent on Russian trade. In the end the EU threatened Yanukovych to sign or lose, and he decided to go with Russia. At that point, persons primed to stir up public disorder began to take actions for an armed takeover of the legal Ukrainian government. Putin agreed that the people of Ukraine wanted a change from the Yanukovych government, but pointed out that the Constitution of Ukraine has only three methods for the departure of the president: voluntary resignation, death, or impeachment. None of those were pertinent. An agreement with the opposition had been reached with the signature of Yanukovych, who gave in almost one hundred percent to the demands of the mobs and to the demands of the EU and Washington. He ordered the removal of all troops from Kiev. At which point the mob took over, ousted the elected government and declared themselves the legitimate government of all Ukraine. It was all planned.

Here’s another good moment: one of the reporters asked if he personally had tried to contact the current authorities in Kiev. Putin just smiled and said there was no one at his level to talk to in Kiev as the legitimate president of Ukraine was in Russia; so the contacts were at the governmental level and aimed at the ensurance of normal economic and other relations with Russia in this period. Quite right, too. We reject the legitimacy of the thugs in Kiev, but we have to protect the interests of both countries, too.

This is another good moment. It seems a pro-Ukrainian reporter was acting unbecomingly and too aggressively. Putin answered his question but then suddenly we went to another screen and the anchor of Rossiya 24 . I love it. I think now they are hustling him out of the audience as a potential assassin, much as we would do in our own presidential press conferences when someone gets out of line. (We try not to let the trouble-makers in the first place.) As someone who was once hustled out of a genuine human rights trial in Leningrad in 1984 (yes!), I can say it gives you something to talk about for years. The anchor is followed quickly by a man who is obviously known to Russians who is almost crying with anger over the insults hurled at Russia by the fascist western Ukrainians and their (understood) fascist sponsors.

This is my view: Putin is claiming legal and historical and material and substantive reasons for going into Crimea. No matter the political calculations, no matter the words of disapproval, he knows the law is actually on his side. Furthermore, he has now made it quite clear that Russia is ready to rumble, as our hopeless Secretary of State once boasted of himself. He is loath to use force, but if that is what it takes to defend Russian vital interests, so be it. As for those economic sanctions, he warned that the end will not be good for those pushing this action. I’m sure he has energy in mind. Europe is vulnerable and Ukraine was a vital oil conduit. From their perspective, if they only owned Ukraine!! If they undertake sanctions, who is likely to give first: the freezing western Europeans in 2014 or the overly-warm Russians taking one for the Gipper (Holy Mother Russia). Remember that the Germans surrounded and starved Russians in WW2 Leningrad and Russia still won the war. We living the high life in the West don’t realize that most Russians still living remember what life used to be like. They can tighten the belt again if NATO wants to rattle its currently small-looking saber. It looked a hell of a lot bigger in Libya.

chessboardThe current state of play on the chessboard is this: Russia has obviously responded to some back-scenes offer, perhaps brokered by Merkel, to allow a return to the Ukrainian internal agreement that was jettisoned and restore the previous government until the agreed date of early elections. It is clear he will not obstruct any investigation or prosecution of Yanukovych in accordance with the pre-coup law. As a token of good faith, Putin has ordered all those troops on maneuver to go back to the barracks. He has played his move. Up to West. Will the Russian troops stay in their barracks or be deployed in eastern Ukraine, as well? (Hint: Russia isn’t ever going to give up Crimea.)

Next move: West becomes pissy. Tries being provocative as a proof of NATO manhood. Maybe (shudder) they will draw a line in the sand.

Next move: Eastern Ukraine.

And by the way, here is a great link to an interview with Dmitri Simes, a Russian Jew and a brilliant analyst of his homeland.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116837/dmitri-simes-interview-why-russia-isnt-taking-us-seriously

 


Push Comes to Shove

natoThe news from Ukraine is interesting, to say the least. I would guess that the folks who led the putsch against the deeply unpopular Yanukovych and tried to fob off an illegitimate government on the rest of the country are getting a little worried now. They probably would have been better off declaring for an independent West Ukraine, for which they would have had plenty of support in West Ukraine, rather than pushing their project on the unwilling in the east and south. Perhaps contrary to expectations in Kiev,  for the moment the US and NATO are not willing to take on Russia militarily in Ukraine. And I don’t see how they can make Ukraine a NATO member when the country is engulfed in civil war. Instead they will try to blockade Russia diplomatically and economically, which I’m sure will make a lot of sense when the oil supplies to Europe dry up. There is unrest elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, no surprise given the interests at stake. Now the Kiev crowd are calling up reservists. Where the heck is the Ukrainian Army? Or Navy, for that matter? I’d love to know what is going on in the barracks around Ukraine.

Another thing I can’t wait to see is what the US argument will be about what happened in Ukraine — will they claim the armed coup was a revolution? Will they claim that dislike for an elected president justifies the use of force to oust him? (Watch out, Obama.) Will they claim that their wars (under any  name) against regimes unpopular in Washington did not violate those nations’ national sovereignty and territorial integrity?

And what will Russia say? It was often the sole voice decrying the US violations of international law that we have seen over the past twenty years, and is on record in the UN for declaring that NATO and the US were setting bad precedents for future action by other countries. Now Russia has proven its prediction true.

Here’s another thing to watch: Georgia. The whiner Misha Saakashvili, darling of the West, seems to be trying to stir up popular discontent in Georgia in order to force the current government either to ask for NATO membership or face street violence a la Kiev. He would obviously prefer his own putsch so he could be the big shot again and carry around a NATO sword on his hip. He is doing all this mischief-making because he is encouraged by our Secretary of State’s open call to bring Georgia into the Alliance immediately.  This is another instance in which the US presumes to speak on behalf of the people of another country. NATO can’t just reel them in; the countries have to want to go and as noted before, Georgia already has two large secessionist regions that they will probably never again control. Outright annexation by Russia is entirely possible. Georgia does not need any  more political strife, but if the West insists…

My husband and I watched the Russian Federation Council yesterday as the members of what is equivalent to the US Senate spoke in favor of military action in Ukraine — note that they did not say “Crimea.” Russian nationalism has been stoked good and well by the West’s power move in Kiev and Russia was given no easy choices, but in the end national security was paramount. The Russian deputies lambasted Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, who had stepped forward as a self-appointed intermediary between Putin and the West. I guess the Russians were not buying the old German line, “trust us, you’re safe with your old friend Germany.”

Can’t wait to see what comes next.