Ooobie on Everything

Trump Sucks Up to Mad Man McCain

Let me open with this announcement: I don’t believe that Assad (much less Russia) carried out a chemical weapons (cw) attack in Syria. This was an act of provocation, with or without US involvement, that was carefully calculated to draw the response it did. I believe that this action was based on a judgment that Trump was a foreign affairs neophyte whom his domestic and other foes could push to a rash and poorly considered action to prove his boasts of toughness and his leadership. Faced with an endless and ugly barrage of fake news and false accusations, he fell for whatever he was being sold and grabbed the chance to assert himself as president.

This latest US violation of international law happened only days after the announcement by Trump’s highest reps that unseating Assad was not our primary goal in Syria. We wanted only to defeat ISIS and the jihadists. I thought, sanity prevails. But John McCain was beside himself, or outside himself, or wherever people beyond all utility hang out. I’ve heard he flew to Syria to consult with his tiny proxy army. If so, who knows what wise advice this old white guy gave to those “rebels” living in a complex of tunnels in the side of a mountain. All we know is soon afterwards, an attack by the Syrian Air Force occurred at the same time chemical weapons were released on the ground. (The US insists it was aerial release, but as former Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford said, “[there is] “no proof that the cause of the explosion was what they said it was” and that for Assad such an attack would be “totally self-defeating.”

Here’s what I do believe: Trump, tough guy in business, doesn’t have the political judgement of gravel outside of an appeal to the voters. He should have hung tight and continued to reject the Russian Fairy Tale in which the Witch, Vladimir Putin, gets the innocents (DNC and Clinton Campaign) into his ovens and then serves up Trump; he should have fought those who think the Russian Bogeyman can cover up the crimes of our political class. Instead we have had the recusal of Sessions (innocent of any crime or misbehavior whatsoever and with no earthly interest in helping Russia); the recusal of Nunes who revealed the heinous surveillance by Obama of political opponents; the removal of Bannon from the NSC; and the promise to work with the Dems to get some piece of crap supposedly better than the current piece of crap called Obamacare. Trump obviously isn’t getting politics. And frankly, I’m not getting him, either.

And now this incredible blunder and horrible crime. A nation not at war with the US, not even posing a threat to the US, is once again being assaulted by the United States. Why? I’ll venture this. Because Trump is getting all shook up over the assault he is being subjected to by our own Commies. He can’t fight internal enemies and external enemies, too, and external is easier. Obama promised to honor an idiotic red line, so Trump will make good on the promise. Precisely as his political enemies calculated. And now he gets his reward, in Pavlovian style, which is CNN opining that he’s finally president. All it took was the start of WWIII.

Trump would never erect a building without all the facts about the job. So how could it be that he committed an act of war on the basis of an unproven claim of responsibility? How could he fall for such a ruse by the enemy? If we end up at war with Russia, and China and Iran, will anybody remember it was the Democrats pushing him there?

But hold on. Let’s take a closer look and offer information on Syria from other sources that the USG will not give you.

“Russia’s defence ministry has argued that Syrian planes were destroying chemical weapons, not deploying them, and said the airstrikes targeted a rebel storage depot for toxins.”

Absurd, say the Americans.

“Khan Sheikhoun, where the attack happened was a hewn mountain with tunnels and impenetrable bunkers. Definitely a major hiding place for manufacturing weapon supplies for the Islamist rebels on a major scale. It is a “warehouse used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas” as Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.”

Why aren’t the western media showing the photos that make clear this attack was on a military target, not a simple village living peacefully? And why is nobody looking at the opposition? Here is what UN rep Carla del Ponte said in 2013 about the results of the UN investigation into the use of cw in specific attacks in Syria:

Ms Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general and prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), did not rule out the possibility that troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad might also have used chemical weapons, but said further investigation was needed. “I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got… they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” she said.

Ms. del Ponte’s seasoned judgment was spurned by “most western governments” who insisted it was all the work of the Assad government. The final report laid all the attacks at the government’s doorstep by insinuation without actually having the evidence to do so, as it admitted.

Today’s America seems to be hurtling toward some apocalyptic scenario of war abroad and at home. So far I lack any confidence that Trump will hold the line on his campaign promises for a new American foreign policy. So far it looks like he is so desperate to be loved that he plays the eager sap for the warmongers and the military-industrial complex. So far, I’m concerned he is going to take us to the brink of a massive conflict. Russia now and urgently is going to seriously beef up Syrian air defense systems with Russia’s latest hardware and technology, so the next time a jet flies over a Syrian airbase they will probably come down in flames. Then what will happen?


The Besieged Mrs. Clinton and Other Good News

Hillary Clinton is in very very deep doo-doo. The FBI has stumbled across something in those unsuccessfully “disappeared” Clinton e-mails that apparently perked them up enough to open a second investigation into the Clinton Foundation. This Foundation is gaining an ever seamier reputation for its corrupt practices, such as using the power of the Secretary of State to secure massive donations all available to the Clintons for their felonious use. I’d love to be the forensic accountant tracing donations to the Global Slush Fund. And tracking outflows from the Foundation to other entities, perhaps in a way that made a trace hard. It’s pretty clear that the Foundation they set up is intended to pad the financing of Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency, giving her enough non-traceable funds to make the difference between victory and defeat. This would be the much more clever and invisible version of the “small donations from abroad” scam that heavily financed Obama’s catapult to the presidency. Apparently the FBI is trying to untangle those intertwining parts, connecting the dots in the Clintons’ influence-buying game.

If the Foundation is in trouble, I’d imagine our pal Bill isn’t sleeping any easier than his homely wife.  It couldn’t happen to two nicer people. I was looking at photos of the two and thinking: he looks pretty bad these days. Bill’s red nose is starting to look absolutely natural in that landscape of aging skin as he tries desperately to recapture his glib, sexy rock-star days. And Hillary is, despite her surgical work, still an ugly old white woman. And an unlikable one at that. If their offer is two for one, I think they’ve lost the youth vote.

Now to the GOP side. Here the waters are murky indeed. Trump seems to be cycling into some sort of a mania, saying really nutty things like he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and none of his supporters would care. That sounds a lot like he is calling his supporters insane, or criminally inclined, or just stupid. It also sounds a lot like he himself is losing all touch with reality. Now the utterly inexplicable decision not to participate in the debate because of Megyn Kelly’s alleged hatred of and bias toward him. Unlikely excuse and if it’s sincere, he’s a fool. Who gives him the absolute right to pick his interlocutors? If he can’t deal with hard questions, he’s not going to win any national election. Enough with his demonizing anybody who questions him. We already have had this kind of president and we don’t want another one. Worse, he now begins again and in capital letters to look like the circus clown, performing and un-serious. I think he may be faltering under the enormous pressure on him. He seems to be spinning out. But the tragedy is that if he isn’t chosen, he could try to take down the GOP with him. A suit against Cruz on the basis of his US citizenship? Hey, Donald: we already had a guy born in Kenya and raised in Malaysia as president, so don’t worry about the Canadian angle. They speak the same lingo, more or less.

Trump’s unpredictability and political wildness raise the possibility or even likelihood that the money men and the ruling Republican elite will unite behind some other candidate deemed able to beat whomever the Democrat Socialists nominate. I still think Rubio is the likeliest candidate. He has all the qualities to be a star candidate and in particular to dance rings around either of the Golden Agers being run by the Democrat Socialists. He could best either of them in a debate. I think he could get a lot of the Latino vote, especially among the girls. But Ted Cruz is also excellent. My favorite Rand Paul isn’t going to get close to the nomination, but he’d be great.

And back to Mrs. Clinton and the question of the day: is it okay to run a person for president when said person is rumored to be headed to indictment for her security breaches? The Socialists of course say “yes,” as long as the felon is not yet found guilty. And of course if elected, there’s that presidential immunity thing. So she could easily bury the whole thing during her first tenure as Madame President. The rumor is rampant that she is going to be indicted for something related to all her electronic and other misbehavior. I think that the FBI is ready, but it is Obama who will decide if the weapon is turned against the Clintons. So far Obama has allowed the FBI to dig and make the Clintons’ lives agony. The unknown is this: at what point is  he  going to call off the dogs? At what point is he going to say, make it go away? Or perhaps a presidential pardon? That would be rich for that boy Obama with his thin black skin. Now Obama has all the power. Will he use it? After all, Bernie Sanders really is his true alter ego, on whom Obama could count to continue pushing his agenda.

On to foreign policy, where things look as lousy as usual. In Germany, women were harassed and worse on New Year’s Eve as they attempted to celebrate. “North African or Middle Eastern looking men” in large numbers joined up to engage in a female-baiting sport and so far Germany’s leaders have done little more than gasp and wring their hands. In Sweden, assaults by the Arab community against the peace-loving native Swedes, including young women, is rising. It is so serious that the peace-loving PM is warning that “in coming years” up to 80,000 self-declared refugees are to be sent home. The Arab/North African inundation is having serious political ramifications in Europe. Nationalist governments may be in the offing, for example in Netherlands where Geert Wilders could be the next top dog. In the security realm, trust is no longer abundant. Individual nations are now reasserting their own border defenses in violation of the Schengen agreement on open borders. This will likely set off a chain reaction, because who can afford NOT to have such controls when the others do? It’s a new era for the EU and it will struggle to survive. All these ugly results from Merkel’s warm outreach to the million Moslem refugees she invited to Germany and the rest of Europe spell likely doom for her government.

In Russia, that nation ended a year of real and painful economic belt-tightening due to EU sanctions, but forged ahead to make Crimea energy-independent from Ukraine and otherwise integrate the region into the Russian Federation. Russia also is moving ahead with the creation of three new military divisions on its western border to counter the NATO build-up in Eastern Europe. Anti-Americanism is at an all time high. Russia’s xenophobia is now in full swing, thanks to US/EU ineptitude in foreign policy.

Turkey continues to deal in stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil and to act as a transfer point for radicals entering Syria to defeat the last secular government in the region. The US continues to cover up Turkey’s crimes while still trying to get them to close their border to the ISIS-facilitated influx of foreign fighters. On the other hand, how much do we want them to close that border if they simply say no and don’t even get their hands slapped?

Jockeying for political talks to end the fighting in Syria continues. The Russians rejected US “opposition fighters” as allies of ISIS and Al Qaeda, but a compromise has been agreed to allow two separate opposition delegations: one made up of actual Syrians who oppose Assad and took up weapons; and the Syrian Kurds. The Turks don’t want the Syrian Kurds involved in the negotiations. I think this is going to be one of those inane political soap operas that go on while in the background the US tries to unseat Assad by proxy force in the face of Russian and Iranian military opposition to that goal.

All in all, it looks to be an interesting year, with both the domestic and international political arenas in full action and the balance of power teetering among a whole host of competing nations. Rocky waters ahead.

 

 

 

 


Up to our Eyeballs

The moment has come: faced with a choice of collaborating with Russia and her allies to oust the mad jihadists from Syria, or opting for another US ground war, known waggishly as “boots on ground,” the US came down firmly on the side of ground war. Right now all we have is a contingent of 50 warriors, but that will grow as sure as God made little green apples. I don’t buy for a moment the idea that these guys are going to really shake up this collection of terrorists and mercenaries and fanatics and thus bring the Syrian disaster to an end. But here’s what I think those 50 men can accomplish and are intended to accomplish: they can embed themselves as “human shields” among “their” terrorists, hoping that Russia won’t bomb the areas anymore, which then keeps alive the dream of toppling Assad by force; and they can claim territory for the US. Nothing like “boots on ground” for claiming territory, although it is made more difficult by “planes in air”that think they already claimed the same territory.

Fifty men, even the best of men, are not going to substantively and directly change the course of events in Syria. They are going to be top-line targets for the savages currently taking over Syria and I dread that one or more of them will be captured. The only thing 50 military men can do is try to hold together the remnants of the US-backed terrorist team while feeding intel into plans for a much larger incursion. The US wants its own territory in Syria, where it can establish a no-fly zone, conduct operations, and give sanctuary to its fighters. The problem, as already noted, is that Russia is able to operate in the air anywhere where Mr. Assad allows them to operate, while the US has no such authority from anybody, not to bomb, not to invade, and not to train and supply terrorists for anti-state action. So what we are being set up for is the big confrontation that anybody sane worries about. I do not believe the presence of an infiltrated American soldier in an anti-Assad formation will keep Russia from bombing. Assad asked Russia in to help him fight the anti-government forces, so of course that is what Russia is doing and will continue to do. I think the Russians will have already made this clear to the Americans, privately and through whatever atrophied diplomatic channels still exist. Russia will not sit idly by and allow the US to carve off a chunk of Syria for its own, I don’t think, and it certainly won’t be cowed by US human shields from continuing to strike against Assad’s foes. This makes it all too possible that we are going to see a direct US-Russian face-off and perhaps the opening of some sort of conflict.  Turkey’s own dubious activities in Syria are another NATO/Russia flash-point. You should add to that the increasing likelihood that there will be a purely accidental and literal collision at some point somewhere in Syria between the two sides if you want to savor the dangerous territories we are in.

Russia’s entry into the Syrian fight has for the first time begun to impact on ISIS and other terror groups trying to bring down the government. Hence the downing of the Russian passenger plane in retaliation. Russia is having an effect, where the US achieved nothing for many months. The Russians are simultaneously pursuing a strong political/diplomatic track under the aegis of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. If not for Russia, the US would never be sitting at a negotiating table with all the key players in Syria. The US should have every reason to enter into collaboration with whomever is fighting ISIS, but it is adamantly against doing so with the Russian team. They have offered various lame excuses for failing to do so. They can’t work with Iran (hah). Hamas is involved. The real reason is that Russia has established a strong position in Syria that the US dare not threaten without risk of direct conflict. The US cannot deal with the concept of Russia as an equal partner, rather than a subordinate. The US no longer has the luxury of pondering which of its various hapless schemes it would make operational — the no fly zone? boots on ground? installation of US-backed government? It is now constrained in what it can do, and hence the low-key opening bid of 50 soldiers. From here on out it is pure risk. There will be more to come.

The US and Russian positions on Syria are actually very close, except that Russia rejects the right of another nation to tell the Syrians who their government can be. They favor settling political differences through direct negotiations and referendum. The US and its allies insist that the terrible Mr. Assad has to go and the US assumes it will be the nation to tell the Syrians who their government can be. The only reason they give for using force to unseat him is that he has been brutal in repressing opposition. Whoop-dee-do. We do business everyday with men as bad as or worse than Assad, men like the Castro zombies, and it’s water off a duck’s back. We only care about human rights when it serves our purposes. But honestly — I can’t see the logic in anything the US  is doing. They have failed at nation-building in each instance beginning with Bosnia and yet they keep trying the same losing strategy. They need to try something new in Syria, like international consultation. Perhaps between the two sides a solution can be found. All those refugees can go home. The US and the EU can pay to rebuild Syria.

I think that if we end up collaborating it will be a miracle. I think the US has decided on a basic course that has as its goals the limitation of Russian gains, the continued fight to unseat Assad, and the strengthening of US influence on what happens in Syria. I  think those 50 boots will end up being 50,000 boots and not nearly so many boots on ground will leave as entered. I think the 50 men gambit is a big neon sign saying, “we’re going in up to our eyeballs.”

 


US Foreign Policy: A Cry for Help

I’ve been working on a piece on domestic political inanity, but am taking a detour to comment on the latest news from DC regarding Russia. Whatever happens at home doesn’t matter if it doesn’t affect what is happening abroad, where we have lost our marbles. The only politician making sense on foreign policy at present is Rand Paul. All the rest, and Mrs. Clinton in first place, are macho posturers who think they can still push other major powers around with impunity and that not threatening Russia in its own backyard is weakness. What has set me off this time is the announcement that the White House is considering getting even tougher on Russia to make sure it behaves itself in Europe. To justify the action, NATO asserts some non-existent Russian threat to NATO countries on NATO’s “far eastern” fringe. There is nothing to suggest this, of course, but that’s the glory of propaganda: a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.

The newly-imagined NATO militarization program involves upgrading all the regional armies (magnificent arms sales!), and even stationing missiles. We have already sent military advisers and military hardware to Ukraine, a country not a member of NATO that is sinking under the waves of ineptitude and division, and rumor is rife that the US is funding a mercenary army for Ukraine to fight against Russia and Russia’s own proxy army in eastern Ukraine. NATO also declared one of its new missions (and apparently newly discovered authorities) is to weed out corrupt governments in Europe. I have already watched with amazement the replacing of Ukrainian government officials with foreigners, no matter what the public wants — whose hand is behind this incredibly disrespectful attitude to national interests, do you think? The One World’ers, the ones now declaring the right to weed out somebody else’s government, anywhere in Europe. And how does the weeding out occur? Through Color Revolutions? Pre-planned and deliberate disruptions of public order to achieve a much larger goal? Violent ousters of the “corrupt government”? Is weeding out anything like what we did in Syria? Could Hungary be in for some weeding out, and the Czech Republic, too? The Hungarian prime minister is a pragmatic man who prizes Hungarian independence; even under the Soviet regime Hungary was known to be rather independent in its economic dealings with the west. Now the Hungarian president is being told by the US/EU what to do in both foreign and trade policy. It rubs the wrong way. And the Czech president has banned the US ambassador in Prague from ever going to the presidential palace after the latter insulted the former by telling him what to do vis-à-vis Russia. Sounds like corruption to me.

Before my patriotic readers cheer on US provocations in eastern Europe, consider this: the last time we tried putting missiles in Europe, we had a huge anti-war movement in all the west European countries. Nobody wants to be in the missile cross-hairs of the Russians, and certainly not on behalf of the Poles, who just hate the Russians on principle, or the Latvians with their neo-Nazi sympathies. And they would be in those cross-hairs if the Americans put missiles in their backyards. Many western and even eastern Europeans also reject the US rationale that it is only making Europe safer. Most people in western Europe don’t care what happens to Ukraine unless it involves a lot of refugees, but so far the refugees are going almost exclusively to Russia. Anybody with even one eye in his head can see that all the military armament over a twenty some year period has been flowing eastward, not westward. It was flowing eastward when Russia was barely able to keep its Army together. Pull out a map and look at foreign military bases belonging to the US and Russia. And yet it is obvious that Russia would never attack NATO short of a NATO attack on Russia. What’s the real goal of all this? Containment, disarming, “weeding out.”

I read an article today that warned that we have entered a New Cold War period. I shot back that the commentator should get serious, it isn’t a Cold War, it is the prelude to WWIII. Many west European commentators, including Le Pen in France and Farage in UK, are increasingly worried by the militant US position on relations with Russia and object to it. They blame NATO and EU actions for ushering in the opening phase of WWIII. This is a nuclear war we are discussing and people are beginning to sit up and take notice. As one west European recently wrote, if the US is reverting to its expansionist era, then the Europeans have a right to know of the new policy and adjust their own accordingly. Vladimir Putin has already ridiculed US plans, asserting that “only in a madman’s dream would Russia attack NATO.”

All of what we have been seeing in the development of a policy of confrontation with Russia coincides with the unfolding of the new and bigger US propaganda effort led by Cold War hounds Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Voice of America. The US government was concerned about the burgeoning success around the world of Russia Today, a Russian state-controlled news outlet. I myself read and watch it on-line, not only for news on Russia, which is predictably skewed, but for news on my own country. You can always bank on finding the bad news stories that have been spiked in the US press, and they are all one hundred percent true. That’s why others read it, too — to hear the other side of the story, and the things their own governments are hiding. Really, who would have thought that one day propaganda would have a use?

In the past, of course, such propaganda would have been only for purveyance to the ignorant world and prohibited for distribution within the US, lest the American citizen also be influenced by untruths. Nowadays, there is no exemption from propaganda for the supposedly naive world or the US citizen. One of the clearest examples was the recent performance of our Ms. Potato Head press spokesperson at the US State Department. Despite OSCE monitoring reports showing that there are equal numbers of Minsk agreement violations in Ukraine by each side, Marie Harf insisted that “we know” that the “vast majority” of the incidents were by the “Russian-backed rebels” and only “a tiny minority” by Kiev’s forces. She absolutely refused to acknowledge the facts as reported by the European monitors and instead spread blatant disinformation. She briefly tried to justify any violations, however few, by Kiev by asserting that Kiev was fighting to defend its country and thus was morally right. She was forced back to issue by a Russia Today reporter, who put her down deftly with a little dig on US moral superiority, but the reporter got nothing for her efforts. Harf wasn’t budging and that’s that. Harf can follow simple instructions, like “deny deny, deny.”

In any case, here’s what I think. I think that the Russian propaganda and disinformation system is now ramping up to meet the US ramp-up; I think that Russians will meet any placement of US missiles in Ukraine and Eastern Europe by putting nuclear weapons in Kalingrad and Crimea and targeting them on European capitals and economic regions. They are also rapidly developing their own advanced anti-missile missile system. I predict a rebirth of the anti-war protest movement in Europe, where the left is already geared up for their usual anti-G7 antics. The addition of the more reputable anti-war elements will significantly raise the pressures on governments. Tensions within NATO between those looking for accommodation of Russian national interests and those determined to screw Russia will likely be exacerbated by growing tension between east and west. Chafing at the imposition of US interests over those of Europe will not help tempers.

I also predict that if there is not a serious reconsideration of the growing militarization of our foreign policy, we are looking WWIII in the face. At these close quarters, with the US pushing into Russia’s front door, accidents happen. And sometimes others provoke accidents for their own stupidly short-sighted purposes.

And I didn’t even mention our similar provocations of China, or the emerging Sino-Russian military cooperation and coordination of positions. The multi-polar world has emerged full-blown. No longer that stable bi-polar world, or the incredibly heady days of unipolar power for America, but one where powerful nations are asserting their rightful position in global decision-making. We need to recalibrate. We need to rediscover diplomacy.

 


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.


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 Year Ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


Straight to hell, full speed ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 


Gruber the Goober and Other Things

More observations on the latest news.

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

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

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

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

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

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