Tag Archives: russia

The Ukraine crisis gives us a peak behind the curtain into the workings of our government

Summary: Every geopolitical crisis provides us with information about our nation and our world. They provide peeks into the machinery hidden behind the government’s secrecy and journalists’ narratives. The Crimean crisis, a small area inside Russia’s sphere of influence, hyped by our hawks into a world-shaking incident, provides a rich lode for mining insights. Helping us, doing the heavy lifting, is one of our top defense analysts, Chuck Spinney. See the last section for links to other useful articles about this.

Military spending

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Ukraine: Manna From Heaven for the Green Line and Beyond Crowd

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney

From his website, The Blaster
26 March 214

Posted with his generous permission

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Most Americans know very little about the immediate origins of the crisis in the Ukraine and their government’s involvement in it. They know even less about its deeper roots, that reach back into Russian view of American duplicity in breaking its verbal promises not to expand NATO and the European Union eastward (useful summaries can be found here and here).

These promises were interpreted quite reasonably by the Russians as a quid pro quo for Mikhail Gorbachev’s agreement to

  1. the unification of Germany,
  2. the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and
  3. the withdrawal of Soviet forces from eastern Europe.

Gorbachev’s dream of a common European Home was always fanciful, but today, Ukraine proves it is in tatters.

If one is to believe the reportage in the mainstream media, the duly elected but decidedly corrupt government of the Ukraine was overthrown by a spontaneous revolt of the freedom-seeking Ukrainian people. But it is also clear from leaked recordings of phone conversations and the bloviations of U.S. “pro-defense” legislators that members of the U.S. government were at least tangentially involved, as were Ukrainian neo-fascists.

There is much more, however.

 

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America’s hawks sing a song of national decline

Summary: The calls for war ring again from American pundits and geopolitical experts. No cause is too small, hopeless, or irrelevant to us — threatening war is always the right response, says a loud and influential number of Americans, to maintain our credibility and reputation. They sign a siren song of national decline. No nation, however great, can so dissipate it resources (both physical and political). And eventually they will get the disastrous war they seek.

Nuclear Kraken

Release the Kraken!     (Art by lchappell)

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This is a follow-up to About the Ukraine-Russia conflict. First, know what we don’t know.

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A flood of books published this year help us commemorate the centennial of WWI and remember its lessons. A common theme is the stupidity of Europe’s peoples — and their leaders — in 1914, so carelessly sliding into a calamitous war for so little reason.

To see how this happens, read your newspaper. America’s papers overflow with cries for America to threaten (or use) economic and military force in response to Russia’s increasingly assertive actions in its “near abroad” (their version of the Monroe Doctrine zone) — their aggressive moves into other nations (like ours into Afghanistan and Iraq).

These people’s screeds seldom balance risk with the potential gains, or measure the danger of escalation. They seldom assert that US national interests are at stake (that’s seen in the frequency of their calls for belligerence : in Iran, in Yemen, in Sudan, in Libya, in Syria, in Ukraine).

Rather they would deploy US power in pursuit of chimeras like prestige and credibility. In fact no nation can gain such things by routinely threatening force over issues in which it has no substantial interest — except through Nixon’s “Madman Theory” (based on a sentence of advice by Machiavelli), which would bring its own shattering blowback if believed (e.g., forfeiting Western leadership).

These people are the unwitting agents of national decline for America, in two ways. Even when unable to influence policy, they push leaders to greater belligerence in order to avoid “looking weak” (a bad thing in the eyes of foolish people) and losing domestic political support. And occasionally they will get their way, leading America into a new cycle of pointless conflict — diverting our limited resources from pressing domestic needs.

If left unopposed — and they are largely unopposed on the public stage (another parallel with 1914) — they might eventually get the war they seek. I doubt that will turn our well for America (It didn’t work well for Athens).

A quick look at a few of the hawkish squawks

Formally recognize Ukraine, prepare NATO troops“, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Nathan Gardels, op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, 3 March 2014 — Brzezinski was Carter’s National Security Advisor. Money paragraph; very coy:

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About the Ukraine-Russia conflict. First, know what we don’t know.

Summary:  It’s another world crisis. As usual quite obvious things remain invisible to US geopolitical experts and even diligent readers of the US news media. Here is an attempt to fill in the blanks around the conflict in the Ukraine (putting it in a larger context), with links to useful sources of information about specifics of the conflict. Part one; see part two.

Grand Strategy

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“You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.”

— Secretary of State John Kerry displays awesome hypocrisy on Face the Nation, 2 March 2014

It’s sad to watch the belligerent, often ignorant, US hawks again go hysterical. Before enlisting yourself or your children, please read these useful things to know about the conflict in the Ukraine:

  1. Our weak response to this (strong rhetoric, weak actions) results from an incoherent grand strategy.
  2. History suggests that we (American public) don’t know what’s going on. Key facts are hidden from us, or lost amidst the propaganda barrages of both sides.
  3. Russia is acting according to historical norms. They violate the post-WW2 laws established by the United Nations Charter, …
  4. just as we have done so many times — and even more frequently since 9-11. Our betrayal since 9-11 of the post-WW2 order we built gives us little credibility in conflicts like Ukraine.

The last point deserves more attention. It’s the “clean hands” doctrine, which provides a useful lens through which to see this conflict:

A person coming to court with a lawsuit or petition for a court order must be free from unfair conduct (have “clean hands” or not have done anything wrong) in regard to the subject matter of the claim. His/her activities not involved in the legal action can be abominable because they are considered irrelevant. (from The Legal Dictionary)

First, there have been ample rumors of covert US involvement in the Ukraine — another chapter in the long list of US programs to destabilize or replace governments hostile to US political or corporate interests. Needless to say, these give us “dirty hands” when complaining about Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

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BRIC building: the future of Brazil, Russia, India and China

Summary: Today we have a follow-up by Paul Schulte to Does corruption limit China’s growth, or pose a threat to its existence? He looks at the leading emerging nations, comparing them to the US and UK at similar point in their evolution to greatness.

20121213-BRICs

BRIC building: the future of Brazil, Russia, India and China

By Paul Schulte
Institutional Investor magazine, in press
Republished here with his generous permission.

The challenge of the BRICs

The November/December 2012 edition of Foreign Affairs Magazine had an article called “How the BRICS Are Crumbling” by Ruchir Sharma (head of Emerging Markets at Morgan Stanley). The tone of the article seems off the mark. The BRICs {Brazil, Russia, India, China} are slowing because they are trying to slow credit growth due to the links of their currencies to the US dollar. They are trying to slow down credit growth while the West desperately uses zero interest rates to accelerate credit growth. So, the West and the BRICs are operating at cross purposes.

The BRICs countries have dollar-linked currencies, so when interest rates are zero in the West and high in BRICs countries they will be bombarded with capital seeking a higher return. This causes their currencies to appreciate, jeopardizing growth. Or, the BRICs countries must intervene domestically to force banks to slow credit growth as these banks fill with cash. Either way they encounter forces which cause their currencies to rise and credit growth to accelerate. This is a classic cocktail for a real estate bubble and accelerating inflation.

Brazil and China are experiencing the same phenomenon now. Both are essentially trying to slow down their respective economies, although China has been more successful.

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The Syrian dominos

Summary: Today Tom Hayden briefs us on the situation in Syria, about what’s happening — and what might happen soon.

Photo from the Express Tribune of Pakistan

Civil wars are the worst type of warfare. However, we are not implying that there is such a thing as “good warfare.” There are only good causes.

In Syria we have a situation much like the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). As the fighting extends in time between the combat wing of the United Revolutionary Council and the despotic Assad regime, foreign players have begun entering the struggle.

  • Backing Assad, you have the Iranians, Russia and HizbAllah.
  • Backing the revolutionaries we have the Saudis, the Emirates, and to a limited degree, Turkey and Jordan.
  • The USA has sent aid, but best we know at this point it has been, we are told, only humanitarian aid.

In the meantime the body count grows and is now over 30,000.

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The Truth and Beauty about Russia

Summary: The inaccurate descriptions of Russia in the western media shows its fraudulent nature. Today we have an excerpt from Truth & Beauty that gives a more accurate picture of one the world’s three great powers.

Today we have an excerpt from the September 14 issue of Truth & Beauty, by Eric Kraus and Alexander Teddy. They shine the clear light of common sense on Russia, cutting through the fog of misinformation emitted by the western news media. This is “Through Western Eyes – Russia in the Media”, about the politics and economics of Russia. Reprinted with their generous permission.

Contents

  1. About Russia?  The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
  2. Politics
  3. Economics
  4. About the author
  5. About Truth & Beauty
  6. For More Information about Russia

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(1)  About Russia.  The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Truth & Beauty is seen as a vehement supporter of Putin and a perennial Russian bull, perhaps blind to the failings of our adopted land. This is a half truth at best – yes, we firmly believe that the rise of Vladimir Putin was the best thing to have happened to Russia for the past millennium (not, overall a particularly good one – happily, the millennium now just getting underway appears far more promising…), however we are blind neither to his failings, nor to the weaknesses of the system which he has put into place.

(2)  Politics

T&B has never subscribed to democratic fundamentalism. Indeed, some of the main weaknesses of the current system may be due to an obsession with at least the outer trappings of Democracy, and thus, the failure to at least pass through a Chinese-style system with continuity provided by a reformed Party, with individuals replaced as necessary, without affecting the continuity of overall policy.

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The Truth and Beauty about the Pussy Riot

Summary: The Pussy Riot episode revealed much about Russia, and the coverage in the western media shows its fraudulent nature. Today we have an excerpt from Truth & Beauty that explains both.

Today we have an excerpt from the September 14 issue of Truth & Beauty, by Eric Kraus and Alexander Teddy. They shine the clear light of common sense on Russia, cutting through the fog of misinformation emitted by the western news media. This is “Through Western Eyes – Russia in the Media”, about the Pussy Riot girls — what this episode tells us about Russia, and about the western news media. Reprinted with their generous permission.

Pussy Riot in custody

Contents

  1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  2. Blunder in the Cathedral
  3. Reporters Storm the Cathedral
  4. Political Implications: Vladimir Vladimirovich says “Thank You, Pμssies!”
  5. About the author
  6. About Truth & Beauty
  7. For More Information about Russia

(1) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Nothing better illustrates the craven hypocrisy of Western coverage than the recent Pμssy Riot (PR) story; while it has received many hundreds of times the coverage it deserved, we cannot quite ignore it, given the indignant yelping of the tame Western media, as well as the truly extraordinary volume of political spin generated.

As an aside (and our personal feelings are here quite irrelevant) T&B feels sorry for them, as we feel sorry for almost anyone confined to a prison – from Bernie Madoff (with his medieval 150-year sentence for simple fraud) to the incarcerated PR provocateurs – but we feel sorry precisely as we would for someone who went looking for a gas-leak with a lighted match… it was not going to end at all well.

As is so often the case, what is interesting is not what it tells us about Russia (it is hardly a revelation that Russia remains a deeply conservative society, where the Church plays a role far greater than in secular Western Europe) but what it tells us about the West.

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