2005-03-12

Russia

2007


2007-10-19-Buchanan
Who Restarted the Cold War?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2007-10-19

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis have been added.]

[1]
Putin’s Hostile Course,” the lead editorial in the Washington Times of Oct. 18,
began thus:
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation
to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Moscow
is just the latest sign that,
more than 16 years after the collapse of Soviet communism,
Moscow is gravitating toward Cold War behavior.
The old Soviet obsession – fighting American imperialism –
remains undiluted. ...

(A)t virtually every turn,
Mr. Putin and the Russian leadership
appear to be doing their best in ways large and small
to marginalize and embarrass the United States
and undercut U.S. foreign policy interests.
[2]
The Times pointed to Putin’s snub of Robert Gates and Condi Rice
by having them cool their heels for 40 minutes before a meeting.
Then came a press briefing where Putin implied
Russia may renounce the Reagan-Gorbachev INF treaty,
which removed all U.S. and Soviet medium-range missiles from Europe,
and threatened to pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty,
whereby Russia moved its tanks and troops
far from the borders of Eastern Europe.

[3]
On and on the Times indictment went.
Russia was blocking new sanctions on Iran.
Russia was selling anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.
Russia was selling weapons to Syria
that found their way to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Russia and Iran were talking up an OPEC-style natural gas cartel.
All this, said the Times, calls to mind “Soviet-era behavior.”

[4]
Missing from the prosecution’s case, however, was the motive.
Why has Putin’s Russia turned hostile?
Why is Putin mending fences with China, Iran and Syria?
Why is Putin sending Bear bombers to the edge of American airspace?
Why has Russia turned against America?
For Putin’s approval rating is three times that of George Bush.
Who restarted the Cold War?

[5]
To answer that question, let us go back those 16 years.

[6]
What happened in 1991 and 1992?

[7]
Well, Russia let the Berlin Wall be torn down
and its satellite states be voted or thrown out of power across Eastern Europe.
Russia agreed to pull the Red Army all the way back inside its border.
Russia agreed to let the Soviet Union dissolve into 15 nations.
The Communist Party agreed to share power and let itself be voted out.
Russia embraced freedom and American-style capitalism,
and invited Americans in to show them how it was done.

[8]
Russia did not use its veto in the Security Council [in 1991]
to block the U.S. war to drive Saddam Hussein, an ally, out of Kuwait.
When 9-11 struck,
Putin gave his blessing to U.S. troops using former republics
as bases for the U.S. invasion.



[9]
What was Moscow’s reward for its pro-America policy?

[10]
The United States began moving NATO into Eastern Europe
and then into former Soviet republics.
Six ex-Warsaw Pact nations are now NATO allies,
as are three ex-republics of the Soviet Union.
NATO expansionists have not given up on bringing
Ukraine, united to Russia for centuries, or
Georgia, Stalin’s birthplace,
into NATO.

[11]
In 1999, the United States bombed Serbia,
which has long looked to Mother Russia for protection, for 78 days,
though the Serbs’ sole crime was to fight to hold their cradle province of Kosovo,
as President Lincoln fought to hold onto the American South.
Now America is supporting the severing of Kosovo from Serbia
and creation of a new Islamic state in the Balkans,
over Moscow’s protest.

[12]
While Moscow removed its military bases from Cuba
and all over the Third World,
we have sought permanent military bases in Russia’s backyard of Central Asia.

[13]
We dissolved the Nixon-Brezhnev ABM treaty
and announced we would put a missile defense system
in Poland and the Czech Republic.

[14]
Under presidents Clinton and Bush,
the United States financed a pipeline for Caspian Sea oil
to transit Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea and Turkey,
cutting Russia out of the action.

[15]
With the end of the Cold War,
the KGB was abolished and the Comintern disappeared.
But the National Endowment for Democracy,
Freedom House and other Cold War agencies,
funded with tens of millions in tax-exempt and tax dollars,
engineered the ouster of pro-Russian regimes in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia,
and sought the ouster of the regime in Minsk.

[16]
At the Cold War’s end,
the United States was given one of the great opportunities of history:
to embrace Russia, largest nation on earth, as partner, friend, ally.
Our mutual interests meshed almost perfectly.
There was no ideological, territorial, historic or economic quarrel
between us,
once communist ideology was interred.


[17]
We blew it.

[18]
We moved NATO onto Russia’s front porch,
ignored her valid interests and concerns, and,
with our “indispensable-nation” arrogance,
treated her as a defeated power,
as France treated Weimar Germany after Versailles.


[19]
Who restarted the Cold War?
Bush and the braying hegemonists he brought with him to power.
Great empires and tiny minds go ill together.


2007-10-28-Hoagland
Putin's Guessing Games
By Jim Hoagland
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2007-10-28

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

This is Putin Unplugged, a domineering and entrenched ruler
seeking revenge
for the Bush administration’s early decision to marginalize Russia
by abrogating or ignoring
arms-control treaty commitments to Moscow.


[Patrick Buchanan gave an accurate list of the reasons why
Russia is peeved at the United States.
Arms-control treaties, or their abrogation, are a minor component of that list.
The Russian body politic is surely far more concerned about
the ill-treatment of their traditional Slavic brothers, the Serbs,
and the extension of the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance to their doorstop
(how would we have reacted
if the Warsaw Pact had been extended into South and Central America?)
than to the abstract and not-directly-threatening
development of U.S. ABM systems.
In America however, for some unfathomable reason,
Democrats seem viscerally opposed to American missile defense.
Many Democrats will no doubt internalize
Hoagland’s simplistic and wrong characterization
of what were the U.S. actions that antagonized Russia.]


2007-12-03-Raimondo
Is Russia Democratic?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-03

Yes – but so what?

2008


2008-04-02-Raimondo
NATO Marches Eastward
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-04-02

We're on a dangerous collision course with Russia,
no matter who wins the White House




2008-08-09-Larison-Anti-Russian-bias
Anti-Russian Bias
by Daniel Larison
Eunomia @ The American Conservative, 2008-08-09


2008-08-09-Clemons-Georgia
Georgia-Russia Clash:
American Culpability and the Kosovo Connection

by Steve Clemons
The Note, 2008-08-09

[An excellent, perceptive, and early analysis of the reasons for the war.
Here are two paragraphs; emphasis is added.]


My own view is that
the U.S. has displayed
a reckless disregard for Russian interests
for some time.

I don’t like Russia’s swing to greater domestic authoritarianism
and worry about its stiffened posture on a number of international fronts --
but Simes convinces me in his important Foreign Affairs essay, “Losing Russia,”
that much of what we are seeing unfold between Russia and Georgia involves
a high quotient of American culpability.

...

The fact is that a combination of
American recklessness,
serious miscalculation and over-reach by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,
as well as Russia’s forceful reassertion of its regional national interests
and status as an oil and gas rich, tough international player means
America and Europe have yet again helped generate a crisis
that tests US global credibility.


2008-08-11-Weiss-Georgia
Here's Hoping There's Not a Georgia Lobby in Washington....
[Fat chance.]
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2008-08-11

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The Israelis are said to be on the Georgians’ side...
Debkafile, a site with Israeli intelligence sources, reports that
Israeli advisers are aiding the Georgians
to hold on to the breakaway provinces.
1000 advisers, says this site.
The JPost headlines its report on Israelis’ views of the battle:
South Ossetia is Georgia’s “Golan Heights:--
and the Russians/Syrians want to take it away from us...”

Haaretz reports the internationalist connection:
a “Jewish Georgian minister” --of “reintegration.”
[What the hell is that?]
And just in case you had any doubt, there’s also a neocon connection:
McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann
(a former board member of the Project for the New American Century)
worked for the Georgian government
.
In the Note, Steve Clemons says that
reckless U.S. internationalists have pushed the war,
much as they’ve pushed adventures in the Middle East.



2008-08-11-Raimondo-Georgia
The Real Aggressor
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-11

Georgian invasion of South Ossetia sets the stage for a wider war


2008-08-12-Sailer-Georgia
Conspiracies vs. Networks
by Steve Sailer
ISteve.blogspot.com, 2008-08-12

[Philip Weiss cites and quotes from this piece here.]

2008-08-12-JP-Georgia
Georgian MP lauds IDF military training
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Jerusalem Post, 2008-08-12

Georgian Integration Minister Temur Yakobashvili told The Jerusalem Post Monday he
“felt proud as a Jew,”
thanks to the training Israelis had provided to units in the Georgian military.

2008-08-13-Raimondo-Georgia
'Poor Little Georgia' – Not!
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-13

Bill Kristol and the Menshevik myth of democratic Georgia


2008-08-14-Haaretz-Georgia-Israel
Georgia president denies Israel halted military aid due to war
By Anshel Pfeffer
Haaretz, 2008-08-14

[An excerpt.]

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili denied on Wednesday night
that Israel has suspended its military aid to the country.
“I haven’t heard anything about that,
and I haven’t had time to think about that issue for some days,”
he told Haaretz.

Saakashvili said he is aware of problems with supplying the pilotless drones that his army ordered from Israeli companies, but not of the stopping of any other shipments of military aid.

“The Israeli weapons have proved very effective,”
he said at a press conference at his office. When asked whether the Israeli arms played a role in the military successes he claimed the Georgian army had achieved, he joked: “Are you asking me as a representative of Elbit or of Israel Aerospace Industries?”

To a reporter’s question about Jews who have fled the fighting and come to Israel,
he said:
“We have two Israeli cabinet ministers,
one deals with war [Defense Minister David Kezerashvili],
and the other with negotiations [State Minister for Territorial Integration Temur Yakobashvili],
and that is the Israeli involvement here:
Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews.”

Yakobashvili is actually not an Israeli citizen. Saakashvili’s statements are part of his government’s attempt to bring other countries into its war against Russia. During the briefing, Saakashvili noted that he is in constant contact with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He promised that U.S. warships would be docking in Georgian ports within a few days to make sure they remain open.


2008-08-15-Raimondo-Georgia
Mikheil Saakashvili:
War Criminal

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-15

A politician's hubris causes untold human suffering

2008-08-15-Buchanan-Georgia
Blowback From Bear-Baiting
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-15

[Paragraph numbers are added.]

[1]
Mikheil Saakashvili’s decision
to use the opening of the Olympic Games
to cover Georgia’s invasion of its breakaway province of South Ossetia
must rank in stupidity with
Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s decision to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships.

[2]
Nasser’s blunder cost him the Sinai in the Six-Day War.
Saakashvili’s blunder probably means
permanent loss of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

[3]
After shelling and attacking what he claims is his own country,
killing scores of his own Ossetian citizens
and sending tens of thousands fleeing into Russia,
Saakashvili’s army was whipped back into Georgia in 48 hours.

[4]
Vladimir Putin took the opportunity
to kick the Georgian army out of Abkhazia, as well,
to bomb Tbilisi, and
to seize Gori, birthplace of Stalin.

[5]
Reveling in his status as
an intimate of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and John McCain,
and America’s lone democratic ally in the Caucasus,
Saakashvili thought he could get away with a lightning coup
and present the world with a fait accompli.

[6]
Mikheil did not reckon on the rage or resolve of the Bear.

[7]
American charges of Russian aggression ring hollow.
Georgia started this fight – Russia finished it.
People who start wars don’t get to decide how and when they end.

[8]
Russia’s response was “disproportionate” and “brutal,” wailed Bush.

[9]
True.
But did we not authorize Israel to bomb Lebanon for 35 days
in response to
a border skirmish where several Israel soldiers were killed and two captured?
Was that not many times more “disproportionate”?

[10]
Russia has invaded a sovereign country, railed Bush.
But did not the United States bomb Serbia for 78 days and invade [??]
to force it to surrender a province, Kosovo, to which
Serbia had a far greater historic claim
than Georgia had to Abkhazia or South Ossetia,
both of which prefer Moscow to Tbilisi?

[11]
Is not Western hypocrisy astonishing?

[12]
When the Soviet Union broke into 15 nations, we celebrated.
When Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Kosovo
broke from Serbia, we rejoiced.
Why, then, the indignation when two provinces,
whose peoples are ethnically separate from Georgians
and who fought for their independence,
should succeed in breaking away?

[13]
Are secessions and the dissolution of nations laudable
only when they advance the agenda of the neocons,
many of whom viscerally detest Russia?

[14]
That Putin took the occasion of Saakashvili’s provocative and stupid stunt
to administer an extra dose of punishment is undeniable.
But is not Russian anger understandable?
For years the West has rubbed Russia’s nose in her Cold War defeat
and treated her like Weimar Germany.

[15]
When Moscow
pulled the Red Army out of Europe,
closed its bases in Cuba,
dissolved the evil empire,
let the Soviet Union break up into 15 states, and
sought friendship and alliance with the United States,
what did we do?

[16]
American carpetbaggers colluded with Muscovite Scalawags
to loot the Russian nation.

Breaking a pledge to Mikhail Gorbachev,
we moved our military alliance into Eastern Europe,
then onto Russia’s doorstep.
Six Warsaw Pact nations and
three former republics of the Soviet Union
are now NATO members.

[17]
Bush, Cheney, and McCain have pushed to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.
This would require the United States to go to war with Russia
over Stalin’s birthplace
and who has sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula and Sebastopol,
traditional home of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

[18]
When did these become U.S. vital interests, justifying war with Russia?

[19]
The United States unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty
because our technology was superior,
then planned to site anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic
to defend against Iranian missiles,
though Iran has no ICBMs and no atomic bombs.
A Russian counter-offer
to have us together put an antimissile system in Azerbaijan
was rejected out of hand.

[20]
We built a Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey
to cut Russia out.
Then we helped dump over regimes friendly to Moscow
with democratic “revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia,
and tried to repeat it in Belarus.

[21]
Americans have many fine qualities.
A capacity to see ourselves as others see us is not high among them.
[See Stephen Walt’s fine analysis of this phenomenon.]

[22]
Imagine a world that never knew Ronald Reagan,
where Europe had opted out of the Cold War
after Moscow installed those SS-20 missiles east of the Elbe.
And Europe had abandoned NATO,
told us to go home and become subservient to Moscow.

[23]
How would we have reacted if Moscow had
brought Western Europe into the Warsaw Pact,
established bases in Mexico and Panama,
put missile defense radars and rockets in Cuba, and
joined with China to build pipelines
to transfer Mexican and Venezuelan oil to Pacific ports
for shipment to Asia?
And cut us out?
If there were Russian and Chinese advisers training Latin American armies,
the way we are in the former Soviet republics,
how would we react?
Would we look with bemusement on such Russian behavior?

[24]
For a decade, some of us have warned about
the folly of getting into Russia’s space and getting into Russia’s face.
The chickens of democratic imperialism have now come home to roost –
in Tbilisi.



2008-08-15-Weiss-Georgia-Israel
Georgia: 'Duck Soup,' 'Tail Wags Dog,' 'Syriana' Or All the Above?
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss.org, 2008-08-15



2008-08-17-WP-Finn
A Two-Sided Descent Into Full-Scale War
By Peter Finn
Washington Post, 2008-08-17


2008-08-18-Raimondo
Russophobia: A Political Pathology
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-18

Why the new cold war with Russia?




2008-08-19-Buchanan-Cold-War
Who Started Cold War II?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-19

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

[1]
The American people should be eternally grateful to Old Europe
for having spiked
the Bush-McCain plan to bring Georgia into NATO.

[2]
Had Georgia been in NATO when Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia,
we would be eyeball to eyeball with Russia, facing war in the Caucasus,
where Moscow’s superiority is as great as
U.S. superiority in the Caribbean during the Cuban missile crisis.

[3]
If the Russia-Georgia war proves nothing else, it is
the insanity of giving erratic hotheads in volatile nations
the power to drag the United States into war.


[4]
From Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates said,
U.S. presidents have sought to avoid shooting wars with Russia,
even when the Bear was at its most beastly.

[5]
Truman refused to use force to break Stalin’s Berlin blockade.
Ike refused to intervene when the Butcher of Budapest
drowned the Hungarian Revolution in blood.
LBJ sat impotent as Leonid Brezhnev’s tanks crushed the Prague Spring.
Jimmy Carter’s response to Brezhnev’s invasion of Afghanistan was
to boycott the Moscow Olympics.
When Brezhnev ordered his Warsaw satraps to crush Solidarity
and shot down a South Korean airliner
killing scores of U.S. citizens, including a congressman,
Reagan did nothing.

[6]
These presidents were not cowards.
They simply would not go to war
when no vital U.S. interest was at risk to justify a war.
Yet, had George W. Bush prevailed and were Georgia in NATO,
U.S. Marines could be fighting Russian troops over
whose flag should fly over
a province of 70,000 South Ossetians who prefer Russians to Georgians.

[7]
The arrogant folly of the architects of U.S. post-Cold War policy
is today on display.
By bringing three ex-Soviet republics into NATO,
we have moved the U.S. red line for war from the Elbe
almost to within artillery range of the old Leningrad.

[8]
Should America admit Ukraine into NATO, Yalta, vacation resort of the czars,
will be a NATO port and Sevastopol,
traditional home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet,
will become a naval base for the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
This is altogether a bridge too far.

[9]
And can we not understand how a Russian patriot like Vladimir Putin
would be incensed by this U.S. encirclement
after Russia shed its empire and sought our friendship?
How would Andy Jackson have reacted to such crowding by the British Empire?

[10]
As of 1991,
the oil of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan belonged to Moscow.
Can we not understand why Putin would smolder as
avaricious Yankees built pipelines
to siphon the oil and gas of the Caspian Basin
through breakaway Georgia to the West?

[11]
For a dozen years, Putin & Co. watched as
U.S. agents helped to dump over regimes in Ukraine and Georgia
that were friendly to Moscow.

[12]
If Cold War II is coming, who started it, if not us?

[13]
The swift and decisive action of Putin’s army
in running the Georgian forces out of South Ossetia in 24 hours
after Saakashvili began his barrage and invasion
suggests Putin knew exactly what Saakashvili was up to
and dropped the hammer on him.

[14]
What did we know?
Did we know Georgia was about to walk into Putin’s trap?
Did we not see the Russians lying in wait north of the border?
Did we give Saakashvili a green light?

[15]
Joe Biden ought to be conducting public hearings on
who caused this U.S. humiliation.

[16]
The war in Georgia has exposed the dangerous overextension of U.S. power.
There is no way America can fight a war with Russia in the Caucasus with our army tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Nor should we.
Hence,
it is demented to be offering, as John McCain and Barack Obama are,
NATO membership to Tbilisi.


[17]

The United States must decide whether it wants
a partner in a flawed Russia or
a second Cold War.

For if we want another Cold War, we are,
by cutting Russia out of the oil of the Caspian
and pushing NATO into her face,
going about it exactly the right way.

[18]
Vladimir Putin is no Stalin.
He is a nationalist determined, as ruler of a proud and powerful country,
to assert his nation’s primacy in its own sphere,
just as U.S. presidents from James Monroe to Bush have done
on our side of the Atlantic.

[19]
A resurgent Russia is no threat to any vital interests of the United States.
It is a threat to an American Empire that presumes some God-given right
to plant U.S. military power in the backyard or on the front porch
of Mother Russia.


[20]
Who rules Abkhazia and South Ossetia is none of our business.
And after this madcap adventure of Saakashvili,
why not let the people of these provinces decide their own future
in plebiscites conducted by the United Nations
or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe?

[21]
As for Saakashvili, he’s probably toast in Tbilisi after this stunt.
Let the neocons find him an endowed chair at the American Enterprise Institute.



2008-08-22-NYT-Baker
U.S. Sees Much to Fear in a Hostile Russia
By PETER BAKER
New York Times, 2008-08-22

[This gives many examples of
how Russia could apply pressure to the United States, if it were so inclined,
but it unaccountably omits a key one:
American dependence on Russian rockets to resupply the International Space Station
after it retires its space shuttle in 2010.]



2008-08-26-Giraldi
The Evil Empire Revisited
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-26

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

[1]
In George Orwell’s 1984 there is a memorable scene when
the speaker from Oceania’s Ministry of Truth is addressing a rally,
the culmination of Hate Week against the enemy, Eurasia.
He receives a message mid-sentence, then smoothly shifts gears
to deliver the remainder of his speech excoriating Eastasia.
The crowd responds enthusiastically,
and the narrator, Winston, notes that, of course,
Eastasia had always been the enemy.

[This scene is near the beginning of Chapter 9; search on
"a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker's hand"
(or click here).]


[2]
The alliances in Orwell’s nightmare world had shifted,
but the concept of the enemy remained the same.
There always has to be an enemy.
So too the neoconservatives always need an enemy
to justify the huge defense contracts
that in turn spawn the think tanks and academic chairs in security studies
that provide them with their sinecures.
A world without “Islamofascism” or another enemy lurking
is a world without employment for the likes of Bill Kristol and John Bolton.

[3]
Post-1992 Russia has given every indication
that it desires to be a friend to the United States
and that it has no desire to recreate the Cold War.
It allowed itself to be looted by the oligarchs,
who presented themselves as the bearers of Western-style modernization
with hardly a complaint.
It saw its place in the world shrink
and its voice in international fora diminished.
President George W. Bush even famously
looked Russian Premier Vladimir Putin in the eye in Crawford, Texas, in June 2001
and announced positively that
he had gotten a “sense of his soul.”
But the neoconservatives were never on board the Russian project.
Their reading on Russia was that it was and always will be the enemy.
They would argue that Bush misjudged his guest
and Russia was even then preparing to rebuild its empire.

[4]
The Great Decider is making up for his slip of the tongue now,
threatening Russia even though it was on the receiving end
of a foolish invasion launched by America’s ally Georgia.
But now it is a much diminished U.S. that has no options in the Caucasus.
In speaking forcefully on an issue that he cannot influence,
Bush is again the engineer of a foreign policy train wreck,
a disaster potentially much more dangerous than Iraq.

The White House is inexplicably,
and in support of no national interest of the United States,
creating an enemy where one did not exist,
an enemy, one might add,
that is equipped with a nuclear arsenal and
state-of-the art ballistic missiles
that could destroy both the United States and Western Europe.


[5]
One might reasonably argue that the current international situation
threatens a reversion to the uncertainty that prevailed during the Cold War.
Over the past several years the White House has done everything possible
to turn a possible friend into an enemy
who is now clearly convinced that
there is no dealing with Washington on any kind of rational level.
From the Russian point of view,
there has been nothing but provocation from the Bush administration,
starting with
its withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in December 2001
so that it could push forward with an unneeded missile defense system
that mostly benefits defense contractors and their neocon friends.
[I agree with most of what Giraldi says,
but I have to take exception here.
I believe the BMD system is vitally needed,
as a safeguard against both accidental launches and
possible assaults from rogue nations.
It benefits the entire American nation.]

More recently, the White House supported the creation of an independent Kosovo without any serious attempt to address Russian concerns.
And there is even worse coming from Bush heir presumptive Sen. John McCain,
who has declared that “We are all Georgians,”
presumably meaning that we have all been attacked by Russia.
McCain is advised exclusively by neoconservatives on foreign policy,
one of whom has received more than $1 million to lobby for Georgia.
McCain has called for expelling Moscow from the G-8
and blocking its entry into the World Trade Organization,
the type of economic isolation
that was routinely employed against the Soviet Union.
Russia hears nothing good coming out of the United States.

[6]

The United States government and people
have a great deal of difficulty in seeing themselves as others see them,

perhaps an unfortunate downside to American exceptionalism.
[Stephen Walt has performed a great service to America
by analyzing this point at considerable length
in the chapter titled “The Roots of Resentment” of his book Taming American Power,
excerpted here (note especially §2.3).]

What most non-Americans, including the Russians,
have seen over the past seven years is
a ... regime in Washington that has
twisted the truth,
invaded some countries while bullying many others, and
made the world a much more dangerous and unstable place
than it was prior to 9/11.
Can there be a more unsettling sight than
either Bush or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
smugly lecturing the world on how it should behave?
There is no upside for Washington in confronting Moscow.
How Russia elects its leaders and governs itself is not America’s concern,
particularly as
Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
enjoy overwhelming support from their own people.

[7]
Regarding Russia, the Bush administration has advanced two broad policies
that are quite frankly incomprehensible.
Together they do little for the national security of the United States
and do a great deal to make the Russians nervous.
First is the expansion of NATO.
NATO is a military alliance that no longer has any meaning.
It was created to restrain the Soviet Union through the threat of military force,
a raison d’être that has not applied since 1992,
which is why a reluctant NATO, searching for a new role, bombed Serbia in 1999
and is currently in Afghanistan supporting overstretched U.S. forces.
Washington has attempted to obfuscate
the question whether NATO should exist at all
by arguing that the role of the alliance has changed,
that it is no longer directed against Russia and is instead
a source of stability for both Eastern and Western Europe,
bringing newly democratized nations into the fold in a stable and sustainable fashion
by integrating them into a purely defensive military structure
where armies are answerable to the people.
Using that rationale, NATO has incorporated Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania –
all former parts of the Soviet Union –
as well as
Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland,
Romania, Croatia, Albania, and Bulgaria [and Hungary].
It has also discussed adding Ukraine and Georgia,
both of which border Russia and were also part of the old Soviet Union.

[8]
But Moscow doesn’t buy that argument,
first of all because it doesn’t understand
why a military alliance should be used as the instrument
for what is essentially economic integration,
which could be managed by the United States and European Union
working together in more appropriate settings.

[A very good point, in my opinion.]
Russia is also keenly aware of the political agenda linked to the NATO expansion.
The United States and some Europeans have supported
the various pastel color revolutions that have swept across Eastern Europe.
This support has been both overt and covert,
but it always has one objective:
to replace pro-Russian parties and regimes
with “democratic” alternatives that are more closely aligned with the West.
That the new regimes
are frequently virtually indistinguishable from the ones they replace
in terms of corruption, inefficiency, and failure to govern by the rule of law
appears to be irrelevant.
The Russians, nervous about their own security,
have watched this advance of governments unfriendly to them
and their vital interests.

Is there any national interest reason why
the United States should support
the “democratization” of Eastern Europe?
The short answer is “no.”

Russia, as an energy giant and a major player on the world stage,
is the only country in Eastern Europe
that should truly matter to the United States,
and our objective should be to establish the best possible relationship.
The willy-nilly NATO expansion policies in place
do little more than heighten the sense of threat in Moscow,
converting a strategically important country from a competitor into an enemy.

[9]
And then there is threat of the Iranian missiles
that do not exist, might never exist,
and could not threaten either Europe or the United States
in the foreseeable future.
To counter those weapons,
the U.S. will install “defensive” missiles in Poland,
with a radar station in the Czech Republic.

[I presume this is the second “broad policy” of the Bush administration
to which Giraldi referred in ¶7.]

Both Warsaw and Prague
have been heavily bribed and pressured to accept the deployments,
which are opposed by
both the Czech and Polish people and most other Europeans.
The missiles serve no useful purpose against Tehran
but could be used against Russia.
Anyone who is interested in missile technology and its capabilities
knows that “defensive” and “offensive” are meaningless terms,
as the weapons can be deployed in roles that support either function.
So why does Washington persist in demanding that
an unwanted weapons system that has no purpose but to create fear in Moscow
be put into operation?
Perhaps Bill Kristol and John Bolton can provide an answer.
But the end result will quite likely be
Cold War II,
huge new defense contracts,
and more fear-mongering talking points for the neocons.


[A good question is why Giraldi, in this piece, asserts that
the neocons are motivated in this matter by corporate and financial interests
rather than
their well-known and well-established ties to the interests of the Israeli right.
Only Mr. Giraldi himself can provide a definitive answer,
but lacking that I would point to a piece (“Philip Giraldi and Doug Feith”)
that appeared on the blog of Commentary on August 9,
17 days before Giraldi published the above,
which described him as
“a conspiracy theorist obsessed with Jews and Israel”
[emphasis added],
and gave numerous quotes purporting to prove that.
With that kind of fire coming in from the Jewish right,
one could see why he might decide that discretion was the better part of valor
when it comes to linking the neocons to Jewish interests,
at least for a while.

But in the meantime,
for some links between Israel and our support for Georgia,
see “Israel of the Caucasus” by Arnaud de Borchgrave or
“Foreign Lobbyists and the Making of US Policy” by Justin Raimondo.]




2008-08-26-Harbaugh
Some comments from the author of this blog:

Various media and political figures have declared that
we should support Georgia and the Ukraine against Russia
because their governments are “pro-American,”
and that we should support their joining NATO for that reason,
as well as because they are democracies,
supposedly more democratic than that of Russia.

But what if Mexico and Canada were to declare that they were pro-Russian?
Taking a step back in time,
what if Russia had encouraged them to join the Warsaw Pact?
Or say, even more plausibly, invited Cuba to join the Warsaw Pact?
(Patrick Buchanan postulated a similar scenario.)

We would have reacted with a combination of outrage and fear.
Our movers and shakers would have stirred up such a ruckus
that America would have done everything possible,
certainly including the use of military force if necessary,
to avoid having such an imminent and obvious threat on our doorstep.

Some may say that that is an invalid comparison, because we, of course,
are pure in heart,
as opposed to those naughty, vile, authoritarian, oligarch-controlling Russians.
Well, you can believe that if you like, but I think that, in this case,
we should allow the Russians as much right
to influence who is immediately adjacent to their territory
as we demand relative to our own.

The only possible exception I see are the Baltic states,
which, as Samuel Huntington points out,
have been traditionally Western in orientation.
Thus I can see supporting their membership in NATO,
but not that of the other former republics of the old Soviet Union.

It is interesting to compare the points of view of
Samuel Huntington and Patrick Buchanan.
Both believe that Georgia and Ukraine do not belong in NATO
(Huntington, Buchanan here and here).
As to the Baltic states,
Huntington would include them in NATO,
while Buchanan would not.

2008-08-27-Raimondo
Foreign Lobbyists and the Making of US Policy
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-08-27

American politicians are for sale – and so is our foreign policy

[This is posted in
American Foreign Policy
Russia and
The War Party.

Here is an excerpt.]


The Georgia lobby and the Israel lobby have much in common,
including key supporters and personnel,
as well as geopolitical and economic links.
Israeli defense companies, which are virtually part of the Israeli state,
armed the Georgians,
and the IDF trained Georgian troops in preparation for the day they would –
as the mainstream media puts it –
retake” (i.e., invade and crush)
the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Aside from the close relationship between these two U.S. puppets,
both Georgia and Israel have an interest in
stoking the fires of militant interventionism in American politics,
as the crusading impulse helps their respective causes.
Once the Americans begin to wonder
where all this military and diplomatic support to troublesome and quarrelsome allies is getting them,
the jig is up –
which is why, for example, the Georgians are hard at work in Denver,
as the New York Times reports,
meeting with Democratic Party honchos
and making their case with a fair amount of success.

The Russians are in Denver, too,
but have limited their goals to damage control,
and they aren’t likely to make much progress.
In one of the most successful inversions of reality ever attempted,
the Western media has convinced its audience – and even itself
that Russia invaded Georgia, instead of Georgia invading South Ossetia.
The bombing and devastation of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital,
never happened, according to our media.
The dead are denied or disdained by Western “observers.”
In any case, the Georgia lobby and its allies
don’t want us to watch what is going on in the region very closely.
They’d rather we stuck to the simplistic narrative of
Big Bad Russia versus Poor Little Democratic Georgia.


2008-09-02-de-Borchgrave-Georgia-Israel
Israel of the Caucasus
by ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE
Middle East Times, 2008-09-02

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) --

[1]
NATO guarantees that
an attack against one member country is an attack against all
are no longer what they used to be.
Had Georgia been inside NATO,
a number of European countries would no longer be willing to consider it
an attack against their own soil.

[2]
For Russia, the geopolitical stars were in perfect alignment.
The United States was badly overstretched
and had no plausible way to talk tough without coming across as empty rhetoric.
American resources have been drained by the Iraq and Afghan wars,
and the war on terror.
As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov put it,
Washington must now choose between its ‘pet project’ Georgia
and a partnership with Moscow.

[3]
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
evidently thought the United States would come to his side militarily
if Russian troops pushed him back into Georgia after ordering an attack last Aug. 8 on the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
And when his forces were mauled by Russia’s counterattack,
bitter disappointment turned to anger.
Along with Abkhazia, Georgia lost two provinces.

[4]
Georgia also had a special relationship with Israel
that was mostly under the radar.
Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli
who moved things along by facilitating Israeli arms sales with U.S. aid.
‘We are now in a fight against the great Russia,’ he was quoted as saying,
‘and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House
because Georgia cannot survive on its own.’

[5]
The Jerusalem Post on Aug. 12 reported,
‘Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze
made a special call to Israel Tuesday morning to receive a blessing
from one of the Haredi community’s most important rabbis and spiritual leaders,
Rabbi Aaron Leib Steinman.
‘I want him to pray for us and our state,’’ he was quoted.

[6]
Israel began selling arms to Georgia seven years ago.
U.S. grants facilitated these purchases.
From Israel came former minister and former Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo, representing Elbit Systems,
and his brother Shlomo, former director general of Military Industries.
Israeli UAV spy drones, made by Elbit Maarahot Systems,
conducted recon flights over southern Russia, as well as into nearby Iran.

[7]

In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia,
two military airfields in southern Georgia
had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers

in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations.
This would sharply reduce the distance
Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran.

And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.

[8]
The attack ordered by Saakashvili against South Ossetia the night of Aug. 7
provided the Russians the pretext
for Moscow to order Special Forces to raid these Israeli facilities
where some Israeli drones were reported captured.

[9]
At a Moscow news conference,
Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia’s deputy chief of staff,
said the extent of Israeli aid to Georgia included
‘eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines
and special explosives for clearing minefields.’
Estimated numbers of Israeli trainers attached to the Georgian army
range from 100 to 1,000.
There were also 110 U.S. military personnel on training assignments in Georgia.
Last July 2,000 U.S. troops were flown in for ‘Immediate Response 2008,’
a joint exercise with Georgian forces.

[10]
Details of Israel’s involvement were largely ignored by Israeli media
lest they be interpreted as another blow to Israel’s legendary military prowess,
which took a bad hit in the Lebanese war against Hezbollah two years ago.
Georgia’s top diplomat in Tel Aviv complained about
Israel’s ‘lackluster’ response to his country’s military predicament
and called for ‘diplomatic pressure on Moscow.’
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Georgian was told
‘the address for that type of pressure is Washington.’

[11]
Haaretz reported Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili --
who is Jewish, the newspaper said --
told Israeli army radio that
‘Israel should be proud of its military which trained Georgian soldiers’
because he explained rather implausibly,
‘a small group of our soldiers
were able to wipe out an entire Russian military division,
thanks to Israeli training.’

[12]
The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis was agreed at the highest levels
with the approval of the Bush administration.
The official liaison between the two entities was Reserve Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch
who commanded Israeli forces on the Lebanese border in July 2006.
He resigned from the army after the Winograd Commission flayed Israel’s conduct of its Second Lebanon War.
Hirsch was also blamed for the seizure of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.

[13]
Israeli personnel,
working for ‘private’ companies with close ties to the Israel Defense Forces,
also trained Georgian soldiers in house-to-house fighting.

[14]
That Russia assessed these Israeli training missions as U.S.-approved is a given.
The United States was also handicapped by
a shortage of spy-in-the-sky satellite capability,
already overextended by the Iraq and Afghan wars.
Neither U.S. nor Georgian intelligence
knew Russian forces were ready with an immediate and massive response
to the Georgian attack Moscow knew was coming.
Russian double agents ostensibly working for Georgia
most probably egged on the military fantasies
of the impetuous Saakashvili’s ‘surprise attack’ plans.

[15]
Saakashvili was convinced that by sending 2,000 of his soldiers to serve in Iraq
(who were immediately flown home by the United States
when Russia launched a massive counterattack into Georgia),
he would be rewarded for his loyalty.
He could not believe President Bush, a personal friend,
would leave him in the lurch.
Georgia, as Saakashvili saw his country’s role, was
the ‘Israel of the Caucasus.’

[16]
The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis
appears to have been cemented at the highest levels,
according to YNet, the Israeli electronic daily.
But whether the IAF can still count on those air bases
to launch bombing missions against Iran’s nuke facilities
is now in doubt.

[17]
Iran comes out ahead in the wake of the Georgian crisis.
Neither Russia nor China is willing to respond to a Western request
for more and tougher sanctions against the mullahs.
Iran’s European trading partners are also loath to squeeze Iran.
The Russian-built, 1,000-megawatt Iranian reactor in Bushehr
is scheduled to go online early next year.

[18]
A combination of Putin and oil
has put Russia back on the geopolitical map of the world.
Moscow’s oil and gas revenue this year is projected at $201 billion --
a 13-fold increase since Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin eight years ago.
Not shabby for a wannabe superpower on the comeback trail.


[If anyone doubts why America’s “elite” is so concerned about
far-off, hitherto practically unknown (except as the birthplace of Stalin) Georgia,
just look at a map,
and see what an ideal staging area it is for aerial attacks on Iran.]



2008-09-03-Harbaugh-Georgia-Tibet-Cuba
Some comments by the author of this blog:

The neocons (why is always the same cast of characters
who are always inveigling the U.S. into unnecessary wars?)
are now arguing that we should support Georgia against Russia because
1) it is a democratic nation being threatened by an authoritarian regime, and
2) the fact that it is immediately adjacent to Russian territory is irrelevant.

As to the “support little democracies versus big autocracies” argument,
why doesn’t that apply to supporting Tibet versus China?
China brutally invaded and occupied Tibet,
and if anyone is appealing and peace-loving,
surely it is all those Buddhist monks.
Why aren’t the neocons calling us to arms to free Tibet?
(For the answer, see this.)

As to the desire of superpowers to ensure
their immediate neighborhood has only friendly governments,
see the U.S. relation with Cuba.
In fact, in 1961 we did sponsor an (unsuccessful) invasion of that island,
the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion,
which, come to think of it, was hardly more successful
than Georgia’s of South Ossetia.


2008-09-09-WP-Bahrampour-Georgia
Georgians Question Wisdom of War With Russia
President's Future At Stake, Some Say
By Tara Bahrampour
Washington Post, 2008-09-09

[An excerpt; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

[6]
David Gamkrelidze, leader of the opposition New Rights party,
said that while Russia had long been “punishing” Georgia for its independence,
Saakashvili’s “unbalanced and very aggressive politics” had helped Russia.
“By his military rhetoric, and all kinds of provocations, Saakashvili
tried to show that he can return these territories by the military way,
that he has this capacity, he has this force.”

...

[13]
Saakashvili’s Western-oriented government
has been hailed as a “beacon of democracy” by President Bush.

[And the whole Neocomintariat, including the Post’s editorial page.]
But many here say that long before the war,
the government used tensions over the breakaway regions to
flout basic democratic principles,
change the constitution to strengthen the ruling party,
ignore judiciary problems and
suppress the media.

[14]
Such complaints helped spark massive protests here last November,
which the government crushed with tear gas and masked troops wielding batons,
staining Georgia’s international image.
Saakashvili ended the crisis by calling a snap presidential election;
he won a second term,
though with less support than in the previous election
and with allegations of vote-rigging.

[15]
With an ineffectual opposition, Saakashvili and his ruling majority
had seemed securely ensconced for another five years.
But now there is serious pressure:
A popular opposition member of Parliament
has called for an investigative commission,
80 organizations and individuals
have signed a petition calling for a “broad debate,”
and most opposition leaders refused to sign a government pledge of unity,
according to a local online newspaper.

[16]
Critics also accuse the government of dishonesty
in its characterization of the war’s outcome.
Several have blasted the government
for staging celebrations during and after the war, and
for claiming the conflict was an international public relations victory
while blaming others for its failures.

[17]
“What we are hearing is that everyone is guilty in this but the government itself,”
[David Usupashvili, leader of the opposition Republican Party] said.
“They started talking that the events of last year
were something which stopped the government from improving the army,
or that there are lots of [Russian] agents within the opposition.
But they are not looking in their own back yard
to see who misled the president by saying the Russians wouldn’t respond.”


2008-09-12-NYT-Georgia-Putin
Stung by Criticism Over Georgia,
Putin Asks West for a Little Understanding

By ELLEN BARRY
New York Times, 2008-09-12

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Mr. Putin issued a great number of reassurances on Thursday:
He said Russia had
“no ideological conflict” with the West and
“no imperial ambitions” in Eastern Europe;
he said he supported eliminating stockpiles of nuclear weapons;
he said he expected Georgians to oust their president, Mikheil Saakashvili,
without any help from Russia.
Russia, he said, is “not against anybody.”

Well, almost nobody.
Mr. Putin spoke of the Western news media
with unbridled contempt.

“I am surprised at
how powerful the propaganda machine of the so-called West
is,”

he said.
“This is awesome! Amazing!”

[Some Westerners agree.]

...

For the first time, Mr. Putin suggested that
the military action was aimed in part at
quelling instability in the Russian north Caucasus,
where he said
“certain nongovernmental organizations in certain republics” had
“raised the question of separation from Russia
under the pretext of nonprotection of South Ossetia.”

“We would have had a new problem if we had not done that,”
Interfax reported him as saying.

[Yes, separatism versus centralization is and has always been
a real question for Russia.]




2008-10-20-NYT-military
Russia Is Striving to Modernize Its Military
By THOM SHANKER
New York Times, 2008-10-20



2008-11-07-NYT-Georgia
Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question
By C. J. CHIVERS and ELLEN BARRY
New York Times, 2008-11-07



2008-11-10-Raimondo
The Russian Question
What's Obama's answer?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-11-10



2008-11-18-NYT-Georgia-Amnesty-International
Report Faults All Parties in War in Georgia
By ELLEN BARRY
New York Times, 2008-11-18

[Its beginning.]

MOSCOW —
Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian forces failed to protect civilians,
and in some cases singled them out for attack, during the war in Georgia,
according to a report released Tuesday by Amnesty International.

The report calls for an independent investigation into
“serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law”
that Amnesty International contends
were committed by all sides during the war in August.



2008-11-18-Amnesty-Intenational-news-release
Counting the civilian cost of the Georgia-Russia conflict
Amnesty International, 2008-11-18







2009


2009-02-25-Raimondo
To Russia, With Hate
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-02-25

Cato Institute targets the Russkies















2010


2010-04-13-Buchanan-Katyn
Katyn and ‘The Good War’
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2010-04-13

The decapitation of the Polish government last weekend,
including President Lech Kaczynski and the military leadership,
on that flight to Smolensk to commemorate the Katyn Massacre,
brings to mind the terrible and tragic days and deeds
of what many yet call the Good War.

...












2014

2014-03-14-WP-Matlock-who-is-the-bully-the-united-states-has-treated-russia-like-a-loser-since-the-cold-war

The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War.

By Jack F. Matlock Jr., ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991
Washington Post Outlook, 2014-03-16

[I agree with about all of the opinions expressed in this essay by Mr. Matlock.
It should also be noted that Patrick Buchanan has consistently been voicing almost the same ideas.
See, e.g., 2007-10-19-Buchanan.]




2014-04-01-Walt-putin_personality_politics_first_image
Why Are We So Busy Trying to 'Figure Out' Vladimir Putin?
On personality politics, great men,
and the fallacy of thinking that individuals actually shape the world.

by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2014-04-01






2015

2015-12-30-WP-lack-of-russia-experts-has-the-u-s-playing-catch-up
Lack of Russia experts has some in U.S. worried
By Karoun Demirjian
Washington Post, 2015-12-30

While the international war against the Islamic State and a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran underscore Russia’s growing influence in major foreign policy challenges around the world, there are growing concerns that Washington’s lack of understanding of its one-time chief adversary is proving to be a critical national security risk.

Top intelligence and national security officials — including the top general of NATO — have warned that the United States’ depth of knowledge and capacity for collecting information on Russia is not up to snuff, given the stakes of the conflicts at hand and the threat an unpredictable Kremlin poses to U.S. interests.

Experts, lawmakers and former administration officials describe a national security apparatus that, once teeming with experienced Russia specialists, including at the highest levels of decision-making, now relies on looser regime of more junior experts who lack the reach to directly influence policy. The result, they say, is a series of missed opportunities to anticipate Moscow’s recent moves in areas such as Ukraine and Syria, even when clues were readily available.

“We’ve been surprised at every turn,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). “We were surprised when they went into Crimea, we were surprised when they went into Syria.”

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said there has been some “atrophy” in the government’s Russia expertise since the Cold War, a trend that needs to be reversed.

“We’ve gotta double down on re-looking at Russia,” he said.

Over the last several months, military and intelligence officials have repeatedly pointed to Russia as posing a potential existential threat to the United States, but the amount of resources dedicated to the expertise needed to gain a better understanding of Moscow and its plans does not reflect that reality.

...

Experts also note that except for a few figures — such as Celeste Wallander, senior director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council and Victoria Nuland, assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs — it is difficult to find senior government officials grappling with Russia who intimately understand the country and its leaders.

“When senior administration officials go up to the Hill, it’s presumed they have expertise. The dirty secret is that our capability is terrible, it stinks,” said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center. He said he has conducted Belarus briefings where “nobody in the room has gone to Belarus” and noted there are parts of NATO in which “we don’t have anyone who can read the Russian press.”

“Almost any metric we might choose to assess capacity, we just don’t have it: it’s weak, and it’s spotty,” Rojansky said.

...




2016

2016-03-08-Lang-what-in-the-world-8-march-2016
What in the world? 8 March 2016
by Patrick Lang
turcopolier.typepad.com, 2016-03-08

There is so much going on in the world that I want state my opinions during these interesting days. I don't claim that this is reportage, only my opinion:

•US Foreign policy. What on earth are we doing? Carter, Durnford, Nuland, Brennan and the incredible Breedlove all seem intent on war with Russia. Russia is a much weaker country militarily and economically than the US but it is also armed with several thousand deliverable nuclear weapons. Is it really wise to pick a fight with an entity that may feel deeply threatened by such things as NATO expansion but which also possesses the ability to destroy you in a mutual festival of death reminiscent of what happens if you put two scorpions in a jar. Breedlove in particular is a bizarre creature. He looks and talks like a used car salesman pushing to get the numbers up for the month. What exactly has Russia done to require such aggressive reactions from the US? Breedlove wants to permanently return a heavy (armored) US Army brigade to Europe? For what purpose is that desired? Is it to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, the Baltics or some other place in eastern Europe? Does anyone not invested in international tension really think Russia is going to invade these places? Is it anticipated that the Russian intervention in Georgia set a pattern for Russian aggression? If that is really believed at the level of government of the people named above then war may be inevitable. In "Doctor Strangelove" General Buck Turgidson, USAF (imagined) tells the president that he can "absolutely guarantee" that US casualties in a USSR/USA thermonuclear exchange would be "no more then 10 million dead, 20 million tops!" In fact the estimates current in the US government before the fall of the USSR were for much higher US casualties than that. What on earth are we doing?

...




2017

2017-03-Caldwell-think-vladimir-putin
How to Think About Vladimir Putin
by Christopher Caldwell
Imprimis, 2017-03

[The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 15, 2017,
at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona.]

Vladimir Putin is a powerful ideological symbol and a highly effective ideological litmus test.
He is a hero to populist conservatives around the world
and anathema to progressives.

I don’t want to compare him to our own president,
but if you know enough about what a given American thinks of Putin,
you can probably tell what he thinks of Donald Trump.

...


2017-03-30-Buchanan-putin-preeminent-statesman-times
Is Putin the ‘Preeminent Statesman’ of Our Times?
by Patrick Buchanan
buchanan.org, 2017-03-30

...

Putin’s approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump’s?

Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.

What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War’s end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.

And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.

...

In December, one poll found 37 percent of all Republicans had a favorable view of the Russian leader, but only 17 percent were positive on President Barack Obama.

There is another reason Putin is viewed favorably. Millions of ethnonationalists who wish to see their nations secede from the EU see him as an ally.
...
Putin has read the new century better than his rivals. While the 20th century saw the world divided between a Communist East and a free and democratic West, new and different struggles define the 21st.

The new dividing lines are between social conservatism and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism and transnationalism, between the nation-state and the New World Order.
...


2017-04-09-Politico-Chabad-the-happy-go-lucky-jewish-group-that-connects-trump-and-putin
The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin
Where Trump's real estate world meets a top religious ally of the Kremlin.
By Ben Schreckinger
Politico, 2017-04-09

Two decades ago, as the Russian president set about
consolidating power on one side of the world,
he embarked on a project to supplant his country’s existing Jewish civil society
and replace it with a parallel structure loyal to him.
On the other side of the world,
the brash Manhattan developer was working to get a piece of
the massive flows of capital that were fleeing the former Soviet Union
in search of stable assets in the West, especially real estate,
and seeking partners in New York with ties to the region.

Their respective ambitions led the two men—
along with Trump’s future son-in-law, Jared Kushner—
to build a set of close, overlapping relationships in a small world
that intersects on Chabad,
an international Hasidic movement most people have never heard of.

Starting in 1999, Putin enlisted two of his closest confidants,
the oligarchs Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich,
who would go on to become Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide,
to create the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia
under the leadership of Chabad rabbi Berel Lazar,
who would come to be known as “Putin’s rabbi.”

...

The Russian state’s embrace of Chabad happened, like many things in Putin’s Russia, as the result of a factional power struggle.

In 1999, soon after he became prime minister, Putin enlisted Abramovich and Leviev to create the Federation of Russian Jewish Communities. Its purpose was to undermine the existing umbrella for Russia’s Jewish civil society, the Russian Jewish Congress, led by oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, a potential threat to Putin and President Boris Yeltsin. A year later, Gusinsky was arrested by Putin’s government and forced into exile.

At the time, Russia already had a chief rabbi as recognized by the Russian Jewish Congress, Adolf Shayevich. But Abramovich and Leviev installed Chabad rabbi Lazar at the head of their rival organization. The Kremlin removed Shayevich from its religious affairs council, and ever since it has instead recognized Lazar as Russia’s chief rabbi, leaving the country with two rival claimants to the title.

The Putin-Chabad alliance has reaped benefits for both sides. Under Putin, anti-Semitism has been officially discouraged, a break from centuries of discrimination and pogroms, and the government has come to embrace a state-sanctioned version of Jewish identity as a welcome part of the nation.

As Putin has consolidated his control of Russia, Lazar has come to be known derisively as “Putin’s rabbi.” He has escorted the Russian leader to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, Putin’s pet project, on the Jewish Sabbath. Putin returned that favor by arranging for Lazar to enter the stadium without submitting to security checks that would have broken the rules for observing Shabbat.

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2017-05-16-WP-Matovski-trump-claims-he-wants-closer-ties-with-russia-here-are-3-reasons-that-wont-fly
Trump claims he wants closer ties with Russia.
Here are 3 reasons that won’t fly.

By Aleksandar Matovski
Washington Post, 2017-05-16

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