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27 August 2008


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A new war? With what army? The one exhausted and deranged from playing Russian Roulette with IED in Iraq?

How bout a draft? Don't think so, the country didn't have the stomach to fight one of the axis of evil units post 9-11 by draft.

You think the Europeans are itching with a fight with their largest energy supplier? No, they'll be happy to drag their feet until the fool and the neo-cons are out of office.

The only scenario I see is if Shrub wants to burn down the house to hide the crime. The crime being the rape and pillage of the economy through Reagan, Bush, Bush malign neglect and corruption.


To Washington and London dudes, the problem with talking smack about Russian's money: "They are liquid" and we are not.

Wait until Putin start saying "beware those western countries. They gonna do trade embargo on us, repatriate your fund.!" All those russians money are going to bail from US and UK market.

Guess where all those FTSE, DOW and bonds money are going to go?

The russian can short our market like nobody's business. They are liquid.

(Man, the russian will sooner or later do the chinese move. start dumping bonds on people who talk smack on them. This is how the chinese made Bush stop talking nasty.)

I can feel it. The Russian is going to F the market.

The Russians are going to start thinking how to use their money smarter than parking it on off shore bank account.


U.S. policymakers have debated whether and how Russia should be punished for its incursion into Georgia. Already, a civil nuclear deal between Russia and the United States appears dead in Congress, and Russia's 13-year effort to join the World Trade Organization is in trouble. Russian officials in recent weeks have disparaged such concerns -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week said he sees "no advantages" to joining the WTO -- but U.S. officials predict Russia will suffer if it becomes isolated.

Similarly, in a speech yesterday in Kiev, Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: "Today Russia is more isolated, less trusted and less respected than two weeks ago. It has made military gains in the short term. But over time, it will feel economic and political losses."

Miliband noted that Russia's foreign exchange reserves have fallen by $16 billion and risk premiums for investing in Russia have soared since the crisis began. By contrast, when the Soviet Union attacked Czechoslovakia in 1968, "no one asked what impact its actions had on the Russian stock market. There was no Russian stock market."


It is increasingly difficult to deny the "oily" argument.

It appears evident that regardless of the truth of the "peak oil" theory, this administration believes it. If we analyze their conduct in that light i.e. peak oil is upon us and we will soon be dividing the world between the haves and have nots, the last 8 years start to make sense.

This explains our strange commitment to "democracy" that coincides almost exclusively with the presence of oil. Iraq, Iran ,Georgia, Turkmenistan, the seemingly useless European missile shield, blustering in Venezuala, all fall into place if one simply assumes we are about to be in a global war over a scarce, dwindling and irreplaceable natural resource.

I am now removing the tinfoil hat.


Israel and Georgia

This article in Time is detailed and even-handed I would say.

To me, it makes clear that Georgia's provocation of Russian did not serve Israel's immediate interests. Nor did it serve Georgian interests.

So, it's a Sherlock Holmes moment. Eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, however improbable, is the truth.

It served John McCain's interests.


alnval: That's part of the problem; the neo-con's never believed in MAD. They believe in counter-force/first strike with BMD to fend off the remnants. Of course, this neglects small matters such as nuclear winter (even if you can get a BMD capability you can trust), but the weather is merely a liberal plot anyway.


Hey, we got to redo the cold war again...

(kinda amazing, nobody notes both countries are shooting their nuke capable weapons and have 2 heavy destroyers nose to nose.)


Russia's Topol ICBM hits target with new warhead in test launch

16:35 28/ 08/ 2008
MOSCOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Topol strategic missile test-launched on Thursday from the Plesetsk space center has successfully hit a designated target on the Kamchatka peninsula, a Strategic Missile Forces spokesman said.


LockMart Trident II D5 Missile Achieves 124 Successful Test Launches In A Row

The U.S. Navy has conducted a successful test launch of two Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missiles (FBMs) built by Lockheed Martin. The Navy launched the unarmed missiles from the submerged submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) in thePacific Ocean.

Clifford Kiracofe

mlaw230, All

Well yes, the matter boils down to the underlying geopolitical assumptions driving US grand strategy.

1. The US foreign policy elite since the Carter Administration has essentially relied on Zbig's geopolitics and thus we see a certain continuity. Zbig provided the geopolitical justification for the Trilateral Commission -- US, Europe, Japan containment of Eurasian landmass (Russia, China).

2. Clinton created the pipeline tsar slot and Zbig advised BP etal. on the BTC so nothing new about Georgia and nothing new about White House obsessions with pipeline routes.

3. The general game plan was expressed in Brzezinki's book "The Grand Chessboard. American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives" (New York: Basic Books, 1997).

4. Brzezinski seeks to update the Brit Halford Mackinder for American purposes. Mackinder was a late 19th century strategist with a British imperial perspective. The idea here is that the US should ape 19th century imperial British geopolitics and thus attain and maintain global hegemony. This line of thought is institutionalized in the various National Strategy reports of the SecDef.

See the following overview:

Do Zbig's alien neo-baroque geopolitical fantasies promote the American national interest in the new multipolar world which has been emerging since 1992? No, and therefore they need to be dropped for a realistic American approach.

Patrick Lang


It seem that all you realpolitcians are uninterested in the Wilsonian and Jeffersonian ideas and ideals of the past. pl

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

As to Miliband and Cameron. Part of the explanation may be that these are two prime specimens of the modern British political class, which is largely composed of professional politicians, which commonly means experts in rhetoric and not much else.

But it may also be that both are articulating a familiar Russophobia which has been common in the British elite since the late imperial period (remember Kipling's The Truce of the Bear). Some of us think that this Russophobia had unfortunate consequences even at a time -- the late Thirties -- when the regime in Russia really was a peculiarly savage tyranny, and threatens to once again today, when this is patently not the case.

Compounding the problem, they seem to have lost sight of the basic principle of traditional British foreign policy -- try to keep actual or potential enemies apart.

This brings me on to the issue Drongo raises about countering the potency of the 'appeasement' analogy. This is a quite fundamental issue -- so I hope to be forgiven an excessively long comment.

A number of points:

1. Contrary to what those who denounce 'appeasement' often appear to think, none of Britain's options in the autumn of 1938 were very promising.

Perhaps they think that Hitler would have been 'deterred' by a strong British stand? Or that the French and British would have avoided by fighting in 1938 the thrashing they got at the hands of the Wehrmacht when they went to war the following year? It may be relevant that Hitler went to his death regretting that he had not his war a year earlier. This makes it seem unlikely that he would have been 'deterred' -- and he may well have been right that the delay worked against Germany. We lost the Czech defences -- but gained the Spitfire and Hurricane.

It is often suggested that confronting Germany would have produced a military coup. Perhaps. But then basing policy on the hope of 'regime change' would have been a gamble on an attempt to unseat an overwhelmingly popular nationalist demagogue by a tiny minority of senior military (particularly military intelligence) officers and diplomats. (Perhaps one might see some of the leading figures as German equivalents of what I understand is sometimes called in the U.S. the Striped Pants set.) Even if the coup had materialised and not been nipped in the bud, a civil war would have been a not unlikely outcome.

And for what it is worth, in his sympathetic 1992 study of the German resistance to Hitler, Klemens von Klemperer has no difficulty understanding why the Chamberlain government was unwilling to gamble on hopes of 'regime change'.

2. To understand arguments within Britain about Germany in the Thirties one has also to understand arguments about the Soviet Union.

If the threat of war with Britain and France was rather unlikely to have deterred Hitler in the autumn of 1938, the threat of a revival of the 1914 coalition -- Britain, France and Russia -- might have. So hopes of preserving peace in Europe, in the view of some of the most incisive opponents of appeasement, depended upon not only France but Britain responding to the 'collective security' overtures of Litvinov.

(See for example the account given in her memoir The Parting of Ways, by a leading British champion of the Czechs, Sheila Grant Duff, both of Czech strategic calculations and of the view of the great American anti-appeasement polemicist Edgar Ansel Mowrer, her teacher in journalism and politics.)

One reason the appeasers opposed this was that they thought such an alliance more likely to provoke war than to avert it. But they were also suspicious of Soviet motives. In the early Thirties, remember, the German Communists had been engaged in an all-out attack against the Social Democrats. The sudden volte-face in Moscow in favour of 'collective security' and the 'Popular Front' was widely interpreted in the West as a tactical move -- whose goal was to finesse Germany and the Western powers into a war from which the Soviets could then stand aside. In this reading, the Soviets were offering to cooperate in the defence of Czechoslovakia, in the hope of precipitating a war, from which they could then stand aside.

As with a possible German civil war, the appeasers feared that a protracted European war might deliver Europe to communism. And they thought this was what Stalin was playing for.

Were they right? The matter remains controversial. An erudite restatement of a sophisticated version of the appeasers' view can be found in the 1992 study Stalin in Power by the American historian (and former diplomat) Robert C. Tucker. An erudite counter-argument is in the 1999 study Grand Delusion by the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky.

3. When however Hitler occupied the -- unambiguously non-German -- rump of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, a situation was created where the British had nothing to lose by seeking an alliance with the Soviets.

There was no remaining point in worrying about an alliance with the Soviets precipitating war, as it was clear that unless Britain was to acquiesce in an expansion of German power to the East which could no longer be represented as having obvious limits, it was likely to have to fight. Such hopes of successful 'deterrence' as remained clearly depended on having the Soviets onside; while if there was to be a war, we were clearly far better off with them in than out. What had at all costs to be avoided, moreover, was a rapprochement between Hitler and Stalin -- and intelligence pointing to the possibility of this happening was frankly coming out of our ears.

What Chamberlain then did was to give a unilateral guarantee to Poland, which destroyed any leverage we had on the Poles, while precipitating Hitler's approach to the Soviets. And indeed, as Gorodetsky notes, on the day the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed, the pro-appeasement British ambassador in Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, admitted that British policy towards Poland 'would always have made it inevitable in the end.' If Gorodetsky is right -- as I tend to think he is -- then the Polish guarantee was not just a mistake but may have been a highly consequential one, which condemned many millions to death.

4. From where I stand -- as someone whose family background as well present convictions aligns him with the Mowrer/Grant Duff view -- the true heirs of Neville Chamberlain are not people like myself who have always thought NATO expansion a mistake. It is in David Cameron -- our probable next Prime Minister -- that the spirit of Neville Chamberlain lives again. Like Chamberlain, he -- as also Miliband -- thinks is it prudent to disregard Russian security concerns; does not grasp that this may cause the Russians to seek allies in places we would prefer them not to; and -- last but hardly least -- seems incapable of grasping that reckless giving of guarantees to countries on Russia's borders may not increase either one's own security or that of the countries concerned.

5. A real joke however is that people like Perle and Pipes hold a view of Soviet policy which was in direct line of descent from that of the 'appeasers' -- without ever apparently realising this. In both cases, the assumption was that the overt Soviet policy line -- 'collective security' in the Thirties, Soviet interest in arms control in the Seventies and Eighties -- was a disingenuous ploy, hiding a quite different covert strategy. In both cases, the assumption was that a chief asset of the Soviets was the gullibility of liberals. An irony, of course, in terms of the interpretation of the appeasers, it was those who were arguing for a confrontation with Germany over Czechoslovakia who were Stalin's dupes. And among them, of course, was Winston Churchill.


Col. Lang:

You posed two issues:

1) Are the two great powers really going to carry their quarrel over this to the brink of war? Are we really going to do that? pl

2) It seem[s] that all you realpolitcians are uninterested in the Wilsonian and Jeffersonian ideas and ideals of the past. pl

Although your discussion leading up to your two questions frames a context for their answers in either Wilsonian or Jeffersonian terms, would not the achieving of such solutions rest on the availability to the two Georgian territories of resources that could guarantee their implementation and success? Isn’t that what ‘force majeure’, i.e. realpolitik, is all about?

If South Ossetia and Abkhazia possessed these resources then with whom would they be arguing and about what? That the United States assumed that it possessed the power necessary to help Georgia deny these two territories self-determination only to find out that it didn’t when the Russians raised the ante, says virtually nothing about whether the South Ossetians or Abkhazians are theoretically, ethically or morally entitled to pursue their own form of government. Of course they are.

From the reports we’ve been reading it sounds as if the South Ossetians and Abkhazians have been quietly pursuing self-government for years. And, if it had not been for the Georgian government’s willingness – with the backing of the United States – to exercise ‘force majeure’ in South Ossetia nobody would have been the wiser.

Whether any country is entitled to impose its political system on another is not at issue. Neither Jefferson nor Wilson would countenance the imposition of any political system on anybody even though both believed that the United States had an obligation to inform if not spread democracy around the world.

This being said, how are we to avoid ‘realpolitik’ in addressing these issues. Unfortunately, the ideal still remains the enemy of what works.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"the modern British political class, which is largely composed of professional politicians, which commonly means experts in rhetoric and not much else.">

David Habakkuk,

Thank you for your thoughtful insights. We have the same problem over here with the current political class.

I have not studied in detail the appeasement issue. However, it seems to me one complicating problem in the 1920s-30s in Europe and even in the US was that certain powerful factions were pro-Hitler [pro-Fascist generally including the Italian version] precisely because they believed he could be a battering ram against the Soviet bogeyman. A sort of Germanic Napoleon who would this time defeat Russia; hence, to be supported and built up so as to create "The New Order" in Europe.

In the United States, at the elite level, this sort of thinking was embodied in the "American Liberty League" for which see:

The best study is
George Wolfskill's and it has relevance to today's political situation:
"The Revolt of the Conservatives: A. History of the American Liberty League, 1934-1940. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962)."

I would also draw your attention to James Stewart Martin, All Honorable Men (Boston: Little Brown, 1950) which is ESSENTIAL reading.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"...Jeffersonian ideas and ideals of the past.">

I indicated on one of these threads that the US and Russia had excellent relations in the 19th century. Why shouldn't this be a goal of American diplomacy today?

Jefferson had a friendly correspondence with Alexander I and even placed a statue of him at Monticello:

What was Jefferson's strategic vision? As a realist, he viewed Russia as a counterweight to Britain and France.

Later, Jefferson reasoned the Peace of Tilsit (1807) between Russia and France opened further trade opportunites with Russia and was conducive to Russian support for US diplomacy.

Did the United States object to Imperial Russian expansion in the Caucasus? No. Did the United States demur in the 19th century from relations with Imperial Russia because it was an autocracy? No.

The first sentence in our 1824 treaty with Russia with respect to the Pacific Ocean begins:
"In the name of the Most Holy and Indivisible Trinity." ...

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

The James Stewart Martin book seems to be very hard to get hold of -- second hand copies starting at $500.

The issue of sympathy for National Socialism on the British right -- which was certainly very considerable -- is not one I have studied closely. But I think that various elements came into play. Certainly there were people who hoped that if Hitler moved East, he could destroy communism for them.

But Chamberlain genuinely believed that Hitler's goal was bringing ethnic Germans back into the Reich. Many conservatives indeed saw Nazi Germany as a defensive bulwark. A common and fatal mistake was to see Hitler as a figure who had used the techniques of mass politics of which the Bolsheviks had been pioneers for conservative purposes.

One of the things that Churchill clearly understood was the essentially revolutionary nature of the Nazi regime. Likewise, today, there are still conservatives who do not understand the essentially Jacobin nature of neoconservatism. It may be David Cameron is among them -- which could be another point of resemblance between him and Chamberlain.

Unfortunately there were good reasons, as well as bad ones, for distrusting Churchill.

As emerges very clearly in John Lukacs' essay Five Days in London, May 1940, one of the most committed appeasers was R.A. Butler, then undersecretary to Lord Halifax at the Foreign Office. He had been a principal architect of the 1935 Government of India Act, the opposition to which was led by Churchill. Both his father Montagu and his uncle Harcourt had served with distinction in the Indian Civil Service.

The Butlers were -- very sensibly -- pursuing a strategy of 'appeasement' in relation to Indian nationalism. Quite rightly, they thought that the strategy of confrontation advocated by Churchill in regard to India was likely to produce a catastrophe. Quite wrongly, they interpreted arguments over Europe in terms of arguments over India.

Ironically, with most German nationalist leaders other than Hitler, 'appeasement' might very well have worked. What it left out of account was precisely the revolutionary -- ultimately nihilistic -- undercurrent in National Socialism, which was particularly strong in Hitler himself.


A people seeking to secede can claim the Jeffersonian creed **if and only if** they intent to implement a government that protects civil liberties.

Otherwise it doesn't make sense. Say, imagine a Talibanesque province's claim to secession from Afghanistan, based in part on the idea that a secular government in Kabul "violats Islam"; their proposed new state wants to, among other things, impose severe limitations on the rights of women and on people of other faiths, based on some religious notions.

As per me, there might improbably be other reasons why such a secession movement is legitimate; but they are not to be found in the Declaration of Independence or in Jefferson or in any of the Founding Fathers.

Yes, I'm aware that the Founding Fathers represented property-owing straight males of European descent, and that that union they brought about was imperfect perhaps not only in its implementation but perhaps even in their conception. I do not know if they ever thought about the more than half of the population they did not confer equal rights to (speak of inalienable!) But it was at the head of the class for its time, and their blueprint has enabled us to at least keep up with the times if not always lead.

So in Abkhazia, is it Abkhazians versus non-Abkhazians? or is it citizens versus an oppressive government? Is it "Abkhazia for its ethnic group?" or is it "Abkhazia for its residents?"

Clifford Kiracofe

Russian naval base for Abkhazia? Should benefit the local economy.

"MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Black Sea Fleet may eventually use the Abkhazian port of Sukhumi as a naval base, former fleet commander said on Friday.

After Russia recognized the independence of Georgia's two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh suggested that Russia's Black Sea Fleet could use one of the ports in the republic to station its warships.

"Sukhumi could easily host Black Sea Fleet ships, for instance a naval brigade of up to 30 vessels," said Admiral Eduard Baltin, commenting on Bagapsh's statement.

Baltin, 71, said a naval brigade might comprise a division of small ASW ships, a division of small missile ships or boats, and a division of minesweepers.

He said one of the large piers at the Sukhumi port had not been used since the 1992 Georgian-Abkhazian conflict because several ships were sunk there.

"If we cleared up the harbor at the cargo terminal, we would be able to station the ships from the naval brigade there," the admiral said.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

I will have a photocopy made from my copy of the Martin book and get it off to you.

Charles Higham's Trading With the Enemy. The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949 (New York:Barnes and Noble 1983) presents a quite good overview on the US side of Wall Street/Big Business collaboration with the Nazi regime. Has a useful bibliography which includes Martin.

One can say Hitler was, in effect, carrying out to some degree the earlier strategic vision and program of the Alldeutscher Verband (est. 1891)..."Mitteleuropa" and all that. Haushofer's update of Mackinder etal. flows out of this milieu.

[Does Zbig see himself as some sort of messianic geopolitician along Haushofer lines? Reading his "Grand Chessboard" one might conclude in the affirmative. One hopes Obama will not fall into this.]

The single best analytical study I have seen of German politics leading to Hitler, with extensive bibliography, is:
W. M. Knight-Patterson, Germany from Defeat to Conquest 1913-1933 (London: George Allen and Unwin), 1945. Forward by Lord Vansittart.

I was able to obtain a copy of Eugen Spier, FOCUS. A Footnote to the History of the Thirties (London: Oswald Wolff, 1963) from a UK book dealer. Most interesting insider's recollections of the Churchill circle (the "FOCUS" group) which included Lord Cecil of Chelwood, Lord Davies, Sir Arthur Salter, Noel-Baker, Philip Guedalla, Wickham Steed, Violet Bonham Carter, Arthur Henderson, Kingsley Martin, and etc.

Per India, we did something similar with our colonial possession, Philippines, to cut against Japanese penetration/propaganda. This was the Tydings-McDuffie Act (The Philippines Independence Act) of 1934 promising full independence in 10 years after a transition period.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"As to Miliband and Cameron. Part of the explanation may be that these are two prime specimens of the modern British political class, which is largely composed of professional politicians, which commonly means experts in rhetoric and not much else. But it may also be that both are articulating a familiar Russophobia which has been common in the British elite since the late imperial period ...">

David Habakkuk,

Over here the mass media takes special care to censor British opposition voices. In the run up to the Iraq War, the US press and media bubble "protected" the American public from the very stiff debate in Parliament and the strong opposition to the war voices in Labour in particular. Logically, if opposition to the war was strong in our closest ally, the American people better not get wind of this as they might get ideas.

I note the latest analysis per the split in the UK between the younger generation of politicians who seem to be smoking old fashioned 19th century opium while fashionably running a couple of grams of modern coke up their noses for that extra "edge."

Just as the Neocons penetrated both the Democratic Party (starting as Truman Cold War Zionists) and the Republican Party (during the Reagan years) over here we can see how Neocon-ism has penetrated Labour and the Conservatives. I suspect there is a similar situation on the Continent.

Says Whitaker at the Independent:
"One of the most striking divisions exposed by the crisis in the Caucasus has been on the Western side, between the older generation and those too young to remember the days when two nuclear-armed blocs kept each other in check with the doctrine of MAD, or mutually assured destruction. But the curious thing is that, apart from one or two old recalcitrants such as Mr Cheney and the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, it is the older generation urging caution. Those speaking the language of confrontation against the Kremlin tend to be closer in age to Georgia's warm-blooded President, who is 40...."

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