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27 March 2014


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William R. Cumming

Thanks PL!


nick b

John Steuart Curry. I believe it is at Harper's Ferry. pl

nick b

Thank you, Sir.

Richard Armstrong

Mr. Cummings,
Red Storm Rising - Tom Clancy

Having read this many years I am currently listening to it in my iPhone.

A better novel is Third World War : August, 1985
Gen Sir John Hackett, et al


George Orwell's "Notes on Nationalism" expands the meaning of nationalism to include attachment to other causes beyond nations. Here is his general definition:

"By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’(1). But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

By this definition Putin is a patriot because his annexation of Crimea is a defensive measure to protect Russia from NATO's expansion to his borders and the cultural and economic globalization promoted by Europe and the US. Obama, on the other hand, is a nationalist who uses whatever means necessary to spread his nationalist ideal of democracy to the rest of the world. Because, to use the Col.'s word, Obama sees himself as a salvational leader, leader of the free world and sees America to be the guardian of freedom; can also be seen as an internationalist that sees no boundries to his extension of power.

Obama in his speech yesterday listed the reasons Crimea is not important to our country and then says why we must lead the world to protect Ukrain from evil Russia.Our president, inflated with his own benevolence, is blinded to the reality of the true danger of his confrontation with Putin.

Orwell could be describing the neocons and liberal imperialist when he writes: "Indifference to Reality.
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency."




Thank you for the detailed reply. Detroit's government, at least for many years prior to the current one, shares much blame for the current predicament. So do many of the residents who sent many of the corrupt back to office repeatedly (Kwame Kilpatrick and family being poster children of such charisma and greed). Of greater concern to me is the precedent being set by the political leadership of the Republic. There are many, many municipalities with pension obligations which may by one definition or another be 'in trouble' - in the short term. The "solution" being implemented in Detroit is cutting benefits of those who have already paid into the retirement 'system'; even if payment was years of work with an implied lower wage in return for the pension. The city found $186,000,000 for a billionaire to build a hockey arena, but of course those same tax obligations are not being spent on those who earned pensions. That speaks volumes about the value we place on our citizens.

The other very troubling thing playing out in Detroit is the very idea of setting aside elected government (Detroit city council) for a central government (the State of Michigan) appointed "Emergency Financial Manager", who can re-write contracts at will. Needless to say not a single bond contract has been re-written. On top of that the first piece of legislation allowing the governor to make such appointments was overturned by a citizen driven ballot initiative. The legislature in its very next session simply passed a variation of what the voters had forbidden. The question now is which state and its citizens are next?

Marcy C.

I was not yet born when the Cold War ended but I studied about it. All of you who do remember it: Does the Ukraine situation feel especially dangerous to you, more than, say, the Iraq or Afghan wars?



This interview with Sergey Glazyev provides a glimpse into what may be common attitudes and viewpoints within the Russian leadership:



marcy C

There was nothing in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars or indeed VN that threatened the existence of civilization. Russia and we can destroy each other without the other being able to prevent it. That is an enormous difference. It was thus during the Cold War and we lived with the possibility for fifty years. We can hope that heads as cool as those that ruled then will prevail now but we do not know that this will be. pl

William R. Cumming

The correct spelling of "bank" is "banksters"!

William R. Cumming

Thanks Richard and yes Hackett's book very interesting.

William R. Cumming

I would argue that the Iraq and Afghan wars were only at the very margins of US/Russian relations.

Time will tell how central the Ukraine is to those relations, Crimea NOT!


When McCain was in the Ukraine, one of the members of his group went up to the mic and said that Europe and the Ukraine didn't have to worry about their supply of natural gas because the US has plenty to export and is hungry for new markets. Heard the same from a congressman on C-Span tonight. In that context I find this comment from the Lew Rockwell blog interesting.


Look for the fast tracking of new LNG export facilities by the feds.


To underscore the German/Austrian banks' situation, Raiffeissn Bank, which has extensive dealings in Russia and Ukraine, has listed a pre-tax loss of 40% profit for this quarter. This is an indicator of the extensive leverage of those banks, and is now a source of concern.

The Virginian

One point of clarification - while I agree with the analysis that Washington's approach to Ukraine and Russia is unsound, the effort by the original post to link it in part to Chevron's fracking is illogical. The Obama Administration has no love of the Oil and Gas industry (except where it can exploit it at home), and the leap between what is an exploration play that may / may not pan out over years and Washington's silliness doesn't make sense. Call the stupidity of Washington what it is, but don't undermine the argument by including things that are not relevant to the Administration's decision-making. Risking war is the height of folly.

Robert Kenneth Chatel

Dear WRC,
You might be interested in this recent take on Clancy by Col. and Prof. Bacevich: http://thebaffler.com/past/tom_clancy_military_man
Best wishes.

nick b


Once again, excellent points. But for some clarification, bond indentures won't be re-written. They have defaulted under the Chapter 9 bankruptcy laws. (Prior to the Gov. Snyder's maneuvering, there was no provision for in Michigan law for a municipality to go bankrupt. The Gov. pushed it through so he could push Detroit into BK.) Now comes the process of 'recovery' where bond holders will be offered a percentage of their principal. Traditionally in the municipal markets, general obligation bonds have had recovery rates of 100% of principal coming out of default. In the case of Detroit, Mr. Orr, the appointed(imposed) financial manager is offering between 20 and 40 cents on the dollar to various bond holders. This has huge implications for the municipal bond market in general, and for the entire State of Michigan in particular. None of them good. (I think you'd have to be crazy to even consider buying any Michigan bonds at current rates, the risk involved is now much greater, and the investor is not compensated for it.) You may have read that about $6b+/- of Detroit Water and Sewer bonds will be paid off in full. These bonds, by indenture, are not able to be included in the Chapter 9 filing. I believe it is because they have a senior lien on the revenue stream from water and sewer bills. I haven't read the indenture, but that would be my guess. I can read it if you'd like.

I'd like to make the distinction that the citizens who have penalized the most have been the pension holders of Detroit's municipal unions. In my opinion, that's what Detroit's BK was mostly about. It's happened other places as well. Vallejo, California took itself into BK to mostly to get out of municipal union contracts. During BK they continued to pay interest and principal on all their general obligation bonds. The bond debt was never really the issue, it was a pretext to break contracts with municipal unions.

Otherwise, we are in complete agreement. It is a sorry and sad state of affairs.



I will reiterate. There was NOTHING at stake in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that could possibly have caused war between the US and Russia. In the Ukraine situation the danger is that the neocon madmen may cause the engagement of NATO forces with Russian forces. the escalatory danger in that should be evident to all. pl

William R. Cumming

Thanks for the link and I go with the Bacevich analysis. And as PL pointed out myth often overshadows other realities.

William R. Cumming

PL! Thanks and agree!



I would agree that US commercial interests in Ukraine have nothing to do with the present crisis. pl


Looks like the NATO exercises in West Ukraine are still on.

William R. Cumming

Optimax! Thanks for quote and link! George Orwell's importance to US grows with each passing year IMO!


Mary C:
An answer from Europe to your question. I live in Northern Norway, not far from Russia. During the cold war, I remember the possibility of armageddon was a fear always present, sometimes more, sometimes less, dependent on ongoing conflicts. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the relief was immense. The fear was gone.
Now for the first time this fear is creeping back. For many it seems like the old picture of the danger from the east is revived quite easily, and that Putin is regarded as someone like Brezhnev (Hitler is really a crazy comparison). Our media does little to educate us on what Russia, and Putin, is really up to. It´s just propaganda.
What makes it even more scary for me, is the change from belief in our (NATO/the west) beeing on the good side, and also rational, to the belief (much thank to this blog) that this is no longer the case, with our present leaders and political systems. I don´t fear Russian agression, but they can be provoked into a war in Ukraine, and that is extremely scary from a European perspective. You just can´t compare that to Afgh. or Iraq.

As an aside: former Norwegian p.m. Jens Stoltenberg will be the new Secretary General of NATO. In Norway he is highly respected, and regarded as a man who seeks compromise. I think Vogh Rasmussen is more hawkish. (I don´t know how much this matters.)

The beaver

@ S.E.

Remember that Anders Rasmusssen is a politico first. How he became the SG of NATO is beyond comprehension but I guess , as PM of Danemark, he was for the Iraq war.

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