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25 February 2015

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Dave Schuler

Wondeful post and an apt analogy. What Heinzmann's experiment demonstrated was that if the water were heated slowly enough the frog would not jump out. We are not a patient people, I don't believe we have enough patience to prevent this particular frog from jumping out, and this is not the time or occasion to turn up the fire.

João Carlos

"A first step in this direction could be for the Ukraine to join the European Union."

The problem is that I don't think Russia will accept Ukraine joins to EU, like it will not accept Ukraine joins NATO. Russia wants Ukraine join russian federation economic union...

Babak Makkinejad

Dr. Polk:

I agree with you that Peace requires acceptance of the concept of "Sphere of Influence".

But will NATO states accept that?

Bill H

The "Childrens Crusade" and the media speak as if Putin does not represent the people of the nation of Russia. Somehow Obama represents the great principles and the will if the people of this nation, but Putin is operating purely on his own will and is not supported by the will of the people he governs.

In actuality it would seem the opposite is true, since Obama's popular support is in the 40% range while Putin is enjoys a popularity rating in the 80% range, but let's not let facts get in the way of our war game.

And don't forget that we are being led by children. They do not recall the Cuban missile crisis, Obama was only one year old at the time, and they do not think that such ancient history has any relevance to today's world. Nor do they recall that Russia played any role in WW2, or have any concept of the role that Ukraine played in that chapter of history.

Misanthrope

I don't think Ukraine joining the EU would be acceptable to Russia. One of the things this crisis has shown is just how much in the thrall of the US the EU is. So Ukraine joining the EU would essentially be conceding it to the US.

João Carlos

Dr. Polki,

there is only ONE state at NATO... USA. It is better don't have illusions.

João Carlos

Bill H,

I think both Putin and Obama were elected, so both have legitimacy, so popularity is not so much important as you think. Popularity will affect only the number of foot soldiers that will want go to war or how much the population will tolerate impopular measures before revolt, so Russia will have an advantage (yes, I am being very cynical).

And, cynical as I am, I don't think Putin election was more flawed than Bush junior first election...

Carl O.

Heck, these children don't even think that what they themselves did in 2011-i.e. Libya-has any relevance, even though it helped put them on the road to the confrontation that we're faced with now.

BTE: Very informative piece, Mr. Polk. thank you.

Aka

João Carlos,
I think the problem is that EU is not only a economic partnership. It has security aspects as well.

Aka

Misanthrope,
I think the problem is that EU is not a purely economic partnership. It has some security aspects as well. At least the EU deal that was offered to Ukraine in 2013 had certain "back doors".

Bryn P

I quite agree. There is a clear political divide between the western-looking peoples of West Ukraine and the Russophiles in the South and East. One solution could be to to divide the country in two reflecting their natural inclinations. This would allow the west to join the EU and the rest to seek some form of association with the RF. However Putin has made it clear from the very beginning that his preference is for a united Ukraine, one totally unaligned, and with the regions allowed a fair bit of autonomy. He would like it to be a buffer between Russia and the EU. The Crimea is lost. Even if he agrees to a further vote there under some wholly independent auspices I believe the result would be the same.

The current sabre-rattling by the US and NATO, aided and abetted by the UK government, is not helpful, but positively dangerous.

Ishmael Zechariah

Professor Polk,

Thank you for the analysis. Could you tell us why "some" policy analysts insist on using a set of assumptions that can cause the end of the world as we know it?

Ishmael Zechariah

BabelFish

Dr. Polk, it was a privilege to read your post. There is one passage that arrested me for quite a few minutes.

"Both Russia and the United States are governed by men who are unlikely to be able to accept humiliation -- and almost certain murder by "super patriots" in their own entourages"".

I understand you went through the passage of President Kennedy's assassination. But do you truly believe President Obama would be prone to assassination should a 'humiliation' occur? And from someone in his own administration? If so, that is breathtaking and leaves me mind boggled.

David Habakkuk

Misanthrope,

You are absolutely right. It surprised me that, at the end of a characteristically sagacious essay, William Polk produced a proposal which appears to me to indicate a total blindness to what has happened in Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The British scholar Richard Sakwa – of Polish immigrant background – is one of the best commentators on the shambles in Ukraine. A review in the 'Guardian' by Jonathan Steele of his recently published book on the subject is I think worth quoting.

In it, Sakwa argues that, as Steele puts it, 'three long-simmering crises have boiled over to produce the violence that is engulfing eastern Ukraine.'

What Sakwa has to say about the first two crises seems to me wise. However, from an American and European point of view – and, unlike many of my countrymen, I do regard Britain as part of Europe – it is the following section of Steele's summary of Sakwa's view which I think most to the point:

'The third crisis, also linked to the Nato issue, is the European Union's failure to stay true to the conflict resolution imperative that had been its original impetus. After 1989 there was much talk of the arrival of the "hour of Europe". Just as the need for Franco-German reconciliation inspired the EU's foundation, many hoped the cold war's end would lead to a broader east-west reconciliation across the old Iron Curtain.

'But the prospect of greater European independence worried key decision-makers in Washington, and Nato's role has been, in part, to maintain US primacy over Europe's foreign policy. From Bosnia in 1992 to Ukraine today, the last two decades have seen repeated occasions where US officials pleaded, half-sincerely, for a greater European role in handling geopolitical crises in Europe while simultaneously denigrating and sidelining Europe's efforts. Last year's "Fu-k the EU" comment by Victoria Nuland, Obama's neocon assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, was the pithiest expression of this.

'Sakwa writes with barely suppressed anger of Europe's failure, arguing that instead of a vision embracing the whole continent, the EU has become little more than the civilian wing of the Atlantic alliance.'

(See http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2015/02/frontline-ukraine-crisis-in-the-borderlands.html#more .)

If this perception is realistic – as I think it is – it follows naturally that Russia will be as opposed to EU membership for Ukraine as it is to NATO membership: it will conclude, quite realistically, that the one will eventually lead to the other.

For all kinds of reasons, I never thought that Putin's vision of Europe 'from Vladivostock to Lisbon' was realistic.

However, I also thought that there was no reason why the alternative should 'Greater Asia, from Shanghai to St. Petersburg.'

And this, it now seems likely, is what a generation of incompetence from European and American 'policymakers' has given us.

toto

"Both the Russians and the Americans are guided in their foreign policy by what they believe to be "core concerns.""

Fair enough. As it happens, Europeans also have a "core concern" with regard to Russia, which can be summarized as "Stop invading us".


"A first step in this direction could be for the Ukraine to join the European Union. "

Unfortunately, Ukraine moving towards the EU is precisely what started this whole mess. Besides, Russian reaction to the EU-Ukraine association treaty has been quite explicit.

The author evidently accepts the Russian protestation that their main objective was to prevent NATO bases in Sebastopol. Maybe it was.

An alternative interpretation is that this is self-serving rubbish. NATO membership was never in the cards for Ukraine (even if the Ukrainians had asked for it, good luck convincing Europeans to automatically commit ground troops in the case of a Russian invasion in Kharkiv...)

In this interpretation, the Russian objective was to maintain essentially total control of Ukraine by any means necessary. That won't happen. So, barring that, destabilize the rebellious natives, and gobble up as much territory (and industrial infrastructure) as possible. This part is going on pretty well at the moment.

IMO the simultaneous prodding of Baltic countries seems more compatible with the second interpretation than the first.


Misanthrope: "One of the things this crisis has shown is just how much in the thrall of the US the EU is."

One of the things this crisis has shown is that European leaders suddenly found their collective spine, much to the surprise of this European expat.

Europe cannot prevent Russia from drifting back into Soviet mode. But what we can do is attach a price tag. "Tough luck Ivan, it's not 1968 any more. This time, invading uppity countries who try to break free is going to cost you a bit more than just the petrol for the tanks. Enjoy your economic meltdown."

different clue

Since the Space Kidettes are impervious to this logic and the neos are hostile to this goal, what can the rest of us do to force the Space Kidettes and the Neos into surrendering to policy based on this logic in pursuit of this goal?

What pressure points can the rest of us kick, sprain, stick hatpins into, etc. to cause our Deciders such intense pain that they are forced to do what this post suggests just to make the pain stop?

j.wells@kingston.ac.uk

Agreed -- can't think why this otherwise sensible analysis goes wrong right at the end. Apart from anything else, joining the EU is not likely to benefit Ukraine economically: look at the fate of Greece.

YT

"When what must be said can’t be said, multiply your risk by ten. If the denial is tainted by arrogance or fear, multiply your risk by ten again."

http://redteamjournal.com/2015/02/two-recent-laws-44-and-45/

confusedponderer

"Somehow Obama represents the great principles and the will if the people of this nation"

No, no, Americans have over the Cold War come to see themselves as far more than that - leaders of the free world.

That self image has practical consequences beyond the conceit.

They speak for us, too. Since the world is flat, in the West - the free world - anyone is alike, there is no need for consultation. Everybody is essentially American under the surface.

That's why dissent always causes such puzzlement.

Clearly there was no flaw in the policy they could object to. Think of the invasion of Iraq - a splendid idea that Europoe irrationally rejected.

That was the time of the joke, made in earnest in the US, that Europe was isolated from America and their New Europe clients and the fabled coalition of the willing.

When Europeans objected, it must be because of fatal flaws of character - cowardice, girlishness, being a weak-kneed leftist or terrorist lover and naturally Anti-Americanism - and in 2003: people generally hating George Bush.

The archives of Nationa Review Online and the Weekly Standard are full or that.

Thaumaturgist

Forget Mexico joining the Warsaw Oaxt; think "Zimmerman Telegram."

We can't even get Turkey to let us use Turkish bases to run our air operation against ISIS. How do we run an operation in the Ukraine over the objection of Angela Merkle?

walrus

To Dr. Polks excellent paper, I would like to make one further observation - anomie and boredom among the young is I believe a great danger to all us. I suspect that during the Cuban missile crisis older and wiser heads were in charge. By that I mean leaders who had proximate experience of continental general war in all its horrors. Today we do not.

I am concerned that the disconnect between the reality and fiction of war is growing. There are too many glib commentators, their acolytes and sections of the younger community who think war might be adventurous fun (as has happened before). Continental America has not been touched by war since The War Between The States.

I think I understand that memories may also be fading in Europe but I am not sure.

We seem to be replaying August 1914.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that the statement: "...the EU has become little more than the civilian wing of the Atlantic alliance.." is not accurate.

EU pushed 20 million people into poverty in Iran as it waged an economic war against her.

Likewise against Syria.

Civilians they are not.

Babak Makkinejad

Because they can.

Babak Makkinejad

West or Urals, Russia has a population of 115 million - larger than Germany's.

And if the other states East of the Theosious line (extended vertically North) could be part of EU, so could Russia - as an economic common market.

João Carlos

IMHO, the problem with EU is that they made sanctions against Russia, so Russia is no more seeing them as friendly, but as unfriendly. That is the reason is moving the economy in direction to East (China) and said they will stop to use Ukraine for transport the gas after the Turkey's nat gas pipeline is ready.

And take note, the only thing Ukraine have for UE was the chance of transport that gas, the european companies were to take that pipelines out of Grazpon control. Now Ukraine is a "grande mico"...

Babak Makkinejad

Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Georgia, Syria, Ukraine - a string of failures of the UN Charter and UN Mechanisms for conflict resolution in which the Peace of Yalta was thrown on the trash heap of history.

Both NATO states and the Russian Federation are at fault, no doubt about it.

The only difference between them being that the NATO states seem to like to flirt with World War III; in my opinion.

wisedupearly

As much as I respect Mr. Polk I am not sure that his comparison to the Cuban missile crisis is really apt. First, Cuba and America share no land border. Second, since America was the big dog it had no innate jealousy. Cuba had no appeal to the average American.
The Russians see the common land border, the intertwined histories, and the jealousies of the parties involved and concludes that the western side can never be a)formally part of the EU with free travel rights around Europe and vice versa. b) significantly richer than their clients. Weapons are a concern but of more importance is keeping their guys on roughly equal footing without coercion or outrageous stipends.
The irritants in the Cuban missile crisis, the missiles themselves, were easy to dismantle and the ocean barrier and lack of cash meant the Cubans were always quarantined.

The belief that the Ukraine should stable does not justify the dangerous assumption that this is possible only by joining the EU.

VietnamVet

Professor Polk,

Thanks for the great post. I was a junior in University and very much a bystander to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, I am too old and out of it. I deeply believe that we are on an insane path to WW III. Neither party can back down due to the humiliation and loss of membership in their respective Elites. Both nations, the United States and Russian Federation, would have to agree to partition of Ukraine with respective treaty obligations to neutrality. The removal of the Jupiter missiles from Turkey was kept quiet for decades afterwards; still both Kennedy and Khrushchev were disposed of. Settling the Ukraine Crisis would have to be public and between the two states. It would counter the neo-liberal drive towards supranational corporations and institutions. A peaceful resolution appears impossible in today’s world with governments run by and for wealthy plutocrats.

Finally the Eurozone economic crisis has not been resolved. Greece, a member state of NATO is being pillaged from within the alliance at the insistence of Germany. Congress is debating the War Powers Act against the Islamic State which will be an utter failure if the border of Turkey, a NATO member, is not sealed. The EU and NATO are starting to crumble. If a conventional war breaks out between the USA and Russia, these alliances and most of mankind would inevitably be destroyed. There is a reason that two nuclear powers have not stared a shooting war since 1945. Once it starts, the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.

FB Ali

As many comments above have pointed out, there is no question of Russia accepting Ukraine joining the EU. Too much water has flowed under the bridge for that to happen.

I also think Dr Polk is much too pessimistic about the chances of a nuclear holocaust. The main reason is that Russian policy is controlled by Vladimir Putin. He has demonstrated that he is a superb chess player; matching each US/Ukrainian move without any threats or bombast, doing just enough to neutralize them while moving the game in the direction he wants.

His aim is to have a federal Ukraine that is neutral between East and West. This is a worse situation than when the US began this crisis, since it will reduce the buffer between Russia and the West to just NovoRussia instead of the whole of Ukraine. But he knows the limits of the possible.

As collateral gain he can chalk up the lessons he has learned from this episode. They will enable him to drop the hopes he had of Russia being accepted in Europe and the West; instead he will reorient towards the non-US dominated world (of which there is quite a bit).

anna-marina

Would not it be wonderful if both the US and EU lived up to their democratic principles and allowed a referendum that East Ukraine had been asking for since the beginning of the crisis a year ago? The problem with such outcome was its inefficiency from the neocons' point of view: Federalization of Ukraine would have prevented a creation of the festering bloody wound on a border with Russian Federation. Please recall a million refugees from Ukraine, which need desperately a support from the economically weakened Russia.
By the way, it is quite puzzling what you meant when making a distinction between "western-looking peoples" of west Ukraine and allegedly non-western-looking people of east Ukraine.

anna-marina

It seems that you fundamentally disagree with William Polk' assessment of the roots of the current crisis.
Could you enlighten us on how the modern Russian Federation is "drifting back into Soviet mode?" Could you support with facts the alleged invasions of Europe by Russia, which resulted in "stop invading us" from the EU? All serious analysts agree that Russian Federation has been very much interested in cooperating with Europe. But you suggest some different version of the history. What are your primary sources?

anna-marina

You are so right! Tragically right... When plutocracy meets ignorance, the results could be catastrophic.

anna-marina

Agree. The natural course of events leading to transformation of Ukraine into a functional democratic state would demand a lot of time and efforts. The current crisis has primed Ukraine for an arrival of the major international vultures: mega-corporations and mega-banks. Today Ukraine looks like a deadly wounded and defenseless victim that was "prepared" for a parasitic host of rentiers. It would be foolish to think that Nuland-Kagan and likes are altruistic activists interested in bettering the lives of Ukrainians.

burton50

Correct. See Article 10 of the Association Agreement (pp. 14-15 of the English version):
Article 10: Conflict prevention, crisis management and military-technological cooperation
1. The Parties shall enhance practical cooperation in conflict prevention and crisis management, in particular with a view to an increased participation of Ukraine in EU-led civilian and military crisis management operations as well as relevant exercises and training including those in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
2. Cooperation in this field will be based on modalities and arrangements between the EU and Ukraine on consultation and cooperation on crisis management.
3. The Parties shall explore the potential of military and technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) will establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues.
What was this doing in a "trade deal".

William Fitzgerald

David Habbakkuk,

As usual you're terrifically informative.

I would make a general comment that, as a committee, we've veered from the main thrust of Dr. Polk's article. Much of the discussion concerns his comment that a first step in stabilizing Ukraine could be membership in the E.U. And, that could be true were the E.U. to uncouple itself from NATO.

On Steele's review of Richard Sakwa's book, I was interested in the passages concerning Washington's opposition to European independence and the role played by NATO in maintaining American dominance. I think this is the prime mover in the Ukraine situation and, for that matter, the fiasco in Georgia and the drive to expand NATO eastward. My notion is that a prosperous, modernizing Russia, establishing economic relationships with the countries of the E.U. is a nightmare in certain influential parts of the American foreign policy establishment. If that is so, then moves in Ukraine and Georgia are designed to de-stabilize Russia, with a desired outcome of government overthrow, economic chaos and possible break-up of the Russian Federation.

That brings me to Dr. Polk's concern that, for all the reasons he stated, there is a real possibility all hell will break loose over territory that has is not intrinsically significant in strategic terms, for the United States.

William Fitzgerald

Aka

FB Ali,
Putins aim is to create a at worst a neutral (at best a pro-russian) Ukraine where Russians don't have to pay the bills.

If he annex a part of Ukraine, then he would be have to solve those problems. I mean Ukraine has been for more than twenty years a economic basket case.

I think Dr.Polks point is that wars are not always intentionally well planed endeavors. Sometime you just stumble in to wars.

I don't think Russia would stop it eastward swing even if EU (some what likely) and US (very unlikely) changed its current policy. And I think Chinese would also like a have Russia on its side because of the US "pivot to asia". Chinese knows US is coming for them even if it is hidden in the text.

Aka

All,
another looney theory getting a chance at msm which is aimed at discrediting Putin.


Putin somehow stole (for allegedly some insane reason using a some insane technique) the missing MH370 and hid it in Baikonur. How it went near Indian and Chinese border which is a active military zone without getting detected is anyone's guess.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/02/25/mh370-hijacked-vladimir-putins-orders-flown-kazakhstan-aviation-expert-jeff-wise_n_6750148.html

Imagine

War is now literally a video game:

http://www.americasarmy.com/

The fundamental problem with this is celluloid heroes never "really" die. Two generations are now used to getting up and trying again after being killed. This is contributing towards glorious slaughter of civilians in east Ukraine.

JerseyJeffersonian

The sole truly false note in this analysis is the notion that the Ukraine join the EU. Absolutely impossible, as in the Russian analysis, now firmly grounded in facts, the EU is seen as a stalking horse for the US and the US-controlled military wing, NATO. It has become crystal clear from their actions that the comprador elites who run the EU for the advancement of full spectrum dominance by the US have no separate identity or identifiable interests to which Russia's leaders or diplomats may appeal for rational and farsighted consideration of the future fates of their nations. If I may be so bold, I would suggest that these comprador elites no longer truly believe in, or find any value in the notion of "national interests", as this conflicts with their ideological prejudices against the reality and value of European nations. They are Cosmopolitans, and I do not say this in a commendatory fashion. They are members of a transnational class, and find these notions of nations and peoples to be, well, quaint. And likely to get in the way of their own aggrandizement, more importantly. They have no interest in listening to their own "countrymen", as they float above these dirty masses, dreaming that they have escaped history.

Ulenspiegel

From a practical point of view I can as German fan of realpolitic agree with Polks suggestion.

E.g. no EU membership of Ukraine as long as Russia is not member of NATO.

However, the concept of Speres of Influence requires the ability to exercise efficient influence.

Therfore, my issue is that the underlying problem, the unability of Russia to create something that can compete with Europe on the level soft power, is not discussed.

People in Russia (and Ukraine) vote with their feet. Period.

Also to ignore this and the fact that the developments in Ukraine were only possible because it was already something like a failed state as result of mainly Russian politics, is IMHO not helpful.

The Russian dilemma is that Russia needs a certain openness in order to survive economically, at the same time it becomes more open to a erosion process which is caused by its "social unattractiveness".

Ulenspiegel

j.wells,

please do not confuse EU and Euro zone.

And please provide evidence that in the long run Greece would be better off outside the Euro zone, i.e. is able to devaluate own currency instead of doing reforms.

Hint: the more you devaluate the more low wage competitors you have. High income and expensive entitlements are only possible with a competitive economy that generates high income.

Imagine

Dr. Polk's #3 is inaccurate. While Russia desperately wants a stable Ukraine, in actuality key players in America strongly prefer an UN-stable Ukraine.

Joe Biden has installed his son Hunter, along with John Kerry's financial adviser Devon Archer, and former President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski, as directors of Kolomoisky's oil company Burisma. When the citizens of East Ukraine are forced to move and the land becomes worthless, oil fields can be had for pennies on the dollar--and presumably, the directors all become billionaires. So Kolomoisky uses his Azov, Aidar, Donbass, and Dniepr-1 battalions of former skinheads to shell towns and wipe out rival coal mines. Israeli Kolomoisky also apparently has dreams of creating a second Israel in Ukraine; this apparently resonates with Zionist Biden, Nuland/Kagan, and perhaps AIPAC. But this seems to be a secondary motivation.

Biden owns Poroshenko and arguably Kolomoisky, and so is perhaps the most powerful human force in the Ukraine. He prefers low-level conflict to all-out war or peace.

Putin desperately wants peace but also prefers low-level conflict to all-out war.

Therefore the low-level conflict will continue indefinitely, for as long as there are cannon-fodder lives and money to fuel the fire.

State is doing it on purpose. The 2/20/14 Pogrom of Korsun, an organized lynching of a few hundred ethnic-Russian Crimean anti-Maiden protesters by a few hundred Maiden anarchists, never made it to America. This allowed State to say with a straight face "apart from Russian news, no reliable Western news has ever reported ethnic Russians being harmed in the Ukraine." Pres. Obama even repeated this canard in a speech. These caused the Dima to unanimously authorize Putin to use force, leading to the freeing of Crimea. Crimea said it did not want to be overrun by neo-Nazi anarchists shelling civilians, and Western media mocked it as insane. The current results in Novorussia prove Crimea correct. But Crimea was a special case, being an independent territory already with its own constitution and parliament. Putin cannot legally annex Novorussia and does not want to, preferring an integral buffer zone; he has hung them out to dry several times, forcing them to sign cease-fires when they had the upper hand militarily. But the seismic rift happened when State ignored the Pogrom on purpose. So explaining to State that ceasing to exacerbate the problem will cause peace is a non-starter. State has never wanted peace here.

VP Biden is more powerful than Pres. Obama, since Obama must concentrate on the entire world while Biden can pursue special interests full-time.

Therefore, one key to peace rests with VP Biden. If you can convince him he's not going to make billions with Burisma, or it's more noble to establish peace, he could lean on Kolomoisky to stop the Right Sektor ethnic cleansing in one week. End of that problem.

Most of this is moot because a stronger force is economics. Ukraine, a kleptocracy train wreck in slow motion, is on deck to become the next Iraq or Libya, run by warlords (again, Kolomoisky). This will happen a few months after whenever the IMF pulls the plug from life support. Ukraine is a basket case, a booby prize that will suck tens of billions of dollars a year from whichever entity elects to sustain it. With coal-mine infrastructure trashed, it cannot pay its own bills. Russia tried to give it charity in '13 but was rebuffed; that won't happen again. The EU cannot afford a black hole that sinks $50B-$100B a year. America has shown little ACTUAL interest in sustaining it. That leaves the IMF and Soros. Even Soros cannot pay $50B a year for two years. The IMF will kick the can down the road a year or three, until it owns most of Ukraine on paper; at which point it will have to either foreclose or turn off the taps. In any way, the western half of Ukraine collapses. The eastern half will survive with the help of more humanitarian influx from Russia.

Because Kolomoisky is based in Switzerland, he will survive and prosper as well, picking up major chunks of what's left of the country. The Bidens and Archer will prosper, and Kagan will have his PNAC.

A way to avoid civil (not economic) collapse could be to turn Ukraine into a protectorate of France, Germany, and Russia. NOT America and not NATO, as Russia feels they are both untrustworthy. This however would be quite sticky; and both Russia and Biden might prefer a collapsed Ukraine, so not go for it.

An alternative logical step is for someone, perhaps Kiev, to annex Kolomoisky's empire.

Absorbing Ukraine into the EU will not resolve any of the underlying forces, and so will not be productive.

Kindly talk with VP Biden, Kagan, and Nuland; find out, if you can, what they actually plan to accomplish with the region, and then see if you can formulate some kind of compromise. Apart from Kolomoisky and Akhmetov, no one else's opinion matters. Putin will go along with anything sane that does not include ethnic cleansing.

rjj

A domestic version of the Heinzmann frog experiment?

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site


George Carty

Greece is little better than a third-world economy, whose true status was disguised by Western aid (given due to "cradle of Western civilization" nostalgia as well as due its strategic position in the Eastern Med), as well as by tourism revenue.

Joining the Euro was counterproductive for Greece as it made it uncompetitive with non-Eurozone destinations, particularly neighboring Turkey.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, a struggle over the carcass of what used to be a member in good-standing of UN.

The way I see it, The Russian Federation can move the borders of Ukraine in the Westerly direction at will.

No amount of financial machinations can alter the salient fact that the man with the bigger guns on the location will prevail.

I think the Russian Federation will absorb Ukraine overtime, as well as Northern Kazakhstan.

300 years of history is not going to be altered by the IMF, the World Bank, or commercial corporations that sprang up over the last 25 years - in my opinion.

I do feel sorry for the majority of the citizens of Ukraine, Russia, Ukrainians and others, that their lives and livelihoods are being grinded into dust for Nothing.


João Carlos

The East Ukraine made its referendum, second semester last year, no country recognized the result, including Russia. Russia don't want Novorussia become independent and break Ukraine and Russia continue to defend federalization, that Kiev don't accept.

anna-marina

A terrifying article by A. McCoy on the post 9/11 transformation of the US.
http://www.unz.com/article/the-real-american-exceptionalism/
"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation’s leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt’s service as Nazi Germany’s chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond damaged his reputation for decades, today his ideas have achieved unimagined influence. They have, in fact, shaped the neo-conservative view of presidential power that has become broadly bipartisan since 9/11. Indeed, Schmitt has influenced American politics directly through his intellectual protégé Leo Strauss who, as an émigré professor at the University of Chicago, trained Bush administration architects of the Iraq war Paul Wolfowitz and Abram Shulsky.
... there is a clear correlation between state secrecy and the rule of law — as one grows, the other surely shrinks."

anna-marina

The most fascinating thing about Kolomoisky is how his Israeli citizenship has no effect on Kolomoisky's financing the neo-Nazi-infested death-squads in Ukraine. There is not a peep from ADL in the US and the Friends of Israel in Britain. The Wall Street Journal even published a fawning paper on the Jewish billionaire, where the readers are informed that Kolomoisky spends some $10 million per month to support "Kolomoisky army." That the army employs neo-Nazis is widely known. And who would believe that the main business man in Holocaust biz, Elie Wiesel, can be dead-silent about the promotion of neo-Nazism in Ukraine, in a country covered with mass-graves of Jewish victims. Obscenity.
https://newsfortherevolution.wordpress.com/tag/us-backing-ukrainian-nazis/
http://www.globalresearch.ca/kiev-ambassador-to-germany-neo-nazis-are-part-of-our-forces-without-them-russia-would-have-defeated-us/5433051

Ulenspiegel

"Joining the Euro was counterproductive for Greece as it made it uncompetitive with non-Eurozone destinations, particularly neighboring Turkey."

The alternative would have been to join the Euro zone with the genuine intention to improve. This means to forcer the domestic companies in direct competition with northern companies and support them them to improve, i.e. use the low interest rates and EU fonds, which BTW Turkey did not have, in a better way.

Austria did this in 1970, look where they are. They do not have not compete with low wage countries.

Ulenspiegel

Let's start at least with correct numbers:

Russia's population is around 145 million, i.e. the combined population of the Netherlands, Germany and Poland, with worse demographic development.

Russia's GDP is only slightly larger than Italy's (2000 billion USD).

Russia has a few thousand nukes.

When we compare EU (500 million citizen, GDP 18.000 billion USD) with Russia then my feeling is that Russia needs a good program, when living next to an economy which absorbes without any problem 400.000 immigrants per year and offers jobs and other aspects that fall under quality of life.

What is the plan??

William R. Cumming

Am I correct that with the passage of time and some clarification of the records of this event the conclusion that JFK and not Nikita K. was the reason for the actual outcome of this historic event has now been cast into substantial doubt?

kao_hsien_chih

Uluenspiegel,

This is somewhat OT, but concerns the notion of "soft power" in general.

A good friend of mine, based in Taiwan, believes that one of the reasons the de facto free trade agreement with the mainland is so unpopular among the Taiwanese is because of how it would open up Taiwan to Chinese "soft power." Here, the idea of soft power operates in a manner quite opposite that imagined by Western navel-gazers (although, ironically, this is often at work in the West as well). Taiwanese businesses, especially in publication or telecommunications industries, see the enormous economic potential in dealing with the mainland on good terms. They would do everything they can to avoid offending Beijing, including doing what they can to suppress views that might displease the mainland government. While they are already being cautious vis-a-vis Beijing as they are, the free trade regime, with even greater opportunities to do business with the mainland, Beijing's leverage can only increase.

This is a pernicious aspect of "free trade" that gets overlooked often. "Free trade" is not necessarily a right, but a form of privilege granted to the "right" people, and the selection of the "right" people is often based on politics. One might guess that, even without politico-military component, a free trade agreement between EU and Ukraine would have reinforced the Europhile factions in Ukraine at the expense of the Russophiles anyways, while, given the existing economic circumstances, Russia might have had greater "soft power" vis a vis Ukraine (certainly much more than what one might think) until recently, if only because of stronger economic ties between them (due to historic circumstances as well as general backwardness of Ukrainian industry that would not have been competitive vis-a-vis Europeans).

Babak Makkinejad

That we owe our lives to the sanity of Nikita Khrushchev has been known since the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Babak Makkinejad

The number I quoted was for the Russian population West of the Urals - the "European" part of the Russian Federation.

Russia was never a great economic power yet was decisive in the European history; from the defeat of Napoleon, to the maintenance of the Peace of Vienna, to the defeat of the NAZI Germany.

Russia also has her economic refugees; largely Muslims from poorer Central Asian Republics; the men live in Russia and send remittances back home.

I do not find any positive side to the attitude you display - are Germans and Italians and Hungarians and Romanians willing to fight and die again on the Steppe?

I think not.

Is EU not better served if she sells products and services to Russians; a population that actually wants to work with EU?

What possible benefit will EU incur if she sanctions herself out of influence with Russia? She and US already have sanctioned themselves out of influence with a much smaller and weaker country, Iran, and have nothing to show for all that effort.

The effort to exclude Russia from Europe is a dead-end - it has been so since the days of Peter the Great.

Joe100

Imagine

You fortgot to note that Hunter Biden and Devon Archer "work together in a group of investment vehicles known as Rosemont Capital Partners, Rosemont Seneca Advisors, Rosemont Realty, Rosemont Opportunities Fund, and Rosemont Solebury Capital Management. US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filings indicate that together they are “pooled investment vehicles” linked to Christopher Heinz (Kerry's step son), managing director of the group and the Heinz family fortune" (see http://johnhelmer.net/?p=12755)

Has anyone seen any MSM coverage of these personal Biden and Kerry connections to Ukraine/Burisma/Kolomoisky? I guess we won't hear about this on The News Hour...

MRW

That will cause the Ukraine to lose its sovereign currency to a foreign currency, the Euro. Then the bond vigilantes can rush be in to make loans, which everyone knows they can't repay, tying up the country's resources as collateral. It's what sparked the current internal conflict to begin with in Feb 2014. Yankovich was going to sorta' join the EU, then reneged. Nuland went nuts and helped start the Maidan protests; Obama is too ignorant about how this works financially to understand the real financial coup and underpinnings at work.

This is precisely what Victoria Nuland and her neocon buddies have wanted from Day One: to get their mitts on the Eastern Ukrainian resources, esp. the Donetz-Dnieper basin oil fields and the abiotic oil technology that produced them. Biden's son is waiting in the wings to take over as Chairman of one of the Eastern Ukrainian companies that he's already been appointed to. This is a land and money grab.

MRW

These sanctions, if Obama continues them, will undermine our reserve currency status by 2030--maybe earlier--if China can replicate the $500 billion/day market in US treasury securities. England, not understanding what the hell they are doing, just opened a Chinese bond market.

Col. Lang called them The Children's Crusade. They are worse then that. There is massive, gross incompetence in the WH. Not fit to run a PTA.

MRW

Correct.

MRW

"And please provide evidence that in the long run Greece would be better off outside the Euro zone,"

It can pay its debts in its own currency and put its people back to work. Greece already has low wages because of what Germany has done to them and other countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. Germany lowered its wages to compete in the export markets, which forced other countries in the Euro zone to lower theirs as well in order to compete.

Don't forget the country in the biggest doo-doo in 1998 before the move to the Euro was Germany. (Italy's debt today is no different than it was in 1995, but it doesn't have its own currency; it's screwed.) Germany's success has come because the rest of the Eurozone countries have paid for it.

Imagine

Mr. Archer is also the director of defensive body armor supply company Diamondback Tactical; along with former CIA Dept. Director Stephen Kappes; and former-State Dept. Special Advisor for Counter-Terrorism/Special Envoy to the Balkans/Atlantic Council member Andrew Bair. It is OK to make money by helping people. It is not OK to make money by helping people who are participating in ethnic cleansing. I am concerned some of these people could be profiting off of the murders and home-bombings of civilians, which would be profoundly immoral.

Ulenspiegel

Babak,

I think you got my comment completely wrong. :-)

We Germans do not want fight in Russia or against Russia, the last decades have proved that some of the old assumptions like more land equals more power is sometimes complete nonsense.

The point still is that maintaining spheres of influence require the ability to exercise influence with a braod spectrum of tools!

Russia is losing this IMHO, you do not survive in the long run, when your neighbour has an economy that is one order of magnitude larger than your own and offers your people better quality of life than you can! Russia was powerful in comparison to individual Europeans states, not against a EU.

Hint: Well educated Russians Russians leave for EU or USA and are replaced with people from former Asian Soviet Republics, that is called brain drain.

Personally, I support a tighter economic cooperation, however, this still requires huge changes on the Russian side I do not see.

Ulenspiegel

MRW,

you are rewriting history. :-)

Greece had a interesting economy since 1980, to use Germany as reason for these basic problems is stupid.

Greece applied for Euro zone and knew the rules. All countries had the chance to devaluate a last time, not doeing that was not Germany's fault.

Germany lowered wages after 2000, correct. However, others increased theirs at the same time much much more than their gains productivity. Why? To blame others for own stupidity is lame.

Yes, Germany had real problems around 1995, however, it did use German money and the options that high social coherence offers to fix them. To blame Germany for this is again lame.

And a more nuanced discussion, something you are obviously not interested in, would analyse against whom the southern countries lost most, is this really Germany?

William Fitzgerald

WRC,

It appears that we Americans of whatever political party and in whatever era are wedded to unconditional surrender, no compromise, and my way or the highway approaches. Is it because of the very high regard in which we hold ourselves? And is that a form of national narcissism? I fear that "Dr. Strangelove" is returning to the scene.

WPFIII

ToivoS

Great essay by Professor Polk except for that last line -- Ukraine joining the EU? No way. Every member state is a member of Nato. That would likely mean that Ukraine would in effect be part of Nato obligations. Also EU is actively sanctioning Russia today, if not a war-like act, one that is certainly hostile to Russia. The US federal reserve bank dominates EU financial institutions through its influence on the ECU. The US has control over the IMF. The US military has complete control over Nato and, indirectly, every EU member state that have sensibly let their national armies become quite tiny.

Russia would never agree to Ukraine joining the EU. Not unless, Nato was dissolved, which come to think of it would not be a bad idea.

turcopolier

toivoS

I moderate all comments before they are posted unless the original material belongs to an SST guest author. pl

confusedponderer

Yes, clearly, 'Germany is living large at the expense of austerity stricken Europe'?

Ulenspiegel, I second your sentiment. We paid for our economy ourselves. We are, for a very long time now, a ***net donor*** to the EU. That is, we helped to heavily subsidised poorer EU member states. We pay for their infrastructure development. As a gift through the EU, not a loan.

I also heard complaints, not from MRW, that Germany exports too much, that our economy is too export oriented. What are we to do about that? Build poorer products, or poorer cars, like Britain?

Oh, and do not the French export a lot of cars as well, and hold a lot of Greeke debt also? And what about them, British banks? Nah, it is just Germany that haunts the poor Greeks.

As I said before, Greece's problem are homemade. The debt crisis is just a symptom of the deeper rot in Greece's society.

When I speak with Greek acquaintances here in Germany about Greece they laugh at me and say that, after all it is Greece we are talking about. OF COURSE there is corruption and tax evasion. What did we expect? When we have Greek academics come to Germany that is for a reason. One thing they value here is business predictability, and that you can get permits and the like without bribes, the 'fakelaki' (the little envelope - when your language has a specific euphemism for bribe, you have a problem).

And I do not accept blame on Germany for the Greeks being what they are.

I like my cousin. That is no reason to give him a no show job in public service so he can better feed his family, because his other job doesn't pay enough. And we haven't even started about the social security fraud extravaganzas that took place in Greece. Or Greece's inability to collect taxes.

Germany, France and Britain may lend them money under conditions they clean up their public sector that makes up a disproportionate percentage of their economy, but we are emphatically not to blame for them being what they are.

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