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08 August 2015

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confusedponderer

"American media to refer to Israel as "our greatest ally." That must be a revelation for Britain, France and Germany!"

Germany for one built iirc two or three army corps (with our own money) and put them under US/NATO command for the common cause. I yet have to hear of the Israelis doing such a thing.

And as for existential threat - Germany was under existential threat every effing day the cold war lasteed, considering that it would be fought on German soil with possibly chemical and nuclear weapons and appalling civilian casualties. The Warsaw Pact had twenty tactical nukes aimed just at my garrison town, Koblenz.

There would not have been any pushing us into the sea, we'd, the civlian inhabitants of the town, some beautiful landscape and fine vinyards have been glass in a couple minutes had it come to the worst. And yet what Germany sought was an understanding rather than letting things escalate. Without Germans, there would not be a point to defend Germany, nor would there have been a point to reenact the Fallout series on German terrain. The Ostpolitik is one expression of that really basic insight.

What I think is that the Israelis are factually not threatened enough by their neighbours to come to their senses. When Syria was stong, Israel respected them. Now that they are weak, Israel tramples them. Israeli policy is one of excess born of superior strength. It is not defensive by any stretch of the word.

It isn't that Hezbollah can destroy Israel, and that is why Israel wants to undo them. It is that they limit Israeli options that is the problem. If they actually could destroy Israel, then Israel would sue for peace. Because without Jews, there would not be a point to defend Israel.

And speaking of that, given that escalation threatened to bring nuclear war to the US homeland, the US was under perpetual threat of devastating nucleqar war thoughout the Cold War also.

Alas, it was grownups in chrge then. Reagan, glorifgied for all the wrong reason by American jingoists, did come to the conlcusion that this was too dangerous a game to continue, and Gorbachev agtreed with him on that. What the US tell themselves today is that they won instead. They do not realistically address even their own history, and the cold war is to the US already ancient history.

In Israel, it appears, there live perpetual psychological teenagers, trying to push things as hard as they can at everybody eslse's expense. That sort of conduct would have guaranteed nuclear war in the cold war and understanding that made the grownups reign in the teenagers. It is precisely why Reagan kept the neocon crazies in the basement.

With the Israelis, peace or standoff with their neighbours is a psychological impossibility today, largely because they are zero sum gamers. They always think they can leverage wildcards like the odd assassination or airstrike, US or Jihadi proxies or whatnot to their advantage. In a nutshell, they're too clever by half. Someobody tell me about any of their grand strategic schemes of late actually having worked, beyond, for now, settlement expansion.

So I think that, sadly, you are perfectly correct when you say: "Russia does not want to fight us. From our actions and statements in The Borg, we seem to want to fight them." That is because the US have become like the Izzies with the same sort of outsized psychological needs.

The Izzies cannot stomach loosing their complete dominance as their neighbours, many times their populations, and many times their GDP if given the chance, develop normally, thus they must be pauperised.

The US cannot live psychologically, so it appears, in a world in which not everyone is like them and submits to putatively benevolent US leadership, and that means Russia must conform, or be undone.

Madness in both cases.

/morning rant

rkka

It is fortunate that Russia has no desire to fight us.

What Putin's plan for Ukraine appears to be is:

1) Keep the the Donetsk and Lugansk republics from losing militarily.

2) Wait until Ukrainians have had a bellyful of Western ideas on economic 'reform'

The reform package the Ukrainian government is pushing through under the IMF's direction has severe reductions in government expenditure, on the order of 6% of GNP, especially for pensions and subsidies for natural gas for home heating, despite the fact that when Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain cut government spending by a comparable amount in 2011-2013, the resulting GNP declines cut government revenue so bad that no actual budget deficit reduction actually occurred.

Ukraine's GNP has dropped almost a quarter since 2012, and the IMF predicts it will drop another 9% for 2015. This economic decline has driven Ukraine's external debt to 158% of Ukraine's GNP, which is higher than Greece's debt/GNP ratio.Unemployment is high and rising, and wage arrears are growing. Prices for bread, sugar, and dairy products are up 20-40% on the year, and 80% of Ukrainians live on less than 5$/day.

The IMF has arranged for a $40 billion bailout of Ukraine, but $23 billion of that depends on four Western hedge funds accepting a 40% haircut on what they loaned Ukraine, which the hedgies have utterly rejected.

Already the present Ukrainian government has a public approval rating in the low single digits.

Looks like the plan is on track.

The question is, what will the loonies in DC do when their Ukrainian client government starts to collapse.

confusedponderer

"The question is, what will the loonies in DC do when their Ukrainian client government starts to collapse."

My gut's impression is:

My stomach remarks there is a chance that there is a nationalist coup in Kiev, allowing the west to observe Ukrainian facism in its full splednor.

My appendix mumbles that they'll drown in black & red, blue & gold, yellow & wolfsangel, oh yes, and if you're Russian they'll likely prohibit you speaking your language, for starters.

My colon says that the neocons will perhaps have Saakashvili try what ge is best at, aggravate Russians by inscening an Odessa incident or somesuch.

My gall throws in that folks like the Syrian opposition and the Ukies need gamechanger events, like the shootdown of a civilan airliner or a Ghouta, USS Maine or USS Maddox incident.

Disconcerting to hear them talk like that. Maybe it is time for breakfast after all. Idle hands and all that.

rkka

Your assembled committee of idle digestive organs see the next stage down for Ukraine as I do. The first thing the Ukrainian fascist government will do is impose a police state in every sense of the word.

The second thing they will do, to their undoing, is stake all on a final campaign with their newly NATO-trained forces to crush the rebel republics militarily, with NATO support short of committing NATO forces to combat.

It's when this final Ukrainian campaign collapses in an ocean of blood that NATO will have a decision to make, to accept the Ukrainian government collapse that will follow this Ukrainian military collapse, or to intervene directly.

And that's when it will really get ugly, with the Instant Sunshine and all that.

steve

You don't win a GOP debate by talking about sizing our military appropriate to our needs. It must always be larger, and with more goodies. Of course that also means welfare for the defense contractors, which means more donations. Which means you get to keep campaigning. All self-reinforcing.

Steve

turcopolier

rkka

"Your assembled committee of idle digestive organs..." Means what? pl

rkka

Nothing disrespectful, CP humorously listed the views of his digestive tract and I was playing along.

confusedponderer

Pat,
he refers to the remarks above that I attributed to my stomach, appendix, colon and gall - not to the committee of correspondence.

turcopolier

rkka

I approved CP's comment without really reading it. pl

mbrenner

For trenchant, very well informed analysis of what's going on re. Ukraine, I suggest Stephen F. Cohen's weekly radio interview (40 minutes) on the John Batchelor show. Go to the NATION website and there you'll find a direct link to the program tape.

Imagine

Idle hands is Biden. Being a VP means not having a heaping full plate of responsibilities like the Pres does, thus leaving time for hobbies.
...Listen to your gut. It has a wisdom of its own. So, what are you going to do about it?

David Habakkuk

All,

'Americans believe that Russians are fed propaganda by the state-controlled media. If Russians only could hear the truth, the thinking goes, they would welcome the US position. This is not so.'

There was this chap Manstein. As well as being a moderately good staff officer, he wasn't a bad writer. I remember reading his account of the little local difficulties he played some role in creating for us and the French. Gripping reading, actually.

In his book, Manstein expressed the view that Hitler's great strategic mistake was in not moving decisively to try to knock us out of the war after the collapse of the French and British armies, so that he left a bridgehead on which the vast military-industrial potential of the United States, once mobilised, could be effectively deployed against Germany.

Some people here, at the time, were not entirely sorry when, after 'Operation Barbarossa' had appeared likely to knock the Soviet Union out of the war rather rapidly, it began to run into problems. Among these was the fierce resistance which Manstein's Eleventh Army, who had up to that point overrun the Crimea without great difficulty, encountered when they attempted to take Sebastopol in October and November 1941.

Indeed, there were some of us who were quite pleased at the fact that it took two hundred and fifty days of very heavy fighting before the 'blazing inferno of Sebastopol' – I quote the great 'Sunday Times' correspondent Alexander Werth – was finally overrun by Manstein at the start of July 1942.

It was – to quote Werth again – 'one of the most glorious defeats of the Soviet-German war.' By keeping one of the greatest of German experts in mobile warfare bogged down for more than eight months, the men and women of Sebastopol did their country an inestimable service – and were actually of some help to us also.

I doubt any of this means much to the likes of Cameron, Osborne, and Boris Johnson, or indeed the kind of people who now run Chatham House, any more than it does to almost all Americans.

Paul Escobar

To all,

I randomly picked up this book series called "The Survivalist" by Jerry Ahern. It depicts a territorial squabble between the United States & Russia...which leads to something *interesting* that changes America forever (no spoilers).

This was written in 1981, and the author is a conservative & gun efficianado. So I was expecting a bit of cold war hysteria. Instead, I was amazed with how Book #1 presented a careful, calm, and neutral depiction of U.S. & Russian exchanges (diplomatic & otherwise).

I feel it's incredibly prescient. You see the layers, flaws, and depth each side possesses (and still do). You read these cordial, sincere, and sometimes stubborn conversations between important players. And when the *interesting* thing occurs...you take a step back and shudder, because unlike typical Hollywood fiction...it's not the result of some moustache-twirling villain or misunderstanding. It's the result of plausible logical calculations and impulses.

For me, it was very valuable to get an inside visual with characters who conversate and think...rather than some outside description or abstract warning.

Having said all that, this is really an action-adventure series tailored for boys and men. It's that simple, so all the more incredible its effect on me.

Best,
Paul Escobar

Tyler

All this because Russia wants no part of pride parades or the other facets of secular humanism.

"More military spending" seems to mean throwing more money at the F35. The line grunts aren't seeing any of it, as far as I can tell from what I hear.

rkka

David,

"In his book, Manstein expressed the view that Hitler's great strategic mistake was in not moving decisively to try to knock us out of the war after the collapse of the French and British armies, so that he left a bridgehead on which the vast military-industrial potential of the United States, once mobilised, could be effectively deployed against Germany."

It appears that this was what Stalin was looking for as his main indicator of imminent German attack. He truly believed that Hitler was not the sort of fool who would attack Russia with the Brits in his rear. The source for this is Gabriel Gorodetsky's "Grand Delusion" Yale University Press 2001.

In a counterfactual history where Adolpf takes another year to squeeze Great Britain into making peace on some terms, he faces:

1) A mostly complete Molotov Line, which in the historical Barbarossa campaign was a significant factor delaying the German advance in sectors where it was partially complete.

2) Another years production of T-34s/KV1&2s, new MiG & Yak fighters, and Sturmoviks.

3) A year of training on the above.

4) A fully mobilized/alerted Red Army, in field fortifications, supporting the Molotov Line, rather than in their barracks at peacetime strength.

So though a '42 Barbarossa has a safer rear for the Germans, the campaign itself would be rather more of a challenge. In this case the Wehrmacht might not get past the Dneipr. And I'll bet that a failed '42 Barbarossa would see the Brits reentering the war vs Germany.

Jack

What I find most galling is the the majority of the Republican party (at least it's presidential candidates) as well as many Democrats are in effect 5th columnists. Have there been other instances in our history where so many work overtly for foreign interests in detriment to our national interests?

Obama is never going to be loved by Bibi and the AIPAC crew. He's got nothing to lose by screwing them the best he can. Unless of course he too plans to be a private equity hedge fund maven.

But it also shows where the American people really stand. Politicians are after all weather vanes. Only Ron Paul on the national stage promoted non-interference in foreign affairs.

ex-PFC Chuck

Per CP: "The question is, what will the loonies in DC do when their Ukrainian client government starts to collapse."

The loonies already appear to be thinking about that, and not in a good way. Per FortRuss: "The commander of "Azov" regiment, Ukrainian MP Andrey Biletsky accepted an invitation to speak in the European Parliament. According to political analyst Nikolay Starikov, the West is preparing the replacement of the Ukrainian leadership, and as a candidate for this position is considering Andrey Biletsky."

Per Wikipedia: "The Azov Battalion has been labelled neo-Nazi, "patriots", "a far-right Ukrainian militia". . . German ZDF television observed Azov battalion fighters wearing helmets with swastikas and "the 'SS runes' of Hitler's infamous black-uniformed elite corps", and on other occasions some of the soldiers have been reported to have SS tattoos. . . "

According to reporting on Russia-leaning sites like The Saker and Fort Russ, the Azov regiment is a loose cannon barely under the control of what passes for a Ukraine government these days.

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/08/casting-for-role-of-fuhrer-announced-in.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov_Battalion#cite_note-abcApUIM-10

Babak Makkinejad

In my opinion, the existence of Ukraine as a unified unitary state was never going to last.

Like Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, etc. Ukraine was a detritus of the Cold War that the Russian state would re-absorb.

US and EU, in their effort to somehow anchor this chunk of non-Diocletian territory to EU - as a vassal - gave the Russians the perfect opportunity to start the campaign for re-absorption of Ukraine into Russia.

We are only at the early stages of this process - in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

This is the famous speech of Putin 8 years ago:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/feb/13/comment.russia

Secular Humanism indeed has degenerated into neo-Paganism; something harkening back to Pleistocene times - with all that body tattooing that reminds one of the savage cannibalistic tribes of the South Seas 150 years ago.

It seems to be most pronounced among the Anglo-Saxons - is it because of disintegration of the Protestantism?

Tyler

Babak,

I have no clue, but it's not even the high paganism of the Greeks/Romans. The collapse of Protestantism likely has roots, especially with the corruption of the Anglican/Episcopal branches.

Paul Escobar

Babak,

At least that body tattooing of 150 years ago was tied to some warrior ethos.

Today, its adoption is mostly tied to feminine-like vanity (strutting like a peacock) and depression (the need to mask ones own skin/self).

You can be sure rivals of America are loving this cultural degeneration to vanity and hedonism. Perverts are easy to seduce.

smh,
Paul

Hank Foresman

I wonder how long before the world decides the US is the obstacle to Peace and the greatest threat to the world order?

David Habakkuk

rkka,

It is a long time since I looked at all this carefully. Some thoughts however.

Part of Hitler's problem, in my view, was that he was a rhetorician – see my response to Valissa on the thread about Libya. Accordingly, he failed to realise that when dealing with Russia, it is prudent to avoid falling prey to fantasies about its strength or fantasies about its weakness.

Likewise, Hitler failed to confront the ambiguities of the role of ideology in Stalin's politics. The analyses of the extremely capable diplomats of the German Moscow Embassy diplomats had, ironically, a good deal in common with those of Trotsky: they thought Stalin was betraying the Revolution – turning more and more into a 'national socialist' – and with judicious encouragement, could be got to betray it some more. A critical point, however, is that throughout Europe nationalists had been defeating communists, reducing the Soviet ability to cause trouble.

So in essence the German Moscow Embassy diplomats ended up saying to Hitler: you've got this Anti-Comintern Pact, why not make a small change and add the Soviet Union to it, giving you a 'continental bloc'. The idea had its problems, but if you look at the alternatives …

The mistake that Schulenberg made was not about Stalin, but about Hitler: failing to grasp that the effect of the Nazi-Soviet Pact would be that he would take Germany into a war against the British Empire. One that happened, however, Germany's options became problematic.

Part of Manstein's point, I think, was that in this situation Hitler absolutely had to focus on destroying the BEF, and didn't. In his 2001 study 'Five Days in London: May 1940', John Lukacs brought out how strong the pressures were at the time for some kind of exploratory overtures to the Germans. Whether without the successful Dunkirk evacuation things these might have succeeded is a moot point.

The point you make the Soviets were going to be markedly better prepared by 1942 had ambivalent implications. The view of the German diplomats was that, even if he became stronger, for all kinds of reasons Stalin would be deeply reluctant to take the gamble of initiating a general war, unless Germany collapsed – while they also thought that it was madness to gamble on the Soviets collapsing.

But Hitler would not listen, and exaggerated alike the long-term threat and the short-term weakness.

Ironically, perhaps, the Gorodetsky study you cite in many ways follows the German Moscow Embassy 'house view'. So too did one of the leading post-war State Department Soviet experts, the – often underestimated – figure of Charles 'Chip' Bohlen, who learned much of his Sovietology from his German colleagues.

FB Ali

The reasons for Hitler not destroying the BEF are believed to be:

One, he wanted to preserve his Panzer forces, which had led the lightning advance to the coast and had suffered the inevitable breakdowns and wastage of such a campaign. The infantry divisions were still far behind. Having the Panzers try to destroy the BEF would have caused them much more (unnecessary) loss.

Two, Goering promised him that the Luftwaffe would be able to carry out this destruction. (At that time, this seemed a credible proposition).

Three, his attention was focussed on Europe. Having dealt with France in the West, he was turning to Russia in the East. The British were an interfering nuisance, who had been taught a lesson and were unlikley to bother him for quite a while.

Fred

Babak,

David Habakkuk had a very detailed comment about the role of religion in the Russian Federation's domestic and international policy which I was just rereading a day or so ago. I recommend rereading the comment thread here:
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/09/httpwwwindependentcoukvoicescommentgas-missiles-were-not-sold-to-syria-8831792html.html

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