Nobody Likes a Traitor

There was a fascinating meeting earlier today in Sevastopol. The current head of the Ukranian Navy, Serhiy Haiduk, and the former head, Denis Berezovsky, who defected to Crimea/Russia, both addressed naval officers:

The officers broke into applause as Haiduk read them an order from Kiev removing Berezovsky from his position, and told them that Berezovsky was facing treason charges. When Haiduk had finished his dry but compelling address, the officers spontaneously broke into the national anthem, and some were seen to cry. Berezovsky showed no visible sign of emotion.
[…]
When Berezovsky requested questions from the officers, a chorus of criticism broke from the ranks. “In what way exactly did foreign powers intervene in Kiev, compared to the way they are intervening now in Crimea?” asked an officer to applause from those assembled. “Don’t ask provocative questions,” Berezovsky barked back.

Berezovsky was accompanied by a couple of Russian special forces bodyguards, which is presumably the reason he wasn’t arrested on the spot.

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203 replies
  1. 1
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Reposted from the open thread downstairs:

    And here’s an interesting public opinion survey taken in both Russia and Ukraine, prior to Russia’s invasion, about support for the protesters vis-a-vis the Yanukovych regime. If you can’t read Russian, Google Translate does a decent job. But the interesting thing is that support for the Yanukovych regime increases by age band, from 14% support in the 18-29 cohort to 38% support among the 70+, and decreases by education level, with 29-31% support among people with less than high school to 17% for “higher” education (meaning university or “polytechnic”.) Support for the opposition, naturally, is highest among the young and among the better-educated.

    http://www.levada.ru/03-03-201…..-v-ukraine

    What does that pattern remind anyone of in the US?

    Incidentally, the ruble and the Russian stock market are tanking.

  2. 2
    DaveinMaine says:

    Hopefully this can get solved before things go hot. Most logical way seems to be to pressure Russia in the financial markets and keep their elite from traveling to the West.

    But this just seems…desperate on the part of Russia. Not the concern over Ukraine being pro-Western, but in using such a ham-handed method of resolving the issue. What does Putin think the end-game is here? That he’ll take the Crimea and nothing will happen?

  3. 3
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Sorry, that link didn’t survive copy-paste, and I can’t edit the post. So here it is in its full URL-ness.

    http://www.levada.ru/03-03-201.....-v-ukraine

  4. 4
    Botsplainer says:

    Interesting that he’s trying to cast things in a pro-Yanukovych tone. Earlier in the weekend, I was thinking that Putin was extending an olive branch to Tymoshenko in an effort to work out a partition (the most likely end game). If the traitor is still trying to work for the kleptocrats, though, it feels like they’re trying to foment a civil war so that the whole of Ukraine winds up in the Russian sphere.

    In any event, due to the complex nature of the Ukraine/Russia history (lots and lots of shared history, kinships, common efforts), it is best that NATO and the US stay out of it.

  5. 5
    Fuzzy says:

    European banks should freeze all the assets and accounts of Russian addresses. When the politicrats can’t get to their money they might back off. Ukraine controls water and electricity to the Crimean so they should shut it off for a few hours to allow the Russians to rethink the situation. Of course the Russians would retaliate by shutting off the gas Then they could all freeze to death in the dark.

  6. 6
    Botsplainer says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    What does Putin think the end-game is here? That he’ll take the Crimea and nothing will happen?

    Pretty much.

  7. 7
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Botsplainer: If Ukraine breaks in half that would suit Putin just fine. That would create a buffer from the Black Sea to the Lithuanian border. And if Russia thought they could ever get the Baltics back they’d go for that as well.

  8. 8
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Botsplainer: Then he really is delusional. And I don’t just mean the West. There is still 35-40% of the Crimean that is not Russian. And people down there (obviously) don’t tend to just sit on their hands when they are unhappy.

  9. 9
    Botsplainer says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    And if Russia thought they could ever get the Baltics back they’d go for that as well.

    They don’t have the numbers in the Baltics that they do in Ukraine, and I suspect that the Russian minorities in the Baltics are pretty happy with life as it is.

  10. 10
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Botsplainer: Obviously. Never mind that they are in NATO. Just saying that Russia has always been leery about the West/NATO being on their doorstep. Which is why they got Belarus back in their orbit years ago and seem intent on doing it again in Ukraine.

  11. 11
    El Caganer says:

    What a nightmare. And ultimately there isn’t a lot the West can do about it, at least the EU – they rely too much on Russia for energy. I hope Putin contents himself with saber-rattling and doesn’t decide to try to swallow the whole country. Naturally, of course, whatever our President does will be deemed insufficient by those who need to say such things.

  12. 12
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @El Caganer: There may not be a lot militarily, but the markets are voting, http://www.reuters.com/article.....LT20140303

    Their main stock market index is down by more than they spent on the Sochi Olympics. In one day.

  13. 13
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Gin & Tonic: And that’s where, hopefully, the pressure can be put on Putin.

    War machines cost money. And this isn’t the 1970s. Russia is too integrated into the global markets now.

  14. 14
    scav says:

    Is there something brewing internally to Russia where Putin would benefit from some heightened “Everyone is picking on us” solidarity, meaning, is there a dog to be wagged by a bare-chested tail?

  15. 15
    p.a. says:

    @scav: doesn’t have to be anything brewing:

    “Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.”-
    Goering

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @p.a.: Sounds like 2003, doesn’t it?

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Given that this political situation is creating a lot of economic turmoil, Putin may have to back off, much to the distress of asswipes like Huckleberry Closetcase, R-SC, who want to use this as a club on the near sheriff.

  18. 18
    Cervantes says:

    @scav: Here is David Remnick’s view of Putin’s motivations:

    His resentment of Western triumphalism and American power, after 1991; his paranoia that Washington is somehow behind every event in the world that he finds threatening, including the recent events in Kiev; his confidence that the U.S. and Europe are nonetheless weak, unlikely to respond to his swagger because they need his help in Syria and Iran; his increasingly vivid nationalist-conservative ideology, which relies, not least, on the elevation of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had been so brutally suppressed during most of the Soviet period, as a quasi-state religion supplying the government with its moral force.

    I think you’ll find that Remnick is generally reliable on this subject. He is not — nor am I — certain that Putin wants only Crimea.

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Aye, and its amazing how many people fall for it, every single fucking time.

  20. 20
    Origuy says:

    An interesting article on how Yanukovych and his cronies lined their pockets.

    The most emblematic illustration of the corruption of the Yanukovych regime to come to light is his palatial home called Mezhyhiriya, which comes complete with a galleon and zoo (The excess of the estate is remarkable. Yanukovych even beamed about the workmanship of the German contractors hired to remodel his villa. He noted, “I can say they were the intelligentsia among workers”).

  21. 21
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    This just seems to be Putin demonstrating his lack of needing a shirt. I’ve read that his concern over the possible loss of the Black Sea Fleet is a possible reason so I did some Googling and it turns out that the Black Sea Fleet is a joke; one aging guided-missile cruiser, one large, dated, ASW cruiser, two frigates, a destroyer, one Kilo-class diesel-electric sub, and some landing ships. New York University professor Mark Galeotti, who blogs about security issues, recently stated that the Italian navy could wipe out the fleet all by itself.

  22. 22
    Botsplainer says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    Obviously. Never mind that they are in NATO. Just saying that Russia has always been leery about the West/NATO being on their doorstep. Which is why they got Belarus back in their orbit years ago and seem intent on doing it again in Ukraine.

    My current operating theory is that NATO is dead insofar as anything east of Germany is concerned.

    Nobody has the stomach for it.

  23. 23
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Cervantes: If Putin could take Ukraine he would do it. Russia has always been leery about Ukraine. Geo-politically it is a dagger into the heart of the country. It’s a “red-line” country for them the way Mexico would be for us.

    This is just a really stupid way to go about keeping Ukraine out of NATO or whatever other ghost was scaring Putin. Ukraine could have joined the EU and agree to not join NATO. Like Austria or Finland.

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT, but…Noisemax triumphant:

    ‘Son of God’ Astounds with $26 Million Box Office

    Now, let’s see how they react when that drops next week. Will it qualify as a total disaster like the box office for The Butler did? Please note that The Lego Movie which was released three weeks ago came in third with $21 million.

  25. 25
    MominMaine says:

    European nations really don’t want to do very much about this situation as they get so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I doubt they will freeze assets or do anything more than strongly worded condemnations.

  26. 26
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Botsplainer:

    My current operating theory is that NATO is dead insofar as anything east of Germany is concerned.

    I’m beginning to wonder if the UN has become obsolete as well. Seems to me that the institutions formed in the crucible of the Cold War are becoming less and less relevant with each passing year.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Yes, I’m sure that they transferred all the serious units to the Baltic or the Far East, but this is one of those matters of national pride and historic precedent.

    “Warm water ports”, the 42 of Russian history.

  28. 28
    Tommy says:

    @Botsplainer: Exactly. This is my thinking. If I was Putin I’d push and push, right to the edge. Take Crimea (which seems he almost already has). Push into the rest of Ukraine. See what happens. No military action. Then push someplace else until the world community, NATO, the US, gosh knows who does something really painful. If they don’t I keep pushing.

    I mean I keep pushing and the best that happens is the UN does something, which Russia vetoes and all Russia gets is “sternly worded press statement,” well I keep pushing and do as I want.

    Now I say this not thinking the US should get involved. This is a problem for the EU. They have to act. It is literally in their “backyard” and time for them to step up.

  29. 29
    Belafon says:

    OT: What do you do when you don’t like the Boy Scouts accepting gays: You join the Nazi’s the Christian based Trail Life (see the first picture).

  30. 30
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Yes, I’m sure that they transferred all the serious units to the Baltic

    Wonder how long it will take someone on the Right to suggest blockading Kaliningrad. “Even Kennedy blockaded Cuba!”

  31. 31
    Rob in CT says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Well, Russia is on the UNSC. Therefore the UN can’t really do anything. That was baked into the cake from the start.

  32. 32
    feebog says:

    Putin wants more than Crimea. At the very least he will try to split the country in half, he needs that buffer between Russia and Europe. The only pressure that can be brought to bear is economic, let’s hope it has some effect.

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tommy:

    The problem here is that “the EU” means, basically, Germany and/or France.

    Uh oh. Both have histories, and long unpleasant ones, of intervention in Eastern Europe.

  34. 34
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    War machines cost money. And this isn’t the 1970s. Russia is too integrated into the global markets now.

    A UEFA/FIFA transfer embargo and selected seizure of central London real estate. Putin’s got friends who would find that unpleasant.

  35. 35
    ericblair says:

    @scav:

    Is there something brewing internally to Russia where Putin would benefit from some heightened “Everyone is picking on us” solidarity, meaning, is there a dog to be wagged by a bare-chested tail?

    Like p.a. says, if you’re an authoritarian who is not really interested in having an open opposition, a certain amount of unrest simmering out in the boonies is a good justification for any sort of crackdown you may want to start.

    Some dynamics that I don’t have any real read on are the relationships between the Volga Tatars and Crimean Tatars. The Volga Tatars are a majority in Tatarstan and very important in Bashkortostan, which makes up (more or less) the Texas of Russia with oil and grain production. I’m not sure how much actual solidarity there is between the two groups, but if the Volga Tatars convince the Crimean Tatars that shit will be OK in Russia that will calm down Crimea substantially for the Russians, and if the Volga Tatars start sympathizing with the Crimean Tatars then Putin’s got a whole new domestic problem.

  36. 36
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cervantes: He is not — nor am I — certain that Putin wants only Crimea.

    Next stop, Brooklyn. After all, it has lots of Russians, a government which is generally hostile to Russian interests, a warm-water port, all the same justifications.

  37. 37
    MCA1 says:

    @DaveinMaine: I think this is probably right and economic reason prevails. The troubling thoughts in the back of my mind, though, include the following:

    – Russia is still closer to a dictatorship (actually, kleptocracy, but whatever) than it is a functioning representative democracy. Putin’s in control of the media, and he’s not politically vulnerable and subjected to consequences. Maybe we learn that the oligarchs are, in fact, the real power behind his throne and they shut this off. Certainly they haven’t tamed him yet, though.

    – There’s still that Russian grandiosity and tendency toward empire in play. They’re still smarting over losing the Cold War, and watching the second half of the 20th century put the largest and one of the most populous countries in the world in the proverbial corner. Losing influence over its largest and most important Soveit-era satellite, and an area that’s effectively been under Russian sway for a couple hundred years, is a major blow to Russia’s ego.

    – A larger proportion of the population there than in established democracies is susceptible to buying into an us vs. them framing of all of this, and combined with the two factors above, I fear they’ll be led right down the garden path with glorious Mother Russia protecting her chicks in Ukraine talk.

  38. 38
    Cermet says:

    The ass wipe squealing pig putin is a deluded empire building stooge of the FSB (old KGB.) There is no way that psychopath will let the Crimea go back to Ukraine control without a major fight. Europe can not give up the natural gas imports from Russia and we are a joke when it comes to denouncing anyone for invading any country on trumped up reasons. I believe it would be best for all parties to accept the current status and either side foolishly use military force to change the current situation. War serves no one but least of all Ukraine interest. Can’t change that Russia is a nuclear power and will do on its border whatever it decides is in its vital interest. All else is balloon juice.

  39. 39
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Botsplainer: The French, Germans, and Brits certainly don’t — they nixed Bush Jr’s April 2008 plan to fast-track NATO membership for Ukraine. Even at the time concerns about the Crimea were widely mentioned.

  40. 40
    scav says:

    @Cervantes: He’s just been obviously pulling too much elsewhere, putting on a generally high-viz provocative swagger for it just to be about the Crimea or the Ukraine.ETA: at least that’s my gut discomfort and hair on the back of my neck reading.

  41. 41
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    It may not be actual power but the projection of power. As long as people think Putin is strong and can do anything he wants, any time, any where, he can. Once they realize that he may not be able to do that, he’s finished. And I’m pretty sure he knows that. He has to keep up the pretense of strength. OK in Russia it may not be a pretense, but looking at the financials, he may no longer be in charge of a quasi dictatorship, which is what he acts like.
    Projection being the base of all conservative thought of course.

  42. 42
    srv says:

    @Fuzzy: Just seize random Russian’s accounts? Putin doesn’t have any money in a western bank. He’s not an idiot.

    Putin will take what he wants, when he wants it, and everyone will get used to it. Delusional Merkel can question Putin’s sanity when she’s looking for firewood to cook her sausage.

    He’ll have Crimea in a week. He doesn’t need to invade the west, he can just sit back and watch them starve for a few months. The EU/US would be crazy to give them money to prop them up. There will be new protests later this year and a new regime (see how long the Orange Revolution lasted).

  43. 43
    raven says:

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tore into the Obama administration, declaring that Russia invaded Ukraine because “of a reckless foreign policy where not one believes in American strength anymore.” In a speech that highlighted the situation in Ukraine, he told the crowd, “The whole situation cries out for American leadership and I’m sorry to tell you it’s MIA.”

  44. 44
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    A UEFA/FIFA transfer embargo

    If you can include Chelsea in that ban I am all for it…

  45. 45
    Tommy says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Agreed. That is what you do. No need for military force. I am not even sure you need to freeze assets. Just make it “bad” to do business with a Rusian firm. I bet that might get a few calls to Putin’s office.

    But honestly not sure that is going to happen. You think the Royal Bank of Scotland or Citibank or Goldmans cares who they do business with as long as they make a profit?

    I think this is going to be interesting to see how this plays out on multiple levels.

  46. 46
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Well, Russia is on the UNSC. Therefore the UN can’t really do anything. That was baked into the cake from the start.

    It’s to be expected that in this instance Russia would would stymie any action by the UN. In general it seems that any action, even a mild rebuke, from the UN now runs contrary to the interests of one or another member of the UNSC and so the UN does some good humanitarian work (When and where it can) but, otherwise it’s just a nice place to shovel someone from your country who needs an ego-boosting appointment.

  47. 47
    DaveinMaine says:

    @raven: Fucking McCain. Did that “American strength” help Georgia in 2008?

  48. 48
    Pogonip says:

    Dmitry Orlov (cluborlov.blogspot.com) has a perspective on the situation that I have not seen before. Don’t know enough about the situation to even offer an opinion on his view, other than that, by golly, it’s different!

  49. 49
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cermet: I believe it would be best for all parties to accept the current status and either side foolishly use military force to change the current situation.

    “Current status”? Russia reportedly gave Ukrainian military units until 0300 GMT to surrender. What do you propose they do? If they decline, and Russian forces storm their base, who shoots first? This will get hot, unfortunately, while Kerry is in the air. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has to turn around and land in Germany or Poland.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @raven:

    Grandpa Walnuts needs to shut the fuck up.

    Dipshit naval aviators who don’t have clue one about logistics.

  51. 51
    hoodie says:

    @feebog: Doubtful. Putin would have a hard time with the neverending headache Ukraine would turn into and the economic fallout from such a move. He has enough problems at home and Ukrainians aren’t blowing up Russian movie theaters, so there may not be much sympathy at home for the cost of a Ukrainian occupation. Crimea was an easy target because it’s mostly Russian and he had the forces there already, but going beyond that would be problematic. He’s probably looking for a way to save face by looking tough after Yanukovych was dumped without going to war. Crimean annexation would do that without terribly disrupting Ukrainian territorial integrity.

  52. 52
    Woodrowfan says:

    so, where are the firebaggers to tell us what a great guy Putin is for protecting Crimea from the big, bag Nazi Ukrainians??

  53. 53
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Woodrowfan: GOS and the DU.

  54. 54
    Cervantes says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    @Cervantes: He is not — nor am I — certain that Putin wants only Crimea.

    Next stop, Brooklyn. After all, it has lots of Russians, a government which is generally hostile to Russian interests, a warm-water port, all the same justifications.

    Let’s not give him any ideas! But seriously, are you certain he wants nothing more than to regain Crimea? I’m not.

    More Remnick (ibid.):

    I spoke with Georgy Kasianov, the head of the Academy of Science’s department of contemporary Ukrainian history and politics, in Kiev. “It’s a war,” he said. “The Russian troops are quite openly out on the streets [in Crimea], capturing public buildings and military outposts. And it’s likely all a part of a larger plan for other places: Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson. And they’ll use the same technique. Some Russian-speaking citizens will appear, put up a Russian flag, and make appeals that they want help and referendums, and so on.” This is already happening in Donetsk and Kharkov.

    I’m not sure Kasianov is right about the “larger plan,” of course — I just have no hard evidence yet that he’s wrong.

  55. 55
    raven says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: And, as much as I hate to, Pat Lang:

    The newspapers and 24/7 news bilge is today full of outrage. It is meaningless outrage. Russia has strategic nuclear forces sufficient to eliminate any threat of significant US military action and the Europeans will not sacrifice their worldly goods for the Galicians and the Crimean Tatars.

    It is clear that Putin is unconcerned with hard words directed at him from the West. The blonde BBC newsbabe said on Morning Joe today that she has now learned that a man who does not care what you think of him is difficult to deal with. More people should learn that lesson. pl

  56. 56

    @DaveinMaine:

    In his head that was all Obama’s fault.

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Russia reportedly gave Ukrainian military units until 0300 GMT to surrender. What do you propose they do? If they decline, and Russian forces storm their base, who shoots first? This will get hot, unfortunately, while Kerry is in the air. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has to turn around and land in Germany or Poland.

    The Georgians shot first. I presume the Ukrainians remember how that turned out.

  58. 58
    MikeJ says:

    @Fuzzy:

    European banks should freeze all the assets and accounts of Russian addresses.

    Liverpool would love that. It’s the only way they’ll catch Chelsea.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @Tommy:

    You think they’d take the additional step of moving on NATO countries? The whole point of Georgia and Ukraine seemed to me to be precisely that they weren’t in NATO, and that he wanted to stomp on them before things got to that point (those countries are, after all, right on the border). Moving from that to actually going after NATO members seems like a huge leap up from the 2008 and 2014 crises.

  60. 60
    srv says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    so, where are the firebaggers to tell us what a great guy Putin is for protecting Crimea from the big, bag Nazi Ukrainians??

    Well, it’s pretty confusing if GG’s and Marcy Wheelers new boss is the one funding the Nazis.

  61. 61
    DaveinMaine says:

    @Chris: He won’t move on NATO members. That would be too dangerous, even for Putin.

    But you have the right of it. Russia won’t tolerate any more bordering countries being brought into NATO. If they could wind back the Baltics joining they would but that chance is long, long gone. But that is why they backed Lukashenko in Belarus years ago (remember the nascent democracy movement he crushed? Neither does anyone else).

  62. 62
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cervantes: No, I am not certain. Just pointing out that if he’s got “protecting Russian-speakers” as a justification, there are lots of them in various places. Hell, there are 5 million Russian-speakers in Germany, being forced to speak German to work or go to school, maybe he should invade there, too. Russia beat Germany pretty good in the last match-up.

    The “surrender by 0300” is clearly an invitation for the Ukrainians to shoot first. That is scary. I re-read the Guardian article mistermix posted, and that frigate captain who’s quoted, who says he plans to stay loyal to his oath? I’m pretty sure I know him, and he will not surrender to foreign troops.

  63. 63
    Jay C says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    What does Putin think the end-game is here? That he’ll take the Crimea and nothing will happen?

    Yes.

    SATSQ

  64. 64
    Chris says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    BUSH WAS A LIBERAL! Remember!

    If American strength is taken less seriously now than it used to be, the sight of the U.S. military blundering around Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade with no solid results achieved might just have something to do with it too, Johnny Boy.

  65. 65
    Tommy says:

    Well talking about the use of the military I will tell folks they should pick up Tom Clancy new book, Command Authrority. Given this is a work of fiction, but literally this book (released in late December 2013 I think) has this almost exact “real world” situation play out in it.

    Here is what happened in the book. As Russian forces went into Ukraine and made a drive to Kiev, the US put a hundred or so Army Rangers on the ground. Broken into scout teams. We also had about a dozen helicopters with advance missile systems. The scout teams “lit” up the Russian tanks as they moved in and the helicopters took them out.

    We were not trying to stop the Russians. We were (1) trying to give the Ukraines a “fighting chance” and (2) make it painful on Russia to move forward.

    Again and again I know this is s work of fiction. But if we use military force, what other options is there?

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    Which is why the Baltics were the first in line to join NATO. In a heartbeat.

  67. 67

    John McCain probably thinks starting WW III is a way to show American strength…

  68. 68
    Chris says:

    @DaveinMaine:

    Yeah, superpowers like buffers. Just like China did not want a U.S. friendly Republic Of Korea right on its border in the 1950s, Russia does not want Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia joining the organization that was originally created as the anti-Russia and which many of its members (Poland, Baltics) still look to for that reason. That doesn’t excuse their support for the local regimes any more than Chinese support for North Korea, but anyone who thought they’d let us get away with it… well… hadn’t thought things through.

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    No, no, no.

    It’s all “that one’s” fault. Every bit of it.

    Did I mention he was a POW who crashed jet fighters repeatedly?

  70. 70
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tommy: We are not going to use military force.

  71. 71
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Hell, that particular dipshit naval aviator can’t even use an airplane without breaking it.

  72. 72
    srv says:

    @Tommy: If only Obama was more Reaganesque and was using the Ukraine as a tar pit to bleed the Russians. We could finally put all those jihadi allies to good use somewhere.

  73. 73
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Chris:

    If American strength is taken less seriously now than it used to be, the sight of the U.S. military blundering around Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade with no solid results achieved might just have something to do with it too, Johnny Boy.

    If anything, the US’ cowboying around in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the world that, although you may demolish an enemy’s military forces in the field, there are plenty of ways for dissidents within that nation to make sure that you have in no way subdued the populace.

  74. 74
    PurpleGirl says:

    While I have a decent idea of the geography of the area I decided to look up a map of the area, using Google Maps. It always helps to have a graphic to refer to, I find.

    A cold war concept that I find helpful is “sphere of influence.” Russia really wants to reinvigorate that border influence..

  75. 75
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Nobody will. Hell, the EU won’t even approve sanctions. With Merkel propping up Putin I’m afraid I need a scorecard to remember who the fascists are. I’m sure Lyndon LaRouche can tell me.

  76. 76

    What is Putin’s endgame? I don’t see how this ends well for Russia.

  77. 77
    El Caganer says:

    @raven: Poopdeck Pappy is a fucking moron.

  78. 78
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I think Vlad is a Russian MBA. Short term ROI is all he worries about.

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Russia has been involved in the area known as “Ukraine” for centuries.

    This is nothing new, historically. It’s always been like this.

  80. 80
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Belafon: Well, you could call that the Bellamy Salute, which is what they used to use for the Pledge of Allegiance. Goes all the way back to Roman times. The Boy Scouts used to use it too … of course yeah, there’s a reason they and everyone else dropped it.

  81. 81
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Crimea used to be part of Russia half a century ago. It was turned over to Ukraine under the USSR. So it’s more than just ‘Russian speakers’, these are people that historically were Russian and which Russia likely still views as part of its territory.

    Not a defense of this action, but the US also isn’t unwilling to continue fights long after the war ended, as evidenced by the countless confederate flags across the south. There’s no reason to think that Russia will go beyond Crimea.

    But if something *does* happen here (and I tend to think that it won’t) my guess is that NATO puts defense forces across Ukraine with the exception of Crimea, and if Ukrainian forces want to defend/retake Crimea, they can commit their entire force with NATO providing non-combat support and defense for the rest of the nation. They are absolutely no match for Russia, but it’s not clear what price Russia is willing to pay to stay there.

  82. 82
    jl says:

    @raven:

    Yes, I heard McCain raving on the news this morning. Putin may or may not be delusional. Yesterday I said the GOP statements on this crisis, as they have been on foreign policy for decades are cynical opportunism all the way down. I forgot about McCain, who may truly be delusional.

    A commenter above talked about Putin wanting a border problem to shore up domestic popularity. I saw some opinion polls Russian domestic agreement with Putin’s line that Russia took the action to protect Russians. Support was between 40 and 45 percent. Not auspicious for an expensive annexation and occupation, and that is even before the costs start to arrive.

    One hopes Ukraine can keep cool.

    I think the real long run sanctions against Russia that will hurt will be economic consequences which will be a function of millions of individual and company decisions far beyond anything the US or the EU can impose.

    On the supposition that McCain is correct and Putin does still think the Cold War is still on, the solution is stay cool, be smart and play the long game. If Putin is on a retrograde Cold War geopolitical project, it will fail for social and economic reasons. (Edit: just as it failed for a far stronger Soviet Union)

    When neocon geopolitical wise guys are not screaming for confrontation with their Great Satan of the day, they are worrying that ‘The West’ will fail because it cannot be patient and play the long game, and our electoral democracies don’t cannot sustain strategy. They swing back and forth between the two postures depending on what sounds best on a given day.

    We have to hope for the best.

  83. 83
    catclub says:

    @raven: “Blonde on Morning Joe today says that she has now learned that a man who does not care what you think of him is difficult to deal with. More people should learn that lesson.”

    Actually, he is easier to deal with, but harder to manipulate.

  84. 84
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I guess that depends on how you define “always.” Kyivan Rus’ was an empire while Muscovy was an insignificant outpost in a swamp.

  85. 85
    Cervantes says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    No, I am not certain. Just pointing out that if he’s got “protecting Russian-speakers” as a justification, there are lots of them in various places. Hell, there are 5 million Russian-speakers in Germany, being forced to speak German to work or go to school, maybe he should invade there, too. Russia beat Germany pretty good in the last match-up.

    When we ostensibly defended democracy, motherhood, and apple pie (all of which are more important than merely protecting English-speakers) in Guatemala or Vietnam or Grenada, did we also do it in Honduras or Palestine or Tibet? Of course not. This is Realpolitik 101 — we need not imagine that Putin will stand up consistently for his alleged principles any more than we ever did for ours.

    The “surrender by 0300″ is clearly an invitation for the Ukrainians to shoot first. That is scary. I re-read the Guardian article mistermix posted, and that frigate captain who’s quoted, who says he plans to stay loyal to his oath? I’m pretty sure I know him, and he will not surrender to foreign troops.

    Yes, this is what we can call a real problem.

  86. 86
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Chris: It was a mistake to let the Baltic states into Nato. That said, they are there and throwing them out would be a mistake. If I were a Nato Member in the East, I might be thinking of requesting that Nato move bases forward.

    I’m still not certain who is behind this. It would seem that it is in the interests of our ME hawks to drive a wedge between Russia and Moscow so that we can resume talks of war against Iran and Syria. They may have provoked Putin’s response. However, I would not be surprised if Russia was both an instigator of the protests in the Ukraine while supporting the government at the same time. The speed in which they are claiming that the Russians in Ukraine are threatened and setting up this alternative government of Nationalist Russians looks to me to be planned.

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Let’s just say from Ivan the Terrible to the present, then :)

  88. 88
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @🎂 Martin: And it was Turkish before it was Russian, so does Erdogan have a legitimate claim?

    Interesting take from The Interpreter on the costs.

    One thing sticks with us — when Russia’s Federation Council authorized the use of force in Ukraine, one member basically said that they had been expecting this moment for some time. Putin has likely already counted the costs he thinks he’ll pay for invading Ukraine or annexing Crimea. He likely planned on financial fallout. Is the EU’s inaction in his calculations already, or will he see this as buying Crimea, or maybe all of Ukraine, for less than he thought he’s have to spend?

  89. 89
    Cassidy says:

    Eh, everyone needs a good shooting war every now and then, a little blood, some rape and civilian massacres. I mean, geez people, where would our culture be if Hollywood didn’y have these tales of intense human conflict to make into movies. And you all are always complaining that they don’t make anything new…bitch, bitch, bitch.

  90. 90
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    And it was Turkish before it was Russian, so does Erdogan have a legitimate claim?

    I never said Russia had a legitimate claim. I merely said that that everyone struggles with the loss of part of their national identity. The rest of Ukraine, let alone Germany and Russian speaking parts of NYC were never part of Russia, so there’s no reason to believe that Russia has any interest going beyond their former border, so I don’t think that’s anything anyone should worry about. There’s plenty of other, more immediate and plausible stuff to worry about.

  91. 91
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I still think we should turn the Crimea over to the Mongols. They do have a claim, even if it’s 800 years old.

    Also, too, the Tatars dominated for a long time there, until Uncle Joe resettled them…

  92. 92
    Chris says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    If I were a Nato Member in the East, I might be thinking of requesting that Nato move bases forward.

    I would certainly want reassurances, yes. And I agree, now that they’re in, they’re in, with all the protection and support that entitles them to.

  93. 93
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Cervantes:

    The Georgians HAN shot first.

  94. 94
    srv says:

    Gas Princess Tymoshenko heading to Moscow to be told what her terms of surrender will be

    Yulia Tymoshenko is to go to Moscow for talks with Putin on Crimea crisis

  95. 95
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    This is an eternal truth.

    Fuck George Lucas’ revisionism.

  96. 96
    raven says:

    @jl: Yea, as far as I’m concerned it’s in the “it’s all bullshit” category.

  97. 97
    catclub says:

    @🎂 Martin: “has any interest going beyond their former border”

    So only most of Poland has to worry.

  98. 98
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Kinda-sort[a].

    It’s Dr. Vlad, not Vlad, MBA:

    Putin graduated from the International Law branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University in 1975, writing his final thesis on international law. His PhD thesis was titled “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations” and it argued that Russian economic success would depend on creating national energy champions.

    That could explain why he loves Gazprom, etc.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  99. 99
  100. 100
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    What is Putin’s endgame?

    Installing a friendly regime in Ukraine.

    I don’t see how this ends well for Russia.

    Why not? Ukraine is not in any strategic alliances. People will cluck their tongues and do nothing.

  101. 101
    Another Holocene Human says:

    When Berezovsky requested questions from the officers, a chorus of criticism broke from the ranks. “In what way exactly did foreign powers intervene in Kiev, compared to the way they are intervening now in Crimea?” asked an officer to applause from those assembled. “Don’t ask provocative questions,” Berezovsky barked back.

    This is so Slavic, not to mention, reflective of the excellent educational status of young Ukrainians. It seems that education is the platform upon which one builds a functional civil society. There’s a reason fundies of all types attack it all the time, from the Holy Rollers to Boko Haraam.

  102. 102
    raven says:

    Oh yea, walnuts wants to keep the Russian high rollers out of Vegas.

  103. 103
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Fuzzy: I agree with the first part but I also agree with Ukraine’s decision not to escalate the situation. It is best if the Russians back of peacefully. They want provocation in order to retaliate.

    Even during Euromaidan civil services functioned as normal in Ukraine. There is a great power in this….

  104. 104
    PJ says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, in that case, of course we should just throw up our hands and dispense with notions of human rights and national sovereignty.

    As others have pointed out, the Crimea has only “historically” belonged to Russia in the past 300 years, and most of the Russians there were put there by Stalin.

  105. 105
    Fair Economist says:

    In addition to desires for geopolitical power, Putin probably also has fears of loss of personal political power due to the latest Ukrainian revolution. The Orange revolution was led by members of the oligarch class (Yuschenko and Tymoshenko) and didn’t expose the corruption at the heart of their political system. The Maidan revolution was more of a street event and is quite literally airing out evidence of massive corruption on the internet.

    Everybody already knew that Putin was doing the same thing as Yanukovych. But I think the scale of what was going on is something of a surprise, and in any case it’s one thing to know there’s massive corruption going on and another to have documentation and photographs airing out on popular sites on the internet. If he can’t crush the Maidan revolution, his own legitimacy will be threatened. Everybody in Russia is going to talk about what’s going on in Putin’s villas and wonder how to expose it, and he’s going to be thought of as an outrageous Russian crook, not a “strong Russian leader”.

    I think it’s the fear of exposure and rumors which is driving him to attack Ukraine. I don’t think he’s thought out the endgame or what his goals are. He just recognizes that the Maidan revolution is a mortal threat to his own personal reputation and power and is lashing out. That’s why Merkel thinks he’s out of touch with reality – he’s terrified, and obviously can’t say why, so he was probably having these intense emotional reactions and then naming various excuses for them. Merkel was thinking “he’s getting *this* upset over *that*”? But it’s not that he’s out of touch with reality, it’s that the exposure of the reality is the real threat to him.

  106. 106
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Another Holocene Human: There’s a reason so much software development is outsourced to Russia and Ukraine.

  107. 107
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @scav: Yes, there are angry civil society, anti-corruption, prisoners-rights, free-speech advocates in Russia itself and Putin needs an excuse to round them up like common criminals and send them far, far away.

  108. 108
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Fair Economist: Yushchenko was never a member of the oligarch class. Tymoshenko, of course, is fabulously wealthy and known to be as crooked as anyone else, but Yushchenko was basically a technocrat who didn’t have the stones to fight everyone who was chipping away at his authority.

    But Yulia is broadly unpopular, and doesn’t seem like she could win a presidential election.

  109. 109
    thrasycon says:

    Nobody likes a neocon either.

    http://tinyurl.com/oag8tpc

  110. 110
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I’ll add: I think Russia expects the west to act strictly along economic interests. And they have pretty good reason to believe that we will. If they take Crimea and there’s no economic cost to the West by this action – that is, it remains a market for our goods and the goods we want from that region are still available to us, then it’s likely we’ll just shrug and say it all looks the same in the end.

    In a way, this is a consequence of open trade policies. The whole point of the EU is that borders largely don’t matter, and if they don’t matter then they don’t matter. And while that ought to mean that Germany shouldn’t care about getting any of their old territory back, if Germany does care (for non-economic reasons), then it doesn’t matter if they act on that and take it, if economically nothing changes.

    I agree with that, but only in a scenario where everyone values borders equally – and we don’t, for a lot of reasons we don’t control. We’re not the United Federation of Planets as much as we might aspire to be it. So if our only calculation here is an economic one (and let’s be honest, it is) then this is the cost, and Putin has calculated correctly because Russia itself is open enough to satisfy us. That the EU won’t levy sanctions underscores the point. They value their trade over their people, at least in this case. I suspect the US is a little less forgiving, but only a little.

    This is why Libya and Syria are different, why we tolerate China and isolate North Korea, and so on. Putin figures we’ll update our spreadsheets and do a what-if scenario with all Crimea trade being conducted in rubles vs hryvnia, add in the cost to up-arm the border there, and the cost to send the right signal – maybe 6 months of sanctions, and in the end we’ll see that it’s much cheaper than sending even a single carrier group through the Bosporus.

  111. 111
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Saw a story yesterday or the day before about a guy who held up a blank piece of poster board at a protest rally in Moscow. He was arrested.

  112. 112
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    A UEFA/FIFA transfer embargo and selected seizure of central London real estate. Putin’s got friends who would find that unpleasant.

    Change tax law in London to something like Florida’s snowbird/homestead property tax arrangement and bleed the oligarchs dry for their pieds-a-terre.

  113. 113
    jl says:

    @srv:

    Interesting. I heard some radio news reports as the Russians were taking over Crimea that Putin made a statement that he could work with someone like Tymoshenko.

    Josh Marshall has an interesting post on the situation

    Is This a Strong Position?
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/e.....g-position

    I thnk Marshall makes a good point:

    ” It is also important to recognize that the Russian incursion phase of this crisis began with a steep and humiliating setback for Putin. seeing his would-be partner in a binding Russia-Ukraine alliance chased out of the country only hours after he and European leaders had apparently brokered an agreement to maintain him in power. ”

    I would add, that from following the news, there is the added problem that the deal was nixed by the protesters in the street. That may have been the last straw for Putin, who cannot put up with that kind of instability between now and the next elections. Also the idea that he would have terms dictated to him by a mob was intolerable.

    And, actually, that is a serious problem, an unstable government that changes its mind because a group of protesters says no.

    But now Putin seems willing to talk with the oligarch who got up and urged the protesters to stand their ground until they got everything they wanted (i couldn’t follow the news closely enough but I think Tymoshenko was telling them to nix the deal brokered by the parliament).

    And, I have work to do today, so I won’t waste time reading it, but Politico has published some hand wringing Western doom p r 0 n. Expect to see a lot of that in the near future. From the link above:

    ” This article in Politico by Ben Judah suggests Europe is corrupt, decadent, simply lacks the will to exact that price and that Putin knows that. That might be so. Clipping the oligarchs wings would mean vast sums lost for their suitors and protectors, most of whom don’t care who runs a chunk of land on the Black Sea. Still the piece reads less like reportage than a vaguely Spenglerian statement of rage and Western self-loathing.

    We’ll see. Putin-phobia contains an odd measure of wish-projection, abhorrence of his methods mixed with a desire that our leaders could be more like him. We tend to see him as stronger, as ourselves as weaker than we are. We’ll see. ”

    A final thought is that seeming to be a little crazy and out of one’s head, and being willing to forge ahead and recklessly establish ‘facts on the ground’ was thought to be a really smart idea by a recent U.S. administration. They would make history and the rest of us would write about it. Well, they did, and it was written about, and we see how that ended up.

  114. 114
    Cervantes says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    Putin graduated from the International Law branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University in 1975, writing his final thesis on international law. His PhD thesis was titled “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations” and it argued that Russian economic success would depend on creating national energy champions.

    That doctoral dissertation was in economics, late ’90s. Not only did Putin not write it, but the KGB staff people who wrote it for him plagiarized parts of it from an old textbook published here in the States.

  115. 115
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PJ:

    Just sayin’ here that the Russians have long been interested in “The Borderland”. To expect them to welcome some hostile government installed there is naive at best. The Ukrainians know this. It’s a precarious balancing act for them. Joining NATO, for example, would be..provocative.

    Also, we need to analyze just how important punching Putin is to us vs. what the costs would be over the long haul of punching him over this particular subject. It’s not as loony as the Georgia situation was back in ’08, but still, there is an issue of how far we can go, from a military perspective. Let’s not forget that Vlad has nukes.

  116. 116
    Fair Economist says:

    @srv:

    Gas Princess Tymoshenko heading to Moscow to be told what her terms of surrender will be

    No, for her bribe offer. She sold out the Orange Revolution and a panicky Putin is trying to get her to sell out this one. But this one isn’t hers to sell. Not sure Putin’s credit would be good with her anyway, given the last deal ended up with her getting mistreated in jail.

  117. 117
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Cervantes:

    No matter. When a foreign army is on your own soil, being outnumbered and surrounded doesn’t mean as much to angry soldiers. Speaking as a former soldier…that situation is one where I would have said “fuck it…shoot the bastards” no matter how many of them there were.

  118. 118
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @🎂 Martin: Not a lot of economic activity in Crimea. It’s the warmest region of the country, but with no real sources of fresh water agriculture is limited, and it imports 70% of its food along with essentially all of its water and essentially all of its electricity. No heavy industry or manufacturing to speak of, and while it has military ports it does not have civilian cargo terminals. It may end up being a liability for Putin longer-term (not that he’s shown much inclination to think long-term.)

  119. 119
    🎂 Martin says:

    @PJ: There’s a big difference between historical claims and ones where people are still alive having been on the other side of that border. See Palestine and Korea.

  120. 120
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @thrasycon:

    The neocons should be invited on one of those cruises, and the ship torpedoed by a rogue submarine.

    This would do us all a favor. Make sure that assclown Bill Kristol is on it…we can find someone else to make 100% wrong predictions.

  121. 121
    Elizabelle says:

    Nobody Likes a Traitor

    This blogpost title could also caption a photo of US Senator Lindsey Graham, from the Asylum of South Carolina.

    I don’t care if he’s fending off a pack of Tea Party challengers in his primary.

    I’d always respected him for being approachable on immigration reform.

    But he’s worn out his welcome with the baiting of Obama on foreign policy. Graham’s — should we say McCain’s — effing sucks. Water’s edge, and all.

  122. 122
    Cervantes says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    When a foreign army is on your own soil, being outnumbered and surrounded doesn’t mean as much to angry soldiers. Speaking as a former soldier…that situation is one where I would have said “fuck it…shoot the bastards” no matter how many of them there were.

    Sure.

    I presume the Ukrainian civilian and military leadership is smarter than that — but there are, as you point out, thousands of individuals with guns and, really, even one ill-advised shot can suffice.

  123. 123
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yes, “Lady Yu” strikes me as the John McCain of the Ukraine. I hear she is in Russia even now, negotiating on behalf of–whom?

  124. 124
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Cervantes: He’s a busy, important man!!11 One can’t expect him to actually write a dissertation!!11

    ;-)

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  125. 125
    Fair Economist says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Yushchenko was never a member of the oligarch class.

    Maybe he wasn’t, but he got quite wealthy on his modest salary during 5 years in office. He may not have had the money going in, but he was certainly a member of the oligarch *class*.

  126. 126
    Baud says:

    MSNBC just now: “Could Ukraine be Obama’s latest foreign policy debacle?”

    Your liberal media.

  127. 127
    PJ says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: There is a tendency for people (not just now, but now is certainly a good example) to intellectually give up when they are faced with difficult situations with no easy solution and to say that there is nothing to be done. I don’t think any sane person is suggesting military intervention by the US or NATO at this point. But there are a whole range of tools, from economic and diplomatic sanctions to covert aid to the Ukrainians, which can be brought to bear. I have no idea which of these would be most effective at deterring Putin, and which might just goad him to more reckless acts, but that’s no reason to not try anything.

  128. 128
    Jamey says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: “Son of God”? Is that a sequel to, “God: The Movie”?

  129. 129
    Tommy says:

    @Baud: How about it. I mean what exactly is Obama supposed to do. Pull a carrier group into the Black Sea? Launch air strikes from our Air Force base in Italy? Send in a tank division from Germany? Send Putin a sternly worded letter?

    I mean his options are limited and to be honest I don’t even really think this is Obama’s problem exactly. There is this thing called Europe. I mean I love Europe, but it is time they deal with shit in their own backyard and not expect us to help them out.

    Support them sure (verbally), but not do the heavy lifting.

  130. 130
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    @Tommy: Your comment made me think of salami tactics from the classic TV show “Yes, Prime Minister”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX_d_vMKswE

  131. 131
    thrasycon says:

    Another one by Parry, a few days ago.

    http://tinyurl.com/pledcng

  132. 132
    Cervantes says:

    @PJ:

    I have no idea which of these would be most effective at deterring Putin, and which might just goad him to more reckless acts, but that’s no reason to not try anything.

    Wait — are you saying that in the absence of any idea what could make things better, or worse, one should just try something … at random?

    Or did you mean that even if you and I personally have no idea, there’s probably someone else who does?

  133. 133
    Baud says:

    @Tommy:

    What troubles me is what seems like a universal calls for Obama to announce a plan to Fix. This. Tomorrow. Any solution will likely take at least weeks, and probably months.

  134. 134
    Chris says:

    @Tommy:

    The meme they’re going with is that Obama warned Putin not to do anything or there would be consequences, and since Putin did it anyway, this proves Obama is weak and the world agrees with their assessment of him as a metrosexual man-child.

  135. 135
    Baud says:

    @Chris:

    Oh, why couldn’t Obama be more like Bush, who got Saddam to turn over his WMDs without firing a shot?

  136. 136
    Chris says:

    @Baud:

    Heh. The thing that gets me is that he’s EXACTLY like Bush in that one respect (threat of war forcing Assad to allow inspections = threat of war forcing Saddam to allow inspections). I’d even be willing to concede to both of them that that was well executed diplomacy.

    Of course, for Bush it was never about WMDs, he wanted to invade Iraq because shut up that’s why, so that’s what we went on to do, with all the consequences we know.

  137. 137
    Baud says:

    @Chris:

    Yeah, one of the most mind-numbingly horrible things to contemplate about Iraq is just how close Bush came to getting a really strong and positive foreign policy victory there if he just had the will to accept it.

  138. 138
    Cacti says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Russia beat Germany pretty good in the last match-up

    Sort of.

    Russia came out on top…at the cost of 20 million lives.

  139. 139
    PJ says:

    @Cervantes: I meant that there are people whose jobs involve dealing with these kinds of problems (e.g., the President). Not that that means they necessarily are going to make wiser decisions than anonymous commenters on a blog, who, in general, have no expertise regarding whatever topic they are commenting on, but they are probably better informed.

    Furthermore, the Russians and the Ukrainians are the ones who are most likely to effect whatever happens next, and I don’t know that they know what they are going to do, so any response from the US or Europe is necessarily going to change.

    I do know that the US’ most effective tool in undermining communism in Eastern Europe was its culture, which is a very long term strategy. In these past few months, the Ukrainians have made some choices about which type of culture they want to have: one which is tied more closely to Europe, more liberal, economically more vibrant, and politically less corrupt, over a poorer, less free kleptocracy beholden to Russia. Putin can shoot or threaten all the people he can, but most Ukrainians clearly do not want to live in the world he has made.

  140. 140
    hoodie says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Crimea is perfect for Putin’s purposes because it’s sole value is symbolic. Crimea is as worthless as it was during the Crimean War, with all the strategic value of Baja California. The Black Sea Fleet is a joke and Crimea is mostly a retirement community. At best, it’s a symbol of Russian hegemony. I guess the thing could blow up out of miscalculation, but you wonder if the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot, especially with pearl clutchers like McCain and Graham prattling on about it. Ukraine has been a mess and Putin has lost face there. Occupying Crimea is a relatively bloodless, low-risk way for Putin to save face with the Russian nationalists and reassert Russian hegemony over Ukraine without invading Ukraine proper. Medvedev is making noises about building a bridge at Kerch to allow supply from Russia, which would be a monumental waste of resources unless you were going to build a tourist attraction there (who knows after Sochi). However, it could mean the end game is some sort of annexation of Crimea or transition to autonomous rule under Russian sponsorship, to serve as an ever-present reminder to the new Ukrainian government that their neighbor is watching and dissuade them from doing silly things like joining the EU or NATO. Added benefit is that Putin gets a win against Obama and West, who can’t do anything and really could care less about Crimea.

  141. 141
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Cervantes:

    Wait — are you saying that in the absence of any idea what could make things better, or worse, one should just try something … at random?

    I would say that one of the most common traits among internet commentators is the belief that every problem has a solution, even that every problem has a good solution. So, leaders are routinely criticized (as we did with Bush) for failure to act, when in fact, there may be no solution, or certainly no good solution to a given problem.

    The failure in Ukraine was not ours – it stemmed from a citizen coup. Not only could we not prevent that, we welcomed it, and 2 weeks ago there were calls from the same people demanding that Obama intervene and speed that along. Well, this is the cost of that coup, and I’m sure the Ukrainian people see it that way. But we don’t.

  142. 142
    Tommy says:

    @Baud: My father is a military planner (or was). Taught at the Army War College, many of the folks I now see on TV as military experts (when they were active duty). He isn’t a fan of many of them.

    Nothing pisses him off more than folks thinking the world is simple. It is not. Heck people are complex. It is rare you take an action on a global scale and know the outcome.

    What I find funny is I see nobody asking if we did do something, heck even direct military support, would the Ukraine military fight. That would seem to me, if I was Obama, one of the first questions I’d ask. If we do X, Y, Z to try to aid them, will they fight?

    I don’t see anybody asking that question.

  143. 143
    Bob In Portland says:

    Putin only has to sit tight. He’s got Crimea, Ukraine is not going to take it back. The eastern zone is going to be a headache for Ukraine. Expect various areas to declare independence from Kiev, or at least they still recognize Yanukovich. And despite his lousy, kleptocratic reign, he did get elected, which is more than the cabal in Kiev can say.

    So does anyone have any insight into why Nuland was saying, “Fuck the EU”? Were the Germans too cautious? Didn’t want to push the coup? Afraid something negative might happen? If this is three-dimensional chess, did Germany allow the cold warriors in the State Department to fall on their faces so that when Ukraine falls flat that the people in the street blame the US and be pushed closer into Germany’s orbit?

    Did Omidyar, whose media venture appears more aligned against US international interests and more in line with Germany’s, invest in the coup in Ukraine to set a trap for the US?

    And why would Snowden be so quiet about some funny business by American interests so close to where he’s sitting? Or has he been reporting things to the Russians?

    Lots of questions and not enough coffee. I defer to the experts. Gin?

  144. 144
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @🎂 Martin: The ghost of Sir Humphrey Appleby stalks the internets.

    “Something must be done.
    This is something.
    Therefore this must be done.”

  145. 145
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Cacti: So Russia won, but Germany covered the spread?

  146. 146
    Tommy says:

    @🎂 Martin: Agreed. I try very hard not to think there is a solution to everything. In my world experience often there is not. You might want the “perfect” solution with all your heart, but that doesn’t make it possible.

    IMHO an example is Afghanistan. We thought we could go in and take out the Taliban. Install a leader. Let them have elections. Train their military. Build infrastructure. All would be “good.”

    How did that work out?

    I do think we tried in Afghanistan. But no matter, after 12+ years, all the money, effort, literally blood, sweat, and tears would anybody argue the place is any better then pre-9/11?

  147. 147
    catclub says:

    I think the question that needs to be answered is: Do Ukraine and Russia have any McDonalds?

  148. 148
    catclub says:

    @Tommy: “But no matter, after 12+ years”

    well, 2003 to 2009 were wasted by GWB

  149. 149
    Tommy says:

    @catclub: Well that is true.

    There is a story I tell from the book the Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. We put 3 CIA officers and 17 special forces on the ground in the country before we knew any Americans were there. We gave them garbage bags of cash and sat phones.

    They paid off groups in the north to fight against the Taliban. They were supposed to use the sat phones to call in US air strikes.

    The first time or two, well that didn’t work.

    The US told the folks to pull back, not fight on horse back (i.e. the title of the book) against old Soviet tanks and 50 cal guns. They refused and attacked. They talked about body parts flying, but they attacked and attacked.

    They drove the Taliban back to Kabul in a matter of weeks.

    I say this cause it should have been clear (see Soviets and many other invading nations) these were some bad ass folks. Also folks that could be bought. Tribal differences. Or complex.

  150. 150
    Cacti says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    So Russia won, but Germany covered the spread?

    Pretty much.

  151. 151
    Anoniminous says:

    From twitter and unconfirmed:

    Reports coming in that Russian assault on UKR Navy HQ in Sebastopol has begun in last hour by titushki (?) with baseball bats, with heavily armed RU troops behind them.

  152. 152
    GregB says:

    So the ruthless Chicagoland gangster FEMA camp building new Hitler Obama is now back to being Neville Chamberlain again?

  153. 153
    Origuy says:

    @catclub: I knew Russia has them; they are all over Moscow. I found out that Kyiv has at least 5.

  154. 154
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    It’s simply amazing how much people keep taking this as proof that Obama is the super-weak coward manchild they always thought he was. What’s depressing is how much even the ‘liberal’ side the spectrum is falling for it as well.

    Putin’s always scared the fuck out of me, and has shown nothing but authoritarian strong man tendencies that are all the more blatant now more than ever. But what the fuck can we do outside of diplomatic support and possible economic sanctions? We’ve seen the folly of going in half-cocked with military bluster, and we’ve paid for them dearly. Saber-rattling with the intent of overextending ourselves again out of some fucking cocky idea of being the world policeman, the only real ‘superpower’ that must dip our hands into everything, is something we can’t afford, in the literal economic sense nor in the diplomatic sense.

    It’s going to suck for the people of the Ukraine at this point, but the idiots acting like we should’ve strongarmed Russia 3 years ago or something are just…fuck all. It’d be laughable if they didn’t get taken seriously in our shitty public discourse.

  155. 155
    Cervantes says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    So does anyone have any insight into why Nuland was saying, “Fuck the EU”?

    She was gloating — because she felt she had just convinced the UN to send someone over to Kiev to help convince certain Ukrainian politicians to (1) reject the EU’s overtures and instead (2) adopt approaches favored by the US. The EU’s proposals were different from ours in that they took care to offend Moscow as little as possible.

    Meanwhile, the EU and the US were at that same time each competing with Moscow for the affections of various Ukrainian politicians.

    It was a complicated dynamic.

    Were the Germans too cautious? Didn’t want to push the coup? Afraid something negative might happen?

    Plausible.

    If this is three-dimensional chess, did Germany allow the cold warriors in the State Department to fall on their faces so that when Ukraine falls flat that the people in the street blame the US and be pushed closer into Germany’s orbit?

    Nuland’s remarks were made during or before the first week of February. I can’t tell you any more than that about the import of what she said.

    Did Omidyar, whose media venture appears more aligned against US international interests and more in line with Germany’s, invest in the coup in Ukraine to set a trap for the US? And why would Snowden be so quiet about some funny business by American interests so close to where he’s sitting? Or has he been reporting things to the Russians?

    I don’t know what you’re talking about here.

  156. 156
    jl says:

    I entertained the excuse for McCain that he is delusional. Looks like that is not the case. He is cynical, all the way down. Agree with basic approach of Obama and then slam the U.S. administration for being weak.

    No role for US military in Ukraine crisis: McCain
    http://news.yahoo.com/no-role-.....59425.html

  157. 157
    Suffern ACE says:

    @jl: One of the reasons our president is weak is that it is against the law here to take folks like McCain and Graham aside and whip them into submission. A few whippings and Obama would get everything he wanted from the Senate and would have a fawning press. When dealing with the press and Senators, you have to understand…they come from cultures of violence and that is all they really respect.

  158. 158
    Bob In Portland says:

    Here’s an article from India which offers some insight into our State Department’s blunder:

    http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhad.....cy-legacy/

    So when the US seizes the assets of Russians overseas, will Russia open up trade with Iran and redouble their efforts in Syria, thus kicking the pins out from under what’s left of State’s grand plan in the Mideast? Will they begin supporting a rebel movement in Saudi Arabia? Will Germany abandon Russian petroleum in order to help the US out of a blunder that they warned against?

  159. 159
    Mandalay says:

    @🎂 Martin:

    I would say that one of the most common traits among internet commentators is the belief that every problem has a solution

    This. Poor old Ukraine is being portrayed as the victim of Russian aggression, when the reality is that Ukraine is not a unified country in the first place. Just as a significant chunk of its population wants closer ties to Europe, another significant chunk of its population wants closer ties to Russia. Any “solution” would surely have to take that thorny problem into account.

    But because the media loves depicting every issue in black and white terms, with no shades of gray, they resort to simplistic twaddle about “the good guys” and “the bad guys”. And since Putin is always the bad guy, the Ukraine suddenly becomes the good guy. If someone chooses to use the phrases of a ten year old child to describe a crisis, the chances are good that they have nothing worthwhile to say. But sadly that mindset inevitably influences the views of internet commentators, and so every problem has a solution.

  160. 160
    Anoniminous says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Turns out the “assault” was a pro-Russia protest.

  161. 161
    karen says:

    If Snowden is sharing secrets with Russia, doesn’t it go from whistle-blowing to espionage?

  162. 162
    Mandalay says:

    @karen:

    If Snowden is sharing secrets with Russia…

    Got a link for that?

  163. 163
    Anoniminous says:

    @jl:

    McCain is flogging the “Democrats are weak on military and appeasers in foreign policy” meme. That seems to be his job.

  164. 164
    PJ says:

    @Mandalay: By your standard, the US is not a unified country, as a significant (27%?) portion of the population would prefer to have no ties to the rest of the world. Would this justify an invasion by Canada, or Mexico?

  165. 165
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Mandalay:

    And since Putin is always the bad guy, the Ukraine suddenly becomes the good guy.

    Maybe in your eyes and maybe in the eyes of John McCain. For the rest of us, a few minutes of quality time with the Google suggests that the situation is a bit more nuanced than that.

  166. 166
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Question to US military/ex-military guys. Ukrainian military fatigues/camo uniforms, I’ve noticed for many years, have the soldier’s/sailor’s blood type in large letters sewn on in place of a name patch, i.e. above the left breast pocket. Is this on dogtags in the US, or somewhere else? Seems like important information to have easily available.

  167. 167
    Cassidy says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yes. Blood type is on dogtags. Some people/ units may put it on their uniform somewhere, but it’s not a normal part of the uniform. I always thought it was kind of tacky in a “look at me” kind of way. The SOF guys will usually have it sewn on somewhere as part of their uniform, so regular Army people started to emulate that. t’s not really necessary. If the Senior Medic is doing their job, they have a list of everyone’s blood type, plus we take some measure of electronic records with us so that an individual soldier’s information is readily available.

  168. 168
    jl says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I believe that Mandalay was characterizing the corporate media and GOP standard position, not asserting it as truth.

    Even the U.S. made some faint admission that there just might be a problem with a country that does not really have a functioning government, with unknown ability to control all of its territory.

    It would seem to me that there is a problem with a government that makes a compromise deal and then backs out because protesters on the street do not like it, and then (as far as I understand it) the government collapses and an interim government rises in its place. The country does not have a stable government and that is fact on the ground too.

    And there is a problem with regular social revolutions named after colors that topple elected governments. I haven’t seen anything that suggest the previous Ukrainian election was obviously rigged or corrupt. The government was clearly corrupt, and making agreements that a large part of Ukraine did not like at all. But you can imagine our neocon’s reactions to a similar approach governance here in the U.S.

    If, as some commenters here suggest, that the U.S. was a major pushing the Ukrainian protesters behind the scenes, then that makes the situation much more nuanced. But I have no idea whether that is true. And Tymoshenko is a Ukrainian tycoon and poltiical force who was also pushing the protesters to dictate to the government what it should do.

    So, I agree with you on that. The situation is considerably more nuanced than the popular press and U.S. neocoons and GOP war mongers are willing to admit.

    When Jefferson was in Paris at the eve of the French revolution, he urged the revolutionists to not go too far to fast, and cut a deal with the King. I guess Jefferson would be portrayed today as a corrupt Tymoshenko, ‘selling out’ the revolution.

  169. 169
    Suffern ACE says:

    I think this news analysis has got my head spinning. There was a truce. The president of Ukraine agreed to step down in September. Then that truce was broken? Who broke that truce? Some sources say that the government snipers started shooting people when they were leaving. Others say the protestor’s didn’t accept the truce. Does anyone have the slightest clue what happened?

  170. 170
    jl says:

    @Suffern ACE: I tried to answer your question in a previous thread. Maybe someone like Gin and Tonic can give a more detailed and informed timeline.

    Below is the Wikipedia summary, with news sources that you can check
    2014 Ukrainian revolution
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2.....revolution

  171. 171
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Mandalay:
    I apologize.

  172. 172
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Suffern ACE: Short version. The government’s snipers shooting and killing civilians was earlier, Feb 18. That is amply documented. People sort of stepped back from the brink for two days, and on Feb 21 an EU-brokered deal was reached between the three opposition leaders who were nominally leading the people in the street. They came out at night and presented the basic terms of the deal to the Maidan, a key element of the deal being new elections in December. The people in the street (Maidan) were vehemently opposed to any deal that left Yanukovych in place and booed the opposition leaders. Overnight from Friday to Saturday, Yanukovych and his entourage helicoptered out of the capital to parts unknown, leaving his residential complex and the Presidential administration building empty and unguarded. Over that day and the next, the Parliament met for lengthy sessions in which it declared that he had abandoned his office and named a new acting President and a new interim government, and moved the date of elections up to May 25.

  173. 173
    Mandalay says:

    @PJ:

    By your standard, the US is not a unified country, as a significant (27%?) portion of the population would prefer to have no ties to the rest of the world. Would this justify an invasion by Canada, or Mexico?

    Stop posting mindless drivel. Just stop.

  174. 174
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yeah, I meant a deal was reached between the opposition “leaders” and Yanukovych. Sorry.

  175. 175
    Cassidy says:

    @Mandalay: Don’t want him moving in on your action?

  176. 176
    ksmiami says:

    @Cacti: 170,000 of whom were killed at Sevastopol – I don’t know what the answer is – but in this case, I am more sympathetic to Putin’s desire to build a buffer between the east and west – he just didn’t get the memo that borders aren’t as important as they used to be since we are all part of a global common market. I hope someone smarter than me can find out what he wants, what he fears – then negotiate a face-saving alternative for all and my god, I really despise our media / DC punditry for causing more harm than good.

  177. 177
    catclub says:

    @ksmiami: “Putin’s desire to build a buffer between the east and west”

    Of course Crimea is not that – just a vulnerable peninsula/ near island. Now the REST of Ukraine….

  178. 178
    Mandalay says:

    @Cassidy:

    :)

  179. 179
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @jl: Here’s an analysis of recent events and rebuttal of some Russian propaganda by a retired US Navy submarine officer who served for a time as US military attache in post-Soviet Moscow.

    http://projectmaidan.com/post/.....ng-ukraine

  180. 180
    jl says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Thanks for your summary.

    I’ve have been a little too ready to say that the deal that was brokered was overturned by the protesters. I forgot about the void left by Yanukovych when he fled, which was a staggeringly cowardly and irresponsible act.

    Sadly, there was a chaotic situation that is the murky breeding ground for all sorts of pretexts, if you are a Putin.

  181. 181
    jl says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Thanks but your link does not work for me. I would be interested in reading it.

    Look, I am in no way trying to justify what Putin did, and I am not willing to use words like ‘coup’ for what happened. I am saying that there is nuance due to the unfortunate facts on the ground wrt to the Ukrainian government and how the world arrived at the current situation.

  182. 182
    Calouste says:

    So the Olympics are over, but there are two more global sports events in Russia to come. The Brits have already cancelled the visits of cabinet ministers and members of the royal family to the Paralympics, and there will probably be more to come.

    The big one however is that Russia is still lined up to organize the soccer World Cup in 2018. Of course, FIFA is the one single organization that could match the previous Ukrainian government in corruption (which is probably why Russia is organizing it in the first place), so it’s not very likely that anything is going to happen, and in contrast to the Olympics, no one has ever boycotted the World Cup before. But the World Cup is a different beast than the Olympics, there will be more foreign supporters, for a longer period of time, spread out over a number of cities.

  183. 183
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @jl: Thanks but your link does not work for me. I would be interested in reading it.

    Tests OK for me. Anyway, go to projectmaidan.com, and look for the article titled “Some Clarifications…” posted at 1:08 am today.

  184. 184
    Gin & Tonic says:

    More evidence of the anti-Semitism of the interim government in Ukraine.

  185. 185
    Mandalay says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Thanks for that link – somewhat biased, but very informative. However, I would challenge the writer’s dismissive tone about the Russian language issue:

    What the Parliament did is repeal a law that had elevated the Russian language in Ukraine to the level of a state language. This in no way limits people’s rights to function using that language. Newspapers, radio and TV broadcasts, schools, shops, all can and likely will continue functioning in Russian. People can and will continue speaking Russian if that is their preferred language.

    Without getting into the rights and wrongs of the decision, Russian speakers in Ukraine surely would not be placated by that argument.

  186. 186
    slag says:

    @raven: Pretty sure that Republicans are all just 8 year-old boys inside still wishing that “Yeah well my dad can beat up your dad!” would one day actually solve a problem.

  187. 187
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mandalay: I didn’t say it was unbiased. But I view the quote you cited as factually correct; I’m not a good judge of “tone”. The fact of the matter is that the prevailing language of the street, of business and of news media in Donetsk, Odessa or Sevastopol has been Russian for decades, and the adoption of the minority language law in 2012 did not change any facts on the ground. The primary language heard in Kyiv is Russian, in fact. Just as you can live a full and normal life in Montreal in English, without knowing a word of French, you can live a full and complete life in almost any major city in Ukraine in Russian, without knowing a word of Ukrainian. The comparison breaks down somewhat due to the similarities between Russian and English, and due to the fact that anyone who went to school in Ukraine, anywhere, prior to independence had their instruction in Russian.

  188. 188
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Blood type (and religious preference) are on the dog tags.

  189. 189
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I meant similarities between Russian and Ukrainian, of course.

  190. 190

    Looks like Putin is in the catbird seat. All he has to do now is nothing until Ukraine collapses. Is the US going to bail out Ukraine when it won’t bail out Detroit?

    Still curious about the game within the Obama Administration. I’m presuming that the coup was an adventure planned by the permanent government and I’m not sure that Obama was completely onboard with it. He’s risk averse, and as we see, this now has nothing but bad endings for the US here.

  191. 191
    Mandalay says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Just as you can live a full and normal life in Montreal in English, without knowing a word of French, you can live a full and complete life in almost any major city in Ukraine in Russian, without knowing a word of Ukrainian.

    Indeed. Which invites questioning the wisdom of the decision to prevent individual regions in Ukraine making Russian a second official language.

    You won’t hear it from our media, but in Russia and Europe it is being framed as a “violation of ethnic minority rights”, and I’m inclined to agree.

    Imagine the reaction if the Canadian government suddenly decided that French would no longer be an official language of Canada…

  192. 192

    @karen: Hard to believe that Snowden hasn’t been approached by someone in Moscow to tell them what he knows about Ukraine and US machinations there. I mean, his career now is to expose the US government’s secrets. And yet the guy (Omidyar) who’s financing his mouthpiece (Greenwald) has been identified with helping to finance the coup. Who’s working for whom? So how does a coup in Ukraine benefit Omidyar? Who benefits from a failed coup? If I said Germany, by strengthening their position in Ukraine or by the US’s loss of face generally, then would that explain Merkel’s hissy fit about her cell phone and Greenwald’s defense of neo-Nazis early in his career. Or maybe nothing is connected. Or everything is connected. Time is a flat circle.

  193. 193
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mandalay: You know the bill was vetoed, right?

  194. 194
    PJ says:

    @Mandalay: Well, that was an insightful rebuttal.

  195. 195
    Mandalay says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    You know the bill was vetoed, right?

    I didn’t, but I do now. Things are moving fast. Thanks.

  196. 196
    Mandalay says:

    @PJ:

    Well, that was an insightful rebuttal.

    No insight was heeded. Your post was swill. If you want to make some honest and rational criticism then have at it, but if you want to post distortions and garbage you can expect to get called on it.

  197. 197
    PJ says:

    @Mandalay: You posted that Ukraine was not a “unified country” because there is a difference of opinion among significant portions of the population about which direction the country should take. I responded that if this was the standard, then the US is not a “unified country.” You also implied that because Ukraine was not a “unified country”, it was not “the victim of Russian aggression.” If Ukraine is not a “victim” of a Russian invasion (I don’t know how you can otherwise characterize the sudden appearance of thousands of Russian soldiers, surrounding Ukrainian bases, as anything other than an invasion), then presumably it is because the actions of Russia were justified due to Ukraine’s non-unitary status.

    This is a plain English reading of your post. Your only response to my comment has been to make insults and cast aspersions, which, in my experience, means that the writer has no argument to make.

  198. 198
    Mandalay says:

    @PJ:

    You posted that Ukraine was not a “unified country” because there is a difference of opinion among significant portions of the population about which direction the country should take. I responded that if this was the standard, then the US is not a “unified country.”

    But every country on earth has differences of opinion about which direction it should take among its population, not just the US and Ukraine. So what? But those differences of opinion in Ukraine were so extreme that they resulted in mass protests, people getting killed, the leader of the country fleeing, an interim government being set up, and Russia invading.

    Once we actually have mass protests here that result in people getting killed, the Obama fleeing to Canada, Boehner setting up an interim government, and Canada invading the United States, then get back to me and gloat – drawing parallels between the situation in Ukraine to the United States will have some validity. Until then, you have no point to make.

    And you are a bit late to the party. There is already a crew of professionals here whose only reason for living is to deliberately misinterpret the posts of others, and you are not fit to shine their shoes.

  199. 199
    Cervantes says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    Or maybe nothing is connected. Or everything is connected. Time is a flat circle.

    Now I see your mistake. You’re underestimating the complexity of time: it’s a Klein bottle. Jim Croce did a song about it.

  200. 200
    mclaren says:

    As a citizen of a country founded by traitors, this entire post seems pretty rich.

    America’s so-called “Founding Fathers” were nothing but a bunch of treasonous terrorists. They committed high treason against Great Britain. The only reason John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Benjaming Franklin and James Madison didn’t get hung from the highest scaffold around is that they got lucky, and won.

    “Treason never prospers; for if it doth, none dare call it treason.”

  201. 201
    PJ says:

    @Mandalay: Please. I didn’t misinterpret anything – the whole point of your post was to blame the Ukrainians for causing Putin to invade them. Your explicit argument was that because Ukraine is not a “unified country”, we should not view it as a victim of a Russian invasion. My analogy to the US was a reductio ad absurdam of your specious reasoning.

  202. 202
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Cervantes: Actually, I was contemplating watching last night’s episode of “True Detective” on DVR.

    Of course, I’m surprised at the breadth of things that Snowden seems to know about. That doesn’t mean he knows what’s going on in Ukraine. But what about Omidyar helping to finance the coup? I mean, back in the old day there was a lot of cooperation with the Rockefellers, United Fruit, various oil companies, but generally it was to the benefit of the companies. Is Omidyar planning on getting lots of visitors to his website from the new, free Ukraine?

  203. 203
    Cervantes says:

    @Bob In Portland:

    Actually, I was contemplating watching last night’s episode of “True Detective” on DVR.

    I don’t know anything about that.

    Of course, I’m surprised at the breadth of things that Snowden seems to know about. That doesn’t mean he knows what’s going on in Ukraine.

    No, you’d have to ask him.

    But what about Omidyar helping to finance the coup? I mean, back in the old day there was a lot of cooperation with the Rockefellers, United Fruit, various oil companies, but generally it was to the benefit of the companies. Is Omidyar planning on getting lots of visitors to his website from the new, free Ukraine?

    You’re comparing Omidyar’s financial support of NGOs in Ukraine to the United Fruit Company’s reign of terror? Please proceed.

    When the trumpet sounded, it was
    all prepared on Earth,
    Jehovah parceled out the world
    to Coca-Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
    Ford Motors, and other entities:
    The Fruit Company, Inc.
    reserved for itself the most succulent,
    the central coast of my own land,
    the delicate waist of America.
    It rechristened its territories
    ’Banana Republics’
    and over the sleeping dead,
    over the restless heroes,
    the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
    it established a comic opera:
    abolished independence,
    made gifts of Caesar’s crowns,
    unsheathed envy, attracted
    the dictatorship of the flies,
    Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
    Carias flies, Martines flies,
    Ubico flies, damp flies sodden
    with humble blood and marmalade,
    drunken flies buzzing
    over ordinary graves,
    circus flies, wise flies
    well trained in tyranny.

    — Pablo Neruda

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