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Tell us again the one about Trump the peacemaker

This topic was continued by Trump the Nobel contender: North Korea.

Pro and Con

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1LolaWalser
Jan 26, 2017, 2:24pm Top

Generals in his cabinet? He just likes the manly men in uniforms. Blood & soil rhetoric straight from fascist and Nazi cookbooks? Pfft, flourishes. The whatever the hell it was about the beauty of military parades and PROMISING such to Americans--too much potato & nail polish alcohol consumed in steambaths with buddy Vladimir over videos of past Soviet glory?

I suppose the unbelievable crassness with which he treated Mexico's president--to say nothing of Mexicans in general--still won't result in an actual war. (Not taking bets, tho'.) But everything's pointing to this rabid, incontinent hippo setting off fires whether he means to or not. And really not caring in the least about putting them out!

A mural in Belgrade:



Ukraine passed. So... I can see Serbs (+ Russians, probably) not only invading Kosovo but Bosnia... at least. Terrorism as the excuse. And yes, a war in Bosnia would automatically involve Croatia as well. In short, a reprise of the nineties, with Serbs flying the Trumputin banner, is not only possible but likely. If Trump can treat the next-door Mexicans like shit, why on earth would he care about Europe's asshole?

2timspalding
Edited: Jan 26, 2017, 2:53pm Top

Interesting. I don't see an invasion of Kosovo—it's too closely tied to NATO action, and the US has a base there, with US soldiers performing a mission and obvious under threat if there's some sort on invasion. (Georgia and Ukraine didn't have US bases.) But I could see some sort of effort to test US and international resolve in the region, and Trump might well screw that up royally.

To me the top conflict points are Ukraine and Georgia. But an anti-Russian move in any other ex-Soviet country that isn't part of NATO already could well bring conflict—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Moldova, and the central Asians.

I'd be particularly concerned about Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenians are holding it, but since they took it, the overall economic and strategic situation has changed radically. Azerbaijan is already far stronger, and only growing. Armenia has the land, and Russian bases and likely Russian backing in the event of a conflict. That's makes for an unstable situation that could easily flame up. Turkey would back Azerbaijan. The US would be in a pickle.

3LolaWalser
Jan 26, 2017, 2:59pm Top

>2 timspalding:

I don't see why Trump would keep any bases in South Europe when he has Russians who have been dying to exit to the Mediterranean for centuries to pick up the slack of any "missions" there.

I have been hearing for decades now, from Serbs--certain Serbs anyway--how "it isn't over" yet. Look at the machinations of Republika Srpska in Bosnia, paralysing the country since the nineties, and more vivacious than ever since Trump's win.

I say the Serbs are preparing for war again, or, at least, about to seriously test whether the big boys will let them.

4timspalding
Jan 26, 2017, 3:12pm Top

>3 LolaWalser:

You may well be right, but I see his anti-NATO stance as being fundamentally contrarian and pugnacious. Trump thinks it makes the US look strong. Insulting France or Germany—so long as they don't go right-wing—is all in good fun that way for him. Some Conservatives and low-information middles would eat it up. Withdrawing US forces and the base in Macedonia wouldn't be any fun, and would look more like the US going "soft" than anything.

But, yeah. I bet it isn't "over yet" either. And Trump's presidency provides all sorts of scenarios that might trigger it.

6davidgn
Edited: Jan 26, 2017, 6:18pm Top

>1 LolaWalser: Why all the generals? Because the military is the only power base that supported him. That's clear enough.

>2 timspalding: Fortunately for the Armenians, the Azeris can't seem to field decent infantry.

>3 LolaWalser: Not on my radar, but I won't rule out that there could be something to it. I don't see it going anywhere. And in any case, that question opens up a whole bunch of other cans of worms. (US bases solve everything, right?)

>5 2wonderY: Noted.

Is it too early to start the Trump incapacitation pool?

7prosfilaes
Jan 26, 2017, 11:38pm Top

>6 davidgn: The bookies in England are already taking bets for when he'll be impeached; that he'll be impeached is even odds.

I'm not chuffed about the impeachment of Trump. Impeachment is a symptom of democratic problems; the person the voters chose for president gets removed by a bunch of politicians and replaced by a VP who wasn't independently elected. If something unforeseeable comes up, it happens, but Trump is a known factor. If the elected president is removed by factors that were known then he was elected, then why bother voting? It may be inevitable, but it will make people feel angry and powerless. President Pence is not what any voters voted for, and not what most of the voters (either by popular vote or electoral college) wanted.

8RickHarsch
Jan 27, 2017, 4:37am Top

>7 prosfilaes: It seems to me US voters need to be reminded of what is legal and what is not, what is ethical and what is not (in the official, political sense), and that all are born equal, and that there are inalienable rights. They should also decided whether or not to keep the lady statue.

9margd
Jan 27, 2017, 9:57am Top

>1 LolaWalser: I suppose the unbelievable crassness with which he treated Mexico's president--to say nothing of Mexicans in general--still won't result in an actual war. (Not taking bets, tho'.)

Trump's bullying of Mexico IS disgusting. I fear a trade war that envelopes other countries. And healthy trade relationships keep us out of shooting wars in challenging times.

http://time.com/4651464/mexico-donald-trump-boycott-protests/

11LolaWalser
Jan 27, 2017, 12:15pm Top

>9 margd:

Vicente Fox's reaction needs to be giffed (I'm linking to a few seconds before it):

Top U.S. & World Headlines — January 27, 2017

12sturlington
Jan 27, 2017, 1:26pm Top

>11 LolaWalser: Vicente Fox constantly trolls Trump on Twitter--it is hilarious. Just one example:

Donald, don't be self-indulgent. Mexico has spoken, we will never ever pay for the #FuckingWall. https://t.co/a79WDY5vlv

— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 26, 2017

13Crypto-Willobie
Jan 28, 2017, 12:41pm Top

A lost passage from Edmund Spenser's 'Fairies Queen' -- Spenser seems to have been able to see into the future to comment on our current political situation... (Spenser channelled by Dan Moss)

FAERIE QUEENE, Book 8, canto 1, stanzas 1-7:

The brazen Ogre, with his crest aflame,
Did ride in triumph through Cleopolis;
A thousand trvmpetts magnifyde his name,
Which did infeste th’air of the metropolis,
’Til it did deafen all the populace;
Some fewe he did prefer, on some he smylde,
And soon bestowde on them monopolies,
And rais’d them vnto thrones, and kings them stylde,
Who earst were most disdain’d and euerywhere reuylde.

The kingdoms riches gave hee to that thrall
He found least thriftie and most profligate,
To Robert, Baron of the Gilded Wall,
Who car’d naught for his people, but their plate,
And hundred-fold had mortgag’d his estate,
And pill’d the realm, and left it in arreares;
Vpon a golden chariot he sate,
That no horse manages, and no man steers,
But is drawne up and downe at randon by two bears.

But vnto Earl, the tyrant of Unaster,
He leas’d the land itself, both ground and tilth;
That same Big Earl, of all the West the master,
Who knew the secret arts by which dull filth
Could metamorphos’d be into great wealth;
Who delved so far into the wounded earth,
That he did sap the soil of all her health,
And scarr’d the land, until ’twas nothing worth,
And of the plenty that he found, left naught but dearth.

And high vpon the Ogres shoulder sate
His chiefest counsellor, a crymson deuill,
Hight Odi down in Hell, but here call’d Hate,
Who euermore gave counsel most unciuil,
And in his master’s eare still whisper’d euill,
And spat his foul poyson in t’others brayne,
Which thence from th’Ogres open mouth did dreuill,
Which droole his babbling heralds did maintaine,
And spouted forth a sea of lies that none could drayne.

Those twain were heralds styl’d, yet were they fools,
Nor knew they aught of heralds ancient lore;
Th’one, hight Bombast, wore his vert with gules,
Which garish motley tincts were neuer wore,
And t’other, Spynne, mix’d argent with her or,
Or vair with ermine, or azure with sable,
So made shee eyes and eares alike most sore;
These painted iugglers turn’d all fact to fable,
All wit to witlessnesse, and all playne speech to babel.

Yett neither did those villaynes, nor their lord,
Speake their owne mindes, nor had they mindes at all,
But stole all that they sayde or wrote, each word,
And then their owne invention did that call;
For that which all men then did vertue call,
Is now cald vice, and that which vice was hight,
Is now hight vertue, and so vs’d of all:
Right now is wrong, and wrong that was is right,
Right left, downe vp, death life, and total blindness sight.

In sixe days did this Ogre teare all downe,
Whate’er the knights of Faerie had perfected,
The Blatant Beast he loos’d vpon the towne,
And bad the Bowre of Bliss be re-erected,
And that satanic Dragon resurrected,
And foule Grantorto Lord Chief Iustice mayde,
And Triamond and Cambell disaffected,
And Busirane in gold and purple ’rayde,
And on the seuenth day hee ceas’d, and marbles playde.

14LolaWalser
Jan 28, 2017, 12:49pm Top

Wow!! Move over, Nostradamus!

In sixe days did this Ogre teare all downe,

Pretty much.

15margd
Jan 29, 2017, 8:30am Top

AltDOJ ‏@alt_doj 8h8 hours ago
The scariest news of today: A white nationalist now is higher ranked on the National Security Council than intel or Joint Chiefs chair

***********************************

...Counseling Trump in the (ISIS) effort will be Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist whose influence inside the administration is expanding far beyond politics. In a separate presidential memo, Trump reorganized the National Security Council to, along with other changes, give Bannon a regular seat on the principals committee — the meetings of the most senior national security officials, including the secretaries of defense and state.

That memo also states that the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will sit on the principals committee only when the issues to be discussed pertain to their “responsibilities and expertise.” In the previous two administrations, both were included as regular attendees...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-holds-calls-with-putin-leaders-from-europe-and-asia/2017/01/28/

16Crypto-Willobie
Jan 29, 2017, 8:35am Top

If only we could impeach Steve Bannon...

17rastaphrog
Jan 29, 2017, 9:52am Top

It would seem Steve is also behind all the "confusion" about letting holders of Green Cards back into the US.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/01/steve-bannon-personally-overruled-dhs-decision-n...

18davidgn
Jan 29, 2017, 10:07am Top

>17 rastaphrog:
The decision led Mother Jones columnist Kevin Drum to conclude that the chaos caused by Trump’s executive order had been part of the White House plan.

“Whatever else he is, Steve Bannon is a smart guy, and he had to know that this would produce turmoil at airports around the country and widespread condemnation from the press,” Drum wrote. “In cases like this, the smart money is usually on incompetence, not malice. But this looks more like deliberate malice to me. Bannon wanted turmoil and condemnation. He wanted this executive order to get as much publicity as possible. He wanted the ACLU involved. He thinks this will be a PR win.”

19davidgn
Edited: Jan 30, 2017, 2:59am Top

>17 rastaphrog:
This one came over the transom today. From Prof. Heather Richardson, who teaches history at Boston College. I'll quote it in full.
https://www.facebook.com/heather.richardson.986/posts/654265404770041

I don't like to talk about politics on Facebook-- political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends-- but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night's ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries-- is creating what is known as a "shock event." Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order. When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

Last night's Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one's interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won't like. I don't know what Bannon is up to-- although I have some guesses-- but because I know Bannon's ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle-- and my friends range pretty widely-- who will benefit from whatever it is. If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event. A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union. If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln's strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power. Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.

202wonderY
Jan 30, 2017, 8:08am Top

>19 davidgn: Excellent!

21margd
Edited: Jan 30, 2017, 9:50am Top

>19 davidgn: "shock event"

Useful perspective. I do worry what "shock events" Steve Bannon will come up with in National Security Council--could be a scary four years!

Tim noted something similar, warning against wearing ourselves out in "serial outrage" (or something like that). There's just so much to be outraged about... This morning I read that IL senators wrote Homeland Security re border guards' disregard for court orders. Yesterday, Twitter divulged that contrary to 2008 directive that requests for info should be restricted to international phone calls, agents are mining social media. Comey keeps his job. "Alternative facts". Orwellian spin: travel ban is "working out very nicely". A "small price to pay" for security to paraphrase the White House...

Last night I saw a tv ad urging pressure on Ohio senator to confirm Trump's nominee for Health & Human Services, the fellow tasked with dismantling Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid. https://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2017/01/27/Ads-urge-Sen-Brown-to-support-nominee.html .

22lriley
Jan 30, 2017, 8:58am Top

#21--I've seen television ads promoting Jeff Sessions as a fighter for civil rights (if that isn't laughable I don't know what is)--urging me to contact my senators (Gillibrand, Schumer) to vote for him to become attorney general. It's apparently the work of a republican super pac.

We should get some real campaign finance reform by the way--get rid of these super pacs altogether which are a bane. All they ever do is spread lies about---like we don't get enough of that just from the politicians in general.

As for the outrage I think Trump and his other idiots will continually give us more and more good reason to continue to be outraged. I don't really think there is going to be that much burnout simply because he's never going to stop being a jerkoff.

23margd
Jan 30, 2017, 10:28am Top

>19 davidgn: "shock event"

Here are a couple of background stories on Steve Bannon. "Honey Badger don't give a sh*t" is his motto. A PBS nature documentary referred to honey badgers as "masters of mayhem"...

This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America (Oct 8, 2015)
“Honey badger don’t give a s---” is the Breitbart motto.
His (documentary) films are peppered with footage of lions attacking helpless gazelles, seedlings bursting from the ground into glorious bloom
https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-steve-bannon/

Trump’s Rasputin seizes the moment: A week of chaos may suit Steve Bannon’s master plan
Alt-right guru turned Trump adviser is using both the "Muslim ban" and bogus voter-fraud charges to spread disorder (Jan 30, 2017)
...Bannon is a radical white nationalist whose main objective, as he has openly admitted, is to blow everything up — essentially to destroy the existing social and political order. What that’s leaves us with after the smoke clears is anyone’s guess, since he is notably vague on the endgame...
http://www.salon.com/2017/01/30/trumps-rasputin-seizes-the-moment-a-week-of-chao...

24Crypto-Willobie
Jan 30, 2017, 11:48am Top

Steve Balrog

25davidgn
Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 7:52am Top

>23 margd: This is the source of the meme being referenced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=box0-koAuIY

Saw the Bloomberg piece earlier. That one will be of historical significance.
Bannon may well be the difference between Trump as Berlusconi and Trump as someone-to-the-right-of-Mussolini. All eyes his way.

http://crookedtimber.org/2017/01/11/the-political-thought-of-stephen-k-bannon/
https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.lc2leVlZp#.rg5P2nPgR

26margd
Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 8:23am Top

>25 davidgn: From your 2nd reference, 'political thought of Bannon', now on Trump's National Security Council--yikes!:

Bannon “drawn to Shakespeare’s Roman plays because of their heroic military violence.”

Bannon endorses a Samuel Huntington-type thesis of a clash of civilizations between the Judeo-Christian West and Islam. He suggests that the coming fight between Christianity and Islam will be of the same order of magnitude as the civilizational cataclysms associated with the First and Second World Wars. He more or less assumes that jihadi versions of Islam are what represent Islam in this coming civilizational struggle.

(Author Ronald Beiner is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto.)

ETA: Sure hope wolverines--"honey badgers of the north" or maybe honey badgers are "wolverines of the south"--make good their comeback in Michigan ;-)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU9gRZsTBnU

27davidgn
Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 9:46am Top

>26 margd: And there's the first comment, which is apt (particularly looking down the barrel of DeVos and her ilk -- clearly a sop to this crowd):
(Judeo-)Christian supremacy + White Nationalism + Anarchocapitalism ≈ Dominionism.
Of course, this is the direction in which the Republicans have been heading for a long time, so it’s not much of a surprise. Bannon just lards it up with a bit of populism for the rubes.
Which suggests a perusal of the following and its linked piece:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/9/2/1565030/-Getting-the-Low-Down-on-Dominion...

Cited:
Building God’s Kingdom : Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction
Christian Reconstruction: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism
The New Apostolic Reformation: History of a Modern Charismatic Movement
Far-right fantasy : a sociology of American religion and politics

Not cited, not scholarly, not recent, uneven, but worth reading: American Fascists (by the since-ordained Presbyterian minister Chris Hedges)
----------
Also (particularly as the previous does not mention Van Til and Kuyper):
http://religiondispatches.org/shades-of-christian-reconstructionism-in-trump-edu...
(by Julie Ingersoll, author of Building God's Kingdom above)
Evangelicals befuddled observers with their enthusiastic support for Donald Trump, despite his shocking disregard for the “traditional family values” that have been the religious right’s rallying cry for decades. Trump’s choice of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of the Department of Education is a profound example of why they did so; it has (always) been all about power, not piety.
"God can use him," indeed...
---------------------
ETA:
Bannon first, though.

>26 margd: And long live the wolverine. ;-)

28davidgn
Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 10:45am Top

Steve Bannon Is Making Sure There’s No White House Paper Trail, Says Intel Source
The Trump administration’s chief strategist has already taken control of both policy and process on national security.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/30/steve-bannon-is-making-sure-theres-no-white-...

This is a problem.

If there was any question about who is largely in charge of national security behind the scenes at the White House, the answer is becoming increasingly clear: Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, a far-right media outlet, and now White House advisor.

Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution.

“He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized.

The intelligence official, who said he was willing to give the Trump administration the benefit of the doubt when it took office, is now deeply troubled by how things are being run.

29davidgn
Edited: Feb 1, 2017, 1:22pm Top

Now, this is interesting.

Cardinal Burke.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.mjd4PmRD0#.fsXVAlR5j

Cardinal Burke.
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/6662/0/cardinal-burke-in-office-but-out-of-power...
ETA https://www.ft.com/content/09284c0e-e425-11e6-8405-9e5580d6e5fb
ETA https://www.ft.com/content/6aec3b22-e7b7-11e6-967b-c88452263daf
ETA https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/01/28/win-pope-francis-knights-malta-accept-leaders-resignation/

(And for those unaware: it's helpful to know that in addition to its aid work, the SMOM is stuffed to the gills with spooks. Sorta like USAID in that respect...)

I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm pretty sure I approve.

ETA: My comment on the SMOM should fall under common knowledge, but cf. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1983/07/their-will-be-done
ETA: And cf. http://www.mosquitonet.com/~prewett/ncrmay890910.html

30davidgn
Edited: Feb 1, 2017, 1:29pm Top

>29 davidgn: It's worth remembering that this is not Bergoglio's first rodeo with a certain variety of joker. I don't think he's going to be pulling any punches this time around. This, too, gives me hope.

31davidgn
Edited: Feb 2, 2017, 8:00pm Top

>10 LolaWalser: Thanks for those links. I did read them when you posted them. My read on the situation remains broadly the same, though.

You may want to cf. https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/01/ukraine-sabotages-trumps-russia-detente/
and http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/02/ukraine-coup-government-tries-to-sabotage-u...

ETA: and compare the blame-pinning with that found here: https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/01/putin-testing-trump-early-with-ukraine-attacks/
(Kiev initiates new attacks after being egged on by the neocons, and once this information passes through the filter, it's Putin testing Trump with new attacks.)

In this context: regarding the Balkans, I'm seeing lots of smoke coming out of Washington, but I'm still not seeing the fire coming out of Bosnia or Kosovo -- as much as certain interests would wish for it to exist. I'd say there's quite a lot of swamp gas belching out, and maybe a bit of St. Elmo's fire.

ETA: Compare the last 5 or so paragraphs of this piece with the headline: https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/31/donald-trumps-big-league-balkans-problem-kosovo-serbia/
The author is not exactly pulling the fire alarm, though she does point to situations that bear watching.

I'll look into this further when I get a chance, though.

32davidgn
Edited: Feb 3, 2017, 8:37pm Top

>29 davidgn:
Links to another couple of pieces.
https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/links-011117

Particularly see the first: "Breitbart's Man in Rome," from the NYT.
Per the NCR:
At the New York Times, a profile of "Breitbart's Man in Rome," now-Mr., formerly Rev., Thomas Williams. He used to be Fr. Marcial Maciel's man in Rome, and Maciel was a different kind of fraud from Steve Bannon, but Williams is a polyglot and switching tongues is harder than switching the essential character needed to represent frauds: A shill is a shill is a shill in any language. His comment about his defense of Maciel - "I thought he was innocent. I was wrong."- and Mr. Williams' ability to keep people sufficiently interested to merit a NYTimes profile puts me in mind of what was once said of Gladstone: "He could convince others of many thing, and himself of anything at all." It gives one pause before accepting his comment that he never witnessed a whiff of racism from Bannon.

33davidgn
Edited: Feb 10, 2017, 9:26am Top

>29 davidgn: NPR has caught up with me. ;-)
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/02/08/514102356/steve-bannon-aligns-w...

(Or more accurately, the NYT has. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/europe/vatican-steve-bannon-pope-francis.html )
--------------------------------------------------​--------------------------------------------------​
ETA: Also, the NYT has finally gotten around to doing a treatment of Bannon's inspiration, Julius Evola. (see >25 davidgn: and >26 margd:)
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/world/europe/bannon-vatican-julius-evola-fascism.html

Frankly, it was when I first saw that name in connection with Bannon that I realized the shit had hit the fan. The bottom dropped straight out of my gut.

ETA: The piece also mentions Aleksandr Dugin, but neglects to mention (among other things) that Dugin and the Kremlin seem to have had a serious falling-out circa 2014 (leading, among other things, to Dugin losing his chair at Moscow State University), and it's unclear how much real influence he ever had at the top in any case. Ironically, the author seems to be taking Bannon's implicit suggestion that Dugin speaks for Putin (or at least that the latter shares the former's ideology) at face value, because this fits the Putin demonization narrative. Once again, I'll highly recommend to cf. http://www.conflictsforum.org/2017/deciphering-steve-bannons-global-revolution/ and the Crooked Timber piece at >29 davidgn:.

‏@MarkAmesExiled
"Hacks just discovered Dugin, proclaiming him Putin's Karl Rove after reading an English language article. The rule of virtuous know-nothings"
8:33 AM - 20 Dec 2016
https://twitter.com/MarkAmesExiled/status/811248044708663296

34davidgn
Edited: Feb 11, 2017, 4:17am Top

I always value Patrick Cockburn's take. Here, though, I sincerely hope he's wrong, or if not that this policy tendency is somehow aborted.

Donald Trump will spark a war with Iran – which is great news for Isis
A confrontation will probably come in a year or two, when previous policies conceived under Obama have run their course. Trump may feel that he has to show how much tougher he is than his predecessor
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-middle-east-isis-about-to-start...
....In retrospect, these leaders may look foolhardy as they plunged into bottomless quagmires or fought unwinnable wars. Some, like Carter, were victims of circumstances, but entanglements were not inevitable, as was shown by President Obama, who did read books, knew his history and was acutely aware of the pitfalls the US needed to skirt in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and beyond. Avoiding disasters which nobody else knew existed will seldom win a politician much credit, but Obama deserves credit for escaping being sucked into the civil war in Syria or into a broader conflict against Iran as the leader of the Shia axis. He justifiably suspected that US allies like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni states of the Gulf were eager to see the US fight their battles for them.

The Trump administration is seen by so many commentators as so uniquely awful in its contempt for the truth, legality and democracy, that they underestimate how much it has in common with that of George W Bush. After 9/11, the Bush administration famously gave the Saudis a free pass despite the many links between the hijackers and Saudi Arabia. Instead the White House channelled the popular anger and desire to hit back provoked by 9/11 into its military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Thirteen years later it is well established through leaked US documents and briefings that Saudi Arabia and the Sunni states of the Gulf played a central role in financing and supplying fundamentalist Islamic groups in Syria after 2011. Trump continually promised during the presidential election that he would focus exclusively in the Middle East on destroying Isis, but one of the first moves of his administration has been to shift the US closer to Saudi Arabia by backing its war in Yemen. In almost his first statement of policy, Secretary of Defence James Mattis said that Iran is "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world".

One of the dangers of Trump’s demagogic rants and open mendacity is that they tend to give the impression that less theatrical members of his team, especially former generals like Mattis or National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, are monuments of good sense and moderation. Yet both men are set on threat inflation when it comes to Iran, though without providing any evidence for its terrorist actions, just as their predecessors inflated the threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD and fictional support for al-Qaeda.

This is all good news for Isis, though it has so many enemies committed to its defeat that a switch in US policy may be too late to do it a lot of good. But its main enemies on the ground are the Iraqi and Syrian armies, whose governments are backed by Iran, and the Syrian Kurds who fear that the US may soon give them less support in order to appease Turkey.

Given the high decibel level of the Trump administrations threats and warnings, it is impossible to distinguish bellicose rhetoric from real operational planning. A confrontation with Iran will probably not come soon; but in a year or two, when previous policies conceived under Obama have run their course, Trump may well feel that he has to show how much tougher and more effective he is than his predecessor, whom he has denounced as weak and incompetent.

This administration is so heavily loaded with crackpots, fanatics and amateurs, that it would be optimistic to imagine that they will pass safely through the political swamplands of the Middle East without detonating a crisis with which they cannot cope. The diplomatic agreements that Trump denounces as “terrible deals” for the US represent real balances of power and interests and he is not going to do any better. In four years’ time, the select club of American and British leaders who failed in the Middle East, with disastrous consequences for everybody, may have a voluble seventh member.
cf. https://www.librarything.com/topic/247216#5928829 ("Trump vs. Neocons" sections)
(Also https://www.librarything.com/topic/239425#5829962)

35barney67
Feb 18, 2017, 1:25pm Top

Another thread whose title is apparently a delusion. Unless someone can show me where Trump said he would bring about world peace.

Anyone? Anyone?

Now, Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize after being in office for thirty seconds. Did he create world peace?

Anyone? Anyone?

Did he make things worse?

Yes.....

Now you know why people are turning away from Democrats. You call it racism, sexist, bigotry, insanity, and all you do is drive people further away.

36lriley
Feb 18, 2017, 3:24pm Top

#34--I can absolutely see that playing out the way Cockburn suggests. And it's not just the Saudi's and the other oil rich Sunni Gulf states playing us--it's the Israeli's playing us too.

37LolaWalser
Feb 27, 2017, 12:27pm Top

Donald Trump's first budget: enormous defense spending as most agencies cut

The White House said on Monday Donald Trump’s upcoming budget will propose a whopping $54bn increase in defense spending and impose corresponding cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid.


But hey, the Killarians totally know the Mango Mussolini (thanks, YT) saved us from Crooked Hillary's "war on Russia".

39lriley
Feb 27, 2017, 12:59pm Top

Yes we need more defense spending like a hole in the head. The world is a dangerous place for sure but the United States is the major reason why it's so fucking dangerous. We're doing most of the occupying of foreign territory. We have almost all the military bases on foreign soil. We contribute more weapons and armaments for worldwide distribution than anyone else. More proof that the orange headed arsehole doesn't get it.

Meanwhile our own infrastructure can fall down right around our heads.

40margd
Feb 28, 2017, 10:59am Top

>37 LolaWalser: Donald Trump's first budget

Alternative math--or voodoo economics--at play, methinks!

Non-defense discretionary spending is ~ 17% of the budget (Wikipedia). State, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, HHS, Labor, HUD, Transportation, Energy, EPA, Education would be gutted by 10% increase in defense spending--in ways you would note. Plus reduce taxes..preserve some healthcare...leave Social Security and Medicare alone (for now?)... infrastructure initiative...hire 10K border guards & build the wall...grow jobs, economy...balance budget? Fantasia!

41sturlington
Feb 28, 2017, 11:18am Top

>40 margd: Phase 3: Make America Great Again!

(reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zc4bGkU05o)

42margd
Feb 28, 2017, 2:38pm Top

Reminds me of cartoon of scientist at the blackboard.
In the middle of a complicated equation, he writes, "And then a miracle happens." :-)

43sturlington
Feb 28, 2017, 2:43pm Top

>42 margd: Yes, I remember that one!

44alco261
Feb 28, 2017, 4:42pm Top

>43 sturlington: There's also the cartoon with the same blackboard notation and the second scientist is looking over the equations and says "I think you need more detail in the middle part of your proof."

46margd
Mar 1, 2017, 9:42am Top

Yeah--that's it! (Where's "like" button when you need it? :-)

47timspalding
Mar 3, 2017, 1:09am Top

Sweden Reinstates Conscription, With an Eye on Russia
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/world/europe/sweden-draft-conscription.html

48alco261
Mar 3, 2017, 3:48pm Top

>45 rastaphrog: Yup, that's the one.

49prosfilaes
Mar 3, 2017, 5:43pm Top

>47 timspalding: A country that hasn't had a local war since 1814, no less, had a couple actions in the 20th century as part of the UN, and had a minor part in the Afghanistan war and the Libyan Civil War in the 21st. If we had a reasonable president, we could encourage them to join NATO.

50RickHarsch
Mar 3, 2017, 6:56pm Top

No reasonable country would join NATO.

51margd
Mar 8, 2017, 8:47am Top

Russia's meddling in US election could be 'act of aggression', says Nato commander
General Sir Adrian Bradshaw says ‘blatant aggression’ could trigger collective defence clause

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-donald-trump-hacking-us-el...

52lriley
Mar 8, 2017, 11:29am Top

I can think of one very good reason why Sweden wouldn't join NATO. The possibility that the CIA was involved in the assassination of Olaf Palme.

53davidgn
Edited: Mar 8, 2017, 11:49am Top

>51 margd: OK, great General Bradshaw. Let's have a war then. With Russia.

54RickHarsch
Edited: Mar 8, 2017, 1:36pm Top

>52 lriley: Did you read Kramberger with Monkey?

55prosfilaes
Mar 8, 2017, 2:39pm Top

>52 lriley: He was assassinated because of the possibility that Sweden was involved in the assassination of JFK. Turnabout is fair play, eh? Or Sweden could join NATO because of the possibility that the KGB was involved in the assassination of Olof Palme. Of course, it's entirely possible someone like Victor Gunnarsson or (the convicted but later released for lack of evidence) Christer Pettersson did it; or even the more conspiratorial theories that South African or Yugoslavian secret services did it. It has to be the CIA.

>53 davidgn: OK, great General Bradshaw. Let's have a war then. With Russia.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/03/economist-explains-6 explains Article 5 says that the response may include armed force, but it does not mandate it. All that NATO actually promises is to take “such action as it deems necessary” to restore and maintain security. That could be anything from nuclear war to a stiff diplomatic protest.

So perhaps we can judge General Bradshaw for what he said, and not the words you want to put in his mouth.

And isn't that the point of NATO? To draw a line in the sand that the Soviets couldn't cross? You act as if war with Russia is absurd, but General Bradshaw must make the Russians think that should they invade part of NATO, that there will be a war with all of NATO. Unlike you, those Baltic states that are part of NATO are terrified that Russia's going to invade them and the US and NATO are going to do nothing.

56lriley
Edited: Mar 8, 2017, 4:17pm Top

#55--not exactly sure what you're trying to imply. Palme was murdered and there's still a mystery that surrounds it--but Reagan was in power in the United States and a friend of Thatcher who had called Palme an extremist. It's pretty well known that the United States govt. at the time did not like Palme and at the same time it's not like the United States govt. never ever resorted to extreme measures to remove someone it didn't like---for instance Allende, Arbenz or Mossadegh. The CIA was linked to Gelli and P-2 (or Propaganda Due) in Italy and Gelli made a remark to an associate several days before Palme's murder that the Swedish tree was about to fall. Make of it what you will. It wouldn't be unprecedented that the CIA was involved in a murder though. As far as the South Africans we were defending them and their apartheid for quite a while. But it's okay--be a denier.

57RickHarsch
Mar 8, 2017, 4:33pm Top

>52 lriley:>55 The Wikiwunderkind strikes again. If that paragraph, Iriley, strikes you as confused, it's because just before it was written, wikipedialeaks was broken into again, and its contents untraceably mucked into a paragraph that, if it made sense, would likely BE traceable.

59RickHarsch
Mar 8, 2017, 6:02pm Top

>58 davidgn: It's very funny, in consideration of so many known CIA offenses to liberty, from assassination to drug running to systematic destruction of the economies of small nations, that so many otherwise sober-minded people, or people who like to project themselves as sober-minded, dismiss the possibility of CIA involvement/guilt in instances such as the assassination of Palme (by the way, Iriley's list of 'removals' is quite abbreviated), and denigrate those who consider the possibity as lunatic 'conspiracy theorists'. Of course, a case could be made that Palme was killed mistakenly, a victim of the Stockholm drug trade, but otherwise, obviously there WAS a conspiracy to kill him.
I read a determined piece in the Observer that strains to definitively link the killing to UDBA, the Jugoslav secret service, but he relies on Tito's supposed record of international assassinations over the years of his rule (I am not up on that, so maybe Tito really DID have a lot of expatriated opponents killed), but he was dead long before Palme. Besides, the motive for the murder was to make it look like Croatian nationalists killed him, which I'm not sure would have accomplished much of anything, besides which, such an operation would have made a far greater attempt to have it SEEM as if the assassination was committed by Croatians.
You have the opposite problem with the CIA. Whenever someone is assassinated, there is almost always an easy way to link the motivation to the CIA.

60prosfilaes
Mar 9, 2017, 5:18pm Top

>56 lriley: What I'm implying is that there's many stories about how Olof Palme was killed, and you have seized on the one that most fits your preconceptions. It's always the CIA, not some random bastard, or some operative from some lesser group.

But it's okay--be a denier.

Exactly; you claim that "there's still a mystery that surrounds it" but anyone who disagrees with your analysis is a "denier", even if most of the people who have studied the issue don't agree with your analysis.

61RickHarsch
Mar 9, 2017, 5:27pm Top

>60 prosfilaes: Iriley wrote 'the possibility' the CIA was involved, which suggests your muddled response written immediately after reading the wikipedia account says a great deal more about your own ignorance of the topic and unsteady support of your own stultified 'beliefs'.

62lriley
Edited: Mar 9, 2017, 6:15pm Top

#60---FWIW CIA involvement in the Palme assassination is very plausible but it's not proven. Again Licio Gelli whose Propaganda Due was pretty much a who's who of the Italian govt. and wealthiest entities announced to a friend a few days before Palme's murder that the Swedish tree was about to fall. Gelli was also very much linked to the CIA. What could he have been telling his friend? The other more plausible theories pretty much revolve around Swedish right wing police entities or Sweden's security services--both of those plausibilities 'might' (operative word--it seems you need that) also have had CIA assistance.

At least one reason why Thatcher referenced Palme as an extremist by the way was his refusal to get in line with Reagan/Thatcher's anti-Soviet agenda. There was a lot of animosity towards Palme from these two bulwarks of the west. William Casey by the way was the CIA's director then--he was an evil man.

But as far as the CIA I don't look at that agency as a force for good--they assassinate, they take part in regime changes, they run guns and drugs, they experiment on people, they torture, they routinely do not abide by legality. They suck.

63RickHarsch
Mar 9, 2017, 6:39pm Top

>62 lriley: where you said possibility i would have said probability.

64prosfilaes
Edited: Mar 9, 2017, 8:32pm Top

>62 lriley: Again Licio Gelli whose Propaganda Due was pretty much a who's who of the Italian govt. and wealthiest entities announced to a friend a few days before Palme's murder that the Swedish tree was about to fall.

So someone intensely linked with the Italian government says something, it must mean that the CIA was involved. It couldn't be that the right-wing Propaganda Due decided to take out the PM by themselves.

What could he have been telling his friend?

Given a sentence made in a language that neither of us speak, that's been translated by parties unknown, to a friend neither of us know anything about, from someone deeply involved in a secret society? Fuck if I know.

The other more plausible theories pretty much revolve around Swedish right wing police entities or Sweden's security services--both of those plausibilities 'might' (operative word--it seems you need that) also have had CIA assistance.

People sometimes get shot. Certainly a lone gunman, a random person who may or may not have known who he was shooting, is a plausible theory.

as the CIA I don't look at that agency as a force for good

You didn't say that Sweden shouldn't join NATO because the CIA is bad; you said that Sweden shouldn't join NATO because of "The possibility that the CIA was involved in the assassination of Olaf Palme". As I replied in >55 prosfilaes:, there's a possibility that the Swedes killed JFK or that the KGB killed Palme. Arguing that the CIA is not a force for good doesn't make your case that it is probable that the CIA killed Palme; it more makes my case that you would blame anything on the CIA instead trying to find the real culprit, and if "Swedish right wing police entities or Sweden's security services" were behind it, then you would jump to the conclusion the CIA pulled the strings.

65lriley
Mar 9, 2017, 8:55pm Top

#64--I can only think you're deliberating misconstruing what I said. Licio Gelli was the major figure in a so-called Masonic Lodge called Propaganda Due and a committed fascist. He was a right wing figure who was closely linked to Mussolini as a young man and to the CIA later on in part facilitating fascists and nazis to North and South American (depending on how useful they were to us) in the waning days of WWII. Propaganda Due or P2 was closely linked to financial scandals some of which involved the Vatican in the 80's. A list of his associates and/or members of P2 was found when the police raided his home--it was a who's who of public figures--including military figures, the secret services, industrialists, leading politicians of all parties, major bankers and even some foreign members particularly from Argentina and including Suarez Mason, Lopez Rega and Massera--some of the main figures in Argentina's dirty war (1976-83). These names I don't think will mean a lot to you but you should look them up anyway. The remark he made to his friend is not proof of anything but it is notable and IMO something to consider considering the language he used in his remark and the people and organizations he was linked too.

To go further I didn't say Sweden shouldn't join NATO. I said I could think of a very good reason why they wouldn't. Your ability to parse out things at least sometimes leaves a little to be desired. But if it makes you happy I'll say it now. Sweden shouldn't join NATO.

66lriley
Mar 9, 2017, 8:56pm Top

#63--FWIW I do think the CIA was involved in Palme's murder.

67RickHarsch
Mar 10, 2017, 3:27am Top

>65 lriley: The problem here is that you know a great deal more about the subject than the other fellow and while you are willing to explore he is bent on defending, which is an odd response to the CIA, and also much less fun.

For what it's worth, I have read into the topic again since it came up here and it's a very difficult case as so many options are available. From the events of the night, the one thing that stands out is that Palme made his plans on the same evening, which tends to make me think he was bugged at home. Otherwise, the random, mistaken identity murder is likeliest. What's most interesting to me is what the history of the CIA does to Occam's Razor.
The Propaganda Due quote that I read did not say that the tree was felled but the PALM. And what Prosfilaes knows nothing about is that there were intensive investigations in Italy of CIA partners and that these people did exist and did foul things. See the link in >58 davidgn:. I also, again, find the attempt to blame UDBA delivered seriously in a serious news source fascinating, for what is extremely absurd is treated as serious.
Of course, bugging Palme does not suggest the CIA, but there is little doubt in my mind that he would have been bugged, and, like you, when all is considered, given track records, the CIA is the most likely culprit. Did they have partners in Italy? Don't they always have partners?

68lriley
Edited: Mar 10, 2017, 8:59am Top

#67--there are a trilogy of novels by Leif G.W. Persson who was (maybe still is) a long time criminologist at the Swedish Police Academy. They revolve somewhat about a police official getting a promotion to upper management and reopening the Palme case. Persson uses that as a device to sift back through all the known actual police evidence and all the known most likely actors. He also uses it to take a look (and also as a sharp critique) at the police and the special services themselves. For example there are many examples of police corruption incorporated into these books and/or the damage the wrong person heading an investigation might do. If someone didn't want to go and sift through the dryer forms of looking at it--that would be a good way to go.

The murder scene itself is worth looking at as well. It was about as well chosen as a murder scene could be for an dark and vacant area leading into several avenues of easily available escape. It reeks of a professional hit.

69RickHarsch
Mar 10, 2017, 10:20am Top

Are the books worth reading?

70lriley
Mar 10, 2017, 2:47pm Top

#69--If you're into Scandinavian noir Persson is about as realistic as it gets. Even more so than Indridason and Mankell. Writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo can be entertaining but they don't do realism all that well--or there are times they leave it behind. Persson really gets into cop culture and his fiction is somewhat comparable IMO to the HBO series the Wire. Well that goes along with his work as a criminologist at the police academy and he has a very jaundiced view of police culture.

71RickHarsch
Mar 10, 2017, 4:36pm Top

Thanks

72prosfilaes
Mar 11, 2017, 2:43pm Top

>65 lriley: Licio Gelli was the major figure in a so-called Masonic Lodge called Propaganda Due and a committed fascist. He was a right wing figure who was closely linked to Mussolini as a young man and to the CIA later on in part facilitating fascists and nazis to North and South American (depending on how useful they were to us) in the waning days of WWII. Propaganda Due or P2 was closely linked to financial scandals some of which involved the Vatican in the 80's. A list of his associates and/or members of P2 was found when the police raided his home--it was a who's who of public figures--including military figures, the secret services, industrialists, leading politicians of all parties, major bankers and even some foreign members particularly from Argentina and including Suarez Mason, Lopez Rega and Massera--some of the main figures in Argentina's dirty war (1976-83).

But he was unable to assassinate the Prime Minister on his own.

I said I could think of a very good reason why they wouldn't.

You provided no evidence that they believed that the CIA assassinated Palme.

73lriley
Edited: Mar 11, 2017, 4:38pm Top

#72--you don't like the 'possible' reason I came up with why Sweden doesn't want to join NATO. That's okay. I really don't care that much. But maybe you could give me one good reason why a lot more liberal democracy like theirs would want to join NATO? What exactly would they get out of it? Is Trump going to give them a luxury golf course?

74RickHarsch
Mar 11, 2017, 9:47pm Top

>73 lriley: It's also quite odd that this guy thinks you have to have evidence that unnamed leaders in Sweden believe the CIA killed Palme. First, you would have to decide who is making such decisions in Sweden, then research them to the extent possible, see if ANYTHING is on record ANYWHERE (in English) that states what they believe about the assassination. Quite a research job expected of you.

On the other hand it probably would not take long to find a number of well-placed Swedes who over the past 30 years have expresssed the belief that the CIA had the major part in it.

75lriley
Mar 11, 2017, 10:21pm Top

#74--I was kind of thinking the same thing. Like where I'm going to get recent polling information about something that happened 30 some years ago. You know what?---he wouldn't be satisfied anyway. If such a thing even existed there'd have to be something wrong with it and he'd nitpick his way through that too. Really I think the Palme assassination was news to him. He's still coming to grips with that. History is always a pisser. And what's wrong with Sweden anyway? They don't want to be on the side of good with us--what's with that? And with our new dipshit of a POTUS as another selling point besides. Or maybe they don't want to get caught in the middle of all the bullshit we start. prosf can love the CIA all he likes. It's kind of a free country. I don't have to love the CIA and I don't. Go Sweden.

76LolaWalser
Mar 12, 2017, 12:15pm Top

US and its UK client, Turkey and Russia are out to destroy Europe.

77RickHarsch
Mar 12, 2017, 1:34pm Top

>58 davidgn: How much trust do you have in ACIPSS?

78davidgn
Edited: Mar 12, 2017, 4:54pm Top

>77 RickHarsch: Haven't evaluated. I trust Ganser, though.
To properly evaluate ACIPSS I'd need about a year: 3 months to get around to hauling my copy of German Quickly out of storage, 6 months to (finally) study it, and 3 months to read a bunch of ACIPSS's stuff. 90% is in German. ;-)

79RickHarsch
Mar 12, 2017, 5:23pm Top

From a brief run through the footnotes the article seems worth taking seriously.

80prosfilaes
Mar 12, 2017, 10:44pm Top

>74 RickHarsch: Yeah, it's odd that when you make a claim that a nation wouldn't take an action because of a theory of how something went down, you might have to provide evidence that that nation actually believes that theory is true. Providing evidence for claims? How preposterous!

>73 lriley: What exactly would they get out of it?

NATO is all about military power. A liberal democracy that institutes a peacetime draft obviously thinks they need more military power. NATO says that if you join them and are attacked, then they will come to back you up. Such alliances are key to smaller states being independent yet having military power to back them up in case of an invasion.

>75 lriley: prosf can love the CIA all he likes.

And that's exactly the problem with your logic. The claim that the evidence that the CIA was involved in the Palme murder is weak is not a statement of love for the CIA. It's a statement about fact. The CIA could have its headquarters in Hell itself and be funded directly by Satan, and you would still need evidence that they were behind the Palme killing.

81lriley
Mar 13, 2017, 9:28am Top

#80--blah, blah, blah.

82RickHarsch
Edited: Mar 14, 2017, 5:40pm Top

>81 lriley: I think he's a bit lost: I mean to be fair he may be under the impression that we are the United Nations, in which case your speculation and mine could do with five or ten minutes beyond the sanctuary of wikipedia--yes it's that much a danger to the mind--to find what he's asking for.

Another thought, Iriley: we KNOW he's not CIA himself...He's to righteous to ratfuck and not, well, how can I say it, you know...TOS and all...He would have to be able to get a job at a reputable news outlet...Not his subject, yeah, that's the way to put it.

83margd
Mar 14, 2017, 7:56am Top

What SOBs could propose pulling money from World Food Programme with famines imminent, and refugee agency given most displaced persons since WW2? Never mind North Korea...

White House Seeks to Cut Billions in Funding for United Nations
U.S. retreat from U.N. could mark a “breakdown of the international humanitarian system as we know it.”

State Department staffers have been instructed to seek cuts in excess of 50 percent in U.S. funding for U.N. programs, signaling an unprecedented retreat by President Donald Trump’s administration from international operations that keep the peace, provide vaccines for children, monitor rogue nuclear weapons programs, and promote peace talks from Syria to Yemen, according to three sources.

...The cuts would fall heaviest on U.N. programs, like peacekeeping, UNICEF, and the U.N. Development Programme, that are funded out of the budget of the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs. It remains to be seen whether other U.N. agencies popular with Congress, like the World Food Programme and U.N. refugee operations — which are funded out of separate accounts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State Department, respectively — will get hit as hard. But one source tracking the budget proposal said the Trump administration is considering cuts of up to 36 percent on humanitarian aid programs.

...Trump’s budget plans are encountering strong head wind in Congress, where Democratic and Republican leaders have voiced concerns about imposing steep cuts in the State Department budget. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the president’s budget is “probably not” going to be passed...

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/13/white-house-seeks-to-cut-billions-in-funding...

84RickHarsch
Mar 14, 2017, 5:42pm Top

>83 margd: I believe that many of the Trump ilk do not understand that such funding is part of the structure of the US and the US in the world. So then, why is the US helping ingrates, etc.

86margd
Mar 26, 2017, 12:32pm Top

How not to treat ally and guest (Putin School of Etiquette?):

Donald Trump printed out made-up £300bn Nato invoice and handed it to Angela Merkel
President estimated Germany’s underspend on alliance over the past 12 years, then added interest

...Said to be presented during private talks in Washington, the move has been met with criticism from German and Nato officials.

...The unnamed (German) minister said: “The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the Chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.”

And the paper quoted a source close to Mrs Merkel saying she has “ignored the provocation”.

The bill follows a disastrous meeting between the pair earlier this month, characterised by Mr Trump’s refusal to shake his peer’s hand.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-angela...

87RickHarsch
Mar 26, 2017, 2:54pm Top

Please trade. Germany got off too easy on war reparations. They take Trump, US gets Merkel, topic closed (Greece gets Jill Stein as part of the deal?).

882wonderY
Apr 18, 2017, 10:38am Top

Michael Gerson

Trump’s administration doesn’t understand the meaning of power

"The problem with the Trump administration’s foreign policy — as represented in its proposed budget — is that it does not fully understand our threats or the meaning of power."

"Encouraging these (positive & peaceful) outcomes represents another, very real type of American power, exercised from afar."

"It is really a softheaded, hardhearted budget. If it passed in anything close to current form, no amount of explosive power could undo the stupidity or remedy the harm."

89margd
Edited: Apr 23, 2017, 5:09am Top

With our current president responding to North Korea, I'm recalling the tension I felt at as kid during the Cuban Missile Crisis. My dad's responsibility in Canadian military at the time was to shelter a provincial government--underground, I think--and to provide for province-wide emergency communications during nuclear war. My parent didn't talk much in front of us kids but tense atmosphere at home was palpable.

North Korea situation seems similar, but possibly much worse with an impulsive US commander-in-chief, who doesn't even know where his ships are.

25 million South Koreans are held hostage to strikes by North Korea's conventional weaponry--never mind the nukes. Chun In-bum, a retired lieutenant general in the South Korean army who served as commander of South Korea’s Special Warfare Command, says “Of course (recent talks about strikes) concerns me, but I’ve always believed that, with good common sense and engagement, cooler heads will prevail.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/twenty-five-million-reasons-the-us-cant-strike-north-korea/2017/04/21/47df9fea-2513-11e7-928e-3624539060e8_story.html?utm_term=.0369612ef69c

In addition to the 25 million South Koreans, China and Russia border North Korea.

Hopefully Chinese President Xi will be a cooler head? We will also need some adult behavior from Trump, Kim Jong-un, and Putin, though, but none of them seem up to the challenge? South Korea is rudderless at the moment, but perhaps there might be some leadership from Japan?

ETA: Back to hostage-taking(?) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/nkorea-detains-us-citizen-at-least-3rd-american-being-held/2017/04/23/7346a198-27fb-11e7-928e-3624539060e8_story.html?utm_term=.9bd30651118d

90margd
Edited: May 2, 2017, 12:03pm Top

Marie Antoinette could have bought us a whole lot of chocolate cake for $70 million... (ETA--sounds like cake is back on school menus http://thehill.com/regulation/overnights/331419-overnight-regulation-perdue-ease...):

Cabinet secretary: US strike in Syria 'was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment'
Theodore Schleifer | May 2, 2017

...Reflecting on last month's (military strike on Syria), ordered as Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said: "It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment."

"The thing was, it didn't cost the President anything to have that entertainment," Ross said at the Milken Institute's Global Conference in California, according to Variety.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/01/politics/wilbur-ross-syria-entertainment/

__________________________________________________​

Americans to pay over $70M for (59 Tomahawk) Syrian missiles...
Leslie Salzillo | Friday Apr 07, 2017
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/4/7/1651277/-Missile-making-company-stock-soa...

__________________________________________________​

ETA: At least 16 people, including seven Syrian military personnel, were killed in the attack, according to Syrian officials.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/syrian-media-say-u-s-attack-caused-damage-to-air-base-multiple-casualties-1491535071

91sturlington
May 2, 2017, 8:15am Top

92margd
May 24, 2017, 7:16am Top



Last month Donald Trump spoke by phone with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte...

...transcript of the call...Trump...repeatedly addressed the possibility of a U.S. nuclear strike on North Korea. The transcript, which contains numerous typographical errors, is an official document of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. Well-placed sources at the Palace and the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed its authenticity...

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/23/read-the-full-transcript-of-trumps-call-with-philippine-president-rodrigo-duterte/

93barney67
May 25, 2017, 2:38pm Top

Obviously, generals are terrible people. Only a stupid country would elect a general for pres—...

94margd
Edited: Jun 24, 2017, 4:29pm Top

Wonder if Abbas was more offended by wouldbe US negotiator (new-to-this Kushner) or the list of Israeli demands he was carrying?
Who knew it was so complicated?? Esp for son of Bibi's bestie? (Or so I hear.)

Reports that Trump considering pulling out of peace talks 'nonsense,' US official says
YASSER OKBI/ MAARIV HASHAVUA | June 24, 2017 20:08
A Palestinian official claims Abbas is furious at American demands, accuses the US of taking sides.

US President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pull out of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations following a "tense" meeting with White House senior staff and officials in Ramallah, according to London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat on Saturday.

...The al-Hayat report came just days after a meeting between the administration's senior adviser Jared Kushner and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which was described as "tense" by an Abbas advisor present at the talks.

Abbas was supposedly furious with the president's son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.

Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump's lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel's side and refused to commit to the request.

The report claims that the Trump administration was equally upset with Abbas after he failed to denounce the latest stabbing attack in Jerusalem, leaving 23-year-old St.-Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka brutally stabbed to death in a terror attack last week. Ties were further strained after Abbas reportedly refused to meet American ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

The Palestinian official also told the paper that the Americans demanded Palestinian officials curb inflammatory statements regarding Israel.

...Abbas claimed that Israel is using the issue of payments to terrorists and their families as a pretext to avoid entering peace-talks, saying that the payments are a part of the Palestinian government's "social responsibility."

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Trump-may-exit-out-of-Peace-talks-aft...

95margd
Aug 11, 2017, 8:10am Top

Trump’s Fledgling Presidency Has Already Collapsed
Jonathan Chait | August 4, 2017

President Trump’s approval rating has dropped by about one percentage point per month and now sits in the mid-30s.

...Signs of the disintegration have popped up everywhere. The usual staff turmoil came to a boil in the course of ten days...

...Republicans in Congress have openly broken ranks.

...The conviction that Trump is dangerously unfit to hold office is indeed shared widely within his own administration. Leaked accounts consistently depict the president as unable to read briefing materials written at an adult level, easily angered, prone to manipulation through flattery, subject to change his mind frequently to agree with whomever he spoke with last, and consumed with the superficiality of cable television. In the early days of the administration, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then–Homeland Security Director John Kelly secretly agreed that one of the two should remain in the country at all times “to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House,” ...

And the insurrection appears to be creeping outward...ban transgender Americans from military service, ...rough up suspects...The federal government has flipped on its chief executive.

...Trump could regain public standing through the rally-round-the-flag effect that usually occurs following a domestic attack or at the outset of a war. A miniature version of that dynamic was on display in April, when Trump launched a small missile strike on Syria...

...The ability of a president to gain popularity by launching (or suffering) an attack is not a law of nature. It reflects, in part, choices — by the opposition to withhold criticism and by the news media to accept the administration’s framing of the facts at face value. A chaotic, still-understaffed administration led by a novice commander-in-chief who has alienated American allies deserves no benefit of the doubt. Everything from Trump’s incompetent management of the Department of Energy, which safeguards nuclear materials, to the now-skeletal State Department, to his blustering international profile has exposed the country to an elevated risk of a mass tragedy. A long-term task of the opposition is to prevent the crumbling presidency from transmuting that weakness into strength.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/08/trumps-fledgling-presidency-has-alr...

96LolaWalser
Aug 11, 2017, 11:26am Top

Oh, no, the masterful dealmaker and not-Killary is dragging you all into a nuclear war! That's a shame.

97margd
Edited: Aug 12, 2017, 6:51am Top

Which is scarier: Trump threats or possibility of Pentagon rejecting orders from civilian Commander in Chief? Both scenarios are bad, and only Congress (or Trump lobotomy) can save us from them.

Pentagon: We've received no new orders on Venezuela after Trump remarks
Brandon Carter - 08/11/17

...Trump said he wouldn’t rule out a “possible military option” in Venezuela.

"I'm not going to rule out a military option," Trump said.

“Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and they’re dying,” he continued. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

Trump declined to say whether American troops would lead a possible military effort in Venezuela, saying: “We don’t talk about it.”

“But a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue,” he said.

Venezuela has seen civil unrest in recent weeks after the results of an election to rewrite the country’s constitution. The Trump administration slapped new sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro and his associates following the election.

The State Department also ordered the families of U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela last month because of “social unrest, violent crime, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.”

http://thehill.com/policy/international/346278-pentagon-weve-received-no-new-ord...

98prosfilaes
Aug 13, 2017, 8:16pm Top

>101 So this is why these people aren't part of politics. Politically, blaming the Democrats for the acts of Trump and a Congress controlled by a Republican majority means you aren't getting anywhere with people who aren't as hard-line extremists as you are.

Nixon was not forced out over Watergate. He was forced out of the office for the Saturday Night Massacre and the transcripts of the tapes.

Donald Trump Jr. has admitted that he was offered help by the Russians and accepted. President Trump said that he fired Comey because of the Russian investigation. That seems to be the key parts of the Watergate investigation repeated.

99davidgn
Edited: Aug 13, 2017, 9:14pm Top

>103 The Democrats can't control what Trump and the Republicans do. They can, however, control what they do. This was simultaneously an easy political move and a poor strategic move that will ultimately prove counterproductive.
ETA: If you didn't read this Crooke piece, you should. https://consortiumnews.com/2017/08/06/playing-politics-with-the-worlds-future/

As for the rest: I'm not sure what your point is. Yes, there are points of Trump team interactions with people who are Russian (though with far clearer links to money laundering and organized crime than to the Kremlin). It's nonetheless a non-sequitur that "therefore the Russians 'hacked the election'" and need to be sanctioned by Congress. I expect Trump has no end of skeletons in his closet that he doesn't want people digging through, but it's quite a stretch to say that being Putin's puppet is one of them, and that therefore the executive power of the United States needs to be prevented from engaging in any negotiations with Russia that might reduce tensions.

100prosfilaes
Aug 14, 2017, 2:58am Top

>104 ---- can't control what Trump and the Republicans do. They can, however, control what they do.

With the exception of Trump and the Republicans, you can fill in that blank with anything you want. But when the Republicans (who control Congress) pass a bill and Trump signs it, no one else is responsible for that.

Humans literally have a thin skin, but our figurative skin isn't much thicker. As I said, you blame the Democrats for things the Republicans did a few times, then Democrats won't see any reason to listen to you.

It's nonetheless a non-sequitur that "therefore the Russians 'hacked the election'" and need to be sanctioned by Congress.

The flaw was that it poked the thin-skinned Donald Trump over one of his few inclinations toward diplomacy. ... many of those same people cheered the promotion of Russia-gate as a way to corner Trump politically.

What Russia-gate means is not clear; it's a large collection of things that we have no historical perspective on. If you're talking about poking the thin-skinned Donald Trump and cornering him politically, those facts I pointed out are entirely relevant; Russia's acts can't corner Trump politically, but his and those of his team can.

it's quite a stretch to say that being Putin's puppet is one of them, and that therefore the executive power of the United States needs to be prevented from engaging in any negotiations with Russia that might reduce tensions.

I'd say few think that Trump is Putin's puppet; much more popular is the idea that Russia did everything they could to support the candidate that (a) would damage the US the most and (b) shows an inclination to liking Putin and his regime.

In >101, you talk about Blair's trial. Did that reduce tensions? You seem to be fine with the idea that international aggression is a crime until it comes around to Russia, in which case it's far more important to "reduce tensions".

101davidgn
Edited: Aug 14, 2017, 7:24pm Top

I'm not going to try and draw a moral equivalency between Putin's (admittedly illegal) move to bloodlessly annex the peninsula that houses Russia's most important naval base and the city of Sevastopol (officially "city of Russian naval glory") dating back to days when the U.S. Continental Navy was in diapers, and a population that was legitimately terrified of bona fide neo-Nazi paramilitaries empowered by a US-backed coup in Kiev coming to massacre them, 90-something percent of which (per the illegal, partly boycotted referendum) or roughly 3/4 (per best available opinion polling) was in favor of reunion with Russia, with the hostile invasion and occupation of a foreign country on false pretenses for baldly imperial purposes leading to the deaths of millions and the permanent destabilization of the entire region into a sectarian hellscape. You may draw that equivalency if you wish.

Speaking of Ukraine: apparently the fellow behind the Roses Have Thorns documentary has boiled his 20-something episodes down to a 5-hour jumbo documentary which extends chronologically to cover the MH17 incident. Those who were previously intimidated by the prospect of 30 or 40 hours of collated press and eyewitness footage (all of which I watched) may find this version more manageable. It's on my list.

http://www.watchdogmediainstitute.com/2017/07/8-months-in-ukraine-euromaidan-mh1...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSx8HJfBl7U

Furthermore: Mr. Blair is not at the cusp of mutual nuclear annihilation vis-a-vis the British judiciary. Please try and think before you write things.

--------------------------------------------------​

To your preceding point: I don't doubt that the Russians had preferences in this election, and may indeed have acted on some level to advance those preferences, but the effect and import of such does not rise nearly to the level of severity with which it is treated.

1. I shared a certain TIME magazine cover with you once. You'd do well to recall it -- as the tip of the iceberg..

2. As a pseudonymous retired intelligence officer known to Col. Lang put it on Lang's blog ( http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/06/fake-news-and-the-rus... ):
As a former intelligence officer who participated in covert actions overseas (i.e., actions designed to shape foreign public opinion to fall in line with U.S. policy) I have watched with a mixture of amusement and horror the circus spun up around the ridiculous claim that Russia interfered with the U.S. Presidential election. I do not doubt that Russia, if it put its mind to it, could do a number on our national election. The Russians have an outstanding, capable intelligence service and a much more pragmatic view about the outside world. I can't say the same for the good old USA.

But where's the beef? Where's the actual evidence that Russia interfered in our elections in 2016? Please go back and take a look at the lamentable so-called intelligence assessment put out by Jimmy Clapper when he was still head of the the DNI
....
First, the NSA, CIA and, to a lesser extent, the FBI, believed that the Russians hacked into the DNC and John Podesta emails, then passed that content to to Wikileaks and DC Leaks, who subsequently published the information. Second, the Russians supposedly obtained access to "elements" (undefined) of US state or local electoral boards. Third, Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik News, put out Kremlin friendly messages.

Is this a joke? That's not how the CIA used to steal/influence elections. in the past. We bought opposition candidates. We funded them and procured outside advisors for them. We sent bags of cash. Any sign that the Russians did these things? No.

The claim that the Russian intelligence service hacked the DNC and Podesta is without evidence. The FBI did not conduct a forensic examination of the computer of either the DNC or Podesta. The belief that the Russians did it is based on a very questionable Crowdstrike examination of the DNC emails. It is worth noting that one of the owners of Crowdstrike is a strong anti-Russian guy with close ties to Ukraine (Kiev) --hmm, no motive there for mischief. Right?

How about vote buying or rigged machines? No evidence of that either. There is zero evidence that any of the computer "attacks" on the "US state or local electoral boards" actually originated with the FSB, SVR or GRU. And, by Jim Clapper's own admission, those intrusions of the electoral boards did not alter the vote in any form or fashion.

One of the subliminal texts to this whole Russian conspiracy theory is the insistence that the Trump campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin or some Russian mobster to sabotage Hillary's campaign. That smear has been repeated endlessly on the cable channels and has become an article of faith to many Americans, especially Democrats who are in denial over Hillary's implosion.

So, why the vitriol towards the Russians? Why such a concerted effort to dirty up Trump with the brush of being a Commie dupe? This was done IMO in order to ensure that Trump's hands would be tied when it came time to deal with the Russians on issues like NATO and Syria....


Meanwhile, if you prefer named, establishment figures to do your sense-talking to you, here's Amb. Robert E. Hunter, writing for LobeLog, as republished by "the one and only" Graham E. Fuller, that former senior official of the CIA. Fuller introduces Hunt thusly: "At this point I am delighted to turn over the rest of this blog to offer a highly balanced and insightful commentary on all these issues by Ambassador Robert E. Hunter. Hunter says it as well or better than I could; his piece is required reading in the midst of so much herd mentality in the national press. Hunter offers a wise and sober commentary on the toxic state of politics in Washington today. He also reminds us of many of the core realities of international relations that we often forget. Equally importantly, he writes as a solidly establishment figure in US foreign affairs and defense circles: Robert E. Hunter is a former senior National Security Council official and was US Ambassador to NATO in the Bill Clinton administration." http://grahamefuller.com/trump-putin-frenzy/
To excerpt the relevant paragraph:
“They All Do It”

Anyone with experience in international politics or historical knowledge knows that interfering in other countries’ politics and even elections is SOP–standard operating procedure. Others regularly do it to us: legally through their embassies, tolerated through K Street lobbyists they employ to the tune of millions of dollars, and also through their expatriates or others who convince themselves that the interests of foreign government X are also in the best interests of the United States. In the early 20th century, Americans of Irish and Italian descent used to be masters of this game. In the 1930s, until discredited by Adolf Hitler’s actions, many German-Americans joined the German American Bund, which tried to keep the United States out of the Second World War. American citizens, misled by foreign propaganda and arguments that the United States had “lost China,” revered Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and kept the United States from normalizing relations with the People’s Republic of China from 1949 until “Nixon’s visit to China” in 1971. And the Israel lobby actively seeks to influence U.S. Middle East policy. This was evidenced most clearly by congressional cheering for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress, when, in speaking of Iran’s nuclear program, he asked its members to trust his judgment rather than that of the U.S. president.

At the same time, the United States has regularly interfered in the politics and elections of other states, notably during the Cold War, and it still does now. People in both political parties argue that it is in a “good cause” or at least in a “necessary cause.” Perhaps at times they are right. The New York Times exposé, cited above, elides over one event, when it scolds Russia for “outing” a phone call between the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, as they were trying to affect the outcome of Ukraine’s political struggle. According to the Times: “Ms. Victoria Nuland the assistant secretary was heard describing a little-known American effort to broker a deal in Ukraine, then in political turmoil.” In this case, “broker a deal” is a euphemism for “promote a coup d’état.” Maybe that was the right course (though I do not agree), and it certainly did not justify the Russian military intervention in Ukraine that followed; but it was not as though we were the impeccable “good guys,” just trying to promote democracy, to Putin’s demonstrable “bad guy.”

--------------------------------------------

I've heard the quip that it makes the most sense to beat up on the Russians because of how little influence they actually have in Washington, particularly compared to many other countries -- our allies and particularly our "allies." Not a lot of Russian weight on K street to bite back! (Of course this is just a cynical joke and misses many far more important components: e.g. have you taken a look at defense contractor share prices lately?)

Now, does it make sense to criticize the Democrats for jumping on the politically convenient bandwagon and doing the easy thing rather than well-thought-out thing -- with predictable consequences for U.S. foreign policy? Yes, I think it does. And is it wise to push a course of international bellicosity when we have a figure such as Trump at the helm? I should think not. If that makes me an extremist hard-liner, so be it.

102prosfilaes
Aug 14, 2017, 9:09pm Top

>106 I'm not going to try and draw a moral equivalency between Putin's (admittedly illegal) move to bloodlessly annex the peninsula that houses Russia's most important naval base and the city of Sevastopol (officially "city of Russian naval glory") dating back to days when the U.S. Continental Navy was in diapers, and a population that was legitimately terrified of bona fide neo-Nazi paramilitaries empowered by a US-backed coup in Kiev coming to massacre them, 90-something percent of which (per the illegal, partly boycotted referendum) or roughly 3/4 (per best available opinion polling) was in favor of reunion with Russia, with the hostile invasion and occupation of a foreign country on false pretenses for baldly imperial purposes leading to the deaths of millions and the permanent destabilization of the entire region into a sectarian hellscape. You may draw that equivalency if you wish.

This is bullshit. The 2003 invasion of Iraq (20 March to 1 May 2003), rounding up very generously, killed less than 100,000 people and the population of Iraq was legitimately terrified of a bona fide dictator who had used chemical weapons on his own people and killed 250,000 of them. You can compare that to what you said about bloodlessly annexing the peninsula (though justifying it by saying it dates back to the colonial period, like French Indochina and British India and British Ireland and that it's about "Russia's most important naval base" seems to scream imperial to me.) But if you want to talk about millions dead* and permanent destabilization, you can't call Putin's action bloodless, you have to talk about the war Russia supported in Ukraine for several years after, the destabilization of Ukraine and the 10,000 dead and million people displaced. The invasion and destabilization of Iraq was clearly of greater magnitude than the invasion and destabilization of Ukraine, but you're not bothering to compare like to like here.

* I actually don't know where you're getting this figure from; a quick glance says the number dead is less than a million.

Anyone with experience in international politics or historical knowledge knows that interfering in other countries’ politics and even elections is SOP–standard operating procedure.

And so is smacking other countries on the nose for trying to interfere in your politics and elections, if you can. That dirty play is SOP doesn't mean that you shouldn't respond to it; rather it should mean that the response is SOP and thus the other party should expect it.

103davidgn
Edited: Aug 15, 2017, 12:12am Top

Writing off the top of my head, but I have in mind primarily the Physicians for Social Responsibility report of 2015
http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/body-count.pdf
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30164-report-shows-us-invasion-occupation-of-...
https://www.cjr.org/criticism/iraq_body_count.php
...which attempted to update the Lancet study of 2006, assessing excess deaths caused by the war.

Also relevant is the OBR study from 2008
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-deaths-survey-idUSL3048857920080130

In light of the above, and particularly if we include follow-on conflicts in Iraq and Eastern Syria (where the hell do you think ISIS came from?), "millions" is a reasonable statement.

I haven't read either report in full, and I'm neither an MPH nor a statistician, but I'll look into the question more closely if you like.

As for Russian actions in East Ukraine: yes, they supported local militia there, organized initially against some very nasty far-right paramilitaries which were sent to the eastern areas to put down protests and occupations of civil buildings in opposition to the Kiev coup (to crush the Colorado beetles, if you will), after regular soldiers demurred and mutinied or deserted en masse. Contrary to the Russian state's propaganda, this support effort did include limited materiel and active-duty military personnel. Given the pleas from the ethnic and cultural Russians on the other side of the border for support against this wave of largely Galician extremist forces and assorted other nasty elements (including a noteworthy contingent of radical Islamist broadly-anti-Karimov Chechens... which were countered by broadly-pro-Karimov Chechens fighting for the eastern declared republics). But again, I'm writing off the top of my head.

104davidgn
Edited: Aug 14, 2017, 11:18pm Top

that it's about "Russia's most important naval base" seems to scream imperial to me. Well, such were the times (18th-early 20th century). We consider Hawaii to be integrally part of the US, do we not? Likewise did the Russian Empire consider Sevastopol to be integrally Russian. We might as well give Pearl Harbor (the closest analogy I can think of, in terms of significance to the national psyche) and the Hawaiian Islands back to the Hawaiian monarchy, and the Russians Sevastopol and the Crimean peninsula back to the Crimean Khanate.

The administrative decision in the 1950s to "gift" Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR under the USSR umbrella -- a token gesture at the time and under the circumstances -- was one of those accidents of history that turned out in retrospect to have been quite ill-advised. The Russian people would no sooner willingly cede control of Sevastopol to NATO than the American people would willingly cede Pearl Harbor to the CSTO.

Also, please tell me how Iraq is located directly on the U.S.'s most historically vulnerable land border and is full of Americans (and please, not in the sense that "Inside every Iraqi is an American just waiting to get out.")

105prosfilaes
Aug 15, 2017, 12:51am Top

>108 I have in mind primarily the Physicians for Social Responsibility report of 2015

I.e. you give me a study that says 1 million to justify millions. Furthermore, you include in your counts the excess deaths (statistically) caused by the Iraq war, but make no attempt to count the excess deaths from the refugees from the Crimean annexation.

(I'm really questionable about that model. 9/11 killed 2,996 people, official, but one estimate have 1,595 more auto deaths in the year after the event due to auto accidents. How many people died due to losing someone important to them or extra stress? The whole Afghanistan war is clearly a follow-on conflict, and we could even add the Iraq war to that. Was "it wise to push a course of international bellicosity when we ha{d} a figure such as {Bush} at the helm?"

In some sense, the 9/11 hijackers are responsible for every death that occurred in the extended Middle Eastern wars following 9/11. But while that's fully true, I think the number 2,996 reflects a clear indisputable number of the direct result of their actions.)

particularly if we include follow-on conflicts in Iraq and Eastern Syria

Please do not ever refer to the Russian annexation as bloodless again. Not if you want to toss the kitchen sink into the counts of deaths from the Iraqi war.

Given the pleas from the ethnic and cultural Russians on the other side of the border

Let's play Mad Libs! Let A be an imperialist power, and B be a small state that won its independence from that imperialist power. "Given the pleas from the ethnic and cultural As, A sent military forces into B." For what values of A and B would you consider this to be a possibly reasonable statement?

I don't think we're communicating real well. >107 is all about applying standards evenly, and >108 is about justify charging every single death to the Iraq War, and justifying Russian actions because the people on the other side were so bad, despite all of Hussein's crimes. This is not about facts; this is about how to fairly compare events and assign responsibility.

106prosfilaes
Aug 15, 2017, 1:36am Top

>109 Pearl Harbor (the closest analogy I can think of, in terms of significance to the national psyche)

Why not the Panama Canal Zone? We gave it to Panama, like Crimea was given to Ukraine, and as equal nations, signed treaties to that effect. How would you feel about the US taking back the Panama Canal Zone?

The Russian people would no sooner willingly cede control of Sevastopol to NATO

You didn't seem to have any question about the moral right of Guantanamo Bay being Cuba's and Cuba being an ally of the Soviet Union. The United States would not willing cede control of the Panama Canal to the CSTO. Does that give us the right to invade Panama if we don't like their politics?

please tell me how Iraq is located directly on the U.S.'s most historically vulnerable land border and is full of Americans

Are you throwing Mexico to the hounds, or are you tossing out rhetorical statements without thinking about them at all? There's been a lot historical discrimination of Americans in Mexico; I don't why, as the first dozen invasions were just practice and the second dozen invasions were just for fun. And historically Mexico has discussed invading us, unlike Canada.

This is an incredible justification of imperialism. You complained about Estonia hosting 2,000 Canadian soldiers on their border with a nation that has invaded them before. Just about every nation with a border on Russia has been invaded through that border at some point in history. But we should understand poor Russia was so vulnerable and because it moved Russians into what was almost functionally a colony (and moved the natives to Siberia), we should understand that it invaded Ukraine to support them. (Again, that's a old-school imperial stunt; you move your people into a territory, and then you can justify moving your military into the area when they're "abused".)

107davidgn
Edited: Aug 15, 2017, 2:45am Top

>110 While we can count precisely the deaths in the U.S. on 9/11, any effort at a body-by-body tally in a war zone such as Iraq is bound to be woefully limited, meaning that the application of epidemiological methods is not merely elective but essential for arriving at a realistic picture of mortality impact. The unavoidable trade-off is that epidemiological excess death calculations can never match the concreteness of tallying toe tags and death certificates. So while you're right to point out that I'm conflating two means of measurements, I'm not doing so as a sleight of hand, but because in each case I'm trying to identify and use the best means of measurement available.

Meanwhile, the PSR report states that its findings are conservative. To quote the introduction directly:

This investigation comes to the conclusion that the was has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.


So, perhaps you'd prefer "in the millions" or more conservatively "probably at least a million." But again, I was speaking loosely and off-handedly, and you're attacking an ancillary point.

ETA As an additional sanity check, let me quote from p. 23:
The media mostly quote IBC figures, as this project is seen as the most reliable source. Related to a general population of 30 million, IBC’s research arrives at 42 violent deaths per year and per 100,000 inhabitants. That would be far less than the murder rates in Honduras or El Salvador, which are estimated at 82 and 66 murders per 100,000 inhabitants respectively in a recent UN report.The IBC number is also even lower than the number of murders per year in major cities in the U.S. In 2006, for example, Detroit had a murder rate of over 48 per 100,000 inhabitants. Since the U.S. administration mainly used the lack of security in Iraq to justify the ongoing occupation, co-author of the Lancet study Les Roberts ironically asked in his presentation at the International Iraq Conference on March 8, 2011, in Berlin whether the U.S. would not do better, therefore, to deploy its troops in Detroit, Baltimore, or Chicago.


-------------------------------------------------

Meanwhile: I'm not aware of a major refugee crisis among Crimeans causing significant mortality, but yes, I'll concede that given the social disruption there must be some degree of excess deaths that could be measured. (Actually, this question reminds me of one of the most interesting books I've read in the past decade: A Plague on Your Houses. But I digress.) Again, see the first paragraph.

------------------------------------------------

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq followed 9/11 only via the intermediation of policy decisions in the Beltway, Downing Street, etc. to commence armed conflict -- and in the case of Iraq, the decision to invade was undertaken as an utter non sequitur spuriously justified by connecting it falsely to 9/11. Your attempt at reductio ad absurdum with respect to epidemiological methodology in general falters on that rock. You're conflating epidemiology with historical theories of causation and/or moral culpability.

------------------------------------------------

And so is smacking other countries on the nose for trying to interfere in your politics and elections, if you can. That dirty play is SOP doesn't mean that you shouldn't respond to it; rather it should mean that the response is SOP and thus the other party should expect it. But once again, there is a question of proportionality here. Major interference is being imputed, and the interference is being punished as if it were earth-shakingly major, but the degree of interference that has been publicly evidenced (rather than imputed or assessed) seems to be somewhere in the range of fairly minor to quotidian. Meanwhile, with respect to collusion that would specifically justify disabling Trump from engaging in diplomacy with the Russians, lawmakers who would be privy to evidence of such have openly admitted that to their knowledge, as of now (or when they recently spoke), it does not (yet) exist.

--------------------------------------------------​

Was "it wise to push a course of international bellicosity when we ha{d} a figure such as {Bush} at the helm?"

1. Actually: no, it was not.

2. Are you trying to argue that Trump is not more erratic or unstable than Dubya?

--------------------------------------------------​

Let's play Mad Libs! You're still conflating a freely-chosen war of aggression on the one hand, and Russia's predictable reaction to the predictable fallout from a Western-sponsored coup in Kiev on the other.

108davidgn
Edited: Aug 15, 2017, 3:11am Top

>111 Most of these points are misleading, and I'll get to them tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's some background on 1954.
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/03/crimea-whose-land-this-part-1-2...

109davidgn
Edited: Aug 15, 2017, 8:20pm Top

I'll have more time sometime tonight, but just a couple thoughts. I can't exactly ask people to read Billington (The Icon and the Axe), though in principle I'd highly recommend it. It's been a long damn time for me, but one thing I do retain is a gut sense of the insecurity of the East European Plain.
I did run across what looks like a good Cliff's Notes take that explains the importance of the relevant geography and of Ukraine in general from the Russian perspective (as grokked by some Western diplomats and analysts, mostly Canadian it seems):
http://thevimyreport.com/2015/05/the-war-in-ukraine-six-questions-to-explain-why...

This Atlantic feature also looks decent at first glance:
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/russia-geography-ukraine-syria/413248/

I haven't read either in full, but I will tonight.

110prosfilaes
Edited: Aug 16, 2017, 3:03am Top

>112 The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq followed 9/11 only via the intermediation of policy decisions in the Beltway, Downing Street, etc. to commence armed conflict ... Russia's predictable reaction to the predictable fallout

A terrorist force residing on Afghani soil murdered 3,000 Americans. A military reaction was "only via the intermediation of policy decisions in the Beltway, Downing Street, etc." A sovereign nation had an anti-Russian change in power; a military reaction was "Russia's predictable reaction".

Let's play Mad Libs! You're still conflating

You're dodging a straight forward question. I'll ask it again:

"Let A be an imperialist power, and B be a small state that won its independence from that imperialist power. "Given the pleas from the ethnic and cultural As, A sent military forces into B." For what values of A and B would you consider this to be a possibly reasonable statement?"

>113 Meanwhile, here's some background on 1954.

You aren't listening to me at all. What do you think that article says that I don't understand? Yes, Crimea was attached to Ukraine in the 1950s. Yes, the Soviet Union / Russia shouldn't have let it go when it broke up. Yes, they shouldn't have doubled-down on that when they signed the Russian–Ukrainian Friendship Treaty in 1998. But they did. And then they invaded Ukraine. The issue is not factual; the question is does a large nation have the right to sign a treaty endorsing the current borders with a smaller neighbor and then annex part of that neighbor?

>114 a gut sense of the insecurity of the East European Plain.

I know. That's why no one wants to play Poland in military board games, because Germany and Russia rolled over it so many times. The fundamental disagreement here is not about facts; it's about you taking the insecurity of the East European plain and worrying about a nation that hasn't been conquered since the Mongols, instead of its neighbors on said plain that have been puppets of other powers on and off for centuries.

111davidgn
Aug 17, 2017, 2:40am Top

So, I was down for the count last night and wasn't able to get back to you. Apologies. I'm still feeling pretty miserable.

It seems this conversation is hearkening back to an earlier thread in which I missed your belated response:
https://www.librarything.com/topic/247216#6070410
https://www.librarything.com/topic/247216#6095607

As a preamble: If you want me to explicitly declare support for the sovereignty of the Baltic states and of Poland, let me say right now that I do support their sovereignty and their right to self-determination. I sure as hell don't want to see Russian tanks overrunning any of these countries, and I expect the result of any such attempt would be universal condemnation and hostility. That is also one major reason why it would make little sense for the Russians to invade any of those countries, and why under current leadership it is unlikely.

I'm working on a longer response, but I find myself getting bogged down reading military analyses and reports of wargames, while trying to fight against the paranoia and endlessly escalatory logic that comes along with them. I'll be back with you shortly.

112prosfilaes
Aug 18, 2017, 12:46am Top

>116 I expect the result of any such attempt would be universal condemnation and hostility. That is also one major reason why it would make little sense for the Russians to invade any of those countries, and why under current leadership it is unlikely.

They invaded Georgia, they invaded Ukraine. The condemnation and hostility there didn't seem to matter. Which leads me to believe that reason why they don't invade the Baltic nations, or Poland is the fact that invading NATO would potentially set off WWIII. If we think that "universal condemnation and hostility" will prevent Russia from invading more countries, then we should make that point via their actions towards Ukraine.

113davidgn
Edited: Aug 18, 2017, 7:51am Top

>117 I'll be disputing much of that as well. We've already gone over Saakashvili's little folly and Putin's counterattack, notably followed by withdrawal. We've also gone over the advisors and reinforcements that were sent to support local militia in regions full of people who had the temerity not to appreciate it when their countrymen declared them terrorists for failing to recognize a coup government and organizing referenda to demand local autonomy, only to be met with bands of roving ultranationalists shipped in to massacre them. (There's something to be said for self-determination. There's even more to be said for shooting back when coup governments and their feckless oligarch functionaries unleash neo-Nazis on your town who don't much distinguish between their targets so long as they can crush them some koloradi -- particularly when your people have got 27 million good reasons in recent historical memory for wanting to shoot Nazis.) We'll probably go over this again.

I'm watching this right now, and I'm livid all over again.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSx8HJfBl7U
--------------------------------------------------​
Honestly, at this point I'm not sure whether to go after you point by point or respond with a fucking term paper, and I'm halfway into both sides of that fork. Still feeling ill and not quite thinking straight. (Hell, I normally don't dream vividly, but I dreamed last night that an old acquaintance had somehow fallen in with North Korean spies -- "Hey, I met these cool guys in jail!" -- who had convinced him of the incomparable merits of their MLM scheme which involved hawking products containing audio bugs. What. the. fuck. No idea where that shit came from.)

Nonetheless, I did gain the impetus to watch The Panama Deception for the first time out of this deal, and I highly recommend it (despite some elements that didn't age well, and at least one genuine WTF moment courtesy of one interviewee associated with the University of Panama). The film did win the Best Documentary Oscar in '92, FWIW.

Some great coverage:
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175937/tomgram:_greg_grandin,_how_the_iraq_war_b...
https://www.democracynow.org/2014/12/23/how_the_iraq_war_began_in

The film:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo6yVNWcGCo

So, suffice it to say that Canal Zone might be a bit more complicated of a story than you had in mind. Not that the situations are really comparable in the first place. But I'll get to that.

Anyhow, watch this space.

114prosfilaes
Aug 19, 2017, 7:17am Top

>118 particularly when your people have got 27 million good reasons in recent historical memory for wanting to shoot Nazis.

The Holodomor killed 7 million to 10 million people in Ukraine, and the Nazis killed less than seven million in Ukraine. The Nazis only killed 14 million Russians, 3.5% less than Ukrainians (12.7% of the population of Russia compared to 16.3% of Ukraine.) (It turns out that living on those Eastern European plains is a little dangerous; it's good the Belarussians (25% of their population died) and Ukrainians could stand between Germany and Russia, at least for the Russians.) Don't worry, you can still appropriate the deaths of those seven million who died for Ukraine to justify a Russian invasion of their homeland.

Once again, the poor, poor Russians. You engage in genocide in a state, and when it becomes free, populist movements in that nation tend to hate your guts. That's so, so unfair.

Not that the situations are really comparable in the first place.

I know. It's because Am''E''rica has an E in their name, for Evil and Russia has an R in their name, for Right.

Yes, it's mockery. You just said that the Nazis killing seven million Ukrainians is part of a justification for the Russians killing Ukrainians.

At a quick glance, it looks like the main differences between Panama and Ukraine here is that Russia annexed part of Ukraine permanently but lost large scale control over Ukraine, and the US lost the Panama Canal but shored up some support in Panama in their invasion. The deaths in Panama could fit in one Boeing 777, whereas the fighting in Ukraine has killed over 10,000 people. (Yes, locals killing locals doesn't matter, unless it's in a war the US is involved in. As I said, America has an E in the name.)

Honestly, at this point I'm not sure whether to go after you point by point or respond with a fucking term paper,

Give me a theory of imperialism. Russia and the US are imperialist nations. Tell me when an imperialist nation may invade another nation. Every time specifics come up, you spin the side in your direction, but everytime I try and generalize, you get dismissive.

115Molly3028
Edited: Aug 19, 2017, 12:41pm Top

Now America must deal with the toxic harvest from the seeds that were sown by GOP wing-nut radio &
TV hosts over the last decade.

116timspalding
Aug 19, 2017, 5:10pm Top

The possibility that the CIA was involved in the assassination of Olaf Palme.

He was assassinated because of the possibility that Sweden was involved in the assassination of JFK.

Tinfoil hats all around!

117davidgn
Edited: Aug 20, 2017, 6:14am Top

I'm trying to catch up on a bunch of stuff tonight that I neglected these past few days, so I still don't have time to respond properly (aside to point out that you're continuing to put arguments in my mouth). However:

>119 Give me a theory of imperialism
Get outta here! That's not a term paper. That's not even a fucking Ph.D thesis. That's a career-capstone magnum opus.

In any case, you're barking up the wrong tree. What is needed here is not a theory of "imperialism," but of how and why major powers develop and manage their spheres of influence. The nuts and bolts of that are tentatively treated in what I consider to be a very promising paper by a Denmark-based scholar that I don't have time to finish reading tonight. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13569775.2016.1201312?journalCode=ccp...

Apparently he's also got a book just out, and on the strength of what I've read I'm very interested: Russia, the West, and the Ukraine crisis.

ETA: That book turns out to be a reprint of Contemporary Politics 22:3, which Götz apparently edited and in which the essay above appeared. See also his introduction to that issue: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13569775.2016.1201313

I also stole a peek at a piece of his in International Studies Review that likewise looks exceedingly promising. https://academic.oup.com/isr/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/isr/viw009/2669511/Putin-the-State-and-War-The-Causes-of-Russia-s

And this earlier piece looks like a good "hot take," less encumbered by theory and scholarly thoroughness: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23340460.2015.960184?journalCode=rgaf...

118prosfilaes
Aug 25, 2017, 3:01pm Top

>121 He was assassinated because of the possibility that Sweden was involved in the assassination of JFK.

Tinfoil hats all around!

Please include citations to what you're quoting. I think >55 prosfilaes: makes it clear enough that while I speak of the possibility, it is in the sense that it is possible, not that that I believe it is probable enough for anyone to waste a second seriously pondering it.

119RickHarsch
Aug 25, 2017, 4:51pm Top

>110 prosfilaes: 'In some sense, the 9/11 hijackers are responsible for every death that occurred in the extended Middle Eastern wars following 9/11. But while that's fully true, I think the number 2,996 reflects a clear indisputable number of the direct result of their actions.)'

Fully true? I'm glad we finally found the god of library things.

If that were remotely true, I wonder why the US had to present fraudulent motives for attacking Iraq.

120prosfilaes
Aug 25, 2017, 4:59pm Top

>122 aside to point out that you're continuing to put arguments in my mouth

That's hard to respond to without clarity about what you're complaining about. If "your people have got 27 million good reasons in recent historical memory for wanting to shoot Nazis" is not simply noise, it's referring to the number of deaths in the Soviet Union due to Nazis. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties_of_the_Soviet_Union#Erlikman (from Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. ISBN 5-93165-107-1 pp. 23–35) says that seven million of the 27 million deaths due to Nazis in the Soviet Union were Ukrainian, which is saying that those Ukrainian deaths in WWII justifies Russian intervention in Ukraine now.

Again, the Holomodor took ten million lives. Why should Ukrainians trust Russia and Russians?

Get outta here! That's not a term paper. That's not even a fucking Ph.D thesis. That's a career-capstone magnum opus.

"Moral philosophy" is a huge field, but I can state the basics of Kant's Categorical Imperative or Rawl's Justice as Fairness in a few sentences. I don't want to hear more about Ukraine and Iraq; I want a theory of imperialism shorn of real world complications.

In any case, you're barking up the wrong tree. What is needed here is not a theory of "imperialism," but of how and why major powers develop and manage their spheres of influence.

We're not really talking about a science like political science. To quote you again:

>106 prosfilaes: I'm not going to try and draw a moral equivalency between Putin's (admittedly illegal) move to bloodlessly annex the peninsula that houses Russia's most important naval base and the city of Sevastopol (officially "city of Russian naval glory") dating back to days when the U.S. Continental Navy was in diapers, and a population that was legitimately terrified of bona fide neo-Nazi paramilitaries empowered by a US-backed coup in Kiev coming to massacre them, 90-something percent of which (per the illegal, partly boycotted referendum) or roughly 3/4 (per best available opinion polling) was in favor of reunion with Russia, with the hostile invasion and occupation of a foreign country on false pretenses for baldly imperial purposes leading to the deaths of millions and the permanent destabilization of the entire region into a sectarian hellscape. You may draw that equivalency if you wish.

That's not about how and why major powers develop and manage their spheres of influence. It's pretty clear that the US develops and manages its sphere of influence by justifying invasions on moral grounds, just like you've justified the Russian invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. There is some argument about Afghanistan; you seem to want to blow smoke about it ("The wars in Afghanistan ... followed 9/11 only via the intermediation of policy decisions in the Beltway, Downing Street, etc. to commence armed conflict") whereas I see that as silly; a major power cannot sustain a sphere of influence if it lets shit like 9/11 go down without immediate retaliation, and the citizens of the US would not have tolerated the lack of retaliation.

But really the discussion is about morality, as your quote says. It's about whether we get to judge Russia for invading its neighbors and hacking off pieces of them, in violation of international law and a bilateral treaty that Russia signed with Ukraine. It's about whether the deaths of the 298 people on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is worth some criticism of the people who provided and supported the missile launcher. And it's about whether you judge the US by completely different standards than Russia, and if your moral judgments can have any weight if you do.

121davidgn
Edited: Aug 25, 2017, 6:59pm Top

I'm finding myself too damn busy to finish my response, but here's part one:

With respect to Crimea: the heart of the issue is that any great power will act to preserve its core security interests, and will be motivated to do so even at great cost. The naval base at Sevastopol is not something the Russians will allow to be threatened – period. Other considerations are secondary at best. All the same, let's try to separate out some strands here.

First of all, when I think about it, my primary reason for placing such emphasis on the demographics and political history of the Crimean peninsula is in reference to the question of against precisely whom or what Russia has transgressed by annexing it. The unique situation of the Crimean peninsula is that, apart from a small minority of recent migrants, there has never been very much specifically Ukrainian about it in a historical, cultural, or linguistic capacity. As the Kruschev piece I shared explains, it was assigned to Ukraine via Soviet administrative fiat with no reference to the population's preferences, in the interest of simplifying the administration of a canal project as much as for any other reason. Furthermore, every time the population of Crimea has been given the opportunity to state their wishes in referenda since the fall of the USSR, they've overwhelmingly expressed the desire to reunite with Russia. So from one perspective, it's unfortunate Kiev fought so hard in the '90s to hold on to the peninsula against its population's express preferences.

Given this context, it's difficult to argue that the Russians have committed any serious offense against the contemporary Crimean population. After all, by and large those people got exactly what they wanted.

>107 davidgn: You can compare that to what you said about bloodlessly annexing the peninsula (though justifying it by saying it dates back to the colonial period, like French Indochina and British India and British Ireland and that it's about "Russia's most important naval base" seems to scream imperial to me.)

To your examples, a quick test: in cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and national terms, was French Indochina overwhelmingly French? Was British India overwhelmingly British? Was British Ireland overwhelmingly British? And was Russian Crimea in the 20th century overwhelmingly Russian?

Of course, this does bring up a larger point of how this state of demographics came to be in the first place. The subjugation of the Crimean Tartars under Catherine the Great, and particularly their wholesale expulsion under Stalin, were acts of naked imperial aggression when undertaken. The argument has certainly been advanced that many of the contemporary Crimean Tartars find living under Russian rule unacceptable for historical reasons. (e.g. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/crimean-muslim-refugees-feel-welcome-but-theres-n... ; https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-03-18/one-year-after-russian-takeover-refugees-crimea-share-their-stories ) Nonetheless, in the grand scheme of things given the status quo ante of a thoroughly Russified peninsula, the re-annexation of that peninsula is very difficult to characterize as an imperial re-subjugation of a foreign people, rather than a political reunification with a common people. Clearly Russia can be said to have transgressed against the territorial integrity of Ukraine and against the treaty they've signed promising to respect it. More difficult to sustain is the claim they’ve transgressed against the Crimean people. Finally, to draw a comparison to some hypothetical British reconquest of Mumbai, French reconquest of Saigon or English reconquest of Dublin is simply daft.

122davidgn
Aug 25, 2017, 7:09pm Top

>125 As our posts crossed: do you not consider it odd that the United States seems to consider the entire globe to be its sphere of influence?

123prosfilaes
Aug 25, 2017, 7:13pm Top

>126 my primary reason for placing such emphasis on the demographics and political history of the Crimean peninsula is in reference to the question of against precisely whom or what Russia has transgressed by annexing it.

There's the question of against precisely whom or what the US has transgressed by taking out Saddam Hussein. What percentage of Iraqis in a fair vote would have voted to keep Hussein in power? Let's compare narrow action to narrow action, or the entire event to the entire event, not a quick action to a whole war and its fallout.

it's unfortunate Kiev fought so hard in the '90s to hold on to the peninsula against its population's express preferences.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/03/crimea-whose-land-this-part-1-2... says:

"Before the signing of the document, they decided to get lunch. But as Leonid Kravchuk said in an interview, one thought worried him: What to do with Crimea? Formally, it was part of Ukraine, but in reality? He turned with this question to Yeltsin, but at that moment he was not in the mood to deal with this matter. He couldn't wait to get Gorbachev out of the Kremlin.

"He was sitting down and rushing through his drinks and there was Kravchuk still pestering about Crimea. Yeltsin waved him off to go away."

That's your cite, not mine. It's not a huge deal, but it's an example of you interpreting things to make the Russians look good.

One of my concerns from my legalistic side is that Russia signed a treaty. Russia could have dragged the UN to a halt until they agreed to demand a vote for Crimean succession or they could have invaded right then and there. Once you've signed away a territorial claim in a fair treaty, that's it. There's no hope at peace in the world if even a fair treaty setting the border between two nations is to be ignored when one nation decides it's no longer favorable and it has the force to take the territory.

their wholesale expulsion under Stalin, were acts of naked imperial aggression when undertaken.

When undertaken. In various conversations, the US interference in Iran in 1953 keeps coming up as an active issue. Why is the Crimean expulsion ten years earlier a dead letter?

Again, I think you're focusing on stuff in the narrow. In abstract, I certainly can agree with Crimean succession. But I think even the most justified succession in abstract is deeply concerning when it involves a large imperialistic nation taking away part of a smaller neighbor. (Need we mention that Russia is a nuclear power, and Ukraine is not, but was until they were convinced by Russia and the US to disarm?) And successions are and should be tediously slow things, involving lots of questions about borders and canals and shared infrastructure.

And then it's not just Crimea. Had Russia just taken Crimea, this might have been a different discussion. Russia would still be partially responsible for the violence in Ukraine, but instead Russia decided to encourage internal violence in Ukraine, making sure whatever was left would fail to produce a stable cohesive state.

124davidgn
Edited: Aug 25, 2017, 7:42pm Top

That's your cite, not mine. Yes, but the question wasn't entirely settled there and then by Yeltsin the Tired and Emotional. I did a lot more reading that touched on the early '90s dealmaking that gave me a different impression. Really I just swallowed a lot of journal articles whole while in a bit of a haze and without taking notes, but if you're genuinely interested I'll see if I can dredge up the citations.

125prosfilaes
Aug 25, 2017, 8:03pm Top

>127 As regards to Afghanistan, it became clearly part of the US sphere of influence when a paramilitary force based there killed almost 3000 civilians on American soil.

More generally ... as a political science question, it's silly. You know the history of the 20th century as well as I do. You can step from the Monroe Doctrine to the Spanish-American War to WWI and WWII through the Cold War and to US victory in that Cold War.

On the other hand, I don't believe in spheres of influence in that sense. Sovereign nations should be sovereign nations, willing associating or not freely via treaties fairly enacted. Richer and more powerful nations are going to have more influence, but they should have no right to force nations to do their bidding, no matter the geography. There's a lot of complex questions about autocrats and human rights violations and so on, but I don't believe that the US has any more inherent right to boss around Mexico than Ukraine, or the reverse for Russia. (And no, I'm not claiming that the US has been a wonderful follower of those rules.)

126davidgn
Aug 25, 2017, 8:27pm Top

>130 Yes, I know the history of the 20th century as well as you do, but how's your read on the trends of the 21st century?
http://grahamefuller.com/global-disorder-what-are-the-options/
http://www.atimes.com/article/shadow-play-new-great-game-eurasia/

127davidgn
Aug 25, 2017, 9:29pm Top

>129 Not one of the pieces I originally had in mind, but this piece from 1994 fills in a lot of gaps.
http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/31/world/separatist-winning-crimea-presidency.htm...

128davidgn
Edited: Aug 28, 2017, 8:49pm Top

>128 davidgn: As far as Russia "encouraging internal violence inside Ukraine": you can argue that the Russian propaganda channels stirred people up, and certainly once the fighting got underway there was covert supply of weapons and personnel reinforcements, but in terms of initially sparking rebellion in the east, it's reasonable to ask which was more decisive: fearmongering Russian propaganda, or the very real events on May 2, 2014 in Odessa, when bands of ultranationalists were shipped into town and (ETA: presumably in concert with some like-minded locals) slaughtered dozens of local protestors against the coup.

On that question, I recommend the German documentary Lauffeuer ("Wildfire")
https://www.newcoldwar.org/documentary-film-from-germany-on-the-odessa-massacre-of-may-2-2014/
(ETA: FFS, watch this one at least. Just 45 minutes long, and it spares you most of the gore).

It's also covered well in Roses Have Thorns Part 6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxcB0PI4ZLg
And if you must (and I suppose I'm evidence that some of us must), there's a full three-hour video compilation out there as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MouqSjt36M (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MouqSjt36M https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztx92ths0r0 (2)
Finally, if you have the stomach for photos, see here: https://www.exposingtruth.com/media-wont-tell-odessa-massacre/
(ETA: which seems to be excerpted from http://ersieesist.livejournal.com/813.html -- including more context.)
The accompanying text probably inflates the death toll, which by best estimates seems to have been somewhere in the double digits, but the overall thrust of it is difficult to dispute.
ETA: I also note that a particularly chilling clip is no longer available, which shows the Molotov cocktails for the ultranationalists in Odessa being assembled by teenage girls. Fortunately that missing footage is incorporated into the 3-hour documentary referenced above:
https://youtu.be/_MouqSjt36M?t=9m5s

And while may be overkill, I'll share this as well just for the sake of one quote which gets to the heart of the matter:

"For the first time in history, an organized massacre of civilians has been filmed by many people from many different angles and perspectives while it was happening, and is documented in extraordinary detail in “real time,” the perpetrators having no fear of any negative consequences from their endeavor, and even cheering and celebrating the tortures and deaths as they were being imposed upon the helpless victims."
https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/09/videos-and-photos-of-the-odessan-massacre/

As little as this footage may have circulated in the West, it circulated in Ukraine like... well, wildfire. No doubt the Russian propaganda targeting the Donbass milked it for all it was worth, but their job had already been done for them.

Key to note as well: Kiev blamed the fire on the anti-coup Odessans. The Western media was broadly noncommittal. But to anyone who takes time to examine the available documentary material, it's very clear what happened -- at least in the broad strokes.

129prosfilaes
Aug 26, 2017, 4:05pm Top

>133 As far as Russia "encouraging internal violence inside Ukraine": you can argue that the Russian propaganda channels stirred people up,

Or I can point to the Russian troops and weaponry inside Ukraine minus Crimea during the fighting. No matter who sparked it, Russia encouraged it.

the very real events on May 2, 2014 in Odessa, when bands of ultranationalists were shipped into town and slaughtered dozens of local protestors against the coup.

I feel like there's a huge gap between us, and I suppose I'm reaching you as little as you're reaching me. But it's like when I complained about your estimates of deaths in the Iraq War; instead of taking the million deaths you had an estimate for, you went on for millions. There's a lot of interpretation here, but looking at other versions of events, I feel like you're photoshopping black hats and white hats into the picture. Two groups of protesters clashed, one of whom seems to have largely traveled into town (not been "shipped") and they clashed violently killing people on both sides. Then the Odessian side got barricaded in a building that got set on fire.

https://www.exposingtruth.com/media-wont-tell-odessa-massacre/

Reminds me of 9/11 truthers. Media won't tell, but if you look at these fuzzy pictures they mean exactly what we say they mean. In particular, picture two apparently shows Molotov cocktails on the top of the building, which adds support to the idea that the local protesters accidentally set their own building on fire.

Oh, and Wikipedia has this interesting line: "On 30 March, Russian ultranationalist Anton Rayevsky was arrested and deported from the city for organizing pro-Russian subversive groups, allegedly for the Russian government. A member of the neo-Nazi Black Hundreds group, materials confiscated from Rayevsky called for the destruction of Ukrainians and Jews in the region, and for Russian military intervention. In an interview following his participation in the Donbas War, he reiterated his belief that Jews were the main enemy of Russia." So how many good reasons do the Ukrainians have for fighting against his side?

130RickHarsch
Aug 26, 2017, 4:27pm Top

>130 RickHarsch: 'As regards to Afghanistan, it became clearly part of the US sphere of influence when a paramilitary force based there killed almost 3000 civilians on American soil.'

So one of the poorest countries in the world, under the bizarre and complex influence of the worst that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has to offer as well as their own impressive determination to become free again offered to turn bin Laden over to a neutral country. How does that justify the US invasion? How does it justify sixteen years of US fighting? If you really know your history of the 20th century, you likely find US intervention in the two world wars just, but don't think much of the US betrayal of Poland. And you probably have no idea why the Korean War cost the US its moral authority throughout the world. From 1950 the world was submissive to US power, but unmoved by its murmurings about 'justice'.

131davidgn
Edited: Aug 26, 2017, 6:21pm Top

In particular, picture two apparently shows Molotov cocktails on the top of the building, which adds support to the idea that the local protesters accidentally set their own building on fire.

Cheap shot, and you're misinterpreting the picture. If you don't like the site that republished it, I gave you the original source as well, which I had trouble finding again at first: http://ersieesist.livejournal.com/813.html

Granted, there's not a lot of context, so it's easy to dismiss the stills. I spent days looking into the available footage a few years back, so I have that context (even if my recollections now are missing the fine details). You need to be aware that the ultranationalists stormed the building, which only partly burned. Some of the dead inside were clearly killed by small arms fire, as shown in the pictures taken from the Pravy Sektor's own post-massacre filming. Some were either dragged post-mortem from a location that burned to one that did not, or were individually torched in situ, (sometimes) on non-flammable floor surfaces, in areas that did not otherwise burn.

Now, in light of the above context: the picture in question shows a guy wearing the red armband the ultranationalists used to identify one another throughout the course of the day. You can argue that this was a pseudo operation on that individual's part, but it seems most likely that he was with the ultranationalist side. Leave the stills aside; watch the footage. I've provided a good selection, but there's a lot more out there if you want to go searching (as I once did) -- and naturally there's disinformation as well. (ETA: Here are some more docs of varying quality and bias, most addressing Odessa, as included in a German film festival. http://prizm-film.info/. I think I watched all or most of them -- the ones I could find with subtitles -- but they tend to blend together at this point.) Or if you refuse to invest that amount of time and emotional energy, at least watch the German doc Lauffeuer, which takes a very measured stance.

Anton Rayevsky
Wow, you've found an example of a neo-Nazi on the pro-Russian side. Yes, they exist. Congratulations.

Maybe at the end we'll both believe what we want to believe, but at least I'll have my reasons.

132davidgn
Edited: Aug 27, 2017, 3:02am Top

I'm extremely pissed off about it, but I watched Roses Have Thorns Part 6 over again for the sake of this thread. I had forgotten just how well put together it was, and how thoroughly damning. It really is best watched after Lauffeuer, since RHT has essentially no commentary apart from subtitled translations of speech and written text, and it helps to know beforehand what and whom you should be looking for. If Lauffeuer *tells* you what happened, the RHT #6 *shows* you what happened (after a few minutes of establishing footage from previous days). I can't make anyone watch it, but don't you dare purport to have an informed opinion about what happened on 05-02-14 if you don't watch at least those two pieces.

Fuck your Wikipedia. Damn it straight to hell!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxcB0PI4ZLg

133prosfilaes
Aug 27, 2017, 4:53am Top

>136 Maybe at the end we'll both believe what we want to believe, but at least I'll have my reasons.

I will have my reasons, too. And given the fact that you have steadily inflated the death toll of the West's actions (e.g. a number of deaths in the Iraq War that even your choice of cites didn't back up), and continue to whitewash the actions of an imperialist nation that invaded a smaller neighbor to take land (land that both nations had agreed was the property of the smaller neighbor), I have my reasons for not taking your word for anything on this matter.

>137 I'm extremely pissed off about it, ... don't you dare purport to have an informed opinion about what happened on 05-02-14 if you don't watch at least those two pieces.

I'm sorry; I was getting my timelines screwed up. >133 prosfilaes: "in terms of initially sparking rebellion in the east, it's reasonable to ask which was more decisive: fearmongering Russian propaganda, or the very real events on May 2, 2014 in Odessa, when bands of ultranationalists were shipped into town and (ETA: presumably in concert with some like-minded locals) slaughtered dozens of local protestors against the coup." The Battle of Kramatorsk started on 04-12-14. Which is why don't trust you; you may know more about the facts on the ground, but you still somehow manage to blame events that were well underway in April on something that happened on May 2.

And I invite you to read this list of some of those who died when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down. Do any of those deaths matter? Any of the 80 children who died, any of the parents who died leaving orphaned children? Your outrage seems conveniently targeted based on your politics.

134StormRaven
Edited: Aug 27, 2017, 11:58am Top

I have my reasons for not taking your word for anything on this matter.

There is no reason to take davidgn's word for anything on any matter.

135davidgn
Edited: Aug 27, 2017, 2:35pm Top

>138 Not so fast. Yes, I was aware of clashes beforehand, though my memory has dulled on the specifics since 2015 when I last looked into all this. "Initially sparking" was a poor choice of words, but by and large events in April were more of a character of a tense stand-off punctuated by minor skirmishes. The "anti-terror operation" as initially launched by Kiev memorably resulted in entire units of armor surrendering to unarmed civilians, and in early May you still had the press talking in terms of "fears" of a civil war

(e.g. https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-05-02/pro-ukraine-militias-are-forming-counter-pro-russia-separatists
In the eastern Ukraine city of Slovyansk, government forces are attempting to dislodge armed separatists who have occupied buildings and checkpoints there. Some citizens are reportedly standing in front of tanks and waving Russian flags.

With loyalties divided within the population, some fear the conflict could spiral into a full-blown civil war. And now, pro-Ukraine militias are forming to counter the separatists in another ominous sign of escalation.


https://csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2014/0501/Kiev-s-new-gambit-in-eastern-Ukraine-a-militia-of-its-own
In eastern Ukraine, neighbors, relatives, and even former friends are dividing along separatist and loyalist lines, fearing the two-month standoff over Ukraine may soon become more than a war of words – especially since recent attempts by Ukraine's Army to pacify the area have failed disastrously.


I don't doubt that Russian advisors and support played a role in catalyzing the initial armed organization of the militias. Still, the impression I got at the time (and which I've been trying to convey, perhaps in terms less than apt) is that the massacre in Odessa was a watershed event in committing the population of the Donbass to all-out civil war.

As for Flight 17: that came much later in the war. Silly me: I thought were discussing how the war started.

>139 You're not helping.

136RickHarsch
Aug 27, 2017, 2:45pm Top

>140: He ain't hurting anything either. He doesn't carry the weight. When he argues in a straightforward fashion he is often clear, to the point, and quite right. But he very sloppy when he's wrong. I'm afraid you touched a nerve with him at some point.

137davidgn
Edited: Aug 27, 2017, 4:56pm Top

If anyone wants to talk about the early stages of the "Battle of Kramatorsk," it would be worthwhile for all parties involved to watch (or re-watch), RHT parts 4 and 5, which cover 4/14-21 and 4/21-5/2 of 2014, respectively.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3c7CXzeYdA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2KA74aFJ0M

Here's Kramatorsk on April 16th, the day after Ukrainian regulars retook the airfield. https://youtu.be/t3c7CXzeYdA?t=16m45s
Give it 15 minutes, or at least ten. And if you want to get deeper into April, simply watch more (or find me your own video).

You'll quickly see why, going forward, militias with various degrees of official recognition -- particularly those composed of neo-Nazis and other extremists who unsurprisingly proved, if not the best, then at least the most enthusiastic fighters -- became the tip of the spear.

138prosfilaes
Aug 28, 2017, 1:38am Top

Armed separatists occupying buildings and waving Russian flags is civil war. Civil wars are brutal and ugly, and you are focusing on one event in the war instead of who was funding the rebellion. When war hits home, you draft everyone, and when things get desperate you point everyone with their own gun at the enemy. But somehow a small country fighting for survival against Russian-backed militants becomes the Evil.

139RickHarsch
Edited: Aug 28, 2017, 2:15pm Top

>144 you are so severely, sorry to use this, but OUTGUNNED in this argument that when you type something that is more or less right you are still wrong because the context has left you behind like you are just another Lvov.

140davidgn
Edited: Aug 28, 2017, 8:45pm Top

>143 I'm sorry, I thought that you were the one who wanted to shift the focus to the Battle of Kramatorsk in an attempt to demonstrate how I'm a lying sack of shit (or, if you prefer, an unreliable ideologue). You've accused me of whitewashing Russian imperial aggression, but I don't think I've failed to admit any relevant facts or to correct myself where I've been sloppy or unclear. If you don't trust me, that's not the end of the world, so long as you're willing to investigate material for yourself -- even when it does not conform to your existing biases.

Now, I've tried very hard to restrain myself here, but I'd like to quote for you from this Forbes piece I just stumbled upon:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/05/19/why-everything-youve-read-about-ukraine-is-wrong/#23267ab6510e

2. The Western press was wrong about the massacre of Ukrainian citizens in Odessa on May 2, 2014, when as many as 100 (the officially accepted number appears to be 42) unarmed people were burned alive in an Odessa building. When telling the story, the Western press reported on the clashes between pro-Ukrainian soccer hooligans and pro-Russian protesters without any explanation as to why the results of these clashes were so one-sided.

What happened in Odessa was something ominously familiar to Eastern Europe: an organized pogrom. At least the BBC got part of the story right: “several thousand football fans began to attack 300 pro-Russians.” And as in every pogrom, the victimizers blamed their defenseless victims for initiating it. In fact, pro-Kiev thugs armed with iron rods and Molotov cocktails attacked the camp of protesters, set it on fire, and forced the protesters to retreat into a building, which was set on fire. It was a blatant act of violence and intimidation. The current leaders of Ukraine promised an investigation, but so far their only response has been to blame the passivity of security forces. The truth is that the victims simply refused to share Kiev’s radical nationalist agenda. Should we call civilians “separatists” or “terrorists” only because their rejection of radical nationalism has resulted in Occupy-type protests? Why not call them moderate Ukrainians? Incompetent at best and vicious at worst, the Ukrainian government is failing its own population by condoning the intimidation and thus radicalizing it further. This is major news, a possible watershed in the unfolding drama of Ukrainian civil war, yet Western coverage has quickly forgotten the story.


I would say that this description is in some ways overly simplistic, and fails to account for the impact of a certain degree of Russian propagandistic agitation, not to mention a minority armed backbone underlying these mass popular protests. It lacks nuance both politically and in its description of events (for example, as I mentioned -- and as the stills, which you can for the most part cross-reference with video, clearly show -- a significant number of the victims appear to have been beaten, raped, and/or shot before being burned, their corpses finally coming to rest -- in classic pugilistic stance or otherwise -- in contexts where their surroundings were not burned.)

At the same time, however, this column is not incorrect in its central claim, as anyone who can be bothered to review the documentary evidence I've spent so much time identifying and sharing can easily verify. And the upshot to that is precisely this: you are whitewashing a pogrom.

You shouldn't whitewash pogroms. Not even when it's popular to do so. They say it's bad karma.

141RickHarsch
Aug 28, 2017, 8:47pm Top

>145 You might say the step from whitewashing pogroms to engaging in them is a matter of opportunity and circumstance.

I have learned here in tiny Slovenia that the truth is extraordinary elusive to the outsider. I knew Balkan history quite well until I arrived here, and since them I am learning and unlearning ALL THE TIME--even simple, small Slovenia's stories. The complexities are astonishing. As for Ukraine, it appears that there is the beggar-me-understanding simplicity of Stalin's torment of Ukraine (which even had its complexities to consider) as launchpad for a current view of Ukraine as a victim of Russia, while at the same time there is the 20th century post 1939, when time after time Ukrainians went apeshit murderous--they were reportedly the most numerous and savage of the Nazi killers over here in Trieste in Italy's only concentration/gas camp. The Ukrainians did not always like the restraint involved in waiting for gas to end the lives of captives. A very good friend from Odessa, grown up in Slovenia and now living in Vienna would send Prosfilaes's head spinning in ten minutes of conversation. One of the finest painters in Izola is a Ukrainian exile. Czernowitz is now a Ukrainian town, while the other main free town, Berdychev I think, home to Der Nister, a rather mysterious and fascinating, if at times sluggish novel, is utterly effaced from the landscape. And of course the extraordinary prison slang of Odessa, so Yiddishly inspired, suggests yet more complication.

So no, the story of Ukraine in the western part especially, is the story of Ukrainians, not Russians. There is no struggle of nationalist Ukrainians against Russian aggression. Nothing so simple as that is going on. If it were so simple, perhaphs Ukraine could truly be a flashpoint for the next great bizarre war that no one understands. NATO has tried, after all.

142margd
Nov 14, 2017, 9:14am Top

Don’t Count on the Cabinet to Stop a Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike
EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE | November 14, 2017

James Mattis and Rex Tillerson can’t stop a nuclear war if President Trump wants one, says former Defense Secretary Bill Perry.

...While bills by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to restrict first use of nuclear weapons have stalled in Congress, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is set to put some muscle behind his very public anxiety about Trump’s leadership. On Tuesday, Corker will hold a committee hearing on nuclear authorization—the first on the topic since Gerald Ford was president—prompted by concerns he’s heard from members both on and off the committee over letting one person, and this person in particular, have the unfettered ability to launch a nuclear war.

...“The order can go directly from the president to the Strategic Air Command. The defense secretary is not necessarily in that loop. So, in a five- or six- or seven-minute kind of decision, the secretary of defense probably never hears about it until it’s too late. If there is time, and if he does consult the secretary, it’s advisory, just that,” Perry explained. “Whether the president goes with it or doesn’t go with it—the secretary doesn’t have the authority to stop it.”...

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/14/jim-mattis-rex-tillerson-cabinet-stop-trump-nuclear-weapon-war-215824

143lriley
Nov 14, 2017, 12:58pm Top

I don't think Donald has any concept of what a nuclear war entails beyond a need to incorporate a McDonald's into the bunker (with a couple years supply of hamburger, buns and gallons and gallons of catsup) he's going to sit in 200' or whatever below the earth. He's not the right guy to make a decision like that---though I'm not sure there's a right guy (or gal) anywhere that should be making that kind of decision on their very own regardless--but Trump definitely not.

144theoria
Nov 14, 2017, 11:52pm Top

Deferment Don's nuclear toys can be taken away.

"US military commanders would refuse to carry out a presidential order to carry out a nuclear first strike that they thought was illegal, senators were told on Tuesday.

The assurances came at the first congressional hearings since 1976 on presidential authority to order the use of the US nuclear arsenal, against a background of mounting concern over North Korea’s nuclear programme – and Donald Trump’s emotional stability....

Retired Gen Robert Kehler, commander of US Strategic Command (StratCom) from 2011 to 2013, told the Senate committee that he would have refused to have carried out a nuclear first strike on presidential orders, if he believed it did not meet the requirements of proportionality and necessity under the law of armed conflict.

“I would have said: I’m not ready to proceed,” Kehler said.

“Then what happens?” he was asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Fortunately, these are all hypothetical scenarios. There is the human factor in our system. There is a human element to this.

“It would be a very interesting constitutional situation, I believe. The military is obligated to follow legal orders but is not obligated to follow illegal orders,” Kehler said, adding that he always made sure he had legal advisers at hand when he was at Strategic Command.

“If there is an illegal order presented to the military, the military is obligated to refuse to follow it. The question is the process leading to that determination and how you arrive at that. I would concede to you that would be a very difficult process and a very difficult conversation.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/14/us-military-nuclear-weapons-strike-senate-trump

145margd
Edited: Nov 30, 2017, 7:34am Top

Geez, Hawaii schedules monthly air raid drills, Canada and US hold joint exercises simulating nuclear attack, Canada resurrects emergency govt bunkers. These read like headlines from my youth: my dad was CO at two of those bunkers back in scary Cold War days following Cuban Missile Crisis...

Hawaii brings back Cold War era sirens to warn of nuclear attack
Josh Delk | 11/28/17
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/362109-hawaii-to-resume-nuclear-warn...

Canada, U.S. held joint exercises simulating nuclear attack on both sides of border
Murray Brewster | Nov 30, 2017
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/joint-military-exercises-nuclear-threat-1.442455...

Canada sets aside two bunkers at military bases amid global uncertainty, North Korean threat
Murray Brewster | Nov 29, 2017
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/north-korea-canada-cold-war-plan-1.4424523

1462wonderY
Nov 30, 2017, 12:14pm Top

Trump's re-tweets of Britain First videos have prompted a formal diplomatic protest from Great Britain's ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/30/rudd-donald-trump-bigger-picture-uk-us-britain-first

147margd
Nov 30, 2017, 2:44pm Top

Wow--not even one year into his presidency, Trump offends the Brits...

One wag noted that his latest eruptions followed his first weekend back at Mar-a-Lago and predicted more to come...

148margd
Edited: Dec 6, 2017, 8:10am Top

How many people will die because, against all advice, Trump rolls the dice? Like any other real estate deal...

From Far East to Vatican, leaders sound alarm over US Jerusalem recognition
TOI staff and Agencies | 12/6/2017

(Iran) expected announcement indicates 'despair,' vows 'Palestine will be free'

...(Vatican, Francis) “cannot silence my deep concern” over the issue. “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred for Jews, Christians and Muslims,” and holds a “special vocation for peace.”...“I pray to God that this identity is preserved and reinforced, for the sake of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail.” Maintaining the status quo was important “in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to an already volatile world that is wracked by so many cruel conflicts,” he said.

...(Turkey) It will “throw the region and the world into a fire and it’s not known when it will end”...The move would be a “great disaster” leading to “turmoil, chaos and clashes”.

...(China) “We are concerned about the possible escalation of tensions. All relevant parties should bear regional peace and tranquility in mind, be cautious in words and deeds, avoid impacting the foundation for the settlement of the issue of Palestine, and avoid causing new confrontation in the region.”

...(Britain) “We view the reports that we have heard with concern, because we think that Jerusalem obviously should be part of the final settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a negotiated settlement.”

...(EU) warned against “any action” that would undermine any possible peace process.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/from-far-east-to-vatican-leaders-sound-alarm-over-us-jerusalem-recognition/

149margd
Dec 7, 2017, 6:23am Top

WTH??

Schumer says he advised Trump to declare Jerusalem Israel's 'undivided' capital
Josh Delk | 12/05/17

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/363465-schumer-advised-trump-on-decl...
__________________________________

"OUR land??? I though Schumer was AMERICAN!

Wikipedia (Chuck Schumer):
Schumer, speaking at an Orthodox Union event in Washington D.C, in June 2010, made comments regarding Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip that were later criticized. He called on Israel to "strangle them economically until they see that's not the way to go". He explained that the current Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is justified not only because it keeps weapons out of the Palestinian territory, but also because it shows the Palestinians living there that "when there's some moderation and cooperation, they can have an economic advancement." He also said, "The Palestinian people still don't believe in a Jewish state, in a two state solution... They don't believe in the Torah. They don't believe in King David. So, they don't think it's our land..."

150lriley
Edited: Dec 7, 2017, 2:34pm Top

#154--The Gaza Strip is a human rights disaster. It's pretty much a large open air prison. 2 million people stuffed into a small strip of land who are blocked by land, air and sea from going anywhere. This includes children and the elderly. 90% of the so-called drinking water is not fit for human consumption. It's a testing ground for de-evolution and Israel's military presides over it all. By the way I never liked Schumer.

President Trump wants to prove that he can do stuff. It doesn't matter how idiotic the stuff is he does--he can always spin a web of bullshit and lies around it. The concerns from other nations in the region--other Muslim nations like Turkey--European nations notwithstanding he's going ahead like the proverbial bull in the china shop and if the region blows up he will do his best to try to convince otherwise so as to duck out of any responsibility. He's a fucking oaf.

151davidgn
Edited: Dec 7, 2017, 9:01pm Top

Waiting for Alastair Crooke's inevitable big-picture analysis on this, which is certain to be enlightening. Meanwhile...

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/12/07/trumps-scheme-to-carve-up-palestine/
President Trump’s big idea for Israeli-Palestinian peace was the “outside-in” plan in which Israel’s new Saudi allies would squeeze the Palestinians until they accepted a bogus “state,” as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

And here's (ex-DIA HUMINT chief) Col. Lang's take:
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/12/my-entry.html

IMO there will be no peace for Israel ...
Trump thinks he is a friend of Israel? He has just screwed Israel out of any chance for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Urged on by the arch Zionists like Kushner he came to believe that the status of Jerusalem was the Gordian Knot blocking movement toward a peace settlement. In the best "Art of the Deal" fashion he has now acted to remove this issue frozen in amber from the negotiating table in the belief that this will restore fluidity to the situation. IMO he is wrong. This is not a business deal.

The difficulty is that Al-Quds (The Holy) i.e., Jerusalem means far, far more to the Muslims than he understands, or that anyone of significance in the US government evidently understands. Jerusalem is for the Muslims God's Holy City, as holy in its utter possession by God as Mecca and Medina. Have we missed the fact that the overseas intervention force of the IRGC is called the "Quds" force? The Palestinian brigade fighting alongside the SAA is the "Quds Brigade." Years ago I was in Riyadh with a delegation of rich American Jews, all of them "soft" Zionists. At the US Embassy they asked if Saudis cared about Jerusalem and were confidently told that the Saudi interest was minimal. We went to the foreign ministry where I told the minister, Saud al-Feisal, what had been said at the embassy. He grew visibly agitated and told us that that was certainly not the case and that his family and government would NEVER abandon the holy city. On the same trip we were hosted for dinner and a chat by the "Young President's Club" (whatever it was called). These were relatively young men who had made a lot of money even by Saudi standards At the panel discussion after the meal I raised the same point. Several cried out "what did you say?" So, I repeated it in Arabic. There was a moment of silence and then a mighty tirade from around the room as these billionaires made it clear that they would never accept that their government should give up the right of the 'Umma" to Jerusalem.

The Catholic Church believes in patience as a virtue. It continues to discreetly maintain that the UN Partition of Palestine in 1947 is the only legal status established for Jerusalem. That partition made Jerusalem an international city under UN control. The Church will maintain that position while waiting to see if Israel lasts as a country for more than a couple of hundred years.

So now we will see - Will there be violence? Will the Arab states adjust their relations with regard to Israel? Will Turkey call for action against Israel at the OIC meeting that Erdogan has called for at mid-month? Will the Muslims ever trust the US again to act as an honest broker? Dennis Ross badly damaged our credibility. Is it completely gone - perhaps forever? Will the Muslims accept Zionist possession of the Holy City? We will see. pl


Sounds like this may be MbS's undoing, assuming he's fully on board with this --ETA: which to all appearances he is, pro-forma statements to the contrary. (Not that he hasn't already potentially undone himself several times over. Coming months and years will tell.)

152lriley
Dec 7, 2017, 6:25pm Top

#156--I read down through the commentary and I have to agree with the poster who says the United States should get out of the Middle East altogether---'that we are too arrogant and uninformed'--seems to me to be an excellent analysis. Our role it seems is always to make things worse than they already are.

153davidgn
Edited: Dec 7, 2017, 8:26pm Top

As usual, E. J. Magnier (Chief International Correspondent for Kuwait's Al-Rai) provides a useful bellwether of Arab sentiment via his Twitter feed.
https://twitter.com/ejmalrai?lang=en

======================
ETA:
>154 "OUR land??? I though Schumer was AMERICAN!"
No comment.

154lriley
Dec 7, 2017, 8:58pm Top

Should be more like the Israeli's don't believe in a two state solution. Why Schumer would think that the Palestinians (whether Muslim/Christian or whatever) would think that the Torah would/should mean more than the Bible or Koran to them is part of the problem. This idea of 'our land' in the West Bank has become an excuse for settlers to appropriate and steal with impunity and with the support and protection of the Israeli state and military. They don't respect the Palestinians (especially Palestinian Muslims) as people and the end game is clear--to eventually drive them out. Israel is an apartheid styled right wing regime.

155margd
Dec 8, 2017, 7:35am Top

Good Lord! Not only is private sector proposing shadow CIA operation, but Blackwater's Erik Prince is proposing private Afghanistan force funded by that country's rare metals.

Remember how Iraq oil was going to pay for war and reconstruction in THAT country? (http://watchingthewatchers.org/news/624/iraq-war-cost-little-and-iraq-oil):

Private War: Erik Prince Has His Eye On Afghanistan's Rare Metals
Aram Roston | December 7, 2017

BuzzFeed News is publishing the slide presentation by the founder of Blackwater to privatize the Afghan war and mine Afghanistan's valuable minerals. He pitched the proposal to the Trump administration. Prince told BuzzFeed News, "You're a fucking hack."

https://www.buzzfeed.com/aramroston/private-war-erik-prince-has-his-eye-on-afghanistans-rare?

156davidgn
Edited: Dec 8, 2017, 8:01pm Top

>160 I think people posted about this last summer.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/afghanistan-camp-david/537324/
Not exactly news... except for the leaked documents.

Remember how Iraq oil was going to pay for war and reconstruction in THAT country?
I remember lots of things, actually. Recently I remembered this:

https://www.villagevoice.com/1998/03/17/hitspoofing/ ; http://www.suck.com/daily/98/03/10/daily.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrTROy7wrDQ (misattributed and mis-subtitled, with questionable visual additions, but otherwise the genuine article from the 1998 AOL hit parade).

I got a kick out of it at the time. (In my defense, I was 12 -- or not quite 12.)

157davidgn
Dec 9, 2017, 7:52am Top

>154 lriley: and >158: All right, maybe this could be considered responsive to Marg's observation.

From KPFA/Pacifica :
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/12/08/missing-the-significance-of-israel-gate/
Amid the U.S. mainstream media’s hyping of Russia-gate, there has been much less attention given to what some call “Israel-gate,” evidence that Israel was wielding much more behind-the-scenes influence, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

See also this, from Tufts' History department (unofficially, of course):
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/08/jared-jerusalem-and-possible-jail-time/
Under initial FBI questioning, Flynn lied about these two instances of Trump camp contacts with Russia. He has pled guilty to these charges in a plea bargain and will now no doubt spill the beans on poor Jared. (I doubt he feels much loyalty to the kid.) This will no doubt lead to questioning at the very top.

It was one thing for Flynn (and Trump) to defy the policy of the existing administration to expel the Russian diplomats, whether or not that move was justified (and I personally think it was not). It was another thing to try to protect Israel from a resolution the U.S. implicitly supported by contacting Moscow and asking it to provide the veto always hitherto provided by Washington.

Kushner will be asked: Haven’t you maybe violated the Logan Act, that criminalizes negotiations by unauthorized persons with foreign governments having disputes with the United States? Anyway, why did you lie about your efforts to cooperate with a foreign power to protect another power, in opposition to U.S. policy?

Flynn the stool pigeon may be providing incriminating information on Kushner, just as he begins his hoped-for career as the whiz kid who saved the Middle East by such measures as decertifying the Iran accord and recognizing undivided Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

Trump has announced the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in six months. Will Jared be there for the ceremony, or under house arrest like Paul Manafort?

158davidgn
Edited: Dec 15, 2017, 9:56am Top

>162 And here's an evergreen piece of analysis from (the one and only) Graham E. Fuller. I didn't share it at the time it came out, but it's relevant.
Original title: Washington Does Have a Clear ME Policy—It’s Just the Wrong One

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/01/trump-follows-well-worn-mideast-trail/
Despite the chaotic appearance of President Trump’s Mideast policies, they actually represent a troubling consistency in U.S. subservience to Israel and Saudi Arabia, as ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller explains.

NB: I'd echo one reader comment:
“–Destroy armed radical jihadi groups anywhere — unilaterally or via proxy.”

should be revised to:

“–Create armed radical jihadi groups anywhere — unilaterally or via proxy.”

But, otherwise a fine article.

Really, it's both... often simultaneously.

159margd
Jan 13, 7:36am Top

Trump Will Start the End of the World, Claim Evangelicals Who Support Him
Cristina Maza | 1/12/18 at 4:02 PM

Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly support President Donald Trump because they believe he'll cause the world to end.

...many evangelical Christians believe that Trump was chosen by God to usher in a new era, a part of history called the “end times.” Beliefs about this time period differ, but it is broadly considered the end of the world, the time when Jesus returns to Earth and judges all people.

Jerusalem has a central role as the city of prophecy and the place where the end of times plays out. According to the prophecy, a 1,000-year period of peace must be followed by seven years of tribulation, during which wars, disease, and natural disasters will lay waste to the earth. In the book of Revelation, Israel is described as a nation that exists during the time of tribulation, and Jerusalem's Jewish temple is resurrected during this period. The last temple was destroyed around 70 A.D, and today there is a mosque on the Temple Mount where the previous two temples are believed to have stood. Evangelicals believe that a unified Israel with control over Jerusalem will facilitate the construction of a new Jewish temple, and set the groundwork for the end of times.

That’s where Trump comes in.

“What kick-starts the end times into motion is Israel’s political boundaries being reestablished to what God promised the Israelites according to the Bible,” Nate Pyle, a pastor and author of a book about Jesus, told Newsweek...

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-will-bring-about-end-worldevangelicals-end-times-7...

160margd
Feb 3, 8:04am Top

MAD...mad...Congress needs to assert its role in declaring war (first use), before our impulsive leader has access to these things, assuming it is even advisable to acquire tactical nukes.

Pentagon unveils nuclear weapons strategy, ending Obama-era push to reduce arsenal
Paul Sonne | Feb 2, 2108

...President Donald Trump’s promise before taking office to expand and strengthen U.S. nuclear capabilities. Trump also vowed during his State of the Union address Tuesday to build a nuclear arsenal “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.”

...Russia re-emerging as a geopolitical foe and both Moscow and Beijing investing in their nuclear arsenals. North Korea, meanwhile, has edged closer to possessing a missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland with a nuclear warhead...

Trump’s perceived volatility has raised more concerns among Americans about the president’s exclusive authority to order a nuclear attack.

...The policy unveiled Friday envisions the introduction of so-called “low-yield nukes” on submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Russia possesses a large arsenal of small nuclear weapons that the United States mostly lacks. The Pentagon worries that Moscow could seize part or all of a U.S. ally state and then detonate a small nuclear weapon to prevent American troops from coming to the rescue. Washington would be forced to choose between launching a much larger scale nuclear attack on Russia or responding with less serious conventional arms that would make Washington look weak. The Pentagon says it wants a proportionate weapon to match.

The new Pentagon policy also outlines longer-term plans to reintroduce a nuclear submarine-launched cruise missile called an SLCM (“slick-em”), which the administration of President George H.W. Bush stopped deploying and the Obama administration ordered removed from the stockpile. Officials say the SLCM would provide reassurance to Japan and South Korea in the face of threats from North Korea and put pressure on Russia to stop violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

...disarmament advocates...unnecessary new nuclear weapons that could start an arms race.

...lowering the threshold for what might provoke a U.S. nuclear strike by mentioning cyber attacks in the list of non-nuclear strategic threats...

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/02/02/pentagon-nuclear-arms-policy/

161margd
Edited: Apr 28, 5:54am Top

The draft-dodger, who can now send our soldiers into harm's way, who himself cannot walk his own golf courses, says he can not bear to watch too much Paralympics. Pence--give him credit--looks away, but doesn't visibly wince:

During an event with Team USA Olympians and Paralympians at the White House, President Trump said, "What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me. And I watched — it's a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could." pic.twitter.com/geYUUu9vmg
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) April 27, 2018

...Several high-profile members of Team USA skipped the event citing political differences with the president. Among them was U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon, who tweeted, “I will not stand with people who discriminate against those that they perceive as different.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-paralympics-was-tough-to-watch

162barney67
May 1, 9:04am Top

Looks like someone like has to eat crow due to their knee jerk reactions. Remember the threads about how close we are to nuclear war? Hmm?

163margd
May 11, 10:40am Top

It’s nearly unanimous: foreign policy experts think Trump made the wrong choice on Iran
Zack Beauchamp | May 9, 2018

94 percent of scholars disapprove of Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal....

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/5/9/17335456/iran-nuclear-deal-trump-scholars

164margd
Jun 18, 4:27pm Top

"Space is a war-fighting domain"

Trump orders creation of a standalone Space Force
JACQUELINE KLIMAS | 06/18/2018
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/18/trump-space-traffic-debris-630189

This topic was continued by Trump the Nobel contender: North Korea.

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