Monday, June 6, 2016

This is Getting Serious

Putin has delivered his strongest public remarks to date regarding the missiles placed by NATO on the borders of Russia – active in Romania and soon to be active in Poland:

"If yesterday in those areas of Romania people simply did not know what it means to be in the cross-hairs, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security," Putin said in a joint news conference in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

"It will be the same case with Poland," he said.

The US claims that the missiles are to protect against Iran.  Putin suggests this is unnecessary as there is now an agreement in place with Iran regarding nuclear weapons.  It seems to me the point is irrelevant – given the location of the missiles, they could strike either Iran or Russia just the same.

"We won't take any action until we see rockets in areas that neighbor us,” Putin added.

At least for the west, diplomacy does not appear to be an option:

"We've been repeating like a mantra that we will be forced to respond... Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody wants to conduct negotiations with us."

These central European countries are playing a dangerous game that Poland has lost once before.  They are counting on promises of salvation from the west instead of remaining focused on developing good relations with regional neighbors.  Instead of creating alliances with neighbors who share similar (and strictly limited) security concerns, they are willingly becoming pawns in MacKinder’s very great game.

There was once such a plan proposed – an alliance of these several central European countries:

Międzymorze, known in English as Intermarium, was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, for a federation, of Central and Eastern European countries. Invited to join the proposed federation were the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Several of these countries feared for their independence if they joined such an alliance.  In its place, they lost their independence and a significant portion of their population to war, starvation and deportation:

Within two decades of the failure of Piłsudski's grand scheme, all the countries that he had viewed as candidates for membership in the Intermarium federation had fallen to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, except for Finland (which nonetheless suffered some territorial losses in the Winter War).

Why they think their fate will be better when serving as pawns to the west than if standing with regional partners who hold identical security concerns is a question that will be asked by future historians if the tough talk ends in violence – as it most certainly will if Russia continues to be pressed.

For the Russians, there is history and context on this issue of troops amassing at the borders, something sorely lacking in the discourse of the west.  Taken from A Russian Warning, co-authored by Eugenia V Gurevich, PhD, Dmitri Orlov, and The Saker (A. Raevsky) all currently living in the United States:

Let us take a step back and put what is happening in a historical context. Russia has suffered a great deal at the hands of foreign invaders, losing 22 million people in World War II. Most of the dead were civilians, because the country was invaded, and the Russians have vowed to never let such a disaster happen again.

Napoleon invaded and soon thereafter Russia was in Paris; Hitler invaded and Russia ended up in Berlin.  Today, however, it will not require expending the lives of millions of Russians to press the attack:

If Hitler were to attack Russia today, he would be dead 20 to 30 minutes later, his bunker reduced to glowing rubble by a strike from a Kalibr supersonic cruise missile launched from a small Russian navy ship somewhere in the Baltic Sea.

The retaliatory damage will not be limited to Russia’s immediate neighbors:

Thus, if tomorrow a war were to break out between the US and Russia, it is guaranteed that the US would be obliterated. At a minimum, there would no longer be an electric grid, no Internet, no oil and gas pipelines, no interstate highway system, no air transportation or GPS-based navigation. Financial centers would lie in ruins. Government at every level would cease to function [if Russia could pull this one off first, we can avoid all of the other nasty stuff]. US armed forces, stationed all around the globe, would no longer be resupplied. At a maximum, the entire landmass of the US would be covered by a layer of radioactive ash.

This situation is existential to Russia – the greatest military in the world is parked on Russia’s doorstep while the political leaders of that military make threatening statements toward Russia daily.

If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.

Is the threat of global annihilation greater today than during the time of the Cold War?  It seems to be the case.  First, after the Cuban Missile Crisis, my understanding is that leaders on both sides developed and implemented meaningful communication systems and other mechanisms to minimize the risk of accidents and misinterpretations.  Second, The Soviet Union had a geographic buffer provided by much of Central Europe – a trip wire for invasion.

Today, neither safety mechanism is in place.  The dialogue – from all that we see – is dead.  And NATO is on Russia’s doorstep and even threatening the heartland of the Ukraine.


Returning to The Saker:

What will happen next is hardly a surprise: the toxic mix of US Neocons and East-European russophobes will result in first and foremost a lot of paranoid rhetoric and grandstanding and in an increase of US and NATO forces in Eastern Europe. That, in turn, will result in the inevitable increase of Russian military capabilities directed at NATO, which will give the NATO officials even more reasons to speak of a “Russian threat” and give more paranoid nightmares to the East-Europeans.

While the outcome of US presidential elections change little regarding the actions of the empire – certainly not since November 22, 1963 – this doesn’t mean that the elections change nothing.  Despite Obama greatly expanding the wars throughout North Africa and the Middle East, it is not difficult to imagine a different – and far more tragic – set of outcomes had McCain or Clinton, for example, been elected in 2008.  One example will suffice.

Does anything of this current trajectory change for the better if Hillary Clinton is elected president?  It is certain the answer is NFW; it is easy to imagine Clinton pushing Russia to the breaking point.  Does anything of this current trajectory change for the better if Donald Trump is elected president?  I don’t know.  Maybe.

When it comes to the potential consequences of this dance, “maybe” is infinitely better than “NFW.” 

For this reason, I am in complete sympathy with the arguments made by Walter Block – to be clear, I do not tell you to vote for Trump, but also use the word “support.”

Count my writing on this topic in the camp of “support.”


  1. Let's look at Hillary, or many of the other Republican candidates defeated by Trump. Many were promising to shoot down Russian jets over Syria, in defense of Islamic jihadists. Hillary said that she would enforce a no-fly zone against the Russians, which logically means that she will shoot down Russian planes.

    I've got a feeling that if Trump doesn't win then the world will have to come to the brink of nuclear war before American elites remove the worst elements from power. The worst of course are the very small in number but very wealthy and well funded neoconservatives.

    I think that there are part of the elite that support Trump, and want to decrease US aggression lest we all end up dead. One indication of this is the work of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Their book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" could be considered the 'minority report' of the US elites that realize that the US is in serious, self inflicted trouble.

    Some libertarians are supporting Hillary on the fatuous grounds that Hillary will "discredit government" and all of a sudden people will become libertarians. If Hillary gets in we may not even have human civilization, much less human made social constructs like the NAP. Our very survival is at stake.

    1. This libertarian support for Hillary for the reason of discrediting government never made any sense to me (I have read it only from one reasonably prominent source). This government has done enough discrediting already. What will four more years add to the scales?

      The real discrediting will come as financial promises to the masses are broken, which will surely happen in time - no matter who is elected. Hit them in the pocketbook, and watch the scales lift from the eyes.

      With Hillary, we might have no chance to see that glorious day.

  2. it is quite obvious that insane people are formulating foreign policy with equally insane people putting that policy into action.

    i suppose they think themselves and those more equal than the rest of us, as before, will be spared the actual dying for their policies.

    it is better to talk than shoot, unless, of course, you are a megalomaniac who can be an armchair military leader with others dying as a result of your insanity.

    with leaders as these, don't we have all the enemies we need?

  3. "Putin has delivered his strongest remarks..."

    I clicked on the link at the top and got this message-

    Access Denied

    You don't have permission to access "" on this server.
    Reference #18.547e33b8.1465220233.337e86bb

  4. Wonder what that's all about...

    1. I have never seen it before and have no idea.

      Here is the link:

    2. I have just tried several other links from this blog. They all work fine. But not this one from Fox News.

      Maybe I won't use them again as a source....

    3. There's something wrong with the startup code on that page. I don't think Foxnews did it on purpose. You can paste the link into the address bar on an open browser, and it will work. You can also (in Firefox at least) just click on the address bar after getting "access denied" and press enter to view the page.

    4. I get the same failure when I attempt to follow the link from my office workstation but it works just fine from my iPhone. It may be a corporate level censoring algorithm.

  5. Other than perhaps Rand Paul, Trump has been the only candidate from both parties who has voiced a willingness to end the wars of aggression and withdraw the US from NATO. As a successful private sector businessman, he understands the insanity of pissing away our national treasure on pointless wars while making enemies of the rest of the world. We should also keep in mind that the blowback from Washington's interventionist foreign policy is used as an excuse to erode our civil liberties. Ending the wars and dismantling the empire can't help but improve the civilian economy and restore some of our fading liberties.

    If he's true to his word, a President Trump, despite his other NAP weaknesses, will do more good for America than has any president in living memory. Whereas a bloodthirsty President Clinton will labor mightily to deliver mushroom clouds over American cities.

    1. Before running for President, there’s nothing said or done in Trump’s 50 years of adult life to suggest that. And as a candidate he’s double talked on the issue and lied about having opposed the Iraq. So much wishful thinking in spades by many about what Trump would do as President.

    2. If you listened to Trump's foreign policy speech a few weeks ago, you would have heard that he is in favor of bringing Bush's and Obama's wars to an end and of using diplomacy to work out differences with Russia and China. What other candidate other than Rand Paul has voiced this intention? Trump may betray such promises if elected, but since he has no political track record, this promise is all that voters have to go by. Whereas the other presidential candidates do have a political record of supporting war and have promised to continue doing so.

      Place your bets you folks who wish to end America's wars of aggression! One candidate is a known serial bloodthirsty murderess, and the other one has promised to end the wars.

    3. Hillary has never been the Commander in Chief, so it's no more a fact what she will do as President than it is what Trump will do as President. Obama said he would end the Iraq war when a candidate. It hasn't ended. Bush pretended to be non-interventionist in a debate against Al Gore, he proved to be the very the opposite.

      From the other day:
      Donald Trump reversed himself again on Libya on Sunday, saying in an interview that he would have authorized a “surgical” strike to take out Muammar Qadhafi, after months of telling voters the country would have been better off if the dictator were still alive.

      And the General Election hasn't even started.

  6. The reaction of most Americans to Obama is one of the most bizarre and disturbing things I have ever seen. No matter how many people are slaughtered in Syria or Libya due to Obama and Hillary’s interventions, Obama is a peacenik forest elf to the Democrats (which is wonderful, especially for the women) and a naïve peacenik SJW to the Republicans (which means he’s a traitor) because he simply refuses to see the real dangers in the world and will not use American power (at all) to stand up to evil. And, of course, he is blind to the dangers of “radical Islam” and he hates Israel (say the Republicans).

    No amount of endless reality-based facts (“Why did Obama install Nazis in Ukraine?”) changes these perceptions. The nature of our current crop of candidates can be explained by these general “attitudes”.

    1. "Why did Obama install Nazis in Ukraine?"

      Why are the Nazis Jewish?

    2. Bob:
      The decision to award Obama the Nobel Peace Prize was made only a few months into his presidency during which time he didn't accomplish much of anything. The prize was probably a bribe to induce him to honor his 2008 campaign promise to end Bush's wars. Obama ran off with the money and and not only did he fail to honor his campaign pledge, he embroiled even more of the region and then the Ukraine in war.

  7. Why don't we do what we know needs to be done? And that is having mass arrests of these neocon criminals and their enablers in finance and the Govt, hanging their ideologues and jailing everyone of these...psychopaths remaining we can round up?? At the least they're mentally deranged - at the most perhaps their treasonous behavior needs and deserves the ultimate punishment. Regardless this nation would be far ahead financially and morally by putting these bastards in to that proverbial dustbin of history so many are familiar with. So what could be better than that besides a natural mass die off of these neocons?? I look forward to the day...

  8. Finland was attacked by soviet Russia when the treaty of non aggression was valid between two countries ( the case mentioned in the article as "winter war" and "loss of some territories")/Poland was attacked by soviet Russia (17 September, 1939 when fighting with Germany) when the treaty of non aggression between two countries was in force. Japan had a treaty with Russia of non aggression when was attacked. More recently - Ukraine had two treaties with modern Russia ( 1994 Budapest and 2007 treaty of "friendship and borders") when was attacked by Russia. All Russia's neighbors have such experience and now some leftist writer in his article tries to give them advice 'to have good relations with Russia"/ Are you a total moron?
    By the way - rockets that will be installed in Romania are anti rocket weapon/ Why do Russians are so anxious about their neighbors having purely defensive weapons?

  9. Using Saker as a source is silly. Saker is a fawning fan of Putin, yet can't ;live in Putinist Russia because his life is in danger form the regime he fawns over. The man is a bag of contradictions.

    A Nazi regime was not installed in Ukraine. That's another of Saker's contradictions which he has bought whole hog from the KGB trained punk's propaganda. Putin is the problem in Ukraine, not Ukraine, nor is the current Ukrainian government which the US did not install.

    If people would pay attention to what Putin has said they would know exactly what he is trying to do - recreate the country that existed before the Soviet Union imploded. He has stated, in so many words, that what the Soviet Union ruled was Russian, and is Russia.

    Wake up people and quit swallowing Putinist propaganda. The man is every bit as warped as Adolph Hitler.

    1. "If people would pay attention to what Putin has said..."

      If people would pay attention to what NATO does....

      "The man is every bit as warped as Adolph Hitler."

      Of course; how else would we know how to react. Do I get my doggy treat now?

    2. Adolf Hitler is just a secular stand-in for Satan. In this role "Hitler" is just a mythical figure, and has nothing to do with the actual acts of Adolf Hitler during WW2.

      So when Quartermaster compares Putin to "Hitler" he may as well compare Putin to Sauron. Even Adolf Hitler isn't comparable to "Hitler as Satan".

    3. Dude Sauron did nothing wrong. He was just trying to culturally enrich Middle Earth with Orcs. You aren't some kind of anti-orc racist are you?

    4. The Ukrainian government, overthrown with the help of Washington and the EU, preferred closer economic ties with Russia than with the EU. That was its sin. Immediately after the putsch the new government began to abuse Russian nationals living in the Crimea which had been a part of Russia for centuries before the USSR's Ukrainian head of state, Khrushchev, put it under the administrative control of the Ukraine. The Crimean Russians voted about 95% in favor of rejoining Russia and Putin accepted their democratic decision. What was wrong with that? Why is peaceful Putin vilified for absorbing Russian Crimea while the US gets a free pass on its many hundreds of overseas bases, thousands of miles from home, from which it wages war all over the world?

    5. UC

      That was hilarious, you split my sides and made my day, thank you!