Putin ends the interregnum

by on August 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm in Current Affairs, History, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

By Lilia Shevtsova, this is the best essay I have read on Russia, Ukraine, and Putin.  It is difficult to excerpt, but here is one short bit:

Having flipped the global chessboard with his annexation of the Crimea and an undeclared war against Ukraine, Putin effectively ended the most recent period of interregnum and inaugurated a new era in global politics. However, no one yet knows what this era will bring. The global community is still reeling in shock, when it isn’t trying to pretend that nothing extraordinary has in fact occurred. This denial of the fact that the Kremlin has dealt a blow to conventional ideas, stable geopolitical constructs, and (supposedly) successful policies proceeds from the natural instinct for self-preservation. It is also quite natural that the political forces that have grown accustomed to the status quo will try to look to the past for answers to new challenges—this is precisely what those who were unprepared for a challenge always do. It was easy enough to predict that many politicians and political analysts would explain what Putin has done to the global order by using Cold War analogies. Drawing these historical parallels is potentially useful in only one respect: if they help us to see what is truly new about the current situation, and the scale of the risks involved.

Read the whole thing.

1 Just Another MR Commentor August 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

It’s a good thing really, a lot of international instability will generate more immigrant flows to the US

2 The Other Jim August 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm

You’re not even trying any more.

3 prior_approval August 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Except the strange thing is, when you look at the flows of immigration to the U.S. after both World War I and World War II, it just happened to coincide with America’s development into a dominant technological society.

4 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 1:05 am

More inane non sequitors PA?

5 Sam Haysom August 31, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Exactly. I mean think about it Los Alamos. There had to be a ton of Mexicans working there with a name like that.

6 Marie September 1, 2014 at 9:54 am

And Texans?

7 Hoosier August 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm

“what we have in Ukraine is a battle waged by a declining but ever more desperately aggressive authoritarianism against a hostile civilization.”

And I’m afraid that authoritarianism will win out in the end. And not just in Russia. Thinking about the future is so depressing these days…

8 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

White Russia is the only post-Communist country which is a thorough police state. Russia is far more pluralistic than it was prior to 1988, even if Putin misbehaves; Freedom House in its annual reports has given the country the same marks for 10 years, so there does not appear to be an ongoing process of further decay in the quality of the country’s public life. Given the stressors that the economy and society suffered from 1988 to 1999 and given the manifest improvements in income levels and fertility in the last 15 years, it is not surprising that the country is not under constitutional rule. As for the rest of the post-Communist world, if parliamentary institutions were going to implode, they’d likely have done so by now. The real anxiety should be the future effect of chronic fertility problems on the political economy.

Here’s a thought: V. Putin is an operator whose been humiliated by the internal political contention in the Ukraine and he’s trying to save face taking advantage of what he can to scoop up some souvenirs.

9 CBBB August 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I think he was referring to the strong authoritarian tendencies you have been seeing over the past decade or so in a lot of western nations. Massive surveillance states, a lot of unaccountability, militarized police. The west has not been really living up to its ideals recently.

10 cliff arroyo August 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Very, very true.

11 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm

The blather about ‘militarized’ police is largely drama. The NSA employes about 40,000 people, by some accounts, a great many of them concerned with communications security. It’s about as massive as Fujifilm and employs fewer people than the New York City police. The most salient examples of ‘unaccountability’ would be the appellate judiciary, the IRS, and the higher education apparat.

12 HL August 30, 2014 at 8:19 pm

that they can do so much with so little is even worse

13 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 9:35 pm

But what are they doing?

14 andrew' August 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

If it were actual work they wouldn’t do it.

15 andrew' August 30, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Ask Obama. Whatever he says they aren’t doing.

16 Jan August 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm

AD, it isn’t limited to the NSA, obviously.

andrew’, are you suggesting that the president has the ability to, or should, unilaterally eliminate the NSA? Or even shrink it by half?

17 andrew' August 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I am suggesting this President should go suck a bag of dicks. Not because he is black.

18 andrew' August 30, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Oh. Cops aren’t buying tanks, ARs, body armor out the ass?

Tell me, deco. What would be militarization. I don’t have a tank, so no they don’t have tank guns yet.

19 Jan August 30, 2014 at 11:44 pm

I get it, you’re a moron and couldn’t figure any other way to break it to us.

20 andrew' August 31, 2014 at 12:04 am

Prick, I’m the guy waiting for you or anyone to tell me one true thing Obama has said about the NSA.

The part about him being black is for the previous yous who have nothing to say to me on Obama anymore.

21 andrew' August 31, 2014 at 12:19 am

Your faux earnest question about Obama doing something unilaterally was funny though.

22 Jan August 31, 2014 at 9:54 am

Andrew, sorry I seem to have hurt your feelings, but the bag of dicks thing for some reason makes me think you don’t really have anything to say. Also, you’re acting like I somehow linked this to Obama being black, which I didn’t. Maybe you think Obama should get rid of NSA, but who the hell would know. Please feel free to get angrier.

23 Sam Haysom August 31, 2014 at 1:04 pm

There’s nothing inherently authoritarian about a surveillance state. Totalitarian maybe, but in what way is the surveillance state used to police the boundaries of accepted thought. That’s the New York Times job. Surveillance without the attempt to control thought is probably unwise and certainly doesn’t have my support but it’s hardly ipso facto authoritarian.

More people have lost their jobs form activist gays culling through political donation rolls than have from anything the NSA has dug up.

24 cliff arroyo August 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Belarus is even more of a noveau soviet state than Russia is.

25 Jan August 30, 2014 at 7:51 pm

The only post-Soviet police state? Try, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus.

26 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Those are Central Asian republics and other than Kyrgyzstan, they never made any attempt at any sort of pluralistic political order.

27 Joe August 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Why is that an obligation of the United States to fix?

28 Jan August 30, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Just responding to what you wrote. It was wrong.

29 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:35 am

No, it was not wrong. I was referring to Europe, not Central Asia.

Joe likes non sequiturs.

30 Jan August 31, 2014 at 10:10 am

Post communist country is what you said. Incorrect, so I was just pointing out some counter example in case you weren’t aware. Not a big deal.

31 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 11:38 am

I’m perfectly aware of them, but parliamentary institutions cannot implode in countries which never had any parliamentary institutions, and Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan never had any such institutions. I think in Azerbaijan, electoral institutions lasted about a year.

32 Jan August 31, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Sure they’ve had parliamentary systems. These are mostly nominal and haven’t gotten remotely close to true Democratic rule, but yes, these countries have had them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Council_of_Turkmenistan

33 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Sure they’ve had parliamentary systems.

No, they have not.

34 dearieme August 30, 2014 at 3:43 pm

It was perhaps unwise for the US to renege on the promises it made to Russia when the USSR dissolved – Mr Clinton’s doing, I understand – and doubly unwise for the US and EU to rattle the bear’s cage in the Ukraine – Mr Obama’s.

Putin presumably realises that nobody will contemplate risking the destruction of any Western city over the question of who rules Donetsk.

35 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

The Ukraine’s intramural conflicts are its own. Regrettably, politics has been played for keeps there. The most recent President is in exile and his opponent in 2010 cooled her heels in prison for several years.

36 cliff arroyo August 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The “intramural conflicts” are essentially Russian incursions. There is no native Ukrainian pro-Russian movement. There are Russian soldiers (real and hired) and that is it.

What’s currently going on is a long term land grab to create a land corridor to Crimea.

37 HoB August 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

You don’t know much about Ukraine, do you.

38 cliff arroyo August 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

How many Ukrainians do you know?

39 mishka August 30, 2014 at 9:48 pm

I am Ukrainian and I certify that cliff arroyo is an ignorant idiot who doesn’t know shit.

40 GC August 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm

“There is no native Ukrainian pro-Russian movement.”
OK, you do not know what you are talking about.

41 cliff arroyo August 30, 2014 at 5:20 pm

i know some Ukrainians, do you?

42 GC August 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Couple of dozen, including a former girlfriend. about half and half between ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians, distributed between Kiev, lviv, uzgiriv, odessa and sebastople (well, former Ukrainians, in the case if those 2)

how about you?

43 GC August 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm

incidentally, those living in a Sevastopol and 3 of the 5 living in Odessa (2 of them now living abroad), all ethnic Russians, were thinking their respective cities should had been returning to Russia already in 2008 or 2009, last time we had a drink face to face.

But there is no spontaneous pro-russian movement indeed…

44 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 5:41 pm

The Party of Regions has certainly been congenial to Russia. They once represented most of the Eastern Ukrainian electorate.

45 Jan August 30, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Yes, and it is made up of the ethnic Russians and Russian speakers who are old and wish to return to the Soviet era.

46 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:32 am

Their opposition has masses of Russian speakers, including the current president. Great Russians are about 17% of the population and a majority only in the Crimea and in a scatter of municipalities along the eastern and northern border.

47 Jan August 31, 2014 at 10:11 am

You are agreeing with what I said.

48 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:34 am

The strait that separates the Crimea from Russia proper can be traversed with a modest ferry ride and a bridge across it is feasible. They do not need to manufacture a ‘land corridor’.

49 Jan August 31, 2014 at 11:40 am

They don’t need to, but it would make things much more convenient.

50 Joe August 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm

The National Endowment for Democracy spent $5 billion over a decade in Ukraine. They weren’t teaching people how to vote.

51 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:33 am

I think that’s the total expenditure distributed to all parties over 20 years, and distributed through various intermediaries. Contextually, it’s not that important.

52 jtf August 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I think the argument that Obama brought this on Ukraine is a load of crap, and that he is somehow responsible for the crisis’ conduct is even more crap. This narrative has infected everything without any factual basis. This isn’t even a specific defense of the president. The narrative is reflexive. If an opponent of the United States has done something we don’t approve of, it must be stopped, and if it isn’t stopped immediately, the president is a wimp. It’s part of an even larger narrative: that the U.S. can and must control everything, and that it must always show “credibility” and “toughness.” IT reminds me of the same pathological will to power that animates Putin.

53 It's Over August 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

I generally agree with you, but the essay also makes the point that Western governments and Western intelligentsia don’t understand or can’t admit what Putin’s up to. The US State Dept tweeting out listicles mocking Putin just makes the State Dept look dumb and unserious. But I don’t know what the solution is.

54 triclops August 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm

JTF,
It’s always illuminating to ask those who make those claims to give specifics on what should be done. They respond with “specifics” like getting tough or being serious.
It’s over,
Yeah, even if the State Department cannot fix everything, at least don’t act like a snarky preteen tweeting about the Real Housewives.

55 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Our quiver is not full enough to counter Putin militarily, and you bargain in the shadow of that. Best you can do right know is put garrisons in the Baltic states and keep your powder dry.

The thing is, we’re not the only ones with an insufficient quiver for certain ends. Conquering and subduing a population that is 30% of one’s own is tough work and has in the last century not been done by any country not under a general mobilization. Russia is not, and is not exceptionally militarized (about 4% of domestic product is devoted to military uses). I’d wager what’s happening going forward is harassment and chomping on bits of assimilable territory (e.g. the Crimea, which is majority Great Russian).

56 ziel August 30, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Of course he did (or his administration did, anyway – doubt he had a clue what was going on). Victoria Nuland was caught on tape bragging about spending $5 billion dollars destabilizing the pro-Russian Ukranian regime. That is what started this whole business. I agree the crazies who insist that it is Obama’s “weakness” that brought this on are full of crap. But it was our meddling – too mild a term, really – that led to this mess.

57 jtf August 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Not sure where you got THAT idea, since I just read the transcript of the leaked Nuland calls and there’s no mention of anything remotely like that. Can’t say I blame her for the “fuck the EU” sentiment, either, honestly.

58 ziel August 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm

It looks like I’m wrong – the claim is apocryphal. I’m curious why you think she was right to say “Fuck the EU” – shouldn’t their opinions on Russian relations with it’s neighbors be a lot more immediate than ours? We have nothing to fear from Russia – unless it gets angry.

59 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 9:41 pm

The sort of know-it-all who lands on the contributors’ list at The American Conservative manufactures and spreads memes like this. Out of one side of their mouth they contend that foreign conflicts are no matter to us; out of the other side of their mouth they are very assiduous in acting as press agents for foreign governments whose doings are supposedly of no interest.

60 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 9:38 pm

That is what started this whole business.

Rubbish. The place has intense political fissures and political actors do not have the ordinary sort of immunities politicians do in other countries. I take it you did not notice that Pres. Yanukovich’s opponent in the 2010 elections was in prison.

61 Nyongesa September 1, 2014 at 1:37 am

One of the really deep echoes of winning WW2, and the subsequent cold war is the American public’s belief that we can shape world events. it’s a horrible hubris, that can occasionally produce wonderful results. BUT, I’m forever amazed by people assigning agency upon America for what are clearly internal political dynamics. I still get shocked when people suggest opposition to Assad was a western plot.

62 GC August 30, 2014 at 4:57 pm

well, posted in a website called “the American interest”, at least they are honest in stating their perspective.

Anyway, if Russia was trying to make Canada or Mexico a satellite state of their, what would the American reaction be? Ukraine is simply Russia’s Cuba, and I don’t Putin will let it go, just as Kennedy didn’t back down.

63 dearieme August 30, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Kennedy backed down on the sly, removing the missiles from Turkey that had started the whole crisis off.

64 Randy McDonald August 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Actually, the United States _did_ let Cuba go: no invasion.

65 Alexei Sadeski August 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm

No invasion for no missiles. Fair trade.

But when you’re the underdog with a rare opportunity to beat your betters, maybe a fair trade just won’t do.

66 Peldrigal August 31, 2014 at 7:08 pm

You are joking, right?

67 The Other Jim August 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm

>Ukraine is simply Russia’s Cuba

Right. I remember that time the US simply annexed one part of Cuba, and then sent armored tank columns into the other part.

It’s a long way til Jan 20, 2017. This is going to be a brutal 29 months.

68 prior_approval August 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm

‘I remember that time the US simply annexed one part of Cuba’

You do know that the U.S. has not returned its Cuban naval base, right? – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban–American_Treaty

69 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

So what? No one lives there nor has lived there in over a century but the sailors and civilian employees of the Navy. No reason to give the Cuban regime squat.

70 Nyongesa September 1, 2014 at 1:41 am

actually this has worked out very well for both sides. Cuba gets decent rent check, which they needed, and they get to wave their Yanqui Imperialists pigs flag as much a possible. The U.S. gets a base from which to act from incase things get out of hand. Win win all round.

71 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:24 am

I remember that time the US simply annexed one part of Cuba

Unless you are 120 years old, no you don’t.

72 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 9:29 am

Ukraine is simply Russia’s Cuba, and I don’t Putin will let it go, just as Kennedy didn’t back down.

Let it go where? Cuba was a Soviet client from 1960 to 1991 and they still have a hostile and abusive government.

While we’re at it, the Ukraine has a population about 30% that of Russia and a domestic product about 1/6 of Russia, borders with a number of other countries, and no natural boundaries. Cuba has a population less than 5% that of the United States, a miniscule economy, and is an insular state no where near any other power. The two are not analogous.

73 Easy August 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

The US has been intervening in the worlds affair, without a cohesive strategy for so long, that when something like Ukrian pops up, they have no idea want to do.

What the us needs to do, is a pick a position it can win, and accomplish the win.
The US as the spokesperson for Europe, is a terrible starategy. The US should be explains who are the winners and losers in Europe , based on their stance against Russia. America should be playing the role of a mentor, certainly not the spokesperson or lead negotiator.

The US should pick a position outside Europe, to expose the bankruptcy of authoritarian regimes, which would be a game changer , as when one opponent start playing the stability in stability card, a winner and loser ( by projection or by. Act on the ground) must be reallized.

Putin , should be uprooted from the the Middle East to start with.

74 Dismalist August 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Looks to me like Putin is one smart son of a bitch.

Apologies,

Dismalist

75 john August 30, 2014 at 7:50 pm

As this article states, his long game doesn’t look good. Sure he can look “strong” in a shallow sense … but his economy crashes, oligarchs find allegiance to their overseas homes, Russia becomes Venezuela.

We wait.

76 Alexei Sadeski August 30, 2014 at 8:16 pm

You confuse Putin’s long game with the long game of the Russian people.

Re: Venezuela, my understanding is that Chavez was reasonably popular (though flagging). Or look to Cuba – Castro fared quite well over the decades. He definitely came out ahead of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon.

Putin has already done far better than anyone had anticipated before ascension. At this point he’s playing with the houses money.

He’s certainly done better for himself than Bush2 or Obama, yes?

77 john August 31, 2014 at 1:38 am

As I say below, I think Putin is wasting post SU investment, and good will. The marketplace is about buyers and sellers, not strongmen.

78 Nyongesa September 1, 2014 at 1:47 am

Alexie, the fact that Castro outlasted JFK, LBJ, and Nixon in office is the epitomy of failure.

79 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Bracketing out natural resource rents, real GDP per capita has since 1999 increased by 111% in Russia. In Venezuela, this metric has increased by 8% in that time period. Russia’s has had a partial fertility recovery and now is at least at the European mean (tfr 1.59). Russia’s elevated homicide rate has also fallen and as of now it is 9 per 100,000. Venezuela’s is bar one or to places, the most murder prone place in the world and has a homicide rate nearly 6x Russia’s.

One wag offered that the distinction between Chavez and Maduro is that the former made use of the long con but that conditions in Venezuela had deteriorated so that the latter could only manage the short con (“Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!”).

Russia has grown more illiberal in the civic realm, but many of its problems have been ameliorated the last 15 years. There’s a reason V. Putin has a popular base.

80 Jan August 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Russia’ fertility rate has recovered somewhat, but its life expectancy is still abysmal and immigration is nothing compared to other countries. The long-term outlook is still bleak as hell, with expected population loss of over 20 million by 2050. Yes, Russia did quite well through the financial crisis, but its GDP growth has been in the tank since later 2012, which is why Putin had to get all nationalistic real fast. The sanctions have already put the country into recession. Just because people are richer than they were in years past, that growth is mostly done. The country is truly screwed long-term.

81 guest August 30, 2014 at 10:29 pm

“bracketing out natural resource rents” I would *love* to see that break down please.

82 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Natural resource rents have typically accounted for about 30% of Russia’s domestic product over the last 15 years. Their significance has been gradually declining and it’s been more along the lines of 21% of Russia’s domestic product during this business cycle.

83 john August 31, 2014 at 1:35 am

The “since 1999” bracket includes a lot of emerging markets funds targeting the former SU, as well as a lot of deals made by western conservatives. Isn’t that game over for the time being? I worked with solid Republicans outsourcing to Russia circa 2005. I can’t think such deals will be popular in 2015.

84 Jan August 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

He has painted himself into a corner by lying to whip up nationalist support at home. Now, he is forced to carry this invasion out to its conclusion. The alternative is to go home with his tail between his legs, admitting that he will allow junta fascist nazis to slay the Russian babies in Ukraine, and hanging around while his popular support plummets and he searches for other enemies.

85 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I doubt he needs look-squirrel foreign policy diversions. Losers like the Argentine junta in 1982 might benefit from those sort of feints. Putin’s not facing major domestic policy failures. The Russian economy was hammered in 2008-09, but every other year during the last 15 the country’s economy grew and grew at a decent clip (up until quite recently). Inflation is high (7.5% per annum over this business cycle) but not crippling. Unemployment rates are under 6%. The outstanding central government debt is modest (9% of gdp), the central government has a budget surplus, and the country is not running a deficit on current account.

86 Jan August 30, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I understand Russia has done quite well the past 15 or so years, but they aren’t any longer and it doesn’t appear they will without some unexpected spike in gas and oil prices. The squirrel thing and appealing to many Russians’ bruised egos from decades of playing second fiddle to the US as a world power is exactly what Putin needs. Without that, or a return to very high economic growth, which is out of the question in the near term, the citizenry challenges his authoritarian style, asks for democracy, etc. This is what started to happen during the widespread protests a couple years ago, despite the strong economic growth.

87 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm

No, they’ve just had a slow down in growth in the last 2 years. They’re not in an economic recession.

88 Jan August 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm

And when I say they have done quite well the past 15 years, that is purely in terms of economic growth. Lots and lots of other things have not gone well at all. Widespread alcoholism, poor health outcomes generally, emigration of the most talented people, weak institutions, corruption, over reliance on the energy sector, etc, etc.

89 Jan August 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Ok, numbers have not come in yet for multiple quarters of decline, but analysts–even those working for the Russian government–have been ratcheting down their forecasts and say currently growth is contracting. Did you see something in the past month to make you think that will change direction anytime soon?

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/22/uk-russia-gdp-idUKKBN0GM19L20140822

90 Jan August 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Sorry, growth isn’t contracting. There simply is no growth–it has been negative for two months.

91 Keith August 31, 2014 at 6:24 am

That is what I thought but someone pointed out that prior to this mess Ukraine was firmly in Russia’s sphere of influence. Putin is invading because the new president wants to sign a trade deal with the EU. This invasion is a desperate attempt to win Ukraine back. Putin is losing. Their is no way this invasion will put things back the way they were.

92 DJF August 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

The US and EU supported overthrowing the last democratically elected President of Ukraine when he did not sign a trade deal with the EU.

93 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 11:34 am

His own political party abandoned him and he left the country when military discipline was questionable. He was succeeded by his designated successor and replaced with an elected successor.

94 Sam Haysom August 31, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Exactly. what happened in the Ukraine was roughly analogous to what happened in Honduras in 2009. A president overplayed his cards in order to curry favor with a foreign patron. In response the entire political system mobilized to depose him.

95 DJF August 31, 2014 at 1:47 pm

His party abandoned him when thugs with weapons entered the Parliament building.

The military did not want to fire on civilians, the new regime has fixed that by creating a National Guard which does not mind shooting at civilians

96 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Quit spinning. The fraud is tiresome.

97 Barkley Rosser August 30, 2014 at 5:48 pm

http://www.econospeak.blogspot.com/2014/08/putin-completely-loses-it-over-start.html

Sorry if that does not work, but this is my latest post on Econospeak, put up awhile ago with the title “Putin Completely Loses It Over START.” It reports on something in the Russian language media that has not yet been reported on at all in the English language media, something very disturbing.

98 steve August 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I sort of wish she was correct, but she is not. This is hardly new on Putin’s part. We invaded and occupied 2 countries. We had a viable reason/political cover for one of those, but none at all for the second. As the sole remaining Great Power, we can invade anyone who does not have nukes at will. No one will do much about it. The same goes for the regional powers, but most especially Russia. Invading what used to be part of your country? Meh. A country that is poor and corrupt even by Eastern European standards? No one is going to fight over it. Is there an ongoing effort to free Tibet from China? No way. So, while the Soviets taking invading or occupying Ukraine seems like a new even to the author, it mostly seems like a continuum with recent history. The powerful do what they want with little risk of retribution, as long as they don’t confront each other.

Steve

99 Alexei August 30, 2014 at 7:15 pm

After US meddling in Ukraine, Putin had little choice.

100 AIG August 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Right. US meddling, like…saying they support the will of the Ukrainian people and the decision of its parliament.

Putin had little choice but to invade and annex part of the country.

Here we have evidence #1 that we’re dealing the same old mental disorder that affects all dictatorial nationalistic regimes in the world.

101 john August 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Sure Putin had a choice. He could have pulled in more foreign investment. He could have been about creating wealth. Rather that living the “cow joke.”

102 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Putin had little choice.

Little choice with regard to what? What decisions, costs, and benefits are you referring to?

103 Alexei Sadeski August 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Strongmen must, at least, appear strong?

104 Russian Sock Puppet August 31, 2014 at 10:06 am

Товарищ.

105 AIG August 30, 2014 at 7:20 pm

There’s little new here, actually. This is the same strategy Russia used since the first day of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It did so in Abkhazia, in Ossetia, in Azerbaijan, in Moldova. It did so again in Chechnya, in Georgia, and now in Ukraine.

Things aren’t all that different. We’re still dealing with the same sociopathic mentality that characterizes all dictatorial regimes.

106 The Anti-Gnostic August 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Oh, and by the way, Iraq, Syria and Libya don’t exist any more and large swathes of their territories are now run by 15th century bandit-chiefs.

Why am I supposed to care which group of Slav rednecks runs a country with $3700 GDP per capita, as opposed to a global death cult that has already struck twice in the US and already has recruits here?

107 Alexei Sadeski August 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Old time’s sake.

108 AIG August 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Somehow I think that a unhinged crazy dictator with nukes which freely invades other countries, is a bit more dangerous to the world than 5 illiterate morons on a pick up truck driving in the desert.

109 The Anti-Gnostic August 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Putin is not “unhinged” or “crazy.” He is quite intelligent and rational, actually. He pulled us back from the brink in Syria, which would have otherwise meant ISIL operating with a free hand all the way to the Mediterranean coast.

Re: “5 illiterate morons,” recall that nineteen not-very-bright men killed three thousand Americans in 2001 in a single day.

Everybody keeps saying ISIL are morons, throwbacks, etc., but they keep stubbornly refusing to disappear, and killing a lot of their opposition in the meantime. They are also drawing Americans to their cause.

I hope you’re not a State or Defense Department employee, because you have an astounding lack of perspective.

110 Sam Haysom August 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Putin didn’t pull us back from the brink he was protecting his client Assad. Putin has no interest in assisting the US and rightfully so we are geopolitical rivals, but to act like Putin was acting out of any impetus but protecting Assad is silly.

111 The Anti-Gnostic August 31, 2014 at 11:21 pm

His motives could be completely venal. In the context of the US national interest, I don’t care. Bottom line, a more forward-thinking operative prevented us from disabling an enemy of radical Islam and embroiling ourselves in Syria of all places.

112 Steven Kopits September 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Both Iraq and Ukraine represent a failure of deterrence.

In Iraq, the US should have insisted on retaining a base in western Iraq, in essence giving it control over east-west movements of men and arms from, say, Iran to Lebanon. This would have prevented the rise of ISIL and greatly restricted the flow of weapons to the Assad regime.

Following the annexation of Crimea, in Ukraine, the US should have forward-positioned a couple of dozen fighter jets with a clear statement that the US would stand behind Ukrainian territorial integrity and that anything coming over the border would be intercepted and destroyed, as the case may be. The US has 10 times the GDP and twice the population of Russia. The threat would have been enough.

In both cases, we see a failure of leadership to understand the nature of power and deterrence, leading to escalating chaos throughout not only the Middle East, but now well into the heart of Europe.

113 Jan August 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Don’t worry. Your country doesn’t care, which is why it is doing almost nothing about it. The death cult gets bombs while the low-middle income Slavic rednecks trying to capture the poor Slavic rednecks get targeted industry sanctions.

114 ChrisA August 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Well the choice now for the West is either appeasement and acceptance of the Ukraine or a war against Russia. Neither is particularly palatable. But appeasement is probably the best option right now. Yes it leaves the West looking weak, but that’s more of a problem for the politicians than the people of the West. And it leaves a long term point of friction between Russia and the West, but its not really going to be a bigger threat than now. Russia already has a large military, nuclear weapons and so on, so extra land nearer to the West is not strengthening their position in any material way. Perhaps Russia would become emboldened by their success, but where will they go after Ukraine? Poland or one of the Baltics are now in Nato so would automatically call for military response from the West, and no way will Putin risk that. An invasion of Georgia or Kazakhstan? Hard to see him getting the popular support for that even in Russia.

115 ChrisA August 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

*acceptance of the Ukraine situation

116 The Anti-Gnostic August 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm

There are unpalatable situations all over the globe. The Gulf Arab emirates are an affront to humanity. North Korea is an affront to humanity. Haiti, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Le Cote d’Ivoire and other places are political septic tanks. Guatemala and Honduras are ungovernable. Mexico is enthusiastically unloading its left-side tail IQ distribution on the US (an equivalent would be the US emptying its inner cities into Canada).

Remind me again why I’m supposed to be weeping and gnashing my teeth over who gets the taxing authority in a few regions in the Ukraine.

117 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:05 pm

The Gulf Arab emirates are an affront to humanity.

Your idea of an ‘affront to humanity’ is Bahrain? You need to get out more.

118 guest August 30, 2014 at 10:33 pm

read the between the lines. The niggers, black or brown, they are all dirty wogs to anti-Agnostic, are scary. The white Russians are not.

119 Gwuest August 31, 2014 at 6:40 am

Destroy racist, sexist, homophobic throwback crackas, death to slaver whitey, grind civil rights in their REPUBLICAN faces, Ferguson yo! Travon yo! Imma guest guest, guest issa best! JUSTICE=DEATH to straight white males! TEA PARTY KOCH BROTHER are looking to get you Vote democrat 2016 or your sexist racist homophobe anti-choice islamophobe.

Thank you.

120 Gwuest August 31, 2014 at 6:43 am

Indeed, the Gulf States should instead be seen as beacons of enlightenment as regards, for example, immigration policies.

121 T. Shaw August 31, 2014 at 9:31 am

“Don’t bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me!”

Try that Ferguson bullshit in America yo!

122 Nyongesa September 1, 2014 at 1:52 am

Liberia?. They’ve come quite far in political plurality. So has Guatamala and Honduras for the matter. But I suppose that doesn’t work for your internal narrative.

123 mishka August 30, 2014 at 9:36 pm

“Russia’s recent “humanitarian invasion” of nearly 200 trucks—which crossed the border and then returned, the Ukrainian government alleges, with stolen factory equipment” — why didn’t anyone else invaded by sending trucks of food? Of course, the “stolen factory goods” claim has been proven false, but without saying that Putin may start looking like a good guy. Can’t be allowed. Why democracy and liberal values must come via killing innocent people? Why the whole freaking world is blind — all everyone seems to care about is that Putin is EVIL, worse than Saddam and Hitler combined. My god, he dared to acknowledge Crimean referendum! He protected Ossetian people from genocide. He sent food to starving people of Luhansk. And didn’t ask permission from DC!

124 guest August 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm

So do you still earn 50 rubles per comment, or is your salary keeping pace with inflation?

125 Larry August 31, 2014 at 10:07 am

Ah, it took awhile but finally a member of Russia’s large internet army arrived. They prowl the net for any discussion about Russian aggression and vigorously defend everything Russia has done. The only source of information they believe is their government and its state-controlled media.

126 HL August 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm

uh oh the jidf has some competition

127 NathanP August 31, 2014 at 10:21 am

Comrade, your agenda would be a tad more effective if you used a western name.

128 Ladderff August 31, 2014 at 4:42 pm

And you give it away for free, slut

129 mishka September 1, 2014 at 1:44 am

A beautiful parade of values. A thoughtful discourse. A touching concern for people’s suffering under daily bombings. Of course everyone who cares is on Putin’s payroll, how else?

130 Marie August 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm

A guy told me once it’s a standard belief that generals are always fighting the last war.

The guy was a general, by the way.

131 Petrous August 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Maybe the whole premise about Russia leaping over the interregnum is wrong. Maybe the have been pushed? For truly enlightening discussions and points of view regarding this debate there is a great Blog, Run by Col Patrick Lang. This link is a great place to start :

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/08/httpwwwwashingtonpostcomworldfull-transcript-remarks-by-ambassador-samantha-power-us-permanent-representative-to-the-u.html

132 Marie August 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Am I missing something in these comments?

Am I wrong that the U.S. recently pushed Ukraine to disarm, and gave assurances that it would be a buffer of sorts between it and a Russian invasion that might result from that disarmament?

133 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm

IIRC, the ‘disarmament’ in question amounted to shipping Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia proper. Years ago, a pair of foreign policy scholars penned an article with the title “Paranoids, Pygmies, Pariahs, and Nonproliferation”. The burden of their thesis was that nuclear weapons draw heat, and few countries have the sort of political objects or problems which make the possession of nuclear weapons worth the unwanted attention. (Which makes Iran’s determination in this regard..interesting.

134 Marie August 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Thanks.
Now I also know what IIRC means.
Red letter day!

135 Barkley Rosser August 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm

More precisely in the 1993 Budapest Accord the US, UK, Russia, and Ukraine agreed that Russia would respect the “territorial integrity of Ukraine” if Ukraine gave Russia its nuclear arsenal, then third largest in the world. It did so, and Russia is now in clear violation of this accord. it has violated international law without question, but the US and UK have done little about it other than economic sanctions.

136 Marie August 30, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Thank you.

137 Barkley Rosser August 30, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Regarding the matter of whether or not Putin is “rational” or not, this is not so obvious. Yes, with control of the media, he has moved his popularity ratings up from 60% to 80%, at least in the short run, but conquering part of a nearby neighbor and further attempting to conquer more parts of it, based on ginned up nonsense fed to its population. (“The plane was full of dead people” and if it was not then “the Ukrainians shot it down themselves!” etc.). Sure looks pretty crafty.

But there are two flies in the ointment. One is that the essentially overwhelmingly negative response by the rest of the world (although some nations are avoiding making any criticism or doing anything, but not one country, not one, is openly supporting what Putin is doing), with increasing economic sanctions as he continues to push this thing forward is going to damage the living standards of the Russian people. It is already damaging the economy, although apparently the full impact of this has not really hit the population yet. But I simply do not see any economic gains from having Ukraine in his Eurasian trade group rather than in some deal with the EU is going to remotely come close to offsetting all these economic sanctions, indeed, I see barely any economic gain for him or Russia from this aggression, with absorbing Crimea alone going to probably cost more money than it will gain (higher pensions for all those old folks there).

Second, in my Econospeak post I report on bizarre and frightening behavior by Putin on Russian TV in which he has been shouting utter nonsense and lies about past nuclear weapons treaties, which are now essentially defunct. He seems to be dangerously delusional about the most important part of Russia’s relationship with the US and indeed the whole world, its nuclear weapons policy. This seriously delusional conduct seems seriously irrational and highly dangerous. The guy is in a bubble and may be seriously losing it. This is very scary.

138 Gwuest August 31, 2014 at 6:51 am

“The guy is in a bubble and may be seriously losing it. This is very scary.”

Which guy are we talking about again?

139 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Vladimir Putin, Gwuest. Tyler had an excellent link to a Newsweek article about this. Anne Applebaum today reports that there is serious discussion of nuking a Polish or Baltic city going on in Moscow right now.

140 tor August 30, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Yet again the US interferes with the business of others. Russia appears to have no choice but to protect their economic interests in crimea, because the US tried to install a western friendly interim government, which is the same as taking over the country. In crimea, there was a referendum, and the conclusion was to have russia own it. It isn’t much clear cut than that – the people spoke and made a decision they wished to be russian, in a country which is russian speaking, historically russian, and russia the main trade partner.

In my opinion this has nothing whatsoever to do with the US. The US has seen this as an opportunity to make putin look like a bad guy, because he is claiming macdonalds food is unfit for human consumption. well there is evidence to support this claim as the obesity levels in the us have got to critical levels. I believe the us should close down these restaurants too. In the uk jamie oliver, the acclaimed healthy chef took a legal action and won against macdonalds, saying the food was not fit for human consumption. Wake up folks.

141 Barkley Rosser August 30, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Crimea is the only part of Ukraine where the majority of the population clearly wanted and wants to be part of Russia. The “referendum” held in the rebel held areas was only for “greater autonomy,” which the current Ukrainian government is offering those folks. No poll yet has shown a majority in Donetsk or Luhansk/Lugansk supporting union with Russia or even full independence from Ukraine. It is important to remember that the people who started these “uprisings” were full Russian citizens who walked in heavily armed, seized public buildings,and then proclaimed their “republics,” even if more recently they have been replaced by actual Ukrainians as leaders.

142 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 1:21 am

LOL! Thanks for the laugh

143 NathanP August 31, 2014 at 10:26 am

“In my opinion this has nothing whatsoever to do with the US. The US has seen this as an opportunity to make putin look like a bad guy, because he is claiming macdonalds food is unfit for human consumption. well there is evidence to support this claim as the obesity levels in the us have got to critical levels. I believe the us should close down these restaurants too. In the uk jamie oliver, the acclaimed healthy chef took a legal action and won against macdonalds, saying the food was not fit for human consumption. Wake up folks.”

Pure fucking gold. I’ve seen it all.

144 NathanP August 31, 2014 at 10:30 am

Surely must be caused by all of imported fascist fried American foods, right comrade?

http://rbth.com/articles/2010/11/15/russians_must_go_on_a_diet05110.html

145 Sam Haysom August 31, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I agree in fact I think Russia should invade all Western European countries that have McDonalds in them.

146 themusicgod1 September 2, 2014 at 3:13 pm

> Russia appears to have no choice but to protect their economic interests in crimea,

They always have a choice, if the potential consequences include global nuclear war they have to be a hint more careful than the past few months. Their brinksmanship is becoming problematic.

> because the US tried to install a western friendly interim government, which is the same as taking over the country.

So your problem isn’t that the government fell but that the government that replaced it was with the people who fell it? Who else would take power? Russia?

147 GC September 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm

“They always have a choice, if the potential consequences include global nuclear war they have to be a hint more careful than the past few months. Their brinksmanship is becoming problematic. ”

really? Someone comes in your garden, which you and your family have tended for 6 centuries even if your drunken great-grandfather at some point decided to leave it to your neighbor cousin, and start uprooting your flowers. Since the guy has a bomb tied to his jacket that could blow up everything, YOU have to be more careful in addressing the situation? That’s some logic.

“So your problem isn’t that the government fell but that the government that replaced it was with the people who fell it? Who else would take power? Russia? -”

what about leaving power to the government that had been democratically elected, for a change?

148 Barkley Rosser August 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm

BTW, I note that I believe I am the first person to report on this crazy conduct over nuclear weapons by Putin in the English language media, and only did so a few hours ago on Econospeak. This wacko stuff has only been going on on Russian TV, although I am sure there are people in the US government aware of this, but they are not saying anything about it, and, frankly, I don’t blame them.

149 tor August 30, 2014 at 10:41 pm

People are confused by US policy I believe. On the one hand they claim to fight terrorists and terrorism, yet on the other hand Israel, in the words of Nelson Mandela himself, is committing atrocities on Palestine. Half the Israeli population is in the US and half in Israel. There a long history of support between the two nations, and Israel is the main exporter of military drones, along with the US.

It is difficult to reconcile US policy towards Israel and to other countries.

The number of children killed in palestine is so high it appears a genocide and the population in the entire world is aware of this now as well as the connection between the US and Israel.

150 Anon August 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Of all the tendentious nonsense in your post it is the trivialisation of of term genocide that I find most appalling.

151 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 1:25 am

Half of the Israeli population is certainly not in the US. “According to the 2000 census estimated that as many as 106,839 Israelis live in the United States nowadays,[10] while other estimates say the number is much higher, around 500,000.”

Far from being a genocide, Israel took extraordinary measures to protect the civilian population in Gaza and children in particular. While constituting over 50% of the population, they were only about 20% of the casualties (about 400) despite being used as human shields. Hamas by the way killed almost 200 children over the last few years in the course of forcing them to build their tunnels.

152 rvman September 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Like most anti-semites, Tor is conflating “Jew” with “Israeli”. Roughly half of all worldwide Jews are in the US, just under half are in Israel.

153 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm

tor,

Anne Applebaum in WaPo today reported that Moscow propagandist Alexander Dugin has now openly called for the “genocide,” the actual word, of the “idiots” or “race of bastards,” who currently live in the hoped for Novorossiya, once Russian troops get all of it conquered.

Sorry, while Svoboda is an unpleasant bunch, the fascists here are those doing the invading and openly talking about committing genocide against the local population. Oh, sorry, I know, you wanted to dismiss all discussion of any of this by bringing up Israel/Gaza…

154 tor August 30, 2014 at 10:48 pm

I believe the US with the number of wars they have initiated in recent times, is losing credibility on a global stage. There was Iraq, Afganistan and I imagine others. The problem the US has in my view is that they are an aggressive nation because they have widespread use of guns and gun crime is extremely high compared to other nations. Therefore, guns and bullets are fairly commonplace in the US. This is not like other countries where guns are not used or are rarely used.

I believe people are becoming less trusting of the US because almost on a weekly basis there is a report somewhere of a mass shooting or killing, people going into a school or cinema. This does not happen in other countries and nor do people want it to. People think the US is too trigger happy I believe, looking for excuses to practice using a gun or weapon. This in turn teaches the US population this is the language to be used, and this in turn encourages internal crime and violence.

155 Sam Haysom August 31, 2014 at 1:29 pm

How many other wars were there do you imagine? When you imagine are you and Putin riding a unicorn together? Are you wearing shirts? Does Putin leave that stupid gymnast for the one person that really knows and loves him for who he is, tor?

156 Steven Kopits September 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm

No, the problem is this, Tor.

NATO has 6 times the population and 16 times the GDP of Russia, and it’s unwilling to take a stand against a low quality player like Russia. Putin knows who the Big Dog is. But if the Big Dog’s sleeping, then Putin’s can play the Big Dog as long as it lasts.

157 Art Deco August 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm

The number of children killed in palestine is so high it appears a genocide

That word does not mean what you think it means.

158 tor August 30, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Ok, my apologies Art.

If I can replace it with “appears a large number by comparison, inconsistent with the reports being presented by the media of Israel being under attack”.

159 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 1:27 am

It’s actually a very small number considering the circumstances

160 tor August 30, 2014 at 10:55 pm

In addition, I believe many nations are losing trust of the US because of their internet and security policy. For example, the US was spying on Germany. Also, Snowden who is a very well informed individual ran to ESCAPE for the US, and where did he run to for safety? Russia, because he viewed he would be safe there. That is quite worrying I believe and I think the US administration needs to tighten up the civil protection laws for individuals.

161 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Yeah, Snowden ran for freedom in Russia against awful NSA in US. In the meantime Russian mothers protesting that their sons have been sent into Ukraine illegally are labeled to be “foreign agents.”

162 tor August 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm

One other point I would like to make if I may. I understand that there is a free trade arrangement between ukraine and russia. With ukraine joining eu, this effectively gives a free trade arrangement between EU and Russia, whereby the EU floods russia with western goods at a time the economic recovery may be peaking.

This is one reason why i believe putin attacks macdonalds as a sanction.

ALSO, this is why sanctions are being used on russia rather than military force, because the west needs russian consumers alive to sell product to.

163 tor August 30, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Finally, there has been a great deal of media commentary about putin apparently invading europe. This sort of commentary, I don’t care about actually, because I think all these con tries have their own problems and no one wants to take over any country for whatever reason. its classic scaremongering and overreaction in my view, potentially to justify acts of aggression.

I don’t believe any country wants to take over any other.

I do think putin wishes to protect his economic interests, and prevent he flooding of russia with EU goods and product. as well as his gas supplies and resource. I don’t think anyone can blame him for that or accuse him, as i think any nation would do the same.

164 collin August 31, 2014 at 11:45 am

I don’t think it is only the Western media is to blame here. The reality is the more Eastern the nation (Poland, etc.), the more they are concerned about Russian movements in The Ukraine. In the past 10 months, it has been Putin who made the big moves, the stopping of trade EU deal with Ukraine, the Crimea annexation, and the current military border crossing that keeps amping the crisis. Putting the blame on cheap Western goods does make a ton of sense, aren’t most goods coming from East Asia?

Overall, this does appear to the new world order as the US does not have the resources nor the ability, to manage these battles. As somebody who was against the Iraq invasion, I don’t think this is a bad thing but unfortunately, the cries of “Jimmy Carter!” are growing louder. However, I still don’t see how Putin is not morally corrupt on his Ukraine actions.

165 tor August 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

I like American and American people, but I find the whole of this completely depressing about our future.

I am based in the UK. This weekend they raised the terror alert to critical. This all feels like fear is being used to control a population and the UK does not operate in this way. I want to drop out of society completely and live on an island with no media at all, but with piece of mind.

166 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 1:29 am

Ban please

167 Cahokia August 31, 2014 at 1:32 am

Tor has brought a measure of reason and sanity to this neoconservative dominated blog.

168 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

There are few neoconsevatives among the commenters and none among the bloggers. It is a centrist-libertarian blog.

169 NathanP August 31, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Do be kind, their English seems to be a bit rusty and they’re probably working overtime spamming half of the Internet with rubbish.

170 Steven Kopits September 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

You should be depressed, Tor. The downside for Russia is huge. The better case is stiff sanctions; the worst case is a big military loss in Ukraine, the loss of Crimea, the sinking of the Russian fleet there, with NATO and the EU pushed right up to Russia’s doorstep. What is Putin thinking? That he’s going to take on the US, UK, Germany and France at the same time? Oh, and let’s throw in the Poles and Hungarians, et al. When did Russian military planners ever contemplate such a scenario, at any time in history? In World War I, the Russians needed the French and the British, and still lost to the Germans. In World War II, the Russians were essentially saved by American supplies. What sort of Russian leader in his right mind would try to take on both the Americans and the Germans at the same time? You’d have to be an idiot.

Invading Ukraine is a great idea until people get upset.

171 Ray Lopez August 31, 2014 at 12:29 am

As I have said, it’s not worth a war. If Turkey and Greece decide to duke it out, both Nato members, does anybody care? No. So much more for Ukraine vs Russia, where the latter has the nuclear bomb (though unlikely to use it).

172 HL August 31, 2014 at 12:57 am

Putin’s going to come out of this looking like a winner and the west is going to look like the passive aggressive tweeting bureaucrats they are. Putin knows they are fundamentally unserious and incapable of Realpolitik. The larger concern is who else will be inspired to action after witnessing how Putin plays the game.

173 Keith August 31, 2014 at 6:34 am

How is an invasion going to return Ukraine to Russia’s sphere of influence? The more I think about it, the less this makes sense. This started because a historically pliant Ukraine wanted a trade agreement with the EU. What is an invasion going to do except cause more anger towards Russia?

174 Cahokia August 31, 2014 at 1:27 am

Right. So the 2003 invasion of Iraq – that didn’t end the interregnum. A war that left tens of thousands dead and which was initiated as a purely aggressive action.

No, Russia’s modest intervention in Ukraine, which as of today cannot even be termed an invasion, that amounts to a return to history.

We appreciate posts like this Tyler. They resoundingly confirm that you are an intellectual fraud.

175 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 1:32 am

Well, I did not agree with the invasion of Iraq but that was a dictatorial state with apparent WMD, and the U.S.’ only goal was to establish a democratically elected government.

In contrast, Russia has invaded the Ukraine to topple a democratically elected government and annex the country. That is a whole other ballgame.

176 Cahokia August 31, 2014 at 1:39 am

What democratic government? The democratically elected government in Ukraine was toppled in a coup.

If you hate Obama, would it be alright to kick him out today without a constitutional impeachment process, and then say – well we’ll hold a new election while part of the country is in open revolt?

Anyway – I don’t believe in the neocon doctrine that aggressive wars are made legitimate because a particular nation-state has a non-democratic system.

The bottom line is that Tyler’s blithely overlooking the fact that America’s wars of aggression have left vastly more dead in the last two decades, i.e. during the interregnum, than Russia’s splendid little wars in Georgia and now, supposedly if you believe the Western media, in Ukraine.

177 Hoosier August 31, 2014 at 8:03 am

Please answer whether you believe that Putin and his invasion if Russia represents a trend towards liberalism or authoritarianism. Please don’t try to change the subject by bringing up Iraq. If you believe that authoritarianism is a better option, that’s fine, just be honest about it.

The debate here is about what type of future will Ukraine have. One closer to the liberal European model, or one closer to the authoritarian Russian model.

178 DJF August 31, 2014 at 11:07 am

I think US and EU policy marks a trend twoard liberal authoritarianism.

Fail to sign a association agreement with the EU and the US and EU will support overthrowing your democratically elected government.

179 Hoosier August 31, 2014 at 2:36 pm

To the reply below, neither the US or Europe- especially Europe- offered any material support to a coup of the government, and you know this.

Tell me, do you really think that Russia is not more authoritarian than the rest of Europe?

You may think authoritarianism is fine, but if you truly believe that Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Holland, etc. are no less authoritarian than Russia, you’re deluding yourself.

The democratically elected government you refer to abandoned Ukraine. They were not forced out by tanks, guns, or shooting down commercial airlines.

180 HL August 31, 2014 at 3:59 pm

One of the great lies of language is the obfuscation between authoritarian and bureaucratic power. Yeah there is one guy in charge in Russia, but in effect there isn’t much difference between a committee and a dictator. Both are looking out for their own interests rather than the people’s. There’s enough cynicism in the modern world that a direct appeal is refreshing. The people know whats up, but its harder to blame a nominal nameless bureaucratic ‘democracy’ rather than an individual.

181 GC August 31, 2014 at 1:57 am

“In contrast, Russia has invaded the Ukraine to topple a democratically elected government ”
except, the democratically (OECD certified so) elected president and government were the one topped by the US and EU funded protesters.
but who cares about facts, right?

182 Keith August 31, 2014 at 6:36 am

US funded? Proof please.

183 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm

GC,
You and others (Cahokia) claiming that the US and EU toppled the previous government, “in a coup” no less, are not remotely dealing in facts. There is evidence of some financial support from EU to some protestors, but the protests were going to happen with or without any minor funding. They were huge and they continued despite serious military efforts to put them down in which many protestors died. This was not a US/EU job, but one with massive popular support, at least in that part of Ukraine. Much of it was directed at corruption, a long-standing problem in Ukraine, and it was Yanukovich’s own party that abandoned him prior to his fleeing.

A “coup” implies a military takeover. There was no military takeover. A successor was selected in a legal way. There has since been an election, so the current government is indeed democratically elected. Those of you claiming otherwise are repeating propaganda on the level of claiming that MH17 was full of already dead people when it was shot down, a claim widely repeated on Russian media and believed by many in Russia at this moment.

You clowns should be ashamed of yourselves.

184 GC September 1, 2014 at 2:54 am

“There is evidence of some financial support from EU to some protestors, but the protests were going to happen with or without any minor funding.”

The US spent about 500 million/year over the last decade on the “civil society” in Ukraine, the Eu about 1bn. I wish I had this kind of minor funding.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/07/us-foreign-aid-ukraine_n_4914682.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/11023577/Fresh-evidence-of-how-the-West-lured-Ukraine-into-its-orbit.html
http://gatesofvienna.net/2014/08/whats-the-real-story-in-ukraine/
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-22/ukraine-perspective-europe

185 GC September 1, 2014 at 2:55 am

oh about your oh so meaningful last line… name calling is the last resort of the ones without any argument. Just saying.

186 Barkley Rosser September 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

GC,

Fair enough, I am a naughty for calling people clowns.

On the matters of substance, Your numbers are clownish and wildly exaggerated. That looks to be for all of Eastern Europe. Digging through your links it seems that $16 million was given for election observers over a 5 year period, and one guy reported being paid by a German bank to demonstrate. Not much there, GC. And Durden’s account is erroneous on several points, but I have a meeting to go to. Not very impressive for someone wishing to be taken seriously, sir.

187 Barkley Rosser September 1, 2014 at 3:34 pm

GC,

Just to pound on the errors in the Durden link, there are several. He declares that the boundaries of Ukraine had never been set. They were set in the 1920s, aside from the admittedly oddball addition of Crimea later. That is a much longer time for boundaries to be set than is the case for a large chunk of the world’s nations.

Also, he seriously misrepresents the outcome of the referenda held in eastern Ukraine. What was voted on was increased autonomy, not being “allied with Russia.” As it is not a single poll yet has shown a majority wanting independence from Ukraine, although plenty want more autonomy, but not necessarily as “allied with Russia.” This is Durden’s own editorial addition.

OTOH, polls showed that a majority of Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia. That is a main reason nobody is really contesting too seriously the annexation there, even if it violated international law.

188 john August 31, 2014 at 1:39 am

Actually, the stupidity of Iraq II does not make Ukraine smart.

189 tor August 31, 2014 at 5:41 am

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/deaths.html

The figures state that 9 times as many Palestinians have been killed compared to Israeli’s. According to the article in the Israeli papers, the main cause of soldier deaths in Israel was suicide, not Palestinian killings.

I respect them for doing it, as tragic as it may be.

190 NathanP August 31, 2014 at 10:41 am

The Russian Ministry of Truth seems have succeeded quite well in teaching the commentariat how to move the goalposts.

191 Cliff August 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

What would you expect when one side (the aggressor) is massively outgunned and also actively seeking for its civilians to die for publicity reasons?

192 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Actually, tor, most Americans are aware that many more Palestinians were killed than Israelis. They are also aware that Hamas had been firing rockets into Israel for some time from long before the Israelis responded, a matter not generally mentioned in Europe when people protest Israeli actions.. It is a matter of debate what was an appropriate response to that provocation, but many Americans think that the Israeli response was justified, even if you do not (also please note carefully I am not saying what my own position on this complicated matter is, simply reporting to you, since you seem to be very ignorant, what many Americans think).

In any case, whatever the rightness or wrongness in that unfortunate situation, it is irrelevant to this discussion, and you have added zero of any intelligence or new facts to it, contrary to some praise you have received.

193 DJF August 31, 2014 at 11:04 am

“”””The global community is still reeling in shock, when it isn’t trying to pretend that nothing extraordinary has in fact occurred””””

Is this the same global community which has watched as the US has overthrown governments and supporting rebels?

194 The Anti-Gnostic August 31, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Yes. The same global community that has overseen the deconstruction of three formerly functioning countries into live-fire-exercise boot camps for Islamic militants, a number of whom have Western citizenship.

The global community of academics, bureaucrats and their amen corner in media–that global community. Outside that cozy bunch, I doubt anybody is telling their sons to gird their loins for the fight for freedom in Ukraine. Come to think of it, inside that cozy bunch there is probably not a lot of military participation either.

195 Art Deco August 31, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Iraq was ‘functioning’ prior to 2003?

196 The Anti-Gnostic August 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Sure it was. Christians, for example, were actually able to worship and earn a living instead of fleeing for their lives or grimly digging in and saying their Hail Mary’s.

It’s actually ‘functioning’ now, so long as you don’t mind 20-year olds with AK-47’s telling you your wife needs to adjust her niqab.

197 Todd Kreider August 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I count 7 exclamation points in the one page story!!!!!!! Something really important must be happening!!!!!!!

198 DCBillS August 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Cahokia got it right. Putin is the hero and our neocons are the villians in this story. This is not a football game and cheering for the home team is not appropriate regardless of what you’re taught in college.

199 The Pot calls the Kettle black August 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I concur.

200 Hoosier August 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Why is he a hero? I’m interested in hearing more about this. Do you believe that Russia is a model for the rest of the world? For Ukraine? For Europe?

201 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Right. Those darned Little Russian Ukies dare to sign a trade agreement with the EU that might impose some economic costs on Russia, although I think the tale told by tor on this is ridiculous garbage. So, just to show how rotten those ungrateful “idiots” who should be genocidally eliminated are, he starts invading and annexing parts of the place, only very predictably bring down economic sanctions on his nation that will certainly wreak far greater economic damage than this rinky-dinky EU trade deal would have.

Some hero, especially now that he is ranting insanely about nuclear weapons.

202 Nathan W August 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm

The conclusions of 1991 were achieved under a highly asymmetric negotiating situation.

Classical analytical frameworks and historical comparisons may still be constructive.

When you try to expand a mutual defense club into the back yard of a major nuclear power, traditional analytical frameworks may also be useful, but almost certainly not in the sense applied during the Cold War era.

Major powers have always liked a little space, and have historically been willing to bleed extensively to achieve this desired (but in many senses for other group not desirable) outcome.

So what about Ukraine? Can they walk the fine line, the middle road, or must they choose camps? Current events make it difficult to imagine that they might, and while the future is always a product of the present, I don’t see why Ukraine should not be able to negotiate themselves into a situation where decent relations with EU, America and Russia could be played to their own security and economic benefit. Talks to join NATO, however, were never going to make Russia happy.

203 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm

This is an actually intelligent comment here. Congrats, Nathan W.

204 tor August 31, 2014 at 3:33 pm

In my opinion the US is not the same traditional place it once was. The value system has lost sight of true value and honesty and truth, clouded by the media and image and brand. In the early 20th century edward bernays, related to freud, realised that emotions could be used to sell product. Those products were sold, and love was used to sell those products, because they prayed on emotions. The emotions were then used to sell fear to control people. Many americans to this day are afraid to travel overseas. If true then they have no right to exert any influence overseas IMO because they will be ill informed. And so gave birth to the “Century of the Self”, and self absorbed, self determined and self obsessed culture. That same has happened in the UK (where I am), and I would encourage everyone to look up the historical video clip on youtube, which is very illuminating.

Russia is less evolved down that process, so citizens are less exploited at this stage IMO.

The American Dream – that says it all. But is it is a dream, or is is a nightmare because it doesn’t exist to make an individual truly happy and loving as an individual. Products, sold through love and emotion, can never bring true happiness, and so begins the backlash.

There are other things happening right now – the US is losing its hegemony on the dollar, and power is moving eastwards according to numerous cycles, the 500, 100, and 40 year cycles all point east and the demise of the dollar.

205 Barkley Rosser August 31, 2014 at 5:20 pm

tor,
I should not even waste time taking you remotely seriously. You may have a story here, but it is about the rise of China, not Russia. Russia is going nowhere fast. Its economic growth in recent years has been entirely a story of rising oil prices. Drop them, and Russia is in awful shape economically, aside from military exports, which it competes with the US for being world’s leader in.

Sure, I agree, the US is not what it was and there has been all sorts of degradations of its culture by advertising, blah blah blah. But apparently many Russians are completely accepting the most ridiculous and outrageous claims being made on Russian TV about current events. Yes, those mothers protesting that their sons ended up in Ukraine and got captured by the Ukrainians are foreign agents. Believe, and Putin will be the new tsar. Hey, the media is compliant. After all, how many dissident journalists have been either poisoned or gunned down on the streets under his rule? A lot more than have been in the US.

206 tor September 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I guess you are right. The US is the most free country in the world, with freedoms and access to representation second to none. As they say, the land of the free.

207 Barkley Rosser September 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Did not say that, tor, and do not believe it, although US is certainly freer than Russia. Do not be trivial, please.

208 DCBillS September 1, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Not to beat a dead horse but the current situation illuminates a lot of reality that is usually hidden. The media that most get their information from is a tool of the ruling oligarchs. They lie to please their masters. Nothing they say can be trusted. It is apparent that many in this discussion have been led down the garden path on this topic and no doubt will be again and again. Even the neocons favorite organ, Foreign Affairs magazine, could no longer stomach what is going on and hints at the truth in the current issue. Wake up and think for yourselves before you find yourselves impressed into service for someone elses benefit. Been there, done that. Don’t be fools, think.

209 Steven Kopits September 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Putin told European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso that he could “take Kiev in two weeks”. NATO has announced a rapid response force. I would not be surprised to see a wider European mobilization within days. So, if Putin wants to take Kiev, tell him to do it now. Two weeks is about what he’ll get.

210 tor September 2, 2014 at 5:32 pm

I think he said it to make the point he doesn’t want it.

211 Alexander September 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

For historical analogies you can look at Soviet actions like in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But what about US actions in Nicaragua and Guatemala during the 80s and also Cuba during the 60s? Like this Ukraine situation, those were not full-scale invasions. And this situation is more drawn out than those Soviet actions.

Also, why think that a harder line on sanctions will not strengthen Putin by making ordinary Russians more vulnerable?

I don’t necessarily endorse it, but how about this?

http://www.cityam.com/blog/1395832933/why-open-borders-should-be-wests-peaceful-response-russian-aggression

212 Steven Kopits September 1, 2014 at 9:51 pm

This is neither about Putin’s strength nor ordinary Russians. It is about Russia’s international behavior, specifically that any attempt to re-write European borders by force will be resisted by force.

And Alex, you know nothing about Russian actions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the decades of fear and misery which followed.

213 Alexander September 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm
214 Alexander September 2, 2014 at 1:04 pm
215 Steven Kopits September 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Obama’s not following Reagan’s playbook either. If he were, we’d already have equipment in theater.

Here’s what I think happens. Putin escalates to a blitzkrieg to seize all of Ukraine before the Allies can respond. Merkel mobilizes the Germans late in the week. War starts next week, maybe the week after.

Maybe Barkley’s right, and the idiots in Moscow are actually thinking of using nukes. If the war stays conventional, it’s only a matter of time until the Russians are crushed. So maybe Putin’s thinking bigger.

216 Barkley Rosser September 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Steven,

I would like to think that they are not REALLY seriously thinkking of actually using nukes. But they are certainly making lots of noises about it that are extremely unpleasant. But, when people talk about stuff like this too much, they can sometimes get carried away and do it, and talk has really been darned awful.

217 tor September 2, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I end it alarming how readily the US seems to talk about war. I believe this will end up being an extremely unpopular situation and many will question why the US is even involved and decided to make it their business when it is a European issue.

Germany has no choice because they need the energy and the US won’t return their gold.

Malo malo malo.

218 tor September 2, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Many in europe (not me as I am pacifist) consider the US an aggressive nation, and this will simply corroborate this view. I believe the citizens of Germany and across Europe will oppose such action as it will be viewed extremely unpopular.

The truth is that the US can’t keep imposing their values on other nations who do not wish to be part of those values and to blackmail nations into adopting their values to force them to do so, through sanctions, threats of war, or banking fines. It’s not fair because it calls into question individual sovereignty.

http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_06_24/Germany-gives-up-its-gold-repatriation-plan-7743/

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