We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, December 9. 2014
On Pearl Harbor Day, Boston Globe (Said) US Should ‘Hero-Worship’ Community Organizers, Not GIs
21 Photos of Pearl Harbor and a Day That Will Live in Infamy
You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth.
DOJ Banning Smoking in Federal Prisons - Only exemptions for ‘religious reasons’ and staff
Feeling Better at the Pump? Since 2008, America’s Oil Supply Has Grown by 50%
Columbia Law School Lets Students Postpone Exams Due to Grand Jury Decisions
Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber: Abortion of 'Marginal Children' a 'Social Good'
Is it a moral good?
Congressional Republicans to grill Obamacare consultant at hearing
Can technology pick the perfect health plan for you?
Chicago continues assault on business with steep hike in minimum wage
The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession: Evidence of Effects on the Employment and Income Trajectories of Low-Skilled Workers
Landrieu's scare tactics for LA blacks
Lena Dunham Walks Back Fabricated Rape Claim
Rolling Stone and the Cult of Credulity - The mantra "I believe" pathologizes skepticism and doesn't help victim
Jewish Group Accuses New York Times of “Crossing Red Line” By Publishing American Anti-Semite Max Blumenthal
It’s Not Just Ukraine - The real problem is that Putin has the whole region cornered. And no one seems to notice.
AMERICA'S MILITARY: A force adrift
Taiwan Voters Reject China-Centric Policies
Who Will Save the People of the Donbas?
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The underlying problem is the aggressive expansion of NATO into what used to be the Russian heartland. Gorbachev claims Reagan promised not to do this, and whether or not there is a treaty or memo of understanding, the claim passes the smell test.
Regardless of what the US/EU/NATO or the Mittle Europeans think or want, Russia regards this as an existential threat. The many references to Russia's nuclear arsenal by very senior Russian officials, including Putin, Lavrov and the Minister of Defense, the highly provocative bomber patrols along US/EU/NATO borders, the support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine, and especially Putin's recent state of Russia speech to parliament are all war threats.
Japan once and Germany twice went to war because they thought the trends in relative power were running against them: fight now and maybe win, fight later and definitely lose.
Many people, like al fin's blog, are chortling that Russia is in demographic, public health, economic and political free wall. That is a very bad omen. Poroschenko wants Ukraine in NATO. That is an appalling omen. Ukraine's entry into NATO would precipitate nuclear war in Europe and North America. Xi laughs.
A compounding problem is the utter arrogance of the US/EU/NATO leaders. They believe their economic and military powers are so transcendently overwhelming that Russia must crawl and beg and submit to their dictats.
We are closer to nuclear war today than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis. Then a confident, rising USSR could negotiate with the feckless Kennedys and get Jupiter missiles out of Turkey and security for Cuba in return for removing its missiles from Cuba. US/EU/NATO will not allow Russia to negotiate this time, and that destabilizes the world.
The real problem is that Russians consider it a threat when their neighbors aren't under their boot.
The good news is that the Russian army is surprisingly small (look it up on Wikipedia) and really bad. I think Putin will continue to push and bully as long as Obama's President. But he knows he would lose a shooting war with NATO very badly.
The next President needs to quickly restart the missile defense work Obama shut down for Russian cooperation (not a joke).
While Putin might view Ukraine's desire to be part of NATO as antagonistic, it seems to me in a sane world, if a country no longer wants to be associated with the thugocracy that is Putin's Russia, that should be their choice. They are a sovereign nation, right? And with Ukraine's past history with Russia, who could blame them. But we don't live in a sane world.
That being said, I don't know why there is still a NATO - or rather, I don't know why NATO didn't disband after the Warsaw Pact dissolved. In any event, it seems to be a pretty toothless tiger (except when NATO = US and with Obummer, we seem to be more like feckless NATO than NATO becoming principled US.
I think (and fear) that you could be right about much of what you say. I consider the real catalyst for this is Obummer's foreign and military policy of weakening the US (along with the weakness of NATO).
Still a NATO because there is still a Russia. We didn't go through the Cold War just to see Eastern Europe re-absorbed by a fascist Russia rather than a communist one.
NATO is far weaker than it was 25 years ago when I was a cold-warrior. But, Russia is even weaker still. And the Russian economy is bad enough that they can't really engage in an arms race.
When the Soviet Union dissolved and when it seemed that the trajectory of Russia would be more a friend than an antagonist, it sure seemed to me that NATO was not only a relic of the Cold War, but also distrustful of then 'new' Russia. Of course, trajectory changed so there could be a reason for NATO's existence after all. However, as you state, it is a shadow of their former self and in my opinion isn't much more than the US in Europe. If that is true, then what is NATO for again?
1. Russia is stronger than any other single European nation.
2. Without a defense agreement, the Europeans do a really bad job of helping each other when Putin comes calling (Georgia / Ukraine). He obviously wants to pull the same tricks in the Baltic States. He may try it with Finland and Sweden instead. Simo Häyhä still around?
3. Together, the member of NATO are far stronger than Russia. Putin can huff and puff, but an open war with NATO would end very badly for Russia.
4. I like the Poles. Lithuanians, and Czechs and really don't want to see them back under the Russian heel.
I agree with all you said, Soldier, but I do question the resolve to use the superior power of NATO. So far, the only thing that has even slowed Putin down is the price of oil.
I'll paint a darker picture of the next two years for Europe:
NATO = US = Obummer
The Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Estonians, Latvians and other Eastern Europeans HATE the Russians. They are appalled at what Putin is getting away with and will fight rather than become his next victim. Hopefully the Germans, Italians, Turks, and French (and us) will back them up if necessary.
Re: Landrieu's and White Christmas racists
These sorts of things signal desperation but it doesn't mean they are in danger of loosing - not even losing the argument. They have been desperate for decades. In the 2002, Dick Gephardt claimed that if Republicans were elected, black churches would burn.
While desperation is the cause for this sort of lunacy, it will likely just make those who make those claims more dangerous.
Snow is racist. There was a time in American cities where the snow falling wasn't white, especially in minority neighborhoods.
But then rose the hue and cry that this could not stand. That snow must be white, at least until drive over on the way to Whole Foods. And thus, millions of dollars were spent and politicians across the nation acted to rid the country of brown and especially black snow.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas is clearly racist. Can you imagine what he would have done if it was an African American man he found coming down his chimney rather than Jolly Old St. Nick??? A clear example of White Privilege, I am surprised it has not been banned yet.
re Feeling Better at the Pump? Since 2008, America’s Oil Supply Has Grown by 50%
I thought fracking was all good but then I saw this the other day, I do not agree with it all but it is something to think about:
"We are now far advanced into the third central bank generated bubble of the last two decades, but our monetary politburo has taken no notice whatsoever of its self-evident leading wave. Namely, the massive malinvestments and debt mania in the shale patch. In short, as the oil market price takes its next leg down into the $50s/bbl. bracket, much of the fracking patch will become a losing proposition. Moreover, given the faltering state of the global economy and the huge overhang of excess supply, it is likely that the current crude oil crash will be more like 1986, which was long-lasting, than 2008-09, which was artificially resuscitated by the raging money printers at the world’s central banks.
So why is there a shale patch depression in store? Because there is literally a no more toxic combination than the high fixed costs of fracked oil wells, which produce 90% of their lifetime output in less than two years, and the massive range of short-run uncertainty that applies to the selling price of the world’s most important commodity."