Russia

Putin's Illusory Triumph

If Putin were a foreign policy grandmaster, he wouldn't have pushed Ukrainians so far that they toppled the government he was propping up.

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Bungling is an inherent feature of American foreign policy. Even with the best of intentions, our presidents miss warning signs, overreact to minor threats, fail to dissuade other governments from doing things we oppose and wade into situations that blow up in our faces.

It's not a Republican or Democratic thing. In trying to shape events in a big, turbulent world of competing nations, failure is just more common than success. In his novel "American Pastoral," Philip Roth writes, "That's how we know we're alive: We're wrong." That's also how you know you're president.

George H.W. Bush inadvertently gave Saddam Hussein a green light to invade Kuwait in 1990. Bill Clinton's careless extension of our intervention in Somalia led to the Mogadishu debacle. George W. Bush made a horrific mess of the Iraq occupation. Barack Obama threatened Syria with air strikes only to back down.

When our presidents take action, we are fully aware they may not know what they're doing. But when foreign leaders take action, we assume they are brilliant strategists who never set a foot wrong.

So Vladimir Putin's invasion of Crimea is taken to reflect his cunning sense of American weakness and his shrewd eye for geopolitical advantage. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., claimed, "Putin is playing chess, and I think we are playing marbles."

But if Putin were a foreign policy grandmaster, he wouldn't have pushed Ukrainians so far that they toppled the government he was propping up. He would have devised a way to secure Russian interests in Crimea without using force and exposing himself as a goon.

This alleged stroke of genius was guaranteed to alienate his neighbors and most of the world—and even discomfit the Chinese government, which he covets as an ally. Putin is making the best of a bad situation that he did much to create.

Sunday's referendum went as the Russian president hoped. But he may have taken a bite too big to swallow. Crimea is no gold mine. Poor, undeveloped and rife with organized crime, it was a drain on Ukraine and will be a drain on Russia.

In trying to control Ukraine, he turned it into a bitter enemy. If ethnic Russians in the eastern part of the country rebel against the Kiev government, he may feel compelled to take military action there as well, leading to war with Ukraine.

He could find himself occupying a region with many citizens who detest him, some of whom will learn how to build IEDs. He could see Ukraine fall into violent chaos that infects Russia.

Too bad the Soviet leaders of 1979 aren't around to tell him about their invasion of Afghanistan, undertaken to rescue an ally. By the time the Soviets left in 1989, they had lost more than 14,000 lives as well as the war. An invasion that the West saw as a terrible setback helped precipitate the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The men in the Politburo were groping in the dark—just as American presidents often do and just as Putin is doing. Our enemies, it's easy to forget, are just as fallible, blind to risks, misled by ideology and limited in options as we are. They have no magical capacity to see the future. They face obstacles they can't overcome.

Putin opposed the expansion of NATO, to no avail. He opposed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which happened anyway. His country shares land borders with 14 countries, many of them hostile.

One of them, China, is a historic rival that has become an economic power, boasts the biggest army on Earth and is building a blue-water navy. Unlike his Communist predecessors, Putin has little power to influence events beyond his backyard. As shown in Ukraine, even his backyard can be unmanageable.

What he's done in Crimea won't make Russia stronger. It will cost the government large sums of money, year after year. It has sown distrust among his neighbors and around the world. It will spur his biggest natural gas customers, in Europe, to reduce their dependence on him. All that is before the impact of any economic sanctions the West may impose.

On the surface, Putin looks like the big winner in this crisis. But he may find himself in the position of the ancient Greek King Pyrrhus, who reflected on the outcome of a major battle: "One more such victory and we are lost."

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  1. It will spur his biggest natural gas customers, in Europe, to reduce their dependence on him.

    I will believe that when I see it.

    1. The only thing that will reduce their dependence is opening up exports of LNG from the US.

      Over to you Obama!

      Asked how the U.S. could liberate Europe from Russian gas, White House press secretary and geostrategist Jay Carney opined that exports are a “complicated process and more of a long-term proposition.”

      Oh. Ok. Never mind.

      1. Poor Obama, hamstrung by his own home-grown political bullshit. Oops!

        1. It’s sad that the answer is so obvious, as is the fact that he will NEVER, EVER even consider it.

        2. More like poor us, we are the ones that will have to deal with this mess he’s making.

          In three years President Not My Fault will hit the speaking circuit to collect his millions for telling everyone how great he is, and how awesome a job he did while he was in office.

      2. Isn’t that his answer to every question?

        1. Isn’t that his answer to every question?

          To all questions asked unless their questions about his more socialistic policies – then the answer is “Even if it’s illegal, I’ll make sure this happens with just an executive order if I cannot get voters to elect Senators & Congress members willing to get it passed.”

      3. Asia pays a lot more for gas, are we going to subsidize US exporters to convince them to instead export to Europe/Ukraine? I assume the link you included discusses that but I dont have a WSJ subscription…

        1. The article addresses it thusly-

          “The growth of LNG?which can ship internationally?has created a more global natural gas market. That market is forward-looking, and any clear signal that the U.S. intends to boost its exports will contribute to expectations about lower future prices. Even if some U.S. gas flows to Asia, the global supply will increase. “

          1. Im not necessarily against ramping up LNG exports for general economic purposes, but I still don’t see the Ukraine situation as a justification. China is going to love LNG for the foreseeable future because of China’s current unparalleled pollution problem, which they are combatting by taxing coal, alot, because they aren’t trying to raise revenues they are trying to decrease the use of coal. In fact the BP Energy Outlook estimates substantial increase in global demand, especially China, of LNG through 2035.

            So, as to whether US exporters would choose Ukraine, I guess we need to know whether possible lower prices (“…any clear signal that the U.S. intends to boost its exports will contribute to expectations about lower future prices.”) would be enough to offset the current price difference; and also be enough to offset the future substantial increase in demand. I suppose at some point once demand increases, as supply catches up it will start with the highest bidder, perhaps Ukraine at some point becomes the highest bidder. Im no economist.

            Still, If I’m exporting today or within the foreseeable future, I think my best bet is a long term contract with China. Incidentally, Im fine with exporting to China, I assume it can only benefit us re our trade imbalance.

      4. The only thing that will reduce their dependence is opening up exports of LNG from the US.

        That’s not true. Ukraine and Poland and other European countries have lots of gas that can be drilled.

        1. Probably true, but if that was the case I would expect to see more investment in companies drilling in that area, which we do not.

          1. Poland is going after it in a big way. I think they are going to suspend taxes for drilling or something.

            1. Unless what is being discovered in Poland is enormous, I don’t think it will impact Russia a great deal….

              I could be wrong – but it is my understanding that the amount of nat gas found in Russia is extremely large.

              As such – I think Russia will always have more nat gas available to sell than any EU country could mine for themselves.

              But sincerely – a citation if you have one – I’m not confident and cannot recall where I read this… nor how long ago it was (which is likely the issue if there is one).

      5. And not only would it lessen Russia”s leverage over Europe it would do wonders for our trade deficit.

        Gas sells for about 3 or 4 times as much on the world market as it does domestically . That would create some serious wealth.

        So it prolly isn’t going to happen.

      6. We do not have the facilities to export large amounts of LNG. Since we have been legally unable to do that, no one built facilities for this purpose.

        So, much as I hate to agree with Carney on anything, it IS a long-term proposition.

        1. If the permitting process wasn’t being deliberately delayed we would already have more than we do.

          A friend who is a marine architect is designing one now that the company he works for has won the bid.

          If the permitting process was streamlined rather than backlogged because of politics it would be a much shorter “long term proposition”.

    2. We’ll see if the Germans still shut down their nuclear plants with no real alternative other than Russian oil and gas.

      1. The French have evn more. Something like 70% of their electricity comes from nukes.

        1. Considering that the new “Gen V” can be made truck transportable and as such do not require on sight maintenance but can be replaced … we are nuts to not go that way.
          http://www.world-nuclear.org/i…..-Reactors/

          1. *Gen IV reactor*
            this comment interface sucks.

            1. Yes, and the construction time is short, the ROI short, and the efficiency higher with much less waste.

              1. Is it any more economical? Doubt it.

                1. The Traveling-Wave Reactor by Terra Power can run for 50 years on one 8-ton charge of uranium, and the same is true of uranium which has already been used in other reactors.

  2. In Russia, chess plays YOU!

    1. It’s tragic that this one is so far down the page.

  3. Who would you rather have as POTUS, Putin or Obama?

    1. no

      1. Ditto – Putin is smarter and seems to make better decisions, but aside from that – they both are actively after, and getting, the same thing – a police state.

    2. Coolidge.

    3. *shoots self*

      1. Dead Prez or Cat?

    4. Nuclear winter

  4. He could see Ukraine fall into violent chaos that infects Russia.

    There are a lot of ways to describe Russia, but “infected with violence and chaos” requires a bigger tin foil hat.

    1. Yeah, initially I read it that way, too. I think what Chapman MEANT was “if there’s violence and chaos in Ukraine, that could EVENTUALLY infect Russia, too.” I think he didn’t mean they’re already “infected”.

      The fact that we both read it that way suggests either it could have been written better…or something horribly, horribly awful and wrong about us both.

      I fear it’s the latter…

      1. I thought he might be going for a reference to Chechnya or something along those lines, but yes, there is something horribly wrong about me, but I think your interpretation is correct in hindsight.

    2. No it doesn’t. Chechnya’s neighbours are a violent mess.

    3. See Chechnya.

      1. Russians don’t consider Chechnya as Russian anymore than they do Turkestan

        1. Uh…they kind of invaded it.

          1. uh…we invaded Iraq, and Iraq isn’t “American”

  5. “”””But if Putin were a foreign policy grandmaster, he wouldn’t have pushed Ukrainians so far that they toppled the government he was propping up””‘

    Putin offered a better economic deal then the what the EU offered, it was the EU which did not make a better counter offer and instead supported protestors who from the first day were demanding the overthrow of the government.

    1. Putin offered a better economic deal then the what the EU offered

      No he didn’t.

      1. Russia offered billions in money and cheap gas

        The EU offered an association agreement which would cost Ukraine billions to carry out

        1. Russia offered billions in money and cheap gas

          Wooh! Money for a corrupt authoritarian government and cheap gas that Ukraine could drill for itself is OBVIOUSLY better than free trade and reform.

          1. They were not getting free trade. They had to change their economy before getting any benifits. They had to meet EU standards which would take years and billions to accomplish.

            1. 1) They were (are actually) on their way to free trade. 2) ‘Changing their economy’ means undertaking reforms that they need to anyway, like ending subsidized gas.

              You’ve been caught lying before. You are a rationalizing mendacious shitbag why are you one a libertarian website? Sorry, your kind of faux-libertarian is probably more welcome at lewrockwell.com.

        2. Russia bought the criminal class off and provided stop-gap financing. There was no long term plan of improvement as Russia had no intention of being a market for Ukrainian goods.

          The intent is to lock Ukraine into a permanent subsidized client status to provide a captive path for natural gas and a military buffer.

    2. So, you’re saying Chapman is right? I mean, if the EU managed to take Ukraine out from under Putin while offering a worse economic deal, then Putin clearly is a loser, not a grandmaster.

  6. “”””””Crimea is no gold mine. Poor, undeveloped and rife with organized crime, it was a drain on Ukraine and will be a drain on Russia.””‘”

    Russia with its military spending already supports Crimea. And the rest of Ukraine is just as bad and maybe worse yet this does not stop the US and EU from sending billions of their taxpayers money there

    1. Russia with its military spending already supports Crimea.

      They supported Crimea and so did Ukraine. Now it will all be on Russia.

  7. Let’s see. Gaining territory on your border in a place where the vast majority of the population want you to govern and where you were previously renting property for a military base is a clumsy move that is bound to backfire. Not sure about that hypothesis

    Does he make an enemy of Ukraine proper? Yeah. Were they already headed in that direction? Think so. Are any of the parties involved going to do anything to risk the gas flowing from Russia to Europe through Ukraine? Bwahahaha

    What’s the downside taking Crimea again?

    1. What’s the downside taking Crimea again?

      The massive economic cost that Russia couldn’t sustain even if it weren’t already sustaining severe macroeconomic problems.

      1. The massive economic cost that Russia couldn’t sustain even if it weren’t already sustaining severe macroeconomic problems.

        Okay, what exactly is that massive economic cost? From what I see so far, on the asset side they’ve gained some real estate and warm water access. On the expense side they’ve stopped having to pay rent on a naval base.

        1. Their currency is getting pounded and the Russian stock indices lost like 10% of their value. Capital was walking out of the country before now it will be running. This happened after the Georgian War too and Russia was stronger then.

          1. Russian GDP took a hit in 2008 but recovered in 2009. The impact in temporary not permanent. If Putin stops – he keeps what he has taken.

            1. The Russian economy then took an MASSIVE hit from the 2009 recession and they never fully recovered (neither did America but that’s another story). They are in no position to start something or even appear to be on the brink of starting something.

              1. FWIW – Looking at the GDP data the Russians have recovered better than we have.

                The have gotten hammered recently in the currency and stock markets. The question is will those two market recover in say 12 months?

                The realpolitik question becomes one of is the short term fallout to much for the long term territorial gain?

                1. FWIW – Looking at the GDP data the Russians have recovered better than we have.

                  My wife just returned from Russia this month. I have relatives there who talk to her every day. They aren’t rich, by any stretch of the imagination, and they’re fine. The idea that the economy is “collapsing” there is quite the stretch.

              2. They are in no position to start something or even appear to be on the brink of starting something.

                “Something” already happened. Russians aren’t dying in the streets. The economy was tanking before any Ukraine problem occurred, and yes, it hasn’t improved, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. It really makes little difference whether they can buy as many dollars with their rubles. Russians don’t need a dollar to buy what they need.

                1. It really makes little difference whether they can buy as many dollars with their rubles.

                  Oh yes it does. You can’t have a functioning economy and a bad currency.

                2. Exchange rates matter a great deal… for instance when the Bush administration had a policy to weaken the dollar… that was because it would change the balance sheet (exports become cheaper, imports more expensive) and encourages investment in the US versus importing (cheaper to build it here on a weakened dollar than build it elsewhere and import).

    2. If US policy caused Canada to be taken over by a stridently anti-American government, but the US along the way annexed New Brunswick, would you see that as a victory for the US?

      “Were they already headed in that direction? Think so.”

      If your baseline is two months ago, sure. If your baseline is six months ago, no, they weren’t. In the last six months Putin has traded massive influence in Ukraine for formal control of Crimea alone. He lost, big time.

      1. Excellent points. The formal control of Crimea is also pretty pointless since he already had a lease there. Now he has to funnel billions into a newly acquired tar baby populated by Tatars and others who hate Russia.

        1. The formal control of Crimea is also pretty pointless since he already had a lease there.

          Yeah, leasing a port for a military base is just as good as annexing a whole peninsula. Really

          1. Yes, it is, for Russia’s military purposes.

      2. In the last six months Putin has traded massive influence in Ukraine for formal control of Crimea alone. He lost, big time.

        The point was, he was going to lose anyway whether he takes Crimea or not. Ukraine wasn’t vacillating over being a puppet state

        1. Ukraine wasn’t in revolt before he had his lackey terminate an agreement with Europe in favor of Russia’s trade bloc.

          1. And your point? An agreement with Europe = Putin losing and Ukraine revolting = Putin losing, as far as greater Ukraine goes.

            Which is exactly what I said

      3. If US policy caused Canada to be taken over by a stridently anti-American government, but the US along the way annexed New Brunswick, would you see that as a victory for the US?

        I don’t agree with your premise. I think neither the Russian nor US policy caused the Ukraine crisis. They managed to elect their own corrupt fuck ups all on their own. Their corrupt fuck ups went one step too far and now most Ukrainians want a change. Ukraine isn’t going to stop dealing with Russia over Crimea. Don’t you wonder why they aren’t shooting?

  8. Well, let’s see. Putin wanted Crimea, and Putin got Crimea. I’m not seeing the false victory. Don’t get me wrong, the whole things is a mess and Putin is a vicious asshole, but he got what he went after. It’s kind of like boasting that the bully that beat you up must have broken his hand on your face. Ooohh, you really showed him.

    1. Putin broke his economy for Crimea. And Crimea isn’t what he really really wanted. He wanted a vassal regime in Kiev.

      1. I don’t disagree with you. Taking Crimea is a step in that direction. I’m not sure where the borders of Crimea are specifically located, but Russia certainly managed to grab from Ukraine the greater amount of access to the Black Sea.

        I’m not even arguing that Putin’s plan is particularly sound. My point is that the bully punched Ukraine in gut and stole it’s wallet with modest consequences. Saying that Russia’s economy was broken by this act is a bit of an exaggeration.

        1. Saying that Russia’s economy was broken by this act is a bit of an exaggeration.

          Tell that to the people selling Russian currency and stock en masse.

          1. What effect will that have on Russia in six months?

          2. “Their market is down” is pretty weak sauce.

            1. http://qz.com/189377/russia-is…..les-rally/

              Russia’s Ruble is not only declining but Russia has to raid its reserves to keep it from falling faster.

              1. If Russia propping up their currency is evidence they’re failing – how do you think the US, where currency manipulation is an active past time, is doing now? And in the past?

                & just as a hint – in the future when claiming Russia is failing economically – don’t link to articles who’s first paragraph discusses the stock market surge Russia just got:

                The sanctions imposed on Russian officials by the US and Europe yesterday were milder than many expected, sparking a rally in Russian markets.

                You should stop trying so hard…. as it’s not really working anyway.

    2. For all practical purposes, he already had Crimea back six months ago. Putin didn’t get Crimea; he lost the rest of Ukraine. In the last six months, the Russian sphere of influence has shrunk 43 million people and 220,000 square miles. That’s a loss, however the nominal border moved.

      1. Bingo. Putin’s move was a response, not a plan. Ukraine and the EU were all but consummated in August 2013 China bought like 6% of Ukraine’s public land for agriculture. Putin saw Ukraine falling away for a long while; when his puppet fell he knew Ukraine was lost, so he grabbed what he could. The referendum may have been against Ukraine’s constitution, but Putin didn’t have time to try and institute such a referendum so he used his military to force an election, but not necessarily to influence the outcome of that vote, which he knew he didn’t need to do anyway.

        So for people complaining that sanctions won’t work, they absolutely “work” inasmuch as they are geared toward our outward show of disapproval which is necessary to uphold international customary law. Not objecting can be perceived as acceptance. Even McCain and company screaming on the floor contributes to our manifestations of objecting to the violations of customary law.

        Ukraine is now free to joint the EU, NATO, whatever, which is good for the US especially compared to the alternative of Ukraine joining the Russian Federation which

  9. Yeah, that’s it. Putin lost by winning. Sure, Steve.

    Here’s what I see: At the beginning of Obama’s first term we were going to “reset” our relationship with Russia and get them to cooperate on a host of international issues – Middle East stuff – mostly Iran and Syria.

    We’re now slapping ineffective sanctions on Russians in retaliation over a botched EU expansion and Russia just expanded its territory. Relations haven’t been this bad since the Cold War.

    1. At the beginning of Obama’s first term we were going to “reset” our relationship with Russia and get them to cooperate on a host of international issues – Middle East stuff – mostly Iran and Syria.

      Putin did help with Syria and now we have a nuclear deal in the works with Iran. #results

      1. lol @ nuclear deal with Iran.

        Obama has proven himself completely ineffectual in international politics and policies – how does anyone foresee that succeeding?

        As I believe the US, through their actions under both Bush and Obama – have already openly stated that we’re not that scared of a nuclear Iran and we know and don’t really care that Iran will likely get a nuke at some point in the future.

        For at least a decade, the goal (based upon actions) of the US has been only to delay Iran while distancing ourselves from Israel.

        We do that as we may not care, but we’re not next door to the people who openly say our country shouldn’t exist and are actively trying to get nukes.

        Meaning all we need to do is delay it until we’re out of other wars and have more resources to focus on Iran. But *if* Israel feels forced to act, due to proximity, they will – and our additional “distance” from Israel will allow the US to publicly claim we had no knowledge of any attack and we certainly did not help Israel in any way with planning, logistics, weapons, etc, etc – they did it all on their own.

        To prove it – will we even sign on to the UN’s Strongly Worded Condemnation? against Israel.

        This will show how disgusted we are by our so-called former ally (though secretly we knew and we’re happy – if Israel deals with it – we don’t have to).

    2. Good thing we put Russia in it’s place so well in the South Ossetia War of 2008.

  10. Shorter Chapman: Nobody can really get what they want if it makes someone else mad. This argument doesn’t work with a 2-year-old, much less an adult megalomaniac. Hell, it didn’t even work with the moron that took my parking space this morning.

  11. But if Putin were a foreign policy grandmaster, he wouldn’t have pushed Ukrainians so far that they toppled the government he was propping up.

    You’ve got to be kidding me. In the first place, it wasn’t “the Ukrainians” who toppled the government, it was a mob of people propped up by several shady NGO’s bankrolled by the CIA. Who told you that the Ukrainian people in general wanted to stage a coup? It was clear since last year that the US State Department was working behind the scenes to stir up trouble in the area. Did you really think that Putin was going to just sit idle by and let that country be controlled by a CIA-sponsored government? If the Russians are known for nothing else, it is infiltration tactics. Be reminded that the Soviets had spies and collaborators all over the U.S. State Department from 1936 to 1947, so they know a thing or two about creating and manipulating political puppets.

    1. Adding OldMexican to the list of people who disseminate Putin’s propaganda on HnR.

      You know this propaganda works better when you say TsRU instead of CIA and Gosdep instead of the US State Department. (The squirrels don’t let me write in Russian.) And you probably didn’t even get 85 rubles.

      1. Re: grizzly,

        Adding OldMexican to the list of people who disseminate Putin’s propaganda on HnR.

        You really think this is propaganda, G? Or are you instead ignoring reality to keep your belief in this good US-versus-evil Russia Manichaean dream?

        There’s no lost love between me and Putin, if you want to know. He’s the antithesis of a libertarian. But so is Obama and his cadre of Chicago-born-and-bread criminals. And so were Bush and his cadre of bloodthirsty Neo-cons. And so were all the presidents before them until Coolidge.

        The fact is that the U.S. has conduced a needlessly aggressive foreign policy based on stirring trouble everywhere, from the Middle East to Eastern Europe, most likely to create client states and keep the Dollar propped-up. The problem is that the State Department (populated by deranged collectivists) keeps miscalculating the results of its meddling and being surprised every time at the outcomes. We’re in a MUCH MORE dangerous place today because of this.

        1. You really think this is propaganda, G? Or are you instead ignoring reality to keep your belief in this good US-versus-evil Russia Manichaean dream?

          It doesn’t take a belief in anything to see you’ve provided references to very little evidence for your CIA takeover theory, much less proof.

          1. Re: CampingInYourPark,

            you’ve provided references to very little evidence for your CIA takeover theory,

            There’ no indication above or further down that suggests I said this was a CIA takeover. I am arguing that the CIA bankrolled several shady NGOs and agitators that stirred up trouble in the Ukraine. What I am arguing is that Putin is not going to sit idle by and let Ukraine be governed by a CIA-sponsored government, not that the government was taken over by the CIA.

            1. I am arguing that the CIA bankrolled several shady NGOs and agitators that stirred up trouble in the Ukraine.

              With no real evidence whatsoever. And that would be a better argument if Putin hadn’t been imposing his will on Ukraine for many years beforehand.

              1. Assuming the one needing the proof wasn’t involved in the black op itself…Where does one get proof of black ops?

                ‘Cause if you’re waiting for the papers to be released, that may be a very long time.

                As how knows when they might allow evidence to exist, but we know based upon history that everyone posting on this blog today will all be dead long before any proof is released (assuming it’s even true and assuming they are documenting it well enough to be historically useful if/when declassified).

            2. I have seen no evidence to support your allegations. That does not mean you are wrong, but it means you just keep repeating the same stuff over and over without supporting it.

              If you have support, let’s hear it. If you don’t have any support, don’t expect to persuade anyone.

    2. Old Mexican has been smoking some bad Peyote.

      1. It must mean the same thing as being “On the Road to Mandalay”

    3. it was a mob of people propped up by several shady NGO’s bankrolled by the CIA.

      Your tinfoil hat should be loosened.

      Who told you that the Ukrainian people in general wanted to stage a coup?

      The Ukrainian people.

      You seriously cited the Ron Paul Klown Kollege in Foreign Policy ‘Studies’ as a source. That’s absolutely shameful.

    4. And actually had people working in the OSS when it was first formed.

      Roosevelt’s vice prez Henry Wallace said that if Roosevelt had died while he was still vice prez he intended to name one of them, Laurence Duggan, his Sec State and another, Harry White, Sec Treasury. Fortunately he survived into a 4th term and had replaced Wallace with Truman before his death.

      By a timely coincidence I’ve just finished (almost that is) reading “The Mitrokhin Archive” which tells of every Soviet Spy in the West for a century with info gleemed by a defector who was a Soviet archivist and brought an Eric Snowden amount of KGB/GRU info with him.

      After reading this book I am of firm opinion that Snowden is a Russian illegal and all his story is staged.

      Based on this read I also believe that if the CIA had indeed been fostering unrest in Ukraine that they would have been grossly out numbered by Russian agents working against them, if that’s what Putin wanted.

      1. I used to wonder if the CIA feigned being incompetence as a smoke screen. I have come to the conclusion that the circus is real, and the KGB has owned them so many time they should be renamed “Putin’s Bitches”

  12. It will spur his biggest natural gas customers, in Europe, to reduce their dependence on him.

    The Europeans are going to install dynamos on the fixed bicycles for all those Spinning classes so they can produce enough electricity to tell Putin “Fuck you!”

    Right.

  13. Because the argument forwarded by Steve Chapman, Sheldon Richman, et al, that “non-intervention is always best regardless of outcomes” increasingly looks idiotic, the new tack is to argue that “intervention by Others will inevitably lead to their own misery and downfall!”

    And, well, if it doesn’t, then, well, they can always go back to the old, ‘if the US had done ANYTHING to try and avoid this situation, we’re sure it would have been *much worse*’

    Pig, meet lipstick.

    I presume there will be similar vacillating between arguments of “We CAN do nothing!” and “even if we CAN, we SHOULD do nothing!” now.

    The nice thing about the ‘doing nothing’-stance is that you maintain a perfectly morally superior view regardless of outcomes -regardless of what happens you can always claim, ‘not our fault’ or ‘could have been worse’.

    1. Re: GILMORE,

      Because the argument forwarded by Steve Chapman, Sheldon Richman, et al, that “non-intervention is always best regardless of outcomes” increasingly looks idiotic[…]

      Why are you being disingenuous? The U.S. DID meddle in foreign affairs without the permission of Congress or the People. Did you think that those protests in Kiev were spontaneous? They were the result of fifth-column agitators paid by the U.S. government, in an attempt to gain another client state for NATO.

      Have you seen how much money is budgeted for NATO-related activities? Did you think that the bureaucracy would simply let anybody take their power away after the Iron Curtain fell? No. It continues to grow, to consume taxes and increase its power. What was NATO for, if not to protect the West from Communist aggression? Well, where is this Communist aggression now? The Soviet Union is gone, so why haven’t we seen the EU take over their own defense? Because NATO is BIG BUSINESS, Gil. The Military-Industrial complex wants more clients and they want them good and hard.

      1. If you think this many people can be so easily duped, along with a cover up by the media, into doing the CIA’s bidding then the idea that any society will ever be anything remotely libertarian is a sick fucking joke and not worth spending a moment’s thought on.

        http://stateofthenation2012.co….._large.jpg

        1. Re: CampingInYourPark,

          If you think this many people can be so easily duped,

          Like they were not duped into voting for a guy with no political or managerial accomplishments and no real skills except for clever prose and demagoguery? Twice?

          Please.

          1. Like they were not duped into voting for a guy with no political or managerial accomplishments and no real skills except for clever prose and demagoguery? Twice?

            Yeah, people voting for someone you think is incompetent is exactly the same thing as selling out your countrymen for the purposes of your homeland being taken over by agents of a foreign state.

          2. Can you at least cough up some evidence that the CIA was actively promoting the overthrow of the prior Ukrainian government?

      2. They were the result of fifth-column agitators paid by the U.S. government, in an attempt to gain another client state for NATO.

        Don’t forget that 9/11 was because of JOOOOOZZZ.

      3. OM =

        “They were the result of fifth-column agitators paid by the U.S. government, in an attempt to gain another client state for NATO”

        Really? This is what you’re going to roll with?

        These ‘protestors’ (that you argue the US apparently ginned up ex-nihilo) have been involved in a struggle to delouse the Ukrainian political establishment since at *least* 2004.

        Are you arguing that the sine-qua-non of the Ukrainian Opposition Movement is … *US money*?

        because that’s so fucking stupid I don’t have any response for you.

  14. Cannot agree with Steve here. Once you start taking over foreign territory to protect your ethnic brethren, it becomes a habit hard to break. Take a look at the Sudentland. At some point the Ukrainians will have to fight, or maybe it will be the Latvians or Lithuanians as they all have significant Russian populations. Putin’s speech made it pretty clear he thought it was wrong that Russians were divided by so many national borders. Once Crimea has been digested, look for “incidents” where Russians in neighboring territories all of a sudden need protection from Mother Russia because they are being oppressed by others.

    Steve sounds like he is trying to rationalize doing nothing, but the consequences of token sanctions are likely to be dire.

  15. Chapman’s article is, as usual, a bunch of crap. This is remarkable because he’s right but his argument is totally stupid.

    The real reasons Putin and Russia have lost is 1) Acceleration of Russia’s economic decline. They were in a lot of trouble before and it is worse now. The Ruble is taking a beating. The central bank had to raise rates by 1.5 percentage points in a day and that isn’t sufficient. 2) Putin wanted a subservient Kiev. He already had a base in Crimea, so taking over Crimea is a lame constellation prize, the achievement of which has generated a strongly anti-Russian administration in Kiev and alarmed the Baltics and Poland and others, who I imagine will be more pro-active on the gas drilling and military build-up front.

    1. If Putin’s goal in life is to keep the Ruble strong on world markets then he’s failed. But, somehow, I think he’s got a different plan in mind.

      Putin’s neighbors are alarmed, alright, but it’s because they’ve realized that they’re entirely on their own. And if Russian troops took over Warsaw next Tuesday, Wednesday would bring a Steve Chapman article explaining how glad we are to be rid of that nasty Poland place. Rationalization is a hell of a drug.

      1. For Putin to be all TUFF GAI Russia’s economy has to be able to support it. It can’t. You’re right about Chapman.

  16. Dead Prez or cat?

  17. Back in the 19th century this fella named Bismark was playing this same game. He did not over reach and the end result was a ‘Greater Germany’ and he is seen as a ‘Great Statesman’.

    21st Century Russia is not 19th Century Germany. If Putin sticks to nibbling at the borders of a few states he will not see his gains overturned. Not everyone who annexes a chunk of their weaker neighbor’s land is Hitler, they are just assholes.

    1. No shit. In a year nobody will remember this even happened. And I mean Ukrainians

  18. The EU did not win in Ukraine despite the deal offered by Russia except that we offered (in violation of the Final Conference on Security and Cooperation agreement of 1975), “indirect assistance . . . to other activities” for the “overthrow” (using those lovely people known as Svoboda’s “autonomous nationalists” – they were the ones in Kiev wearing balaclavas, throwing molotov cocktails and carrying weapons) of the Yanukovych regime.

    I think it was the NY Times who described the current “sanctions” game as “tit for tat” in a headline – EU, tit; Russia, tat (the trade agreements); U.S., tit, Russia, tat (our interfering in the internal affairs, violating the ’75 agreement; Russia letting its Black Sea fleet troops take over Crimea, tat) and now more tit for tat with the so-called “sanctions”.

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