Posts Tagged With: Vladimir Putin

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

That famous quote from 1961 belongs to Yogi Berra, all-star catcher for the New York Yankees, and was made in the context of on-going baseball events. Yogi had a way of mangling the English language, (or in this case, the French) but in a humorous fashion that sports writers loved to quote. If you’re interested, you can Google for other Yogisms. The trouble is, however, when deja vu keeps occurring in the unfolding events of mankind, it no longer becomes funny, but instead takes on tragic proportions. And the funny part is how it keeps happening over and over and over again.  Today, we have history repeating itself, with devastating consequences, but with hardly anyone seeming to learn from the lessons of the past. Let us then try to understand how and why this is occurring.

I’ve written many times before about how Adolf Hitler and his Nazi thugs came to power in Germany in the the 1930s, and the ensuing consequences  for the rest of Europe; but the 1930s so closely parallel today’s world events, that it bears repeating. Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1932, largely through the democratic process. But upon taking office in 1933, Hitler swiftly abolished all semblances of freedom and democracy in Germany, as well as any future elections, and became dictator for life. If you opposed his regime, it was off to the concentration camps, or you were just simply executed. In contravention of the Treaty of Versailles which ended WWI, Hitler started to militarily re-arm Germany, soon after he took office. If the French had sent troops into Germany at that point, as they were legally obliged to do by the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler could have been quickly deposed, WWII could have been avoided, and 60 million deaths in Europe as a result of that war would have also been avoided. But the French did nothing but just stood by as the Nazi military grew in strength. After all, who wants to undergo the messiness of war when one could luxuriate in peaceful endeavors. So, seeing that both France and England were essentially paper tigers, Hitler made his next move in early 1938 by invading and swallowing up Austria. The pretext was that Austria was a German speaking nation, so they should have belonged to Germany all along. Never mind that Austria was a separate country with its own government; it now became part of the Third Reich. That event came to be known as the Anschluss, as the Allies (France, England, and now the U.S.) rationalized Hitler’s aggression as being no big deal. A policy of appeasement with Nazi Germany could forestall military engagement. Or so it was thought.

Hitler, now convinced that all of Europe was his for the taking, in 1938 moved his Nazi war machine into northern Czechoslovakia, again on the pretext that most of its inhabitants were also of German ethnicity. This time, the leadership of France and England started to become “concerned.” A conference was arranged in Munich, Germany between Hitler and Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, of England and France respectively. The Munich Conference, as it came to be known, would go down in history as the ultimate failure of a policy of appeasement when dealing with aggressor tyrants.  A pact was signed there in Munich on that day in 1938, that allowed Hitler to retain the spoils of his adventurism in Austria and northern Czechoslovakia as long as he committed no further acts of aggression. After the conference, Chamberlain came home to cheering crowds in London and proclaimed he had achieved “peace in our time.” The British were in ecstasy because they wanted so much to believe this was true. Daladier also returned to Paris and was similarly greeted by mobs of elated Frenchmen at Orly Airport. But Daladier didn’t delude himself. He knew that a long, bloody war was just around the corner. Looking haggard and sleep-deprived as he gazed upon the cheering mobs, he was heard to mutter-“the damn fools.”

The ink was no sooner dry on the Munich pact than Hitler moved his troops into the rest of Czechoslovakia and gobbled up the entire country. Might as well, since nobody was around to stop the Nazi war machine. France and England continued to look the other way. The U.S. Congress continued to follow a policy of strict isolationism, despite President Roosevelt’s desire to become militarily engaged. It wasn’t until 1939, when Hitler formally invaded Poland, that the Allies were forced to come to terms with the fact that WWII was officially underway, and they had better deal with it quickly. By that time, it was almost too late. In the East, the Nazi army drove to the very gates of Moscow. If Russia had fallen, all of Europe would have been under Nazi rule, except for Britain, and the British were hanging on by their fingernails. The German Luftwaffe was bombing London on a daily basis, until it was mostly a pile of rubble. It was only the long, bitter cold Russian winter that stalled the Nazi onslaught in the East, and allowed the Red Army to regroup and begin to push back against German troops. In England, Neville Chamberlain was quickly thrown out of office and replaced by Winston Churchill who rallied the British to engage in a stout-hearted defense of their homeland. But it wasn’t until U.S. forces finally entered the war in late 1941, that the tide began to turn in favor of the Allies. At the height of WWII, the U.S. would have 10 million troops fighting in both Europe and the Pacific, at an horrendous cost of lives and treasure. So much for waiting until the last minute to do what has to be done.

Now comes the deja vu part as we fast forward to present day. In Europe today, there is another tyrant who is on the move against his neighboring countries. This time it’s, of course, Vladimir Putin, the Godfather, or Boss of Bosses who rules Russia with an iron fist. For over a year now, he has decided to slice and dice neighboring Ukraine, annexing chunks of it into what he hopes will be another Russian or Soviet empire. The first chunk he bit off was Crimea, a sizable portion of what was once the Ukraine. France, Germany, Britain and the U.S. pretty much stood by and proclaimed that well, that’s how the cookie crumbles. The Allies did put into effect some mild economic sanctions against some of Putin’s cronies, but none have had any significant results. Next, Putin began supplying Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons as they battle government forces that are trying to prevent the eastern part of their country from falling under Russian domain, as the Crimea has. Russian troops, undercover, have also joined the battle with the separatists.  Thousands have already died as the war continues to rage. So last week, the PMs of both Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, schlepped to Moscow to sign a peace accord with Putin that was supposed have put an immediate cease-fire into effect in the Ukraine. But once again, the ink was was barely dry on the accord when vicious fighting broke out and hundreds of government forces were slaughtered. Sounds a lot like Munich to me. Deja Vu. All over again.

All the while, the consummate evil of terrorism in our time continues to spread. Isis, Al-Qaeda, Boko Harem, Taliban or whatever you want to call these mass serial killers, are on the march and growing stronger. They’ve officially spread their wings in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, and to a some extent in Jordan and Egypt. If the U.S. and its European allies struck militarily against these barbarians now, i.e. by putting boots on the ground, instead of just engaging in token bombing raids, destruction of these terrorists is within reach at a relatively small cost. Every day that we hesitate, however, they grow stronger and the cost of confrontation becomes more expensive and deadlier. But, after all, who wants to become engaged in an all out war. It’s so much messier that the peaceful pursuits we’re all engaged in. Who needs that. As I said, it’s deja vu. All over again.

 

 

 

 

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DERANGEMENT AS THE HUMAN CONDITION

How does the world seem to be spinning these days? A bit wobbly you might say. Well, perhaps wobbly is too mild a word. Deranged disintegration might be a more apt description. Lets look at what has transpired just in the last couple of weeks, to observe the depths of new lows in the human condition.

About a week or so ago, Ukrainian rebels seeking to break the eastern part of Ukraine off from the rest of the country and join the Russian “empire,” such as it is, decided what jolly good fun it would be to fire a surface-to-air missile at an unarmed civilian aircraft. Of course, the missile found its target, and just under 300 innocent civilian travelers were killed in an instant. There was no military advantage that could accrue to the rebels by bringing down Malaysian flight #17. It was just killing for the sake of killing, perhaps similar to the way a serial killer gets his kicks by murdering innocent victims. The missiles and launchers and other weaponry have been supplied to the Ukrainian by Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, who has dreams of reassembling the old USSR under his leadership. Of course, after this heinous act of destruction, the missile launchers were quickly returned to Russian soil, and everyone from Putin on down to the lowest Ukrainian rebel denied culpability in this tragic incident. These days, truth and reality is what you choose to proclaim, not what actually transpired.

I’ve written before about what a thug and tyrant Vladimir Putin is, and how the Russian people have been suffering under his despotism, so I won’t rehash previous postings. Well, maybe a little rehash, just to point out that economic conditions are so bleak in Russia that the Russian population has been spiraling downward for at least 2 decades. Only major influxes of Muslims from Arab countries have kept Russia afloat. Their economy depends almost solely on large deposits of oil and gas that Russia exports, mainly to other European countries. Should those countries ever start developing their own sources of energy, the Russian economy would collapse like a house of cards. Nevertheless, this is what the mind-numbing rebel idiots in the Eastern part of the Ukraine are trying to become part of. And in the process, picking off a commercial airline flight when things get a little too dull.

Of course, the epitome of human derangement continues in the on-going war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. Again, I won’t rehash what I wrote last time, except to point out the reasons for the disparity in casualties between the two sides. In Israel, all military personnel and activities are confined solely to military bases. In  Gaza, Hamas has arranged just the opposite. Hamas has placed their missiles and missile launchers and all other weaponry amongst the civilian population. Rockets and their launchers have been put in civilian apartments and houses, in schools and hospitals, in mosques and UN refugee camps, in market places, and all other locations that civilians tend to populate. Hence when Israeli forces seek to destroy these weapons, there will be a very high toll of civilian casualties. But that’s the idea in the terrorist’s mindset. Run up as many civilian deaths as possible, even among your own people, in order to win the PR campaign. Hamas can then go forward and say to the world- look at all the innocent civilians the Zionist entity is killing.

Hamas terrorists, when going to a different location, ride in ambulances crammed with young children, daring Israel to fire at these vehicles and destroy the lives of their young hostages. Who does things like that? What kind of a mindset does it take to fire rockets out of civilian apartments or mosques in order to run up the tally of non-combatant deaths? It’s the mindset, as I pointed out last time, of a people that cherish death over life. And in the end, its it’s the mindset of of the Palestinians themselves living in Gaza, that voted Hamas into a government leadership role, and who today, even amidst all the death, destruction and misery, continue to cheer Hamas rocket launches into the Israeli civilian population. Can human derangement get any lower than that.

To date, the death toll stands at about 750 for the Palestinians and about 30 for Israel, a country that actually does deeply mourn each loss of life. One of the discoveries coming out of this war is the vast network of tunnels that Hamas has developed in underground Gaza. These tunnels were created at enormous time and expense in order to allow Hamas terrorists to burrow their way into Israel and kill or capture as many Israeli civilians as possible. As I pointed out last time, when Hamas took the reins of Gaza leadership in 2006 they could have taken a different route. They could  have asked the U.S. and the European Union to invest heavily in a peaceful Gaza. They could have pointed out that there was a huge pool of workers in Gaza, hungry for decent paying jobs. They could have pointed out that large investments in plants, factories, tourism, etc. would return handsome profits to the investors. Instead Hamas decided to spend all their time, energy and resources in devising methods to kill Israelis.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to human folly. In the on-going 4-year old civil war in Syria, brutal dictator Assad has butchered over 150,000 of his countrymen in order to stay in power. Yet it’s hardly a blip on anyone’s radar screen these days. Maybe the trick is to run up the death toll so high that no one cares anymore. In Iraq, where we fought for 10 years at huge human and resource sacrifice, a terrorist group even more violent than Al-Qaida has taken over large swaths of territory. In Nigeria, another terrorist organization is killing people by the hundreds. Libya, the one place where the U.S. did take military action, has pretty much degenerated into its own civil war. And the beat goes on.

So how is the planet spinning these days? A hell of a lot more than wobbly. More like the pits of a deranged, murderous, dysfunctional entity, I would think.

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THE SMARTLESS ONES

One of the cartoons in yesterday’s comic section of the paper, had the cartoon characters climbing up the peak to confer with the political correctness guru, who then informed them that calling people stupid was no longer acceptable. Instead the new politically correct terminology was “smartless.” People didn’t habitually act in incredibly stupid ways. They just fell victim to the state of smartlessness. So I thought I would illustrate how being “smartless” can often result in tragic an horrific events. Because being smartless is just another way for humans to avoid reality and dive head first into a state of delusion.

Lets go back to the 1930s when Hitler and the Nazis where gaining more and more power and control over the German population. Jews were already being persecuted, by either being hauled off to concentration camps or just outwardly murdered by Nazi thugs. (By the way, the same held true for homosexuals and political dissidents or opponents of the Nazi regime.) During this period, a new term was coined in German-“JudenFrei.” It meant that an organization, town or city had been ethnically cleansed of all Jews, and was now JudenFrei. For example, Berlin became JudenfFrei in May,1943. Being JudenFrei was cause for great celebration among the German populace. There was partying, beer drinking, fireworks, and dancing in the streets once a town or city achieved that goal. Because most Germans had already been hypnotized into a state of delusion by the skillful demagoguery of Adolph Hitler.

In actuality, the only real effect for a town to become JudenFrei, was the loss of income experienced by that town’s merchants and shopkeepers. Since Jews and others on the Nazi hit list no longer lived there, they could no longer spend their money on the goods and services available in that town. But who cared about reality in those days. After all, Germany was becoming more prosperous in the 1930s, due primarily to the huge increase in weapons production, as the Nazi war machine went into overdrive. Now there were good paying jobs for everyone. Hitler had told them that Germany was becoming more powerful and respected by the rest of the world. Especially, after the shame and disgrace Germany had been forced to suffer at the hands of the Allies after WWI, by having to sign the Treaty of Versailles which required Germany to disarm, and become a second rate country. Hitler used Germany’s supposed humiliation caused by having to sign the Treaty of Versailles as a demagogic sledgehammer on his way to achieving ultimate power.

One thing the Nazis were especially proficient at was filming Hitler and his entourage as they wended their way through an endless stream of parades. Even with cameras that would be considered obsolete by today’s technology. When those cameras spanned over the crowds, one can see hordes of young frauleins, maybe 12, 14, or 15 years old, waving and smiling in adoration, as Hitler’s motorcade slowly went by. After all what was there not to like. As long as you weren’t a Jew or homosexual or didn’t make waves. As long as you didn’t mind persecution of those that were, or a total lack of freedom of speech and press. In other words as long as you were in total denial and lived under the comfy blankets of delusion. But it wasn’t stupidity; it was just being smartless.

Such delusional stupor continued on in Germany into the early 1940s, as WWII commenced, and the Nazi war machine conquered virtually all of Europe. Only Britain and Russia were left standing, and they were hanging on by their fingernails. Then at long last, the U.S. entered the fray, the Allies regrouped, and the tide of war began to turn against Germany. Allied bombers, as they gained strength, began to bomb German cities around the clock, until they became heaps of rubble. Young frauleins were no longer gazing at Hitler in adoration, but instead, were keeping their heads down and trying to avoid being blown to bits. The average German was now being forced out of his comfy state of delusion and had to face reality whether he liked it or not. If he wanted to survive, he could no longer afford the luxury of being smartless. He was now experiencing first hand, the suffering, misery and death, that the Nazis had inflicted on the rest of Europe. That’s the thing about avoiding reality. Eventually it does catch up with you, and then the misery is usually twofold.

But we don’t have to go back decades ago to view how the human condition often leads one into a state of “smartlessness.” It’s currently going on right before our eyes in the Ukraine, as well as in other countries, including ours, of course. As I’ve recently written, the Crimea region of the Ukraine, by overwhelming majorities, has just voted to place themselves under Vladimir Putin’s boot. I’ve written previously about the dictatorial thug that is Vladimir Putin so I won’t rehash it again. Except to say he runs Russia Mafia-style where he is the Godfather; and that the Russian economy is so bad that, as a result,  the Russian birthrate is declining rapidly, to the extent that Putin himself is deeply worried. This is what the people of Crimea have so joyfully voted to become part of. Great celebrations over the Crimean vote, not just in Crimea, but in Russia too. Putin’s favorability ratings have skyrocketed due to Russia’s sudden acquisition of additional territory. Just as they celebrated Hitler’s early conquests, in Nazi Germany.

In a few months, when the situation in Crimea dies down, (assuming that it does) the average Russian and Crimean will be forced to come out of the comfy warmth of their delusions. They will be forced to face the rotten state of their lives, and how bad their economy and living conditions really are. They will have to face the fact that their only relief is to drown their sorrows in Russian-made vodka. But it’s not their fault. They were victimized by being in a state of smartlessness.

 

 

 

 

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NO REMEDY FOR ACTING STUPID

There was an article, a little over a year ago, about a woman in Minnesota, in her early 60s that was suffering from a heart condition. One morning she woke up and had great difficulty breathing. She managed to arrange to shortly see her cardiologist, who was able to bring her breathing difficulties under control.   But it was the beginning of July and the woman mentioned that she and her husband had been invited to a neighborhood outdoor party for the Fourth of July holiday. Under no condition, the doctor warned her sternly, was she to eat any hot dogs or other similarly fatty foods. If she did, he admonished, she would likely wind up in the hospital. So did this woman heed the doctor’s clear warning and wisely choose her food selections at the neighborhood party? Of course not. That would have been too rational. Instead, she let her weakness for consuming hot dogs gain the upper hand, and knocked down two extra large ones in the blink of an eye. And sure enough, the next day, she suffered a mild heart attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. After all, what was more important-continued living, or the few minutes of pleasurable taste attained in eating those hot dogs.

It’s too bad that medical science has not been able to develop a pill, or a therapy, for curing stupid. For example, almost 43 million adults, or near a quarter of the adult population 18 years or older, continue to smoke in this country. This, despite over 50 years of harsh warnings from the Surgeon General on down to the local councilman, about the destructively ill effects resulting from smoking. Despite the fact that over 400,000 Americans die a painful death each year as a result of smoking. Millions more develop life-long debilitating illnesses. It is also interesting to note that all these millions of smokers, at one time or another, manage to wind up in Las Vegas casinos. Because casinos are the one place in America where smoking is not only not demonized, it is, in fact, welcomed. Because casino owners know that as eager tourists start shoveling their life savings into slot machines or the craps tables, smoking is the one outlet left to help soothe the nerves of people that have just lost a bundle. They also get free drinks, as long as they’re gambling, to further calm their anguish.

This is sort of a long way around to discuss the situation in Crimea, where over 90% of the Crimean population just voted to align themselves with Russia instead the Ukraine which they are actually part of. To put themselves under Vladimir Putin’s boot, so to speak. Because life in Russia is so peachy. I discussed last time, the thug and tyrant that is Vladimir Putin, so I won’t rehash that again. Suffice to say that the Russians themselves are not quite as enthralled as the Crimeans. An interesting detail is the fact that Russia is slowly but steadily losing population. Even Putin has decried the seriousness of this problem. In the early 1990s, Russia’s population stood at 148 million people. Today, it has declined to 143 million, and continues to fall at a rate of 700,000 to 800,000 per year. It’s like watching a catastrophe unfolding in slow motion. By 2050, it’s estimated that the Russian population will be down to 110 million.

Apparently the Russians themselves don’t believe they are quite living in the Garden of Eden, as their death rate continues to outstrip their birth rate. Russia’s death rate is 15 people per 1000, each year. That’s far higher than the world average of 9 people per 1000, per year. In the U.S. it’s 8 per 1000.   In Russia, people die at an earlier age than in most countries, mainly because of rampant alcoholism. For example, the average longevity for men in Russia is 59, versus about 76 for men in this country. The primary reason for the difference is alcoholism, especially among men. As I mentioned last time, Putin’s cronies get all the capital, and the rest of the peasants, who generally experience great economic hardships, are left to drown their sorrows in Russian vodka.

Coupled with the high death rate in Russia, is an exceedingly low birth rate. Due to poor economic conditions, freezing weather, and a general lack of freedom and liberty, Russian couples are becoming less inclined to bring new off-spring into the world. The Russian fertility rate stands at only 1.3 births per woman during her lifetime. A replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman is required for the population to just stay even. In overall numbers, this amounts to about 10 births per 1000 people, versus the 20 deaths per 1000 that is currently occurring in Russia. Doesn’t look to me like there’s a lot of sustainability there.

Other European countries who also have low birth rates, (not as low as Russia’s birth rate, however) are experiencing a considerable influx of immigrants, which helps them maintain a sustainable population rate. However, the amount of immigrant migration to Russia is virtually nil, primarily because of the poor economic outlook. In fact, the emigration out of Russia, especially for the best and brightest who seek better economic opportunity in other European countries, often exceeds immigration into Russia. The Russian economy is built around one product, which is energy. It does have considerable deposits of oil, gas and coal. But due to the crony capitalism inherent in operating the Russian energy system, there is great waste, fraud and mis-management which results in low productivity. In any event, it’s difficult to achieve a high functioning economy with just one product. Oh, and there’s vodka manufacturing, also.

So congratulations to all those that voted in Crimea to cast their lot with the Russian bear. You’re joining a system that most people with brains are running away from. But as I said at the beginning, science has yet to develop a remedy for stupid. That’s the one freedom that no one can take away-the freedom to act with stupidity.

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THE UKRAINE DEBACLE

Hillary Clinton was right-0n target when she described Vladimir Putin and his Russian forces take-over of the Crimean sector of the Ukraine as being virtually identical to Hitler’s takeover of Chechoslovakia. In 1938, Hitler marched his Nazi troops into northern Chechoslovakia on the pretext that he was merely protecting the rights of the large German population that inhabited that region. This led to the infamous Munich conference between Hitler and England’s Neville Chamberlain as well as the Prime Minister of France. Hitler promised no further military incursions if his act of aggression was allowed to stand. Chamberlain agreed, and returned home to wildly cheering crowds when he proclaimed that that he had “achieved peace in our time.” At Chechoslovakia’s expense, of course. The French PM knew this was all a charade but was powerless to reverse the course that was unfolding. It was only a few months later that Hitler tore up the Munich accord by taking over the rest of Chechoslovakia, and then invading Poland, as World War II was on for real. The British finally came to their senses and replaced Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, with the toughness and realism of a Winston Churchill.

So it is with Putin’s military takeover of Crimea. After all, he only did it to protect the rights of the large Russian populace currently living in Crimea. The first thing to know is that Putin is an old KGB mid-level thug who rose to power with the fall of the old Soviet empire. The KGB was Moscow’s equivalent of the Nazi Gestapo, and had used virtually identical Gestapo methods as standard operating procedure. Since knocking off his opponents and achieving ultimate power, Putin runs the Russian government Mafia-style. If anyone of significance crosses him, they’re either deposited in Siberian prison camps for the duration, or just simply eliminated. Putin’s economic system relies heavily on crony capitalism-his cronies receive all the capital, and the rest of the peasants are left with their vodka to blot out their unhappy lives. As I’ve said, it’s a Mafia-style government with Putin being the godfather, or the boss of bosses. It’s a primary reason that Russia is chief among all nations in the world, in actually losing population, due to a significantly declining  birth rate, that doesn’t keep pace with its death rate.

The thing is, however, that Putin is also a highly ambitious man, and is not satisfied with just ruling Russia. He has big dreams of re-assembling the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR, and bringing it all under his command. In 2008, his troops invaded and took over half the state of adjoining Georgia, while President George W. Bush, and the rest of the world stood by and did nothing. He maintains an iron-grip on Chechnya, which is a Moslem country fighting for years for its independence from Russia. The Chechnians have resorted to unleashing horrific terrorist acts against the Russian people; but this has not dissuaded Putin from granting Chechnya its freedom.  The Ukraine, however, is the biggest prize in Putin’s ambitions, and the takeover of Crimea is just the beginning.

Just as Hitler got to preside over the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin, shortly before the out break of WWII, Putin took center-stage over the 2014  just-ended winter Olympics in Russia, shortly before invading Crimea. Amazing how consistently history keeps repeating itself. Both men presented themselves as models of rationality who enjoyed world class sporting events as much as the next guy. Their sinister goals remained well-hidden during the Olympic festivities. But the wolf in sheep’s clothing eventually bares its fangs. And when it does people die.

The mess in the Ukraine began when its democratically elected leader decided to switch sides. Preparations had been made for the Ukraine to join the European Union, which would enable it to reap all the trade, economic, and other financial benefits that membership in the EU had to offer. The whole world expected that to occur, including the leadership in this country. But Putin could never allow that to happen. At the last minute, Putin persuaded the Ukrainian leader to renounce EU membership and, instead, come in under Russia’s umbrella. The Ukrainian people were up in arms and massive demonstrations started taking place. The government’s answer was to slaughter protesters by the hundreds as the streets literally ran with blood. Even more massive protests took place, and the Ukrainian government was finally overthrown, with its leader fleeing for his life to Russia. An interim government has been established, with a pro-western agenda. It was at this point that Putin decided on a military take-over of the Crimean portion of the Ukraine, which is now solidly inside the Russian orbit.

While President Obama and other western allies have generally denounced Russia’s military aggression, there’s not a lot options available to us. There was a time in recent history when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had the military muscle to counter such Russian operations, but it no longer does. Today NATO is just a shadow of its former self. England, France and Germany have cut their military resources to the bone; leaving the U.S. to pretty much do all the heavy lifting. It’s one of the reasons why we sustain $700 billion dollars a year in Defense expenditures. But there is virtually no appetite in this country for further military adventurism for any reason. After being sapped by a decade’s-long war in Iraq, and a still on-going 13 year-old war in Afghanistan, the one thing almost all Americans agree on is, no more military involvements.

There has been talk of imposing economic or financial sanctions against Russia, but major problems exist with those courses of action too. Russia supplies western Europe and the Ukraine with almost all of its energy resources. Gas and oil flow through Russian pipelines to virtually every European country. If we imposed economic sanctions against Russia, Putin could just as easily shut down all Russian energy deliveries to the rest of Europe. It’s known as being caught between a rock and a hard place. So consider that Crimea is now permanently within Moscow’s sphere of influence. The real question is, however, whether or not Putin will be satisfied with just ownership of Crimea, or does he have all of the Ukraine within his sight. Stay tuned for further developments.

 

 

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THE SYRIA FIASCO

Fiasco is probably too-mild a word to describe the mess we’ve gotten into over the handling of the on-going tragedy occurring in Syria. So if any of you have more descriptive terminology, I’m open to suggestions. In any event, I thought it would be helpful in understanding the horror that is current-day Syria if we studied the four major players involved.

First, of course, at the top of the list, is Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar Assad. The Syrian civil war has now been going on for nearly 3 years, but Assad is determined to stay in power, even if has to kill every last person opposing his regime. So far, he’s slaughtered close to 120,000 of his fellow countrymen, and there seems to be no abatement in the on-going butchery.  As we all know, Assad recently decided to use some his vast arsenal of chemical weapons, and in the process, murdered 1400 of the Syrian opposition, which included an estimated 400 children. He has now taken his rightful place in the human hall-of-shame butchers over the past 100 years. These, of course, include Mussolini , Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and more recently, Saddam Hussein. Initially, the Syrian opposition appeared to to be getting the upper-hand in their rebellion against the Assad regime. But then, both Russia and Iran stepped in with heavy infusions of military hardware, which enabled Assad to turn the tide in his favor. Twisted minds think alike, as I wrote about in my recent posting on the bottomless pit of evil. Since the dictatorships in both Russia and Iran of the same mindset as Assad, why not help out a fellow tyrant in need.

Which brings to the second figure in this on-going debacle- Vladimir Putin, the Godfather of Russia. For those of you unfamiliar with the Godfather’s background, Putin used to be a mid-level thug in the old Soviet KGB, (Russia’s version  of the Nazi Gestapo.) After the fall of the Soviet’s communist empire, Putin, with deft skillfulness, managed to rise to the top of Russia’s new regime. He currently runs the Russian government with Mafia-style brutality. He’s considered the Godfather, or the boss-of-bosses, if you will, when it comes to governance. Anyone seriously opposing his regime will either wind up in an old Soviet gulag in Siberia for many years, or at the bottom of the sea wearing a cement overcoat. But Putin is no fool. So when he saw that the U.S. might use military force to punish Assad for the use of poison gas on his people, he stepped in with a proposal to protect his client state and partner in evil. Playing the U.S. like a fiddle, he suckered us into agreeing to hold off on the military option if Assad would agree to turn over his arsenal of chemical weaponry to an “international organization,” whoever that might be. Supposedly, these chemical weapons would then be destroyed.  This is such a bad idea, I hardly know where to begin.

It’s been estimated that Assad has now dispersed his poison gas inventory to over 50 locations, or more. To assume that an international force will be able to round up the entire lot of Syrian chemical weapons is ridiculous. Plus the fact that you don’t get rid of chemical weapons by just flushing them down the toilet or kitchen sink. The destruction of chemical weaponry is a very careful, rigid, taxing and time consuming endeavor. Strict safeguards have to be in place to prevent any possible mistake that could result in unimaginable devastation for miles around the destruction site. It would take years and years to destroy Assad’s chemical stockpile, under the best of conditions. Nevertheless, the Obama administration latched on to Putin’s delusional proposal, like a drowning swimmer grabbing for a life raft. Which brings to the third major player in this fiasco.

President Obama’s stated foreign policy thrust has been, in his words, “leading from behind.” I won’t get into all the gory details, but this position has led to a crippling weakness in foreign affairs, especially among the most evil and vilest leaders currently occupying the world stage. Obama drew a red line in the sand the first time Assad used chemical warfare on his people. But nobody was fearful or intimidated that Obama would actually do something. So, as I’ve said, Assad went ahead and blatantly gassed another 1400 of his populace. Obama then felt he had to undertake some kind of military retaliation, mostly because of that whole red line in the sand thingy. But his heart was not really into using military force, so he dumped the whole matter on Congresses lap, even though, as Commander-In-Chief, he had full authority to act on his own. Now asking our polarized and dysfunctional Congress to approve a sane and rational course of action, is like asking a starving lion to protect the lambs grazing in the adjoining field. Ain’t never going to happen. In Obama’s defense, it should be fairly noted that, a few days before in England, supposedly our closest ally, the British House of Commons voted down Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal to join the U.S. in military action against Syria. Obama could see the handwriting on the wall.

Which brings us to the fourth culprit in this tragedy, the American public. Polls show that the public is overwhelming against any sort of military involvement in Syria. Fed up with never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, (who wouldn’t be) the U.S. public has retreated to a position of isolationism. Which, of course, worked out so well for us up until the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and our ensuing involvement in WWII, for which we were totally unprepared. But because of public opposition, looney-tunes tea party Republicans have teamed up with left wing-Democrats, in an unholy alliance, opposing any possible military venture. Besides they point out, Al-Quida terrorists have become embedded with the Syrian rebels,  so its best left for the evil forces on both sides to go on killing each other.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned over a lifetime, it’s that a policy of isolationism has dreadful consequences in the end. In this case, if Assad prevails, the real winners will be Russia and Iran. Yes, the same Iran that is rushing forward to develop nuclear weapons. And to dominate the oil-rich middle-east. Anyone out there happy about the prospect of the fanatical jihadist mullahs of Iran dictating world events.  You know, at one point in this planet’s history, the Roman Empire was the most powerful force on Earth. But the Huns and Vandals and other barbarians of that era kept chipping away at Rome’s defenses. Mostly through the use of terrorist tactics of that era. which was primarily to raid outlying villages and kill everyone in sight. Then plunder, and burn these villages to the ground. Eventually, Romans of that day became tired of all this constant warfare, and became isolationist, and then withdrew inside the confines of Rome itself. This only emboldened the barbarians, who were then able to break through the gates of Rome, and proceed to destroy the very existence of the Roman Empire. That was the beginning of what is referred to as “the dark ages.” It might be useful for people in this country to re-learn the lessons of history.

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