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Monday Message Board

March 10th, 2014

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. drsusancalvin
    March 10th, 2014 at 09:10 | #1

    New ozone-destroying chemicals discovered in atmosphere. Should I be worried? I doubt we can achieve anything like the Montreal Protocol consensus again. Oh, and have a gr888t day!

  2. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 09:16 | #2

    Europe is on a hiding to nothing in trying to tell Russia what to do in Crimea and Ukraine. Why does the West fell it necessary to interfere in Ukraine? This is a Ukraine / Russia issue. There is nothing the West can do that would be constructive. Rather, it would again be destructive interference by the West in matters best left alone. The West’s involvement will only make matters worse.

    Russia is a nuclear superpower. You can’t tell it what to do in its own backyard. Russia is an energy superpower. The EU is a collapsing energy minnow. Its periphery is already plundered and decaying and now it wants to plunder Ukraine apparently.

    The EU needs Russian energy. Russia does not really need the EU or its products. Pushing Russia will push it further into the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation). Confrontation with Russia over Ukraine is a geostrategic mistake. Militarily, Russia can never afford to give up its Black Sea ports. It would fight a war (including using tactical nukes if necessary) to keep them. The West can’t bluff Russia out of Crimea. It would be foolish and dangerous to try.

    If the West starts a proxy war of Ukraine vs Russia that could lead anywhere, even very likely to nuclear war. It would be rank stupidity.

  3. Griff Foley
    March 10th, 2014 at 09:40 | #3

    I was struck by these stories in this Saturday’s SMH. I wonder if you or any of your correspondents would like to comment:

    Puncturing the coal-seam gas job creation PR balloon: http://www.smh.com.au/business/ignore-page-count-just-note-number-on-the-front-20140307-34cre.html?skin=text-only

    But boosterism is alive and well—The global economic corridor: wonder jobs creator?
    (Note claim about doubling of labour productivity in the CBD: measured how? And what does the last line in the article mean?)

    Meanwhile consumers continue to be squeezed:

    And questionable business practices continue:

  4. Brett
    March 10th, 2014 at 10:17 | #4

    I was reading the news about new NASA stuff, and had an idea for dropping a probe into Neptune that would be buoyant at certain pressures where interesting stuff might be happening. It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but it’s an interesting idea.

    I got into an argument with someone over whether it was better to do a job guarantee or a basic income stipend, with me arguing for the latter – I said you’d get beneficial effects at a lower cost, and don’t have to do a lot more extra monitoring and verification like you’d have to do with the job guarantee.

  5. sunshine
    March 10th, 2014 at 11:35 | #5

    Europe may have lost the Crimean region but Russia may have lost the rest of the Ukraine .Its a cute idea of Putins that you can invade on a humanitarian mission to protect citizens that speak your language from terrorists. There must be some English speakers there that the US could go and protect too if they hadnt trashed their moral authority in the middle east and elsewhere !

    In Abbotts speech to the loggers he said ‘god’ gave ‘mother nature’ to ‘man’ to use and ‘husband ‘ into the future. That crackpot religious language reminds me of the sort of thing Taliban leaders say, but I havent seen it remarked upon in the mass media here. Then to the dismay of most mainstream commentators senator Ludlam calls Abbott out and gets 700000 hits on youtube for his efforts. This juxtaposition shows the size of the generational divide developing . Those currently in charge are on the wrong side of it and will eventually be crushed . By then tho most of them will have finished living out their lives in the comfortable bubble they created or will be safely tucked into private nursing homes or gated retirement estates ,leaving others to clean up the mess.

  6. Sancho
    March 10th, 2014 at 11:41 | #6

    There’s a bit of frog-boiling going on: the media have judged, probably correctly, that the public wouldn’t believe Abbott is governing according to fundamentalist religious principles and would perceive such claims as a partisan attack. So until he goes the full George Bush and announces that Australia needs to take on Gog and Magog, his pronouncement in the name of god will be passed off as acceptably secular.

  7. March 10th, 2014 at 12:57 | #7

    The hole in the ozone layer helps let heat out, so it’s not all bad news if its rate of restoration is slowed. The effect is only small but it is there. Perhaps at some point we’ll see players on the anti-human team suggest we can easily control global warming by destroying the ozone layer. Their slogan can be, “We don’t need to mine less coal. We just need to destroy more ozone!” Or maybe they will claim burning coal is an environmental good since it produces ozone and ignore the detail that we only want ozone up high in the atmosphere on account of how it’s toxic. Other ozone trivia: There are apparently places in China and India that are over a degree warmer than they would be otherwise thanks to local greenhouse warming from ozone pollution and a major reason why China is so dependent on soybean imports from the US and other countries is because soybeans and related plants are particularly susceptable to ozone pollution.

  8. Tim Macknay
    March 10th, 2014 at 13:05 | #8

    The MSM in Australia may not have picked up on Abbott’s religious language, but the nutters in the US seem to have noticed.

  9. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 13:54 | #9


    Soviet Russia lost or ceded the whole of Ukraine formally on or about 26 December 1991. I am not sure in what sense Russia has “owned” Ukraine since; maybe as a client state. It has leased Crimean bases on a long term lease deal since then. Russia originally ceded Crimea to the Ukraine Soviet on 19 February 1954. A potted history going back is that Crimea was part of Soviet Russia from 1917-1954. It was part of Imperial Russia from 1783–1917. It formed part of the Crimean Khanate 1441–1783 partially contested by the Ottoman Empire at that time. The rest of “Ukraine” about that time was part of the Poland or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

    Throughout earlier centuries:”Crimea was invaded or occupied successively by the Goths (AD 250), the Huns (376), the Bulgars (4th–8th century), the Khazars (8th century), the state of Kievan Rus’ (10th–11th centuries), the Byzantine Empire (1016), the Kipchaks (the Kumans) (1050), and the Mongols (1237).” (1.)

    By the above history, does Ukraine have any more title to Crimea than Russia? I think not. The notion that precedent, even recent precedent should determine who owns or who should own Crimea is absurd. Where would you take the precedent from, which century? Another alternative, division by ethnic language lines makes at least at much if not more sense than claiming modern Ukraine’s recent 22 year ownership as precedent.

    The most realistic ownership is that determined by Realpolitik, that is to say power. All arguments used by all sides are merely self-interested and opportunistic arguments seeking to bolster positions with no more logical or moral force than other positions. I am saying that both Ukraine’s and Russia’s claims are roughly supportable or dubious in equal measure. The West’s interference makes the situation worse not better. There is no way to satisfy all parties. The Realpolitik solution is the only realistic solution.

    All international disputes (and international balances) are finally decided by power no matter how much we might wish it and rationalise it otherwise. The West plus the USSR won WW2 not because they were right but because they were more powerful. On balance the West was in the right at that time . Arguably USSR was not in the right and scarcely preferable to the Nazis in any way. But the winners still were not determined by a balance of right but simply by the balance of might.

    1. Wikipedia.

  10. sunshine
    March 10th, 2014 at 14:36 | #10

    I agree . I guess I am wondering if the Ukraine will end up looking East and the Crimean region looking West in the sense of where those people see their cultural future being, and, I am assuming there are growing differences between the two outlooks (Russian and Western ) that will become exaggerated and further entrenched as time passes .

  11. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 14:37 | #11

    Footnote: I realise my advocacy of Realpolitik in this case looks callous. However, I think that the least misery and deaths would be caused by allowing the re-acquisition of Crimea by Russia. Fighting it could lead to a huge Ukraine-Russia war perhaps on the scale of the Iraq-Iran war. This could entail almost Soviet era strategies and tactics involving static lines, artillery and “fire-sacks” or “kill-boxes” to halt ground offensives: in other words huge casualties. And that is a best case scenario if Ukraine holds for while. Russia could well get a rapid armoured breakthrough to Kiev with vastly superior air support.

    That is without the West getting involved. If the West got involved by assisting proxies in any remotely significant way or by providing air support it could rapidly escalate to nuclear war. The risks are simply not worth it. The West should stop huffing and puffing for its own moral vanity and quietly accept a Russian status quo in Crimea.

  12. sunshine
    March 10th, 2014 at 14:38 | #12

    correction- swap ‘East’ and ‘West’ above

  13. March 10th, 2014 at 14:40 | #13


    Did you read the transcript of Putin’s press conference the other day?

    It’s quite long but really worth reading.

    It seems like the whole “who will ‘win’ Ukraine – US or Russia?” thing is coming from the US rather than Russia. Here is a snippet:

    QUESTION: How do you see the future of Crimea? Do you consider the possibility of it joining Russia?

    VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, we do not. Generally, I believe that only residents of a given country who have the freedom of will and are in complete safety can and should determine their future. If this right was granted to the Albanians in Kosovo, if this was made possible in many different parts of the world, then nobody has ruled out the right of nations to self-determination, which, as far as I know, is fixed by several UN documents. However, we will in no way provoke any such decision and will not breed such sentiments.

    I would like to stress that I believe only the people living in a given territory have the right to determine their own future.

    Hardly the words of a pro-invasion hawk. Compared to the totally unhinged stuff coming out of neo-con central it is positively level-headed statesmanship.

    PS: ‘Automatic earth” has an interesting column today about oil, gas and the EU ‘threats’, which seem implausible.

    PPS: There was a laughable attempt at non-issue journalism in brisbanetimes yesterday about “Putin may not come to Brisbane for the G20″. Maybe he’s scared of our draconian anti-VLAD laws? boom-tish!

  14. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 14:53 | #14


    Well, I trust Russia and the USA as far as I could throw each of them. But I think the West is being the most provocative and de-stabilising in this case. There is certainly evidence of Western provocation and covert assistance to some West Ukrainian neo-nazis. The US has a lot of form in de-stabilising democracies and helping thugs into power when it suits it. The recent Ukraine PM was probably corrupt as were the few before him. At the same time he elected more or less democratically. But the process used to remove him was not democratic or lawful. So how “lawful” is the current government? Does it really have lawful jurisdiction to comment on a referendum in Crimea?

    That is my whole rationale. Just who is morally right or legally lawful in this messy situation is completely muddy and obscure. Realpolitik (power) will determine what happens anyway. In addition, the realpolitik solution (Russia controls Crimea in some form) reduces the chances of all out conventional war and/or limited or unlimited nuclear war.

  15. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 15:02 | #15

    Realpolitik or offensive realism holds;

    (1) The international system is “anarchic” meaning the situation is as expounded in point 2.
    (2) There is no actor above states capable of regulating their interactions; states must arrive at relations with other states on their own or via alliances.
    (3) The international system exists in a state of constant antagonism.
    (4) States are the most important actors.
    (5) All states within the system are unitary, rational actors.
    (6) States tend to pursue self-interest.
    (7) States strive to attain as many resources as possible (relative gain).
    (8) The primary concern of all states is survival. (No other goal can be met if survival is not met.)
    (9) States build up military to survive, which may lead to a security dilemma.

  16. John Quiggin
    March 10th, 2014 at 16:45 | #16

    Responding to Ikonoklast above, Russia supplies about 34 per cent of EU gas (one of many sources of energy). EU takes about 84 per cent of Russian gas. EU is responsible for about half of Russia’s foreign trade. Russia is responsible for about 10 per cent of EU trade. It’s pretty clear who needs whom most.

  17. jungney
    March 10th, 2014 at 17:35 | #17

    Available now at the SMH website (films) is ‘Outing The One Per Cent’ made by an inheritor of the Johnson and Johnson family fortune. I wanna shake that man’s hand. He’s like the like Michael Moore of the bourgeoisie. A must watch.


    We’re on the turn.

  18. jungney
    March 10th, 2014 at 18:21 | #18

    Moreover, and here’s a promise, if I don’t hear back from regular contributors to the site saying something along the lines of eff-me-dead, that’s superb doco by a superb human, then I’ll never post here again. A negative outcome will free us all :)

  19. alfred venison
    March 10th, 2014 at 18:48 | #19

    aggregate figures can be misleading. what is important is not france which has kept its nuclear power but germany which has not and has to make up the difference from somewhere.

    Germany’s total energy imports … place Germany out in front of all other European countries by energy imports – at about 70% more than the second and third-largest energy importers, Italy and France.

    40% of Germany’s total oil imports … are Russian, with a single pipeline, the Druzhba line through Belarus carrying about 22% of Germany’s total oil imports.

    Russia also supplies around 25% of Germany’s hard coal (also called energy coal) needs.

    Germany imported in 2011 over 60% of its gas imports and some 40% of its total gas consumption, of 99 bn cubic metres, while its domestic gas production continuing to shrink sharply, to about 15 bn cubic metres in 2011 but its consumption continued sharply growing. Germany is set to become almost totally dependent on Russian gas.

    Germany Marches East – Russia Moves West, Putin’s Energy Diplomacy

  20. sunshine
    March 10th, 2014 at 19:00 | #20

    Im assuming Crimea will join Russia, Russia wont go for more than that, no outside power will risk war, and there wont be meaningful sanctions. Then ,in time everything will be back to business as usual for most of us. But ,lots of Ukrainians will be even less impressed with Russia for a long time.

    Yes – a good doco insight to the weird secretive world of the born rich American.

  21. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 20:24 | #21

    @John Quiggin

    That is standard economic reasoning and thus incorrect. It ignores physics, political economy and geostrategy (as orthodox economics always does). In a world of primary resource and energy shortages (which has now arrived), a major country (Russia) whose biocapacity is still above its ecological footprint is better off to face the long term future than countries in the reverse situation. Every major country in the EU has an ecological footprint larger than its biocapacity. In addition, no EU country has a significant amount of oil left, relative to its consumption, except Norway.

    In a position of enforced autarky, Russia could survive on its own resources better than Europe. In fact, an EU facing autarky would collapse even more rapidly than it is already collapsing. This is not to deny that Russia would suffer from a cessation of bilateral trade in the short to mid term. Russia could, over time, reorient (pun?) its trade to China. I assume you have heard of China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? Can you seriously suggest that the EU can now provide Russia with anything that China cannot? I mean given the fact that China is now the workshop of the world.

    The West is making a set of miscalculations based on an outdated assessment of its own power. EU power will collapse soon and badly, although US power will hold up relatively well (unless it destroys itself internally with inequity). Nato seems blind to the reorientation of the power balance of the world. China will more and more outbid the West, particularly the EU, for world oil supplies. At least it will do this while the US permits a more or less free market to operate in oil (which it may not).

    Long term, all zones of the world are in now serious trouble (resource-wise) with the relative exceptions of Russia, US/Canada (as a resource block), Brazil and Australia and a few minor countries from the likes of Finland to New Zealand. These are the nations/regions which are yet to move into ecological overshoot. In a world of decline, to overshoot later and decline slower (eg. Russia) will be to become relatively more powerful.

    China can continue its overshoot by plundering and bidding for remaining world resources. China may even still surpass the USA economically by about 2015 to 2025. If so, its number one status is likely to be brief. It will then collapse much more rapidly than USA/Canada contracts. Russia will be best placed to face the enforced regional autarky of the new era. Once many key commodities are scarce, general exports in those commodities will be banned by countries needing the remaining resources for domestic consumption.

    A completely new era is emerging and you don’t understand or won’t accept the evidence for its new parameters. I mean, you quote one import/export statistic and make the blind and false assumption that there are no physical limits affecting geopoltical entities (which are doing so at different rates) and that there are no evolving political, military or geostrategic parameters which might alter the pure economic calculation. The empirical evidence strongly suggests otherwise. The world is much messier than mere economic theory. It is also constrained by real resources even though orthodox economics ignores this basic physical fact.

  22. March 10th, 2014 at 20:39 | #22

    Ikonoclast, you wrote, “Can you seriously suggest that the EU can now provide Russia with anything that China cannot?” Well, since the EU is China’s largest source of imports, I would seriously suggest that the EU could provide Russia with the sort of goods that China imports.

  23. Salient Green
    March 10th, 2014 at 20:41 | #23

    Yep, a good watch.

  24. Ikonoclast
    March 10th, 2014 at 21:11 | #24

    @Ronald Brak

    And I would seriously suggest China could export to Russia rather than to the EU, particularly if Russia re-directs oil and gas exports to China. Again, aggregate figures hide a lot, but they suggest that the EU needs China a hell of a lot more than China needs the EU. The EU needs to sell to China. China can sell to Russia and even to its domestic 1.3 billion. I.E. It can substiture domestic demand for international demand if need be. China and Russia together could cut the EU right out of the loop.

    The EU has no primary resources left to speak of and makes nothing that China could not tool up to make in 5 years. The EU is an empty shell and collapsing like a house of cards (to deliberately mix metaphors). Its southern periphery is already in obvious terminal decline (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Albania, Greece and the Balkans.)

    If the West wants to play the sanctions game, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is potentially a more self-reliant block long term than the EU-USA (because the EU book-end is falling over now).

    But cutting back to the basic facts. Is it worth anything from a trade war, to a regional war to a nuclear war to stop Russia holding Crimea? Of course not. So our politicians should stop posturing and admit they will do nothing and can do nothing.

  25. March 10th, 2014 at 21:40 | #25

    Alfred beat me to it.

    In addition to EU gas imports, EU gets about 34% of its oil from Russia. There is no way they are going to cut off that nose to spite that face. Especially given the Russia/Germany dynamic and the US (unintended) publicly known attitude being let’s “Fu*k the EU!”.

    And Ikon I would quibble with this:

    Once many key commodities are scarce, general exports in those commodities will be banned by countries needing the remaining resources for domestic consumption.

    If the 1% want to move commodities around they will. Potato famine style, and scarcity for local consumption be damned.

  26. alfred venison
    March 10th, 2014 at 21:47 | #26

    aggregate figures hide the fact that all the russians would need do is bring down germany, bring down germany and you bring down europe. it is obvious they have the means now to bring down germany and the fact of this is affecting policy. -a.v.

  27. kevin1
    March 10th, 2014 at 21:47 | #27

    Re Media Watch tonight about the Australian’s editing of Letters to the Editor, let’s broaden the view. Last time I sent a letter to The Age, they rang up and suggested that I amend it to congratulate the Age for reporting on the issue in the first place! And that was 20 years ago; I gave up writing letters to them after that; one of the few places for consumer sovereignty was lost. Maybe they should call it Letters Approved by the Editor.

    The recent News articles (including a Melb Herald Sun editorial last week) on the Chinese buyer threat to Aussie home buyers is obviously overplayed as the stats relate to *new* homes, a small annual increment (10-15%?), and its incidence is amplified by the law which prevents them from buying established *second-hand* homes. The Clive Hamilton article in the Guardian a few weeks ago “Foreign demand is making Sydney’s housing problem worse” fuelled this, which has led to a long apologia (my word) on their website. Maybe Clive would like to comment here?

    I noticed on one day last week that the Melb Herald Sun had on the front page a story saying that AFL footballers were worried (!) they weren’t going to get all the extras they wanted from higher revenues, and on the same day the Age had a front page photo of football captains.

    This is all good – it confirms that the MSM is spiralling down into a rats nest of attention-seeking behaviour and entertainment, bugger a commitment to report the truth. Abdicating its throne should be revelatory to punters of its contemporary function.

    Pity the new Saturday Review is such a lightweight publication (more of Mike Seccombe;s expansive musings.) Looks like the online blogs and journals, Guardian, Crikey, Mr Denham etc. will win attract the thinking class.

  28. Julie Thomas
    March 11th, 2014 at 11:14 | #28


    Wow what a dude that Milton Friedman is – not. Thanks for the link.

  29. March 11th, 2014 at 15:00 | #29

    The right seem to be shifting towards fascism with some impressively anti-democracy points being made on catallaxy:

    Democracy is like a powerful acid; at all times it erodes the culture and values of its host society, but it can be contained and resisted to some degree. One of the mechanisms we have to resist the corrosion of democracy is the concept of the Upper House. … The House of Lords enshrined the principle that ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’; this principle is not enshrined in Australia’s system of government and this shows in its ever increasing budget, and increasing difficulty in restraining spending.

    I.e. The “cultured” and wealthy should get a political veto over the views of the “irresponsible” majority.

  30. J-D
    March 11th, 2014 at 15:06 | #30

    Putin says now, ‘I would like to stress that I believe only the people living in a given territory have the right to determine their own future.’

    How committed was he to applying this principle to Chechnya?

  31. jungney
    March 11th, 2014 at 15:15 | #31

    The most comprehensive review of the Ukraine that offers detailed and even more alarming information about the role of fascism there. The author notes that the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the World Jewish Congress have made a statement (no link) stating that Ukrainian fascists are a genuine concern.


  32. Megan
    March 11th, 2014 at 18:57 | #32


    I don’t know. I’m no expert and not a Putin water-carrier.

    But interestingly, I’m re-reading Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”.

    The “Chicago Boys” were hell bent on on bringing “extreme-capitalism” to Russia after the USSR collapsed. They backed Yeltsin because he would follow their extreme version of ‘free-market’ ideology.

    Of course it resulted in mass poverty and misery as everything was looted by crooks who became billionaires. The public didn’t like this at all and were set to throw out Yeltsin at the upcoming election (pg 232):

    In December 1994, Yeltsin did what so many desperate leaders have done throughout history to hold onto power: he started a war. His national security chief, Oleg Lobov, had confided to a legislator, “We need a small, victorius war to raise the president’s ratings,” and the defense minister predicted that his army could defeat the forces in the breakaway republic of Chechnya in a matter of hours – a cakewalk.

    Yeltsin’s privatisation minister, Anatoly Chubais (whom [Jeffrey] Sachs once described as “a freedom fighter”), became one of the most outspoken proponents of the Pinochet option. “In order to have a democracy in society there must be a dictatorship in power,” he pronounced. It was a direct echo of both the excuses made for Pinochet by Chile’s Chicago Boys and Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy of Friedmanism without the freedom.

    Putin, in the interview, was warning about the destructiveness of just that sort of military adventurism.

  33. David Allen
    March 11th, 2014 at 20:01 | #33

    Mr Luca Belgiorno-Nettis of Transfield Holdings is upset.

    From ABC News: “As well as the artists’ protest, Mr Belgiorno-Nettis was subject to a social media campaign including a wave of tweets accusing him of making money out of “concentration camps” and children in detention.”

    Of course they are concentration camps. Did he think they were holiday camps?

  34. March 11th, 2014 at 20:36 | #34

    @David Allen

    The most recent edition of “Time” describes them as “concentration camps”.

    What upsets the establishment class (ALP/LNP/Media) is that the non-violent protest action is having an effect. So they’re furiously attacking the public for speaking out against the gulags, rather than doing the obvious thing and closing them down.

  35. March 11th, 2014 at 21:47 | #35

    Most people here are probably too young to remember the 1973 oil embargo that destroyed the United States as a unified nation and allowed the rise of the Nippon-Commonwealth Prosperity Union that served as a counter to the EU block. You’ve probably seen the recent Nippon science fiction anime down at the cinema that speculated that if oil prices hadn’t dropped as a result of the falling demand that followed the destruction of the US, the Soviet Union would have had the foreign exchange necessary to feed its people and modernise its economy, but to me that seemed a bit far fetched. The recent food for bombs aid deal brokered by the Californian Republic is a prime example of just how utterly devastated the US was by the oil embargo. Inspectors found not one single functional nuclear missile in all the territories formally known as the United States.

  36. Tom S
    March 11th, 2014 at 23:38 | #36

    Only today I read on a US website that the UK and some other Europeans …the Germans…are very worried about the US call for sanctions on Russia
    They see them as unworkable and very damaging to their own economies…especially Germany which has a huge trade with Russia…in exchange for Russian oil and gas

    It also suggested that the Russians might demand payment for all their energy,in gold bullion..thereby cutting the US Dollar out of the muti-billion trade deal,and dealing it a terrible blow

  37. Tom S
    March 11th, 2014 at 23:53 | #37


    This and Putin’s role in normalising the Russian economy later is probably at the base of the support he enjoys

    I know from a friend that Russians pensioners were in their millions…reduced to poverty on a vast scale…many sold their flats to have m,oney to eat and live and they were in dire trouble…in time Putin has restored the value of such pensions and done much else to help the elderly
    The demonisation of him in the West follows a familiar pattern by those in the service of the USA

  38. J-D
    March 12th, 2014 at 05:17 | #38

    It seems odd to me to quote Putin and then to express no interest at all in whether his sincerity can be relied on.

    The evidence of the Second Chechen War favours the conclusion that Putin has no sincere belief in the principles he’s now enunciating in the Crimean case and is merely paying opportunistic lip service to them in the hope that some people will be gullible enough to put more weight on his words than on his deeds.

  39. Ikonoclast
    March 12th, 2014 at 09:09 | #39


    Of course, Putin is an absolutist in spirit and often in effect. He heads the Chekist government of Russia. It seems very likely that the orders to poison Alexander Litvenenko in a way both subtle and flagrant (1), with Polonium-210, came right from the top. Yet, Obama orders drone-strike murders (sometimes hitting innocent wedding parties among other collateral victims) which are considerably less discriminate. It is not possible to hold that Putin and the Chekists are morally blacker than Obama and the US secret security apparatus.

    You pay no attention to what Putin says just as you should pay no attention to what Obama says. All that is involved finally are Realpolitik superpower calculations. Neither pays any attention to moral dimensions. Given that it is realpolitiks, it is now time for the West to pull back a little. There is no advantage to the EU in trying to absorb poverty-stricked, resource poor Ukraine. There is no advantage in starting a trade war and certainly no advantage in starting a hot war. There is no advantage in further pushing Russia further into the arms of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

    Note 1. Polonium poisoning is subtle while undetected. That is not quite the truism it sounds. “Doctors and Scotland Yard investigators could not detect polonium earlier because it does not emit gamma rays, which are encountered with most radioactive isotopes. Unlike most common radiation sources, polonium-210 emits only alpha particles that do not penetrate even a sheet of paper or the epidermis of human skin, thus being invisible to normal radiation detectors in this case. Hospitals only have equipment to detect gamma rays. Both gamma rays and alpha particles are classified as ionizing radiation which can cause radiation damage. An alpha-emitting substance can cause significant damage only if ingested or inhaled, acting on living cells like a short-range weapon. Litvinenko was tested for alpha-emitters using special equipment only hours before his death.” – Wikipedia.

    “Nick Priest, a nuclear scientist and expert on polonium who has worked at most of Russia’s nuclear research facilities, says that although the execution of the plot was a “bout of stupidity”, the choice of polonium was a “stroke of genius”. He says: “the choice of poison was genius in that polonium, carried in a vial in water, can be carried in a pocket through airport screening devices without setting off any alarms”, adding, “once administered, the polonium creates symptoms that don’t suggest poison for days, allowing time for the perpetrator to make a getaway.” Priest asserts that “whoever did it was probably not an expert in radiation protection, so they probably didn’t realize how much contamination you can get just by opening the top (of the vial) and closing it again. With the right equipment, you can detect just one count per second”. – Wikipedia

    Filmmaker and friend of Litvinenko, Andrei Nekrasov, has suggested that the poison was “sadistically designed to trigger a slow, tortuous and spectacular demise”. Expert on Russia Paul Joyal suggested that “A message has been communicated to anyone who wants to speak out against the Kremlin…. If you do, no matter who you are, where you are, we will find you, and we will silence you, in the most horrible way possible”. – Wikipedia.

    Some have further suggested that Polonium was chosen because it was hard to detect initially and essentially untreatable (thus dooming the victim) but once and if detected it would send a message that only a state actor with access to state controlled polonium (in the one facility in the world which produced the type with that radiological signature) could have done it. It was a stamp that said “Russia did this and we want you to know it.”

  40. Megan
    March 12th, 2014 at 10:06 | #40


    What Ikon said, more or less.

    It shouldn’t be odd to look at the words and deeds of Russia/EU/NATO/US & even Australia regarding the coup in the Ukraine. We should look at the players, their words, their deeds and their probable intent.

    Using snipers to shed blood with the goal of blaming the government is precisely what the CIA backed right did in the short-lived US-backed Venezuala coup in 2002. It looks like they’ve done it again here.

    It would be gullible in the extreme to take anything coming from the “West” as being factually correct or sincerely believed.

    PS: David Allen, Julia Bishop was asked by UK media about our “concentration camps”. She didn’t like that, she must wish all media was as “on message” as our MSM.

  41. kevin1
    March 12th, 2014 at 11:12 | #41

    Glad to see that the bleeding obvious has emerged out of the latest chatter about the Woolworths 5 year deal to buy $70 million of product from SPC Ardmona. Much MSM joy about how this “saves” SPC Ardmona, and Abbott responds that it vindicates the feds’ refusal to provide financial support. It seems that a big surge towards SPCA product has also occurred recently.

    No-one that I heard from the MSM bothered to ask questions about this false equivalence between sales revenue and funds for investment. Yet a growers’ organisation rep today says (The Age)that the deal is at breakeven prices, so this presumably is no replacement for the $25 million investment sought from the feds. Another grower said the sustainability in the consumer switch needs to be tested beyond the last couple of months. Quite so.

    Hardly surprising that one of the retail duopolists has not become a charity and drives a hard bargain, given cheaper import sources. Slightly surprising that none of the media and especially business journalists picked this up AFAIK. Dumber and dumber everyday.

  42. David Allen
    March 12th, 2014 at 12:55 | #42


    lol. I’ll bet her head vibrated vigorously at that.

  43. Tom S
    March 12th, 2014 at 13:37 | #43

    A US academic in”Counterpunch ” today looks at what he calls “the very real problem of fascsism in the Ukraine”and looks at the neo-fascist party in the new regime and their links with sim,lar groups all around Europe
    He makes the interesting point that this the first time since 1944-445 that fascists have been in European governments…and we all know the precedents at that dark time

    but the fascist are back…and in strength in places like Greece…and the new Kiev regime is to have a visit froim Marine Le Pen from France,and the Golden Dawn fascist from Athens in a few days time
    Perhaps the Russians have right to be worried

    see Prof Leupp’s article on Ukrainian fascism


  44. J-D
    March 12th, 2014 at 18:01 | #44

    I made no comment whatever about Obama, good, bad, or other, in comparison with Putin, in comparison with somebody else, or with reference to any absolute standard. When I express my judgement about Putin, what makes you think it is in any way relevant to respond with reference to your judgement about Obama?

  45. J-D
    March 12th, 2014 at 18:10 | #45

    I said nothing about the words or deeds of anybody except Putin. I responded to a comment in which you quoted the words of Putin and wrote of them that they were ‘Hardly the words of a pro-invasion hawk’. However, Putin already has a record of being a pro-invasion hawk, at least in one instance, although of course that doesn’t prove he would behave the same way again in different circumstances. Were Putin’s words good evidence that he is not a pro-invasion hawk? No, they are good evidence for the conclusion that he is either (a) not a pro-invasion hawk or (b) dishonest. The other evidence favours (b) over (a). You appeared to be quoting what Putin said as good evidence of what he is actually like, without any apparent consideration of the possibility of dishonesty on his part. That’s why I pointed it out.

    I am aware that many people are dishonest, not just Putin. If you quote the words of other people as good evidence of what they’re actually like, I may possibly again refer to the possibility of dishonesty on their part, but on this occasion you didn’t do that. I didn’t either, so it’s not clear to me on what basis you think it’s relevant to bring other players into this discussion at this point.

  46. March 12th, 2014 at 18:16 | #46


    Putin already has a record of being a pro-invasion hawk

    We’re talking about Ukraine, currently. Evidence?

  47. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2014 at 18:51 | #47

    yeah, where else did putin invade. was he the guy who invaded grenada to protect his nationals during a revolutionary upheaval? was that someone else. -a.v.

  48. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2014 at 19:13 | #48

    that one was already linked Tom S but here’s one that’s different:- http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-fascist-danger-in-ukraine-resurgence-of-neo-nazism-denied-by-western-media/5372109 -a.v.

  49. Tim Macknay
    March 12th, 2014 at 19:29 | #49

    How does one deal with radioactive leaks, spills and contamination?

    Apparently there’s no underestimating the power of an apology

  50. Megan
    March 12th, 2014 at 19:38 | #50

    @alfred venison

    That’s cheating! Under “JD Rules” you’re only allowed to discuss Putin.

  51. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2014 at 19:46 | #51

    ok then, this is putin’s cuban missile crisis. -a.v.

  52. Megan
    March 12th, 2014 at 20:25 | #52

    @alfred venison

    Well played, sir.

  53. Tim Macknay
    March 12th, 2014 at 22:23 | #53

    @alfred venison
    That’s over-egging it a teensy bit, don’t you think a.v? I’ll grant you there is the parallel that Russia thinks it owns Ukraine and Crimea in the same way the US thinks it owns Cuba, but that’s about where the similarities end. It’s not as though the US is deploying cruise missiles in the outskirts of Kiev.

  54. March 12th, 2014 at 22:39 | #54

    @Tim Macknay


    From wacko conspiracy theory site “Stars and Stripes”:

    In Romania, the U.S. is expected to invest millions of dollars as part of an overall plan to establish a ground-based radar system and anti-missile interceptors in the country by 2015. In July, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District awarded a $134 million construction contract to Kellogg, Brown & Root Services that encompasses all aspects of the Aegis Ashore facility, including construction of the foundations for the Standard Missile-3 launchers and a host of operational support facilities.

    An additional contract focused on U.S. Navy support facilities is to be announced in early 2014.

    When the administration of President Barack Obama announced plans for the European Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in 2009, the plan initially focused on four phases of development. The first involved the deployment of the sea-based Aegis weapon system in the Mediterranean. Phase two called for the establishment of a similar land-based system in Romania by 2015.

    The US most definitely is encircling Russia with missiles, and all indications are that they hope to continue the trend in Ukraine.

  55. alfred venison
    March 12th, 2014 at 23:44 | #55

    i am not exaggerating. this was all & only about encirclement of russia. and the neutralisation of russia as a great power. nothing else. putin stood up to them. -a.v.

  56. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 00:46 | #56

    As I said, it’s not as though the US is deploying cruise missiles on the outskirts of Kiev, not to mention that US-Russian relations are nowhere near as tense as in 1962. So a.v. was over-egging it. The chance of a war starting over this is negligible.

    And what’s the point of all those patronising little ‘blinks’ and ‘ums’? They don’t add to the argument, nor do they show you in a good light. Why not just be courteous?

  57. March 13th, 2014 at 01:05 | #57

    @Tim Macknay

    “Patronising”? They were a polite way of indicating that I was actually thinking:

    “You must surely be f*cking joking??”

    The US is encircling Russia with missiles. That is a fact. The “outskirts of Kiev” is simply semantice when talking about nuclear missiles of the sort the US has on Russia’s doorstep.

    I certainly hope you are correct in your assessment that things are not as tense as 1962, but I don’t share your optimism – especially given that we have neo-con ‘crazies’ running the west here in 2014.

    If you are wrong, and this is a reverse re-run of 1962 – are you confident that the US will ‘back down’?

  58. March 13th, 2014 at 01:30 | #58


    PS- It would be useful for observers to remember that what actually kicked off the 1962 “Cuban Missile Crisis” was the US first deploying nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy aimed at Russia.

    Russia took defensive action in kind, and the rest is history.

  59. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 06:43 | #59

    Putin’s invasion of Chechnya is strong evidence that he has no sincere commitment to the principles about self-determination which you quoted him as enunciating. It is not strong evidence of intentions to invade the Ukraine, because the circumstances of every case are different. If my guess is worth anything, I think he probably won’t: but not because of moral scruples. If we’re discussing what kind of person Putin is in general, the invasion of Chechnya is important evidence; if we’re discussing his current intentions in relation to the Ukraine specifically, the Chechen record tells us little or nothing.

  60. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 06:45 | #60

    @alfred venison
    Lots of people have invaded lots of places all through history, and every one of those invasions reveals something about the invaders. Putin’s invasion of Chechnya reveals something about Putin. Reagan’s invasion of Grenada reveals something about Reagan, but nothing about Putin.

  61. rog
    March 13th, 2014 at 07:17 | #61

    The recent Productivity Commission report on infrastructure in general and NBN in particular makes me wonder why defense is not treated as an infrastructure, subject to the same CBA as others.

  62. alfred venison
    March 13th, 2014 at 07:18 | #62

    ” it’s not as though the US is deploying cruise missiles on the outskirts of Kiev ” – i’m assuming you mean kiev metaphorically, so yes they are.

    ” not to mention that US-Russian relations are nowhere near as tense as in 1962. ” – they are now.

    ” The chance of a war starting over this is negligible. ” – the risk of war is not negligible. -a.v.

  63. Dave
    March 13th, 2014 at 09:48 | #63

    I live in a strongly Liberal seat in Perth so have been ignored by Labor & Greens in the last 20 years of federal elections. This has changed for the WA Senate re-count with a robo-call from Tanya Plibersek and a door knocking from 2 Greens’ members. The Greens seemed to have pegged the WA electorate correctly as the brochure they dropped off spoke about lots of issues but not one word on boat refugees.

  64. Ikonoclast
    March 13th, 2014 at 09:52 | #64

    The problem is the one-sided blindness of people who can see only Russia’s and Putin’s faults (and they are many) but not the EU’s and USA’s faults (and they are many too). The problem is also the lack of realpolitik realism in assuming that a nuclear superpower will tamely allow itself to be rolled back to its borders (no buffer states) and tamely allow offensive bases, military “start lines” and missile batteries right up to its border. Thrs rolls back the ability to conduct defence in depth. Apart from nukes, land defence in depth is Russia’s strategic ace. It’s not going to allow its ace to be torn up before the “game”even starts. To even expect this is the height of unrealistic stupidity. Such stupidity leads to really dangerous consequences.

    The European peace since WW2 has been the result of superpower balance. Both sides feel relatively comfortable while general strategic parity, strategic balance and even MAD (mutually assured destruction by nukes) makes it a losing game (for everyone) for anyone to start a hot war. Of course, the next game all superpowers play is “strategic creep” especially in the buffer zone. The West is trying to play strategic creep right up to the Russian borders. The power being crept up on might be unaware for a while or have more pressing problems at home, as Russia did following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Eventually however, the power being crept up becomes very aware and realises it must make a stand at some point or face endless and incremental worsening of its strategic position.

    Russia has now made a “demonstration” (diplomatic and military) of where it intends to draw its line in the sand. While the West still could play strategic creep and get away with it up to now, it was an incrementally winning game. Now, further gains are not worth the risk: trade wars, hot war or nuclear war being the likely result. Thus the rational thing to do is desist, now that a nuclear superpower has drawn its line in the sand, and incidentally probably keep the strategic creep gains made to date. The West can desist now and still be an incremental winner. Beyond this point the risk curve climbs exponentially.

  65. sunshine
    March 13th, 2014 at 10:58 | #65

    I dont think Russians care much for the doctrine of American exceptionalism.

    On Q and A Marcia Langton(?) said that at one time 1 in 4 voters here voted for Pauline Hanson .If thats true it helps explain our politicians sudden lurch to the xenophobic right thereafter. The LNP did well electorally by imprisoning her and incorporating her voter base.

  66. March 13th, 2014 at 11:13 | #66


    I have a problem with that hypothesis.

    That would leave 3 out of 4 voters unrepresented by either party. Rich political pickings there for the taking if electoral victory were the aim, rather than pursuing a ‘right-wing’ neo-con ideological agenda.

    My feeling is that the virtually indistinguishable ALP/LNP duopoly has intentionally abandoned the actual centre/left not to please ten mythological rednecks from western Sydney but rather to impose this mutually held ideology under cover of chasing votes. It extends beyond racism/xenophobia into privatisation, military spending etc…

  67. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 11:13 | #67

    The rules here are made by our generous host, not by me. Subject to that, an important qualification, you are allowed to discuss what you like, I am allowed to discuss what I like, and the same goes for anybody else. Still subject to the same important qualification, you are allowed to post whatever sort of response you like to my comments, and I am allowed, in turn, to make my case that your responses have no relevance to my comments.

  68. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 11:18 | #68

    @alfred venison
    ‘all & only’? ‘nothing else’?

    I do not see the evidence that would justify a conclusion that Ukrainians take political action only at the instance of external forces. That they (or some of them) have been influenced to some extent by what the US has said or done, I can easily believe, but that they were influenced by nothing else seems massively implausible.

  69. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 12:10 | #69


    because you do not see evidence – is not relevant.

    The fact is that NATO has a long-run strategy of expansion, and Putin’s response in part responds to this strategic complication.

    In fact he is just following Gorbachev’s older comments.

    <blockquote.Mr. Gorbachev, according to Mr. Baker, answered that “any extension of the zone of NATO would be unacceptable.”

    SEE; http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/opinion/30sarotte.html?pagewanted=all

    Kissinger also sought to undermine socialist states by challenging and covertly disrupting public opinion within Comecon, the Warsaw Pact, and Cuba.

    All this is just another page in the Cold War.

  70. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 12:29 | #70

    Megan is right – Russina missiles in Cuba was a response to earlier US Missiles in Turkey and invasion by US into Cuba.

    Khrushchev got everything he wanted out of this event – guarantees for Cuba, removal of US missiles. A complete victory for USSR.

    Every academic in Australian universities under Menzies parotted the US line.

  71. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 13:05 | #71

    @alfred venison
    a.v, I have no disagreement with the proposition that the US is strategically encircling Russia, with a view to neutralising it as a great power, as you put it, or that this represents a significant strategic threat to Russia. But I maintain that comparing the present situation in Ukraine with the Cuban missile crisis is over-egging it.

    ” it’s not as though the US is deploying cruise missiles on the outskirts of Kiev ” – i’m assuming you mean kiev metaphorically, so yes they are.

    I don’t see any evidence that the US-sponsored military installations in Romania and other Eastern European locations are what have precipitated the immediate situation, although they are clearly part of the background. In contrast, it was the deployment of nuclear missiles on Cuba in 1962 that triggered that immediate situation, notwithstanding that other actions, notably the American deployment of missiles in Turkey and the Bay of Pigs invasion, contributed to the background.

    I think there is also a difference in the nature of the threat represented by the types of military installations involved, and their contribution to the degree of tension. The US-backed installations in Eastern Europe are air defence and missile defence installations. These obviously represent a strategic threat to Russia, but it is a much lower degree of threat than the forward-deployed nuclear missiles in Turkey and Cuba during the Cold War, which represented an immediate threat of annihilation to both sides. As far as I am aware, although there are still nuclear weapons deployed in Western Europe, Turkey and Russia, there are none deployed in more threatening positions that was the case at the end of the Cold War. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d like to see it. The globalresearch web site doesn’t appear to provide any.

    ” not to mention that US-Russian relations are nowhere near as tense as in 1962. ” – they are now.

    With respect, I just don’t see any evidence that that’s the case. During the 1962 crisis, American forces were at the DEFCON 2 level of readiness, which is essentially “all forces are mobilised, nuclear war is imminent”, and Soviet forces were at an equivalent level. As far as I am aware, the US level of readiness remains at DEFCON 5, which is the lowest level of threat readiness.

    ” The chance of a war starting over this is negligible. ” – the risk of war is not negligible. -a.v.

    I’ll concede that there is a non-negligible risk of war between Ukraine and Russia, although it appears to me that the current entity that passes for a Ukrainian government has decided that trying to fight the Russians would be unwise, so I’d still rate that risk as relatively low. I’ll also concede that it’s possible that the situation may change. But I still think the risk of a war between the US and Russia is negligible. I see no reason to suppose that the US is genuinely willing to do more than try to impose sanctions (which, given the reluctance of Germany and other parties to go along with this, appear unlikely to be effective).

  72. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 13:12 | #72

    I’m not sure whether you’ve fully grasped my point. Nothing in the article you linked to suggests that Ukrainian people, activists, or politicians are mere puppets of external actors without minds or agendas of their own. Even if it’s true that a NATO strategy of long-run expansion is one factor in recent events in the Ukraine, that is not at all the same thing as saying that it is the sole cause of those events. I was responding to a comment that included the words ‘all & only about encirclement of russia. and the neutralisation of russia as a great power. nothing else.’ If that was meant literally, it’s a very strong claim that would need very strong evidence to justify it.

  73. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 13:21 | #73


    The problem is the one-sided blindness of people who can see only Russia’s and Putin’s faults (and they are many) but not the EU’s and USA’s faults (and they are many too).

    I am also rather bemused at the apparent propensity to “take sides” in this discussion. I get the impression that, by suggesting that comparing this situation with the Cuban missile crisis overrates its seriousness, I’m being regarded as having somehow taken a “pro-American” position. So I find myself being lectured about how the Cuban missile crisis was precipitated by the deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey, etc. (of which I am well aware). I’m struggling to identify what I said which gave that impression.

  74. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 14:44 | #74


    Thanks for the switch.

    Please provide evidence for why you are lunching your campaign.

    IE: who said:

    Ukrainian people, activists, or politicians are mere puppets of external actors without minds or agendas of their own.

    Did you make this up?

    The case I agree with, and the evidence supports, is that the US and allies have always launched a Cold War and economic warfare against USSR. It is not possible to understand the West’s current fuss in any other context.

    The link definitely demonstrates a Russian view that any expansion of NATO is unacceptable.

    This was the claim, so why have you gone-off on some weird tangent?

    Who said:

  75. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 14:56 | #75

    @Tim Macknay

    Who said the Ukrainian situation was rated with seriousness similar to Cuban missile crisis?

    The ukrainian situation, so far, is not as seriouc as the Cuban missile crisis, but the underlying geopolitical play is similar and points to the real context which is leading to all the news stories and spins we are seeing today.

  76. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 14:58 | #76

    I’ve already told you that. When you responded to me, I had just posted a comment in which I was responding to alfred venison, who had written a comment which, as I just told you, included these words: ‘all & only about encirclement of russia. and the neutralisation of russia as a great power. nothing else.’ If that was meant literally, then alfred venison was claiming that local Ukrainian motives had nothing to do with it.

    I am not challenging the view which you are putting forward, that the agenda of the US and its allies has influenced events in the Ukraine. I am challenging the view which alfred venison was apparently putting forward, that only the agenda of the US and its allies is responsible for events in the Ukraine. Does that express the distinction clearly enough for you?

  77. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 15:54 | #77


    OF course, you know that pretending that such references are to be taken literally is an old trick.

    You need to explain why you did this.

    Your use of the term “apparently” indicates you are continuing to invent and then attack your own private versions of other peoples’ words.


  78. Megan
    March 13th, 2014 at 16:08 | #78


    AV can speak for himself, but:

    “i am not exaggerating. this was all & only about encirclement of russia. and the neutralisation of russia as a great power. nothing else. putin stood up to them.”

    You turn into:

    I am challenging the view which alfred venison was apparently putting forward, that only the agenda of the US and its allies is responsible for events in the Ukraine.

    If, as appears to be the case (eg: the Nuland tape), the US was planning regime change in Ukraine then one of the tactics would be to foment or harness unrest and manipulate it to achieve their aims.

    The US has been doing this sort of thing for ages, just because some of the people they utilised to achieve the coup had different goals that doesn’t thereby make av’s claim invalid. That is the whole point of such schemes.

  79. J-D
    March 13th, 2014 at 16:12 | #79

    I am not inventing alfred venison’s words. I quoted them exactly. If alfred venison posts another comment saying that those words were not meant literally, I will accept that, but you are not alfred venison and can only guess, no better than I can.

  80. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 16:12 | #80


    “Patronising”? They were a polite way of indicating that I was actually thinking:

    “You must surely be f*cking joking??”

    Maybe I overreacted. However, contra the impression your words quoted above imply, my statement wasn’t inherently absurd, however much you may disagree with it. I just don’t share your interpretation of the facts on the specific point at issue.

  81. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 16:14 | #81


    Who said the Ukrainian situation was rated with seriousness similar to Cuban missile crisis?

    Alfred Venison, @51 above. Which is why my comment was addressed to a.v. and the words “@alfred venison” appeared at the top of the comment. However, I’m happy to note that you agree with me.

  82. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 16:26 | #82

    I imagine Labor and the Greens perceive that, while they have no chance winning your lower house seat, they might be able to pick up some Senate votes from “small-l” Liberal voters who are unhappy with the Abbott Government’s “harder edges”. I suspect the Greens may have a shot at this, but Labor probably don’t.

  83. Ikonoclast
    March 13th, 2014 at 17:17 | #83

    @Tim Macknay

    Actually, I am not taking sides. I am pointing out that a realpolitik assessment suggests we have reached the point where, if the West pushes any harder or interferes more in Russia’s backyard (Crimea) then the risks will escalate rapidly for evereyone.

    To the Russians this is very serious. It would be akin to China or Russia getting a real foothold in an independent Quebec. Do you think the USA would tolerate that for a second? What people seem to fail to do is see it from the other side’s side. From their side it is a very dangerous, very close threat. If you appreciate the other side’s point of view then you don’t push them too far.

  84. Ikonoclast
    March 13th, 2014 at 17:23 | #84

    Footnote: The new Ukrainian PM has been acting like an inflammatory lunatic. It makes me wonder what assurances the EU and USA have given him to make him so reckless. I suggest he think long and hard about what those assurances might really be worth.

  85. jungney
    March 13th, 2014 at 17:25 | #85


    It is interesting, isn’t it. The Cold War ought to be over and it isn’t because the US detects residual elements of a hankering for social justice within Russia. To be extirpated! There, Argentinian … wherever. Kill the gene codes that carry the concept of mutual aid. A genuine global purge.

    This is bio-politics, the politics of embodied subjectivity, where people who carry forward the co-operative biology will be eradicated.

  86. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 17:27 | #86


    Actually, I am not taking sides.

    I know. That’s why I addressed that comment to you, as someone else on the thread who I perceived as not taking sides. Evidently I didn’t make my own position clear enough, – sorry about that. I broadly agree with your overall take on it, which is why I don’t think the US will risk escalating the situation.

  87. alfred venison
    March 13th, 2014 at 18:54 | #87

    wow i stirred up a nest while i was at work. thanks mel, thanks ikonoclast. now let me recap. i say this is “putin’s” cuban missile crisis – an existential moment in history for him & the nation currently led by him. i have no doubt that this was intended by the usa & nato & the eu as the latest installment of encirclement. it was about putting a hostile nato aligned power between russia and its fleet. simple geopolitical ambition. the choice for russia was stark: resist the encirclement or acquiesce in the transformation of russia into a second rate power. any western leader or cabinet functionary who honestly thought russia would just bite this and move on is unfit for her or his job.

    the ukrainians have been used by the usa as tools, in the kantian sense they have been reduced to a instrument, and their aspirations for a corruption free public life have been usurped & used as a pretext to stick it to russia. if the usa really cared about the aspirations of the ukrainian people it would not have enabled fascists to take over their government. the initially well intended ukrainian protests were at the end co-opted by organised fascists encouraged by the usa. one in three of the ukrainian cabinet today are fascists; this is not inflated rhetoric, this is not partisan polemic, this is not subjective interpretation, this is fact. -a.v.

  88. Tim Macknay
    March 13th, 2014 at 19:19 | #88

    @alfred venison
    I agree that a key goal of the Russian Crimean operation has been to secure Russia’s Crimean naval base from potential interference. Although to me that makes it more of a “Putin’s Bay of Pigs” than a Cuban missile crisis. Putin’s effort has been substantially more effective than the Kennedy version tho’. ;)

  89. Megan
    March 13th, 2014 at 20:35 | #89

    @Tim Macknay

    But the ever (50%) reliable Wiki says:

    The Bay of Pigs Invasion, known in Latin America as Invasión de Bahía de Cochinos (or Invasión de Playa Girón or Batalla de Girón), was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. A counter-revolutionary military, trained and funded by the United States government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),

    In which case, if Ukraine 2014 is “Putin’s Bay Of Pigs” then surely Russia/Ukraine is playing the role played by Cuba – the US (Kennedy is Obama) and CIA are playing themselves, of course – and the US puppets are played in this re-make by Right Sektor, ‘Yats’ et al.?

    So rather than Putin, in fact Obama’s “effort has been substantially more effective than the Kennedy version”.

  90. Ikonoclast
    March 13th, 2014 at 20:41 | #90

    A geostrategic take on all this is that;

    (1) The Limits to Growth global collapse has commenced.
    (2) Those nations that collapse slowest will become relatively greater powers.
    (3) Best resistence to collapse will be demonstrated by geographically large nations not yet in ecological overshoot and which have a wide variety of resources conducive to autarkic survival.
    (4) The only nations which fully fit this bill are Russia, Canada and Brazil.
    (5) The USA is a special case nation (hemisphere hegemon and greatest naval power) which can dominate the Americas and thus access Canadian and Middle and Sth American resources plus probably Arabian peninsular resources.
    (6) Australia is a special case in that it has not exceeded biocapacity yet and its only autarkic weak spot is lack of adequate oil for which it has adequate substitutes plus high solar and wind potential.

    The rest of the globe will collapse, at varying rates, before the above nations do so. This is unless any of Russia, USA, Canada, Brazil or Australia botch their chances internally or suffer major military deafeat or invasion or undue damage (relative to others) from climate change or sea level rise.

    The above table napkin analysis indicates Russia most likely will only grow in stature and power, relatively speaking. The last successful full invasion of Russia was the Mongol invasion of Rus in 1223 and 1236 to 1240. All Russian states had to submit to Mongol rule and became part of the Golden Horde empire. Parts of that Mongol empire endured until 1480.

    The Polish-Muscovite War occured in 1605-1608, resulting in a partial victory for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and some gain of territory for its empire. However, Russia retained its independence and regained territory at later dates. Since those times, full scale invasions of Russia have have been attempted by Charles of Sweden 1707, Napoleon 1812 and Hitler 1941. After early successes, each of these invasions ground to a halt and ended in ignominious defeats and retreats. Russia today still has the backing a vast hinterland of resources. This is unlike resource-exhausted Western Europe which is already collapsing all round its southern periphery.

    China is the only power with any realistic chance of taking Russian land and resources. And since Russia is a nuclear superpower that option is off the table. Russia’s resources are invioable, untakeable and will “bankroll” Russia to hegemony in its own hemisphere. China and India are in serious ecological overshoot already. They will be kept completely busy attempting (unsuccessfully) to prevent their own collapse and disintegration.

  91. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 21:10 | #91

    @Tim Macknay

    I have read @51 and I can see no such words.

    It seems you have rewritten other peoles posts.

  92. March 13th, 2014 at 21:13 | #92

    Ivor :
    Khrushchev got everything he wanted out of this event – guarantees for Cuba, removal of US missiles. A complete victory for USSR.

    Khrushchev lost his job in 1964, in part, because the top Soviet leadership took the outcome as “a blow to its prestige bordering on humiliation.”

  93. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 21:24 | #93


    You may find it better to stick to facts and leave the guessing to some other time.

  94. Ivor
    March 13th, 2014 at 22:09 | #94

    @Jim Rose

    Silly simplistic spin like that impresses no-one. Just outpourings of Americans for their loyal accolytes to parrot.

  95. March 14th, 2014 at 06:47 | #95

    @Ivor why was Khrushchev deposed?

  96. J-D
    March 14th, 2014 at 07:09 | #96

    It is a fact that alfred venison has now written another post which contains these words ‘the ukrainians have been used by the usa as tools, in the kantian sense they have been reduced to a instrument’.

    I continue to perceive the Ukrainians, on both sides, as human beings acting in what they perceive as their own interests, not as ‘tools’ or an ‘instrument’.

  97. J-D
    March 14th, 2014 at 07:13 | #97

    @alfred venison
    If the description of one in three of the present Ukrainian cabinet as fascists is not inflated rhetoric, partisan polemic, or subjective interpretation, but fact, then it should be possible to support it with evidence.

  98. alfred venison
    March 14th, 2014 at 07:15 | #98

    so you think i’ve diminished the ukrainians somehow when i say the usa is using them as a tool of its foreign policy. you’re a bigger dolt than i thought. -a.v.

  99. Paul Norton
    March 14th, 2014 at 07:30 | #99

    @Ivor why was Khrushchev deposed?

    1. He made a lot of enemies in the post-Stalin power struggle.

    2. He was responsible for numerous errors and failures of policy that were able to be used against him (e.g. failure of the 1963 harvest, confiscation of peasants’ smallholdings, mismanagement of currency issues, etc.).

  100. Ivor
    March 14th, 2014 at 09:09 | #100

    Paul Norton is (surprisingly) pretty acurate.

    However there was a deformation of socialism, but in part it may have been imposed by Western subversion and economic warfare – inluding arms race. So much resource was diverted into army, because of real threats, that domestic economy and culture was deformed.

    Silly Trots blame personalities.

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