125 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @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.

  2. @Tim Macknay

    blink….blink….ummm,

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. @Megan
    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?

  5. @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’?

  6. @Megan

    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.

  7. @Megan
    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.

  8. @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.

  9. 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.

  10. ” 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. @sunshine

    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…

  15. @Megan
    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.

  16. @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.

  17. J-D

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. @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).

  20. @Ivor
    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.

  21. @Ikonoclast

    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.

  22. @J-D

    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:

  23. @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.

  24. @Ivor
    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?

  25. J-d

    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.

    Whhy?

  26. @J-D

    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.

  27. @Ivor
    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.

  28. @Megan

    “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.

  29. @Ivor

    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.

  30. @Dave
    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.

  31. @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.

  32. 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.

  33. @Ivor

    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.

  34. @Ikonoclast

    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.

  35. 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.

  36. @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’. 😉

  37. @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”.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.”

  40. @Ivor
    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’.

  41. @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.

  42. 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.

  43. @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.).

  44. 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s