As I predicted

A while back I predicted—not that I’m a political savant or anything—that Russia wouldn’t be satisfied with Crimea, but would go for Ukraine as well. Most people thought I was wrong, and I hoped I was, too. But I just got this email bulletin from CNN:

Secretary of State John Kerry said today that Russian forces and special agents are behind what he called the “chaos” in eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours. Kerry described the developments as “more than deeply disturbing” and said they amounted to what could be a “contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea.”

Pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings in the cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv on Sunday. Rebels occupying Donetsk’s regional government building Monday declared a “people’s republic” and called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11.

The U.S. Navy warship USS Donald Cook is scheduled to enter the Black Sea no later than Thursday as part of the latest U.S. military effort to demonstrate support for Eastern European allies concerned about Russia’s troop buildup, two U.S. military officials said.

This is like Hitler’s Austria all over again. Putin wants his Lebensraum (or rather, Ehrenraum), and I still predict that eastern Ukraine, at least, will be Russian within six months.  Putin will incite enough unrest in eastern Ukraine that enough people will clamor for Russian occupation, and there will be enough trouble, that he can simply invade to “quell the unrest.”

But, as I said, I hope I’m wrong.

175 Comments

  1. David Thompson
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I think you said at the top that you hope you’re not wrong. Is that what you meant?

    • David Thompson
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      never mind

  2. Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    The situation seems eerily similar to what Nazi Germany was doing in the late 1930s. I don’t doubt that Putin is after the whole of Ukraine.

    • GM
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      The parallels are indeed many, however there is one big difference – Hitler’s actions were offensive in nature, while this is primarily defensive. This might be hard to understand from a Western perspective but the Russians do not see Ukraine as an independent entity that has the right to associate with the EU and especially NATO – first, for them this is a largely artificial state that only exists because of the quirks of history but most of it is otherwise an integral part of the Russian cultural sphere, and second, from their point of view, this is unacceptable encirclement and they have no choice but to act the way they do. Of course, Crimea was not going to be the end – if you take Crimea and don’t do anything else, you lose the whole of Ukraine (by taking away the most pro-Russian part of it and shifting the balance in an anti-Russian direction within what is left). It was most logical to proceed with the partition of the rest of the country (the question is whether it is going to stop at Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, or Kiev).

      But this is not really an offensive move – had NATO not tried to move into Ukraine, this would not have happened. The 1930s were a different story.

      But since we’re speaking of historical analogies, it is worth remembering what triggered WWII – after WWI the victors did their best to humiliate and subjugate the losers, who in turn later rose up and started a new war. After WWII the lesson was learned and we had Germany and Japan restored with a great deal of help from the victors. But by the time 1989 came, the lesson seems to have been forgotten because we had another episode of domination and humiliation of the losing side. Well, is it any surprise the response has been similar to the years between the wars? Even more so when the West is so weak as a result of having no natural resources to support its economies while the Russians are self sufficient for quite some time into the future.

      • eric
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        This might be hard to understand from a Western perspective but the Russians do not see Ukraine as an independent entity that has the right to associate with the EU and especially NATO.

        Russia signed the Belavezha Accords voluntarily (and pretty clearly without any coercion, since none of the other states had the power to force the issue) in 1991, recognizing the Ukraine as an independent state. Around 1993 they also signed the Alma-Ata protocols, declaring a whole bunch of other states to be indpendent. The Ukraine joint this group of independent states in 1994.

        This might be hard to understand from a GM perspective, but 23 years ago the Russians did in fact recognize Ukraine as an independent entity that has the right to associate with the EU and especially NATO.

        But by the time 1989 came, the lesson seems to have been forgotten because we had another episode of domination and humiliation of the losing side

        That’s more revisionist history. AFAIK we provided no foreign aid at all to the Soviets, but gave increasing amounts of foreign aid to Russia after the breakup. I believe our foreign aid to them has averaged $60-70 million every year for about the past decade. They remain on the UN security council despite the breakup, and (until Crimea) they were invited to participate in the G8 economic conferences despite very clearly not belonging there in terms of actual economic power.

        Do you want to know how Ukraine “domniated and humiliated” the Russians? By giving Russia all of Ukraine’s nuclear weapons and allowing them to maintain their major Naval base on Ukrainiian soil.

        I have no idea where you’re getting your ideas that the Russians are put-upon martyrs in all this, but whatever the source, I suggest you stop using it. Its lying to you.

      • Dominic
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Clearly a Russian apologist!

        “After WWII the lesson was learned and we had Germany and Japan restored with a great deal of help from the victors.” Well, if you want to take that view, what did the Soviet Union do to rebuild East Germany? It dismantled what it had left in the way of industry & exported it to Russia.

        “But this is not really an offensive move – had NATO not tried to move into Ukraine, this would not have happened.”
        NATO has never been an agressive alliance regarding the Soviet Union & Russia as must be clear unless one is paranoid. Putin was a minor official in the soviet days. Unlike the leadership there at that time, he has not seen how ineffectual the the economic & political systems of the country were then. What staggers me is that the cynical knowing population of soviet days has become so naïve politically under the Putin dictatorship. This is not about legitimate Russian interests, this is about self-determination of linguistic groups with a separate identity.

        • GM
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

          Clearly you have zero understanding of the situation in Eastern Europe in the last 25 years

        • GM
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Also, you are probably not aware of the fact that when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, there was a verbal agreement that NATO would not expand east. That was pretty much immediately, and not just once. And under the strategical consideration that nuclear powers have to take into account, this is an act of aggression – rockets fly the ditance from Tallinn to Moscow or, in a hypothetical future, from Kharkiv to Moscow for mere minutes. Is is a much longer distance from anywhere in Russia to a substantial American target. That gives you a marginal first strike advantage.

          And then there was the whole missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic episode during the Bush administration – how was that not offensive in nature?

          For the record – I am no fan of Putin, but people need to stop listen to what western MSM spoon feeds them and try to understand the situation from the perspective of the other side

          • GM
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            *That was pretty much immediately violated

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

            +1 and I’m not exactly against Putin. He really turned things around in Russia and was quote diplomatic towards the US initially.

            • gbjames
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

              Did you look him in the eye and get a sense of his soul, too?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:23 am | Permalink

                Wasn’t that Hillary that did that and said he didn’t have a soul but then Putin responded that heads of state should have a head (implying that non emotional decisions should be made)?

              • gbjames
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:28 am | Permalink

                No, it was W.

                W never has had very good judgement.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

                That’s funny. There seems to be a lot of fussing over Putin’s soul as Hilary said he didn’t have one & W said he did.

            • Dominic
              Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

              “He really turned things around in Russia”??? He has taken back into the state a good deal of the ‘family silver’ that was stolen by being handed over too cheaply to those who became oligarchs, but he has not addressed corruption.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

                I’m going by the facts. Here are just a few of the things he did to improve the Russian economy. You can read more here There is more about what he did with corruption and how he handled the oligarchs as well. Russia isn’t perfect. It has a long way to go, but it seems headed in the right direction.

                Under the Putin administration from 2001 to 2007, the economy made real gains of an average 7% per year,[131] making it the 7th largest economy in the world in purchasing power. Russia’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 6 fold, climbing from 22nd to 10th largest in the world. In 2007, Russia’s GDP exceeded that of Russian SFSR in 1990, meaning it overcame the devastating consequences of the 1998 financial crisis and preceding recession in the 1990s.[11]

                During Putin’s eight years in office, industry grew substantially, as did production, construction, real incomes, credit, and the middle class.[9][11][12][132][133] Putin has also been praised for eliminating widespread barter and thus boosting the economy.[134] Inflation remained a problem however.[11]

                In 2001, Putin obtained approval for a flat tax rate of 13%;[135][136] the corporate rate of tax was also reduced from 35 percent to 24 percent;[135] Small businesses also get better treatment. The old system, with high tax rates, has been replaced by a new system where companies can choose either a 6-percent tax on gross revenue or a 15-percent tax on profits.[135] The overall tax burden is lower in Russia than in most European countries.[137]

                A central concept in Putin’s economic thinking was the creation of so-called National champions, vertically integrated companies in strategic sectors that are expected not only to seek profit, but also to “advance the interests of the nation”. Examples of such companies include Gazprom, Rosneft and United Aircraft Corporation.[138]

                A fund for oil revenue allowed Russia to repay all of the Soviet Union’s debts by 2005.[11] Payments from the fuel and energy sector accounted for nearly half of the federal budget’s revenues. The large majority of Russia’s exports are made up of raw materials and fertilizers,[11] although exports as a whole accounted for only 8.7% of the GDP in 2007, compared to 20% in 2000.[139]

                After 18 years of trying, Russia joined the World Trade Organization on 22 August 2012. However, there were few immediate economic benefits evident from that WTO membership.[140]

                Under Putin, Russia strengthened its position as a key oil and gas supplier to much of Europe.
                Under Putin as President and Premier, most of the world’s largest automotive companies opened plants in Russia, which Putin encouraged via tax incentives, as well as protectionist measures which discouraged imports.[141]

          • Filippo
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

            “And then there was the whole missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic episode during the Bush administration – how was that not offensive in nature?”

            Dominic, I conjecture that not a few of us are quite interested in your response to the above.

          • Dominic
            Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            What is MSM?
            “Clearly you have zero understanding of the situation in Eastern Europe in the last 25 years” – greater than zero I think, but I have understanding of the situation in western Europe because I am not an American. Quite what the advantage would be in starting a nuclear war I do not know. You did not really address my other points but let it lie…

      • Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Actually, your account reinforces the parallels with Germany in the 1930s. A couple of substitutions make it perfect:

        Germans do not see Austria, Czechoslovakia or the Polish corridor as an independent entity …– first, for them this is a largely artificial state that only exists because of the quirks of history but most of it is otherwise an integral part of the German cultural sphere, and second, from their point of view, this is unacceptable encirclement and they have no choice but to act the way they do.

        And when did NATO move into the Ukraine? I think you must mean the EU initiative– there’s a huge difference between the two. Also, unlike after World War I, the western allies went out of their way to try to integrate Russia into the European economic and security system. Far from occupation and reparations (Germany’s fate after both world wars, actually, though the reparations after the second went mostly east rather than west), Russia was invited into the most high level coordinating body of the industrial west: the G-7 (Russia made it 8).

        • GM
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          G-8 is a symbolic thing – what you need to consider are the events on the ground. It is only thanks to the very fortunate circumstances that the people of Eastern Europe are used to severe hardship that millions of them did not starve to death in the 1990s. The economy was that bad – there were moments when the average income was less than a dollar a month in some places. Meanwhile western interests were buys buying property left and right, especially in Russia where the resources are. These things are not forgotten. Did people in the Soviet Bloc want to overturn communism before 1989 – sure, many wanted it, but they imagined it as an end to corruption and a blending of the social welfare state with the market choices people in the West enjoyed. What they got instead was a severe form of neoliberal free market capitalism (preached by that very same West) and even more corruption. How would you qualify the usual set of IMF-mandated reforms other than as humiliation. Also, in case you are not aware of it, many of the things that libertarians here in the US are dreaming of, like a flat income tax, are reality in a number of countries in Eastern Europe. Is it any wonder that popular opinion has turned sour on the West?

          • JBlilie
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            I just finished re-reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Putin is using the exact same excuses as Hitler did: Uniting the German speakers, Uniting the German culture, terrorists attacking Germans in these territories, hsitorical mandate/wrongs.

            The parallels (having just finsihed reading Hitler’s speeches) have been absolutely stunning to me. Hitler held sham plebicites too. Hitler’s thugs softened things up before the main stroke (just like in eastern Ukraine right now). Will Putin be satified with Ukraine, or will he want Poland, Rumania, and Kazakhstan as well? Maybe he dreams of being a second Peter the Great, like Hitler dreamed of being a second (and better) Frederick I. How can you be sure, given his behavior?

            • GM
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

              Romania (spell it right please) and Poland were never a part of the Soviet Union

              The northern part of Kazakhstan is mostly Russian. The rest is Kazakh. But Kazakhstan is not trying to enter the NATO so I don’t think you will see anything happen to it.

              • Dominic
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

                Rumania an exonym, Romania is an endonym, to emphasise the Latin Roman heritage.

            • Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

              My two guesses:
              1. There will be no Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine (remember, there is a strong anti-ethnic Ukrainian sentiment in Russia and visa-versa), but Russia will continue to sponsor Eastern Ukrainian secessionists to throw a monkey wrench into the operations of the post-coup Ukrainian government.
              2. If anything’s next for Putin, it’s Kazakhstan (if it turns anti-Putin). The Muslims there are almost fully secularized, the place contains loads of natural gas, plenty of mines, and a good amount of grain, and it was the center of the Soviet space program. It is also empty enough to be easily settleable by ethnic Russians, unlike Ookrayeena.

              • GM
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

                Russian population is decreasing and it already has plenty of territory. Why would it want Kazakhstan for its land?

              • Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

                @GM
                The key word in my Guess 2 was “if”. Also, Russia has a huge border with Kazakhstan. If it falls to anti-Putin political forces, Russia’s border becomes insecure to the extreme. In such a situation, it would be much safer for Russia to take over Kazakhstan than to attempt to effectively police such a huge border.

              • Chris
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

                The easy answer to that is that Putin, and a lot of Russians, look back to a “golden age” of Russian imperialism, both Tsarist and Communist. Even Stalin (Georgian) was ferociously pro-Russian who’s abuse of Ukraine in the 30s is still very well remembered.

                The Chinese have something similar… Any territory that has *ever* been part of China they still consider as Chinese.

          • eric
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

            How does any of that justify a military invastion of Ukraine?

            In fact in your scenario, Ukraine is one of the victims of this rapacious western capitalism, not one of the agressors. “The EU countries came in to the FSU countries as robber barons, therefore we have the right to annex part of Ukraine” is a giant nonsequitur.

            • GM
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

              And you are putting these words in my mouth because?

              First, there has been not military invasion of Ukraine. The troops were already there.

              Second, the 96% of the vote may be suspicious, but it i beyond any doubt that the majority of people in Crimea did want to join Russia. At the very least, incomes and pensions in Russia are triple what they are now in Ukraine, while there is persistent talk of slashing pensions by half in Ukraine as result of the set of austerity measures to be taken – if you are ethnically Russian and you are faced with such a choice, the decisions is an absolute no brainer. Also remember that Crimea was part of Russia until 1954 and was only transferred by Khrushchev (who came from Ukraine) in order to consolidate his own power.

              Third, the words “military invasion” are highly charged. The reality is that nobody (or at most one or two people) has died as a result of Crimea joining Russia back. It was pretty much as peaceful as these things can possibly get. Do I need to remind you what the countries preaching moral superiority right at this moment have done in the last 20 years?

              The US has repeatedly demonstrated it gives zero f***s about international law and will do whatever it pleases as long as it fits its interests (where by “US interests” we should not understand the national interests of the US state but rather the interests of the corporations running the place). Why exactly do you expect other countries to abide by international law if that’s the case? Is what Russia is doing right now illegal – sure. But we have long ago passed the point where international law mattered. And the Russians have every right do defend themselves.

              Once again, Ukraine joining the NATO is simply not acceptable for Russia. That would have meant NATO nuclear missiles at its very border, losing the naval base in the Black Sea, which Russia fought several bloody wars in the past to acquire, and a major geopolitical defeat. It simply cannot be allowed and will not be allowed. Having the Baltic states join NATO was also a major blow, because those are bordering Russia and very close to both Moscow and Peterburg, but that happened at a time when Russia was on its knees and had no meaningful way to block it. Now it’s different.

              You should forget about justice and law and get real. We do not live in a world rule by justice and law, and those will become increasingly irrelevant and hollowed out terms as this century progresses – they are not making any more land, oil and other mineral resources, but we have an socioeconomic system that can only exist in a state of constant expansion of its physical footprint. This can only end up in a real war at some point. And so it happens that Russia has a lot of fertile land, oil and all sorts of other resources you can think of. At some point someone will come knocking trying to take some of those by force, whether it’s Western countries, the Chinese, or both. Try putting the encirclement that has been going in that perspective for a second.

              • Brygida Berse
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

                Ukraine joining the NATO is simply not acceptable for Russia.

                As Ukraine is an independent country, it can choose with which other countries it enters a defensive military alliance. You do not seriously grant Russia the right to decide Ukrainian foreign policy, do you?

              • eric
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

                “beyond any doubt that the majority of people in Crimea did want to join Russia.”

                So what? The majority of Chechens want to leave Russia but you don’t see the Russians recognizing their right to do so. Pretty much ALL countries insist that a separation requires the acknowledgement and acceptance by the central government, not just a majority vote of the separatist district. And Russia insists on that too…when it’s them. Evidently, when it comes to Ukraine, they are hypocrites.

                “Also remember that Crimea was part of Russia until 1954 and was only transferred by Khrushchev (who came from Ukraine) in order to consolidate his own power.”

                And in the 1940s Stalin deported the native Crimean Tartars in order to create the majority you now claim is legitimate. Now, I’m not necessarily insisting we go back to prehistoric ownership here, but if you are going to justify Russia’s acts by appealing to the 1950s, I don’t think its unreasonable to bring up the point that their 1940’s policy utterly undermine your entire point.

                “Once again, Ukraine joining the NATO is simply not acceptable for Russia.”

                I covered this in my response to Diana. That logic completely ignores the right of Ukrainians to have self-determination. We may certainly recognize and consider the fact that this will tick Russia off, but ethically, the only legitimate option is to put the rights of the Ukrainians to determine Ukrainian policy ahead of the right of Russia to determine Ukrainian policy. Dude, seriously, if Russia wanted to send you to Siberia, would you be arguing that Russia’s right to do that overrides your rights to choose where to live?

              • Dominic
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

                Are you Russian?

          • Dominic
            Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

            Well the corruption is endemic & Russian – you cannot blame ‘the West’ whhatever that means, for that! Putin has hardly stopped it, has he? This is a convenient diversion for him when he is losing popularity. Perhaps Russia needs a ‘strong man’ – perhaps it cannot work with a democracy because that needs to emerge from a consensus. I am not imposing my views on Russia! Russia should not impose itself on Ukraine.

      • Greg Esres
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        “because we had another episode of domination and humiliation of the losing side. ”

        I agree that the triumphalism on our side was embarrassing, and we repeatedly rubbed the ex-Soviets noses into their failure. We also steamrolled over their concerns over the expansion of NATO because we could.

        I thought at the time that we should have been a more gracious winner, so it may be truth in the idea that this is karma. We were stupid, stupid, stupid.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        From news reports I read on the weekend the people in Eastern Ukraine who occupied those building were approximately 1000 youths who were contesting joining the EU previous to what us going on in Crimea. Ukraine is split into pro EU and pro Russian groups. There is a group in Eastern Ukraine that wants nothing to do with the West and shun joining the EU with its affiliation with NATO.

        I don’t know if Russia was stirring things up as this is speculation just as there was previous speculation that the US was agitating for the overthrow of the Ukrainian leadership – this too is unfounded.

        Like you, I don’t see the exact parallel with Nazi Germany in WWII but also like you do see the parallel with running down a people after WWI. The Warsaw Pact dissolves but the west keeps NATO and slowly brings in former Warsaw Pact countries then surrounds Russia with these armed countries. What did they think would happen? Was it necessary after the Cold War was over? Russia has its nukes but it is no match for EU and NATO forces. It is a nation improving greatly from where it was after the Cold War ended but it has long way to go and The West in my opinion isn’t helping.

        Sure, I will be accused of being a Russian apologist, but if you look at history and put yourself in the shoes of Russians today (slaughtered by Nazis, defeated in the Cold War, struggling as a democracy) you get a much better perspective of where the are coming from and perhaps can start to think of a way to solve the issue; it isn’t Russian who felt the Cold War never ended, it was the West with its NATO allies bringing in more and more of the formerly eastern countries to its antiquated organization.

        • Robert Seidel
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          Yep. From what I read here in Germany, Putin was trying for the last decade or so to establish an “Eurasian Union”, consisting of Russia and other former Soviet states, to balance the encroaching influence of the European one. The foundation of this Eurasian Union was planned for 2015 …

          The loss of Ukraine is a severe blow to these plans and, indeed, to Russias geopolitical status. As you said, what did they expect?

          For anyone reading German here’s a very good article about this:

          http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/41/41166/1.html

          And now my own prediction: Whatever will be left of the Ukraine will look like Greece in two years at last. In this game, pretty much both sides are the baddies.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

            Agreed. I predict Western Ukraine joins the EU and probably NATO while Eastern Ukraine either remains independent or joins Russia. Ukraine will suffer hardship as tensions escalate and Ukraine is frozen out.

            And I still think Canada wants to supply oil to Europe which of course will upset Russia. Then there is the Russia. Help in Syria and perhaps China that will no longer be there.

            • fivegreenleafs
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

              I ran past a post by Eric Posner, (Professor, University of Chicago Law School) the other day, that weighted in on precisely that…

              http://ericposner.com/is-ukraine-doomed/

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                Yeah Ukraine is really I a bad position. Thanks for the article.

        • Erik Verbruggen
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

          But you just pretend eastern european countries don’t have say in this. We shouldn’t just stand by and have eastern Europe wither to not offend russia. This is easy to say if you’re in the USA but not if they’re your neighbours.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

            When did I say that exactly? Also I’m not in the United States.

        • fivegreenleafs
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          @Diana MacPherson
          “but if you look at history and put yourself in the shoes of Russians today (slaughtered by Nazis, defeated in the Cold War, struggling as a democracy…”

          I concur, both in regard to your quote above, which i think is incredible important to keep front and center in the mind, and I am also wary about drawing parallels to WWII, (the underlying dynamic and political processes and the the geopolitical, economic and the military situation on the ground is so different, along so many dimensions to what they were in the 1930s).

          I would further argue that I think such historic comparisons are inherently very dangerous, because they are so potent in focusing the spotlight on what is similar, while leaving the (often) crucial differences in complete darkness, and, I think it makes it so much more difficult to (exacly as you note above), “get” your “opponents” perspective.

          My guess is that what we are seeing is Russia giving Europe and the US the proverbial “finger”, and is now turning east, to China. If I understand correctly a new natural gas pipline is almost completed to Mongolia/China, and China can probably take upp most, if not all natural gas and oil that Russia can produce.

          I dont think this is something that came out of the blue, but a plan that has ripened for a long time.

        • eric
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          The Warsaw Pact dissolves but the west keeps NATO and slowly brings in former Warsaw Pact countries then surrounds Russia with these armed countries. What did they think would happen?

          Those FSU countries probably thought what would happen would be: Russia realizes ‘oh crap, we can’t invade them the next time we feel like it.’

          Yes, NATO expansion serves western interests and undercuts Rusian interests. But if you ignore the wishes and goals of the countries that actually sought out stronger western ties, then you’re ignoring the most important part of the equation. Have you stopped to ask why Estonia and Latvia etc. wanted to beef up their air defense with US missiles? Seems pretty obvious to me – because they don’t want the Russians to do to them what they are currently doing to the Ukrainians.

          Your comment above is analogous to a rich CEO saying to the USG “how dare you give free contraception to my workers! Of course I will fight to prevent you from giving them anything I don’t want them to have – what did you think would happen?” Our focus in such cases needs to be on the rights of the workers. The Ukraines and Belarus’ of this situation. We might anticipate that the CEO may not like what they do, but given the choice between CEO rights to decide workers’ fates (i.e. Russia’s right to decide the fate of its satellites) and workers’ rights to decide their own, we should side with the workers right to self-determination.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            Making an analogy to what I said above to CEOs denying contraceptives to their workers indicates you didn’t read any of what I said but instead looked for an insulting comeback. I could point out that I wasn’t discussion any of what you said but I’m sure you’ll say I somehow like Hitler next or want to torture little animals – you know, other non sequitors.

            • eric
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

              Okay, let me back up. I understand that the Russians would be upset and alarmed at former Warsaw pact countries allying with the west. Do you think it is ethical to allow the Russians to dictate the alliances that Ukraine can and cannot make? Would you accept such an arrangement at either a personal level or state level if it involved you? Should someone else get to decide what personal alliances you can and cannot make? Should the US get to decide what alliances Canada can and cannot make? If the answer to both is ‘no,’ then why should the answer for Ukraine and Russia be any different?

              • Filippo
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

                “Should the US get to decide what alliances Canada can and cannot make? If the answer to both is ‘no,’ then why should the answer for Ukraine and Russia be any different?”

                Seems to me that the U.S. does so de facto “decide,” to the extent that the U.S. presumes to involve itself in or interferes with the affairs of other countries, either with direct military or covert (CIA) action. And why mention only Canada? Why not also Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), the Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989)?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

                Oh and Canada does whatever the US wants it to do at least it has ever since Pierre Trudeau stopped being PM. Right now the US says it does not recognize Canadian rights to the Arctic. I’m sure that’s not going to go well.

              • eric
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 5:56 am | Permalink

                Filippo – a tu quoque defense? Really? We tortured people – does that make it okay for the Russians to torture people? Or is the correct response “both actions are wrong, and the fact that one evil occurred does not justify further evil.”

                Comparing what the Russians are doing now to what the US did in Iran in 1953 does not, IMO, provide support for the legitimacy of Russia’s actions. It undermines that legitimacy.

              • Filippo
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

                I’m merely pointing out that the U.S. is not in as good a position as it could be to point out the large log in the Russian eye, when we’ve had a quite large log in our own eye over the years.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

                I don’t see this as Russia dictating anything. I see this as the West recognizing that the Cold War is over. Why is NATO still intact? Why do we behave as though Russia is still the Soviet Union? NATO was formed as a defence against the Soviet Union, the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union broke a part, yet we still have an organization based on a Treaty in 1949 to combat the Soviet threat. In my view, NATO should be concentrating on the real threat (countries in the Middle East) and Russia should be a player in that. In other words, NATO should be refocused to include Russia as an ally (it has been recently in helping with Syria).

                As for ethics, do you honestly think that countries go to war for ethical reasons? If that were the case, why do we let Africa suffer? Why were we so slow to react to the genocide in Rawanda? Countries and alliances act for their self interest – secure resources, make sure their borders are safe, etc. Heck, even during WWII the US didn’t enter until they were personally attacked. IBM was servicing computers that helped make the round up of Jews and others the Nazis considered unsavoury and IBM technicians visited concentration camps to do such servicing. There is no such thing as motivation based on ethical reasons.

              • eric
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

                Diana,
                So is your point that we should support the Russians because, hey, in realpolitik terms its better for us?

                And I also disagree with your comments about NATO being outdated. Mideast terrorism may be the threat du jour but, long term, the world’s nuclear arsenals are the greater existential threat and Russia has the biggest. In part, ironically, because Ukraine and Kazakstan gave the Russians all their Soviet-inherited nukes. What a nice thank you they’re getting for that. Secondly, the NATO treaty is still intact because it doesn’t specify an enemy, and therefore is not outdated. Yes, it was created to oppose the Soviets. But there is nothing in the base document that would need to be changed if we are now worried about some other country. Its a mutual defense pact – it doesn’t specify from what. So its a perfectly good framework against any other threat. Lastly, it doesn’t need to be disbanded because it says right there in the text that (after 1968) any of the signatories can leave any time they want, with one years’ notice. If it still exists, its because the signatories want it to, no other reason.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

                I’ve already said that I’m no longer commenting on this thread. I’ve been labelled a condescending Russian apologist so I think it’s gone far enough. However, if you’re going to talk about nuclear arms, you need to get your statistics right: USA has the most nukes but really I’d be more worried about Pakistan than Russia or the US and I bet Israel is too.

        • thh1859
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          Exactly, exactly, exactly, Diana.

          Two reinforcing points: Whenever someone uses Hitler to support her side of the argument, it’s 99% certain that she is ignorant of both the related history and facts.
          2. The Soviet Union won the Second World War. The debt we owe the Russian people is immeasurable.

          • Filippo
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            “The Soviet Union won the Second World War.”

            Yep, the purveyors of “American Exceptionalism” find it hard to accept that example of “Russian (Soviet?) Exceptionalism.”

        • Brygida Berse
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Diana, in your analysis you ignore the wishes of the Eastern European countries that in the past were (some more than once) invaded, occupied and opressed by Russia and/or the Soviet Union. In particular, Poland has been invaded by Russia with amazing regularity over the last 250 years. As the result, the majority of citizens of Poland support their country’s accession to NATO and view it as a protective force rather than an “antiquated organization” (the dubious utility of the missile shield notwithstanding). I suspect that the sentiments of the citizens of the Czech Republic or the Baltic states are quite similar. These people do not want to have anything to do with Russia and are desperately looking for some kind of reassurance that Russia will never attack them again.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

            And the reason I didn’t mention those countries wishes is because it isn’t relevant to my argument of understanding Russia’s position with the West and how they perceive NATO (an organization created as protection from the former Soviet states (the break up of which the US actually didn’t want) and whose nations were effective enemies of the Soviets) including these border countries in its membership and effectively surrounding Russia despite the non existence of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Understanding this position and taking into account NATOs further expansion despite Russian diplomacy under Putin(removing bases from Cuba for example) will reveal how best to find a diplomatic solution that could keep Russia as an ally; an ally the West will need in the future.

            • Brygida Berse
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

              Your argument centered on NATO bringing in former Warsaw Pact countries, so the fact that those countries desperately wanted in is absolutely relevant to the discussion.

              Unfortunately, any hope to have Russia as an ally of the West in the foreseeable future is just wishful thinking. Russia has been for centuries, and remains today, a dangerous bully. It treats Western Europe with contempt and the US with a mixture of hostility and outward paranoia and it generally perceives cooperation as a sign of weakness. One can only hope that the bully is restrained by some kind of stalemate (just like the Soviet Union was during the Cold War).

              And I think that I do understand the Russian perspective quite well. I grew up in Poland and I actually spent a considerable amount of time in Russia (then Soviet Union) in my youth. However, in the international arena, the “Russian perspective” is really the perspective and the interest of the strongman (or a strong group) that is currently in power, be it the Tzar, or Stalin, or Putin. The interest and the will of the people don’t matter; the citizens are kept uninformed and intimidated, and only the ultranationalist tendencies that serve the government are allowed to be expressed freely.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:14 am | Permalink

                No, it isn’t relevant to the discussion. You are arguing from an emotional perspective based on the horrible conditions of the eastern block countries who suffered under soviet rule. That argument centres around whether the Soviet Union was a terrible totalitarian regime which is a separate argument. I agree it was horrible. I also recognize that Russia isn’t the Soviet Union anymore just like Germany isn’t the Nazi Party anymore. What I am arguing is that there is solid evidence as to why diplomacy is failing vis a vis Russian relations to the West and NATO. We have had Russia as an ally in the past – we owe the deaths of thousands of Russians for stopping Nazis (The Winter War) and we have had good relations with Russia after the Cold War. I refuse, based on evidence, to believe that an entire people is untrustworthy; that is bias because of the terrible past. We have to move past that past. The alternative is much worse.

                It seems people are quite willing to paint all Russians and their leader as blood thirsty monsters judging from what I hear on Western news channels. The latest was speculation that Putin is going to round up gays and kill them like Hitler did. This from a Canadian news agency. It’s shocking propaganda — dehumanize the “enemy” and from looking at the facts, none of this has an ounce of truth in it.

                So in other words, I recognize the hatred toward the former Soviet Union and the distrust of those countries toward the new Russia given the past. However, in dealing with the West, it is important for the West to know where Russia is coming from if they want to secure an important ally (who has helped the West with Syria, can help with Chinese relations and is crucial to confronting the real enemies of the West – the Middle Eastern countries). The West needs to recognize who the real enemy is.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

                “It seems people are quite willing to paint all Russians and their leader as blood thirsty monsters…”

                Honestly, Diana! You accuse others of straw-manning and yet you offer that?

                I can’t see how reporting on what is happening to gay people in Russia today can be seriously characterized as “dehumanizing the enemy”.

                You might take a clue from the fact that the same right-wing religious nuts who worked to get Uganda to enact draconian anti-gay laws are full of praise for Putin’s “leadership” on this issue.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

                What evidence do you have that Putin is rounding up gay people and killing them? This is what the report I heard speculated was going to happen. I watched an interview where Putin said that gays were welcome at the Olympics. To be sure, Putin needs to modernize his views on gay people and I don’t agree with him here at all, but to go from that to “Putin is going to round up gay people and exterminate them” is quite a leap.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

                A) I did not claim that Putin was rounding up and killing gays. We have only your description of this characterization purported to be rampant in Western media.

                B)It does not take a lot of imagination to see the trajectory of conditions for LGBT people in Russia over the past few years. Google can provide you with plenty of info, but of course you’ll just dismiss it as a lot of war-mongering propaganda.

                Here’s an example.

                Russian Orthodox Church clergy have in general supported the hostility towards homosexuals. One TV presenter, Olga Bakushinskaya, dubs it “Orthodox fascism”.

                In December an actor and former Orthodox priest, Ivan Okhlobystin, outraged liberals by telling an audience in Siberia that he would “shove all gays live into an oven”. Mr Okhlobystin is one of Russia’s most influential voices on social media, with more than 790,000 followers on Twitter.

                Laws targeting homosexuals and mounting media homophobia are making life ever more precarious for Russia’s beleaguered gay community.

                A recent report by the Russian LGBT network said LGBT people were facing a climate of “general discrimination and violence”. It said a survey showed that over the past year 53% had faced “psychological violence” and 15% actual physical harm. In at least two cases in 2013, this violence proved fatal.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

                Imagination is exactly what we don’t need. Reports should not cater to “imagination” but facts. This article is well tempered argument about why doing so, plays right into the hands of the Kremlin which easily points out US sodomy laws, etc.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink

                Sigh. Your suggestion that I recommend using imagination is bizarre. My point is the opposite. That’s why that word “not” got used.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

                You said, It does not take a lot of imagination to see the trajectory of conditions for LGBT people in Russia.

                Again that is speculation. I’m again not saying Russia is perfect and I completely disagree with the stance on homosexuality in Russia but what I am saying is that it is a pretty big leap from Russia having antiquarian attitudes to mass killings and executions of gay people. The article I linked to speaks to just that same thing and how easy it would be to make similar speculations in Western countries like the US with its sodomy laws and we both know that it is highly unlikely that the US is going to round up gay people and kill them.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

                No, it is not speculation. I provided a bit of evidence, but such things don’t seem to matter to you when the subject involves Russia.

                Sodomy laws in the US were stricken down years ago. Seventeen states in the US have legal same sex marriage. The rest are tumbling like dominos these days. Please provide us with a list of Russian jurisdictions where this is the case.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

                You provided evidence that Putin is marching gays to death camps. Please show me that evidence again as I think I missed it. All I heard was that you figured that is possible.

              • Brygida Berse
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                I refuse, based on evidence, to believe that an entire people is untrustworthy; that is bias because of the terrible past.

                Diana, this sentence alone demonstrates your lack of understanding of the mechanisms of power in Russia and Putin’s foreign policy goals. Russia is not a democratic country, it is an authoritarian regime ruled by a small number of ruthless political operators, some with well established roots in the communist structures like the KGB. Russian foreign policy has been virtually unchanged since the Soviet era, its guiding principle always being “might is right”.

                That said, you don’t have to convince me about the virtues of diplomacy over conflict. But diplomacy is effective only if we have a realistic assessment of the other party’s goals and strategies.

                And your suggestions that I’m “arguing from an emotional perspective” and moreover, that I am motivated by “hatred” are just not fair. In addition to being patronizing, this way you could dismiss as biased the opinions of anybody who has more intimate knowledge of the issue at hand.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

                I did not say you were arguing from hatred. Please show me where I said that!! Please really as that is a big insult to how I argue. Is this what you took personally? Because it is not at all directed at you. I explicitly said “Western news channels” and in the second paragraph where I said “hatred” I said I recognized it in a general way not “your hatred” just “hatred”:

                It seems people are quite willing to paint all Russians and their leader as blood thirsty monsters judging from what I hear on Western news channels. The latest was speculation that Putin is going to round up gays and kill them like Hitler did. This from a Canadian news agency. It’s shocking propaganda — dehumanize the “enemy” and from looking at the facts, none of this has an ounce of truth in it.

                So in other words, I recognize the hatred toward the former Soviet Union and the distrust of those countries toward the new Russia given the past.

                Honestly, I wish people arguing this would read what I say instead of accusing me of condescension.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                Perhaps, Diana, if you would provide a link to the actual reporting you are concerned about, instead of requiring us to respond simply to your apologetics, we could get somewhere. I’m not going to argue in support of a phantom report. You’ll give us that link so we can be sure we’re talking about the same thing. OK?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

                I’m not responding any longer. You’ve decided I’m an apologist. Why bother.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

                Well, I was about to withdraw, too. But I figured I’d give it one last shot in hopes that whatever reporting claimed that Putin was rounding up gays for murder could be evaluated seriously. I didn’t make the claim so why you kept insisting that I “prove it” is a mystery to me.

              • Brygida Berse
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

                […]where I said “hatred” I said I recognized it in a general way not “your hatred” just “hatred”

                I am happy that this turned out to be a misunderstanding. However, your statement about arguing from emotions was directed at me and that was unnecessary (and yes, quite patronizing).

                The difficulty in defending the anti-Putin position is that in the eyes of some it automatically puts one in the camp of Cold War-mongering, hawkish right-wingers (not to mention the difficulties with the WordPress format that lumps my arguments together with those about rounding up gays). I am simply speaking as someone who knows a thing or two about Russia, and also as someone who sees the irony of condeming (justifiably) the US aggressive policies and at the same time granting Putin the right to decide the fate of the nations in his area of influence.

                Ukraine, as well as Poland, the Baltic states and other former Eastern Block countries have the right to self-determination. If they distrust Russia and seek alliance with NATO, that’s their decision to make, not Putin’s.

              • eric
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

                “What I am arguing is that there is solid evidence as to why diplomacy is failing vis a vis Russian relations to the West and NATO”

                If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that our diplomacy is failing because when Eastern European countries ask to become members of our defense pacts, for economic agreements, and the like, we say “okay” instead of “we’ll have to get Russia’s permission first.” Russia doesn’t like us doing this – they want veto/approval power over some or all of the former satellite states’ decisions. So our diplomacy fails. Your solution to this is for us to back Russia in maintaining some level of hegemonic control over its surrounding states, because if we do that, Russia will be friendlier with us. Is that right?

                If that’s the price of diplomatic friendship with Russia, I’m not sure its worth it.

        • Dominic
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

          There is nothing wrong with surpporting a Russian viewpoint in this, but the country we are talking about is not Russia, & this whole idea of ‘speheres of influence’ is very 20th century ‘big power’ politics. Well we are all the victims of our pasts I suppose, & the Russians suffered the Tsars for too long then the ‘Red Tsars’. However they made a pact with the Nazis & used that as an opportunity to land grab. When I went to the Soviet Union I was struck by the dates on the memorials to The Great Patriotic War – 1941-5. But that is another conversation…!

      • Jeffrey
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        “…for them [Russia] this is a largely artificial state that only exists because of the quirks of history…”
        Just like almost all other states in the world.
        As one example of artificially contrived states, just take a look at how the “Scramble for Africa” divided up that continent into contrived states.
        As a Welshman maybe I should support the devolution of Wales from England as we have our own very distinct language, and often an (unreasonable) objection to being “ruled” by the English.
        Then again, maybe the Romans should come and annex Londinium,which Englishmen unreasonably refer to as London.

        • Dave
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          “…for them [Russia] this is a largely artificial state that only exists because of the quirks of history…”
          Just like almost all other states in the world.”

          Exactly. It’s hard to think of a more “artificial” state than Russia. A polity originally founded by Norse adventurers with a largely Orthodox Christian ethnic Slav population, which over the course of centuries expanded by brutal conquest across the Eurasian landmass as far as the Pacific, along the way swallowing up countless tribes, nationalities and ethnic groups speaking hundreds of distinct languages and including followers of almost every major religion on Earth.

          And I have no patience with this rubbish about NATO “moving into” eastern Europe and Ukraine. Those countries elected to throw in their lot with the west of their own free will after gaining their independence in the 1990s. No-one forced them to join. They wanted the security of NATO membership after suffering decades of repression under Soviet rule. And if Putin seriously thinks that he has to restore Russian control over Ukraine because the USA and EU are gearing up to launch a Barbarossa-style attack on Russia then he really is madder than Hitler.

      • thh1859
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        The best analysis I have read anywhere.

        • thh1859
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          My 2:00 p.m. comment, itself comments on GM’s and Diana McP’s comments. (Analyses now.)

    • JBlilie
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Not eerily: Putin’s speeches and excuses are taken directly from Hitler’s playbook. See Gregory Mayer’s edits below.

    • Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Remember, it wasn’t Hitler’s annexations of the Sudetenland, Austria, and Gdansk that were horrific or even necessarily illegitimate. It was his invasion of the Soviet Union, Norway, France, and southern Europe and also his Holocaust.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      I don’t doubt that Putin is after the whole of Ukraine.

      Actually, from what my wife (born and brought up in the Ukraine, but the Russian east of the state) tells me, Putin and the Russians probably don’t want the western parts of the Ukraine. For several generations in the later parts of the Tsars’ reigns and Stalin’s reign, there was a semi-organised movement of (ethnic) Russian people into the heavily industrialised East of the country. Ever since – and evidently continuing – there has been considerable tension between the two ethnicities in the one country. Remembering some of the vituperation that I’ve seen between ethnic Russians (who happen to be Lithuanian citizens) and ethnic Lithuanians (who also happen to be Lithuanian citizens) working together abroad in Norway … and other cases of Indians and Pakistanis (both former British Raj countries) working together while their countries threaten nuclear war … and the occasions that I’ve had a knife held to my throat for being “over paid, over the border and chasing oor wimmin” here in Scotland … I really suspect that Putin and Co. really don’t want much more of the Ukraine than they feel they’ll have to take for “Lebensraum”.
      It’s going to be a bloody mess. Another bloody mess.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I predict East with go with Russia or remain independent while West will (hopefully) join the EU. What I’ve predicted is already starting to come to pass with Russia not recognizing the new Western government & “freezing them out” from their cut rate on fuel.

        Whatever the outcome, it is lose-lose for Ukraine and their best chance is to join the EU which they want in the West anyway. That questionable government, hopefully doesn’t ruin their chances.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

          I doubt that Putin will want to let the Ukraine join the EU. Whether he’s willing to go to war over it, I’m not so sure. But I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
          OTOH, Putin also knows that the Ukrainians gave the Whermacht a really hard time in the early 1940s, and those skill probably haven’t been forgotten.
          “A bloody mess.” Not a very helpful, or hopeful, summary. But I feel it’s depressingly likely to be true.

          • Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

            “…the Ukrainians gave the Whermacht a really hard time in the early 1940s”

            Are you referring to the four thousand Ukrainians who operated under Wehrmacht orders? In general, the history of the Ukraine during WWII shows more collaboration with the Nazis than otherwise.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_collaborationism_with_the_Axis_powers

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:28 am | Permalink

              There were people operating on both sides. But the Whermacht had plenty of problems from partisans (what we’d now call “terrorists” or “insurgents”) throughout their supply lines throughout the war, on all fronts. I would suspect that people haven’t forgotten those techniques.
              Then again, I’m sure that the Red Army has got some old manuals on how to defeat a partisan/ terrorist/ insurgent opposition (and for a bit of balance, they could get some of the manuals written after the successes in Vietnam, Iraq, Ulster and Afghanistan).
              Referring to the wife again – who spent the morning Skyping to some of her school friends in various parts of the world, and the remaining family on both sides of the border – there does appear to be a genuine fear in the (ethnic) Russians of the Donetsk region about the pro-fascist opinions of the Western Ukrainians. How much of that is pumped up by propaganda and how much is grounded in reality, I honestly don’t know. But it does sound like the makings of another bloody mess.

        • Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

          Why do you hope the Western part of the Ukraine will join the EU? Should they do so, assuming its candidacy is accepted, seeing how indebted and impoverished it already is, it will be straddled with harsh austerity measures à la Greece and Spain which will make the people considerably deeper in poverty than they already are.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

            I figure it would give the people in Ukraine some economic options and most likely the ability to work in other parts of the EU as well. With Russia already rescinding their cut rate on energy, they are going to need something.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

            The expressed opinion (as far as I can tell) of the inhabitants of the Western Ukraine) is that they want to be more strongly associated with the EU. what the inhabitants of the Eastern Ukraine think is probably somewhat different – but from my (Donetsk area) wife’s descriptions, it sounds like there is a lot of support for secession and association with Russia there. All in all, a good recipe for a “civil” war.
            Whether the EU would accept the Ukraine, and how many decades it would take to achieve membership, are separate questions.

        • Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

          Oh, and I don’t think the EU wants to “have” the Ukraine. Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy are already dragging it down, they certainly don’t want to add another dead weight to that lot.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

            Oh, and I don’t think the EU wants to “have” the Ukraine.

            On that I’ think that we’re in agreement (actually, I don’t think that we’re in significant disagreement).

            Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy are already dragging it down, they certainly don’t want to add another dead weight to that lot.

            Calling it, the Ukraine without the industrialised East, “dead weight” might be a bit harsh, but another primarily agricultural region … “meh, who needs it?”

            • Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:00 am | Permalink

              In view of the Ukraines humongous debt, describing it as a dead weight for the EU strikes me as correct.

              As for the agriculture question, I wonder just how much radioactive pollution from Chernobyl still lurks in the soil there.

              Then there is this:

              http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/04/09/chernobyl-cap-could-be-casualty-ukraine-crisis/

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

                In view of the Ukraines humongous debt, describing it as a dead weight for the EU strikes me as correct.

                Shrug.
                Before they’re allowed in, they’ll be required to get their national debt into … I forget the number, but it’s a fixed factor of GNP. So, the Ukraine will have to sort it’s debt problems out before it’s allowed to enter the EU. Same as everyone else.
                The issue that seems to have sparked off the murderous charade was Ukraine trying to get legislation in place that would allow them to start this process, and also the process of joining NATO. Both of which would take the thick end of a decade, if there were no problems what so ever. Which is not credible.
                What are Fox News lieing about today? Oh, they’re slipping – they seem to be awfully close to sanity – that political and financial chaos could affect the entombment of the broken reactor. Yeah, likely so. And does Putin really give a good goddamn about it? Of course he doesn’t.

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

                I didn’t know you can read Putin’s mind. Are you a telepath?

              • Posted April 13, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

                The issue that seems to have sparked off the murderous charade was Ukraine trying to get legislation in place that would allow them to start this process, and also the process of joining NATO.

                Not really.

                Before the revolution, the Ukraine had been mired by years of corruption, mismanagement, lack of economic growth, currency devaluation, and an inability to secure funding from public markets. Because of this, Yanukovych sought to establish closer relations with the European Union (EU) and Russia in order to attract the capital necessary to maintain Ukraine’s standard of living without affecting the local population significantly. One of these measures was an association agreement with the European Union which would provide Ukraine with funds contingent to several reforms in almost all aspects of Ukrainian society and break its economic ties with Russia. Yanukovych, at first, considered the contingencies to be fair but ultimately refused to sign the agreement considering it too austere and detrimental to the Ukraine. Instead, Yanukovych signed a treaty with Russia which sparked civil unrest in Kiev that ultimately led to violent clashes between protestors and law enforcement officers under unclear circumstances. As tensions rose, Yanukovych fled the country and has not returned.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted April 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

                and break its economic ties with Russia.

                That may well be at the core of the problem.
                As the old saying goes … keep your friends close, but your enemies closer… and your serfs tied to your apron strings.
                Auntie Vala, in Sloviensk (sp?) was scared back into the house today at a checkpoint on the way to the shops. She didn’t ask who the men with guns were. She has no bread in the house. (But she did have a neighbour whose son was on the checkpoint, so she got bread this evening, according to SWMBO.)

  3. Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    From Russia’s point of view it would make sense to do it sooner rather than later, since then the repercussions will die down quicker. Hitler too didn’t wait around much after he had determined that the rest of Europe would do nothing effective in response to his aggression.

    • JBlilie
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      He never waited around, from the time he got into the Nazi party until he shot himself.

  4. eric
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Its a depressing state of affairs. Unfortunately, I don’t think NATO or the UN will intervene unless/until there is significant blood in the streets. IOW, Kiev is going to have to order their military forces into conflict with the Russians, and take lots of casualties, before any foreign power is going to help them with force of arms. In my opinion, if they want to keep the eastern parts of their country, that’s what they’re going to have to do. And that’s a horrible choice.

  5. Ben McKelway
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Do you think the U.S. was behind the unrest that led to the recent coup in Kiev and/or the most recent coup in Cairo? We were not fond of those leaders, were we?

  6. Larry Fleisher
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    It is truly inspiring to know that george bush looked in to Putins soul and can reassure the world that there is nothing to fear.
    Time for my meds..

  7. Pliny the in Between
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    We are confronting the real nightmare scenario – an expansionist dictator w nukes.

    • GM
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      I would be much more worried about what sort of republican might end up in control of the keys at some point in the future than that Putin might use the nukes one day. You do not rise up to the top and stay there for so long if you do not have a very firm and rational grasp of the reality around you. In other words, it is better to have a dictator selected through Darwinian means than to have a president selected primarily on the basis of how useful he/she is to the corporations that really own the place, without much regard to what else may come with the package…

      • Pliny the in Between
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        My comment has more to do with the political leverage he has with the nukes. He assumes that the West isn’t going to confront him militarily no matter what he does in Ukraine, or the other former Soviet Bloc nations when it comes to that.

        He will continue to use the threat of NATO troops on his borders until all the break away republics are safely back in his sphere.

        • eric
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          I really don’t think his nukes are what’s keeping the UN or NATO out of the situation. He’s not crazy enough to make nuking Ukraine if he doesn’t get his way a credible threat. Heck, we pretty much ignore North Korean nuclear threats and that guy’s a lot more likely to actually use a nuke than Putin.

          I think its a lot more mundane; there is a lack of will/desire to intervene. To the western powers, Ukraine’s interests are just not worth getting into a border war or proxy war with Russia to protect. At least not yet.

          • Pliny the in Between
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:08 am | Permalink

            Again, it isn’t about nuking Ukraine. It’s about the credibility of a Western threat to mitigate Russian re-expansion. We aren’t willing to risk WWIII. Conventional military responses are impossible. Economic sanctions are old hat.

            FYI, I agree with the assessment about the missed opportunity to engage with Russia after the fall of the Warsaw Pact. Less of the Reaganist ‘we won the cold war’, nonsense would have been a start. Some of us actually wrote letters to our leaders about that very thing at the time.

            • eric
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

              “Conventional military responses are impossible.”

              Um, baloney. Since the advent of the nuclear age ALL the military responses we’ve used have been conventional.

              Though this may be us agreeing in substance and quibbling over words. If you’re saying its politically impossible because the western leaders don’t want to do it and western people probably wouldn’t approve of it, we agree. OTOH if you’re saying it would be physically impossible for us to shell Russian forward deployments or deploy UN peacekeepers to the area, we disagree. What’s lacking is the will, not the capability.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

            He’s not crazy enough to make nuking Ukraine if he doesn’t get his way a credible threat.

            I don’t think that Putin is crazy in the slightest. He’s re-building Russia’s area of hegemony after the period (in his perception) of Gorbachev’s weakness and (near-) treason. Putin is doing it having assessed that none of the western powers are going to object in any meaningful way, and I would infer that the Chinese have already told him that they don’t care what happens in the West. So, I infer that some horse trading over the ‘Stans has already happened. Not that either superpower probably has any desire to actually run any of those countries – just asset-strip them when they feel like it.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          He assumes that the West isn’t going to confront him militarily no matter what he does in Ukraine, or the other former Soviet Bloc nations when it comes to that.

          And I think that he’s correct in that assessment.

      • darrelle
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        “You do not rise up to the top and stay there for so long if you do not have a very firm and rational grasp of the reality around you.”

        Not buying it.

        “In other words, it is better to have a dictator selected through Darwinian means than to have a president selected primarily on the basis of how useful he/she is to . . .”

        Not buying that either.

        In my opinion your assessment of Putin is not accurate.

        • Chris
          Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          Putin is an old-school Russian strong-man, Communist, Tsarist or whatever. Nothing new. The Tsarist Okhrana successfully morphed into the Checka, the First Secretaries also morphed into Tsars in their own rights.

          They have… form, as we call it in the UK.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            Putin is an old-school Russian strong-man

            A “grozny-Tsar” as opposed to a “tishaiski-Tsar” (sorry for my inadequate Russian – terms I picked up from some lectures on Russian history a while ago, so I didn’t get them in writing). “Grozny” roots from “big” and “strong” while “tishaiski” … well, a couple of my Russian friends called their cat “Tisha”, which is clearly the same root.
            I’d wake the wife up and ask her, but she’d get all “grozny” on me, and that’s not a good idea.

      • The Militant One
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        “You do not rise up to the top and stay there for so long if you do not have a very firm and rational grasp of the reality around you.”

        No, you don’t rise to the top unless you have firm control of the state security apparatus and the blessing (or at least complicity) of the oligarchs.

        And yes, I fear what sort of rethuglican in thrall to the American oligarchs may gain control of the US nukes just as much. Or democrats, for that matter.

        • Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

          “…and the blessing (or at least complicity) of the oligarchs.” – you mean the ones he jailed and all the ones who moved to the UK and Switzerland? I don’t think so.

      • josh
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        “You do not rise up to the top and stay there for so long if you do not have a very firm and rational grasp of the reality around you.”

        When has this ever been true on the historical scale of dictators and strongmen? There are cases of shrewd autocrats but there are plenty who lasted a long time despite being batshit crazy.

  8. gbjames
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I fear you are right, Jerry.

  9. still learning
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    (Bitter cynicism alert) This summer is the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI. Why not mark the occasion by having another war?

    “Why can’t we just get along?”
    “When will we ever learn?”

    • TJR
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Let’s just hope that every power involved has a plan B, unlike the Kaiser’s Germany.

      “A Serb has assassinated an Austrian, therefore Germany must invade France!”

  10. miikaheino
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Some observers have suggested that Putin might be going after a “frozen conflict”, i.e. making eastern Ukraine permanently contested territory, which would prevent Ukraine from joining NATO or the EU. That’s more or less what’s been done in a couple of other places, and it was tried in Estonia as well.

  11. stevenjohnson
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    The neofascists are in Kiev. That makes the analogy completely wrong.

    • W.Benson
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      My view entirely. I’ve looked at too many videos of club-wielding Kiev protesters with SS’s and white power Celtic crosses,faces painted as Himmler SS skulls, wolfsangle arm patches (ensignia of the 2nd SS-Waffen Panzer division), “88” and “14” graffiti (88 is neo-fascist numerology for “Heil Hitler”; “14” refers to a white power pledge), and crimson and black neo-nazi banners. There was even a confederate flag filmed in the Kiev legislature. These are scary Stepan Bandera (q.v.) people who hate Jews, blacks and commies.

      • W.Benson
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Here are some of the symbols of the Ukrainian right (not all legends guaranteed):

        http://imgur.com/a/1ghhi/

        Also a video of the confederate flag and Celtic cross hung in the Ukrainian parliment (I think) building in Kiev:

      • W.Benson
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Sorry about posting the video rather than just the link. Here is another one from BBC Newsnight [https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=5SBo0akeDMY], disabled I hope.
        This is not intended to be a defense of Putin or Russia; just a reason why Russia might feel uncomfortable with what has happened in Kiev.

      • W.Benson
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        This is a little something from an NGO called UCSJ | Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union:

        http://www.ucsj.org/2013/08/22/svoboda/

  12. Greg Esres
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    We would have a greater moral authority to criticize the move if the US hadn’t recently invaded a country on a made-up pretext.

    • Darkwhite
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Not to mention the US’ track record of instigating coups and revolutions all over the world:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions

    • Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Why?

      I suspect that most readers here were vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq. Putting aside the details the Ukraine situation and speaking generally, why should the actions of a leader we disagreed with prevent us from criticizing bad behavior elsewhere when we think we see it?

      • Greg Esres
        Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        The “we” applies to the US, not this website.

        • Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          My point is that the US is a bunch of individuals. You can’t issue a blanket statement saying nobody should make criticisms.

          • TJR
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

            I took this as meaning “we” in the sense of the US state (where the criticism is appropriate) and not “we” as in the US people (where it is not). So you’re both right.

          • Greg Esres
            Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:57 am | Permalink

            I’m talking about the official statements of the US government.

            Even there, I’m not talking about a moral right, I’m talking about a credibility issue.

            • gbjames
              Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

              The US government has a self-inflicted credibility problem thanks to an insane decision to invade Iraq on false pretenses.

              This fact, however, in no way justifies Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

              • Greg Esres
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

                Never said that it did.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

                I didn’t mean to say you did. But others have.

            • Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

              Well ok.

              • Greg Esres
                Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink

                Whew!

  13. tveb
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Some of us may want to listen to Jerry’s colleague in the Political Science department:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/opinion/getting-ukraine-wrong.html?_r=0

    • TJR
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I agree with Greg Mayer’s comment at #2 above, but OTOH this article’s comparison to the Monroe doctrine is also instructive.

      That’s not to be confused with the Munro doctrine (“Scottish mountains are great”) or the Munroe doctrine (“Read xkcd”).

    • Greg Esres
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I find the article persuasive.

    • W.Benson
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      By my reading, Dr. Mearsheimer has it about right.

    • eric
      Posted April 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Treats the Ukrainians like pawns, with no inherent rights or value. Just trade value between the two real players, Russia and the US. Meanwhile, the author accuses US policy makers of being stuck in the past. Beam, meet mote.

  14. fivegreenleafs
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    @tveb

    That rhymes with what the former US ambassador to the USSR between 1987 to 1991, Jack Matlock Jr wrote in the Washington Post,

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/who-is-the-bully-the-united-states-has-treated-russia-like-a-loser-since-the-cold-war/2014/03/14/b0868882-aa06-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html

    • W.Benson
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Another good article on the successive betrayals by you-know-who.

  15. Greg Esres
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “not that I’m a political savant or anything”

    Doesn’t matter….studies show that experts aren’t any better at making political predictions than the rest of us.

    • fivegreenleafs
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      @Greg Esres

      If you are thinking about Philip E. Tetlock’s research, I believe that comes with a number of important qualifications/reservations if I remember corretly…

      It is true in regard to predicting future political events in the medium to long time perspective >2y, but not true in the short term <1-2y, where expertise does seem to have an impact. But the interesting thing is that you might not have to be an "expert", but, you need to be highly 'knowledgeable'.

      If you have not read it, I can heartily recommend his book, "Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?", (Princeton University Press, 2006)

  16. JBlilie
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    You are exactly correct. I just finished reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich for the third time (no pun intended) and this is exactly like Nazi Germany 1936-39. Some of Putin’s speeches could have been Hitler’s (and maybe his speech writers used Hitler’s speeched as their starting point.) Trouble is, Putler has the nukes now.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      “this is exactly like Nazi”

      Bah, we’ve seen situation exactly like Hitler a hundred times since 1936, yet none of them turned into the Third Reich.

      Not every sniffle becomes pneumonia.

  17. Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Religious fundamentalists defer to the “truth” of the Bible rather than find out the facts of evolution.

    This is little different than many American academics who defer to the “truth” enunciated by their government and controlled media rather that get the facts regarding our foreign interventions.

    And with some reason because their funding is strongly linked to the government that is presenting the “truth” they so uncritically accept.

  18. W.Benson
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    “The U.S. invasion of Grenada was the first major U.S. military operation since the end of the Vietnam War. Indeed, it may have in part been a test of the so-called “Vietnam syndrome,” the purported “affliction” that makes it difficult for the American public to support U.S. military intervention without a just cause. As with Iraq, the initial justifications for the invasion proved to be either highly debatable or demonstrably false, yet it still received bipartisan support in Congress and the approval of nearly two-thirds of the American public. The major justification for the invasion was the protection of American lives.”
    From

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/155/25966.html

  19. Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Professor Coyne: I have to hand it to you. Some of the international experts agree with you:

    http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/08/zakaria-ukraine-crisis-very-very-significant/

  20. Posted April 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    A more appropriate historical analog for the situation in Ukraine would be Hitler’s seizure of Czech Sudetenland. After all, the Austrians wanted to be part of Germany, and voted to become part of Germany after WWI. This was pushing Wilson’s “Right of National Self-determination” a bit too far for the Allies, and they vetoed the union.

    I agree that the standing of the U.S. to challenge Russia in Ukraine is somewhat questionable. In addition to our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is also the Kosovo precedent, in which we chopped off a piece of Serbia and recognized it as an independent state. Of course, our action was “Good,” and the Russian action is “Evil” right? As atheists, no doubt all of us are aware of the objective difference between those two things-in-themselves that hover out there in the luminiferous aether.

    The legitimacy of the government in Kiev is also somewhat questionable. They are basically a mob that deposed a President who was elected in a process that was generally judged fair and above-board by U.S. and European observers. On top of that, before forcing that President out, they had solemnly signed an agreement that was also signed by the foreign ministers of three arbitrating countries to allow Yanukovych to stay in office until new elections were held in December, a “slip of paper” they tore up in less than a week. Add to that the significant fascist element that they are now trying so assiduously to hide, and one can understand the desire of the East Ukrainians to join Russia.

    In a word, I don’t think this is something that we should be fighting a nuclear war over, our risking the start of nuclear war by miscalculation.

    • gerard52
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

  21. Paulo Jabardo
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I lived for a couple of years in the US. Three weeks after I got there (july 1990) Iraq invaded Kwait and a freak show began. I was in high school and it was just weird and scary. That was the only subject that everyone talked about all the time. People mumbling about how powerful the Republican Guard was and stuff like that.

    I was coming from Brazil and even I knew that Iraq was extremely weak and couldn’t compete on any aspect with the US. But most people took it seriously and TV sure was serious about this. Now all of that is history.

    Since then, I have been able to recognize from very early on that the US is preparing a war or something like that. For the past two years there has been a steady increase of Russia bashing and anti-Russia propaganda. Don’t get me wrong, it is not necessarily lies. It’s obvious that Russia is not on its way to become a paradise or whatever. But the intensity and repetition… It really got annoying just before the winter Olympics when even weird toilets where reason enough to make it to the first page of an important newspaper. The funny thing is that often, much worse is not only tolerated but is sometimes a sign of improvement. Anything coming out of a Saudi Prince is hailed as improvement!

    While this was happening, I was wondering what would be the angle and then, parallel to the Olympic games, the Ukranian crisis starts to grow. I simply find it too hard to believe that it was just a coincidence. Don’t forget the statements of that Nuland person who said that the US had invested 5 billions to remove Ukraine from the influence of Russia.

    By the way, I find it hard to believe that someone would revolt to become submitted to the Troika Austerity Wonderworld.

    I have no idea what people in different regions of Ukraine think but ethnic Russians apparently do have some reason to be concerned. Repression of the language and shutting down of Russian speaking TV stations is just the beginning. Can you imagine if Venezuela did something like that? And then the first thing the corrupt Yulia Timoshenko does after leaving jail is to say that Russians should be slaughtered. By the way she said it in Russian. From what I’ve seen, nationalism in Ukraines politicians depend on how much they were paid (or not).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      I too noticed the constant discussions in the media about how there was going to be a terrorist incident at the Olympics. It almost seemed like they wanted something bad to happen there.

      • gbjames
        Posted April 9, 2014 at 4:47 am | Permalink

        I don’t understand how you can be surprised or dismayed that people were fearful of a terrorist incident at the Sochi. There have been terrorist attacks at Olympics elsewhere in the world. Russia has experienced many terrorist attacks in the past decades, most recently in October and December of last year.

        Why on earth is it it be paranoid to be fearful of such an attack? Wouldn’t news analyst be negligent if they ignored these facts? Do constant discussion about the threats of global warming mean that people want coastlines to flood?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 9, 2014 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          That’s not what I said. The tone took on quite a different one than say when the Winter Olympics were hosted in Japan or Yugoslavia (also countries where terrorist attacks have occurred).

          • gbjames
            Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

            Please! Pre-1984 Yugoslavia doesn’t present the kind of terrorist activity-profile that we’ve seen in recent decades in Russia. Nor has Japan experienced a terrorism profile as “predictable” as what is happening in Russia.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted April 9, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

              Really, how so?

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                I think you have the evidentiary burden misplaced.

                As far as I can find, Yugoslavia was not hit by terrorist attacks in the few years before the 1984 Olympics. If I’m wrong, I’m sure you’ll provide the evidence. The Japan Olympics were held in 1998. In 1995 they were hit by the saran gas attacks conducted by Aum Shinrikyo. This was a pretty unique event in Japan.

                Russia was hit by 31 terrorism attacks in 2013 alone. This information comes from that noted source of anti-Russian propaganda, Russia Times. Only a war-mongering Western press would imagine that there might be a terrorism threat at an Olympics event in Russia.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

                My point wasn’t that the fear of terrorism was a false one; my point was it was harped on ad nauseam.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                You just shifted the goalposts from “Russia is just like Yugoslavia and Japan” to the totally subjective “harped on ad nauseam”.

                There is no way for anyone to dispute what induces your nausea. There are, however, real-world reasons why discussions about potential terror attacks at Sochi might have been different than those at other Olympic locations.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:00 am | Permalink

                Show me where I said “‘Russia is just like Yugoslavia and Japan'”. I was talking about reports about Winter Olympics in the West the whole time.

              • gbjames
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

                “The tone took on quite a different one than say when the Winter Olympics were hosted in Japan or Yugoslavia…”

                Can we please avoid silly quibbles? If the intent of your statement wasn’t meant to suggest an equivalence between the Russia/Japan/Yugoslavia situations, then you haven’t made your point clear.

                I read your comment as a clear indication that the “tone” SHOULD have been the same but WASN’T for some nefarious reason of arbitrary ethnic/political bias. If that isn’t what you meant then please say what you actually did mean.

                You’ve repeatedly claimed that Russia is misunderstood in so many ways, INCLUDING having an unfair fear of olympic terrorism played up for nothing but propaganda value. But concern about terrorist attacks at Sochi were well founded, as evidenced in my reply of 9:16am (Central time).

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                Honestly, I’m withdrawing from this discussion. I’ve been told I’m condescending by one person, you’ve accused me several times that I’ll just argue this or that. It’s clear that I’m not going to change minds and these arguments are going to quickly turn into ad homs.

                Slam me all you want. I’ve had worse. I’m not replying any longer.

  22. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, migraines are a huge economic drain. This from the Migraine Research Foundation:

    Many people fail to realize that migraine is a neurological disease, like epilepsy. Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States goes to the emergency room with a headache or migraine. Migraine sufferers visit the emergency room because of the severity of the pain or the fear of unremitting pain, drug reactions or side effects from headache medications, severe nausea or vomiting, dehydration, and/or stroke-like neurological symptoms that might accompany the headache.

    Migraine ranks in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses. Amazingly, over 10% of the population, including children, suffers from migraine. Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with migraine. In addition to the attack-related disability, many sufferers live in fear knowing that at any time an attack could disrupt their ability to work or go to school, care for their families, or enjoy social activities. More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine attacks.

    It is true that when you get in pain and you fear it won’t stop – that is terrifying. I always fear I’ll go back to a constant migraine like I had before. When I start getting them a lot, I get really worried (which probably just causes more migraines).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      oops I posted this in the wrong thread. Too many dang tabs open.

  23. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 9, 2014 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Well, I saw Senator Kerry on TV a couple of weeks ago warning the Russians about engaging in invasions on flimsy pretexts and I literally howled. Not that the Russians are right (my sympathy is with Ukraine) but how can any American politician utter those words with a straight face – without, in fact, cringing in embarrassment? Yes I am talking about Iraq and Weapons of Mass Delusion. I’m afraid on the subject of invasions the US now has all the credibility and moral authority that the Pope has on child abuse. Not surprising the Russians are leery of the Ukraine joining Nato.

    For the sake of Eastern Europe, we can only hope that Putin has more sense, judgement and rationality than Dubya ever displayed. This may not be difficult to achieve.

  24. Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    CNN is simply spewing Western propaganda.

    For real information about Crimea and the Ukraine, I recommend Pepe Escobar who is possibly the best informed journalist on this and other subjects. Here is a link to a page on Asia Times where you can find links to quite a few of his articles about Russia, Crimea and the Ukraine:

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Others/Escobar.html

  25. Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    If you absolutely have to make comparisons with Hitler, note that the Nazis are the ones ruling in Kiev today.

  26. Posted April 9, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    A peek inside the leadership in Kiev:


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