Saturday, September 21, 2013

Don't Get Mad at Vlad 2

   Uuuummm, Lunch was good, so now as Ed Schultz would say if he were here, let’s get to work.
   The first paragraph of Vladimir Putin’s September 11th New York Times op-ed points out a possible “time of insufficient communication between our societies.” This may be true... it probably is true. Putin doesn’t offer any remedies for this situation, and greater communications between our two societies would more than likely be a beneficial thing for the world as a whole, but maybe not for the individual governments who historically have desired a measure of control over the amount of interaction our two societies share. Yet considering both countries still control approximately 3,134 tactical and strategic nuclear weapons (Russia: Approximately 1,480 deployed strategic warheads; the U.S. 1,654 strategic nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists, and these are just the ones that are deployed. In contrast China deploys about 240, France 300, the United Kingdom fewer than 160. India’s got up to 100 nuclear warheads, Israel, Between 75 to 200, Pakistan, between 90 to 110, and North Korea has separated enough plutonium for roughly 4-8 nuclear warheads, but hasn’t had much success with deployment vehicles) it might be a good idea to keep amicable relations between ourselves (You think!).
   Not to get off subject (which I never, ever do) but I must mention the U.S. and Russian arsenals are not getting any younger, and as they age our ability to sufficiently maintain them diminishes, and carries a huge annual price tag. See the last chapter of Rachel Maddow’s “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power,” entitled “An $8 Trillion Fungus Among Us,” for a closer examination of this very issue (“US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina”).
   The second paragraph rekindles fond kumbaya memories of when the United States’ and Soviet Union’s  Armed forces united to hasten the defeat of Nazi Germany, our common enemy, at the end of  the European conflict in World War II, and that we came together once again to form the United Nations in 1945. Of course it first mentions that our two nation’s have been fairly hostile to each other ever since, building the huge nuclear arsenal that if used was capable of destroying all life on the planet several hundred times over during the Cold War (not to mention a little phenomena called Nuclear winter). But in the spirit of unwarranted benevolence we won’t go into that at this particular juncture.
   “The United Nations (UN; French: Organisation des Nations Unies, ONU) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated aims include promoting and facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, political freedoms, democracy, and the achievement of lasting world peace. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.” -Wikipedia
   And as far as certain UN activities, such as the maintenance of international peace and security, the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action are concerned, the UN is dominated by the five nation, veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom. How did these nations get such powerful positions on a permanent basis. Because they were the major victors after World War II, and they all had, or have nuclear bombs, so they gave it to themselves and absolutely no one can take it away from them.
   Putin’s third paragraph sings the praises of this very situation in the Security Counsel, which has stabilized international relations “for decades,” which of course is completely false (unless what one means by “stabilizing” is allowing only international military conflicts to persist that they condone (some of our moron friends on the right claim that President Obama is a traitor due to the fact that he has turned the “sovereignty of  the U.S. over to the communist controlled United Nations.” Since there are only 5 remaining communist countries in the world (China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam) out of 196 it would seem that either communism enjoys a disproportionate amount of influence in the UN, or our right wing friends are indeed morons)).
   I’m sure we all remember the League of Nations, which was created after World War I for much of the same reasons as the UN was created after WWII. Yet the League of Nations failed to prevent WWII from beginning and thus was effectively dissolved.
   Putin continues by bringing up the possibility the the UN might collapse as well if member nations bypass Security Council authorization when contemplating military actions, much like the United States has recently done by contemplating missile strikes into Syria for it’s government’s supposed use of chemical weapons against it’s own people.
   President Putin knows that President Obama has pretty much painted himself into a military corner by stating previously that if Syria used chemical weapons against it’s own people (or anyone else for that matter), the U.S. would respond in an appropriate manner. The only manner the U.S. could respond to Syria in this type of situation would be militarily, as sanctions or embargoes or whatever would have little immediate effect. President Putin also knows that the United States would never seek permission by the UN Security Council because the United States knows that Russia would veto such an action, because Russia and Syria are economic and strategic partners (Russia has a navel base in the Syrian city of Tartus, which provides it with easy access to the Mediterranean Sea).
   Putin goes on by assuming that if the United States did take military action in Syria the already unstable region would deteriorate further, perhaps beyond Syria’s borders, kill more innocent victims, including children Obama seems to be especially concerned about (his concern seems to be selective as the death of innocent women and children in Pakistan and Afghanistan by drones doesn’t seem to bother him) increase terrorism, decrease the chances of resolving the supposed Iranian nuclear problem (international intelligence estimates of Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions have not convinced me and others that Iran is doing anything other than what it says it’s doing, developing nuclear power for peaceful domestic energy and medical purposes. Trigger happy nations, like our own, have been known to fabricate evidence before, such as that which led to the invasion of Iraq), and be illegal.
   Putin points out that by helping President Assad’s opposition, by supplying them with arms, the U.S. is also helping known terrorist organizations, like Al-Qaeda,  Jabhat al-Nusra, and others, who will undoubtedly gain valued experience in Syria to be exported to other countries in the future.
   In the next paragraph Vlad states that his only interest in helping Syria is to protect the law... international law, that Obama would be breaking by not seeking a UN resolution before attacking. “The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not,” he states. This is pure crap, and Putin knows it. No head of state actually believes they have to follow the law, or at least to the extent that they can successfully get away with breaking it. Even George W. Bush got congressional and UN approval before he invaded Iraq (of course he illegally cooked the intelligence that persuaded those two entities to allow him to do so). And Russia gives it’s leadership much more leeway in which laws it chooses to enforce than the U.S. The only true statement in this paragraph is that it would be an act of aggression if the United States attacked Syria.
   But it would be an act of aggression if the attack were sanctioned or not.
   The next point Putin makes did provide some points of contention here in the U.S. He admits that chemical agents were used offensively in Syria, but not by Assad’s regime, rather the opposition forces used them in order to get nation’s like ours to help them out.
   Well we were already helping them, and we help them still. And one would have to believe that these opposition forces would be willing to use these agents against their own people (or at least civilians) in order to carry this out.
   That certainly wouldn’t be unheard of, but Syria has now admitted to possessing chemical weapons and the means of deploying them. It is unlikely the opposition forces have these weapons.
   The reason we know Syria has chemical weapons is because they said they did. It was widely believed they had them, but Syria never admitted it until just recently, after Secretary of State John Kerry answered a hypothetical question September 9th in London while trying to make a strong case for attacking Syria. He was asked was there anything Syria, or the Assad regime could do to avoid such an attack? Kerry said Assad might avoid an attack if he handed over every bit of his chemical weapons stock to the international community, but added that the Syrian president was not going to do that.
   I think Kerry was sorry he made that statement as it seemed he really, really wanted to attack Syria.
   Well guess what? Putin immediately saw a way to outmaneuver Kerry, and took him up on his offer. He used his considerable influence on Assad and persuaded him to give up the chemicals! He called Kerry’s bluff, which gave Obama a way out of this mess he had gotten himself into (first he tried throwing the ball to Congress which is notoriously known for not wanting to catch balls. The President said he would seek Congressional approval before staging an attack. Putin’s offer  got Obama and Congress off the hook). One of the demands Kerry (acting for the U.S.) made on Assad was that he hand over a complete list of all of the chemical weapons Syria possessed by the 20th, yesterday. I think much to Kerry’s annoyance Assad did just that.
   But Putin’s letter to America appeared way before that.
   The Poot (I like to call Vladimir the Poot) went on to talk about how often the United States likes to invade other countries with military force. And we do like to do that. We did it in Korea. We did it in Vietnam. We did it in Grenada. We did it in Panama (forgot about that one didn’t you?). And we’ve done it in Afghanistan and in Iraq twice! We do it all of the freaking time!
   It’s good for business. We hope it doesn’t cost any American soldiers their lives, but if that’s what it takes for Halliburton, and Lockheed, and General Dynamics, and companies like them to make a few more billion a year to ship offshore tax free, than that’s what it takes.
   This is when Putin uses Bush’s “you’re either with us or against us,” line that Stephie was so worked up about. How the U.S. forces other countries to let us do whatever it is we want to do by forcing coalitions together by using that line, giving the United States the appearance of not acting unilaterally in it’s misdeeds.
   We’ve got a lot more to cover, so tomorrow (really) we’ll finish up with Putin’s ode to the USA, how Senator John McCain (that old warhorse) responded to it, and new developments with the newly elected President of Iran, of all people.
   He wants to talk to our President.
   As if Obama didn’t have enough to worry about (look at all of that grey hair).

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