Uncategorized

My Thoughts on Putin’s Comment

Apparently Putin said something, for he is known to speak, and said comment was controversial. So controversial that it brought on a massive online debate with people e-fighting each other over it. And? Yes, it’s a mountain, not a molehill, but for reasons different from what the mass media will tell you, as the mass media is, as usual, behind the times. And I’m not talking about the New York Times, as they are behind the mass media. (BTW, when I’m using the “we” or “I” pronouns, I’m using it as a member of RuNet.)

Before continuing my attempt to upend this entire conversation, let me introduce myself, or rather, introduce what I do. I work in the predictive field, meaning that it’s my job to predict future trends, policies, market changes, war victors, etc. I’m good at what I do. Want an example? https://ucgsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/the-box-not-seen/ It’s the only predictive piece I wrote on my blog, in June of 2014. Let me quote the relevant part: “All the boxes in that chart seem to be filled and it certainly makes sense from that perspective. However, consider this: Southeast Ukraine annexed, Rump Ukraine transferred to EU. Whoops. I’m not seeing that one on there.”

This is, de facto, what’s been going on: once Donetsk and Lugansk get near full autonomy, they will increase trade with Russia and bloom, whereas the pro-Western Ukraine, well, we’ve already seen their economic decline spiraling out of control. I’ve also outlined the conditions, which are in the process of being imposed on Kiev’s government, and if the latter disagrees, the country will fall apart.

  1. “Crimea to join Russia and be internationally recognized; DonBass to either join Russia, or receive autonomous republic status in Ukraine, like Crimea had
  2. Federalization of Ukraine
  3. Autonomous status for Southeastern Ukraine and Zakarpatiya, if the voters approve it
  4. Russian to be recognized as the official language of Ukraine
  5. Truly popular and democratic elections by region, with no candidates being beaten up or not allowed to run for office

I did not write this up to brag, or to toot my own horn. It’s been tooted by others plenty of times and that’s how I like it. Come at me [with compliments,] bro! The reason for that brief introduction, is because what I’m about to say is highly controversial, so here goes: Putin did RuNet a giant favor by making that comment. Yes, the comment that I’m referring to is the one about Lenin and the proverbial atomic bomb.

Let me quickly justify that. Did the comment split Russian society? Only on that specific issue. After he said that, are Russians anti-Crimea? Anti-demography? Anti-economy? Anti-Syrian Intervention? Aside from that specific issue, are the Russian split on anything as a result of said comment? Of course not! And one needs a good fight once or twice to keep his or her wits about. With Putin’s policies, RuNet has been getting complacent. Taking down idiots like pedophile Bykov is hardly a mental workout. “Don’t be an alcoholic, or you’ll be like Bykov!” It’s akin to moving your thumb to switch channels. But this, oh damn, this issue is most definitely up for debate!

And it’s about fucking time. The last time we had a genuine, underdog debate, was during the Ossetian War, where it was us against the mass media. And yes, they still try to talk about it, but that gets torn to shreds rather quickly. Using those skills, we were able to counter their bullshit on Crimea rather quickly. The point is that Russia needs a strong Civil Society and RuNet is the way to build it. But in order to be active, we need something that’s truly debatable. Something recent. Something controversial. Something like the claim that “Lenin planted an atomic bomb under the structure of Russia and then it exploded!” Controversial? Yes. Will it spark a lot of debate? Absolutely. And you know what? Bring it on! We need to confront our past, instead of letting others dictate our History.

One of the greatest achievements of British Propaganda was claiming that the French suck at war. Want to know what happened during the Franco-British Wars? France took Northern France away from Britain, and the Brits hid behind Europe’s most formidable moat – the English Channel. So the Brits lost half of their land and are forced behind a moat, by the French, and it’s the French that suck at war. Do you see what happens when people are too damn afraid to confront their past? And this tactic, of making us fear the confrontation of our own History is in full bloom. How many idiots say “you should be ashamed of what the Red Army did” and then go off into a nonsensical rant? Yeah, I should totally be ashamed of the Heroic Soldiers who saved my family from slavery and/or genocide because an entire one percent of desperately drafted men happened to be bad apples. Wait, what the actual fuck? Not even Dutch weed can get someone to be that high, so I’m guessing that it’s just genetic stupidity. Some people are born Einsteins, and some, reverse Einsteins.

Anyways, going back to Putin’s comment, whether you agree or disagree with it, you have to admit that it produced a lively debate, and that said debate did not cause any breach in Russia’s Blogosphere or other RuNet Resources. And that means that we’re successfully building Russia’s Civil Society. Did Putin intend this, or did he just get lucky? I’m going to argue for the latter, since Putin’s not a Historian, and it seems that he was just blurting out a frustration with the way that the USSR was set up. Rather, Putin’s a great demographer, and from a purely demographic perspective, the collapse of the USSR was an unmitigated disaster. Putin did say “whomever doesn’t miss the USSR has no heart, whomever wants it back has no brain.” And that leads me to conclude that Vladimir Trio o Quatro simply got lucky. Time for a song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlUsMuz9_RU

So with that established, let me just say a few words about Vladimir. When he came to power, he was viewed with suspicion, but had the “anyone’s better than an alcoholic” ratings bonus. He wanted to focus on improving demographics, but suddenly IIPB, an ISIS-style group, invaded Dagestan. They were called International Islamic Peacekeeping Brigade, even though there was nothing Islamic or peacekeeping about their brutal march through parts of Dagestan, brilliantly documented by British Historian Richard Sakwa. Putin’s first response was to rush the T-90s that were about to be shipped to India, to the front instead, cancelling the sale. The T-90s, equipped with T-72 crews, dashed into battle and routed the IIPB, although after the battle and being hit by numerous RPG rounds, their armor was anything but shining.

The Invasion of Dagestan by IIPB started the Second Chechen War. Once again Putin shined, by letting the military fight the war while serving as a morale booster and quartermaster. Within a year Groznyy was taken, and Putin could finally focus on rebuilding Russian Demographics, which he did. By 2006 Russia was living and breathing, a country of hope and legend, not one of fear and neglect of the 1990s. This was undoubtedly reflected in Putin’s approval rating. A few years peace and prosperity did wonders for the Russian economy, and when several 2008 crisis hit, the country was ready.

In August of 2008, Georgia’s resident idiot, erm, I mean totally democratically elected president, decided to spice things up in the Caucasus by invading South Ossetian, shelling civilians and attacking the legitimately stationed Joint Peacekeeping Base in the region. The peacekeepers were the only units not to have committed any violations in the Ossetian War, so shelling them proved ample casus belli, as if Russia needed one. The reformed military did something they weren’t expected to – they routed the Georgians thrice in the time span of two weeks. Putin’s approval rating surged. It was a great victory for Russia, one that finally stabilized the Caucasus. And then the anti-Russian media blitz hit. For the first time, the Western Media Blitz accomplished nothing. China was stunned. After the media blitz ended in failure, China reached out to Russia, in a move that would make the Shanghai Cooperation Organization one of the most powerful on the planet. There’s a reason why countries want to be in NATO or SCO. They don’t want to be invaded in the name of Human Rights or Rumpelstiltskin.

And then the economic crisis hit, caused by worldwide, (including Russia’s) banking mismanagement. The Russians reacted swiftly, and by 2010 said crisis was but a memory.

putin-approval-rating

Putin’s approval rating reflected this, never once falling below 60 percent. Granted, the chart only shows the trend until 2013, but I can assure you, the trend continued. In 2014, the Sochi Olympics were successfully held as the pinnacle of Putin’s Caucasian Achievements. As the Brookings Institute notes: “Russia’s behavior did not change, nor did its evaluation of its own interests. What changed over time was Russia’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy.”

Are any of the policies that I’ve discussed above under threat in Russia? Absolutely not. Most Russians support the Kremlin’s foreign policy, demographic policy, national policy, etc. Yes, the Kremlin’s economic policy needs quite a bit of work, especially since the Ruble was too closely tied to natural resources, and that needs to change. But overall, the Russians are in agreement on a lot of things, so it’s our time to start improving Civil Society through lively debate about our past, and I personally thank Vladimir Putin for completely inadvertently giving us a good topic for discussion: Vladimir Lenin. Anyone want a ticket to Finland?

With that said, let’s take a look at Putin’s quote, but before that, I want to point out that I support people who are bold enough to post on both sides of the debate; so let’s have at it, eh chaps?

“Управлять течением мысли это правильно, нужно только чтобы эта мысль привела к правильным результатам, а не как у Владимира Ильича. А то в конечном итоге эта мысль привела к развалу Советского Союза, вот к чему. Там много было мыслей таких: автономизация и так далее. Заложили атомную бомбу под здание, которое называется Россией, она и рванула потом. И мировая революция нам не нужна была. Вот такая мысль там”, – сказал Путин, завершая заседание президентского совета.

“It’s wise for the ruler to lead by sharing his thoughts with the population, but these thoughts must lead to good results, unlike Lenin’s thoughts did. In the end, Lenin’s thought led to the collapse of the USSR. He had many thoughts on regional autonomy. Said thoughts laid an atomic bomb under the building that’s called Russia, and later it blew up. We didn’t need a World Revolution.”

This shows the start differences between Putin’s, (and Imperial Russia’s) visions, and the USSR’s vision of what’s best for Russia. The Communists believed that Russia needed to lead the World into a new Age of Enlightenment, through Socialist Reform. Putin believes that Russia should stick to its own guns, and not run around the World looking to create Revolutions. The Communists were perfectly accepting of ethno-republics, whereas Putin and the Imperialists want(ed) a slow process of integration. This is an actual debate today in the EU, with the mass immigration playing a huge role as a catalyst. And while the debate in the EU is often violent, in Russia it’s limited to RuNet. This simply shows how far Russia came along in less than two decades.

Where do I stand on this notion? I agree with Putin in that it’s not up to Russia, (or any single country,) to run the World. It’s not up to Russia, (or any single country,) to superimpose its whims on a population of another country. The problem with Revolutions is that you simply don’t know who you’re going to get in the end. Few predicted Poroshenko’s rise and thus there was little that could be done to analyze his goals. On the other hand, Putin knew Konstantinov’s policies quite well when Crimea was annexed. Who’s more successful? Considering the demographic data, it’s undoubtedly Crimea. I can just as easily make the same comparison between unreliable Saakashvili and reliable Kokoituy. When Putin made that comment, he was basing it on personal experience.

Now let’s come to the crux of the comment: autonomy. It’s the long standing notion of who should have more power to govern, the local governments or the national governments. Considering that Putin’s a national leader who’s sick and tired of local corruption, it’s probably not hard to figure out where he stands. But, erm, Vladimir, there’s been national corruption too, remember Serduykov? I’d say that was corruption. Autonomy on its own is a complex subject to tackle, and thankfully I won’t have to, since Putin was talking about ethno-autonomy.

And ethno-autonomy is dangerous, since it almost always leads to persecution of innocent people. One of the arguments for ethno-autonomy is “your group fucked over my group, independence, fuck yeah baby!” but that very same argument will lead to massive persecution of the group that’s dominant in the country that one’s region is seceding from. Sometimes it can be peaceful, but not everyone is blessed with a Nazarbayev at the helm. Case in point: the Baltics. In 1989 there were 905,515 Russians in Latvia; in 2011 it was 557,119. 474,834 Russians in Estonia; in 2011 the number dropped to 326,235. In Lithuania – 344,455 Russians in 1989; in 2011 the number was at 176,913. The number dropped from 1,724,804 to 1,060,267. That’s a drop of 63 percent of the current population – if that’s not a demographic catastrophe, I don’t know what is!

That pales in comparison to Chechnya. In Russia there’s this group called the Committee of “Soldiers’ Mothers” whose actions possibly contribute to getting Russian soldiers killed. The great Russian military leader, Alexander Suvorov, stated “hard in training, easy in battle”, meaning that it was better to have truly tough training and lose a few soldiers than to lose an entire division on the battlefield. The Committee of “Soldiers’ Mothers” has, allegedly, done everything in their power to sabotage the tough parts of the training. And yet, for some odd reason, (perhaps at the request of their sugar daddy,) they’ve ignored Russian civilian losses in Chechnya. In 1989, there were 269,130 Russians living in Chechnya. By 2002 said number dropped to 40,645. Some ran away, some were killed, others were enslaved, and yet where were these self-dubbed “Human Rights Experts?” That’s the results of Gorbachev’s much lauded Perestroika, and other nonsense supported without putting a single brain cell into its effects. Should he be executed? If he is, I won’t shed any tears.

And then comes the question of ethno-autonomy, Soviet style. Why was Crimea transferred to Ukrainian SSR? Why wasn’t Lugansk a part of Russian FSFR? Why was Pridnestrovie a part of Moldova’s SSR? Why wasn’t Nagorno-Karabakh part of Armenian SSR? How did Ossetia end up in two different SSRs? Who the fuck came up with these nonsensical borders? What was the border of the Russian FSFR and the Belarussian SSR based on? No one in their right mind would actually draw these borders, but they were drawn by the Communists. Why? This goes back to Lenin’s Idea of World Revolution that Putin was talking about.

If you’re looking at it from the perspective of a World Revolution, none of the borders or the transfers actually matter, because the World will be united in a kumbayah ceremony or whatever. If you’re looking at it with sane eyes, you would move to eliminate these borders at the first chance, and that chance happened in 1945. Have you ever heard of August Storm? My guess is that you haven’t, even though it was one of the most brilliant military operations to be conducted where the Red Army and the Red Navy captured more Japanese POWs in a two week time-span than the allies did during several years of warfare. One could even posit that after seeing what the Red Army and the Red Navy were capable of, Truman decided to drop the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki to show Stalin that he had weapons of mass destruction and was quite willing to use them.

However, by 1945 the Soviets could do whatever they wanted in the part of Eastern Europe that the Soviets controlled, in China, Mongolia, North Korea, and the list goes on. If in August of 1945 the Soviet Leadership would simple annex a good chunk of those countries into the USSR, few would protest any louder than they already did, and those few didn’t matter. Not only did Stalin fail to annex, he deliberately kept the numerous SSRs and even created new ones. Was he guided by Lenin’s idea when he did so? Putin would argue that he was. Instead of having the Russian Empire, there was now the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, surrounded by a bunch of SSRs acting as the secondary shield, in turn surrounded by the Warsaw Pact, acting as a primary shield. Why was this necessary?

And here’s where ideas matter. If one was guided by the idea of the Imperial Russia, annex the SSRs into the RSFSR and maybe, (a big maybe here,) turn the Warsaw Pact members into SSRs. But if one was guided by the idea of a World Revolution, then it would be important to keep the numerous SSRs as they are, to show that under Communism the local power would still be kept, no matter how large or small it was. This was the idea followed by Stalin, when he made the choice of the SSR split, thus keeping Lenin’s proverbial atomic bomb intact. This is the power of a wrong idea that Putin was addressing.

At least that’s just my take on the situation, what’s yours? I don’t expect you to agree with me on it, but I do expect you to agree that it’s a good thing that we’re having a mature debate over a complex and heart warming/heart cooling topic, in a mature atmosphere. That, alone, is awesome in my book, and I hope it is in yours.

The question is – what now? There’s no point in restoring the USSR, as that ship sailed in the 1990s, while the “glorious lealders” in the Kremlin were drunk on money and very drunk on alcohol. We have to look at the situation as it is, not as it was. Just because it was illegal for the Baltics to secede, doesn’t mean that it’s time to reconquer the Baltics – that’d be stupid. Learning from History is a must, but living in the past is a mistake, and that’s the balance that a Historian, or a Policy Maker, must maintain.

The Case for Crimea’s Unification with the Russian Federation

The Case for Crimea’s Unification with the Russian Federation

There has been a lot of propaganda coming out from both sides of the spectrum regarding Crimea. However, I’m a research analyst, and when I have actual numbers I prefer to go for the numbers. With that in mind let’s take a look at the numbers on Crimea. For the most part these are in chronological order.

During his interview, President Putin stated that prior to Crimea’s annexation by Russia, a covert poll was conducted, showing 75% of Crimeans favoring unity with Russia. This is backed up by the results from RIA News, at 77%, and from Sevastopol News, at 80%. As if that wasn’t enough, a poll conducted by a Ukrainian news agency showed that 41% of Crimeans wanted Ukraine to join Russia as a single state. And there’s the rub – “as a single state”. A poll conducted by the UNDP, over a period of time, showed that roughly 67% of Crimeans wanted to join Russia between 2009 and 2011, as Crimea, but without the Lvov region. Furthermore, the events at Maidan increased the opinion from 36% to 41% for Union with Russia for all of Ukraine. One can easily utilize logic to grasp that said events also increased the opinion of the Peninsula’s Union with Russia to 75%, via a simple mathematical analysis. Poll after poll show the unification figure between 75% and 80%, and that was before President Putin promised Crimea massive economic reforms if Crimea joined the Russian Federation.

After the Referendum, the Crimeans continued to tell anyone who’d listen in the West, through polling, that they wanted to be with Russia and that in their eyes the Referendum was legitimate, whether it’s Gallup’s 83% figure, GFK’s 82% figure, or Pew’s 88% figure. Irrespective of how the Crimean Referendum was conducted, the Will of the Crimean People is clear: Unity with Russia. The Referendum’s numbers are similar. Roughly 80.4% of Crimeans turned out to vote on the Referendum and voted yes, as did 85.6% of the residents of Sevastopol. Considering that roughly about 15% of Crimeans live in Sevastopol, and 85% in the Peninsula, after adjusting those numbers we get a general voting tally of 81.2%, which is within the legitimate margin of error of 80%. The increase from 75% to 80% can easily be explained by President Putin’s pledge to provide massive economic assistance to Crimea.

Please note what I did above. I simply used numbers and nothing else. No propaganda. Just pure numbers. And note how close those numbers are! They’re all between 75% and 80% before the Referendum, and 81% and 88% after the Referendum. That’s a margin of error of 2.5% in the former case and a margin of error of 3.5% in the latter case. That’s below the accepted 4% margin of error. The facts speak for themselves: Crimeans want Crimea to be with Russia by an overwhelming margin. Sadly, it seems that the US is taking the “Ben Carson Approach” to reality, keeping the UK, Poland and Baltics in tow. As a result, Chinese businessmen have more opportunities to invest abroad than America’s businessmen.

The Ben Carson Approach

Ben Carson has a uniquely unparalleled approach to foreign politics, in that it does not parallel anything in this reality. So what does Mr. Carson do? He makes the “fuck the facts” argument; he just states it more eloquently: “The one thing I don’t want to be lost on the American people is that leadership requires wisdom. You’re going to have access to a lot of experts in a lot of areas. You don’t want to devote all your attention to learning facts on a fact sheet.”

Sure, you don’t want to spend all of your time learning facts, but it appears that Carson spends none of his time learning any facts. Like the composition of NATO:

“Hewitt asked Carson that if Vladimir Putin “makes a move on the Baltic states,” should we go to war with Russia?

“Well, if we have them involved in NATO,” Carson replied. “We need to convince them to get involved in NATO and strengthen NATO.”

The problem? The Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – are already in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a security alliance that commits all its members to respond to an attack on one member.

Hewitt quickly pointed out Carson’s error. “Well, the Baltics, they are in NATO,” he said. Carson was spared the need to respond by a commercial break.”

And here’s Carson on the Middle East peace process: “We need to look at fresh ideas,” said Carson. “I don’t have any problem with the Palestinians having a state, but does it need to be within the confines of Israeli territory? Is that necessary, or can you sort of slip that area down into Egypt? Right below Israel, they have some amount of territory, and it can be adjacent. They can benefit from the many agricultural advances that were made by Israel, because if you fly over that area, you can easily see the demarcation between Egypt and Israel, in terms of one being desert and one being verdant. Technology could transform that area. So why does it need to be in an area where there’s going to be temptation for Hamas to continue firing missiles at relatively close range to Israel?”

Indeed, why does the West Bank exist? Carson knows nothing about it, much like nationalist Ukrainian storytellers, erm, “historians”, know nothing about the Republic of Novgorod, so why should Novgorod Oblast exist? Salon summarizes Carson’s foreign policy rather beautifully: “He offers all sorts of suggestions for how we should conduct American foreign policy: namely, we should antagonize Russia, antagonize Russia, and antagonize Russia some more, until Russia… well… caves… Russia sucks, is the point.”

At this point you’re probably thinking, “hey, this guy’s a neurosurgeon, he won’t come on again until he studies up after those humiliations,” and yet, you’re wrong. He’s back at it, this time wanting to review Russia’s UNSC position: “I certainly think it’s a question that needs to be examined,” he said. “I don’t think that just because you’ve been on the Security Council that you’re entitled to stay there if you don’t act responsibly. Certainly, it’s something that should be up for discussion.”

Wait, what’s that? If you don’t act responsibly, your UNSC seat should be up for discussion? Erm, that’s not a very responsible thing for any veto-wielding representative to say, especially an American whose party supported the War in Iraq and wants to continue utilizing the veto power to protect Israel. And that’s certainly America’s Privilege, provided a dummy like Carson doesn’t get elected and place some of his policies, like ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, into effect. Carson continues explaining his version of ‘wisdom’: “This one came to NATO in 1968, this one came in 1949–I mean, is that information important?” said Carson. “Of course it is. But it is probably not as crucial as determining what Putin’s goals are, and how to stop them.”

Erm, Carson, if you want to determine what Putin’s policy goals are, then numbers are crucial. “This Republic wants to join us with 75%”, is extremely crucial to determine the extent of potential annexation. But Carson disagrees: “My hope is that at some point people will start listening to the overall tenor of what’s being said”. That’s right, if something’s the overall tenor of his “experts”, then he’ll act upon it, no matter what’s going on in reality. And that’s the Ben Carson Approach in a nutshell. And here is one result of said approach:

When asked about the origins of the rage felt by Islamic fundamentalists against the West, Carson said “You have to recognize that they go back thousands and thousands of years — really back to the battle between Jacob and Esau.”

“Dr. Carson,” Hewitt said, “you know, Mohammed lives in 632 A.D. So it’s a 13, a 1,400-year-old religion. How do you go back to Jacob and Esau, which is B.C.?”

BC, AD, numbers, letters, it’s all so confusing! Where’s the overall tenor when you need one? Clearly, there aren’t enough revisionist “experts” to take Palestinians back into Egypt, which removed Israelis sometime in AD, at the behest of Putin; the duo met while the latter was delivering babies in Switzerland, after being paralyzed due to his health and couped by his generals.

Just Another Debate Tactic

One of the famed debating tactics is to frame the debate into a nice little box, and beat your opponent within that box, while being extremely careful not to let your opponent escape from the box. For instance, let’s say that A hits B with a pink car, but B thinks it’s red. B’s argument is that A hit him with A’s car, and unless A keeps B in the box, B will win his rightful claim. Remember, B’s argument is that A hit him with a car, irrespective of what color it was.

If A is a skillful debater, the first question that he’ll ask B, is “what color was the car that hit you?” B will respond with “it was red”, and A will produce massive documents, showing that his car was pink, and since his car was pink, whereas B was hit by a red car, A will win the case. The “color of the car” argument will be repeated numerous times by A, especially when B tries to point out that he was hit by A’s car, with A as the driver. And that’s known as the “Framing Tactic”. It was originally intended to prevent people from making irrelevant arguments, but can be utilized to make irrelevant arguments the sole arguments in a debate, i.e. the “color of the car” argument described above.

What do you do when your stance on Crimea equates with the Ben Carson Approach? Utilize the Framing Tactic. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lists five arguments that differentiate between the Scottish Referendum and the Crimean Referendum, but if you look a bit beyond the box, you’ll see that they’re all some variation of “it’s illegitimate because the pro-western government in London approved the Scottish Referendum, and the pro-western government in Kiev did not approve the Crimean referendum.” In other words, “it’s illegitimate because we say so!”

The first point is that the argument is that the Crimean Referendum is against Ukraine’s Constitution, and Kiev said “no”, whereas London said “yes” to the Scottish Referendum. Skipping over the “because we say so!” defense, the question remains: “is the Referendum against the Constitution?” Of course that requires that the Constitution actually be valid, and in order for that to be the case – it has to have a person who was legitimately elected, with the ability to execute the laws of the Constitution. Due to an illegal impeachment the argument is moot, and thus that point is invalid.

The second point is that Crimeans had to deal with armed forces while voting, whereas Scots had an international watchdog. However, polls show that Crimeans had no issues dealing with the armed, because, at the very least 81% of Crimeans, and over 95% of those who voted, had no issues voting, and thought that the Referendum was legitimate. It’s not up to London or Washington or Moscow or Beijing or Paris to tell the Crimeans whether or not their referendum was legitimate. It’s up to the People of the Crimean Peninsula, and poll after poll shows that the Referendum was legitimate in the eyes of the Crimeans. Ergo, the second point is moot. Referendums are there to express the Will of the People, not the governments that are against it.

The third point is that the Crimean Referendum was organized in just three weeks, during a time of national unrest, without the support of Kiev. Third part is back to “because we say so!” and automatically moot. Second part doesn’t particularly matter as long as the people who voted felt safe to vote and felt that the voting outcome expressed their will. That’s proven by numerous polls. As to the first part – if a referendum can be organized in three weeks, why not? Crimeans have been planning it for decades, and as the polls cited above clearly show, the UNDP documented the debate data for at least three years.

The fourth point is the claim that in Crimea, the opposition media was switched off. This is the first claim that actually bears some merit, and doesn’t contain some variation of “because we say so!” However, the debate was going on for decades, and the opposition media was switched off for weeks; polls clearly show that any effect that the opposition media could’ve had, would’ve been wiped out due to a deteriorating economic situation in the country, and as thus, in this unique case, this claim could be dismissed, even though switching off the opposition media would’ve invalidated a closer election in a country with a booming economy.

And the fifth point is yet another variation of “because we say so!” It’s interesting to note that the only time the The Foreign and Commonwealth Office didn’t use the “because we say so!” line, was when they made the fourth claim, which could’ve actually worked, had the debate not been in existence for decades, the people clearly knew where they stood, and the economic and political situation would’ve prevented practically any sway that could’ve resulted from gains by the opposition’s media. The arguments made by others are some variations of those five points, so there’s no point in addressing them in this blog post.

Conclusion

Whether or not the people living in the West or the East, would view the Crimean Referendum as legitimate, is irrelevant. The Crimeans view the Crimean Referendum as legitimate, and that is all that matters. The issues isn’t what the UNSC Five think about the Crimean Referendum; that’s like debating about the “Color of the Car”. We’re talking about the Crimean Referendum, not Crimea’s status at the UN. The issues is whether or not the Crimeans approve of the Crimean Referendum, and poll after poll resoundingly shows that they do. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can create an international policy that benefits everyone, as opposed to one that simply utilizes the Ben Carson Approach. To quote President George Walker Bush: “If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us, but I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American, is for us to go around the World saying ‘we do it this way, so should you!’”

Sources

Sources:

Putin’s Interview: http://tv-news-online.com/kryim-put-na-rodinu-film-andreya-kondrashova-2015/

RIA News Poll: http://ria.ru/world/20140311/999032876.html

Sevastopol News Poll: http://sevastopolnews.info/2014/03/lenta/sobytiya/069216409/

UNDP Polling 2009: http://www.undp.crimea.ua/img/content/file/monitoring_ru_2009_10-12.pdf

UNDP Polling 2010: http://www.undp.crimea.ua/img/content/file/monitoring_ru_2010_10-12.pdf

UNDP Polling 2011: http://www.undp.crimea.ua/img/content/Strategy%20Implementation%20Monitoring%20Report%20%28October%20to%20December%202011%29%285%29.pdf

Ukraine’s polling: http://dif.org.ua/en/events/ukrainieyu-ne-hochut.htm

Da Russophile’s Explanation of the Referendum: http://darussophile.com/2014/03/five-myths-about-the-crimean-referendum/

Ken Rapoza’s Article on the Referendum: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2015/03/20/one-year-after-russia-annexed-crimea-locals-prefer-moscow-to-kiev/

Gallup Poll after the Referendum: http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf

GFK Poll after the Referendum: http://www.gfk.com/ua/Documents/Presentations/GFK_report_FreeCrimea.pdf

Pew Global’s Poll after the Referendum: http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/05/08/despite-concerns-about-governance-ukrainians-want-to-remain-one-country/

Crimea Referendum Results: http://rt.com/news/crimea-referendum-results-official-250/

Salon on Carson: http://www.salon.com/2015/03/20/ben_carsons_fresh_foreign_policy_just_sort_of_slip_palestinians_down_to_egypt/

National Review on Carson: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/415622/ben-carson-forgets-baltic-states-are-nato-dates-islam-christ-flubbed-foreign-policy

Another Review on Carson and Islam: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/415622/ben-carson-forgets-baltic-states-are-nato-dates-islam-christ-flubbed-foreign-policy

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office List: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/posts/2014/03/scotland_crimea/0aded2ab2.jpg

Bush Quote: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/3e83yu/bush-v–bush

Part I – The Ironic Double Gap

The Ironic Double Gap in America’s Analysis of Russia

I’ve never had any difficulty analyzing what Russia was going to do. The response to Saakashvili’s assault on South Ossetia seemed rather obvious, as did the following stabilization of the Caucasian Region, which led to a major shift in Russia’s foreign policy to be more cautious when dealing with the United States. It was the lies told by the Western Press about the Ossetian War that led to the demise of America’s Soft Power in Russia. And to think that sanctions could restore said Soft Power? That plan certainly paralyzed Russia bureacracy for a few minutes, because the bureaurocrats were laughing their asses off. Thus far the only success of the sanctions has been the rebirth of Stolypin’s agricultural reforms, and somehow I doubt that was the intention of the US/EU sanctions.

Why is Western Analysis of Russia so incorrect? Is it Putin’s fault? Hardly, since China, India, Israel, and even Pakistan, have no issues predicting Russia’s foreign policy. And that’s just amongst the nuclear, or allegedly nuclear states. Why is Western Analysis of Russia so wrong? And it’s not just limited to Russia. China’s tacit recognition of Crimea was also completely missed. The reason is the Ironic Double Gap. Let me explain:

Mind the First Gap

The First Gap is between fictional analysis of Russia, which exists in a universe where Russia’s the de facto bad guy, even when Russia’s providing food to starving kids, and reality. It’s the gap between analysis done by the Masha Gessens of the World, and those done by the Mark Adomanises of the World. This gap is clearly evident, especially when talking about factual issues, like demography.

Case in point: Adomanis’ response to Gessen’s response to Adomanis’ criticism of Gessen’s book. Let’s focus on Gessen’s response for now: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/sep/08/russias-dying-postscript/

“In essence, he is taking issue with a single phrase in my article: ‘In this study, published in 2010, Eberstadt accurately predicts that in the coming years the depopulation trend may be moderated but argues that it will not be reversed.’”

Masha, Masha, Masha, what are we, actual analysts, going to do with you? That phrase is indeed incorrect. Russian demography has been reversed. There are a plethora of sources that are available for this, all within reach of a 30 second Google search, so you really shouldn’t be defending that. It’s factually wrong. For instance, here’s a coverage of analysis based on World Bank numbers: http://thediplomat.com/2014/05/actually-russias-population-isnt-shrinking/

Just in case Gessen is in doubt, the title states: “Actually, Russia’s Population Isn’t Shrinking,” meaning that the prediction that Russia’s population is shrinking, would be incorrect. A population cannot shrink and not shrink at the same time. One could also, quite easily, peruse the Russian demographic yearly data since 2005, once Putin’s politicies were fully implemented. In 2005 the population declined by 847 thousand. In 2006 the decline was at 687 thousand. 2007 – 470 thousand. 2008 – 362 thousand. 2009 – 259 thousand. 2010 – 240 thousand. 2011 – 129 thousand. 2012 it was just at 4 thousand and 2013 should an actual growth of 24 thousand. That’s a reversal due to constant improvement.

But Gessen is not going to be stopped by such trifles as facts. She proceeds to make another factually incorrect claim: “we know that even this unconvincing moderation in the depopulation trend cannot hold, for one simple reason: the Russian demographic picture still reflects the aftereffects of WWII. Very few babies were born during and right after the war, and even fewer survived.”

Yes, surviving the Great Patriotic War, when Nazis were out to slaughter 90 percent of Slavs and Jews, was a complex feat for a baby. But in 1944, the Red Army heroically chased Nazis away, giving the babies a chance to survive. So let’s look at the statistics, starting from 1949, so that we have a five year recovery and reconstruction period. In 1949, the population increased by 1.9 million. During that decade, the population increased by roughly 1.8 million per year. The demographic picture began to change in the mid 1960s, but even then, the change was not sudden, but rather gradual, much like the one that we’re seeing due to the patterns of urbanization.

The change was a result of decreasing fertility rates. In 1954, the fertility rate stood at 3, whereas in 1964 it was at 2.2. In 1968 the fertility rate dipped below 2, as a result of urbanization. Thus urbanization is the key culprit of the population decline, since it reduced the fertility rate. This is certainly a problem for Gessen’s “analysis”, because the fertility rate has been increased every year that Putin was/is in office, irrespective of whether he’s president or prime minister with a tandem. In 1999, the fertility rate was 1.2. Now it’s 1.7.

Finally, Masha notes: “I love the irony: if you listen to Putin’s useful idiot, you might think there is no demographic crisis in Russia.” Masha, I’m going to save this one, thank you for saying that.

Mind the Second Gap

The Second Gap is between analysis done by the Mark Adomanises of the World and unbiased analysis, which fails to occur due to the hidden bias of the Adomanises against Putin, because they’re forced to, unnecessarily, denounce Putin, in order to fend off the Gessens of the World. When you unnecessarily denounce someone, time and time again, you begin to build a subconscious bias against that person, one that eventually creeps into your research.

For example, in article about demography, http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/11/03/russias-demography-continues-to-improve/, Adomanis writes:

“Russia is desperately short of good news at the moment. Inflation is substantially above target, the economy is stuck in neutral, the price of oil has dropped sharply (likely throwing the Russian budget into deficit), and the ruble has been probing new lows against both the US Dollar and Euro on a daily basis. The opposition has been scattered to the wind, and barely a week passes without the authorities concocting some kind of terrible plan (the latest: banning lots of school textbooks). Even among analysts that are usually a bit more optimistic about Russia, it is impossible to miss a generalized sense of doom and despair.”

Adomanis is writing about demography, so what does the banning of school textbooks have to do with demography? Not very much, but because of the pressure exerted by Gessen and her ilk, who call Adomanis “Putin’s Useful Idiot”, he has to take an anti-Putin stance. Thus, even the very best of Western analysts have a hefty anti-Putin bias, which prevents them from performing unbiased analysis of Russia. Case in point, when Gessen states that “Adomanis claims that President Vladimir Putin’s policies have allowed Russia to recover from its demographic crisis” Adomanis responds with “I made no such claim”. For crying outloud, you guys are supposed to be top notch analysts; instead you’re playing the “avoid praising Putin” game. Adomanis continues: http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/09/09/russian-demography-and-useful-idiocy/

“The only time I even mentioned Putin in my original piece was when I said that “Regardless of what you think of” him, you shouldn’t pretend that recent  demographic improvements haven’t taken place. In reality Putin deserves very little credit for the recent health improvements because these improvements are not primarily the result of changes in government policy but of a general improvement in popular living standards.”

Wait what? The improvements in demography aren’t primarily the results of government policies? So mothers don’t opt to have more kids because now they can afford them? The recent healthcare improvements were accomplished without massive, natural resource based, government funding? Those factual claims are simply incorrect. By funneling the profits of Russia’s Natural Resources away from the coffers of the Oligarchs, like Khodorkovsky, and into government coffers, specifically to budgetary coffers that helped to improve services in healthcare, education, sports, and welfare, Putin’s Administration enabled Russia’s demography to explode.

Putin’s Useful Idiots

Thus by doing horrendously fictional analysis and dragging actual analysts, such as Adomanis, into the false analysis pit, the Gessens are performing a golden service for the Putin Administration: they’re being Putin’s useful idiots. Oh, the irony! They were the ones who created the Double Gap described above. As a result, the West is acting blindly when responding to Russia. By dulling the analytical reconnaisance tools of the West, the Gessens are being quite useful to the Putin Administration, while acting like idiots. Or to quote Masha Gessen: “I love the irony: if you listen to Putin’s useful idiot…” Yes Masha, listening to Putin’s useful idiot certainly makes me love the irony.

Since you guys love my writing about the Ossetian War, let me use that as an example of how Putin’s Useful Idiots, (the Gessens of the World,) provided an enourmous service for the Kremlin. The timeline of the war is relatively easy to reconstruct. In 2003, Saakashvili came to power with a nationalistic program of conquering Abkhazia and South Ossetia, through a Color Revolution. In 2004 he assaulted South Ossetia, but his forces failed to exploit the assualt. Between 2004 and 2008, Saakashvili began to build his armed forces, and his military expenditure as percentage of the GDP jumped from 1.4 to 9.2 percent: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS?page=1

At this point in time, Georgia’s economy exploded, due to false stimulus and double counting. Here’s a hypothetical example: a foreign company buys land in Georgia worth $100,000 for $1,000 and commits $49,000 towards the creation of jobs. These jobs would, in turn, produce workers who were paid out of the $49,000, so their wages would be counted twice, i.e. “$49,000 in Foreign Direct Investment produced $24,500 in salary gains!” Thus, a loss of $50,000 was actually reported as a gain of $73,500. Again, these are just hypothetical numbers; if you want to read about the program, knock yourself out: http://www.tol.org/client/article/23965-georgias-great-land-giveaway-raises-unanswered-questions.html

With nationalist feelings running rampart and an economy that was about to be in trouble, Saakashvili had to act. The Olympics held in China were to provide the perfect cover, if he could quickly win the war. His problem was that he bought into the dogma of how terrible Russia’s armed forces really were, courtesy of Putin’s Useful Idiots. Felgenhauer hypothetized that it will be tough for the Russians to fight the Georgian armed forces. In reality, the Russian armed forces were ready to repeal his assault, and the Kremlin was crystal clear in the message to Saakashvili on August 5th, where it was blatantly implied that war with Abkhazia and South Ossetia would lead to war with Russia.

On August 7th, Saakashvili attacked. On August 8th, the Russians counterattacked. Within a few days the war was over, and by August 16th, a ceasefire was being implemented. The Caucasians saw the sheer might of Russia’s armed forces, and the beatdown that the Russians delivered played a major role in the region’s stabilization. In spite of this, the coverage on the Ossetian War was amazingly poor. Mark Ames details just how bad the coverage was, by focusing on a single newspaper, the New York Times and their antics: http://exiledonline.com/how-to-screw-up-a-war-story-the-new-york-times-at-work/

In that article, Ames was the first to predict the reason for the demise of America’s soft power in Russia: “It was as if the Kremlin was so excited that for once in Putin’s term, the Russians lucked into being on the good guys’ side of a major news story, and it made no sense that the “free Western media” (which the Kremlin takes much more seriously than its own cowed media) wouldn’t see the truth, that they’d do the Russian thing and twist reality into propaganda. What was so shameful and embarrassing to me, an American journalist whose own Moscow-based newspaper, The eXile, had just been driven out of existence by these same Kremlin bastards, is that Sasha was rightly frustrated. A Kremlin minder right and the Western journalists wrong? What has this world come to when the Kremlin has a better grasp of the truth than the free Western media?”

The Ossetian War was avidly followed by tens of millions of Russians. The truth was out there, the Russians knew it, and the West did not report it. Instead of reporting the truth, the Western Media tried to punish Russia for taking down one of their own, brought to power through a Color Revolution. You do not punish Russians when Russians know that we’re doing the right thing. The Russians promptly turned the tables, and started treating the Western Press like Stalinist Pravda. And that PR victory for the Kremlin, a victory handed to the Kremlin on a silver platter, led to the demise of America’s Soft Power.

The Kremlin slowly began to chip away at what little remained. First came the changing of the term limits, which were viewed as a test. The Western Press rallied and made credible attacks against it. A year earlier, they would’ve been able to produce enough soft power to prevent the change. Now, they were simply ignored. The Kremlin responded not with counterarguments, but by running the coverage of the Ossetian War, as presented by the Western Media. The unedited coverage. That’s right, the initial coverage of the Ossetian War by the Western Press was so amazingly poor, that the Kremlin did not even need to edit it, in order to make it look like Stalinist Pravda. The term limits were smoothly implemented. And the chipping continued. By the time the Western Press got its act together and started to reverse their reporting on the Ossetian War in Russia, it was too little, and it came too late.

Interestingly enough, it also led to a resurgence of the Russo-Chinese Relationship, because China was terrified by the West’s Soft Power; terrified that is, until August of 2008, when said Soft Power self destructed. The Russians had the Soft Power data that Chinese desperately wanted, and the Chinese had the Economic Power data, that the Russians desperately wanted. It does not take a Nostradamus to predict a swift exchange, which simply made the Russo-Chinese alliance possible. By 2010, the alliance was sealed.

RuNet Comes Into Force

I had a theory that the Internet would democratize the USSR, if the Soviet Union lasted until the Internet Age. That did not happen, but the Internet played a major role in Russian Society, continues to play the role to this day, and will continue to play the key role in development of Russia’s Civil Society in the future. With the Western Press discredited and the Russian Press still unable to shake off the bad PR of the Soviet days, the Russians turned to the web. Most major Russian media outlets had to adapt, and complied. Yet the result was anything but uniform. The Internet gave Russians creative freedom, and the unique Russian Culture and Russian Language enabled Zotov’s Tongue to proliferate and evolve, and neither the uneducated censors from Moscow, nor those abroad seeking to bend Russians to their whims, were able to have much impact. By the time they realized what was happening, it was already too late. A vibrant Russian Civil Society existed – RuNet.

Russian is currently the third most used internet language, and is likely to become the second most common. Even after the rise of the Asian Tigers, Russian will continue to have a top five following. When it comes to the Internet, RuNet dominates at least a twentieth of it. During the PR battles of the Ossetian War, the Russian version of Wikipedia was the first to show who the real attacker was. The rest of the World played catch up.

Forums were created, blogs were formed, and internet dominated news outlets began to emerge. Understanding that merely speaking Russian was not enough, crossovers were attempted, some of which were quite successful, including the Kremlin Stooge, which serves as a fine example of an attempt to bend RuNet’s will to “Libertard Whims”, that completely backfired. Long story short, the founder of the Kremlin Stooge, Mark Chapman, started troll-commenting on DaRussophobe’s blog, trying to use humor to show the blog for the joke that it was, similar to what Jon Stewart did with Crossfire. DaRussphobe banned him and told him to start his own blog, since, in her rather limited opinion, that would never be successful. The blog of the Kremlin Stooge is currently one of the most successful crossover blogs of RuNet. And that’s just one story, one out of many.

It’s impossible to talk about RuNet without highlighting www.lib.ru and a specific part of that – artofwar.ru. It has numerous war stories about quite a few of the military conflicts that Russia/USSR went through, and it enables Russian soldiers and officers to write and publish their war stories, free of charge, for all of us to read. This, in turn, is giving birth to a new genre of writing in Russian/Soviet History, a unique military genre with a mix of dark humor and wit that surfs the bounds of crazy, sometimes peers over the edge, but never crosses it. In RuNet – Russia has a thriving Civil Society, and that’s something that should be paid attention to by those who study Russia; instead, it is either being ignored, or others attempt to bend it to their whims. Have fun doing that with millions Russians and our allies; let me know when you fail, because you will fail.

Sadly, that’s not seen by those who are in power due to the Ironic Double Gap described above.

Russia’s Role in the MultiPolar World

Since Putin’s Useful Idiots blinded the West’s Analysis with the Unminded Double Gap, and Russia rose again, much like RuNet enabled the Rebirth of Russia’s Civil Society, the question becomes – what is going to be Russia’s role in the MultiPolar World? One can no longer exclude Russia, or RuNet, from the field of shaping the World of MultiPolarity. That’s been tried before, and it failed spectacularly. Only a compromise can prevent another Cold War that’s followed by an economic depression. To decide that, we must first assess Russia real power.

Since Real GDP, (GDP-PPP,) is a better measure of the economy than Nominal GDP, (GDP-Nominal,) we need to have a “PPP” style analysis of Russia’s power before figuring out what the role of Russia is going to be, and real power cannot be measured without taking into account the Integrative Growth principle. It’s important to measure not just the quality of life in a country, but also the improvement of the quality of life, or its deterioration. When surveyed, most Russians prefer St. Alexander Nevsky over Csar Alexander the Blessed; despite the Russians enjoying a substantially higher standard of living under the latter, it was under the former that conditions in Russia drastically improved, while they slightly improved under the latter.

Although the standard of living in Russia is not as high as it is in some of the EU member states, it is vastly improving. Despite the financial sanctions, the improvements are continuing to dominate in Russia, whereas, due to the policies of austerity and mobility within the EU, the standard of living is deteriorating. One cannot simply state that Russia has a lower standard of living than the average Western EU member state, and be done with the comparison. One has to take the improvement/deterioration of the standard of living into account, and with that comparison, Russia’s projected rise in power is not stopping any time soon.

Demographics? That’s one of the major feats of the Putin Administration, and that is going to continue to improve, as long as fertility continues to improve. Unemployment? Russia’s nearly at full employement, beating out most EU countries and the US. The creation of a civil society? RuNet is doing a vibrant job on that aspect, and as long as the Internet continues to proliferate throughout Russia, the Russian civil society will continue to grow and thrive. Trust in the government? Hasn’t been higher since actual measurements were taken. Putin’s approval rating? Extremely high. And all of this is going on in spite of the sanctions and the collapsing oil prices.

One can certainly talk about the collapse of the Ruble and of the collapsing stock market, but most Russians aren’t investing in stocks and aren’t massively affected by the Ruble’s collapse. The investment portfolio that I’m simulating for Russia is growing! The drop in the oil price has done more to hurt the Ruble than any sanctions, but that’s the result of Russia letting a single commodity dominate the currency, instead of parsing it through a basket of commodities. Russia still has massive resources and diamond reserves. Russia’s tolerance can withstand the wither of sanctions.

This means that Russia will play a leading role in the MultiPolar World. How much of a leading role? As a UNSC member, a nuclear powerhouse, a country with an active internet population, a country that has extremely high tolerance, a country that’s thriving due to rapid demographic growth – I am going to say that Russia will be tied for first. And the reason I use the word “tied”, is because in a MultiPolar World, it is irrelevant who is number one. It’s going to be a four tiered system.

The first tier will be occupied by leading nations, the BRICAS, US, some EU nations, perhaps Vietnam and Indonesia. The second tier will be occupied by nations who can exert influence on others, but aren’t Great Powers, like Australia, Canada, Iran, Israel, Czech Republic, Nigeria, etc. The third tier will be reserved for all other UN members, and the fourth will be for the unrecognized states. Thus it matters what tier you are in, but it does not matter what position you hold in your tier. That’s the World of the Future.

(Yes, there’s a second part coming, but considering how long it’s taking, I decided to get this part out first)

Uzhe Pozno, a u Vas Eshe Serrano

Yes, that title’s probably a horrible pun, but if you can come up with a more creative pun in the comments section to the case of Serrano v Priest, http://corporate.findlaw.com/law-library/separate-and-unequal-serrano-played-an-important-role-in.html, after reading this blog, I’ll let you name my next blogpost! Technically it’ll be my third upcoming blogpost, since two are already in the works and will come out on Turkey Survival Day. Hopefully. With that intriguing, (or confusing,) commentary made, let me start the blogpost.

Putin’s Pie Offer to the Russians

We’re bred to think that inequality is supremely bad, that’s it’s horrible and must be fought every step of the way. That’s incorrect. Obviously pricks like Madoff should not be treated like kings, but a bit of inequality is a good thing, and inequality doesn’t really matter, if Maslow-style social and civil needs of the citizenry are met. Only when inequality interferes with these needs, does it become a problem. Case in point: have you ever seen someone shout “down with Warren Buffet! Down with Stanley Kroenke! Down with Philip Anschutz!” Nope, even though they’re billionaires and their fortunes are inherently unequal to the rest of us. The reason that doesn’t happen is because they earned their fortunes honestly; they didn’t steal them, or “obtain” said fortunes through “tax minimization schemes”.

To simplify this with an example, let me talk about pies. Imagine a delicious rectangular pie divided into pieces whose area equates to four square inches. Remember, this is a proverbial pie. The bigger the pie, the more four square inch pieces will fit into said pie. The smaller the pie, the less pieces will fit into it. And let’s say that to meet Maslow-style civil and social needs you need 10 pieces, proverbially speaking. If Putin’s Administration provides you with the resources to bake a pie that has 20 pieces, and then he takes 10 pieces away, are you going to be angry at him? Of course not, since your needs are met!

If Putin’s Administration provides you with the resources to bake a pie that has 40 pieces and then he takes 25 pieces away, are you going to be angry at him? Of course not, since not only are your needs met, but you have 5 pieces that you have no idea what to do with, so you save some of them for the next year. Conversely, if Yeltsin’s Administration provides you with the resources to only bake a pie with 10 pieces and then takes just 2 pieces away, you are going to be furious, since your needs are not met.

This simple analogy is why Putin’s policies are successful with the majority of Russians. By granting most Russians the resources to attain their Maslow style civil and social needs, and perhaps even some wants, (13 Gold Medals FTW!) he has an extremely high approval rating. It’s not just about the money; it never is.

I was watching KVN recently and saw Znarok cheered like there’s no tomorrow when he was introduced as a judge. He’s arguably the World’s best hockey coach, but was that worth a standing ovation? Yes, because when our hockey teams win, we gain a massive Spiritual boost. If two people pay for the exact same seat, (in relation to their team,) and one person’s team wins, whereas the other person’s team loses, 99 percent of the time the person whose team won is going to have a bigger blast, even though they both paid the exact same ticket price and saw the exact same game. Money cannot explain Spirituality, so we should stop trying to pretend that it can. It came, it failed and it continues to fail. Money’s important when one takes care of the body, partially important when taking care of the mind and not at all important in relation to the Spirit.

Putin has succeeded in all three categories. He did not do it alone, but he played a major role in providing the conditions that enabled Russians to succeed. That’s why his administration is going to get the full backing of the Russians on dealing with Kiev. That’s why most Russians roll their eyes when Westerners talk about corruption in Russia.

The Serrano Case and the Decline of K-12 Education

IMHO, Neoconservatives usually have bad ideas and utilize bad tools to accomplish said ideas. Neoliberals usually have good ideas, but also utilize bad tools to accomplish said ideas. Since people want the result, not the idea, both end up with disaster. Don’t believe me? Try selling an idea that will utilize improper tools for the project, and see how much it’s worth. My guess? Nothing. Or you could compare Iraq to Libya.

Which brings me to the Serrano Case. Logic dictates that property taxes are supposed to be used for services that increase property values: if a city grows at a reasonable pace, while utilizing services provided by property taxes, then the property values will increase. If a city wants to fund a school, then said school has to return benefits to the city. It’s easier for a school to accomplish that task than you think. Let’s take a sample city, Sampleton, with a population of 10,000, roughly 1,000 of whom are school age kids.

The mere presence of a great school in Sampleton would increase the property values, because people want to live next to a great school. It reduces gang violence and crime rates, thus enabling cities to pay less for the police and provides an atmosphere that leads to a more pleasant interaction between cops, (who are no longer overworked,) and the people of Sampleton. It provides free education. If Sampleton High hires a great politology professor to work with the students, then the students can educate the residents of Sampleton about voting, providing relatively unbiased voting material, practically free of charge. When the best candidates win, the city of Sampleton thrives.

Those are just a few ways that a school benefits a city, so it’s no mystery why a city would want to fund a school, and fund it lavishly. However, this creates a system of inequality, because richer cities are going to be able to pour more funds into schools than poorer cities. An ideal solution would be taking out a bond to assist schools within poor cities, but Neoliberals had another idea: income redistribution.

It was attempted in 1971 with the Serrano Case. This angered quite a few property owners, who now viewed their property taxes as stolen by the state. And since a good chunk of California’s economy is dependent on property owners, California’s property owners have a powerful voice. In 1978 the property owners responded to redistribution by capping property taxes. As a result of the Neoliberal Serrano attempt, school funding plummeted, which hurt the poor schools the most. “Didn’t it hurt the rich schools too?” Nope, because the wealthy responded by donating money to the schools instead. Thus the education system became even more unequal, because the Neoliberals wanted to use the wrong tool for the job and it blew up in their face. This was in the 1970s, but it is a proud pattern with the Neoliberals.

Welcome to NovoRossiya, or is it Ukraine?

One can make the ironic statement about a certain group or two having a learning disability, and he or she would probably be right. The only choice for Ukraine in February 2014, was the Custom’s Union. Ukraine’s economy was destroyed, the country was/is subsisting on borrowed time, so the country needed an influx of cash. The only organization that was able to provide said influx was the Custom’s Union.

People judge their leaders on the improvement of their quality of life under said leadership. While standards of living in Russia improved under Putin, standards of living in the EU deteriorated under Ashton, Juncker, and whomever else is in charge. On top of that, the Russians empathize with the citizenry of Ukraine, because the Russian had to live through the exact same thing in the 1990s. Yanukovich wasn’t some pro-Moscow president; he was an oligarchic wimp who tried to save his country instead of filling his pockets for once in his life, and that’s what led to him being ousted from power by the Maidan crowd. That, and his massive wimp out.

With the CU membership no longer an option for all of Ukraine, the question becomes “what’s going to happen?” Russia’s economy will persevere, Ukraine’s won’t. Who’s going to pay as a result of the explosion of Ukraine’s economy? The austerity-driven EU? The massively-in-debt US? There’s absolutely no solution for Western Ukraine. An attempt was made to integrate it with the EU, and said attempt failed, because the wrong tools were used. The EU/US simply do not have the right financial tools and Russia isn’t in a giving mood. My guess is that NovoRossiya will secede due to economic necessities, Western Ukraine will be dumped on the EU and end up a massive version of EULEX, which in turn could lead to the collapse of the European Union.

Saving Grace?

“But UCG, didn’t you say that California turned out to be alright?” Yes, California relied on the collegiate system to fix the giant Serrano fuck up, a system with vast financial resources and two decades of experience, a system which simply doesn’t exist in Ukraine. And even then, the save was barely enough to keep it going. California’s collegiate system had $40 billion ready to go when needed, and that was done simply to save the K-12 system in a state with a functioning economy; not an entire country whose economy would be complimented, if it was to be compared with the economy of Greece.

The break up of Ukraine is inevitable. The sooner Ukraine breaks up, the less devastating the collapse will be. Unfortunately, Neoliberals will simply delay the outcome until the ticking time bomb explodes. I wouldn’t recommend that option, but I wouldn’t recommend using a saw to fix an ice rink either. Not even if it was an electric one.

Gaffe Me Baby One More Time

Around 2006 Congress assured their fellow Americans that they were totally misled by the Bush Administration into Iraq, and that it will never happen again. Never again would Congress go to war, or even think about, if warmongering lobbyists present faulty data. Never again would they applaud such falsity, which was so brazenly presented.

It hasn’t even been a decade and that pledge was already broken, as Congress cheered brazen lies uttered by Poroshenko, lies which the US taxpayer will have to fund. So let’s begin dissolving the myths of Poproshenko’s speech, which can be found on C-Span: http://www.c-span.org/video/?321426-1/ukrainian-president-petro-poroshenko-address-congress

Despite speaking quite a bit about freedom and democracy, Poroshenko made it very clear that the Crimean People, oppressed by Kiev for decades, had no freedom to decide whether they want to be independent or not and no opportunity to hold a democratic referendum on secession. In his speech, which demanded freedom from freedom, Poroshenko stated that the US must supply him with weaponry, because democracies must support one another. Undertaking that task, the one that Congress applauded, could be unconstitutional. There’s not a single clause in the Constitution that requires America’s Government to support other democracies. There is a clause requiring the president to sign treaties and for the Senate to ratify these treaties.

However, even if such a provision existed, I highly doubt that Ukraine can be considered a democracy, because in a democracy the governors aren’t superimposed on regions in order to promote factional strife. Bush cannot superimpose a Republican to punish California for voting for Gore and Obama cannot superimpose a Democrat on Texas to punish Texas for voting for Romney. The superimposition of Taruta and Kolomoiski was not a democratic move and Kiev’s inability to hold democratic elections on a regional level certainly casts doubt on Ukraine being a democracy.

Additionally, Poroshenko should not be deluded into thinking that Americans think of him warmly. Most Americans have no idea who he is, and I doubt that Americans would enjoy funding his doomed Reconquista of the Crimea through the upkeep of sanctions against Russia. Congressional approval rating is at 14%, whereas 78% of the American public disapproves of Congress: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_job_approval-903.html

Poroshenko tried to blame Russia for other “mistakes”, including adhering to their Peacekeeping Mandate in Georgia, (which the EU Report published by the Swiss also backed,) and intervention in Pridnestrovie, which Ukraine could have blockaded at the time that it occurred, but opted not to for financial reasons. He repeated the implicit accusations about Russia being behind the shootings of February 20th and 21st and the Malaysian Boeing, without providing any concrete proof. Interestingly enough, Russia is asking the UNSC to demand that Ukraine cooperation of the Malaysian Boeing investigation, but Poroshenko is refusing to release the dispatcher tapes.

He accused Russia of “fanning the flames of war” in every country with a large Russian population, including Kazakhstan. I’ve yet to see Nazarbayev panicking. The only governments who are making this as big a deal as Ukraine are the usual Russophobes, namely governments of the Baltics and Poland. Somehow, neither the Czech Republic nor Slovakia are concerned; perhaps they have governments that are focused on improving the economy, instead of promoting emigration, a record feat for governments of the Baltics.

There was quite a bit of hyperbole, including claims that the Annexation of Crimea is a huge setback for democracy Worldwide, (but not a word about the Scottish Referendum,) and that the system of international checks and balances is effectively ruined. I’m a bit curious, if Poroshenko is implying that the World is Unipolar, (which he did in his speech,) how can there be a system of checks and balances?

He went on to claim that if Russians aren’t stopped, then they’ll cross the European border, a geographically ignorant statement that Congress really shouldn’t have applauded to, since Russia is a Eurasian country. Poroshenko also added comments such as “how many lives will be ruined by this propaganda machine?” which he really shouldn’t have made. I’m tempted to make a pot-kettle reference, but I wouldn’t want someone to deliberately misunderstand it. Nevertheless, the statement that stole the show was in the middle, and since I cannot fathom to summarize the sheer “brilliance” of the statement, it’s simply too “bright” for me, I’ll quote it verbatim:

“I ASK THAT THE UNITED STATES BE FORCEFUL AND STAND BY ITS PRINCIPLES WITH RESPECT TO FURTHER SANCTIONS AGAINST THE AGGRESSOR. ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ARE IMPORTANT FOR MANY REASONS. THEY HELP TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD. THEY HELP US TO DEFEND AND STEM THE MORAL HIGH GROUND AND NOT TO SINK INTO THE INDIFFERENCE, DISGUST AND PRAGMATISM.”

Economic sanctions, which apparently distinguish between the good and the bad, (Castro must be Dr. Evil at this point,) should not be based on pragmatism. That’s right, economist, and president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, is claiming that sanctions should not be based on pragmatism. What should they be based on? Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? How many governors Kiev can superimpose on Eastern Ukraine among factional lines? If not pragmatism, what should sanctions be based on? And, in case you’re wondering, Congress also applauded that statement, so that now everyone can understand why their approval rating is at 14%.

Poproshenko’s gaffe is phenomenally symbolic. There is no pragmatism in Kiev or in Congress. Nevertheless, the people are pragmatic; we have to be in order to survive. And in a real democracy, it’s the people who vote, as Eric Cantor recently found out.

Failed Interventions: Kosovo, Iraq and Libya

The failures of the Clinton Administration are numerous, including Kosovo, Somalia, Rwanda, etc. However, since I’m discussing interventions, Rwanda, which is a lack of an intervention, is out of the picture. Furthermore, since I want to focus on the administration’s major failure, I am going to focus on Kosovo, since it had more long lasting damage than Somalia’s Intervention.

Although Bush had his share of failures, Iraq stands out in the sheer degree of magnitude. As for Obama, he’s still in office and thus the failure in Libya has been the biggest. Ukraine could top it, but that’s yet to be decided.

When I spoke to hockey players, they told me that they don’t care how a game if refereed, as long as it is refereed consistently. If one team can hit, the other team should be able to get away with hitting. If one team cannot hit, then the other team shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Countries are similar in that countries demand a global set of rules. If territorial integrity is the name of the game, then territorial integrity should be honored by all; if it’s self-determination, then that’s something that should be honored by all. What cannot happen is that you cannot have both. You can’t ok hitting for one team but not the other; you can’t apply both principles to the same territory.

The “Territorial Integrity” of Kosovo

Ironically, the biggest challenge to US Hegemony came from the White House, when Washington consistently started to switch rules, right after the fall of the USSR. The borders of modern Europe started to be established in May of 1945. Portugal, Spain, France, the BeNeLux countries, Italy, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, UK, Ireland, Nordic countries, the USSR, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, a divided Germany, and to an extent Turkey, formed the borders of Europe. That’s 27, out of the 48 that we have today. One could add the EuroShrimps, such as Andorra, Monaco, Lichtenstein, San Marino, as well as former British Colonies, namely Cyprus and Malta, which brings the number up to 32. How did the other 15 nations emerge?

There needs to be a major event, such as WWII, for a redrawing of the borders and establishing a new system. The Velvet Divorce of Czechoslovakia added a nation, but that was a minor challenge. Then came the dissolution of the USSR and the creation of nine more nations in three categories, three apiece: Baltics, Caucasian States and Eastern European States.

This served as a major challenge, since the Caucasian States generated wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, territories that did not want to remain parts of their states. The same occurred in Moldova with Pridnestrovie and was attempted with Sevastopol in Ukraine, but it ended with death threats. Russia had the Chechen Secession, with which the Yeltsin Government dealt rather poorly. This proved to be a challenge to the system of territorial integrity, a challenged that the UNSC was ill equipped to handle.

Instead of trying to handle this challenge with all of the resources he could muster, Clinton oversaw the same happen to Yugoslavia. By recognizing Slovenia, he encouraged the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The system of territorial integrity existed for less than 5 decades, from 1945 until 1992. Today we can see that it will be replaced. The dissolution of Yugoslavia brought Europe five more members. It was a very violent dissolution, resulting in ethnic cleansing.

Instead of stopping here, Clinton continued to redraw the borders of Europe, this time with Kosovo. It was only a matter of time before territorial integrity would be destroyed. In order to achieve this aim, Clinton proceeded to bomb Belgrade, to get Serbia to surrender even more of their territory. But North Kosovo would not go, not even with the bombings. Although Kosovo was born through self-determination, which is the exact opposite of territorial integrity, North Kosovo was determined to stay with Serbia, and it was a determination that it made all by itself. In response, Clinton promptly trotted out the “territorial integrity” claim.

At this point the Russian Armed Forces had just about had it with Yeltsin and Clinton and launched an attack that captured Kosovo’s main airport. The attack led to the deposition of Yeltsin and the emergence of Putin, prevented ethnic cleansing in North Kosovo, gave Russia a solid ally in Serbia, and froze the conflict between territorial integrity and self-determination. The conflict remained frozen until 2008, and now we’re living through it, with self-determination clearly in the lead. That could not have been established, at least not at this pace, without Kosovo. It also, successfully, challenged America’s Hegemony for the first time since the fall of the USSR.

The Iraq Fiasco

The Iraq Fiasco was a disaster for US foreign policy. Originally the intervention was over WMDs, which Saddam didn’t have. Then it became about Human Rights, which brought on numerous charges of hypocrisy. The Iraq War PR Front suffered a severe setback. There have been no objectives achieved in Iraq, if we’re talking about objectives that are of any serious value to the US.

Instead the Iraq Fiasco produced a destabilized Iraq and enabled Iran to challenge the role of the US as a Middle East mediator. Prior to the War in Iraq, there were four centers of power in the Middle East: Teheran, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Baghdad. Israel, despite their extraordinary efforts, simply lacks the population to rule the Middle East. The population of the Middle East is over 200 million, which Israel’s 8 million simply cannot rule. If we are to divide the Middle East into power spheres:

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan

Teheran: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon

Tel-Aviv: Israel

Despite the difference in number of countries, the Teheran Sphere is currently the strongest, in part because Iraq joined said sphere. The War in Iraq effectively shifted the Levant Trio into Teheran’s Sphere, cementing Iran’s status as a major player in the Middle East. Currently Iran holds a plurality of power, and is set to join the SCO. Much like Clinton dethroned “territorial integrity” with Kosovo, Bush not only prevented Iran’s isolation with the Iraq War, but effectively handed over Middle Eastern Mediation to Iran and Iran called the SCO for assistance.

The Libyan Failure

As if this wasn’t enough, Obama thought that he could ride the wave of the Arab Spring. After all, he was an American Progressive, and they were Middle Eastern Progressives. A progressive is a progressive, right? Wrong. Americans and Middle Easterners have different cultural norms. Additionally, Obamacare showed that Obama’s no progressive and the Revolutions usually end up with the radicals on top, not the progressives.

When the Arab Spring swept through Libya, Obama worked hard to dethrone Khadaffi, but Obama failed to find a suitable replacement. If you’re going to intervene in the name of human rights, it’s your job to ensure that the people receive more human rights than they enjoyed under the previous leadership. Instead, because of complete unpreparedness, Libya fell into disarray and tribal warfare, and something tells me that those who butchered Tawargha aren’t too keen on human rights.

The Situation

The irony is that the current situation in Ukraine occurred in part because the US policies of the 1990s and 2000s challenged the norms set up in what used to be the Unipolar World. Kosovo shattered territorial integrity, Iraq shattered the US PR lobby and Libya was yet another reminder that human rights are just another excuse for war, not the reason for it.

These failures stand in sharp contrasts with Putin’s successes. He defended Dagestan, was able to prevent any more attacks on Serbia, checked the attacks against Syria, reintegrated Chechnya into the Russian Federation, stabilized the Caucasus, annexed South Ossetia and gave Abkhazia their long wanted independence. Putin’s only failure thus far has been the inability to prevent the bombing of Libya, a failure that’s eclipsed by his successes. (I didn’t mention anything about Ukraine, because the crisis is still ongoing.) The astute reader might ask “why Libya, why not Iraq?” The reason is that there’s nothing that Putin could’ve done about Iraq. If one lacks the tools to build a house, one should not be blamed for not building the house.

The reason for Putin’s success is pragmatism. He focused on specific goals, provided reasonable resources to achieve those goals and thus ensured the success of his aims. On the other hand, there was little to no pragmatism in Kosovo, Iraq or Libya. What would creating yet another country in Europe achieve for the US? Invading Iraq? Bombing Libya? There’s little to no pragmatism in those approaches.

And that’s why Poroshenko’s gaffe is phenomenally symbolic. There’s no way to defeat Putin in Ukraine if one performs actual analysis. That means that Poroshenko would have to adopt the approach of a leader who can stabilize the situation, keep Ukraine out of military blocs and join the Customs Union. That’s not an approach that Poroshenko wants to take, so he’s attacking pragmatism, an approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.

The problem with that is that the voters are forced to be pragmatic. If I don’t pay my gas bill, I won’t get gas, no matter how many times I yell that my gas company is trying to freeze me. We have to be pragmatic in order to live comfortably. It’s not a choice. My car needs gasoline; I cannot run it on nationalist feelings. My house needs repairs. My insurance companies only accept money. I have no choice but to be pragmatic. The sooner the US/EU leadership understands that voters will vote based on pragmatism, not on “what the Chocolate King wants”, the better for US, EU, Russia and Ukraine.

Battle of Ukraine

The Battle of Ukraine is turning into a battle of reality versus fiction, of capable leadership versus ineptitude, of facts and careful analysis versus mythical predictions. Some “scholars” in the West are now arguing that getting the facts is no longer vital, as long as Putin can be beaten in the PR war. Frankly speaking, they are idiots. If Putin’s been in Russia for over a decade, and the first winter that Poroshenko’s in office I’m starving, no amount of propaganda, no amount of bullshit, no amount of PR, is going to convince me that Putin is the guy whom I should be rebelling against. And hungry people revolt quite violently.

Nevertheless, the idiocy persists. Apparently, according to the press, Russia needs to annex Novorossiya to establish a land route to Crimea. No, I’m not kidding. For instance:

“As Russia troops and tanks make an apparent bid to open the land route to annexed Crimea, discontent is growing in the motherland about the obvious but oft-denied war in Ukraine.” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/28/russian-moms-denounce-putin-s-not-so-secret-ukraine-invasion.html

Of course that is the Daily Beast, the Russian bashing rag mag that no serious analyst should care about. But other newspapers should know better. They don’t. For instance Washington Post writes: “Another U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the behind-the-scenes diplomacy, said the purpose of Russia’s “armed intervention” may be to try to open a land route to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine earlier this year.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russian-and-ukraine-troops-battle-in-south-prompting-fears-of-widescale-invasion/2014/08/28/04b614f4-9a6e-40f4-aa21-4f49104cf0e4_story.html

Then there’s the ever reliable New York Times, which can be relied on to mess up almost every war story out there: “Third, there was the possibility that Russia was trying to establish a land route to Crimea, the southern Ukrainian peninsula seized in March.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/30/world/europe/ukraine-conflict.html?_r=0

CNN chimes in: “Analysts suggest that Russia may have sent its forces into Novoazovsk to secure a land route from the border to the Crimean peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in March” http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/29/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/

Fox News, represent: “Analysts suggest that Russia may have sent its forces into Novoazovsk to secure a land route from the border to the Crimean peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in March” http://myfox8.com/2014/08/30/eu-leaders-mull-new-sanctions-over-russias-ukraine-actions/

NBC completes the triangle: “Novoazovsk is strategically important because it lies on the main road leading from the Russian border to Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Russia annexed in March.” http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/russian-forces-back-rebels-in-eastern-ukraine/27767288

Even the local newspapers get in on the action: “And third, there was the possibility that Russia was trying to establish a land route to Crimea, the southern Ukrainian peninsula seized in March.” http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20140829-putin-praises-rebels-likens-ukraine-army-to-nazi-invaders.ece

I could just keep on going: “This move opened a third front on Russia’s border with Ukraine and has led many to worry that Russia would try to conquer a land route to Crimea along the Sea of Azov.” http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/08/russia-denies-troops-in-ukraine-despite-photos.html

And going: “Analysts suggest that Russia may have sent its forces into Novoazovsk to secure a land route from the border to the Crimean peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in March” http://wtvr.com/2014/08/29/up-to-5000-russian-troops-in-ukraine/

And going: “In doing so, the Russian president is flaunting his basic calculation that the leaders and publics of Europe are not prepared to put their economies into recession and risk their energy security to defend a point of principle in Ukraine. They weren’t over Crimea, so why over opening a land route to Crimea which Russian forces are currently trying to do?” http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peterfoster/100284367/strongman-putin-holds-us-all-in-contempt-over-ukraine-and-its-not-hard-to-see-why/

Have you guys looked at a map recently? Any map? Google map? Yahoo map? World Atlas? Anything that even resembles a map? It seems to me that the mass media outlets are counting on the ignorance of their consumers. Here’s a map:

MapBlog

Do you not see how close Russia is to Crimea, and how far away that is from Novoazovsk? Russia doesn’t need a land route into Crimea, because Russia’s already building one between the Krasnodar Krai and the Crimean Republic. “Vladimir Putin held a meeting with members of the government on Wednesday in order to discuss transport links with the Crimea, a day after the treaty of accession of the republic to the Russian Federation was signed. “We need both automobile and railway bridges,” the President said about the Kerch Strait Bridge. Putin’s proposal received the full backing from Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov, who stressed that the government has already agreed on the feasibility study for the project. The survey will take place this year, with several proposals for the bridge ready by the end of 2014, he added.” http://rt.com/business/crimea-russia-kerch-bridge-857/

And yet, according to these “analysts”, Russia needs a land route. There are arguments that one could make, rather unsuccessfully, but one could still make them; the “land route” argument isn’t one of them. It’s not even an argument as much as sheer stupidity begging for people to be ignorant and avoid looking at a map, because a simple glance at a map will thoroughly discredit that argument.

If this was just limited to that one argument, I would have no issues with it. However, said stupidity is endemic to the way that Washington and the mass media outlets conduct and report what’s actually going on. I’m not asking for a full equities report; I’m asking for those “analysts” to get the basic facts right, especially when the World’s economy is at stake. I’m asking for competent leadership to conduct policy analysis, before implementing it and wondering “how’d we get here?”

For instance, the EU, (and likely the US,) did not do any kind of series research as to whether or not the sanctions will cause more harm than good to their respective economies: http://en.ria.ru/world/20140827/192378930/European-Parliament-Fails-to-Calculate-Impact-of-Sanctions-Prior.html

“The European Parliament did not conduct any of its own official studies on the impact of its sanctions against Russia prior to their implementation or to this day, said Director-General of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) Anthony Teasdale and Secretary-General of the European Parliament (EP) Klaus Welle on Tuesday.”

How do you analyze the effects of sanctions without having data from all sides of the equation? You can’t. That statement says that sanctions were imposed blindly on Russia in the desperate hope that these sanctions will cause Putin to back down. However, in order to even consider backing down, the sanctions must cripple Russia’s economy. As thus, the attack has to be worse than the 2010 inadvertent hit. It’s nowhere near that amount. In 2010 the Russian GDP shrank from $1,661 billion to $1,223 billion, http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/gdp. That’s not going to happen again. As a result, the sanctions are not going to work. The scary part is that simple analysis would’ve shown that sanctions would fail, but said analysis was not performed and sanctions were a blind bet, much like the “land route” claim.

A Few Words About Dagestan

And yet the struggle of stupidity persists: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who annexed Crimea after a stealth invasion and a referendum there, and who has been accused of aggressively aiding separatists in eastern Ukraine, has happily supported Scotland’s independence bid. But his attachment to self-determination is selective: In the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan, he has deployed savage force to crush Muslim separatists.”

That’s the New York Times, again: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/world/europe/separatists-around-the-world-draw-inspiration-from-scotland.html?_r=0 a few years after their the Ossetian Fiasco: http://exiledonline.com/how-to-screw-up-a-war-story-the-new-york-times-at-work/

Putin’s savage tactics crushed the nascent Dagestan Independence movement? I understand the absolute necessity that Katrin Bennhold felt when making a dig at Putin, but those digs have to be somewhat grounded in some form of reality that exists somewhere on Planet Earth. The Independence of Dagestan is not one of them. Before talking about said independence, perhaps Bennhold would care to visit Dagestan and find out what the people there think about independence, Putin, and the NYT. It might result in her being shocked and awed.

But Bennhold doesn’t even have to go that far. She could simply visit a local Wikipedia page. I’m no fan, but when a journalist comes up with made up shit that even the most anti-Russian Wikipedia Cabal won’t back, (Wikipediametric,) that’s just… I mean does the NYT even take themselves seriously at this point?

What actually happened was that a terrorist organization, the International Islamic “Peacekeeping” Brigade, (for their idea of “peace” see Nordost and Beslan, and in case the NYT is wondering, they’re designated as a terrorist group by the UN, all UNSC members, and anyone else that matters, http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/397,) invaded Dagestan and tried to shove Sharia Law down their throats. Perhaps the NYT and/or Bennhold think that Radical Sharia’s more democratic than Russia’s Democracy?

The Dagestani People bravely resisted, and the IIPB did what all terrorist organizations do: started burning down the villages of anyone who disagreed, and killing almost everyone there. Professor Richard Sakwa, head of the School of Politics at the University of Kent, equated those actions with Genocide. The Invasion of Dagestan served as the Casus Belli for the Second Chechen War. It was a response to the brutal Wahhabi Invasion of Dagestan. Wahhabi Radicals didn’t originate in Dagestan, so it wasn’t a local please for independence.

What happened in Chechnya, is that between 1996 and 1999, Radical Wahhabism took over the country. It was no longer the Chechnya of 1994 that declared independence. By 1999, it was being used as a base to attack Russia, steal land from Russia, and what makes this absolutely atrocious, attempt to kill anyone who dared to disagree. They had to be stopped, and the only way to do so, was for Russia to retake Chechnya. That was the reason for intervention.

Sadly, those are the types of “analysis” that Washington is using to double down on Ukraine. Said history of blind bets can be seen in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya. Something must change. Bombing and/or sanctioning everyone who dares to have a different political view is no longer effective. One can argue whether it’s good or bad, but one should not argue against statistics, facts and reality. The results are clearly visible: EULEX, (the EU organization that oversees Kosovo,) is a shining symbol of incompetence, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/09/eulex-kosovo-eu-mission, ISIS is rampaging through Iraq, http://abcnews.go.com/International/isis-paying-attention/story?id=24881193, and the US had to withdraw all of its ambassadorial step from anarchic Libya where gangs roam free, http://www.businessinsider.com/libyan-militiamen-take-over-evacuated-us-embassy-in-tripoli-2014-8.

Despite failure after failure, the crusade into stupidity continues. Except this time it’s on Russia’s doorstep, and Putin is not happy about it. He’s a meticulous planner and analyst, and he’s not going to yield if he has the upper hand, which he clearly does. The Ukrainian armed forces just took a beating, the sanctions proved to be ineffective and there are first serious signs of possibly recognizing the DonBass Republic as independent. On top of all that Ukraine’s running out of money, the US taxpayers and austerity driven EU are eyeing giving more and more money to Ukraine with increased suspicion, and without said cash Ukraine’s economy will simply collapse. A radical turn must be enacted on the issue of Ukraine. This turn must be based on policies that are driven by analytical data, not by a blind bet. Has anyone in the West analyzed what will happen if Ukraine’s economy collapses? Russia will take Novorossiya and dump Rump Ukraine onto the EU, irrespective of the sheer amount of “but it’s Putin’s fault by default!” claims that the press makes.

Kokoity vs Saakashvili

The problem with using propaganda is that one eventually begins to believe his or her own propaganda claims as facts; and that’s when the other side wins. This can be seen in the choice of leadership. Russia chooses the best leader for the job, or fails to support said country, whereas the US/EU simply choose whomever is the most popular at the moment, as long as he/she favor further integration with the US/EU. And yet, facts dictate that fame’s fickle.

As an example of a choice of leadership, I am going to analyze, (hey Jen,) Saakashvili vs Kokoity. While I realize that’s about the Ossetian War, the same thing is happening in Ukraine, and no one sane can deny that the Ossetian War was a victory for Russia and a defeat for Saakashvili, who went from being the leader of a country of millions to teaching at Tufts. Ouch! On the other hand, Kokoity will be forever immortalized in his birth city, Tskhinval(i).

Let me start the analysis with their childhoods. Both were born in the cities that they would later lead. Kokoity was born Eduard Kokoev, in Tskhinval(i) in 1964, whereas Saakashvili was born Mikhail Saakashvili in Tbilisi in 1967. Both were locally schooled, but Saakashvili had better access, since he was born in a much larger city to an affluent family. That didn’t stop Kokoity from becoming the wrestling champion of the Georgian SSR at the age of 17 or 18. http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/46526/

The next difference comes after high school. Saakashvili left Georgia for better opportunities abroad and shortened his military service. He thus avoided the Caucasian Wars of the 1990s. While he briefly served as a human rights officer, he didn’t have to live the hardships of the soldier. Saakashvili’s went on to receive an LLM from Columbia, study in France and was invited by Zurab Zhvania to join Georgia’s Parliament. While Saakashvili knew how the law worked and even how to manage major cities with a team of decent advisers, he did not experience the struggles of the common folk.

On the other hand Kokoity worked as an electrician after graduation and proceeded to embrace military service, committing to it for a full two years. After he finished in 1985, he went on to study at the pedagogical institute, in order to ensure a quality youth sports development program for South Ossetia. http://lenta.ru/lib/14160316/ He was rewarded with the position of “Secretary of Youth Development”, or something like that. Here’s the name in Russian: “В марте 1989 года Э.Кокойты переведен в Цхинвальский Городской комитет комсомола на должность секретаря – заведующего отделом учащейся молодежи.” http://news.rin.ru/news_text/103610/

Between 1989 and 1992 he played a key role in Ossetian politics. During the First Ossetian War, he created and personally led a company that fought against the Georgians, rather well I might add. After the First Ossetian War, Kokoity went to Moscow to lead the fund for rehabilitation of Veterans of the Caucasian Wars. He was liked in Moscow, and he was appointed to lead the Russo-Ossetian trade delegation in 1996. Kokoity continued with those activities, trade, veteran rehabilitation and youth development until 2001, when he cruised to victory in the Ossetian Presidential election. After the election he changed his last name from Kokoev to Kokoity.

Thus, on the one hand we have a leader to whom almost everything was handed to on a silver platter going against a leader who fought tooth and nail to get ahead, always working to benefit his local community in the process. One ran away from military service; another embraced it. Saakashvili went abroad, in part, allegedly, to flee from the Caucasian Wars of the 1990s. Kokoity not only fought, but he formed and personally led a company in the war. This led to the results of the 2004 Assault, which set in motion the events that lead to August 2008.

When Saakashvili launched the Second Ossetian Assault in 2004 and the Ossetian held the line, Kokoity did everything he could to help the line be held, but did not want to retaliate, understanding that such a thing would lead to disaster. Thus 2004 served as an embarrassment for Saakashvili, not Kokoity. In 2006 Kokoity helped South Ossetia strengthen trade relations with Abkhazia and Pridnestrovie and was reelected with near unanimity. On the other hand, after his military defeat, Saakashvili lost the elections in Georgia and is now being tried for crimes that he probably committed.

And therein lays the problem of believing in one’s own propaganda. Kokoity was briefed by numerous people on the ground during the Ossetian War; he didn’t buy either side’s propaganda. Saakashvili bought his side’s hook, line and sinker until the Russians were approaching Tbilisi, and that’s when reality hit. The same reality that will hit Ukrainian voters in January. Meanwhile, here’s a clip of Petro Poroshenko, sounding off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUPqX-k3uMw And here’s Vladimir Konstantinov: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvNW2SZw6ko

Who do you want as your leader? It’s really not that hard a choice and in a democracy, it’s the people that choose the leadership.

Postin’ on Sundays, also Ukraine

Dear readers,

I want to thank you all for continuously coming to my blog and frequenting it, even though I haven’t posted for quite a while. That’s going to change. I will try to have a post out by Sunday morning, (California time,) every week. Since I like to sleep in, that means that said post might even be posted as early as Saturday evening! This post is going to be longer than my usual posts, but since I haven’t posted for quite a while and yet you kept coming, you’ve earned it!

 

Introduction to American Analysis

Contrary to myth, Americans are great analysts. Warren Buffet’s advice on financing, http://finance.yahoo.com/news/30-years-ago-warren-buffett-160500867.html, should be required reading for all high school students and graduates. Read it! It’s superb. And that’s just one example of the American ability to perform quality analytics. But for some odd reason, ever since the Cold War ended, the people in Washington DC seem to not care about even the most basic analytical studies. Such errors are not hard to find, http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/08/04/3-things-barack-obama-got-wrong-about-russia/, even for elementary students with internet access, so it’s crazy that the president’s staff cannot perform such a simple task. It’s gotten so bad that the Russian Ministry of Defense recommended that the Pentagon consult an atlas, before claiming that Astrakhan is near Ukraine’s border. Psaki’s comment about kids being used in voting carousels almost made the Russian comedians file a lawsuit against her, for taking their jobs.

This leads to the Obama Administration’s constant inability to face the facts. For instance – Obama claimed that Russia is a regional power. According to CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/id/101918812, Putin’s mere words turned the market around. To quote CNBC: “calming words from Russian President Vladimir Putin helped turn shares around… [w]e seem to be reacting now more to Europe and Russia than anything happening here”. According to Obama, Russia is nothing but a regional power, but according to his very own supporters’ website, Putin’s mere words turned the stock market around and all the US could do was to react. Hmm, maybe, just as the definition of the word “is” changed under Clinton, perhaps the definition of the word “regional” changed under Obama.

In the US, (IMHO,) there are a few major networks, http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart. NBC is the station of Democrats, Fox is the station of Republicans, and everyone else falls in between. CNN is for the corporate elite. Ted Turner explained why this is bad for America in another article that’s a must read: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0407.turner.html (Hey, I’ve only given out two homework assignments thus far, and they’re both very informative!)

The lack of analysis can be seen everywhere, even in the selection of leaders who are allies. The leader of Crimea is Konstantinov, (in Crimea, the legislative branch trumps the executive branch,) whereas the leader of Ukraine is Poroshenko. Let’s compare the two. In 1998 Poroshenko entered politics, being very “loyal” to the Kuchma government. He even helped to create the Party of Regions. He promptly switched to the party of opposition, when he was offered a better spot. Loyalty, eh, doesn’t mean much to Poroshenko. He was accused of stealing millions from Ukraine, but solved his problems by helping to promote Yushenko’s candidacy, who promptly forgave Poroshenko. Yushenko’s candidacy proved to be an outright disaster, with Yushenko being the first incumbent president of Ukraine to lose the primary with single digit numbers. It was pure disaster for Ukraine’s economy. Poroshenko switched sides again, this time allying himself of Yanukovich, and when the time was right, Poroshenko funded a coup that led to his ascension to the presidency.

In each of his posts he was accused of corruption and failed to do much for Ukraine. The biggest accusation against him was assisting in the privatization of a government company valued at $1 billion for a mere $80 million: http://web.archive.org/web/20131002143944/http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-09-27/news/0509270090_1_petro-poroshenko-privatization-ukrainians

On the other hand, the Crimean leader is Konstantinov. He focused on ensuring that Crimea’s buildings were up to date, devised massive plans for the tourism industry, (which saved Crimea’s economy,) and understood the basics of Crimean construction. Like Poroshenko, he entered politics in 1998 and there the similarities end. By 2002, Konstantinov left politics to focus on business. In 2006 he returned, not to hide from law enforcement, but to build a coalition. In the subsequent election, his coalition captured 93/100 seats in the legislature, and increase of 30 seats, or 48 percent.

Who would you rather have as your go to guy? A political wiz, or someone who knows how to save your region’s economy? And this isn’t a unique comparison; I could do a comparison of Saakashvili versus Kokoity just as easily, and reach similar results.

An even bigger problem in Washington DC is that the leaders don’t learn from the past. If Bush focused on solving the housing crisis in 2003, instead of promoting the War in Iraq, the debt of the US would be substantially smaller than $17.7 trillion. Instead of focusing on fixing the Rust Belt, (including Obama’s home state,) illegal immigration, (the Republicans and Democrats assure us that they’ll have a plan, soon,) Obamacare/healthcare, (the hallmark of America’s inefficiency, swallowing up to 10 percent of the US GDP,) the US government is focused on an issue that’s “vital” to America’s survival: which Oligarch Clique gets to rule Ukraine?

The Debt

Let me go over these problems one by one, right after I explain why America’s debt increased. Introducing, the most “pro-Putin” source in the US – the Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/08/americas-fiscal-union

Art12

This is an incredible chart that required hours labor to create. I have every reason to believe that the chart is correct, so I plugged the numbers from the chart into a program that I wrote using Microsoft Excel. Between 1990 and 2009, the states netted a profit of $886 billion. At the same time, the US debt increased from $4,066 billion to $14,599 billion. http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/spending_chart_1990_2012USb_15s2li111lcn_H0t

What happened? Under Bill Clinton, the average yearly increase in debt was $263 billion, under George Bush, it was $684 billion and under Barack Obama it was $1,612 billion. During this time the states produced more than they consumed. The jump in debt accumulation was due in a large part to the Iraq War. As Reuters notes: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/14/us-iraq-war-anniversary-idUSBRE92D0PG20130314

“The U.S. war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.”

Had the US simply not invaded Iraq, the debt would be at least $2.5 trillion less, if you include interest. That’s enough to save Ukraine’s economy, heck, if that number was spent on Keynesian Capitalism in Russia in the 1990s to prevent the spread of Gangster Capitalism, we’d still be living in a Unipolar World with US and EU, (the latter with Russia as a member,) leading the charge, and the challenge would be integrating China within that system.

Additionally, the focus on the Iraq War by the Bush Administration prevented proper investigation into the Housing Bubble, much like Poroshenko’s current military gamble, which boldly continues to fail, is slowly choking off what little lifeblood remains in Ukraine’s economy: http://247wallst.com/investing/2014/08/11/who-needs-russia-ukraine-will-destroy-itself-with-new-gas-tax/.

Had there been proper focus on the housing crisis, even as late as 2006, it could have been prevented, making the bailout unnecessary and substantially reducing the US debt. Let’s imagine for a bit that Bush didn’t invade Iraq, Obama didn’t have the Arab Spring/Ukraine Fiascos, and didn’t have to manage the Bailout. We’d be left with Clinton’s numbers, that’s $263 billion a year. Hmm, $263 billion times 9, that’s $2,367 billion, plus $4,066 billion, that’s $6,433 billion or $6.4 trillion. Would you rather have that much debt, or $14.6 trillion? And even if you prefer the latter, wouldn’t spending $8.2 trillion to promote the integration of the US/EU with the SCO member states be better than simply wasting that money on Iraq and the Housing Bubble?

The main thing to take away from that chart, (for now,) is that the US debt is primarily the result of America’s Foreign Entanglements. It’s not beneficial for the American taxpayer; it’s quite harmful. To further expand on this concept let’s presume that Clinton began closing down US bases abroad, instead of bombing Serbia. In that case we’d be left with practically no debt. The cost of foreign intervention is the reason for the decline of standards of living in the US amongst the average Americans, because the states are doing their fair share. I’ll expand on this in a bit, but first, I want to explain why the health costs in the US are so high.

The Healthcare Debacle

The US Healthcare System is grossly inefficient. According to the World Bank’s database, the US spends 18 percent of the GDP on welfare: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.TOTL.ZS. The UK is able to achieve similar results by spending just 9 percent. Canada, whose healthcare is much better than America’s, spends 11 percent. Thus the US healthcare inefficiency ratio is 2:1. That is, of course, assuming that the UK’s system runs at 100% efficiency, which I highly doubt. What that means is that for every dollar that you spend at the doctor’s office, as an American, you only get 50 cents worth of treatment. When I need treatment I go to European countries, like the Czech Republic. It’s not an issue of affordability, but rather an issue of cost-effectiveness.

It’s cheaper for me to fly to the Czech Republic, rent a luxury hotel there, and get all of my healthcare issues resolved, than it is to have the exact same treatment in California. Most Americans don’t have that luxury. If the US was to fairly compete with other countries in the healthcare industry, America would get its butt kicked over and over and over again. Who benefits from said inefficiency?

First, there are the loan providers. In America you generally have to get a loan or a scholarship to attend a college or university. The average loans for those who are going for an MD are massive. The median MD education debt in 2012 stood at $170,000: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-11/medical-school-at-278-000-means-even-bernanke-son-carries-debt.html. Paying that off would take over $1,000 a month, so that $1,000 transfers from the doctor to the clients, while the banks make money from the loan.

Second, the drugs are overpriced, as well as certain medical commodities. Why are drugs cheaper in Canada? “The Canadian government puts a cap, or ceiling, on the amount that drug companies can charge pharmacies and other distributors of drugs. This reduces the wholesale cost of medication for most organizations throughout Canada by about five percent. The prices are determined by Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. Since drugstores pay less for many medications, they can sell them for less.” http://drugs.about.com/od/faqsaboutyourdrugs/f/Canada_cheap.htm

Third, there’s very little regulation of what hospitals can charge. A hospital can charge $7,000 for a procedure that costs $2,800 at a nearby hospital and under $500 in Europe. And get away with it. Regulations have been proposed for hospitals, but they have very powerful lobbyists in Washington and Sacramento.

Fourth, there’s the triage system. That means that when you’re admitted to the hospital, someone goes over all of your information, medical and financial, has to check it through their computers, contact your insurance company, etc, etc, etc. That takes time and money. Additionally, there are the medical insurance companies who have a financial incentive to deny claims. That means that every single claim gets thoroughly vetted, checked and double checked by several doctors. The more claims a medical company can deny, the more money it can save. Can you imagine having a car dealer being paid for botching sales?

Fifth, illegal immigrants and those who are bankrupt cost money and don’t get the preventive healthcare benefit. There’s a saying: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” When it comes to illegal immigrants, Obama’s Administration is providing the pound of cure, and since illegal immigrants and those who are bankrupt are too poor to afford it, the American taxpayer foots the bill. I can keep on going, but I think I got my point across. Obamacare was supposed to fix this problem, but all it really did was to shift the burden from the lower class to the middle class; as a result, America’s middle class will shrink even faster, which will detrimentally affect the US economy.

Illegal Immigration

It’s no secret that illegal immigration is a problem in America, especially in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Illegal immigrants are a burden on the safety and welfare nets of these states. Most of the services, such as schools, police, firefighters, etc, are locally provided, and these expenses are deducted from the local budget. A much bigger demand for education and a slightly bigger supply of taxpayer dollars means that the schools are going to have to do more with less, and since administrator salaries are usually the last ones to be cut, it’s the teachers that get spanked. The per pupil spending of Border States was between $7,500 and $9,200 in 2011: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html

Comparatively the spending of most states was over $10,000. The spending in Alaska, which, unlike California has no state income tax, was roughly $16,700 per pupil. As thus, illegal immigration doesn’t just mess with national spending; it hurts the local budgets as well. And it messes with the private sector. Despite being required to have health insurance, one must usually acquire it through the private sector. Since illegal immigrants cannot pay for the hospital services, the hospitals simply increase the bills of the people who can pay, and threaten bankruptcy if they won’t pay.

On top of all this, illegal immigrants are growing more accustomed to their lifestyles in the US, and being human, they are demanding more and more social rights, which is a further drain on our social safety net. This problem is being gloriously ignored by both political parties.

The Rust Belt

Remember the chart that I posted earlier? Let’s analyze it:

art2

I’ve divided the 50 states into five categories. ANE is Atlantic and New England states, namely Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Between 1990 and 2009 they gave the Federal Government $8,431 billion and received $6,913.8 billion for state expenditure from the Federal Government, providing net revenues of $1,517.2 billion.

The South states are Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, West Virginia and Mississippi. Those states are a drain on the US budget, and need revitalization programs to meet their potential. Out of those states, only Texas, Georgia and Arkansas are profitable.

The Midwest states are Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, Iowa, Wyoming, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and Colorado. Again we’re seeing a bit of a drain, with only Colorado and Nebraska being profitable.

The Pacific states are Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska. Although Nevada does not touch the Pacific Ocean, their economy is closely linked with California’s. This group is profitable, but mostly due to California’s profits. Although Nevada and Washington are also profitable, their economies benefit from California’s, which produced a net profit of $336.2 billion.

And then there’s the Rust Belt. This region includes Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Indiana. With the exception of Pennsylvania and Indiana, whose losses amounted to a meager $11 billion, the rest of the region is profitable, and the lifeblood of Washington DC’s economy worth $1.790.7 billion. This lifeblood is rapidly deteriorating. The population of major cities in these states, like Detroit’s, are rapidly shrinking and Detroit cannot even afford water for some of its residents: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/special-features/2014/08/140822-detroit-michigan-water-shutoffs-great-lakes/

“Nearly 19,500 Detroiters have had their water service interrupted since March 1. The Water and Sewerage Department, under pressure to reduce more than $90 million in bad debt, ordered shutoffs for customers who owed at least $150 or had fallen at least two months behind on their bills. The decision to take such drastic measures, done with little warning, ignited a controversy that prompted protests and arrests, more bad publicity for the struggling city, global dismay, and a warning from the United Nations.”

This symbolizes the decline of the Rust Belt. California and Texas, the two leaders of the Pacific and South regions, are being forced to deal with illegal immigration. If these trends continue, and the politicians in Washington provide no real policies for reversing them, then the states will demand more money from Washington DC than they receive, for the first time in American History since the Great Depression.

US Budget and Foreign Intervention

Art3

This is a snapshot, from wikipedia, of revenue sources for the US Federal Budget. I could’ve picked any modern year and the numbers wouldn’t have been very different. If one was to take away the social security, one would note that the ratio of all other income to individual taxation is that of 1 to 2.5. That means that, social security aside, for every $35 that comes into the Federal Budget, $25 comes from the taxpayer. This is important to remember, as we look at the expenditure:

art4

Social Security profits, worth $140 billion in 2013, are going to disappear fairly soon. That gap will continue to get worse. The Net Interest and Other Mandatory expenditures must be paid out because without them, the infrastructure and education of the US will collapse, as will dollar diplomacy. The corporate, excise and other taxes will probably be raised to cover this gap. However that leaves the personal income taxes, worth $1,316 billion to cover the expenditures for Medicare, Medicaid, Defense and Other Discretionary Government expenditures, worth $2,052 billion. That’s a difference of 56%. And this gap will continue to get worse, so the question of cutbacks comes into play.

As the baby boomers retire, Medicare and Medicaid costs are going to go up, even with the cuts. Cutting from defense is a nightmare, because first you have to go through defense lobbyists, and then you meet the local opposition for the cuts and cutting other discretionary programs, aside from foreign intervention, will cause austerity. What can be cut? The funds for foreign intervention.

The private companies are seeing the writing on the wall, which is why they’re divesting from this system and working together with BRICS, even when said projects go against the US Government’s official policy. In India, Washington wanted Ghandi to win, and the current leader, Modi, was under sanctions. A part of the private sector disagreed: http://pando.com/2014/05/26/revealed-the-head-of-omidyar-networks-in-india-had-a-secret-second-job-helping-elect-narendra-modi/

Thus far there have been no sanctions against ON, and there won’t be any, since the government is not powerful enough to take on the private sector and fix the economy.

Crimea River

Putin unilaterally redrew the boundaries of Europe with the Annexation of Crimea. It was carried out with extreme precision. The ineptitude of Ukraine’s government is now leading to the secession of the DonBass Republic. Novorossiya could be next, followed by Pridnestrovie. All of these places can be reintegrated into the Russian Federation. What could be done to stop it?

The financial war is lost. The Rebels just scored a series of military victories and the Russians can always send in the SpetzNaz, covertly, should the need for more military victories arise. Ukraine is facing a third Maidan. The sanctions won’t work under the modern capitalist system. What’s left?

Continuous bashing of Russia and Putin. But reality always triumphs over make believe history. The only thing that the constant bashing will accomplish, will be the loss of soft power for the current leadership. And then, what’s left? Nothing, except to cry me a river over how brutal and how unjust Putin is, at which point I’ll ask: was it Putin that failed with Obamacare? Was it Putin who started the Ukrainian Intervention? Was it Putin who let Corporatism run rampant? Was it Putin who lost the US Soft Power over South Ossetia? Was it Putin who caused the breakup of Serbia? Was it Putin who intervened into Ukraine without performing a basic financial analysis? Was it Putin who failed to combat illegal immigration with the passage of a simple law, one requiring heavy fines on businesses that employ illegal immigrants?

Saving Face

There is a way that everyone can save face through the recognition of self-determination of the people of Crimea, Sevastopol, Lugansk and Donetsk, as well as turning Ukraine into a Swiss Style Confederacy, a throughout investigation of the crimes committed during the conflict, (especially the Odessa Fire,) dismissal of the Oligarchs and a concrete plan to rebuild Ukraine. The US/EU can save face if it’s packaged as a please of the people to democracy, which most of it is. Self-determination, if the vote is conducted properly, is as democratic as you can get. Additionally, anyone want to argue that Switzerland is not a democracy? Punishing those who burn their fellow citizens alive is a good thing. They should be punished. As for dismissing the Oligarchs, that’s a feat that simply cannot occur without societal participation in the local elections. But these goals can only be achieved if the US/EU work together with Russia.

 

The Real Issue

Elections are about one thing and one thing only: “will this leader improve my standard of living, or not?” Usually, but not always, this is done by improving the economy. If you have to fight a war for the survival of your nation the people will rally behind the leader; if the people’s standard of living continues to improve irrespective of the leader’s economic performance, the people will also rally behind the leader. Every single time I go to the polls, and I live in California – a place blessed with one of the best democratic systems around, (at least on a state level,) that is the main question that I ask: “will this leader improve my standard of living, or not?”

It is in this context that the rise of the European Nationalist Right must be viewed; the masses, tired of deteriorating living conditions driven in part by austerity and immigration are rallying behind the ENR. And here one must note the crucial difference: opposing uneducated immigrants does not make one a racist.

While it is true that most of the uneducated immigrants come from third World countries, and are not white, the reason to exclude them is because they are a burden on the welfare services of a country, not because of their race/ethnicity. If truly educated immigrants came from these very same countries, and from the very same racial/ethnic groups, they should be welcomed with open arms! When studying in Strasbourg I met an amazing couple from Africa, a Hutu and a Tutsi working together to stop racism from spreading and ensure swift justice. I want them in my country! Please, come, we have excellent schools for your kids! They both had higher education.

But the uneducated immigrants are simply not helping. They drive down the costs of labor and impose a burden on the state’s welfare services, which are tightly limited by austerity. When hiring a citizen or national, the owner must pay them a living wage and ensure decent working conditions. Hiring illegal immigrants is a different story; if one of them dies due to unsafe working conditions, whoops! Give his or her family a couple thousand, and be done with it. And they can be paid substandard wages and laid off with ease.

This causes the lower class of nationals/citizens to seek a job elsewhere, one that they’re not qualified for, which leads to just two outcomes: they do not get the job and must use scraps or welfare to survive or they get the job over someone who is better qualified, and that person now has those same two options. Combine this policy with the shrinking of welfare services available under austerity and you will understand why the people are radically opposing this brutal combination.

The problem with austerity is that it harms the economy by shrinking it. You need constant investment in vital services, such as education and infrastructure, in order for the economy to grow. On the flip side, if you do not provide said services, the economy will shrink. When you have more workers and a shrinking demand for labor, what happens to the standard of living for a population? It falls! This is basic economics! As supply of labor goes up and demand for labor goes down, the living standard of the workers shrinks.

This is what gave rise to UKIP and the Front National. When I make a comment such as “we should pass anti-immigration laws” – that is not a racist comment equivalent to “we should deport all the Latinos,” a comment that would be rather idiotic. I remember talking with a Latina and she asked me: “why doesn’t the US do more to improve living standards in Mexico to discourage immigration?” Was she a super racist? It’s laughable. And that, by the way, is the difference between UKIP and racist piggies: opposing the entry of uneducated immigrants, isn’t the same as being a racist. I cannot believe that I even have to explain this basic, basic concept.

There are two types of immigrants: educated and uneducated. The first group you accept, since they will assist the growth of your economy and an increase in living standards. The second group you only accept as needed to increase living standards for your citizenry. A government’s duty is to the country and the citizenry, not to the rest of the World.

To go back to the Latina’s comment: she understood that as more and more illegal immigrants come into the US, it is going to cause more and more deterioration in the standard of living for American citizens, and being a citizen herself, she knew that it would also cause a deterioration in the standard of living for her and her family. But she did not want to turn her back on her ethnos, so she came up with a brilliant and cost effective solution. Why is it not being implemented?

Because of Capitalists who love favoritism. If her solution was implemented, then they would lose access to a cheap labor force and fail to engage is their favorite activity: legal theft. If you steal a lawn mower from my house and sell it, we would call it theft. Would it also not be theft if you illegally sneaked into my house and had a huge party on my lawn, breaking my lawn mower? In both cases, I’m a lawn mower short as a result of your illegal activities.

Similarly, if you dump toxic chemicals into a public river, you should pay for cleaning up the mess or be forbidden to make said mess. You did an illegal act; please pay your fine like an upstanding citizen would. Is that so hard? Apparently, for some, it is. If employers hire illegal immigrants at substandard wages, and said immigrants come down with a contagious decease, guess who bears most of the burden for paying the bill? It’s the taxpayers whose livings standards are already deteriorating due to illegal immigration and austerity.

The solution is extremely easy: punitive fines on any businesses hiring illegal immigrants. Problem solved, next! Except the lobbyists are not letting that happen; instead, anyone who challenges illegal immigration is boldly branded as a racist. As Eric Cantor just found out, apparently the voters are no longer buying those lies.

It is this factor that led to the rise of Nationalists, (not racists,) rising in Europe. What did the EU do? Ran a couple of stories about how much of a shock the election was, branded a couple more people as racists and went back to business as usual, namely austerity and illegal immigration. Speaking of the EU’s business as usual: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/13/us-ukraine-crisis-naftogaz-idUSKBN0EO0UU20140613

Ukraine said on Friday it was ready to pay a compromise price for Russian natural gas for 18 months to avert the threat of Moscow cutting off supplies and allow time to reach a long-term pricing agreement.”

Seriously? The “Russian threat”? Hmm, I wonder, what would happen if I was to talk into a Ferrari dealership, tell them to give me a car for free, and then accuse them of withholding an Enzo as a threat? I would probably be laughed out of the dealership, but hey, it’s Russia we’re talking about, so let’s keep going:

“Andriy Kobolev, chief executive of state gas company Naftogaz, said the price of $326 per 1,000 cubic metres – higher than what Kiev wants to pay and lower than what Russia demands – was proposed by the European Commission during talks.”

Wants to pay? Is Mr. Kobolev aware of how Capitalism works? In Capitalism, Mr. Kobolev, you either pay the market price for the good or you do not buy the good. I might want to pay $500,000 for a Ferrari Enzo, and I want to, really, really badly want to, but the market price is a million. And what exactly is the EC doing making up random prices? Would the EC negotiate $700,000 for my Enzo? I’d love the EC to negotiate that price!

“Russia almost doubled the price to $485 per 1,000 cubic metres after Ukraine’s Moscow-leaning president was toppled in February. Ukraine wants Moscow to stick to the price of $268.5 offered after Yanukovich spurned a trade pact with the EU.”

Actually, $485 was the contract price and $268.5 was the contract price after discounts. The thing about discounts in Capitalism is that they can vanish at a moment’s notice. If Ukraine wants to embrace Capitalism, let that be a lesson in Capitalist Economics. If you see fifty percent off today, that doesn’t mean that said discount is going to be at the store tomorrow or the next day. Discounts, unlike prices, are not guaranteed.

“Moscow has also offered to cut the price to $385 by eliminating an export duty of $100 per 1,000 cubic metres. This would be around the average price for Russian gas in Europe.”

Sounds reasonable. Despite the initial contract and Ukraine’s very poor payment record, Russia is still willing to sell at the market price. Why is this even an issue?

“Russia says Ukraine has piled up more than $4 billion in debts to state exporter Gazprom, which also delivers gas to the EU, half of it through pipelines via Ukraine.”

Let’s talk about the $4 billion figure. Presuming that figure is just for five months, (a very generous presumption,) that would mean that in 12 months, Ukraine would have to pay $9.6 billion. Of course if said contract was listed at market prices, Ukraine would have to pay $7.62 billion. Going below the market price would mean that Russia is going to take a hit. Nevertheless the EC suggests a price of $326. Under this price Russia forfeits $1.17 billion a year below the market price, solely for the purpose of funding Ukraine’s entry into the EU. Why should Russia do that?

Ahh, because half of Russia’s gas to Europe runs through Ukraine’s pipelines, and if Russia won’t sell to Ukraine, then Ukraine could cut off Russia’s gas to Europe. However, the Russians are building pipelines through numerous countries. Under normal Capitalist principles these pipelines should be allowed to be built, but the EU is attacking the construction of these pipelines, i.e. the South Steam in Bulgaria, pressuring Bulgaria’s Government to stop construction.

Russia is offering Ukraine market prices, in lieu of the contractual prices and Russia is trying to build other pipelines to Europe in order to circumvent Ukraine. Instead of asking Ukraine to pay the market price for gas, the EU is insisting that Ukraine gets special treatment and stopping the construction of Russia’s pipeline through Bulgaria. If the Europeans are left without gas during winter, who are they going to blame? The government that is imposing austerity and promoting the growth of uneducated immigrants, or the government that is doing everything possible to get them the gas under market conditions? Seems like a no brainer to me. Seems like a tough case for certain liberals: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2014/05/14/vladimir-putins-popularity-among-populist-parties-in-europe-illustrates-the-depth-of-the-challenges-facing-european-democracy/

“Although most mainstream political actors in the European Union have criticised the actions of Russia during the Ukraine crisis, not all parties have been critical of Vladimir Putin. Angelos-Stylianos Chryssogelos writes on Putin’s popularity among several far-right and far-left parties within the EU. He notes that while some of this support reflects compatible ideological positions, the real common ground between these parties and Putin’s regime is a belief in the use of populist politics to oppose foreign influence. He argues that the extent to which this style of politics has proved successful illustrates the challenges facing European democracy.”

Wait what? The use of populist politics to oppose foreign influence is a challenge for democracy? Erm, the duty of democracy is to ensure that the government does the best job to take care of their country and citizens, not to support foreign adventurism in the Middle East and North Africa. That’s not a challenge. That’s what democracy is about!

“With the crisis in Ukraine in full swing, a cascade of reports in media and policy outlets have pointed attention to the hitherto little noticed phenomenon of Vladimir Putin’s relationship with far-right parties in Western and Eastern Europe. Reflecting the logic of the Cold War, many fret about the possible repercussions for European security at a time when pro-Russian radicals are on the rise in many European countries.”

Ahh, fear mongering. It’s been all of two seconds. First off, they’re not far right, but rather nationalist parties. A patriotic populist will, de facto, appeal to nationalist parties. It all makes sense once you get your terminology right. Putin is not a racist, and is not afraid to crack down harshly on racists, so it’s a bit hard for a racist party to like Putin. As for “repercussions for European security” – what? Putin might play it rough in the former SSRs, excluding the Baltics, but it’s not like Russia is going to be invading Bulgaria any time within the next century.

“But what is it about Putin’s Russia that is so attractive to these parties? On the surface, it is relatively easy to come up with reasons for Putin’s appeal. There are elements in Putin’s Russia that speak both to the far-right (e.g. homophobia) and far-left (e.g. anti-Americanism).”

Not the actual reasons. Putin was popular amongst the nationalists before the anti-LGBT laws were passed, on the account that he’s a patriotic populist. And Putin was popular amongst the left because he repeatedly refused to cut social programs in Russia.

“In addition, and even more important, there are very few things genuinely ‘leftist’ about Putin’s Russia. Radical leftists should normally be appalled by the authoritarian nationalism and the rampant social and economic inequality of today’s Russia.”

Economic inequality does not mean “very few lefty things” in country. The left things in Russia are numerous, including: universal education, healthcare, pensions, long vacations, etc, etc, etc. Furthermore Putin has been shifting Russia’s economy as much to the left as possible, because the people love stability and job security, and so does Putin.

“This convergence between far-right and far-left can best be explained with reference to one common element that has increasingly marked their outlook: populism. As the classical scholarly statement has it, populism is a ‘thin-centred ideology’, something more than a style but less than a complete ideology, privileging the homogeneous people against elites and outsiders at home and abroad.”

The popular left is opposed to outsiders abroad, which perfectly explains why their hymn is called “The International!” Nothing says “go away foreigners” like “welcome foreigners!” And how exactly is Russia – homogenous? Has Russia ever been homogenous? There’s nothing wrong with populism as long as it is a genuinely popular ideology not directed against a specific group. Who is Putin’s Populism directed against?

It’s at this point that I simply stopped reading the article. Putin has no issue hailing his elites; Kudrin, Prokhorov and Zhurova are household names. What is Zyuganov, if not an elite, or for that matter, Putin himself? There’s nothing wrong with elitism as long as the elites work to better society, be it Putin’s stability or Zyuganov’s bold stance on pensions. Putin gets his support from Stabilization of Russia and Caucasian Victories, as well as the Sochi Olympics and the Annexation of the Crimea and Sevastopol.

To summarize: the reason that nationalists are rising in number is because illegal immigration and austerity are leading to the deterioration of the standard of living and no amount of accusations of racism or fear mongering are going to hide those facts, because the people vote based around a central issue: “will this leader improve my standard of living, or not?” If GazProm’s the one that’s building gas pipelines and the EU is the one stopping their construction, and people need the gas, is it really that hard to figure out who the people are going to support?

The Box Not Seen

I’ve recently read a report by the Brookings Institute, http://econ.la.psu.edu/~bickes/quadrant.pdf which claims that the West simply failed to predict the growth of Russia, while Russia continued to conduct an independent foreign policy:

“We built institutions on a fictitious foundation. For what happened between August 1998 and August 2008 is that the unimaginable occurred. Russia became strong, but “bad.” This is not a moral issue, but rather a characterization of how it is seen from the vantage point of the western policy makers who preferred the compliant Russia. What we call “bad” Russians would call independent. Russia became strong because oil prices rose to levels that were completely unimaginable in 2000-2002.

This perspective is important for it focuses our attention away from simplistic explanations of Russian behavior. Russia’s behavior did not change, nor did its evaluation of its own interests. What changed over time was Russia’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy. But as long as the West was tied into strategies based on the “missing quadrant” fallacy, it was completely unprepared to anticipate them. And as long as the West continues to ignore Russia’s interests it will be unable to engage with them.”

Here’s what the article refers to as the missing quadrant fallacy:

Image

However a strong Russia conducting Russia’s foreign policy that is independent of other countries is not hard to imagine for students of Russian History. Russia has an amazing history of resurgence. In 1240, Kiev was burned. Within 2 years, the Novgorod Republic took on the mantle to rule Russia utilizing the wisdom of Great Prince Alexander Nevsky. In 1598 the country was falling apart. In 1613, the Romanov Rebirth began in Russia. In 1941 Nazis stood at the gates of Moscow. By 1945, the USSR was ruling all of Eastern Europe. Although Russia is very good at getting into trouble, Russia is also phenomenal at getting out of trouble. How could the West not foresee this?

The problem was a unipolar view of the situation discussed at length here, https://ucgsblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/on-containment-unipolarity-and-multipolarity/, and thus an inability to properly assess Russian History. During the Romanov period,  Russia did not really get into trouble prior to the assassination of Csar Alexander the Liberator. You had the pre-Petrine Romanov Csars, who were quite good in their own right, (except the last one,) the Csars between Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, (with very interesting results,) and the pre-1801 Csars and Csarinas. Again, I must emphasize that between 1613 and 1801 the Russian Empire was expanding and flourishing. There was no need to for Russia to get out of trouble.

In 1801 Russia had a chance for World Domination, (through allying Napoleon,) but missed it. Nevertheless between 1801 and 1881, Russia was still flourishing internally. One cannot simply forget the Golden Age of Russian Literature. Prior to 1914 or 1917, (depending on who you ask,) Russia did not have to fight for survival. During the Russian Civil War and the Leninist-Stalinist aftermath, little attention was paid to Russia by the US, since the US engaged in Isolationism. After the Great Patriotic War, the USSR was viewed as an adversary, and an in depth study of the Soviet accomplishments in the context of Medieval Russia has not been performed.

On the flip side of the coin, every adversary that the US took down – stayed down. After the American War of Independence and the War of 1812, London didn’t dare to challenge the US in the Americas. After the Mexican-American War, Mexico just took what the US dished out. After the Indian Wars, the Native Americans mostly moved aside. After the Civil War, the South didn’t dare to rise again; after WWII Germany became dependent on the US, as did Japan. As long as the US won the war, the adversary stayed down. Russia simply refused to do that for the reasons discussed above.

And yet, the very same mistakes are being made when it comes to analyzing Ukraine. I will quote the Brookings Institute or rather, their analytical chart of the situation in the Ukraine, which is one of the best analytical pieces that I’ve read thus far, and explain why it’s wrong, because if some of the best analysis is wrong, then some of the worst analysis isn’t just wrong; it’s in another galaxy.

http://www.brookings.edu/research/articles/2014/05/21-ukraine-prize-russia-west-ukraine-gaddy-ickes

Image

All the boxes in that chart seem to be filled and it certainly makes sense from that perspective. However, consider this: Southeast Ukraine annexed, Rump Ukraine transferred to EU. Whoops. I’m not seeing that one on there. Is anyone? In order to understand how this can happen, one must understand Ukraine’s history.

It’s very popular today to pronounce Kiev as the “mother of all Russian cities…” except that’s a lie. Novgorod was born in 862; Kiev became a Russian city in 882. Anyone know of a mom that’s 20 years younger than her kids? The real “mother of all Russian cities” is Novgorod. Kiev’s more like the older sister that took over, did a great job initially with some spanking, and then turned into a wild party girl who ended up falling to a Mongol and destroying her wealth, with Novgorod having to take over again.

Thus Ukraine was split between numerous different countries since 1240, only to be somewhat shaped by Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev into its modern borders. Generally speaking, the Communists were very bad at drawing borders. After the fall of the USSR, numerous borders were redrawn in almost every single SSR. The Baltics avoided it solely due to their tiny size. Imagine gerrymandering on crack. Welcome to Communism Border Drawing 101. And Ukraine’s borders were redrawn not once, not twice, but thrice by the Communists.

Image

Image

And here is a simplified map, with the historical claims being confined to the current oblasts; it’s a gerrymander of gerrymandering, but I need it to get my point across:

Image

Ukraine might have had a chance with 1917 borders, but not with the current borders. As Patrick Armstrong notes: “if you wanted to keep Last Summer’s Ukraine together, there was a central prohibition, a “First Rule of Ukraine”: “do not attempt to force a choice between east and west” or, more plainly, “do not demand that one half of the country swallow what only the other half wants”. Violate that rule and the whole thing could tear apart. Ukraine could stay together so long as, for example, no government in Kiev tried to make Ukraine a formal military ally of Russia. Such an idea would be welcomed by many in the east and south but would be anathema in the west and, to a lesser degree, in the centre. In short, the only choice for a stable Ukraine would be neutrality, or, more grandly, to proclaim itself a bridge between Russia and NATO. Likewise an exclusive trade agreement with Russia would be welcome in the south and east but unacceptable in the west. So, again, the correct stance, the one that would preserve Ukraine, would be to advocate trade agreements with both. The “bridge” concept again. Everyone who knows anything about the realities of Ukraine knew this. I can’t stress this enough: this sort of understanding would have been Lecture 1 of Ukraine 101”

http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2014/05/the-destruction-of-ukraine.html#more

If only it was as simple as that single comment. But it isn’t. Remember the comment that I used in my blog earlier, from “BorninUkraine”?

Ukraine was and is extremely heterogeneous. It consisted of five distinct areas. One is the East and South, where most of industry is, which never spoke Ukrainian and never will. I was born in the West, in Lvov, and my parents moved to the East (Lugansk, close to my mother’s birthplace) when I was about six. The Ukrainian teacher in school loved me because I was the only kid in class who could speak proper Ukrainian. Western Ukraine speaks several dialects of Ukrainian. Historically, they fought in WWI and WWII on the side of Germany, against Russia. Hence their loyalties. There is central Ukraine, which speaks what is considered literary Ukrainian and is in between in every way. There is also the part to the West of Carpathian Mountains, where people have their own dialect, which is closer to Russian than Ukrainian, and where many speak Hungarian and Romanian. They hate Western Ukrainians as much as Easterners do, due to their history in WWII. There was Crimea, which was not Ukraine at all, where ~80% of people speak Russian.”

After reading that, scroll up and look at the Ukrainian additions. Do you really think that it’ll just be limited to Novorossiya? Hungary’s Prime Minister does not:

“Hungary’s ambassador to Ukraine was summoned by the foreign ministry in Kiev on Tuesday (May 13) to explain what Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meant when he spoke of a special status for Hungarian minorities in the region. Orban, who was re-elected for a second term in April, said in his inauguration speech that ethnic Hungarians who live in neighbouring countries in the Carpathian Basin are entitled to special rights. Highlighting the fate of some 200,000 Hungarians in Ukraine, he noted that they must be granted dual citizenship, full minority rights, and the right to self-administration. “This is our clear expectation from the new Ukraine,” Orban said.”

http://euobserver.com/foreign/124145

Who else would want to get Ukrainian lands? Perhaps the Poles, maybe someone else as there are quite a few people that were justifiably angered by Stalin’s policies. This is no excuse to take out the anger on the local people living there, but if the locals are your own people that want to join your country, you might want to push for independence, or at the very least a strong autonomous status like Orban is doing.

As BorninUkraine notes, WWII cast a major division in Ukraine between the West and everyone else. The majority of the Ukrainians in the West are hostile towards Russia. The West’s borders are going to be the borders of Rump Ukraine. Why would Russia want that? There needs to be a real reason, not just the fallacious historical claim of Kiev being the mother of all Russian cities at the age of negative twenty. No such reason exists.

Rump Ukraine is divided into West Ukraine and Central Ukraine. With the exception of Kiev’s function as a capital, the region is not economically productive: http://darussophile.com/2014/02/everything-is-annihilated-the-split-of-ukraine-on-the-basis-of-economic-data-important-text/

Furthermore, a combination of the Chechen-Ingush treatment could work when it comes to Crimea-Southeastern Ukraine. It should be noted that Putin did not simply stabilize Chechnya; he stabilized the Caucasus. Chechnya became the flagship project, receiving the lion’s share of the funding, but other Caucasian Republics were funded and growing just enough to keep the living standards improving for the local population, as is the case in Ingushetia. Putin would fund Crimea and Sevastopol massively, which requires no more than $2.5 billion per year, or roughly $1,100 per person. The aid to other places would be substantially less, but even at $550 a person that would be $11.2 billion. This is not out of the realm of feasibility for Russia.

On the other hand the EU would be stuck with Rump Ukraine. The tab of incorporation would be at least $110 billion. And Southeast Ukraine would be Russian. How will the citizens of the EU react to that, when austerity is already ensuring massive gains for any anti-austerity parties, even the ones on the extreme right and left of the political spectrum? My guess is that the EU citizens will not react very positively.

This comes in addition to the EU being forced to pay for Rump Ukraine’s gas, which Rump Ukraine will siphon from the EU in order to keep their economy semi-functional. This would stick the EU with a tab that few in the EU wanted to pay in the first place, while looking defeated in the eyes of the rest of the World. The failure would be several times more devastating than EULEX.

When this is taken into account, there is only one possible option: Finlandization in Ukraine, with a nominally independent Ukraine under Russian control. This deal will have the following conditions:

  1. Crimea to join Russia and be internationally recognized; DonBass to either join Russia, or receive autonomous republic status in Ukraine, like Crimea had
  2. Federalization of Ukraine
  3. Autonomous status for Southeastern Ukraine and Zakarpatiya, if the voters approve it
  4. Russian to be recognized as the official language of Ukraine
  5. Truly popular and democratic elections by region, with no candidates being beaten up or not allowed to run for office

Yes, these conditions are harsh. However, they are the only way to prevent the most devastating outcome: Southeastern Ukraine joins Russia, Rump Ukraine ends up demanding funds from the EU, as that is an option where Russia takes a $14 billion tab, whereas the EU ends up stuck with a $110 billion tab, while looking defeated to the rest of the World.

The Psychology of Fear

Author’s note: my writings are usually dry and analytical, but sometimes we are faced with things that can only be confronted in a passionate manner. Rabid racism is one of those things. Below is a passionate response that I wrote to someone accusing my ethnicity, the Russians, of having a genetic need to get together and kill some people every 40 to 50 years. I have never seen bigger bullshit claims in my life. Below is my response to that, titled the Psychology of Fear. Here goes:

Recently there has been an unleashing of anti-Russian rabid racists, worse than Russophobes, (hence I’ll call them rabidly racist Russophobes to denote their true nature,) on the Internet in order to get people to let fear prevent them from facing the facts. These rabidly racist Russophobes will always make this argument, or one that is similar to it, at some point during the debate: “Russians are the type of people who discriminated against others, rounded up and killed them!” They’ll do their very best to paint the political, linguistic and socio-economic conflict in Ukraine in terms of pure ethnicity. That, and that alone, is their goal. They are willing to bring back racism’s ugly head just to preserve Oligarch Rule in Ukraine, or, even worse, to use that as an excuse in order to take out their petty and pathetic personal grudge against Russians. I think that having grudges against entire ethnicities makes one look like an inept moron, and I known that I’m in the majority.

Aside from denouncing all Russians as an ethnicity, they’ll bring up a Baltic State, preferably Estonia, and claim that Russians are out to invade it. The reason that they’re picking Estonia is malevolent, devious and deliberate. Despite there being more Russians in Latvia, number wise and percentage wise, they cannot use Latvia, since the mayor of Latvia’s capital, Riga, Nil Ushakov, is an ethnic Russian who’s largely supported by numerous Latvians, and shows that despite ethnic discrimination, Latvians and Russians can, and do, get along.

Estonia has a similar situation with one exception: the mayor of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, is ethnically Estonian. That’s it. Ethnicity is the sole reason why Estonia is their target of choice, even though under Edgar Savisaar’s mayorship of Tallinn, Russians and Estonians also get along. Furthermore, prior to the Ukrainian Crisis, the violence against ethnic Russians in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has been on the decline. In addition to everything else, it would take less than 3 months to fix all of the ethnic problems of the Baltic States, and prevent whatever imaginary war the rabidly racist Russophobes concocted for the rest of us to fear.

Going back to my introductory paragraph, Russia’s just not that interested in countries that lay outside of the former domain of the USSR. It’s not even interested in the Baltic and Central Asian states. Yes, the Russians did round up and kill people; so did every other ethnicity on Stalin’s orders. It’s important to distinguish what Russians did from what Stalin did, since the Period of Stalinism was a major disaster for everyone living in the USSR, including the Russians! Especially the Russians! No group had more casualties as a result of Stalin’s leadership than the Russians.

But that’s something that rabidly racist Russophobes want to omit, because someone in the USSR, or Soviet Satellite States, made them very depressed at some point, and they want to get back at the World by creating tons and tons of anti-Russian racism. According to their absolutely insane logic we should instantly began massacring Germans, since they had Hitler, and some Germans followed his orders too! They’re punishing every single ethnic Russians because Russians were stuck with leaders that we didn’t elect, and those leaders did some very bad things, which, in their crazy little minds with overworked neurons, is more than enough to punish the Russians as an ethnicity.

The point is that outside of Ukraine and Moldova, not much is going to happen, and the Moldovan Dispute can be peacefully settled through a popular plebiscite. It would take just six months for the entire process, i.e. debating, campaigning, voting, and another six months for the necessary reforms, and then, except for Ukraine, Europe would be able to breathe a sigh of peace. That leaves Ukraine. A sane person is not going to want to rekindle the Cold War over Ukraine, a country that has been ruled horrendously since its inception in the 1990s. Thus racism must rear its ugly head. Only by portraying Russians as massacring subhumans, and making Goebbels proud, can these rabidly racist Russophobes achieve their goal.

To their credit neither the US leaders, nor the EU leadership, are accepting this line; nor are most Americans and Europeans. And for this, they must be praised. Nevertheless, these rabidly racist Russophobes must be stopped in their tracks with valid arguments and counterclaims. So let me begin addressing the moronic arguments that said Russophobes make.

Moronic Argument Number One: This is about Russia for Russians! It’s an ethnic conflict!

Russia is a multi-ethnic country, with at least 150 different ethnicities living, working and partying together. One of the major achievements of Putin’s Russia is ending massive ethnic strife in the Caucasus. Reviving it for the sake of getting extra land for the World’s biggest country is phenomenally idiotic. It makes as much sense for the Russians to promote ethnic strife, as it does for Barack Obama to revive the KKK.

Additionally, the conflict in Ukraine is a political, linguistic and socio-economic conflict. Crimea, DonBass and Southern Ukraine were handed over to Kiev like a sack of potatoes, first the DonBass and Southern Ukraine by Lenin, then Crimea by Khrushchev. That is the political aspect. The linguistic aspect is that all of these regions are Russian speaking, whereas Western Ukraine is Ukrainian speaking. The socio-economic aspect is that these three regions want to join the Customs Union, whereas Western Ukraine wants to join the European Union. There are numerous charts proving these aspects, and this is what most of the conflict is about. None of the stuff that I mentioned has any relation to ethnicity.

Moronic Argument Number Two: the Russian and Soviet Colonization came at a detriment to the local population.

This one can be rebutted with ease by facts. Under Post-Stalinist USSR, the native populations of the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, the Caucasian States and the Central Asian States grew. In 1959, Ukraine had 32 million Ukrainians. In 1989, Ukraine had 37 million Ukrainians. That’s a growth rate, on average, of roughly 13,800 a month. The average of post-independent Ukraine is about 900 a month, and that’s with the last census taken in 2001; the situation likely deteriorated. Say what you will, but under the Soviets, the local population grew. Of course this doesn’t mean that everything was super-duper cool; it was still the USSR, but it wasn’t Stalinism, (after Stalin,) nor was it an ethnic hell.

Moronic Argument Number Three: Russia won’t stop after Ukraine; it’ll go after the Baltic States and then NATO, and then the World.

Russia has no incentive to invade the Baltics. Unlike Ukraine, where anti-Russian sentiment has been increasing, anti-Russian sentiment in the Baltics has been decreasing. In 2011, the pro-Russian party had 28 percent of the vote, a plurality. Why would Russia invade and incite racism, if racism can simply go away on its own? Again, this makes as much sense as Barack Obama reviving the KKK; none whatsoever. But senseless arguments are the only arguments that rabidly racist Russophobes can make.

Moronic Argument Number Four: Russians discriminated against the locals, which is why they’re discriminating against the Russians

Yes, that’s an actual argument that they use, even though they phrase it in a sneakier way. It’s moronic on its face, since arguing in favor of discriminating against the Russians of today over what Stalin did in the 1940s, when most of us weren’t even more, is extremely idiotic. Shall we punish all Americans for the Trail of Tears while we’re at it? It makes just as much sense – none whatsoever! If the governments are actually doing that, then maybe, just maybe it’s time for those governments to actually run the country, instead of engaging in the KKK style of governing. Of course the rabidly racist Russophobes should also become more productive, instead of just acting like scumbags and bashing ethnic Russians all of the time. Go out. See a movie. Enjoy a walk in the park. Stop attacking my ethnicity. The extreme majority of the World’s population can grasp this, why can’t they? Probably because they are that deluded in their own rabidly racist ideology.

Moronic Argument Number Five: When the USSR fell apart, Russians left their leaders in charge of critical sectors of the military of other countries to fuck stuff up if the government follows an anti-Russian policy

Spies! Spies everywhere! Halp! In reality, the quality of the armies in the post-Soviet Republics depends on the armies’ finances. If they are well financed, they do their job. If they’re poorly financed, they’re going to fuck up. Not funding your army is not an excuse to blame Russia. I go into detail why Ukraine’s army isn’t performing well here, https://ucgsblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/can-we-all-stop-attacking-ukraines-soldiers/, but the gist of it is that they’re underfunded, underequipped, ineptly led, demoralized, have no clear objectives in sight and are fighting an able opponent. And the reason that they’re ineptly led is the lack of adequate funding and training for the officers of Ukraine’s armed forces over the past two decades.

Moronic Argument Number Six: Putin controlled the Ukrainian Army for the past 20 years

Just point and laugh. Apparently Putin, in 1995, controlled the Ukrainian Army from his perch in St. Petersburg. I’m wondering, did he use the Illuminati, aliens or carrier pigeons to get it done? Considering that it’s 2014, and Putin’s only been in power in the Kremlin since 1999, hmm, I keep on using addition, but it’s just not adding up. Must be the carrier pigeons that are interrupting my thought process, or that rabidly racist Russophobes are wrong yet again.

Moronic Argument Number Seven: Russia depends on involuntary draftees to fight the war

That wasn’t the case during the Ossetian War, where most of the people who fought were contract-based soldiers. Russia has enough contract based soldiers to not have to rely on draftees, and judging by the tactics used in the Ossetian War, the reliance on draftees will be minimal, if any. But one thing that you’ll learn from rabidly racist Russophobes is that their mind is still stuck in the Cold War Era, perhaps even the 1950s. Should we give them a spoiler alert about Cuba?

Moronic Argument Number Eight: Russians used population control in order to ensure that the SSRs will never be independent, by planting Russians in key areas of their countries.

Some arguments are idiotic beyond all common sense and human decency, and that’s one of those arguments. What’s next, anti-Russian eugenics? When you make an argument like that, you blame the people living in the country for the ethnic discrimination that they receive from the government. It’s a call to ethnic cleansing. And it’s horrendously wrong.

The Communists were the ones who created the SSRs in the first place. If they didn’t want to give the locals more autonomy, the solution was very simple: call all of the USSR the Union of Workers and Peasants, and don’t break it up into any subsections. That inept argument also ignores the fact that the DonBass and Southern Ukraine were given to the Ukrainian SSR in the 1920s, by Lenin. Prior to that they belonged to Russia, and were part of the RFSFR. According to that argument, in order to not make these countries able to attain independence, the Russians first gave up a lot of land, and then planted their own people on the land that they gave up… I’m guessing this only makes sense to rabidly racist Russophobes. Additionally, a simple look at the map will show that the Russian minorities weren’t located strategically, but rather settled in areas that had jobs, and engaged in sexual relations with one another, as well as the local population.

Moronic Argument Number Nine: We have to confront Putin!

No you don’t. NATO owes no duty to protect Ukraine. The Ukraine is not an EU member. The Ukraine is not worth another Cold War and the violence of this conflict will end with Ukraine. Don’t get me wrong, if someone genuinely wants to help the Ukrainians, and wants to intervene, I don’t think that’s moronic at all. But claiming that billions of taxpayer dollars should be wasted on Ukraine over a lunatic theory that Russians must get together every 40 or 50 years and whack some people… that’s completely idiotic.

Moronic Argument Number Ten, this one really takes the prize: the fundamental difference between us and the Russians is not one of philosophy or anything else, it comes around the end of WWII, because the Russians are the kind of people who round up groups and they put them in camps and they kill men, women and children, it’s called root debrainage, you kill all your threats…they do it over and over and over again every 40 or 50 years to whichever country they’re occupying… Russian insecurity is based on Russian brutality… the Russians decided to trample on the Jews in the 19th century

This is basically calling for rabid racism towards all Russians. It’s blatant. It’s an argument that only a hopeless racist will make. And it’s deviously misstated, to conform to the rabidly racist and Russophobic standard of arguments.

First, most of those executions were carried out on Stalin’s orders. Second, WWII was a lot more dehumanizing on the Eastern Front than it was on the Western Front. Nazis were killing 90 percent of Slavs, including Russians, in areas under their control. Twice as many Soviet civilians were killed, as Soviet military. On the other hand, twice as many Nazi Germany military men were killed than their civilians, and this includes bombings like Dresden. Third, would you like to guess who killed every Jewish man, woman and child they could get their hands on? Right, Nazi Germans! Not all Germans, just Nazi Germans.

Then comes the 40 or 50 year argument, which, in and of itself, is completely idiotic. It happened to all nationalities during the Russian Civil War and Stalinism, including Russians. He cannot actually find any examples of the Russians doing that outside of Stalinism, so what does he do? Bring up the Jews, even though during that time period quite a few Europeans discriminated against the Jews. Are all European ethnicities whose governments discriminated against the Jews at that time, subhumans? Of course not!

Moronic Argument Number Eleven: Russian population is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking

Actually Russian population is growing, growing and growing, but it’s not like rabidly racist Russophobes live in this reality, so what’re facts? Something that they dismiss when it doesn’t suit their needs. The one thing that I’ll say in conclusion is that no ethnicity deserves to be marginalized for the crimes of their government, imagined or otherwise.

Those who read my blog know that I rarely write these types of passionate posts; but when it comes to spreading ethnic hatred, I simply have no choice but to respond. To quote a German Pastor on Nazi crimes:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

This is the video that spawned my passionate response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmegJyudud8

I also blame the hosts. The Young Turks claim to be progressive. I don’t remember an actual progressive, Teddy Roosevelt, actively inviting rabid racists to the White House and giving them thousands of views by others. In order to prove my point, I’ll go back to moronic argument number ten and analyze it:

“the fundamental difference between us and the Russians is not one of philosophy or anything else”

STOP! Unless someone is an idiot, a racist, or someone without even a single shred of decency, that right there screams “racist comment coming!” When you segregate the races/ethnicities into us vs them, talk about the “fundamental difference” and say it’s not “philosophy or anything else” – that implies that there’s something severely wrong with the genetic code of the race/ethnicity that you’re comparing your race to. “Us vs them” on ethnic grounds is a comparison that has no place in the modern World, especially not to actual Progressives! It’s what Nazis used to do. But his comparison gets worse!

“it comes around the end of WWII,”

At this point I know where this is going. WWII was absolute hell on the Soviet Front and not quite as hellish on the UK/US/French/Italian Front, because on one of the Fronts Nazis fought a War of Extermination, on the other it was Nazi Business as usual. Paris wasn’t treated like Leningrad. But most people don’t know the extent of that difference, and the racist is using most people’s ignorance to promote his racism, a tactic used by racists for millennia, including Hitler.

“because the Russians are the kind of people who round up groups and they put them in camps and they kill men, women and children, it’s called root debrainage, you kill all your threats”

At this point even Donald Trump would’ve had the decency to call him out. The hosts remained silent.

Here’s why that’s factually misleading: first, most of those executions were carried out on Stalin’s orders. Second, WWII was a lot more dehumanizing on the Eastern Front than it was on the Western Front. Nazis were killing 90 percent of Slavs, including Russians, in areas under their control. When you have that much devastation, vengeance is going to occur, and no matter how nice you are as a people; you cannot stop it. Twice as many Soviet civilians were killed, as Soviet military. On the other hand, twice more Nazi Germany’s military troops were killed than their civilians, and this includes bombings like Dresden. And yet the rabid racist continues to spread his ethnic hatred:

“…they do it over and over and over again every 40 or 50 years to whichever country they’re occupying… Russian insecurity is based on Russian brutality… the Russians decided to trample on the Jews in the 19th century”

Again, this screams “yo, I’m a rabid racist, kill the Russians before they kill their neighbors!” I’m Russian, and I don’t feel insecure. I don’t understand why Russians, who had to survive brutal leader after brutal leader, followed by Stalinism, Hitler’s attempt to exterminate us from the face of the planet, Yeltsin’s Mafia Oligarchy, guess what? We survived. And there are 150 million of us.

Why the fuck should we feel insecure? The worst is behind us. We’re damn proud of who we are, we’re damn proud that we survived these atrocities, especially the Nazi attempt to wipe us off the face of the Earth, and we have nothing to be ashamed of as an ethnicity. It’s true that some of our leaders were so bad that we should be ashamed of them; but our leaders of the past do not make us who we are today, a concept that all decent human beings should be able to grasp.

Additionally, most anti-Jewish discrimination occurred because a group called the “People’s Will”, a very misleading name, assassinated Csar Alexander the Liberator, and his son turned out to be a reactionary, under whose rule the Russians also suffered, but the rabidly racist Russophobe omits that, as that doesn’t fit his propaganda needs, and the hosts refuse to call him out on it. I will. I have a question: why the fuck should I, an outspoken Russian, someone who’s not a fan of Stalinism to put it mildly, be blamed for crimes that were committed before I was born? If you want me to condemn Stalin’s crimes like Solzhenitsyn did – gladly, I’ll condemn them! Not because I feel the need to do so in order to be accepted, but because when a leader commits massive crimes and millions suffer as a direct result of said crimes, he should be condemned.

In conclusion I’ll simply state: if you want to be civil while debating Ukraine, let’s have a nice, civil debate over tea, coffee, soda, wine, I’m up for that. But if you’re going to attack my ethnicity, that’s a personal attack on me. To use modern lingo – that’s trolling. And those who troll on ethnic grounds should expect to be discredited.

If you have a valid argument for why the US/EU should intervene in Ukraine, state it! I’ll listen. But if you are going around spreading ethnic hatred, then any arguments that you made that’s attached to spreading ethnic hatred is poisoned by ethnic hatred’s venomous spit, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Thankfully the rabidly racist Russophobes remain a minority. To undo their venomous propaganda, I’ll tell you about a very pleasant conversation that I had with a fellow White Russian. No, I’m not referring to the drink. I’m referring to a Russian who would’ve fought for the Whites during the Russian Civil War. Even though we would’ve been on opposite sides during the Russian Civil War and probably shooting to kill each other, he was extremely polite to me and praised me for denouncing Lenin and Stalin.

We were able to speak of Russian politics, despite being on different sides, honestly; share our beliefs without hatred and understand that the civil wars amongst us are a thing of the past. We came to an agreement to have another debate, as the waves coolly washed ashore, making lovely sounds. For that moment, we were both happy. And as Russians, that’s all we really need – simple human kindness and happiness, to share with one another, with our fellow human beings.