By John Ruberry

Saturday night news broke–that has not yet been confirmed–that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

Predictably, the mainstream media is pouncing on this selection, zeroing in on his ties to Russia that go back to the Boris Yeltsin era. Russia of course is a major energy producer, it’s quite understandable that ExxonMobil would have a stake there. In 2013 Vladimir Putin honored Tillerson with its Order of Friendship.

This criticism folds neatly into the controversial CIA report that Russia tried to influence the presidential election, presumably to boost Trump. Of course the increasingly marginalized media is still trying to make sense of Hillary Clinton’s loss, even though the evidence is abundant and easy to understand.

On the campaign trail Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. And one way to do so is to bring in some outsiders, people like himself, to find a better way to run America.

On Fox News Sunday, in an interview where Trump told host Chris Wallace that he had yet to choose his secretary of state, the president-elect said of Tillerson, who has never worked in the public-sector, “In this case he’s much more than a businessman. He’s a world-class player.” Tillerson can point to decades of experience of negotiating deals with foreign governments, which is something his two predecessors did not have, unless you include Hillary Clinton’s shady doings at the Clinton Foundation.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven.

During the campaign Trump called the Iran nuclear deal “a disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” Alan Dershowitz, a liberal but a longtime defender of Israel, said of the Iran deal and the people who crafted it, “I wouldn’t hire this administration to negotiate a one-month lease for me.”

Nor would I.

It’s time for the amateurs and the Model United Nations role-players to exit Washington–the people have spoken. Trump values accomplishments. DC needs more men and women like Tillerson.

John Ruberry, who has never been employed by the private sector, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

What Donald Trump said about women is indefensible. What Hillary Clinton has done is even more indefensible.

Take her time, for example, as secretary of state. Clinton had one major accomplishment during her tenure: she traveled a lot.

As Foreign Affairs put it when Clinton stepped down in 2013, “She leaves office without a signature doctrine, strategy or diplomatic triumph.”

That’s a kind assessment. In fact, she left a lot of wreckage during her four years in office.

One of the more troubling is U.S. relations with Russia.

Most Americans would blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for our poor relations, but he only maneuvered as a result of the weakness of U.S. policy.

Syria has been part of the Russia sphere of influence, starting during the 1960s. If the United States wasn’t going to intervene, it needed to quickly discuss the situation with Putin. Clinton didn’t seek out the Russians, leaving her successor, John Kerry, to mess up the situation even more.

Whatever happened to the Russian reset Clinton and Obama talked so much about?

The Russian leader, like his predecessors, seized on weaknesses. The absence of clear American failure in the Middle East sent Putin a message that he could do whatever he wanted to do in Ukraine.

Now he has reportedly started to move nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. The reason? To establish Russian hegemony over the Baltic Sea.

Masha Gessen, who wrote a biography of Putin, dispels a number of myths in a recent column:

–Putin has not thrown his support behind Trump. The Russian leader has only mentioned the GOP nominee in passing. It is true Putin does not like Hillary because he blames her for inciting demonstrations against him in 2011-2014.

–Putin has not made Russia great again. The oil glut has taxed people’s income, and crime has become rampant in major cities.

–Russians do not overwhelmingly support Putin. His approval ratings are high, but the rest of the government, which rubber stamps his policies, get low marks.

–Russian society is not conservative. People have quite liberal views on abortion and sex.

–Russia’s policies are not simply a reaction to U.S. policies. Russia acts in its own self-interest as it it in Crimea.

Here is the column: http://tinyurl.com/hnxjsx4

The next president needs a serious reset with Putin. He’s tough and smart. He’s hardly the caricature the media use to portray him. He’s a leader of one of the most important countries in the world, and the United States needs to figure out a way to discuss the relationship between the two countries. Clinton has certainly failed to do that.

If Clinton is elected president, she will start with two major enemies: China and Russia. If Trump is elected, at least he would start out with only one, China, and the possibility of restoring some sense of order with Russia.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.

 

 

 

Autumn pipes
Next stop Atlantic Ocean?

By John Ruberry

President Obama may soon find out what how it feels to be un-upped by Canada in a hockey-style shootout.

Since his inauguration nearly six years ago, Obama has been dragging his feet in regards to approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline will bring much-needed petroleum from our friends in Alberta in Canada to the United States, which will lessen our need to import oil from hostile regimes such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. I can’t imagine America buying oil from the Islamic State, but more oil on the market means cheaper prices, which will of course harm ISIS and bolster our national security.

The northern segment of Keystone will pass through the Dakotas and Nebraska. There is a smattering of local opposition in the Cornhusker State and some legal obstacles, but let’s be clear: Obama, the man who bragged earlier this year that he doesn’t need Congress to make things happen because, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” would have found a way to break ground for Keystone XL by now if that’s what he wanted.

But Obama is of course more concerned about the needs of his wealthy environmentalist donors, who either believe that the era of fossil fuels is over or that the use of this Canadian oil will contribute to global warming. Obama, who once promised to heal the planet, is on the verge of being outmaneuvered.

TransCanada Corp., the mover behind Keystone, is strongly considering an-all Canada pipeline for the Alberta petroleum, Energy East, the terminus of which will be at St. John, New Brunswick on the Atlantic Ocean. The oil can be shipped from there to America or to western Europe, which will be welcomed with open spigots by countries fed up with buying petroleum from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.Canada

Bloomberg News is reporting that the supporters of Energy East are very confident that it will be built. A proposed western Canadian pipeline could still be constructed, although that route faces opposition from some Canadian First Nations people.

But if Keystone is built, it will mean up to 40,000, good paying–and are you reading this Obama?–union jobs. If the new pipeline from Alberta never crosses American soil, those jobs will taken by Canadians. Meanwhile, we have to go back to the sad Jimmy Carter years to find a time where the American labor participation rate has been lower than it is now.

I can imagine Obama looking north soon, as Jay Gatsby did from West Egg at the green light at the end of Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s pier, at those thousands of new jobs north of the border.

The last words are for the environmentalists: Despite your numerous protests and your arm-twisting of Obama, that oil is going to be pumped from the sands of Alberta whether you like it or not. Your Canadian War is over.

You lost.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

A few hours ago this guest post went up on the site as a guest post to rebut a piece of mine concerning Putin and Russia. That post contained some rather….interesting…opinions concerning Russia, Putin, the west and the Catholic Church the like of which have never been posted on this site before and are unlikely to ever be posted here again.

Frankly if I hadn’t invited the post I wouldn’t have run it but having made the offer I was of course obliged to keep my word.

I also thought it would be unfair to Fisk or rebuke said post as an update. Having invited the piece such a direct rebuke would, in my opinion be a dishonorable case of bait and switch to the authors.

So as the proper answer to speech is more speech here is my rebuttal to by 1389AD & CzechRebel post

Let’s start by noting some of the valid points in their piece:

1. Russia as it was:

Before the Soviets took over Russia was pretty much one large empire stretched to the pacific in the west, to the Arctic in the North, to Persia/India to the south and Europe in the east. A good map of Russia can be found here. While Russia did conquer some of the states and there have been nationalist movements involved it’s fair to say that the borders of the various soviet “republics” drawn the time of the Soviets were arbitrarily drawn and took chunks of traditional Russia with them. Russia’s claim to the Crimea has a particularly solid historical basis.

2. Russian Christianity:

The Orthodox Church in Russia was brutally repressed by the Communists. I can’t claim knowledge of the underground church in Russia during the Soviet Era and can’t speak intelligently on the subject. Given of the Catholic Church in Poland I see no reason not to accept the claims of my Orthodox Friends concerning Soviet Era underground Christianity and a resurgent church with the end of repression.

3. The Media vs Russia:

It’s fair to say that the MSM which always seemed to be willing to make an excuse for Soviet aggression and their manipulation of the press during the cold war suddenly has no tolerance for such behavior now that it comes from a non socialist/communist Russia unapologetically opposed to the gay agenda. I’ve written of the media’s double standards concerning Islamic and Christian belief more than once here.

4. Jihad: Russia has been fighting Chechen jihadist for nearly 20 years. One might argue the Chechens are more nationalistic than Jihadist (I say they’re both) but the tactics, terror & bloodshed used against the Russians are the tactic of Islamic terror and Russia faces these attacks directly on their homeland and infrastructure a fact that gets little play in the west.

But having conceded these points let deal with the rest of the piece starting with the big lie concerning Russia:

Russia, being a Godly nation, disbanded the Warsaw Pact in 1991, ending the Cold War and leaving NATO with no legitimate reason to continue.

Say WHAT?

Russia didn’t “disband” the Warsaw pact “because it was a Godly nation” any more than southern slaveholders freed their slaves of out respect for the Emancipation Proclamation. When the Soviet Union that had taken them by force fell into disorder the formerly enslaved states of the Soviet union from Estonia to Poland reasserted their independence. They could not retain their status without a war that Russia was not interested in fighting at that time.

The experience of being under the Soviet thumb is only a generation past for those European states.  To expect them to say to the US “Oh we don’t need you Russia is nice now” is the height of absurdity, particularly considering what happened in Georgia in the last decade.  The whole cavalier reference to taking parts of Poland doesn’t inspire a lot of  confidence either.

As for the reference to the Polish born Zbigniew Brzezinski & family let’s see:

Seven years before his birth Poland fought a war against the Soviets that confirmed their independence.  When he was 11 his country was invaded by the Nazi’s on one end and the Soviets on the other.  Six years later the Soviets went into Poland on their way to Berlin and kept as a puppet for 46 years.

Maybe it’s just me but I have a funny feeling the Brzezinski family just might have a reason to be a tad suspicious of Russia. I suspect the 900+ tanks in the Polish Army reflect that same feeling.

Full disclosure I’ve met Mika Brzezinski. As an apologist for this administration I find her often wrong but wrong honest.

As for the stuff concerning the Catholic Church and the Orthodox, I don’t begrudge the authors defending their own Orthodox church or disagreeing with the Catholic Faith. I don’t even begrudge them their rather crass remarks concerning the Miracles of Fatima (which tens of thousands witnessed). Belief in Fatima or any such post Apostolic revelation is not required by the Church doctrine, but the whole “Vatican Kool Aid” business, that’s simple BS.

In my 51 years of life I have never heard a single member of my church at a sermon, lecture or religious event say anything disparaging concerning the Eastern Churches in general or the Russian Orthodox Church in particular. Nor do I recall anyone inside the church critiquing Putin based on whatever religious beliefs he has or frankly even mention he was Russian Orthodox.

In fact my initial piece had absolutely nothing to do with religion but was focused really on how the beatings in Memphis (that the media has still ignored) and Putin’s advances are similar in that they are enabled by the knowledge that there is nobody willing to stand up to them.  I didn’t even know his faith until I looked it up while writing this piece.

Yet the rebuttal contained 8-10 paragraphs going after the Catholic Church as if opposition to Putin by the west is part of a vast Papal plot to bring down the Russian Orthodox Church. The level of paranoia involved here seems rather incredible. If the Russian Orthodox church is as integrated with the Putin government as the piece implies then it could be that the right word is “projection” rather than paranoia. I would think an anti-communist would recognize the game being played here.

Furthermore for all the talk about “protecting christianity” as churches have been burning in the middle east and Christians slaughtered all over the world seems ridiculous. Exactly how has Russia’s response been any different than the shameful indifference of the west?

Listen I understand Russia is a huge nation and it shares borders with some rather interesting neighbors including a resurgent China and a Crazy North Korea in the west and is dealing with radical Islamists in the east. I also get that both Napoleon & Hitler had a go at them over the last 200 years. Russia needs a strong army to protect its people, secure its borders and to defend its interests overseas. If that’s what Putin & Russia want to do I don’t have an issue with it and given the number of cultural Russians in the former Soviet States Russia has a legitimate interests in their well being.

However it seems to me the actions of Mr. Putin and his words seem to have a lot more to do with expansion to recreate “Greater Russia” than to simply advance his nations interests, of course I’d be delighted if events prove me wrong because our guest posting friends are right about one thing for sure.

Given the weakness of Barack Obama if Putin decided he wanted to take Ukraine and the Baltic States I sincerely doubt the west would do anything about and that fact alone makes it less likely that he would have to bother to get anything he might want.

Closing thought, if that guest post is characteristic of how the average Russian views the west it would explain an awful lot of the history of the last ten years.

by baldilocks

Only soft-handed Marxists natter on about the “right” or “wrong side of history.” Countries like Poland, however, have been battered by real Marxism and proceed accordingly.

NATO allies will hold emergency talks on the crisis in Ukraine on Tuesday, for the second time in three days, following a request from Poland, the alliance said on Monday.

In calling the meeting, Poland, a neighbor of Ukraine, invoked a NATO rule allowing any ally to consult with the others if it feels its security, territorial integrity or independence are under threat, the so-called Article 4.

“The developments in and around Ukraine are seen to constitute a threat to neighboring Allied countries and having direct and serious implications for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area,” the alliance said in a statement.

Emphasis mine; Poland knows Russia well.

There’s the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, under which Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR agreed to split up Poland.[i]

There’s the Katyn Massacre. Originally attributed to the Nazis, it was actually perpetrated by the NKVD (Soviet Secret Police); the USSR admitted to the massacre in 1990.

And there’s the Warsaw Pact. Allegedly it was formed counter as counter to NATO and as a “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance” between the USSR and eight other eastern European countries, including Poland. But, as is well-known,  it was de facto enslavement of those countries by Soviet masters.

But Poland doesn’t even have to look to the previous century find reasons to be suspicious of Russia and its goals.

Recall the scrapped agreement for the missile shield technology  for Poland and the Czech Republic. It had been promised by George W. Bush, opposed by Vladimir Putin, and, in the end, was reneged on by Barack H. Obama.  And recall that the turnabout was announced on September 18, 2009—the seventieth anniversary of the day on which Hitler and Stalin carried out their designs on Poland.

And let’s not forget what happened to the Polish leadership in 2010.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some of the country’s highest military and civilian leaders died on Saturday when the presidential plane crashed as it came in for a landing in thick fog in western Russia, killing 96, officials said.

(…)

Russian and Polish officials said there were no survivors on the 26-year-old Tupolev, which was taking the president, his wife and staff to events marking the 70th anniversary of the [Katyn] massacre of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

This grimly ironic accident is still being questioned.

Our leadership and many other observers may not be taking into account—or even be familiar with—the history of this abusive relationship, but it would be safe to bet that the Poles had it in mind when they decided to make their appeal to NATO.

This is not to say that the United States should intervene on behalf of Ukraine. Even if our mandate to do so were morally and politically clear-cut, in the wake of the hollowing out of this nation–militarily, economically, socially, and, most importantly, in the leadership sphere–we are simply not able to help Ukraine or any other nation.

But while the President of the United States continually provides negative examples of an observation made by King Solomon in Proverbs, Poland looks at Ukraine, scrutinizes its own history and soberly ponders reality. Please, God, let there be a few more sober realists in the USA!

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Lithuania invokes Article 4 as well.


[i] In his actions concerning Georgia and Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin has borrowed a strategy from both Stalin and Hitler: both claimed that their attack on Poland was to protect ethnic Ukrainians, Belarusians and Germans in the country—a pretext, to be sure.

Putin used a similar justification, with respect to ethnic Russians living in the Republic of Georgia, for the Russo-Georgian War of 2008, which resulted in the “independence” of formerly Georgian provinces Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both provinces “had been functioning for 15 years outside Georgian control, their de facto independence guaranteed by Russian peacekeeping troops.” Putin is using this same strategy at present as justification for Russia’s incursion into Ukraine–an old form of ethnic cleansing.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in early 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!