Showtime carried Oliver Stone’s interviews of Vladimir Putin this week. I watched parts of the Wednesday and Thursday sections. (I didn’t see the judo or hockey sessions.) Showtime subscribers can watch on line. No, I did not watch the Megyn Kelly interview.

The interviews aired on the same week of anti-corruption protest rallies staged in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities and towns.

Stone spoke English, Putin spoke Russian. An interpreter, who at times looked like a younger Costa Ronin of The Americans, translated for Stone, who seems to be fluent in Russian. Putin’s words were subtitled throughout even when he spoke English.

In case you wonder, Stone did not catch Putin breaking a little girl’s bicycle, unlike his friend Hugo Chávez,

On the one hand, Oliver is a big fan of Chávez, the Castros, and, of course, of Putin, and it shows: Rolling Stone reports that the series is set to air on Russia’s state-run Channel One in its entirety later this month,

In an appearance on The Late Show on Monday night, Stone sang the praises of Putin, to the point where a taken-aback Stephen Colbert asked, “Anything negative that you found? Anything? Or does he have your dog in a cage someplace?”

On the other hand, Putin never reveals anything accidentally or under pressure; never has, never will.

It was entirely predictable, so why did I watch?

For starters, I wanted to see what and how much was shown. There were three of Putin’s offices, a staged situation room (as in war command room with live calls from the military – think of it as Skype calls from the jet bombers), a patio with Pottery-Barn-style outdoor furniture, innumerable mile-long hallways, and a very large, traditional ballroom with elaborate carpet.

Through it all, Putin was completely in charge, poised, wearing a business suit and necktie, self-assured, and at-ease-while-fully-alert yet not quite relaxed. As Leonid Bershidsky puts it, in his interviews, “Putin has never once relaxed or relinquished control,” and he’s not about to start. This bears repeating because it is the underlying aspect of the persona I was watching on TV.

Bershidsky explains that Putin has one invariable message (emphasis added):

The message he has for foreign leaders hasn’t changed in 17 years: “Russia is a sovereign power with a set of historic interests that it will pursue no matter what; Western powers can’t tell Russia what to do.”

Putin makes it clear at every moment that he will do what is necessary to bring about what he sees as being in Russia’s best interest.

That, and that alone, is the most important takeaway from the interviews. Everything else is theater.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

Mexico has blamed the United States for everything since before the “Last Spike” went into the ground. It continues to do so to this day.

Just this week, Mexico’s foremost living historian Enrique Krauze posited in the New York Times that the U.S. has three original sins: Slavery, racism, and “the aggression against Mexico and the plundering of its territory.” Because of that, Krauze says, all Mexicans should be free to live in the U.S., without restrictions.

Popular culture supports this blame game. The Netflix series Ingobernable (Ungovernable) has the CIA kill the president of Mexico when he was about to declare the end of the “war on drugs” after blaming the U.S. for every Mexican death it caused. Ingobernable (starring real-life drug lord El Chapo’s friend Kate del Castillo) ought to be named Unwatchable.

The country’s foreign policy reflects its blame game: The Diplomad writes from experience,

I also have long considered Mexico a major threat to America. I have dealt with Mexican diplomats at the UN, the OAS, and in Central and South America. They are first rate. They are patriotic, well-trained, dedicated, and hard working. They, almost to a man and a woman, are also possessed with a deep, deep animus towards the United States. At the UN and the OAS, for example, Mexico, in my experience, played the role of opponent to whatever we sought to do. They not only consistently voted against us, they collaborated with our opponents on resolutions and projects antithetical to our interests, and, for example, refused to oppose Cuban and Venezuelan human rights violations. They rarely passed on an opportunity to stick it in our eye.

Mexico had a major role in fostering guerrilla groups in Central America during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, backing off only when it became a hindrance to the NAFTA deal with the United States, and when some of the groups began operating in Mexico.

It is with some amusement, then, that I find this in my newsfeed: Fears grow that Russia could meddle in Mexican election (emphasis added)

“If [Russia] intervened in the United States, there’s every reason to think that Mexico is a target for attack,” said [Sen. Armando] Ríos Piter [of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)], who recently launched an independent presidential bid.
. . .
Ríos Piter said Mexico is a natural target for Russia, as the country is expected to become a top-five economy over the next half century.

Mexico may well become a top-five economy, yet Ríos Piter conveniently forgets that remittances from the U.S. generate more than Mexico’s oil or tourism industries. No blame there.

Call me a cynic, but to my jaundiced eye, Ríos Piter may be laying the groundwork for his third-ranked party losing the presidency again – after all, some still refer to their candidate who lost the 1997 election as the “legitimate president of Mexico.”

The fact remains, as Tara McCormack said,

this revamped Red Scare speaks to a profound and seriously anti-democratic shift among disoriented, struggling elites.

In Mexico as in elsewhere, to use McCrmack’s words, “The Russia blame game is really an abdication of political responsibility,” and Mexico has been playing blame games for a very long time.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes in U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

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.

putinby baldilocks

Jeffrey Pelt: Mr. Ambassador, you have nearly a hundred naval vessels operating in the North Atlantic right now. Your aircraft has dropped enough sonar buoys so that a man could walk from Greenland to Iceland to Scotland without getting his feet wet. Now, shall we dispense with the bull?

Ambassador Lysenko: You make your point as delicately as ever, Mr. Pelt.

Jeffrey Pelt: It would be well for your government to consider that having your ships and ours, your aircraft and ours, in such proximity… is inherently DANGEROUS. Wars have begun that way, Mr. Ambassador.

The Hunt for Red October

I’m old enough to remember when this report would have made my blood run cold.

A FLEET of Russian nuclear ships have been spotted steaming out of base – and it is heading for Britain.

Vladimir Putin‘s policy of gunboat diplomacy continued as a giant aircraft carrier and nuclear submarine were among eight vessels snapped sailing south past Norway yesterday.

The fearsome fleet is headed for Russia’s Mediterranean base in Tartus, Syria.

But first, the ships are set to pass through the English Channel in the latest act of sabre-rattling from Moscow.

Royal Navy warships are being readied to intercept the fleet which could pass within miles of the British coast.

Russia’s flagship aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was amongst the ships to depart from the Arctic port of Severomorsk on Saturday.

The 55,000-tonne colossus is travelling with the Pyotr Veliky battlecruiser, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer and large anti-submarine ships.

The convoy was caught on camera by Norwegian spy planes on Monday

The show of strength is the latest act of defiance from Moscow in the face of Western pressure over its bombing campaign in Syria.

Back when the War was Cold, I thought I knew who the enemy was. Now, however, it seems that the onion has endless layers waiting to be peeled back—to reveal the true nature of our enemies and our “friends.”

Too few care about this approaching feces storm. But I suspect that we will be made to care.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks

 

 

UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, is holding its summit this week in Ecuador. The envoys or the heads of state of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guayana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela are in attendance.

Latin American countries, particularly the socialist countries, hold summits frequently throughout the year, so this is not unique. What’s making this particular one interesting is this: the possibility of an agreement on cooperation between Russia and UNASUR:

[Russian Ambassador to Ecuador Yan] Burlyai also noted that the Russian delegation will convey a message from President Vladimir Putin to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

Burlyai explained that Russia’s interests coincide with UNASUR’s in the development of a politically and economically multipolar world, and that Russian engineering, technical knowhow, and equipment may be useful for regional development projects in areas such as railway construction and energy generation facilities. He noted that “for many decades,” South America was “mainly oriented at Western countries in economic cooperation…Now it is quite useful for them to have the alternative [of using] Russian companies such as Russian Railways, Gazprom and Rosneft.” Russia, on the other hand, stands to benefit from increased economic and trade cooperation with the 12-nation bloc, with its combined population of 400 million people and a $4 trillion economy. Latin America has already assisted Russia in its efforts toward trade diversification following the introduction of sanctions and countersanctions over the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The UNASUR summit, with the participation of Russian Foreign Ministry officials, follows Putin’s annual State of the Nation address to the country’s Federal Assembly on Thursday, where he stressed the importance of Russia’s increasing economic cooperation with Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

“Russian Railways, Gazprom and Rosneft,” along with long-range bombers conducting regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and military bases in Nicaragua (not a member of UNASUR), that is.

In the short term, Putin avoids sanctions. In the longer term, is the sky the limit, now that the Obama administration declared dead the Monroe Doctrine?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

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 1389AD & CzechRebel

(Note DTG: On Sept 9th I sent out an e-mail blast promoting my post The Orcs of Russia & Memphis. I got a reply from 1389 counterjihad blog objecting to my “mindless Russia Bashing”. I wrote back with the following offer saying in part:

If you would like write an original rebuttal explaining why the general perception of Russia, Putin, Ukraine et/al is wrong, why the former soviet block countries fears are unfounded and why we should be working with Putin/Russia rather than against. Feel free to go through the posts that I’ve presented and critique them & toss in critiques of other blogs. Make it as long or as short as you need to make the case.

On Wednesday Sept 24th I received this piece in reply. You can find the piece crossposted at 1389 blog.

To say most of the opinions presented below (particularly concerning the Church & Fatima) are not mine is an extreme understatement. My rebuttal to this post will go up at 7 PM tonight as I thought it contrary to the spirit of my initial offer to rebut it here.  So according to my promised offer I present the emailed piece unedited below.

**********************************************

This is in response to the article, The Orcs of Russia and Memphis, which aroused the disagreement of both of the admins of 1389 Blog, namely 1389AD and CzechRebel.

Yes, we are familiar with orcs, those benighted, debased, and subhuman slave-warriors of the evil empires of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings and of Morgoth in The Silmarillion. We acknowledge that orcish behavior in human beings is sinful and we cannot condone it in any way.

Yes, we wholeheartily recommend the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and no, we are not at all troubled by the fact that Tolkien, and his mother, were ardent Roman Catholics.

No, Vladimir Putin is not Sauron, Russians and their allies and sympathizers are not orcs, and modern-day Russia is not the evil empire of the USSR that once enslaved much of Eurasia. Quite the contrary.

It looks to us at 1389 Blog that your biggest problem is that you are a Roman Catholic who has imbibed too much of the Vatican “Kool-Aid.” Don’t get me wrong, we are NOT anti-Roman Catholic. Some of our writers and correspondents are practicing Roman Catholics. But they have NOT drunk the Vatican “Kool-Aid.”

Very, very, very few Roman Catholics understand the Holy Orthodox Church. I, CzechRebel, am a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, so is 1389, so is our dear brother in Christ, Vladimir Putin. The Orthodox Church is an institution of peace and Vladimir Putin is a man of peace. If President Putin wanted to rule Ukraine, he would have taken it long ago and probably half of Poland just for good measure. Fortunately, President Putin is a committed Christian, perhaps the only such leader today of the countries in the “Nuclear Club.” Continue reading “Guest Post: Defending Vladimir Putin, the Russian people, and the Orthodox Christian faith”

You know his tactics; Your Excellency; A demand for concessions and when the concessions are granted then new demands each one more weakening than the one before, until the object of his attention is either too weak to oppose him further or is at least so weakened as to make armed resistance fatal.

C. S. Forester Commodore Hornblower p 167 1945

Yesterday VDH had a post asking if the Orcs were winning it ended thus:

The Europeans are shrugging that Ukraine is lost and will soon sigh that the Baltic states are a far-off place not worth risking the coffee shops of Amsterdam to defend. Westerners lament beheadings but then privately mutter that journalists know just what they are getting into when they visit the Middle East. Murdering and abusing a U.S. ambassador on video is not such a big deal anymore and is worth only a second or so mention on Google News.

So we wait behind our suburban Maginot Lines, arguing over our quarter- and half-measure responses, refighting Iraq and Afghanistan as if they were the Somme and Verdun, assured that we can distract ourselves from the horrors abroad with psychodramas about Ferguson, the president’s golfing, his lectures on fairness, and which naked celebrity photowas hacked on the Internet.

Meanwhile the orcs are busy and growing and nearing the ramparts…

Well it looks like the Orcs of Russia are taking hostages:

“Over all, it’s hard to believe something like this is possible. This case breaks all the rules,” said the well-known Estonian politician Eerik-Niiles Kross commenting on the kidnapping by Russians of the employee of the Estonian Security Police on Estonian territory.

In Tallinn people are seriously worried. Estonian officials are trying to convince themselves that this is a tragic exception that has nothing to do with politics. They are contacting Russian colleagues, hoping for their assistance in the rapid release of the man who had been kidnapped   by “unknown” persons. But the most interesting part is that Russia is not even attempting to hide anything. The public relations office of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that the arrest of the Estonian employee happened on the territory of the Russian Federation despite the fact that the border police of both countries held a special meeting at the scene of the crime — on Estonian territory, naturally, not in Russia. But Moscow has already carried out a similar exercise with Nadiya Savchenko. Now it simply repeated it.

This is a clear violation of the norms of conduct, something that would not be tolerated between civilized nations but not only has Russia done this but are not even taking the trouble to issue a face saving denial.

Then again why would they?  Why would Putin bother to deny it?  He has the power, he’s willing to use it, and he knows that the current leadership of the west does not have the courage to stop him because it lacks leadership and no longer has a culture that values the courage necessary to do so.  Not denying it emphasizes that power and demonstrates to those he wants to intimidate who is in charge.

When nobody is willing to stop you all things are possible and this is a lesson that applies not only on a geopolitical scale but on a local scale as the people in Memphis have discovered:

Three people were brutally beaten by a mob of teens in the parking lot of the Kroger at Highland and Poplar Saturday night.

Two of the victims were reportedly teenage Kroger employees coming to the aid of a customer being attacked by the group. A video of the incident has gone viral.

The Memphis flyer mentions a “Mob of Teens” and there is this from police:

“It is extremely troubling to see how many young people were involved, especially on the heels of last week’s youth forum. A lot of our citizens are working to provide safe and productive alternatives for our youth,” Memphis Police Department Director Toney Armstrong said in a statement on Monday.

however there is one fact that is left out for some reason that Breitbart manages to notice

GANG OF BLACK TEENS BEATS WHITE MEMPHIS GROCERY STORE EMPLOYEE INTO UNCONSCIOUSNESS

and like the Ray Rice story, there is video

Video taken by customers on the scene attest to the viciousness of the attack. It shows screaming, joking, laughing black members of the mob attacking and kicking a white Kroger employee lying immobile on the ground.

Police are making some arrests:

FOX6’s sister station, WREG in Memphis reports a 15-year-old has been charged with aggravated riot and acting in concert: to wit aggravated assault.

WREG reports the teen was out on gun-related charges at the time of the attack. WREG says the teen wasn’t enrolled in school, and his mother was previously charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

But the most revealing line from the story is this observation from a witness

“It was nonsense violence. I can say that for sure. It seemed very unprovoked. They weren’t about anything, that it was fun for them. They were out having a good time. They were all smiling they were laughing,” the man said.

Now why would a mob of black kids go around beating people in a city like Memphis?  Well this screenshot from memorandum gives you a clue

memphis

Look what’s missing from that list, CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NYT, Washington Post, CBS, Huffington Post,

The kids of this mob have learned the same lesson Vlad Putin have on a smaller scale.  they’ve  taken the measure of the country and know it doesn’t have the will or the desire to stand against them and the media certainly won’t make it an issue.  Vlad Putin would recognize this in a heartbeat and be nodding in agreement.

An Orc is an Orc is an Orc no matter what age, no matter what race no matter what scale and until Orcs are stopped they will rampage unchecked.

Exit Question:  If this had taken place in Putin’s  Russia would any of those kids in the video be seen again outside of Siberia?

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Olimometer 2.52

If you think the coverage and commentary we provide here is worth your support please consider hitting DaTipJar below to meet our annual expenses.

Consider the lineup you get In addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit)  on Sunday Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly Fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

Remember when I said a few days ago that the Western media’s obsession with Ferguson opened a window of opportunity to several players on the international stage

Well it looks like last night Putin just crawled on through:

An apparent incursion of tanks and personnel carriers into southeastern Ukraine Monday, one day before a high-stakes summit, demonstrated just how difficult it will be for Ukraine to reestablish control over its own territory.

The details varied from various sites:

Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council, told reporters that the column of 10 tanks, two armored vehicles and two trucks crossed the border near Shcherbak and that the nearby city of Novoazovsk was shelled during the night from Russia. He said they were Russian military vehicles bearing the flags of the separatist Donetsk rebels.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday he had no information about the column.

Almost certainly this is a test to see how the west responds.  How and if they do will likely determine the history of the world in general and Europe in particular for decades to come.

 

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Those of us who watch the dismal state of U.S. foreign policy will find the following DiploPundit post on Bolivia enlightening:

According to the OIG report on the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia released on July 17, just before the OIG inspection conducted in February and March 2014, the State Department “recalled the chargé and the political/economic section chief who served as acting DCM from August 2012 to September 2013 and took steps to mitigate some of the embassy’s leadership problems.”

This means that, during the period when the Bolivian Government expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Peace Corps, and the Department of State’s ended all U.S. counternarcotics programs:

  • There was no ambassador
  • The top 2 officials were removed before the inspector arrived to investigate the situation
  • DiploPundit points out (emphasis added): “Just before the inspection, the WHA bureau and the Bureau of Human Resources apparently agreed that, because a permanent ambassador is not likely in the foreseeable future, the Department would assign a permanent chargé d’affaires and a permanent DCM in La Paz. It only took them about five years to make up their minds.”

A rather unusual situation. What was happening?

To make a long story short,

nearly all American staff members told the OIG team that they did not understand mission priorities or their part in achieving goals. The OIG team frequently heard staff tell of instructions given one day only to have the former front office forget or reverse them the next. Skepticism about public diplomacy programming one month could be replaced by front office enthusiasm for a cultural project the next. Reporting officers, already in a difficult environment for contact development and reporting, stated that the front office did little to direct reporting or provide training and mentoring. Embassy staff members told the OIG team they wanted clear and steady guidance from the front office but did not receive it.

You, gentle reader, may ask, why fuss over Bolivia, a place most of us may have difficulty finding in a map, a place best known for cocaine production and Butch Cassidy‘s final destination?

Well, because Bolivia, which owns 70% of the world’s lithium reserves, is getting plenty of attention from

  • China, with whom it has a space satellite program, and which is investing billions of dollars in mining projects,
  • Russia, including Putin’s own attention to gas production with Gazprom; Putin has slammed the efforts of Evo Morales – who is president of Bolivia and was president of the coca growers’ union – to keep coca leaf consumption legal (perhaps not coincidentally, coca production has declined),
  • Iran, a buyer of Bolivian uranium and lithium, whose largest embassy in the hemisphere is located in La Paz.

A note on lithium:

a byproduct of lithium also has a little known and insidious application: It can be used as an alternative or as an enhancer to uranium, a key component needed to develop nuclear weapons. In particular, lithium-6 is an internationally controlled substance because of its “booster” role in smaller, highly efficient thermonuclear devices.

In other words, it makes bad bombs smaller, worse and also more portable. And thus policymakers should be concerned that the deal with Bolivia could bring the Islamic Republic one step closer to nuclear capability.

Indeed, in our age of America’s “smart diplomacy”, the neglect of, and lack of leadership in the Bolivian Embassy is emblematic of the “leading from behind” Obama era.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry, who declared The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over,” thinks of Bolivia as “our back yard.”

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.