Tag Archives: G8

SOME THOUGHTS FROM INDIANAPOLIS

ed-miliband-getty

Ed Miliband is right.  You can’t trust the people.

Mr. Miliband is Leader of the Opposition Labour Party in the United Kingdom.

If his party wins the next election and he becomes prime minister, there will not be a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.  Mr. Miliband knows that if such a vote took place, it’s likely it would go against the EU.

The present Prime Minister, Conservative David Cameron, has promised a referendum in 2017, if his party wins next year’s election.  This does not mean Mr. Cameron actually wants the British people to vote on the issue – he had to commit to keep anti-EU members of his own party happy and to take the wind out of the sails of UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, which is gaining in the polls.  UKIP advocates withdrawal from Europe.

The fact is that the ruling elite are not comfortable with referenda, giving the people the opportunity to vote on important issues like their future – do they want to continue a thousand years of freedom and independence, or would they rather surrender that freedom to the emerging European superpower that some have dubbed “the Fourth Reich?”  Certainly Germany, not Britain, is the dominant country in the union.

Why would party leaders want to continue EU membership and deny voters the opportunity to express themselves?

The EU is often described as “the gravy train.”  The most powerful Eurocrats, including former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and his wife Glynis, have done well out of the Eurocracy, the ruling cabal that runs the EU.  Thousands of others have equally benefitted at the expense of the people.

Those in power now know that, when they lose power in the United Kingdom itself, they can look forward to a lucrative “retirement” in the EU.

Besides, many British companies are in favor of continued membership as most of their sales are to other countries in the Union.

And it’s always nice to be able to travel around Europe without any visa or passport restrictions.

Those against an EU vote are in a difficult position right now – while denying the British people the right to express themselves on this crucial issue, they are condemning Russia for giving the people of Crimea an opportunity to determine their future!

There’s something not quite right here.

Of course, Putin knew the way the people would vote, so he did not take any risks.  Is it possible that Vladimir Putin is more in touch with the people than the average western leader?  Perhaps Ed Miliband and David Cameron should spend more time listening to voters instead of deciding what’s best for them.

___________________________________

The Crimea is now a part of Russia and likely to remain so.  Nothing will change that.

But that does not mean nothing has changed.

The US could not really do anything.  But the perception of the United States has changed slightly due to this crisis, with the US seen as increasingly impotent.  It didn’t start with Crimea – the problem was highlighted last summer when President Obama backed down and did nothing about Syria’s genocide.  The president keeps making the mistake of declaring that the US will not use military force, when the best thing is to keep options open, which might make Assad, Putin or anybody else hesitate.  As Putin backs Assad, this means Russia has beat America twice in just over six months, which may encourage the Russian leader toward further action.

The EU, much closer to the scene of the crime, couldn’t do much either.  Apart from imposing economic sanctions, the EU was also impotent.  Surely this will spur the Europeans on to integrate their military forces so that they can thwart any further threat from Russia?  A combined European military would be a major military power, easily able to deter Russia and anybody else.

Russia also will suffer as a result of this.  It’s highly unlikely the country can remain in the G8, thereby further isolating Moscow; while sanctions will set back the country’s economy.

Nobody has really won, though Russia now rules Crimea again.

_________________________________

I haven’t had much time to read or write this week as we are staying with our eldest daughter and family in the Indianapolis area.  The number of children playing around me (and on me) has increased by 300% (from two to six), which still leaves two missing.

It’s been a great week.

Advertisements

WHO WILL LOSE FACE OVER UKRAINE – RUSSIA OR AMERICA?

PutinObama_423201b

You would think it was 1914, instead of 2014.  

A previously unknown group of nationalists strikes a blow against a brutal dictatorship.   The  Russians decide to intervene to protect fellow Slavs.  The EU makes threatening noises; and faraway America decides not to get involved militarily.   Substitute Austria for EU and you could be in a time warp.   All we are waiting for is an assassination to trigger off a much bigger conflict.  More likely this time is an over-reaction by a trigger-happy soldier to turn a minor conflict into a major war.

The Russians are copying their 2008 strategy in Georgia, seizing territory inhabited mostly by Russians.  They have already invaded Ukraine.  As with Georgia, don’t expect a hasty withdrawal.   They are still there.

Russia is taking care of its own national interests.  Just like always.  They struggled for centuries to gain access to a warm water port on the Black Sea, finally achieving their goal under Catherine the Great.  They are not going to risk losing it now.

Russians remember, too, that during World War II, Ukraine was divided between communists and fascists.  To the Russians, the nationalists who have taken over in Kiev are fascists.   They have certainly succeeded in opening up old wounds, ethnic, linguistic and religious divisions that go back centuries.

President Obama called President Putin on Friday warning him that there would be consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine.  Within 24 hours, Russian troops were all over the Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine.   58% of the people in this area are Russian speaking.  For strategic reasons, Russia needs it.  Russia will keep it.  The US will do nothing, except for giving Russia a symbolic slap on the wrist, perhaps leading a western boycott of the G8 summit to be held in Sochi in June.

As with Syria last year, the US will lose face.   Americans may still think they are the world’s number one power, but the country is increasingly an irrelevant power.   As it makes serious reductions to the size of its armed forces, it will become even less important.  The United States is where Great Britain was after World War II – having fought two major wars, the country is broke and lacks the resolve for further conflict.   A deliberate choice has been made by Washington to concentrate on domestic issues, including a costly government controlled medical system, again following London’s course seven decades ago.

This does not mean Ukraine will be completely abandoned by the West.    The European Union is very much involved in the Ukrainian conflict.  Indeed, in some respects it caused the present conflict, offering Ukraine a closer relationship with the EU and substantial financial incentives.  It is this financial clout that will likely win out at the end, helping western Ukraine at least to break away from Moscow.

Interestingly, in a CBS report on the Ukrainian crisis, Germany’s leader, Angela Merkel was labeled “Europe’s de facto leader.”

Germany and Russia have fought over Ukraine before.

Russia has reverted to the use of force to resolve conflict.   Germany and its EU associates are using economic power.   The US has neither when it comes to Ukraine.

 

A likely outcome will see Crimea back in Russia, perhaps with eastern Ukraine.   Western Ukraine will more likely associate with the EU.   Armed conflict is possible between Russia and Ukraine, but not a prolonged war, as Ukraine is very weak compared to Russia.

Invading the Crimea may cause Russia to lose face for a while but President Putin doesn’t care and it will soon be forgotten.

The US, however, will suffer greater damage.  It’s been five decades since the Chinese leader, Chairman Mao, ridiculed the US as a “paper tiger.”   Now it’s true.

 

OBAMA-PUTIN TALKS CANCELLED – DOES RUSSIA EVEN CARE?

Obama Putin

The news that the Obama Administration has called off the scheduled talks with Russia’s President Putin is hardly likely to upset the Russian leader, who is chairing the G20 talks in St. Petersburg shortly.  Accusations were made by Washington that Putin still has a “Cold War” mentality (true).  But the fact is that the US does, too, with Washington caring far more than necessary about relations with a greatly diminished Russia.

It was President Clinton who invited Russia to join the G7, the seven richest nations in the world.  Russia was hardly the eighth richest.  Even now, it’s way down the list of the biggest economies in the world.

Clinton’s invitation was meant to encourage the development of Russian democracy.  With their history, there was little hope of Russia ever forming a democracy anything like America’s.  The country just doesn’t fit in the G8 or the G20.

That does not mean to say it’s isolated.  Far from it.

Relations with China to the east and Germany to the west are far more important to Moscow than is its relationship with the United States.  Also important are relations with neighboring countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union, providing Russia with a buffer around its own borders.

Additionally, Russia is doing very well in the Middle East, offering support to Syria’s President Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.  Russia’s commitment to Syria’s government thwarted western efforts to replace Assad with a more acceptable alternative.  Al-Qaeda’s involvement with the rebels is another reason the West backed off.

Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, together with the new Shia-dominated Iraq (thanks to the US and allies!) gives Shia Islam an arc of security it has never had before.  Russia’s role only strengthens this.  Moscow will continue to provide them all with arms.

Obama’s cancellation of the meeting was due to Russia giving temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who betrayed US secrets.  It’s interesting that there was a definite hesitation in granting his request.  Putin may be uncomfortable with Snowden – if a man will betray his own country, he’s also likely to betray any other country that might take him in!  His asylum is conditional upon him not revealing any more secrets.

The United States can hardly criticize Russia for granting Snowden asylum.  America has often granted Russians fleeing their government asylum in the US.

Obama has also been critical of Putin’s new anti-gay law, saying that the Russian leader is out of step with the rest of the world.  This is untrue – most of Africa and all of the Islamic Mideast, plus some Asian countries, have similar laws.  If anything, this shows that Washington is out of touch with the rest of the world.

It will be interesting to see how the G20 summit progresses.