The Changing Face of Foreign Affairs: the West is in Serious Trouble.

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Uncle Volodya says, “”We are forced to fall back on fatalism as an explanation of irrational events. The more we try to explain such events in history reasonably, the more unreasonable and incomprehensible do they become to us.

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run;
There’s still time to change the road you’re on…

Led Zeppelin, from “Stairway to Heaven”

“They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made….”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, from “The Great Gatsby”

    I led off with that snippet from ‘Stairway’ for two reasons – one, a lifelong love of Led Zeppelin. Two, an opportunity for ironic amusement. Because the time to change the road we’re on slid into the rearview mirror along about the time the USA summarily refused all Russia’s demands for security guarantees, in exchange for resumption of the uneasy peace which had prevailed. Although the forces and pressures which set the current military operation in Ukraine in motion had been steadily increasing for some time, years – that was the moment the wheels of inevitability began to pick up speed, until the windows hum with their turning.

The time to change the road we’re on has come and gone, and the world is now committed to whatever will ensue. We’re in the back seat, while our lunatic ‘leaders’ jerk the wheel this way and that. Each day brings new astonishment to stoke our incredulity, from Germany’s Annalena Baerbock’s ringing declaration that Germany will not waver from supporting Ukraine no matter what its voters think, to Liz Truss’s promise that Britain’s support this coming year will at least equal, if not surpass that of the year currently bleeding out. The UK has committed £2.3bn so far this year, so figure on at least another £2bn in 2023. That’s in an environment where inflation has topped 10%, and the Truss government is planning to borrow about $120 Billion for spending on subsidies to cap British energy prices. The inmates have taken over the asylum – who does Truss imagine will be on the hook to repay a borrowed $120 Billion? The taxpayer, of course. For Germany’s part, in July of this year it recorded its first trade deficit since Helmut Kohl was in his penultimate term as Chancellor. An export-based economy, Germany had been posting the highest trade surpluses in the world; 8%, 9% of GDP, or €20 billion a month. German industry is being ruined before its electorate’s horrified eyes – it is the nature of business that when conditions are imposed upon it such that it can be neither productive or profitable, it relocates to where that potential is again within reach. The German Greens, like Baerbock and Robert Habeck, don’t give a fuck – they hate industry anyway; it uses too much energy and generates so much smoke and pollution that it’s hard to see the dear little windmills turning. Don’t forget, in the next day or two, Germany is expected to announce the nationalization of gas-import giant Uniper; this was supposed to cost the German taxpayer €19 Billion, but according to Oilprice.com the cost has ballooned to €30 Billion, added to the €100 Million Uniper is losing each and every day in its flailing efforts to replace Russian gas. Along with that bizarre action, Berlin also seized the local unit of ROSNEFT PJSC. In case you were unaware, ‘seized’ means ‘stole’. This invites retaliation and escalation from a country which has no worries at all where its gas is coming from, and has customers eager to buy the volumes Europe resolutely turns its stupid face from. Russia continues to realize record profits from energy sales even as the volumes it sells decline.

“Despite efforts to massively damage Russia’s economy in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s energy industry appears that it is continuing to boom, with Vladimir Putin’s state-owned gas company Gazprom posting record half-year profits on Tuesday thanks to soaring natural gas prices worldwide.

The company has since announced that it has totally halted gas deliveries to Europe via its major Nord Stream pipeline for what are ostensibly reasons to do with repairs, leaving bigwigs in Europe to sweat over whether the supply will ever be turned back on again.

According to a report by Der Spiegel, Gazprom posted a six-month profit of around 2.5 trillion rubles, roughly equivalent to $41 billion.

This is compared to the company’s previous record annual profit of 2.09 trillion rubles which it posted last year, a much smaller sum especially when the value of the now surging ruble is factored into the equation.”

Two years in a row of record profits, coincidentally two years of concerted NATO efforts to bring thehttps://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-e1b014177b887dcaa39a65ffe7ee70d5-c country to ruin, during which it has steadily descended to pretty much every dirty trick in the book. Russians are the same as people everywhere; they see it when people blindly follow prejudice and disinformation to foment hatred against them. Despite this, Putin remains steadily and constantly popular with those he leads. The Conversation has an explanation for that – Putin owns the news media, and it pumps out Putin-love propaganda day and night. As well, people are too scared Putin will come into their room at night and kill them – he does that a lot – to criticize the war.

“Alexander Hill, a professor of military history at the University of Calgary writes that the Russian leader has the support of pretty much all of the country’s news media (unsurprising, as he controls pretty much all of it). So ordinary citizens have been fed a non-stop diet of propaganda since before the invasion was launched. Meanwhile, thanks to oil and gas revenues, the economy is in reasonable shape still. And, Hill asserts, people may just be too scared to admit their opposition to the war.”

I am encouraged to think Americans actually believe Putin is an unstable tyrant who rules with an iron fist, at the very same time that his hold on the public is so sclerotic that criticism from addled dotard Alla Pugacheva is the final straw which will bring his rotten empire crashing down around his pointy ears. The author cheerfully asserts that Pugacheva remains as popular and influential as she ever was, even though she is 73 and her last album was released ten years ago, relying on go-to western-shoe-kisser Stas Belkovsky, and a Russian blogger who writes…Christ, I don’t know if I can get this out….COOKBOOKS! You all remember Stas Belkovsky; you’ll be happy to know he’s still at the National Strategy Institute. They were damned lucky to get him, if you ask me. Strategists like Belkovsky – who predicted in 2007 that Putin would leave politics that year because Russia was too dependent on agricultural imports, the economic outlook for average Russians was deteriorating and Putin wanted to go someplace to enjoy his stolen wealth – don’t grow on trees. Incredibly, he didn’t stop there; Putin, he said, would need a prestigious international apolitical position to insulate him from the fury of Russians when they realized the extent to which they had been duped, and forecast Putin might become head of the International Olympic Committee. Well, he is only 70; still plenty of time for a second career. And in 2021, Russia became a net exporter of agricultural products – way to light a fire under that incompetent bastard, Stas.

Anyway, sorry, I seem to be wandering further and further from the point. So, here we are, in the back seat of the Clown Car, part of the giddy parade of clown cars with our gibbering leaders at the wheel, bucketing down the Highway To Hell. We’ve departed from Comfortable Reality We Once Knew, and are bound for Things Will Never Again Be Like That. Roads have signposts to mark our progress, and I thought it might be fun to cede that role to Foreign Affairs magazine, thereby charting the progress of the military operation in Ukraine through their stories. I had a subscription to Foreign Affairs – I think I wanted to cite something they wrote that I couldn’t get anywhere else – and they still send me notices of their publications. Without further ado…

Let’s spot the Americans about a month, to give them the opportunity to view completed events. The military operation kicked off in late February – although Ukraine’s own operation began much earlier and the USA was surely part of the planning – and March looks like a good place to start. So let’s begin with Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage’s “What if Russia Loses?”. The thinking here is typical of the German Marshall Fund’s prodigies, and it is the employer of both authors. The pervasive ambience is one of smugness; no matter how it comes out, America will benefit, because it always falls to America to manage global affairs. Know why? Because only America is any good at it. Here’s a sample:

“Meanwhile, the sanctions that the United States and European countries have imposed on Russia will result in a separation of Russia from the global economy. Outside investment will fall away. Capital will be much harder to acquire. Technology transfers will dry up. Markets will close to Russia, possibly including the markets for its gas and oil, the sale of which has been crucial to Putin’s modernization of the Russian economy. Business and entrepreneurial talent will flow out of Russia. The long-term effect of these transitions is predictable. As the historian Paul Kennedy argued in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, such countries have a tendency to fight the wrong wars, to undertake financial burdens and thus to deprive themselves of economic growth—the lifeblood of a great power. In the improbable event that Russia could subdue Ukraine, it could also ruin itself in the process.”

In German Marshall Land, Ukraine will never, ever submit; instead, even if it is defeated militarily, it will become a wild and intractable acquisition, fighting a constant insurgency to throw off the yoke of Russian rule, because of Zelensky’s ‘pitch perfect’ stoking of Ukrainian nationalism.

As Putin argued compellingly just the other day in an impromptu press conference on the sidelines of the Head of States Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the SCO comprises around half of the global population, owns a quarter of the world’s GDP, and is made up of nations whose economies are growing significantly faster than those of the NATO club. But the NATO club is excluding itself from those economies, by choice and for ideology. The conflict centers loosely around Ukraine, but that’s really just a convenient pivot point – what it essentially boils down to is the west, with its big mouth, has maneuvered itself into a position where it cannot back down. It must grit its teeth and continue throwing money at Ukraine, in the hope that just a little more pressure will be the magic that will make Russia crack, but it’s not about a Ukrainian victory – it’s about western pride and the fact that losing would force it to rethink how it feels about itself, its self-appointed role as arbiter of global affairs, the beloved and admired dispenser of wisdom and regulation. Its hate has blinded it to its own behavior over the last couple of years. Meanwhile, I see news that Russia has announced a ‘partial mobilization’, calling up some Army reserves. Even after that, a revision of economic data was announced which forecast less shrinkage than national authorities had forecast, about a third of what the IMF predicted, and a return to growth in 2024. But if I were running a European country, I would have experienced a sinking feeling upon reading the second-to-last paragraph:

“The “redirection” of Russian oil and gas exports toward “neutral countries” will help to support economic activity by 2024-2025, the minister added.”

Europe has made a most uncomfortable bed, and must now lie in it – Russian supplies of cheap oil and gas are not coming back. Build some more windmills, Habeck, you unshaven dolt.

As to Ukraine mounting a fierce insurgency to ensure there is never anything like peace, things might be a bit different when the people no longer have to fear UAF and SBU reprisals. Kherson and some other regions have begun issuing Russian passports, and the Governor of Kherson has received one; there are plans to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation. Many video clips showing lines of people formed to apply have been taken down, and state organs like the BBC make sure to mock the whole process, suggesting only a handful of hardcore traitors have applied for Russian passports. When they won’t let you see for yourself, there’s usually a good reason.

Anyway, let’s move ahead, to April and Frederick Kagan’s “How Not to Invade a Nation”. I’m sure you all remember Fred Kagan; the Kagans – Frederick and Robert – are a big noise in neoconservative ideology, and Robert Kagan is married to Victoria Nuland, the famous Baker of the Maidan, whose generous buns birthed a new Ukraine. So to speak.

Frederick Kagan has himself not spent a day in uniform, although he was a professor of military history at the US Military Academy West Point. His petulant opining often reflects this background – I don’t want to suggest military history is easy, it’s not, but there is sort of not much strategic talent required to forecast the victor in a battle that wrapped up decades or even centuries ago. Spoiler alert – the Germans lose. At the same time, there is a temptation to believe you ‘see things’ others are incapable of grasping in maps which were furnished by your allies, known and demonstrated liars over and over, from a country led by an actor. Let’s take a look.

“The initial Russian objective was to seize Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities, remove the current Ukrainian government, and impose a new regime beholden to Moscow. Russia’s first and overwhelming objective, then, should have been taking the capital, and a sound campaign plan would have prioritized this aim and subordinated actions elsewhere. The collapse of the Ukrainian government and the destruction of the Ukrainian military forces defending it, after all, would likely have unhinged Ukrainian defenses elsewhere, making the conquest of eastern and southern Ukraine much easier.”

I don’t know why Putin persists in maintaining his own staff to generate military strategy and plans, when he could just outsource it to NATO – “Yo, yo; Freddie K, my man. Listen, I was thinking about laying a beating on Ukraine. Yeah, saucy, you said it. Anyway, how many people will I need, and what should my objectives be?” No matter how many times Russia says it does not want to overthrow and replace the Ukrainian government, there it is right up there on the tote; Objective Number One. I suspect that owes much to the fact that it did not happen, and can therefore be spun as a shocking failure, to a chorus of NATO snickering.

Next up, Dara Massicot with “The Russian Military’s People Problem”. It’s hard for Moscow to win, says Dara, while mistreating its soldiers. A rib-tickler replete with accounts of Russian soldiers stealing everything not nailed down from Ukrainian towns they’ve conquered. Toilets were not specifically mentioned, but the implication hangs heavy in the air that Russian soldiers are so poor that a stolen washing machine humped all the way back from Ukraine might become the focal gathering-point of their village, like some plateau-dwelling Amazon civilization which has never seen such technology.

“With discipline and morale faltering, Russian troops began looting what they could from Ukraine and shipping it back home—including washing machines, frying pans, televisions from Ukrainian schools, and even used mascara. They raided Ukrainian convenience stores for meat, cigarettes, and alcohol. When they ran out of food from markets, they stole it (along with livestock) directly from Ukrainian people. According to intercepted phone calls released by Ukraine’s intelligence services, some Russian soldiers have even eaten dogs.”

I don’t have to tell you where that comes from – yep, the old reliable ‘intercepted phone calls released by Ukraine’s intelligence services’. Hey, Sergey; yes, it’s me, Pavel. Oh, not much going on here, just hiding from the Ukrainian Army behind this big white thing with some sort of burners on top of it. Not a lot to eat here, but I have to say, the dogs are delicious! As if. Same with the accounts of Russian troops being issued field rations which expired ten years ago. At this point, if the Americans and NATO are going to insist on simply printing whatever Ukraine tells them, they are too stupid – not to mention assuming you are, as well – for it to merit further commentary.

We’re going to have to skip ahead a bit faster, because this is running longer than I planned, but the out-and-out foolishness in what is meant to be a prestigious and influential western defense publication has a sick fascination all its own, like driving past a messy road accident. Dara was up again in August; yes, not only was she not sacked for writing such fantasy crap, they even printed more of her stuff, every bit as mendacious.

“But although Russia has had six months to learn from these mistakes, it appears poised to once again commit its depleted forces to an untenable mission: annexing and holding Ukraine’s Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia Provinces, or oblasts. Holding this territory will require substantial amounts of manpower and armored equipment—particularly given that the regions have contested frontlines and that Russian forces in each experience organized partisan attacks. And Moscow has lost its most advanced equipment, for which it does not have equivalent replacements. The Russian armed forces have also suffered tens of thousands of casualties, including well-trained personnel, and its current strategy for replenishment—recruiting new soldiers from a motley mix of communities and armed groups—will not create a combat effective force. There remains, in short, a mismatch between the Kremlin’s goals for Ukraine and the forces it has to deliver them.”

There might be quite a lot to recently-discussed ‘projection theory’, which holds that whatever the problems are in Ukraine, they are promptly attributed to Russia in the interest of keeping Ukraine staggering along, by feeding its morale and whispering in its bloodied ear that it is soooooo close to winning. Russia, to the very best of my understanding, is nowhere near out of ‘its most advanced equipment’ – it doesn’t need to fire Khinzals at Ukraine all day long when artillery will do. Western magazines love to feature photos of burnt-out tanks with some civilian walking past, and caption it “Ukrainian woman walks past a burnt-out Russian tank”, but in reality Ukrainian tanks look identical to Russian tanks for many models because they were made by the same manufacturer, and all you have to do is photoshop a hazy ‘Z’ on the wreck – presto! a destroyed Russian tank. Nobody knows for certain what Russian casualties are, but according to the Russian defense ministry they are just under 6000, not ‘tens of thousands’, and it is Ukraine rather than Russia which is throwing untrained youths into the front lines; there is no realistic possibility that Russia’s casualties are ten times those of Ukraine, which is the way Zelensky tells it.

One of us is lying. I don’t think it’s me, but time will tell. Meanwhile, the same western analysts who told you Russian forces could roll right over Ukraine and be in Kiev in 72 hours now tell you Russia is screwing up six ways from Sunday and has to resort to putting the paperboy in a uniform and shoving him into the meat grinder.

I had initially planned to dissect a monthly article from Foreign Affairs, right up to the present. But that would result in a post about double its present length, and I don’t want to do that. The urgency I am trying to convey transcends simple mockery of American and NATO strutting and posturing; neither has won a war in decades, unless you count the stunning American victory over Grenada, and the US military was sent down the road in Afghanistan 20 years after it entered, having accomplished nothing significant but wrecking the place a little more than it already was, after spending $2 Trillion and losing nearly 2000 American forces in combat. To put that $2 Trillion in perspective, the 2020 GDP of Afghanistan was $20 Billion. Of course Grampy Biden portrayed the American departure as an awe-inspiring victory: nobody retreats like we do.

“The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States. They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve,” the President said in the statement. He said he will make an address about Afghanistan to the nation on Tuesday.

The idea that NATO has the chops to be analyzing anyone else’s military conflicts and pointing out where they are fucking up is preposterous. If you approach that position from the perspective that NATO picked an ally before the conflict started and now repeats everything it is told by that ally without ever checking any of its stories, when billions upon billions in donations depend on the perception that the ally is kicking Russian ass and some 70% of that ally’s GDP is still under the direct control of a predatory oligarchy which includes at least its former president, if not the present one, too…well, what’s more preposterous than that? Ludicrous? Would that do it?

The relationship between NATO and Russia has been, historically, like having a slave you love to beat. Your slave does useful work for you, but by God, when you wants to feel like the Massa, ain’t nothing like getting out the whip. And this accrues from the most grotesque and bloated sense of entitlement, delusion writ so large that a talking balloon like Ursula Von Der Leyen is worshipped as a visionary, I…I’m lost for words. How did this world get so stupid so fast?

Now NATO seems to think it is ready to go to war in Europe. Think so? What do you plan to use for gas? Do you have tanks and planes that run on bullshit? Hope you have some big-ass piles of reserve ammunition, too, because ammunition is made in a factory and your factories are shutting down left and right; they use too much energy, and energy is becoming unaffordable in Europe.

A winter of discontent, indeed.

Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

 

306 thoughts on “The Changing Face of Foreign Affairs: the West is in Serious Trouble.

  1. Here’s one for et Al and PO:

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202209/1276476.shtml?id=12

    China’s C-919 gained type certification end-September. At the moment almost 50% of China’s civil-aviation fleet is Boeing and an even larger proportion is western when Airbus is included. But COMAC already has orders for over 800 C-919’s from Chinese and other companies. At under $100 million per aircraft, it should be competitive internationally once it has built up a safety record.

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      1. Certainly in the Russian/Chinese market, which includes the only real aviation market with significant growth potential – and perhaps, in the years to come, the Asian market as well. The world is looking more and more like splitting into two spheres of influence with a minimum of interaction.

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  2. Moon of Alabama has a pretty good piece up on the annexation of the four former-Ukrainian regions by Moscow. But before that there was an excellent piece on ‘Prime Minister’ Liz Truss and her financial shenanigans, culminating in an assessment that we may see BoJo back sooner than anyone expected.

    “After two days the British central bank, the Bank of England, had to intervene to prevent a Lehman like crisis that would have killed many British pension funds. The bank, which had just increased its interest rate to tighten money supply, reverted to quantitative easing by buying gilts in the open market. This will further increase the already runaway inflation.

    The lower pound sterling will further increase energy costs. Many British homeowners have mortgages with flexible interest rates. They will get devastated by all of this.”

    Sound like the lead-in to a Robert Ludlum novel? It does, but it’s not.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2022/09/liz-truss-is-already-the-bad-prime-minister-everyone-expected-her-to-be.html#more

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    1. -delurk-
      Love this blog and have lurked for a long time! Mark, I couldn’t let your use of ‘annexation’ with respect to the perfectly legal ‘cession’, after democratic referenda, of the four ex-Ukrainian Oblasts to Russia pass without comment. Annexation is forced on a territory (eg the Anschluss in 1938)…

      Anyway keep up the great work everyone!

      QK

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      1. Yes, I gladly accept that criticism; I was reluctant to use the term myself, but at the moment could not think of one more appropriate. However, I will say that this addition to the territory of the Russian Federation has an entirely different character to it than the entirely legal and clearly voluntary secession of Crimea and subsequent return to Russia; Crimea was a gift to Ukraine which had its strategic dimension at the time, or so historians speculate – to inject about 2 million Russians into the Ukrainian population; Khrushchev could therefore argue a proprietary interest afterward, based on ethnicity. While the present-day population of eastern Ukraine remains mixed, I don’t believe ethnic Russians are a majority in either of the newly seceded regions. Also, the two countries are at war, formally recognized to be so, which was not the case when Crimea seceded, although there was a de facto conflict ongoing.

        In this instance, there is an element of necessity and the employment of taking territory as a lesson – Zelensky promised eternal military strife at the border and continuously implored NATO to help him take the fight to Russia itself, and Russia said (figuratively), “All right, then we’ll move the border up a little. Keep it up with your big mouth, and it’ll shift again”. Theoretically, if Zelensky keeps talking fight even though his army is steadily dwindling, and presenting Ukraine as a neverending threat to Russia, Russia will just take the entire state. But I believe Moscow is reluctant to go that far; would not have even taken this step but for Zelensky’s fist-shaking and fervent promises to always be a western-backed threat to Russia.

        Also, while ‘annexation’ has acquired a flavour of compulsion due to media characterization (during which the Anschluss is invariably invoked), by definition it implies no such thing.

        annex
        ə-nĕks′, ăn′ĕks″
        transitive verb

        1. To append or attach, especially to a larger or more significant thing.
        2. To incorporate (territory) into an existing political unit such as a country, state, county, or city.
        3. To add or attach, as an attribute, condition, or consequence.

        https://duckduckgo.com/?q=annex+definition&t=newext&atb=v259-1&ia=definition

        You could reasonably argue the last amplification, ‘to attach…as a consequence’ implies compulsion, and perhaps it does but it seems clear to me there are many circumstances under which ‘annexation’ is not necessarily a dirty word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary includes Texas as an example sentence: “The US annexed Texas in 1845”. I doubt many Americans would stipulate that America violently seized Texas for its own benefit – no, they freed the Mexican people from an evil dictator.

        And one more thing, just for interest and to stimulate further discussion (because usually by this point I have said “Welcome”; where are my manners? So, welcome!!). On the subject of referenda, someone is apparently lying in a swing-for-the-fences manner, because in the Wikipedia entry for Kherson as of yesterday, it mentioned that a referendum held in Kherson in (I believe) 2014 found that something like 90% voted to remain a part of Ukraine. In a display of how quickly information in Wikipedia can change, that’s gone now. But Russia claims pretty close to exactly that percentage chose by referendum to join Russia. Edited as of today. That’s not mentioned in the edit, but the contention that a Ukrainian-sponsored referendum determined overwhelming loyalty to Ukraine is simply gone.

        And yet one more thing contained in that edit, of which I was completely unaware – during the German occupation (August 1941-March 1944) the Kherson district leadership of the OUN was held by Bogdan Bandera, the not-very-famous-at-all brother of the very-famous Stepan Bandera. I didn’t even know he had a brother.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kherson

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        1. The German Anschluss WITH Austria was not an annexation OF Austria.

          German for “annexation” is Annexion .

          “Anschluss” means “connection”, a joining together, a coming together, a locking-in.

          Hitler believed that the Germans of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire should be united with the Germans of Greater Germany, the Bismarckian Second Reich 1871-1918 — ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!

          One folk, one Reich, one leader.

          Hitler thought the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a multi-ethnic shithole.

          Multi-ethnic it indeed was: its majority subjects were Slavs and Hungarians, as well as Italians, Romanians and Bosnia-Herzegovinans, Bosnia-Herzegovina having been really and truly annexed by the k u k in 1912 — the Austro-Hungarians just marched in.

          Hitler was pissed off all his young idle life before his becoming a WWI soldier in a Bavarian reserve regiment, over the fact that Bismarck had not included Austrian Germans in the 1871 Greater Germany.

          Bismarck didn’t do that, of course, because there were too many non-German Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire subject people and the whole ramshackle k u k was soon going to tumble down.

          Bismarck was right, He was a realist, not a work-shy, Bohemian (not his ethnicity but his attitude) racist ideologue and nationalistic dreamer.

          He was a bit of a dickhead an’ all.

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              1. And another thing — when the Austria Anschluss took place, only token German armed forces marched in to a rapturous welcome from Austrian citizens, something which, post-1945, is persistently hushed up, the official Austrian line being that Austria was the first victim of German aggressive expansion.

                It wasn’t! Czechoslovakia holds that dubious honour.

                The September 1938 annexation of the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia was like the Austrian Anschluss of March 1938: the ethnic German Sudetenland Germans wanted to be part of the Third Reich. And after that had happened, then the Germans simply annexed what is now the Czech Republic, where the Germans were certainly most unwelcome.

                The Slovaks, on the other hand, under the leadership of their Catholic Nazi prelate, joined in the Nazi fun, took a bite out of Poland after having attacked it with Germany in September 1939, and then went on to join in “Fall Barbarossa” on 22 June 1941.

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                1. Thanks Mark for the welcome.

                  The replies to my interjection are a major part of why I follow this blog! So many erudite responses… It’s heartwarming to find there are still people who enjoy history and a good discussion too.

                  I’m fairly sure that ‘annexation’ has a meaning under International Law that means the territory annexed is done so ‘unlawfully’ whereas the hoops Russia has leapt through specifically invalidates the ‘sovereignty’ section of that law in favour of the ‘self-determination’ section.

                  And hello ME. I always pay heed to your posts living in darkest Mordor as you do (even to the weather reports!). An honorary Orc is a great achievement IMO.

                  I’m not a great writer so I may disappear again for a while, but I’m still here.

                  My partner and I have lived with Border Collie’s for 36 years so a shout out to Colliemum as well – I hope your health improves.

                  QK

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  3. And the big soft-arse bully stamps its feet in frustration:

    01.10.2022 05:28
    The US Treasury has promised to punish “more aggressively” third-party countries for supporting Russia

    The United States is ready to apply sanctions “more aggressively” against third-party countries for supporting Russia. This is stated in a statement published by the US Treasury.

    It follows from it that the United States is ready to use sanctions to “persecute” individuals who provide support to those who are under US sanctions or support “sub-sanctioned activities”, RIA Novosti reports.

    The Ministry of Finance noted that restrictions on structures from third-party countries may follow transactions to provide material support to the Russian Armed Forces or the defence industry sector of the Russian Federation. Washington is also ready to impose sanctions for supporting referenda in the liberated territories and in the Donbass.

    The United States is now engaged in containing Russia, China and Iran, and other countries are next in line. This was announced yesterday by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the signing ceremony of agreements on the entry of new territories into Russia. “I believe that other countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as current partners and allies of the United States, are next in line”, the head of state said. According to him, if the United States does not like something, it also impose sanctions against its allies.

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  4. From Andrei’s Reminiscence of the Future, a piece reprinted with permission from Michael Hudson.

    https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/09/something-about-future.html

    The whole piece is absorbing reading. But one line made me stop reading and look up, while a funny crawling sensation went through my guts like when you almost step off the edge of a drop you didn’t see.

    “Russia has announced that the gas pressure is falling in three of the four pipelines, and the infusion of salt water will irreversibly corrode the pipes.”

    Unless I am reading that wrong, it means three of the four Nord Stream lines are destroyed, from one end to the other, because once salt water gets inside the pipe, corrosion progresses even after the ingress has been shut off. This is similar to the damage salt water does in braided electronic cables, which I saw firsthand in HMCS ALGONQUIN after she experienced a flood caused by incorrect ballasting and a valve that stuck open. Seawater wicks up the cable and the whole thing has to be replaced – once dried out, it will work after a fashion but performance is erratic and labour-intensive to correct.

    So – again proceeding as if that assumption is correct – even if some 11th-hour agreement was reached, it is simply not possible for Russia to supply Europe with any meaningful volumes of gas. So when the dozy Europeans realize America has them right where it wants them, it will already be too late and they are stuck with their grinning, drawling sugar-daddy for the foreseeable future. Or at least until they are bankrupt and all their moneymaking industries have moved to the USA. Although it is difficult to see how the new supercharged USA will maintain trade expansion since it is sanctioning the world’s biggest growth market and threatening to sanction others.

    Meanwhile, Russia has already moved to divert its sales elsewhere, and should be fine. But if the pipelines to Europe are gone, the European energy market is probably gone forever, because there would just not be any sense in rebuilding the lines. Although that will not do any real damage to Russia, at least not as long as energy prices remain high – and how could they not? – Europe is seriously screwed.

    However, there is a good chance I am wrong, as I frequently am, and remaining pressure in the pipes will hold back the water ingress so that only a section needs to be replaced, or perhaps caps can be inserted to limit the damage. Maybe there even are controllable shutoffs, it would certainly make sense to have them given the risk, which would isolate undamaged sections.

    All that notwithstanding, we have certainly stepped out into unknown territory. To the best of my knowledge, depriving an entire continent of its main source of energy by sabotage, and then taking over its supply for yourself, is a level of robber-baron predation which has never before been achieved. Is Europe actually going to bend over and take it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read (perhaps in a MoA comment) that the pipes are lined with a polymer (fancy name for plastic) thus the poster alleged seawater intrusion will not cause corrosion. However, it is unlikely that the lining was intended for such scenarios. Pinhole leaks and delamination are likely exposing random sections of the pipe interior to seawater. If the pipelines are restored to service, its longevity and reliability will be questionable.

      Was talking to a financial type a few days ago with the discussion shifting to world politics. He said that he heard Trump state the Europe was about to fold (probably Germany) on Ukraine. The finance guy added that the destruction of the pipelines was to keep Germany from having that option. The point here is that a lot of Americans (and presumably Europeans) understand what just occurred.

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    2. Regarding having valves to isolate sections of the pipeline, that would be surprising if such were installed. The pipes were built to have extremely high integrity with multiple layers of physical protection. Undoubtedly there were sensors to detect any weakening of the pressure integrity. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the pipelines are filled with seawater and are rapidly becoming scrap metal.

      I wonder about the one remaining, apparently intact, pipeline. Was this a botched effort? Did the charges fail to explode or did it explode but not damage the pipeline? I would imagine that the NATO investigation team will quickly determine that the types of explosives, the detonators, the placement were inclusive regarding the perpetrators but Russia was the most likely culprit. Oh, those NATO helicopters circling the area hours before the explosions were just on a routine training exercise.

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      1. Well, I certainly do not have to point out to you that isolation valves are common in systems such as firemains, where a breach can be bypassed by closing isolation valves and then rigging a temporary line to shift the flow external to the damaged section. But such isolation valves, obviously, are on the surface and easily accessible. An isolation valve on an undersea pipeline would have to be remotely operated, and I’m not sure how that would work. Also, such valves would have to be regularly tested for maintenance, and if one seized in the closed position it would cut off all flow in the line until repaired at the site. But if remote sensors are envisioned, it would only be a matter of scale to have remotely-operated isolation valves. And in this circumstance they would certainly have proved their worth – prompt operation might have saved miles of pipeline.

        I’m sure nobody with any real sense of reality believes Russia blew up its own pipelines, although it is less clear who did. That it was instigated by the United States is not much of a stretch; as many sources point out, the USA threatened the new lines and promised they would never go into operation, even as it promoted its own resources in increasingly-obnoxious and insistent fashion. You would barely need to consider the ‘Cui Bono?’ question before deciding the single greatest beneficiary of such an incident – by a very wide margin – is the United States. But opinions differ on whether they did it themselves or put a lackey like Poland up to it. I could easily see the latter possibility, maybe even with the stipulation that the guilty-in-reality Poland could blame the United States, which would be insulated enough to divert blame. Sikorski is such a ham that it’s easy to see him overplaying his role.

        Whatever the case, it was unambiguously an act of war, and it remains to be seen what the consequences will be, although they will be immediate for Europe – at least a 40 BcM annual gas deficit, and an aggressive would-be new supplier who could not in a million years make that up in even the medium term. Consequently, gas prices in the stratosphere for as far as the eye can see, and the rapid de-industrialization of Europe.

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        1. I should think this Nord Stream I and II sabotage operation had to have been planned with the connivance of several govts and intel agencies, or the factions within them, along with hiring perhaps saboteurs from private companies like Blackwater / Akademi / whatever to do the dirty deed. Responsibility for the sabotage ends up being diffused among so many agencies that no-one ends up being directly responsible. An investigation of the sabotage might turn up evidence pointing in particular directions but any legal action would end up taking years if not decades to examine all the available evidence and the conclusions reached, however well researched, may not please the plaintiffs and the defendants and their supporters.

          A couple of MoA readers (Suzan one of them, I think) referenced an article by Tom Luongo who discusses at length who might have been responsible. He cautions that particular govts should not be blamed and instead refers to factions within govts whose interests clash. Some of these factions benefit from the sabotage and others don’t. All we can do is find and collect the evidence, examine it and draw conclusions based on who benefits … but to try to draw direct connections between the evidence and the beneficiaries may be futile. In the meantime the beneficiaries are off drawing up more plans to distract their targets. What was it that the notorious Karl Rove supposedly said about creating reality and leaving it to historians to make head and tail of?

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    3. Blinken just said this state of affairs is a “wonderful opportunity” for the EU–sounding like a mafia boss who’s killed a local rival and assumed control of the dead guy’s turf. “Unknown territory” is right–but not, to the US, unwelcome territory, necessarily. They’ll use any modus operandi that works, no matter how ruthless, savage and inhuman, so long as it passes the plausible-deniability test. The only rule of the rules-based order is: don’t get caught. Look at their proxies in Latin America over the last 70-odd years–vicious juntas and right-wing paramilitary death-squads as far as the eye can see. I expect a future full of sabotage, assassinations, banned weapons, torture, you name it. It’s anything-goes time. They have their pretext. Putin is Satan. They don’t have to even pretend to fight fair anymore.

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      1. Well, Baerbock was selling the conflict months ago as a ‘wonderful opportunity’ for the western world to break free from the fetters of fossil fuels (alliteration, my soul, how lit’rary!) and leap ahead into the brave new world of green energy. There’s no use going again over the shortcomings of wind and solar power; in limited applications, both work and for boutique displays of environmental consciousness you can pretend to run your business on fresh air. But for energy-intensive applications like industry, there is no current substitute for fossil-fuel-driven power. Gas is infinitely cleaner for the environment than coal, and those are the current options.

        It is perhaps this ‘opportunity’ to which Blinken refers, but I doubt it – he’s a salesman for Team USA, and I expect he is referring to a plan to lock down the European energy market for Molecules Of Freedom, supplied by LNG tanker. Say – there’s an opportunity (speaking of opportunity) for Russia to get even a little; one sunken American LNG tanker would create a release of methane that would have the Thunbergs of the world twitching with their eyes rolled back in their heads. Wouldn’t be difficult – they have no underwater sensors and their hull wash and screw noise at economical speeds would make them deaf as a post from self-radiated noise anyway. Kaboom! Keep it in mind, Mr. Shoigu. Maybe a stick-on mine applied in their last refueling port before they make the trek across the rolling green. Just sayin’. It would certainly make the point that tanker-borne LNG is even more vulnerable to interdiction than a seabed pipeline.

        But strictly speaking, that’s not even necessary. I have said before that it would be good for Europe to have to depend on its transatlantic partner for energy shipments, and I stand by that. Europe is in for a winter of privation and austerity such as it never imagined when it was strutting and beating its chest and promising to do everything necessary to make sure Russia is ‘defeated on the battlefield’. Let America try to alleviate their distress, and fail. Trust me, it can’t compete with pipeline supplies for volume, and there’s no better way for Europe to learn that valuable lesson than to try it. I don’t feel sorry for them at all. Well, for individuals I know, perhaps, but as a collective of spineless vassals of Uncle Sam, enjoy having Jack Frost nipping at your nose.

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        1. I’d guess that THIS winter approaching is probably survivable for most European Governments. If domestic power is maintained. They already appear to have written off industries. If they struggle through this winter, then they will have to be able to explain their plans for securing supplies for the future.

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          1. Think so? Let’s take a ride on the roller coaster! Whee – gas prices down, 6 days ago; Yay!!

            https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/europe-gas-prices-fall-on-higher-norwegian-imports-strong-lng-flows

            Ohhhh – gas prices up, 4 days ago, Boo Hoo!!

            https://news.yahoo.com/european-gas-prices-jump-gazprom-123311391.html

            In the face of European industries relocating to the United States, which pushed Europe into this conflict at virtually zero risk to itself, what is Europe debating? More madcap plans to piss off Russia, of course!! The USA is boogieing in giddy delight at the unbelievable stupidity of the suicidal Europeans, as the ‘Group of Six Simpletons Led By One Self-Interested Puppetmaster’ continues to debate an oil-price cap on the basis of a ludicrous plan that ordering Russia to accept a cut-price offering for its oil which is barely above its production costs will result in Russia meekly continuing to supply oil to the global market, while not making any money. Yes, that is literally The Plan.

            The risks of this new form of economic warfare are immense to the global oil supply. If it fails or Russia retaliates by stopping the export of oil, then energy prices worldwide could skyrocket. U.S. consumers could feel the ramifications in another spike in gasoline prices.

            “I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know exactly what Russia will do here. There are a lot of different options,” Ben Harris, Treasury’s assistant secretary for economic policy, said during a recent Brookings Institution presentation. He added: “The price cap provides an opportunity for a bit of a release valve and the hope that these Russian barrels will find the market, but at a reduced price.”

            https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Allies-aim-for-risky-Russian-oil-price-cap-as-17481057.php

            Of course, this ‘new form of economic warfare’ they’re backslapping each other over might work, if the United States can bully the whole list of import nations like it can the fucking puddingheads useless enough to be its devoted allies. But at last look India and China were still happily slurping up cheap oil from Russia, leaving plenty of funds left over for development while Europe has nothing in the kitty for basic maintenance of public infrastructure, never mind development of new projects – better hope it doesn’t snow this winter, because there’s nothing extra in the till for snow removal.

            https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/commodities/russian-oil-sales-china-india-q2-us-eu-sanctions-crude-2022-9

            Russian oil income remains higher than it was last year because global prices have stayed above $100 for most of 2022.

            For example, Tatneft, a Russian oil producer, saw profits jump 52% year-over-year for the first half of 2022, the FT reports. And last month, Russia exported more oil compared to any previous August on record, according to the Institute of International Finance.

            The wages of sin is death; what is the wages of abysmal stupidity? Slow death? Jesus Christ, how can people who can presumably read be so stupid?

            I’ll close with a stellar example of that Darwin-awards level of self-extinction; our cute little Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly. Did I say nobody with a minimum of two firing neurons remaining actually believes Russia sabotaged its own pipelines? I spoke too soon.

            https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/other/we-re-not-naive-about-who-s-behind-sabotage-of-nord-stream-pipelines-joly-says/ar-AA12rZkU

            Nope, you’re right, Mel – ‘naive’ doesn’t quite cover it.

            Like

  5. Great rejoicing in the West about this.

    Cue the Finnish troll:

    Gazeta.Ru
    The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has announced the withdrawal of troops from Krasny Liman

    The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has announced the withdrawal of allied troops from the city of Krasny Liman “to more advantageous positions”.

    Despite the losses suffered, having a significant superiority in forces and means, the enemy brought in reserves and continued the offensive in this direction,” the Defense Ministry added.

    The Russian Defence Ministry clarified that more than 200 Kiev military, five tanks and nine infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed by massive fire strikes on the positions of the 66th and 93rd mechanized brigades of the Armed Forces of the Ukraine in the Krasnolimansky direction in a day.

    As the Public News Service had reported earlier, units of the Armed Forces of the Ukraine had entered Krasny Liman.

    source

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    1. Yes, Moon of Alabama also has several resident concern trolls who claim to be gobsmacked at this latest retreat – that no matter how pro-Russians try to gloss over it, we are now seeing that those who claimed the Russian Army was tired unto death and simply could not keep up the pace any longer were right, and now you will see the Ukrainian pressure-cooker start to boil. And good luck with that.

      I’m not over-keen on continued retreats, either; if for no other reason, because of the pogroms which will take place among helpless civilians once the Ukrainian Army moves into previous Russian positions. But there is not much defending forces can do if the Ukrainians decide to mass their troops at a particular point and accept any losses it takes in order to advance. For whatever reason – probably to distract Ukrainians from the reality that they are losing a big part of their country – Zelensky and his military advisors have decided Krasny Liman is a priority target.

      I am more and more of the opinion that Washington wants a full-on European war against Russia, and is merely using Ukraine to wear Russia down in the same manner as you would use an artillery barrage to soften up the area before sending your troops in. Whether or not that is the case, there is a growing audience that believes both sides – Russia and the west – are all-in on this one and that, as one site put it, this one is for all the marbles. If that’s true, the defeat of Ukraine will merely be a prelude to the next battle, which will be Russia against Europe.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Has PM Liz Truss Wrecked the UK Economy? Featuring Richard Wolff

    54,008 views Sep 29, 2022 Is British prime minister Liz Truss trashing the economy of her country? A tax cut for the rich and little for the poor. The pound sterling has crashed against the dollar and the euro.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has publicly rebuked the UK government, which is almost unheard of.

    Is the country spinning out of control financially?

    Like

    1. Liz Truss went into politics because she likes to be seen as being in charge, but was too stupid to have ever reached supervisory levels in any trade.

      View at Medium.com

      I especially liked the barb flung by Rob Merrick: “Liz Truss has spoken today to Ukraine’s President about the ongoing crisis. Zelensky promised to provide all the assistance he could.”

      Like

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