Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

IS UKRAINE RUSSIAN FOR DIEN BIEN PHU?

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Links and at least an attempt to deconstruct what’s going on in Ukraine today. The above is the current situation as of 23 April 2022. Note that Russia has withdrawn from its incursions in the north, but has consolidated its control of the south and east. They now control a land link to Crimea. And unofficially at least they may seek to control all of Southern Ukraine, linking them to Russian separatists in Transnistria, the gray area in the lower mid left off the map: Russian General Suggests Moscow Could Seize Ukraine’s Entire Coast, Create Link to Transnistria.

It’s been clear since the beginning that overt conquest of Ukraine wasn’t Russia’s aim, the modest scale of the invasion force, and the subsequent withdrawal from the north, pretty much confirms that. There’s still some Ukrainian troops holding out in Mariupol, but otherwise Russia has control of the whole south eastern Ukraine region apparently. Note that Crimea is connected to Russia by a bridge at the lower right, built since Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014. That Ukraine hasn’t attempted to knock this bridge out is another indication that the war is limited on both sides. In the western hysterical press, it’s Hitler invading Poland. In reality, it’s a stupid border war between two sovereign states. Let’s hope it stays that way.

It’s kind of fascinating watching the US narrative. Americans have been convinced that Putin is a monster and the entire world is lining up to oppose him. That’s the beauty of being the most propagandized people on Earth: Where’s the Truth? How the CIA Shapes the Minds of Americans. The rest of the world though, meh, NATO made this problem, it’s not our problem. You won’t hear much like this in the western press: Turkey Says Some NATO Members Want Longer Ukraine War to Hurt Russia. Or this of course: To Fight Russia, Europe’s Regimes Risk Impoverishment and Recession for Europe. And of course one will never hear this in the west:  Minsk II: Two Words You’ll Never Hear on Mainstream News

A few other links with perspective one won’t find on CNN: Against World War III This one is about comparisons to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the historical situation that is most comparable to the current situation in Ukraine. Then: If we don’t want nuclear war, why are we pushing for one? Good question. Well, it is terrible times, Covid, Global Warming, why not add some nuclear weapons in the mix. The Pentagon, not to mention many Americans, would love an excuse to use nuclear weapons. Myself, I think war with Russia is best to avoid: First Priority – Avoid US War With Russia. Then: Shades of Gray in the Russia-Ukraine War

Many Americans have internalized American exceptionalism, we’re the good guys so we can use force. And of course we always use war responsibly to minimize civilian casualties. As if killing fewer babies, but not deliberately targeting them, was a good thing. How does one argue with people who are horrified by the Russian war on Ukraine, but are indifferent at worst to America’s wars on Iraq, Syria, Serbia, and Libya, just for starters? Blogging is all I got for now. War as an instrument of national policy is the problem, not Putin.

Someone said it decades ago, paraphrasing: “If you’re going to be the world’s policeman, you’re gonna find out how many street corners the world has.” The ugly truth is that Ukraine is about as insignificant to US security as it could get. As is the South Pacific:  The misbegotten notion that the South Pacific is a US sphere of influence The truth is that even the Monroe Doctrine was imperial overstretch, Ukraine is not the hill our empire should die on. We’re so conditioned to thinking the USA is invincible and has it all under control, that anything other than a humiliating defeat for Putin is unimaginable. Ukraine could be the biggest miscalculation in American history.

We could go for it in Ukraine … and suffer a defeat that makes Dien Bien Phu look minor. Can’t happen of course. Snort. History is full of things that people thought “couldn’t happen.” That’s what makes history fun. And terrifying.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Situation in Ukraine around 23 April 2022. Credit: Viewsridge. Reproduced legally: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

Written by unitedcats

April 24, 2022 at 8:05 pm

THE RUSSO-UKRAINIAN WAR, DAY 38

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The Russo-Ukrainian War continues. I’m still trying to figure it out. To say that the current global situation is complicated and unstable would be an understatement. It doesn’t look like this war is going to end anytime soon. The last time there was open war between developed nations was the Falklands in 1982 or the Yom Kippur War in 1973. I guess you could call the Gulf Wars such, but they were both essentially walkovers. And on paper Russia vs Ukraine should be a walkover, the fact that it isn’t pretty much is a slam dunk that Russia’s war aims are limited, this isn’t Hitler rolling into Poland. When Hitler invaded Poland he committed essentially all of his military might. 

So what is Putin up to? According to the western press he’s a guy surrounded by lying incompetents, evil to boot, who has made a terrible mistake and is failing terribly in his war endeavors. IE the complete opposite of the brilliant strategist who has defended Russia and its friends for decades, outmaneuvering both Obama and Bush when confronted. Maybe, people change, but I’m guessing Putin is as clever as ever, and however desperate this war is, he has plans and alternate plans. Assuming your enemy is an idiot or incompetant has been the basis of countless military disasters in history, and if the Biden administration really thinks Putin is a fool, America is really fucked. 

When stuff like this is happening, ripple effects will spread out around the world. Especially since Putin almost certainly wouldn’t have invaded without China’s tacit support, and it’s more than likely carefully coordinated with them. In fact one of the very first thoughts I had about this, would China try to retake Taiwan while this is going on? I think whatever is going on is more subtle than that though, if I had to guess I think a subtle counter punch to America global hegemony might be part of their plan. Things like this Cambodia Signs Military Deal With China After US Pressure and this: Security agreement with China ‘initialled’ by both countries, Solomon Islands says | Asia Pacific | The Guardian. In fact the latter brushed off US objections by saying they intend to be friends to all, enemies to none. This may well have been a slap to America’s face, since that was what the founding fathers intended  … and Washington is the complete opposite of today. 

Even regionally, this is fascinating: South Ossetia Planning to Hold Referendum To Join Russia. South Ossetia is the homeland of people who have been loyal Russian allies for centuries. It was never a problem until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the borders drawn up by NATO made South Ossetia part of Georgia, which the Ossetians manifestly did not want to a part of. They fought two wars to remain independent from Georgia, the second one where Georgia attacked Russian peacekeeping troops … and got pounded by Russia in response. I suspect the vote will be overwhelming, if nothing else Russia does stand by its friends. The USA is already screaming that the “territorial integrity” of Georgia is sacred or some such, which is code for ‘only the USA gets to draw the world’s borders.’

Those days may be coming to an end.  The world is changing, the US is no longer the undisputed ruler of the world. It never really was except in many Americans fevered imagination. Most Americans don’t grasp that, and the Biden administration doesn’t appear to get it either: The Bush-Biden Doctrine – The American Conservative. Or this, perhaps Biden’s grasp of the situation Washington created really isn’t as nuanced as it needs to be: Insult Diplomacy: Does Biden’s Vilification of Putin Help? Day 37 and the war continues, who knows what tomorrow will bring. Whatever it does, I’ll blog on it.

Well, this morning brought this link: Rand Paul: Promoting negotiations over war doesn’t make you a Putin sympathizer – Responsible Statecraft. I’m normally underwhelmed by anything Rand Paul says, but here he’s the voice of reason. It’s appalling to me that so many people on the Democrats’ side are falling for “Putin is evil and more war is the solution.”  And yes, all my recent blog posts have been about the war in Ukraine. That’s because aside from Global Warming it’s the top story of the day. And the longer it goes on, the worse it will get.

Hope all are having a good weekend.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

April 2, 2022 at 9:31 pm

SLEEPWALKING INTO THE APOCALYPSE

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Washington has lived in a self created fantasy world for about 100 years now, and every time reality has threatened to overturn their narrative, they’ve pretty much doubled down on it. Sadly most of the American public has bought into the fantasy narrative, and cheers on whatever war is being currently touted by Washington as “The good fight.” There was a brief period during and immediately after the disastrous Vietnam War when some Americans became aware their government was lying, but the corporate takeover of America’s mainstream media had pretty much shut that down by 1980 or so. Phew, the wars continue and the corporate profits roll in. And now in Ukraine, possibly the most fantasy based war yet, where what we hear on the “news” is almost pure drivel.

Here is an excellent article that goes into a lot of historical detail about how we got into this mess: Washington Is Delirious With War Fever – For No Reason of Homeland Security. One of the most interesting parallels is the end of WW1 and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. In both cases the victors drew lines on the map with almost no consideration for the facts on the ground, instead they were drawn up for imperial ambitions, and often in the case of America, for domestic political concerns. Pretty much like all of European history, except in the past the winners they didn’t pretend they were the good guys creating a better world. World War Two was almost entirely because of the horrific conditions forced on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles after World War One; and right now it’s looking like World War Three might very well ultimately result from the horrible conditions placed on Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Another curious point the article makes is that the Ukrainian military has been all but destroyed, and it really hasn’t impeded the Russian advance much. One certainly wouldn’t know that from western media coverage, where the plucky Ukrainians are valiantly defending their independence from Russian aggression. Putin has announced he is limiting military activity around Kyiv and going to concentrate on the Donbass and Crimea. If I had to guess now, I’d say that unless Ukraine agrees to Russia’s demands, which are perfectly reasonable despite the hysterics emanating from Washington, Putin will simply occupy the Russian majority areas of Eastern Ukraine. That would give him the buffer he wanted and protect the Russians living in such areas. The last thing Putin wants is to occupy all of Ukraine and end up with an endless guerilla war.

Would Washington accept a defacto Russian victory? Not sure they would have much choice, sanctions aren’t going to stop Russia, in fact it can well be argued that the sanctions will cause far more harm to the world economy than Russia’s economy. Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face so to speak. You’d think by now that Americans would realize just how counterproductive sanctions really are. From Cuba, Iraq, Iran, to North Korea sanctions have done nothing but hurt the poor in those countries but make their people and governments more determined to resist US hegemony. Alas Washington isn’t worried about effectiveness, as long as the war profiteering continues forever, all good.

Meanwhile, in other world affairs, the news from Antarctica is extremely grim. Background: Antarctica is essentially composed of two ice sheets, the WAIS and the EAIS. Until now, the effects of global warming have largely been confined to the west, as the WAIS is considerably less stable than the EAIS. When the WAIS slides into the ocean, the world’s sea levels will rise about 3.3 m (11 ft). To say this would be a global catastrophe is an understatement. And to date there is no understanding of how likely this is to happen anytime soon, but scientists are gravely concerned that the collapse is already underway.

Until now the EAIS was thought to be much more stable than the WAIS, in fact it was considered by many to be effectively invulnerable to global warming. That may be about to change as East Antarctica has been hit by unprecedented warming, and this just happened: Ice Shelf Collapse in East Antarctica. Yes, an ice shelf on the edge of the EAIS has collapsed, catching scientists by complete surprise. While it seems unlikely that the EAIS will collapse anytime soon, if it does the results would be far worse than the collapse of the WAIS. If the EAIS collapses, it could raise global sea levels as much as 53.3 m (175 ft). IE, most of the world’s great cities, as well as many entire countries would be inundated.

So yes, while America argues about Oscar slapping, we are sleepwalking into nuclear war and catastrophic global warming. Woohoo! What a time to be alive. There is a silver lining though, maybe Biden is smarter than I imagine. Even a modest nuclear war would cause dramatic global cooling, a nuclear winter lasting years. No more global warming. Brilliant!

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

Image: Self explanatory. Public domain image found on Snappygoat, no attribution required.

Written by unitedcats

March 30, 2022 at 8:16 pm

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The Russo-Ukraine War is still at the top of the news of course. All over it actually, pretty much the only news story going right now. I haven’t been following the details because, well, they don’t matter. It’s not a freaking sports event with teams and scores, no one knows who is winning or what that would even mean. And of course the news, at least the mainstream news, is horrifically biased. It’s actually freaking weird living in a country where the news is almost entirely propaganda … but everyone believes they are being informed. I’ve heard it said Americans are the most propagandized people on Earth, I can believe it.

Still, some stories stick out. This for example: US Needs More Arms Factories, Says Chief Weapons-Buyer Nominee. Right, NATO is spending twenty times as much as Russia, arms spending is already one of the world’s top two industries … but it’s not enough. We need moar weapons. America, our infrastructure is falling apart, our schools and healthcare are the disgrace of the developed world, but by God we got weapons. And we will soon have more apparently: US May Invoke Defense Production Act to Fill Weapons Stocks Depleted by Ukraine Donations

More than one article on this shark feeding of weapons buying: Pentagon Scrambles to Restock Weapons Sent to Ukraine as Arm Makers Look to Cash In. And the Pentagon hasn’t missed a beat either: Pentagon Exploits Ukraine War to Sink Another Billion Into Failed Zumwalt-Class Destroyers. Yes, this war means even more money for a warship without a purpose. The most bloated military the world has ever known is getting more bloated as I type.  Coincidentally enough, the US is in no hurry for this war to end: US Signals It’s Discouraging Zelensky from Making Concessions to Russia That Could End the Fighting.

Yes, Putin is a war criminal, his invasion of Ukraine is monstrous. The Russo-Ukrainian War, like all wars, can’t really be defended in any way. However, and it’s a nuclear sized however, that’s where western coverage of the war ends. Scant mention of how hard the US worked for decades to bring this war about: How the West Sabotaged Ukraine. Very good article that really goes into the background of Ukraine and the history leading up to this mess. And of course no mention is ever made of how the US is doing their best to prolong this war, not bring it to an end. It takes two fools to have a fight, war means both governments have failed.  What a mess: From Moscow to Washington, the Barbarism and Hypocrisy Don’t Justify Each Other.

And while this war superficially resembles the US efforts to get Russia bogged down in Afghanistan, a hopeless war, Ukraine isn’t Afghanistan. The Russian’s loss in Afghanistan was no threat to world peace, it wasn’t going to cause a nuclear war. This war is far different, it’s not going to end with some miraculous Ukrainian victory, Russia defeated and chastised, with NATO victoriously deploying troops in newly joined NATO members Ukraine and Georgia. Why not? Because Putin has made it clear he will use nuclear weapons to prevent that. Having the US station potential first strike weapons minutes missile flight of Russia’s heartland is something Russia can’t allow. That most Americans don’t understand what a terrible risk prolonging this war is shows just how horribly our media is misleading us, and we may well pay a terrible price: Will Humans Be the Next ‘Freedom Fries’?,  Is Victory for Ukraine Worth Risking Nuclear War?, and Is official Washington flirting with world war?

On the plus side, if there can be said to be a plus side about nuclear war, I’m reasonably safe here in rural Oregon. Even Sarah Palin couldn’t see Russia from my place. Hell, there’s so few lights at night that I was able to see the Zodiacal Light for the first time in decades. This is a bright glow in the sky immediately after and near where the Sun sets or will rise in the sky. (Also called False Dawn if before sunrise.) It’s the Sun illuminating the disk of dust orbiting the Sun in the same plane that the planets orbit the Sun.

Perspective, a wonderful thing. Most people would rather have a narrative spoon fed to them, and there’s plenty to do the spooning. Last check, no new news. Russia hints they may pull back. I’m all for an end to the fight, then everyone can sit down and work things out.

The US will not do that. Enter the whirlwind. Have a safe weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A mall in Kyiv destroyed by a Russian cruise missile strike. Why did the Russians fire missiles at a mall? Very possibly because a Ukrainian TikTok user broadcast a video showing it being used as a Ukrainian military depot. Oops. He’s been arrested. If it’s true, means Russia is making good use of open source intelligence, IE monitoring open media for information of military value. Credit: Unknown Ukrainian source, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

March 25, 2022 at 8:06 pm

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE, THE DOGS OF WAR HAVE BEEN UNLEASHED

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I have been very depressed since Russia invaded Ukraine. This is the worst outbreak of war since the US invasion of Iraq nearly 20 years ago, and in some ways one of the worst outbreaks of my life. Modern industrialized nuclear powers going to war is always a scary thing, the sheer destructive power at their disposal is frightening even without counting nuclear weapons. Even if this war is limited to Russia and Ukraine the death toll is likely to be in the thousands at least with property damage in the billions. Already there are over 150,000 refugees, so a terrible humanitarian crisis is unfolding. And it could get so much worse, other nations could get involved, nuclear weapons could get used, a world war is not out of the question.

A lot to be depressed and angry about. Humans live on a planet that is a paradise, a planet that could easily provide a good life for everyone on Earth. Instead greed, corruption, and violence are rampant, with a tiny number of people hoarding staggering amounts of wealth while billions of people live in abject poverty. And the ultimate expression of the failure of humanity is war, organized violence intended to kill other human beings. I suspect war is one of the main reasons the aliens fly right by. And yet we’ve completely normalized it, glorified and fetishized it in many cases. There’s nothing glorious about war, if your country is involved in a war, there were almost always failures in leadership that led to it.

Russia invading Ukraine is a terrible crime. It’s a war crime, the greatest war crime in fact because all other war crimes flow from it. I hope cool heads prevail and the war ends as quickly as possible. I had no wish to see this in my day, just as I had no wish to experience the greatest pandemic in a century. And that’s far from over. Oh, and the Tonga volcano eruption in January was the greatest in decades. 2022 is starting off with a bang. My few remaining readers want my opinion, of which I have a few. Unpopular as they may be.

So yes, terrible thing, terrible war crime. And that’s as far as it gets in the US at least, no context, no history, nothing. Evil Russia invades freedom loving Ukraine, heroic Ukrainians defending valiantly against invading Russian hordes. True enough, but without history and context, it’s a facile sophomoric analysis. Russia hit first, end analysis, preschool playground ethics. See it on TikTok, put a sunflower on your Facebook profile. Americans can feel incredibly noble and heroic defending Ukraine, without the inconvenience of actual Americans being killed and wounded for life. And anyone who doesn’t get on the bandwagon is a Putin apologist if not an enemy of America.

Washington got the war it wanted, in the grand American tradition of fomenting wars going back to the Mexican American War in 1846, A Democratic war no less, while most Republican criticism of the Dems is paranoid marketing nonsense, the Dems have managed to start a lot of wars. Good for their sponsors, the arms and energy industries, the two most powerful industries on Earth. When the Soviet Union collapsed and effectively surrendered to NATO the US promised that NATO would not expand eastward. A promise that the US broke immediately and expanded NATO up to and inside the borders of the old Soviet Union. Putin made it very clear that Russia had had enough, they would not stand for Ukraine joining NATO and positioning missiles on the border with Russia’s heartland. No more than the US would allow Russian or Chinese missiles stationed in Mexico or Cuba. Hell, we almost fought a world war about Russian missiles in Cuba.

So yes, this war could have been completely avoided if Ukraine had just stayed neutral, the same way Finland and Austria coexisted peacefully next to the Soviet Union for decades. Tell that to most Americans though and hostility and denial will be the response, Putin is the next Hitler and must be stopped because he wants to rule the world. (highly recommended link.) A conclusion so absurd (not to mention projecting, since it’s America that is trying to rule the world) as to be laughable. Except of course there’s nothing laughable about this situation. Among other nonsense being tossed around western media is the Dems somehow making this war Trump’s fault. So the Dems have mastered the GOP’s playbook, anything bad that happens is the other party’s fault. At least during the Vietnam War debate was possible, and at least some Americans were calling for peace.

All that aside, what the hell is going to happen now? No idea. If I had to guess, I think eventually Ukraine will realize America isn’t going to send the cavalry to their rescue, and will sit down with Putin and work out an acceptable deal that preserves Ukraine’s independence while assuaging Russia’s security concerns. That’s an optimistic sentiment though. It could get much worse. The other possibility is that Biden’s plummeting approval rating will goad him to reckless military involvement, like trying to impose a no fly zone over Ukraine. Here is a good link about how this war could have been avoided, and tons of history and context ignored by the western media: The Eazy-Peazy Ukrainian Alternative – Partition.

Another good discussion about this war and America’s response to it: The History Behind the Russia-Ukraine War. I particularly liked:

As Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University and leader of the so-called “realist” school of foreign policy wrote earlier this week, “‘strategic empathy’ isn’t about agreeing with an adversary’s position. It is about understanding it so you can fashion an appropriate response.”

That’s all I try to do. Stay safe everyone. I’ll try to write more about this nightmare as the situation unfolds.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Meme found on Facebook, used without permission, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. In fact from what I can tell it’s not possible to copyright or trademark quotes by other people.)

Written by unitedcats

March 6, 2022 at 4:20 pm

UKRAINE CRISIS 2022 No. 4: A TALE OF FOUR TERRITORIES

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OK, we’ll see what we can crank out tonight. My definition of woke: If you understand that whether you watch CNN or FOX, you’re watching a product designed for a demographic, not news. And no, I’m not saying they are equal … except in that respect. So yes, no war in Ukraine yet. Biden and his allies continue to push the “Russia is about to invade card.” Since Russia isn’t about to invade anyone, things are calm in Russia. ‘This is just hysteria’: Russians unmoved by threat of Ukraine conflict | Russia | The Guardian. And some in Ukraine, including the president, aren’t happy with all the American saber rattling: Ukraine’s Zelensky Slams West for Creating ‘Panic’ After Biden Call. A war with Russia would be a terrible thing, still hoping cooler heads prevail. This is blog number four about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, January 2022. Links to the first three at the bottom.

Today, four territories. What does the gentle reader think? Taiwan is a part of China. Legally and historically, not debatable. It’s just been in revolt since 1948, supported by the US. China wants it back. The people of Taiwan would prefer not to be ruled by China, though they have never declared independence. To do so would likely result in war with China. What’s to be done?

The Golan Heights. The elephant in the room, the blatant conquest and annexation of another nation’s territory. And no, the people living there didn’t want to be living in Israel. Oddly enough it’s never mentioned. How come the west isn’t upset about this? (rhetorical question.)

Kosovo, the forgotten land. Nato waged war on Serbia to force them to allow the province of Kosovo to declare independence. Kosovo was the heart of Serbia historically.

Basically in all three cases, the US supports them because it supports the US global agenda. And I don’t actually have a problem with that, imperialism is a horrifying cultural disease, but it’s internally consistent. You do what you can to extend your control, be it legal or through popularity. What I think is insulting to the intelligence, is those who think America has some moral high ground here. Cue motivated reasoning by those who defend the (gasp!) Atlantic Empire.

Then we come to territory four, Crimea. Been a part of Russia for centuries, and was only attached to Ukraine politically in the 1950s. It didn’t want to be part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed, most of its people being either Russians, or Crimean Tatars, indigenous people who allied with Russia centuries ago. It’s complicated. Truth be told, like countless regions on Earth, they’d prefer independence if they could. Barring that, the people of Crimea would prefer to be in Russia, not Ukraine, thank you. But Biden is prepared to risk war with Russia over this?

Then there’s Kashmir, given to India by the British when they pulled out, despite the fact that the vast majority of the people living there would have preferred, and likely still would prefer to be part of Pakistan. And Tibet, whatever happened to “Free Tibet!?” And when are the Kurds (30 million plus of them) going to get their own country?

In any event, my current understanding of the 2022 Ukraine crisis: the Bioden administration has pulled out all the stops on saber rattling. I have no idea why, and I hope it doesn’t result in war.

Ukraine Crisis 2022 no 1: WAR SCARE: WILL RUSSIA INVADE UKRAINE? | Doug’s Darkworld

Ukraine Crisis 2022 no 2: UKRAINE CRISIS 2022 no 2: GOTCHA, THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR | Doug’s Darkworld

Ukraine Crisis 2022 no 3: UKRAINE CRISIS 2022 no. 3: WHAT IS RUSSIA SO AFRAID OF? | Doug’s Darkworld

Have a great weekend everyone. Change my mind.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Putin in a staged propaganda photo with Crimean Tatar leaders. Make of it what the gentle reader will.)

Written by unitedcats

January 29, 2022 at 9:11 pm

UKRAINE CRISIS 2022 no 2: GOTCHA, THE AMERICAN WAY OF WAR

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No major new developments in the 2022 Ukraine crisis today, but the west has refused Russia’s request that Ukraine not be allowed to join Nato. Granted the west promised Russia that Nato wouldn’t expand eastward if the Soviet Union agreed to pull out of Eastern Europe, but bad faith is America’s stock in trade. And Russia does indeed have reasonable security concerns. Points for later posts, today’s post, America’s long history of instigating wars while claiming self defense. Thus why I am very much afraid the Biden administration is trying to start a war, not stop one. To wit:

America has been the world’s most powerful country since around 1830, its economic power and thus ability to wage war unmatched by any rival, peaking in power around 1945 when America effectively ruled the world’s seas. In the years after World War Two even the rest of the world combined couldn’t challenge America’s globe spanning fleet. And while its status has declined some since, America is still the greatest military and economic power the world has ever known. None of this is open to argument, though of course some will, see above meme.

So it follows naturally that no country in its right mind would attack the US, directly at least. This presented a problem. America loves to portray itself as the world’s beacon of democracy, freedom, human rights, etc. So if the government wanted to wage war on someone, just right out attacking them would contradict the “America is great” schtick. People, even many Americans, would notice. Instead America has a long standing policy of provoking hostilities, however minor, and using that to justify going to war.

Starting in 1846. A large part of Mexico, Texas was in open revolt against Mexico, having declared independence and defeated the Mexican forces sent to quell the rebellion. So the border between Mexico and Texas wasn’t even defined, with competing claims on each side. So the US marched an army into the contested territory, territory that was still claimed (and in fact legally in the possession of Mexico,) hoping that the Mexican military would respond. They did, and the US used a border dispute to justify a huge war of conquest. It’s right there in Wikipedia even. “Polk sent U.S. Army troops to the area; he also sent a diplomatic mission to Mexico to try to negotiate the sale of territory. U.S. troops’ presence was designed to lure Mexico into starting the conflict, …

In the US Civil War, the war started because Confederate troops shelled Fort Sumter. What is never mentioned is that Lincoln was trying to start a war. And in fact he had ordered Fort Sumter reinforced in the hopes the Confederates would attack the ships, thus giving him a casus beli. They did him one better, shelling the fort itself. Whatever one thinks of the Civil War, Lincoln wanted war and goaded the rebels into firing the first shot. And also again, a very minor border incident was used to launch the largest war ever in the western hemisphere.

OK, Pearl Harbor, clearly the nefarious Japanese launched a dastardly surprise attack on unsuspecting America! Not even close. Roosevelt was very much trying to provoke a war with Japan. He had embargoed their oil, sent them a badly worded ultimatum, and refused to talk with them. Let’s see, the US wouldn’t talk to them, so they had no assurance that even if they complied with Roosevelt’s ultimatum that the oil would come back on.  And without oil, both their economy and their ability to even defend themselves would collapse within a year. They chose war to get access to oil, the only real choice Roosevelt left them.

And, the Tonkin Gulf incident. A single machine gun bullet hit an American destroyer, and President Johnson used it as an excuse to launch one of the bloodiest wars in 20th century history, a war that killed millions of people and accomplished nothing. And what was that American destroyer doing when a bullet hit it? It was sailing along North Vietnam’s coast, in and out of North Vietnamese water. American destroyer’s did that routinely, and often south Vietnamese gunboats would follow afterwards and raid North Vietnam. And the last time, North Vietnamese patrol boats rushed out to intercept the destroyer, the destroyer opened fire, and the patrol boats returned fire. There was a second incident that night, but there’s no evidence it was anything other than spooked sailors shooting at shadows. And on the basis of these American provoked incidents, Congress gave Johnson the blanket authority  to ultimately drop more bombs than were dropped by all of the participants in all of world War Two.

Gulf War One. Saddam without warning invades and conquers innocent Kuwait, and is massing to attack Saudi Arabia! He’s about to be the next Hitler! That’s the American propaganda version, the reality is far different. Prior to Iraq’s attack, Kuwait had done everything in its considerable economic power to  hurt Iraq. They had called in all the loans they made to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War, they were pumping and selling oil way above their OPEC quotas thus depressing the price of oil. And most egregious of all, there was a neutral zone between Iraq and Kuwait where the border was in dispute, they were slant drilling into the neutral zone and stealing its oil. And as the icing on the cake, they utterly refused to even talk to Iraq. I mean just before the war Saudi Arabia had convinced Kuwait to sit down to talks. The Saudi and Iraqi delegations entered and sat down. The Kuwaiti delegation entered, sat down, got up, walked out. The Saudis were furious, and Saddam unleashed his tanks. It’s basically inconceivable that Kuwait did this without absolute certainty that the USA would intervene. And the pics Bush said he had showing Iraq was massing tanks on the Saudi border. They were just another lie.

Gulf War Two. That one’s pretty much an open book. After 9/11 the Bush administration blamed Iraq for 9/11 (despite zero evidence,) and made up the idea that Saddam secretly had WMDs and was going to attack the US if we didn’t attack him first. No WMDs were found, in fact it was found that Saddam indeed had complied with the terms the US had forced on him after Gulf War One.

So there, six major historical examples of the US instigating and provoking wars and lying about it. And this is why I am terrified that it’s happening again, the US for whatever reason has decided to provoke a war with Russia. And I think this is a terrible idea. Will Putin rise to the bait and do something the US could use as a casus beli? I hope not, Putin has everything to lose and nothing to gain from such. Still, Putin will react with force if certain lines are crossed, as he did in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014. We’ll see. There has been at least some recognition in the west that Putin’s security concerns are valid, and talks are scheduled. Tomorrow I’ll blog about the Russian perspective.

Bonus link: NATO Bears Some Responsibility for the Ukraine Crisis.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 26, 2022 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Biden, History, Putin, Russia, Ukraine

PRETENDING

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A big part of the reason I’ve had trouble focusing is that it’s been a terrible year for me, quite easily the worst of my life. Started with my father dying in February. And over the course of the year I lost three of my oldest best friends. One to a cult, one to a bottle, and one betrayed me. More on them later. Add two failed romances, one of which got me briefly questioning my sanity, and it was a fun fun year. Oh, I’ve driven about 16000 Kilometres (10000) since July as well, I have stayed in a lot of motel rooms. In the background, Covid continues to rage due to the sterling efforts of the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. And of course Trump and the evangelical GOP continue their efforts to finish what they started January 6th, installing Trump in the White House in defiance of the law of the land. This is a good take on that mess:  America witnessed a coup attempt. Now it’s sleep-walking into another disaster | Rebecca Solnit

On the plus side, lots of reflection about myself, my friends, and the world. So lots to blog about. And there is a certain amount of thread weaving it all together, leading to changes in how I think about a lot of things. And a good place to start is my stay in New York state, about 30 miles north of the city itself. I stayed there with an old friend from High School. First quality time I’d spent with him in decades, we’d always kept in touch and met every few years for a meal or something, so we had a lot of catching up to do. The thing of relevance though is the sad part. Yes dear reader, I spent three months watching my old friend … pretend to be sober. I mean that quite literally, he is physically dependent on alcohol and can only go 6-8 hours without a drink. So he’s drunk all day every day.

Made me wonder though, I mean there probably are a lot of people pretending things that just aren’t so. I guess it is a coping strategy, if not a very effective one. Which brings me to the other old friend, whom I’ve lost to a cult. Him and tens of millions of others are pretending Trump won the 2020 election. These people actually believe that Trump was cheated out of the win, and Biden’s rule is an unconstitutional tyranny. Huge numbers of them, I’ve met some, for them it’s a fact that Trump won the election but fraud stole it from him. And like 9/11 Truthers, the fact that there is zero evidence for their belief doesn’t phase them a bit.

And then there’s the God delusion. It’s reached epic narcissistic heights. IE the Evangelical right has absolutely convinced themselves that their invisible superfriend is real, and world events are seen through that lens. Like this guy for example: Shane Vaughn Declares That COVID-19 Is ‘The Forerunner of the Antichrist’. He says: God sent us Covid because too many Americans were hating on Trump. <blinks> Imagine, thinking there is an all powerful supernatural being who is going to unleash a global plague killing millions because some Americans don’t like Mr Trump. No need to imagine, Mr Vaugn thinks so and no doubt countless of his followers do so as well.

So yes, the common theme here is … the freaking country has gone insane. As above, so below. I’m not the only one who feels this way: Is America experiencing mass psychosis? It makes sense, a culture is an organism, and cultures have gone mad in human history. And not just delusional, stupid as well. Unable to debate in any meaningful way. Unable to argue or make a point.

Cue the Lauren Boebert quote above. Where to even start, there’s just layers of stupid here. More than half the country is reasonably tolerant, progressive, liberal. We don’t care who gets married as long as they are consenting adults, and we’ll respect whatever gender you are. Obama was elected twice, the Dems keep winning the popular vote. So no, some 20% minority isn’t the progressive cause, we’re the majority actually. And we’re not trying to indoctrinate anyone, we just want to live in a pluralistic nation where everyone’s beliefs are respected. You know, freedom, the thing the right claims to support. I tried to talk about this quote to a Boebert fan, and she couldn’t make an argument to save her life. Just kept throwing out irrelevant right wing talking points and calling my replies stupid.

And no one is claiming history is wrong, we just want it to be more inclusive. Like I said, there’s so much wrong with the quote I could write a book. And Mrs Boebert thinks she’s making sense, and so do her followers. Wow, just wow. And being a reasonably self aware human, I have to wonder, maybe the world hasn’t gone mad, maybe it’s me? I’ll have to think on this. Stay safe gentle reader, especially midwestern Americans, sounds like a hell of a storm is rolling in.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Lauren Boebert tweet. Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, pretty sure her twitter posts are public record.)

Written by unitedcats

December 15, 2021 at 10:34 pm

9/11 WEEK

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the USA. My thoughts and observations in some particular order. To say the attacks were a big deal at the time would be an understatement, in terms of immediate impact they were easily the biggest events of my life. In living memory they were rivalled by the Kennedy assasination and Pearl Harbor, but those were both before my time. I was living in rural Oregon, watching “The FBI Files” the morning of the attacks. My housemate wandered through the room, noticed some text scrolling at the bottom of the screen, gasped, and flipped to a news channel. By then both towers had collapsed, and it was a shocking sight. Very briefly I thought maybe this was some War of the Worlds thing, a movie trailer that somehow had been mistaken for the real thing; but I quickly realized it was in fact real, and that thousands of people were dead and dying. A freaking nightmare.

I had strange dreams earlier. First I was walking down a long country road, a city skyline in the distance. There was a ragged barbed wire fence with weeds alongside the road. Beyond the fence was an expanse of dust in a pile about six foot high. Tan dust, maybe fine sand. I remember thinking in my dream it might be fun to slide down the side of the pile, and I was looking for a gap in the fence to get to it. Then the dream morphed, and I was huddling in the corner of a basement with some frightened people, we were sheltering from an explosion of some sort. Then I woke up, went in and started my day like any other. Until my friend changed the TV channel. Was there any connection between my dream and the events that were even then unfolding on the other side of the continent?

Beats me. I wasn’t as affected by 9/11 as some people, no one I knew worked in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon. It was still shocking as hell. So many people dead and dying. And the jumpers, oh my God, I can’t imagine. Turns out a good friend of mine was in Manhattan that day. Hell of a thing. He said after the first plane hit people just thought it was some terrible accident and were trying to get a better view. So he was watching when the second plane hit, and then of course people knew it wasn’t just some terrible accident. He’s upset by it all to this day, and can’t watch any of today’s coverage. I can’t imagine. At some point later I read some transcripts of 9/11 calls made from the towers before they fell. I wish I hadn’t.

So it was awful, and I feel for those who lost friends, family, and loved ones. God rest the souls of those who died that awful September morn, God grant solace to the survivors. In retrospect there was at least one item of good news that day, and I’ll end this post on that note. In the middle of the second tower to be struck was the largest tenant of the towers, they occupied 20 floors. When the first tower was struck the on site manager told everyone to just get out and go home as quickly as they could. Not out of any prescience, he just knew that no work would be done that day, and he wanted his employees to get clear of the towers before throngs of emergency vehicles and rubberneckers jammed all the nearby roads, etc.. Shortly afterward the second plane struck right in the middle of those 20 floors … and they were all empty. Every single employee survived. And I bet that manager hasn’t had to pay for a drink when out with coworkers since.

More posts about 9/11 will follow, they will be (or are) linked below. Hope all are having a good, if somber, weekend.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The first tower just as it started to collapse. Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

September 11, 2021 at 4:28 pm

AFTER THE DELUGE

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Well, I didn’t expect flash flood and tornado(!) warnings in NYC while visiting, I thought tornado warnings were an Iowa thing. No tornadoes here in NYC fortunately, but yes, they did have one in New Jersey. Yeesh. I spent much of my childhood in New Jersey, I sure don’t remember tornadoes ever being an issue. Above is a normally busy freeway near where I am staying in NYC. The car in the center was trapped by flooding in front and behind. Behind two partially submerged cars are visible. These folks got to walk home through pouring rain, heaviest rain ever recorded in NYC. More than 40 people dead in the US northeast, hell of a storm.

This of course was the tail end of Hurricane Ida. Killed more people in the northeast than it did on the gulf coast. More people living here, less prepared for this kind of extreme weather event, though that’s just my speculation. What’s not speculation is the huge increase in extreme weather events over the past fifty years: Climate and weather related disasters surge five-fold over 50 years, but early warnings save lives – WMO report. What would save even more lives is if nations took serious measures to combat global warming, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. International cooperation for international good is only a fantasy no matter what governments say.

Covid really made this clear. There’s a great article in the New York Times about it. Since it’s paywalled, I’ll sum it up. Basically it points out that to date there has essentially been no international cooperation in fighting a global pandemic, and essentially every nation including the world’s richest nations only took care of their own, leaving the rest of the world to fend for itself. Well, almost none. The one thing they did do was cooperate to make sure the international finance system kept running smoothly, so while most people on Earth suffered from Covid one way tother, the rich continued to get richer.

In other words, when Reagan once speculated that humanity would pull together in the face of an alien threat, he was laughably naive. Covid is most definitely a global alien threat, and humanity is most definitely not pulling together to face it. Even crazier, the cost to do so would be trivial and easily affordable, and the cost of not doing so will be staggering. This bodes very ill for future global threats, in fact by letting Covid run rampant, there’s a good chance it will mutate into a much more terrible threat. Fun times. Read the article if one can: Opinion | What if the Coronavirus Crisis Was Just a Trial Run?

And the global media isn’t helping. Most of it’s not really even journalism anymore, just clickbait infotainment. When not actually repackaged government/corporate propaganda. Critical thinking not welcome. In this vein, I came across an article on the Today site. I’m not familiar with the site, but superficially it appears to be a “legitimate” news and information site, not some sort of Onion knock-off. They are reviewing a documentary from the History Channel: History Channel doc reveals key discovery in Bermuda Triangle. First of all, the idea that a legitimate news site would take the History Channel seriously is bad enough, but here’s the first two paragraphs:

“It’s a mystery that has endured for 76 years in a fabled area that many sailors and aviators have long said contains supernatural forces we don’t understand.

On Dec. 5, 1945, 14 airmen flying five World War II torpedo bombers called Avengers took off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale on a routine training mission over the Bermuda Triangle and were never seen again. The U.S. Navy even sent a Martin Mariner search plane out at the time to find the missing aircraft, and that plane and it’s crew of 13 also disappeared.”

Um, how to say this, all bollocks? The only mystery is why anyone thinks there’s a mystery. Millions of people including countless aviators and sailors travel through the Bermuda Triangle every single day without giving it a second thought, let alone invoking supernatural hogwash. The disappearance of Flight 19 was well investigated and well understood at the time, and only became a “mystery” in the 1960s when an author invented “The Bermuda Triangle” and simply made up all sorts of details about Flight 19 to make its loss seem spooky. Ending up with a blatant lie, the Martin Mariner caught fire, crashed, and exploded shortly after takeoff. The Martin Mariner’s not-so-affectionate nickname was “The Flying Gas Tank,” so catching fire and exploding was a not uncommon occurrence. No cause of the fire and explosion was ever determined, but this was 1945 and the black box wouldn’t be invented for another decade. There’s no reason to assume anything supernatural occurred, it was just another plane crash in an era where planes were nowhere near as safe as they are today.

End rant. Well, I’ve got more links, but I guess that’s enough for now. I also had an epiphany a week ago that completely changed my worldview. Still processing it all, but I suppose it’s worth writing about at some point. It caused me to lose all desire to drink for one thing, which in and of itself is a very strange feeling. Life, you grow and then you die. Though frankly the growth part seems optional for many people. C’est la vie. Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Freeway near NYC. Credit and Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.)

Written by unitedcats

September 3, 2021 at 4:25 pm