Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

leave a comment »

This map helps to understand Ukraine and the divisions that have wracked it since the nation was created after the collapse of the Soviet Union. What became Ukraine was created administratively by the Soviet Union, so its borders didn’t really matter while the Soviet Union existed. Once the Soviet Union collapsed problems began almost immediately: Russia-Ukraine Tensions Flared Early in the Post-Soviet Era | The National Interest.

And now the latest and worse problem, the Russo-Ukraine War, continues, exactly as Washington wants it to: The War Party’s Dictates on the Ukraine War Weapons continue to pour into Ukraine. Where they go then, who knows.  The US Has No Idea Where Its Ukrainian Military Aid Is Going. Ukraine was already a horribly corrupt country before the war, there’s zero reason to think it’s any less corrupt now. In Hollywood fantasy movies people band together in the face of adversity. In reality the grifters and war profiteers go nuts in hard times. The Russo-Ukrainian War is basically a US proxy war against Russia now:  The Second Level Geopolitical War in Ukraine Takes Over

So that’s the plan and news in the west, the world is united against Russian aggression, and with western help the Ukrainians will win the war. NATO expands, Russia is weakened and vanquished, NATO expands, democracy and freedom all around. There are endless problems with this narrative. Despite the “news” in the west, the world is most definitely not siding with the US. Only 30 of the world’s 195 countries have agreed to the US sanctions against Russia. Most of the world more or less thinks “NATO made this mess, it’s not our problem.” On Ukraine, the World Majority Sides With Russia Over US.

I’m really starting to think US foreign policy is basically on auto-pilot. Cold War forever, the response to the Russian invasion seems entirely predictable. NATO is going to conquer the world in the name of good, no need for planning or nuance, just keep moving forward, like this: Nine reasons why NATO should close the door to Sweden and Finland. Excellent reasons not to, but NATO may indeed. Our foreign policy seems determined to meet the desires of the Pentagon and arms industry, playing lip service to democracy and freedom.

The problem is it’s not 1970 anymore, the US is no longer the undisputed economic and military leader of the planet. Hell, even then there were limits to our military as Vietnam showed. Granted to this day we clearly refuse to understand that: “Nothing is Impossible” Finds It Impossible to Tell the Truth About Vietnam. IE, Washington is living in a fantasy world it has sold to its people and itself. Pretty sure if one’s game strategy is completely predictable and at odds with reality, the advantage is to the other team. Works that way in both football and war.

I’m not the only one thinking on these lines. What if Russia Wins Its War Against Ukraine. The one thing that is 100% predictable about wars: they rarely come to predictable ends. And the bigger the players, the less predictable such wars become. Russia is still a big player. And Putin is the smartest leader to hit the world’s stage in a long time, he ran circles around both Bush and Obama. And despite western fantasies, his popularity is rising. Maybe the war is going exactly as Putin planned? It’s possible, people who can’t see that are like the people who don’t understand Trump’s appeal. People are like they are, not as how we want them to be.

So, a couple of other links on US autopilot hypocrisy: Iran Talks Stall: Does America Even Believe in Diplomacy Anymore? Trump canceled a perfectly good agreement, just resign it. Or this: “After spending months lecturing the world on the rights of states to set their own foreign policy course and to decide on their own alliances, the US is once again reminding small states that it assumes that their freedom to make those decisions is contingent on Washington’s approval.” Breaking the Habit of Bullying Small States. Hypocrisy especially illustrated: When the US does it, it’s sanctions. Russia does it, it’s gas blackmail. If you wanted an example of how the mainstream media is just an American propaganda outlet, this is it: Russia begins ‘gas blackmail’ halting supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, governments told.

The Russo-Ukrainian War is not good vs evil, the Manichean heresy, it’s just a stupid border war between major industrialized states, one nuclear armed. With some outside world powers doing their best to prolong the conflict. Lots of evil to go around, very little good. We’re through the looking glass here folks, the most terrible major power war since the US invasion of Iraq. And it turned out far differently, and far worse, than almost any of the pundits predicted. Granted the US invasion of Iraq was based on fantasy while Putin’s attack was much more reality based.

Still, this war is another great example of, like almost all wars, “It takes two fools to have a fight.”

PS: Next post: Soft liars vs hard liars.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Etho-linguistic Map of Ukraine. Credit: User:Yerevantsi/Maps, published legally under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Written by unitedcats

May 1, 2022 at 8:06 pm

IS UKRAINE RUSSIAN FOR DIEN BIEN PHU?

with one comment

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

IF BEING FOR PEACE AND DIPLOMACY MAKES ME “OFF BASE,” I AM PROUDLY OFF BASE

leave a comment »

The flagship of the Russian Back Sea fleet has been sunk by Ukrainian missiles. Largest warship to be sunk since World War Two. A symbolic and morale victory for Ukraine. Another major event in the war of our times. Symbolic because it’s not going to change the course of the war anyhow, it’s a land war, not a sea war. Also one day closer to the day when all large warships are obsolete. The latter is just my opinion though.

So the terrible war continues. Want a blog where Putin is the devil, Zelensky a hero, and the war is a struggle between good and evil? Move right along, the western mainstream media has it covered. As a Russian visitor to the US once said: “In the Soviet Union we had to shoot reporters to get them to repeat government propaganda. In America, they do it voluntarily!” And hey, for the sake of argument I’m happy to grant that Putin is a monster whose attack on Ukraine was unjust and unprovoked. That doesn’t change the fact that both Zelensky and the USA are doing what they can to prolong the war, not end it. Even if the Russo-Ukraine wasn’t a US proxy war to start with, it most certainly is one now.

Like this: Blinken Tells European Allies He Believes Ukraine War Will Last Through 2022. Or this: Zelensky pushes for more weapons to fight Russia. I mean, yeah, sure, you’re at war and need weapons? But if you don’t get more weapons there will be a bloodbath? More war and weapons is how one creates bloodbaths, not prevents them. Why not try to end the war through diplomacy? Oh right, Putin is a madman so war is the only option. Depicting Putin as ‘Madman’ Eliminates Need for Diplomacy. That appears to be where most pro-war people I talk to are coming from, they’ve really bought the endless demonization of Putin and Russia they’ve been steeped in for decades. War, what is it good for? Profits: New Reporting Details Corporate Media’s War Industry Pundits.

Aside from the just plain horror of it all, there are peoples all over the world fighting for their independence, sometimes for decades, often against regimes far more brutal than Putin’s Russia. Where is their endless news coverage, billions of dollars of aid and weapons, and crippling sanctions against their oppressors? If America was so about freedom and self-determination, Ukraine would be just one of many causes Biden was championing. Instead, the vast majority of Americans remain utterly in the dark. Palestine, Kurdistan, Tibet, Rohingya, and numerous others. But yeah, Ukraine is where the US has chosen to fight for freedom. Snort.

The more I understand how the world works, the more I understand why putative aliens would fly right by, locking their doors as they pass. A planet with over five thousand ethnic groups, ruled by fewer than 200 armed gangs. Poverty, injustice,  and wealth inequality are rampant. Armaments and fossil fuels are the planet’s top two industries. Humans are killing each other by the millions every year, and fossil fuels are literally destroying the planet’s climate and killing millions more by way of air pollution. Yeah, even Kirk and Spock would leave this one alone.

And I guess I’m gonna keep blogging about the war. The Russo-Ukrainian War is the Vietnam War of my time, except this time our designated enemy has nuclear weapons. No genocide yet. And I’m hoping this might eventually revive the peace movement in the US. Granted I think corporate control of the media and government propaganda make that unlikely, but a man can dream. I was accused by a reader of being “off base” for suggesting that peace and diplomacy are laudable paths. That makes me proudly off base. There’s people risking death and jail fighting for peace in Ukraine and Russia. I guess I can risk losing friends by blogging for peace in America.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The recently sunk Russian cruiser Moskva. Credit: Mil.ru. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.)

Written by unitedcats

April 18, 2022 at 1:32 pm

UNPOPULAR OPINION: THE WAR IS OVER, PUTIN WON

leave a comment »

I try to stay moored in reality. IE what is, is, reality doesn’t care about anyone’s opinions. It’s going to do whatever happens no matter how that meshes with anyone’s opinion of how the world works. And when huge numbers of people think their opinion is reality, problems arise. And in contemporary America, we have problems along these lines. On both left and right.

This limits my reading audience considerably these days. I digress. Back on point, I think the Russo-Ukrainian War is effectively over. Putin won, nothing next but a lot of whining in the American west. And maybe destroying the world economy. Wait, what? It’s fairly simple. Putin accomplished his goals: The Ukrainian military has been decimated, Russia is free to annex Donbas, NATO and Biden proved spineless, Ukraine won’t be joining NATO anytime soon. Russia is essentially sanction proof. In fact, Biden’s efforts to sanction Russia will hurt the west worse than Russia. Yeah, preventing Russian athletes from running in the Boston Marathon will really hurt Putin.

Nuclear war avoided, nothing left but endless op ed twaddle trying to frame the war as an American victory. Nope. The high water mark off the American Empire, the Russian Red Line held, we’re reduced to threatening China with the same sanctions that failed to achieve victory in Ukraine. No idea what happens now, but expect it’s going to be weird. The horrifying contradictions of the American Century will become increasingly unhinged. Good times.

I do understand the “mainstream” view: ‘The US leads the free world, rule of law, freedom, arsenal of democracy. NATO expanding meant more people joining the free world. And for the last decade at least Russia and China have become more aggressive. China is militarizing the South China Sea, expanding its influence around the globe with the New Silk Road initiative. Russia even more so with its aggression in Georgia and Crimea. And now an all out invasion of Ukraine, a horrifying humanitarian crisis, Putin must be reined in at least.’

All true. Well, some of it is true. Sort of.  A good illustration that lies of omission are the greatest lies. IE there’s no context to any of it, and what it leaves out is legion. Here’s a good article that talks about the media bias and double standards in the west. Just for starters, the utterly illegal US invasion of Iraq resulted in a million deaths, and that’s the conservative estimate: From Korea to Libya: On the Future of Ukraine and NATO’s Never-Ending Wars. And then this, Mr. Paul always offers a different perspective. CIA Admits Feeding Americans False Info About Ukraine.

I do hope it’s over soon. Kremlin Says Russia’s War in Ukraine Could End ‘In Foreseeable Future’. Though it seems clear the Biden administration is in no hurry: Is the Biden Administration Trying to Prolong the Ukraine War? The media is saying now there will be a big fight in Donbas. I wouldn’t hold my breath, I don’t think the Ukrainian army has the offensive capability to drive Russia out. And the Russians have air superiority, almost always fatal for an attacking force.

PS: Zelensky going around the world to give speeches to adoring (mostly) parliaments is kinda weird. As in, other than stroking his ego, what is the point? Weapons and money aren’t going to win the war for him, and at this point it seems clear no one is going to directly challenge a nuclear armed Russia. Shouldn’t he be trying to end the war, not prolong it? Like I said earlier, this might get increasingly weird.

Next, a blog about my cat. Maybe. Stay safe and warm everyone, we’re getting a week of unseasonable snow, rain, and hail here in Eastern Oregon.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image. Flag of the Donetsk People’s Republic. They voted overwhelmingly to declare independence from Ukraine, though how fair that vote was, and was it after a million or more ethnic Ukrainians fled? Still, no different than some of the horrors perpetrated in the Balkans in the nineties, that passed completely under the radar in the west. Credit: Владимир Ђорђевић “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so:

I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.”)

Written by unitedcats

April 12, 2022 at 7:48 pm

“DO I NOT DESTROY MY ENEMIES WHEN I MAKE THEM MY FRIENDS?”

leave a comment »

Well, the war in Ukraine is getting worse, wars tend to do that, one of the reasons to try and avoid them … and one of the reasons to try and end them once they begin. There aren’t really any winners in wars, they represent the ultimate fail of human relations, both international and domestic. Humans deliberately killing other humans in organized violence, pretty much doesn’t get worse than that. Putin is a war criminal, and like all war criminals, it would be good if he was brought to justice someday. The chances seem remote though, fantasies of the Russian people rising up and deposing him are just that, fantasies. Hey though, the people in Washington pushing such twaddle are the same people who fantasized that Iraqis would welcome our invading armies with flowers and democracy would flow across the Middle East.

I have no problem condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. What I have a problem with is how the west is portraying it. This war is  portrayed by Washington as a struggle between democracy and autocracy, good vs evil, freedom vs Hitler. Sigh. The world is not black and white, and pretending it leads nowhere good. Granted the US has been doing this a long time now, at least since World War Two, but it’s depressing that so many have completely accepted this destructive fantasy for fact. There’s literally nothing noble about this war, or any war really, the US did everything they could to encourage it, and even the government of Ukraine played a role:  Zelensky Rejected German Security Proposal Before Russian Invasion. Apparently he rejected Putin’s last not-unreasonable offer … because he didn’t trust Putin to adhere to it. The logic there escapes me, if a guy threatens war if you don’t do X, why not do X if you were going to do it anyways?

And now a day or two after I wrote the above, there are allegations of Russian atrocities in areas they withdrew from. Accepted as fact instantly in the west. I have doubts, it’s not a slam dunk. Doesn’t matter, Biden and Zellensky seem determined to push for endless war. As far as I can tell Americans think they are winning, I think it’s much more complicated than that. I think Biden is utterly determined not to let anything happen that could be spun as any sort of Russian victory, my way or the highway has been American “foreign policy” for a century. It’s a trap though, locking ourselves into a black and white worldview limits our options terribly. And I think Putin knows that.

I don’t know what’s going on. No one ever does when wars start, but that doesn’t apparently stop them from thinking they do. Maybe it was insanity and evil on Putin’s part, and he’s losing badly. Maybe Putin and China are playing Biden like a fiddle and it’s all going according to their plan. The truth lies somewhere in the middle I suspect, somewhere no one is expecting. My guess is this war will be a watershed moment, things will never be the same afterwards. Especially for those who die, are maimed, and their loved ones. In that sense, like all wars, it’s a nightmare.

I hope for peace, but alas I think 75 years of Americans being raised to think Russians are evil runs too deep. And a hundred years of America insisting on unconditional surrender. Lincoln spent the entire war trying to make peace with the South, that’s his quote in the title. Biden is about as far from Lincoln as it gets. We’re doomed.

Next up, a post about a cat. The war is too depressing.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Found on Facebook, attribution in image, claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Maybe it’s satire, if not it’s darkly ironic.)

Written by unitedcats

April 6, 2022 at 9:16 pm

THE RUSSO-UKRAINIAN WAR, DAY 38

leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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

DEFENDING GREEDOM

with one comment

The Russo-Ukraine War continues, and while the US is still egging on the participants by refusing to negotiate and otherwise pouring gasoline on the fire, at least Ukraine is talking to Russia. And of course Congress is doing what it does best, giving even more money to the military. The beauty of American foreign policy, the answer is always more money for the military, more war, more weapons spread around. Congress Calling for Larger Military Budget Amid Russia’s Ukraine Invasion. The Pentagon, the fossil fuel industry and the weapons industry make out like the bandits they are, the American people pay the price even while waving their flags and falling for Washington’s sophomoric Cold War propaganda.

So yes, I’m a cynic. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is evil, but it’s just one act in a world of evil perpetrated by the west. NATO Set Precedents for Russia’s Attack on Ukraine. And I’m just trying to understand it all and see how it fits into history. Though granted that’s tricky since it’s 1914 or 1939, who the hell knows how it will end up. Putin’s attack is a Hail Mary, he obviously can’t prevail in a war with NATO. the US showed zero interest in negotiation (they never do,) so he could watch Ukraine join NATO and have American first strike weapons deployed on his border. This of course he couldn’t allow. Oddly enough Putin’s rationale for invading Ukraine was the same as the US purported rationale for invading Iraq, Putin wanted to avoid a WMD threat to Russia. Except in his case the WMDs are real and the threat to deploy them on Russia’s border was real.

To summarize, I don’t know what’s going to happen now, no one does, that’s the nature of war. Anyone who says they do is a liar or a fool, it is safe to predict that whatever happens, it’s going to be ugly. This is the nature of war. I reject the western propaganda version of the war, it’s not some epic struggle between good and evil. It’s just the latest in the endless imperial wars the US has fomented since 1945. Gonna provide great blog fodder, but sadly so much death and sorrow and horror makes that irrelevant. As always I hope cooler heads prevail, there are diplomatic ways out of this mess.

A bunch more interesting links I’ve come across for those who want outside-the-mainstream- media viewpoints: Weapons of Financial Destruction and the New World Disorder – The American Conservative,When History Begins – Russia, Ukraine, and the US, The War Party Wins Even When We Lose, Whataboutism and Russia’s Attack on Ukraine, and Russia’s Economic Blackout Will Change the World – The Atlantic.

In other domestic international news: Pence tells Israeli paper: We will tear up any new nuclear deal with Iran – Responsible Statecraft. Fascinating on so many levels to see a nation whose out-of-control domestic politics is destroying their ability to conduct actual diplomacy. Which ultimately can’t end well. Basically this is the GOP declaring they are the sole ruler of America, and what others do when they are in office doesn’t count.

By the same token the GOP is going nuts trying to enforce their religious ideas on those who aren’t subscribers to the evangelical world view. I finally realized why the religious right froths at the mouth about anything that contradicts their Christian heteronormative world view. It’s because they have made their evangelical Christian opinions about gender and sexuality part of their identity. So anything that contradicts that, like transgender or gay people, is a threat to their world view. Thus laws to preserve their world view and force it on those who disagree: Want to Understand the Red-State Onslaught? Look at Florida.

Lastly, Covid. A million dead Americans at least. One of the top four mass deaths in US history. Yet it’s fading from public consciousness unlike 9/11 or numerous other lesser mass death events. Interesting, nu? How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal?

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

March 11, 2022 at 10:19 pm

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE, THE DOGS OF WAR HAVE BEEN UNLEASHED

leave a comment »

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