Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

DEFENDING GREEDOM

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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

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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

THE RUSSIA UKRAINE THING JUST GETS WEIRDER: Russia plans fake video as pretext for Ukraine invasion, US claims

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That is indeed the latest in Washington’s ongoing war with Russia thing: Russia plans ‘very graphic’ fake video as pretext for Ukraine invasion, US claims. I have no idea what to make of this, but I certainly wouldn’t take it at face value. Sowing confusion for sure, and oddly enough does validate the one pretext Russia would use as a pretext to intervene. Millions of Russian citizens live in eastern Ukraine, and Russia will act to protect Russians and Russia’s allies. Oh, the Russian purported plot was supported by no evidence. As a certain TV tool guy would say, “Evidence, smevidence.”

Diplomatically, some progress is being made. US Makes Putin Offer He Can Hardly Refuse. All Russia wants is assurances that first strike weapons won’t be deployed on its borders, and Putin might just get that. Ukraine for its part is pushing back at Washington’s war rhetoric, either genuinely, or at the secret behest of the US. If the US is really up to something, who knows who the players involved are. Biden’s goal would be to get Putin to do something that can be claimed as Russian aggression. So Biden can be the hero, the Pentagon and arms industry keep the bucks rolling in, and the Dems’ sagging popularity can be boosted in time for the fall elections.

So now if something ugly does happen in eastern Ukraine, Putin won’t know if it’s real, or being faked by some party? And if he reacts to something faked, he’s walked into a trap. And if he ignores it, he loses face. IDK, I wouldn’t want to play chess with Putin, I hope Biden knows what he’s doing. Seems like a lot of risk with no clear goals, Putin isn’t going to abandon Crimea or fail to defend the Russians in eastern Ukraine, and he might well if pushed … do something decisive and unexpected. It’s what he does. Putin outwitted both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Speaking of US propaganda: Havana Syndrome could be caused by pulsed energy devices – US expert report. US Intelligence agencies commissioned a report … which came to the exact conclusion they wanted. In the Vietnam era when the US still had a free press, the veracity of this report would have at least been questioned. Now it’s presented as news, and is fact in many America’s minds no doubt. Why do I dismiss this as propaganda? Um, the source isn’t reliable. No evidence has been presented. Science has no trouble with classic mass hysteria being the cause. And lastly, our chosen enemies have utterly no reason to do this and excellent reasons not to.

The latter is the one overlooked by the FCM (fawning corporate media.) In fact the American media pretty much presents the world as a cartoon where the US is the good guy and our designated enemies hate us for our freedoms, or are just plain evil and out to get us. No nuance, understanding, context, history required. It must drive actual historians and foreign policy experts nuts. Excepting the ones who are cashing in on it. The number of people who make their living by being talking heads about the US for selected demographics must be one of the world’s greatest economies. That one of these bloviating talking heads actually managed to get himself elected POTUS really is a sign of just how dysfunctional the whole mess is. The greatest empire the world has ever seen, devoted entirely to making its rich ever richer. But boy, what a ride.

So 3 February 1959, The Day The Music Died. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and their pilot, Roger Peterson died when their plane crashed shortly after take off. God rest their souls. My very first memories date to this time, though I don’t recall this of course. People still visit the crash site regularly to this day, odd how stuff rises to the top like this. No real connection to Ukraine and Russia, aside from this crash was almost certainly because the pilot wasn’t qualified to fly this plane during the conditions of the flight. I fear Biden thinking he can take Putin could be a similar mistake. I hope I’m wrong.

Tonight’s epiphany: the US never stopped fighting World War Two, and the decades since then were and are just a continuation of it. Blog to follow.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The wreckage at the 1959 Buddy Holly crash site. Public domain under US copyright law. This wreck is why authorities started withholding names after deaths until the families were notified. Buddy Holly’s wife heard about his death on the radio, and likely had a miscarriage as a result.)

Written by unitedcats

February 3, 2022 at 9:42 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. 3: WHAT IS RUSSIA SO AFRAID OF?

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Well, talks between Russia and the US continue. Though the US and its close allies are still yelling about imminent Russian invasion. Um, the government of Ukraine has been backpedaling furiously though. They aren’t happy that the US and others pulled their embassy staff out, and in fact thanked the other EU members for not adding to the hysteria. Because, the idea that the Russians will be bombing Kyiv is, well, ridiculous. Anyhow, this covers this: What’s Actually Happening in Ukraine? And here’s an interesting article claiming that Biden is doing this simply because his approval ratings have been plummeting. It also covers more of the history of Crimea: Sleepy Joe’s Wimpy Tail Wags the Dog of War. So day three of my Ukraine watch, no war yet.

One of the things so annoying about the media reporting on this subject is how Russia’s point of view is either ignored, or worse, completely misrepresented. Putin is regularly cast as the aggressor, often to absurd lengths like claiming he wants to reconquer eastern Europe and restore the Soviet Union. Um, that’s codswaddle, the Soviet occupation of eastern europe was a gigantic fail, no one in their right mind would want to resurrect it. And Putin is one smart mofo, not an idiot.

There’s two reasons Russia is edgy about its European borders. The first is the history of the 20th century. Russia was twice invaded by western armies. The first being World War One and its aftermath, during which various western militaries, including America, sent troops into Russia during their civil war. And then. Just a generation later, a resurgent Germany invaded again. That was the big one, what the Nazis did in Russia was one of history’s greatest crimes, at least 25 million Russians lost their lives, major cities were laid waste. And you better believe Russia is covered with war memorials, this is still a living memory in Russia. And the reason they kept Germany divided and eastern europe occupied after the war, they weren’t about to let a resurgent Germany rise and do it again.

Eventually though, the cost of occupation bankrupted the Soviet Union and it collapsed in 1989. At this point Nato was obsolete and should have been disbanded. And in fact in return for withdrawing from eastern europe, the US promised Russia that Nato would not expand eastward. Instead, Nato aggressively expanded eastward up to and inside the borders of the old Soviet Union. And doing everything in its power to isolate and weaken Russia. Including deploying “missile defense” systems. Um, missile defense systems are first strike weapons, there’s nothing defensive about them. So Putin has every reason to suspect American motives in eastern europe, think how America would react if a Russian backed coup seized power in Mexico, allied with Russia, and stationed Russian troops on the border of the US. The hysteria in Washington would be audible from the ISS. Why is it so hard to understand that Russia might have legitimate concerns about Nato in Ukraine?

Because America as well as being the most powerful empire the world has ever known is also one of the most narcissistic empires the world has ever known. That however is a topic for a future blog. One last note for today, Jan 27th is the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. How human beings can do that to other humans is horrifying beyond belief. It starts with people deciding that “other” people aren’t human, for whatever reason be it religion, skin color, gender, etc. In any event, never forget: Haunting colourised pictures of Nazi concentration camp victims reveal the full horror of Holocaust | Daily Mail Online.

Bonus link: The US-Russia Commitment Gap: And Its Tragic Potential.

Copyright © 2022 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

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

Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2022 at 9:00 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

WAR SCARE: WILL RUSSIA INVADE UKRAINE?

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So for the past week Biden (and some of his Nato allies, particularly Britain) have been sounding the alarm about Russian troop movements in Russia, claiming that Russia is about to invade Ukraine, and promising massive economic retaliation when Russia does attack. I’m very alarmed by this development, I think the US is up to something, and a confrontation with Russia of some sort is a very real possibility. There’s a lot to unpack, but the mainstream media’s coverage of this might as well be written by the Pentagon and the White House. So as long as this crisis is unfolding, I’m going to post daily. To help me understand if nothing else, but hopefully I have a few readers left. Head’s up, these won’t be the most polished posts, more like coverage of a live event.

Where to start. The media coverage. It’s terrible, why I call in the FCM, fawning corporate media. They simply are regurgitating Cold War propaganda repurposed for the current situation. It would take a book to write a balanced history of The Cold War, and maybe some posts will touch on that, for today’s launch, I’m just going to cover some salient points. And point one, the media and government are lying. Talk to your friends and relatives who remember Vietnam or Saddam’s WMDs if the gentle reader wasn’t around for those.

OK, is Russia going to invade Ukraine? No. Godot Likely To Arrive Before Russia Invades Ukraine. Russia will defend its own vigorously, but they have no interest in conquest. And no, despite endless western propaganda, Crimea never wanted to be part of Ukraine in the first place: Does Crimea want to become part of Russia? Arguably they were never legally part of Ukraine to begin with. The reason the US and the west were/are so eager to keep Crimea out of Russia is that the loss of Sevastopal as a military base would have crippled the Russian navy.

So if Russia isn’t going to attack, what’s going to happen? Well, possibly Ukraine decides it has a green light to attack its two breakaway eastern provinces: Eastern Ukraine Separatists Warn Kyiv Preparing Offensive in Donbas. What is Donbas? Well, after the US backed anti-Russia coup in Ukraine in 2014, two eastern Ukraine provinces (where the population were majority ethnic Russians) declared autonomy, fully supported by Russia. While there has been sporadic fighting, the situation is mostly stable. If Ukraine decided to settle the situation militarily, like Georgia foolishly tried in Ossetia in 2008, Russia will respond.

Sort of the core of the whole thing is that Russia’s legitimate security concerns have been ignored, and that’s what this is really all about. Russia doesn’t want Nato troops and equipment on Russia’s borders any more than Americans would want Russian first strike weapons deployed in Mexico. Especially if Mexico was claiming California as its own. Here’s a good article: Are Neocons Worried at Pace of US-Russia Talks?

I don’t have any answers. I don’t really know what’s going on, but world geopolitics is a cutthroat business. I do know that “Putin is Hitler and the US and Nato are the hapless good guy victims” is, just, silly. Oh, and while we’re at it, sanctions are war. I hope the gentle reader checks out the links I posted before commenting. I hope the situation resolves itself without a war, but I fear that’s what Biden is up to. We’ll see.

In my personal life, don’t ask. I had a bad fall, face plant, I’m still homeless, but things are looking up. Have a great 2022 everyone, I’ll daily blog if I can. This is far more exciting than Trump vs Biden, it will be fun.

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 25, 2022 at 9:23 pm

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

AMERICA, THE FALL OF

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I’m sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Personal issues on the one hand, and crushing dismay about the current situation in America on the other. For the third time this century I am filled with foreboding for what the future holds for America, knowing that we are headed down a dark path that’s not going to end well. The first was the aftermath of 9/11 and the launching of the “War on Terror.” I knew it was to unleash global violence and terror on a hitherto unknown scale. I tried to drink my way through the invasion of Iraq, but soon realised there wasn’t enough liquor in the world to make the horror go away. And it hasn’t, hundreds of thousands of dead innocents, millions displaced, entire nations turned into failed states and terrorist havens, trillions of dollars wasted, hundreds of thousands of American vets dead or scarred physically/mentally … and it just keeps going on like some cosmic juggernaut of blood and failure.

And then came Covid. I knew it was going to change everything, especially in a US that was especially ill prepared to deal with a global pandemic. And it certainly has, hundreds of thousands dead, our society torn apart, and the rich richer than ever. Third or fourth worst mass death event in US history. Almost everyone has lost someone they knew, I lost my dad. With no end in sight, though half of Americans are still in denial about it. And/or actively resisting efforts to fight it. Which leads us to number three …

Number three is the fact that maybe a third of the country has lost their minds and is living in a fantasy world completely detached from reality. Granted this has been happening more and more since the news turned into infotainment in the 1980s, but since Trump got elected the trend has significantly increased. QAnon is a great example. It’s been four years since the mysterious “Q” began posting messages about the imminent arrest of Hillary Clinton. No arrest yet, but the Q theories are more believed than ever: QAnon Is 4 Years Old and Believers Are Still Waiting for Hillary Clinton’s Arrest. And since Trump’s election defeat in November, it’s gotten vastly worse. His followers actually believe that the election was stolen from him and that the Biden administration is wielding some sort of Satanic/communist/socialist tyranny in America.

So I fear our near 250 year experiment in constitutional democracy is nearing its end. Trump is no Julius Caesar except in his own mind, but like Caesar, he is determined to bring down the republic and install himself as emperor. I think he will succeed, and it’s not going to be pretty. The GOP is doing everything in its power to get rid of the officials that opposed Trump’s baseless stolen election claims, disenfranchising poor and minority voters, and passing laws allowing GOP controlled state legislatures to overturn election results they don’t like. So I think the GOP will regain control of congress in 2022, and Trump will be back in the White House, effectively as president for life, in 2024.

I have no idea what is actually going to transpire, but the GOP isn’t playing by the rules anymore. (No one ever does once they convince themselves God is on their side.) Or more accurately, they are going to make up their own rules and play by them. No one knew exactly what the rise of Hitler was going to lead to, but plenty of people guessed it wasn’t going to end well. I’m starting to think that partitioning the country may well happen. Widespread violence is not out of the question. When Trump came to power there were already comparisons to Hitler. At the time I said they were overblown, Hitler was having his political enemies rounded up and killed the first year he was in office. That didn’t happen in 2017, Trump’s first year in office. It may well happen in 2025, Trump’s second first year in office. Some are certainly calling for it.

Future historians will no doubt spend centuries analyzing the rise and fall of the greatest empire ever known. And no doubt ultimately they will never know for sure. Hundreds of competing theories about the fall of the Roman Empire still exist, over 1500 years of debate has yet to come to a consensus. Well, other than “It was a lot of things.” The next few years are going to be a sheetshow in America. I hope I’m wrong. Stay safe everyone.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A section of “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. Credit: Heironymous Bosch c1450-1516)

Written by unitedcats

October 29, 2021 at 4:44 pm

COLONIAL BIAS ILLUSTRATED, SPACE STATIONS, SPACE SUITS, AND ELECTION NEWS OF THE DAY

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A group of stone camel carvings in Saudi Arabia has turned out to be far older than anyone guessed. When scientists first examined them, they were thought to be about 2000 years old. A recent study puts them at 7000-8000 years old: Saudi Arabia camel carvings dated to prehistoric era This makes them about twice as old as Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza. Quite the mystery, at this point there’s no real idea why people went to so much trouble, I mean this took a lot of work to carve these into cliff sides. The camel was domesticated right around the time they were carved, but that still doesn’t lead anywhere except into speculation. More images of them can be seen here: 2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia

Note that last headline: 2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia. And in the BBC article linked above it also says these carvings were discovered in a remote area of Saudi Arabia in 2018. In fact, pretty much every link I can find about them repeats the claim that they were discovered in 2018. Then look at the image above. An image that dates from 2018. What’s in the background? Buildings, roads, and a cultivated field in the upper left. So how the hell were they only discovered in 2018? It’s not like they were buried or hidden in some way, they are right there in  plain sight. Obviously lots of people knew about them.

So really, the carvings were discovered by western science in 2018. I know, it may seem like quibbling over semantics, but words matter. They are in fact how our world view is constructed. Saying the carvings were only discovered by the western world, IE white people, in a not so subtle way implies that the brown people living there didn’t matter. It’s the same linguistic trick as saying Columbus discovered the New World, even though people were waiting for him on the beach. And in his day those people didn’t matter, they were simply another resource for Europeans to exploit. An attitude that continued on for centuries, for example the 19th century US Supreme Court ruled that Indians couldn’t own land.

I’m not saying this bias is conscious, but like all sorts of language biases, it’s what people learned growing up. Ageism, sexism, ableism are also woven into our language. Colonialism is no different. And I think learning to spot these sorts of biases can really help one see the world more clearly. At least for those who want to do so. A small minority from my experience. Oh well, enough for today’s self improvement lesson, on to science!

The ISS is nearing the end of its expected lifetime: The Aging ISS | NeuroLogica Blog. About 20-30 years is about it for things in space. Space is an uncompromisingly harsh environment, everywhere on Earth is a gentle paradise in comparison. So does this mean that giant space stations (not to mention the coming space hotels) will have to be rebuilt at fabulous expense every few decades? No, there’s a nifty solution that is almost certainly the wave of the future. Giant space structures will be built out of modules (well, they already are,) but built in such a way that each module is easily replaceable. That way one doesn’t have to rebuild from scratch, one just replaces individual modules. Leads to interesting philosophical situations, like with the USS Constitution. Launched in 1797, it’s the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy, still (technically) in service today. However, since it was launched, about 80% of it has been replaced, only 20% is original to 1797. Presumably it will eventually get to 100%, will it still be the same ship? I leave that for the philosophers to debate.

Speaking of new things in space, efforts are being made to design the next generation of space suits. Wait, didn’t we have working space suits in the 1960s, when the astronauts went to the Moon? Yes, yes we did. They were also incredibly clumsy and uncomfortable, and wore out in a few days. And not a whole lot of progress has been made since. It may look easy in Hollywood movies, reality is harder. Just spacesuit gloves for example. They have to be very stiff so they don’t just balloon out and be unusable, but still be moveable. Which means they are stiff and hard to manipulate, so that astronauts fingers will be torn up after a few hours use. Some astronauts even have their fingernails removed before space missions to avoid tearing them off in space suits! They don’t mention that in The Right Stuff. Or maybe they do, I never saw the movie. Anyhow, NASA is on the job:  New Spacesuits | NeuroLogica Blog.

One last quick item in the news. The GOP’s effort to recall California Governor Newsom failed spectacularly. He in fact won by more of a margin than Biden defeated Trump. Interesting indeed because of two things. First, the Governor had enraged pretty much all sensible people by repeatedly violating Covid restrictions he had put in place, hypocrisy on that level has destroyed more than one political career. Secondly, Trump supported the recall! Some are saying this may be the beginning of the end for Trumpism: A clear repudiation: Larry Elder’s mammoth defeat may signal the death rattle of Trumpism. It’s possible. I mean there’s no doubt Trump and his supporters will make utterly unfounded accusations of voter fraud, but maybe it’s becoming clearer to a lot of people that Trump’s endless lies about voter fraud are in fact just that, lies. “We were cheated!” gets old in any context when it’s all the losers have, from sports to politics and everywhere in between.

We’ll see. Fun times in America. Another one or two 9/11 posts are in the works. Hope all are having a good week. Stay safe gentle reader.

Copyright © 2021 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:Camel carvings in Saudi Arabia. Credit: Haaretz? Claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, not being used for profit, only image available that illustrates my contention in the post, and Haaretz is paywalled now so I couldn’t even find the attribution. Sigh.)

Written by unitedcats

September 15, 2021 at 5:36 pm