Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for August 14th, 2008

The end of the jailbreak from the Prisonhouse of Nations?

Posted by Charles II on August 14, 2008

(Via Avedon with a bankshot to Sean Paul) Czarist Russia, and the Soviet empire that succeeded it were called The Prisonhouse of Nations. With the breakup of the USSR, the prisoners were freed. Now Ian Welsh at FDL proposes that Medvedev’s Russia plans to round them up again. Speaking of Ukraine, he writes:

So, let’s run through this.

  • Majority Russian population? Check.
  • Ignored referenda in which they population indicated they’d rather be independent and prefer Russia to their current government? Check.
  • Deadly important strategic resource? Check.
  • Russian area which was under Russian rule for 2 centuries? Check. (We’ll ignore the Crimean Tartars, though they don’t deserve it, as they were reduced to a fraction of the population)
  • All of the conditions that existed in Ossetia exist, with the addition of the fact that Ossetia really isn’t that important, while Sevastopol is one of the most important military ports in the world.

    So, the next question is balance of power. Georgia’s militarily is rather small. The Ukrainian military, on the other hand, clocks in at about 300,000 troops, putting it at about 1/3 of the Russian army’s size. Russia’s army is better equipped overall, the Ukraine having mostly cold war vintage equipment. The Ukraine’s not part of NATO, but it has been getting a lot of training from the West.

    A war with the Ukraine, therefore, is not a walkover, the way which one with Georgia, I’m afraid, is.

    On the other hand, assuming no Western intervention, the smart money is still on Russia to win such a war. Again, the question is this: are you willing to die for the Ukraine’s right to keep a bunch of people under its control who don’t want to be under its control?

    Right now the US is completely overextended. Europe is dependent on Russian oil and natural gas. China is certainly not going to interfere. On the other hand, with Obama’s election, or even possibly with McCain’s, there is a real chance that the US will end the Iraq war and move its military back into a posture where it can actually be useful and a credible deterrent. Plus Ukraine has been pushing hard for NATO membership and will probably get it sometime in the next few years.

    If Russia wants the Crimea and Sevastopol back, or even just Sevastopol, its window of opportunity is closing. It has a year or two at most to do something.

    This is truly depressing. The breakup of the Soviet empire was one of the top ten best things that happened in the last century, right after penicillin, FDR, and defeating the Axis. Trust George Bush to create the conditions to bring it back together.

    Posted in Russia, Sad things | 7 Comments »

    Guess What: Ivins Couldn’t Have Sent The Anthrax

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 14, 2008

    Poor Bruce Ivins. He was driven to suicide by the same people who tried hounding Steven Hatfill to death, and it’s looking more and more as if he was innocent. As Emptywheel says of the FBI’s ever-shifting storylines:

    I’m most amused by the way they find evidence, claim it’s significant, then discard it entirely once their theory falls apart. Just last week, the fact that Ivins had taken leave for the entire day before the anthrax was mailed was another smoking gun, proof that he had done the deed. But now that we DFHs have proved he couldn’t have been mailing the anthrax at that time, then that piece of evidence is discarded entirely. It seems they don’t want to entertain the possibility he was doing something else–perhaps meeting with someone, but not driving to Princeton. Similarly, lie detector tests were critical, until they discovered their main culprit passed his.

    In other words, they’re still making it up as they go along, and they still don’t have a solid case that Ivins was the sole culprit.

    Just like they didn’t have a case against Hatfill. That didn’t stop them from working to ruin his life.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Condi Chatted With Saakashviili. Did Karl?

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 14, 2008

    As Emptywheel suggests, why else is Team Bush so freaked out about this:

    The White House has started to panic over a July 9 meeting between Condi Rice and Mikheil Saakashvili, desperate to suggest they didn’t encourage Georgia’s crack-down in South Ossetia. Given that panic, I wonder whether Karl Rove had any similar chats with Saakashvili when they were in Yalta together just days later?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Posted in BushCo malfeasance, Condolezza Rice, international, Karl Rove | Comments Off on Condi Chatted With Saakashviili. Did Karl?

    The Ossetia-Georgia-Russia Conflict: A PNAC Surprise?

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 14, 2008

    Check this out, courtesy of Robert Scheer:

    Previously, [Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s senior foreign policy advisor] was best known as one of the neoconservatives who engineered the war in Iraq when he was a director of the Project for a New American Century. It was Scheunemann who, after working on the McCain 2000 presidential campaign, headed the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which championed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    There are telltale signs that he played a similar role in the recent Georgia flare-up. How else to explain the folly of his close friend and former employer, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in ordering an invasion of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, an invasion that clearly was expected to produce a Russian counterreaction? It is inconceivable that Saakashvili would have triggered this dangerous escalation without some assurance from influential Americans he trusted, like Scheunemann, that the United States would have his back. Scheunemann long guided McCain in these matters, even before he was officially running foreign policy for McCain’s presidential campaign.

    In 2005, while registered as a paid lobbyist for Georgia, Scheunemann worked with McCain to draft a congressional resolution pushing for Georgia’s membership in NATO. A year later, while still on the Georgian payroll, Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to that country, where they met with Saakashvili and supported his bellicose views toward Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

    Scheunemann is at the center of the neoconservative cabal that has come to dominate the Republican candidate’s foreign policy stance in a replay of the run-up to the war against Iraq. These folks are always looking for a foreign enemy on which to base a new Cold War, and with the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, it was Putin’s Russia that came increasingly to fit the bill.


    Posted in abuse of power, international, John McCain, mercenaries and privateers, neocons, PNAC Platoon, Russia | Comments Off on The Ossetia-Georgia-Russia Conflict: A PNAC Surprise?

    Thursday Morning News Roundup

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 14, 2008

    — Adam Stein discusses the limits of localism and why vertical gardens aren’t the solution to feeding city dwellers.

    — GM’s all-electric Chevy Volt won’t be released until 2010, but the car already has over 33,000 prospective buyers waiting for one — and many of those buyers are overseas ones. This is how we save American industry, people.

    — Sean Hannity, trying to minimize John McCain’s many adulteries even as he attacked John Edwards for straying, actually used the words “extenuating circumstances” in McCain’s defense. And Alan Colmes, normally Mister Milquetoast, just did a Benihana-chef number on him for it.

    Posted in 2008, automobiles, energy, environment, gardening, global food crisis, global warming, John Edwards, John McCain, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, saving the earth, sustainability | Comments Off on Thursday Morning News Roundup

    Pakistan may rejoin reality-based community as Musharraf options dwindle

    Posted by Charles II on August 14, 2008

    Zaffar Abbas, Dawn:

    Has the time really come for General (retd) Musharraf to say adieu?

    There are rumours that the president may announce his decision as early as during the midnight party on the eve of Independence Day, or perhaps within the next 48 hours…

    A source close to the presidency says that even after getting signals about the lack of support from key quarters, the advisers once again counselled him against stepping down. In fact, at least two of them have been pushing Gen (retd) Musharraf to go for the kill before the elected parliament starts the impeachment process.

    Whether or not the president will opt for such a drastic step remains unclear….

    Sources say that in all three options were explored for shaking up the system and preventing the coalition government from initiating the process of impeachment…

    These were to bring down the Sindh assembly through a no-confidence vote as part of destabilizing the government, get the apex court to block impeachment, or declare martial law and dissolve the Sindh assembly.

    Unfortunately for Musharraf, he doesn’t have many friends left.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

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