Posts Tagged ‘Putin’

Ukraine Plane Shame

July 21, 2014

UnknownThe world knows perfectly well who did it. All talk of investigation and forensic evidence just  muddles moral clarity.  This isn’t a criminal trial requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And what’s to doubt anyway? Who else could conceivably have done this but the Russian-instigated insurgents with Russian-supplied high tech weapons? That missile wasn’t something you pick up at Walmart. The perps were recorded preening about it on the phone. And if it’s a bum rap, why would they tamper with the evidence?

Russia’s slimy statements only deepen its shame. But more, lying so blatantly and transparently bespeaks not just a habitual liar, but a compulsive liar. Russia is one sick puppy. (That it nevertheless inspires such patriotic fervor is mindless.)

imagesWhy would the Ukrainian Russophiles shoot down a Malaysian airliner? Not from rational calculation. They are drunk on military testosterone (and probably literally drunk too, my wife notes). Russia’s giving missiles to such swaggering jackasses was like putting a gun in the hands of an infant. (Unless it was Russian personnel themselves who launched the missile.)

We’re told “there’s no military solution” – by people who always say that, no matter what the situation. In my last post I wrote that the “war never solves anything” bunch is wrong, that sometimes war is the answer. It is in Ukraine. There is a military solution.

I say so because this is not even a legitimate conflict – between clashing interests, each with at least some arguable right on its side, which could be negotiated. It isn’t that at all.

images-2I am extremely sensitive to people’s right to self-determination, and if there were any genuine glimmer of a desire to secede, I’d say let them. But, in fact, ethnic Russians are not even the majority in these regions. And moreover, it’s become clear that not even a majority of the ethnic Russians want Ukraine’s break-up. Referenda showing otherwise are bogus, votes ginned up at gunpoint. (The purported 97% vote in Crimea was 99% phony. I doubt a truly free and fair vote would have backed Russia’s annexation. Crimea was a crime.)

images-3So what is really going on now in Eastern Ukraine? Instigated, orchestrated, and lavishly equipped by Russia (with barely a fig-leaf of deniability), a bunch of misfit thugs has taken the opportunity to play war, holding the rest of the local population hostage. Warlords have emerged, carving out criminal fiefdoms. images-1Many Russian military types have leading roles in what The Economist calls a “tricksy” invasion. Russia’s true aim here is actually obscure. Don’t assume Putin is some mastermind playing some deep long game. He probably doesn’t really know what the fuck he’s doing, apart from just wanting to mess with Ukraine, and get attention paid.

So what should be done about these insurgents? Kill them. Ukraine has been left with no option but the military one. If there were genuine grievances at issue, I’d say negotiate, but there aren’t. This is just lawlessness. I’m not a bloodthirsty type, but these creeps have their hands covered with blood and will have brought their destruction upon themselves. Unknown-1“Leaders” like Borodai and Pushilin should be executed for treason and murder. (But they’ll slink off into Russia like Yanukovych.)

I only wonder whether Ukraine’s army has the stomach, the capabilities, and competence to do what’s needed. Its performance so far does not inspire confidence. This battle could be very destructive and bloody, and could serve to drive more locals to the rebel side. On the other hand, are they really willing to die for holy Russia?

If Putin does not soon pull the plug and abandon the rebels to their fate, then we should help Ukraine with all possible military assistance (no, not sending troops) to end this criminal nonsense as swiftly as possible.

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The Scandalous Sochi Olympics: Medals for Disgrace and Bullshit

September 4, 2013

imagesAn Olympic gold medal was always one of my fantasies. Standing up there, while our majestic national anthem is played – what a supreme moment! But, at 65, that dream has kind of faded. Not that I was athletic anyway. Not that I could even do, say, a single chin-up in high school.

But I will hereby award an Olympic gold medal: to the International Olympic Committee  (IOC) itself, for the sprint to the bottom of disgrace in giving the 2014 winter games to Sochi in Russia. That deserves a special prize.

Winter Olympics Site (the white stuff is not snow)

Winter Olympics Site (the white stuff is not snow)

Sochi might seem a bizarre locale for winter games: a beach resort on the Black Sea, whose climate The Economist labels “subtropical,” noting it’s “one of the very few places in Russia where snow is scarce.” So the organizers have been hoarding last year’s snow. Also, Sochi is next door to still simmering violent conflicts in the North Caucasus.

But never mind such quibbles. Vladimir Putin wanted this, and so it was bestowed on him by the IOC as a reward for . . . what? His splendid record on human rights and international cooperation? images-1Indeed, Putin wanted these games as a form of “regime laundering,” to give his murderous gangster mafia a veneer of international legitimacy; so he could puff out his over-exposed chest and preen in the Olympics’ reflected glory.

But that wasn’t all. As if to demonstrate why the games should never have been awarded to Russia, their cost is now estimated at $50 billion, the highest ever. The original estimate was only $12 billion. Why the huge overrun? In a word, corruption.

Il Capo di Tutti Capi

Il Capo di Tutti Capi

Putin wanted these games not only for international legitimacy but to make a mockery of that very legitimacy by using the games to loot the nation’s coffers, for the benefit of the crony capitalists who feed off him and prop him up (see my past post on The Dictator’s Handbook). The games are mostly paid for by the Russian government, with the money flowing to a coterie of big, politically connected insider contractors. So, inflating the bill from $12 to $50 billion? No problem. Who’s gonna complain? Another Magnitsky? (Murdered, to shut him up.)

Russia exemplifies those states where government, instead of building national prosperity, is a vehicle for extracting wealth to benefit a narrow elite. There’s no democratic accountability to stop them. Russians mostly bend over for this, thinking they’re not too bad off. They fail to realize not only how much is stolen from them, but how much more prosperous a rule-of-law economy would make them.

Navalny

Navalny

Regime critic Alexei Navalny (see my past post) was recently convicted and sentenced to five years in a labor camp on obviously phony charges. At his “trial” his defense was not allowed to call any witnesses, nor even to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. That’s why I put “trial” in quotes. At protest demonstrations, random participants have been arrested and charged with “violence against police,” carrying heavy prison terms. Regimes like this talk a lot about obedience to law.  But instead of rule of law – which means means applying laws impartially –  it’s really rule by law, which is just a tool for a ruling group to repress and exploit everyone else.

To stick yet another thumb in the eye of the IOC and the world community, Russia recently passed a law making it basically illegal for gays to come out of the closet.

The IOC is now considering a 2020 site selection. Turkey is in the running; will the IOC learn its lesson? See my post about recent developments in Turkey.

And for more Sochi details, check out The Economist’s report. It concludes by quoting – without further comment – Russia’s original bid for the games: it claims to provide “a stable political and economic environment in order to improve and enhance quality of life. The government is based on free and open elections, freedom of expression and a constitutionally guaranteed balance of power.”Unknown

Do they give an Olympic medal for bullshit?

Alexei Navalny and the Kremlin Kriminals

April 24, 2013

imagesMikhail Khodorkovsky was one of Russia’s richest men, and among them all, possibly the most above board. Yet Putin’s Kremlin Kriminals, in 2003, used trumped up tax evasion charges to effectively steal his company and toss Khodorkovsky in prison, where he still remains. His real crime was funding political opposition to Putin.

images-1Sergei Magnitsky wasn’t so lucky. His “crime” was to expose massive official corruption, which resulted in those selfsame officials imprisoning him, where he does not still remain. The 37 year old lawyer died in his cell in 2009.

But the Putin regime isn’t letting this case rest. No sirree, they’re determined to get to the bottom of the crimes in question – by putting Magnitsky on trial, despite having already murdered him. And when America adopted sanctions on the Kremlin Krooks deemed responsible, their retaliatory response was to ban adoption of Russian children by Americans.

UnknownNow we have Alexei Navalny. This courageous political blogger too was very effective in exposing official corruption, and played a leading role in last year’s anti-Putin demonstrations. So Russia’s judicial system has set about prosecuting – no, not the corrupt officials Navalny fingered, don’t be silly – why, Navalny, of course. He’s on trial now for alleged embezzlement from a state timber company while he was advisor to a regional governor. As The Economist put it, that the company was actually paid for the timber in question, and there’s no evidence Navalny had a role in the transaction anyway, “seem to be details.” He faces up to 10 years in prison. Don’t bet on acquittal.

And the real criminal is . . .

And the real criminal is . . .

I had the privilege of visiting Russia when it was a free country. How thrilling that was. How tragic it is now. Martin Luther King once said the moral arc of the universe is long but it always bends toward justice. I have a dream – to see Russia again, and forevermore, free at last, free at last.