The End of Modern Politics

If Hillary had been elected, the same digging for dirt and impeachment sentiment would be happening. So the pursuit of dirt on Trump; grin and bear it. Call it a witch-hunt or modern politics, but we are stuck with it to its natural conclusion, which could be the end of modern politics.

Robert Mueller, as Special Counsel, has sweeping powers to investigate, which would include both political parties and their principals along with the intel community apparent undermining of Trump. Come is known for taking copious notes, so what does he have about Obama, Holder & Lynch that WILL come out? Mueller use to be Comey’s boss and will know his habits and be able to play him like . . . . a recording device.

No one could be above being investigated – Trump, Clinton, Sanders, the RNC & DNC and the entire ilk we love to hate. It may be drain the swamp after all and we will see a lot of people with brooms and rugs and a sudden end to opposing Trump – or a lot of people indicted for abuse of power and obstruction of justice. There will be a bi-partisan cry of “witch-hunt” by Labor Day 🙂

Think of it, the only viable political parties could wind up being the Libertarians and the Greens – and I would hope a party of independents would form.

Iran, Sanctions and the Global Economy

Now that Iran can return to the global economy and sell oil openly, I see one of three things happening

1) Oil prices will collapse beyond the short term (they will collapse in the short-term regardless)

2) Oil prices will stay down but the global economy will improve with all the money Iran has to spend

3) The global economy will improve and oil prices will go back up from additional consumption

Iran is going to be on a buying binge but some of it will not be reflected in the global economy improving in the short term of 1 to 3 years because Iran has to boot strap itself back up. There is a lot of infrastructure that needs work and people trained. Even the potential sale of planes from Airbus will take time to realize. It could be Iran buys a lot of stuff now and it just sits. The Iranian hardliners are going to insist on a lot of new “toys” for the nuclear deal and that will cut into improving the economy and standard of living.

There is also the geopolitical conflicts Iran participates in like those of Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Iran has yet to renounce the destruction of Israel and sanctions are still in place for military equipment and the ballistic missile program. If Iran keeps picking fights with Saudi Arabia, the Saudi’s will go ahead and acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan, a program the Saudi’s paid for. 

Iran is still a long ways from being stable or a reliable place to do business

There is an additional feature to the end of Iranian sanctions – the demise of Russian oil and gas sales. Western Europe wants to get away from Russian supplies as Russia is even more willing then OPEC to use oil and gas supplies as a political weapon. Although Russia like to think it’s more then a one-trick pony, it isn’t and the second collapse of the Russian economy – and government – may only be weeks or months away. 

Worried about sub-$20 crude? Some sellers are already there

The Iranians well and truly played the Russians and Putin. China, as Russia’s only market that wants them, now owns Putin. Putin will desperately need a deal with the West to get sanctions lifted as soon as possible or he will be looking for a new job.

Russian ruble drops to a new low, battered by weak oil prices

It could be considered something of a “backdoor” legacy for President Obama that this is happening. he was trying to wreck the U.S. oil industry to drive up prices to make electric cars more viable by ending access to to federal lands. Instead he created the rush to private land and the fracking boom that led to America to becoming virtually energy independent. And with the end to oil export embargo, pressure is being created on OPEC and “near-OPEC” countries, like Russia, to defend their market share.

OPEC and “near-OPEC” countries are in a bind. If they raise prices it opens the door to American producers and loss of market share for the 20 or so years that Brent LCOc1 and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) CLc1 would run wild or to keep prices down and suffer the effects to their economies. It might seem after that 20 years OPEC and “near-OPEC” countries would regain the power to control oil again, but that will be enough time for countries importing oil to make the shift to a renewable energy economy, perhaps even a fusion economy (if Lockheed can deliver), which would be a genuine revolution

The course of history hasn’t changed, but a page has been turned and the one-trick pony economies will fade into the background

A strategy for dealing with ISIS and Syria

The rebellion and attempt at regime change in Syria is over. Any leader who stands firm, does not let his will be broken and is willing to keep power at any cost generally cannot be beaten. It is time to help those that America supported in that rebellion and help America and our friends and near-friends.

Evacuate the rebel elements America supports in Syria to the Kurdish territory of Iraq to reinforce the Kurds in their fight against ISIS

Do for Iraq what the US did for the Afghani’s in their fight against the Taliban – provide the air force and let them do the fighting to control their own country and destiny.

Forget about attacking ISIS in Syria. Push ISIS out of Iraq and back into Syria and let Assad and the Russians worry about dealing with them.

By containing ISIS in Syria, Sunni and Shi’ite extremists will fight one another, drain Syria and Russia and keep all of them too busy to bother with anyone else for quite a long time. Russia, if it wants access to the Med via the Syrian port of Tartus has to keep Assad in power.

With Syria fighting ISIS, they will be too busy to bother with Israel. Same with Hezbollah, who is slowly getting pulled into fully fighting ISIS. 

If Hezbollah gets fully involved, their power in Lebanon might be weakened, maybe even enough for the central Lebanese government to run them out

Iran will get sucked into the mess, too, with ISIS and Syria since Iran is a key supporter of both Syria and Assad. Perhaps even to the point that Sunni ISIS stages attacks on Shi’ite Iran rather then the US or Europe.

Two additional points:

1) Chechnya – ISIS has made threats against Russia, Putin and very specifically, to “liberate” Chechnya

2) ISIS is attracting extremists away from the Taliban in Afghanistan, making the Taliban weaker and less likely to overcome the Afghan government once all but an American token force remains behind. Perhaps Afghanistan won’t become another Vietnam

ISIS is the mortal enemy of the western way of life, another theocracy in the making. And while America and Europe must do all it can to fight ISIS, it doesn’t mean that we, America or Europe, have to waste any more treasure then necessary fighting them. Let those who have inflicted so much violence on the world fight and waste themselves making the rest of the world a safer place.

Cold-blooded? Probably. Karma? Damn right!

A Strategy to Help Ukraine

The Spanish Civil War and China in WWII gives America a strategy – and a precedent – for the US to help the Ukraine. And that is re-activate the Flying Tigers, give them A-10’s to attack armor (tanks) and Wild Weasels to suppress anti-air defenses. They would not accept targets that involved attacking cities, or even convoys – just armor and SAM sites. The Ukraine military would then be free to deal with the rest and to use their own air force against targets the Flying Tigers would be prohibited from attacking.

The same protocol would be used as for the original Flying Tigers – US pilots would be given the option of resigning for the duration of their length with the Ukraine military and then re-instated when done and back in the US.

Russia will complain – but they say no Russian troops are in Ukraine, just “volunteers”, which are Russian troops being forcibly volunteered. So America sends volunteers and equipment just like Russia.

There is a precedent for the US to openly arm the Ukraine – the Cuba Missile Crisis – which, afterwards, the US arrived at an understanding that Russia could arm Cuba, station Russian troops in Cuba and freely use Cuban ports. The only restriction is no WMDs and Cubans did there own fighting.

George Bush abandoned the former Soviet Georgia and let the Russians , de facto, take parts of Georgia. Now Barack Obama is going to let Russia take parts of Ukraine that will be annexed into Russia just like the Crimea.

The west abandoned the east to Russia after WWII and if the west doesn’t stand firm now, it is the Baltic nations next, who, unlike Ukraine, are members of NATO and the EU, with the exception of Estonia, and we are bound by treaty to go to their defense even if it means WWIII.

Russia, Ukraine and Precedent

Vladimir Putin invoked the precedent of Kosovo to justify his actions in the Crimea, but Mr Putin has a selective memory since that was an outgrowth of the peacekeeper mission to Serbia of which Russia was part. So, by extension, using that precedent to it’s fullest, Russia has already agreed to a multinational peacekeeper force to be placed in the Ukraine to insure the tranquility and peace of the population nation-wide.

There is also that once a precedent is recognized it is legitimatized, which Russia never did with Kosovo but they are now doing implicitly. And it is one that could easily come back to haunt Mr Putin in regions of Russia where the ethic population is not Russian and dissatisfied with control from Moscow like say, the whole of Siberia.

There is also another precedent that is lurking out there that Mr Putin should fear . . . . Western Europe and the U.S. helping the Ukarine to re-arm and modernize it’s military. 

Early on in the crisis, a comparison was made between Cuba and the Ukraine why the U.S. was dealing so gingerly with Mr Putin in that how would America like Russia doing in Cuba what was being suggested as actionable items for Ukraine. That issue – and precedent – has already been resolved and the ground rules laid. Just as Russia armed Cuba and even stationed troops there, the limit was set at that with the proviso of anything goes as long as it didn’t involve nuclear weapons (or WMDs by extension) and Intermediate or Long Range Missiles.

So Russia has already signed off on military aid, and what kinds, to the Ukraine

In diplomacy, diplomats are loath to establish precedents and only allow it as a last resort, if at all, because they know that precedent is the two-edged sword that cuts both ways.

Mr Putin has made a number of strategic mistakes and it is time to use them. Russia needs to back off and encourage an independent Ukraine as a gateway between east and west and let it be part of both economic blocs to the benefit of all – before Ukraine changes it’s mind and applies to joint NATO.

The “buffer” that Russia so wanted is gone because they tried hold by force that which couldn’t be held – nationalism – the same force driving Russia now and Russia – and Mr Putin – should see the similarities, not the differences, and that the EU was built peacefully by consensus.

Russian Government say sanctions would boomerang

It is not the Russian government we are in a fight with, it’s Vladimir Putin and he has a power base of oligarchs that keep him in power. So why make the Russian people suffer? Putin has made it clear the Russian citizens have no power and he is trying to reduce what power and ability they have. Make the people that keep Putin in power suffer – freeze their funds, don’t issue those people visas, quit doing business with all but the oil and gas companies.

Will Russia (Putin) retaliate? Oh yeah, you bet. But his choices will be limited because there is not so much traffic going the other way. Anything beyond tit-for-tat will cause Putin trouble with his biggest ally – China – who wants stable markets and calm waters to invest in. If Russia becomes a closed market, the Chinese will go someplace else. The Chinese cannot be too happy and what Putin is doing to their multi-megamillions investments in the Ukraine

“Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned the United States against “hasty and reckless steps” that would damage relations between Russia and the U.S”

I fully agree with Minister Lavrov, make the steps thought out, but don’t take forever. Russia has left itself open not open with this statement, but allowing Multi-national peacekeepers to keep the two sides apart in the WHOLE of the country just like the Balkans in the 90’s. The precedent is there.

In diplomacy the rule is be careful about creating precedents. The US and Western Europe made a mistake by supporting and recognizing Kosovo as an independent nation. They then had Russia throw that in their faces when supporting the breakaway regions of Georgia. So now I warn Russia, be careful, you are creating a new precedent that will come back to haunt you.

So freeze visas and funds of oligarchs, let them stay home. Get peacekeepers in place and pursue diplomacy. 

Russia doesn’t need or want a a bunch of radicalized Ukrainians, that can’t be distinguished from Russians, sitting that close to Russia. Piss those people off enough and they won’t care if they blowup all the pipelines that Russia depends on to get gas and oil to the west. All that Russia is today is the money from those pipelines. The Chinese would suffer, too, being an ally of Russia in terms of lost investment and people trashing that investment.

 

Realistically, Russia has a strong claim to the Crimea as Russian territory, but they don’t to the rest of the Ukraine. So they take the Crimea and offer reparations for Ukrainian government and military facilities and agree not to interfere in the rest of the Ukraine and to work with the international community stabilizing the country. Russia is at the point of radically diminishing returns if they don’t find a way out. It won’t be about face saving, it will be about power saving for Putin.

Russia and the Crimea

There is talk of giving Russia a “face saving” way to get out of the Ukraine crisis. I don’t think Russia cares about saving face so much as maintaining power. For Putin to come away with the Crimea would undercut his prestige and lead to a loss of power for himself and those on his coattail.

The Crimea was part of Russia till Kruschev ceded control to the Ukraine in 1954. Without the ports on the Black Sea, for Russia to have a Mediterranean naval squadron (based at Tartas, Syria) ships would either have to sail from Murmansk on the Arctic Circle, or from Vladiostok on the North Pacific. So the Crimea is both a nationalistic and strategic issue for Russia and maintaining control is what it is all about. The rest of eastern and southern Ukraine could be a bargaining chip to throw away to keep the Crimea.

Russia had probably hoped that pro-Ukrainian people would rise up and start trouble with pro-Russian Ukrainians so Russia could send it “peacekeepers”, but that didn’t happen. The only violence was cause by the pro-Russian population.

Secure the Crimea by the annexation after the Crimean parliament votes to secede and join Russia, then dial down the supplies of gas and oil to Western Europe to get them to sign off. Then toss Western Europe and the pro-western government southern and eastern Ukraine so those two entities SAVE FACE

Russia has never been in any position to lose anything upfront, face, power or territory. In the short-term they hold all the cards. But in the long-run they have re-energized the reason for NATO’s existence and why eastern European countries would want to join. It shows Western Europe they need to back away from cozying up to Russia who just wants to eat their lunch. It re-affirms the bond that was fraying between the US and Western Europe. Russia, in fell swoop, has cured the malaise that has haunted Europe for 20 years. Sometimes you don’t need to create an enemy, sometimes someone will do it for you and create a moral high ground that can’t be overcome by rhetoric and propaganda.

Russia, in it’s totalitarian way, has said, “we’re back”. The Russian people may want to consider what “back” means. Ice Ages come and go and so does it seem that Cold Wars do, too.