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Saturday, February 01, 2014

OTP - Feb 2014: Politics remains a hurdle for immigration reform

Yet Obama might find his best-chance legislative compromise in an issue that lately has seemed to be on life support: an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

Curiously, immigration was an issue the president barely mentioned in this year’s speech. Maybe he does not want to interfere with those Republicans who actually agree with him on the need to bring the nation’s millions of undocumented workers out of the shadows.

Bitter Mouse Posted: February 01, 2014 at 03:01 PM | 3524 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: politics

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   3201. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4665753)
Kevin Drum, who is decidedly not part of the Washington Post's editorial board, makes a list of what's going to happen in Ukraine.

Having written all the "options are limited" thumbsuckers, journalists and columnists will follow McCain's lead and start declaring that the crisis in Ukraine is the greatest foreign policy test of Obama's presidency. It will thus supplant Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, and North Korea for this honor.

Fred Kaplan writes about the topic:

Is the West about to go to war with Russia over the fate of Ukraine? The question should answer itself.
...There are good reasons why even George W. Bush backed off (or at least stopped short of pursuing) a pledge to consider Ukraine for NATO membership. First, calmer minds weighed the level of Western interests in Ukrainian independence against the cost of defending it in a pinch, and found the former coming up short.
...Ukraine is not West Berlin. More to the point, Ukraine is much more important to Russia than it is to the United States or to any Western European nation. Russia is on Ukraine’s borders; Putin sees it (as, again, would any Russian leader) as a vital market, supplier, and, most important, a buffer against Western encroachment.
...Why did Obama publicly state that aggression in Ukraine would trigger “consequences”? Clearly he was telling Putin to recalculate the potential costs and benefits of an invasion. But Obama was ignoring a simple fact: Putin would incur almost any risk to avoid losing Ukraine. To put it another way: There are no consequences—none that the United States could credibly threaten—that would keep Putin from doing whatever it takes to hang on to Ukraine.
   3202. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:07 PM (#4665755)
Here's a column about the difficulties that Putin is getting himself into with this.

The early economic consequences are already know here but it also has stuff like only 15% of people surveyed by a Kremlin-friendly pollster answering the question “Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?” with "Yes" and also that both Kazakhstan and China released statements disagreeing with Russia's actions.
   3203. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4665758)
The early economic consequences are already known here...
I'm coming to the conclusion that while the Big Money approves of small wars because they're good for business, the Big Money disapproves of big wars - even the threat of one - because then everyone's out of business.
   3204. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:23 PM (#4665762)
Kevin Drum, who is decidedly not part of the Washington Post's editorial board, makes a list of what's going to happen in Ukraine.


yes he states all the easy and obvious points and ducks the big one at the end.
   3205. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:28 PM (#4665764)
Gold Star, I am highly impressed with your decision to correct my typo in your quote of me
   3206. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 03, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4665773)
Russia's un envoy said today Russia is defending human rights in its actions

Well, of course.
   3207. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 03, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4665775)
Quite accurate, Putin is a human and Russia is defending his right to be an international #########
   3208. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 03, 2014 at 08:07 PM (#4665776)
Gold Star, I am highly impressed with your decision to correct my typo in your quote of me
I could follow that up by adding the missing period to your sentence here. ;)

I briefly thought of using [sic], but doing that on a baseball board just seems like pedantic assholery.
   3209. SteveF Posted: March 03, 2014 at 08:11 PM (#4665777)
I briefly thought of using [sic], but doing that on a baseball board just seems like pedantic assholery.

I remember when Roger Clemens complained about the Boston Globe misquoting him they started quoting him exactly -- including all the 'umms', 'yeahs', 'you knows' and other verbal tics people who don't speak for a living use. It was amusing...once.
   3210. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 03, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4665780)
My one concession to laziness on the internet is not always using periods at the ends of single sentence messages. I tend to be very vigilant against typos and bad grammar though.
   3211. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:02 PM (#4665790)
That's the excuse the Germans used in Czechoslovakia and Poland. There were ethnic Germans there who were being harassed and needed protection.

Except that the ethnic Germans weren't being harassed and in need of protection.

EDIT: And in case you haven't noticed, UN-sponsored peace talks have resumed in the hope of resolving the dispute. Hopefully, the Greek Cypriots won't be as obstinant this time. Had they backed the Annan Plan in 2004, the island would have been reunified.
   3212. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4665791)
The Russian envoy read a letter from Yanukovych at the U.N. meeting, describing Ukraine as a country "on the brink of civil war," plagued by "chaos and anarchy."

"People are being persecuted for language and political reasons," the letter said. "So in this regard, I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine."


gotta love the brazen nature of this nonsense
   3213. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4665794)
I need to become a corrupt autocrat of some country. It's a racket, and you can almost always find a major power willing to protect you!
   3214. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:13 PM (#4665797)
Except that the ethnic Germans weren't being harassed and in need of protection.


Why do you think I don't already know that?

And in case you haven't noticed, UN-sponsored peace talks have resumed in the hope of resolving the dispute. Hopefully, the Greek Cypriots won't be as obstinant this time. Had they backed the Annan Plan in 2004, the island would have been reunified.


Sure. Noble Gas hit it big in an offshore gas drilling exploration and the Turks want in on it.
   3215. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:18 PM (#4665798)
Why do you think I don't already know that?

I know you know that. What you appear not to acknowledge is that for 11 years prior to 1974 Turkish Cypriots were under seige by the government of Archbishop/President (Church/State alert!) Markarios. Turkish troops remained on the island following the intervention because the status quo ante was unacceptable.
   3216. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:28 PM (#4665801)
I know you know that. What you appear not to acknowledge is that for 11 years prior to 1974 Turkish Cypriots were under seige by the government of Archbishop/President (Church/State alert!) Markarios. Turkish troops remained on the island following the intervention because the status quo ante was unacceptable.


But the majority of Cypriots orient towards Greece, so what happened there bears a bit of a resemblance to what Russia is now doing in Ukraine.
   3217. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4665803)
But the majority of Cypriots orient towards Greece, so what happened there bears a bit of a resemblance to what Russia is now doing in Ukraine.

And that's the extent of the resemblance.
   3218. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:33 PM (#4665805)
This is what Cypriot re-unification is about, Jason:

Gas bonanza for Cyprus hostage to strategic battle with Turkey

Cyprus has vowed to press ahead with the exploration and drilling of its vast gas reserves despite threats from Turkey to block extraction by military force if there is no prior deal to reunify the divided island.

"The whole world, including the United States, recognises the right of Cyprus to exploit the right of its own exclusive economic resources," said Ioannis Kasoulides, the Cypriot foreign minister.

Mr Kasoulides said Turkey is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and does not recognise the principle that islands have their own seabed, but its naval actions in the region have so far been calibrated. Two weeks ago the Norwegian ship MV Princess, exploring in Cypriot waters, was intercepted by a Turkish warship and forced to leave.

"We are still far away from gunboat diplomacy, even for Turkey. Groups like Noble Energy, ENI and Total would not be investing billions in exploration here if they really thought Turkey was going to stop them," he said.

Mr Kasoulides said the US-based Noble Energy had already found five trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas in a single bloc of the Aphrodite field to the south of the island, enough to transform the country's long-term economic prospects following last year's traumatic collapse of the banking system, and more than enough to pay off a €10bn rescue from the EU-IMF Troika.


And just like Cyprus, the present conflict in Ukraine is all about mineral rights, energy markets, global control of key assets and foreign trade.
   3219. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 09:41 PM (#4665808)
Cyprus has vowed to press ahead with the exploration and drilling of its vast gas reserves despite threats from Turkey to block extraction by military force if there is no prior deal to reunify the divided island.

There's posturing by both sides on the hydrocarbon issue, Kevin. (Moreover, the amount of gas located off of the island's southern coastline is less than Mr. Kasoulides would want you to believe.)

Anyway, that story is two weeks old. The Greek Cypriot ambassador was at the Wilson Center on Friday and his remarks were far more conciliatory.
   3220. Publius Publicola Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4665814)
It's not the Greek Cypriots we have to worry about, Jason. It's how Turkey is going to react to a near future when Greek Cyprus is far wealthier than their Turkish counterpart (and we all know wealth buys power), and how many concessions they will be willing to absorb in order to cash in on the gas bonanza too.

The Aphrodite field has proven reserves of about 4 trillion cubic feet, but it's probably much more than that, at least double that. And there's an adjacent field the Israelis are exploiting, a part of which lies in Cypriot waters, that's causing the geopolitics there to go topsy turvy. That's one of the reasons Turkey and playing forgive and forget with Israel. The Israelis and Greek Cypriots are in talks to set up a joint LNG facility to export gas to Europe and it's gotten Turkey freaked they'll miss out on it all.
   3221. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:23 PM (#4665818)
It's not the Greek Cypriots we have to worry about, Jason. It's how Turkey is going to react to a near future when Greek Cyprus is far wealthier than their Turkish counterpart (and we all know wealth buys power), and how many concessions they will be willing to absorb in order to cash in on the gas bonanza too.

We may wish to discuss the topic off-site, Kevin, as I think you and I are the only ones here interested in what's taking place on and around the island right now.

In the interim, I will say that the Greek Cypriot economy is in shambles and even the rosiest scenario for a hydrocarbon boost is a decade away. And I said "rosiest" because good luck trying to get a $6-10 billion LNG facility financed via the private sector as gas prices keep tumbling. More likely, the Israelis will keep gas exports closer to home (e.g., Jordan, Egypt) or consent to a $2.5 billion underwater pipeline to Turkey via the island, provided the Cyprus dispute gets solved.
   3222. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:39 PM (#4665823)
FWIW, here's a new Columbia Journalism Review piece: And from the left…Fox News
   3223. Greg K Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:59 PM (#4665827)
From the link in #3222
For almost seven minutes in split-screen the two go at it, their banter reaching fever pitch over which it’s impossible to make out what they’re actually arguing about. For a full minute they berate each other about whose turn it is to speak: “No, don’t talk over me.” “You’re talking over me.” Their quips grow increasingly accusational.

This sounds like unwatchable television to me. I can normally enjoy "cringe-comedy", but this strikes me as similar to what people who don't like that kind of comedy are complaining about.

In the mid aughts the American Political Science Review published a series of experiments showing that people trusted the authority of government less after watching arguments about politics on television. To reach their findings, the researchers played a set of political debates with and without conflict. The respondents who watched the placid exchanges didn’t change their views of government. The ones who saw a lively exchange tended to trust government less. Viewers also are more likely to retain information if it’s offered with angry disagreement—numerous studies suggest that the kinds of camera close-ups that Fox and other cable networks regularly use enhance our focus by placing us visually close to the unrest...Viewers may remember more from visceral segments, but that doesn’t mean the additional knowledge translates into more respect for the other side. Mutz’ research suggests that aggressive political debate leaves audiences even less trusting of their political foes. “The problem with that is when it comes to governing, you’re not going to feel that there’s a respectable opponent out there,” she said. “And given that sometimes they win, you’re stuck in a situation where you don’t feel like the leaders are legitimate leaders.”


This seems like the problem to me. As evidenced in this thread. When the discussion revolves around "Obama: genius or coward?" I feel like I'm getting zero information. When Kevin and JE are having a civil (though from different perspectives) conversation about Cyprus I feel like I'm learning something.*

*And for what it's worth, I'm finding the conversation enlightening, by all means keep it public if it's all the same to the two of you.
   3224. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:59 PM (#4665828)
SO I have been busy and I see not much has changed. At least there are finally some examples of invasions that worked out great. Let's see in the last 100+ years and dozens (hundreds?) of wars we have found a couple cases where it was not a total disaster.

Israel and the west bank (I would argue has not worked out especially well), Tibet (can anyone really argue it was worth it other than China pride), and maybe Cyprus. Plus in Joe K's alternate world Kuwait, where all the stuff that happened in reality did not, because you know it could have worked out.

Do you guys want me to start listing all the terrible invasions that worked out for crap?

Maybe I overstated, perhaps it is only 95% of the invasions are total crap, 4% are a wash, and Joe K gets a 1% "It could happen". Sure I will concede that, though rainbows also could shoot out my butt, but I am not holding my breath for it to happen.

Does anyone here think Russia is going to hit the jackpot? I sure don't, the stock markets don't, and the sane people here don't seem to. It would be foolish to overreact (not react, overreact) to fear that strong and powerful Putin with the magical eyes is coming to get all of the old USSR. Not going to happen.

This whole discussion started with someone declaring Obama was weak because gosh look how tough Putin is. That was a dumb thing to say before and it is still a dumb thing to say.
   3225. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:02 PM (#4665829)
And by the way, I second the compliment for the interesting Cyprus discussion. It is a complex topic, and since the US does not figure strongly into it (and neither does Israel) people here are able to discuss it rationally.
   3226. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:14 PM (#4665832)
Thanks, Greg K. (EDIT: Thanks, Mouse.) I expect to be pretty busy tomorrow but otherwise happy to continue the conversation.

Mouse: Would you at least acknowledge that Russia "hit the jackpot" in Georgia?
   3227. Greg K Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:21 PM (#4665836)
And by the way, I second the compliment for the interesting Cyprus discussion. It is a complex topic, and since the US does not figure strongly into it (and neither does Israel) people here are able to discuss it rationally.

The Cyprus conflict is probably mostly known in Canada through the "A Part of Our Heritage" TV advertisements. They were a series of TV spots highlighting moments in Canadian history. Unfortunately of the 80 or so ads, it seems like the Canadian involvement in the UN mission to Cyprus is one of the 3 that are not available online.

One of the more amusing ones is how Canada was supposedly named due to a mistranslation.

Another riveting one consisted of a dramatic soliloquy delivered by the Prime Minister about the parliamentary committee to decide what Canada's flag would be in the 1960s.

I'm currently applying for a visiting professor position in America which would require me to learn some American history (in order to teach it). I'm looking forward to it, I certainly hope the story of your land is as thrilling as mine!
   3228. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4665838)
The WaPo ed board recommends boning up on Transnistria:
Will Mr. Putin move to make the “frozen conflict” in Transnistria hot if Moldova presses ahead [with economic integration with the West]? Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca can only “hope it won’t lead to further destabilization,” he told us Monday. Perhaps fortuitously, he was in Washington as the Obama administration grappled with how to respond to the Russian takeover of Crimea. President Obama joined the prime minister’s meeting with Vice President Biden, which was appropriate: Part of the U.S. response must be to take steps to reassure Moldova and a host of other nations threatened by Russia’s act of aggression. ...

An obvious first step is to dedicate greater NATO resources to training, exercises and defense planning in members along the border with Russia, starting with the Baltic states and extending to Romania and other former Warsaw Pact countries. These governments’ requests for more NATO deployments of troops, missile defenses and other facilities have often been deferred on the grounds that no serious threat existed or that action would provoke Moscow. That logic no longer holds.

NATO should also reinvigorate its glacial move to expand to nations in southeastern Europe. Pending applications from Monte­negro and Macedonia could be put on the agenda for a summit this year, along with a long-delayed membership action plan for Georgia. Mr. Putin must get the message that his aggression will not retard the integration into Western security structures of new European democracies.
   3229. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:41 PM (#4665843)
NM
   3230. JE (Jason) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:45 PM (#4665847)
Fifth, the new government in Kiev should be willing to sit down with Putin in the presence of international mediators and discuss a return to the status quo ante or a mutually agreeable compromise, possibly based on enhanced autonomy for Crimea within a united Ukraine.

Now who's being naïve, Kay?

Hey, here's an idea: How about Putin allowing all of Russia's majority-minority regions to vote for enhanced autonomy or even outright independence? For example, does anyone remember the first Chechen war, before the jihadists moved into the region?

EDIT: I was referencing a WaPo op-ed passage from 3229, which El Hombre subsequently NM-ed.
   3231. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: March 04, 2014 at 12:03 AM (#4665855)
Yah, it'd already been posted, so I undid mine.
   3232. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: March 04, 2014 at 12:27 AM (#4665867)
Fifth, the new government in Kiev should be willing to sit down with Putin in the presence of international mediators and discuss a return to the status quo ante or a mutually agreeable compromise, possibly based on enhanced autonomy for Crimea within a united Ukraine.

Now who's being naïve, Kay?
A mutually agreeable compromise could be anything, but that one may exist isn't exactly a crazy idea.
   3233. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 04, 2014 at 05:02 AM (#4665886)
bbc (not the poster, the news agency) reporting that Putin has ordered troops to begin returning home though no official word yet

Full credit to the discipline of the Ukraine forces in not allowing themselves to be provoked into a clash of any kind which may have been the pretense Russia was seeking to justify taking larger steps
   3234. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 04, 2014 at 06:27 AM (#4665889)
at his news conference Putin declared that Russia has witnessed an "orgy of neo nazis and anti Semites in eastern Ukraine"

Well no wonder Putin finds these folks appealing.......
   3235. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 04, 2014 at 06:31 AM (#4665890)
Putin also stated that Russia's actions were a "humanitarian mission"

gotta hand it to th guy. He keeps throwing the old lines out there hoping something sticks
   3236. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 04, 2014 at 06:54 AM (#4665893)
Putin on yanukovych: "he has no political future. I told him so."

Putin on western policy in Ukraine: "like experimenting with rats"
   3237. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 07:07 AM (#4665895)
He also said the letter from Yanukovich "asking" for Russian military assistance legitimizes such "assistance." That's the biggest point.

He's not going to recognize any Ukrainian government that isn't headed by his lackey. Where that leaves us shall be seen.
   3238. BrianBrianson Posted: March 04, 2014 at 07:18 AM (#4665897)
That's the excuse the Germans used in Czechoslovakia and Poland. There were ethnic Germans there who were being harassed and needed protection.


Sure, but that's also the reason NATO "went" into Bosnia and Kosovo. The difference lies entirely in whether there's actually a minority being persecuted, and what the intervener's intentions are. Cyprus is closer to the latter than the former.
   3239. Publius Publicola Posted: March 04, 2014 at 07:55 AM (#4665903)
I think you and I are the only ones here interested in what's taking place on and around the island right now.


OK, Jason. I think you're a little more conservative than I am but I always enjoy my discussions with you. I usually learn something more than trivial and you keep the discussion at an elevated level.

In the interim, I will say that the Greek Cypriot economy is in shambles and even the rosiest scenario for a hydrocarbon boost is a decade away.


I agree with you here. But big money is going into Cyprus for those gas fields and that wouldn't be happening if a decent return on investment wasn't expected. Heck, The EU wouldn't have given them that loan if they didn't expected the gas play to pay off.

EDIT: And thanks from me on the compliment too. But it takes two to tango and Jason is a good dance partner.
   3240. Publius Publicola Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:08 AM (#4665905)
He also said the letter from Yanukovich "asking" for Russian military assistance legitimizes such "assistance." That's the biggest point.


That's an odd thing to say, right on the heels of Harvey's quote of Putin saying he told Yanukovich he has no political future.
   3241. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:26 AM (#4665908)
Heck, The EU wouldn't have given them that loan if they didn't expected the gas play to pay off.

That might have been on Brussels' mind, but all of the gas in the world wouldn't have netted them a single euro had there not been an agreement on structural changes. (I don't have my notes in front of me, but the Greek Cypriot ambassador outlined several EU demands pertaining to banking reform and privatization.)

Same here regarding our discussions. And I'm happy to continue some more on the subject, schedule permitting.
   3242. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:26 AM (#4665909)
Mouse: Would you at least acknowledge that Russia "hit the jackpot" in Georgia?


Honestly I don't know enough about the situation. It clearly has not been a disaster, but I am not sure what the long term cost has been versus the alternative.

When discussing this with rational people (for example you), I am more than willing to admit that like most rules, "Invasion = Bad", is not 100%. There are exceptions, of course. Giant country annexing smaller neighbor (part of neighbor) it has some sort of recent history and at least semi-legitimate claim to is far and away the most common situation to lead to a not terrible outcome.

Proving, when it is not a disaster, that Russia would have been better off not invading is basically impossible though, so I won't even try (in addition to the fact I don't know enough about the situation, trying to prove counterfactuals is fun but foolish).

Part of problem is that nation states are defined by territory, so they are very touchy about it, even when it would be in their best interests to not care about it, and of course the land stands in as a proxy for much more. An semi obscure example is the Libyan-Chad war.

An example of a war with no real point (OK a strip of land and minor imperial ambitions) fought for a decade. Truly a pointless and wasteful exercise (and for you fans of the US making all wars in the last 100+ years a no win excercise - the US basically ignored the whole thing, still did not work out for the invader).

Back to Georgia though I guess what have they won? The have de facto control of a portion of Georgia (since 1991 when there was a civil war I guess) and when Georgia "invaded" in 2008, Russia stepped in and beat them back. Russia doesn't seem to be paying a huge price for the part of Georgia they control, but what is the benefit? There may be some, I am not suggesting there is none, but I am not sure what it is.

Thought exercise. Would the US be a stronger, better nation if it invaded and captured all of Canada? Huge amounts of land, resources, and people now under US control! But really does that help the US? Canada is already our ally, we have a huge amount of trade with them, the border is already mostly open (it used to be more open, and really should be that way), and so on. The US would look bigger on the map, but in most practical matters Canada and the US are already partners and allies. The Canadians like being in charge of their own country (as does Americans and the US), but neither country would really be enhanced by conquest.

The US and Canada are both in positions of strength. They get basically all the benefits of being joined as one country without the mess and hassle of invasions, conquest, terrorism and so on. So which situation is better, healthier and stronger, US and Canada or Russia and Georgia?

That is what I mean when I suggest Putin is operating from a position of weakness. Having to watch your borders because you never know when you need to suppress a client state, invade to protect some subpopulation, or some resource you have decided is important is not a position of strength. Having a strong and firm ally you can depend on, who you gain huge amounts by trading with both in material and people going back and forth, that is a position of strength; not being able to invade and hold chunks of real estate.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. Short answer: I will give an unenthusiastic "I guess" to your question.
   3243. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:37 AM (#4665911)
He's not going to recognize any Ukrainian government that isn't headed by his lackey. Where that leaves us shall be seen.


A) How does this jibe with Putin's earlier statement of Yanukovich having no political future and B) If this were the case, how is Putin any different from 90% of US Presidents? Are you trying to tell me the US doesn't have lackeys running puppet states all over the world?
   3244. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:40 AM (#4665913)
Russia now utilizes the warm-weather port of Sukhumi, Mouse, located in the Abkhazia region. South Ossetia is an incredibly mountainous area hundreds of miles to the east and of considerably less strategic value. I wouldn't be shocked if a future Russian ruler offers the province back to Georgia -- assuming Tbilisi remains independent -- in exchange for the annexation of Abkhazia.
   3245. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:44 AM (#4665915)
ould the US be a stronger, better nation if it invaded and captured all of Canada? Huge amounts of land, resources, and people now under US control! But really does that help the US?


Just to play along, I would fight to the death if this were to happen (regardless of who the invader was), and I'm sure at least a million others would as well, maybe more.
   3246. Publius Publicola Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4665921)
It look likes the street is taking Putin at his word:

From CNBC:

Timothy Ash, the head of emerging market research at Standard Bank said that Putin's words constituted a turnaround by the Russian president.

"This looks, feels and smells like a Putin climb-down, if there is such a thing. He took this right to the edge, but ultimately was probably struck by the unified western response and the threat of western economic sanctions," he said in a research note. "In the end Putin's bluff was called, and he blinked first, well let's hope."

Putin's press conference came after reports that the president had ordered troops that took part in military exercises this week to return to base. This accentuated a modest relief rally on Tuesday morning and markets opened in positive territory. The cost of insuring against swings in euro zone blue chips, as measured by the Euro STOXX volatility index, fell to 18.27 points by midday London time. The index rose 30.4 percent, its biggest one-day rise since 2011, on Monday, reaching a level of 21.9 points.


What magazine called Putin the "most powerful man in the world"? Was it Forbes? Care for a retraction on that, Steve?
   3247. Lassus Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:55 AM (#4665923)
Are you trying to tell me the US doesn't have lackeys running puppet states all over the world?

I've always thought this was an oversell (although perhaps intentionally, for hyperbole's sake). Is there massive influence on people in power in many states? Sure. Running puppet states all over the world? Just too "Lone Gunmen" for me to accept, especially in the last two decades of the intertubes.
   3248. Publius Publicola Posted: March 04, 2014 at 08:57 AM (#4665924)
Assuming Russia pulls its troops, what now? Anybody?

I'll tell you one thing. If the G8 now goes ahead and meets in Sochi, it's going to be very, very awkward.
   3249. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:00 AM (#4665925)
A million dead Canadians? IN!
   3250. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:00 AM (#4665926)
to be clear the Russian troops IN crimea apparently are not being recalled. at least that was a distinction made by a guy on the radio this morning.

now, my hearing, like most of me, is shot to h8ll so be sure to doublecheck this info
   3251. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4665928)
Assuming Russia pulls its troops, what now? Anybody?

That's a pretty, pretty big assumption, no? Putin continues to deny that the invaders are his troops or even Blackwater types. The only thing he has done that may be considered helpful is to order the tens of thousands troops engaged in provocative exercises on the Russian side of the border back to their barracks.
   3252. Publius Publicola Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:06 AM (#4665930)
to be clear the Russian troops in Crimea (sic) apparently are not being recalled. at least that was a distinction made by a guy on the radio this morning.


That's my read too but why would Putin stand down his troops if he didn't intend to withdraw? That's leaving those troops in Crimea awfully vulnerable if something were to happen quickly.

I have to say, I greatly admire the restraint the Ukrainian army has displayed. Russia pushed and prodded them in every way possible to get them to fire the first shot and they refused to do so.
   3253. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:10 AM (#4665933)
And just as Obama was about to crack and enter full Neville Chamberlain mode.
   3254. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:12 AM (#4665935)
Running puppet states all over the world? Just too "Lone Gunmen" for me to accept, especially in the last two decades of the intertubes.


Do you even acknowledge the validity of the leaked Nuland and Pyatt discussion?
   3255. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:14 AM (#4665936)
Further to my comment about Europe's gas options from yesterday, here's a handy chart: Europe's dependecy on Gazprom
   3256. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4665938)
That's a good thing in itself since it signals that an invasion of the rest of Ukraine isn't imminent but of course doesn't resolve the Crimean situation. Shows some rationality by Putin though, either he wasn't planning to invade more in the first place or the western response made him realize it was a bad move at this time
   3257. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:23 AM (#4665940)
How is going into Afghanistan or Iraq, killing or destroying the existing governments and replacing them with governments that "share our values" not a version of puppet states. How is H.Karzai notably different from the Ukraine guy with the name I #### up?
   3258. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4665942)
How is going into Afghanistan or Iraq, killing or destroying the existing governments and replacing them with governments that "share our values" not a version of puppet states. How is H.Karzai notably different from the Ukraine guy with the name I #### up?

Right on! And how can we complain about anything Russia's ever done when Alabama and Mississippi lynched Negroes?

   3259. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4665943)
He didn't stand down any troops in Crimea. He ended the exercises within Russia proper that were scheduled to end anyway.

   3260. formerly dp Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4665945)
Apparently, Christine Amanpour just destroyed Wolf Blitzer on-air.
The three minutes in the past 10 years when CNN was worth watching, and I missed it...
   3261. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4665947)
Bear, are you intent on being this stupid going forward? It's boring.
   3262. zonk Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:30 AM (#4665948)
Wow... 5 pages on Ukraine...

Not much to add except to say I fully expect Russia to hold Crimea - if the regime in Cuba falls, I don't expect the US to be just letting the Guantanamo Naval base over to a new government any more than they did when the last revolution impacted our strategic interests.

Once the saber rattling is over - and it seems to be subsiding - I expect some money to change hands, some quasi-autonomy granted to the region and Crimea to be more or less a Russian satellite... Hell, looking at the grand scheme of things - going back centuries, they paid dearly to seize it, they rather brutally resettled it over the course of multiple less-than-successful governments and I suspect that if you took a straight-up, secret vote of everyone living in the region, they'd prefer Moscow to Brussels. On one hand, sure - I suspect the ethnic Russians are being 'oppressed' in much the same way a tea partier is being 'oppressed' living in NYC or Berkeley.... though, a buddy of mine that spent years in the region as an AP correspondent told me the other night not to underestimate the depth of old ethnic wounds.

Anyway... Russia's always been sort of the ne'er do well bigger brother of the US. They expanded through Asia in much the same fashion we expanded across North America. They've had their periods of revolution. They've had their fitful periods of forceful entry and turtled isolationism into the league of older powers. When you look at the national turning points through each's history - our coin flips have always seemed to come up heads, while they're forever cursed with tails. They've had maybe two great and another one or two average leaders during their ~400 years of monarchistic rule followed by some truly dreadful leaders in the Soviet era. During this time - while it's true they occasionally pursued some moderately expansionist aims themselves - they've found themselves much more often the fat kid the leaner, meaner neighbors pick on, occasionally trying to take their lunch money.

Yeah, Russia's got a chip on its shoulder... but if you set aside the nationalism for a moment, I don't think it takes much to see why.
   3263. Lassus Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4665949)
Do you even acknowledge the validity of the leaked Nuland and Pyatt discussion?

Sure. Having (quickly, I am at work) perused it, I still think "running puppets states all over the world" is just too breathlessly paranoid.
   3264. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:34 AM (#4665951)
#3257 - don't forget Libya.
   3265. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:34 AM (#4665953)
breathlessly paranoid


Well that's me!
   3266. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4665956)
Bear, are you intent on being this stupid going forward? It's boring.

Countering your stupid.

The "difference" is obvious -- America's way of governance and life (*) is better than Russia's. It's not just that Russia has puppets, it's that it has puppets implementing the Russian style of governance and society -- authoritarian, corrupt, closed, lawless. Ukraine is much worse off with a Putin puppet heading it than it would be a pro-Western, pro-European leader.

These "gotcha" equivalences you continue to pose are the kind of things college freshmen say. Serious adults don't.

(*) While obviously imperfect.
   3267. BDC Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4665960)
I dunno, Sam, Karzai might have been intended as a puppet, but he's been acting like Angry Pinocchio in the last year or so.
   3268. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4665964)
I don't expect the US to be just letting the Guantanamo Naval base over to a new government any more than they did when the last revolution impacted our strategic interests.

Our presence in Gitmo is lawful. Russia's presence in Crimea is unlawful.

Yup. Zonk is back.
   3269. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4665965)
Not much to add except to say I fully expect Russia to hold Crimea - if the regime in Cuba falls, I don't expect the US to be just letting the Guantanamo Naval base over to a new government any more than they did when the last revolution impacted our strategic interests.

Russia already had Sevastopol, and nobody was asking them to leave. There's no comparison between Guantanamo, and the whole Crimea.
   3270. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4665966)
Russians against Ukrainian invasion:

The Kremlin’s own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject it. In phrasing its question posed in early February to 1600 respondents across the country, the state-funded sociologists at WCIOM were clearly trying to get as much support for the intervention as possible: “Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?” they asked. Only 15% said yes – hardly a national consensus.


Of course, its not much of a democracy, so who cares what they think.
   3271. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4665967)
The Kremlin’s own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject it.

Why would the "Kremlin's own pollster" release such findings unless it no longer desires to be the Kremlin's own pollster?
   3272. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4665976)
Why would the "Kremlin's own pollster" release such findings unless it no longer desires to be the Kremlin's own pollster?

Because Putin is looking for cover to back down?
   3273. villageidiom Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4665977)
Why would the "Kremlin's own pollster" release such findings unless it no longer desires to be the Kremlin's own pollster?
In Soviet Russia, polls unskew him.
   3274. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4665980)
How is H.Karzai notably different from the Ukraine guy with the name I #### up?


Their guy actually does what they tell him to do?

I have to say, I greatly admire the restraint the Ukrainian army has displayed. Russia pushed and prodded them in every way possible to get them to fire the first shot and they refused to do so.


Was watching BBC World News this morning, cameraman followed some 2-300 UN-ARMED Ukrainian troops as they marched up to an airbase sealed off by Russians, one of the Russians shot a few rounds into the air, but that was it- aside from telling his men not to shoot it was pretty clear their commanding officer didn't know what to do.

They showed the officers (Ukrainian and Russian) talking, while the non-coms started trash talking at eachother- the Ukrainians had the Russians outnumbered pretty badly- but the Ukrainians were un-armed, the Russians all had AKs and there were a few RPGs- pretty scary game of chicken if you ask me.

Side note: Ukrainian fighter jets are apparently painted in various colors of pastel blue- what's the deal with that? How is that camouflage?
   3275. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4665987)
Not much to add except to say I fully expect Russia to hold Crimea - if the regime in Cuba falls, I don't expect the US to be just letting the Guantanamo Naval base over to a new government any more than they did when the last revolution impacted our strategic interests.


If the regime in Cuba falls and is replaced by a friendlier one- we just might let them have it back as some kind of gesture.

An analogue to Russia/Crimea/Sevastopol would have been if after Castro took over we held onto not just Gitmo, but also moved troops out of Gitmo, took over the neighboring towns etc.

Or lets say a hostile government is elected in Japan and orders us to close out bases on Okinawa- and we take over the entire Island (Of course Ukraine was NOT telling the Russians to leave Sevastopol...)
   3276. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:24 AM (#4665988)
He didn't stand down any troops in Crimea. He ended the exercises within Russia proper that were scheduled to end anyway.
Gotta echo Sam here — literally nobody believes that these exercises were scheduled. They are NOW announcing a "scheduled" withdraw, after a very bad first few days on the financial and international diplomacy front. Anyone believing this was all scheduled is just being dumb for the sake of an argument they can't win.
   3277. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4665991)
Of course, its not much of a democracy, so who cares what they think.


Most leaders, even highly authoritarian ones care to some extent- Putin may not care as much as a President who has to face truly free fair and competitive elections, but it's not a non-factor either
   3278. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4665992)
I don't expect the US to be just letting the Guantanamo Naval base over to a new government any more than they did when the last revolution impacted our strategic interests.


Our presence in Gitmo is lawful.

"Lawful" isn't the most honest term I'd use to describe the expropriation of a chunk of Cuban territory 111 years ago, certified by an agreement signed by two countries whose military power ratio was (and is) a thousand to one, an agreement subject to abrogation only with the consent of the United States.

Gitmo obviously serves our interests, and its impact on 99% of the Cuban population may be purely symbolic**, compared to Russia's presence in the Crimea, but it's about as "lawful" as a restrictive covenant clause in a property deed was "lawful" before 1948.

**And Castro is VERY VERY VERY bad, just in case anyone (not you, Jason) tries to suggest that I'm trying to make some "leftist" point.
   3279. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4665993)
Gotta echo Sam here — literally nobody believes that these exercises were scheduled. They are NOW announcing a "scheduled" withdraw, after a very bad first few days on the financial and international diplomacy front. Anyone believing this was all scheduled is just being dumb for the sake of an argument they can't win.

They weren't scheduled. They happened because of Ukraine. They were scheduled to end right around now. Did you actually expect 150,000 Russian troops to march around indefinitely?
   3280. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4665999)
Yes, our favored regimes tend to go rogue more often than Russia's. I expect to hear from the regulars about how this means Obama is weak and Putin is strong. The point stands for anyone smart enough to look past their own propaganda (ie not SBB.) We set up friendlies where we can to promote our interests. Russia sets up friendlies where she can to promote her interests. The fact that we all tend to agree our interests are "good" and Putins are "bad" doesn't change the reality that both nations play this sort of pseudo-imperial game whenever and wherever they can.
   3281. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4666000)
Side note: Ukrainian fighter jets are apparently painted in various colors of pastel blue- what's the deal with that? How is that camouflage?

The sky is pastel blue.
   3282. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4666004)
Side note: Ukrainian fighter jets are apparently painted in various colors of pastel blue- what's the deal with that? How is that camouflage?

Is a color camouflage scheme really necessary for today's fighter jets, even when parked on the ground?
   3283. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4666005)
They weren't scheduled. They happened because of Ukraine. They were scheduled to end right around now. Did you actually expect 150,000 Russian troops to march around indefinitely?
Did you really think massing 150,000 troops at the border of another country, then actually using some of them to invade that country, is a mere "exercise"? If the international community hadn't roared, if the money hadn't fallen away, you think that those guys would be heading home on Friday? Scheduled. Ha.

Obama's a liar in every way, but yeah, let's take everything Vlad Putin says at face value.
   3284. JE (Jason) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4666008)
Here's a Ukrainian frigate heading back to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus.
   3285. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4666010)
Obama's a liar in every way, but yeah, let's take everything Vlad Putin says at face value.


Hey, say what you want about Putin but nobody's ever accused him of being a Muslim terrorist from the heart of Africa.
   3286. Lassus Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4666011)
The sky is pastel blue.

Really? That cannot actually work.

Unless you're joking. In matters military, it's all dada surrealism to me anyhow, so I'm a bad judge there.
   3287. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4666013)
Is a color camouflage scheme really necessary for today's fighter jets, even when parked on the ground?

Fighters still can end up in dogfights, so yes.
   3288. The Good Face Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4666014)
Yes, our favored regimes tend to go rogue more often than Russia's. I expect to hear from the regulars about how this means Obama is weak and Putin is strong.


American puppets have had a track record of going rogue long before Obama showed up. I suspect it's more a case of Russia doing a better job of supporting and/or scaring their puppets. USG wants puppets, but attaches a lot of strings; don't violate TOO many human rights, don't allow your venal kleptocracy to get TOO bad, keep a lid on the communists/islamists/whathaveyous, but don't be TOO dictatorial, etc. I'm guessing Russian puppets aren't subject to the same level of neo-protestant moralism.

   3289. Greg K Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4666015)
Here's a Ukrainian frigate heading back to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus.

Comments suggest that's a Turkish ship.

...though in this day and age I don't know which is more credible, someone posting a photo on twitter, or someone commenting on a twitter feed.
   3290. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4666020)
Really? That cannot actually work.

It works a little. Obviously with radar, camouflage is limited. But all our fighters are painted some variant of gray/light blue.

Ground attack aircraft tend to have ground camouflage on top (woodland or desert), because they fly low, and don't want to be seen by fighters above them, and light blue/gray on the bottom, so ground troops have a harder time seing them.
   3291. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4666023)
The tendency to assume the west are clueless morons while Putin is an 11th dimensional chess grandmaster belies a bias toward HOW decisions are made and actions taken.
   3292. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4666025)
The sky is pastel blue.


but not the ground
the Ukrainian planes are painted pastel blue all over not just their undersides.
   3293. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4666027)
but not the ground
the Ukrainian planes are painted pastel blue all over not just their undersides.


That's common for fighter planes. Search Google images for "US fighter jets". They're all some variant of gray/blue on top.
   3294. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4666029)
Yes. Our puppets tend to be more autonomous because the values we promote tend, loosely, to be western idealism about freedom and liberty. Russia tends to promote deference to authority, in line with their regimes values. People who go off forever about the collapse of order and authority in the west are intrinsically supporting Putins methods.
   3295. GregD Posted: March 04, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4666030)
I enjoyed the Cyprus conversation, too. Learned a lot.

It is hard, obviously, to learn from the Ukraine discussion since 11) it's hard to know what are the facts on the ground and 2) the big decisions are going to be made in days and weeks, not hours, so the minute-by-minute critique or celebration isn't illuminating by definition.

I remain uncertain about what, precisely, critics wish Obama were doing that he isn't doing. Most of the critiques I have seen have listed a series of things that it turns out Obama is doing or have emphasized nebulous issues like tone.

I am not confident he is doing the right thing; I am not confident there is a right thing to be done. But I would be more persuaded if I could have a firm grasp on what, concretely, he should be doing differently.
   3296. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4666031)
The tendency to assume the west are clueless morons while Putin is an 11th dimensional chess grandmaster belies a bias toward HOW decisions are made and actions taken.


The wingnuts have ALWAYS claimed that the Soviet Leaders were out maneuvering our feckless leaders at almost every turn:
Stalin out maneuvered Roosevelt
Stalin/Mao outmaneuvered Truman
Khrushchev outmaneuvered Ike
Khrushchev outmaneuvered Kennedy
Brezhnev outmaneuvered LBJ
Ford lost Vietnam because....
Brezhnev outmaneuvered Carter

The ONLY ones to not get routinely outmaneuvered were Nixon and Reagan in their eyes...
So basically we were losing the Cold War at almost every turn until Reagan came in and the Soviets collapsed in awe.

though of course if this happened on the watch of any President not named Reagan the wing nuts would have been screaming treason or worse- what the wingnuts do most reliably is respond to international events based almost purely upon how they feel about our President's domestic policies- what's actually going on out in the world is actually wholly irrelevant to them- among BBTF posters JoeyB is of course the clearest example of this type.

   3297. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4666033)
I remain uncertain about what, precisely, critics wish Obama were doing that he isn't doing.

Guarantee the non-Crimea borders of the Ukraine, pursuant to the Budapest Memorandum, and push for their admission to NATO.
   3298. The Good Face Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4666036)
Yes. Our puppets tend to be more autonomous because the values we promote tend, loosely, to be western idealism about freedom and liberty.


If you truly want to promote those values, then you shouldn't be propping up puppet states, no?

People who go off forever about the collapse of order and authority in the west are intrinsically supporting Putins methods.


Holy non-sequitur.
   3299. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4666037)
Search Google images for "US fighter jets". They're all some variant of gray/blue on top.


Ours tend to be "low visibility" blue gray, there tend to be a bit brighter, almost as if they are paineted for an airshow, but teh again this page shows one of our F/A-18s painted very similarly
   3300. GregD Posted: March 04, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4666039)
Guarantee the non-Crimea borders of the Ukraine, pursuant to the Budapest Memorandum, and push for their admission to NATO.
That's reasonable. If that ended up the outcome, then you'd be pleased with how it was handled? I would.

I am less concerned about whether this stuff gets said aloud now than whether it happens. And I can understand why today is not the day for proclaiming their admission into NATO even if today is the time to start laying the groundwork privately.
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