Rhetoric Versus Reality

ZAPORIZHIA, UKRAINE — Deep into a conflict that has sundered decades-old ties between Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine is still selling military gear over the border to its neighbor, Ukrainian defense industry officials say.

Ukraine’s new leaders have vowed to stop the flow of these defense products, which include key parts for ship engines, advanced targeting technology for tanks and upkeep for Russia’s heaviest nuclear missiles. New laws passed this week bolster their powers to do so. Kiev says helping to arm Russia is tantamount to equipping an enemy during wartime when Moscow is sending support to separatist rebels, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

Those factories have employees and employers, and, as in any country, might have different interests regarding neighbors compared to the west of the country.


Raytheon, MSPO 2013
June 30/14: Finalists. Poland’s MON announces the Wisla program’s finalists: Raytheon’s ‘PATRIOT with options’ offer, and EuroSAM’s SAMP/T Mamba system that uses the Aster-30.
Poland won’t become part of the MEADS program, nor will it buy Israel’s David’s Sling. The 2-stage technical dialogue led Poland to conclude that they required an operational system that is deployed by NATO countries.

NATO expansion insures that certain military suppliers will not only gain contracts, but that those contracts are more likely to go to certain countries given the nature of the political situation.


Poland’s agriculture minister went on television to announce the country was taking action against Russia’s new import ban. “We believe Russia has broken international law in both its embargo against Poland and its embargo against the EU,” Marek Sawicki said.

Greece also hard-hit

Although about 70 percent of the Russian population approve of its sanctions, Pickett said the odds are good that the complex WTO mechanism will uphold Poland’s complaint.
“In my view, war-like conditions must either prevail or be imminent. Russia argues that this is a matter of food safety. I doubt that will be legally sufficient.”

Lithuania, Germany and Greece also benefit from trade with Russia: Last year, Germany exported agricultural products worth almost 600 million euros, while Lithuania sold more than 900 million euros of food to Russia. Greek farmers export large quantities of peaches and fish, especially during the summer months.

According to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” daily, if the WTO mechanisms do not work, or do not take effect quickly enough, this could mean a loss of 178 million euros for Greek vegetable and fruit farmers. Athens has therefore already begun to hold bilateral negotiations with Moscow.

Russia is a threat, but apparently a threat with coffers to be filled by the very states asking for protection. Perhaps the world is more complicated than white hats versus black hats and requires a more careful understanding.

PS: I have tried to change the formatting. I think the problem is copy and paste but when I go back and try and change it, it still doesn’t work. The main problem is lack of time, really. Sorry, Jonathan. I know you like to run a clean and tidy ship :)

[Jonathan adds: No worries :)) ]


13 thoughts on “Rhetoric Versus Reality”

  1. This looks like a replay of the Ribbentrop – Molotov Treaty.

    Someday, Merkel or her successor will awake and realized they should have listened to Ronald Reagan and not let themselves become addicted to Russian natural gas.

  2. We could, except for Obama and the usual suspects, offer an alternative with fracking here or there. One reason why Europe has not had a fracking revolution is the fact that mineral deposits all belong to the government, not the landowner.

  3. But I just pointed out that it is not just the Germans with important and even existential economic relationships. Oil is not the only important trade.

    Egging the Ukrainians on was a bad idea, IMO.

    From an American–and Eastern European–point of view, expansion of NATO was a big mistake, IMO. The bigger the alliance, the more haggling because what is optimal for one group is not for another. It’s not just about Russians, it’s about the bad defense decisions made by various members of the West, a global NATO, substituting confidence in NATO for good internal governance and border management.

    There are more patterns out there than just shoving everything into the box of WWII.

    I won’t have time to follow up on this thread over the weekend but I posted the following elsewhere:

    Thanks. On Pat Lang’s blog, I had asked about the border because I find this issue continually perplexing given the West’s post Soviet relationship with Ukraine and a commenter replied:

    “Kiev did launch an operation to try to seal the southern border of Donetsk and Lugansk last month. It ended in disaster last week with the loss of 50%-75% of the forces involved – surrounded in a pocket similar to say the Falaise Pocket battle in France in 1944 or many others on the Eastern Front that same year.
    Sealing the border is militarily important – no doubt about that. The problem being that Kiev lacked the forces to do that and carry out other operations at the same time. Perhaps they didn’t realize their strength shortfall until too late.”

    Were they egged on–and became overconfident–by the behavior of Fogh-Rassmussen and Nuland and Brennan and the President’s shrieking advisors?
    Whenever I read any article about this topic, there is always a sentence or two about how the Ukrainian border guards are overrun or completely overwhelmed, and then there are pictures of someone like Poroshenko posing in a tank.
    The economic situation is a mess. I don’t understand what Brennan was doing visiting the place, or the bragging by NATO about upcoming meetings, or the shrieking by Madame I-wrote-a-book-on-Genocide at the UN, or what NATO thinks it is doing by pointing out Russian support to the rebels/”terrorists”? In Afghanistan, we said that the Karzai government was a problem and so were outside sanctuaries. And when I focus too much on sanctuaries in South Asia around here, people caution me that governance matters. But when it comes to Ukraine, it’s all sanctuaries all the time.
    Everything we have done only seems to have weakened Ukrainian sovereignty on the ground rather than strengthened it, just like many of our actions in Afghanistan.
    1. Attaching ourselves to one faction within the country.
    2. Pushing for aggressive military action when the resources aren’t there, and, even if they were, wouldn’t change the fault lines within the country.
    3. Ignoring what banning languages like Russian means (hello, Punjab insurgency and ethno-linguistic identity!)
    4. Throwing tons of money around internally for democracy promotion which generally creates internal fiction,
    5. Confusing our desires for Ukraine and its future democracy with our desire to punish Russia and Putin.
    6. Arguing–a la Zbig–that a big guerrilla war will turn out okay for the Ukrainian people.
    I posted an excerpt from a British diplomat’s memoirs around here some time ago about Zbig’s view of the Persian Gulf and I remember joking, “we will build an arc of containment on an arc of instability!”
    What is up with that DC consensus types? And the silly tweeting PhD analysts with their bad advice about how the Ukrainians can guard their sovereignty. It’s too emotional and I have been taught over the years that emotionalism makes for bad analysis.
    And most of the blogs or papers I’ve read over the years have gone into almost 2003 propaganda mode with analysts only spewing a party line. It doesn’t mean I have to automatically believe RT or that I follow along with everything by Stephen Cohen at the Nation but I just don’t see me learning much from the sources I have traditionally followed for much of anything.
    So the search for good information continues….
    I guess if Hillary Clinton might be President, and NATO represents a good source of funds, I can expect a return-to-the 90’s from the great PhD think tank class with its finger-in-the-wind dynamics.

  4. Hillary knew a guy who knew a lot about the cattle futures market. That’s different. It’s what politicians do. Now what she did for him is another matter. That’s what they do, too.

  5. Pat Buchanan is a blowhard and I do not give him much credit for original thought.

    Turkey shares a 550-mile border with Syria and could march in and crush ISIS. But if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes to play games with ISIS, out of hatred of Assad, let him and the Turks live with the consequences.

    This is baloney. Turkey is backing ISIS as is the Saudi Wahhabi majority. The royal family is riding a tiger. The best strategy I’ve seen yet is here by Angelo Codevilla

    To kill IS, take note of its makeup: Sunni Wahabis from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, Syrian Sunnis who rebelled against the Alewite regime of the Assad family, the Naqshbandi army constituted by the Ba’athist cadre of Saddam Hussein’s army and security services that fled to Syria in 2003, that ran the war against the U.S. occupation, and that now runs the IS military, plus assorted jihadis from around the world including the United States and Western Europe.

    What do we do about it ?

    The first strike against the IS must be aimed at its sources of material support. Turkey and Qatar are very much part of the global economy—one arena where the U.S. government has enormous power, should it decide to use it. If and when—a key if—the United States decides to kill the IS, it can simply inform Turkey, Qatar, and the world it will have zero economic dealings with these countries and with any country that has any economic dealing with them, unless these countries cease any and all relations with the IS. This un-bloody step—no different from the economic warfare the United States waged in World War II—is both essential and the touchstone of seriousness. Deprived of money to pay for “stuff” and the Turkish pipeline for that stuff, the IS would start to go hungry, lose easy enthusiasm, and wear out its welcome.

    Then what ?

    Given enough willpower, America has enough leverage to cause the Saudis to fight in their own interest. Without American technicians and spare parts, the Saudi arsenal is useless. Nor does Saudi Arabia have an alternative to American protection. If a really hard push were required, the U.S. government might begin to establish relations with the Shia tribes that inhabit the oil regions of eastern Arabia.

    Day after day after day, hundreds of Saudi (and Jordanian) fighters, directed by American AWACS radar planes, could systematically destroy the Islamic State—literally anything of value to military or even to civil life. It is essential to keep in mind that the Islamic State exists in a desert region which offers no place to hide and where clear skies permit constant, pitiless bombing and strafing. These militaries do not have the excessive aversions to collateral damage that Americans have imposed upon themselves.

    That sounds like a strategy but not one Obama will adopt.

    Codevilla is speaking next month locally and I want to go see him.

  6. “This is baloney. Turkey is backing ISIS as is the Saudi Wahhabi majority. The royal family is riding a tiger. ”

    So, it seems to me you’re making the same point as Pat B. (that is, the Turkey wallas will be sorry they back ISIS).

    Pat’s a blowhard…are you a teabagger? Joe’s mama wears combat boots, etc. etc.

  7. “Pat’s a blowhard…are you a teabagger? Joe’s mama wears combat boots, etc. etc.”

    Yes, yes and I’m not sure. Pat is saying that the Turks must live with the “consequences.”

    “if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wishes to play games with ISIS, out of hatred of Assad, let him and the Turks live with the consequences.”

    The “consequences” are that Erdogan will have his radical Sunni allies running Syria and Iraq. The fact that he is deluded about his ability to control them is irrelevant. Erdogan is an Islamist. Turkey is doing slowly what Syria is doing at a rapid pace. The Turks have been a moderating force and a modernizing Muslim example. They are no longer.

  8. Buchanan is a troublesome figure, there is no doubt about that.

    If you go back and look at his writing from 2003, however, he was far more correct in his predictions on what would happen in Iraq than the Iraq War boosters that I stupidly believed. I still remember, to my embarrassment, reading Instapundit and believing each rumor that he posted as evidence that the missing WMD had FINALLY been found.

    My error because I allowed my ignorance to be used in turn by propagandizers. I don’t think Glenn Reynolds is a propagandizer and he was always so kind to me when I was blogging then, I just think he fell for some of the misinformation too.

    As for Angelo Codevilla, I love his stuff on the Country Class but find myself less enthusiastic about some of his foreign policy writing. He seemed, as times to me, to belong to that class of Cold Warriors that had foolish ideas about the Pakistani military and its intelligence.

    This is Codevilla (true, intelligence is tough stuff to get right):

    Has Osama Bin Laden been dead for seven years – and are the U.S. and Britain covering it up to continue war on terror?


    There are other articles on his prediction but I can’t find them right now.

    “The War on Terror is turning Pakistan’s people, long friendly to America, into enemies. Pakistan is necessarily very interested in Afghan affairs because some of the same ethnic groups, especially the Pashtun, live on both sides of the artificial border. In the 1990s, Pakistan sponsored the formation of Afghanistan’s Taliban to safeguard Pashtun and Pakistani interests after the Soviet Union’s departure. When, after 9/11, the U.S. government indicted the Taliban for having harbored some of the attack’s planners, Pakistan was quick to pull its support for the Taliban and helped the U.S. overthrow them. But after 2002, and much more rapidly after 2008, the U.S. government literally occupied Afghanistan to “nation-build” it according to the standard recipe, including equality for women. Armed resistance to the American occupation by tribal and Islamist elements grew quickly on both sides of the border. U.S. occupiers termed it “Taliban.” Regardless of the name, the Islamist opposition designated Pakistan’s government as an enemy quite as much as the U.S. Our government then began striking targets inside Pakistan, putting Pakistan’s government in the position of having to fight its own people. The U.S. helped to overthrow the country’s president, Pervez Musharraf, for insufficient alacrity in doing so. As Pakistani public opinion becomes ever more anti-American, his successors writhe in the same bind.”

    – See more at: http://www.claremont.org/article/the-lost-decade/#.VAXhwjn4bC4

    Some of this seems correct to me, while I think other things are wrong. The Pashtun issue gets a lot of play but more contemporary scholars dispute his statements on that.

    Musharraf never really turned as much as is claimed by some. In fact, who convinced Cheney of the following:

    “Rashid wrote that one frustrated U.S. Special Operations Forces officer who watched the airlift from the surrounding high ground dubbed it “Operation Evil Airlift.”

    Why did Cheney approve such a move — and without any oversight? Does he have any regrets? Why did he feel he was the right person to make this decision?

    And what was his role in the aftermath? Did he suspect that an American-backed warlord would proceed to slaughter hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the prisoners taken in Kunduz? How was he able to block efforts to investigate that episode?

    “This is the essence of Dick Cheney and the sort of leader he’s been.” Horton said.

    Robert Kaiser, writing in the Washington Post, noted that Cheney leaves unaddressed another debacle that took place just a few weeks later: “The administration’s failure to exploit the opportunity, at Tora Bora, to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in the early phase of the war in Afghanistan.”

    And Cheney doesn’t seem to have anything to say about why he and Bush didn’t take the threat of a terrorist attack seriously before 9/11, when it could have made a difference.”

    – See more at: http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=524#sthash.tAEgZwvN.dpuf

    There are more sources than this if people are inclined to find that too left wing.

    I think the Pakistanis made sure that Bush and the Northern Alliance were blunted and we did not really destroy the Taliban as we thought we had. Not just that they melted away, but that the Bush administration and Centcom were effectively ‘handled.’

  9. I also think that part of the reason some in the US were effectively handled is that they were naive and more interested in “getting” Iran or Russia and viewed the Pakistanis as important in those endeavors. So, they were never really interested in the Taliban or OBL except as a rallying cry for what they wanted to do anyway.

    I dare anyone to read anything by the Kagans, Cheney, Rumfeld or other neoconservatives prior to 9-11 that would lead you to think that OBL would be in Abbottabad. They were spectacularly uninterested and uneducated on anything to do with South Asia. They substituted a fetish for Churchill and their fantasy ideas of WWII for understanding anything about the Mid East or South Asia.

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