From the 1100s, to the 1800s the main political dividing line in Europe was between England and France. By the end of the 1800s that dividing line moved Eastward putting Germany on the “other” side. Even after the defeat of Germany after World War I France still considered Germany a future threat and built the Maginot LIne defense system on its Eastern border with Germany. During this entire period there was not much difference between all these countries. The religion was Christian (though of various sects), the royal families were actually related, the culture was similar as was the racial make up of the countries. The defeat of Germany in 1945 moved that dividing line yet again eastward behind what Churchill dubbed the “Iron Curtain”. This time the division was mainly political with Russian communism becoming the system of the East. This put Eastern Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Baltic states etc on the “other” side. On the Western side of this dividing line the fear was Russia and Communism would move Western so NATO was created as a defense to prevent this. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union freed the Eastern European countries to decide their own fate and they all (except for Belarus) decided to join Western Europe. For a period even Russia itself was looking Westward and the dividing line between East and West became blurred and to some non existent. All of the countries abandoned “Communism” as their economic system. However, just like France after WW1 still fearing Germany to its east, the Eastern European countries continued their fear Russia to their east and pushed to join NATO. Meanwhile as the Europe moved into the 21st Century the dividing line between Russia and the Westward European countries seemed to be evaporating. It no longer was automatically seen as a natural dividing line. “Capitalism” replaced “Communism” as the political system. Christianity which had been suppressed under the Communist regime was back in favor. So there did not seem to be any reason for a dividing line any more. Russia was European after all. However, with the rise of Putin Russia began incorporating authoritarian aspects into the political system. This was slow and did not appear dangerous. In fact Putin became very popular for a while as he seemed to be pulling Russia together after the failures of Yeltsin. Meanwhile Putin made it clear quite early in his rise that he considered the “fall of the Soviet Union” as the greatest disaster of the 20th Century. No one took it particularly seriously. As we now know, Putin retained his KGB Soviet Union way of thinking. He wanted to regain what he considered was lost by the collapse of the Soviet Union. In other words he was looking to the past and a dividing line that was to the West of Russia. He was thinking yet again that Russia was separate from the “West” and must therefore have natural spheres of influence. Putin moved more and more towards authoritarianism imprisoning or poisoning political opposition, controlling the media and elections that insured his position. In fact he was rebuilding a political dividing line between democracies and authoritarianism but in such a way that it did not appear to most in the West that it could become dangerous. President Bush “saw his soul” and saw no danger. President Trump liked him more than his own people, President Clinton thought he was an “effective leader”. Obama did not see the danger either. So Putin managed to fool everyone – or rather – most world leaders WANTED to believe that Russia was not a threat and chose not to see the signs for what they were. Ukraine changed all that. It was such a shock that it did what most would think impossible. Unite the world in a way that we have never seen before. The reality is that the dividing lines between East and West have always been artificial and depended on who wanted power and often only one man who wanted that power and not the vast majority of the people themselves. There is little racial difference, religious difference and even cultural difference between Russians and the English. Traditions may be different but the essentials are basically the same. The differences are even more slight between Russians and Ukrainians. In that case the differences were so slight that the Ukrainians could not believe Russia would ever invade AND all the Russians who watch Russian state controlled news cannot believe that Russian troops would attack Ukrainian civilians. They believe what they are told as it fits to what makes sense to them. No matter how you cut it, this war is the result of the views of one man only. No wonder all free media has been silenced so the only views that the Russian people can see are the views of that one man. Putin.
Category: General MC3 Blogging
For many years of the past 50 years the world was divided neatly between two opposing points of view. A binary world in other words.More recently we see that there are many more divisions than two. For starters we need to understand the starting point of the divisions today.
1. The USA from the first European arrivals was anti authoritarian in orientation. Escaping from religious persecution, ethnic persecution or political persecution. Revolution for independence, individual rights etc happened over 200 years ago. So Americans have had over 500 years of those views. of course this applies mostly to white Americans.
2. Russia has been authoritarian for many centuries with only brief moments that could be called “democratic”. The Tsars were authoritarian and though the communist revolution was at the start “democratic” it quickly reverted to authoritarianism. The period after the fall of the USSR saw a brief move towards democracy but it also soon became more authoritarian ending up with Putin today.
3. England began to diminish authoritarian power 800 years ago with the Magna Carta. The power of the King/Queen continued to be limited over the centuries until the monarchy virtually has no power which now rests totally with an elected Parliament.
4. France was confused with loose control from the Monarchy until Louis XIV centralized it to the point he planted the seeds of the French Revolution. The French Revolution eliminated the Monarchy entirely and fostered views of democracy of the people. The country veered back towards authoritarianism under Napoleon but the cat was out of the bag and that did not last long. It is a joke today that there are so may political views in France that forming a representative government is nearly impossible.
5. Germany had a propensity towards authoritarianism until it was beat out of it by the severe defeat of World War II. The end of World War II set the stage for the next 50 years of European history. The division was stark – Churchill called it the “iron curtain”. In the West most of the countries became democratic in orientation and independent from domination by foreign powers (Western Germany limited in some ways). Eastern Europe was dominated by the USSR and communism forced on the countries so authoritarian in nature just like the USSR was. When those countries tried to break away, Hungary for instance, Russian troops put it down. Germany was divided providing a clear visual of how life in the West was compared to life in the East. Both the USA and the USSR encouraged the hostility and we still have the word “communism” used as a political slur by such people as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mark Levin who have no idea what it means and confuse it with socialism and even liberalism. Then the collapse of the USSR changed the stage yet again. The major point we need to know as it relates to what is happening today is what happened to all those countries that had been under Russian domination since the end of World War 2. Suffice it to say that Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia etc who knew what it was like to live under Russian domination pushed to protect themselves against their neighbor to the east. NATO was established just for that reason so they pushed to join NATO. East Germany merged with West Germany. The basic truth is that these countries wanted to be independent and not have a political system forced upon them. They also saw the benefits of the Western economic models and wanted to have those life styles available to them as well. They joined the European Economic Union. None of this was easy, some more messy than others, and not always perfect but none of the countries want to go back to the days of Russian domination and will fight to prevent that ever happening. Ukraine saw the same things and also wanted the same things that the EEC had and NATO would provide. Not all Ukrainians but the vast majority of them. Not all people in any country think alike. The most telling statistic we see in the Ukraine war is that just over 50,000 people fled to Russia while 1,300.000 fled to the West. It is clear that the vast majority of Ukrainians do not want to be a part of Russia any more than Poles do or Czechs. or whoever. At the same time there has been no moves by Ukraine to threaten Russia militarily and indeed they have little wherewithal to do so. They voluntarily gave up their nuclear weapons etc. Meanwhile, Putin is a child of the Regan era of international politics when the world was neatly divided between East and West. On one hand there should be no reason for seeing why such a division exists any more than Poland sees it that way. We in the US do not understand that thinking. On the other hand Putin is seeing the world in the traditional Russian authoritarian view that has existed for centuries. Add that to the emotional nationalistic view that Russia is no longer the great power it was and we have what Putin is thinking. Hitler used the same thinking during his rise in Germany. England and France had to come to terms that they were no longer top dogs just as Italy did centuries ago, and as Spain and Portugal had to. Putin is therefore bucking the reality of the world today. There is an appeal to “going back” to times that seemed better. We have “make America great again” in the USA as well. Unfortunately it is easy to forget what those “good times” really were like. There will always be those people who want to see things “from the other side”. People like Tucker Carlson and a few other right wing types want us to believe that NATO moving towards Russian borders was bound to cause Russian security concerns. They basically bought into the idea that there were two natural divisions between East and West. That Russia and the Western nations were always going to be stuck on opposite sides. Why? I would wager that most young Russians would not agree. Then there will be those appeasement types like Tulsi Gabbard who encourage the view that guarantee Ukraine will not join NATO and it will all be good. We saw that movie in 1939. In the end the reality is that it is not in the interests of the USA or any country in Europe including Russia for there to be this historical division. Western Russia is part of Europe. It has oil which Western Europe can use. The Russian people want the same things as do the people of Kansas City. So historically Putin is an unnecessary throwback to a time that did not make much sense then any more than it makes sense now. Bucking history is a loosing proposition as Putin will find out. We hope he finds out sooner than later.
All through history major leaders have made serious miscalculations. It is easy to do. Give a leader a few successes and people around him will be less likely to contradict him. To gain favor there is a propensity to tell him what he wants to hear. We have all seen whistle blowers loose their jobs and and not be able work in the same industry again. Hitler figured that England and France would not go to war over Poland. He also saw the very anti war sentiment in the USA. So invading Poland seemed a small risk and no one around him tried to stop him. Having seen the prelude to that decision one can see why he thought he could get away with it. Putin must have also gone through a similar thought process before deciding to invade Ukraine. So what might those thoughts have been?1. As for the Russian people themselves, the bulk of the media is state controlled so the message going to the people could be framed in a positive light. If things did not go well any negative media could be closed. Control the media and you control the people. 2. As for the people of Ukraine, a large show of force, tons of troops and weaponry on their border would likely cause a quick surrender and the leaders fleeing once an invasion was undertaken. Who wants to face such overwhelming odds? Besides many speak Russian and consider Russians brothers so resistance should be light.3. European nations especially Germany and Italy are unlikely to want to do much as they are so dependent on Russian oil. It’s winter and oil is necessary for heating. Germany is anti war anyway.4. NATO is not what it used to be and the thought of all those nations actually getting together to do anything is unlikely. It is doubtful that they trust the USA. Our friend Donald Trump has seen to that. The Eastern countries will want to do more than the rest but even so what can they do?5. The USA is divided. The most popular news network Fox says the US President is week and feckless. The poll numbers of public support are very low. Meanwhile the previous President Donald Trump still has a big following and can be counted on to say nice things about Russia and me (Putin) personally. Also on Fox we have Tucker Carlson saying he supports Russia and “why should I care about Ukraine”. The fact is there are a lot of US media people who will side with Russia and have no interest in Ukraine. There are even more who will attack the Democratic leadership and President. It’s election time after all. Fox in particular with people like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham daily criticize and belittle the President so we can count on the US Government to bitch but not be able to do much but put up some sanctions. 6. Sanctions. There will be a lot initial talk that will dissipate when Ukraine surrenders and the leadership flees. We can deal with sanctions and it won’t be long before Europe will want oil and the US Government will be taken over by Republicans who are sympathetic to Russia anyway. We dealt with Sanctions after taking the Crimea so we can deal with any new ones as well.7. China will be supportive because it will help them in their quest to take over Taiwan. 8. Misinformation is rampant out there so there will be so many opinions that conflict that people will not know what to believe and will end up doing nothing. We don’t even need to feed the misinformation – it will happen on its own. The world is full of useful idiots. All the above are quite reasonable assumptions.
Dear Fox commentators. I am confused. The US Government does not own any oil company and oil companies are totally in the private sector. No US company is importing Russian oil. No US company is sending any money to Russia, American banks, shipping companies etc etc refuse to deal with Russia. US oil companies are now pumping more oil as the price of oil makes it profitable. They also have over 1000 leases to drill for oil that have not been used yet. So all this talk about the US (read President Biden) in some way financing Russian invasion of Ukraine is in fact not happening? So why does President Biden have to ban Russian imports of oil that are not happening?
By the way, the US oil companies make billions in profits each year, import from over 80 countries and export to over 100 countries. In fact the USA is a net exporter of oil each year, As the price of oil goes up guess who makes more profits? Oil companies. That is the capitalist way.
Its very easy to criticize if you don’t have to be responsible for what happens. Its easy to criticize for what should have happened if you dont know the facts. It’s easy to say “we should do more” if you dont have to deal with the unintended consequences. It’s easy to call for taking risks and “having a spine” if you are not facing a real potential of nuclear war that could destroy the world.
The game of politics is simple. Criticize from the outside to help you get elected then when you are on the inside forget what you said. When you are on the outside the facts don’t really matter. What does matter is getting elected. The Republicans are now on the outside and the midterms are coming up so they criticize everything even if they would do the same thing. That is the reality of politics.Both Democrats and Republicans do this. For instance, Donald Trump said Obama care was a disaster and that he would replace it with something much better and cheaper day one. Forgotten day two. Mexico will pay for the wall. Forgotten. Iran nuclear deal was the worst deal ever so he terminated it to get a better deal. Never replaced and Iran now much closer to getting a nuclear weapon. etc etc.
Big talking points now are oil independence. Sounds good and on the surface makes sense. Ban Russian oil imports! Meanwhile the US government does not import oil, the private sector does. And no Russian oil has been purchased for several weeks now – before any calls for banning the oil occurred. Many oil leases in the US have not been utilized yet. We dont need any more. The US is a net exporter of oil. etc etc.Besides one way to cut the need for oil is to build more renewables. Drilling is not the only solution. Then there is Iran. Complete that nuclear deal and a major oil exporter enters the market. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
My son Miles IV came up with an interesting scenario to solve the Ukraine war. It goes something like this: Letter to Putin and the Russian Military leadersDear Sirs, As you know Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal years ago with guarantees from the USA and Russia. What you do not know is that we kept three of the largest nuclear bombs. One has now been placed in Moscow and ready to detonate. The other two are also ready to detonate and are located in two other cities that we will not disclose. We are giving you 24 hours to cease operations in Ukraine and 48 hours to remove your troops from our country. Let me remind you. We have nothing to loose. Several of our cities already look like they were hit by a nuclear bomb. Millions have fled Westward. We have no wish to kill Russians. We equally have no wish to see our country occupied and destroyed. We are not kidding. If you do not do as we ask millions of Russians will be vaporized, Its up to you. Ukrainian Resistance Forces.
Earlier today Putin made another speech on Russian state media. Just like the last speech we heard his words and watched him saying them. According to Putin, Ukraine is run by a bunch of Nazis who are imprisoning foreign students, using the Ukrainian public as human shields, killing Russian civilians etc..
Apparently President Zilensky (who is Jewish by the way) is head of a government of Nazis and the brave Russian army is attempting to cleanse the country of these bad people and NOT doing it by targeting civilians. Meanwhile, all the Western TV media covering the War, right wing, left wing, non-partisan and partisan – NOT ONE single news clip over the past 8 days shows one Ukrainian saying anything about Nazis. Just the opposite.
Fox reporters in the field say the same things and see the same things as CNN, MSNBC, BBC and even Newsmax. In Russia itself all conflicting media questioning the Ukraine invasion has been shut down. State media cannot say the words “War”, “invasion” “attack”. So the average Russian is not allowed to know what is going on. It is fast becoming impossible for the Putin supporters in the West to continue in their support. Putin has become the Hitler of our time. Too bad the Russian public is not given the same chance.
There is not much good one can attach to the war in Ukraine but it does expose me to people with views that try to validate some of what Putin is doing. I did not know who Lee Smith was until I saw him on Laura Ingraham’s FOX TV show. Subsequently I read many of his writings to see what he was all about. Some subjects I did not know much about but others I do know a lot about. For the latter all I can say is that this guy is deeply misinformed and prone to misinterpret history to an astounding degree. I would like to say that he is just naïve and got such views because of that, but it did not take long to see he was coming from a conspiracy agenda that enables him to see evil intentions under every bed as long as they are American or Democrats. I can safely say that he is a wacko. Meanwhile watching useful idiot Tucker Carlson yesterday also on FOX, I heard Tulsi Gabbard express views that I can’t help but think she means well but does not really know anything about history or the realities of world politics. I am reminded of the old saying “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Though she talked for a while the only message that she seemed to be saying is that 1. a politician should be thinking of what is “best for his people” as if that was some great revelation. 2. that of course we should be upset at Putin’s invasion of Russia BUT it is not our problem and not in our interest to respond to it. And 3. All the Ukrainian bloodshed could have been avoided IF we and NATO had listened to “legitimate Russian security fears” and agreed that Ukraine would never join NATO. Of course useful idiot Tucker Carlson agreed because as he has said “why should I care about Ukraine?”. Well, some facts need to be understood. First it was not NATO that pushed to include Poland, the Baltic States, etc into NATO, it was those countries themselves that were desperate to join. Why? Because they feared Russia. They had experienced Russia and wanted protection from it. Second, NATO was set up for defense and NOT for offence so Russian “security concerns” are a false flag. Does anyone really believe that Germany, France, England, the USA and all the other NATO countries were plotting to attack Russia? It is a preposterous notion. If they were plotting so hard why did they become so dependent on Russian oil? Second, as we have clearly seen the Ukrainians had no intention to attack Russia. They gave up their nuclear arsenal with guarantees from the US AND Russia. What’s more, it is Ukraine that is pushing to join NATO and not the other way around. In fact NATO has resisted. Third, Why are we to believe that if we had granted Putin’s demand that Ukraine never join NATO he would not have attacked Ukraine anyway? We need to look back at a very similar period of history to understand what was likely to happen. In 1938 Hitler’s Germany demanded to take over the Sudetenland, the heavily German speaking part of western Czechoslovakia. In Western capitols we heard views that this was simply redressing the unfair way Germany was treated after World War I. “Legitimate” in other worlds. Nevil Chamberlain, having experienced the horrors of the First World War wanted peace and to avoid another world war. He ended up believing Hitler when he was told this was the last bit of land Germany wanted. He agreed to let Hitler take that land and came back to the UK as a hero with a piece of paper saying we have “peace in our time”. He went on to expound the view that it was Winston Churchill who was the war monger NOT Mr. Hitler. Well, he was right – he did deliver “peace in our time” – the problem was that “our time” turned out to be very short. Less than a year later Hitler invaded Poland. The word “appeasement” became part of our no no doctrine. When Hitler took not only the agreed Sudetenland but the whole of Czechoslovakia the penny dropped as to what Hitler was really all about. BUT still there were those who said “why should we care about Czechoslovakia”? Peace was seen as a more important goal. Lets not forget that President Roosevelt promised America would not go to war in Europe. In the end we learned the lesson that “appeasement” is NOT the answer to secure peace. It may be a short term answer but history has shown over and over again it is NOT the long term answer. If anything, the short term benefits appeasement may bring only make the long term disaster all the more severe. Like Hitler before him, the invasion of Ukraine has exposed Putin’s real intentions. Most of the world (even Switzerland and Sweden!) have united against him because we know all the bullshit about “legitimate security concerns” is just that; bullshit. We had to finally wake up to Hitler, now we have to wake up to Putin. Time to open our eyes and see what is right in front of us.
Someone should tell Sean Hannity that the US has NOT purchased any Russian gas/oil for the last two weeks. Russian oil accounts for 3% of annual US purchases and largely replaces Venezuelan supplies. The argument that the US should pump more gas at home is valid but grossly exaggerating its effect is a distortion of reality. Also solving one problem may well cause another worse one. NO decision is without unintended consequences. However here are the facts: in 2020, the United States IMPORTED about 7. 86 million barrels per day of petroleum from about 80 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels (including ethanol and biodiesel). Crude oil imports of about 5. 88 million barrels per day accounted for about 75% of U. S. total gross petroleum imports in 2020, and non-crude oil petroleum accounted for about 25% of U. S. total gross petroleum imports. In 2020, the United States EXPORTED about 8. 50 million barrels per day of petroleum to about 174 countries and 4 U. S. territories. Crude oil exports of about 3. 21 million barrels per day accounted for 38% of total U. S. gross petroleum exports in 2020. The resulting totalnet petroleum imports(imports minus exports) were about -0. 63 million barrels per day in 2020, which means that the United States was a net petroleum exporter of 0. 63 million barrels per day in 2020. When you see these facts it pretty much destroys most of Hannity’s argument. Meanwhile thinking “someone” should bomb the 40 mile long Russian column heading from the North to Kyiv and that can be hidden shows just how detached from reality Hannity is. The Russians have satellites too, and these days you cant hide anything. Even the Russians have phones with cameras. Basically as far as I can see his show is basically a party political broadcast to belittle the Democrats and President Biden and enhance Republicans. Its interesting to see how he twists everything going on in the Ukraine to somehow mean its all Biden’s fault.
Then followed by Laura Ingraham she should be more careful who she invites on to be a talking head. Look at all the writings of Lee Smith. Talk about a wacko! Great use of half truths mixed with outright delusions and an obvious agenda. Just another conspiracy theory advocate who makes out Russia is good and Ukraine is getting what it deserves and that it is America’s fault (actually NOT America but Obama, Biden and the Democrats of course).
Blame for what is going on in Ukraine can be shared by many going back for many years. It goes to show that not dealing with an issue early can create greater problems in the future. Every recent US President, both Democrat and Republican and many European leaders can take some of the blame. So can the media. The truth is no one wanted to deal with what would now seem obvious any more than the world wanted to deal with Hitler in 1939. Nevil Chamberlain believed Churchill was the problem NOT Hitler! We don’t want to deal with climate change and some of the media even go so far as to laugh at environmentalists no matter how dire the warnings are. Only when Miami sinks or New York is under water will the media come to accept the dangers.
It costs money and sacrifices have to be made which we don’t want to deal with. It is no different with Putin and Russia. We should have known, the signs were there, but who wanted to take them seriously? Hell, if we couldn’t take Hitler seriously how the hell are we expected to take Putin seriously? Meanwhile under the last President Putin was made out to be a good guy and certain media today don’t want to mention that now very inconvenient truth. They even say he strengthened NATO which he did the opposite of. Again, not wanting to deal with it because it conflicts with other agendas. More disturbing are the Putin supporters among the far right who continue to champion support even as we can see what is happening on our TV screens. It is shocking to realize once again how many will choose to believe what they want to believe even when the evidence is overwhelming that the opposite is true. The only good news in all of this is that the Russian invasion is making many wake up to the reality of Putin and to the inconvenient truths that previously they chose to ignore.