Showing posts with label NATO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NATO. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Time For China And India To Shed "Neutrality"

China did not know beforehand that Russia was going to invade Ukraine. India did not.

And while the two militaries clash on Ukrainian territory with the overwhelming damage to Ukrainian lives and property, it is at one level. It is localized war.

Putin can not complain about economic sanctions. For one, they have not been a surprise. And he, on his part, has issued retaliatory economic sanctions.

Nobody owes the Putin regime a world power status. He is not even fighting for second place. Or third, or fourth, or fifth. China is the second largest economy. India is the third largest. And if Russia were not an authoritarian kleptocracy, it migth be a vibrant knowledge economy. Putin is the problem.

These nuclear threats by Putin can not be thought of as empty words. Autocrats are known to commit suicide. The Putin inner circles often get described as a prison yard. You watch your back, I will watch mine.

Putin is not threatening Finland, or Britain. We all know a nuclear threat by either Russia or the US is a threat to the entire planet.

China and India must step in.

By that I do not mean China and India should now do what Britain has been doing, what many NATO countries have been doing. I am not asking that you take sides. But I am asking that you stop staying on the sidelines. Get actively involved in the conversation. Weigh in on both sides.

China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia all need to step into the void and help resolve the situation. This game of brinkmanship has gone too far already.

The Chinese and the Indian leadership need to demand that the heads of states of Russia, the United States, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Britain, France and Germany meet them for a summit in a neutral territory like Brazil or South Africa, or even Indonesia and hold in person negotiations to walk back from the brink.

Putin's nuclear threats to Finland and Britain are not localized threats. They are immediate nuclear radiation threats to Russia and Europe, and an existential threat to the entire planet. That threatening posture can not be allowed to stand.

China and India should work to impose a no first use policy on all nuclear powers. Nothing less makes any sense.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Disagreeing With Parag Khanna: There Is No Need To Appease Putin

Settlement in Ukraine Is Not Appeasement
Settlement in Ukraine Is Not Appeasement The deep and actionable lesson we take away from Ukraine must be to settle disputes before they become great power wars and humanitarian catastrophes. ....... This year, Russia is projected to earn $320 billion in oil revenues (one-third more than in 2021), and its current account surplus will rise to $240 billion. Even on the back foot, he can continue to fund his war machine. The question is not whether he can eventually be stopped, but what he would settle for in order to hasten an end to his genocidal campaign. To get straight to the point, the answer lies in a clear legal partition of territory (gains for Russia) countered with NATO membership for Ukraine. ...... Putin has frequently spoken about his desire to unite the ethnic Russian “near abroad” under one flag. ....... knowing what we do about Putin’s disturbed psyche, isolated behavior, and delusions of grandeur—and the reality of his political and biological longevity—what diplomatic accommodation could have been sufficient to avert this worst of all possible outcomes? ....... The answer lies in settling borders before tanks cross them. In the case of Ukraine, the 2014 capture of Crimea should have disabused the West of any notion that Putin would either return the peninsula or engage fairly in a peace process over Donbas, where he has relentlessly supported pro-Russian separatist militias. Rather than the past eight years of inevitably futile diplomacy followed by the current campaign of destruction, Crimea and Donbas could have been formally ceded to Russia at the time—and Ukraine promptly admitted into the EU and NATO in response. Give—and take. ...... A country is either sovereign or it is not. Calls for “neutrality” are not conflict resolution but a recipe for further subterfuge. ..... unlike Russia, China’s military capacity is growing by giant leaps. All the more reason then, to settle with China now rather than risk misperception and escalation later. Those islands that China has built up into its own de facto possessions should be recognized as belonging to China—but allied countries should take similar actions to reinforce and defend every rocky outcrop they still possess—with bluntly transparent Western support. China should be told in the sharpest terms that military assistance will mount across the South and East China Seas until it engages in reciprocal and binding recognition. Again: settlement with deterrence. .......... Clarity over borders enables their opening to flows of talent, a competition in which the West prevails hands-down over both Russia and China. Just look at the outflow of Russian and Chinese students and professionals over the past generation, including those fleeing Moscow and Hong Kong today. A generation of talent gained is worth more than a sliver of territory lost. ......... Recent decades have laid bare how great powers can be eager to enter wars but are rarely good at preventing them. That is a dangerous paradox given how many so-called “frozen conflicts” are flaring just below the surface and away from the headlines. From the Balkans to the Caucasus to the Himalayas, unsettled conflicts are perpetual powder kegs. ....... A world of settled borders is a more peaceful world even if it is still populated by authoritarian despots.

And to think Putin is on record wanting Russia to join NATO. That was the song he was singing in the early 2000s. And that might have happened had he been a democrat like Vaclav Havel, or like Zelensky. But NATO is not just a gun, tank and missiles alliance. It is an armor wrapped around democracy. Belarus as it stands today would not be accepted as a NATO member. Because it is not a democracy.

So if Putin's Russia can aspire to join NATO, why can't Zelensky's Ukraine? Or Georgia, for that matter. Is it not for a sovereign state to decide?

If I were Ukraine, I might have aspired for a Switzerland like neutrality. Because a big military is a big expense. But Ukraine got in a hurry to join NATO precisely because Putin misbehaved in Georgia. Like Finland and Sweden are in a hurry now. The Baltic states are apopleptic.

Staying neutral was not an option after Georgia. It is even less of an option now.

The best way to make NATO defunct would be for the Putin regime to fall, and Russia go on the path of true democracy. A vibrant, democratic, federal Russia would make NATO defunct by its mere presence.

Putin went into Ukraine for the reason Saddam went into Kuwait. A dictator can not maintain the constant tension that keeps him in power unless he can keep conjuring up external threats out of thin air. Many argue Saddam might still be in power today if he had just stayed put in Baghdad. Why did he go into Kuwait? Well, he had to. That is what dictators do.

Ukraine might not have the option to militarily take back Crimea, and now Donbas, but that does not mean it needs to stop claiming them both.

It is not like there are ethnic Ukrainians in western Ukraine, and it is all just Russians in Crimea and Donbas. There are easily 100 different nationalities inside Ukraine. There are more than 100 inside Russia. Putin sits atop an empire as it is.

He does not speak for the Russians in Moscow. How can he speak for the Russians in Donbas and Crimea?

Putin's military defeat in Ukraine will lead to a collapse of support all around him in his inner circles. The world will see a new wave of democracy very much like it saw in 1989. The biggest beneficiary of Ukraine's immense sacrifice and suffering has been the United States. When you are a two party democracy, and one of those two parties is hellbent on disenfranchising large swathes of the population, you are not much of a democracy any more.

Trump needed to be beat in the US. Putin needs to be beat in Russia. And Le Pen needs to be beat in France.

This War Goes To Moscow

Eastern Ukraine braces for onslaught U.S. military analysts are predicting Russian forces will conduct a major attack on eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, between the city of Izium and the strategic hub of Dnipro. ...... Russian airstrikes have already destroyed Dnipro's airport. Meanwhile, local leaders are urging civilians to evacuate. ...... In the aftermath of the Kramatorsk train station attack that killed more than 50 civilians, one shopkeeper told The New York Times, "The town is dead now." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has demanded a tougher global response to the missile strike. ........ Ukraine is pursuing 5,600 war crimes cases ....... The latest EU sanctions include a ban on the import of coal, wood and chemicals from Russia and banning many Russian ships and trucks from accessing the bloc. ....... S&P Global downgraded Russia's currency rating to "selective default" over concerns the country won't fulfill its obligations on foreign debt. ...... Russia has revoked the registrations of 15 foreign organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, that have accused Russian troops of committing war crimes. ......... NATO countries have agreed to send more heavy weapons to Ukraine. ....... Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted in an interview that Russia has suffered “significant losses of troops” in Ukraine, a rare admission by Moscow that the war has not gone to plan. ...... More than 11 million people have been displaced by the war in Ukraine. That number includes 4 million who have fled abroad, half of whom are children. .......... Western sanctions are likely successfully disrupting Russia’s military-industrial base. .

Nepal’s shortsighted view-tower craze Corruption is the driving force behind wasteful spending on construction of view-towers on Himalayan peaks ....... Politicians at all three levels of government in Nepal appear to be racing against time to build a concrete view-tower on every mountain in the country, and a gate outside every town. ........ politicians know exactly what they are doing by putting up these non-essential monstrosities. It is kickbacks that are lubricating these contracts. ....... So, instead of expanding health posts and hospitals, retrofitting school buildings to make them seismic resistant, or ensuring safe drinking water supply, elected people’s representatives are squandering taxpayer money on useless structures. .......... It is not just view-towers, but high rises in the middle of nowhere, enormous statues of gods and saints, outsized cement replicas of fruits and products municipalities are famous for, and elaborate gates at the entrance of every town or village. ........ A 80m high statue of the saint Byas is being constructed in Tanahu district at a cost of Rs450 million in the hope of attracting pilgrims to a place where the holy man was supposed to have meditated. ........ In Morang, the Sundar Haraicha Municipality has started building the world’s biggest statue of a cow, lavishing nearly Rs1 billion in the project. ....... Former prime minister K P Oli set the stage by laying the foundation stone for a Rs2.5 billion view-tower project in Jhapa’s Damak last year. His rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal of the Maoist Centre was not far behind and inaugurated a $6 billion view-tower on a mountain top in Rolpa commemorating guerrillas killed during the insurgency. ....... Bagmati Province has allocated Rs180 billion for over a dozen view-towers projects across central Nepal this year. Gandaki Province has budgeted Rs176 million to develop 44 tourist destinations, most of which will have

view-towers on already lofty peaks

. ....... it appears like local governments have run out of places to dig new and poorly-engineered roads and have been attracted by erecting view-towers to impress voters ...... Kathmandu Metropolitan City is building a 29-floor high rise at a cost of Rs5 billion near Tundikhel that is already an eyesore and will be a white elephant. Not to be outdone, Biratnagar is putting up its own high rise at a cost of Rs4 billion. ....... Federalism was supposed to inject more accountability — at least at the local level. The opposite seems to have happened in the past five years. ........ It could be because view-towers are easy to build, posts can be padded and accord a lot of opportunity for hidden over-invoicing, and the political party gets to show voters it is committed to ‘development’. ........ Many environmentalists and even engineers have pointed out that Nepal’s high mountains are already so high that they serve as view-towers. Adding an extra few metres on them is illogical and adds nothing to the panorama. They say that if it is the vista that the planners want, viewing platforms would be more appropriate. ......... Inspired by the Great Wall of China, Helambu Rural Municipality is constructing a 60km stone trail, dubbed ‘the Helambu Great Trail’. ........ All these view-towers have one thing in common: they are of no help to the local people — they serve no purpose, economic or otherwise. There is no business plan or an analysis of return on investment.

Monday, February 28, 2022

I Am No American Mouthpiece On Ukraine

I am no American stooge. I am not in contact with anybody officially in power in the US. I am on US soil, but that only gives me perspectives that make me no fan of the American political system as it stands today. I think America teeters on the brink of both fascism and apartheid if that is possible, but one misguided hateful fool can turn an applecart upside down, and I will let Robert DeNiro take it from here.

Liberty asks for eternal vigilance. As in, you don't get it in inheritance. You could easily lose it from one generation to the next. And right now, America is busy losing it.

I don't think Ukraine or Russia should learn from the United States. I think the United States should see this as an opportunity to rejuvenate democracy inside America. This is your chance. Take it. Seize the moment. Support Ukraine in every way you can. Support the Russians in their streets. 

There is so much the US and the West and the rest of the world could do. Beam unfettered Internet down satellites all across the former Soviet Union. Get the Russian diaspora hyper-organized. Freeze the Kremlin criminal syndicate's assets everywhere. Organize a truckers' strike in Poland if necessary. 

Anything to get the Russians to come out into the streets in the hundreds of thousands. What Russia needs is a color revolution. There is a point at which Putin gives up. I think that is 500,000 people out in the streets of Moscow refusing to vacate. 

Find him a safe way to get to Belarus. 

America got rid of Trump. Russia's turn to get rid of Putin. 

Russia deserves to become a $5 trillion economy. I think a free trade area encompassing the former Soviet Union would be a great idea. A democratic Russia robustly trading with all its neighbors would make NATO irrelevant. I think Germany will enjoy spending less on defense. 

Russia will continue to be a global power. 

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Hybrid Warfare, Meet Human Warfare

Putin's great innovation supposedly is that with his nukes he neutralizes America and the West, but on the ground he relies not only on boots but also on what has come to be known as hybrid warfare. He also hacks your phone. He brings down websites. There is massive information warfare. The West will not nuke you, but it will dollarize you, or so the thinking goes. 

What is missing in that talk is plain old human warfare. Urban warfare in the streets of Kyiv will undo Putin. The war started unpopular inside Russia. It will get more so with every passing day. More than 100,000 civilians inside Ukraine have already volunteered to pick up weapons. And they will get plenty of help from Poland. NATO has a full presence in Poland. 

There will be information warfare, but not to Putin's advantage. In the hearts and minds of the world, every sliced TikTok video will make the rounds and bring Putin down. This war is Putin's overreach. 

Putin has opened two fronts. The other front is China. Putin is not trying to become the dominant global power. He is trying to convince the world, including China, that Russia is still the number one power that challenges the US. China might disagree. China competes, but primarily economically. 

This war might finally bring democracy to Russia. Too bad the price will be paid by the people in Ukraine. 

The Endgame In Russia

Putin's Russia is a minor size economy. The Putin regime inside Russia is illegitimate. Putin is an autocrat. The people of Ukraine are being asked to fight the fight that the Russians inside Russia needed to fight. I don't see how this is going to go down well for Putin. Putin taking Kyiv is when the countdown begins. It is only a matter of time before the Putin regime implodes. Hopefully, Russia will see a liberal democracy and a subsequent resurgent economy. Ukraine will pave the way. A resurgent Russian economy will earn Russia its rightful place on the world map. This is Putin's Afghanistan. Liberty is worth fighting for. Putin just made a very bad move. Support for him will collapse inside Russia. NATO can not send in troops. But it needs to send in all possible military aid. It needs to organize camps for Ukrainian rebel fighters outside of Ukraine in the neighboring NATO member countries where they may regroup and plan their moves. The president of Ukraine needs to make a strategic retreat and step outside the country to become an active symbol of resistance. This is Afghanistan but it will not last 10 years. Putin is lucky if it will last one year. 

This is not about the United States. This is about Ukraine. This is not about NATO. This is about Ukraine. Ukraine is a sovereign country with the right to decide its own destiny. Putin is in the wrong. Putin's sugar high of the Ukraine invasion will not last. The hangover will kick in fast and will be lingering. 

Street fighting begins in Kyiv; people urged to seek shelter Russian troops are storming toward Ukraine’s capital, and street fighting is breaking out ....... The country's president refused an American offer to evacuate, insisting that he would stay. “The fight is here,” he said. ..........  Skirmishes reported on the edge of the city suggested that small Russian units were probing Ukrainian defenses to clear a path for the main forces. .........  Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered renewed assurance Saturday that the country’s military would stand up to the Russian invasion. In a video recorded on a downtown street, he said he had not left the city and that claims that the Ukrainian military would put down arms were false. ........... Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine's government and replace it with a regime of his own. ......... quoted the president as saying that “the fight is here" and that he needed anti-tank ammunition but “not a ride.” ......... The U.S. and other global powers slapped ever-tougher sanctions on Russia as the invasion reverberated through the world’s economy and energy supplies. U.N. officials said millions could flee Ukraine. Sports leagues moved to punish Russia, and even the popular Eurovision song contest banned it from the May finals in Italy. ........... The 11-1 vote, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining, showed significant opposition to Russia’s invasion of its smaller, militarily weaker neighbor. .......... up to 4 million could flee if the fighting escalates. ........ Zelenskyy earlier offered to negotiate on a key Putin demand: that Ukraine declare itself neutral and abandon its ambition of joining NATO. ......... Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called the sanctions against Putin and Lavrov “an example and a demonstration of a total helplessness” of the West.

As Putin eyes Ukraine invasion, Trump praises his actions as 'genius'.  Donald Trump is calling the actions of the Russian president "genius" and "savvy." .......  Trump praised the Russian president while simultaneously slamming President Joe Biden for the situation. ......... Trump has long expressed an admiration for Putin, saying on Tuesday that as president, he got along "great" with the Russian leader. "He liked me. I liked him. I mean, you know, he's a tough cookie, got a lot of great charm and a lot of pride," Trump said. "And he loves his country, you know? He loves his country."

Putin was playing Biden all along The U.S. president and his aides thought they could manage Putin. Their calculations were dead wrong.  .........  for the past year, Biden tried repeatedly to reason with the steely-eyed strongman. ........... In launching a massive assault on Ukraine this week, Putin proved that he sees the world, and his interests, very differently than Biden hoped. He also proved resistant to many traditional tools of diplomacy and deterrence. ...........  The Ukraine attack and the risk of a larger war in Europe also bodes ill for the administration’s ability to focus on other priorities going forward, in particular the challenge of a rising China. ..........  On Thursday, Biden doubled down on the existing strategy, unveiling more sanctions, deploying more U.S. troops to Europe and promising more diplomacy to keep America and its allies unified. He warned that “Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly economically and strategically. We will make sure of that. Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.” .........  And on Thursday, the Russian leader dramatically escalated what is already an eight-year-long war, bombing major Ukrainian cities in an effort to take as much of the country as possible. ............  Ukraine’s desire to join NATO, as well as its citizens’ preference for democracy, only added to Putin’s fears that the country could be a long-term threat to his own. ........... At the same time, Putin has watched — and sometimes aided — regimes in places like Syria, Venezuela, and Iran, which have survived despite Western diplomatic threats and economic sanctions. ......... Putin is a believer in the ability of hard power to change the global order, and he may simply be less susceptible to what Biden may see as logical appeals to think about his global reputation..........  Putin, meanwhile, believes time is on his side. He’s planning to stay in power long after Biden departs, and he likely expects that the current united front that America and its allies are putting up against him will crack over time, especially if Europe feels ongoing pain from the blowback on Russian sanctions. ........... U.S. and European efforts to isolate Russia through sanctions will likely lead Moscow to lean on Beijing for trade and other economic relations. A solidified China-Russia bloc could then exert significant pressure on other countries to align with it or to at least stay neutral. .......... if Putin’s gambit in Ukraine succeeds, China might apply some of its lessons to its long-standing desire to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. 

Putin’s Endgame: Unravel the Post-Cold War Agreements That Humiliated Russia Moscow’s military forces threaten Ukraine, but the bigger prize is restoration of Russia’s sphere of influence stretching through Eastern Europe ........  The world’s attention is on eastern Ukraine, where Moscow’s forces circle. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions extend far beyond. He wants to renegotiate the end of the Cold War.

India explores setting up rupee trade accounts with Russia to soften sanctions blow India is exploring ways to set up a rupee payment mechanism for trade with Russia to soften the blow on New Delhi of Western sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine ........ vital supplies of fertilizer from Russia could be disrupted as sanctions intensify, threatening India's vast farm sector. ....... Russia invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two ........ Such mechanisms are often used by countries to shield themselves from the blow of sanctions and India also used it with Iran after it came under Western sanctions for its nuclear weapons programme ........... Russia's exports to India stood at $6.9 billion in 2021, mainly mineral oils, fertilisers and rough diamonds, while India exported $3.33 billion worth of goods to Russia in 2021, mainly pharmaceutical products, tea and coffee. ....... Russia and Belarus usually account for nearly a third of India's total potash imports. It would not be feasible to replace them amid a rally in fertilizer prices to a record high 

Fast becoming a cult hero, Ukraine leader Zelenskyy snubs US offer to evacuate him
Ukraine President rejects US offer to evacuate Kyiv: 'I need ammunition, not a ride' Putin has been reluctant in paying heed to such calls and even urged Ukraine’s military to mutiny. ........ "Strengthening sanctions, concrete defence assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed" with Biden, Zelensky wrote on Twitter while expressing gratitude for "strong" American support.

Ukraine fight isn't proceeding as quickly as Russia expected, U.S. Defense official says Russia has encountered tougher resistance than it had anticipated from Ukrainian troops ...... About a third of the Russian troops that were placed along Ukraine's borders have now crossed into Ukraine

Should we be worried about nuclear war? . “No matter who tries to stand in our way or … create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.” ........ “Today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states,” Putin said. ....... The Russian invasion has relied entirely on conventional weapons — tanks rattling down highways, bombers flying overhead, ships landing in the port city of Odesa — and experts told Vox that in the absence of a shocking escalation, that isn’t likely to change. ........ Russia has about 6,000 nuclear weapons and the United States has about 5,500. Either nuclear arsenal is large enough to kill billions of people — but also to serve as a deterrent against attack. ....... The seven other countries known to have nuclear weapons have much smaller arsenals. Most countries in the world have signed onto the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which limits the development of nuclear weapons. ...... “I think there is virtually no chance nuclear weapons are going to be used in the Ukraine situation,” said Matthew Bunn, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former adviser to President Clinton’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. ........ The main reason, Bunn said, is that the United States and its NATO allies have made clear that they will not send troops to Ukraine. Without the threat of military intervention, Putin has little reason to use his nuclear weapons, especially since Russia has a staggering numbers advantage over the Ukrainian military. ........ “His objective is to simply swallow Ukraine — and restore not just the [power of the] Soviet Union, but the Tsarist empire.” ........ Russia’s roughly 5,977 warheads make it the country with the largest nuclear arsenal. Kristensen said most of those warheads are in reserves, with only about 1,600 deployed as land, sea, and air-based weapons, such as missile silos or bombs dropped by planes. (When the USSR fell apart at the end of the Cold War, there were nuclear weapons left behind on Ukrainian soil, but Ukraine returned them to Russia.) ......... The countries known to have nuclear weapons are Russia, the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. That includes every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, which have been working to modernize their nuclear weapons over the past few decades, and three members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The total number of weapons has dropped by about 80 percent since the end of the Cold War, from an estimated 70,300 in 1986 to 12,700 in early 2022........... “The element of emotion and anger that’s crept into Putin’s statements in particular is striking,” said Hare. “Normally we’ve associated Russia’s diplomatic style with a kind of laconic, almost sarcastic manner.” ........ It’s worth remembering, Kristensen added, that Putin often makes allusions to Russia’s nuclear arsenal as a show of strength. In 2015, he told a Russian state TV documentary that he had considered putting Russian nuclear forces on alert during the Russian annexation of Crimea a year prior. ....... “He lives in a very small bubble, and he’s deeply paranoid,” Kristensen said. “He’s willing to do really not very rational things.” ...... the threat of nuclear weapons is the reason the US won’t send troops to Ukraine. ....... The existence of nuclear weapons “didn’t help us in Vietnam, they didn’t help us in Iraq, they didn’t help us in Afghanistan ......... “The whole international order is sort of being thrown up in the air. Is the Ukraine attack going to be a prelude to an attack on, say, the Baltic States that are even more vulnerable, or is Putin going to be satisfied with Ukraine?” ........ “We’re starting to see large powers begin to sort of entertain the thought of limited tactical nuclear weapons use scenarios, in a way that they didn’t spend very much time thinking about 10 years ago,” said Kristensen. These are the sorts of unlikely scenarios that have been tossed around in war games as contingencies since the Cold War, and could entail strikes on isolated military targets that are far from population centers .......... North Korea continues to build up its nuclear arsenal, India and Pakistan appear to be engaging in an arms race to build up short-range tactical nuclear weapons, and hostility is ratcheting up between the US, Russia, and China. ....... For decades, Bunn added, about one in every 10 US lightbulbs was powered by uranium from decommissioned Russian warheads, which was sent to American nuclear power plants — a reminder that the world actively worked together to turn a tool of destruction into a force for good. “That’s remarkable,” Bunn said. “It’s never been true before in human history that the most powerful weapon available to our species was widely forsworn.”

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Turkey could block Russian warship access to Black Sea, Zelenskiy suggests, in blow to Putin .

Russia’s Assault in Ukraine Slows After an Aggressive Start The invading forces have faced stiff resistance, but President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia could quickly send in more troops, Pentagon officials said. ......... For the Russian military, the difficult part came quickly. ........ It is one thing to cross the border of another country with tanks and artillery, protected by warplanes above, Pentagon officials and analysts say. It is another thing entirely to lay siege to cities and an army populated by people willing to put their lives on the line to protect what they view as their sovereign right to self-determination. ......... as Ukrainian fighters mounted a resistance. No population centers had been taken ....... The Ukrainian air defense and missile defense systems were degraded, he said, but the country’s air force was still flying planes and denying air access to Russia. ......... Russia was conducting most of its initial operations during the day, suggesting that its ability to fight at night — a hallmark of the American military — was less effective. ........ Russia was still in the initial phases of an operation that could take two to three weeks to seize most of the country. ........ The Russian military, with its decisive edge in cyberwarfare, tanks, heavy weaponry, missiles, fighter planes, warships and sheer numbers, dwarfs that of Ukraine. ........ While Russia has established attack lines into three cities — Kyiv in the north, Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson in the south — Ukrainian troops are fighting to hold all three. ....... Ukrainian command and control remains intact. ......... Russia’s attack lines are bottlenecked, a second official said, as Ukrainian troops fiercely engage against the Russians. The resistance, the official said, is why the Russian troops massed at the border have not all crossed. ....... “But it’s a dynamic situation.” ......... If Russian intelligence has figured out where Mr. Zelensky and the rest of the Ukrainian leadership are hiding, the Russian military will probably try to take them out with rockets and airstrikes ......... “But the narrative that they’ve overrun Ukraine is very premature. We’re just a couple of days into this, and it could go on a long time.” ........ Ukrainian troops and citizens are fighting back ........ “The Ukrainians are badly overmatched in technology and sheer combat power, especially in the air and at sea, but are fighting on their homeland to protect their children and families,” said retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander for Europe. “Motivation is far higher on their side, and the intangibles can help.” ....... The Russian military attack continued on Friday as it started the day before: with the terrifying thud of artillery strikes on airports and military installations all over Ukraine. ....... the Russians, using missiles and long-range artillery, were facing particularly strong resistance near Kyiv and Kharkiv. ....... Why Russia has not launched even larger cyberattacks across the country, and shut down virtually all communications, to cut off military units from their commanders in Kyiv and from each other remained a bit of a mystery on Friday. ......... many of Ukraine’s internet and phone communications go through Russia, Moscow might be leaving some lines open to eavesdrop on Ukrainian civilian and military officials. ......... By midday Friday, Russian forces had fired more than 200 missiles, mostly short-range ballistic rockets but also cruise missiles and rockets fired from the Black Sea, at targets across Ukraine ......... Russia insisted it was not bombing civilian targets and was trying to limit casualties in the Ukrainian military. ....... “Putin’s M.O. is to install new government and have them do the dirty work” ... “It’s unclear if he is underestimating the level of Ukrainian nationalism that’s developed since 2014.” .

Thousands of Russians protest President Vladimir V. Putin’s assault on Ukraine. Some chant: ‘No to war!’ At the demonstrations, many people said they felt depressed and broken by the news of Russian military action. ........ Thousands of protesters took to the streets and squares of Russian cities on Thursday to protest President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, only to be met with heavy police presence. ....... While many Russians credit Mr. Putin with lifting their country out of the economic hardship and instability of the 1990s, others are deeply uneasy about his leadership. And tough sanctions that affect everyday Russians, like potential technology embargoes that could separate Russians from their beloved next-generation phones, could diminish his support at home. .......... years of government oppression made the risks of taking part in anti-Kremlin demonstrations very high. ....... Russian people “will only get poorer because we depend on international trade so much.” ............

Oxxxymiron, one of Russia’s most popular rappers, called for an antiwar movement to be created in Russia that would unite people.

......... “I know that most people in Russia are against this war, and I am confident that the more people would talk about their real attitude to it, the faster we can stop this horror,” said Oxxxymiron, also known as Miron Fyodorov. ........... He referred to American protests against the war in Vietnam as an inspiration. “This is a crime and a catastrophe,” he said, adding that he will cancel his six sold out concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg because of what happened. ..... “I cannot entertain you when Russian missiles are falling on Ukraine,” said Oxxxymiron in a statement, published in his Instagram account. “When residents of Kyiv are forced to hide in basements and in the metro, while people are dying.” ....... But last year, with the economy stumbling and the pandemic raging, opposition groups held some of the largest anti-Putin protests in years.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Two Party System Continues

America is a two party democracy, and it continues. The Republican Party is not dead, although a major act of creative destruction might have happened. The Democratic Party is now a municipal party, but such total defeat is also the best place to be from where to mount a strong comebck.

NATO is too expensive. That is the electoral verdict. The unfinished business of ending the Cold War once and for all perhaps now will be finished. Architecting a normal relationship with Russia might be at hand.

Trump's ascent might be a challenge to the solar entrepreneurs who now have to make sure dirty energy gets priced out completely. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

NATO: A Rethink Is Possible

George W Bush, as a candidate, famously asked, "Why do we need an army?" Such first principles thinking is a good thing. Donald Trump, as a candidate, similarly asked, "Why can't we use nuclear weapons?" That is first principles thinking.

Donald Trump, the candidate, asked for a fundamental rethink on both Russia and NATO. A presidential campaign is a marketplace for ideas. The voters are the customers. 75% of Americans who don't have college degrees are saying they can't afford NATO. It is dollars and cents. In a government of the people, by the people, for the people, it is the people who make the final decision on how the tax money is to be spent.

Trump has been smart enough to see Russia and NATO are two sides of the same coin. NATO was created with the express intention of preventing Soviet troops from marching into Western Europe.

So when the threat is supposed to be gone, if the Soviet Union is no more, if the West won the Cold War, why is NATO still there? Somebody should have asked this question in 1991. Trump is asking now. Good for him. He had an idea and he took it to the people.

NATO was never designed to counter terrorism, and was never redesigned for it either. It is an old fashioned battle machine designed to fight wars with tanks and ground troops.

Trump’s point is if Russia can politically be turned into a Germany, a friend and an ally, then do we still need NATO?

That is a question he asked and lost the entire Republican security establishment in just asking.

There are many moving parts to the equation. The biggest moving part is Russia itself. But like Obama disagreed with Bush on Iraq Trump has disagreed with Obama, Bush II, Clinton, and Bush I on Russia. That is quite entrepreneurial.

He won the idea battle. The execution battle is ahead.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Reason For The Gridlock In DC

The narrative that gets pushed is, if only the politicians in DC had better manners they would get along and then get things done. It is kind of like saying people are lazy when the truth is there really are no jobs to go around.

A big chunk of the budget in DC goes into sustaining NATO. Another big chunk goes into interest payments for the 20 trillion dollar debt. And another massive big chunk goes into paying for the entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

All that leaves little to no wiggle room for anyone to do anything. America finds itself boxed in.

Trump touched upon two of the three big elephants in the room. He touched upon NATO. He hinted at a fundamental rethink on NATO. Making the political moves to turn Russia into a Germany in terms of geofriendliness would go a long way. He has also floated the idea of a one time 15% tax on the wealth of the super rich to pay off the national debt. His wanting a rethink on NATO is gutsy. His one time tax idea is gutsy and smart. Done right the two together could create a 200 to 300 billion dollar wiggle room in the federal budget. And then the wheels would start spinning again. There would be no more gridlock.

The military industrial complex in America is its own planet hurtling through empty space with a momentum all its own. India should be wary of a country that wants to do joint naval exercises but will not pour a trillion dollars into India's infrastructure and another trillion into solar power generation in Rajasthan. In 2008 America and Europe wiped out tens of trillions of dollars in wealth after having spent decades lecturing the Global South that it is not creditworthy. That was A to Z racism, beginning to end.

Russia also, by the way, has a planet, its military industrial complex. The planets often act like hammers looking for nails. Sometimes they find each other instead of nails.

While there are a billion in want of basic food and water.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Russia And NATO

In the early 2000s Russia actually expressed interest in joining NATO. Russia apparently was rebuffed. That is mind boggling from the peace perspective.

It can be imagined the military industrial complex in America did not like the idea. When you don't have an enemy it is hard to justify a large defense budget.

On the other hand Russia has not exactly gone down the path of democracy. And it does not seem to have discovered some alternate path to putting its economy on a sound path to rapid progress.

Russia is Second World.

Be that as it may it is for Russia and America as the two leading nuclear powers on the planet to take the lead to creating a world free of nuclear weapons. Why keep weapons that everyone knows can never be used? Why leave the options open for false alarms that might end human civilization?

And while the two powers figure out their mutual dynamic, Syria suffers. The innocents in Syria suffer. It is a sad situation.

America could have done a much better job of winning the Cold War. It did not do enough to help Russia in the aftermath. It did not do a good enough job of face saving of a defeated rival.

And it is not too late for Russia to choose the path of democracy as the only available way to rapid economic progress and true greatness.

Letting go of Assad would be a good small step in that direction. Assad is irredeemable. Assad is deplorable. This guy has attacked his own people like Hitler attacked people in other countries.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Russia And The West Should Tone It Down

Russia orders all officials to fly home any relatives living abroad, as tensions mount over the prospect of a global war

This is a dangerous saber rattling, a foolish walk to the brink, an unnecessary distraction.

Russia and the West should move towards live and let live.

It would be unwise for the West to engage in triumphalism. On the other hand Russia should not expect the world to look the other way while it flounts the basics of global discourse.

British tabloids go into WWIII frenzy over reported pull-out of Russian officials’ relatives — RT News

PressTV-‘US-Russia tensions reach dangerous point’

"It is necessary to return to the main priorities. These are nuclear disarmament, the fight against terrorism, the prevention of an environmental disaster," Gorbachev said. 

In 2014, Gorbachev, who has rarely intervened in global affairs since 1991, accused of American "triumphalism" for fueling tensions what he warned could become a "new Cold War."

Friday, July 10, 2015


English: Baltics in 1525, not long before Livo...
English: Baltics in 1525, not long before Livonian war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Narva river, Narva castle on the left, Ivangor...
Narva river, Narva castle on the left, Ivangorod castle on the right. The border between Estonia and Russia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Baltics 1882
Baltics 1882 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Russia seems doomed to continue its decline — an outcome that should be no cause for celebration in the West," Nye wrote in a recent column. "States in decline — think of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914 — tend to become less risk-averse and thus much more dangerous." .......The Western side believes it is playing a game where the rules are clear enough, the stakes relatively modest, and the competition easily winnable. ..... Western support for Ukraine's government and efforts to broker a ceasefire to the war there, Moscow believes, are really a plot to encircle Russia with hostile puppet states and to rob Russia of its rightful sphere of influence. .... analysts will tell you, today's tensions bear far more similarity to the period before World War I: an unstable power balance, belligerence over peripheral conflicts, entangling military commitments, disputes over the future of the European order, and dangerous uncertainty about what actions will and will not force the other party into conflict. ..... Today's Russia, once more the strongest nation in Europe and yet weaker than its collective enemies, calls to mind the turn-of-the-century German Empire, which Henry Kissinger described as "too big for Europe, but too small for the world." Now, as then, a rising power, propelled by nationalism, is seeking to revise the European order. Now, as then, it believes that through superior cunning, and perhaps even by proving its might, it can force a larger role for itself. Now, as then, the drift toward war is gradual and easy to miss — which is exactly what makes it so dangerous. ...... the apocalyptic logic of nuclear weapons. Mutual suspicion, fear of an existential threat, armies parked across borders from one another, and hair-trigger nuclear weapons all make any small skirmish a potential armageddon. ......... Russia, hoping to compensate for its conventional military forces' relative weakness, has dramatically relaxed its rules for using nuclear weapons. Whereas Soviet leaders saw their nuclear weapons as pure deterrents, something that existed precisely so they would never be used, Putin's view appears to be radically different. ..... Putin has adopted an idea that Cold War leaders considered unthinkable: that a "limited" nuclear war, of small warheads dropped on the battlefield, could be not only survivable but winnable. ....... many theorists would say he is wrong, that the logic of nuclear warfare means a "limited" nuclear strike is in fact likely to trigger a larger nuclear war — a doomsday scenario in which major American, Russian, and European cities would be targets for attacks many times more powerful than the bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. ...... environmental and atmospheric damage would cause a "decade of winter" and mass crop die-outs that could kill up to 1 billion people in a global famine. ..... A full quarter of Estonia's population is ethnically Russian. Clustered on the border with Russia, this minority is served by the same Russian state media that helped stir up separatist violence among Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine...... Whereas a Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted Western sanctions, a Russian invasion of Estonia would legally obligate the US and most of Europe to declare war on Moscow. ........ "We'll be here for Estonia. We will be here for Latvia. We will be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again," Obama pledged in his September speech in Estonia. ....... Less than 48 hours after Obama's address, Russian agents blanketed an Estonia-Russia border crossing with tear gas, stormed across, and kidnapped an Estonian state security officer, Eston Kohver, who specialized in counterintelligence. Kohver has been held illegally in a Russian prison for nine months now. ......... It was something like an act of geopolitical trolling: aggressive enough to assert Russian dominion over Estonia, but not so aggressive as to be considered a formal act of war that would trigger a Western counterattack. And it was one of several signs that Putin's Russia is asserting a right to meddle in these former Soviet territories. ........ Russian warships were spotted in Latvian waters 40 times in 2014. Russian military flights over the Baltics are now routine, often with the planes switching off their transponders, which makes them harder to spot and increases the chances of an accident. ...... in February, the US military paraded through the Russian-majority Estonian city of Narva, a few hundred yards from Russia's borders. ...... In early April, for example, a Russian fighter jet crossed into the Baltic Sea and "buzzed" a US military plane, missing it by only 20 feet. ............ the NATO military exercises in the Baltics meant to deter Russia were also contributing to the problem. .... Putin's plan for the Baltics was more sophisticated, and more calculated, than anybody realized. ...... "To destroy NATO, to demonstrate that Article V does not work, the Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia are the best place for this," he said. "It's happening now, every day. Intrusions into the airspace, psychological pressure, the propaganda on TV." ...... Putin, rather than rolling Russian tanks across the border, would perhaps seed unmarked Russian special forces into, say, the Russian-majority city of Narva in Estonia, where they would organize localized violence or a phony independence referendum. ....... A handful of such unacknowledged forces, whom Putin referred to as "little green men" after they appeared in Crimea, would perhaps be dressed as local volunteers or a far-right gang; they might be joined by vigilantes, as they were in eastern Ukraine. ......... Would you risk the first major European war since 1945, all to eject some unmarked Russian troops from the Estonian town of Narva? ............ a variation on this scenario that I heard from others as well: that Putin might attempt to seize some small sliver of the Baltics quickly and bloodlessly. This would make it politically easier for Western European leaders to do nothing — how to rally your nation to war if hardly anyone has even been killed? — and harder to counterattack, knowing it would require a full-scale invasion. ........ the playbook from Ukraine, where Russia deployed its newly developed concepts of postmodern "hybrid war," designed to blur the distinction between war and not-war, to make it as difficult as possible to differentiate grassroots unrest or vigilante cyberattacks from Russian military aggression. ......... NATO is just not built to deal with such a crisis. Its mutual defense pledge, after all, rests on the assumption that war is a black-and-white concept, that a country is either at war or not at war. Its charter is from a time when war was very different than it is today, with its many shades of gray. ...... Russian state media, which has shown real influence in Western Europe, would unleash a flurry of propaganda to confuse the issue, make it harder to pin blame on Moscow for the violence, and gin up skepticism of any American calls for war. ...... Under a fog of confusion and doubt, Russia could gradually escalate until a Ukraine-style conflict in the Baltics was foregone, until it had marched far across NATO's red line, exposing that red line as meaningless. ........ Lukyanov worried that the US does not understand Russia's sense of ownership over Ukraine, the lengths it would go to protect its interests there. "It’s seen by many people as something that’s actually a part of our country, or if not part of our country then a country that’s absolutely essential to Russia’s security," he said. ........ If Ukrainian forces were about to overrun the separatist rebels, Buzhinsky said, he believed that Russia would respond not just with an overt invasion, but by marching to Ukraine's capital of Kiev. .......... "A war with Russia in Ukraine — if Russia starts a war, it never stops until it takes the capital." ...... Russia had set this as a red line out of the fear that a Ukrainian reconquest of eastern Ukraine would lead to "the physical extermination of the people of Donbas," many of whom are Russian speakers with cultural links to Russia. Russian state media has drilled this fear into the peoples of Ukraine and Russia for a year now. It does not have to be true to serve as casus belli; Moscow deployed a similar justification for its annexation of Crimea. ....... Moscow is notorious for its conviction that the US is bent on Russia's destruction, or at least its subjugation. It is paranoid and painfully aware of its isolation and its comparative weakness. A hostile and pro-Western Ukraine, Putin may have concluded, would pose an existential threat by further weakening Russia beyond what it can afford. ...... "Russia without Ukraine is a country, Russia with Ukraine is an empire." ..... traced this Russian government obsession with Ukraine back to Putin's political weakness at home, as well as Russia's sense of military insecurity against a hostile and overwhelmingly powerful West. ....... driven by a fundamental sense of insecurity .... "That, like the Soviet leadership, he has to try very hard to stay in power, and so there’s a tendency as his legitimacy declines to try to blame outside forces. And the problem is that when you try to look at the world in that conspiratorial way, there’s always a justification for subjugating the next set of neighbors." ........ Russian asymmetrical acts — cyberattacks, propaganda operations meant to create panic, military flights, even little green men — are all effective precisely because they introduce uncertainty and risk. ...... American and NATO red lines for what acts of "asymmetry" would and would not trigger war are unclear and poorly defined. ..... There is a certain fear in Russia, never far from the surface, that the only thing preventing the West from realizing its dream of destroying or subjugating Russia is its nuclear arsenal. (Three months later, Putin warned that the West wanted to tame the Russian bear so as to "tear out his fangs and his claws," which he explained meant its nuclear weapons.) .......... "After the Yugoslavia wars, Iraq War, Libyan intervention, it’s not an argument anymore, it’s conventional wisdom: 'If Russia were not a nuclear superpower, the regime change of an Iraqi or Libyan style would be inevitable here. The Americans are so unhappy with the Russian regime, they would do it. Praise God, we have a nuclear arsenal, and that makes us untouchable.'" ...........

Petrov waited in agony for 23 minutes — the missile's estimated time to target — before he knew for sure that he'd been right. Only a few people were aware of it at the time, but thanks to Petrov, the world had only barely avoided World War III and, potentially, total nuclear annihilation.

........ The US and Soviet Union, shaken by this and other near-misses, spent the next few years stepping back from the brink. They decommissioned a large number of nuclear warheads and signed treaties to limit their deployment. ....... Putin has taken several steps to push Europe back toward the nuclear brink, to the logic of nuclear escalation and hair-trigger weapons that made the early 1980s, by many accounts, the most dangerous time in human history. Perhaps most drastically, he appears to have undone the 1987 INF Treaty, reintroducing the long-banned nuclear weapons. ...... In March, Russia announced it would place nuclear-capable bombers and medium-range, nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad — only an hour, by commercial airliner, from Berlin. Meanwhile, it has been testing medium-range, land-based missiles. The missiles, to the alarm of the United States, appear to violate the INF Treaty. ......... This is far from Putin's only nuclear escalation. He is developing more nuclear weapons, and calling frequent attention to them, as apparent cover for his aggression and adventurism in Europe. There are suspicions, for example, that Russia may have deployed nuclear-armed submarines off of the US Eastern Seaboard. ....... Putin appears to believe .. that he has a greater willingness than NATO to use nuclear weapons, and thus that his superior will allows him to bully the otherwise stronger Western powers with games of nuclear chicken. ........ Putin is acting out of an apparent belief that increasing the nuclear threat to Europe, and as a result to his own country, is ultimately good for Russia and worth the risks. It is a gamble with the lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans, and perhaps many beyond, at stake. ........ "Would America really risk a nuclear standoff with Russia over a gas pipeline?" Lucas asked. "If it would not, NATO is over. The nuclear bluff that sustained the Western alliance through all the decades of the Cold War would have been called at last." ........ the leader's willingness and even eagerness to take on huge geopolitical risk....... "This was the theory of the [German] Kaiser before World War I: the more threatening you are, the more people will submit to your will. That might be Putin’s logic, that he’s just going to threaten and threaten and hope that NATO bends. But the long run of international relations suggests that it goes the other way, where the more threatening you are the more you produce balancing." ......... There is a corollary in Russia's nuclear doctrine, a way in which the Russians believe they have solved the problem of Western military superiority, that is so foolhardy, so dangerous, that it is difficult to believe they really mean it. And yet, there is every indication that they do. ........ drop a single nuclear weapon — one from the family of smaller, battlefield-use nukes known as "tactical" weapons, rather than from the larger, city-destroying "strategic" nuclear weapons. ....... this is not a far-fetched option of last resort; it has become central to Russian war planning. ...... all large-scale military exercises that Russia conducted beginning in 2000 featured simulations of limited nuclear strikes. ....... It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous idea in the world of military planning today than of a "limited" nuclear war. ....... no one knows for sure whether Russia's military planners have sown the seeds for global nuclear destruction. ...... Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia's strategic culture has increasingly emphasized its nuclear arsenal, the one remaining legacy of its fearsome great-power status. It is a sort of Russian cult of the nuclear weapon, or even a certain strategic fetish. With nukes so central to Russian strategic thinking, it is little wonder Moscow sees them as the solution to its greatest strategic problem. ....... Russia sees itself as able to fight a war with the conventionally superior United States without losing, and that it can do this by using battlefield nuclear weapons. Under this doctrine, Moscow is deeming not only full-blown war against the US as imaginable, but a full-blown war with at least one nuclear detonation. ...... Adding a nuclear element to any conflict would also seem to increase the odds of NATO's Western European members splitting over how to respond, particularly if Russian propaganda can make the circumstances leading up to the detonation unclear. ..... Though some in his administration urged him to consider plans for nuclear conflict, Eisenhower, no stranger to war, rejected the idea as unthinkable. ....... A 2008 study (updated in 2014) on the environmental effects of a "small" nuclear war described what would happen if 100 Hiroshima-strength bombs were detonated in a hypothetical conflict between India and Pakistan. This is equivalent to less than 1 percent of the combined nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia. ........ The explosions, the study found, would push a layer of hot, black smoke into the atmosphere, where it would envelop the Earth in about 10 days. The study predicted that this smoke would block sunlight, heat the atmosphere, and erode the ozone for many years, producing what the researchers call without hyperbole "a decade without summer." As rains dried and crops failed worldwide, the resulting global famine would kill 1 billion people. ...... "We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion"

Russia sounds like Pakistan on nuclear weapons: too ready to use them. After the Soviet Union collapsed, America did not do a good job of strengthening democracy inside Russia. George HW Bush: unifinished job in Russia. George W Bush: unfinished job in Iraq.

At some point though, I think Putin might overstretch and implode domestically. But that point is not near. He is perfectly sane when dealing with powers like China, cutting trade deals, etc.

This current tension is suspended animation that will likely not lead to nuclear war, but the tension will remain.

And all the time the Russian economy is getting hammered. That hastens Russia's decline in the long run. India is a bigger economy than Russia.

Another unfinished business of the end of the Cold War: a dramatic destruction of nuclear weapons on both sides.

Carbon is hard enough to deal with in the atmosphere, adding radioactive waste to it is unthinkable. There is no such thing called just a small amount. Chernobyl was small.

Even if Russia were a democracy like the US wants, it would still have its sphere of influence. Eastern Europe would legitimately be in Russia's sphere of influence. I feel like the US has disrespected that a little. Russia is a big country, live with it.

Perhaps some leader will emerge in Russia who will rise to the top precisely through that logic: a full embrace of democracy and the markets and globalization and the internet is the better way to seek global power status for Russia, and, yes, perhaps, double digit growth rates.

Ultimately America wins. But Russia wins bigger. That is what I like about democracy. I am a believer. Putin is an infidel, a democracy infidel.

Modi is on good -- excellent -- terms with both Obama and Putin. Perhaps he can engineer a deescalation.

We are in Cold War 2.0. The Cold War never ended because it was never properly buried.

The true worst case scenario is where Russia feels truly cornered, cornered enough to not only engage in saber rattling, but also want to do real damage to the US. It would help the ISIS build a dirty bomb and help take it near to the US shores. But that is an extreme scenario. I don't see that happening. Russia does not see America as an enemy, only a geopolitical competitor.

How about eventually expanding NATO to include Russia? Perhaps a democratic Russia. And vastly reduced nuclear weapons.

Russia will be a major book on Hillary's table.