Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United States. Show all posts

Monday, March 27, 2023

27: China, US

27: Taiwan

The Problem With How the West Is Supporting Ukraine Wars are won or lost well behind the front lines. Allies should arm Ukrainians accordingly...... For the past four months, people around the world have witnessed the macabre process of Russian forces making repeated assaults near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut for only the tiniest of gains. ........ Russia has lost about five of its soldiers for every Ukrainian soldier lost—to say nothing of massive equipment losses. ........ Far more effective is to weaken your opponent’s forces before they get to the battlefield. ...... Though NATO countries have a variety of systems that can target Russian forces deep behind their lines, recent aid has been overwhelmingly geared toward preparing Ukraine to make direct assaults against the Russian army. The most widely discussed forms of equipment—such as Leopard 2 tanks, Bradley armored personnel carriers, and even Archer long-range artillery—are not the kinds of systems that can disrupt or degrade Russian forces far behind the front lines. ..........

Ukraine is being made to fight the war the hard way, not the smart way.

........ Unfortunately, NATO states, including the U.S., have been reluctant to provide the Ukrainians with missile systems with too long of a range, seemingly for fear of escalating tensions with Russia. Instead of allowing the Ukrainians to degrade Russian forces far from the front line, Ukraine is being prepared to attack that line. The Ukrainians’ fortitude and ingenuity up to this point suggest that they could indeed accomplish their task—but it’s been made much harder than it needs to be.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Chinese Proposal Is A Start

You have to start somewhere. An obvious starting point would be to get both Russia and Ukraine to agree on a ceasefire and for Russia to pledge to no longer issue nuclear threats. With that the peace negotiations can begin.

It is not going to be possible for Ukraine to cede any territory, but it could proactively pledge to not join NATO and Russia could pledge to not cross its borders in the future, with China and the US as guarantors for the pledge.

Ukraine could pledge to rearchitect its constitution and have a federal structure and a major devolution of power.

War crimes and destroyed infrastructure and buildings are going to be thorny issues. Instead of making the Russians to pay for it all, the US, China and the EU could help take off some of the load. Bucha asks for judicial action. Some Russian army units might have to face The Hague, or something designed separately and of limited jurisdiction in time.

At that point all sanctions can be lifted.

And the refugees can come home.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

A World Marching Towards World War III

As hostilities intensify, Russian and Iranian cells are expected to take out lightly guarded soft targets in the U.S., including reservoirs, bridges, electrical grids, and fiber-optic cable systems – and insiders believe the attacks have already begun............ In the last three months, at least nine electrical substations have been attacked in North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington State, cutting power to tens of thousands of people and sparking a review of security standards for the national power grid.......... While three white supremacists recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to disrupt generating stations throughout America, key intelligence experts believe the domestic terrorists were following a path trail-blazed by Russian saboteurs.

How the Oscars and Grammys Thrive on the Lie of Meritocracy Despite all the markers of excellence, contenders like Danielle Deadwyler, Viola Davis and Beyoncé weren’t recognized for the highest honors. Niche awards don’t suffice. ........ Beyoncé, one of the most prolific and transformative artists of the 21st century, can win only in niche categories. Her music — a continually evolving and genre-defying sound — still can’t be seen as the standard-bearer for the universal. ......... Black women artists, despite their ingenuity, influence and, in Beyoncé’s case, unparalleled innovation, continue to be denied their highest honors. ........ the false myth of meritocracy upon which these institutions, their ceremonies and their gatekeepers thrive. ......... we saw a new Oscar strategy playing out before our eyes. A groundswell of fellow actors, including A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and even Cate Blanchett, who would go on to be nominated herself, publicly endorsed Riseborough’s performance on social media, at screenings and even at a prize ceremony. ......... “So it’s only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition?” Ricci wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post. “Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me.” ........ What fascinated me, however, was that what was being framed as a grass-roots campaign to circumvent studio marketing machines revealed another inside game. A racially homogeneous network of white Hollywood stars appeared to vote in a small but significant enough bloc to ensure their candidate was nominated. .......... As conceived by Dominik, Monroe merely flits from injury to injury, all in the service of making her downfall inevitable. ....... another pattern: Oscar voters continue to reward women’s emotional excess more than their restraint. In most films with best actress nominations this year, women’s anger as outbursts is a common thread .......... “Everything Everywhere All at Once” brilliantly explores it as both a response to IRS bureaucratic inefficacy and intergenerational tensions between a Chinese immigrant mother and her queer, Asian American daughter. ............ “Blonde” is again an exception, for de Armas’s Monroe expresses no external rage but sinks into depression and self-loathing, never directing her frustration at the many men who abuse her. .......... Unlike the main characters of the other films, Till-Mobley, in real life, had to repress her rational rage over the gruesome murder of her son, Emmett, to find justice and protect his legacy. Onscreen, Deadwyler captured that paradox by portraying Till-Mobley’s constantly shifting self and her struggle to privately grieve her son’s death while simultaneously being asked to speak on behalf of a burgeoning civil rights movement. ............

female protagonists are often lauded for falling apart.

............ even that assumes that all women’s emotions are treated equally, when the truth is that rage itself is racially coded ....... depict Black women’s rage as an individual emotion and a collective dissent, a combination that deviates from many on-screen representations of female anger as a downward spiral and self-destructive. ............... the “Till” director Chinonye Chukwu critiqued Hollywood on Instagram for its “unabashed misogyny towards Black women” ........ “What is this inability of Academy voters to see Black women, and their humanity, and their heroism, as relatable to themselves?” ......... there are far more Black women directors and complex Black women characters on the big screen than ever before

At the Oscar Nominees Luncheon, a Crowd in Cruise Control The “Top Gun: Maverick” star and producer is mobbed as Austin Butler, Angela Bassett, Ke Huy Quan and others angle to chat with him........ lk into the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. ....... Cruise even posed for pictures with Steven Spielberg, a once-frequent collaborator whom the star has not been publicly photographed with in over a decade. ..... there was no mistaking Cruise as the ballroom’s top dog ........ In the schmoozy hour before lunch was served, he was so mobbed by his fellow nominees that he was hardly able to move more than a few feet. ........ I watched for a while as “Elvis” star Austin Butler drifted with slow, inexorable determination toward Cruise, who finally pulled the younger man toward him by clamping a hand on his shoulder like a stapler. ....... Yang pleaded with the nominees to keep their speeches short: “We need to be sensitive to our running time,” she said. “This is live television, after all.” .......... “I’ve been acting since I was 19 and I’m 64 — do the math,” Curtis told me. “That’s many years of watching this photograph being taken.” Her late parents, the actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, had both been Oscar nominees. “To be connected through this legacy of their work and my work and now being included here, it’s very powerful,” she said. ......... “I’ve got one more expression,” shouted best-actor nominee Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”). ...... “We talked about how we both did very badly at school,” she said, “and now here we are, at the coolest graduation picture ever.”

What Should I Do About a Neighbor Who Verbally Abused Her Child? A reader who overheard a neighbor shouting cruelties at her young son wonders whether, and how, to intervene.

‘Our Losses Were Gigantic’: Life in a Sacrificial Russian Assault Wave Poorly trained Russian soldiers captured by Ukraine describe being used as cannon fodder by commanders throwing waves of bodies into an assault........ The soldiers were sitting ducks, sent forth by Russian commanders to act essentially as human cannon fodder in an assault. ........ relying on overwhelming manpower, much of it comprising inexperienced, poorly trained conscripts, regardless of the high rate of casualties. ........ two main uses of the conscripts in these assaults: as “storm troops” who move in waves, followed by more experienced Russian fighters; and as intentional targets, to draw fire and thus identify Ukrainian positions to hit with artillery. ....... “The next group would follow after a pause of 15 or 20 minutes, then another, then another.” ........... By luck, the bullets missed him, he said. He lay in the dark until he was captured by Ukrainians who slipped into the buffer area between the two trench lines. ......... The soldiers in Sergei’s squad were recruited from penal colonies by the private military company known as Wagner, whose forces have mostly been deployed in the Bakhmut area. There, they have enabled Russian lines to move forward slowly, cutting key resupply roads for the Ukrainian Army. ........ Russia’s deployment of former convicts is a dark chapter in a vicious war. Russia Behind Bars, a prison rights group, has estimated that as many as 50,000 Russian prisoners have been recruited since last summer, with most sent to the battle for Bakhmut. ........... Russia has deployed about 320,000 soldiers in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s military intelligence agency. An additional 150,000 are in training camps, officials said, meaning there is the potential for half a million soldiers to join the offensive. ........

But using infantry to storm trenches, redolent of World War I, brings high casualties.

......... Russia’s regular army this month began recruiting convicts in exchange for pardons, shifting the practice on the Russian side in the war from the Wagner private army to the military. ......... rates of wounded and killed at around 70 percent in battalions featuring former convicts ......... over the past two weeks, Russia had probably suffered its highest rate of casualties since the first week of the invasion. ......... “Nobody could ever believe such a thing could exist,” Sergei said of Wagner tactics. .......... The soldiers arrived at the front straight from Russia’s penal colony system, which is rife with abuse and where obedience to harsh codes of conduct in a violent setting is enforced by prison gangs and guards alike. The same sense of beaten subjugation persists at the front ........... enabling commanders to send soldiers forward on

hopeless, human wave attacks

. ................ “We are nobody and have no rights.” ......... Sergei said he had worked as a cellphone tower technician in a far-northern Siberian city, living with his wife and three children. In the interview, he admitted to dealing marijuana and meth, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2020. ......... was not offered to rapists and drug addicts, but murderers, burglars and other prisoners were welcome. .......... On the night of Jan. 1, they were commanded to advance 500 yards along the tree line, then dig in and wait for a subsequent wave to arrive. One soldier carried a light machine gun. The others were armed with only assault rifles and hand grenades. ........... “It’s effective. Yes, they have heavy losses. But with these heavy losses, they sometimes advance.” ........... they are being used to conserve tanks and armored personnel carriers for the expected offensive. But they could also serve as a template for wider fighting. .......... are herded into the battlefield by harsh discipline: “They have orders, and they cannot disobey orders, especially in Wagner.” .......... “They brought us to a basement, divided us into five-person groups and, though we hadn’t been trained, told us to run ahead, as far as we could go” ............ From his time as a stretcher bearer, he said, he estimated that half of the men in each assault were wounded or killed, with shrapnel and bullet wounds the most common injuries. .........

Monday, February 06, 2023

6: Kamala

Year Two of the Ukraine War Is Going to Get Scary Ukraine, a country most Americans couldn’t find on a map in 10 tries ......... no U.S. combat forces are in Ukraine, so it feels as if all that we’re risking, for now, is arms and treasure — while the full brunt of the war is borne by Ukrainians. ......... to the extent that we have used our power wisely and in concert with our allies, we have built and protected a liberal world order since 1945, which has been hugely in our interest — economically and geopolitically. ......... an order in which autocratic great powers like Nazi Germany, imperial Japan or modern Russia and China are not free to simply devour their neighbors. And this is an order where more democracies than ever have been able to flourish, and where free markets and open trade have lifted more people out of poverty than at any time in the history of the world ........... this order has produced almost 80 years without a Great Power war, the kind of war that can destabilize the whole world. .........

Putin’s “marry me or I’ll kill you” invasion of Ukraine

.......... Putin, it’s now clear, has decided to double down, mobilizing in recent months possibly as many as 500,000 fresh soldiers for a new push on the war’s first anniversary. Mass matters in war — even if that mass contains a large number of mercenaries, convicts and untrained conscripts. .......... Putin is basically saying to Biden: I can’t afford to lose this war and I will pay any price and bear any burden to ensure that I come away with a slice of Ukraine that can justify my losses. How about you, Joe? How about your European friends? Are you ready to pay any price and bear any burden to uphold your “liberal order”? ......... “the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist — McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15.” Somebody needs to keep the order and enforce the rules. .......... Franklin Roosevelt’s 1939 State of the Union address. At a time when American security was in no way threatened — Hitler had not yet invaded Poland and the fall of France was almost impossible to imagine — Roosevelt insisted there were nevertheless times ‘in the affairs of men when they must prepare to defend not their homes alone but the tenets of faith and humanity on which their churches, their governments and their very civilization are founded.’ In both world wars and throughout the Cold War, Americans acted not in immediate self-defense but to defend the liberal world against challenges from militaristic authoritarian governments, just as they are doing today in Ukraine.” ............ International relations theorists, Kagan added, “have taught us to view ‘interests’ and ‘values’ as distinct, with the idea that for all nations ‘interests’ — meaning material concerns like security and economic well-being — necessarily take primacy over values. But this is not, in fact, how nations behave.

Russia after the Cold War has enjoyed greater security on its western border than at practically any time in its history, even with NATO’s expansion.

Yet Putin has been willing to make Russia less secure to fulfill traditional Russian great power ambitions which have more to do with honor and identity than with security.” The same seems to be true with President Xi when it comes to recovering Taiwan. ................. “The ‘isolationists’ in the 1930s were overwhelmingly Republicans. Their greatest fear, or so they claimed, was that F.D.R. was leading the nation toward communism. In international affairs, therefore, they tended to be more sympathetic to the fascist powers than liberal Democrats. They thought well of Mussolini, opposed aiding the Spanish Republicans against the fascist, Nazi-backed Franco and regarded Hitler as a useful bulwark against the Soviet Union. ............. Republicans were destroyed politically by their opposition to World War II and were only able to resurrect themselves by electing an internationalist Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.” .......... “Any negotiation that leaves Russian forces in place on Ukrainian soil will only be a temporary truce before Putin’s next attempt,” he said. “Putin is in the process of completely militarizing Russian society, much as Stalin did during World War II. He is in it for the long haul, and he is counting on the United States and the West to grow weary at the prospect of a long conflict

The Shift to Renewable Energy Is Speeding Up. Here’s How. The head of the world’s leading energy organization called the war in Ukraine an “accelerator” of the transition. ............ an estimated $1.4 trillion poured into “clean energy” projects in 2022, a category that includes solar farms, batteries and electric vehicle charging stations. ......... more than ever before, and more than the money that poured into new oil and gas projects ........ Renewables are increasingly affordable, once they’re built, and they offer security as well. ........ In Europe, wind and solar accounted for 22 percent of electricity generation last year, overtaking for the first time the share of gas (20 percent) and coal (16 percent) ......... Globally, renewable energy installations grew by 25 percent in 2022. ....... China’s investments exceeded, by a long shot, that of every other country. ........ In 2022, nearly 15 percent of all new car sales globally were electric, compared to 3 percent of all new car sales in 2019 ........ China’s biggest electric car and bus maker, BYD, has a higher global market share than Tesla. ......... by 2030, every second car sold in the biggest car markets — China, the United States and Europe — will be powered by electricity, not fossil fuels. ......... If you want to develop a solar project in Brazil or India, Birol said, you’re likely to pay three times more for financing than if you were to build the same project in Europe. .......... “The biggest hurdle in front of us is the cost of capital,” Birol said.

It’s Time for a Reality Check on Eggs They’re expensive, difficult to find and myths about them abound on social media. Here’s what to know. ....... An avian flu outbreak in the United States killed millions of hens last year, eliminating a critical egg supply. ...... To Joe Rogan, eggs cause blood clots. To some on Twitter sharing screenshots of the abstract of a scholarly paper, yolks can ward off Covid. ........ Since eggs are rich in cholesterol — a single egg yolk can contain around 200 milligrams — and high lipid levels have been linked to poor cardiovascular health, some targeted them as an easy dietary fix: Ditch the eggs Benedict, and protect your heart. ........ “if you eat a cheese omelet today and you haven’t eaten one in a while, your arteries aren’t going to clog immediately,” she said. Eggs are also high in protein, making them an alternative to meat, which tends to be high in saturated fat. ........ promote eggs as a “nutrient-dense” protein source. ........ Are eggs all they’re cracked up to be? ........ Eggs contain vitamins B, E and D, and they’re low in saturated fat. “You get high protein for low calories” ......... They also contain nutrients that are beneficial for your eyes and bones ......... some eggs are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, depending on what hens have been fed. ............ eating them in moderation, like one full egg (including the yolk) per day, is safe for people who don’t have underlying cardiovascular issues ......... yolk is also where most of an egg’s vitamins lie ......... A breakfast that features an egg with toast and fresh fruit, for example, is far better for your heart health than a doughnut and sweetened coffee.

Kamala Harris Is Trying to Define Her Vice Presidency. Even Her Allies Are Tired of Waiting. Ms. Harris is struggling to carve out a lane for herself in what may be one of the most consequential periods in the vice presidency. ........ The teachers she was about to address were on the front lines of the nation’s culture wars, Ms. Harris told her staff. They were the same ones on the front lines of school shootings. ....... She has already made history as the first woman, the first African American and the first Asian American ever to serve as vice president, but she has still struggled to define her role much beyond that legacy. ........ she is expected to not do anything to overshadow Mr. Biden while navigating intractable issues he has assigned her such as voting rights and illegal immigration. And some see a double standard applied to a prominent woman of color. ......... Because the Senate was split evenly for the last two years, Ms. Harris has cast 26 tiebreaking votes in her role as president of the Senate, more than any vice president since John C. Calhoun, who left office in 1832. Tethered to Washington, she could never be more than 24 hours away from the Capitol when the Senate was in session in case her vote was needed. ........... She has told her staff that she wants to make at least three out-of-town trips a week in the coming year. ........ the Ms. Harris they say they see when the cameras are off, one who can cross-examine policymakers on the intricacies of legislative proposals and connect with younger voters across the country. ........ “My bias has always been to speak factually, to speak accurately, to speak precisely about issues and matters that have potentially great consequence,” she said in the interview in Japan. “I find it off-putting to just engage in platitudes. I much prefer to deconstruct an issue and speak of it in a way that hopefully elevates public discourse and educates the public.” .......... In planning meetings before she travels abroad, officials from foreign governments have proposed meetings or public appearances with the first lady of the country Ms. Harris is visiting. Her staff rebuffs those proposals, saying the vice president is not visiting as a spouse but as the second-ranking official of the United States ........ Ms. Harris — who stands about 5-foot-2 ........ When the Biden administration confronted a shortage of baby formula across the nation last year, Ms. Harris declined a request by the West Wing to highlight efforts to solve the problem by meeting a shipment of formula at Washington Dulles International Airport .......... she feels most comfortable receiving intelligence briefings or addressing law enforcement officials, venues where she says substance is valued over politics ....... has watched the vice president try to distill complex health care issues in a way that “everyday citizens” can understand......... she asked if Americans can ever “truly be free” if a woman cannot make decisions about her own body. ...... how threats to Roe represent a broader threat to civil rights.

Jimmy Kimmel Takes on Trump’s ‘Sad’ Return to the Campaign Trail Kimmel called Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign “the political equivalent of when Michael Jordan went to play for the Wizards.” .......... “Trump also warned that if Ron DeSantis runs for president, he would consider it a great act of disloyalty. And, you know, loyalty means everything to the guy who cheated on his third wife with a porn star and thought it might be cool to hang his vice president.” — JIMMY KIMMEL ........ ‘DeSantis 2024: Make America Florida Again.’ ........ “I would tell them, I would sit them down and say, ‘Boys, whoever wins is the son we love more and that’s that.’ That’s how Trump does it.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

Doctors Aren’t Burned Out From Overwork. We’re Demoralized by Our Health System. the diseased systems for which we work. ........ The United States is the only large high-income nation that doesn’t provide universal health care‌ to its citizens. Instead, it maintains a lucrative system of for-profit medicine. For decades, ‌at least tens of thousands of preventable deaths have occurred each year because health care here is so expensive. ....... at least 338,000 Covid deaths in the United States could have been prevented by universal health care. ....... in 2021 alone, about 117,000 physicians left the work force, while fewer than 40,000 joined it. ........ One in five doctors says he or she plans to leave practice in the coming years‌. ....... burnout. Nearly two-thirds of physicians report they are experiencing its symptoms. ........ What’s burning out health care workers is less the grueling conditions we practice under, ‌and more our dwindling faith in the systems for which we work. What has been identified as occupational burnout is a symptom of a deeper ‌collapse. We are witnessing the slow death of American medical ideology. ........ a belief system made up of interlinking political, moral and cultural narratives upon which we depend to make sense of our social world ........ nearly one-fifth of physicians reporting they knew a colleague who had considered, attempted‌‌ or died by suicide during the first year of the pandemic alone. ........... the structural perversity of our institutions‌‌ ......... ostensibly nonprofit‌ charity hospitals have illegally saddl‌ed poor patients with debt for receiving‌‌ care to which they were entitled without cost and have exploited tax incentives meant to promote care for poor communities to turn ‌‌large profits. ......... Hospitals are deliberately understaffing themselves and undercutting patient care while sitting on billions of dollars in cash reserves. Little of this is new, but doctors’ sense of our complicity in putting profits over people has ‌grown more difficult to ignore. ........ Resistance to self-criticism has long been a hallmark of U.S. medicine and the industry it has shaped. From at least the 1930s through today, doctors have organized efforts to ward off the specter of “socialized medicine.” We have repeatedly defended health care as a business venture against the threat that it might become a public institution oriented around rights rather than revenue. .......... We sit ‌at our patients’ bed sides and counsel them on their duty to counteract the risks of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, for example, while largely ignoring how those diseases are tied to poor ‌access to quality food because of economic inequities. .......... teaches us to suppress critical thinking and trust the system, even with its perverse incentives. ........ a system of billing codes invented by the American Medical Association as part of a political strategy to protect its vision of for-profit health care now dictates nearly every ‌aspect of medical practice, producing not just endless administrative work, but also subtly shaping treatment choices. .........

Any illusion that medicine and politics are, or should be, separate spheres has been crushed under the weight of over ‌‌1.1 million Americans killed by a pandemic that was in many ways a preventable disaster.

........ our institutions, and much of our work inside them, primarily serve a moneymaking machine. .......... We have a responsibility to use our collective power to insist on changes: for universal health care and paid sick leave but also investments in community health worker programs and essential housing and social welfare systems. .......... If we can build an organizing network through doctors’ unions, then proposals to demand universal health care through use of collective civil disobedience via physicians’ control over health care documentation and billing, for example, could move from visions to genuinely actionable plans. ......... until doctors join together to call for a fundamental reorganization of our medical system, our work ‌won’t do what ‌we were promised it would do, nor will it prioritize the people we claim to prioritize. To be able to build the systems we need, we must face an unpleasant truth: Our health care institutions as they exist today are part of the problem rather than the solution.

The rise and rise of Xi Jinping — the strongman of China. Even before the Congress approved his third term, he laid out his decade-long vision for China....

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Peace Moves Are Political Warfare

Affirm The Dignity Of Your Adversary “Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent, and always assist him to save face. Put yourself in his shoes—so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil—nothing is so self-blinding.”

Maoists like to say, the party controls the gun. The political has to control the military.

The military-industrial complex in the United States can not be allowed to have the upper hand like in Afghanistan. We are on the brink of possible nuclear disaster. The world can not count on Putin being rational. The world can not count on Putin's orders for nuclear strike being disobeyed. The world should not have to count on a coup inside Russia.

I was glad when the HIMARS landed inside Ukraine and the tide turned.

But a war where the military-industrial complex is steering the wheel is a mercenary war. Follow the money. This has to be a war for liberty. This has to be primarily a political fight.

Peace efforts have to be made. The political players have to be primary. A peacemaker necessarily has to be a neutral player. Right now only India qualifies. I see a Nobel Peace Prize here for the Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar.

India is now president of the G20. By the end of the decade it will have become a larger economy than the United States. And it is the only big power that is equally close to both Russia and the United States.

I actually see Putin's point. When there are ethnic riots in Indonesia, or Malaysia, it is the ethnic Chinese that suffer. India blockaded Nepal for months several years ago when the ethnic Indians inside Nepal were short shifted in the country's new constitution that was drawn in smoky rooms instead of a constituent assembly. My guess is the ethnic Russians inside Ukraine are in some sort of a predicament. Jaishankar was the top bureaucrat in the Indian Foreign Ministry at the time and was specifically tasked to fly over to Kathmandu by Modi for some last minute messaging. He was rebuffed.

You can not make peace unless you really, really listen to both sides. A power that sides with the US in knee-jerk manners could not make peace. A power that might be the next Russia (read: Taiwan) can not make the peace moves. Only India can. And India should jump into the fray. You don't need permission. Whose permission?

A Russian missile did land in Poland. Lithuania is nervous. The world can not afford this game of Russian roulette.

What does Russia want? Russia wants the ethnic Russians inside Ukraine to have political equality. What does Ukraine want? Ukraine wants its 1991 borders. Russia promised to respect that. Is it possible Putin is not being straight? It is. But peace can only be made by the wise and the strong. Jaishankar is no bit player. This is the Indian diplomats' momement to shine. India wants veto power. It should earn it by forging this peace.

Russia has to be willing to withdraw its military completely. But that territory can not be handed over to Ukraine. UN peacekeeping forces should step in. Something like a year should be allowed. A referendum should be organized under global supervision. Ukraine will have the option to put forth power devolutions such that these regions where the ethnic Russians are in majority feel there is plenty of local autonomy. Ukraine can proactively offer that kind of federalism long before the votes are cast. I thik this much political work Ukraine has to be willing to do. The war can not be about land. The tussle has to be about people.

Politics inside Russia is a separate topic. That is not an agenda for the peace process. But a peace process that gets the Russian military to vacate all of Ukraine will also bring back all those Russians who have fled, including those who dodged the draft. There is high chance they might take to the streets in organized fashions. But that is domestic Russian politics. That is not something for the peace process.

As the peace process advances, other topics can also be tackled. Reconstruction and neutral war crime investigations can be carried out. Both leave room for some creativity. Maybe there are powers like Saudi Arabia that will be happy to chip in some. That can be allowed. Why not?

The political has to be above the military. A top US General just went on record to say he does not see how Ukraine can militarily push out Russia from all of Ukraine any time soon. So why not use the winter for peace efforts and political moves?

India does not need America's permission. Use the same oil and food logic you have been using to keep buying Russian oil. To that add nuclear radiation fears. You don't want nuclear radiation in New York and London. There is a very famous Indian in London these days. His name is Rishik Sunak.

I was very actively involved with Nepal's peace process in 2005 and 2006. The American ambassador at the time kept arguing there was only a military solution. The Maoists must be defeated at the point of a gun. It was so obvious to me that was not an available path. In trying lied thousands of dead bodies and mayhem. Only the political path was possible. The political path was taken. Nepal saw rapid peace. The Moist supremo and his deputy both became Prime Minister. Both are still active politically. The supremo is right now campaigning in a national election. He is peacefully asking for votes and is pretty good at it.

American shine can mask a lot of uncivility and crude thinking. The gun speaks is one such thinking. It is bad thinking. Look at the gun deaths in America. There are people who worry the US might see a civil war in the future. There are 50,000 gun deaths every year in America. In any other country you would call that a civil war. It is not a very civil situation. Nepal's civil war lasted 10 years and cost 17,000 lives.

India must jump in and help make the peace. Peace necessarily involves give and take. The final outcome can not be fully foreseen. There will be twists and turns along the way. But right now there is zero effort. Stop asking for permission. Whose permission? New York City announced nuclear attack drills months ago.

Before the tactical nuclear strike, there can be electrical outages. That is plenty of bad news. If there is a nuclear strike, however small, the US has made explicit its intention to completely destroy the Russian military in all of Ukraine and the Black Sea. At that point Russia backs down or it launches the strategic nukes which is Mutually Assured Destruction, the so-called MAD situation. That will not spare any country, not China, not India. No territory, no ideology, no value is worth that destruction. So step in and help the two powers step back. De-escalate. Help de-escalate.

Ukraine has to be willing to forge a most cutting edge federalism for all of Ukraine. That is no price to pay to keep all of its territory.

Indonesia’s Widodo calls on G20 to work to ‘end the war’ Indonesian president appears to reference Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he opens key global summit in Bali. .

Russia’s Road to Economic Ruin The Long-Term Costs of the Ukraine War Will Be Staggering ........ After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Russian economy seemed destined for a nosedive. International sanctions threatened to strangle the economy, leading to a plunge in the value of the ruble and Russian financial markets. Everyday Russians appeared poised for privation. ......... More than eight months into the war, this scenario has not come to pass. Indeed, some data suggest that the opposite is true, and the Russian economy is doing fine. The ruble has strengthened against the dollar, and although Russian GDP has shrunk, the contraction may well be limited to less than three percent in 2022.......... Look behind the moderate GDP contraction and inflation figures, however, and it becomes evident that the damage is in fact severe: the Russian economy is destined for a long period of stagnation. The state was already interfering in the private sector before the war. That tendency has become only more pronounced, and it threatens to further stifle innovation and market efficiency. The only way to preserve the viability of the Russian economy is through either major reforms—which are not in the offing—or an institutional disruption similar to the one that occurred with the fall of the Soviet Union. .......... unrealistic expectations of what economic measures can do ......... Economic sanctions did, of course, have other immediate effects. Curbing Russia’s access to microelectronics, chips, and semiconductors made production of cars and aircraft almost impossible. From March to August, Russian car manufacturing fell by an astonishing 90 percent, and the drop in aircraft production was similar. The same holds true for the production of weapons, which is understandably a top priority for the government. Expectations that new trade routes through China, Turkey, and other countries that are not part of the sanctions regime would compensate for the loss of Western imports have been proved wrong. The abnormally strong ruble is a signal that backdoor import channels are not working. If imports were flowing into Russia through hidden channels, importers would have been buying dollars, sending the ruble down. Without these critical imports, the long-term health of Russia’s high-tech industry is dire. ............ Even more consequential than Western technology sanctions is the fact that Russia is unmistakably entering a period in which political cronies are solidifying their hold on the private sector. This has been a long time in the making. After the 2008 global financial crisis hit Russia harder than any other G-20 country, Russian President Vladimir Putin essentially nationalized large enterprises. In some cases, he placed them under direct government control; in other cases, he placed them under the purview of state banks. To stay in the government’s good graces, these companies have been expected to maintain a surplus of workers on their payrolls. Even enterprises that remained private have in essence been prohibited from firing employees. This has provided the Russian people with economic security—at least for the time being—and that stability is a critical part of Putin’s compact with his constituents. .......... But an economy in which enterprises cannot modernize, restructure, and fire employees to boost profits will stagnate. Not surprisingly,

Russia’s GDP growth from 2009 to 2021 averaged 0.8 percent per year, lower than the period in the 1970s and 1980s that preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union.

........ government officials, military generals, and high-ranking bureaucrats—many of them Putin’s friends—became multimillionaires. The living standards of ordinary Russians, in contrast, have not improved in the past decade. ......... Since the beginning of the war, the government has tightened its grip on the private sector even further. Starting in March, the Kremlin rolled out laws and regulations that give the government the right to shut down businesses, dictate production decisions, and set prices for manufactured goods. The mass mobilization of military recruits that started in September is providing Putin with another cudgel to wield over Russian businesses because to preserve their workforces, company leaders will need to bargain with government officials to ensure that their employees are exempt from conscription. ......... To be sure, the Russian economy has long operated under a government stranglehold. But Putin’s most recent moves are taking this control to a new level. As the economists Andrei Shleifer and Robert Vishny have argued, the one thing worse than corruption is decentralized corruption. It’s bad enough when a corrupt central government demands bribes; it is even worse when several different government offices are competing for handouts. ....... That could create a dynamic reminiscent of the 1990s, when Russian business owners relied on private security, mafia ties, and corrupt officials to maintain control of newly privatized enterprises. Criminal gangs employing veterans of the Russian war in Afghanistan offered “protection” to the highest bidder or simply plundered profitable businesses. The mercenary groups that Putin created to fight in Ukraine will play the same role in the future. .......... Russia could lose the war, an outcome that would make it more likely that Putin would lose power. A new reformist government could take over and withdraw troops, consider reparations, and negotiate a lifting of trade sanctions. ......... Russia will emerge from the war with its government exercising authority over the private sector to an extent that is unprecedented anywhere in the world aside from Cuba and North Korea. ........ Particularly at first, they will target the most profitable enterprises, both at the national and local level. ......... The collapse of the Soviet state made institutions of that era irrelevant. A long and painful process of building new institutions, increasing state capacity, and reducing corruption followed—until Putin came to power and eventually dismantled market institutions and built his own system of patronage. The lesson is grim: even if Putin loses power and a successor ushers in significant reforms, it will take at least a decade for Russia to return to the levels of private-sector production and quality of life the country experienced just a year ago. Such are the consequences of a disastrous, misguided war.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

American Racism And Visas For Indians

Just from anecdotal evidence I get the impression the United States has been "punishing" India for "siding" with Russia. India is not. A lot of people I know are having visa issues. Visas that used to get issued within a week or two now have yearlong waiting periods. This is asinine. This is racism. Racism is a variant of the fascism virus. Liberty is the opposite of fascism. Donald Trump is a fascist. His last antic has been to threaten violence upon the Republican Senate Leader. Republican! 

You can not house liberty and racism in the same framework. 

Did you ask? Before you threatened Russia, did you ask India? Did you consult? Before you sent in weapons, did you ask? Did you consult? Was it a mutual decision that you should expect blind support? 

The Russian attack on Ukraine was a surprise to India. India did not have any say in it. India has disapproved of it. India has sent a lot of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. 

India was buying oil in the world markets. India continues to buy oil in the world markets. If high oil prices are not a problem, why is California sending oil rebates to all its people? The Indian foreign minister has made the point that what India buys in a month Europe buys in one afternoon. China buys from Russia and sells to Europe. 

India is not a party to the war. India disapproves of the war. But it is also being realistic that it is not in a position to end the war. Russia is. Ukraine is. The US is. But India is not. 

Tiny bureaucrats who used to topple elected leaders in Latin America make these decisions. They be like, India! 

India is the CEO of Google! India is the CEO of Microsoft! India is the CEO of Twitter! India is Vice President of the United States. 

India is best positioned to engineer peace if peace is possible. So far it does not look possible. 

A peacemaker is not a yes man. A peacemaker without integrity will not succeed. 

Putin is not the only one who does not want peace. The military-industrial complex in America does not want peace. It is making big money right now. Don't turn off that tap.