Streetwise Professor

March 3, 2014

A Reprise of a Low, Dishonest Decade

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia,Snowden — The Professor @ 10:28 pm

The pusillanimity of the US in the face of Putin’s aggression is bad enough (spare me any more expressions of “deep concern”), but it pales in comparison with the utter cowardice of the Europeans, especially the Germans and shockingly, the British.

There is only one explanation: they have been cowed by their energy dependency on Russia, and corrupted by dirty Russian money-much of which is merely money Europeans spent on Russian energy, recycled/laundered through European financial institutions.

There are myriad reports that Britain will not support any trade or financial sanctions against Russia. The fig leaf is that such measures will damage the world economy:

However, a document photographed in Downing Street suggested that Britain is concerned about the economic impact of any sanctions against Russia. The paper states that the “UK should not support, for now, trade sanctions … or close London’s financial centre to Russians”.

Seriously?  This gives new meaning to the old phrase “perfidious Albion.”

But what should we expect, really? Britain showed its true colors in its abject refusal to investigate seriously the Litvinenko murder and release any evidence that would make plain the connection between the murderers and the Russian state.  Heaven forfend that real estate in Belgravia take a hit.

Then there’s Germany.  Despite the fact that Merkel herself has all but admitted that Putin is insaneGermany is adamant against taking any measures that will actually inflict pain on Russia.  Indeed, Foreign Minister Steinmeier met with Lavrov in Geneva, and bleated out a statement about the necessity of relying on diplomacy:

Ahead of an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said international diplomacy must prevail to solve the crisis.

“Crisis diplomacy is not a weakness but it will be more important than ever to not fall into the abyss of military escalation,” Steinmeier told reporters.

Steinmeier also suggested a fact-finding mission by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Europe’s main human rights and democracy watchdog, as an initial response.

“We are considering whether it wouldn’t make good sense to create transparency about what is happening on the ground in eastern Ukraine and Crimea instead of being dependent on rumors,” he said.

Yes.  There is so much ambiguity about what is happening on the ground.  We are so starved of facts about what Russia is doing.  Fact finding! That’s what we need!

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Remember that Steinmeier is a SPD leader, and Schroeder’s political protege.  And further remember that Schroeder is Putin’s apologist and waterboy, and has been awarded for his lifetime of service with a sinecure as chairman of the board of Gazprom’s Nordstream pipeline.

If there was ever a more vivid illustration of why I’m damned glad NSA was giving extra special attention to German politicians, I’d be hard pressed to think of what it might be.

Indeed, this seems like a perfect time for a dump of some juicy kompromat on Herr Steinmeier and his ilk in the SPD.

In light of this, thinking of all the condescension and moral superiority directed at the US by German politicians and the German populace in the past 12-13 years is beyond nauseating.

Germany dresses up its cowardice in the garb of moral superiority.  In fact, its cravenness is driven by its dependence on Russian energy and the deep ties of German businesses to Russia.  Germany gets about 1/3 of its gas and about 28 percent of its coal from Russia (h/t @libertylynx).  The European oil market is also highly dependent on Russian supplies.

And of course, Germany has increased its dependency as a result of an insane energy policy, retiring its nuclear generators in a hysterical reaction to Fukushima (lest there be any tsunamis in Bavaria) and forcing a massive reliance on inefficient renewables.

Churchill said that the Germans are either at your throat or at your feet.  It’s quite obvious that the current generation of Germans has an intimate acquaintance with Putin’s taste in footwear.

The Balts and Poles are rightly freaking out.  Just today the Russians conducted live fire exercises in the Baltic.  Yes.  Totally pacific.  Just routine, surely.  But the Germans consider these long suffering victims of Russian (and truth be told-German) oppression as annoyances who are interfering with their desire for Ostpolitik and Ostwirtschaftlich.   Germany stymied the effort by Latvia and Lithuania to invoke Article 4 of the Nato Washington Treaty.  But Poland is having another go.

Ironic, isn’t it, that countries that border the Baltic are the true Atlanticists now?  The original Euro-Atlanticists, the UK and Germany, have been suborned by energy dependency and dirty Russian money. Germany accepted American protection when it faced an existential threat from Russia, but now repays the favor by running interference for Putin when it perceives that only Untermenschen  in eastern Europe are going to be ground under the Russian boot.

The poet Auden called the 1930s a “low, dishonest decade.”  The 2010s are proving to be one of history’s rhymes. The same fecklessness and cravenness in the face of aggression, and this cowardice is yet again dressed up in the language of high principle.


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  1. SWP – interesting narrative from 1000’s of miles away on this one with no dependency on Russian Energy or their Markets – after all which self-respecting Russian Billionaire would be seen dead (or alive) in a Ford or a Chevrolet when a Rolls, Range Rover or Mercedes S Class is available.

    More seriously – there are plenty of dissident voices to the UK’s position on this – ironically led from what some would label the left-wing. commie press , like The Guardian (that pariah who broke the Snowden story) –

    What is more interesting in the long term here, after the inevitable sabre rattling and humanitarian crisis are resolved, is how the dependency on fossil fuels (and implicitly the leverage fossil fuel rich countries have on the rest of us) is resolved. Now that would be a novel leadership role for the US to adopt.

    Comment by Mancunian — March 4, 2014 @ 6:06 am

  2. Exactly, and i`m afraid it`s gonna get worse cos of Kremlin giving really wrong signals (in free world`s eyes) to its population (and not only nationalists) who see this as sign Russia being strong nation again (strong equals aggressive and give them rights to use force when they see fit!) and not getting proper response from western world will definitely prop them up a lot.

    Russia`s military will only get stronger with time and they certainly take notes how weak overall response to their aggression was.

    Add to that Russians can from time to time be borderline delusional- like an answer from Russian general to Ukrainian defending their invasion- “The international community trusted Russia to hold the Olympic Games. Not every country in the world is trusted with something like that.”

    Also though many are concluding (Merkel, Edward Lucas etc) Putin to be insane, i see it as Putin just being the main advocate of its brutal system and repeating the pattern as in Georgia (in a broad sense).
    Surprise shock aggression without anyone from west knowing what their endgame is until Tsar Putin steps into camera lights and “mercifully” backtracks a bit to show mercy.
    So shocked, afraid and panicky smaller invaded nations should feel that somehow after all they even should thank Putin showing mercy for them for not taking bigger chunk of territory and making it even worse.

    This happened again today when in the brink of possible attack to Eastern Ukraine (forces were ready and maybe still are) Putin took the tension down somewhat and as usual blamed others for exactly the things Kremlin (only) itself has done.

    I can`t wait for Obama getting out of office fast enough to make room for someone with little more interest and understanding
    regarding the geopolitical situation and dangers with Russia. I`ll hope he at least thinks twise about “resetting” anything.

    Comment by Erik — March 4, 2014 @ 7:29 am

  3. I noticed that Obama has been pushing for most of the measures you recommended, such as kicking Russia out of the G8, pressure on oligarchs, etc. Yet you still call him pusillanimous, and say he expresses nothing but deep concern. Your opinion is made up, is it? Don’t bother you with actual facts?

    And by the way, the Germans would be concerned with Ostwirtschaft. Ostwirtschaftlich is an adverb. Clearly you do not speak German.

    And finally, there have been quite a few people talking about Putin as a man in a hurry lately. If it will help you feel better, perhaps they all got it from you and need to cite you. I very seriously doubt that the state department is as stupid about Putin as you believe.

    I come here to read you because you have had a good call on an important matter. I do not come for the political grenades or the self-indulgence. You tarnish your brand.

    Comment by Guest — March 4, 2014 @ 8:18 am

  4. Obama echoes “Peace in our time”.

    Comment by scott — March 4, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  5. Unfortunately, Professor, Tony Blair casts a long shadow.

    In 2003 he fabricated from whole cloth “evidence” of Iraqi WMD, which was then presented to the UK public and the House of Commons as the reason why we needed to invade Iraq. In the ensuing, arguably illegal war, our undermanned, underequipped, underfunded army was defeated.

    UK public opinion now excoriates anyone who suggests that “We need to do something about X because X is a tyrant”. This particularly gelds the Labour Party, because they have Blair’s crime to atone for. This is why they shrank from action over Syria. Cameron, remember, does not command a majority in the House of Commons. He needed Labour to support action, and they welshed.

    Quite frankly, if the Russian navy now sailed up the Thames and shelled the House of Commons, we wouldn’t even squeak. Having lost the will to act responsibly internationally, we’ve accelerated the process of disposing of the means as well.

    We are now more or less Belgium, without the moules.

    Comment by Green as Grass — March 4, 2014 @ 10:45 am

  6. @green–Sad but true. I was watching a documentary on the Falklands War with my parents a couple of weekends back. I remarked that now the UK couldn’t mount an expedition to recover a Channel Isle or the Isle of Man. Even if it had the will, which I seriously doubt.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 4, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  7. +++In 2003 he fabricated from whole cloth “evidence” of Iraqi WMD, which was then presented to the UK public and the House of Commons as the reason why we needed to invade Iraq. In the ensuing, arguably illegal war, our undermanned, underequipped, underfunded army was defeated.+++

    So here flies abject bullshit.

    Comment by LL — March 4, 2014 @ 11:33 am

  8. PS “Fuck the EU” (C)

    Comment by LL — March 4, 2014 @ 11:34 am

  9. I agree with almost everything that SWP writes here.

    There’s one thing that he is ignoring, though. Where “Poland” is today is really to a large part East Prussia, the historically and culturally militaristic part of Germany. Poles today are part Prussians and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are strongly influenced by the Prussian culture. So when Poland is ready to stand against Russian aggression, I am not sure if it’s the Polish or the Prussians speaking. Both have good reasons to, the latter I would be expect to be more willing to articulate it in the open.

    Comment by ptuomov — March 4, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

  10. @LL. LOL. Fuck the EU was the original title of the post. Then I thought better of that, so I changed it to What Victoria Nuland Said. But then the Auden line came to line and that seemed a little more highbrow 😉 But Fuck the EU is definitely the theme.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 4, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

  11. @ptuomov-Many of the Prussian and Silesian Germans fled Poland in 1944-1945 in front of the Soviet onslaught. Dunno how much Prussian influence remains. The Poles were a brave and martial people, but were condemned by a dysfunctional governmental system and the fact that they were surrounded by three voracious and expansionist powers (Prussia, Russia, and Austria) to a loss of freedom. They tried to redeem it in 1863, but were brutally crushed by the Russians.

    @libertylynx pointed out to me today how the Poles must react to the fact that (as reported in Bloomberg this morning) that Merkel has a picture of Catherine the Great (of German descent, and one of the partitioners of Poland) in her office. Given what the Poles have suffered at the hands of Russia and Germany, the thought of a German leader admiring an imperialist Russian tsarina must reinforce all their old fears.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 4, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

  12. The United States cannot sit quietly and allow any aggression or violation of the territorial integrity of another country. Therefore, our government must immediately act to:

    – stop violating the territorial integrity of Serbia
    – rescind the US recognition of Kosovo as an independent state
    – return Kosovo to the peaceful and democratic country of Serbia
    – apologize for the international crimes that NATO committed in Serbia in 1999
    – apologize and pay restitution to the people of Iraq, Libya, Grenada and Panama
    – immediately stop supporting Sunni extremists and terrorists in Syria

    Ukraine” and “the inviolability of international borders”, t

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

  13. ignore the last line

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

  14. What if the existing Trading with the Enemy Act were modified so to remove “during the time of war” condition? What if the President was given the same rights to limit or to stop all the trade not only with a country the US is at war with, but at any country the Congress would determine to be in a grave violation of the established international order (or something like that)?

    Surely that would make Deutsche Bank or IKEA to think which part of their business they certainly don’t want to lose.

    Comment by LL — March 4, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

  15. Another question I have regards Russia Today: should its cable licenses be revoked? Radio Liberty has effectively been kicked out of radio frequencies in Russia and operates only via a web site (a very good one, btw) – RT certainly can work the same way. If our laws do not allow our government to own any media that broadcasts within the country – the same rule should certainly apply to the media owned by foreign governments, right?

    Comment by LL — March 4, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

  16. > Trading with the Enemy Act… any country the Congress would determine to be in a grave violation of the established international order

    Then the Congress would have to invoke this Trading with the Enemy Act towards itself and all other NATO countries for waging an aggression against Serbia, stealing its territory and then recognizing this stolen territory as an independent state, in violation of the international law and the US principle of the inviolability of international borders.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 4:50 pm

  17. Very strange that Europe seems to think sanctions are an all or nothing resort. It seems some kind of balance can be determined to protect their interests while putting pain on Russia for its action. Also, assuming one ties these sanctions into a deliverable from Russia, Europe may not have to have any pain at all. Applying sanctions until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and are verified by the Ukrainian government would both punish Russia, compel it to withdraw from Ukraine ASAP, and keep any damage to their own economies to a minimum.

    Actions taken are easily grouped into several categories.

    1) Immediate economic and military aid to Ukraine so they can survive in the short term.
    2) Permanent actions in response to Putin’s invasion. These are mainly limited to removing “prestige” from the Russian government like its participation in the G8. Symbolic damage, but nothing that will complicate future relations.
    3) Immediate sanctions/actions that will be removed once Putin withdraws the Russian armed forces from Ukraine.
    4) Developing future sanctions/actions that will be applied if Putin further escalates the crisis as a threat.
    5) A face saving measure that allow Putin a way out, like agreeing to a UN force (that has no Russians, but also has no NATO members) to enter Crimea to protect the Russian minority from the non-existent threat to it.
    6) Immediate rebuttal to all Russian lies and exagerrations; plus mockery and statements of concern about Putin’s mental state of health. I think showing mockery at the pathetic Russian propaganda rather than fear would undermine support for Putin in Russia and by adding personal humiliation during the invasion, will make it more likely Putin will want to end it as soon as possible.

    One thing that must be avoided is that Russian occupation of Crimea is the new normal. It must be made clear that maintenance of the status quo is NOT acceptable and does NOT reduce tensions. Every day the Russian invasion force remains in Ukraine is an escalation in itself and increases the chances of war.

    Comment by Chris — March 4, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

  18. @Chris. I agree. Especially your point re new normal.

    I suspect this is Putin’s strategy. Takes Crimea, threatens to invade the rest of Ukraine. Euros panic. Then he says, well, I won’t invade the rest of Ukraine. Relieved, the Euros don’t object to him keeping Crimea. Then in a month or two, there is some provocation in Donetsk or Odessa, he goes in again. Wash, rinse, repeat, and in a year all of Ukraine is under his control. The seizure of Crimea cannot stand. We/the Euros cannot fall for this gambit where he takes half a loaf, threatens to take it all, then walks away with the half loaf when he relents on the threat to take it all.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — March 4, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

  19. Ok Vladislav, along those lines, Russian forces must immediately leave the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
    Russia must rescind recognition of those territories and recognize them as inalienable parts of Georgia
    Russia must pay compensation to those whose relatives were killed and wounded and to those who lost property during the Russian led ethnic cleansings of 1993 and 2008.
    Russia must immediately make full public apology for it’s actions taken against ethnic Georgians.

    Comment by Andrew — March 4, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

  20. > The 2010s are proving to be one of history’s rhymes. The same fecklessness and cravenness in the face of aggression, and this cowardice is yet again dressed up in the language of high principle.

    How’s that different from the 1990s, when the international community, especially Yeltsin’s Russia, allowed vicious vultures to take Serbia apart? Or from the 2000s, when the international community allowed the invasion and destruction of Iraq?

    Comment by vladislav — March 5, 2014 @ 1:35 am

  21. > Ok Vladislav, along those lines, Russian forces must immediately leave the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    I agree. As soon as my own country of the USA gives Kosovo back to Serbia, I will sign any petition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgia.

    Comment by vladislav — March 5, 2014 @ 1:37 am

  22. I agree. As soon as my own country of the USA gives Kosovo back to Serbia, I will sign any petition to give Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Georgia.

    Comment by vladislav — March 5, 2014 @ 1:37 am

  23. The Crimea is just the new Cyprus, is it not? That’s lasted 40-odd years with no resolution other than Greece lumping it.

    Comment by Green as Grass — March 5, 2014 @ 3:44 am

  24. +++The Crimea is just the new Cyprus+++

    Except unlike Cyprus there is no long-standing ethnic and/or religious conflict. It is only yet another attempt to preserve neo-sovok against an attempt to westernize.

    Comment by LL — March 5, 2014 @ 5:03 am

  25. Of course there is an ethnic conflict in Ukraine. Caused entirely by Western Ukrainians. An explosive mix of complexes – superiority (we are not Rashans, Rashans are Mongols, lazy cattle, my Banderovite grandfather killed 10 Rashan generals in WW2, etc..) and inferiority – they don’t have to show much for all their supposed superiority to Rashans. In fact, zip. Even worse, they are pale imitation of Poles when it comes to their psychological issues with Rashans (now those guys are butthurt since 1612).

    Comment by So? — March 5, 2014 @ 5:19 am

  26. Well Vladislav we agree on something.

    Comment by Andrew — March 5, 2014 @ 7:37 am

  27. The current wave of idiotic disinformation is too much even for some people who had no scruples working in Putin’s stinkin’ agitprop outfit before:

    Comment by Ivan — March 5, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

  28. @So?

    looks to me like there might be an ethnic conflict brewing between Western Americans and a certain ethnic Sovok who having moved his sorry ass to America has left his head firmly stuck in Putin’s anus

    Comment by Ivan — March 5, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  29. So? — March 5, 2014 @ 5:19 am

    Pure bullshit – and you know it all too well. The essense of the conflict: anti-communists trying to remove post-communists from power; the post-communists, with the Russian support, are trying to keep it. The ethnic tensions components is very insignificant – just as it was insignificant in Georgia or Moldavia. Nothing like Karabach or Yugoslavia.

    Comment by LL — March 5, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

  30. @LL

    The ethnic tension is there, and it’s one-way only. The knee-jerk language ban (the first action of a bankrupt “government”!) is proof. But it’s not the cause of the conflict. Neither is your “good guys vs godless commies”. Ukraine is BANKRUPT. The Soviet endowment has run out. It’s a bunch of thugs fighting over a shrinking pie with “people power” as a fig leaf and cannon fodder (has it ever been anything but?) I don’t know (and don’t care) about Georgia, but there was “ethnic tension” in Moldavia, trust me on that.

    Comment by So? — March 6, 2014 @ 3:06 am

  31. So? you are lying as usual.

    look at all the Russian thugs attacking Tatars, Ukrainians, and pro Ukraine ethnic Russians in Crimea.

    In addition Russian troops and pro Russian thugs have been beating up journalists.

    Comment by Andrew — March 9, 2014 @ 5:13 am

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