Streetwise Professor

March 3, 2014

It Gives Me No Joy, But Yes: I Will Say I Told You So. Seven Damn Years Ago.

Filed under: History,Military,Politics,Russia,Uncategorized — The Professor @ 4:45 pm

In 2007, in my 60th post on SWP, I wrote a post about Putin and the Euros, titled “A Man in a Hurry.”  If you look at Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, and the utterly pusillanimous European response to this aggression, that post from more than 7 years ago is quite clearly prophetic, to the last jot and tittle.

The closing paragraph:

I think that most Europeans, and those few Americans who seem to pay much attention to these issues, are nonplussed by Putin’s audacity in large part because they are projecting their attitudes onto him. They cannot envision why someone would engage in such seemingly short sighted actions. As a recent Newsweek story puts it, they wonder why Putin is risking severe “blowback.” However, their attitudes have evolved and developed in a completely different institutional, economic, and political environment than Russia’s. The Euro-American environment is much more conducive to taking the longer view that the unsettled (and unsettling) environment that characterizes Russia today. So, the Europeans–and Americans–should be ready for more “surprises” from Putin–which shouldn’t be surprises at all.

My main question is why a blogger, and amateur student of Russian politics, could figure this out, but the State Department, the intelligence agencies, the national security community, the vast bulk of think tanks, and the editorial pages of every major US paper couldn’t.  And why they haven’t been able to do so despite all that has happened since.  Georgia.  The castling move whereby Putin resumed the presidency.  The unrelenting crackdown on civil society.  It’s one thing to ignore reality when it’s lying around.  It’s another to ignore it when it is hitting you in the goddam face.

I’m not claiming genius.  Quite the contrary. This shouldn’t have been that hard.  I’m claiming common sense and a willingness to look objectively at reality.

But maybe that’s the problem.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men were unable to do that for the reason I mentioned in that old post: a dominant mindset in which the bien pensants projected their own self-image onto Putin.  A failure of a navel gazing elite.  (We would be better served by a naval gazing elite, but since history ended that’s apparently so passé.)

This, frankly, is why we are where we are today.  Which is totally f*cked, by the way.

While I’m in this mood, I will also take credit for being among the first to advocate what is now becoming recognized as the only real way to hit Putin and the Russian elite where it hurts: an aggressive investigation of all the dirty money these bastards have squirreled away around the world.

Sadly, although this is widely recommended, the Germans and the British are going to fight this tooth and nail.  More on that later.

Postscript. Speaking of Putin as a Man in a Hurry, imagine my surprise to read Matthew Kaminski’s WSJ piece last night in which he said that Crimea was Putin’s appetizer, and characterized Putin as “a man in a hurry.”  Perhaps it is just coincidence, but more than 24 hours before I had written a post in which I had said that Crimea was Putin’s appetizer, and  that I had long said that Putin was a man in a hurry.  Surely a coincidence, except for the fact that the only references I can find to Putin being a man in a hurry are things I wrote.  Also probably a coincidence that 24 hours after I wrote a post saying that the EU had “midwifed” a deal with Yanukovych and that the ultimate outcome would probably be him ruling over a “rump state” in eastern Ukraine, Andrew Peek in the Fiscal Times uses the exact same words to express the exact same ideas.   It’s not like “midwifed” and “rump state” are everyday expressions.

Sorry.  Perhaps this is self-indulgent.  But this happens with some frequency.  Too often to be purely coincidence.  Citation/acknowledgement is the coin of the realm in academia, and as a result, using without attribution is tantamount to grand theft, which is why it gets under my skin.  But I guess journalism and academia are quite different.  In fact, I don’t guess: I know.  Journalists (and many bloggers) are the biggest lifters of the work of others that I know of.


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  1. I don’t think it is self-indulgent, when it is clear they’ve stolen your lines without attribution. The timing and the specificity of the expressions used prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I understand journalists, unlike academics, do not list references, but they can certainly quote you or give your name, as in: “…as University of Houston professor Craig Pirrong put it…”

    Whatever happened to journalistic integrity?

    Comment by Jack PQ — March 3, 2014 @ 7:07 pm

  2. Agreed it probably is plagiarism. But please remember Napoleons Razor: “Never atrribute to malice that which is adequately explained by simple incompetence.”

    On the mad accountants-of-war, three points:
    1) The Topmen may not see any point in fleeing — more likely to get assassinated. Hitler had no swiss account.
    2) Tracking the money has been a major tactic for 40 years in the War on Drugs. Both sides have polished their weapons.
    3) Any radically new measures (necessary for sucess) will be opposed by a vast array of the 1% since it will not be possible to attack the Siloviki without also catching them in the dragnet. It likely would catch many politicians (the real problem of NSA spying).

    Comment by Robert in Houston — March 3, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

  3. Sad. Ukraine doesn’t mean enough to us for us to help them fight for their freedom. Most Americans don’t recognize Putin for who he really is. As far as attribution, remember you are just a blogger and aren’t deserving of First Amendment protection according to Senator Durbin. That means copyright law too.

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter (@pointsnfigures) — March 3, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

  4. Thank you for your prescient posts about Russia.

    However, much as chasing down the dirty money will, if done, frighten and hurt the russonazis, I think that financial punishment only as a response to territorial incursion is not sufficiently symmetric. Me, I’d go for something a bit more territorial.

    The free world has talked softly, but has been too enchanted by its own niceness and too forgetful of the big stick that is also needed.

    I believe I’m right in saying that he USSR was the only participant in WWII to find itself territorially enlarged after the peace.

    Since then we have seen, roughly in reverse order, the invasion of Georgia and the occupation of 20% of its territory – the unrecognised statelets of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Prior to that we have the unrecognised territory of Transnistria (the “Prednistrovian Moldavian Republic”), which  the European Court of Human Rights considers to be “under the effective authority or at least decisive influence of Russia”; the Kurile Islands; Finland, which was forced to cede 11% of its territory to the USSR after the Winter War of 1939; a more convoluted story regarding Bessarabia/Moldavia, and finally, the place I want to mention today – the exclave of Königsberg/Kaliningrad, which the USSR has retained since taking it in 1945.

    Would this then not be a good time, since Putin takes an elastic view of recognition and guarantees of territorial integrity, to recall this exclave and for starters close the airspace and rail links through Lithuania and Poland to the territory? Let Russia have problems in two places at once and have fun trying to keep it supplied by sea!

    Comment by Dave Essel — March 3, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

  5. Dave, as always, you are an ignorant bigot. Which is no wonder, given that you make your $millions advertising yourself as “David Essel, one of the founders of the Life Coach industry” and charging exorbitant sums of money by “coaching” other, more experienced, educated and wise people how to live their lives.

    For example, you wrote:

    > USSR was the only participant in WWII to find itself territorially enlarged after the peace.

    This is patently false. Poland and Czechoslovakia immediately come to mind.

    Other changes include Japan losing all of its huge pre-war territories outside the home islands, including Korea and parts of China.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 12:11 am

  6. Well, I guess, Poland may have lost more territory than it gained, because Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine got back the territories occupied by Poland between the end of WWI and beginning of WWII. So the beneficiaries of territorial gains after WWII are USSR (which got Koenigsberg, Kuril islands and various Lithuanian, Belorussian and Ukrainian lands previously occupied by Poland), Czechoslovakia, Korea and China.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 12:35 am

  7. Professor,

    I have a very simple and highly effective and economical proposition as to how to save Ukraine, make it part of the West, turn Eastern Ukraine into a pro-Western land and even to make Crimeans beg to return back into Ukraine. I don’t have time now to translate it into English, so let me post it in Russian, and maybe translate later. I would like you and the readers to co-sign it and send to Obama and the Congress:

    Друзья, у меня есть предложение, с которым согласятся абсолютно ВСЕ здесь собравшиеся. Единственное, что спасет Украину и повернет Украину на западный путь, это немедленная экономическая интеграция с Западом. Так как Евросоюз отказался открыть свободную экономическую зону с Украиной и разрешить украинцам свободно работать в Европе, американское правительство должно, как всегда, взять инициативу на себя.

    Если США разрешают десяткам миллионов нелегалов из Мексики жить и работать в США, и периодически устраивают амнистии, позволяющие десяткам миллионов нелегалов из Мексики стать американскими гражданами, что может быть лучше, чем дать возможность нескольким миллионам украинских граждан работать в Америке? Нет, даже не надо давать им американское гражданство. Просто разрешить им поработать тут несколько лет (сколько им нужно) и потом уехать назад в Украину.

    Это, кстати, будет полезно и для американской экономики, и вскоре приведет к тому, что уровень жизни в Украине превзойдет европейский, и Крым будет молить власти Украины, чтобы они впустили Крым к себе, назад в Украину. И все это абсолютно мирным путем, без жертв!

    Друзья, давайте пошлем открытое письмо нашим лидерам:

    “President Obama, Congress, save Ukraine!

    We demand that you immediately establish a free-trade duty-free economic regime with Ukraine and allow all Ukrainian citizens the right to freely work in the USA if they want.”

    Who wants to sign it?

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 1:12 am

  8. @vladislav: At least my little post got the goat of a nasty little Kremlin troll, so there must have been something to it. Хоть на пять минут перестал делать минет своему главкому.

    Comment by Dave Essel — March 4, 2014 @ 1:48 am

  9. Dave Essel,

    So, your only refutation of your opponent’s factual claims is that they are”Kremlin trolls”? That’s not very creative. I would expect something better from “one of the founders of the Life Coach industry”, “Mr. Motivation” and “The Master of Motivation”. Moreover, as a self-appointed “All Faiths Minister” (I kid you not!), you should lay off from explicit public sexual personal insults (even if they are in Russian), especially describing to homosexual oral sex, which is considered “sodomy” by at least 3 of the major religions of which you are a “the Master” and the “Minister” of: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 2:45 am

  10. What I am proposing is a libertarian solution: defeating Putin through free trade with Ukraine. But everybody in the US media is proposing the anti-libertarian solutions: waging a war, boycotting Russian goods, tariffs, etc. Our founding fathers must be turning in their graves at the sight of the US foreign policies. How can the Americans convince Ukrainians and Russians to choose liberties, democracy and the free market, if our American leaders and media always advocate anti-libertarian militaristic actions on America’s part and always deny Serbs, Ukrainians and Russians the chance to participate in the American free market economy or even to visit America and see the advantages of the American way of life for themselves? Can bombing Belgrade and destroying Serbia’s territorial integrity convince Russians not to fear NATO and to respect the territorial integrity of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine? That’s why another vital act that the US President must do immediately is to take back the US recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and to return Kosovo to the peaceful and democratic country of Serbia.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 3:56 am

  11. Gallup Poll provides irrefutable mathematical proof that 83% of Ukrainians prefer the Russian language over Ukrainian:

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 4:04 am

  12. When given a choice between answering the Poll questions in Russian or Ukrainian, 83% chose Russian. How clever on Gallup’s part!

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 4:04 am

  13. apparently the little Kremlinoid troll vladislav has forgotten that Ukraine is a member of the World Trade Organization. So is the Roosha, which was admitted after Ukraine.

    Yet Putler and his Kremlinoid Roosha have conducted and continue to conduct trade wars against Ukraine. And now Putler has got “Batya” Lukashenka to also have Belarus ban Ukrainian poultry and pork.

    and vladislav, purveryor of yet another poll proving nothing – just because people speak Russian in Ukraine does not mean that they don’t regard themselves as Ukrainian.

    Even the oligarchs who participated in yanusvoloch’s corrupt sovok system, such as Kolomoisky, have now come forth with very public statements about Ukrainian unity. That means they don’t want Putler’s boot on their throats.

    SWP – you may be thinking of Londongrad trying to exempt itself from financial sanctions against Putler and the Kremlinoids.

    what amazes me is the extreme number of comments by Kremlinoid troll propagandists

    Crimea was taken without firing a shot, and the Kremlinoids instituted a prime minister in the Crimean parliament from the “One Roosha” faction which at that time had only about 3% of the vote in Crimea.

    My impression right now is that the people in Crimea don’t want to be ruled by Putler, even if they are reported as being “pro-Rooshan.”

    Putler, who clearly is out of his gourd, has announced and “end” to his saber rattling “military exercises” on the eastern border of Ukraine.

    He reminds me of a schoolyard bully who shoves kids around just to show them who’s boss – until either the kids band together to depose the schoolyard bully or a greater authority comes along to show who’s the real boss.

    Comment by elmer — March 4, 2014 @ 8:36 am

  14. this report includes a rundown of the tricks and stunts that Putler and the Kremlinoids are trying to pull off in Ukraine – and the fact that people in Crimea don’t want Putler.

    A divided Ukraine? Think again

    Many people in Crimea and eastern Ukraine don’t want the protection of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But there are some who are afraid of forced Ukraineization because they have been fed propaganda by Russian TV channels for years. The purpose is to convince Ukrainians that we are divided, not one country, and that the safest course of action for Russian-speaking areas is to break away and join Russia.

    These ideas have been cultivated since I was a child. I remember when I lived in Donetsk in the ’90s, how scared we were that a candidate from western Ukraine would win an election and force us to speak Ukrainian. But when I moved out of the area of aggressive Russian information, I quickly realized I can speak Russian in Kiev or Lviv and no one will ever be upset with me!

    Putin won’t succeed. Ukrainians are wiser than that and won’t kill each other over the nonexistent problem of language. To demonstrate that, last week, people in Lviv (traditionally Ukrainian-speaking) spoke only Russian all day, and in response, those in Donetsk (traditionally Russian-speaking) spoke Ukrainian!

    No civil war in Ukraine, Mr. Putin! It must be getting harder to justify the presence of military force to “protect” people when nobody is in danger.

    I just talked to my friends in Crimea.

    Yuri in Simferopol told me that it’s a handful of pro-Russian extremists in the streets trying to make a scene for Russian video cameras — they are showing that these are the Russians who request protection!

    Meanwhile, the rest of the city is terrified by the presence of Russian military forces and are evacuating their families to central or western Ukraine.

    I got a similar report from Luda in Kharkov. She said that a large group of Russians were brought across the border by buses, and they were the ones inspiring and instigating unrest that resulted in putting a Russian flag on a municipal building.

    The amount of propaganda Russia has poured onto Ukraine is hard to comprehend. Putting troops on Ukrainian land is going to bring the very opposite result from what Putin expected: I believe it’s uniting Ukraine.

    Comment by elmer — March 4, 2014 @ 9:43 am


    Putler and the Kremlinoids have been and are sending protest tourists into Ukraine – for the greater glory of Putler.

    From Russia, ‘Tourists’ Stir the Protests

    In Donetsk, when the crowd took control of the Parliament building on Monday, the Soviet-era ballad “Russians Don’t Surrender” blasted from loudspeakers and Mr. Khudyakov huddled in conversation with the leader of Donetsk Republic, a local organization demanding greater autonomy from Kiev. Back home, Mr. Khudyakov is better known for having founded several nationalist vigilante groups with the tacit blessing of the Russian government.

    The most dramatic expressions of the new pro-Russia fervor have taken place here, the former political base of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the country’s deposed president, and in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city, just 20 miles from the Russian border.

    When a crowd of thousands of pro-Russia demonstrators in Kharkiv stormed an administration building occupied by pro-Kiev demonstrators on Saturday in a melee that left two dead and 100 hospitalized, a 25-year-old Muscovite, who was staying in a hotel just off the square, scaled the building, lowered the Ukrainian flag and hoisted the Russian banner in its place.

    “I am proud that I was able to take part in defeating the fighters who came to ‘protest peacefully’ with knives in Kharkiv and raise the Russian tricolor on the building of the liberated administration,” wrote Mikhail Chuprikov, who hotel employees confirmed checked in under a Russian passport, in a blog post under a pseudonym.

    The protests have served as grist for Russian state television networks, which hailed the footage of the Russian flag being raised across Ukraine as evidence of a rejection of the new government in Kiev by ethnic Russians. Russia’s permanent mission to NATO posted on Twitter a map of Ukraine with superimposed images of Russian flags in 11 Ukrainian cities where the protests took place on Saturday, including the Black Sea port of Odessa, as well as Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Donetsk.

    Comment by elmer — March 4, 2014 @ 10:13 am

  16. here’s a great one – same “anti-Maidan” actress is interviewed for Rooshan TV in 4 different cities

    Comment by elmer — March 4, 2014 @ 10:23 am


    ‘So why aren’t they shooting?’ is Putin’s question, Ukrainians say

    The Ukrainian authorities have said that their tactic is peaceful resistance and negotiations, and so far it has helped to prevent violence on the Crimean peninsula, which was effectively seized by Russian troops and armed local self-defense units on March 1.

    Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Bondaruk, deputy head of Volyn regional commissioner on training, explains why the Ukrainian soldiers are not shooting in Crimea.

    “There was information coming through the media center of the State Executive Service that Putin’s conversation was intercepted with his commander in Crimea.

    ‘Why aren’t they shooting?’

    ‘They just aren’t.”

    ‘But how do you behave? Do you provoke them?’

    ‘Yes, we provoke them’

    ‘Do you remain defiant?’

    ‘Yes, we are defiant, but they aren’t shooting.’

    ‘Why aren’t they shooting?’

    ‘I don’t know why, but they don’t’

    In other words, there is a provocation going on to make sure there is a first (shot), and that it’s started on the Ukrainian side. As soon as the first one starts, the big unrest will start.

    ‘So, why aren’t they shooting? What do they say?’

    ‘They simply openly tell us to buzz off.’

    So, this is evidence that there is a provocation going on (on the Russian side).”

    Comment by elmer — March 4, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

  18. elmer> Apparently the little Kremlinoid troll vladislav has forgotten that Ukraine is a member of the World Trade Organization. So is the Roosha, which was admitted after Ukraine. Yet Putler and his Kremlinoid Roosha have conducted and continue to conduct trade wars against Ukraine.

    Apparently the little foulmouthed troll elmer has forgotten that Cuba is one of the first members of the World Trade Organization. So is the the US of Amooooooorica, which was admitted right before Coooooba. Yet O’bummer and his WhiteHousadoid predecessors have conducted and continue to conduct military blockades and trade wars against Cuba.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

  19. > and vladislav, purveryor of yet another poll proving nothing – just because people speak Russian in Ukraine does not mean that they don’t regard themselves as Ukrainian.

    Correct. But it DOES mean that Russian should be accepted as an official language along with Ukrainian, just as English is an official language of Ireland along with Gaelic.

    Comment by vladislav — March 4, 2014 @ 2:12 pm

  20. so, vladislav, Russian is an official language in Ukraine – Turchinov vetoed the bill passed by Parliament that would have revoked the law bestowing official government language status on Russian in Ukraine.

    So yet another “justification” for Vlad Dracul Putler’s “humanitarian” invasion of Ukraine is – gone.

    The only Kremlinoid propaganda you have left out, vladislav, is that in the US there was slavery.

    Poor little Kremlinoids – so many “provocations,” so many boogeymen “nazis and fascists and banderites”, oh my, so much “brotherly love” out of the Roosha.

    Poor, poor little Kremlinoids.

    Comment by elmer — March 4, 2014 @ 6:01 pm

  21. Don’t worry Elmer, you should feel sorry for Vladimir’s willing conquest Vladislav. He is just a typical Putinist, obviously racist against non Russians, as shown by his support for the Russian language policies which ban education of ethnic minority languages in the Russian federation and in areas of Georgia and Moldova occupied by Russia

    Comment by Andrew — March 4, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

  22. elmer, please leave me alone. Discussions are only possible with intelligent people.

    Comment by vladislav — March 5, 2014 @ 1:39 am

  23. First of all, elmer, Russian is NOT an official language in Ukraine as whole, only in some regions. Which is weird, given that according a Gallup Poll in 2008, 83% of Ukrainians prefer to speak Russian, and only 17% – Ukrainian.

    Second, what we had was a constitutionally and democratically elected President Yanukovich. A very bad leader, but still the constitutional president. The preparations for the next presidential elections next February (2015) were proceeding smoothly. Then demonstrators, who didn’t like the decisions by the democratically and constitutionally elected president, occupied the center of Kiev for almost 3 months, then right-wing provocateurs attacked the police, leading to a bloodbath. A revolution in Kiev started. Yanukovich and many of the Parliament members had to run away. The remaining Parliament immediately voted to impeach Yanukovich for “crimes” without any investigation or debate over the crime accusations against him.

    Then the first thing this “Parliament” did was declare that they have nothing against Russian-speakers. The second thing this “Parliament” did was repeal the Constitutional law that allows regions to add Russian and other local languages to AUkrainian as official regional languages.

    So, what we see is an out-of-control Parliament that illegally and unconstitutionally “impeached” the President and that is hell-bent on starting a civil war by demolishing the rights of minorities (which are actually the majority!).

    On the other hand, President Yanukovich’s order to dissolve the Parliament is perfectly legal and constitutional.

    Comment by vladislav — March 5, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

  24. geez, vladislav, you do love that Kremlinoid script.

    And you keep repeating it so very well, disinformation, distortion and all the rest that goes with Kremlinoid dezinformatsiya.

    Now you’re resorting to the “democratically elected” bit.

    And the “right-wing provocateurs” bit.

    Noone elected yanusvoloch to be a dictator – he accomplished that by making all “judges” in Ukraine beholden to him through the misnamed “Higher Council of Justice.” All of the courts looked like something out of Planet of the Apes, complete with “judges” wearing medallions.

    Mustafa Nayem was the one who sent a message via Facebook to come out and protest.

    Then the police beat the protesters.

    Then yanusvoloch and his gang made it illegal to protest, and to wear helmets, which protesters started wearing in order to protect themselves from police beatings. Those laws were taken right out of the Rooshan Dummy. Assemblies of more than 5 people were banned – again, a Kremlinoid idea.

    So to mock yanusvoloch, people wore pots and pans on their heads.

    In a show of solidarity all across the country, even on TV shows, people in western Ukraine spoke Russian and people in eastern Ukraine spoke Ukrainian. Example – the “Freedom of Speech” show on hosted by Andrew Kulikov. That’s just one example.

    you ought to be ashamed of yourself for spouting Kremlinoid lies.

    I know that you love Putler because he takes his shirt off and kisses little boys on the belly, but now it turns out you love yanusvoloch, a moronic lardass lardbutt thug illiterate imbecile sovok mafioso.

    Heil Putler! Heil yanukonvikt!

    Comment by elmer — March 5, 2014 @ 9:18 pm

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