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Ukraine War, May 3, 2022 (II): Pope Francis’ confused comments on Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Ukraine War, February 25, 2022: “We are all Ukrainians now”; U.N. Security Council resolution and vote (with links to video and text of resolution)


Ukraine Crisis, February 20, 2022: Deterrence has failed. Only China may be able to stop Putin’s invasion of Ukraine; now is no time to make concessions to an aggressor, in the Minsk negotiations or anywhere else


Ukraine Crisis, February 15, 2022 (II): Scholz is tough in Moscow; Putin hints at negotiation and withdrawals, but it could be a deception; Russian military moves to block any NATO intervention; Biden gives strong speech; Security Council meeting on February 17


Ukraine Crisis, February 8, 2022: Urgent need for strongest possible deterrent steps; the Minsk II off-ramp for Putin


Reflections on Czechoslovakia (1968) and Ukraine (2022): August 20, 1968 — “Dubček, Svoboda!”

As Russian tanks threaten to invade Ukraine, memories of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia come to mind. What is at stake in Ukraine today is…


Use international law: Take Putin’s threatened invasion of Ukraine to the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly; use SWIFT and Nordstream II to move beyond an illusory deterrent and really deter Putin; sanction Belarus for complicity in any invasion

U.S.,NATO, and EU heavy “costs” that will be imposed on Russia if it invades Ukraine are a deterrent, built on illusions, which will not deter Putin.

The West needs to strengthen its deterrent threats and to start imposing sanctions now.

Russia should be sanctioned for threatening the use of force in violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, and bringing the world dangerously close to a major war in Europe which has the potential of escalating to a nuclear conflict.

The West has been playing defense, reacting slowly to Russia’s threat of a war of aggression against Ukraine.

German war criminals were tried at Nuremberg for committing “crimes against peace”. Putin is committing crimes against peace as we speak.

NATO and the West need to stop responding to Putin’s unlawful demands and to start making their own demands on Putin and Russia.

The best defense is a good offense, it is often said.

It is now time for the civilized nations if the world to move from defensive maneuvering to going on the offense against Putin and Russia.

They should demand the following steps from Putin, and impose escalating sanctions on Russia if he does not comply, and until he does.
These demands include the following:

The U.S., the EU, and NATO member countries should begin imposing severe economic sanctions on Russia for its ongoing threat to further invade Ukraine, for its continuing occupation of the Crimea, and for its continuing occupation, both directly and through agents under its control, of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces (together “the Donbas’j in the Eastern Ukraine.

The goal should be to really deter Putin from invading Ukraine, not just putting on a good show that NATO, the U.S. and the EU tried. A secondary goal should be to deter Belarus from allowing Russian troops to launch an invasion from its territory.

To really deter Putin, all countries should pressure Germany to go along with the expulsion of Russia from the SWIFT international payments system, if it invades Ukraine, and to commit now to cancellation of the Nordstream II pipeline project if that occurs.

As the civilized nations of the world move to offensive operations in defense of Ukraine, the imposition of heavy economic and other sanctions, perhaps on a partial and escalating basis, should begin at once.

Both Fiona Hill, above, and former Defense Secretary William Cohen, have called for the question of the threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine to be taken to the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly.

These steps should be undertaken at once.


It’s time to play hardball with Germany, and to pull out all the stops to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine (Updated January 25: 2022)

The defeatism in the air is palpable, with American officials apparently resigned to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now talking about increasing the “costs” to Russia if Putin invades.

Worth recalling is the fact that Barack Obama used similar language about “costs” to Russia if it invaded Ukraine, back in 2014. Such threats of unnamed “costs” did not deter Putin then, and they are not likely to deter him now. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the two greatest “costs” that might be imposed on Russia are illusory, and are not really on the table.
It is now time for the U.S. to play hardball with the German government, which is the weak link in the West’s deterrence strategy against Putin.

If Germany won’t make sacrifices for NATO, Biden should withdraw American troops from Germany and re-station them in a country which takes standing up to Putin and Russia more seriously.
Germans and business keaders in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere need to understand that if Russia invades Ukraine, it will not be some minor thing like the Russian military intervention in Georgia in 2008, or even tbe invasion of the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Such an intervention would in the intermediate term destroy business relations between the West and Russia, and entail significant risks of escalation to a much wider war, one involving NATO members and the potential invocation of Article 5 of the NATO treaty.

The U.S. could be drawn into defending one or more NATO countries under the mutual defense obligation in Article 5.

If these events were to unfold, the risk of a nuclear confrontation would become great, with the attendant risk of something accidentally setting off a nuclear conflict.

In short, if Russia invades Ukraine, the world as we know it is likely to change, in drastic and unforeseeable ways.


The nuclear deterrent; Sanctions threats not credible–SWIFT and Nordstream II sanctions off the table; Germany’s debt to the world, and the appeasers in the SPD

Germany should state clearly, immediately, and unequivocally, that it will support expulsion of Russia from the SWIFT international payments system if Russia invades Ukraine. Germany’s ambivalence on this point has greatly diluted the deterrent force of threats to adopt this measure.

Germany should also state unequivocally, and immediately, that if Putin invades Ukraine, it will kill the Nordstream II gas pipeline project and will never authorize it to operate in its territory.

Germany, which was responsible for the collapse of the international legal order beginning in 1938, owes the world at least these two measures.

Politically and financially, these steps will not be easy to take. Germany now stands at the center of the world stage, with a potentially decisive voice in Putin’s calculations.

International law and international order require sacrifices. These, however, are minimal when compared to the sacrifices of war.
It is time for leaders in many countries to wake up to what is going on and to what the stakes are, and to take Russia’s threat of launching a major European war to the United Nation Security Council. They need not wait further on the foreign policy leadership of the U.S. Great Britain, or France, Ukraine, or any member of Security Council, or the Secretary General of the U.N., can call for an Emergency Meeting. This they can do at any time, but the right time is now.

Such action would complement diplomatic efforts currently being led by the U.S. Britain, in particular, and also Germany, seem to have a better understanding of the U.N. Charter and international law than do current leaders in the United States.


American Politics: What if the faint voice of reason in a sea of Unreason is not enough?

See, Michael Gerson, “What if the eventual Jan. 6 report is rigorous, compelling — and doesn’t really matter?” Washington Post, December 16, 2021 (3:17 p.m….


Denazification and detrumpification

The United States faces a problem similar in many ways, and different in many ways, to the problem faced by Great Britain, France, and the United States after the defeat of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in May, 1945.
Denazification
In their respective occupation zones, which included parts of Berlin, England, France, and America faced the daunting task of governing a population whose thinking and world view had been altered by 12 years of Nazi lies and propaganda, and the terror with which the Nazi regime had ruled as it seized all positions of power and influence in the country.
The cult of Adolf Hitler was very strong.The Western Allies needed to de-program the German population in their respective occupation zones, as a first step toward laying the groundwork for a future democratic state and society.
The Western Allies held certain advantages, including military occupation and control over all governmental decisions in the British, French, and American zones of occupation and their respective sectors in Berlin.
Importantly, they also held control over all means of mass communication, including newspapers and radio.

(The Big Lie) is vaguely analogous to the “Stab-in-the-back” (“Dolchstoss”)myth Hitler and the Nazis spread in the 1920’s and early 1930’s in their drive to take power, which was ultimately successful in 1933. The “Dolchstoss” or “stab-in-the-back myth spread the totally false belief that Germany had lost world War I only as the result of betrayal by civilians on the home front, especially Jews, revolutionary socialists, and other Republican politicians.

Detrumpification: What can be done?
What can be done? What can we learn from Germany’s experience?


REPRISE: The Question of Individual Responsibility for the Actions of One’s Nation

We Americans share a culture, a way of life, and a history built on our Constitution and a dedication to the rule of law.

Yet we also share responsibility for the actions of our government, of our president and political leaders, particularly those serving in the Senate and the House of Representatives whom we have elected. When they commit transgressions of our democratic political order, or kill innocent civilians in violation of the laws of war (humanitarian law) in foreign conflicts, we also share responsibility for their and our government’s actions.

Is this a radical proposition? I think not, not if we reason carefully about what it means to live in a democracy, or to give full life to that democracy through our own thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

What are we to make then of politicians who approve of, or look the other way, when gross violations of our democratic order are committed, by our politicians, our legislators, and those who support them?

If our politicians tell big lies to the population about what they are doing, or if the president, for example, tells monstrous lies on a constant basis, and we do not speak out, are we complicit in his lies? Do we thereby incur moral responsibility? When the consequences of such big lies lead to sharp curtailment in spending for social services for the poor, or disrupt our fundamental sense of right and wrong, our fundamental moral values, or our very belief in the concept of truth, are we individually responsible for the actions and events which may follow? When the president dismisses serious news reporting, backed by solid sources, as “fake news”, and we do nothing, are we not individually responsible for the erosion of a culture of truth, and of expertise based on facts?

Are we then complicit in the assault on the truth, or the very concept of truth itself? Without the concept and practice of telling the truth, of course, no government can be held accountable for its actions. A country can slide down the slippery slope that leads to authoritarianism and dictatorship, and the crimes a dictatorship might commit to maintain itself in power, to realize the misshapen ideals of a of government not based on the rule of law, not based on the concept of justice, and not even based on the concept of simple everyday fairness.

If that occurs, are individuals responsible in a moral sense? Are we responsible? Individually?

If America slides into dictatorship as Germany, one of the most educated and advanced industrial countries in the world at the time, did in the 1930s, will we then be responsible for the crimes our government may commit, as Germans after World War II were viewed by many as responsible, as guilty for the crimes of the Third Reich?


The dead end of “white guilt”

Those who seek to make whites in America feel guilty for the actions of their forebears, in which they themselves took no part, are prophets of a false path. Following that path, while it may benefit some in the short run (e.g., academic proponents of such theories), will in the end only foster ethnic conflict, and persuade individuals they are victims, instead of focusing on their enormous potential for self-achievement.

Institutions and practices that express current racism should be opposed, and reformed. Programs aimed at helping those particularly disadvantaged by past racism, including racism against Native Americans, should be supported.

But this should be done within a broader framework which does not rely on white guilt for its motivational force.

Social programs to help disadvantaged members of society, including white individuals, should be based on empathy and our shared sense of humanity. In a democracy, they should also be based on the ultimate power of individuals to vote.



Fascism in America is here NOW, in the Republican Party

A principal characteristic of fascist parties, such as the Nazi party in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s, is the use of violence in the streets and elsewhere against opponents. Today, in the United States, legislators, governors, and electoral officials operate under the threat of imminent bodily harm to themselves or their families.

The highest priority facing the government of Joe Biden is the urgent need to repress this threat of violence, so that votes and decisions and actions of legislators, governors, and government officials are not taken under the influence of fear of bodily harm to themselves or their families.

What can the Biden administration do?

A lot.

For example, they could establish a “zero tolerance”policy for such threats, which constitute serious federal crimes, and prosecute each and every individual who makes such a threat.


Liz Cheney and the Republican “Gleichschaltung”

There is a movement afoot in the House of Representatives to strip Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from her post in the House Republican Leadership. Her opponents are furiously trying to remove her because she has refused to endorse the Big Lie that Donald Trump won the November election, and that it was stolen from him by massive fraud. Cheney survived a similar challenge a few weeks ago, but she has apparently lost the support of House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and is being challenged by a proponent of the Big Lie and everything Trump. Cheney says she will not tell lies to keep her position. The whole development reminds one of what took place in Germany in the 1930’s.