Dictatorship

Ukraine War, August 18, 2022: The military outlook: Russian advances continue, as Western aid lags; Ukraine and allies are losing the war

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Ukraine War, August 17, 2022: It is time to get serious and end this war


Ukraine War, July 5, 2022: The most important front in the Ukraine war is America, not the Donbas



Ukraine War, June 28, 2022: Why we are losing the war in Ukraine


Ukraine War, April 21, 2022 (I): Biden cancels tactical nuclear weapons program; Yellen worries about impact on global economy of European energy embargo; Biden finally closes American ports to Russian shipping


Ukraine War, April 17, 2022: Easter reflections


Ukraine War, April 15, 2022 (II): Let us not praise Ukrainians’ courage, at least not until we have looked within and found our own; Explaining to citizens what is at stake and why it is important



Ukraine War, February 23, 2022: History–It all matters; blame enough to go around; cyber and collective self-defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression; conditions for a cease-fire; the long war with Russia (cold and maybe hot) that lies ahead: the failure of U.S. and NATO strategy; avoiding Armageddon

Avoiding Armageddon

Roger Cohen, a longtime and distinguished columnist of the New York Times and currently the paper’s Paris Bureau Chief, wrote in an interesting column today, “Nuclear Armageddon is not on the table.”

See,

Roger Cohen, “The Limits of a Europe Whole and Free; Vladimir Putin sets down a marker in Ukraine. Does the West have the means to stop him?” New York Times, February 22, 2022.

However, this is far from clear. Looking at Putin’s nuclear threats and both Obama’s and Biden’s responses to them, it would appear that Armageddon is still very much on the table.

If there were any doubt, Putin erased it in a speech today in which set out his justification for the war with Ukraine, and made a hardly-veiled nuclear threat.

See,

Al Jazeera Staff, “‘No other option’: Excerpts of Putin’s speech declaring war
Before launching the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II, Putin addressed his nation,” Al Jazeera, February 24, 2022.

Excerpts from speech:

“As for the military sphere, today, modern Russia, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of a significant part of its capacity, is one of the most powerful nuclear powers in the world and possesses certain advantages in some of the newest types of weaponry. In this regard, no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to defeat and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.”

“Now a few important, very important words for those who may be tempted to intervene in the ongoing events. Whoever tries to hinder us, or threaten our country or our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any turn of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made. I hope that I will be heard.”

In this speech, Putin sets out his justification for launching a war against Ukraine. In a sense, this is the short version of his speech the previous evening. It provides interesting insights into his warped thinking.

What is our current nuclear deterrence doctrine, and how does it apply to a major ground war in Europe started by Russian aggression?  Is our doctrine up-to-date, taking the conditions of modern military and cyber warfare into account, or does it need to be reexamined and updated? We should discuss this publicly.


European and international security after the Ukraine Crisis

We may be in the gravest military crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962… How will it all end? It could all end in…


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.


Change Putin’s calculations: Put force back on the table, and begin active cyber-warfare measures to defend Ukraine

What can be done now to change Putin’s calculations, or to respond to an invasion?

The U.S. and NATO countries should begin active cyber-warfare countermeasures to help defend Ukraine from ongoing Russian attacks on its computer networks and infrastructure. In this realm, the  U.S. may have the most advanced capabilities, and should begin using them now. Above all, U.S. decision makers should avoid undue hesitance by  demanding absolute proof of attribution of the attacks. In a wartime setting, officials and nations may need to act in the absence of perfect information.

If Russia is not behind the attacks, who do U.S. analysts and policymakers think is? Nigeria? Lesotho? Fiji? It is immaterial whether the operators are Russian officials or others acting under their control.

Finally, in order to influence Putin’s calculations at this late stage in the game, NATO members should leave open the possibility of coming to Ukraine’s defense through the use of military force and active cyber-warfare measures, in exercise of the right of collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, if Russia invades Ukraine and a major war develops.


Vladimir Putin’s hubris, and Dimitry Peskov’s flair for self-satire and parody; If Putin invades Ukraine, could that be his last rodeo?

What an irony it would be if Putin’s hubris led him to invade Ukraine, and the consequences of that action–as the Russian body bags came home, Russia was expelled from the SWIFT international payments system, suffered from severe sectorial sanctions, and Finland joined NATO–led to his removal from power.

If Putin invades Ukraine, it could be his last rodeo.


Putin seeks legally binding commitments from NATO that would be void under international law, threatens aggression against Ukraine if NATO doesn’t quickly accept his demands

See, Anton Troianovski, “Putin’s Next Move on Ukraine Is a Mystery. Just the Way He Likes It; The contradictory, sometimes menacing messages from the Kremlin…


Russian intervention in Kazakhstan II (January 7, 2022)

January 7, 2022 See, 1) AFP, “Russia’s ‘mini-Nato’ intervenes in Kazakhstan Clashes reported in Almaty as govt buildings cleared of protesters,” 24newshd.tv January 7, 2022(7:43…


Three urgent actions needed to save American democracy

Sometimes political situations and their implications are very clear to the objective observer, someone like the Observer who is far removed from the buzz of Washington, Twitter, and the latest “breaking news” on the Cable News networks. The Observer is a keen and unbiased commentator who reads many newspapers, both American and foreign, and who has been paying attention to political developments in the United States for a long time.

Drawing on this experience and his own original analysis, the Observer believes that there are three major problems that pose a challenge to American democracy, and that there are three active measures that the Democrats and “little d” democrats should take, now, in order to save the Republic.

Taking down Trump is the single most important action the Democrats can take to safeguard American democracy in 2022 and 2024. Together with passing legislation prohibiting the knowing transmission of lies and disinformation on television and radio, and enacting voting rights legislation, indicting Trump is an essential action in any program to protect American democracy against the anti-democratic and authoritarian threat Trump and his supporters represent.

These three problems represent the greatest challenges to American democracy today.

These three urgent actions represent our best hopes for beating back the anti-democratic challenge before it is too late.


French President Macron breaks ranks, meets with MBS in Saudi Arabia

French President Emmanuel Macron is breaking ranks with Western leaders, including President Joe Biden, and planning to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) on December 4, on a trip to the Gulf countries of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Whatever France’s interests may be in dealing with Saudi Arabia, Macron is sacrificing any claim France might have to be a leader in the struggle for human rights and the rule of law, including international law, by meeting with the Crown Prince–who is widely known to be Kashoggi’s assassin.

The great threat to France and the West is that MBS may become the next King of Saudi Arabia, perpetuating an authoritarian system of government characterized by gross violations of human rights, the oppression of women, and a total absence of due process of law.

Instead of meeting with MBS, Macron and France, the U.S., and other democratic countries should be shunning MBS and doing everything they can to prevent him from becoming king.


U.S.-Taliban meetings in Doha reach an impasse, as enormous humanitarian disaster approaches

With the Americans and the Europeans firmly set in their demands that the Taliban provide guarantees for the respect of human rights before assets can be freed or aid can flow, the Afghan economy appears on the verge of collapse.

As winter is fast approaching, a humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions becomes more likely very day.

It is difficult to see either side yielding, while diplomacy is awkward and takes a lot of time.

In these circumstances, it seems likely that millions of Afghans will starve to death before the assistance they so desperately need reaches them.


Democrats refuse to indict Trump. Biden stumbles. Republicans gear up to steal elections. The fascist threat grows.

The Democrats refuse to prosecute Donald Trump. Moreover, they enforce a conspiracy of silence under which not even the question of whether Trump should be prosecuted can be discussed, or even raised.

Meanwhile, Trump, who appears to have committed numerous felonies in full public view, is left free to hold rallies and breathe air into a growing fascist movement led by the Republican party and his supporters

President Joe Biden continues to stumble, to blow the opportunities his and the Democrats’ narrow victories in 2020 have afforded him.

Neither Biden nor the Democratic leaders seem to understand that fascist threat.  

The country faces a fascist challenge supported by 35-40 million voters living in a propaganda universe, an alternate universe where facts and the truth do not hold sway, plus perhaps another 20 million cynical fellow travelers.

Nowhere are their leaders with the courage to stand up and defend our democracy by taking bold actions, such as indicting Trump.