Totalitarian regimes

Ukraine War, April 25, 2022: Finland and Sweden agree to jointly request NATO membership; Trip by Blinken and Austin to Kviv reveals muddled thinking in Biden’s foreign policy team

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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 19, 2022: Planes and parts have been transferred to Ukraine; NATO on sidelines, as analysts express premature sense of victory; No viable strategy for ending war


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, April 15, 2022 (I): Zelensky and CIA Director William Burns warn of potential Russian use of nuclear weapons; Russia sends diplomatic note warning West on supply of weapons; war is moving toward nuclear showdown


Ukraine War, April 13, 2022 (I): U.S. still hung up on “offensive” v. “defensive” weapons distinction; U.S. won’t provide Ukraine with intelligence or weapons that would enable it to strike targets in Crimea or Russia, for fear of provoking Russia




Ukraine War, April 11, 2022(I): Putin turns on security officials; Nehammer’s visit to Putin; Austria as “Russian aircraft carrier” in Europe; Marina Owsjannikowa explains why Russian polls are worthless

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, April 1, 2022 (I): Donald Trump launches sharp attack against Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine; Ex-president calls for “harshest possible” economic sanctions, possible use of force ; Trump launches impassioned plea for international community to take decisive action to uphold U.N. Charter and international law

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…


Ukraine War, March 29, 2022 (I): New Ukrainian position in Istanbul negotiations; Reparations–Russia must pay for this war for generations

Developing Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being…



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…


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.


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?


Afghanistan today, October 5, 2021

The best reporting out of Afghanistan continues to be by Jacques Follorou of Le Monde and Ángeles Espinoa of El País. Their dispatches are linked to here, and can be easily translated by using Google Translate (translate.google.com).

The window into Afghanistan is likely to start closing, as reader interest shifts to other subjects, as it did in the case of Syria. In the meantime, we can be grateful for the reporting by Folloroy and Espinosa, as well as that of as that of other excellent and courageous journalists who report on Afghanistan, sometimes from within the country.

There will be a continuous stream of stories about the disaster that is unfolding in Afghanistan, including the potential collapse of the economy, the enormous humanitarian disasters including famines which lie ahead, and ultimately whether civil war erupts once again among a desperate population struggling to survive.


Afghanistan faces famine, economic collapse as international community poses conditions for aid

The key point is that the international community should not deny to the people of Afghanistan–the individual life-and-blood human beings–the aid they need to survive, on the theory that withholding aid will make the Taliban respect human rights. For examples of the challenges of survival these human beings face, see Espinosa and Follorou, above.