June 22, 2024

The War On Carbon Is A War On Life


An excerpt from, "The War on Carbon is a War on Us" By Christopher Bedford, Common Sense Society, July 7, 2023:

We’ve come a long way from an environmental movement concerned with actual deadly chemicals. Long gone are the days of A Civil Action or Erin Brockovich, by and large because the West has largely reformed its actual polluters and cleaned up its air and waterways. The air might still stink in our biggest cities, but you can breathe healthily on a muggy day; and while the water’s far from tropical, you can now swim in the Chesapeake Bay or even Boston’s Charles River.

These newer attacks aren’t on your everyday pollutants, though: they’re on carbon and nitrogen, the gasses emitted by breath and animal waste, respectively. That is to say, they are attacks on the natural outputs of life itself.

Senator Ralph Babet - United Australia Party:

The ideology of Net Zero is dangerous. Not only economically for our nation, but socially. The ideology of Net Zero teaches us that carbon is poisonous whereas the reality is that carbon is an essential building block of life of earth. The only possible final outcome with the war on carbon is a war against life itself.

Our leader’s blind commitment to the religion of Net Zero is damaging and will continue to damage our nation’s economic future. Without cheap and abundant power it will simply be impossible for our nation to compete on the world stage.

We are shutting down our productive capacity and sending our businesses and our very future offshore to competing nations which do not subscribe to the sheer madness of Net Zero ideology.

The Australian Government must abandon its commitment to Net Zero and abolish any attempts to impose a tax on carbon emissions. Net Zero is an orchestrated wealth transfer from our nation to others.

An excerpt from, "The Harsh Light of High Interest Rates" Crow Knows, October 8, 2023:
We cannot help what we believe. We can only defer to our own research and our consequent assessment of plausibility. I think that the concept of net zero is ridiculous. More, while I can see that the Earth’s climate changes, I find the notion that we are changing it by irresponsibly encouraging carbon dioxide (apparently 0.04% of our atmosphere) unconvincing. Yet the war on carbon is a source of a million fortunes, all, as it turns out, funded by free public money.

My opinion on the “climate emergency” appears to make me an outlier. The other side of the argument in fact recognises no argument. There is a barrage of propaganda from hundreds of media outlets paid for by organisations such as Covering Climate Now and the loftily named World Weather Attribution. Despite the fact that scepticism is supposed to be the foundation stone of science, scientists such as Dr Judith Curry who question the consensus are ruthlessly de-platformed. 
An excerpt from, "Higher CO2 makes food crops and herbs more nutritious and medicinal" By Lance D Johnson, NaturalNews.com, June 17, 2022:

The war on carbon is a war on life itself. It is a war on plant health, animal health and human life. Not only is carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis, but it also makes plants more nutritious, multiplying their medicinal value. Numerous studies show that higher carbon dioxide levels increase the vitamin and mineral output of plants. Studies also show that higher carbon levels increase the plants’ output of flavonoids, phenolics, essential oils, tannins, antioxidants, amino acids and other phytochemicals.

Humans and animals depend on the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals provided by the plant kingdom. When plants are starved of bapsic elements like carbon, they cannot provide the nourishment that humans need to thrive. As the world’s population surpasses eight billion people, there will be a greater global need for warmer temperatures, longer growing seasons and higher carbon dioxide levels to build up an ecosystem that supports highly medicinal crops, herbs and super foods.

An excerpt from, "The Carbon Epiphany" By The Lethal Text, May 31, 2024:

Carbon is the element of life, the chemical basis of all known life-forms. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, and the second in the human body, after oxygen. It is the unique and, indeed, astonishing properties of carbon that make life possible. With four electrons available for covalent bonding, carbon forms an unimaginable diversity of complex organic compounds, with more than ten million described to date; and yet that figure is only a tiny fraction of the number theoretically possible. It has an unusual ability to form polymers — macromolecules with repeating sequences, such as DNA — at temperatures experienced on earth. Its physical properties vary widely in allotropic forms as distinct as graphite and diamond: soft and hard; opaque and transparent; conductive and insulating. Carbon will not ionise under any except implausibly extreme conditions, and its allotropes are thermally conductive, thermodynamically stable and chemically resistant. Taken together, these properties make carbon the foundation of the entire, rich, complex and beautiful biosphere of this planet. 

Like all heavy elements, carbon is forged in the furnaces of stars. But when the British scientist Fred Hoyle came to this element in his ground-breaking work on stellar nucleosynthesis, he found himself faced with a conundrum: carbon should not exist. That is, it should be transformed instantaneously into oxygen on coming into existence. After exhaustive analysis he discovered there just might be a solution to the riddle of the persistence of carbon, but only if a very specific value was assigned to the parameters of the carbon-12 isotope: i.e., a resonance level at 7.65 MeV (million electric volts) above its ground state.

In 1945, Hoyle was on sabbatical from Cambridge University, having completed his secondment in Britain’s radar research program during the war years. On a visit to Caltech, he managed to persuade nuclear physicist William Fowler to put together at team at Pasadena University to design an experiment to test his prediction using particle colliders and an over-sized mass spectrometer at Caltech. The Americans were sceptical of Hoyle’s outrageous claim, but, incredibly, the exact value Hoyle had predicted was confirmed, and the result led him to a mind-blowing epiphany.

“I do not believe,” he wrote later, “that any scientist who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside the stars.” “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections”, Engineering and Science, 1981

Carbon is the impossible element, and the miracle of life begins with physics. [1]

Hoyle had previously been a somewhat militant atheist, expressing sceptical and even satirical views towards Christianity, Creationism, and the ‘Big Bang’ theory (his phrase) advanced by the Roman Catholic priest Georges Lemaître. But now the astrophysicist became one of a number of scientists who started to advance the teleological argument — that physical parameters governing the condition of the universe are fine-tuned to very specific values which enable not only the possibility of life, but of astronomical structures, diverse elements, chemical bonds, and even matter itself. For Hoyle, the very existence of carbon was proof of intelligent design in physics.

Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November 1981. pp. 8–12

And that’s probably about as far as empirical science can take us. Hoyle, for one, did not default to belief in anything resembling an anthropomorphic God, and so continued to describe himself as an atheist. Instead he adopted a position consonant with ancient philosophy in both its Eastern and Western branches — that the universe itself is intelligent. As the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus of Soli wrote, in his De Nature Deorum: “The universe itself is God.”

With any other element, Hoyle’s epiphany would perhaps not have had quite such an impact on the scientist. It was the fact that the miracle concerned carbon, whose unique properties make it the only possible platform for the phenomenon of life itself, that forced a decisive paradigm-shift in his thinking. His worldview expanded, as it must, to accommodate the previously impossible.

It must have been a very strange experience to witness the contemporaneous rise of the political climate movement with its weird demonisation of his immaculate molecule. He didn’t get heavily involved in the debate, but I think we can assume without too much presumption that he would have been content to trust the intelligence of an evolved planetary system within an intelligent universe. He made occasional interventions in the infant science of climatology — for instance to dispute the way the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ was calculated — but for the most part the astrophysicist was focused on higher things: on origins; of the universe, of life, of religion.

. . .The war on carbon is not to save the environment. The war is against humanity, and to destroy humanity you must first destroy its sustenance. To do that you must attack the ecosystems that sustain it and embrace the risk of collapsing the biosphere itself. Your life-science and technology will enable you — you hope — to bring it all back, to your own design and specifications. So enlist your enemy in its own destruction; have it worship your Satanic inversions.

The enemies of carbon portray planet Earth as fragile and sick, humanity as its disease. But this planet, like the carbon atom at the heart of the web of life, is a system imbued with intelligence, and it doesn’t need us entombing the gas of life in the ground or erecting screens of toxic particles in the sky. This is madness, or mockery — a Satanic joke. What we need to do is plant trees and protect primary forest; clean the oceans and rivers; abandon oil-based plastics and switch to hemp; use fossil fuels to unleash Third World development and boost atmospheric carbon dioxide as much as we can; end poverty and hunger and watch the population stabilise.

May 27, 2024

The End of Ukraine

Putin the Redeemer is reclaiming what the dumb Communists gave away in the last century, and what the even dumber Neocons tried to take in this century. 

Under the Neocon-backed coup regime, Ukraine has been sent down a fruitless path with no future in sight. The aim isn't victory but endless war against a bigger foe. 

As such, Ukraine can't be considered a sovereign country anymore. It is a lump in Russia's throat and nothing more. Its so-called elite allowed their people to be used as sacrificial pawns. 

The proud and noble people of Ukraine probably would've won a war of true national resistance against imperial oppression had that been the reality all along. 

But the Kiev cokeheads were the initiators of trouble and violence vis-à-vis Russia, egged on by the cowards who rule in Washington and London. 

Now they're realizing that winning a war requires more than sacrifice and flattery. Sacrifice is for losers, strategy is for winners, and Putin is clearly the better strategist. 

II.

An excerpt from, "A Geostrategy for Eurasia" By Zbigniew Brzezinski, Foreign Affairs, Sep. - Oct., 1997:

A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and historical legacy.

An excerpt from, "Russia and “Grand Eurasia”: Will It Work?" By Dmitri Trenin, Horizons: Journal of International Relations and Sustainable Development, Autumn 2017: 

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow’s principal foreign policy objective was to join the West, as an integral player in Greater Europe and a major ally of the United States. Russian leaders achieved accession to the Council of Europe (1996), the G7 (1998), and the World Trade Organization (2012). They sought membership in NATO and the OECD, and even considered joining the EU. Essentially, Moscow was seeking a higher status within the West, enabling its full participation in all decision making, along-side Washington. This was not to be. Russia was offered partnership, but no special privileges and no role in Western decisionmaking.

Moscow’s refusal to accept American leadership is the primary cause of the estrangement between Russia and the United States, which has been growing since 1999 (the Kosovo crisis) and particularly since 2003 and 2004 (the Iraq War and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution).

A decade later, it took a much more severe crisis in Ukraine for Russia and the United States to move beyond what had become partnership in name only, toward overt confrontation.

Renewal of the U.S.-Russia rivalry, as well as Europe’s concerns and fears over Russia’s use of force and border changes, led to deep estrangement between Russia and EU member states.Despite rather strong economic links, cultural affinities, and human exchanges, Russia and the rest of Europe clearly parted ways after their unprecedented period of rapprochement following the end of the Cold War. Russia’s key relationship with Germany, which Moscow had allowed to reunify in 1990, became badly broken; and traditional links with France grew cold. Russia’s immediate neighbors, the Baltic republics and Poland, saw themselves as vulnerable frontline states; Sweden and Finland turned deeply suspicious, while Ukraine, for centuries part of the core of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, became more hostile toward Moscow than probably any other country in the world.

An excerpt from, "Beyond the Neocon Debacle to Peace in Ukraine" By Jeffrey D. Sachs, October 4, 2023:

The neocons have created utter disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and now Ukraine. The US political system has not yet held the neocons to account, since foreign policy is carried out with little public or Congressional scrutiny to date. Mainstream media have sided with the slogans of the neocons.

Ukraine is at risk of economic, demographic and military collapse. What should the US Government do to face this potential disaster?

Urgently, it should change course. Britain advises the US to escalate, as Britain is stuck with 19th century imperial reveries. US neocons are stuck with imperial bravado. Cooler heads urgently need to prevail.

May 24, 2024

Ukraine, Eurasia, And The War For The Future of Europe

Source: The Heritage Foundation.


An excerpt from, "The Rise of Eurasia and the Ukraine War" By Irina Busygina, cirsd, Summer 2022:

Indeed, it has become impossible over the recent decades to deny Eurasia’s incredible achievements. Look at global cities, for example. This phenomenon, born in the Western world and originally used by sociologist Saskia Sassen to describe London and New York, has moved to Eurasia. Global cities in Eurasia have grown almost like mushrooms to now include Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and others. Another critically important challenge for the accelerated development of huge Eurasian landmasses was connectivity. Here, a critical role is played by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that is acknowledged as the most ambitious infrastructure undertaking of our time. Covering almost 70 countries by land and sea, it should profoundly affect every dimension of Eurasia, from shipping and agriculture, digital economy and tourism, to politics and culture. Finally, another proof of the rise of Eurasia—at least for those who profess realism in international relations—was the nearly simultaneous rise of the two major, albeit authoritarian, Eurasian powers: China and Russia. With the Russian and Chinese rise, realists celebrated “the return of the state” in geopolitics and international relations and, consequently, the decline of global governance, institutions that underpin it, and multilateral formats in general.

An excerpt from, "Putin’s ‘Eurasian’ fixation reveals ambitions beyond Ukraine" By Andrew A. Michta, Atlantic Council, May 4, 2023:

With the stroke of a pen, Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 31 approved Russia’s latest foreign policy concept, its first since 2016. While Putin called the document “a basis for our practical actions in the mid-term and more distant future,” the release did not make much news beyond dedicated Russia watchers. This is in part because its cavalcade of fabrications and grievances about the world has been marched out by Putin in speeches for years. Yet this official distillation of Kremlin-approved ideas is worth reflecting on, especially for how it describes Russia itself. Doing so reveals a concerning inflection point in Russian imperial ambitions beyond Ukraine: Putin intends for Russia to contend against the West not just in terms of military power, but also in the realm of ideology.

The nine-thousand-word concept starts by describing Russia as “a unique country-civilization and a vast Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power.” It adds that Russia “brings together the Russian people and other peoples belonging to the cultural and civilizational community of the Russian world.” In the Kremlin’s formulation, then, Russia is not so much a nation-state among nation-states as it is a civilizational world unto itself. This kind of language has been used by Putin for years and is increasingly prevalent among Russia’s elite. It is used to explain the reasons for the fall of the Soviet Union and chart a course for Russia’s redemption. This redemption is the creation of a new russkiy mir—here translated as “world” but also meaning “peace.” It is a concoction designed to become Russia’s new civilization, its “Pax Russica” of sorts. Whether the new wave of Russian nationalism-cum-imperialism succeeds in defining the Russian mind will determine what the Russian Federation becomes going forward.

This shift in Russian culture may be seen as the “de-Westernization” and reconceptualization of Russia as a Eurasian state par excellence, with “Eurasia” understood in modern Russian history as an entity separate from the West—and not only separate from the West, but in a dichotomy of the West vs. Eurasia as well. It is about moving Russians’ point of reference for their country back to Russia’s pre-European era, before German administrators, Dutch ship builders, and French artists some three hundred years ago became fixtures at the Russian imperial court. This Westernizing impulse in Russia over several centuries helped the country to modernize and build a powerful military machine that would defeat the Poles, the Swedes, and, ultimately, the French and the Germans. But it was also this empire-building process that made it all but impossible for Russia to move past superficial “Westernization” and become truly Western. And so today, just like the “Europeanization” of the Russian empire was to be its rebirth in the nineteenth century, the “Eurasianization” of the Russian Federation is offered as a fundamental break with the past.

An excerpt from, "Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia at Twenty-Five—A Baseline Assessment" By Eugene Rumer and Paul Stronski, Carnegie Endowment, December 14, 2015:
For nearly twenty-five years following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the former Soviet lands now collectively referred to as Eurasia defied the best and the worst expectations of students of the region’s history. Unfortunately, the worst case has now come to pass with the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine. The conflict has cast a long shadow over the entire region, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has put Russia on a dangerous, confrontational course with the United States and Europe that is likely to last for many years.

Central Asia—the region viewed at the outset of its independence as the most likely to fail—has remained relatively stable, or to be more precise, stagnant. The three countries of the South Caucasus remain plagued by the threat of war—the only common feature they share. Georgia continues on its Western trajectory, Armenia is firmly (albeit unhappily) under Russia’s thumb, while Azerbaijan has become an authoritarian kleptocracy that has difficult relations with Russia and the West. The war in Ukraine and the collapse in Moscow’s relations with the West have deeply unnerved the leaderships of all of the Eurasian countries, highlighting the risk of further Russian meddling and aggression—and the inadequacy of Euro-Atlantic security structures. Each of Russia’s neighbors feels vulnerable and uncomfortable about the possibility of getting caught between Moscow and the Western powers in an increasingly zero-sum environment.

An excerpt from, "The Illusion of Conventional War: Europe Is Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Conflict In Ukraine" By Sandor Fabian, Modern War Institute, April 23, 2024:

European countries sit at a historical turning point, one that potentially affects their long-term national survival. The existential-level shock that many suggest is a necessary condition for groundbreaking changes has been delivered to them by the Russian attack on Ukraine. All of them responded with more and faster investment in their national defense. Unfortunately, too many have been pursuing misguided responses to this shock and continue investing in poorly suited and even meaningless capabilities based on the continued illusions about the conduct of conventional war. Observations from the war in Ukraine point toward a need for a complete paradigm shift. A theory of war that works for one country and in one time may prove to be wholly inapplicable to other countries in a different time. When that happens, leaders must be prepared to modify or even abandon that theory of war. European countries should completely redesign their national defense approaches based on the realities of the twenty-first-century battlefield. Failing to do so may force them to pay the ultimate price in the event of Russian aggression.

An excerpt from, "Partitioned Ukraine" By Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan, Eurasia Group, January 8, 2024:

The outlook for European assistance is only slightly better. German budgetary challenges on one side, growing Hungarian opposition on the other, and a lack of leadership from most everyone else will make it hard for the Europeans to fill the gap in military aid the Americans will leave over the medium term. While Europe is ramping up production capacity, it doesn't have the infrastructure to provide the high volume of ammunition (including all-important artillery shells), heavy tanks, howitzers, and infantry fighting vehicles that Ukraine needs.

The material balance has also shifted in Russia's favor. On manpower, Russia is attracting significant numbers of men to new contracts, so a politically fraught second mobilization this year is unnecessary for now. President Vladimir Putin has also successfully converted his economy into a war operation. Roughly one-third of government spending and 6% of GDP will be devoted to the war in 2024, and Russian domestic production of missiles and artillery shells is now greater than before the war. North Korea is providing a large volume of additional ammunition, and Iran continues to provide (and now produce in Russia) drones (please see Top Risk #5).

Ukraine is in a more troubled position. On manpower, it must mobilize and train new recruits to improve force quality. Kyiv is considering mobilizing 500,000 additional troops, which is probably impossible but shows the quandary Ukraine is in as it confronts the army of a much larger country. Kyiv also needs to scale up its domestic defense production, especially of drones for the battlefield and to hit targets inside Russia.

. . .Tapering US political and material support will deepen a rift in the transatlantic alliance, which is the cornerstone of the international system. Europeans view current and likely future cuts in US assistance to Ukraine as an Afghanistan 2.0 policy lurch, but with much higher stakes for European security. Their concern is magnified by the risk that Trump will try to take the US out of NATO if he wins in November. Russia's upper hand will make the Kremlin feel like it successfully stared down the West on an existential issue, emboldening Putin to lean on unsupportive countries in the EU and NATO (such as Hungary and Slovakia) and driving further division.

An excerpt from, "EU Ukraine Strategy should include the Eurasian Spine" By Bernard Siman, Egmont Institute, April 4, 2023:

The European Union needs to raise its head above the parapet to scan the geopolitical horizon to be able to deal more effectively with a number of key threats. This is particularly important because as Russia’s illegal war of aggression rages on, Moscow has been seeking to broaden its options geographically and strategically. In particular, Europe needs to engage along the Eurasian Spine: the line stretching from the Alps to the Himalayas and beyond. The multiple conflicts festering here will affect European security, peace, and prosperity for a long time to come. Moreover, it is in the EU’s enlightened self-interest to seize the opportunities for partnership presented by the Global South, enhancing in the process its own stability and security. Some of these areas in the Global South are also a source of direct threats and instability that can be exploited by Russia to aid its aggressive strategy. The EU, in a nutshell, needs to “Zoom Out” to rediscover the art it seems to have lost of playing the game of global geopolitics on multiple front simultaneously, backed up by hard power, in an era in which geopolitical changes will not only be persistent, but likely permanent as well.

An excerpt from, "Is this Putin’s utopia?" By Joshua Kucera, Coda Story, January 29, 2018:

Yet even those hopes for the Eurasian Union’s role faded, as Putin saw new threats coming from the West. By 2013, he had returned to the presidency, and the EU was preparing to sign “association agreements” with Armenia and Ukraine. The Kremlin concluded that Russia needed to be “the center of gravity in the post-Soviet space,” enabling it “to talk on an equal footing” with the EU and the wider West. — Alexander Gabuev, Moscow Carnegie Center

Moscow responded by announcing a major arms deal with Armenia’s enemy, Azerbaijan, and floated rumors that it might increase the cost of gas supplies to the country. Yerevan got the hint: it abandoned the EU and said it would join the Eurasian Union instead.

Putin also began to put more emphasis on the concept of a Eurasian identity and civilization. In a landmark speech in 2013 — only two weeks after Armenia had turned its back on Western Europe — he said the EEU was not just about mutually beneficial agreements, but “a project for maintaining the identity of nations in the historical Eurasian space.” But his efforts to woo Ukraine into the Eurasian fold ended in disaster.

When Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yanukovych, announced that he, too, would turn his back on the EU in favor of the EEU, the Maidan protests erupted. That led to his ouster in 2014 and a new anti-Kremlin government taking over. Putin responded by annexing Crimea and backing the war in Eastern Ukraine, destroying relations with the West but also any hopes of luring Ukraine into the Eurasian Union.

For Eurasianists, the geographic boundaries of “Eurasia” are pretty hazy. But one thing they are sure of is that Ukraine is an integral part of it. So as they see it, a Eurasian Union without Ukraine is no Eurasian Union at all.

“We lost someone along the way,” quipped the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, when the EEU was formally launched in May 2014. “I mean the Ukraine that started this hard work together with us.” Putin was visibly annoyed. And Gabuev says he has heard some senior Kremlin officials say privately that launching the EEU at that point was “premature.”

May 23, 2024

Putin's Strategic Patience Has Run Its Course


An excerpt from, "Putin’s Strategic Blunder" By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Global Research, May 20, 2024:

The West is so involved now and the Western political leaders are so certain that Russia intends more aggression that they are preparing for war against Russia. Still, Putin and Lavrov speak of negotiation. After a decade of the West’s rejection of negotiation, how can the Kremlin still see negotiation as a solution?

What needed to be done was to knock Kiev out of the war, install a Russian friendly government in place of the American puppet regime, and present the West with a fait accompli before the West had time to get involved. It is Western involvement that presents the danger of the conflict widening into a war between Russia and the West.

Possibly the solution is still viable. It would leave a neutral Ukrainian state west of the Dnieper River with no Black Sea access. It is highly unlikely that such an outcome can be achieved by negotiation. It can only be imposed by force.

By restraining Russia’s use of force, Putin has opened the road to nuclear Armageddon?

An excerpt from, "Putin’s Strategy Is Far Better Than You Think" By Michael Kofman, War on The Rocks, September 7, 2015:

Lawrence Freedman has also criticized Putin’s strategy in War on the Rocks. These assessments often fall victim to reading Putin’s speeches and statements as though Russia’s strategy can be found therein. Putin’s statements are not official declarations of policy, but instead a supporting theatrical role to whatever strategy is being implemented. Freedman believes it is unhelpful to call Putin a good strategist, but it is even more problematic to underestimate and misunderstand your opponent. From a purely analytical standpoint, Russia has done reasonably well in pursuit of his objectives in Ukraine. Whether weak or strong, Russia faced a basic challenge: how to impose control and influence on Ukraine, the second largest country in Europe. Certainly Moscow lacks the military strength to occupy all of Ukraine, but that is a null point. The point is to control Ukraine without owning it. The memory of the Soviet war in Afghanistan is still fresh in Russia, and its leadership has no interest in a costly proxy war with the West, especially one that would also destroy Ukraine in the process.

Even if Moscow had requisite military strength, the United States has aptly demonstrated by invading Afghanistan and Iraq how difficult it is to get an occupation right. What Russia could have done easily is invade, beat Ukraine’s army, and fragment the country in a number of pieces. This was likely debated in the Kremlin, but ultimately Moscow wanted all of Ukraine in its orbit, not ownership of a few defunct pieces and a geopolitical mess. This approach would largely nullify the Maidan’s ability to govern Ukraine and reorient it towards the West, while allowing Russia to retain influence.

. . .From the perspective of domestic politics and regime survival, this conflict with the West is a paradoxical success story for Moscow. The invasion of Ukraine may have even saved Putin’s presidency. In January 2014, he was looking at 65-percent approval ratings (great for any democratic leader but dangerously low for a populist autocrat), a creeping recession, and a sclerotic political system. Instead of wilting away, Putin became the glorious leader who returned Crimea and its famed city of Sevastopol to Russia, along with facing down the West in Ukraine. Now the Russian people are mobilized as part of the confrontation and Russia’s economic woes are blamed almost entirely on the West instead of resting on Putin’s shoulders.

Despite the disastrous state of Russia’s economy, his approval hovers at 80–90 percent with the Russian people. Putin is the most popular leader in Europe, and rather than weaken him, Western sanctions have achieved a remarkable consolidation of opinion across Russian society behind him. Detractors have said that his approval has nowhere to go but down, but these sentiments have been pronounced since Crimea, and at each turn his support has remained steady.

. . .For Moscow, this confrontation is probably a more comfortable and normal state than the past two decades of cyclical relations with the United States. Punitive sanctions and containment have replaced integration, but where exactly does that leave the West’s strategy for Russia? The United States is not ready to commit to containment and regime rollback, while Europe is wholly unprepared to return to a Cold War-like adversarial relationship with Russia. Nobody wants Russia’s collapse, either. Blaming Putin’s lack of strategy seems to be a knee-jerk response for the rapid conclusion of two decades of Western policy toward Russia and the absence of any replacement.

An excerpt from, "Putin’s Strategic Patience And The West’s Anxiety – OpEd" By Collins Chong Yew Keat, eurasia review, May 9, 2022:

The stark old realities of international political maneuvering and gameplay are on full display in the Ukrainian high intensity conflict. This fall-out signals the official return to state led traditional threats with the interests of state superseding all other considerations. President Putin has long been earmarked as the aggressor and symbolic face of the autocratic front and assertive nature of global politics, in the same league as President Xi and others with the nucleus of global politics once again being shaped by the return to state competition for power and purpose. The US and the West have been singled out as the prime instigators in this conflict, goading the Kremlin to the all-out affront and upping the ante in securing hidden interests and purposes.

Putin has been playing a long and calculated strategic plan in reviving and securing these interests, deemed by himself as non-negotiable. Timing and window of opportunities remain one of the prime strategic chessboard maneuverings. In the decisive path leading towards the full steam incursion, various parameters will need to be assessed by Putin and his elite advisors. Previous moves in Georgia and Crimea were executed where the US Presidencies at those periods were deemed incapable of mounting a serious enough response that could upset the balance of reward and returns.

An excerpt from, "Russia starts exercise to simulate launch of tactical nuclear weapons" By Mark Trevelyan, Reuters, May 21, 2024:

Russian forces have started the first stage of exercises ordered by President Vladimir Putin to simulate preparation for the launch of tactical nuclear weapons, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

Moscow has linked the exercises to what it calls "militant statements" by Western officials, including French President Emmanuel Macron, which it said created security threats for Russia.

. . .Belarus, where Russia said last year it was deploying tactical nuclear weapons, will also be involved, the two countries have said.

Tactical, or non-strategic, nuclear weapons are less powerful than the strategic arms designed to wipe out whole enemy cities, but they nevertheless have vast destructive potential.

May 22, 2024

Fiery Crash: The Future of Conflict In The Middle East

The course of conflicts is hard to predict. Who knew in 1971 that twenty years later America would be fighting in Iraq? And who in 2001 could have guessed that the war in Afghanistan would go on for twenty years?

There were educated guesses. And there were projections of long wars after 9/11, even spanning the entire 21st century, but that was political fantasy. Real wars don't last that long. Do they?

Some wars do, but with interludes. World War 1 and 2 can be considered one multi-generational war because Germany had to fight the same enemies twice. And nobody predicted at the time of the breakout of WW1 that it would go on for four years. They thought it would begin and end in summer. The Christmas truce of 1914 should have ended the war right then and there.

The U.S. wars in the Middle East can also be classified as one long, never-ending war. Its policies have influenced both its regional allies and adversaries to participate in the game of war to achieve even short-term benefits. War is the greatest temptation.

But once those benefits recede, and the bill comes due, war's true destructive power becomes apparent. War is counter-productive for all but a few, especially if there is no defined goal or victory envisioned. The quicker it comes to an end the better for the victor and the loser. 

That is why wars in healthy societies must always be declared, and fought bravely and with speed.  Dragging out a conflict does harm to all parties involved.

Stable and prosperous countries don't wage wars without first exhausting all other options, which is what Russia did in Ukraine. 

Putin is winning against the rogue regime in Kiev because he is acting logically, which is extremely hard in wartime. But it's impossible to act logically in a state of war indefinitely. Putin would be wise to declare victory soon and leave Ukraine for good.

War is a bitter fruit. If it's not consumed quickly it is even more bitter. It invites all sorts of disasters, from state collapse to climatic catastrophe.

Political oppression at home and warmongering abroad are the main reasons why the four dominant states in the Middle East are so unstable and their futures so bleak. 

Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia all have ambitions beyond their borders but the inability to carry them out successfully because neither one is a true regional hegemon. 

We saw Saudi Arabia fail in Yemen for over a decade with tons of U.S. and British backing. American and British military personnel were basically running the war for them. But they only managed to make their enemies stronger because their army isn't worth a damn. You can have all the airpower in the world, what matters in the end is the quality of the frontline soldier.

Turkey has had more success in quelling the aspirations of the Kurds, and most recently, Armenians, by using ISIS soldiers of fortune in both theaters. These terrorists, motivated by money, religion, and drugs, can wreak havoc anywhere in the region when called upon. 

And thousands of them are still languishing in makeshift prisons in Syria when they should have been tried and executed under international law by now. The fact their financial and political backers have not even been punished by "international" institutions means they will raise their ugly heads once more, next time with probably more success and devastation.

And then there are the two cultish theological states: Israel and Iran. 

Israel has proven it has no moral or religious limits in its months-long assault on Gaza. They are in the process of implementing their final solution. But the problem is they have made themselves enemies not only of a subject and impoverished people but an entire religion. 

It's easy to wipe out a people in chains. Killing the Palestinians off is cut and dry. Shooting fish in a barrel is not warfare. The real question is what comes after the bloodlust? 

If the Muslim world stands pat, then that's that, but because of the radicalization of Islamic politics within the last century, a process that Israel, America and England spearheaded, the calls for the total erasure of Israel will only continue to grow. And it probably won't even be Iran that will be leading the charge because its younger generations have taken no interest in the Israeli-Palestinian drama. Once the older generation dies off and the inevitable transformation of the nature of the state begins, Iran will become much less radical. 

But the region surrounding it, the one it helped give birth, will not stop laboring for Israel’s total destruction. 

Some crimes cannot be forgiven. Waging war is one thing, but killing for sport, which seems be the M.O of the Israeli army, inspires an emotion more powerful than revenge. The great challenge for the future leaders of the region will be to contain that emotion so a genocide doesn't happen the either way.

II.

Below are some articles that help illuminate trends, threats, and tensions in the region. 

An excerpt from, "Excellent Talk from John Mearsheimer on the State of Israel v. the Palestinians" By Ryan McMaken, Mises Institute, May 20, 2024: 

Mearshimer notes that the elites of the Israeli state has zero interest in a democracy or constitutional republic. Rather, the Israeli elites want a Jewish ethno-state in which all other groups are second-class citizens. This is partly why Israel has not written constitution. That might end up protecting the rights of ethnic minorities. So, option 1 is unacceptable. 

The two-state solution is obviously unacceptable also, and Mearsheimer notes this is partly why the Israeli state essentially created Hamas and continued to support Hamas right up to October 7. Hamas was created to counter the PLO which supports a two-state solution. Hamas, of course, rejects that option, and wants for the Palestinians what Israel has right now: total control of the region “from the river to the sea.” 

. . .The current policy is unlikely to reverse numerous problems that continue to mount for the Israeli state, however. For one, the Israeli regime is now spending a lot of money in its conquest and destruction of Gaza. There is a reason Tel Aviv turned Gaza into what Mearsheimer calls an “open-air prison.” Sealing off Gaza was the most economical option in many ways. The current policy is anything but economical, and Israel couldn’t even carry out its current destruction of Gaza without enormous amounts of free weapons from the United States-paid for by the US taxpayer. 

A second problem can be seen in the fact that the Israeli regime has lost its “escalation dominance.” In the past, Israeli policy was based on retaliating against attackers in ways that were far more deadly and destructive than the initial attack on Israel. As Mearshimer describes it, the Israeli goal has been “as we go up the escalation ladder, I dominate.” Yet, in recent months, Israel’s ability to do this has faltered. Tel Aviv has been unwilling to deter Hezbollah with this method, and the US has even forced Tel Aviv to respond with restraint to recent attacks from Iran. Moreover, the current campaign in Gaza has not succeeded in defeating Hamas, and is unlikely to do so. 

A third problem is that Israel is still surrounded by adversaries that hate the Israeli state. That’s long been true, but technology has not progressed to a place where adversaries now have access to drones and missiles in ways that are far more troublesome for the Israeli state. 

And finally, the current ethnic cleansing campaign continued to make Israel more of a pariah state with each passing day.  Mearsheimer notes that until the 1980s, the Israeli state absolutely dominated the narrative everywhere on the history of Israel and its creation in the 1940s. In recent decades, however, historians have brought to light a version of history that is not nearly as praiseworthy of the Israeli regime. This problem continues to grow, especially as the Israeli state has not managed to exercise control over social media where anti-Israel narratives now proliferate. Indeed, Mearsheimer notes there has been a remarkable, generational shift in views of Israel. The elderly elites still favor Israel overwhelmingly, but younger generations take a very different view and this is very bad news for the Israeli regime. 

An excerpt from, "Iranians Turn Away from the Islamic Republic" By Ladan Boroumand, Journal of Democracy, January 2020:

Why are the seminaries distancing themselves from the regime and paying attention to a handful of liberal theologians? It is because the seminaries worry that Iranians are losing faith in Islam. This disaffection has been growing since the inception of the Islamic Republic. In 2000, an official survey found that 75 percent of all Iranians and 86 percent of students did not say their prayers. By 2009, half the country’s mosques had become inactive.

. . .The current turn by many Iranians toward alternatives to the Islamic Republic’s harsh Islamism, such as liberal Shi’ism, Sufism, the Baha’i Faith, Christianity, and agnosticism or atheism, signals that Iran may now be on a new course. This course is taking it toward becoming the first Muslim-majority society to weave into its spiritual, social, and intellectual fabric the principled separation of religion and the state characteristic of the liberal-democratic worldview—and to do so by a process that comes more fully “from within” than from outside. Ironically, the Islamic Republic itself has been the driver of that process, impelling a pathbreaking democratic response to its totalitarian claims. If the process succeeds—and signs both dramatic and subtle suggest that it is succeeding in the hearts and minds of Iranians as they demand freedom from the brutal rule of Khomeini and his successors—then it may lend new force to the liberal-democratic cause worldwide.

An excerpt from, "Caging terror: The ongoing saga of ISIS prison breaks" By Ahmed al-Rubaie, The Cradle, September 22, 2023:

In neighboring Syria, the situation has been vastly different as multitudes of ISIS members have managed to escape from areas controlled by Syrian opposition forces. The Syrian prison breaks have given the terrorist organization a newfound lease on life, enabling them to orchestrate a series of devastating attacks against the Syrian army and the US-backed Kurdish militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 

In June, a daring escape saw 37 ISIS leaders and members, hailing from various nationalities, including Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, break free from a prison located in Ras al-Ayn, an area under the influence of Syrian Turkmen opposition factions closely aligned with Turkiye.

On 27 August, the SDF imposed a strict curfew in Al-Hasakah, a city within the Autonomous Administration region in the northeast of Syria. This measure was in response to intelligence reports that ISIS cells were preparing for a mass escape attempt in Ghwayran Prison  - a detention facility housing thousands of ISIS members, from which a successful escape operation had been executed over a year and a half ago. 

In January 2022, dozens of ISIS fighters, including suicide bombers, under the direct supervision of the organization’s late leader, Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, carried out an attack on the prison to free an estimated 5,000 ISIS members. The attack led to hundreds escaping successfully before most of them were re-arrested in complex operations that lasted more than two weeks.

The Ghwayran prison breach forced the Kurdish Autonomous Administration to intensify efforts to repatriate non-Syrian ISIS prisoners – some, Iraqis - to their respective countries. For those who remained, the administration sought to subject them to judicial proceedings under both international and local laws governing terrorism. 

The prospect of prosecuting over 19,000 detainees from more than 40 countries, including high-ranking ISIS leaders, has been daunting for all involved parties. In fact, international indifference toward establishing an international court to adjudicate their cases - coupled with the reluctance of the detainees' home countries to approve their return - has led to mounting concerns that more frequent prisoner escapes may ensue.