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Pompeo Demands Iran Capitulation
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Either Iran fulfills the following, or it gets the “strongest sanctions in history”:

us-iran-demands

Since this is two more demands than the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914, and they are in principle unfulfillable anyway, why not go the full hog and make some further additions:

  • Convert to Evangelical Christianity
  • Host a gay pride parade in Tehran
  • Accept Eritrean refugees from Israel

In other news, things have again been heating up in the Donbass, with an important bridge that lies on the main non-frontline road between Lugansk and Donetsk getting blown up by what were presumably Ukrainian special forces. At the start of this year, I said that if the Ukraine is to try for its version of Operation Storm, it would be best to do it on the eve of FIFA World Cup 2018.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Economic Sanctions, Iran, United States 
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  1. I wonder what Pompeo, Bolton etc. have in mind as an end game. There’s supposedly a paper circulating in the Trump administration sketching out a plan for overthrowing the present system in Iran by support for dissident groups (including ethnic/religious separatists, so it could be seen as a plan for carving up Iran). I doubt such a plan will work though…so will they in the end go for a direct military confrontation with Iran?
    In related news, I read something about the stance France and Germany might take in reaction to Trump breaking up the Iran nuclear agreement and threatening European companies with sanctions. It looks like Macron is in favour of a hard reaction (e.g. compensation for European companies affected by it, maybe also retaliatory measures against the US), whereas Merkel and her Atlanticist-minded Christian Democrat advisers like Peter Altmeier seem inclined to cave in, since they’re afraid of an American trade war against Germany. If so, typically spineless reaction.

  2. DFH says:

    The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia was fairly reasonable

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    , @Kinez
  3. LondonBob says:
    @DFH

    It wasn’t meant to be.

    I wait to see what happens after the Midterms.

  4. The demands are quite similar to what Roosevelt and Hull presented to the Japanese Empire in 1941.

    Fortunately for America, Iran isn’t the Japanese Empire. There are effectively zero consequences for America here, at least in the short term.

    Costs will be borne by the defiant Iranians. I don’t know anything about the Iranian street, but it seems to me the most likely outcome is the strengthening of support for the Iranian regime. Similar to what occurred in Russia after 2014.

    I don’t know if Pompeo and Fox Bolton even have an endgame in mind. They’re not mentally deranged neocohens. The purpose may simply be to further isolate and weaken Tehran. Iran’s foreign policy is very expensive for a country of its economic development level, and this makes things that much worse.

    More cynically, there are domestic political reasons for this. The Republicans are dependent upon Sheldon Dreidelson’s shekels to finance their midterm campaigns. We need an alternate funding pipeline (#MAGA protectionism being an obvious solution).

    As for Trump, he has an aversion to Iran typical of his generation. The Iranian Revolution inspired extreme hostility in America, and had nothing to do with Israeli foreign policy goals at that time. Trump called way back in the 1980s for seizing Iran’s oil reserves in retaliation.

    Trump also seems to believe the Iran Deal was bad because it didn’t involve commercial concessions for American companies or any particular financial rewards. In fact I agree with him on that point. And, naturally, any agreement reached by the very weak Obama is BAD.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @El Dato
  5. @Thorfinnsson

    And, naturally, any agreement reached by the very weak Obama is BAD.

    That’s rather questionable imo. I couldn’t stand Obama (his racial politics were extremely irritating), but criticism of his foreign policy by the American right (“apology tour”, weakness supposedly creating openings for America’s enemies) strikes me as rather bizarre. If anything, he could be criticized for excessive interventionism (Libya, Syria, maybe also Ukraine). He certainly had a lot of people killed by drones…no matter what one thinks about that, it can hardly be described as “weak”.
    And the nuclear agreement with Iran did what it was meant to do, preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons. Trump hasn’t come up with a credible alternative so far.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  6. @German_reader

    Macron has so far been better than expected. Merkel is as expected.

  7. Beckow says:

    Things are not working for them, so they issue threats. I don’t doubt the ability of Washington to escalate and go for the jugular, but they have no end-game. Attacking Iran, trying to split it up, is a fool’s errand – it has no chance of success in 2018, it would be a larger, more hopeless version of Iraq, or Syria. And imagine the incredible opportunity for Russia to benefit from it – energy prices up, global backlash, another un-winnable war.

    The lesson from thousands years of history is that locals always prevail in a stalled conflict, time is on their side. So it is either a clear-cut victory, not really possible here, or get the hell out. Part-time meddling and threats are counter-productive.

    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
  8. Trade between Europe and the US is $550 bln per year compared to $25 bin for Iran. It is not really a prize worth defending for them. For China it is a different matter, Iran is key to their Belt and Road program. Even India was collaborating heavily with Iran in developing Chabahar as a deepwater port. That is vital to their aim of opening up Iranian, Afghani and Central Asian markets to their goods and to counter the port at Gwadar being developed by China and Pakistan. No Chabahar then no easy Indian counter to a Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean which Mahan identified as being key to dominating Asia.

    The present Iranian regime is a an utterly corrupt and self-serving plague prone to abducting dual national academics and mothers for political leverage amongst their other crimes. No tears will be shed if they are overthrown.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  9. @German_reader

    I’m just describing Trump’s thought process, hence the language. Trump went as far as to hire private investigators to dig up dirt on the negotiators in an effort to have them discredited.

    Frankly I don’t see why so much effort was invested in this deal to begin with (who cares about Iran?), but yes, the deal was fine. Like Trump I think commercial concessions should’ve been extracted. Requires for Iran to buy products from Boeing, John Deere, Caterpillar, General Electric, etc. Products Iran probably wants anyway.

    Anyhow what’s done is done. There won’t be another deal. Iran will labor under North Korean style sanctions.

    • Replies: @German_reader
  10. AP says:

    In other news, things have again been heating up in the Donbass, with an important bridge that lies on the main non-frontline road between Lugansk and Donetsk getting blown up by what were presumably Ukrainian special forces. At the start of this year, I said that if the Ukraine is to try for its version of Operation Storm, it would be best to do it on the eve of FIFA World Cup 2018

    I think Ukraine has too many new weapons coming online later this year and later next year (new Vilkha guided rockets are starting mass production soon) to risk a conflict that may involve substantial Russian involvement. Therefore:

    1. If Ukraine attempts to invade, Poroshenko must have had some back-channel reassurance from Putin that Russia would not intervene. Poroshenko is a cunning survivor and wouldn’t pull a Saakashvili.

    2. If Ukraine invades it will be sold as a nationalistic endeavor but the primary reason will be corruption and power. The West is demanding that corruption be reigned in, and much of the country agrees. The latest anti-corruption efforts have seen Poroshenko’s party colluding with the eastern Opposition Bloc to water down reforms. However there currently aren’t enough of them to guarantee success. If Donbas is taken in time for its voters to participate in the next election, the Opposition should see its share of the parliament increase from 15% or so to 35% to 40%. These guys will vote with Poroshenko to destroy any attempts at limiting corruption at the highest levels. If Donbas gets taken before the presidential election, there’s a decent chance that it will be Poroshenko vs. Opposition Bloc guy in the second round of the election. This will guarantee him a win.

    I think even if Ukraine invades successfully it will be a disaster for the country. The Donbas is a cesspool of corruption, crime, and Soviet-hood. It will require billions in reconstruction. Its politics are toxic (see my point 2). Hopefully there will be no invasion.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  11. @Thorfinnsson

    Frankly I don’t see why so much effort was invested in this deal to begin with (who cares about Iran?),

    It would be pretty bad if Iran got nuclear weapons, even worse if that would lead to Saudi-Arabia and Turkey acquiring them as well. I don’t want any nuclear-armed Islamic states in Europe’s neighbourhood.

    Like Trump I think commercial concessions should’ve been extracted. Requires for Iran to buy products from Boeing, John Deere, Caterpillar, General Electric, etc. Products Iran probably wants anyway.

    That’s got nothing to do with the nuke issue. The whole agreement wasn’t about approval of Iran’s system of government or the various dubious things Iran does at home or abroad. It was strictly about the nuclear weapons issue and the Iranians complied with their obligations in that regard. Tearing up that agreement when one has no credible alternative policy except regime change is simply idiotic.

  12. @Ali Choudhury

    According to people in the know (spandrell knows a lot about China) relations between Iran and China are quite modest.

    I don’t disagree on that, certainly no fan of that regime. However, if mullahs are overthrown, it will be nationalists who take their place, and Iranian nationalists are not conductive to Russian interests.

  13. @Anatoly Karlin

    relations between Iran and China are quite modest

    Could that be the reason for the somewhat cool Russo-Iranian relations as well? See my above link.

    It also makes the arguments for a more forceful Russian response to Israel bombing Iranians in Syria even weaker.

  14. @AP

    Interesting take.

    I don’t really buy the weapons systems argument. In my opinion, there are almost no true Wunderwaffen – improvements are almost always gradual. And in any case the improvements in the Ukrainian military’s human capital have been more important than the incoming hardware upgrades. The basic fact is that now (as opposed to 2014) Russia is almost certainly incapable of saving the LDNR without getting involved in a way that is not at least minimally deniable. This was Zhuchkovsky’s assessment – a Russian nationalist who’s intimately involved with the NAF’s PR outreach and recruitment – more than a year ago, i.e. that the Ukraine can now fold up the LDNR in a matter of a couple of weeks.

    A Ukrainian attack right about now will create a real dilemma for Putin.

    1. Intervention = last minute collapse of the FIFA World Cup, which is very important for Kremlin cargo cultists; annulation of the rifts (however real or fictive) that have been growing between the EU and the US.

    2. No intervention = a humiliation that is highly unlikely to even lead to the reversal of Donbass-related sanctions; Russian nationalists moving from an on average ambiguous position towards Putin, to outright oppositionism (full disclosure: That would include myself). Probably a 10%-20% point fall in approval ratings. Still, with that at 80%, Putin might risk it.

    • Replies: @AP
    , @Felix Keverich
    , @inertial
  15. @German_reader

    even worse if that would lead to Saudi-Arabia and Turkey acquiring them as well

    Which is something that is at least considered a possibility, e.g.:

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2016/12/01/iran-and-the-bomb-what-would-saudi-arabia-do/

    Based on his meticulous research, Cigar concludes that if Iran abandons the constraints in the JCPOA for whatever reason, King Salman will seek a Saudi bomb. That’s not a surprising conclusion, but this book backs it up with serious data.

    Saudi Arabia lacks the technical expertise and industrial base to build its own bomb. Even if it embarks on a crash program, it would take years if not decades to get the bomb.

    Consequently, for three decades there have been persistent reports of a secret understanding between the Saudis and Pakistan that Pakistan will provide the kingdom with the bomb if the kingdom needs it. Of course neither Riyadh or Islamabad speaks publicly about this. But occasionally they have hinted at the possibility.

    There have also been reports that Turkey might be interested in building nuclear weapons:

    http://nationalinterest.org/feature/turkey-secretly-working-nuclear-weapons-13898

  16. @German_reader

    It would be pretty bad if Iran got nuclear weapons, even worse if that would lead to Saudi-Arabia and Turkey acquiring them as well. I don’t want any nuclear-armed Islamic states in Europe’s neighbourhood.

    Europe has three nuclear weapons states with highly credible delivery systems.

    Germany, Italy, and maybe Sweden could likely go nuclear in a matter of weeks if they wanted.

    The worst case scenario here is…what? Iran and Saudi Arabia nuke each other? And someone nukes Israel? Gee…sounds like a real tragedy.

    But if Europe (or should I say “Europe”) considers it a strategic priority to prevent a nuclear Iran, then Europe should find a way to accomplish that without relying on America. Not news to you I’m sure.

    The only way a nuclear Iran is some kind of existential crisis is if Israeli-Saudi claims are actually true, and Iran is trying to usher in the age of the Hidden Imam or whatever. If that’s the case, then Iran should in fact be destroyed immediately.

    That’s got nothing to do with the nuke issue. The whole agreement wasn’t about approval of Iran’s system of government or the various dubious things Iran does at home or abroad. It was strictly about the nuclear weapons issue and the Iranians complied with their obligations in that regard.

    And that’s precisely the problem with the agreement, and America’s foreign policy in general since 1935. We always pursue “security” objectives that have no relevance to us. Compare to China’s foreign policy, which is substantially focused on access to markets and acquisition of foreign technology.

    Iran’s nuclear program, which poses no threat to us and not much of a threat to our NATO allies (no formal treaties of alliance with Israel or the GCC states to my knowledge), is really not a concern to us. So if we’re going to involve ourselves in it, what’s the payoff?

    The agreement has a secondary problem in that it derives its legitimacy in part from the UN, an institution that shouldn’t exist. This is typical of the foreign policy views of the Democrats, who absolutely looove supranational institutions (unless they go against us or whatever, in which case we have a “Responsibility to Protect” or they’re antisemitic or some other such rubbish).

    Tearing up that agreement when one has no credible alternative policy except regime change is simply idiotic.

    Now that I agree with. Even Trump agreed with this during the campaign, at least initially.

    • Replies: @German_reader
  17. @Thorfinnsson

    The worst case scenario here is…what?

    If Saudi-Arabia or Turkey had nuclear weapons, it could severely constrain Europeans’ freedom of action in case of serious disturbances with Muslim minorities.
    I don’t buy the idea that Iran is a martyr state that’s going to nuke Tel Aviv as soon as it has the bomb, but having nuclear deterrence could conceivably make Iran more aggressive in the region with conventional means.

    We always pursue “security” objectives that have no relevance to us.

    Don’t know, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons does seem like something to me that is potentially very relevant for US security.

    The agreement has a secondary problem in that it derives its legitimacy in part from the UN, an institution that shouldn’t exist

    I’m largely against the UN (especially on issues like “refugee resettlement” and the like), but as a forum for negotiation and cooperation between great (and not so great) powers it does have its uses. Unless one thinks the US should never enter into any agreements at all, I don’t see how one can object to this nuclear agreement on principle.

  18. @German_reader

    I read somewhere roughly ten-fifteen years ago that in the 1960s people were predicting that nuclear proliferation would accelerate over time. Compared to predictions, the non-proliferation regime had been a wild success.

    But maybe this success was just a fluke. Maybe long term, it’s inevitable that almost all countries will develop their own nukes. Certainly no country can be fully independent without nukes. Were I a dictator or authoritarian leader of a country like Turkey, I’d certainly want them for myself. Were I a Turkish nationalist or Islamist of whatever… ditto. So maybe the NPT ran its course and is now going to collapse shortly.

    • Agree: BB753
  19. songbird says:
    @German_reader

    A similar deal was made during the Clinton Administration with NK. It didn’t prevent the the North Koreans from acquiring nukes because it was in their interests to do so. Same is true of Iran – arguably, no deal can change the fundamental incentives: get nukes or risk becoming like Gaddafi.

    I think Iran is a destabilizing force – true of a whole bunch of countries in the ME though. I honestly don’t understand the fear of them having nukes other than in the local context of them possibly becoming more emboldened and more destabilizing. Sure, there are lots of fanatical Islamists, but their leadership has never been suicidal – MAD still applies. And what is more, I don’t think they have the technical knowledge to build things like ballistic submarines. In any exchange, they would get seriously trounced.

    Maybe, you are calculating on a premature surrender, or a lack of will to push the button for a retaliatory strike? Neither scenario seems likely to me.

  20. songbird says:
    @songbird

    The other thing I’d add, is as far as I know, Europe doesn’t have a Persian problem. It has an Arab problem, an African problem, a Paki problem, and I think, reasonably, an Indian problem.

    Why an Indian problem? Indians want unlimited immigration into Europe, in the incredibly callous way that only a people with a geographic superstate with malthusian outward pressure (safe from any influx) can desire.

    • Replies: @German_reader
  21. @songbird

    It didn’t prevent the the North Koreans from acquiring nukes because it was in their interests to do so.

    Well, it did stop their effort for a while. Had the US not broken that agreement, North Korea would still be sitting on a relatively large plutonium stockpile, but would have no nukes.

  22. @songbird

    A similar deal was made during the Clinton Administration with NK. It didn’t prevent the the North Koreans from acquiring nukes because it was in their interests to do so.

    Well, the American side didn’t fulfill all its obligations in that deal, and the Bush administration made its hostility pretty clear:

    http://theconversation.com/why-the-uss-1994-deal-with-north-korea-failed-and-what-trump-can-learn-from-it-80578

    Which is similar to the situation with Iran now…if the goal really is to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons (and not indulge deluded fantasies about regime change and remaking the region in America’s image), the nuclear agreement seems like the best way.

  23. Dmitry says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    The situation at the moment is that rest of P5+1 (EU, Russia and China) are trying to keep Iran in the deal, while US goes a different way.

    It’s a classical good cop and bad cop situation.

    The EU, Russia and China want to moderately contain Iran – while making money from it.

    America wants to heavily contain Iran – while not making money from it.

  24. @songbird

    There are many annoying commies and other left-wingers of Persian background in European parties though.

  25. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    I don’t really buy the weapons systems argument. In my opinion, there are almost no true Wunderwaffen – improvements are almost always gradual

    In general this is indeed how it is. Ukraine’s case is different. It isn’t in gradual improvement phase. The country hadn’t done much since independence, so the new weapons represent a substantial jump, going from 1990s tech to 2010s tech. New Vilkha seems to be akin to the latest Smerch rockets Russia currently use

    And in any case the improvements in the Ukrainian military’s human capital have been more important than the incoming hardware upgrades.

    This is correct. But if you are going to risk provoking a war with Russia, why not wait until the hardware upgrades catch up with the human capital upgrades?

    Not that Ukraine has a chance of winning such a war, but making war as costly as possible for Russia probably reduces the chances of Russian involvement.

    Incidentally, I’ve heard rumors that Ukraine is now executing Russian citizens/volunteers it captures in Donbas. Is this a clean-up of troublesome nationalists for Putin?

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @Mr. Hack
  26. El Dato says:
    @German_reader

    There is a realistic assessment at RT.

    TLD;DR – The US has Yurop over a barrel.

    US ‘has bigger stick’ to hold EU hostage over Iran sanctions – ex-EU Commissioner to RT

    And when it comes to the idea that Europe could compensate any firms hit by US sanctions – a notion floated by French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on Sunday – Verheugen says that’s just talk. “If the European Union really promises to compensate for all the losses, I can promise you, that goes far beyond the financial capacities of the European Union,” he insisted.

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  27. @El Dato

    What stops European companies from operating through Russian or Chinese intermediaries and shell companies?

  28. @Anatoly Karlin

    Iran bans all foreign social media apps, they require all data on Iranians to be kept in Iran. And even Russia has banned WeChat despite the improvement of relations with China in recent years.

    India is far more freaked out by China than China is by India as both reckon China would beat it in an open fight. That is why China has been fairly brazen in staking a claim to the Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh as part of its territory of South Tibet. Which goes with their strategy of dominating the water resources of the Tibetan plateau from which ten of Asia’s major rivers flow, in an era where Asia will become increasingly hampered by a lack of the same. That being said the Chinese are too.practical to make an enemy of India and would be keen to develop economic relations with them since it is a market of over a billion people right on their doorstep. India has been invited to join the Belt and Road Initiative. As part of the quid pro quo, India has been showing less enthusiasm for the Dalai Lama and China Ok’d Pakistan being put on the Financial Action Task Force terror list which was a tremendous shock there.

    There were not going to be many Chinese in Iran pre-sanctions since going in there when all the major powers in the world were for sanctions would have been impractical. But they were rapidly becoming the biggest foreign presence there and will probably welcome the lack of competition from the US and Europe.

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/m.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2146768/china-tipped-profit-after-donald-trump-quits-iran%3famp=1

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    , @Anonymous
  29. El Dato says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Trump also seems to believe the Iran Deal was bad because it didn’t involve commercial concessions for American companies or any particular financial rewards. In fact I agree with him on that point

    That makes no sense at all. That deal would not have been signed if there had been a rider to made it dependent on “trade” to the US i.e. we would be in a situation of rank 18-th century colonialism with the Great Satan. I don’t think so. If the US wanted to trade, it could have traded. Well, it didn’t. Besides which, this was not not a US-Iran deal. It was a UN-Iran deal, but apparently Murricans regularly forget that this is not Planet Murrica.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  30. neutral says:

    If this works in destroying Iran then the US will not stop there with that tactic, which means Russia and China need to do everything in their power to push the USA out of the middle east. By middle east I am excluding Israel for obvious reasons, but if China starts to threaten Saudi Arabia and the other gulf puppet by shutting down all oil trade with it, it might make them think twice in their blind support of the USA. If they do not take a hard stand now then this thuggish US regime will start to believe that they truly make demands on everyone, everywhere and without consequence.

    Perhaps another plan is to station nuclear weapons in Iran, and trigger a crises that will bring the world to WW3, such a drastic action is probably needed because the thugs in the US regime will absolutely never stop unless the US population is made aware that the entire word is now facing a nuclear war to satisfy the zionists.

  31. El Dato says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    What stops European companies from operating through Russian or Chinese intermediaries and shell companies?

    The US and fear of the US.

    These shell games will just lead to long trials, then extremes “fines” delivered US courts. Anything can come out of US courts, they are completely instrumented. If BNP Paribas can be hit for 10 billion, and no-one even stands up for this, anything can happen.

    • Replies: @for-the-record
  32. @Anatoly Karlin

    The basic fact is that now (as opposed to 2014) Russia is almost certainly incapable of saving the LDNR without getting involved in a way that is not at least minimally deniable.

    It was not minimally deniable back in 2014. The Kremlin sent paratroopers from Pskov and some of them got captured by Ukraine, there were reports in Russian press that soldiers were awarded medals for action in the Ukraine, including posthumously.

    The whole strategy was so dumb: sending small groups of soldiers to fight a war “covertly”, i.e without adequate resources and support. Absolutely nobody in the West bought in the idea of an indigenous rebellion in Donbass, but most likely it was our ихтамнеты who shot down Malaysian airplane, an event that spurred the EU into sanctioning Russia.

    A classic case of Putin being too clever by half.

  33. @Daniel Chieh

    Secondary sanctions, which Commerce and Treasury can implement on foreign entities at a stroke. Witness how in the past few months the sudden imposition of sanctions nearly destroyed Rusal and ZTE.

    So if a European company operates through a Russian or Chinese subsidiary, and the US government discovers this (or simply suspects it), then sanctions will be applied to that company regardless.

    What’s more likely, and already goes on, is that the sanctioned countries themselves setup or acquire shell companies in jurisdictions like Dubai, Cyprus, and so forth.

  34. El Dato says:
    @reiner Tor

    Putin is now Sweating Towel Guy.

  35. @AP

    Incidentally, I’ve heard rumors that Ukraine is now executing Russian citizens/volunteers it captures in Donbas. Is this a clean-up of troublesome nationalists for Putin?

    First time I hear about this. What are your sources?

    While I don’t doubt that some of the volunteer battalions and the SBU are capable of that, you’re only going to be eliminating individuals at this point. My impression is that there are also very few “svidomy” Russian nationalists in the LDNR by now. Those who came to fight for the Russian Empire 2.0 have almost all gone home in disillusionment (high-ranking recalcitrants having already long been assassinated anyway), those who came to fight for money and/or the thrills are now in Syria.

    But if you are going to risk provoking a war with Russia, why not wait until the hardware upgrades catch up with the human capital upgrades?

    Well here’s my take.

    Whether it happens now or in 2020, the results will be the same: No Russian intervention = LDNR conquered; Russian intervention = Ukrainian military humiliation, but Russian intervention now more open and less deniable than in 2014 because of Ukraine’s greater military capabilities.

    However, doing it now will: (1) Spoil the FIFA World Cup – considerably in the former case; totally in the latter case; (2) if Poroshenko actually succeeds, as you point out, he’ll likely be able to eke out a win in the next elections, which doesn’t seem too likely right now.

    • Replies: @AP
  36. @Felix Keverich

    Well yes, Russia handicapped itself by not using its full suite of EW capabilities, completely avoiding exercising its air power, and only making a brief, very limited excursion across its borders.

    This still allowed countries that wanted to believe (e.g. for commercial reasons) that Russia did not intervene to do just that.

    In The Current Year, I doubt this will still be feasible, due to Ukrainian military improvements.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    , @Pavlo
  37. Mr. Hack says:
    @AP

    Incidentally, I’ve heard rumors that Ukraine is now executing Russian citizens/volunteers it captures in Donbas. Is this a clean-up of troublesome nationalists for Putin?

    Now why would ‘Ukraine’ help Putin eliminate ‘troublesome nationalists’ anyway?

    Firstly, you seem to be implying that the Ukrainian government is working in tandem with the Russian one, in this case with the bizarre proposition that it wants to provide Putin with some sort of a favor.

    Secondly, even if there are any wily Russian rambos still within Donbas, why would Putin want them eliminated? Why not just remove them from there to be used in the future if necessary?

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  38. @Anatoly Karlin

    This still allowed countries that wanted to believe (e.g. for commercial reasons) that Russia did not intervene to do just that.

    Which countries are you talking about exactly? Every EU member state voted for anti-Russian sanctions, so presumably they all agree that Ukrainian conflict was caused by “Russian agression”.

    Notably, China refers to conflict in the Ukraine as an internal Ukrainian conflict. So could this charade really be aimed at appeasing the Chinese? Otherwise, we must consider it a complete flop. Nobody in the West has been willing to adopt Russia’s view of the conflict.

    Should the incontrovertible evidence of Russian involvement emerge, do you think this could prompt the Chinese to reassess their relationship with Russia? I rather doubt it.

  39. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Does anyone know who they describe the Ukraine conflicts in Chinese state media?

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  40. @Mr. Hack

    Well, if Putin’s ultimate goal really is Putinsliv, he’d have an interest in getting potential Khalid Islambouli’s knocked off.

    As I pointed out, the problem with that theory is that the vast majority of them are now back in Russia, while a large chunk of those who stayed in the Donbass have already been assassinated (probably mostly by Plotnitsky’s thugs) anyway.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  41. @Felix Keverich

    It’s not an either-or question. A lot of EU members were arguing for lesser sanctions. Due to this, the final sanctions were watered down and weren’t very strong at all.

    However, if it were a stronger Russian intervention, the position of these Russia-friendly countries within the EU would’ve become untenable; they’d have come under much stronger pressure; and they themselves would’ve supported stronger sanctions anyway.

    Regarding China, the Chinese weren’t all too happy with the Crimea annexation, and it’s unclear how their behavior might’ve changed if Russia pushed too hard. Emperor Xi was still just First Consul Xi back then, so he couldn’t fully concentrate on foreign policy, and the traditional Chinese viewpoint was not too friendly to military interventions and violent border changes.

    Then there’s Belarus. There’s Kazakhstan. There are other countries whose opinions might matter.

  42. @Felix Keverich

    So could this charade really be aimed at appeasing the Chinese?

    I agree with you. It would in fact be the single most defensible justification of the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy. Relations between China and the US were far better in 2014.

    It is also possible that the Western reaction might have been far harsher had the Kremlin intervened more overtly – for instance, kicking it out of SWIFT, which it was not yet prepared for. Perhaps that is what Swiss President Didier Burkhalter communicated to Putin in May 2014.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  43. From my remaining interface with the Bundeswehr, Russian moderation in the Donbass conflict is partly assessed as having the following reasons:

    1: “Beating Ukraine with the little finger” has some utility as a show of force.

    2: Russia is unwilling to unveil its full potential against a third rate enemy

    3: Russia, in 2014, may have banked on the Maidan false flag blowing up Maidans legitimacy, given that Russians did not belief that Maidan authorities could cover up who actually shot whom in February. For a number of reason, while the Maidan sniping very likely were a false flag, this blowup has not yet happened. A full scale Russian intervention would have produced 5 digit casulty features (most of these Ukrainian) in a matter of days not weeks, and would make the Maidan “heavenly hundred” look like a rounding error. This was assessed as a reason why Maidan tried to hard to provoke a full scale invasion in 2014, they also feared being blown up by the revelation of their false flags and needed a higher bodycount to distract from that.

    4: Some officer acquaintances did remark that Russian train and equip mission in Donbass generated a lot more military competence then US train and equip missions in Afghanistan or Iraq.
    I for one attribute this to cultural distance (or a lack thereoff in the Russian-Sovok case).

    5: Long term, LDNR will prove to be very hard if not impossible to reintegrate. Unless Maidan genocides/ethnically cleanses them (there are those in Kiev who want that), Donbass has a great power neighbour that backs it and faaar too many legitimate grievance (as well as a fairly violence inclined and reasonably organized population). It is seen as pretty unlikely that Russia will stand by in a genocide scenario.

    • Replies: @The Kulak
  44. @Anatoly Karlin

    There’s India, too. They are doing a balancing act, having almost endorsed Russian actions, but short of recognizing the border changes, and trying to keep close relations with Ukraine either.

  45. @El Dato

    Anything can come out of US courts, they are completely instrumented.

    Do you mean like this?

    Iran ordered to pay billions to relatives of 9/11 victims

    A federal judge in New York on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars to parents, spouses, siblings and children of more than 1,000 9/11 victims, court documents obtained by ABC News show.

    The default judgment issued by Judge George B. Daniels finds the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran are liable for the deaths of 1,008 people whose families sued .

    The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2004 and allowed to go forward in 2016 after Congress passed Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act to open sovereign states accused of terrorism to liability, alleged Iran provided assistance, including training, to the 9/11 hijackers even though the 9/11 Commission found no direct evidence of Iranian support.

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/iran-ordered-pay-billions-relatives-911-victims/story?id=54862664

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  46. @for-the-record

    Yeah, it’s quite disturbing.

  47. Mitleser says:
    @Ali Choudhury

    That is why China has been fairly brazen in staking a claim to the Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh as part of its territory of South Tibet.

    That was Sino-Tibetan territory India occupied and annexed.
    It is not brazen for China to maintain these claims.

  48. Mitleser says:
    @El Dato

    The USA is the world’s corrupt sheriff.
    As long as you do not get rid of it, you have to expect that bribing them is necessary in order to not harass you.

  49. Pavlo says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Zhuchkovsky’s take…. it’s the equivalent of orc nationalists squealing ‘GIB JAVELIN’ or Viktor Muzhenko wailing back in 2016 or so that the DNR army outnumbered his own troops.

    Both sides are Ukrainians, so their public outbursts follow the same pattern – outrageous blustering, followed by slimy whining when they want more money.

    Human improvements not much evident from months of skirmishing, and any new weapons systems they manage to develop will not be produced for supply to their own forces. This is Ukraine – Poroshenko and friends would like to win, but it’s not a high enough priority to get in the way of business. As for elections – he’s free to cheat as much as he pleases.

  50. Mitleser says:
    @Dmitry

    Xinhua operates in a similar way to Western newswires such as Reuters: Thousands of journalists and editors across China and in 170 foreign bureaus churn out news articles, video, opinion pieces, and breaking news briefs, which are fed out to newspapers and websites across the country. But there are some key differences: Chinese newspapers and websites cannot only use Xinhua content for free; sometimes instructions from the authorities compel them to run Xinhua copy. So when Xinhua updates its style guide, it affects the way the news is written in numerous newspapers and websites across China.

    In July, a WeChat post (in Chinese) appeared on the Media Tea Party [传媒茶话会 cháhuàhuì] social media account titled:

    Media people must read: Banned and sensitive words in Xinhua News Agency reports [latest edition]

    The content of the post is Xinhua’s new, updated version of its style guide for editors and journalists. Xinhua has not published the style guide itself, but enough Chinese staffers at state media have circulated the post for us to be reasonably confident it comes from an official source

    Never use former Soviet Union [前苏联 qiánsūlián], just use Soviet Union [苏联 sūlián].

    Do not call civil armed forces in eastern Ukraine [乌克兰东部民间武装 wūkèlán dōngbù mínjiānwǔzhuāng] pro-Russia armed forces in Ukraine [乌克兰亲俄武装 wūkèlán qīnéwǔzhuāng], Ukraine militia [乌克兰民兵武装 wūkèlán mínbīngwǔzhuāng], or Ukraine separatists [乌克兰分裂分子 wūkèlán fènlièfènzǐ].

    https://supchina.com/2017/08/01/words-chinese-state-media-banned/

    • Replies: @inertial
    , @Thorfinnsson
  51. inertial says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    An open Ukrainian attack would be a violation of Minsk accords. Remember Minsk? Me neither, but it’s kind of important.

    If Ukraine attacks, Russia can openly intervene (after a decent interval) and claim that it’s merely upholding Minsk status quo. China will accept this explanation.

  52. inertial says:
    @Mitleser

    Never use former Soviet Union [前苏联 qiánsūlián], just use Soviet Union [苏联 sūlián].

    Wow! Do they know something we don’t?

    • Replies: @Hyperborean
  53. Jayce says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Some of them like the Pan-Iranists do want the Caucasus and Central Asia back. I wonder how many SiP readers would gladly make that deal and divert the Chechens and Tajiks en route to Moscow and Petersburg towards Tehran and Isfahan instead.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  54. Anonymous[126] • Disclaimer says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    European companies want to sell stuff. That can’t be hidden through intermediaries. A Chinese sales agent selling Airbus airliners doesn’t conceal the activity.

  55. Dmitry says:
    @Jayce

    divert the Chechens… en route to Moscow and Petersburg towards Tehran and Isfahan instead.

    Surely just easier to give them to Georgia and Azerbaijan. But they would still try to go North. People immigrate – and only immigrate – in large numbers to countries richer than their own.

    That’s why Sweden and America are covered with foreign immigrants, while Ukraine (unless it becomes rich) is always going to be a native European ethnostate (what foreigners want to immigrate to a country with such low GDP per capita).

    • Replies: @Kinez
  56. Kinez says:
    @DFH

    Austria wanted war and deliberately drafted the ultimatum to be as humiliating and unacceptable as possible, with the intention being that it would be rejected and so provide a casus belli, the expected denouement being the rapid defeat of Serbia and its absorption into Austria-Hungary. It included the demand that Serbia fire any military and civil service employee that Austria wished!

    When Serbia accepted the terms of the ultimatum, with the exception of allowing Austrian police to operate in Serbia, Vienna didn’t quite know how to proceed – but then attacked anyway.

    Austria then suffered a series of defeats and were repulsed until they persuaded Bulgaria to enter the war (not difficult after the Second Balkan War) and open a second front.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @DFH
  57. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    What you state sound plausible, however, I don’t quite understand what AP was getting at when he suggests that the Ukrainian government is perhaps helping Putin out by eliminating some ‘Khalid Islambouli’s as you call them?…

    • Replies: @AP
  58. Anonymous[126] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ali Choudhury

    China is in the process of reducing its land forces by 1,000,000 men (overall armed forces strength goes down by 300,000). So China is definitely not threatening India at the border.

    However, India has over the last several years deployed its most advanced fighter squadrons at border airfields, moved tanks and artillery up close to the border, and when it has the money will raise an entire “mountain strike corps” and base it along the border.

    India really, really wants to get into a standoff (not fight though) with China even though China has not threatened India. Indians are secretly afraid that China’s condescension towards it is not an act but reflects China’s genuine assessment of Indian potential as not much.

    I believe at the root of this is the high caste Hindu’s insecurity and willingness to pick a fight with China as a method for sustaining the narrative that India is a country of great potential. The alternative to confronting China is of course borrowing a lot of money for infrastructure build by Chinese contractors and receiving Chinese investment. That will mean India accepts an Asia in which China is dominant. This is not in line with the high caste Hindu’s view of his civilization. He believes if Indians can become CEO of Google and Microsoft, then the entire Indian nation must be capable of leading Asia. So actively pursuing hostility towards China helps keep hope alive in the minds of high caste Hindus that their country’s future is not foreclosed already by HBD.

    • Replies: @Ali Choudhury
  59. @Kinez

    It included the demand that Serbia fire any military and civil service employee that Austria wished!

    Was that really unreasonable after leading members of Serbia’s intelligence service had just aided a conspiracy to murder the Austrian heir to the throne? Serbia’s civilian leadership was either unwilling or unable to stop the machinations of Apis and his fellow terrorists, so they couldn’t really complain if the Austrians were unwilling to trust them.
    In any case, Iran hasn’t done anything nearly as provocative against the US (equivalent would maybe be Iranian revolutionary guards supporting a Hezbollah plot to assassinate Mike Pence).

    • Agree: AP
    • Replies: @Kinez
  60. Kinez says:
    @Dmitry

    People don’t seem to realise what a parlous state Ukraine is in. At this point Ukraine’s nominal per capita GDP is about half that of Albania (~$2,000 vs ~$4,000).

    • Replies: @AP
  61. Kinez says:
    @German_reader

    What was the Austrian heir to the throne doing in Bosnia, a province annexed less than a decade before, whose population was about 45% Serb?

    Visiting his conquered territory on the national day of about half the population, that also happens to be the date of the assassination of another invading foreigner (Sultan Murat I).

    How’s that for provocative?

    And what happened? One of his subjects decided to show he didn’t like being a Viennese subject, in the time-honoured tradition of tyrannicide.

  62. @Kinez

    One of his subjects decided to show he didn’t like being a Viennese subject, in the time-honoured tradition of tyrannicide.

    Princip didn’t just spontaneously decide to shoot the archduke, he and his fellow conspirators had been trained in Serbia and equipped with weapons from Serbian state armouries. The plot was concocted by Serbian intelligence, Austrian demands for a police investigation and removal of anti-Austrian officials weren’t unreasonable given that background.
    Anyway, since this is going off-topic that’s it from me on this matter.

  63. songbird says:

    I’m against these demands, of course, but I think it nevertheless shows the rather poor judgment of seizing the hostages at the US Embassy (or, since it was probably a fait accompli, endorsing it), as well as the general policy of calling the US the Great Satan.

    If they needed an external enemy they ought to have perhaps picked Israel and Israel only, while trying to ingratiate themselves to the US even more than the Shah had.

  64. AP says:
    @Kinez

    People don’t seem to realise what a parlous state Ukraine is in

    Not really, there has been modest but solid economic growth in the last 2.5 years, foreign currency reserves are higher than before the revolution, etc.

    Ukraine’s nominal per capita GDP

    An artifact of the currency collapse. At this point Russia’s nominal per capita GDP ($10,600) is lower than Romania’s ($10,800), for similar reasons.

    half that of Albania (~$2,000 vs ~$4,000)

    Nominal for 2017 was $2,500 Ukraine and $4,500 Albania. PPP it was $12,500 Albania and $8,700 Ukraine. Just as for Russia it is $27,900 vs. Romania’s $24,000.

    • Replies: @Kinez
  65. AP says:
    @Mr. Hack

    the Ukrainian government is perhaps helping Putin out by eliminating some ‘Khalid Islambouli’s as you call them?

    Putin does not like extreme Russian nationalists. They can create instability, which is bad for the State. His government arrests some of them in Russia. Ones who are extreme enough to fight and kill for Russia are particularly unwanted. Poroshenko is doing Putin a favor if he is killing them in Ukraine. I am not implying that the two have talked and made a deal with each other, to kill Russian nationalists, just stating that it benefits Putin for this to happen. For him, better for these people to cause trouble in Ukraine and end up getting killed there, than stir up trouble in Russia.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  66. @songbird

    I’m against these demands, of course, but I think it nevertheless shows the rather poor judgment of seizing the hostages at the US Embassy

    That was almost 40 years ago, it’s really strange how many Americans still go on about this. And it’s not like the US didn’t get to take revenge against Iran (e.g. sinking much of their fleet in the tanker war in 1988, maybe also the “accidental” shooting down of Iran air 655).
    No reason to like the Iranian regime of course, it’s quite repellent in many ways…but the idea that the Mideast will suddenly turn out just fine if it is removed is dangerous fantasy.

    • Replies: @songbird
  67. @inertial

    Probably they want to avoid giving people ideas by saying ‘former Soviet Union’. I think the Soviet collapse still features heavily in the CCP’s collective memory so it makes sense that they would try to avoid emphasising the bitter downfall of a territorially vast great power ruled by a Communist Party given the parallels that might bring to peoples’ minds.

  68. songbird says:
    @German_reader

    What I mean isn’t personal, but purely geopolitical.

    Endorsing the events at the embassy caused them to take up a posture, and when they became invested in it, it had a kind of momentum. As far as I know, they still call the US, the Great Satan.

    When the Shah was in charge, they bought their weapons from the US. The military-industrial complex wouldn’t put their endorsement on any sanctions, if they bought billions of dollars in weapons like the Saudis do. It frankly would have been a lot cheaper, in the long run, I think. They would have avoided the Iran-Iraq War, for instance.

  69. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Incidentally, I’ve heard rumors that Ukraine is now executing Russian citizens/volunteers it captures in Donbas. Is this a clean-up of troublesome nationalists for Putin?

    First time I hear about this. What are your sources?

    Who knows how credible.

    Rumors here:

    http://themess.net/forum/military-discussion/8573-ukraine-discussion-thread/page1185

    Most posters are pro-Russian and there is a fair amount of nonsense.

    My impression is that there are also very few “svidomy” Russian nationalists in the LDNR by now. Those who came to fight for the Russian Empire 2.0 have almost all gone home in disillusionment (high-ranking recalcitrants having already long been assassinated anyway), those who came to fight for money and/or the thrills are now in Syria.

    You are probably right.

    Whether it happens now or in 2020, the results will be the same: No Russian intervention = LDNR conquered; Russian intervention = Ukrainian military humiliation, but Russian intervention now more open and less deniable than in 2014 because of Ukraine’s greater military capabilities.

    Also, Russian intervention more costly in terms of lives and equipment lost than in 2014. And as Ukraine upgrades its military hardware it becomes costlier still. Ukraine will never be strong enough to defeat a Russian invasion but it is going for making an invasion too much trouble to undertake.

    For this reason, at this point, I could be wrong, but I doubt Ukraine will mount a major invasion unless Poroshenko has received some assurances beforehand that Russia would not respond with a massive attack on Ukraine. Without such assurances, I might expect taking advantage of the World Cup to escalate a little, perhaps even to take a town or two, something beneath the threshold of provoking a massive military response.

    • Replies: @Mikel
  70. Mr. Hack says:
    @AP

    I’m not doubting what you say, but still I find it very strange. Would you agree that he initially relied on these sorts of extreme nationalists to foment war and unrest in Donbas? Many of them, it is strongly suggested, were paid off by the Kremlin to do its bidding. To discard them now, is the height of cynicism, and probably doesn’t bid well for any future plans to wage hybrid wars in Ukraine or elsewhere.

  71. AP says:

    Would you agree that he initially relied on these sorts of extreme nationalists to foment war and unrest in Donbas?

    Sure. He got them the hell out of Russia and busy causing problems for someone else. As a bonus, a lot of them got killed.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  72. @songbird

    Endorsing the events at the embassy caused them to take up a posture, and when they became invested in it, it had a kind of momentum.

    True, that was a pretty stupid move by the Iranians, iirc before that the US was actually still interested in coming to some kind of understanding with the revolutionary regime. Khomeini’s endorsement of the hostage taking was very provocative. But I suppose one can’t expect rational or responsible behaviour from nutcase Islamic revolutionaries, and Khomeini would have been anti-American (and anti-Soviet) anyway.

  73. Jayce says:
    @songbird

    while trying to ingratiate themselves to the US even more than the Shah had

    Figures in Khomeini’s circle actually did covertly promise this to the Carter administration on many occasions early on. William H. Sullivan, the US ambassador to Iran, was particularly impressed and repeatedly insisted that the Islamic Republic would be a staunch anti-communist bulwark and never do the infuriating things the Shah was prone to do, like threatening to double oil prices or buy Soviet military hardware.

  74. Mr. Hack says:
    @AP

    So, what in your opinion, was his original intent in Donbas? Jut getting rid of gung ho yahoos? Seems like he’s paid quite a high price for just that? And what’s his end game there now? If it’s to eventually allow it to become a part of Ukraine again, it already was, so what was the point in the first place? Sure, now it would remain a hostile zone to contain for Ukraine, but it wont necessarily become a Russia friendly area either. Remember, a lot of these people originally thought (due to Russian propaganda) that they’d soon become a part of Russia and enjoy greater pension and human service benefits, only to find out that this was never really on the Kremlin chalkboard.

    • Replies: @E
  75. Kinez says:
    @AP

    Everything you say is absolutely right, but the point still stands. Ukraine should be similar to Poland, Russia and Belarus. Not at ~70% of Albania’s PPP GDP per capita. It’s mind-boggling how it ended up like this.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  76. @songbird

    As far as I know, they still call the US, the Great Satan.

    People say this from time to time as if it’s a big deal but let’s actually compare USG actions and Iranian actions. USG completely destroyed Iraq, the country right beside Iran, for whatever machinations Cheney’s crew had in mind and had a plan to overthrow Iran’s government. Iran calls US the Great Satan, which at worst, what, hurt America’s feels? Which is worse?

    Anyways, I highly doubt USG hostility at this point is simply due to the hostage crisis despite what normal civilians are led to believe. I do however think it has a lot to do with oil and USD.

  77. utu says:
    @songbird

    Is ingratiatorism your thing? When they are after your ass ingratiatorism won’t save it but it may make it less painful.

    Next to Attila the Honey’s dictum “I let Israel bomb Syria” your ingratiatorims will be the next most memorable thing that came form these pages.

    Anyway, you might be barking at a right tree. Is it possible that embassy take over was orchestrated by somebody to exactly prevent application of your ingratiatorism by Khomeini with respect to the US? Who wanted to turn Iran into the international pariah nation?

    Here is the last comment in exchange with the Attila the Honey on possibility that Iran Revolution in 1979 was orchestrated to pry off Iran form the US. It is my pet theory w/o much hard evidence.

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/absolute-state-of-britbongia/#comment-2336558

  78. @Anonymous

    I don’t believe so. India naturally sees itself as the top dog in South Asia but has no inclination to exert wider dominance. It is too ethnically disunited to do so. Whatever happens in the rest of Asia is given less regard than the US population’s attention to South America.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anon
  79. DFH says:
    @Kinez

    Austria wanted war and deliberately drafted the ultimatum to be as humiliating and unacceptable as possible, with the intention being that it would be rejected and so provide a casus belli

    Yet it is still much more reasonable than the current yank demands. Really makes you think what their purpose is

    • Replies: @5371
  80. Jayce says:
    @utu

    that Iran Revolution in 1979 was orchestrated to pry off Iran form the US

    Well, the idea that it was some kind of color revolution that got botched and spiraled out of control is extremely common in Iran. Everyone has their own variation on the “stabbed in the back” myth depending on their politics. Among the more common ones is the “Green Belt” theory that posits it was an attempt by the US to set off a domino effect of Islamic revivalist movements along the USSR’s southern flank that would eventually seep across the border. Iran, being ostensibly a US ally and thus easier to subvert, simply wound up with the privilege of being the test subject. Then there’s lots of others about convoluted oil politics or attempts (usually by the UK) to punish and handicap the country for becoming too independent and developing too rapidly. Perhaps you know the real old one about Khomeini actually being a Sikh?

    • Replies: @utu
    , @utu
  81. @German_reader

    Consequently, for three decades there have been persistent reports of a secret understanding between the Saudis and Pakistan that Pakistan will provide the kingdom with the bomb if the kingdom needs it.

    That’s correct I’ve talked about this with a couple of highly educated Pakistani colleagues and they confirm this secret pact but with the caveat that Pakistan will only provide nuclear weapons if Saudi Arabia is attacked because an attack on Saudi Arabia which is the custodian of Mecca and Medina will be viewed as an attack on Islam. But they were very clear about this point no nukes for any pre emptive strike on Iran.

    • Replies: @Ali Choudhury
  82. @inertial

    I agree. I think that was one of the main, if not the main, although hidden goal of Minsk agreements, from Russian point of view: to legitimize Russian involvement, in case it is denounced, obviously by Ukraine. Any large scale attack on Donbas is obvious denouncement of Minsk agreements.

    You have the smart Russian nationalists, and than you have the not so smart Russian “nationalists” like Karlin here.

  83. Anonymous[391] • Disclaimer says:

    Looks like the Iranians know what’s going on:

    Commentary: I just visited Iran. Here’s what I heard about the U.S.

    It was not hard to learn students’ opinions. “What does America want from us? To force us to negotiate? We did, we agreed, already, in 2015,” said one student in a reference to the year to nuclear agreement was signed. “Regime change – do Americans even know we vote for our government here?” said another. In answer to my query about Iranians having indeed overthrown one government 40 years ago, a grad student responded, “The Shah we overthrew, yes, but he was not selected by the Iranians, you installed him. Trump and Bolton [the names of the president and his national security adviser are almost always mentioned in one slur of mispronunciation] want us to change our government? And why do they think we will, because you make it harder for us to purchase Western goods?”

    Two American Studies students likely headed to government jobs collectively translated a local idiom into “Who can sail an ark on such waters?” when asked if perhaps smarter, more targeted sanctions might move Iran to negotiate a new accord. “Who would we send to talk? The hardliners? Trump just told them they were right in 2015 when they said not to trust America.”

    Iranians have reasonable access to information. Web tools such as VPNs get around government blocks. Instagram and Facebook are popular. Reuters.com was available openly at my hotel. You can watch the latest superhero movies on smuggled Blu-Ray. The ban on the popular social media app Telegram is seen as just an inconvenience to make “old people,” perhaps a euphemism for the hardliners, feel better. But there is an absence of counter-balancing physical presence to the rhetoric, theirs from New York and ours from places like Mashhad.

  84. @German_reader

    All of the Euro-muppets will eventually cave, including Manny Macaroni. They’re weak.

  85. OT: Sweden has finally recognised the dire threat the country faces.

    Swedes told to prepare for conflict in Cold War-style booklet

    The 20-page pamphlet titled “If Crisis or War Comes” gives advice on getting clean water, spotting propaganda and finding a bomb shelter, in the first public awareness campaign of its kind since the days of the Cold War.

    It also tells Swedes they have a duty to act if their country is threatened. “If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up,” the booklet says. “All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false.”

    The leaflet’s publisher, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, did not spell out where an attack might come from. “Even if Sweden is safer than most countries, threats do exist,” agency head Dan Eliasson told journalists.

    But Sweden and other countries in the region have been on high alert since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March, 2014. They have also accused Russia of repeated violations of their airspace – assertions that Moscow has either dismissed or not responded to.

    You can download the leaflet at

    https://www.msb.se/en/Tools/News/The-brochure-If-Crisis-or-War-Comes-is-available-to-download/

  86. utu says:
    @Jayce

    kind of color revolution that got botched and spiraled out of control is extremely common in Iran

    I would consider a possibility that it was not botched. ‘They’ got Iran exactly where ‘they’ wanted it to be: economic development set back 20 years and being isolated pariah state for 39 years and counting.

  87. @utu

    There’s little reason for you to rejoice today (no nuclear war…), so perhaps it’s not the best day to draw your attention to the conversation I had with Dmitry, where I came to the conclusion that hitting Israel for American misdeeds would have no effect on American behavior except to make it more determined against Russia. In other words: my previous idea of punishing Israel for American sanctions is probably wrong. (It might work tangentially, like sending weapons to Iran as an asymmetric response to American sanctions, but not to piss off Israel, simply to piss off the US.)

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/dealing-with-secondary-sanctions/#comment-2338655

    In any event, I think the most memorable (and insane) line I ever read here was this:

    699. utu says:
    April 14, 2018 at 3:28 pm GMT • 100 Words
    @Greasy William
    Let me explain.

    It became pretty obvious that the experiment of Israel creation failed. Israel was created at great expense to solve the so-called Jewish problem. Unfortunately it did not because majority of Jews still remains in diaspora. At the same time Israel existence created new problems not just in its neighborhood but for the whole world. The world peace became permanently threatened.

    There is no other conclusion than that that Israel must be destroyed. Preferably with all Israelis because their repatriation to Europe and America only will exacerbate the pressure of the Jewish question there.

    So when you predicted the clash between Russia and Israel in the near future which I imagined would be nuclear I have naturally rejoiced.

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/ww3/#comment-2287849

    Keep it up!

    • Replies: @utu
  88. @songbird

    It’s impossible to ingratiate your country to (((Washington))) while opposing Israel. If you don’t believe me, go ask Bashar Assad.

  89. @Felix Keverich

    but most likely it was our ихтамнеты who shot down Malaysian airplane

    Are you an idiot? Nobody “accidentally” shoots down a passenger airliner, it’s impossible. Whoever shot down the plane did it deliberately, as a false flag operation.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  90. @utu

    Let me answer that comment here.

    Look, I wanted to avoid fighting straw men (my vague ideas of what you were hinting at), so I merely pointed out that you proposed no plausible mechanism for the proposed machinations. The fact that you are spinning it to “feigning stupidity” shows how bad faith you are acting. At least I guess you’re never feigning stupidity.

    Now at least I get to criticize your proposal.

    First, there is no evidence that the Mossad assassinated any Iranian opposition leader at all. It’s hardly a secret which opposition leaders were killed under the Shah, all by the Shah’s secret police. There’s also zero evidence that any of them alive would have made any impact on the revolution. Certainly none of them were as charismatic as Khomeini.

    Second, the leaving people alive part. This is of course the stupider part of the theory, which is why I avoided criticizing it before you explicitly spelled it out. I mean, it’s not only Israel/Mossad/USG/US Deep State/etc. who left Khomeini alive, but also the Shah, or the USSR, or Saddam, or Turkey, etc. He had been on Turkish, Iraqi, and finally French soil. Of course the Shah himself could have had him murdered before he became so popular, or even very late in the game, for example he might have asked Saddam to murder him in the late 1970s in exchange for some concessions (if you remember Saddam got a bad border deal in 1975), instead of Saddam expelling Khomeini (which he already did as some kind of favor to the Shah). It’s also unlikely that Khomeini getting murdered would’ve saved the Shah – though it might’ve led to a different system after the revolution.

    Then it already presupposes that murdering Khomeini was easy. It was not. He had an entourage, consisting of Islamists. It had a number of risks for Israel (for example getting caught without accomplishing anything; or creating some backlash, making it more difficult for Israel to murder people in France later on – like the head of the Iraqi nuclear program in 1980), so clearly there was a motive for Israel not to murder Khomeini unless they could be sure he’d be very bad for them.

    Finally, why do you believe the Israelis now? It’s the Israelis and no one else who say they were asked to murder Khomeini. Were they? Why are you spreading this Israeli information (or perhaps misinformation?) here?

    • Replies: @utu
  91. @reiner Tor

    Regarding China, the Chinese weren’t all too happy with the Crimea annexation

    What makes you say that? Especially when they make no qualms about planning the same kind of operation for Taiwan?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  92. @anonymous coward

    Nobody “accidentally” shoots down a passenger airliner, it’s impossible.

    It’s of course possible, the Ukrainians managed to do so with Siberia Airlines Flight 1812. Anyway, the way it usually happens is that they think the passenger airliner is not a passenger airliner, rather something else: a spy plane, or a military transport plane, or even a military jet, etc.

    In this case it’s easy to believe that the Buk’s crew might have thought that it was a Ukrainian military flight. An alternative explanation would be that they simply shot at warplane, but the warplane used countermeasures and left the scene, after which the missile simply hit a close nearby target, which happened to be MH17.

    The false flag is of course a possible explanation, but it’s not the way to bet.

  93. @Kinez

    It’s mind-boggling how it ended up like this.

    No, not at all. Ukraine has always been like that; only massive (massive) capital and infrastructure infusions from central Russia over several centuries managed to prop up this sad territory.

  94. @reiner Tor

    Here’s how these systems look from the inside:

    Of course it’s possible for poorly trained operators to mess up on them.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  95. @reiner Tor

    Anyway, the way it usually happens is that they think the passenger airliner is not a passenger airliner, rather something else: a spy plane, or a military transport plane, or even a military jet, etc.

    Impossible. A passenger airliner flies at a totally different altitude and with a totally different speed.

    In this case it’s easy to believe that the Buk’s crew might have thought that it was a Ukrainian military flight.

    No. Again, the Buk isn’t like a shoulder-mounted bazooka. It’s a complex system that will explain to you what exactly you’re shooting down.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  96. @anonymous coward

    Taiwan is not the “same kind of operation.” Taiwan is within the internationally recognized borders of China. Crimea was not and is not within the internationally recognized borders of Russia.

    The Chinese are wary of accepting a referendum as the basis of secession. They have explicitly said that much. They granted a special exemption to Crimea based on its “special history,” which is a way of saying that because Russia is their ally. But on principle they didn’t very much like the idea.

    http://tass.com/world/760944

  97. @reiner Tor

    IMO none of this is worth the lifes of thousands of Russians, who were killed in Donbass since 2014. Putin’s restraint is seen as a sign of weakness and only encourages Western pressure on Russia. Putin’s restraint is giving Ukrainians hope that they could actually win, prolonging the conflict.

    I believe entire war could have prevented if back in in February 2014 Putin sent the troops to Kiev to disperse Evromaidan. Get rid of Yanukovich, install some Russian spy as a president, and run the country as a pro-Russian dictatorship. Kill pro-Western politicians.

    Instead Putin always goes for the minimum thing he thinks he could do, which never proves enough. Putin allows the problem to grow, requiring ever growing commitment of resources in order to contain it. When you look at the kind of resources that Russia has deployed in and around Donbass, back in February 2014 it would have been sufficient to install a pro-Russian government in the Ukraine. Now it’s barely enough to deter Ukrainian offensive in Donbass. ‘Barely enough’ appears to be Putin’s M.O. So frustrating!

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  98. @anonymous coward

    A passenger airliner flies at a totally different altitude and with a totally different speed.

    It’s perfectly possible for a military transport plane to be of the same size, altitude, trajectory and speed as a passenger airplane. Of course, the size of an airplane is never clearly visible: you get some vague impression, but it’s easy to mess up. And a military fighter jet is perfectly capable of flying at the same altitude and speed as a passenger airliner. (In fact, the normal cruising speed of a fighter jet is usually similar to that of a passenger airliner – somewhere around 300-500 knots.)

    It’s a complex system that will explain to you what exactly you’re shooting down.

    It will give its expert crews a lot of information, but it requires a high level of expertise to understand the information. Exactly because it’s a highly complex system it’s easy to screw up if you’re untrained, under stress, tired, etc.

  99. @Felix Keverich

    I’m not sure how easy it would’ve been to install a Russian puppet government, but depending on how competently it was done, it might have been easier. For example I think that the annexation of Crimea is a better propaganda point than installing a puppet government would have been. It would probably be easier to accept for the Chinese, who don’t like the idea of a secession by referendum. It might alienate Ukrainian public opinion (in Eastern Ukraine) less. (Though it wouldn’t help with Western Ukrainian public opinion.)

    But of course it would’ve been riskier.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  100. @reiner Tor

    it would’ve been riskier

    Like there could’ve been a large scale civil war in Ukraine, with the pro-Russian side being less motivated, and similar problems. It’s difficult to predict.

  101. @Anatoly Karlin

    Even well trained operators might screw it up occasionally. Apparently the crew of the USS Vincennes believed Iran Air Flight 655 to be a fighter jet just about to attack them. Though their training might not have been perfect, I doubt it was poor.

    • Replies: @Not Raul
  102. utu says:
    @Jayce

    Apparently in Iran the idea that hostage-taking was somehow orchestrated by foreign agency is not uncommon:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/12/into-the-den-of-spies/303639/
    Again, they blame everything on the CIA, including the takeover of the American embassy. The current popular theory is that the whole thing was actually engineered by the CIA to make Iran a pariah nation, which led to all of their troubles ever since.

    Obviously we will never know and will never have a proof this way or another but I am partial to this hypothesis simply on cui bono basis and that it fits the Yinon plan that as publicly spelled out three years later.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  103. @Grahamsno(G64)

    Yes, Pakistan has suffered a lot of sectarian violence between its Sunni and Shia populations thanks to Iran and Saudi Arabia funding proxies in the country. Getting involved in their conflict would cause a civil war which is why the army and parliament refused to send Pakistan’s armed forces in to help Saudi Arabia against the Houthis in Yemen. That massively annoyed Saudi Arabia given how much cash it has doled out to Pakistan over the decades.

  104. @utu

    hostage-taking was somehow orchestrated by foreign agency

    How? By not murdering Khomeini?

  105. Anonymous[405] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ali Choudhury

    In general Indians believe that China will eventually crash because of contradictions due to strongman rule (maybe they are right at least about China now that Xi has tossed away orderly rules of succession) and India will emerge as the world-beating economy and country. The latter part of their prediction we know won’t happen due to the law of HBD.

    This Indian belief in Indian greatness is kindled by the successes of the high caste Hindu in Silicon Valley. As demonstrated by one persistent Indian commentator on isteve, Silicon Valley Indians are overwhelmingly of high caste origins. However, Indians despite being very caste conscious, claim these Indians as Indians in general like white Americans when it comes to tally Olympic medals without really thinking about dis aggregating by race.

    I suspect Indians might have some self-reflective inkling that even with development and education not every Indian has the right stuff like the high caste Hindu. At this stage however admitting that India is not going to turn into a developed country is too early. Indians have too much hope from the momentum in India during the 2000s and from the world class successes of the high caste. So they pursue confrontation against China not because China threatens them but because they think India is going to turn into such a great power that the Chinese could only rationally react by trying to contain India.

    Only the most self-reflective Indian could possibly at this stage admit that China is condescending towards India for real and it will stay this way because India isn’t rising.

  106. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    I can see you are really taking it way too seriously. You are forgetting that all I did was to formulate a hypothesis based on cut bono principle that made sense to me after observing many years later of the unfolding the Yinon plan in the ME, which showed what Israel really wanted in the ME.

    You asked about plausibility and mechanisms to which I pointed to possible provocations by well placed agents which Mossad had plenty of in Iran at that time and then as an afterthought I brought up Mossad’s confession about being asked to terminate Khomeini. Yes, this might be a misinformation, like the part that they regret they did not do it.

    Do you think that I believe that my hypothesis is true? Do you think I want you to believe in it? Neither I or you can prove it or disprove it. But the hypothesis is viable/feasible/plausible. It just requires a little bit of imagination to see it. By not acknowledging it you are putting yourself in position of one who ‘knows’ which is counter-factual. Why were you arguing with me in the first place? It was just a hypothesis that, imo, should remain on the table because it fits the puzzle. You could have said ‘whatever, I do not believe in it’ and there would be no follow up.

    Khomeini probably was not a chief problem as he was in contact with Carter administration of which we have learned recently but he was necessary for revolution to take its course. It was the hostage taking which Khomeini did not embrace right away defined the course of Iran-Amercian relations. Can you imagine that hostage taking was engineered? It would be s simplest thing to pull off. It is a standard operating procedure for agent provocateurs known all over the world to all police forces.

  107. 5371 says:
    @DFH

    And much more reasonable than the yank demands made on Yugoslavia in 1999. So reasonable, in fact, considering the magnitude of the offence, that Serbia would have accepted it in toto had they not been informed that Russia was already taking pre-mobilization measures.

  108. utu says:
    @reiner Tor

    I hope you’ll make your Aliyah just in time, reiner Tor.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  109. @utu

    That was very mean of you. Are you aware that whenever someone exposes me as a Jew, my meager monthly allowance from the Comment Thread Influencing Department of the Mossad is being cut in half for that month? Very bad. :(((

  110. OT

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-22/cartoonist-fired-german-newspaper-over-netanyahu-drawing

    Previously, Hanitzsch had drawn cartoons criticising and insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was defended on the basis of freedom of the press and expression, for his drawings published in the same newspaper.

    LOL

    Unrelated OT

    Last week Sergei Skripal also left the hospital. Even for-the-record forgot to add the link to one of the threads, I think.

  111. @reiner Tor

    To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?

  112. @Mitleser

    This suggests an interesting model for effectively controlling the means of propaganda without eviscerating the 1st amendment (obviously not an issue in China).

    Why pay for a wire service (or copyrighted video content) if you don’t have to?

    I’ve had similar ideas before with respect to race & crime. Police and court reports could be copyrighted. They would be free for people to reuse and republish, but it would be required to publicize the race of the criminal for instance.

    Enemy publications would, at least initially, inevitably screw up and fail to follow the license requirements. Particularly those lower in the food chain without rigorous compliance and editing teams.

    They could then be sued into bankruptcy for the most grievous of all crimes: theft of intellectual property.

    A Singapore approach to the libel of state officials would also be good, though not possible with present common law in America (public officials mostly can’t be libeled anymore).

  113. songbird says:
    @utu

    Might not have been a bad idea for them to have sponsored a children’s cartoon in the US, with limited commercial breaks, all about how Iran loves American children, and about US and Iranian forces working together GI Joe-style with the latest American military equipment. Of course, that would have doubtlessly been impossible, if they had once expressed some anti-Israeli sentiment, even for domestic consumption only.

    Any oil country below Russian-tier ought to have a department of kiss-assery. IMO, if OPEC had been smart, they would have tried to seriously challenge the US dollar when the US was embroiled in Vietnam.

    If one had their heart set on a false flag operation, infiltrating college-age radicals and stirring them up would probably would probably be the cleverest way to go about it. As it is, I think it was a case of rhetoric setting policy. Interesting contrast to China’s earlier “empty cannons of rhetoric”, which did not seem to interfere with US-China relations in the long term.

    • Replies: @utu
  114. @Daniel Chieh

    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
  115. E says:
    @Mr. Hack

    I think Putin’s original intent was made clear… back when he requested the Donbass NOT to hold their independence referendum (it’s funny how long ago that seems today…). Generally speaking, I’ve found that the best way to figure out Putin’s intent is simply to listen to what he actually says. (far too few people seem to do that, even though it has pretty good predictive power)

    Another point: Strelkov, “DPR Defence Minister”, has been shut out of mainstream media since he returned to Russia and has become more and more of an open anti-Putin dissident. There were also those reports that before Strelkov fled Slavyansk and entered Donetsk, Donetsk had been completely unprepared for a war because there was a deal being made behind the scenes (with Akhmetov) to hand the city (and the whole area) over to Ukraine without a fight. It was Strelkov who put a stop to those plans, and that wasn’t Putin’s idea. On the contrary, Putin made him step down from his position and leave the Donbass as soon as it became possible.

    As for why the war escalated, I think that’s because there was such a widespread belief in Russia that there was going to be a massacre of Russian-speakers (everybody had heard those slogans that were being yelled out at Maidan rallies, seen the absolutely visceral hatred and contempt that many Ukrainians had for them — before even any conflict had begun — and seen what had happened in Odessa). It became something that Putin could not stop, or do so only at huge political cost to himself; instead, he did his best to rein it in, much to the annoyance of many. Another point is that so many of the famous Russian Donbass fighters & commanders were assassinated in relative peacetime, away from the front lines. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen when the “centre” is fully in support of the fight. Sure, maybe it was “Plotnitsky’s goons” – but it says a lot that Plotnitsky wasn’t removed after the first or second incident.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    , @Mr. Hack
  116. @Daniel Chieh

    Germany isn’t ruled by Jews though, even if one isn’t a philosemite that would be difficult to claim. It’s more that accusing others of antisemitism (usually on bizarre grounds, like so-called “secondary” antisemitism, since genuine antisemitism is hardly present in public discourse) is a favorite sport for many Germans. Maybe somewhat similar to virtue-signaling about anti-black racism in the US.

  117. LondonBob says:
    @E

    Yep, I think Putin got overtaken by events. At which point he should have given more support and quicker, or after Illoviask have taken Mariupol. I expect cutting Russia off from SWIFT and harsher sanctions were used as a deterrent though. Russia has certainly implemented processes to counteract such eventualities since.

    • Replies: @E
  118. utu says:
    @songbird

    There are limits to PR. If you are a designated villain you are not allowed to do any PR. Look at Russia and Skripal affair. After the embassy hostage-taking Iran could do nothing though it has been observed that US media went overboard which brings the question whether inflaming the issue and severing relations for good was the real objective. If the US wanted to have better relations with Iran it was still possible. Apparently the objective was to keep Iran down and out.

    I agree that “infiltrating college-age radicals” should not be too difficult.

    • Replies: @random rand
  119. @reiner Tor

    Last week Sergei Skripal also left the hospital. Even for-the-record forgot to add the link to one of the threads, I think.

    Sorry, been a bit derelict of late.

    Purported mother of poisoned Russian spy speaks out

    Russian state TV has interviewed a woman it claims to be the mother of a former Russian spy poisoned in Britain . . .

    Russia’s Channel One on Monday showed an interview with the woman it said was Sergei Skripal’s mother. The woman said she has not talked to her son since he was hospitalized and appealed for British authorities to allow Skripal to give her a call.

    “I haven’t seen my son in 14 years. I want to meet him, I want to hold him tight close to my heart,” the woman said in the interview, wiping away tears. “I’m 90, and I don’t pose a danger to anyone.”

    Skripal’s mother has not spoken in public before, and the British authorities have never mentioned her. The Russian embassy last month mentioned that Skripal’s cousin takes care of his elderly mother.

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/purported-mother-poisoned-russian-spy-speaks-55345116

  120. Dmitry says:
    @German_reader

    It’s the same in Russia – i.e. people go to jail, in quite ridiculous trials, for insulting other nationalities, including not just Jews, but various other nationalites as well.

    In human history, almost all societies require different styles of speech which are said to be unacceptable, and result in a severe punishment. These are not necessarily anything directly insulting your rulers, although they may sometimes be things which threaten some common narratives that in a decentralized way people all sense as organizing principles of the herd.

    (Well the idea of ‘free-speech’ is something extremely recent, and a product of very advanced civilization).

    The actual content of prohibited speech which is punished can vary widely, even in a couple of decades changing. It seems more that the formation of a herd requires itself existence of a boundary line in speech that results in ostracization from the herd.

    The current one based around insulting of national minorities seems to be quite a simple, compared to some e.g. ostracization for questioning complex theological concepts, or for disputing assumptions of Marx’s doctrine of historical materialism.

    The content is not steady at all though, and rapidly changing. You can already see in America a shift in the last few years, to ‘transgender people’ as a new protected icon. Transgender people are not ruling America, but perhaps they symbolize some aspect of American ideology (that you can transform yourself and become anything, however ridiculous).

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Mitleser
  121. utu says:
    @German_reader

    Germany isn’t ruled by Jews though

    But the Zeitgeist is Jewish in which Jews rule. From the Zeitgeist you decode intentions of real or imaginary rulers and act accordingly. It is even possible that the real Jews have nothing to do with the Zeitgeist.

  122. @Dmitry

    Transgender people are not ruling America, but perhaps they symbolize some aspect of American ideology (that you can transform yourself and become anything, however ridiculous).

    That’s an interesting idea, I hadn’t thought of it like that before.
    I’m mostly against hate speech laws, in Western Europe they are enforced selectively and merely serve to suppress dissent against mass immigration (e.g. in Germany there was a case in which some national-minded Turk had called Germans a Köterrasse - a race of dogs -, he was acquitted since the court didn’t recognise Germans as a specific group against which hatred could be incited).
    If I understand AK correctly, Russian laws, while still ridiculous, are at least enforced more equally.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  123. E says:
    @LondonBob

    Supposedly the decision to not take Mariupol was because the water lines run through Donetsk to Mariupol. If they had taken Mariupol, Ukraine would have cut off the water to the entire region; as it was, they couldn’t do it because Mariupol’s water (which they control) would have been cut as well.

    I wonder if Donetsk’s water STILL comes from the enemy side?

    Also, Putin has stated before that Ukraine’s role as a gas transit country will likely come to an end. I think he is trying his best to freeze the conflict until the current contract runs out in 2019, and Nord Stream II goes online. After that, Ukraine’s economy, and its position, will get worse, because it will no longer be a near-monopolist. He seems to want to bring Ukraine back through economics, just like with Turkey.

    • Replies: @5371
  124. @German_reader

    Well, at the very least, people are sometimes imprisoned for promoting hate against Russians (e.g. the old case of Boris Stomakhin).

  125. @inertial

    Most probable scenario, if Ukraine tries to retake Donbass. “Raison de etre” for Donbass is to keep Ukraine out of NATO, which has a statute that forbids countries with territorial disputes to join in. Territorial disputes are Russias way of vetoing NATO membership.

    If Ukraine managed to retake Donbass, it would sooner or later join NATO, thus eliminating Russias strategic buffer against the US. The escalation ladder after that is even less pleasant for Russia than what comes after invading Donbass under whatever pretext.

    • Replies: @AP
  126. 5371 says:
    @E

    The other explanation was that Mariupol was not taken to keep the tacit cooperation of Rinat Akhmetov, whose companies depended on it to export, but who never did make up his mind which side he was on, and whose empire ended up dwindling away in any case.

  127. Mr. Hack says:
    @E

    Thanks for your cogent reply. The second part of my question had to do with Putin’s end game in Donbas. Any more thoughts on the subject?

  128. @German_reader

    I use the notion loosely – but I believe that awareness of the harm principle is significant here, as in who can cause you immediate and meaningful harm. In that sense, your immediate boss probably rules you as well, if he can fire you and thereby cause substantial difficulty in your life; in the same, any class of people who are so immensely privileged that speaking out against them essentially is committing lese majeste and results in immediate backlash on yourself could be said to rule you because they do, in fact, have power over you. Members of such privileged classes are well aware of this – certainly in the US among the so-called sexual minorities and women, who will actively seek to find fault to utilize against individuals they find as dislikeable(Jordan Peterson’s regular hit pieces by eager members of the Zeitgeist, for example, which seek to analyze the minute details of his lessons to find something to blacklist him somehow, someday).

    It feels to me that one of the most human things to do is to complain: if you cannot even complain about something, it is a substantial concession of one’s rights and acknolwedgment of the power of a third party over oneself.

  129. utu says:

    one of the most human things to do is to complain

    Oh sure, Comrade, you can complain. All you need to do is to file a special form and the Office of Constructive Complaints and Suggestions will get in touch with you.

  130. Mitleser says:
    @Dmitry

    Transgender people are not ruling America, but perhaps they symbolize some aspect of American ideology (that you can transform yourself and become anything, however ridiculous).

    Transhumanism is worth supporting, Transgenderism is not.

  131. songbird says:
    @German_reader

    I wonder how much of it is simply people LARPing the government – the perceived center of power and natural object of worship for some.

    Of course, when Germany was occupied, there was a strong de-nazification campaign. The swastika was effectively banned, and I recall being surprised both at this fact (very strange to an American) and seeing what seemed to exactly follow from this: a 14 y.o. girl who had a patch on her schoolbag of swastika inside a red circle backslash symbol.

    Many of the denazifiers were German Jews. They influenced practically everything. There were personal sanctions against people who had been Nazis, which others gained from. It became part of the rhetorical power dynamic, just as in Iran one must say certain things to attain political power. All media was censored: press, radio, and arts. Besides which, how much of that comes direct from Hollywood, anyway? There was undoubtedly a legacy which was created. And all these things lean Left to start with, so it was self-perpetuating.

    The other thing I’d add is that I believe people on the Left like play-acting. There is kind of a stolen valor about pretending to be an anti-Nazi, more than 70 years after they lost power.

  132. @songbird

    The swastika was effectively banned

    It’s sometimes even removed from pictures of German aircraft in magazines about WW2 aviation.
    You’ll also get prosecuted for showing the Nazi salute…and intent doesn’t matter.
    It’s pretty bizarre when one remembers that even some quite high-ranking Nazi perpetrators effectively never were punished in the federal republic.

    There is kind of a stolen valor about pretending to be an anti-Nazi

    Resistance in Germany against the Nazis is definitely increasing with distance in time from 1945, lol.
    The left (and not just them, “conservatives” are no better) in Germany is really exploiting the Nazi issue to the max and using it to push through their mass immigration/multiculturalism agenda. If you’re right-wing and object, you’re basically a Nazi, to be stigmatized and shunned by “decent” people. And it’s gotten markedly worse over the last 25 years or so (I don’t think something like the events from 2015 onwards would have been possible like that in the 1990s). Germany today is an “antifascist” state where a large part of the “elites” subordinates everything to a fight against alleged right-wing extremists.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @Mitleser
  133. @Kinez

    you lying Serb:

    Princep was a member of a 22-man death squad sent across the border by the Serbian Black Hand terror machine, itself a creature of the Russian and French Secret Services. France and Russia being, of course, the principal instigators of WW1….with (((Rothschild))) banksters pulling wires on them.

    let me give you some good advice:

    abandon your Pan-Slav dreams. They always end in a vast nightmare.

    • Replies: @Kinez
  134. AP says:
    @Frederic Bastiat

    If Ukraine actually gets to the point of joining NATO, and the claims upon the Donbas republics prevent it from doing so, it will declare Donbas no longer part of Ukraine in exchange for joining NATO.

    • Replies: @Gerard2
    , @Frederic Bastiat
  135. @German_reader

    You’ll also get prosecuted for showing the Nazi salute…and intent doesn’t matter.

    e.g. this:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/world/europe/nazi-salute-reichstag-chinese-tourists.html

    • Replies: @songbird
  136. songbird says:
    @German_reader

    Wow, that’s crazy! Could that even happen to two German tourists in China? Not anything proportionate, at least. Not from a hand gesture – I am pretty sure.

    My impression of the Chinese is that they show tolerance for tourists. I heard the story of a lady who accidentally dropped her umbrella among the terracotta warriors in the pit. She was chased down – so the policeman could hand her back her umbrella.

    Another way that it seems so strange is that symbols of communism are tolerated. True in America, as well. Though it is technically legal to wear a swastika, almost nobody is stupid enough to do it because they would meet with repercussions. I’ve seen guys wearing the hammer and sickle – no repercussions.

  137. Gerard2 says:
    @AP

    [MORE]

    If Ukraine actually gets to the point of joining NATO, and the claims upon the Donbas republics prevent it from doing so, it will declare Donbas no longer part of Ukraine in exchange for joining NATO.

    You do know about Crimea ,right? you stupid prick. …and what gives a useless fuckedup random POS as you any sort of authority to decided what the Ukrainian authorities would or wouldn;t do?….you’ve shown all the time you know pretty much nothing about Ukraine politics and history or anything. Georgia ( a struggling but still much better country than Ukraine) and NATO would actually be in a much worse position if they accepted Abkhazia independence and absorption into Russia of South Ossetia you cretin

    • Replies: @AP
  138. @utu

    There are limits to PR. If you are a designated villain you are not allowed to do any PR.

    Exactly. The US media isn’t some organic creation that panders to the sentiment of the public. USG sets its foreign policy objectives and then dictates to the media to come up with narratives to convince the public to support the USG’s foreign policy objectives. If USG can bury the hatchet with al Qaeda in Syria and get the media to tell everyone that the rebels were “moderate”, I’m sure it can make Iran look good if it wanted to. The idea that USG is hostile towards Iran due to public sentiment over the hostage crisis which happened 40 years ago is silly.

    • Agree: utu
  139. AP says:
    @Gerard2

    ou’ve shown all the time you know pretty much nothing about Ukraine

    Says the guy who proudly “proved” that Polish is a Russian dialect :-)

  140. @songbird

    I remember being bewildered when in Wolfenstein, a game of shooting up Nazis, was censored in Germany because they had swastikas on the Nazis that you were killing.

    • LOL: songbird
  141. Anon[409] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ali Choudhury

    Why are Indian commentators so annoying and boring in their topics? I thought they have high verbal IQ.

  142. Kinez says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    Princep was a member of a 22-man death squad sent across the border by the Serbian Black Hand terror machine, itself a creature of the Russian and French Secret Services. France and Russia being, of course, the principal instigators of WW1….with (((Rothschild))) banksters pulling wires on them.

    Interesting theory. Any evidence to support it? It’s pretty clear from the historical record that Austria and Germany instigated the First World War. A miscalculation, but there you are.

    The assassins were all from Bosnia or Herzegovina, territory that Austria claimed as its own. Young Bosnia wasn’t even exclusively Orthodox Serb, it had quite a few Roman Catholic and Muslim members. Their Yugoslav ideology was ultimately misguided, but it certainly doesn’t take much to see why Austria’s Serb and Serbian-speaking population might have preferred to share a state with their relatives in the Kingdom of Serbia, rather than be ruled by Vienna. Even the Magyars weren’t ecstatic about their position within the Dual Monarchy, let alone all the other groups.

    let me give you some good advice:

    abandon your Pan-Slav dreams. They always end in a vast nightmare.

    Happily for you I have no pan-Slavic dreams. Even my much more modest pan-Serb dreams don’t necessarily entail the union of all Serb states.

    • Replies: @AP
  143. Not Raul says:
    @German_reader

    Bolton’s end game for Iran is genocide. Amalek must die.

    Demand 10 is slander. Iran doesn’t support Al Qaeda. In fact, Israel has been supporting Jundallah, an Al Qaeda affiliate. Iran should demand that Bolton stop swapping child sex-slaves with Bibi. Such a demand would be no more (and possibly much less) slanderous than demand 10.

  144. Mikel says:
    @AP

    Experience shows that if Ukraine decides to launch an offensive in Donbass, it can count on the support of the Western powers and the “international community”, who will actually blame Russia for the “escalation”. So why not try to throw a wrench at the Russian World Cup?

    Besides, the US-EU rift is widening and the new Italian government coalition is calling for an end to Russian sanctions. This could potentially trigger a rebellion of the less influential but equally unenthusiastic members of the EU wrt those sanctions (Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary,…). To me this looks as good a time as it gets for Ukraine to have another try at carving a new piece of Donbass. Whatever weapons they’re building, they can’t seriously hope them to make any difference in the future, when Russia will no longer have the handicap of the World Cup and Europe may have become much less supportive.

    Speaking of which, it’s difficult to understand how miserable the lives of civilians in the vicinity of Gorlovka and other places along the “contact line” has been allowed to become. 5-6 fatalities in the few past days and nobody cares. If instead of being located in Europe, they lived in Gaza, Aleppo or Goutha, their fate might not change much but at least they wouldn’t be ignored so blatantly.

    • Replies: @AP
  145. El Dato says:

    If it’s not good enough, let’s just make shit up, it worked so far:

    Pompeo Accuses Iran of ‘Assassination Operations’ in Europe –
    Allegation ‘Unlikely to Be True’ Say Experts

    Very heavy theater detected:

    Security Cabinet starts convening in underground bunker

    My bet is on war for the Shmuels by July.

    Furthermore, in the Land of No Shame: Israel now demands cash instead of warcrap presents:

    Israeli MPs Push Trump to Let Them Use Military Aid on Non-US Equipment: Finance Committee says 22,000 Israeli jobs at stake

  146. I think Iran should accept all the demands on the condition that the US government and its prominent members stop their involvement in child sex trafficking and child pornography and allow Iranian inspectors unlimited access to their computers and smartphones to verify that.

    • Agree: melanf
    • LOL: utu
    • Replies: @Not Raul
  147. Mitleser says:
    @German_reader

    The left (and not just them, “conservatives” are no better) in Germany is really exploiting the Nazi issue to the max and using it to push through their mass

    They are the the opposite of the nationalist German elites who enabled Nazism.
    Except that their extremism enables and supports the anti-Germans and anti-right.

    Kind of like Sweden and Canada went from one extremity into another.

    And it’s gotten markedly worse over the last 25 years or so (I don’t think something like the events from 2015 onwards would have been possible like that in the 1990s).

    1990s were the last (full) decade of the German nation state.

    Then came the dark times, then came die Der Bevölkerung (“To the population”) replacing Dem Deutschen Volke (“To the German people”).

    It was not just a symbolic change.
    The German national currency disappeared, ius soli returned into the German nationality law, the European project got a quasi-constitution, etc.

  148. The Kulak says:
    @Mightypeon

    Concur with this assessment of the reasons for the limited Russian intervention. While I don’t doubt Anatoly’s assessment that the UAF have grown more competent compared to 2014, I see such competency mostly in active defense and dispersing their artillery enough with multiple infantry manned layers to stop a LDNR offensive, not to execute a combined arms offensive of their own to isolate Donetsk and Lugansk (since just like last time the UAF tried, the presumption was they’d be able to avoid house to house fighting or at least tell their men that).

    Anatoly has a tendency to wildly overrate one aspect of Western and Israeli war making, and that is the willingness to take casualties when it’s no longer just a question of launching standoff missiles at Syrians. Ukraine with its 12-15,000 combat deaths largely covered up thanks to the complicity of the US/UK press covering the war and accepting Kiev’s ridiculous figures of maybe a third of the real number is the exception that proves the rule. But since Donetsk and Luhansk are urban terrain merely having the capacity to pour more men into a breach in the lines is not as mic an advantage as say it would’ve been in WW2, because of the greater firepower of modern small arms / grenade launchers and artillery compared to then and the inability of the UAF to achieve more than tactical surprise.

    Plus there’s the revenge factor, if ‘Wagner’ really lost dozens if not the phantom hundreds of guys slaughtered by US air and artillery strikes in Syria, would their comrades pass on the chance with a few ‘vacationer’ arty operators in Donetsk to light up any UAF behind the frontlines position they detected encrypted NATO issue radio bursts from or the DNR intel sources said had a few Canuck or Balt observers? I think not even if the Empire doesn’t care how many dead UAF boys it takes to force Putin into overt intervention during the World Cup it does care about GRU directed DNR infiltrators machine gunning a group of Canadian or Danish officers walking out of a restaurant in Mariupol after evaluating the first day’s ‘success’ of Operation Ukro-Storm.

  149. @AP

    Highly unlikely. It would the signal that Ukraines territorial integrity is negotiable (esp. that NATO membership has a higher value, which is absurd); besides being politically unfeasable.

    • Replies: @AP
  150. AP says:
    @Mikel

    Experience shows that if Ukraine decides to launch an offensive in Donbass, it can count on the support of the Western powers and the “international community”, who will actually blame Russia for the “escalation”. So why not try to throw a wrench at the Russian World Cup?

    If the price is going to be Russian air strikes all over Ukraine, Ukraine will not launch an all-out attack. Any EU/American reaction would not be worth such a price. Which is why without some backchannel expression of acquiescence from Russia, I doubt Ukraine will try to seize those territories. So if the invasion happens, I suspect Russia will do nothing. Like giving Savchenko to Ukraine but 1,000 times worse, Donbas’ capture would be a troublesome gift for Ukraine.

    I think that, at most, there will be more escalation than usual, perhaps taking a town or two, given that the Russian preoccupation with the World Cup will leave Ukraine a greater window for such actions.

  151. AP says:
    @Frederic Bastiat

    Maybe. The territory has already been lost de facto. Ukraine is not close to actually joining NATO now so it’s not an issue currently. If the time comes, I doubt the Ukrainian state (or people) will reward Russia further for removing this territory from Ukraine by denying itself NATO membership. The idea that Russia has scored a double victory by vetoing NATO membership through support for Donbas does not seem very realistic.

  152. AP says:
    @Kinez

    Interesting theory. Any evidence to support it? It’s pretty clear from the historical record that Austria and Germany instigated the First World War. A miscalculation, but there you are.

    The consensus is that elements of the Serbian state organized and were responsible for the assassination. That’s the current mainstream view, reflected in for example wiki:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Archduke_Franz_Ferdinand#Preliminaries

    Given the fact that elements of the Serbian government were responsible for the assassination on Austro-Hungarian soil of Austria-Hungary’s future ruler (and his wife), the demands made upon Serbia were quite reasonable. Indeed, making no demands and declaring war would have also been reasonable.

    It is very shameful that Russia backed this regicidal regime and its actions. If one were inclined towards blasphemy, would would say there was some sort of cruel and tragic justice that the head of the state that went to war to protect a regicidal regime from the fate it deserved was himself the victim of regicide.

    • Replies: @Mikhail
  153. Not Raul says:
    @reiner Tor

    That’s actually a brilliant idea.

    You couldn’t possibly be Tor from Elendil’s forum, could you? A brilliant chap he.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  154. Not Raul says:
    @reiner Tor

    Maybe they were tired, cranky, and didn’t give a damn.

  155. @Not Raul

    You couldn’t possibly be Tor from Elendil’s forum

    I don’t even know what’s Elendil’s forum…

  156. Mikhail says: • Website
    @AP

    The Habsburgites provoked the situation in Bosnia, leading to WW I. Regrettable that Germany very willingly came out in support of Austria-Hungary. WW I proved to be a most regrettable occurrence, which greatly paved the way for Communism and Nazism.

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