Beyond the Cusp

March 19, 2014

Where is Our Winston Churchill Now That We Need Him?

Sir Winston Churchill over his years in military and public service identified three preeminent threats to the Western World. His most obvious and best known threat was, of course, Adolph Hitler and the Nazi threat to Europe and the world. Churchill was ridiculed and driven from Parliament being accused of being an old and befuddled warmonger for his incessant warnings about the threat posed by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. When the eventual truth was revealed when the Nazis invaded Poland after taking Austria and Czechoslovakia leading to World War II and Britain demanding the crazy old Churchill come and save them. The first warning came from one of Churchill’s earliest of writings when he was stationed in the Sudan where he named Islam which he identified as existing such that “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.” He further observed Islam to be a “militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step.” The last one came during the twilight of his career in a speech given on March 5, 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri which became known for the phrase he coined during that speech, the “Iron Curtain.” The phrase came near the middle of the speech when he stated, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere.” Where just a few weeks back if one were to name the main threat facing the Western World and world peace the selection would have likely included Iran near the top of the list followed by China and North Korea. That includes the remaining two threats identified by Winston Churchill and recent events have brought an addition to the list of threats as Russia has taken on expansionism by annexing the Crimea Peninsula taking it from the Ukraine by force. That brings to the front the menace Churchill had referred to in his “Iron Curtain” speech. The continuing veracity of the dire warnings and protestations in our time ring as echoes from the wise words of a great spokesman and leader who did not rise to fulfill his destiny until late in his life, but without the doddering old fool that was driven from the British Parliament where would out modern world be today? And worse, what would it look like had the British Isles not been under Churchill’s steadfast leadership and raw nerves of steel and resolute never say die attitude which gave a small set of islands the backbone to withstand the furies of hell unleashed by the Nazi war machine.


Now that I have likely proven that I find Winston Churchill to be one of the greatest men in all of history and the defining leader of the twentieth century, could somebody please point me to who might possibly fill similar shoes today when we once again have a world under duress from threats coming from all directions. Everyone is concerned with the awakened and ill-tempered Russian bear from its hibernation and stretching its paws towards Europe once again taking the Crimean Peninsula from a weakened and in disarray Ukraine which was defenseless against the invading force, a mere force of 6,000 troops, though there had been more than sufficient reserves should they have proven necessary. But the growls of the Russian bear are far from the only threat and may have some stiff competition from other nations which have also taken advantage of a world with a weak United States which has taken a noninterventionist foreign policy believing that if the United States took a passive and altruistic approach the world would appreciate the kinder, softer, hands-off policies giving nations the breathing room to act without the United States pressing them on their agendas and actions. We saw this more accepting approach with the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program where the United States forced an agreement which allowed Iran great amounts of wiggle-room with the belief that by respecting Iran and trusting their stated intentions that such trust would produce a willing and cooperative Iran and that respectful trust would produce an Iran which would eschew the pursuit of nuclear weapons. When the Chinese government declared an increase in their maritime borders in the South China Seas which included within their claimed waters where two Islands claimed and recognized generally as belonging to Japan, the United States instructed all civilian airlines and ships to respect the Chinese extended boundary and contact the Chinese as requested should they be transgressing the waters or airspace now within an extended China. To Washington’s credit, there was one pass made by United States naval vessels without requesting clearance from the Chinese, but these ships did simply pass through the waters and did not linger or otherwise really challenge the Chinese claims and demands. But the United States has shown far more than a more passive approach in the world and what has become obvious is far more troubling than being more passive and less imposing of United States policy in the world.


In so many cases the United States passivity regarding foreign policy would have been welcome compared to their spineless and timid approach to the real threats, actual attacks on personnel and unfolding conflicts we have seen all around the world. There was the constant retreating “red line” concerning Syrian use of chemical weapons until the United States had pretty much red lined itself backwards completely out of the picture. After allowing United States President Obama to squirm and be shown as the paper threat he is sufficiently long enough that the entire world was shown the reality that there is no United States force to be feared, then Russian President Putin saved the day by providing President Obama an exit from his cornered position but by doing so installed Russia as the preeminent power and only real super power which was willing to use their available military capabilities and forces. There was the crisis in Benghazi where the United States Ambassador to Libya along with one of the embassy assistants along with two former Navy Seals who without orders proved to have more presence of applied force than the entire remainder of United States military force as no orders to engage in rescue, and possibly an actual bonafide stand-down order, were ever given to the numerous military assets which were within the general theater and available. About the one foreign policy that has any force from President Obama has been to the detriment of almost every former ally of the United States throughout the Middle East, especially Israel and Egypt.


The latest threat the world is struggling to get a grip on is Russian forces under orders from President Putin taking control over the Crimean Peninsula and possibly posing an immediate threat to the rest of the Ukraine. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a moment of unprecedented clarity compared President Putin’s aggressions including their occupation of the two provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia in 2008 and the ongoing invasion of Crimea to the occupations of Czechoslovakia and Austria before they then invaded Poland forcing the start of World War II. There are some, including former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who firmly believe that Russia and Putin are not anywhere near finished and will be satisfied with just Crimea and possibly not even with taking the Ukraine as well. One truth that is obvious is that Russia will not simply settle with annexing Crimea as there is no actual land bridge between Russia and Crimea without crossing over the Ukrainian borders. This will require that the Russians also take control of at least a fair share of eastern Ukraine and if Putin is going to have to take the risks and have to actually militarily acquire any part of the Ukraine, especially as the Ukrainian military is readying their defense of the remainder of their country, then he will simply continue until he had completely defeated the Ukrainian military in order to assure that they would not pose a threat in the future and in the process annex the rest of the Ukraine. It would be difficult to judge which former Russian leader who used military force on the Ukraine and its people Putin most resembles, Catherine the Great or Stalin, except that I believe I remember an interview with President Putin where he spoke of his admiration for the strong leadership that was Stalin. The real question is will President Putin be satisfied with just the Ukraine or will knowing that he has a free hand to take as much as he desires and not expect any resistance from the United States and realizing that he has Europe cowed as he holds control over the gas and oil they require to survive.


If President Putin, Vlad the Invader, is really chomping at the bit to reassemble the Warsaw Pact nations under Russian rule and reverse what Vlad the Invader refers to as the greatest calamity of the twentieth century, the fall of the Soviet Union, then we should try and come up with what would be his most likely order of attack. The first three plums Vlad the Invader would likely take after he pockets the Ukraine without arousing any real opposition would be Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These three nations are ripe fruit just sitting there ready for Vlad the Invader to pluck and would likely take well under a week. Beyond these three Vlad the Invader will be pretty much out of easy pickings and his next move would probably prove to be more problematic. It is anybody’s guess whether an invasion of Belarus would prompt a response from the rest of the world. It is quite possible that even if the rest of the world sits shaking in their boots that Poland and likely Romania would take such a move very ominously as a direct threat to their security. Rumania would realize that if Russia under the rule of Vlad the Invader were to absorb Belarus, then Moldova would not pose much of an impediment to Vlad the Invader preventing him from opening a front to take Rumania next. If the world decides to avoid taking real and forceful measures to force Vlad the Invader to return to just simply President Putin before he decides to invade Poland, then the world would begin World War III for the exact same reasons that it responded to both German, and what many forget, Russian encroachment, dividing up Poland between Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin’s Russia starting World War II. The question is, once this domino theory of Russian reconquest of the former Soviet dominated states, will another power also begin to exercise their military might which they have been expanding and building over the last decade to satisfy their expansive desires and ally with Russia just as Imperial Japan allied with Nazi Germany. The state in mind is Iran which has threatened Israel and the United States but has closer and more immediate desires sitting right off its borders; namely the oil fields right next door in northeast Saudi Arabia. Iran and Russia are already fairly close allies and such a united front would make sense as both Iran and Russia have designs on gaining more control over oil. How far will Vlad the Invader go and will it take actual military confrontation to end his expansionism or will it continue and also spur Iran to act on their expansionist designs. This is already boding ill, how much further will these threats go, how will they end, and will it take a new Winston Churchill to make the defiant stand and who would this new Winston Churchill be; those are the big questions and fears.


Beyond the Cusp


March 4, 2014

Ukraine Russian Threat Beyond Obama’s Pay Grade

Russia is injecting troops and full compliments of armor, artillery and other ground support into the Crimean Peninsula with full air support wings sitting just over the border in Russia. The nascent government in the Ukraine has called up the entirety of their reserves and are pleading that those who signed treaties with the Ukraine and Russia throughout the 1990s and guaranteed Ukrainian independence to now honor their commitment. The main guarantors were the United Kingdom and the United States, neither of which are currently in any position or have the ready capability of honoring that commitment. Still, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are both making desperate statements which Russian President Putin will disregard as he knows from the past lack of fortitude and actions in backing his words by President Obama after Benghazi and throughout the chemical weapons use fiasco in Syria that the United States has as its Commander in Chief a spineless squirrelly indolent childlike leader who only knows how to give a great speech and even then only if the teleprompter provides the words. Putin is likely enjoying a hearty laugh as he watches President Obama attempting to sound threatening and earnest as he bellows threats in a futile attempt to stay the Russian military from rolling over the Ukraine submitting it once again to Moscow’s will. Putin is acting with a lack of concern or regard for the sputtering of both Obama and Kerry taking advantage of that more flexibility that Medvedev relayed as the promise from the American President.


Putin knows full well that he has a green light to do as he pleases with the Ukraine completely sure that the Western powers have no taste for a military action any more today than they had when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier signed away Czechoslovakia to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938 as they also were not prepared for a war or preventing German aggressions. Now we have Great Britain and the United States along with the rest of the Western powers making vacant threats sounded with trembling voices that betray their hope against hope that their bluffs will not be called. President Obama does not even realize that he resembles a small child standing in the kiddie pool while drawing lines in the water and screaming threats at the bigger kids swimming in the main pool. Putin realizes he is looking at what resembles a clown more than a leader of a nation which still has the abilities and potential of a world leading power if only those in the seats of power had any real convictions. Putin has won and the Ukraine is standing alone and that will prove to be a sad affair.


Putin said he would agree to a proposal from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to set up a contact group on Ukraine. Angela Merkel made this proposal in a telephone conversation Sunday evening. She has also been quoted as having “accused the Russian president of violating international law with the unacceptable Russian intervention in Crimea.” The reality is that President Putin is simply taking advantage of the situation and weakness in the Ukraine after months of unrest and years of misrule that weakened the Ukraine making it a prime target for the next step in the reassembling of the old Soviet empire. This was part of the reasoning behind the Russian military action against their former state of Georgia where the Russians took control over the two northern provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Now the Russians have taken at a minimum the entirety of the Crimean Peninsula and stands poised to take control of at least the eastern Russian speaking lands of the Ukraine. The new government in the Ukraine has bravely, even if foolishly, they will not stand for the Russian invasion of their nation. Expect Russia to claim that they are simply working to reestablish the rightfully elected leader, President Viktor Yushchenko, back into power and assist in subduing the illegally imposed government. Anybody believing such complete deceptive dishonesty will also believe that the Russian aid to Syria is simply to support the duly elected leader Bashir al-Assad. Granted any comparison of Bashir al-Assad and Viktor Yushchenko is a long stretch but the use of supporting such oppressive leadership by Russia in order to sustain their puppet governments is exactly the same. We are watching the rebirth of the Russian empire, either the Czarist Empire or, more accurately, the Soviet Empire. The big question is, where will Putin turn his attentions next and how far will Putin go to reestablish the Warsaw Pact and reestablish Russian hegemony over the entirety of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Will the world once again sit still while Putin and Russia swallow nation after nation subjugating hundreds of millions of people and only stand in defiance when Russia invades Poland? We have seen this situation once before in recent history and it inevitably led to the greatest carnage and sacrifice of blood, treasure and civility in all of human history. Will the world stand to stop Putin and end his designs to reestablish a Russian European and Asian Empire early when it might not be as costly or will the world once again wait until the possibility that all efforts will fail as the allied efforts almost failed to stop the spread of Nazi Germany and Empire of Japan in World War II. How many will be sacrificed in the coming war, be it over a hungry Russia swallowing her neighbors or an atomic weapons armed Iran spreading its tentacles wrapping up all of the Middle East oilfields and spreading terrorist attacks worldwide.


Beyond the Cusp


March 2, 2014

Russia and Ukraine Face-Off

A face-off between Russia and the Ukraine would have been more welcomed on the ice at the Olympics in Sochi a few weeks back. Instead the world is facing a heated and anxious situation as Russian troops have entered the port city of Sevastopol, Ukraine which serves as the home port for both the Ukrainian Navy and the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Russians are claiming these troops are within agreed upon levels by treaties they have with the Ukraine and have nothing to do with the recent changes in the Ukrainian governance. For obvious reasons, the new government in Kiev is viewing this other than normal infusion of Russian troops in the areas of the Ukraine populated largely by Russians who were placed there by Stalin during his rule over the Soviet Union. A underlying level of animosity has existed between the Russian and native Ukrainian population which has only intensified as a result of what those Ukrainians who feel a close affinity to Russia feel has been an illegal coup by those who have recently claimed to have replaced the former government of President Viktor Yanukovych after months of protests. Further aggravating what is definitely a delicate situation are the rumors that the Russians are also providing a safe haven for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who has yet to actually fully accept and acquiesce to the fact that there is a new governance going to be elected come May 25th unless something alters the current situation.


United States President Obama has expressed concern and warnings to Russian President Putin not to interfere with the “natural progression” currently evolving in Kiev and across the Ukraine. It is highly doubtful that President Putin will be anything other than mildly amused by President Obama issuing warnings as he has had more than enough experiences with the United States President’s Red-Lines. This begs the question why President Putin would only send in a limited force and whether the restraint is due to modest goals or a test to discern what the reactions will be from the rest of the world. Our guess doubts that Putin cares one whit about how the rest of the world, the United Nations included, will react to his placing troops in the Russian areas of the Ukraine. What is far more likely is Putin is only interested in the safety of the southern port at Sevastopol, Ukraine which allows for the Russian entrance to the Mediterranean Sea and from there the Atlantic Ocean and through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean and beyond. There are more than sufficient Russian reserve troops poised on the Ukrainian border along with a fleet of aircraft should a larger assault prove necessary. The fact that the Russian presence is limited in both scope and numbers and basically simply holding two airports in the eastern and southern regions and the port city of Sevastopol, one is led to believe that the Russians are simply protecting critical infrastructure and military infrastructure and may have no intent to challenge the evolving politics in the Ukraine. On the other hand, we may be witnessing the first stages of a repeat of the Russian intervention into Georgian Republic where Russian military forces took by force the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations similar to the eastern and southern areas of the Ukraine.


The responses available to the nascent leadership in Kiev will be completely dependent upon the support or lack thereof from the Ukrainian military. One can expect that the Ukrainian military would not be overly anxious to test their abilities against the Russians, and it is no wonder why. The basic truth is that whatever Putin decides he wants to do, he has the military power and resources to accomplish and this includes reversing the overthrow of President Yanukovych’s government. This has been further enabled as the Russian parliament unanimously voted to grant President Putin permission to mobilize the country’s military to utilize in the Ukraine. The European Union does not actually have sufficient military to enforce anything and are likely to at most sound some bluster and noise that will have little effect. As far as President Obama, he is far more interested in disassembling and paring down the United States military forces and capabilities than he is about preventing Putin from having his way in the Ukraine. The truth is that the United States under the auspices of President Obama has no international intentions and has basically surrendered all foreign policy decisions to the rest of the world. President Obama has decided to vote “Present” on all things beyond the maritime borders of the United States and maybe not even that far out to sea. His entire foreign policy can be summed up in one goal, force Israel to capitulate to as much of the Palestinians demands as possible and hoping that is sufficient to get a Palestinian state founded and he and Secretary of State Kerry a Nobel Peace Prize. Everything and everyone else, best of luck without us, the US. As we said when President Obama was first elected, welcome to Jimmy Carter on steroids. Jimmy Carter gave us the Ayatollahs ruling Iran and Barack Obama is giving the Ayatollahs a free run at manufacturing their own nuclear weapons. Russia imposing their will on the Ukraine, though a sad affair and unfortunate for those who fought so long to win a fresh start for their nation without corruptocratic rulers, a nuclear armed Iran will result in a far more damaging future and it is all thanks to Barry.


Beyond the Cusp


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