Beyond the Cusp

September 2, 2014

Easters Ukraine Simply the Battleground Against Russian Imperialism

Many, initially including myself, thought that Putin was attempting to reestablish Russian influence over the former nations within the Soviet Iron Curtain. I have come to adjust this assessment to believing he is simply attempting to restore the Russian influence and extend its borders to include the areas which came under Czarist control at the peak of the Russian Empire. This is supported by the limited attempts to expand the Russian grab to the northernmost regions of Georgia and now eastern Ukraine as well as Crimean Peninsula. Should this prove to be real then most of the nations of Eastern Europe and Central Asia can feel less threatened as Putin may have a more limited scope than many initially feared. Either scenario places Eastern Ukraine as on the immediate short list for Russian adventurism and the rest of the Ukraine for eventual consumption should Putin’s aims be for the furthest extremes of Czarist expansionism. There is the possibility that the Russian appetite will be satiated by taking the Eastern Ukrainian provinces as those would also give Russia the necessary land access to the Crimean Peninsula. The other interest in the Eastern Ukraine is the factories which includes a number of arms factories as well as other industries vital for the Ukrainian economic wealth. Could the Ukraine remain as a viable nation if they were forced to cede the eastern provinces to the Russians? That is something which has been debated with inconclusive results but the majority view is in favor of survival though lacking much of their arms trade, currently one of the Ukrainian’s most profitable industries.


The claims that there are no Russian troops taking part in the fighting in the Ukraine are no longer debatable, let alone believable. There are the Russian troops which the Ukrainian paratrooper forces captured last week, forces that Russian spokespeople claimed had simply become disorientated and had inadvertently crossed over the border and were not taking any part in the ongoing fighting. The doubts about Russian intervention and joining the separatists have completely evaporated with the presence of Russian main battle tanks joining the insurrection. This is no longer a civil war but an invasion of an independent nation by Russia. This invasion by Russia of another independent member nation of the United Nations places Putin’s Russia in contravention of numerous United Nation rules and declarations which protect the individual member states from aggressions by other member states. The United Nations presumably offers methods for mediating any differences between member nations thereby providing peaceable means for resolving differences. Somehow, knowing some of the history of what duties and responsibilities Putin was required to perform, and which he appeared to relish, for the KGB; it is not surprising that he would play fast and loose with any rules and ignore any restriction supposedly enforced by the United Nations and simply rely on brute force of arms to accomplish his goals concerning Russian absorption of Ukrainian lands. The announced annexation which was the initial move against Ukrainian national lands was an early indicator of the extent to which Putin was prepared to go to realize his goals. The only problem has been the undetermined extent to which Putin aims to carry the Russian expansion over Ukrainian sovereign lands. Many have initially hoped that Russian appetite would be satiated with the Crimean Peninsula which included the main Ukrainian naval base and port, facilities which were shared by the Ukrainians with the Russians by treaty, the same treaty which also required that Ukrainian sovereignty to be defended from any and all incursions by foreign powers in exchange for the Ukraine releasing the entirety of their nuclear arsenal, a significant number of soviet ICBMs which had been placed within the Ukrainian borders by the Soviet Union while they occupied all of the Ukraine as a Soviet province. These ICBMs and their nuclear warheads at that time had made the Ukraine the nation with the third largest nuclear weaponry even ahead of Mainland China. Presumably, in exchange for surrendering these nuclear weapons systems the Ukrainians received assurances against any incursions on their borders which the United States, United Kingdom and Russia who were obligated to aid the Ukraine in such circumstance. The treaty made the obligation to be less binding than requiring an actual defense or intervention by the guaranteeing nations and apparently this opt out option appears to have become the selection most favored. At least Putin has not elected to try and excuse his troops intervening in the violence ongoing over the past several months as their intervention under the nuclear treaty with the Ukraine.


One might then ask what about the United States and United Kingdom and their treaty obligations to assist the Ukraine. Well, we are talking about an incursion by Russia which, even if it has a declining economic picture, a negative population growth and a slowly but inexorably crumbling infrastructure, it is still the nation with one of the largest nuclear weapons inventories in the world and a formidable military force available with a KGB trained officer at its head. Unfortunately for the Ukraine, the world has reached the twenty-first century where bad actors, even Russian leaders, are threatened with being on the wrong side of history which presumably guarantees that their unsocial behaviors will fail, eventually, as history will right all wrongs. This similar to the threat from ISIS being determined to be an irresponsible set of actors who are guaranteed to also fail as the twenty-first century will belong to the builders and not those who are the purveyors of destruction. These have been the forces which apparently the forces of western principles and virtues which will reign in the twenty-first century and there will no longer be any need for such primitive reliance on violence and the clash of arms deciding the outcomes of good versus evil, the twenty-first century itself will defeat those evil forces which are reliant on destruction and thus fall on the wrong side of history. What a relief, I thought for a moment that there might be a problem with Russian expansionism threatening the independence and sovereignty of the Ukraine but apparently this is simply the machinations of an evil leader who once he realizes that history will place him on its wrong side will repent and immediately cease from his errant ways. What a relief knowing that the twenty-first century is out there guarding the world from the depravations of those who practice destructive influences or other evil inclinations which land them on the wrong side of history. Hopefully I can now sleep assured that the twenty-first century is out there guarding the world from any violence or other malicious and malevolent forces which might have designs of crossing history and pulling it to the wrong side, that dark side which resides on the wrong side of history with the destroyers and against those who promise to build despite any destructive entities.


Beyond the Cusp


June 5, 2014

Only a Puppy Can Save the World

Well, maybe a puppy would not save the world everywhere, but it sure would help in my little corner of the world. We have a world which just a few weeks ago was issuing warnings to Palestinian Chairman Abbas that such an alliance would force them to ostracize him as they would any terrorist leader if he allowed a merger to include Hamas within the Palestinian Authority as Hamas is recognized nearly universally as one of the most serious terror threats. Needless to say, Abbas smiled and continued on to bring not only Hamas into the Palestinian governance but Islamic Jihad as well and it took the world almost all of forty-eight hours to almost universally accept, recognize, agree to work with, continue to fully fund, and start to demand that Israel simply eat their vegetables and also recognize and plan to begin new peace talks with the newly crowned and recognized by a world blind to terrorist if they only attack Israel and that this world that is so ready to recognize a group including Hamas that they will countenance no complaints or protestations from Israel about this small item. Reading about how convinced the European Union is that Hamas had changed despite their strong condemnations of any claim that they now accept Israel or have mitigated their desire to destroy Israel and murder every Jew, the United Nations who claim that since Hamas represents a portion of the Palestinian society that Israel must recognize and take steps to be more inclusive of all portions of Palestinian society, and the United States marveling that the people who have been named to the new interim Palestinian government contain none with names that the United States recognizes as being members of Hamas, as the United States likely has a complete list of members of Hamas and thus can feel assured of this wild speculation, thus American aid can continue and working with the new Palestinian leadership can continue as if nothing has changed and all take this united stand in demanding Israel be just as open and accepting as these stalwarts of all that is civil and acceptable in the world have chosen to be. Times like this is when I used to go sit on the living room floor and make a soft whimper and wait for the puppy to come and assure me everything in the world was simply the way it should be and it still worships me.


Then you go on to read more news and it reports that President Putin, Vlad the Invader, has called for another multilateral conference in order to issue another declaration which will facilitate peace in the Ukraine and an end to the civil unrest, actually civil war, and perhaps he will recommend another one of those referendums where the result is often known before the ink dries on the ballots, let alone the voting being held. The problem is that the usual suspects, the European Union, the United States and the United Nations will all put on their happy optimism faces and declare the seriousness and forthright candor expressed by President Putin and declare their oneness with him in the pursuit of peace. The media will cheer this great stride of renewed multilateral efforts to solve this problematic situation and laud the sacrifice and willingness of the leaders of the major powers of the world to find a solution to this difficult problem. Nobody will mention that one from among these leaders, the one also known in some parts as Vlad the Invader, is actually the person most responsible for much of the unrest and violence and the sole individual from the group who has designs and schemes for the future of the Ukraine and has already annexed a large portion of the Ukraine known as the Crimean Peninsula by what were at the time denounced and blatant aggressions that went beyond acceptable behavior. What one might be unable to figure out is whether Putin is the dog and the rest the tail wagging or is this a case of Putin as the tail wagging the dog. Either way, having one’s faithful puppy meet them even after a short trip to get milk at the store taking at most ten minutes but there the puppy is not only wagging its tail but wriggling half its body as well with those bright eyes and the tongue just lazily hanging out the side of its mouth all in a declaration of I am so glad you made it back, I was worried as you were gone longer than I know how to count, pant, pant.


There is no news that a puppy cannot provide the necessary soothing of one’s nerves and no depressing reports that a puppy cannot commiserate by laying its head on your lap and tilting it a little to one side just so it can look at you with total devotion. If you are reading about the slow economy and the threat of increasing energy costs which will drive up every other commodities’ price including food, the puppy just seems to be saying that it looks forward to the increased time you will spend with it while the two of you go hunt for tonight’s dinner. No matter the sadness, ridiculousness, insanity, inanity, or any other quality in the news which might cause distress, your puppy provides the necessary amount of affection and appearance of commiseration and understanding that is required to lift one’s spirits and renew one’s faith that really everything has to turn out for the best, after all, the puppy is not worried. I miss my puppy and now just have the memories from that deer in the headlight look to the body wriggles saying you’re home at last, I do miss my old dog. In Memory of Brutus, a pure bred lovable mutt.


Beyond the Cusp


May 11, 2014

How Much of Eastern Europe Will Putin Swallow Up?

The fact that Russian President and former exemplary KGB Colonel Putin salivated over the Crimean Peninsula with its warm water port to the Black Sea and through the Bosporus on into the Mediterranean and from there the world, vacation paradise beaches, natural resources and manufacturing is unquestionably true. After all, how could he resist such a ripe plum just waiting to be plucked? Add to that the situation after the overthrow of his subjugated virtual puppet, former President of the Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych resulting in a weak, nascent governance still getting its house in order thus being unable to mount any serious opposition militarily. Of course Vlad the Invader took advantage of the situation and swallowed up the Crimean Peninsula, but that left poor Vlad with a serious problem; he now found that he required a land route into the Crimean Peninsula otherwise the warm water port was next to useless and all that manufacturing and natural resources would remain outside of Russian reach. The obvious remedy was for Vlad the Invader to also annex much of eastern Ukraine, but how to arrange such a move so immediate to his annexation of the Crimea that it would not alarm the world? It must have been such a delightful memory of hearing the message carried to him by former Russian President Medvedev telling of a promise for more flexibility from United States President Obama after his reelection. Between the promise and the record of timidity and “leading from behind”, of course Vlad the Invader could count of President Obama to jump up and down and shout threats to hold his breath until he turned blue but to respond with meaningless and unsubstantial responses such as minimal economic sanctions levied mostly against Russian oligarchs threatening to freeze any assets in banks where they held no funds. So, Vlad the Invader sent in his special forces trained to intimidate resident populations while making the lands seem to be crying for Russian protection from the evils which threatened their livelihoods as they were pro-Russian Ukrainians who had supported the ousted President Yanukovych and thus feared the new pro-European leadership in Kiev, or at least that was the tune played for the world to hear. Vlad had made plans to control all information or at least stifle any protestations against the pro-Russian instigators by native Ukrainians. Some morsels of complaints have seeped through the din of Russian partisan rabble-rousers who have a lock on the media outlets within the affected provinces but unfortunately appear to have fallen on deaf ears.


With the Europeans cowed due to threats of withholding gas by Vlad the Invader and with President Obama having problems of his own and never having developed even the slightest taste for foreign policies or especially foreign entanglements, Vlad the Invader realized he has an open season for further land grabs likely without any pain inflicted by the rest of the world. Still, Vlad the Invader is moving at a measured pace not showing any reason forcing him to act with any sense of urgency. Perhaps Vlad the Invader has learned from studying history and has realized that haste makes neighboring nations and leaders distant far more likely to fall into a panic and thus more likely to take steps to oppose the rapid spread of invaders. Despite the passivity exhibited by the Europeans and United States signals a green light for further exploits by Vlad the Invader, the Invader appears to have learned from history that haste makes trouble and calm and steady is more likely to permit him to achieve the desired annexation providing he continues to exhibit patience. That leads to the next question, providing that the world continues to be nonresponsive to the hue and cry for anybody to come and provide protection for the Ukrainians from Vlad the Invader, will Vlad be satisfied with eastern Ukraine or will he continue to annex and annex until he swallows the whole of the Ukraine, or even worse, continue beyond the Ukraine and if so, then where else will Vlad the Invader turn his appetites and if he has other designs, will the world finally respond?


Looking back at recent history and the series of disasters which finally led to World War II, perhaps we can learn what to look for today. The Munich Accord which gifted Nazi Germany the northern portions of Czechoslovakia including vital mountain pass defenses was signed on September 30, 1938. It was not until almost six months later before Nazi Germany made their move to take the remainder of Czechoslovakia on March 16, 1939. Vlad the Invader annexed the Crimean Peninsula around March 7, 2014. Counting the same amount of time as the Germans waited to finish their conquest of Czechoslovakia; Russia would make their next move on the Ukraine around middle to late August 2014. It would be doubtful that even Vlad the Invader would take the entirety of the rest of the Ukraine in one fell swoop as the Ukraine is about four times the size of Czechoslovakia and thus might just take more than one bite to fully ingest. Still, it appears the smart money is betting that Vlad the Invader fully intends to subsume all of the Ukraine back under Russian ownership and should that be his intentions, there is likely little the new Ukrainian government in Kiev would be able to do to prevent that result. And even worse, Europe, the United States and apparently every other nation are not about to take any measures to prevent such an outcome.


The question then will become what happens should Vlad the Invader decide to turn his hungry eyes on a NATO member state? That will be the final test for President Obama and the European nations. It would almost be understandable for the European nations to simply dissolve NATO should the United States refuse to come to the aid and protect a NATO member nation as their combined military capabilities may not even be equal to that of the United States alone and the heart of the European nations could simply announce that they are only willing to protect nations within the European Union and that they have dissolved NATO for lack of American support as the reason. That would open the doors for Vlad the Invader to absorb a fair number of former Warsaw Pact nations which have thus far not been admitted into the European Union. So, the world will be turning its eyes and ears towards Washington D.C. awaiting the response from President and Ditherer in Chief Obama should Vlad the Invader start the same insurrection as a cause for Russian intervention in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, or other NATO nations. Also, as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and virtually every other NATO nation has also been incorporated into the European Union, there would be some very nervous leaders throughout the capitals of Europe should any European Union nation be invaded; and they would be very interested and concerned how Washington would react, especially if the nation belongs to both the European Union and NATO, a very likely scenario. The other question is what would the world do in response should Vlad the Invader start to swallow up Belarus as it is not a member of either NATO or the European Union. The curse of living in interesting, or at least uncertain, times continues to plague the world. One has to wonder when will mankind mature to the point where cooperation is preferred to conquest, aggression and antagonism; where peaceful discourse replaces tanks, planes and violent altercation. When will the age come described in Isaiah 2:4 where it reads, “They have beat their swords to ploughshares, and their spears to pruning-hooks, Nation doth not lift up sword unto nation, Nor do they learn war anymore.”


Beyond the Cusp


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