Category Archives: Diplomacy

Crisis in Ukraine

As I write this, Russia is escalating ground forces in Kiev with the goal of occupying the capital and installing a new regime more favorable to Moscow. The world is watching in horror as Ukrainian forces, standing alone and enlisting all men 18-60 to pick up arms and fight for their country.

The scenes coming from the city are heart wrenching.

What Can the United States Do in Ukraine

Before we can discuss what can be done, we have to acknowledge some facts as they exist.

They are:

  1.  It is possible to acknowledge strategic and tactical moves employed by Putin to be smart or effective or even genius and NOT be rooting for the Russians or for Putin to emerge victorious in this conflict.  Imagine playing chess and your opponent make a nifty play landing you in unexpected check.
  2. Trump was not elected in 2016 with help from the Russians or from Putin.  There was no Russian Collusion.  When you say that you sound like the people who claim the 2020 election was stolen.
  3. Nirvana is not for this world.  There will be the biggest kid on the playground.  Right now we can choose to have that kid be the United States or we can choose to have it be someone other than the United States.   Choose wisely.
  4. There is little to no appetite in the United States to send soldiers to defend Ukraine.
  5. NATO is broken.  As currently configured, NATO is just a term that we apply to the United States acting with the implicit approval of Europe.  The member states of NATO have not been paying their share of the freight for a very long time.  One way or the other, that has to change.  Pay or go.  Choose wisely.
  6. President Biden is suffering significant cognitive decline.  The time has come for him to resign.


The United States has short and long term goals to consider.

Short Term Goals

Our current and perhaps only priority at the moment is the cessation of the conflict in Ukraine.  One way or the other, Putin needs to stop the invasion and restore peace.  This can take several paths:

  1.  Ukraine surrenders
  2.  Ukraine cedes the Eastern breakaway regions and retains the rest of the nation
  3.  Putin surrenders and pulls back Russian forces

The question is which should the United States pursue?

I would like to see Putin call back his armies in full, would work very hard to prevent the outright surrender of the current Ukraine regime and would probably settle for some version of a split nation.

So, how do we get Putin to agree?

How to Prosecute for Peace

The United States does not want to commit ground troops to Ukraine.  We know this.  Putin knows this.  The world, waving at you China, knows this.  So, we have sanctions.  But are sanctions enough?

I think that Putin has done the calculus on possible sanctions that we can impose on him, his cronies and his economy.  I think he knows that the line he has crossed has cost him any future at the table of civilized nations going forward.  I think that he knows that the only real, and is it really real, sanction that as any bite is to cut off Russian energy sales to the West.

But Putin has two aces up his sleeve.

  1.  He knows the West NEEDS Russian oil as much as Russia needs the money.
  2. If we won’t buy his energy, China will.

Because of this, it is my belief that no amount of sanctioning by the West will move Putin in the direction we want him to move.  For better or worse, he has cast his die.

What this means for peace is that the United States is going to have to become “war adjacent”. 

It is not going to be enough to shuttle crates of bullets and guns to Ukrainian men in their 40’s.  We are going to have to provide more and better and more tangible elements of war.  Maybe this is securing air superiority in the region.  Maybe it is by deploying rockets of our own.  It might mean bombing key Russian installations.

Also, in lieu of sanctioning Russian exports of gas to the West, it might be time to bomb Russia’s energy infrastructure.

Short of this, there is little reason to think that the Ukrainians can do anything more than die with honor.


Long Term Goals

To be very clear, our long term goals have to end this obsession with the eradication of fossil fuels.  I understand climate is changing.  But it won’t change in any significant manner in such a time frame that warrants the danger to world peace that we currently find ourselves in.  It is time to recognize that moving to a greener world can be accomplished by replacing energy sources that emit lots of CO2 with sources that, while still emitting CO2, emits less.  Transitioning from coal to oil, then from oil to gas, is a win.

Take the dub.

Germany has to reopen its nuclear plants.

Germany has to replace the energy it is purchasing from Russia.

Same for the rest of the world.

The United States must restore energy independence that was in place when President Biden was elected.

This will almost certainly not occur under the current administration.  Biden lacks the clarity of vision and even had he seen the light, the current democrat party as it is configured will not allow him to abandon the green energy policies that they have championed.  The United States will have to elect a new President on an energy independent platform.

In Conclusion

We find ourselves in a bleak position brought about by our own decisions and taken advantage of by a very shrewd Mr. Putin.  We are not going to go to war, soldier v soldier, with Russia.  We are as dependent of Russian oil as Russia is on Western money.  There is not current appetite to change our energy policy in the US.

This means that the Ukrainians have a long night ahead, both literally and figuratively. 

Our Response To Crimea

Here is what John Kerry said we’d do:

Mr. Kerry repeated his warning to Moscow in remarks to a congressional panel on Thursday.

“There will be a response of some kind [to] the referendum itself, and in addition, if there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here,” Mr. Kerry told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

And here’s what we did:

…the Obama administration froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine, while similar sanctions were imposed on four Ukrainian officials for instigating Sunday’s Crimean referendum.

That is very scary AND serious sanctions indeed!

All this still confuses me.

We support Ukrainians desire to force an elected President out of power – replacing him with one they find more acceptable.  But then we fail to recognize Ukrainians desire to separate from the country to join with Russia.

Pino’s Take On Ukraine

I admit to being ignorant on the history of the Ukraine and have absolutely no understanding of the history of the region or the nation.

However, I have done some investigation.

In recent history Crimea was part of the Soviet Union and was given to Ukraine in 1954 – some say as a gesture of goodwill.  With most of the population of the peninsula considering themselves Russian – it is very reasonable that there is significant desire on the part of the people to want to become part of Russia again.

Recent events in the Ukrainian capital forced the sitting President to flee the country and take up shelter in Russia.  The pro-Russian government has been replaced with a pro-Western government.  There is little doubt that Yanukovitch was corrupt and needed too be out of office.  Less clear to me is that a reasonable course of action given that state of affairs is to protest and forcibly remove a sitting elected official.  Elections, they say, have consequences and the method that a reasonable citizenry use to affect leadership is done at the ballot box.

Add this up and the events begin to make more sense.

Russia sees an ally thrown out by a coup and replaced with a government much less friendly.  They, Russia, feels that their strategic interests are at risk specifically in Crimea.  In an effort to solidify those interests, including the port of the Black Sea fleet, Putin moved into Crimea claiming he was acting in the defense of Russian citizens.

While Putin’s claims of caring for the citizenry of Crimea rings somewhat false given no threatened violence combined with Putin’s clear disregard for human rights, there is a valid point – that the region is historically Russian.

Added to this reality is the fact that I resonate with the argument that the revolt in Kiev was not the best response to a desire to change leadership.

What does this mean for the US?  Well, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone – there is little we can do to influence Putin as it pertains to the peninsula; we most likely have to live with the fact that Crimea will eventually become part of Russia – but given the make-up of the people living there, this is a relatively painless eventuality.

What we need to do is identify where we and the rest of the EU will draw its line as it pertains the rest of Ukraine at large.  And then send troops – to guard that line and train the Ukrainian army.  Additionally, it is time to address the President’s decision to abandon the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Clearly The Bear is stirring and if we want to be taken seriously we need to act in a manner commensurate with a growing Russian threat.


Barack Obama

A little busy here today with karate, dance and what not.

Scrolling through my news feed I found these two headlines:

Obama Warns Russia of “Costs” in Ukraine

And then

Russian Troops Take Over Ukraine’s Crimea Region

From my feed’s perspective, it took Putin 15 hours to regard Obama’s warning as anything but serious.


Critique of Barack Obama – UK Style

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

I’m tough on Obama.  I don’t think he likes what America is.  I think that he wants a dramatically more redistributionist state than we have now.

And I don’t think that he has any meaningful experience that would lend itself to being President of these United States of America.

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Obama’s Syria – Red Line And Force

Syrian Flag

So, it’s come down to this:

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says the U.S. is open to a United Nations resolution that does not include the threat of military force against Syria if the government fails to surrender its chemical weapons.

That is what we call Game, Set and Match.

Described here:

The threat of force was never something the Security Council, where Russia and four other countries have veto power, was going to pass. Nevertheless, the LA Times describes the development as “indication of the White House’s weak hand in the unfolding negotiations between world powers.”  John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have been negotiating a deal for Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons to international control ever since the secretary of state off-handedly identified that as an unlikely diplomatic solution to the situation. The Russians seized on the perceived misstep and the UN resolution will include whatever arrangement Russia and the US manage to strike.

Why is the United States in the role of chemical weapons monitor of the world? Barack Obama insists it wasn’t him that drew the red line for war (a kind of “Who Killed Davey Moore?” moment), it was the world. The president claims international law demands he (on behalf of the world?) act. Yet, in fact, none of the existing international law on chemical weapons applies in this case. The president’s red line is his alone, his arguments to a non-applicable (or even non-existent) international legal regime notwithstanding. The UN does, under its charter, have the authority to act in some way on the human rights violations in Syria, but the Security Council has to act with at least the apathy of its five veto-wielding members, the US, Russia, China, the UK, and France. The Obama Administration’s newfound willingness to drop the non-starter that the threat of force is at the UN should mean it’s ready to meander away from a very much self-made crisis. John Kerry, it seems, has already turned his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, his other pet project.

We elected an “Occupy Wall Street” committee member as President.  It’s really not his fault, rather, it’s ours.


North Carolina Take On Syria

Syria is all the news.  Lot’s of folks don’t know what to do.  And I’m not saying that being from Syria allows greater clarification, but do think that hearing what Triangle residents from Syria have to say is enlightening:

Raleigh, N.C. — While the world weighs a military strike against Syria, the Syrian community in Raleigh is watching, waiting and hoping the world will step in to remove President Bashar Assad.

Khalila Sabra, who works with Syrian refugees, has seen the effects of Syria’s civil war firsthand. She calls Assad a butcher.

“He’s committing genocide, and the world is just standing by and watching it happen,” Sabra said Thursday.

Sabra and the Islamic Association of Raleigh have been gathering medical supplies and donations to send to the refugee camps on Syria’s borders. More than 2 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon and Jordan, and as many as 200,000 people have died in the civil war, she said.

“I would like to see Bashar al Assad removed by any means necessary,” she said. “I know that Americans have grown weary of war because of Afghanistan and Iraq, but our moral compass demands that we do something about Syria.”

Bilal Kanawati, who emigrated to the U.S. from Syria after high school, still has family in Damascus. He said he wasn’t surprised to hear about a chemical attack in his homeland.

“He’s done it before, and I’m sure he will do it again if we don’t stop him,” Kanawati said of Assad.

“It’s not political right now. It’s just to stop the massacres,” he said. “(Assad) is killing several hundreds everyday in Syria and the silence of the world is killing them more because nobody is acting because Syria is not an oil-producing country.”

No surprise that Assad is a butcher.  But no mention of a reasonable replacement either.


Obama won the election.  I think the man was born in America.  I don’t think he stole the election.  I’m sure democrats cheated in some polls and voter registration drives; I’m equally sure the republicans did the same thing.

I think that Obama didn’t have a platform.  I think he is an “American Idol” “Dancing With The Stars” president.  He appears on The View, Late Night and The Tonight Show.  He conducted interviews on MTV and local rap stations.

But the man won the election.  And this talk of secession is crazy and nothing more than than that; crazy people saying crazy things.

Which reminds me:

In the days after the election, fantasies of blue-state secession ricocheted around the Internet. Liberals indulged themselves in maps showing Canada gathering the blue states into its social democratic embrace, leaving the red states to form their own “Jesusland.” They passed around the scathing rant from the Web site Fuck the South, which lacerated the chauvinism of the “heartland” and pointed out that the coasts, far from destroying marriage, actually have lower divorce rates than the interior.

These sentiments were so pronounced that they migrated into the mainstream. Speaking on “The McLaughlin Group” the weekend after George W. Bush’s victory, panelist Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer, noted that blue states subsidize the red ones with their tax dollars, and said, “The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government.”

A shocked Tony Blankley asked him, “Are you calling for civil war?” To which O’Donnell replied, “You can secede without firing a shot.”

Lawrence O’Donnell.  The, ahem, famous talk show host on MSNBC once spoke of secession. When asked if he was calling for a civil war he simply replied, Well yeah, I guess kinda.”

So yeah, the talk about secession is crazy.  It’s also not new.  Nor is it an indication of the unraveling of a party specific.  It’s just the ramblings of a few folks who’ve invested a lot in their guy winning.

Or losing.

By the way, notice the comment about who is supporting whom.


Benghazi Attacks : The E-mail And The Video – What Did Obama Know

Jay Carney is learning the age old lesson:

Bad news doesn’t get better with age.

It’s past beginning to look bad for Obama, it’s REALLY looking bad for Obama.

What was a slowly developing bad news story for the administration has quickly gained steam and is now looking to be a major cover up.  After the news that the administration received e-mails from the consulate just 2 hours into the attack, Obama can only be reeling:

(Reuters) – Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

Further, there is video footage that shows there was no protest that night in Libya:

In addition to the footage from the consulate cameras, the U.S. government is also poring over video taken from an overhead U.S. surveillance drone that arrived for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex.

Video from the compound’s cameras debunk the initial line from the Obama administration that there was a protest in front of the consulate on the night of the attacks, according to one of the U.S. intelligence officials who has seen the footage, and a senior Obama administration official familiar with what they show.

I get that assessing reports and data real time is tough and can often be wrong.  But as the days and weeks advanced, Obama continued to tell us that what happened in Benghazi was something other than what it was:

Just in this montage, the administration mentions the video at least 7 times over 6 days.  This is a massive failure in terms of obtaining the truth and an absolute failure in dealing with the American people’s faith and trust in the government.

The fact is this, the administration had reason to believe in the first 2 hours that we were dealing with a terrorist attack and certainly within the first 2 days this was crystal clear.


Bush And Obama: Killing vs. Torture

I was listening to my 2nd favorite talk show host, Jason Lewis, on the way to Charlotte last night.  During his show, he mentioned the news concerning the killing of Al Qaeda’s #2 guy.  I’ll get to Mr. Lewis’ main point in a second, it has to do with the double standard in the war on terror.  But first, I wanna more fully clarify my stance on “enhanced interrogation techniques”, oftentimes known as “torture.”

As I type this it strikes me as possible that people hear “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the same way that I hear “kinetic military action.”

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