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Your host, PM 'Papa' Carpenter


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December 11, 2019


This situation is inexcusable. They handed the keys to drunk.

Meanwhile, yesterday Zelensky and Putin were meeting for "negotiations" on ending the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while Lavrov and the Ano aurantiaco were meeting in the White House. Anyone want to lay odds that Trump was getting his instructions to abandon Ukraine altogether? Because a re-constructed Russian empire seems to be what the GOP wants these days.

What do you think they're planning on getting from the "re-constructed Russian empire"? Relief from blackmail? Money? Positions of power? Free caviar and vodka? There's got to be something they're banking on. I just can't quite figure out what it is.

I've wondered for some time whether what the GOP really wants is a return to the Cold War, when our enemies were easy to identify and we could justify massive defense outlays and expansion of our nuclear arsenal. The complexities of the post-Cold War era seem to be beyond their grasp, and they long for a simple narrative. Embracing the enemy seems an ironic way of bringing it about, though. And it may come down to simple racism, where the Russians are viewed as good, white boys in a global war against everyone else.

Wow. You may have nailed it. A return to the good old days/simple enemies/money from the military industrial complex and white boys club.

You're smart.

Doc pretty much nailed that as far as I am concerned. I would add a few observations. If you wanted a cold war adversary there is one ready made, China. The trouble with doing that is that China is actually potentially dangerous considered merely from the point of view of capability and Russia isn't. Russia has a GDP comparable to Italy and a manufacturing base that is antique. They survive on raw material exports and are extremely dependent on imports. Their Orbat, which is their available trained military, couldn't sustain a major conflict for more than a few months. Objectively, as a threat, they just aren't much compared to the cold war days. They punch above their weight mostly by leveraging less costly intervention in other conflicts. I think they mostly do this not for any geopolitical or economic advantage but merely because they can and respect is what they prize is what the seek.

Yes he did and yes to all that you wrote.

What about their nuclear capabilities Peter? In spite of the paltry economy and decrepit military and industry and Putin's chest thumping, surely the nuclear arsenal gives them some extra leverage to their threat.

They do have a massive nuclear arsenal--bigger than ours. In the bad old days of the Cold War, a lot of the land-based systems were located in, you guessed it, Ukraine. But I think these days, Putin wants Ukraine mostly for its natural gas deposits. Like Peter said, Russia survives (meaning their oligarchs thrive and everyone else struggles) on their extractive energy sector.

China would indeed be a better enemy from the GOP perspective. They are far more dangerous, far more strategic in their long-term thinking, and they own far too much US debt. And they aren't members of the white boys club. I think the white nationalists in the US would happily embrace a Russian alliance in exchange for letting their influence permeate as much of Europe as Putin can digest. And the alliance would be directed at the Chinese; the GOP would have their cold war back, but with the powers realigned. Or am I just being paranoid?

In the meantime, watch what happens in Libya over the next few days/weeks. Erdogan seems willing to intervene there, and would not be doing so on the side Russia favors, but of Tripoli. See -- this could get interesting.

We endured a decade and a half - more - of the GOP manufactured war. And it is surreal that we are now watching them twitch in anticipation of entangling us in another one. It's unbelievable. They've even replaced one stooge president with another one who's even "stoogier". Right before our eyes and it only took them 8 years.

I need to do more reading about all the powers in play here.

The one positive thing I can say about Trump is that he has an aversion to getting involved in foreign wars, hence the built-in tension between him and Bolton. But the neo-Cons are salivating for another conflict, and perfectly willing to repeat the same lies that got us into Afghanistan 18 years ago.

So much of what's going on these days just seems like a rehash of the old "Great Game" -- with the US playing the part of the British Empire.

If you want some background reading, I'd suggest beginning with Robert Fisk's "The Great War for Civilisation" -- but it really helps to go all the way back to the Crusades.

Thank you. I've just bookmarked a couple of reviews and will contact my library to see if they have it.

More than one comment I saw in a quick search recommends it specifically for people "trying to make sense of the Middle East". And one very haunting comment. Fisk was interviewed and the interviewer asked him what gives him hope. His reply was "Nothing".

It's a great book, but I warn you, parts of it will have you in tears.

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