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Would America Go to War with Russia?

Would America Go to War with Russia?.

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March 22, 2014

Vice President Biden was in Warsaw last week to reassure our eastern NATO allies that they have the support of a “steadfast ally.” But if Russia moved against Poland or the Baltic States, would the United States really go to war? Or would we do nothing and effectively destroy the NATO alliance?

President Obama has ruled out a “military excursion” in Ukraine. America is not obligated legally to take action against Russia for annexing Crimea. We would not go to war if Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine to restore the ousted, pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych, currently under U.S. sanctions. And we would not even send troops if Ukraine was partitioned, or absorbed by Russia. Americans have no interest in such a conflict, and no stomach for it.

NATO allies are a different matter. The North Atlantic Treaty is a mutual-defense pact, and Article 5 says that an armed attack against one member state “shall be considered an attack against them all.” This is a clear red line. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and most NATO allies sent troops to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Could the current crisis expand to touch NATO? The developing situation in Ukraine has been compared to Germany’s absorption of Austria in 1938, or the subsequent partition and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Hillary Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, which by extension puts President Obama in the role of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who famously failed to achieve “peace in our time” at Munich.

Push the analogy further. The Second World War was sparked by Warsaw’s resistance to Berlin’s demand to annex the Polish Corridor, a small stretch of land—smaller than Crimea—separating the German provinces of Pomerania and East Prussia. Hitler responded by invading Poland and partitioning it with the Soviet Union. Britain and France had pledged to defend Polish independence, and two days after Germany invaded, they declared war. In his war message, Chamberlain explained that Hitler’s actions showed “there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.”

This may or may not describe Mr. Putin, as Mrs. Clinton alleged. But if similar circumstances arise in the near future, will the United States honor security guarantees made to Poland and the Baltic States when the Russian threat was only a theory?

Mr. Biden stood with Estonian president Toomas Ilves Tuesday to “reconfirm and reaffirm our shared commitment to collective self-defense, to Article 5.” He wanted to make it “absolutely clear what it means to the Estonian people” and that “President Obama and I view Article 5 of the NATO Treaty as an absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor—we will honor.” Shortly thereafter, Moscow “expressed concern” about the treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia. Mr. Putin justified his actions in Crimea as “restoring unity” to Russian people. Estonia’s population is 25 percent ethnic Russian, compared to 17 percent in Ukraine, mostly in the north and east part of the country. Suppose anti-Russian riots “spontaneously” broke out in Estonia. What would the United States do if Moscow invoked a “responsibility to protect” these people and bring them “back” to the Motherland? Would President Obama take military action against Russia over a small, secluded piece of a tiny, distant country? Would it be like the Polish Corridor in 1939? This is highly doubtful—highly doubtful.

Aren’t we obligated by treaty to intervene? Mr. Biden mentioned the “absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor.” It was so important he said it twice. However, Article 5 says that NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of the attacked state using “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” It doesn’t take a White House lawyer to see the gaping loophole—President Obama can simply deem that the use of U.S. force isn’t necessary. He can walk back the red line, as he did with Syria. Stern talk and minimal sanctions would follow, but Estonia would lose some, if not all of its territory. And in practical terms it would mean the end of NATO, which is one of Moscow’s longstanding strategic objectives. Mr. Putin’s chess game does not end in Crimea.

James S. Robbins is Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s plan to seize Ukraine and to evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base has come amiss. But as Lenin said, “two steps forward, one step back.”

Do you remember all the tough talk coming from John Kerry, the White House Fool, Hilary Clinton, and the lickspittle Merkel about the harsh sanctions that would “badly damage” the Russian economy unless Russia prevented the referendum vote in Crimea? Well, it was all bullshit, more hot air from the White House sock puppet and the lickspittle German chancellor who is a disgrace to the German nation. As the Russians kept telling John Kerry, sanctions on Russia would destroy Europe and do little damage to Russia.

I wish the Russians had kept this to themselves. I was looking forward to the Washington morons destroying NATO by closing down the European economy.

Of course, after pretending that they were macho tough guys, something that Washington’s presstitute media could hype as sanctions had to be imposed, so Washington came up with sanctions, not on Russia, but on eleven individuals: the deposed Ukrainian president, an advisor to the deposed president, 2 Crimean officials, and 7 Russians.

The choice of the officials is an utter mystery. The seven Russians are a Putin aid, a Putin adviser, four members of the Russian parliament (Duma) and a deputy prime minister. What any of these people had to do with the referendum in Crimea, no one knows.

Moreover, the sanctions only apply to foreign bank accounts that these 11 individuals might have outside Russia. Most likely, that means only the deposed Ukrainian president, if we are to believe all the propaganda about him. Other reports say that the sanctions are only for the next six months.

If the Washington and EU criminals steal any money from these persons, the Russian central bank can replenish their stolen accounts.

The people who decided that Crimea would disassociate from Ukraine and return to Russia were the people themselves. Under the wording of Obama’s stupid sanctions, his sanctions should apply to the Crimean people who voted to disassociate from the US stooge government in Kiev.

Additionally, Obama’s sanctions apply to himself and to his regime and to its NATO puppets as it was the West that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine, not Russia or Crimea. The Americans, of course, never apply law to themselves.

In other words, the sanctions are totally meaningless. Yet, the White House Fool declared: “If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions.”

Obama’s hypocrisy makes a person want to puke. It is the White House Fool who is interfering in Ukraine. It was Washington that financed and organized the overthrow of the elected Ukraine government, using well organized and well armed neo-nazis to intimidate the unarmed police and ruling party, thus clearing the way for Washington to set up an unelected government of its well-paid stooges.

What the incompetent White House Fool overlooked is that southern and eastern Ukraine are Russian, not Ukrainian, so the fool’s coup has caused Crimea to depart and is causing widespread protests in eastern Ukraine against Washington’s stooge unelected government in Kiev. Washington’s stooge Kiev government has appointed unelected Ukrainian multibillionaire oligarchs, who have their own private security forces, as mayors of the Russian cities to put down the protests. If the oligarchs use violence against the Russian people, the likely result will be that the Russian Army will take control of eastern Ukraine, which in every essential way is Russian.

If eastern Ukraine returns to Russia, Washington will be left with the ultra-nationalists of western Ukraine, people who fought for Hitler during World War 2. The EU doesn’t want ultra-nationalists as the EU is busy stamping out nationalism and the sovereignty of European countries. Nevertheless, Washington will have gained a strategic advantage over Moscow, as Washington can place anti-ballistic missile and other military bases on western Ukraine’s border with Russia, thus completing Washington’s encirclement of Russia with hostile military and missile bases.

Russia will neutralize the US bases by targeting them with Iskander missiles, which cannot be intercepted by ABMs.

All that the White House Fool will have achieved is to further make clear to Russia, and to China, that Washington has both on its target list, because both are in the way of Washington’s world hegemony.

One can only wonder why Putin doesn’t preempt the coming US military attack on Russia by destroying NATO economically without firing a shot. All Putin needs to do is to cut Europe off from energy. It would take Washington three years to create the capability to deliver US natural gas, achieved by fracking’s destruction of US water supplies, to Europe. By that time NATO governments would likely have been overthrown by mass unemployment and economic suffering. Putin could also seize all foreign assets in Russia and rapidly complete the arrangements with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa to abandon the use of the US dollar in international settlements.

The US dollar as world reserve currency is the source of American imperialism. The five countries that comprise the BRICS have half of the world’s population. They can conduct their economic affairs without the dollar.

The world needs to understand that the neoconservative US government is the Third Reich on steroids. It is a malevolent force with no sense of justice or respect for truth, law, or human life. Just ask the residents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Lebanon, Honduras, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran. Even the deluded western Ukrainians will soon catch on.

Obama himself declared that the US is “the exceptional nation.” This is the neoconservatives version of Hitler’s declaration that the German nation was exceptional and, therefore, above all others. The only difference between Washington and National Socialist Germany is that Washington has a far more powerful police state and nuclear weapons.

The hubris and arrogance that arises from Washington’s belief that it is the government of the “indispensable and exceptional nation” means Washington has no respect for any other country, nor for law whether its own or international. Washington can invade countries without cause, a war crime. Washington can kidnap and torture people, a crime under US and International law. Washington can ignore the self-determination of peoples, such as Crimeans. Who are mere Crimeans to vote on their own future without Washington’s consent, without Washington determining the outcome? Washington declares the Crimean people’s self-determination “illegitimate and illegal,” and refuses to recognize self-determination, while pretending to be the home of “freedom and democracy.”

No government in human history can come close to the hypocrisy and malevolence of Washington. Armed with nuclear weapons and a military doctrine of pre-emptive nuclear first strike, Washington alone stands as the threat to life on earth.

World War 1 All Over Again — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

World War 1 All Over Again — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

World War 1 All Over Again
The same fools play the same game

Paul Craig Roberts

“If you reduce the lie to a scientific system put it on thick and heavy, and with great effort and sufficient finances scatter it all over the world as the pure truth, you can deceive whole nations for a long time and drive them to slaughter for causes in which they have not the slightest interest.” — Chief French Editor, Behind the Scenes in French Journalism, describing the organization of World War 1 propaganda in France.

Did US Secretary of State John Kerry ask you before he delivered an all or nothing ultimatum to Russia? Did he ask Congress? Did he ask the countries of western and eastern Europe–NATO members who Kerry has committed to whatever the consequences will be of Washington’s inflexible, arrogant, aggressive provocation of Russia, a well-armed nuclear power? Did Kerry ask Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, China, Central Asia, all of whom would be adversely affected by a world war provoked by the crazed criminals in Washington?

No.

He did not.

The exceptional, indispensable, arrogant, self-righteous United States government does not need to ask anyone. Washington speaks not merely for itself. Washington represents the country chosen by history (and the neoconservatives) to speak not merely for itself, but for the entire world.

Whatever Washington says is truth. Whatever Washington does is legal, in accordance with both domestic and international law. When Washington invades countries and destroys them, sends in drones and missiles, blows up people attending weddings, funerals and children’s soccer games, Washington is practicing human rights and bringing democracy to the people. Whenever a country tries to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the country is engaging in terrorism, al-Qaeda connections, human rights violations, and suppressing democracy.

We are watching this audacity play out now in the confrontation with Russia that Washington’s coup in Ukraine has provoked. Obama and Kerry have been advised by the idiots that comprise the US government that Russia will surrender and accept Washington’s will if Washington is sufficiently insistent.

Apparently, no one has asked the advisors what happens if ultimatums are given, and the Russians do not submit.

The Backstory to the Russia-Ukraine Confrontation: The U.S. and NATO Encirclement of Russia Washington's Blog

The Backstory to the Russia-Ukraine Confrontation: The U.S. and NATO Encirclement of Russia Washington’s Blog.

The Big Picture: The U.S. and NATO Have Been Trying to Encircle Russia Militarily Since 1991

The American press portrays Putin as being the bad guy and the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis.

Putin is certainly no saint. A former KGB agent, Putin’s net worth is estimated at some $40 billion dollars … as he has squeezed money out of the Russian economy by treating the country as his own personal fiefdom. And all sides appear to have dirt on their hands in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

But we can only see the bigger picture if we take a step back and gain a little understanding of the history underlying the current tensions.

Indeed, the fact that the U.S. has allegedly paid billions of dollars to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine – and even purportedly picked the Ukrainian president – has to be seen in context.

Veteran New York Times reporter Steven Kinzer notes at the Boston Globe:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. [Background herehere and here.] It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” warned George Kennan, the renowned diplomat and Russia-watcher, as NATO began expanding eastward. “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies.”

Stephen Cohen – professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University who has long focused on Russia – explained this weekend on CNN:

We are witnessing as we talk the making possibly of the worst history of our lifetime. We are watching the descending of a new cold war divide between west and east, only this time, it is not in far away Berlin, it’s right on Russia’s borders through the historical civilization in Ukraine. It’s a crisis of historic magnitude. If you ask how we got in it, how we got into the crisis, and how therefore do we get out, it is time to stop asking why Putin – why Putin is doing this or that, but ask about the American policy, and the European Union policy that led to this moment.

***

I don’t know if you your listeners or views remember George Kennan. He was considered [a] great strategic thinker about Russia among American diplomats but he warned when we expanded NATO [under Bill Clinton], that this was the most fateful mistake of American foreign policy and that it would lead to a new Cold War. George lived to his hundreds, died a few years ago, but his truth goes marching on. The decision to move NATO beginning in the 90′s continuing under Bush and continuing under Obama, is right now on Russia’s borders.

And if you want to know for sure, and I have spent a lot of time in Moscow, if you want to know what the Russian power elite thinks Ukraine is about, it is about bringing it into NATO. One last point, that so-called economic partnership that Yanukovych, the elected president of Ukraine did not sign, and that set off the streets – the protests in the streets in November, which led to this violence in and confrontation today, that so-called economic agreement included military clauses which said that Ukraine by signing this so called civilization agreement had to abide by NATO military policy. This is what this is about from the Russian point of view, the ongoing western march towards post Soviet Russia.

Jonathan Steele writes at the Guardian

Both John Kerry’s threats to expel Russia from the G8 and the Ukrainian government’s plea for Nato aid mark a dangerous escalation of a crisis that can easily be contained if cool heads prevail. Hysteria seems to be the mood in Washington and Kiev, with the new Ukrainian prime minister claiming, “We are on the brink of disaster” as he calls up army reserves in response to Russian military movements in Crimea.

Were he talking about the country’s economic plight he would have a point. Instead, along with much of the US and European media, he was over-dramatising developments in the east, where Russian speakers are understandably alarmed after the new Kiev authorities scrapped a law allowing Russian as an official language in their areas. They see it as proof that the anti-Russian ultra-nationalists from western Ukraine who were the dominant force in last month’s insurrection still control it. Eastern Ukrainians fear similar tactics of storming public buildings could be used against their elected officials.

Kerry’s rush to punish Russia and Nato’s decision to respond to Kiev’s call by holding a meeting of member states’ ambassadors in Brussels today were mistakes. Ukraine is not part of the alliance, so none of the obligations of common defence come into play. Nato should refrain from interfering in Ukraine by word or deed. The fact that it insists on getting engaged reveals the elephant in the room: underlying the crisis in Crimea and Russia’s fierce resistance to potential changes is Nato’s undisguised ambition to continue two decades of expansion into what used to be called “post-Soviet space”, led by Bill Clinton and taken up by successive administrations in Washington. At the back of Pentagon minds, no doubt, is the dream that a US navy will one day replace the Russian Black Sea fleet in the Crimean ports of Sevastopol and Balaclava.

***

Vladimir Putin’s troop movements in Crimea, which are supported by most Russians, are of questionable legality under the terms of the peace and friendship treaty that Russia signed with Ukraine in 1997. But their illegality is considerably less clear-cut than that of the US-led invasion of Iraq, or of Afghanistan, where the UN security council only authorised the intervention several weeks after it had happened. [Indeed, top American leaders admit that the Iraq war was for reasons different than publicly stated. And the U.S. military sticks its nose in other countries’ business all over the world.  And see this.] And Russia’s troop movements can be reversed if the crisis abates. That would require the restoration of the language law in eastern Ukraine and firm action to prevent armed groups of anti-Russian nationalists threatening public buildings there.

Again, we don’t believe that there are angels on any side.  But we do believe that everyone has to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, calm down and reach a negotiated diplomatic resolution.

And see thisthisthis and this (interview with a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

 

The Backstory to the Russia-Ukraine Confrontation: The U.S. and NATO Encirclement of Russia Washington’s Blog

The Backstory to the Russia-Ukraine Confrontation: The U.S. and NATO Encirclement of Russia Washington’s Blog.

The Big Picture: The U.S. and NATO Have Been Trying to Encircle Russia Militarily Since 1991

The American press portrays Putin as being the bad guy and the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis.

Putin is certainly no saint. A former KGB agent, Putin’s net worth is estimated at some $40 billion dollars … as he has squeezed money out of the Russian economy by treating the country as his own personal fiefdom. And all sides appear to have dirt on their hands in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

But we can only see the bigger picture if we take a step back and gain a little understanding of the history underlying the current tensions.

Indeed, the fact that the U.S. has allegedly paid billions of dollars to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine – and even purportedly picked the Ukrainian president – has to be seen in context.

Veteran New York Times reporter Steven Kinzer notes at the Boston Globe:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. [Background herehere and here.] It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” warned George Kennan, the renowned diplomat and Russia-watcher, as NATO began expanding eastward. “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies.”

Stephen Cohen – professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University who has long focused on Russia – explained this weekend on CNN:

We are witnessing as we talk the making possibly of the worst history of our lifetime. We are watching the descending of a new cold war divide between west and east, only this time, it is not in far away Berlin, it’s right on Russia’s borders through the historical civilization in Ukraine. It’s a crisis of historic magnitude. If you ask how we got in it, how we got into the crisis, and how therefore do we get out, it is time to stop asking why Putin – why Putin is doing this or that, but ask about the American policy, and the European Union policy that led to this moment.

***

I don’t know if you your listeners or views remember George Kennan. He was considered [a] great strategic thinker about Russia among American diplomats but he warned when we expanded NATO [under Bill Clinton], that this was the most fateful mistake of American foreign policy and that it would lead to a new Cold War. George lived to his hundreds, died a few years ago, but his truth goes marching on. The decision to move NATO beginning in the 90′s continuing under Bush and continuing under Obama, is right now on Russia’s borders.

And if you want to know for sure, and I have spent a lot of time in Moscow, if you want to know what the Russian power elite thinks Ukraine is about, it is about bringing it into NATO. One last point, that so-called economic partnership that Yanukovych, the elected president of Ukraine did not sign, and that set off the streets – the protests in the streets in November, which led to this violence in and confrontation today, that so-called economic agreement included military clauses which said that Ukraine by signing this so called civilization agreement had to abide by NATO military policy. This is what this is about from the Russian point of view, the ongoing western march towards post Soviet Russia.

Jonathan Steele writes at the Guardian

Both John Kerry’s threats to expel Russia from the G8 and the Ukrainian government’s plea for Nato aid mark a dangerous escalation of a crisis that can easily be contained if cool heads prevail. Hysteria seems to be the mood in Washington and Kiev, with the new Ukrainian prime minister claiming, “We are on the brink of disaster” as he calls up army reserves in response to Russian military movements in Crimea.

Were he talking about the country’s economic plight he would have a point. Instead, along with much of the US and European media, he was over-dramatising developments in the east, where Russian speakers are understandably alarmed after the new Kiev authorities scrapped a law allowing Russian as an official language in their areas. They see it as proof that the anti-Russian ultra-nationalists from western Ukraine who were the dominant force in last month’s insurrection still control it. Eastern Ukrainians fear similar tactics of storming public buildings could be used against their elected officials.

Kerry’s rush to punish Russia and Nato’s decision to respond to Kiev’s call by holding a meeting of member states’ ambassadors in Brussels today were mistakes. Ukraine is not part of the alliance, so none of the obligations of common defence come into play. Nato should refrain from interfering in Ukraine by word or deed. The fact that it insists on getting engaged reveals the elephant in the room: underlying the crisis in Crimea and Russia’s fierce resistance to potential changes is Nato’s undisguised ambition to continue two decades of expansion into what used to be called “post-Soviet space”, led by Bill Clinton and taken up by successive administrations in Washington. At the back of Pentagon minds, no doubt, is the dream that a US navy will one day replace the Russian Black Sea fleet in the Crimean ports of Sevastopol and Balaclava.

***

Vladimir Putin’s troop movements in Crimea, which are supported by most Russians, are of questionable legality under the terms of the peace and friendship treaty that Russia signed with Ukraine in 1997. But their illegality is considerably less clear-cut than that of the US-led invasion of Iraq, or of Afghanistan, where the UN security council only authorised the intervention several weeks after it had happened. [Indeed, top American leaders admit that the Iraq war was for reasons different than publicly stated. And the U.S. military sticks its nose in other countries’ business all over the world.  And see this.] And Russia’s troop movements can be reversed if the crisis abates. That would require the restoration of the language law in eastern Ukraine and firm action to prevent armed groups of anti-Russian nationalists threatening public buildings there.

Again, we don’t believe that there are angels on any side.  But we do believe that everyone has to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, calm down and reach a negotiated diplomatic resolution.

And see thisthisthis and this (interview with a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

 

John Kerry Slams “Incredible Act Of Aggression”, NATO Says Russia “Must Stop” | Zero Hedge

John Kerry Slams “Incredible Act Of Aggression”, NATO Says Russia “Must Stop” | Zero Hedge.

Just in case Obama’s Friday message of “costs” should Russia invade Ukraine, which it did, was lost in translation, here is NATO with the clarification, and more harsh language:

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting he issued the following statement:

I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter. It threatens peace and security in EuropeRussia must stop its military activities and its threats.

Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security, and for NATO’s relationship with Russia.

Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference. And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected.

Ukraine is our neighbour, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.

We urge all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation. In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions.

And just in case both Obama and NATO were misunderstood, here is Kerry appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation laying down the law, and even more harsh language:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened “very serious repercussions” from the United States and other countries, including sanctions to isolate Russia economically.

You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” Kerry told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Kerry, however, added that Russia still has “a right set of choices” that can be made to defuse the crisis.

It’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations,” Kerry added.

Kerry said U.S. President Barack Obama told Putin in a 90-minute phone call on Saturday that “there will be serious repercussions if this stands. The president … told Mr. Putin that it was imperative to find a different path, to roll back this invasion and un-do this act of invasion.”

Kerry said G8 nations and some other countries are “prepared to go to the hilt to isolate Russia” with a “broad array of options” available.

They’re prepared to put sanctions in place, they’re prepared to isolate Russia economically, the ruble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges,” Kerry said, as he also mentioned visa bans, asset freezes and trade isolation as possible steps.

Some great soundbites: we can’t wait for the White House to release the obligatory photo op, which we assume would look somewhat different than this.

Russia’s response?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Sunday when asked for a response to harsh words from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine. “No comment at the moment,” Peskov said.

Just laughter.

John Kerry Slams "Incredible Act Of Aggression", NATO Says Russia "Must Stop" | Zero Hedge

John Kerry Slams “Incredible Act Of Aggression”, NATO Says Russia “Must Stop” | Zero Hedge.

Just in case Obama’s Friday message of “costs” should Russia invade Ukraine, which it did, was lost in translation, here is NATO with the clarification, and more harsh language:

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting he issued the following statement:

I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine. And because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter. It threatens peace and security in EuropeRussia must stop its military activities and its threats.

Today we will discuss their implications, for European peace and security, and for NATO’s relationship with Russia.

Afterwards, we will meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We support the right of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference. And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected.

Ukraine is our neighbour, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.

We urge all parties to urgently continue all efforts to move away from this dangerous situation. In particular, I call on Russia to de-escalate tensions.

And just in case both Obama and NATO were misunderstood, here is Kerry appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation laying down the law, and even more harsh language:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened “very serious repercussions” from the United States and other countries, including sanctions to isolate Russia economically.

You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” Kerry told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

Kerry, however, added that Russia still has “a right set of choices” that can be made to defuse the crisis.

It’s an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations,” Kerry added.

Kerry said U.S. President Barack Obama told Putin in a 90-minute phone call on Saturday that “there will be serious repercussions if this stands. The president … told Mr. Putin that it was imperative to find a different path, to roll back this invasion and un-do this act of invasion.”

Kerry said G8 nations and some other countries are “prepared to go to the hilt to isolate Russia” with a “broad array of options” available.

They’re prepared to put sanctions in place, they’re prepared to isolate Russia economically, the ruble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges,” Kerry said, as he also mentioned visa bans, asset freezes and trade isolation as possible steps.

Some great soundbites: we can’t wait for the White House to release the obligatory photo op, which we assume would look somewhat different than this.

Russia’s response?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Sunday when asked for a response to harsh words from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine. “No comment at the moment,” Peskov said.

Just laughter.

Canada Should Keep Training Military in Afghanistan | Lauryn Oates

Canada Should Keep Training Military in Afghanistan | Lauryn Oates.

Lauryn Oates

Human Rights Activist and Development Worker

Canada Should Keep Training Military in Afghanistan

Posted: 02/28/2014 9:10 am

Foreign policy towards Afghanistan has never been known for its farsightedness. From the Soviet Union’s decision to invade the country in 1979 or America’s response in covertly arming the Islamist mujahedin, to Pakistan’s assistance incubating the Taliban, the policies of stakeholder countries towards Afghanistan have often been characterized by negligence, and the consequences have been dire for Afghanistan and these same countries.

The past decade of the international community’s efforts to bring security and development to Afghanistan has also had its share of shortsightedness. But where there has been dogged, long-term investment that accounts for lessons learned and that aims to build systems from the ground up, recognizing that this takes time, there have been successes. These successes are such that the country has propelled forward despite an ongoing insurgency, a government mired in corruption, and much uncertainty over future security arrangements beyond this year.

The change can be seen in skyrocketing human development indicators, the visibility of women in public life, the thriving media sector, and Afghans’ ambitious pursuit of education, from the spike in primary enrolment to the rapid spread of post-secondary institutions throughout the country. And despite a highly centralized government still liable to patronage under an increasingly unstable leader, there are still understated processes of democratization underway. One such process is the professionalization and strengthening of Afghan-led security.

Professionalizing the security sector is not only about security, but is also critical to democratic development. The Afghan police and army, together known as the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF), represent government at the ground level, where the state interfaces with citizens.

These institutions serve as a kind of barometer for public confidence in government. That’s why it’s a hopeful sign that 88% of Afghans report having confidence in the Afghan National Army (ANA) while 91% say that the ANA is helping to improve security in the country, according to the 2013 Survey of the Afghan People. These confidence levels have remained consistent since 2007, and are assessed to be because the presence of the ANSF “has brought at least some sense of law and order to the country.”

That has been no small feat. These institutions have been largely built from scratch, with little to draw from the pre-2002 Taliban Government’s style of security, which consisted of ragtag bands of illiterate religious police, menacingly dangling off the backs of pick-up trucks, on the prowl for those committing “moral crimes.” With no uniforms aside from their black turbans and kohl-smudged eyes, yielding whips and Kalashnikovs, they gave the local population every reason to fear them, and little sense of being served or protected by professionals enforcing the law.

Besides attempting to change the very purpose and spirit of the police force and army in the aftermath of the Taliban, the current effort has required a heavy infusion of equipping, supplying, and training a force now numbering some 350,000 Afghans, including a growing number of women police and soldiers.

Canada has been part of the team of 37 nations undertaking NATO’s training mission of the ANSF, providing 950 Canadian trainers and support personnel who have delivered training in core skills for the forces, as well as leadership and other areas, in Kabul and at satellite sites in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.

In 2011, literacy became part of the required training for Afghan forces, and the successes in this area have been among the most remarkable. Consider that prior to the start of the training mission only 13,000 ANSF had even the most rudimentary literacy, while nearly all ANSF have now either completed literacy training or are currently enrolled (according to ISAF, as at January 2014, 233,643 have completed Level 1, 98,648 completed Level 2, and 76,834 completed Level 3, the level for functional literacy).

In 2012, the Darulaman Literacy Centre opened at the Regional Military Training Centre in Kabul. The literacy component of training is crucial because literate police and soldiers take themselves seriously: they think of themselves as educated professionals, serving their people, as opposed to preying on them. Further, literacy is the steppingstone to learning trades like signals or artillery, allowing the further professionalizing of the ANSF.

All of this is akin to a transformation of some consequence in terms of state building. Yet to be durable, this work must continue, for at least another two years, according to NATO. But at the end of March, Canadian military personnel will leave Afghanistan. That is too soon. As the second largest contributing nation to the training mission after the US, Canada’s contributions to this capacity development are too valuable to withdraw this close to the finish line. Canada should renew its training mission for another term, and continue contributing to the Afghan mission in an area in which it clearly excels.

NATO civilian leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called the “zero option”, of having no international forces left in Afghanistan simply “not an option”, stressing the need for continued capacity and training support in particular, to get the ANSF to a point where it can reliably and independently provide security for the citizens of Afghanistan.

I recently asked Canadian Major-General Dean Milner, Commander of the NATO training mission, how far the Afghan security forces have come in their development, and how far they have left to go. “They are well past the half-way point” Milner told me, “with just a few more years of financial and practical assistance from the international community they should be capable of sustaining themselves. They defeat the Taliban in every tactical engagement, but now they need assistance with more complex skills such as building their Air Force and their logistical and maintenance systems.”

With President Karzai delaying the signing of a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) there is fevered speculation that NATO troops will leave the country by 2015 and Afghanistan will once again return to chaos. When asked for his view, Major-General Milner was optimistic the BSA would be signed. “The Loya Jirga overwhelmingly supported the immediate signing and every serious contender in the presidential election has committed to signing the BSA if elected,” said Milner. “It would be unfortunate if the support of the international community were to come to an end after the Afghans have progressed so far.” Milner likened it to a swimmer making it 60% of the way across the channel when he gets tired and turns back.

It’s often said that Canada has expended blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Some say this to argue that we’ve given enough to a troubled country on the other side of the world that we had little to do with prior to 2003. But many who know Afghanistan well, and who, like me, have seen how close we are to reaching some enduring stability there, would say this is exactly why we have to see this through. Cutting short the goal of building a professional armed forces after years of investment, when valuable gains need to be protected, when the state’s institutions are within sight of being fully functional, and when the Taliban arerunning out of money to continue their insurgency would continue the pattern of shortsightedness that has too long afflicted the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan. Canada should stay, and continue to add value to the effort of training and educating Afghan soldiers and police. We have given too much and come too far to walk out this close to the finish line, and with so much progress at stake.

Deposed-Ukraine President Yanukovich Speaks At Press Conference – Live Webcast | Zero Hedge

Deposed-Ukraine President Yanukovich Speaks At Press Conference – Live Webcast | Zero Hedge.

The long awated press conference has begun. Here are the highlights:

  • YANUKOVICH BLAMES WEST FOR IRRESPONSIBLE CONDUCT
  • YANUKOVICH CALLS FOR UKRAINE REFERENDUM ABOUT GOVERNMENT ORDER
  • YANUKOVYCH SAYS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS SHOULD BE IN DECEMBER
  • YANUKOVYCH SAYS CALLS FOR NORMAL LIFE IN UKRAINIAN REGIONS
  • YANUKOVICH SAYS POWER IN UKRAINE WAS SEIZED BY “PRO-FASCIST” FORCES
  • YANUKOVYCH SAYS TO CONTINUE FIGHT FOR UKRAINE’S FUTURE

Live webcast below:

NATO Calls Ukraine Developments “Dangerous And Irresponsible”, Urges Russia Not To “Escalate Tension” | Zero Hedge

NATO Calls Ukraine Developments “Dangerous And Irresponsible”, Urges Russia Not To “Escalate Tension” | Zero Hedge.

Russian tat. And now, NATO tit.

  • NATO CHIEF SAYS ACTIONS BY ARMED GROUP IN CRIMEA “DANGEROUS AND IRRESPONSIBLE”
  • NATO URGES RUSSIA NOT TO DO ANYTHING THAT WOULD “ESCALATE TENSION OR CREATE MISUNDERSTANDING”

And the lie of the day:

  • U.S., NATO HAVE NOT DRAWN UP ANY CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR HOW THEY WOULD RESPOND IF RUSSIA INTERVENED IN CRIMEA-NATO’S TOP MILITARY COMMANDER
  • THERE IS NO REASON FOR NATO AND RUSSIA TO COMPETE OVER THE FUTURE OF UKRAINE-NATO COMMANDER

Actually, there is, which is precisely why Putin will smile when reading the latest NATO pleadings.

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