“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Russians remind the World that US not all that bad afterall.

You can always depend on the heavy handed Dour Power to come to the rescue of the US image abroad. During the Cold War, Moscow was always available to invade a European country or two or scare the the schnitzels out of the Germans. The US, could never quite trump Russian clumsiness and stupidity, although we did give them a good run. Never underestimate Yankee ingenuity. I was worried for a bit that that there really once was such a thing as a "soviet." Fear not they were merely Russians in bad clothes.

They are back.

Putin, soul exposed to the world, has turned off gas supplies, threatened Europe with new missiles, murdered businessmen, journalists and political opponents and in general has reminded just about everyone, save Compassionate George, that he is the little KGB smug thug he always was.

The latest stunt is Russia claiming the North Pole and yes sports fans they are serious. The Russians are always serious.

Russia Arctic Grab Mission Nears Its Finale

MOSCOW, Aug. 1: An ambitious Russian expedition intended to symbolically claim rich Arctic resources for Moscow was expected to reach the North Pole today ~ part of the Kremlin’s efforts to strengthen the nation’s energy power and expand its global clout.
The planned dive by two mini-submarines to the depth of more than 4,000 metres, or more than 13,200 feet, is intended to prop up Moscow’s claims to almost 1.2 million square kilometres (more than 460,000 square miles) of the Arctic shelf ~ which by some estimates contains 10 billion tons of oil and gas deposits.
The expedition is taking place amid an intensifying rivalry between Russia, the USA, Canada and other nations whose shores face the northern polar ocean for vast potential riches hidden in the Arctic.
About 100 scientists aboard the orange-coloured Akademik Fyodorov research ship are specifically looking for evidence that the Lomonosov Ridge ~ a 2,000 kilometre (1,240 mile) underwater mountain ridge that crosses the polar region is a geologic extension of Russia, and therefore can be claimed by Russia under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. After reaching the sea floor under the North Pole, Russia’s mini-subs will leave a titanium capsule containing the Russian flag. The subs will also collect specimens of Arctic flora and fauna and videotape the dives. The most difficult part of the mission will be getting back precisely to the ice-free point of departure to avoid being trapped under a thick ice crust.


  1. ---
    Ingraham reports GWB exudes complete confidence about situation in Iraq.
    Good to know.
    Stay the course, with gusto!
    everything else off record:
    I wanted to hear what she told him about his buddy, Johnny Sutton.

  2. WASHINGTON: The U.S. Senate passed a resolution Wednesday urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to reconsider suspending Russia's participation in a treaty limiting the deployment of military forces in Europe.

    The measure comes at time of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over Western concerns that Russia is edging away from democracy and Kremlin suspicions about the West's intentions.

    On July 14, Putin announced he would suspend Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty after 150 days.

    "A Russia that seeks to build a permanent partnership with the West can't act in this manner," Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, the author of the Senate resolution, said in a statement.

    The treaty signed in 1990 limits tanks, aircraft and other heavy non-nuclear weapons around the continent.

    Russia has complained that NATO nations have not ratified an amended version, which was signed in 1999, to reflect changes since the 1991 Soviet collapse. But NATO members have refused to do that until Russia withdraws its troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia.

  3. MOSCOW, August 2 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin had a meeting with visiting Secretary General of the Saudi National Security Council Prince Bandar bin Sultan here on Thursday.

    During his Russian visit Prince Bandar has already held consultations, particularly with acting Secretary of the Russian Security Council Valentin Sobolev and with First Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov.

    According to him, Riyadh gives close attention to ties with Moscow.

    “Since President Putin’s visit in Saudi Arabia last February we are feeling Russia’s striving to rapprochement of the two peoples and countries,” the Saudi prince emphasized. “Russia is a great country, and we pay special attention to our consultations, which are aimed at maintaining peace in the Middle East, bilateral relations are also important in various fields,” he added.

    Earlier Putin also praised highly Russian-Saudi relations. “Russia is a true friend for you,” the president said during his visit at the Riyadh royal palace last February. In Putin’s view, much has been done for development of bilateral relations for the recent years, but this trend should be developed further.

  4. Thursday, August 2, 2007

    Russian President Vladimir Putin Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin, while meeting activists and leaders of pro-Kremlin youth movements, used rather bizarre language to describe Russia's standoff with Great Britain over the murder of former spy Alexander Litvinenko in London last November. According to the official Kremlin website, Putin dismissed British calls to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the man accused of poisoning Litvinenko with polonium-210, as "an obvious vestige of colonial thinking." Putin urged the British "to have their brains fixed." Putin accused Britain of giving asylum to "30 persons we accuse of serious crimes." He also dismissed any Western criticism of "problems with democracy in Russia" as deliberate slander by people who "babble as ordered, as they are paid to" (, July 24).

    Putin met with the selected pro-Kremlin youth at Zavidovo, a hunting retreat in the Tverskoi region northwest of Moscow that was popular with Kremlin leaders in the communist era. After speaking in the presence of journalists, Putin reportedly dined on kebabs with his guests (Kommersant, July 25). The casualness of the meeting may somewhat explain Putin's choice of vocabulary.

    The next day Putin received Russian military and intelligence leaders in the Kremlin. In a prepared speech, Putin described plans to build two new U.S. bases for temporary deployment of brigade-size forces in Bulgaria and Romania -- countries that do not border Russia -- as a "global threat." Putin also defended his decision to abandon the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. "Under the CFE the Baltic nations [Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania] are still considered [part of] the Baltic military district -- so maybe I should appoint one of you as its commander?" Putin asked his generals, using the same sarcastic tone on display at Zavidovo (, July 25).

    Putin once again stated his opposition to U.S. plans to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, noting, "Elements of the U.S. strategic arsenal will be deployed in Europe for the first time." To counter this new threat Putin ordered military leaders to "strengthen the battle readiness of the Army and Navy, to procure new modern weapons." The enhanced capabilities of the troops "must be tested during exacting exercises." In return, added Putin, the state will raise military pay and build more housing for officers.
    Last month Russian strategic bombers were flying on exercise missions to the North Pole, near Alaska, and down the coast of Norway towards Britain. Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s were reported to have intercepted two Tu-95 "Bear" bombers on July 18, and two RAF Tornados from Britain's rapid reaction force scrambled to meet the intruders as they approached British airspace, but the Bears turned back home and avoided the Brits. The incident was reported as Britain and Russia were expelling each other’s diplomats over the Litvinenko case (AFP, July 18).

    The Air Force press service chief, Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky, told me the reported flight of the two Bears toward a point north of Britain was in fact the fifth sortie on that course in a week. He added that the exercise had nothing to do with Britain and was planned six months in advance.

    Indeed, Britain was not the aim. Russian strategic bombers can, if need be, fire their X-55 nuclear armed 3,000-kilometer range cruise missiles at targets in Britain while over Russian soil. The present Russian strategic bomber exercises were to train the crews to fly into positions (north of Britain, the North Pole, off Alaska) from which they could fire their X-55s at targets in the continental United States. In the 1990s, such exercises happened rarely. Today as tensions with the West grow and our Air Force has more money to buy gas, they happen regularly.

    The main military exercise of this summer will in August -- the Shanghai Cooperation Organization anti-terrorist "Peace Mission 2007" near Chelyabinsk in the Ural region. About 6,500 troops and 80 aircraft from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan will be involved. Putin and the leaders of the other five SCO member-states plan to observe the conclusion of the exercise after a summit of the SCO in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital (see EDM, July 27).

    As Moscow’s relations with the West deteriorate, the Kremlin is doing its best to seek allies and is building up the SCO to counterbalance NATO. In propaganda terms, the "Peace Mission 2007" will be used to the full, but are the other SCO nations ready to line up against NATO? China is indeed worried about Islamist terrorist threats in Central Asia and concerned with Uighur nationalism and Islamism in its Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

  5. .., to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

    We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

    But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course—both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

    So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

    Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

    Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms—and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

    Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

    Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free."

  6. "Ingraham reports GWB exudes complete confidence about situation in Iraq."

    Because a year from now, with Providence (or the PRTs, or both) smiling down upon us, we'll be able to sell that baby as a Win.

    Now's a good time to stop and ponder: How will this light at the end of the tunnel effect all and sundry Presidential campaigns?

    Will the nation be saved from Hillary? Unfortunately, the nation may not.

    ("Russians in bad clothes." Roger that.)

  7. It's a blip, not a trend.

    If it is not suffiecntly successful enough to preannounce draw downs in March, there will be no positive effect, in the '08 election.

    Success is handing over to Maliki or the next PM, not to tribal leaders of the insurgency.

    Spin it any way one wishes, it is an opportunity to disengage, as of 1 Jan '08, an offical change of course, due to the successful surge, but long term the US is just aggrevating the challenges.

    Arming both sides, without a middle.

  8. ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Associated Press) -- U.S. officials underestimated how difficult it would be for the Iraqi government to pass political reforms, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, adding that the "depth of mistrust" among the factions is greater than anticipated.

    Talking to reporters on board his plane as he returned from a four-day swing through the Middle East, Gates said he is more optimistic about improvements in security in the wartorn nation than he is about getting legislation passed by the bitterly divided government.

    "In some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation," Gates said. "The kinds of legislation they're talking about will establish the framework of Iraq for the future so it's almost like our constitutional convention. ... And the difficulty in coming to grips with those, we may all have underestimated six or eight months ago."

    Gates' comments came a day after six Sunni Cabinet ministers from the Iraqi Accordance Front quit in protest over what they said was Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's failure to respond to a set of demands. Just two Sunnis remain in the 40-member Cabinet, and Maliki Thursday was working to get the six to reconsider.

    The Bush administration ordered a build-up of U.S. forces in Iraq _ adding about 30,000 troops for a total of nearly 160,000 - to quell the violence so the government could stabilize and take hold. That would then allow the U.S. to begin the much-demanded withdrawal of troops.

    On Thursday Gates said the political developments are "somewhat discouraging at the national level," but he hopes it can be patched back together.

  9. The DC boys, they just fell off of turnips trucks, that what Mr Gates is letting US and the World know.

    After more than three years of occupation the US did not realize:

    "In some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation," Gates said. "The kinds of legislation they're talking about will establish the framework of Iraq for the future so it's almost like our constitutional convention. ... And the difficulty in coming to grips with those, we may all have underestimated six or eight months ago."

    How stupid do they have to admit to being, or just re-spinnng the lies they knew they were telling, sox or eight months ago.

    There it is, the light!

  10. "It's a blip, not a trend."

    C'mon, Eyeore. We're all allotted our one day a week of brave (or foolhardy) optimism and I'm picking today.

    Today I say that in a year's time, this will be effectively sold as a win. Not to be confused with a good damn reason to extend The Hearty Handshake of Fond Farewell (highly recommended when you find yourself miraculously, momentarily, ahead of the game) which would be begging for far too much from the Dawdler in Chief and that Prince of a Human Being, ADM Mullins.

  11. On Thursday Gates said the political developments are "somewhat discouraging at the national level," but he hopes it can be patched back together.


    (Whose effing job is that anyway?)

    And they will stay "somewhat discouuraging" at the national level. Primarily because there is no nation left.

    Can't have everything, can we?

  12. Whoops. Mullen.

    ADM Mullen.

    THAT Prince of a Human Being.