“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."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Opportunity for Europe or Wishful Thinking?

Perhaps a new Russian image would be helpful.

Controlling the new Russia requires new thinking

Sunday August 17 2008

It is clear, in the short term at least, what must happen in South Ossetia. Russia must honour its ceasefire agreement with Georgia. Russian troops must withdraw to positions they held before the current conflict erupted. Both sides must allow peacekeepers into the region and return to negotiations on the final status for the enclave. Georgia's attack on the separatists would be reversed, Russia's ostensible war aim would be achieved.

Moscow's reluctance to follow such a course proves that its war aims were more ambitious: a fundamental change in the balance of power in Europe.

It is easy to see why the Kremlin should want such a shift. At the end of the Cold War, it lost control of a vast economic-political bloc. It ceded territory to neighbouring states and saw a rival military alliance advance on its borders. Few states are easily reconciled to such a drastic shrinkage of global status.

Although Britain knows the pain of losing an empire, the more common comparison is with Germany after the First World War - humiliated, plunged into an economic crisis, followed by the emergence of an authoritarian ruler pledging to restore national pride.

Given the parallels, it is hardly surprising that many of Moscow's former satellites are nervous. They see Russia's intervention in South Ossetia as a blatant land grab. In the Kremlin's claim to be protecting the local population, they hear echoes of Hitler's professed concern for the well-being of Sudeten Germans before marching into Czechoslovakia.

That interpretation is shared, in part, by Washington. The US has responded to the South Ossetian crisis with renewed determination to hem Russia in. Its method is to press ahead with plans to include Georgia and Ukraine in Nato and to deploy anti-ballistic-missile defence systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. When, in the past, Russia has complained about the 'son of Star Wars' system, the US has insisted it is meant to deter Iran. It now looks transparently like old-fashioned Cold War escalation.

One crucial difference between the current East-West confrontation and the Cold War is that, this time, the economic ties binding the two sides are stronger. Russia needs access to Western markets; the West - and Europe in particular - needs Russian oil and gas. That creates an opportunity for the European Union, the world's largest single market, to play a moderating role, steering the conversation away from military grandstanding and towards economic negotiation.

But there is another, more worrying factor distinguishing present hostilities from the Cold War enmity. Under Soviet rule, many Russians privately shared the West's view of their leaders as thugs. But the Russian intelligentsia that secretly admired democracy has been either crushed or co-opted by Vladimir Putin.

Unlike the tired dogma of Marxist-Leninism, Mr Putin's brand of militarist nationalism enjoys genuine popular support.

Such a country will not defer to Nato out of respect for its members' status as democracies. But it might be convinced of the wisdom of settling disputes through international institutions rather than military adventurism. Inevitably, that raises allegations of Western hypocrisy. In defence of its campaign in South Ossetia, Russia cites Western actions in Kosovo and Iraq. That is neat rhetoric from the Kremlin, but as justification for its assault on Georgia it is plainly cynical. Russia's claim to be 'keeping the peace' in South Ossetia is belied by its army's penetration into undisputed Georgian territory and by credible allegations that it is facilitating atrocities by anti-Georgian militias.

Such aggression must not be rewarded. But Cold War-style brinkmanship will not make Russia's neighbours safer. It will only reinforce the Kremlin's view that small states are pawns in a strategic game. The best guarantee of security and peace in Europe since the end of the Cold War has been economic integration, achieved through the EU. It is Brussels, not Washington, that stands the best chance of persuading Moscow to change its ways.


  1. Ahh, we're all "Overthinking" this one, Deuce. It's the pipeline. Russia wants (really, really wants) all of the gas, and oil from the Stans, and Caucassus to flow through Russia. Period.

  2. the best way to fight the jihadists, opec and OPEC2 (russia) is to make america energy independent

    exporting small power generating units that can eliminate the need for use of cooking oil and or coal can do alot to reduce others from having to buy from opec 1 or 2

    picture a small village in africa, that now uses 30% of it's income to buy kerosene for it's cooking needs, replace that with a solar oven and poof! there is a permanent reduction in their oil needs, couple that with solar water pumps etc... do that several million times?

    make opec 1 & 2 irrelevant & impodent

  3. That's why I CAN'T support McCain. He's opposed EVERY alternative energy (and, drilling) bill that's been presented to Congress.

    If I thought McCain could further Missile Defense I'd be tempted to back off my opposition towards him; but, I don't think Jesus Christ, himself, could get any more Missile Defense past this congress.

    In the meantime, Obama can get Solar, and Biofuels through. McCain will hinder these vital, emerging technologies, and kill the ones he can.

    Sorry, boys; It's gotta be Obama.


  4. Sorry, boys; It's gotta be Obama.

    What a joke..

    Obama will do nothing except destroy small business and enable our enemies...

    I dont want anyone who can be friends with william ayers, rev wright or tony resko

  5. He's a piece of shit; but, so's McCain.

    I'll just take what I can get; and, all I can get, right now, is alternative energy.

  6. Ukraine offers satellite defence co-operation with Europe and US

    Ukraine inflamed mounting East-West tensions yesterday by offering up a Soviet-built satellite facility as part of the European missile defence system.


    Obama to the rescue? You gotta be shitting me.

  7. Rufus: Sorry, boys; It's gotta be Obama.

    Okay, you boys vote for Obama, and hand both the Executive and the Legislative over to the Donks. Because make no mistake, the Donks are going to clean up in the House and Senate this year.

  8. Houston, I think I've found the Problem

    $44.5 Billion/Mo? What's that? $One Billion, Four Hundred, and Fifty Million Every Day?

  9. But, T, with solar collectors you T will almost be Free!
    Vote Obama!
    Rufus has caught Religion.
    Kremlin Says Troops Will Begin Georgia Withdrawal
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Russia that there would be “serious consequences” if Russian compliance with the accord was not rapid and complete.

  10. "youR T will almost be Free!" waterwise.

  11. Rufus,

    Obama is a trojan horse. He's paid by the Saudis.

  12. They're all paid by the Sauds.
    He least of all, as his senority is lowest. Obama the least corrupted by the system, as he is newest to it, of those in contention.

    But, never mind, we'll all be swinging to AlGore, come September.

  13. AlGore, more "right" than McCain on some issues.

    Just need 44 Senators, loyal and true.

    The Democrats made it work, for them

  14. Just need 44 Senators, loyal and true.


  15. Considering the circumstances, that's a heck of a gutsy offer by the Ukrainians.

  16. If Obama gets elected I think all hell's going to break out, the shit's going to hit the fan. Our economy will tank, the Russians will move, might march right into Ukraine. We may well have the Cuban Missile Crisis, Part II. God only knows what will happen with Israel and Iran. Then there's Pakistan without Mushy. And maybe a domestic terrorist attack or three. I got a real bad feeling about all this.

    Obama's a walking disaster for the west.

  17. What's this deal with "Ukraine" all of a sudden?

    What's Ukraine? West Russia spelled funny? Some decent farmland populated by lousy farmers?

    An "opportunity" for some more Western Welfare? I mean, Hell, Guys, no one knew (or cared) that they existed for 6,000 years.

    Now, we're afraid the Russkies will retake it? Maybe we better "slow down" for a minute.

  18. Bob,

    How long before the US armada reaches its destination? I've been hearing sightings of this armada for 3 years now.

  19. Thomas Jefferson said we have separation of church and state not to protect the church from the state but to protect the state from the power of the church.

    Doesn't matter what McCain *believes* - and it is a belief. The State has ruled that the individual has the right to decide her belief - without being informed by the state.

  20. ...without being informed by the state *in its capacity as adviser for the church.*

    Wrongful intercourse of two entities you might say.

  21. So have I, Mat. Just a few days ago I heard about a great Armada steaming to the gulf. You got me. Put a call into the Navy, and ask, is all I can suggest.

  22. The pipeline, if I've looked at the map correctly, seems to be a little to the south of where the rooskies are encamped. I don't understand why they've stopped, or why they have signed some cease fire agreement that seems to oblige them to sometime go back to the two breakaway provinces. If they want to control the gas, why haven't they gone and controlled the area of the pipeline?

  23. Hell, Mat, you were predicting it for some of those years!

  24. I don't think that saying a fetus is a 'person' is a religious belief. An atheist can well come to the same conclusion, and seek to extend the protection of the law and the constitution to that person. It's a logical conclusion more than a religious belief.

    Many of us were shocked to find that overseas jihadis have constitutional rights. In my world that seems more illogical than giving the protection of the law to American fetii.

    But, I don't think it's going to happen.

  25. If the CIA/Pentagon want that pipeline harmed as an excuse for further geopolitical and economic machinations, they will have to do it themselves. It's interesting, that just prior to the Georgian attack Ossetia, an explosion at the Turkish end caused the oil flow in that pipeline to be stopped.

  26. Hell, Mat, you were predicting it for some of those years!


    Not an Armada, an Army. And not even an Army. If Rumsfeld's plan was for an expeditionary force of 80,000 men, mine was for 40,000.

  27. ..just prior to the Georgian attack ^on Ossetia..

  28. I've read three or four reviews of the shootout at Saddleback church this morning, and it seems McCain handled himself better than Obama.

    I got to hand this to McCain. At 71, he's an energetic old cuss. All that flying around, endless days of hustle, there aren't too many 71 year olds that could keep up the pace, and, he's got those old injuries.

  29. Boundary Issues

    by David Remnick

    On a bright September day in 1993, not long before he ended his two decades in exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn delivered a rare public address in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. Although Solzhenitsyn was energetic at the lectern, he was all but finished with his epic work as the chronicler of Soviet cruelty. With “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” “Cancer Ward,” “The First Circle,” and, above all, “The Gulag Archipelago,” Solzhenitsyn had not only exposed the secrets of Soviet oppression and ruin; he had also presaged the collapse of Communist ideology and Moscow’s empire.

    But, in Vaduz, Solzhenitsyn, a principled conservative, could not join in the West’s euphoria. He was deeply aware that the costs of ideology, violence, and empire had not been paid in full. While American triumphalists were still indulging in clichés of how Ronald Reagan had won the Cold War, Solzhenitsyn anticipated the persistence of the old and unrepentant élites, the former Communist Party chiefs and K.G.B. officials who so easily transformed themselves into “democrats” and “businessmen”:

    We were recently entertained by a naïve fable of the happy arrival at the “end of history,” of the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that something very different is coming, something new, and perhaps quite stern. No, tranquility does not promise to descend on our planet, and will not be granted us so easily.

    Solzhenitsyn died on August 3rd, and he was buried near Turgenev in the graveyard of the Donskoi Monastery. Vladimir Putin, the former K.G.B. operative and Russia’s de-facto President, unabashed by irony, paid tribute to Solzhenitsyn’s service to “the ideals of freedom, justice, and humanism.” Later that week, while attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Putin discussed with his seatmates and fellow heads of state a non-sporting matter: he had ordered his tanks and troop trucks into South Ossetia, in the Caucasus. His Army also attacked Georgia proper, most forcefully the city of Gori, the birthplace of Iosef Dzhugashvili—better known as Stalin, who in his day helped redraw the volatile mosaic of the Caucasus.

    Boundary Issues

  30. Bob, there seems to be more to it than just this one pipeline. Some oil is moved to that blown-up port by rail (now, blown up.) There are other pipelines planned for this area.

    Also, there's the big "planned" natural gas alliance between Russia, and Iran. That would be about 50% of the WORLD'S Nat Gas Reserves. Georgia sits in the way. There's the intimidation factor in regards to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and whoever the hell else.

    Georgia, unlike Ukraine (in my opinion) actually is a pretty strategically-located piece of Real Estate.

  31. Konyok:
    That is exactly why Volodya’s buddy Gerhard Schroeder is now working for Gazprom - building a pipeline on the bed of the Baltic Sea directly to Germany.

  32. Prepare for all-out war, Bush the Evil Genius wants it:
    how spread is our navy? how spread is our air force? how spread is our munitions manufacturing capacity? how much fighting have the iraq troops been doing lately?

    lots of countries have been rotating troops into afghanistan and iraq to learn to fight like, and with, American troops.

    if we get into a conventional war with the russians, their army is gone in two weeks. if they launch icbm’s their country is gone in two hours.

    we aren’t going to mimic napoleon or hitler, and march into the interior unequipped. once open warfare breaks out, their food runs out, their grid goes down, etc etc etc

    in comparison to our capabilities, russia’s armed forces have bones in their noses and spears in their hands.

    bush has a special gift of infuriating opponents into irrational action, and it sure looks like he has put a bug up putin’s ass. “i’m your huckelberry”

    maybe the russians will start armageddon; short of that they will be squeezed and squeezed and squeezed. they are far less resilent as a society than the west.
    Vlad would be doing TM tm, if not for W.

  33. It's a logical conclusion more than a religious belief.

    The line between material/spiritual, divine/secular, logic/belief is fine.

    Call it Fuzzy Logic if you will.

    And try not to be so dismissive.

    Emersonian it is not.

    Back to the Crimea.

  34. And you know what alBobal?

    I get tweaked periodically by little digital punks posting under lower case initials and cute avatars, which puts me at a distinct disadvantage because I cannot do the pissing match under cover of anonymity [although I am studying NahnCee intently for clues]. Mano a mano or not at all.

    So tweak with respect. That's Ms. Slade to you.

  35. PHOENIX - Officials are evacuating hundreds of people from the Grand Canyon after an earthen dam broke following heavy rains.

    Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Maureen Oltrogge says the Redlands Dam broke early Sunday. It is causing flooding in the town of Supai at the bottom of the canyon.

    She says Supai is not under water. About 400 members of the Havasupai tribe live there. No injuries have been reported.

    Oltrogge says some campers and river runners in the canyon also are being evacuated by seven helicopters. Evacuees are being taken to a Red Cross shelter in Peach Springs.

  36. Some of the Hotspurs at BC almost seem to be looking forward to a nuclear exchange over South Ossetia. This I truly can't understand, a kind of a fantasy life.

  37. Bobal: Some of the Hotspurs at BC almost seem to be looking forward to a nuclear exchange over South Ossetia.

    It's the same kind of crap we got from Habu about nuking Muslims, before Trish outed me as Habu.

  38. Discounting the threat of escalation, in an existental conflict, not to clever.

    That is why, on 8Aug08, or was it the tenth, well, whenever the Ruskies were in the tunnel, and the gorge, we'd have hit them and they'd have gone home.

    But that was to risky, to dangerous and carried the threat of a real war, with Russia.
    That risk, discountable, covered by technology.

    But in an open war, that threat of escalation, well it'd escalate, too. Maybe not to Moscow and New York, but to US facilities in Iraq, Germany and Turkey, fer sur.

    doug is posting a fellow that discards 60 years of US policy, without as much as a by your leave.

    Lat month he was, most likely, thinking we are about to attack Iran.

    Definately a back burner item, now.

    Bush won't do it, McCain may.

  39. We'd be up to what?
    World War V or VI

    or would history call it ...
    the 2nd Nuclear War?

  40. A 71 year old salt does not have to make his bones to prove anything. Obama tweaks the moment. He has no grounding, no American roots, an internationalist first and a man of the left with a history of wanting to please his people. Who are his people?

  41. Bush got the rap, probably deserved of wanting to please and surpass his daddy. Obama lost his and looked to others on the street or the Wright Reverend. He clearly succumbed to a black momma.

    Obama, raised white, goes dark. As of last night, white grandma is back in, but is way above his pay grade.

  42. The human brain is large enough to see into the future.


    The SAMs of Suez
    Aug. 16, 2008

    The overture to the 1973 Yom Kippur War came in the form of a now all but forgotten conflagration called the War of Attrition. It was orchestrated by the thousands of Soviet instructors in Egypt who were rapidly retraining and re-equipping that country's battered army after the Arab debacle of the 1967 Six Day War.

    In March 1968 the Egyptians launched a massive bombardment of Israel's fortifications along the Suez Canal, from which time on the greasy black puffs of bursting shells rained ever more relentlessly and lethally upon the IDF's forward positions - the Bar-Lev line. Casualties mounted and Israel hit back with escalating and deep-penetrating ferocity. Yet the Egyptians pounded on, intent on compelling the IDF to abandon the canal line while pushing forward their umbrella of sophisticated Soviet surface-to-air missiles - SAMs - to neutralize Israel's overwhelming air superiority. The one hope the Egyptians ever had of regaining the Sinai by force was by first knocking IAF aircraft from the skies so as to enable their amphibious forces to cross the canal. The Soviet-manned SAMs were designed to do just that.

    The War of Attrition went on for more than two years until, in August 1970, the Americans, under president Richard Nixon, and through his secretary of state William Rogers, brokered a cease-fire. The Rogers initiative was a political-military package in which both sides agreed to stop shooting and start talking under a UN umbrella. The envisaged talks were to be essentially based on the famous Security Council Resolution 242, which called for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict." This, to Menachem Begin, was anathema.

    After much wrangling, prime minister Golda Meir finally accepted the US initiative, whereupon Begin and his party quit her government. As they saw it, Israel was being asked to commit itself to a withdrawal even before a concrete peace proposal was in sight.

    Worse was to follow when, hours after the cease-fire came into effect, Egypt brazenly violated it by rushing its SAM umbrella into the designated standstill zone adjacent to the canal, achieving by stealth what it had failed to accomplish by attrition. Cairo now had the means to clear the skies of Israeli aircraft whenever it resolved to strike across the canal.

    Golda fumed. She demanded the missiles be removed forthwith, but Nixon, embroiled in his losing war in Vietnam and fearful of a direct confrontation with the Soviets, procrastinated. He showered the prime minister with hopeful reassurances until she succumbed, igniting Begin's outrage. When Washington refused to even officially acknowledge that a violation had taken place, indignation launched him into a barrage of dire prophecy, predicting with uncanny prescience the inevitability of the Yom Kippur War.

    He told the Knesset: "The Egyptians, with the aid of their Russian advisers, have violated the cease-fire in a manner so gross it threatens our security, indeed our very future. They have deployed batteries of enhanced SAM missiles capable of penetrating to a depth of 10 to 15 kilometers over our side of the canal. Hence, whenever Egypt decides to reopen fire - and knowing the realities we have to assume that such a day shall surely come - it will have a decisive advantage over us. Given its expanded missile umbrella, it will be very difficult for our air force to hit back without sustaining substantial losses. This is the reality, and our people must know it."

    WITH THIS crescendo of indignation, Begin wound up his speech and stepped down from the podium into a crowd of admirers who showered him with their fervent praise, to which he responded with thanks full of grace. He made his way to the Knesset dining room where Golda was conversing with Yitzhak Rabin, then ambassador to Washington.

    "That was some fire and brimstone," hissed Golda derisively as the opposition leader walked by.

    "And I hope you took note of my every word, Madame Prime Minister," commented Begin with an air of impudence and gravity in delicate balance.

    "What you don't seem to understand," she scolded, "is that we have a new situation on our hands. There would be no cease-fire unless we accepted all the conditions of the Rogers initiative. We couldn't choose half the package without the other."

    "But they hardly consulted us," countered Begin. "Rogers gave us a letter to sign. You initially rejected it. You had reservations, and you rightly sought to insert changes. But in the end, it was all but dictated to us."


    "Is it? In my view there is a smell of an imposed US-Soviet solution brewing. Nixon is going to sell us out!"

    This irked Golda so much she raised her voice: "You know very well I've totally rejected any whiff of an attempt to impose a solution on us. I will not go back to the 1967 lines, and I've made this plain both to Rogers and to the president. I told them both that Israel will neither be a victim to American appeasement of the Arabs nor to their big power politics with Russia."

    "True, but you should never have given in to their appeasement over the cease-fire violations, which they themselves brokered. We shall pay a heavy price for that one day. Moreover, I genuinely believe your acceptance of the 242 language of 'withdrawal' is the beginning of a major unconditional retreat from all of the cease-fire lines."

    "Goodness gracious, Begin" - Golda's eyebrows were arched provocatively - "how you get carried away by your own rhetoric! If only you stammered or hesitated occasionally."

    Unperturbed, Begin bayoneted, "No, Madame, this is an instance when you have gotten carried away by your own wishful thinking. Nixon is playing chess with the fate of Israel. This could be a Middle East Munich. America seems to be more interested in Arab oil than in Israel's secure future."

    "With all due respect, Mr. Begin," interrupted Rabin, his voice deferential but terse, "only recently president Nixon told me the very opposite. I believe we have a good friend in Richard Nixon."

    "A good friend? People tell me the man's an anti-Semite."

    Rabin smiled, but the smile didn't reach his eyes: "Confidentially, I'd say yes, he is an anti-Semite," he said in his characteristic baritone. "He doesn't like the way Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and he certainly doesn't like the way liberal Jews are at the forefront of the anti-Vietnam War campaign. Moreover, he probably believes Jews control the press, and he suspects many are more loyal to Israel than to America. However, this hasn't stopped him from appointing individual Jews to high places, like Henry Kissinger, based on their exceptional competence. I think he has the highest regard for our leaders" - this with a nod toward Golda - "and admires our guts in defense of our national interests. Certainly he recognizes Israel as an American asset in the Cold War."

    Begin sat down uninvited. "So how does that square with Rogers cease-fire initiative, which is tantamount to appeasing the Russians and the Arabs?" he asked.

    "It squares," said Rabin, sinking his teeth into the argument, "because all along Nixon and Kissinger have known that in the War of Attrition the Soviets and the Egyptians were putting us both - America and Israel - to a test. They know the Soviets are feeding and manipulating the entire Egyptian war effort. That's why I was the one to advocate deep penetration raids into the heart of Egyptian territory, to prove to the Americans that we have what it takes to stand up to the Soviets. Those raids not only changed the balance of power along the fighting front, they tipped the scales of the superpower confrontation in America's favor. And thanks to that it ensures our American arms supplies. But Nixon, nevertheless, has to strike a balance."

    TO MAKE his point he extracted from his pocket a sheet of paper, and said, "Let me quote Nixon's own words to me." He read: " 'If it were just a question of Israel against the Egyptians and the Syrians, I'd say, "Let 'em have it! Hit 'em as hard as you can." Every time I hear you penetrating deep into their territory and hitting them hard on the nose, it gives me great satisfaction. But it's not just a problem of Egypt and Syria alone. The other Arab states are watching, too, so we have to play it in a manner that we won't lose everything in the Middle East. We want to help you without harming ourselves by losing the Arabs.'"

    Here, Rabin paused, and when he read on there was a touch of triumph in his voice: "'Damn the oil! America can get it from other sources. We have to stand by decent nations in the Middle East. We will back you militarily, but the military escalation can't go on endlessly. We must do something politically.' And that," concluded Rabin, "is the meaning of the Rogers initiative."

    To which Golda, brimming with gratification at her ambassador's first-hand analysis, said, "I, personally, don't think any American president has ever uttered such a pro-Israel statement before. Add to that, in return for our accepting the Rogers cease-fire package Nixon has promised me we will not be expected to withdraw a single soldier from the cease-fire lines except in the context of a contractual peace agreement which we would regard satisfactory to our security needs. Moreover, had we not accepted the Rogers initiative we would not be getting any more American arms. Surely you understand that!"

    Begin dismissed this clincher with a perfunctory wave of the hand. "What do you mean we wouldn't be getting American arms? We would demand them."

    "You know, Begin," said Golda sarcastically, "you sometimes make me think you're a mystic. You've convinced yourself that all we have to do is to go on telling the United States that we won't give in to pressure and that if we do this long and loud enough, then one day that pressure will vanish."

    "My good lady," responded Begin in a similar patronizing vein, "you trivialize Israel's importance to the United States of America."

    "Do I? I think that though the American commitment to Israel's survival is certainly great, I'm afraid we need Mr. Nixon and Mr. Rogers much more than they need us."

    "I disagree!" said Begin with a vigorous shake of the head. "The Americans don't give us arms out of the kindness of their hearts. Israel is doing more for America in keeping the Soviet Union at bay in the Middle East than what America is doing for Israel to defend itself, and I dare say Mr. Nixon is well aware of that. Besides, you must not underestimate the voice of American Jewry."

    "Oh, I don't. But I'm afraid our policies can't be based entirely on the assumption that American Jewry either would or could compel Mr. Nixon to adopt a position against his will and better judgment, especially when he doesn't like liberal-minded Jews."

    "We shall see," said Begin rising, and turning to Rabin said with a becoming smile. "I beg of you not to misconstrue my argument with the prime minister as something personal. Mrs. Meir and I differ on many issues, but I assure you that I regard her as a proud and courageous Jewess."

    "Stop being a schmoozer," snapped Golda with a grin that greatly softened her craggy and aging features.

    "No, no, madame, I say this not in flattery. I shall always oppose you whenever I believe you are in error, as I do now. But on the personal level my respect for you shall never waver. I simply pray that my reservations with regard to your present policy will prove unfounded, but I fear they won't."

    Whereupon, he semi-bowed and moved off to join a table of fellow oppositionists for a glass of lemon tea.

    Three years later, in October 1973, under the umbrella of the SAM missiles, Egyptian armies massively crossed the Suez Canal and so ended the cease-fire and so began the Yom Kippur War.

  43. Byron York:

    “What’s the most gut-wrenching decision you’ve ever had to make?”

    Obama answered that opposing the war in Iraq was “as tough a decision that I’ve had to make, not only because there were political consequences but also because Saddam Hussein was a bad person and there was no doubt he meant America ill.” But Obama was a state senator in Illinois when Congress authorized the president to use force in Iraq. He didn’t have to make a decision on the war...And now he says it’s his toughest call.

    When McCain got the question, he was able to tell an old story with a sense of gravity and poignancy that he seldom shows in public. He described his time as a prisoner of war, when he was offered a chance for early release because his father was a top naval officer. “I was in rather bad physical shape,” McCain told Warren, but “we had a code of conduct that said you only leave by order of capture.” So McCain refused to go.

  44. The Winograd Commission did not find fault with Olmert for appointing the inexperienced Peretz as Defense Minister, leaving this "political issue" to be judged by the public. But in the end it was not Peretz that led to low public opinion polls of Olmert but rather ceaseless rounds of political attacks by his opponents charging him with corruption.

    Charges that have yet to be proved.

    What is self evident is that after publicly announcing his departure as Prime Minister in the near future, Ehud Olmert continues to serve the Israel public with style, intelligence, integrity and uncompromising Zionism.

    Israel Budget

  45. "Stop being a schmoozer," snapped Golda with a grin that greatly softened her craggy and aging features.


  46. Noun 1. schmoozer - someone skilled at conversation
    conversationalist, conversationist
    deipnosophist - someone skilled at informal chitchat
    conversational partner, interlocutor - a person who takes part in a conversation
    speaker, talker, verbaliser, verbalizer, utterer - someone who expresses in language; someone who talks (especially someone who delivers a public speech or someone especially garrulous); "the speaker at commencement"; "an utterer of useful maxims"

    This place is filled with schmoozers.

  47. Schmoozers!

    Germany offers support for Georgia's NATO bid


    TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is offering strong support for Georgia, saying the country is on track to become a member of NATO.

    Merkel flew to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Sunday, two days after she met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

    In a speech Sunday, Merkel also suggested that NATO could help rebuild the tattered Georgian military.

    Merkel supports the EU cease-fire, saying it needs to be followed "immediately" and that Russian troops need to pull out of neighboring Georgia.

  48. "I expect a very fast, very prompt withdrawal of Russian troops out of Georgia"


  49. "They want new and young," Jasmine, a former teen prostitute from Oakland who now volunteers for the nonprofit SAGE Project, which fights sexual exploitation, explained to me.

    San Francisco slips even a notch lower in Dante's circles of hell.

    San Francisco Welcomes Pimps, Pedophiles

    Poor Bernie Ward, gonna miss out on all that fun.

  50. Slay the Russians, the Arabs--Greenpeace Founder Finally Figures It Out, Now Backs Nuclear Power

    Says wind, solar, etc isn't going to cut it.

  51. "It's the same kind of crap we got from Habu about nuking Muslims, before Trish outed me as Habu."
    YOU were Habu?
    Anybody else there to witness the outing?

  52. It's Mr. Teresita, Doug.

    Russians are the winners, so no need for them to do it in a hurried manner, giving impression that they gave in to the pressure from John Samford’s promising WWIII, or Teresita, plannng economical disaster for Russia or Lifeofthemind moving the Polish, Italian and French divisions to the Russia’s borders (all are guys from this forum).

    Does a heck of job cross dressing I'll tell ya:)

  53. In mid-October, reconnaissance photographs disclosed the Soviet missiles. On October 22, President Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public and his decision to quarantine the island.

    At the same time, he proclaimed that any missile attack launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on America by the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove all their offensive weapons from Cuba. Negotiations ensued and on October 28 an agreement was reached whereby the Soviets removed their missiles and light bombers in return for assurances America would not invade Cuba.

    Presumably, this agreement, which in theory is still in effect, would be scrapped if Russia were to place missiles there again, a former Merrill Lynch strategist, Bill Rhodes, says.

    Cuban Missile Crisis Scenario

  54. Add in Venezuela and Nicoland, for good measure.

    Those Bears could soon be flying a regular American patrol route.
    Morth and South, a hundred miles off the Atlantic sea coast, and of course the Gulf Coast.

    Turbo props, of B52 era vintage.
    Mounted with cruise missiles.

    Missile defense, sub orbital interceptors, not designed for that threat.

    Can't shadow 'em with F22s either, to many flight hours. Wear those costly fighters right out.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. The KH-55 Granat (AS-15 Nato code name "Kent") was fielded in the 1990s. The X-55SM modification provided for increased range with the installation of expendable conformal external fuel tanks, giving it an estimated range of 1,860 miles.

    The Kh-55 has been in Russian service since 1984 as a nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile. The missile carries a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead. The Kh-55 is the Soviet counterpart to American BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile. The Kh-55 cruise missiles are deployed on Russian strategic bombers - the Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack.

    Each Tu-95 Bear bomber can carry up to six Kh-55 missiles, located on catapult type launching drum installation in the bomb compartment of the aircraft. In addition to the internal rotary launcher, the Bear can carry ten more Kh-55s on external pylons.

    LENGTH - 28.9 FEET
    SPEED - MACH .77

  57. “We signed a group of accords and we want to carry them out to the letter beginning today, and may this be the first step in building a closer, more productive bilateral relationship,” Chavez said.

    For his part, Lugo, a former Catholic bishop who Friday succeeded Nicanor Duarte in the presidency for a five-year term, expressed gratitude for the initiatives of the Venezuelan government.

    “What we have signed today with the people of Venezuela, may it not be something that stays only in letters and good intentions,” he said.

    Oil Need

  58. Specifications (Tu-95MS)
    General characteristics

    Crew: Seven - two pilots, one tailgunner, four others
    Length: 49.50 m (162 ft 5 in)
    Wingspan: 51.10 m (167 ft 8 in)
    Height: 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in)
    Wing area: 310 m² (3,330 ft²)
    Empty weight: 90,000 kg (198,000 lb)
    Loaded weight: 171,000 kg (376,200 lb)
    Max takeoff weight: 188,000 kg (414,500 lb)
    Powerplant: 4× Kuznetsov NK-12MV turboprops, 11,000 kW (14,800 shp)[33] each

    Maximum speed: 920 km/h (510 knots, 575 mph)
    Range: 15,000 km (8,100 nm, 9,400 mi)
    Service ceiling 12,000 m (39,000 ft)
    Rate of climb: 10 m/s (2,000 ft/min)
    Wing loading: 606 kg/m² (124 lb/ft²)
    Power/mass: 235 W/kg (0.143 hp/lb)

    Radar-controlled Guns: 1 or 2× AM-23 23 mm cannon in tail turret
    Missiles: Up to 15,000 kg (33,000 lb), including the Kh-20, Kh-22, Kh-26, and Kh-55 air-to-surface missiles

  59. Paraquay is a long way off, and when you're there, you're no where.

  60. Rat, there just doesn't seem anyway for big countries to truly protect themselves from one another. We got to live and let live, or we die by the millions.

    . But his construction of human rights beginning "at the moment of conception," while theoretically clean, is a practical mess.

    In the interest of full disclosure--

    McCain and Obama on Abortion

    I hadn't really thought of that angle of between conception and implantation. I still stick with my definition, but it muddies it up a bit.

    Paraquay is a long way off, and when you're there, you're no where.

    Everywhere is the center of the world.:) Some centers are better than others, however.