“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."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Russian intimidation of Ukraine and Abkhazia continues.

A chilling speech from Putin's puppy Dmitry Medvedev highlights the continuing danger posed by Russia to its neighbors. Obama and Hillary did not exactly hit the reset button. Misspelling it was the least of their mistakes. Russia is a dangerous demented society. The naive undertaking by Obama convinced Putin that Obama is a chump.

Putin said on Wednesday that international organizations must recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if they want to work in the former Georgian republics. Translation: Russians owns them.

South Ossetia's de facto ruler Eduard Kokoity has gone as far as to say that his region's self-styled independence was just a temporary phase before formally unifying with Russia's North Ossetia region.

Moscow says it has 7,600 troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia combined. However, Western military analysts say, that the true figure is closer to 10,000. Moscow has announced intentions of building permanent Russian bases.

Putin took the measure of Obama and has decided now is the time to return Russian imperialism and hegemony to Eastern Europe.


Putin's Reset Button: Pressing Ukraine

By Ken Blackwell American Thinker

It's really amazing how soon the Obama administration's chickens are coming home to roost. They made a big deal out of finding a "reset" button for U.S.-Russia relations. They wanted to reject what they saw as George W. Bush's truculence over the Russian invasion of Georgia last summer. So they went out of their way to send a message to Russia that they wanted a new beginning in their relations with Moscow.

Well, they've gotten it. London's prestigious Financial Times reports that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent a tough "ultimatum" to Ukraine's leadership.

Medvedev sent his blunt warning in the unusual form of an "open letter." He wants the world to know what he's telling President Yushchenko.

And what he's telling him is chilling. Medvedev charged that Yushchenko was "ignoring the opinion of your country's citizens" in seeking membership in NATO. Medvedev roughly accused Yushchenko of meddling in the Russia-Georgia territorial dispute by helping to supply invaded Georgia.

Medvedev told Yushchenko he was risking Europe's supply of natural gas. How can this be? Russia has most of Europe's natural gas and they can turn off the spigot whenever Medvedev or his boss, Vladimir Putin, decide to turn up the pressure on the West.

The 2004 elections in Ukraine were widely hailed in the West as an "orange revolution" because that was the color of Viktor Yushchenko's victorious political party. That party was dedicated to preserving Ukraine's always perilous independence from Moscow.

Ukraine has for centuries been under Russia's thumb. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the Ukrainians took advantage of an historic opportunity to make a break for freedom. Persuaded by the U.S., Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons. It seemed a good idea at the time, to reduce the number of countries with nukes might make non-proliferation treaty enforcement easier, it was believed.

That was when Boris Yeltsin's star was on the rise in the Russian Republic. It seemed reasonable to think that Russia might be headed for a new future as a free and democratic state.

That was before former KGB agent Vladimir Putin eased the aging, alcoholic Yeltsin into an early retirement on the eve of the new Millennium. Putin doesn't drink. Putin is a martial arts enthusiast. With his brutal crackdown on Chechnya (a restive part of the Russian Republic) and last summer's invasion of Georgia, Putin is showing the world just how adept he is at "the martial arts."

Even liberals understand what's happening now. Lilia Shevstova is a senior analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center. She told FT that the Medvedev letter is "a message to any new leader [in Ukraine] that we will deal with you only when you accept our demands."

To underscore his seriousness, Medvedev is holding back on appointing a new Russian ambassador to Kiev, Ukraine's capital, until the Ukrainians come around to his line of thinking.

Is this Joe Biden's crisis, the early test of Barack Obama's leadership? You'll recall that Biden told a group of Seattle Democratic donors that Barack Obama would be tested in the first six months of his presidency and that it would not be immediately apparent that we would be on the right side.

Russia is clearly turning up the pressure on Ukraine. The freedom of 45 million people in Eastern Europe is very much at risk. If Ukraine is clawed back into Moscow's orbit, can Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia hold out? What about the tiny, freedom-loving Baltic States?

When we see Barack Obama embracing Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro, handing out Medals of Freedom to the anti-American UN apparatchik, Mary Robinson, and his administration of amateurs falling all over themselves to appease Russia, is it any wonder Vladimir Putin is pressing his own reset button? It's Ukraine--and Putin is pressing it hard.

Ken Blackwell is a former US Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.


  1. As Mr Blackwell so aptly put it:

    "Ukraine has for centuries been under Russia's thumb".

    The US has never wielded influence there, in Russia's "Near Abroad". We are merely moving back to "normal", after the Russians screwed their own pooch, back in 1991.

    That "Russia is a dangerous demented society" old mat would have argued against, but I certainly would not.

    I did find that Mr B;ackwell's description of Chechnya as "(a restive part of the Russian Republic)" provided a LOL moment.

    Energy as a political weapon, that certainly did not start in Russia, nor with Mr Putin's rise to power and influence, there.

    When the Ukrainians gave up their nuclear capability they joined the civilized whirled. Wonder if they did a cost benefit analysis?

    They definately did not understand the United States and how its' foreign policy promises should not be considered a foundation for their future. That they did not call President Diem or the Shah of Iran, for confirmation of US fecklessness, their bad.

  2. The US attempt at influence in Georgia and the Ukraine, by the United States, simply a case of over reach, while the Russians were down on the mat.

    Now that their corner men have applied the smelling salts and stopped the bleeding, it looks like the bear is ready to rumble.

    While, since 1991, we've shot our wad in the deserts and mountains on the edges of what was Alex's Empire.

  3. San Francisco Chronicle - Henry K. Lee - ‎6 hours ago‎
    Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, the Charles Manson follower who tried to shoot President Gerald Ford outside the state Capitol in Sacramento in 1975, was released Friday from a federal prison hospital in Texas, ending a 34-year stint behind bars.

  4. I am glad to see that "Gus" is taking the proper tone, and will slide on by any criminal charges due to his shooting the robbers, with an "unregistered" shotgun.

    By VERENA DOBNIK (AP) – 13 hours ago.

    NEW YORK — The sidewalk outside the Harlem store still was smeared with blood Friday, and the glass on the door still was blown out.

    Above the entrance, someone had scribbled the words, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

    Less than 24 hours after a deadly showdown at the shop worthy of a Clint Eastwood script, Charles "Gus" Augusto Jr. entered his store — oblivious of the inscription taken from Dante's "Inferno."

    The 72-year-old wholesaler of commercial restaurant equipment had been up all night, questioned by police about how he'd drawn a shotgun and killed two of four armed robbery suspects who entered his Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame store Thursday afternoon.

    Two of the young men died on the street. Two remained hospitalized in stable condition with gunshot wounds.

    When they walked in at about 3 p.m. and confronted Augusto with guns, "I didn't want to shoot them," he said, sitting bleary-eyed in his dusty, windowless warehouse, with a fly swatter hanging above his head.

    He said the bandits drew their handguns, yelling, "Where's the money? Where's the money?"

    They pistol-whipped a worker and waved a weapon at a cashier's face, he said.

    "There is no money," Augusto said he told them. "Go home."

    Stashed away nearby was the 12-gauge shotgun he bought decades ago and said he had never used since a test-fire. He reached for it when he sensed one of the men was about to shoot, and pulled the trigger once.

    "I hoped after the first shot they would go away," he said.

    When they didn't, continuing to menace his employees, he fired again, and again.

    Police said one of the men collapsed and died outside the door, just feet from a Baptist church.

    "He died in the hands of God," said a neighborhood resident, Vincent Gayle, pointing to the blood-spattered pavement by the church. "But what goes around comes around."

    Another fatally wounded suspect managed to cross the street, leaving a trail of blood before he collapsed. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

    More blood led police to the other two suspects, who were arrested and taken to the hospital. Charges against them were pending.

    Police said Augusto didn't have a required permit for the weapon used in the headline-grabbing shooting the Daily News called a "Pump-Action Ending."

    But he was a victim, police said, and no charges had been filed on Friday.

    "I'd rather not have done it," Augusto said, "and I'm sad for those mothers who have no sons."

    On Friday, pedestrians were still sidestepping pools of blood along Augusto's block on West 125th Street, a short walk from Bill Clinton's Harlem office.

  5. B Hussein Obama has hit the re-set button on AMERICA

    WE shall not be MORE (In consumption, influence, power & wealth) than our 4% world wide foot print..

    Thus AMERICA is not a super power anymore..

    Within 8 months of the new administration taking over the controls of AMERICA, America is now nothing of what it was 9 months ago...

    Russia has in the last 8 months:

    Announced the building of a NEW military port in Syria..

    Completing the NUKE reactor in Iran & is finalizing the sale of s-300's

    Blocked sanctions with any teeth over Iran & North Korea

    Helped Iran and Syria re-arm Hamas and Hezbollah

    Used the Russia version of the CIA to bust up an Israeli spy ring in southern lebanon and turn the results over to hezbollah (hundreds arrested)

    Put two sub's on the east coast....

    TU-95 bombers flying over the Arctic towards Canada

    Claiming additional Arctic Lands....

    Yep that's JUST Russia...

    Then add in the other failed polices of Obama...

    Syrian sanctions lifted and Syria responds with a State visit to IRan...

    Increased funding of Palestinians, to which FATAH just released it's new peace proposal.

    All of Jerusalem, All refugees (and offspring) to return to Israel, right to use violence, israel back to 1948 borders, and the official naming of the Al-Aqsa Marytr's Brigade as the official organ of fatah

    yep... what a re-set button

  6. Obama to put veteran group's outreach on center stage.

    As many as 13,000 military veterans are heading for Phoenix beginning today to bring together the people who fought in old wars and new wars, elect new leaders and hear a speech from the president.

    The Veterans of Foreign Wars is hosting President Barack Obama for the group's annual meeting, but it's not the only reason members are getting together.

    VFW spokesman Jerry Newberry said communicating with members, both new and old, is on the agenda. He said a key message is that the group welcomes the new generation of veterans, including women.
    "You have to give people a reason to join the organization," he said. "If you're a post, you have to make that a family-friendly place. A lot of these veterans have been deployed multiple times. They have been away from their families. The last thing they are interested in is being away from their families."

    That means communicating the message that the posts are not just places where people drink, smoke and tell war stories. Newberry said the organization is creating posts that are smoke-free and have game rooms or Internet cafes. He said some even have child care.

    "The old post of the past is going by the wayside," Newberry said

  7. Confusion surrounds fate of Arctic Sea ship.

    Missing freighter broadcasts signals from the Bay of Biscay, despite being last seen in Africa.

    The fate of a Russian-crewed cargo ship that disappeared two weeks ago after allegedly being attacked by pirates remained unclear today after apparently contradictory reports of its whereabouts.

    A Russian maritime website claimed that the tracking system of the missing freighter Arctic Sea was broadcasting signals from the Bay of Biscay off France, although the vessel was reportedly seen off the west coast of Africa yesterday.

    A posting on the Sovfrakht website said the signal appeared on a tracking service this morning, but added that it was unclear whether the automatic identifcation system equipment was still on board the ship.

  8. Gus needs to sue the families of the robbers...

    How dare they cause to his workers and all that damage...

    I hope he wins in civil court and gets to make the two surviving robbers slaves for life...

  9. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American man who swam across a lake to visit Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be released on Sunday, according to a statement issued by U.S. Senator Jim Webb.

    American John Yettaw had been sentenced to seven years hard labor by Myanmar's military government.

    "I am grateful to the Myanmar government for honoring these requests," said Webb who is visiting Myanmar and sought Yettaw's release

  10. By VOA News

    US Senator Jim Webb met with Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday, shortly after holding talks with the country's military leader.

  11. Obama has changed the target, to one where the horror stories are legend and endless. From 45 million under insured to the folks manning the Death Panels, today.

    By Jeff Mason.

    BIG SKY, Montana (Reuters) - ...

    "These are the stories that aren't being told - stories of a healthcare system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people," Obama said in his weekly radio address, referring to people he has met who have struggled with the current system.

    "And that's why we're going to pass health insurance reform that finally holds the insurance companies accountable."

  12. Great News! From Debka

    Japanese intelligence has learned that in late May, Iran, Syria and North Korea secretly test-launched in southern Syria a new short-range ballistic missile developed jointly by Pyongyang, Tehran and Damascus as a substitute for the outdated Scuds still in use in their armed forces, DEBKAfile's military sources report. In May, several new missiles were flown from North Korea and Iran to the Damascus military airfield and thence to Syria's southeastern missile-testing site at Jebel Druze near the small town of Salakhand.
    After two weeks' preparation, two of the new projectiles had their first trial-launch - and failed with disastrous results.
    DEBKAfile's sources report that they targeted an uninhabited desert area in the North, 500 kilometers away, just south of Ayn Diwar and east of Al Qamishli not far from the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi border intersection.
    (It was here that Syria and Iraq, with Russian help, interred Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in 2001.)
    However, one of the missiles strayed 350-400 km west of its projected course, indicating a problem with its guidance system. It exploded in the center of the small town of Manbij north of Aleppo near the Turkish border, killing at least 20 people, injuring 60 and badly damaging the market town.
    The second missile exploded in mid-course in the South, over the north of the town of Abu Kamal and 200 kilometers from its launching site. Syrian military authorities closed the area around the stricken town of Manbij for more than a month, attributing the disaster to a gas explosion.
    Japanese intelligence sources, who are anxiously tracking the growing missile collaboration between North Korea, Iran and Syria, do not name the failed new missile, but DEBKAfile's military sources suggest it was a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) propelled by solid fuel with a range of 800-1,000 kilometers and fitted with a warhead containing between 800 kilos and one ton of explosives. This would be an improvement on most of the three nations' short-range missiles which are powered with liquid fuel.

  13. File this away for future reference:

    Hamas crushes challenge by al-Qaida-inspired group
    By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer Ibrahim Barzak, Associated Press Writer 18 mins ago

    RAFAH, Gaza Strip – The leader of an al-Qaida-inspired group in the Gaza Strip blew himself up during a shootout Saturday with Hamas security forces.

    At least 24 people were killed in clashes with the shadowy group, which posed one of the biggest challenges to Hamas since the militant group seized power in Gaza two years ago.

    The fighting broke out Friday when Hamas security men surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on the Egyptian border where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up.

    Flares lit up the sky overnight as Hamas machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades slammed into the mosque. The militants inside returned fire with automatic weapons and grenades of their own.

  14. ...and American marines at Guantanamo used gloves to handle Qurans given to AQ prisoners.

    Please, let these assholes handle their own problems.

  15. Flares lit up the sky overnight

    The UN should immediately investigate Hamas for possible use of white phosphorous.

  16. Whit, you usually take your grenade launcher to Sunday service, don't you?

  17. 2164th said:

    "Please, let these assholes handle their own problems."

    In matters of foreign policy I am a fan of George F. Kennan, who wrote back in 1951 on The Perils of Idealism

    "The main trouble with U.S. foreign policy in the last half century is that it has too seldom been guided by self-interest, too often by "impractical idealism."

    Ever since the U.S. blundered into global responsibilities in the Spanish-American War, says Kennan, its tendency has been to live in a dreamy haze, preaching moral principles but neglecting to keep the military strength to make its voice important—until crisis was upon it.

    In the years just before World War II, had the West rearmed in time—and simultaneously encouraged the dictatorships to fight it out with each other—the losses of the democracies might have been cut. Instead, when war became inevitable, the West was so weak that it could do nothing but collaborate with Russia—and it paid the price.

    Can an idealistic democracy learn to operate its foreign policy on a cold, calculating, day-to-day basis? Can it break the cycle of military lethargy and emotional fist-shaking, learn to think in terms of "rational and restricted purposes" and withstand the shrill cries of press and politicians who demand extremes?

    I'm in agreement with Deuce. Why waste our military strength on, or concern ourselves with, these incorrigible barbarians? We should become involved only if their actions present "a clear and present danger."

    "Living in a dreamy haze, preaching moral principles but neglecting to keep up [or squandering] our military strength" is no way to practice foreign policy.

  18. "...neglecting to keep up [or squandering] our military strength"

    The United States spends more on its' military than the rest of the whirled, combined. If we factor in the spending of US allies around the whirled, then there is no viable conventional military threat to the US.

    We could spend half as much as we do, and the strategic balances would not shift. The US and its' allies could still field a preponderance of force, anywhere on the globe they had the political will to venture.

    Perhaps our ability to extend humanitarian relief around the whirled would be more limited, but what the hey.

    We can leave them to their own devices.

  19. Tiny Kim and his NorK nuke are a threat to his region, but not to US. Excepting the 25,000 US troops there.

    They should be withdrawn, the SouKs million man Army is more than capable of defending the South, without our tripwire presence.

    Germany and Italy, neither need US combat troops billeted there.

  20. Don't trust anyone over 30 except for those older guys who invented the rule 40 years ago!
    Woodstock's 40th Anniversary Official Chants and Slogans

    The victory of the battle of Woodstock gave hope to all people of the world who were braving the assault of the reactionary culture. It drove a stake at the heart of imperialism by removing the need for personal hygiene and selective sex among large swathes of the young masses, replacing harmful bourgeois alcohol with beneficial, consciousness-expanding drugs.

    40 years later, the epic Woodstock Revolution continues to guide us in our glorious march towards the future through the destruction of the past.

  21. Handicapped Woman Cries After Assault By Union Thugs at Town Hall (Video) ... Update: Woman Speaks Out on Being Stomped On
    A handicapped woman with a walker cries as she tells how union members pushed her out her seat at a town hall:(At 2:20 mark)

  22. Experts: when buying Astroturf, remember to look for the Union Label

  23. Truther Denial
    Posted by David Paul Kuhn

    I don't know which political camp has more nuts. But Vega's reaction to the Scripps poll reminds me of the concluding paragraph in my initial column:

    "A few years ago, an Emory psychologist scanned the brains of self-described partisans. Partisans were able to notice the hypocritical statements of the opposing candidate but not the inconsistencies of their preferred candidate. Ideology, it was determined, showed effects similar to drug addiction

  24. Vast tracts of Israeli agricultural land in north Israel's Galilee area have been bought up by Arabs with financial backing from the Gulf, Israeli public radio reported on Saturday.
    It said dozens of hectares (acres) have been bought and that a local farmers' association had tried in vain to warn the Israeli authorities about the sale.

    The radio station quoted Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon as saying the affair was not a matter for his department since "it concerns private land.

    Gulf Arab money 'behind purchases of Israeli land'

  25. As for, Ukraine:

    Has my memory gone bad?

    Did we lose something, there?