“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."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Time for NATO to Make a Deal With Russia and Start by Throwing Turkey Out

Turkey warns EU it will abandon refugee deal if no visa-free travel

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (AFP photo)

Turkey has threatened to quit a deal with the European Union (EU) to stem the flow of refugees if its citizens are not granted visa-free travel to the 28-nation bloc.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a group of journalists at the southern holiday resort of Antalya on Monday that it was “impossible” for Ankara to meet Brussels’ demands in exchange for visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.
"We have told them 'we are not threatening you' but there's a reality. We have signed two deals with you (the EU) and both are interlinked,” the minister said, stressing, "This is not a threat but what is required from an agreement."

Cavusoglu also went on to say that Turkey will not change its anti-terror laws as one of the 72 conditions demanded by the EU before the visa exemption is approved.

"Which definition are you talking about? Each country in Europe has different terror definitions,” the minister said, noting, "In such a circumstance, it is impossible to change terror laws."

Building on a recent threat by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top Turkish diplomat said Ankara would use “administrative" measures to block the deal if needed.

On May 24, Erdogan said, “If that (the visa exemption) is not what will happen... no decision and no law in the framework of the readmission agreement will come out of the parliament of the Turkish Republic."

Based on the deal, which was struck in March, boat refugees arriving on European soil via the Aegean Sea may be sent back to Turkey. For each refugee returned, the EU will take one Syrian refugee currently living in Turkey.

A mother and her children walk past tents during a police operation to clear a makeshift camp for refugees at the border between Greece and Macedonia near the village of Idomeni, northern Greece, on May 25, 2016. (AFP photo)

In return, the EU has made several commitments to Ankara, including financial aid, visa-free travel to the bloc for Turks, and progress in negotiations on its membership to the bloc.

Ankara has insisted that the visa-free travel be made possible by the end of June, but EU authorities have recently given indications to the contrary. 
Granting visa waiver to Turkey, a country of 75 million, is highly controversial among EU states where some fear it would open the way for more refugees to the bloc.

The EU leaders are insisting that Turkey meet 72 conditions before the visa exemption is approved, including an end to prosecuting academics and journalists.

The bloc has conditioned meeting its side of the bargain on a whole host of measures by Ankara, including its modifying the country's anti-terror laws.
Last year, over a million refugees entered Europe through Turkey and Greece and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states of the bloc.

The influx of refugees has crippled the bloc, particularly the countries on its external borders.


Russia's got a point: The U.S. broke a NATO promise

Vladimir Putin
Moscow solidified its hold on Crimea in April, outlawing the Tatar legislature that had opposed Russia’s annexation of the region since 2014. Together with Russian military provocations against NATO forces in and around the Baltic, this move seems to validate the observations of Western analysts who argue that under Vladimir Putin, an increasingly aggressive Russia is determined to dominate its neighbors and menace Europe. 

Leaders in Moscow, however, tell a different story. For them, Russia is the aggrieved party. They claim the United States has failed to uphold a promise that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe, a deal made during the 1990 negotiations between the West and the Soviet Union over German unification. In this view, Russia is being forced to forestall NATO’s eastward march as a matter of self-defense. 

The West has vigorously protested that no such deal was ever struck. However, hundreds of memos, meeting minutes and transcripts from U.S. archives indicate otherwise. Although what the documents reveal isn’t enough to make Putin a saint, it suggests that the diagnosis of Russian predation isn’t entirely fair. Europe’s stability may depend just as much on the West’s willingness to reassure Russia about NATO’s limits as on deterring Moscow’s adventurism.

After the Berlin Wall fell, Europe’s regional order hinged on the question of whether a reunified Germany would be aligned with the United States (and NATO), the Soviet Union (and the Warsaw Pact) or neither. Policymakers in the George H.W. Bush administration decided in early 1990 that NATO should include the reconstituted German republic.

In early February 1990, U.S. leaders made the Soviets an offer. According to transcripts of meetings in Moscow on Feb. 9, then-Secretary of State James Baker suggested that in exchange for cooperation on Germany, U.S. could make “iron-clad guarantees” that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.” Less than a week later, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to begin reunification talks. No formal deal was struck, but from all the evidence, the quid pro quo was clear: Gorbachev acceded to Germany’s western alignment and the U.S. would limit NATO’s expansion. 

Nevertheless, great powers rarely tie their own hands. In internal memorandums and notes, U.S. policymakers soon realized that ruling out NATO’s expansion might not be in the best interests of the United States. By late February, Bush and his advisers had decided to leave the door open. 

After discussing the issue with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on February 24-25, the U.S. gave the former East Germany “special military status,” limiting what NATO forces could be stationed there in deference to the Soviet Union. Beyond that, however, talk of proscribing NATO’s reach dropped out of the diplomatic conversation. Indeed, by March 1990, State Department officials were advising Baker that NATO could help organize Eastern Europe in the U.S. orbit; by October, U.S. policymakers were contemplating whether and when (as a National Security Council memo put it) to “signal to the new democracies of Eastern Europe NATO’s readiness to contemplate their future membership.”
At the same time, however, it appears the Americans still were trying to convince the Russians that their concerns about NATO would be respected. Baker pledged in Moscow on May 18, 1990, that the United States would cooperate with the Soviet Union in the “development of a new Europe.” And in June, per talking points prepared by the NSC, Bush was telling Soviet leaders that the United States sought “a new, inclusive Europe.”
It’s therefore not surprising that Russia was incensed when Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states and others were ushered into NATO membership starting in the mid-1990s. Boris Yeltsin, Dmitry Medvedev and Gorbachev himself protested through both public and private channels that U.S. leaders had violated the non-expansion arrangement. As NATO began looking even further eastward, to Ukraine and Georgia, protests turned to outright aggression and saber-rattling. 
NATO’S widening umbrella doesn’t justify Putin’s bellicosity or his incursions in Ukraine or Georgia. Still, the evidence suggests that Russia’s protests have merit and that U.S. policy has contributed to current tensions in Europe.  
In less than two months, Western heads of state will gather in Warsaw for a NATO summit. Discussions will undoubtedly focus on efforts to contain and deter Russian adventurism — including increasing NATO deployments in Eastern Europe and deepening NATO’s ties to Ukraine and Georgia. Such moves, however, will only reinforce the Russian narrative of U.S. duplicity. Instead, addressing a major source of Russian anxieties by taking future NATO expansion off the table could help dampen Russia-Western hostilities.  
Just as a pledge not to expand NATO in 1990 helped end the Cold War, so too may a pledge today help resuscitate the U.S.-Russian relationship.
Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson is an international security fellow at Dartmouth College and assistant professor at the Bush School of Government, Texas A&M University. His article, "Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion" was published in the spring issue of International Security.


  1. "Deals Are People"

    The Donald - speaking of working with Pooty

    Trump's your man , Deuce.

    1. Only The Donald can handle Pooty -

      Just What Were Donald Trump's Ties to the Mob?

      I've spent years investigating, and here's what's known.

      By David Cay Johnston

      May 22, 2016


    2. The Donald is a realist.

  2. Monster Gator Shoots Round Of Golf In Florida

    Good Lord !

  3. .

    Time for NATO to Make a Deal With Russia and Start by Throwing Turkey Out

    A twofer: Turkey and Russia.

    Turkey warns EU it will abandon refugee deal if no visa-free travel

    Sounds like a pretty risky agreement and if either party doesn't like the way it is going or is accusing the other of cheating, they should just walk away.

    While the deal does sound risky for the EU, both sides are getting a hell of a lot out of the deal. Europe created their own mess by allowing such a flood of refugees in with no planning or resources to accept them. Countries like Germany set the pace and given the terms of the EU charter many other countries were stuck with the decision. The deal rationalizes how and how many new refugees come in and from where which helps the EU.

    Turkey already has about twice the amount of refugees as any other country in the world. They have double the amount of Syrian refugees already in country as the EU has 'committed' to take in. They need the financial help the deal offers. They supposedly are also anxious to be accepted into into the EU though that interest seems to fluctuate with the amount of influence they are wielding at any particular moment. And, of course, they want the open travel with the no-visa policy.

    Who knows what's involved in those 72 requirements the EU is insisting on?

    If they get the deal done they do. If they don't, they don't. I wouldn't blame either side if it falls through.


    1. Virgins may be involved by the sounds of it.

    2. :)

      I was thinking the same thing. The EU should hang tough until the Virgin supply is assured.


    3. {...}

      As for Turkey being kicked out of NATO, it won't happen, at least not legally.

      First, NATO has no procedure for kicking someone out. To put decisions into effect, the votes have to be unanimous. Even if no other country supported Turkey, it's hard to believe Turkey would vote to throw themselves out.

      Second, IMO it's unlikely the majority of other countries in NATO would be looking boot Turkey out. Turkey may be a pain in the ass at time but it has the second largest army in NATO after the US. It pays its NATO dues. It meets its obligation of spending 2% of its GPD on its military. It sits astride the crossroads between West and East, between Europe and the ME and Asia. Much of the oil and natural gas running both ways between the EU, Russia, and The ME pass through it.

      If NATO turns its back on Turkey, it will seek allies and influence elsewhere.

      In the absence of something egregious like Turkey attacking another NATO member the odds are against NATO trying to get rid of Turkey.


    4. .

      WRT Russia...

      Make a deal with Russia?

      What kind of a deal?

      Despite Hillary's 'reset button', there doesn't seem to be a lot of love (or trust) out there between Russia and the West.


    5. Only The Donald can make a great artful deal with the Rooskie/Pooty Mafia and break down those barriers separating us and establish enduring love and trust.

      NYC experience counts.

  4. There is no way that Europe will sign on to giving Turkey a no visa deal.

    1. .

      They already made the offer. Is it the EU that is bullshitting?


    2. Merkel and the Germans made the offer. Let them try and implement it.

    3. .

      All of these negotiations are bullshit. You have diplomats negotiating these deals and they refuse to put anything concrete down on paper lest they be criticized later. They use the words they figure will give them the greatest flexibility. They never seem to 'understand' things the same way. They never seem to have a 'Come to Jesus' meeting before signing the deal and agreeing on exactly what the deal means to each player. They are always putting something off until later (usually the most important detail).

      The latest example was John Kerry whining that Iran, in testing ICBM's wasn't adhering to the spirit of the nuclear agreement. Pure bullshit. Ol John trying to save face. Iran had said right along that the agreement wasn't about the missiles. The UN sanctions regarding Iran's missile program are still in place they always have been. The nuclear agreement didn't affect any of those sanctions.

      Kerry's crybaby act is just that an act. The UN says Iran is meeting its obligation under the nuclear deal. Kerry knows that. If he wanted the missiles included he should have tried to negotiate them in (though that doesn't really make sense given the nature of the agreement). He didn't do it because he knew Iran would never agree.

      The same applies to Russia. These guys go in anxious for a deal with NATO back in the '90s and now they complain that the West isn't meeting the 'assurances' Russia was given on NATO expansion. Did the US lie? Probably. Why not if no one is demanding it in writing?

      We see the same vagueness in resolution 282. Count on TPP being loaded with the same stuff.

      All of these guys are anxious to make the deal and get it on their watch. Heck, sometimes you can get a Nobel Price just for talking. And when the shit hits the fan it will be someone else's problem.

      I have no sympathy for any of these people.


    4. Agree, 2/3 of Germans are against the Turkey visa policy. The opposition is higher in other countries. The far right almost took control in Austria. They must be hoping that Merkel will get it passed and give them the boost they need to take power.

  5. If Europe had any brains they'd stop the influx of moslems altogether.

  6. ( Nineveh – An informed source within the paramilitary Peshmerga force in Nineveh Province announced on Monday the killing of 140 ISIS elements during military operations in the past two days in the axis of al-Khazir northeast of Mosul.

    Arif Tayfur, the military commander in the axis of al-Khazir, said in a statement obtained by, “Peshmerga forces had managed to liberate more than 130 square kilometers and nine villages from the grip of ISIS,” pointing out that, “Peshmerga forces are currently located less than 28 kilometer from the center of the city of Mosul.”

    Tayfur added, “Four Peshmerga fighters were martyred and 34 others were wounded during the operation,” asserting that, “The operation is part of the liberalization process of Mosul.”

    1. Why are the Peshmerga 'fighters' and the ISIS mere 'elements' ?

      Is this an effort to dehumanize these sub-human shit eating apes ?

    2. If it is I support the nomenclature.

  7. Suad had feared for so long that she would die. A mother in Falluja, Iraq, her city has been at the center of war for more than a dozen years and now it is the epicenter of a battle between ISIS and Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by the United States-led coalition.


    Iraqi forces started their operation to retake the ISIS stronghold with the help of Iraqi and coalition air support, Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasoul said on Iraqi state TV.

    "With God's blessing we have launched the third phase of the operation to storm the center of Falluja city -- by our heroes in the counterterrorism forces, units of the Iraqi army and Anbar police," Rasoul said.

  8. 80% of Russians live in Europe. That brings them to be aprox. 16% of the continent’s total population. They are the third largest global military power and they are there. They have almost ten thousand nuclear weapons. That is all we need to know.

    1. Don’t believe the nonsense that they have 3000 nuclear weapons as if that is not bad enough. They have the components that could quickly take the number to exceed the amount of targets.

    2. We need a stable Russia, not because we like them or hate them. The US has taught the World a lesson that if you do not have nuclear weapons, you are not immune from a US military attack. The Russians will never give up their nuclear weapons because the US will never give them up.

      Our militarism has been a seventy year foreign policy disaster. So far we have gotten away with it. It is not Russian that has military bases all over the World. It is not China and Russia probing US defenses along California or Florida.

      We need to come to a reasonable accommodation with Russia because the potential consequences of a destabilized Russia are unthinkable.

    3. They're way beyond the point of diminishing returns.

      How many large urban centers are there in the USA ? How many military bases ?

      Likewise we have enough to take them totally out.

      One nuclear missile sub is enough to cripple any nation.

      The situation is truly absurd but who knows how to get the world out of it ?

      India and Pakistan are often said to constitute the most dangerous situation these days.

      How can that ever be 'solved' ?

    4. It is insanity and insanity that there are military solutions. There are no military solutions.

    5. The USA will never give up its nuclear weapons because the Russians and the Chinese will never give up theirs....India and Pakistan will never give up theirs either for the same reasons....

  9. The Effects Of Finland's Possible NATO Membership{71D08E6C-3168-439F-9C31-0326D1014C26}


    The CNAS Extending American Power (EAP) Project released its final report, which is the culmination of the year-long EAP series co-chaired by Dr. Robert Kagan and the Hon. James P. Rubin. Over the course of the last year, a group of current and former government officials, strategists, and scholars spanning the political spectrum met monthly with the goal of bringing together a bipartisan group to help shape the national conversation on America’s role in the world during the run-up to the November 2016 presidential election. During its meetings, the group discussed a range of regional and functional issues from the Middle East to Asia to the international economy. At a time when partisanship in the American political establishment has reached unprecedented heights, the group believes it is more important than ever to rebuild the national consensus on America’s role in the world. This project promotes the idea that American leadership is critical to preserving and strengthening the bedrock of today’s international order, which is being shaken by a variety of forces. The final report comes at a critical time, as U.S. allies are calling for increased U.S. engagement, and the American public is debating a greater international role.


    Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order

    Paper Signatories
    Kurt Campbell, Eric Edelman, Michèle Flournoy, Richard Fontaine, Stephen J. Hadley,
    Robert Kagan (Co-chairman), James P. Rubin (Co-chairman), Julianne Smith, James Steinberg, and Robert Zoellick

  12. Underwrite credible security guarantees to NATO allies on the frontlines with Russia. Given recent Russian behavior, it is no longer possible to ignore the possible challenge to NATO countries that border Russia. The Baltics in particular are vulnerable to both direct attack and the more complicated “hybrid” warfare that Russia has displayed in Ukraine. To provide reassurance to U.S. allies and also to deter Russian e orts to desta- bilize these nations, it is necessary to build upon the European Reassurance Initiative and establish a more robust U.S. force presence in appropriate central and eastern Europe countries, which should include a mix
    of permanently stationed forces, rotationally deployed forces, prepositioned equipment, access arrangements and a more robust schedule of military training and exercises. Such measures should not be seen as inconsis- tent with international law. On the contrary, they should be regarded as a fully justi ed, appropriate, and pro- portionate response to Russia’s violation of the purpose of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. The United States should also work with both NATO and the EU to counter Russian in hence-peddling and subversion using corrupt ion and illegal financial manipulation.

    1. Syria

      ...In the meantime, and in light of this grim reality, the United States, together with France and other allies, must employ the necessary military power, including
      an appropriately designed no fly zone, to create a safe space


      Addressing budget challenges is key. But the military
      must also explore new
      ideas for overseas posture, rotational deployments, and basing to deploy existing forces more e actively and sustain them for longer.

  13. The close working relationship between NASA and the Russian space agency centered around the International Space Station (ISS) since the 1990s is now looking precarious as the United States faces a dilemma over sanctions enforcement.


    Russia’s state-controlled NPO Energomash has contracts worth over $2 billion dollars to supply two major U.S. aerospace companies, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Orbital ATK, with rocket engines.


    Under President Vladimir Putin’s decree control of all assets belonging to the firms that had made up the old Russian space agency, including NPO Energomash, were now to be transferred to the state corporation.

    Space Rockets

  14. Please move along folks. Talk of Neocons is so yesterday but if you want to know their current thinking go here and read what they have to say:

  15. Extending American Power | May 2016
    Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order

    American power to Europe, Asia, and the Greater Middle East along the lines suggested in this report will be extremely di cult to achieve, especially as new crises and unexpected events are sure to arise. Managing a more assertive China, strengthening deterrence in Europe, and formulating and executing an enforcement strategy for the nuclear deal with Iran, while simultaneously working to defeat Tehran’s regional ambitions, just to name a few of the necessary tasks, is beyond the capabilities of any small number of men and women, no matter how capable.


    We (The US) need much more of the same. We have not been militaristic enough in removing potential enemies of Israel.

    Ramp it up.

  17. "Q"Nit: Recent Philadelphia Cop Shooting

    Recent cop shooter confessed and said he did it for ISIS.

    Source: Fox News

  18. Trump Is Right To Think There Is 'Something Very Fishy' About The Death Of Vince Foster

  19. The potential enemies?

    The real enemies of Israel, are killing one another.

    Of course this is a good thing, but sometimes in history? The enemies of the Jews do collapse and die.

    It's a repeated story.

    Iran will implode next, not by any American action directed by Israel or Jews, but because Iran is unsustainable.

    Obama's opening up the world to Iran will not, in the end, save iran but rather expose Iran to the world. Already Iran is upping it's "headscarf" police all the while the population is 70% below 30 years old. Iran is ripe for a revolution, it's just a matter of time.

    Israel, Neocons, Jews, Christian-zionist? Not to blame, but we will be thrilled to see the mullah's hung from lampposts. Those same lampposts they have women, gays, Jews and others that disagree with them from...


  20. Iran must be destroyed as the political being that it is.

    Liberty for it's people.

    The Revolutionary Guard need to be eliminated, just like ISIS.

    Hezbollah is broke. Hamas keeps spending all it's aid on tunnels (which the IDF keeps destroying)...

    Russia is reaching out to Israel, just returned a captured IDF tank as a good will gesture.

    Assad is rumored to be ready to return the remains of 3 IDF tankers after 30 years...

    Lebanon is fractured, Egypt is cracking down on isis/moslembrotherhood.

    The entire region is aligned with Israel against Iran (except Hamas and Hezbollah & Syria)

    Yeah it's getting interesting..

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. I lodge three protests.

  22. Islamic State group hits back as Iraqi army moves into Falluja

    Iraqi security forces gather near Falluja, Iraq, May 31, 2016Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption

    Iraq's military says civilians should leave Falluja or stay indoors

    Militants from the so-called Islamic State have launched a dawn counter-attack as Iraqi government troops push into the city of Falluja.

    A day after troops advanced through the southern suburb of Nuaimiya, scores of IS fighters attacked them, army officers told news agencies.

    The army defeated the attackers but suffered casualties, the sources said.

    Aid workers are increasingly concerned for the safety of 50,000 civilians said to be trapped in Falluja.

    Reports speak of people starving to death and of being killed for refusing to fight for IS.

    Read more: Testimony from inside Falluja

    The Iraqi military has urged those remaining to either leave the city or stay indoors but IS is preventing civilians from fleeing.

    Grey line
    Analysis by Mina al-Lami - BBC Monitoring

    IS claims to be successfully repelling the Iraqi army offensive against it in Falluja, providing battle footage and images as evidence.

    Last week, the group highlighted what it said was the impact of the offensive on civilians in the city, releasing footage of severely-injured children that was then widely shared on social media. The group typically shows images of civilian casualties to undermine anti-IS military campaigns.

    Although IS has not commented on civilians trapped in the city in the latest offensive, it has in the past warned Sunni Muslims against leaving IS-held territory.

    And last week its spokesman, Abu-Muhammad al-Adnani, said that IS militants would "fight to the death" in all its strongholds even if it meant the death of civilians - indicating that the group will pursue a scorched earth policy.

    As such, it is unlikely that IS would allow civilians to leave Falluja. The UN refugee agency says families have reported being used as human shields by IS, forced to move with militants from one location to another

    Fallujah looks to end up a pile of rubble.

  23. "Our militarism has been a seventy year foreign policy disaster."
    Meanwhile, Russia and US having Nukes has resulted in 70 years of no World Wars.

    Proliferation will not be so kind, perhaps.

  24. Battling ISIS in Iraq, but Bracing for Real Fight to Begin

    A visit to the front showed Iraq’s fragmented security forces closing in on the city of Falluja, but not yet fighting for its center, amid growing concerns about trapped civilians.
    1 Comment

    1. The battle for Falluja has caught the public’s attention after a stretch of political turmoil that saw protesters storm Baghdad’s Green Zone and Parliament. Accordingly, the battle is also being waged in the Iraqi news media, and the various forces involved have all kept up a patter of statements claiming battlefield successes that, in some cases like on Monday, have yet to happen.

      On Tuesday afternoon, as it became evident that no quick victory was at hand, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, a central hub for the army, federal police and militias, urged the news media to be careful: “We warn all of the mass media to be accurate with the news about the military operations for the Falluja battle, and not to be hasty in publishing information and news and to check the sources of the news before publishing them.”

    2. Our troops continue wiping out ISIS without engaging them.

      IraqiNews Agency

    3. No engagement rings will be worn on return to CONUS.