Saturday, August 30, 2014


Putin's Russia and the Islamic State are short-term distractions from the serious problems of climate change and resource depletion. We simply don't have time to fuck around with some new fangled Cold- luke-warm-War or to humour the Islamic State.

The global policy response should be robust, and aimed at walling off these two entities in every way possible so that we in the rest of the world can get on with the serious business of adapting civilisation to the worst crisis it has ever known.


Danneau said...

Yay! Wait, how do we get warmongers and other assorted religious fundaMENTALists all over the world to ensure this happens?
We know—you know in this room—how to transform this world. We know what to do. We know how to provide meaningful, dignified living wage jobs for all who seek them, how to feed, clothe, and house every person on Earth. What we don’t know, admittedly, is how to remove those in power whose ignorance of biology is matched only by their indifference.
---Paul Hawken

opit said...

Since Putin seems to be indulging in triage himself when it comes to provocations of missile installations in neighbouring countries and NATO Colour Revolutions - and NATO membership - in former countries occupied under the Iron Curtain ( keeping nuclear threat to longer warnings rather than instant destruction )...I rather what kind of problem he is...aside from no longer meekly sitting still for economic warfare.
Nor am I any more inclined to take alarm at climate change...except to note that it has been a constant meme for over a century with zero games based on an unproven thesis not even being workable projections...not that modeling is robust regardless. Prophecy tends not to be taken seriously by anyone who wants tangible evidence.

Boris said...

Opit, with or without NATO expansion, there's nothing written anywhere that says Russia has to be the way it is. Russian leaders are perfectly capable of civil domestic and international behaviour.

On climate change, you are far, far off the mark. Real world observation drives models and action.

Steve said...

I have thought from the beginning and you know where to read my proof, ISSIS was just a propaganda tool to feed the Military Industrial State and strike back at free thinkers who might believe Edward Snow, or John Snow, or any of his brothers.
This is a K street war and get out on the streets to protest.

Anonymous said...

Steve- K Street?

I know of what you speak.

Purple library guy said...

The aggression and destabilization in Ukraine has come almost exclusively from our side, since at least 2004. Putin is not the problem. His domestic policies suck, but so do everyone else's so I dunno where we get off meddling in the Russians' business.

Put it this way: In terms of both domestic and foreign policy approaches, I'd much rather have Putin as prime minister than Stephen Harper. Sort of like saying I'd rather have the measles than the plague--I'd rather not have either--but this notion that Putin is somehow qualitatively different in nastiness from the leadership of Germany or Britain or the US is just a product of propaganda, where Russia is "them" and the rest are "us" so any imperfections "their" leader has make him a monster where the same imperfections in "our" leaders are just something to grouse about.

Jaundiced Eye said...

History isn't the same as fact, it revolves around fact. Ukraine can proclaim sovereignty ipso facto, and others can concur or not, but it will always be the ancient heartland of Russia. The problem is what to do with this fact, and that's what will make history. Anyone who doesn't understand why Putin is doing what he's doing in Crimea, and now eastern Ukraine, hasn't read the histories of the region, all of them. Dispensing with sentiment, we can see his actions are starkly and understandably strategic---so, we might as well grab a couple of diverse histories out of orbit around Ukraine and see what facts mights be gleaned from a static, fleeting perspective: the nation has been two, maybe three distinct polities for a very long time, Gepid (east gothic) tribesmen, steppe horsemen, Jewish palefaces, Christian Patriarchs of different flavours and others---and a river runs through it. How many Russians died in Crimea in the 50s, a century-and-a-half ago? How important is Russia's Black Sea navy base to them? The day the Soviet Union fell apart I predicted Crimea would be annexed. Took twenty years, but it happened. The facts demanded it. Similarly, the long entrenched geo-cultural divide will persist, manifest by modern Russia's virtual annexation of eastern Ukraine, the Orthodox, heavily Russified side of the river. The west side, the catholic side, the Jewish Pale that was massacred by the Nazis side---just two of the histories revolving around the fact of its distinctiveness is so obviously different it demands a different fate. I don't have a crystal ball but one thing's for sure: it won't be easy for Putin to influence events here as it is on the east side. In my view, the strategic destabilizing he wants to do around the shell of the Soviet Union, he is doing right now in eastern Ukraine; he won't gain much more, at least not without excessively escalating expense and danger, by pushing into the west side. It's not that Obama is weak or America pacifist---it's more like Putin's already got what he really wanted in hand and is unlikely to put boots on the ground in western Ukraine, so token retaliation is about as much as Obama has been willing to offer.

ISSIS only exists in the rubble pile of lawlessness and warfare. Throw the Kurds a few boxes of ammo and ISSIS turns into a bunch of I-SISSIES pretty darn quick. The site of British PM aping George Dubya and chicken little is really a symptom of his own domestic weakness. And it's enough to make you puke. As to the Americans motives: they were the ones who, by deploying the same horseshit Cameron's aping, created the rubble pile for the Sissy-vermin to breed in, is not only directly responsible, it can and probably will turn on the rainclouds of bombs, any time it wants.

Putin's in Ukraine and the US is in Iraq---still, both of them. To expect any other arrangement is unrealistic. They both have essentially what they want and will thenceforward maintain this status quo for as long as they can.

Boris said...

PLG and GD,
Putin has annexed part of an independent country and is now feeding an insurgency in rest of that country aimed carving off more territory. His motivation behind this seems to be some warped recreation of a greater Russia and his personal dislike of the 'West'. Yes, there's been meddling, but a great deal of came from Putin/Russia propping up of Yanukovych.

More importantly, the post-WW2 global order rests on a notion of sovereignty that precludes states from annexing territory by armed force. Disrupt that, and the whole global stability thing is at risk. That's partly why there was so much high-level opposition the US invasion in Iraq last decade (outside of the humanitarian disaster), and part of the legal case against Israel for annexing territory in 1967 and incrementally through settlements. NATO or not, Putin's actions destabilise everything, not least of all because Russia is still a nuclear superpower with a massive conventional army. By contrast, Israel is a small country in an incremental seizure of land from Palestinians who have no real impact on global scale economics and politics.

Ukraine is sovereign in the eyes of every other country of the world but Russia. If Russian leaders have some nostalgic view of Ukraine as belonging to it, and this is driving their actions, that's a very serious problem not least of all because it shatters the international system of convention and law that has by and large prevented annexations and superpower wars since Hitler.

IS is well armed, organised, and funded. Its ideology and practice appeals to hardline Sunnis from Saudi Arabia to Europe and North America. It is a threat to old, wealthy, and well-armed Arab governments and it has enough Western passports in its ranks to cause a great deal of trouble in Western countries through acts of terror. It is also merciless and wastes no time killing people whom it does not like. I doubt that it could sustain itself in the long-term because it is doing a remarkable job in uniting normally adversarial enemies against it and so will eventually be destroyed, but it can cause a great deal of damage before then and afterward through terror.