Russia sniffing under the door 1

Ukraine is a far away country of which we know nothing, and Democrats and libertarians can see no reason why Americans should care if Russia swallows it.

But Americans need to take notice that Russia is also sniffing under the door of their homeland.

This is from Front Page by Joseph Klein.

Russia is also on the march far from its immediate neighborhood and much closer to the United States. According to Gen. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, who discussed his concerns regarding the increased presence of Russia in Latin America at a Senate hearing earlier this month, there has been a “noticeable uptick in Russian power projection and security force personnel. It has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian military presence.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced last month plans to build military bases in ..  Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua

Russia is already a major arms supplier to Venezuela, whose navy has conducted joint maneuvers with Russian ships. At least four Russian Navy ships visited Venezuela last August …

“Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers flew last October from an airbase in southwestern Russia and landed in Venezuela in routine exercise,” Russia’s Defense Ministry announced …  “The nuclear-capable bombers, which took off from the Engels airbase in the Volga region, flew over the Caribbean, the eastern Pacific and along the southwestern coast of the North American continent, and landed at Maiquetia airfield in Venezuela.”

Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, is so enamored of Putin that he expressed support last year for the Russian president to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During a visit to Moscow by Maduro last summer, Maduro and Putin reaffirmed, in Putin’s words, “their wish for continuing their course towards strategic cooperation in all sectors”. 

Putin was the first Russian president to visit Cuba since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Pravda quoted Putin as declaring in 2012 that Russia gained the consent of the Cuban leadership to place “the latest mobile strategic nuclear missiles ‘Oak’ on the island”, supposedly as a brush back against U.S. actions to create a buffer zone near Russia.

Last month, according to a report by Fox News Latino, “the intelligence-gathering ship Viktor Leonov docked in Havana’s harbor without warning”. It was reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Left-wing Argentinian President Cristina Fernández is intent on forging closer relations with Russia, inviting Russia to invest in fuel projects. In return for Russia’s support of Argentina’s quest to annex the Falkland Islands, Fernández supported Putin’s grab of Crimea. Crimea “has always belonged to Russia,” she said, just as the Falkland Islands have “always belonged to Argentina”.  …

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa praised Russia as a “great nation” during a visit to Moscow last October after Putin pledged to invest up to $1.5 billion into new domestic energy projects in Ecuador. Correa said Ecuador was also interested in buying Russian military equipment.

Brazil is planning to purchase short-to-medium-range surface-to-air Pantsir S1 missile batteries and Igla-S shoulder-held missiles from Russia. It has already bought 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters. This is all part of what Brazil views as a growing strategic relationship with Russia, as Brazil leads efforts to counter U.S. electronic surveillance that included alleged spying on Brazilian citizens. …

After Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinista revolution, returned to power in Nicaragua in 2007, Russia and Nicaragua have moved in the direction of a strategic economic and military relationship. In October 2013, for example, Nicaragua and Russia signed a memorandum of international security cooperation. Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev noted during his visit to Nicaragua that “Nicaragua is an important partner and friend of Russia in Latin America,” pointing to the coincidence of views of the two countries’ authorities “on many issues”.  For his part, Ortega said: “We are very grateful and very much appreciate the Russian people’s support of our country.” Ortega welcomed the arrival of two Russian strategic bombers Tupolev Tu-160. …

Nicaragua’s parliament has ratified a cabinet resolution allowing Russian military divisions, ships and aircraft to visit the republic during the first half of 2014 for experience sharing and training of military personnel … Furthermore, the parliament has approved the participation of Russian military personnel in joint patrols of the republic’s territorial waters in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean from January 1 through June 30, 2015.

Russia is also forging a closer relationship with El Salvador, which has been led by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) that arose out of a left-wing guerrilla movement from the country’s 1979-1992 civil war. Leftist ex-guerrilla Sanchez Ceren has just won the presidential election. He can be expected to build on the Federal Law On Ratification of the Agreement on the Foundations of Relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of El Salvador, signed by Vladimir Putin in November 2012. It was the first interstate agreement between the two countries since they established diplomatic relations in 1992. In fact, given Ceren’s background – one of five top guerrilla commanders during the civil war that left 76,000 dead and over 12,000 missing – we can expect a more avowedly anti-U.S. government that will welcome Russia’s outstretched arms. After all, the FMLN leadership during the civil war described its own ideology as “Marxism-Leninism”.

Has Putin ever renounced the Marxist-Leninist ideology of the KGB, in which he served? He thinks the fall of the Soviet Union was a great tragedy, so the answer is “probably not”. But we guess that his main reason for regretting the passing of the USSR is that it was, or seemed to be for the greater part of some 70 years, a mighty power, and he is more concerned with extending Russian power again, recreating a Russian empire, than with the old failed Bolshevik ideology. South American leftist leaders may want to cozy up to Putin because they enjoy the Gemütlichkeit of a shared love of Communism, and he is obviously happy to have them hug him for any reason, but his motive in exploiting their sentimental friendship is to achieve imperial ends. He probably hates the fact that the West won the Cold War. He surely cannot hope to reverse that outcome. It would be an insane dream – if the US were not under the presidency of Barack Obama. Putin – and Iran, and China – can do a lot of damage to the world and the US in the three years left of Obama’s feeble leadership.

“We Bring Hope and Change” by Attila the Hun 4

The New York Times (the equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Izvestia ) published an op-ed written or ostensibly written by the president of Russia, KGB man Vladimir Putin.

He urinated on Obama from a dizzy moral height. (Please – we’re not complaining, only pointing out an hypocrisy.) He explained that it would be wrong for the US to invade Syria, wrong to invade any country if yours was not being attacked and without the agreement of the UN Security Council:

Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

He laughed up his sleeve when he got his shirt on. But the people of Georgia who were subjected to a Russian invasion in 2008 and had a province or two stripped from them, did not join in the laughter.

Now the Washington Post ( the equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Pravda), not to be outdone, publishes a similarly beguiling piece: an op-ed “by Hassan Rouhani”, the name of the president of Iran.

Here – in a figurative petri dish – we proffer some specimens from it.

The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.

The international community faces many challenges in this new world — terrorism, extremism, foreign military interference, drug trafficking, cybercrime and cultural encroachment — all within a framework that has emphasized hard power and the use of brute force.

Yes, it does say “terrorism”. And “extremism” and “foreign military interference”. Iran is the biggest financier of terrorism in the world. If the mullahs who run Iran are not “extreme”, nobody is. And not only did Iran launch Hezbollah in Lebanon, its Revolutionary Guards are training Shia rebels in Syria. You see, the Post is quite as capable of poker-faced irony as the Times.

We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.

Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. …

We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.

At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program.

Interpretation: “We’re big and important and we want you to say we are, and because we ‘e big and important we must have nuclear … energy.”

To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved. …

“If you don’t say we’re big and important and as entitled to develop nuclear energy as you are, we won’t talk to you, so there!”

First, we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. …

“We’re unclenching our fist, Obama, as you asked us to, and we’ll clasp the hand you hold out to us, if you say we’re big and important.”

We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates.

“Except Israel, of course.”

As part of this, I announce my government’s readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

“We, Russia, and you. And we and Russia will be calling the shots.”

Second, we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions.

“By overarching injustices we mean the existence of Israel. By rivalries we mean no more stopping us being a nuclear power too.”  

A key aspect of my commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors and other nations to identify and secure win-win solutions. …

After 10 years of back-and-forth, what all sides don’t want in relation to our nuclear file is clear. The same dynamic is evident in the rival approaches to Syria.

This approach can be useful for efforts to prevent cold conflicts from turning hot.

“You’ll force us to use our bomb when we get it if you don’t say we’re big and important now.”

But to move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher. Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action.

“What we want is for you to say we’re big and important. And to annihilate Israel.”

This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.

Rouhani wrote that op-ed like your great-grandmother wrote  “War and Peace”. It could not be more glaringly obvious that it was an American Obama-supporting professional political writer (very possibly an Obama speech writer or two) who plonked down all the clichés. Or are such as these common in Persian parlance? – “constructive engagement”; “zero-sum game”; “counterintuitive”; “win-win outcomes”; “unilateralism”; “a key driver”; “diversifying our energy resources”;  “about who Iranians are as a nation”; “facilitate dialogue”; “commitment to constructive interaction”; “the same dynamic” …

The version in his own language, which was read to him for his approval, would have been close to the interpretations we’ve given in italics. So he approved, of course.

“Yes. Let the Americans think I want to clasp the hand and everything. As long as they understand they must first admit we’re …  Sure. You can say I said all that. ” 

Rouhani once boasted that he could deceive the West into thinking he was against nuclear arms while his country went ahead building a nuclear arsenal. He spoke the truth that time.