Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:09 pm

Shikanosuke wrote:Only what I said, that those who believe pro-Russian separatists who are fighting with Russian supplied arms, certainly aren't dissuaded from this belief by consistent reports of Russia's material and seemingly personnel support of the separatists. No, one doesn't prove the other.


If one doesn't prove the other, then why bring it up? I fail to see the point.

Unless one needs no further proof of guilt in the matter of MH17, than merely having Russian blood or the like.

Shikanosuke wrote:From NATO. From other sources claiming captured Russians soldiers and Russian personnel moving with fluidity between the borders.


Very neutral, those sources. Very credible indeed.

Shikanosuke wrote:Perhaps I'm misinterpreting this but it seems to defy the entire point of the memo. So when the rebels get on the ropes then we should expect a Russian invasion? ... I'm not sure why we're entirely fine with that as it isn't conducive to a long-lasting peace deal in Ukraine.


Or maybe - just maybe - we should expect a settled solution to this crisis that is even halfway sane? And leaves the Novorussians, I don't know, alive? As in, not subjected to genocide by a fly-by-night Western puppet dictator? Too much to ask from Washington, I know.

Shikanosuke wrote:Well, I don't want anyone to go to war in Ukraine either. At all. I don't think its in anyone's interest in the West. However, I would suggest if this happens Russia isn't blameless by far in its behind-the-scene escalative actions and that should that terrible event befall us I don't hope that an alliance of American allies tears itself apart.


You know what? Russia would probably be fine with 'taking the blame' (as in, only making minor diplomatic fuss) if they actually got a militarily-neutral Ukraine out of the bargain. I see no rhyme or reason behind your or James's position. You accept as a matter of course that Russia is interested in having an immediate neighbour which isn't actively hostile to its interests. So why is it so vital for you to punish Russia for behaving in a completely rational and predictable way?

And I hope the alliance tears itself apart, because it doesn't serve our interests. These 'allies' of ours don't do jack for us. And in the event of a war, they will just drag us down.

You say you don't want war in Ukraine? Great. Neither do I. The Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Poles and now the Ukrainians - to judge by their rhetoric, they're all thirsty for Russian blood. Let them go to war. ALONE. No promise of American backing, at all.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:49 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:If one doesn't prove the other, then why bring it up? I fail to see the point.


We were discussing the viewpoints of the West, and who and why they were willing to believe. I just thought it of semi-note that those willing to consider that the fault of the crash was someone other than the pro-Russian separatists were likely not encouraged by Russian's behind the scenes activities.

Unless one needs no further proof of guilt in the matter of MH17, than merely having Russian blood or the like.


Not at all. I am curious, and not accusatory here, why you seem to think that everyone critical of Russian action is thinking that Putin/Russia are an singular evil entity from a cold-war comic book movie.

Very neutral, those sources. Very credible indeed.


Can be, can not be. Really depends on the particular authors and the subject to be honest. We could easily make the same accusation of nearly any governmental intelligence agency in the world in certain contexts.


Or maybe - just maybe - we should expect a settled solution to this crisis that is even halfway sane? And leaves the Novorussians, I don't know, alive? As in, not subjected to genocide by a fly-by-night Western puppet dictator? Too much to ask from Washington, I know.


No sir, that isn't unreasonable at all. I like to believe we'd all love that? I will say though that didn't really answer my inquiry and I'm not entirely sure of the snappiness?


You know what? Russia would probably be fine with 'taking the blame' (as in, only making minor diplomatic fuss) if they actually got a militarily-neutral Ukraine out of the bargain. I see no rhyme or reason behind your or James's position. You accept as a matter of course that Russia is interested in having an immediate neighbour which isn't actively hostile to its interests. So why is it so vital for you to punish Russia for behaving in a completely rational and predictable way?


Because we don't see Ukraine as a threat to Russia, and we don't see Ukraine's independence as something Russia has a right to militarily involve themselves in. I think James and I both accept (though I don't want to speak for him) that both the West and Russia have meddled in Ukrainian politics to their own ends. I think we both accept Russia would like to have either a) a friendly/neutral Ukraine on its borders or b) a vassal state in Ukraine. I'm fine with all of that, it makes sense and I'm certainly willing to tolerate that much the same as I am willing to tolerate the West wanting another NATO ally in the region.

However, while I personally want absolutely no American part in the Ukrainian crisis, as a matter of principle I'm not sure I'm into a divided Ukraine because one side has Russians supplying rebels with guns and people while lying to the only world entity who has a chance of giving Russia pause. I don't see Ukraine being a military threat, and making incursions, into Russia without international support. And the only logic I see dropped on why feeding lawless rebels guns (and troops) is oh so acceptable is because they're just the same as the thugs in Kiev who reportedly hate anyone who speaks Russian.

And I hope the alliance tears itself apart, because it doesn't serve our interests. These 'allies' of ours don't do jack for us. And in the event of a war, they will just drag us down.


While we always carry the bulk of the load, Germany and Britain have held their own in our small-scale conflicts. Whether or interests are aligned, I think its dicey and I agree that at times we're not all in the same boat.

You say you don't want war in Ukraine? Great. Neither do I. The Latvians, the Lithuanians, the Poles and now the Ukrainians - to judge by their rhetoric, they're all thirsty for Russian blood. Let them go to war. ALONE. No promise of American backing, at all.
[/quote]

Well, I don't know enough about the people and their internal rhetoric to comment on that first part. However, are you suggesting that if Ukraine was provided with its territory back, it would still want to attack its relatively gigantic neighbor? I'm not entirely convinced of that idea, but I'm willing to hear you out. I suppose if they were really insane they may want to risk it by pulling the Western powers back into the mix, but I still see serious risks and little reward for Kiev.

Either way, I'm not for war with Russia. I'm not for providing military assistance to Ukraine to deal with their problems if it means dragging us into a war with Russia. I'm also not for Russia annexing Ukraine based on who knows what (military might) and I am for providing military assistance to prevent that issue if that is what the issue becomes. Saying that, I'm not saying Russia is stampeding across the border and therefore all the cries are invasion are true.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:37 pm

Shikanosuke wrote:We were discussing the viewpoints of the West, and who and why they were willing to believe. I just thought it of semi-note that those willing to consider that the fault of the crash was someone other than the pro-Russian separatists were likely not encouraged by Russian's behind the scenes activities.


Ahh, okay. I thought you were saying something completely different there, my bad.

Just this - following the activities of both the rebels and Russia with regard to the crash itself, they both have been very cooperative, bending over backwards to facilitate what (from their view) would be a neutral investigation of the crash. The Malaysian authorities said they got the black box intact, and with very little fuss (given that they were dealing with a VNSA / stateless army).

Shikanosuke wrote:I am curious, and not accusatory here, why you seem to think that everyone critical of Russian action is thinking that Putin/Russia are an singular evil entity from a cold-war comic book movie.


I don't. Certain things you and James have said have tingled my spidey-sense in that direction, though. Russia being 'devoted' to causing chaos in Ukraine, for one, when even by the standards you claim to hold for them that's neither true nor reasonable.

Shikanosuke wrote:Really depends on the particular authors and the subject to be honest. We could easily make the same accusation of nearly any governmental intelligence agency in the world in certain contexts.


Absolutely.

I prefer to trust journalists, rather than government press releases. Even inter-government press releases.

My one exception is generally the UN - usually what they say is pretty watered-down, though.

Shikanosuke wrote:No sir, that isn't unreasonable at all. I like to believe we'd all love that? I will say though that didn't really answer my inquiry and I'm not entirely sure of the snappiness?


Well, your inquiry was predicated on the assumption of a Russian invasion which a.) I have not been satisfied of the existence of as yet, b.) needn't happen if the IMF removes the condition on its high-interest loans to the new Ukrainian government that it pacify the region by force, and c.) isn't likely to happen if NATO makes it clear to Ukraine that membership is off the table.

Now, c.) isn't particularly likely, for reasons which continue to baffle me. My question is, why the hell is a NATOfied Ukraine so bloody important to us that we're willing to risk war with Russia over it?

Shikanosuke wrote:Because we don't see Ukraine as a threat to Russia, and we don't see Ukraine's independence as something Russia has a right to militarily involve themselves in.


Let's keep this simple, shall we?

The Ukraine is no threat to Russia on its own.

Problem is, it's not on its own. And it thinks it's entitled to American protection.

Likewise, Russia hasn't been meddling in Ukrainian independence. It had no reason to. At least, not until the coup which placed a rabidly pro-Western government (itself highly dependent on EU and IMF patronage) at its helm.

Shikanosuke wrote:I'm fine with all of that, it makes sense and I'm certainly willing to tolerate that much the same as I am willing to tolerate the West wanting another NATO ally in the region.


Yeah. Um. See - this is where we differ.

I'm not fine with that. Why the hell do we need another NATO ally in the region? An ally for what purpose? Against whom?

Oh - oh, wait, there it is again! The presumption of the EVIL EMPIRE!

Shikanosuke wrote:And the only logic I see dropped on why feeding lawless rebels guns (and troops) is oh so acceptable is because they're just the same as the thugs in Kiev who reportedly hate anyone who speaks Russian.


Yeah. Don't ask me about that. Ask the half a million refugees who are now, as we speak, seeking shelter inside Russia from their own fluffy dear little democratic-and-not-at-all-fascist government. The only people standing between them and the fate of being blown to bits by the army that's supposed to be protecting them, happen to be the 'lawless rebels' you assume to be beyond the pale.

Also the same 'lawless rebels' who willingly handed over to the Malaysian government, the black box of the Malaysian plane they purportedly shot down. Real live desperadoes, those guys.

Shikanosuke wrote:However, are you suggesting that if Ukraine was provided with its territory back, it would still want to attack its relatively gigantic neighbor?


Remember what happened in 2008?

Georgia shelled the ever-loving fecal matter out of a civilian apartment building in Tskhinvali and fired on Russian troops, on the assumption that NATO would have its back when the inevitable retaliation came along. Thankfully, they were wrong, and it was only Georgia that Russia beat the snot out of, rather than starting a nuclear war.

And guess who's advisingthe new Ukrainian president? Sure beats having to face criminal charges for corruption and abuse of power back home, don't it? You do know that old chestnut about the definition of insanity, right?
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby James » Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:55 pm

Just to preface, I'm not going to answer every point you've shared here. That's not because I don't want to. I simply don't have the time to compile a proper response with relevant information, and in many cases I'm also going to assume that you've encountered the same information as well and have simply formed a different interpretation. Some of what you've shared is content I don't disagree with—I'm instead going to focus on my actual points and the fundamental areas where we do disagree.

WeiWenDi wrote:Alright, care to contextualise this equivalence somewhat? Or at all? No? Then allow me.

Ukraine was an absolute finical wreck at the beginning of this year. In despite of its industrial and agricultural outputs, it was racking up insane internal and trade deficits. I don't think anyone sane disputes this. But what you won't hear from any quarter of the Western media are the reasons why this was the case. The European Union was contributing directly to both of these problems by pursuing unfair trade relations with the Ukraine and predatorily pricing out its domestic industries. At this point, Russia sold gas to the Ukraine at a very reasonable price, but this part of Ukraine's trade deficit was counterbalanced by a reciprocal trade in electricity. Russia was not pricing Ukrainian firms out of the market.

But the situation remained, that in the immediate term, the Ukraine needed an immediate infusion of cash for deficit relief and investment. The EU Association Agreement - to which Yanukovych was not originally opposed, by the way - did not provide any of that. It was a bum deal. Anyone and everyone - including Sean Guillory (a well-known Russia watcher, blogger and EE scholar, and one not particularly fond of Putin) - who read the EU Association Agreement thought it was a bum deal, which would make an already bad situation worse for Ukraine, but make a few wealthy western Europeans even wealthier. The language used by Joszef Borocz was 'grossly asymmetrical'. And here is what he says about the structural preconditions the EU Association Agreement would have mandated for Ukraine's economy:

Joszef Borocz wrote:So, when we see a reference to adoption (or, as in the case of Ukraine, “approximation”) of the acquis communautaire, we need to remember that the acquis is, by definition, a neoliberal tool, designed to increase the global sway of transnational capital based in western Europe. That’s what it is, no less, no more.


When I look at the EU's economic interference in the Ukraine, I see a practiced, calculating and utterly ruthless colonial power at work, which cloaks the avarice of its corporate and bankster overlords in nice-sounding language like 'freedom' and 'democracy' and 'civilisation' and 'rule of law'. When I look at Russia's interference, political and economic, in the Ukraine, I see a self-interested regional power which feels its borders are threatened, and seeks first to placate a (grantedly incredibly corrupt) neighbouring government, with which it feels a certain cultural and historic kinship, at a particularly high cost to itself. Russia marked down a massive amount of debt that the Ukraine owed it ($15 billion dollars), and reduced the price of gas still further to ease the trade deficit, in the wake of the association crisis. So when you say:

James wrote:And there's nothing at face value wrong with wanting the country to lean pro-Europe or pro-Russia—it's a reasonable thing for a country wedged between both interests (something only to scale as the world becomes more interconnected) to be concerned about. But in terms of external influence, I'm not sure how you can cast the blame in one direction.


You may think you sound reasonable and even-handed with language like this, but to me you come off as someone who doesn't take a lot of interest in the bigger story, but is eager to cast judgement and blame on Russia all the same.

If you want to take a look at a country which really knows how to play the game Yanukovych was trying to play, and which has been successful enough at it that its president hasn't needed to put down significant amounts of foreign-funded astroturf resistance, you need only to look at the Big Bread here. I lived long enough in this country to have a passing familiarity with its long history of engagement with an imperially-minded Russia and an imperially-minded China, and to know that the game Yanukovych was trying to play is one which it's possible to win.

But Viktor Fedorovych tried to treat the EU with kid gloves, and he paid a very steep price for that miscalculation.

I'm not going to go this far down the rabbit hole of pros vs. cons of each side of Euromaidan. Both sides of the argument have legitimate grievances and both sides have legitimate problems. For example, we can spend some time discussing potential good that came of Yanukovych's interests but we could also spend time talking about awful things he did as well—ways in which he very poorly represented a subset of Ukraine. You want to boil the pro-US and pro-Russia sides of this argument down into something which can be measured on a scale, but truth is what worked for one person—one subset of Ukraine—was not right for another. Truth is there are pros and cons to being pro-Europe and pros and cons to being pro-Russia (as a country). Sadly, independence was not a reality for Ukraine well before it exploded into the Western media's news cycle.

As to what you've specifically written, to summarize very bad involvement from the west while outlining Russia's as largely positive—especially the manner in which Russia has worked with Ukraine regarding resources and money—seems a one-sided reading to me. Again, not to defend the West/Europe, here. You're disgusted with them, and I'm disgusted with both them and Russia. I know our positions here are unlikely to change through sharing of a few links, however, as we've decided to come to different conclusions.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:And that downed plane—if you are certain that was Ukraine you've been reading one side of the story.

*golf clap*

Nice. Well-done indeed. I really love the personal accusation of my one-sided ignorance, by the way, particularly given your later 'let's endeavour to leave the personal characterisation out of this' tack. Ten points for chutzpah right there. Good thing you're doing everything in your power to keep this conversation civil, right?

I've been reading both sides of the story. But one side is looking less and less convincing to me, given their recent studied inaction. It strikes me that, given that the pro-Russian rebels willingly released the black boxes to what they consider to be a fair and neutral authority, and now that the Russian government is pressuring for their release to the public, that (were character witness a reliable thing at all on the international stage) these are not the actions of a manifestly guilty party. Accidentally-guilty? Still very much a possibility.

But the silence and the studied disinterest from the Western media is deafening.

It should be clear at least by now that the Western media didn't give a damn about those 300 people - except as a stick to beat Russia with. Or on a general 'if it bleeds, it leads' principle.

You are leaving so much out. Even a scan through the Wikipedia article produces a wild range of additional information, each to be individually contested and researched, that paints a more complex story with agents on both sides trying to spin the outcome in their favor. The black boxes were handed over to Malaysia and an investigation is taking place. A preliminary report is due mid-September from the Dutch Safety Board and a criminal investigation appears to be taking place as well. Let's see what happens before we get too worked up about it.

As for the Western media, :lol:

You know how they work. Or, at least, how the mainstream media works. They'll be back to MA17 as new information is released or a new subject develops, but until then they'll cover whatever is 'new' or, depending on the agency, shiny and primed to entertain. Why raise your fist into the air and rage about it? They do this with everything. You are, however, grossly generalizing that the entirety of the Western media didn't give a damn about the people who died.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:Plenty of evidence points in the potential direction of pro-Russia activists as well, from reports of early celebration on the internet (a misunderstood target) up to access of the required weaponry. I wouldn't dare say in certainty that it was the pro-Russia militants, though, and a person suitably interested could be just as skeptical of Ukraine. We just don't have the information needed to be certain of it and it seems highly inappropriate to pretend that we do.


I have been saying this all along, that the official narrative from the State Department needs to be questioned, that we don't know anything substantive as yet, and that if we're wise, we would take stock of what both sides were saying. I have been saying all along that we need to take Malaysia's tack - they lost the most and have the most reason to be outraged, yet have declined to make any judgement as yet on who is to blame.

Yet when I linked stories on Facebook - even ones from non-Russian news sources - that challenged the idea that Russia had to be guilty, you (and only you, James) took umbrage at it and accused me of spreading Russian propaganda.

You're misrepresenting me here. I'm not really going to dive into this because I don't want to bridge any inappropriate barriers between personal life on Facebook and what you choose to share here, but I will make one observation: how many people, really, are willing to confront, and potentially offend, their friend on Facebook about subjects that friend feels passionately about? And once you've narrowed that group down, how many know enough about the subject to speak? And then narrow that down again to how many people have a significantly differing view?

I don't have many friends on Facebook, but sometimes I take a position which I know many of my friends disagree with, and have strong opinions about. That's pretty easy to do, living in Utah. Guess how many chime in?

WeiWenDi wrote:Which they don't, and which I never pretended they did. They want a pliant buffer state.

But NATO and the EU don't want an independent, self-sufficient Ukraine either. The EU wants cheap labour and another market for goods from Western European firms. NATO wants another willing vassal to park its missiles and fighter jets in and aim them at Russia. That's all.

NATO, Russia, the US—they all have special interests and they're willing to exploit others to realize them. But all are more complex than a completely negative narrative (especially in an effort to demonize one in absence of others relative to the same subject). And that's beside the point. Why do I care? Because that doesn't justify Russia's actions anymore than it would justify similar actions undertaken by another neighbor or power.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:I instead believe it is very reasonable to interpret what Russia has done, and what Russia is doing, as taking steps to either absorb Ukraine, absorb what they can of Ukraine, or convert Ukraine's government back over to something that is more pro-Russia, can be controlled by Russia, or do that to whatever of Ukraine cannot be absorbed.


Once again, I think you are coming at this from a very narrow perspective which falls apart once your angle changes.

First order, Russia does want a pro-Russia Ukraine. And it wants its one warm saltwater base facing West. Like I said - pliant buffer state is the end goal for Russia in Ukraine. It was to be expected that Russia would take steps to defend Sevastopol (which is Russian and always has been Russian, even post-Ukrainian statehood in 1991). The decision to give Crimea to Ukraine was a purely political one typical of the top Soviet leadership and was a way for Khrushchev to reward his loyal cronies. There is no independent reason to believe that what we saw with the Crimean referendum wasn't actually the will of the Crimean electorate in action, and a Soviet-era blunder of the divide-and-conquer type reversing itself.

EDIT: To be clear (and I still feel it is unfair that I have to point this out every single time Crimea is brought up), I don't think two wrongs make a right. I think Russia put itself in the wrong the moment Russian boots set foot outside Sevastopol. But that shouldn't mean we ignore the history of the place, or the current situation, or the feelings of the people who actually live there.

But I don't think there is any indication at all that Putin wants anything more, if we are looking at this from a blunt, self-interested realist perspective. Novorossiya is vital for Ukraine's economy, but it doesn't add anything to Russia's. We can already see that territorially speaking, it is difficult to hold onto and defend. If anything, Putin wants to see a ceasefire, since that takes international pressure off of him. And I think Putin realises better than anyone else that a Ukraine minus Novorossiya would be much more difficult to bring back into the fold, as it were. Taking direct action now - even with special ops forces - makes a pro-Russian Ukraine more difficult to achieve in the long run. It would seem to be the Russian electorate, on the other hand, which sympathises with the people of Novorossiya (of whom over half a million are now seeking refuge within Russia's borders), and which wants to see Putin take bolder action there. This is why I tend to doubt the stories of a 'Russian invasion' of Ukraine (though not, I should note, the stories of Russian veterans and mercenaries going to fight in Novorossiya).

Crimea. Russian soldiers controlled the region while this vote took place. Looking at it, do I think Crimea would have probably voted in that direction anyway? Highly likely. If not due to cultural interests, for plenty of other reasons associated with having troops in your backyard. Security matters. But I'm not going to pretend it is legitimate. And frankly, all of that is noise anyway—to support a nuanced argument here is to accept the means through which that vote was facilitated on Russia's part.

Ukraine. Eh, we just disagree here. That's fine. Putin can destabilize the region significantly and win in the end, and doing so allows him to achieve his objective while skirting the most detrimental kinds of international involvement. This government that he doesn't want—it can crumble. The less people trust it, the more they associate it with war and instability, the better it plays for Russia when they're of a position to restore stability (through absorption of land or a pro-Russia government). Russia can even create that instability and later play the hero in rebuilding and restoring order. And troops/representatives within Ukraine is the perfect solution to this problem. You approach this as if this isn't the sort of thing Russia would do, but I just don't see it. But I do see how this situation has already been unfolding, and it fits Putin's playbook.

WeiWenDi wrote:
James wrote:Do you happen to agree that Russia has played a strong role in creating opportunity for that instability? Or that it is not excuse for Russia's invasion? I expect that you don't.


I've given you my analysis above. Under Yanukovych, Russia had no reason to create instability in the Ukraine.

The EU, on the other hand, had plenty of reasons.

Now, under Poroshenko, the reverse is true. But Poroshenko could not have come to power without the EU first creating opportunities for instability, with the tools of right-wing racist and extremist thugs ready to hand. Downplay them all you like, but the EU could not have ousted Yanukovych without the Nazis' help.

Of course Russia had no reason to create instability in a pro-Russia Ukraine. But why is it acceptable in any context for him to have reason now in a Ukraine that is going the other direction? It makes geopolitical sense, but every step Russia takes to tear this government apart is costing people their lives and that's blood to coat the hands of external influences willing their interests upon Ukraine. I don't see it as defensible regardless of who the external actors are, nor the extent to which they are involved in the play. And that goes for the West as well.

WeiWenDi wrote:And you're right - I don't look for any excuse to cry wolf about 'invasions' that never seem to actually happen. Lord knows there are enough wannabe heroes in NATO, and in the do-something brigades here at home, doing just that, without me joining them.

You went into this a little more with Shikanosuke below, but you're discounting too much information. Sure, you've got reports from NATO (which, despite its problems, is not the great lying propaganda machine), and sure, that, with claims from Ukrainian leadership, is not enough. But that's not all there is. For example, earlier you claimed these pro-Russia elements were armed with Soviet era equipment. That was a stretch at the time, but now we've got plenty of on-the-ground reporting from NPR, BBC, and no doubt other news entities which I don't follow, pointing out that there is plenty of perfectly modern Russian military equipment in use—in use by people who are speaking with thick Russian accents. And then reporting of the much more expensive war equipment moving around and crossing the border. Whatever's happening here, it is happening with Putin's blessing and encouragement (if not a direct effort on his part to deploy military specialists—which I no longer see a good argument for). We can just disagree here, and allow the coming months to reveal more information.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby Shikanosuke » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:07 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:
I don't. Certain things you and James have said have tingled my spidey-sense in that direction, though. Russia being 'devoted' to causing chaos in Ukraine, for one, when even by the standards you claim to hold for them that's neither true nor reasonable.


I'm not sure I've stated they are devoted, but they do seem to be devoting a fair amount of resources, and risking international intervention, to stabilizing their inevitable annexation of part of Ukraine if its just a whim.

Well, your inquiry was predicated on the assumption of a Russian invasion which a.) I have not been satisfied of the existence of as yet, b.) needn't happen if the IMF removes the condition on its high-interest loans to the new Ukrainian government that it pacify the region by force, and c.) isn't likely to happen if NATO makes it clear to Ukraine that membership is off the table.


Was it? My inquiry, per the article you linked to support your position, was based on the assumption that a Russian would come (as the article stated) if the separatists began losing the war. If I read that incorrectly, it is my mistake.

My question is, why the hell is a NATOfied Ukraine so bloody important to us that we're willing to risk war with Russia over it?


Why is Russia willing to risk war? I think European countries fear and do not believe Russian interests align with their own. I'm not sure they're wrong. I guess you can ignore your huge armed neighbor if you like, and you may perfectly fine.


Let's keep this simple, shall we?

The Ukraine is no threat to Russia on its own.


Agreed. I assume because of your following remark you may dismiss this (which is fine) but were they not would Russia leave them be?

Problem is, it's not on its own. And it thinks it's entitled to American protection.


Well, not just America. Ukraine proper is obviously seeking to align itself and its people with European interests. I assume it assumes that if it does that it comes into the fold. Which I assume would be fine, provided no altercations between the two countries unnecessarily occur.

At least, not until the coup which placed a rabidly pro-Western government (itself highly dependent on EU and IMF patronage) at its helm.


If Ukraine isn't/wasn't threatening Russia militarily, why does it care that a smaller and independent pro-Western government sits on its borders?


Yeah. Um. See - this is where we differ.

I'm not fine with that. Why the hell do we need another NATO ally in the region? An ally for what purpose? Against whom?

Oh - oh, wait, there it is again! The presumption of the EVIL EMPIRE!


You got me. I also arm myself when I go out in public because I think every person I meet is actually an evil KGB agent in disguise. I keep a fence up around my house because I'm actually afraid my neighbor is plotting to drive over me.

Sorry for the silly illustrations, but not so much. After the actions of the Cold War, and acknowledging that the respective countries (rightly or not) see themselves as having differing interests, it isn't surprising that the West would want as many allies in the region as possible to have some strategic and economic control. I don't think you need demonize every potential threat just to make sense of wanting allies in a tumultuous region.


Yeah. Don't ask me about that. Ask the half a million refugees who are now, as we speak, seeking shelter inside Russia from their own fluffy dear little democratic-and-not-at-all-fascist government. The only people standing between them and the fate of being blown to bits by the army that's supposed to be protecting them, happen to be the 'lawless rebels' you assume to be beyond the pale.


I get your attempt a dramatic plea to folks who are suffering, but the responsibility falls rather flat. Prior the Russia attempting to annex the region and prior to the rebels taking up arms against their government, were Ukrainian troops shelling and firing upon these towns? For what purpose would that achieve.

I certainly feel for the refugees, and I'm sure its easy to identify with those near to you and those you believe protecting you from foreigners. But this smacks of the same nonsense of the folks in extremist compounds who are 'protected' by criminals with guns and decry their suffering when law enforcement comes knocking. I've not been shown enough proof that the refugees needed protecting ,or even needed to be refugees, before their countrymen took up arms.

Also the same 'lawless rebels' who willingly handed over to the Malaysian government, the black box of the Malaysian plane they purportedly shot down. Real live desperadoes, those guys.


Indeed. The same rebels accused of human rights abuses, shelling fleeing civilians,kidnapping international monitors, abusing prisoners, and protectors of such great places where civilians in besieged cities fear going out at night.



Remember what happened in 2008?

Georgia shelled the ever-loving fecal matter out of a civilian apartment building in Tskhinvali and fired on Russian troops, on the assumption that NATO would have its back when the inevitable retaliation came along. Thankfully, they were wrong, and it was only Georgia that Russia beat the snot out of, rather than starting a nuclear war.

And guess who's advisingthe new Ukrainian president? Sure beats having to face criminal charges for corruption and abuse of power back home, don't it? You do know that old chestnut about the definition of insanity, right?



I know what happened with Georgia, but Ukraine never got the chance to make its gambit. Russia and its agents moved before that.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:31 am

James wrote:I'm not going to go this far down the rabbit hole of pros vs. cons of each side of Euromaidan. Both sides of the argument have legitimate grievances and both sides have legitimate problems. For example, we can spend some time discussing potential good that came of Yanukovych's interests but we could also spend time talking about awful things he did as well—ways in which he very poorly represented a subset of Ukraine. You want to boil the pro-US and pro-Russia sides of this argument down into something which can be measured on a scale, but truth is what worked for one person—one subset of Ukraine—was not right for another. Truth is there are pros and cons to being pro-Europe and pros and cons to being pro-Russia (as a country)


It is wrong and it is intellectually dishonest of you to say this. You of all people ought to know better than to engage in this kind of lazy ethical subjectivism. If it was really the case that 'what worked for one person... was not right for another', and that the pros and cons could not be measured against each other, there would be no basis for making any sort of public policy at all, or indeed even engaging in this debate. This struck me on first read as an attempt to avoid any substantive debate altogether.

If you actually are interested in understanding my position as opposed to just spewing calumny and declaring my views intolerable, or 'demonising' or whatnot, you would actually engage with the substance of my arguments rather than just throw down j'accuses of Russian propagandism.

James wrote:As to what you've specifically written, to summarize very bad involvement from the west while outlining Russia's as largely positive—especially the manner in which Russia has worked with Ukraine regarding resources and money—seems a one-sided reading to me. Again, not to defend the West/Europe, here. You're disgusted with them, and I'm disgusted with both them and Russia. I know our positions here are unlikely to change through sharing of a few links, however, as we've decided to come to different conclusions.


You know, it might be of some interest to know how you would characterise the economic relationship between Russia and the Ukraine prior to 2014, and on which data you base this interpretation. Or at least on what grounds you summarily dismiss my argument. Too much to ask?

James wrote:You are leaving so much out. Even a scan through the Wikipedia article produces a wild range of additional information, each to be individually contested and researched, that paints a more complex story with agents on both sides trying to spin the outcome in their favor. The black boxes were handed over to Malaysia and an investigation is taking place. A preliminary report is due mid-September from the Dutch Safety Board and a criminal investigation appears to be taking place as well. Let's see what happens before we get too worked up about it.


A lot of the 'information' Wikipedia cites is, at this point, speculation. I happen to agree that a fair investigation will be needed, and that we should await the results before pronouncing judgement. I made no judgement, and indeed acknowledged that the pro-Russian militias might indeed turn out to be guilty. But if you really don't find the Ukrainian government's unsourced statements and actions at least somewhat suspicious, or see the potential conflicts of interest in a Dutch investigation, I submit to you that, for all your attempts to appear even-handed, you're projecting your own bias onto me.

James wrote:You are, however, grossly generalizing that the entirety of the Western media didn't give a damn about the people who died.


They don't.

Oh, maybe some individuals do care. But the networks as a whole care about two things: profit, and keeping their privileges with various parts of the Washington establishment. And I guarantee you that the American political class doesn't give a rat's hindquarters about those 300 people.

James wrote:You're misrepresenting me here. I'm not really going to dive into this because I don't want to bridge any inappropriate barriers between personal life on Facebook and what you choose to share here, but I will make one observation: how many people, really, are willing to confront, and potentially offend, their friend on Facebook about subjects that friend feels passionately about? And once you've narrowed that group down, how many know enough about the subject to speak? And then narrow that down again to how many people have a significantly differing view?


Who's misrepresenting who, here? I have been urging against leaping to conclusions about MH17 all along, and when and because I did so, you accused me then of spreading Russian propaganda. And now you're trying to throw that same argument back in my face, as though I haven't been using that exact argument all along! It doesn't matter whether you do it on FB or here; do you have any idea how condescending, sanctimonious, and just downright disrespectful that sounds?

James wrote:NATO, Russia, the US—they all have special interests and they're willing to exploit others to realize them. But all are more complex than a completely negative narrative (especially in an effort to demonize one in absence of others relative to the same subject). And that's beside the point. Why do I care? Because that doesn't justify Russia's actions anymore than it would justify similar actions undertaken by another neighbor or power.


Why should you care?

Because they are part of the context in which Russia is making these decisions, maybe? Well, if you're just bent on blaming Russia regardless of the circumstances, I guess you don't need to care.

And let's keep the context in mind here, so's you don't change the subject on me. I brought it up because you were assuming, groundlessly, a neutral, legitimate, independent and self-sufficient Ukrainian government that does not exist. The current government was bought, paid-for, beholden to, all but appointed by the CIA and NATO. You did hear the Nuland tapes, didn't you?

James wrote:Crimea. Russian soldiers controlled the region while this vote took place. Looking at it, do I think Crimea would have probably voted in that direction anyway? Highly likely. If not due to cultural interests, for plenty of other reasons associated with having troops in your backyard. Security matters. But I'm not going to pretend it is legitimate. And frankly, all of that is noise anyway—to support a nuanced argument here is to accept the means through which that vote was facilitated on Russia's part.


Again, to recap, you're fine with accepting nuanced arguments when it comes to evaluating American justifications for perpetrating death and destruction on Iraq.

But you're not fine with accepting nuanced arguments when it comes to evaluating Russian justifications for not perpetrating death and destruction on Crimea.

And I'm the one with the double standard.

Whew! Glad that's cleared up, then...

James wrote:Ukraine. Eh, we just disagree here. That's fine. Putin can destabilize the region significantly and win in the end, and doing so allows him to achieve his objective while skirting the most detrimental kinds of international involvement. This government that he doesn't want—it can crumble. The less people trust it, the more they associate it with war and instability, the better it plays for Russia when they're of a position to restore stability (through absorption of land or a pro-Russia government). Russia can even create that instability and later play the hero in rebuilding and restoring order. And troops/representatives within Ukraine is the perfect solution to this problem. You approach this as if this isn't the sort of thing Russia would do, but I just don't see it. But I do see how this situation has already been unfolding, and it fits Putin's playbook.


Which just goes to show you haven't been paying attention to what we've been doing all along. The destabilisation in Ukraine is our fault, not Putin's. As a matter of objective historical fact. Mearsheimer's version, being realist, is largely the correct version. This government is precisely the result of our interference, and I personally don't feel under any obligation to accept it as legitimate - nor, obviously, does Russia.

James wrote:You went into this a little more with Shikanosuke below, but you're discounting too much information. Sure, you've got reports from NATO (which, despite its problems, is not the great lying propaganda machine)


Um, hello? Yugoslavia? Iraq? Libya? Syria?

NATO's lies led to the destruction of Serbia's economy and a breakaway state (Kosovo) whose government deals in drugs, organs and slaves. It led to the destruction of Iraq, the displacement of millions, the radicalisation of Iraq's Sunnis and the creation of ISIS. Its lies and propaganda led to the genocide of more than 40,000 black Libyans by the rebels it supported, by claiming the blacks were pro-Gadhafi. And Syria? Don't get me started.

NATO's track record is kind of against you on that score. And I'm obviously not the only person who thinks they're lying in this case.

James wrote:For example, earlier you claimed these pro-Russia elements were armed with Soviet era equipment. That was a stretch at the time, but now we've got plenty of on-the-ground reporting from NPR, BBC, and no doubt other news entities which I don't follow, pointing out that there is plenty of perfectly modern Russian military equipment in use—in use by people who are speaking with thick Russian accents.


Great. Good that you know how to make unsupported claims from news sources you don't follow, as well as government mouthpieces which have every reason to lie. That's a skill I never learned how to master.

But the thick Russian accents, oh, damn. There's a dead giveaway somebody's up to no good right there. Every time. So says Hollywood; it must be true!

So let's just ignore the well-documented fact that most of the people - between 60 and 75% - who actually live in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions speak Russian as their first language and are bound to speak in strong Russian accents, and that most of Ukraine's political class speaks either Russian or Surzhyk (a dialect of Russian heavily influenced by Ukrainian) as their first language, not proper Ukrainian. Both Tymoshenko and Yanukovych have been made fun of in the state media for their accents in the past. This is why local context is kind of important.

You keep complaining that I'm misrepresenting you about Russia - but do you even read what you write before you hit 'Submit'?

James wrote:And then reporting of the much more expensive war equipment moving around and crossing the border. Whatever's happening here, it is happening with Putin's blessing and encouragement (if not a direct effort on his part to deploy military specialists—which I no longer see a good argument for). We can just disagree here, and allow the coming months to reveal more information.


But you were crying 'invasion'.

Proxy war is not invasion.

So I don't know who you think you're disagreeing with. Personally, I have no doubt that Russian equipment and people are crossing the border to fight in Ukraine. Probably a significant number of those have family and friends on the other side, who are being attacked by the army. But I haven't seen any proof of Putin's direct involvement from anything more reputable than a celebrity-chasing tabloid. Certainly a politically-significant contingent of Russians want Putin to be more involved, not less.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:04 am

Shikanosuke wrote:I'm not sure I've stated they are devoted, but they do seem to be devoting a fair amount of resources, and risking international intervention, to stabilizing their inevitable annexation of part of Ukraine if its just a whim.


Let's unpack this. According to you:

- Russia's actions in Ukraine are either 'a whim', or 'devoted to creating chaos'. No middle ground there.
- The annexation of Novorossiya is 'inevitable' and 'stabilising'.
- Russia is 'devoting a fair amount of resources' to this annexation.

When did you stop beating your wife again, Shik?

Shikanosuke wrote:I think European countries fear and do not believe Russian interests align with their own. I'm not sure they're wrong. I guess you can ignore your huge armed neighbor if you like, and you may perfectly fine.


So again, for you, there's no middle ground between 'ignoring' your huge armed neighbour on the one hand; and expanding your provenly aggressive and colonialist military alliance of European powers with a penchant for genocidal total-war violence, up to its doorstep in violation of agreements to the contrary in the '70's, on the other.

You really enjoy this one, don't you? It's really interesting that James is bashing me by asserting there is no truth in Ukraine, only what's true for individuals, and then you asserting that the truth has to be either on one extreme or the other.

Shikanosuke wrote:If Ukraine isn't/wasn't threatening Russia militarily, why does it care that a smaller and independent pro-Western government sits on its borders?


'Independent pro-Western government' is an oxymoron.

Shikanosuke wrote:After the actions of the Cold War, and acknowledging that the respective countries (rightly or not) see themselves as having differing interests, it isn't surprising that the West would want as many allies in the region as possible to have some strategic and economic control. I don't think you need demonize every potential threat just to make sense of wanting allies in a tumultuous region.


But you're doing it anyway 'coz you're stylish like that? Is that what you're trying to say?

But thanks anyway for proving my point that an 'independent pro-Western government' is an oxymoron. The West is after strategic and economic control at all costs. NATO is imperial.

Shikanosuke wrote:I certainly feel for the refugees, and I'm sure its easy to identify with those near to you and those you believe protecting you from foreigners. But this smacks of the same nonsense of the folks in extremist compounds who are 'protected' by criminals with guns and decry their suffering when law enforcement comes knocking. I've not been shown enough proof that the refugees needed protecting ,or even needed to be refugees, before their countrymen took up arms.


Because only Waco-style nutjobs would think that open calls for genocide on US-financed television stations are anything more than a friendly way to show camaraderie and affection, of course. And the government only calls you subhuman because they think you're a swell human. You know, like a submarine. A yellow one. Yeah, that's it.

Shikanosuke wrote:I know what happened with Georgia, but Ukraine never got the chance to make its gambit. Russia and its agents moved before that.


I'd move first too if the government I was staring down had people like this in it:

Image

Or these:

Image

Or this (this is Arseniy Yatsenyuk doing a Nazi salute, by the way):

Image
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:42 am

wife beating? This has been an unpleasant debate to read in last day or two but that's fine, your on a subject you care about with the added factor of your being clearly upset. However wife-beating is a nasty thing to throw at someone.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:56 am

Dong Zhou wrote:wife beating? This has been an unpleasant debate to read in last day or two but that's fine, your on a subject you care about with the added factor of your being clearly upset. However wife-beating is a nasty thing to throw at someone.


You've never heard of the loaded question fallacy?

Wikipedia wrote:Aside from being an informal fallacy depending on usage, such questions may be used as a rhetorical tool: the question attempts to limit direct replies to be those that serve the questioner's agenda. The traditional example is the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Whether the respondent answers yes or no, he will admit to having a wife and having beaten her at some time in the past. Thus, these facts are presupposed by the question, and in this case an entrapment, because it narrows the respondent to a single answer, and the fallacy of many questions has been committed. The fallacy relies upon context for its effect: the fact that a question presupposes something does not in itself make the question fallacious. Only when some of these presuppositions are not necessarily agreed to by the person who is asked the question does the argument containing them become fallacious. Hence the same question may be loaded in one context, but not in the other. For example the previous question would not be loaded if it was asked during a trial in which the defendant has already admitted to beating his wife.

This fallacy should be distinguished from that of begging the question, which offers a premise whose plausibility depends on the truth of the proposition asked about, and which is often an implicit restatement of the proposition.


'When did you stop beating your wife' is basically the archetype of the loaded question, since it packs so many assumptions into the structure of the question (like a.) that you have a wife, b.) that you have been beating her and c.) that you have stopped). It is meant only to illustrate that Shikanosuke was engaging in a loaded question fallacy.
Some more blood, Chekov. The needle won't hurt, Chekov. Take off your shirt, Chekov. Roll over, Chekov. Breathe deeply, Chekov. Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough... I'm going to run out of samples.
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Re: Obama vs. Putin - Ukraine a Modern Day Guan Du?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:01 am

Ah, that makes sense though I wish there was a less unpleasant version of it. My apologies
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