Tag Archives: European Union

Middle East beginning to lose its clout

A rat is at its most dangerous when it is cornered and sees no way out.

This is precisely what’s been happening to some formerly mighty Middle Eastern monarchies lately. Oh yes, they still carry their heads of state in aircraft filled with golden washroom basins and other such stuff, but their grip on the world economy is getting looser by the day.

Meaning?

Meaning that the oil hegemony that used to keep the rest of the world by the throat no longer exists. These kingdoms spent the money they made off oil exports on luxuries for their aristocracy, spread of Islamic ideology all over the world, and almost nothing on general education, improvement of their populations’ lot and finding alternative methods of supporting themselves. Consequently, the end is nigh.

An interesting point: modern technologies for oil extraction developed in North America, have made, for example, the U.S. last year’s largest crude exporter, beating Saudi Arabia hands down.

Here a few calculations for the next year, based on several intelligence sources’ estimates (independent of one another): in 2015, the U.S. is expected to produce 12 million barrels of oil a day, exporting one full million of it daily. Iran, by comparison, is not expected to produce more than 1,5 million barrels a day.

While none of this has made international headlines, this has: the Palestinian Authority asked the United Nations to recognize its territory as a country. Where this would have created some heated discussions across the spectrum a year or two ago, now, the request was turned down without much debate.

Why? Because loss of oil superpower status equals loss of relevancy.

Come think of it, there was much more debate about the issue within the Palestinian Authority’s territory. Hamas, a terrorist organization if there ever was one, and de facto ruler of the area, has been unhappy about the request. Such recognition of statehood would have meant recognition and stabilization of borders, including those of Israel. So far as Hamas is concerned, this would be anathema. Israel has no right to exist.

In any case, the simple change inside the oil markets has meant not only that prices have been going down. It also spells doom for those who had thought the world was their oyster and they could dictate where it was going and how using the threat of either cutting oil supplies, or increasing their prices.

No longer.

Yes, some of the monarchies have been eyeing tourism as a replacement for the flow of petro-dollars. Witness all those towers and sundry palaces in their countries. They even are willing to go so far as to permit booze in those places, much to the chagrin of their religious leaders.

Except tourism is no replacement for a weapon such as crude oil. It can support Monaco or Monte Carlo or, even, Las Vegas, but certainly not a region that used to think it could become a world leader.

The list of losers includes Russia as well as the Middle East monarchies.

The list of those on the winning side includes not only the U.S., but also Canada, Mexico, as well as some African countries, such as Nigeria.

The times of shameless blackmail of European politicians, using Middle Eastern petro-dollars, are over.

Yes, we still see paroxysms, such as Sweden not only jumping the gun and recognizing the Palestinian territory as a state before the United Nations turned this frightfully stupid, shortsighted and provocative request down. But then again, this is the same country whose social democratic government only recently suspended democracy till at least the year 2022.

Yes, we still witness useful idiots (there exists no milder and more generous description) who carry anti-Israeli (and anti-Semitic) slogans around and blame the Muslim backwardness on the Jews rather than on their own rulers. We can safely expect their rhetoric to become more heated when the only source of income these Middle Eastern countries have enjoyed dries up.

Except: money speaks, and where there’s no money, there’s no political will, either. European Union politicians’ spines may grow a bit stronger than they have been lately.

The single-issue groups that have been claiming Muslim lifestyles were to be adopted in the countries Muslims had immigrated to will face critical financial shortages: most of them receive support from the Middle Eastern monarchies. It is also to be expected that regular citizens of Europe will become louder than they have been thus far. This, by the way, has been becoming a new (and welcome) feature of communal life in Europe. Hopefully, this will spread.

This has nothing to do with denying Muslims the right to believe what they wish to believe.

This has everything to do with denying Muslims the right to impose their beliefs on all and sundry.

We can expect a few years of violence: the Middle Eastern (and Russian) rulers will be blaming the rest of the world for their nations’ ills. Anybody but themselves. And the Middle Eastern religious leaders will become even more shrill than they are now. Again: it’s the infidels who are guilty of it all, not the centuries of mental, emotional and physical repression their nations had to endure under their leadership.

Is there any hope for them? And for the rest of the world?

Who knows? Forcing these monarchies to go around, begging, won’t do the trick. Continuing to do their bidding won’t cut it, either.

Convincing them to grow up and realize we’re now in the 21st century is our only hope. It’s going to be a slow and painful process. But the first step is behind us: Middle Eastern monarchs no longer rule the rest of the world, and the rest of the world is becoming aware of it.

Sweden’s social democrats aim for dictatorship

Nothing beats leftist governments. Once you’ve voted them in once too often, this would be your last free election for a foreseeable time to come.

The one in Sweden has proven it beyond any doubt, reasonable or otherwise.

It entered into something to be known from now and forever as December Agreement. This deal has cancelled the forthcoming early elections that were supposed to take place this spring. To make sure everybody keeps their mouth shut, it said there’s not going to be any election until the year 2022 (at the earliest).

The deal is simple: the opposition parties would not vote against the government in no-confidence votes, which means social democrats’ budgets would pass literally without any issues.

The intriguing part: the social democrats got not only the leftist Greens to go along, but two centrist parties that are borderline on the other side of the spectre, too.

On the other hand, there are several parties that are alarmed. One of the major issues to be tackled (and – hopefully – decided) during the forthcoming vote dealt with immigration.

The main challenge: most of the newcomers to Sweden are of Muslim persuasion. To cater to them, the Swedish government went so far as to recognize an entity to be called the Palestinian state. Alas, the United Nations Security Council voted this particular nonsense down.

That the main political force within the area controlled by the so-called Palestinian Authority, Hamas, has opposed the Palestinian application for statehood within the United Nations, is another matter. Hamas is the group that the frightfully shortsighted European Union leaders want to be left off the list of terrorist organizations despite all the evidence that points to the fact that terrorism is Hamas’s middle name. And Hamas has got its reasons for not wanting to be recognized as a state: that would mean recognition of its current borders, or something very close to that, and that would – logically – mean the recognition of the state of Israel. And that is something Hamas has been on record as stating all along must not happen.

That Sweden has become the capital of rape, thanks to its influx of Muslims, does not mean anything to its government. One would have expected better from social democrats, loud as they have always been as defenders of women’s rights. Where will the feminist groups and organizations look for shelter now?

Considering it has always been one of the tenets of all Muslim faiths that women don’t count, not even as second-class citizens, they don’t count as citizens, and that’s it, Sweden’s government should be ashamed of itself.

But then again, so should a number of other governments that sweep this issue under the rug, be it Great Britain, Germany or France. They’ve got themselves into a dreadful mess, and now, Sweden’s social democratic prime minister Stefan Löfven says his party has at long last created a situation that will give it the power to govern without such hindrances like questions about the wisdom of their policies.

Judging by their record during their last few election cycles in government, those policies deserve that their authors face public spanking (to uphold Muslim ways of communal life).

Swedish political observers say the social democratic would-be dictators may wake up one day in the not-so-distant future, facing their nation united against them under the banner of the main opposition party, the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna). This is the party that has raised the immigration question loud and clear. Sweden is a country of about 9.6 million inhabitants. The current government is planning to bring in about 105,000 more people during this year alone. Whence? Syria, mostly, but other spots in the Middle East, too. No specific word yet on the number of people coming from the Palestinian Authority region. Logic would dictate there would be none: it is a place, after all, that the current Swedish simply loves.

Sweden Democrats’ party chairman Jimmie Åkesson and Björn Söder, party secretary and parliamentary group leader, lead the assault on the current social democratic would-be dictators. They call them all kinds of names. No specific insults, just accusations of treason. Ho-hum.

Still, it may all turn out to be very ugly. And soon.

After all, then-Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme, was shot dead in 1986 for very similar reasons. The murder was reported on a lot, but one angle was not too popular with the mainstream media. Embarrassing evidence has kept coming up, showing that the late prime minister’s friendly relationships with all kinds of international terrorist gangs could have been behind the murder.

It’s not that long ago that Anders Breivik of Norway attacked a camp filled with young communists and anti-Israeli (and pro-Muslim) posters. He left a bloody path behind himself and most of the world, informed by the almost hysterical campaign headed by the so-called mainstream media, condemned him for his action.

Not that what Breivik has done ought to be condoned, but he saw no other way. Official silence about acts that will spell doom to his beloved Norway in the hands of Muslim immigrants and leftist politicians, that’s what he saw. Quite correctly, too. These leftist politicians are ignorant enough not to know they will be ordered to submit to Islam themselves, or be beheaded, as soon as the Muslim newcomers feel powerful enough. Considering the Muslim leaders have been on record for quite some time as saying they will run over Europe using their women’s wombs, all it will take would be a few nine-month periods.

And what do we get? Deafening silence coming our way from the so-called mainstream media.

Heja, heja, Sverige!

Like hippos in a china store

The government of Hungary is considering kicking U.S. chargé d’affaires André Goodfriend out of the country. It is of the view that the American diplomat is poking his nose into matters that are none of his business.

The country’s State Attorney has asked the foreign ministry to initiate stripping Goodfriend of diplomatic immunity so this office can prosecute him based on a legal action started by Hungary’s taxation administration chief, Ildikó Vida.

The foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said he’s sending an official request to the State Department. Whether he’ll succeed is more than questionable: the stuffed shirts at Foggy Bottom would go through the roof and describe Hungary’s request impertinent to nth degree, while President Barack Hussein Obama is expected to go ballistic.

Except: if the Americans, as is expected, tell the Hungarians to go and fly a kite, Goodfriend will be flying first: he Hungarian government will designate him as persona non grata, and if they are kind and generous, Goodfriend will have 48 hours to pack up and leave. If not, he’ll have to leave forthwith.

First, a bit of a definition: a chargé d’affaires represents his or her nation in the country she or he is accredited to. That means, this diplomat has to receive le agrément from the host government (for whatever reason, French is still the language of diplomacy). This means that the host government can always withdraw its agreement with the diplomat’s continued stay.

The chargé d’affaires enjoys the same privileges and immunities as a regular ambassador. In most cases, the chargé d’affaires only serves on a temporary basis, while the ambassador is away. Still, these diplomats can be appointed for longer periods of time, something that seems to have happened in Goodfriend’s case. As diplomatic protocol rules, a chargé d’affaires could be appointed also when the two countries disagree on something and they prefer to be represented by lower-ranked diplomats, basically in order to save face.

Now that we have the niceties behind us, here’s the scoop: several governments’ diplomatic representatives (including Canada’s) went public with their masters’ displeasure about what they described as corruption running amok in the countries where they are stationed. Not that it had the desired effect. General populations in these (mostly post-communist) countries are perfectly aware that their governments’ standards of honesty and decency are nothing to write home about. Still, they detest it when foreigners wag their fingers and tell them this isn’t cricket.

In the Hungarian case, the country’s chief taxation official, Ms. Vida, and five of her subordinate officers were denied entry visas into the U.S. this past November, based directly on accusations of corruption as expressed by none other than Goodfriend himself. Ms. Vida described his statements as slanderous and defamatory and libellous drivel, but her prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said this wouldn’t be enough. Sue the bloody Yankee, he told Ms. Vida, or I’ll fire you.

Wonderful. Except you can’t sue a diplomat who’s protected by immunity. You can only ask her or his government for permission to strip her or him of that immunity, and if no agreement is forthcoming, you can kick her or him out.

And this is where it seems to be headed.

President Obama, whom most of the post-communist countries’ citizenry detest about the same they used to detest their communist leaders, didn’t help matters when he announced that in Hungary, in his esteemed opinion, the something he calls “civic society” is in danger. What he had in mind precisely remains unclear, but Hungarian officials figured out that the U.S. commander-in-chief was unhappy because they refused to blindly follow his lead and call Russia and Russian president Vladimir Putin all kinds of names.

That the Hungarians might have a reason for a more nuanced view is something Obama has never considered. In fact, he seems to be frightfully unaware of this.

On the other hand, post-communist countries have been up in arms lately. They have detected that U.S. embassies in their countries have been interfering with their internal affairs. They are quite sensitive about these things: they’ve had their share of being ordered about by the communist leadership in Moscow. Bad enough that the European Union bureaucracy has been trying to replace the communist economic community system with a similar structure of their own. Post-communist countries, one and all, view this kind of behaviour askance.

For example, the Czech Republic is livid because the U.S. embassy has been supporting (financially) a movement to teach Islam in Czech schools.

Now, Canada’s ambassador Otto Jelínek has joined forces with his U.S. and Norwegian colleagues, trying to tell the Czechs that corruption is bad. The Czechs are perfectly aware of what kind of swindlers and fraudsters they have in their government. But they still feel that young Jelínek would do better tending to his knitting or, even better, to his family business that produces the finest plum brandy (slivovice) in the world.

What angers them even more is the gall with which the Americans and Canadians invited the Norwegians to join them in the chorus of anti-corruption condemnation. The Czechs and the Norwegians have been at swords drawn lately. A Norwegian social worker has taken away children from a Czech family that was in the northern country, citing abuse, without providing single proof. The Czech government has been trying to reason with its Norwegian counterpart, to no avail, thus far. And these busy beavers are going to tell us how to behave? is the tenor of the Czech public reaction.

That the Americans didn’t notice they were entering a minefield is behaviour typical for this administration. That ambassador Jelínek, who speaks and reads and writes Czech, was not aware of the backlash this step would create in his parents’ homeland is beyond shameful.

And most of the post-communist countries’ public opinion agrees: the Americans don’t like Putin. Not that we love him. In fact, not that we love the Russian bear, period. But, they say, nobody, and least of all Obama, is going to tell us what to do, what to think, and how to act.

They’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirts.

To heck with the Americans. Let them eat cake. But Canada’s government – of all governments in the world – should know better.

I spy, you spy, everybody’s spying

This is not to say that Russian president Vladimir Putin suffers from paranoia.

This is to say that he believes that everybody’s against him. Not even that: Vladimir Putin is perfectly convinced of it.

This can be the only explanation for his statement that the Internet is the brainchild of the U.S. espionage agency, the CIA, and that the American spooks have been controlling it all along, since its inception, all the way up to today.

One wonders what former U.S. vice-president, one Al Gore, would have to say about that. After all, Gore has become famous (or infamous, depends on your point of view) when he announced to the world that Internet was his brainchild, and nobody else’s.

If one were Al Gore, one would demand explanations from Vladimir Putin, and pronto.

One wonders, however, whether Putin’s answers would be forthcoming any time soon. The guy is extremely busy so far as the Inernet is concerned. First, he had his people infiltrate the management of VKontakte, a Russian version of Facebook. Then, he had his intelligence service people demand that Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte, share his network users’ information with them. In particular, Durov would reveal later, they were interested about the accounts of those who hadn’t been happy with Vladimir Putin’s works and had enough courage to say it publicly.

Durov, quite properly, turned the Russian intelligence service down, was kicked out by Putin’s management crowd, told his programmers he was leaving, the programmers said they would be leaving with him and, for the time being, Durov and his group are somewhere else, but definitely not in Russia.

To make everything look and sound legal, Russian parliament (Duma) voted in a new law, one that says that foreign social media networks must have their servers in Russia, as well as keeping their users’ data for six months.

Governments’ control manias

Not that this is anything new. The European Union (EU), obsessed as it is with controlling everything that exists wherever it can look, has been trying for years to get control of the Internet (and Internet-based communications especially). The Bruxelles bureaucrats base their demand on security, just as the Chinese government has done some time ago, when it demanded control over anything Google did in their country, including censoring some parts of the search engine’s results that could be accessed by Chinese citizens.

As it is, some of the most important parts of the Internet are controlled by ICANN. What the heck is THAT?

Here’s your answer: is is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It is anon-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world. ICANN says it is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. As it says itself, ICANN promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.

Through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.

Why is there nobody else?

One reason: size of the North American market.

The other, just as important: the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body, hasn’t been able to come to an agreement how to operate the Internet. That led to fractioning of the entire thing, with ICANN sitting on top, but with an ever-growing number of other non-governmental (and non-profit) groups taking part in operating it.

So far as the Internet is concerned, this is a much better state of affairs than having governments making sure nobody’s able to stir the stagnant waters of their governing by being too nosy.

A spy is a spy is a spy

Of course, it is quite logical that Russia’s Putin would believe an opponent’s intelligence agency is behind everything he cannot control. Himself a former rather high-ranking KGB officer (and a spy), this kind of thinking is in his blood.

Putin is not alone. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff  want to get the Internet out of American control, and take it straight under their respective governments’ control. They are both perfectly livid – to the point of hysteria – about U.S. spy agency NSA’s monitoring of their own communications.

All of this flies in the face of what the Internet is and is supposed to be.

Granted, the networking projects – spawned originally in very individualistic minds of computer scientists – got a boost when U.S. military became interested enough to fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, a.k.a. the ARPANET. The network would, first of all, link a number of universities. That would eventually get it from under U.S. government control.

Government control, or, rather, financing, helped get the fledgling computer networking off its diapers, out of the world of fantasy not even the most imaginative computer scientists of the time would dare think of. It made it reality.

Anything wrong with that? Well, that would be another topic for another day.

Government control as some governments like to achieve it now, is all about George Orwell’s 1984 and its concepot of Big Brother.

Not so shocking in Brazilian president Rousseff’s case. Her father, Petar Rousseff, fled Bulgaria when, as an active member of the local communist party, he was justifiably afraid of prosecution. On arrival in Brazil he’d become an entrepreneur. His family would move up the social ladder. His daughter Dilma, as has been usual in such and similar cases, would return to leftist politics, and she wouldn’t abandon them even after becoming rich herself.

Bluntly: governments have the right to control everything, including people’s thoughts. That would be as natural to Dilma Rousseff as breathing in and breathing out. She would couch it all in anti-American propaganda which only goes to show that she knows what’s fashionable these days amongst the intelligentsia.

It’s funnier in Angela Merkel’s case. A former research scientist in the field of physical chemistry, she spent her youth in the frightful atmosphere of her communist homeland, the GDR (German Democratic Republic). What was so democratic about the GDR, one fails to figure out.

But if you decide to learn more about Frau Chancellor’s past, you won’t be as surprised.

A few details: her father was a pastor, yet, the family not only could travel (and travelled) frequently from the East to the West, but did so using one of the two automobiles it owned. Both situations unheard of. Travel, especially travel between the East and the West, was strictly under the control of Stasi (secret police and intelligence service). Automobile ownership was under strict control, too. Owning a car was a sign that the person who had received the voucher to buy one was a reliable comrade. Owning TWO cars? This has had led to a few eyebrows shooting up. Some went so far as to conclude that Merkel’s father had a “sympathetic” relationship with the communist regime. Such freedom and privileges for a Christian pastor and his family would have been impossible in the GDR otherwise.

Angela Merkel was a member of the Free German Youth (FDJ), a body under the strict control of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), a communist party under any other name. It would be difficult to hold this membership in and of itself against her. While voluntary on paper, membership or lack thereof would open (or shut) doors to education beyond grade eight.

Except: Merkel became a member of the FDJ district board and secretary for “Agitprop” (Agitation and Propaganda). She would claim later that she was secretary for culture, something her former chairman contradicted with passion deserving of better things.

Not that she’d be a dissenter of any kind. Her science was what mattered, and if it involved membership in this or that communist front organization, so be it.

Why ought one wonder that Angela Merkel has no issues with government snooping all over Internet servers that it has under its control? Is she not aware of what such approach cost most people who used to live in what used to be the communist GDR?

Yes, it is true that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used the Internet’s social media networks to gather information on what they termed “people of interest.”

This hasn’t got as much to do with those networks as it has with the NSA. Would you punish a hammer because it gave a nail such a terrible headache?

Gone are the times – if they ever existed – when it wasn’t sporting for gentlemen to read others’ mail.

We can debate ad nauseam to what degree it is kosher and to what degree it is not, to cast vast surveillane networks all over the place, in the hope that such nets may help catch fish that one’s been chasing all over the place. Whether it’s permitted is one thing, whether it’s done is another matter altogether.

And, by the way, if the Brazilian and German spy agencies hadn’t been spying in the U.S., they weren’t doing their job.

Calling the Internet a CIA invention and tool, as Russian president Putin is doing, that would be hysterically funny. If he didn’t mean it, that is.

The tragedy is, he means it.

The world takes Putin’s actions on the chin – and does nothing about it

Many, many years ago, in the first half of the previous century, a Dutch sea captain of Czech origin, Jan Van Toch, anchored his ship by a small island somewhere in the Pacific. His company ordered him to find areas where they could get some original pearls. These jewels were coming back into fashion, you see. And Van Toch’s Rotterdam bosses wanted to ride the wave, enhancing their own bank accounts in the process.

The good Captain found, to his genuine surprise, animals whom the natives feared and called black devils. They were intelligent newts. Captain Van Toch befriended them, gave them all kinds of equipment, including underwater guns so they could defend themselves against the local shark population, and convinced a captain of Czech economy who, accidentally, had been born in the same little town as Jan Van Toch, that this could become a business venture.

It did. Thus Czech author Karel Čapek. That, by the way, is the guy who gave the world the word “robot.” But that’s another story for another day.

Čapek wrote and published (in 1936) War with the Newts (Válka s mloky in the original Czech). It was also translated as War with the Salamanders.

This satirical science-fiction novel describes how modern industrialists first enslaved and exploited the newts, until the creatures acquired human knowledge and rebelled. They needed more shores for themselves. So, they started destroying the continents, enlarging the world’s oceans and thus creating more space in which they could live.

If it resembles Adolf Hitler’s demand for “Lebensraum” (space to live in) for the German nation by any chance, it is no accident.

The conflict between the humans and the newts led to a global war for supremacy.

As the war progressed, the author introduced an anonymous voice, known as Mr. X, who told humankind it was perfectly insane to continue developing and delivering all kinds of weapons and sundry equipment to the newts who were, all along, continuing with their operation to destroy that same humankind. Mr. X called on people to stop this. His call was met with derision: economists, politicians, labour union leaders, they all said humankind had never had it better, employment figures were reaching 100 per cent, in fact, people would need more workers to meet all the orders coming from under-the-sea level, and who was this Mr. X anyway to try to stop progress.

If you want to know how it all ended, run to your local library or a bookstore.

Cut to the chase

We are in the twenty-first century now, and the world keeps supplying another Hitler, one who goes under the name of Vladimir Putin, and is also known as the president of Russia. Putin’s Russia is getting all kinds of sophisticated weaponry, and the European Union goes on without stopping but once to think how suicidal this is.

Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas, writing for an Estonian web publication, ICDS (the abbreviation stands for International Centre for Defence Studies), of Tallin, that country’s capital, have exposed the world’s dark secret.

Before we proceed, a tip of the hat is due to Jan Maisler for a competent translation, and to Jiří Wagner, editor of the Czech news site, Neviditelny pes, for preparing this information jewel for publication.

If you don’t speak Czech, learn to. You would be able to read the story quoted from below in its fullness. And if knowing the language of the people who gave the world such beers as Pilsner Urquell and the original Budweiser (not the weak imitations as provided by Anheuser-Busch) is not important to you, where are your values, for crying out loud?

Back to the topic

The European Union (EU, for short, and it doesn’t deserve anything more, anyhow), says it’s upset about the Russian aggression in Ukraine and it’s going to impose sanctions.

Oh yeah? That’s the question posed by Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas.

How about weapons exports to Russia? And – more importantly, perhaps – how about the close co-operation between some EU countries and Russia, developing new weapon systems and transferring military technologies and expertise to Russia?

Strangely enough, most mainstream media all over the world keep their mouths shut when it comes to this topic.

But why?

Is it because speaking out would equal washing dirty linen in public? Is it because putting a stop to this shameful behaviour would (let’s go back to Čapek) slow down or, Heaven forbid, stop the flow of income that happens to turn into profit at a later stage? Is it because mainstream media never got a press release detailing these shenanigans?

Realizing that modern-day reporters seem to have never heard that what makes a reporter is curiosity, this could be as valid a reason as any.

Or is it hypocrisy, pure and simple?

A few years ago, Russia invaded Georgia. The reason, Putin said on the occasion, was to defend the poor, defenceless Russians in Ossetia (sounds familiar, does it not?). Shortly after that, Russia signed a deal with France. It would buy from the French amphibious vehicles of the Mistral class (a.k.a. “projection and command” vehicles). The Baltic republics, all of whom had known Soviet occupation, objected. The EU called their reaction “hysterical” and worse.

That, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas write, was a clear signal: who cares about Russia’s aggressive behaviour, so long as France’s military economy prospers? It may even fill French government’s coffers with new taxes. So, what’s the big deal?

Everybody’s happy: Russia has got new killer toys to use in its future aggressions, France gets richer. What’s there to complain about?

Remember the Iraqi nuclear facility, Osirak? It used to be called by many “Ochirac,” after then-French president Jacques Chirac who allowed the transfer of his country’s sophisticated nuclear knowledge (and the training of Iraqi scientists in his country) despite clear warnings that something dirty was going on. In a daring air attack, the Israelis would obliterate the place, thus earning eternal hatred from France.

So, what’s new? Nothing much, really.

As Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas inform us, the Franco-Russian military co-operation now includes the development of a new generation of vehicles for the transport of Russia’s infantry, the development of a production line for building thermovision, equipment that would allow the Russian military to operate in the middle of the night, as well as a number of other similar projects. Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas also quote Dmitrii Rogozin, Russia’s vice-premier responsible for defence (read: military) industries, as saying that the two countries have launched a “new era of intensive Franco-Russian co-operation that includes intensive exchange of confidential information.”

God knows where all that is going to end. And if She knows, She’s not telling: it’s confidential information, after all.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles

Since the EU includes two major weapons exporters (France and Germany), it was to be expected that the Germans would not be far behind their French brethren.

Germany’s Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat in German) is chaired by the country’s Chancellor herself (her office is equal to Canada’s Prime Minister, with the President serving as a figure-head, just as the Governor-General does in Canada). It has been issuing export licences for weapon sales like nobody’s business. Russia has been quickly making its way to the top of the list of countries that deserve getting Germany’s military technology.

One of the most alarming recent German sales to Russia: modern equipment to train units up to the size of a brigade. That, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas document, happens to be first-class equipment to run an operations command post. Thus far, it has been available only to the most developed countries. Whether Russia is one of the most-developed countries remains to be seen, but it now has this equipment.

In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has developed a doctrine that basically gives her country’s military industry a free hand. Thus Merkel: “I am convinced that it is in our interest to enable our partners to effectively participate in keeping or renewing security and peace in their regions.”

Which means that if Putin says that Russians in Ossetia or Ukraine (or anywhere else, for that matter) are in danger and he only wants is to ensure their safety and security, his word is gospel.

Konrad Henlein used this refrain in the Sudetenland regions of former Czechoslovakia, with Adolf Hitler’s enthusiastic support. It ended in a deal (the so-called Munich Agreement) signed by British Prime Minister Sir Neville Chamberlain, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier, Italy’s Duce (Leader) Benito Mussolini and Germany’s Reichskanzler (Chancellor) Adolf Hitler.

Sir Neville Chamberlain returned to London, telling all and sundry he had secured “peace in our time.”

Indeed. We all know how it ended.

Lying through their teeth

The EU politicians claim that if they co-operate with Russia, they would have a say in what that country is doing.

A bald-faced lie if there ever was one, and they know it.

Vladimir Putin is much more realistic. He knows that, beside some tut-tutting that followed his incursion into Georgia, nothing happened and everything was business as usual even before the dust settled. So, he figures, and quite correctly, too, that if he annexes the entire country of Ukraine, not just Crimea, he’ll pass jail and will be free to buy, say, Pennsylvania Station, to use the language of the game of Monopoly.

Why Pennsylvania Station? Just a play on words: Putin received a phone call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the other day. The U.S. president himself, Barack Obama was on the line. They chatted for about an hour after which Putin told Obama he had other, more pressing, commitments to attend to and bid good-bye.

Would Putin change anything, pray tell, after this conversation? Are you kidding? Why should he? What can a president whom he considers a perfect weakling do to him? And besides, all of his military’s supply needs are met, courtesy France and Germany, so, who cares about the U.S., anyway?

So, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas pose a legitimate question: who’s influencing whom, come to think of it? It’s obvious the EU (and the rest of the Western world) have practically no impact on Putin’s thinking and actions with whatever rhetoric they dare mouth. And not that the EU overextends itself in its condemnations of Russia’s aggressions, either. In fact, it seems that Canada is the only country willing to take at least some action, symbolic as it is. Expelling Russian military personnel and limiting Russian officials’ right of entry is nice, but if Putin had feathers, none of them would be ruffled.

What can be done?

Not much, really, if we decide to subscribe to what today’s Western politicians (and those of the EU in particular) call realpolitik.

Impose sanctions? To be effective, they would have to include all matters military, including an immediate stop to all military sales and knowledge transfers.

Is this going to happen? A rhetorical question.

EU politicians would tell you they haven’t got enough money to maintain their military and, besides, NATO isn’t that rich of an uncle as it used to be any longer, either. Pray tell, they would demand, where else are we going to get the finances to maintain our own defence? We’re taxing our own citizens beyond acceptable levels as it is.

Here’s a logical follow-up question: maintaining your defence means that you’re defending your sovereignty. Except, it seems everything the EU stands for is dismantling individual (and sovereign) European countries. So, how can you explain that contradiction?

Here’s the answer you’d get: silence. Overwhelmingly deafening silence.

The crux of the matter is that to maintain their military, EU countries are supporting someone who’s getting more and more aggressive. Putin relies on the shortsightedness of EU politicians because he knows he can.

To sum up: EU politicians are undermining their own security while helping a new Hitler along the way. In addition, some of the countries that have common borders with Russia (including some EU members) will lose their faith in EU’s ability to defend them against somebody who’s got that same military hardware (and software) as EU has. Where they will go to get their own weaponry is anybody’s guess. China? Korea? South Africa? Israel?

And where’s the U.S. on this list? you may ask. Nowhere is the answer. The Europeans mostly seem to share Putin’s assessment of America’s current administration. That’s one of the very few things they share with him.

Meanwhile, Putin will continue to test EU’s policy of appeasement and profit. It’s going to be his gain and, eventually, his trump card.

If you start digging a hole, you should stop digging once you’re inside, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas say.

The question is: do the French and the Germans realize they’ve dug a hole that now has not only them, but their alleged EU allies inside, too?

Where is Karel Čapek’s Mr. X now when we need him?

And would we wake up and start listening to him?

Ukraine, Russia and the world: a powder keg

Russian president Vladimir Putin is deeply worried about what’s going on in Ukraine, and he plans to do something about it.

Like what?

Like remind humankind of Vladimir Lenin, Josif Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Nikita Khruschev and Leonid Brezhnev. All of them at once, rolled into a new guy: Vladimir Putin.

Here’s the story: Lenin created the Soviet Union, getting all kinds of independent nations sign up by hook and crook. In his cynicism he went so far as to say in the constitution that this was a voluntary union and individual republics would be free to leave whenever they felt like it.

Stalin went a few steps further. When Ukraine had the gall to merely hint it was (nationally speaking) a more or less independent part of the union, he created a famine (Holodomor in the Ukrainian language) that would teach the pesky Ukrainians a proper lesson. It did.

Stalin had a Russian poet, Sergei Mikhalkov, collaborating with an Armenian poet, Gabriel El-Registan, write words to Alexander Alexandrov’s music, to create the anthem of the Soviet Union.

The words said it all. Here they are, in verbatim translation: “The unbreakable union of free republics were united for ever by the great Russia, long live the united, mighty Soviet Union created by the will of nations.”

If anyone had any issues with that, Stalin would deal with them with his typical swiftness. Remember the Tatars whom he had accused of potentially collaborating with Nazi Germany and deported them from the regions they had been living in for centuries? Does the word Crimea ring a bell?

Then, along came Khruschev. On one beautiful day in 1954 he told his comrades he would gift Crimea, by then predominantly Russian (as opposed to previously predominantly Tatar), to Ukraine to celebrate the 300th anniversary of that country’s decision to join Russia in one state. That centuries-old decision didn’t mean that Ukraine would become part of Russia, literally, only that the two countries would present themselves to the world as one.

Did Khruschev ask anybody in Crimea for their thoughts and, heavens forbid, feelings about the plan? Are you kidding? Did he consult it with his Central Committee comrades? No. Thus spake the leader, and that was that.

Of course, Khruschev knew the Marxist definition of freedom: it is a necessity recognized by those it impacts. Tough to understand? You’re free to obey our orders, that’s what it means.

And just to show what he meant, when the Hungarians thought they’ve had enough of Soviet-imposed communism, Khruschev sent in tanks and showed them who the boss was: this is your freedom, you cheeky Hungarians.

Brezhnev followed Khruschev at the Soviet helm.

When some fools in the republic of Georgia figured the constitution allowed them to leave the union, they started meeting to debate how to go about it. The news somehow got to Moscow. Brezhnev sent a trusted KGB general, one Eduard Shevardnadze, to Georgia, to talk some sense into those heretics. Shevardnadze, yes, the allegedly progressive guy who would later become Mikhail Gorbachev’s foreign minister, became party leader in Georgia on that occasion. A few hundred (if not thousand) deaths later within a few days, there was peace in the valley (and mountains) in Georgia again.

And when the fools in Czechoslovakia came up with the brilliant idea of socialism with human face, whatever THAT was supposed to mean, Brezhnev did exactly what his predecessor had done: he sent in tanks. The idea, he said, was to normalize the situation.

Normalization: an ugly word to many

So, when Putin now speaks of normalizing the situation in Ukraine in general and Crimea in particular, it does sound quite ominously to those who remember even faintly the two decades of normalization in Czechoslovakia.

Putin speaks of making sure that Russians living in Crimea are safe from the hordes of the Ukrainian bandits. This eerily resembles Hitler’s concerns about the Germans who used to live in the Sudetenland region of former Czechoslovakia.

Of course, when Russians speak of Crimea as a traditionally Russian land, they’re lying through their teeth: the Tatars would be able to offer a bit of a dissenting opinion to that, if anybody asked them (and if they were still around).

What all this is supposed to say is relatively simple: the situation in Ukraine is not as black and white as our media (and politicians) try to portray it.

Yes, the development is perfectly undemocratic, when compared to Western-style democracies. And when has there been such democracy in Ukraine (and Russia proper), pray tell?

The entire upheaval was touched off by a sudden about-face committed by the Ukrainian government concerning the question of Ukraine’s potential participation in the European Union.

The reasons for this change of mind remain murky, suspicious, even. While it would be relatively easy to think of either the EU’s or Russia’s hidden hand, the fact remains that the pro-EU demonstrators were solidly equipped and financed. There’s no real proof whence the equipment and money have come, but this is not as important.

What is important is the stance that those who object to Russia’s military provocations say Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be maintained.

An illusion if there ever was one.

Western Ukraine became part of Ukraine proper only after the Second World War. So far as people in those parts are concerned, THEY are the only real Ukrainians. Those who’ve lived in eastern parts of the country have been so profoundly inflitrated by the Russians, one can freely speak of colonization or fifth columns, even, western Ukrainians believe.

Whether they are right or not does not matter, really. It’s the perception that counts.

Who cares about the West?

The U.S. reply to all this was as wishy-washy as to make it laughable.

Putin has been quite openly of the rather dismissive view that U.S. president Barack Obama is a perfect example of a weakling who likes going off half-cocked, without knowing anything about the real issues. Obama, thus the view from the Kremlin, is more concerned about public relations and his standings in the polls than about what’s going on. And he’s too unsophisticated to really understand, to boot. Lightweight, both mentally and emotionally.

Besides, the Kremlin has a ready answer if Obama just dares mention that armed invasions of other countries are unacceptable: look at yourself in the mirror. How many times have YOU interfered in internal matters of countries that are not part of the U.S.?

Specious argument, if there ever was one, but effective for the masses.

The Russians might also throw in the undisputable fact that Barack Obama’s government has a peculiar knack of siding with the wrong side 10 times out of 10. Care to remember the so-called Arab Spring, anyone? That was the development that strengthened the Islam fundamentalists’ hand in no small measure, with Obama’s administration egging them on all along.

Canada’s government goes about things a bit differently: while it does mention Ukraine’s territorial integrity, it’s more concerned about the lack of democracy and potential for international conflict if Putin does invade fully. Not that the presence of several thousand Russian soldiers in Crimea does not constitute full invasion, but that would be peanuts when compared to the real thing.

In any case, Putin showed the rest of the world the full meaning of the French expression: fait accompli. Here I am, and what are you going to do about it? Oh, you are upset?

One huge danger in Ukraine: this is the place that gave the world the word “pogrom.” What we’re talking about are indiscriminate attacks on anybody who ever so slightly resembles a person of Jewish origin. While it is difficult to generalize, anti-semitism happens to be an integral part of Ukraine’s history and social fabric.

Now, it’s the bloody Jews from the EU who are upsetting the applecart, so far as many Ukrainian protesters are concerned. The fact that the EU bends over backwards to keep the non-existent nation of Palestinians happy, going so far as supporting an unrealistic boycott of Israel and its products, does not interest these protesters one bit. In fact, who knows whether they are even aware of it. To them it’s the bloody “Zhidy” that should feel the wrath of the people in the first place.

What’s going to happen?

Nobody knows the answer to that. The only hope is that cooler heads will prevail. Not in Washington, D.C., or Ottawa, for that matter, or Brussels (the European Union capital), even. In Moscow and in Kyiv.

While it doesn’t seem like it from the outside looking in, the situation in Ukraine can develop into a perfectly terrible conflict, using live ammunition as a preferred and accepted method of persuasion.

It creates a precedent that territorial integrity, as recognized by international community, isn’t worth a figue. Can you imagine if others use this precedent to try to push their ancient claims, real or perceived?

One of the things Putin must have realized: the world was silent when some native tribes from the Caucasian mountains claimed the area where Putin would waste billions of dollars on Olympic Games was theirs. That silence must have been music to Putin’s ears.

Vladimir Putin seems to view the rest of the world with a smirk: ah, the dogs are baying, but the caravan keeps moving on. He’s aware that should, for example, Western European governments continue to bother him, he’s one turn of a switch on oil and natural gas pipe lines away from throwing them into darkness and letting them freeze. Used to their comforts, how long will Western Europeans let their governments pretend they stand up for principle? They may be pipped beyond belief, but what’s the price? Are they willing to pay?

Putin must be aware, too, of the fact that in August 1968 Anatoli Dobrynin, then-Soviet ambassador to the U.S., went to see then-president Lyndon Baines Johnson to tell him, oh, by the way, Mr. President, we’re about to invade Czechoslovakia within the next 48 hours, but not to worry, we’re not going to cross into your (and NATO’s) sphere of influence. What did LBJ do on that momentous occasion? He thanked the Soviet envoy for the heads-up and didn’t even direct his diplomats to warn their Czechoslovak counterparts about what was cooking.

Has Putin gone too far? Will he think withdrawing from Crimea and sitting down at the negotiating table would mean a loss of face?

Would the Ukrainians be willing to negotiate?

Some, including the Canadian government, said that if Putin doesn’t back off, they might consider sanctions. Like: what sanctions? The same they imposed on selected Ukrainian leaders, telling them they wouldn’t be permitted to enter Canada? Big deal.

If there’s a vote in the United Nations Security Council, and it goes against Russia, guess which country is one of the five that have the power of veto?

This is a tragic situation. Innocent people suffer (while the former president of Ukraine proclaims to all and sundry he’s president still, but does so from the safe haven in one of Russian government’s dachas near Moscow).

Putin has done exactly what Hitler has done: you’ve got problems with what I’m doing? Congratulations, you’ve got something I haven’t got. And don’t tut-tut me, or I’ll tut-tut you back. After all, Putin has shown he’s a past master of demagoguery. He’s done so on live TV, too, in a clip that’s gone viral on YouTube shortly afterwards. In a news conference, Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk mentioned some past points of friction between his country and the former Soviet Union, including the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. That pact, among many other things, allowed the Soviet Union to grab the eastern part of Poland, while the Germans attacked and destroyed the other part.

Putin went ballistic. He accused Poland of collaboration with Hitler and, also, of grabbing a chunk of Czechoslovakia right after the so-called Munich Agreement stripped that poor country of its frontier regions, to placate the Sudeten Germans (and, by extension, Hitler).

Some of what Putin had to say could have been true, but he neatly sidestepped the main issue: it was the Soviet Union that had actually triggered the Second World War, by attacking Finland and then by participating in the dismantling of Poland.

In any case, even Putin’s manner didn’t differ that much from that of Hitler.

We all know how it ended then. At the cost of tens of millions of human lives, too.

Have we not learned anything?