Tag Archives: U.S.

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 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.

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.

Putin’s Russia re-defines chutzpah

So far as gall is concerned, Russian government seems to have perfectly unlimited reserves of it, and then some.

The latest example: Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, demands “legal guarantees” (whatever THAT means) that Ukraine will remain neutral and will not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

As a reminder: NATO is a military alliance, formed in 1949. Canada is one of its founding members.

Growing potential for Soviet post-Second World War expansionism, seen as a major threat by the West, was the original idea behind the treaty. The Soviets, having promised their wartime Allies they would permit free elections in countries they had “liberated” would end up holding elections that were anything but free. Thus, they created a group of countries, called originally “people’s democracies,” only to become a network of communist dictatorships. Since the Soviets were giving all kinds of signs it was not their intention to stop there, the West acted to instill a bit of fear in them and, at least, slow down (if not stop) the Soviet expansionist plans.

The Soviets hated NATO with a vengeance that would have deserved better things.

Now, NATO has committed an unpardonable act: considering Ukraine a candidate for membership, it told the Russians to stay within their borders and stop violating Ukraine’s borders.

On and off

What has happened is this: Ukraine became a NATO membership candidate in 2008. The pro-Russian government of president Viktor Yanukovych, elected in 2010, said it would rather that Ukraine remained non-aligned. Yanukovych’s party changed the country’s policy in an internal document dealing with its political orientation, but it never officially withdrew Ukraine from NATO.

The important thing to remember here: Yanukovych is the guy deposed from his presidency following his about-face when it came to the European Union (EU), and he is, at the same time, the guy who claims he’s Ukraine’s president still, making these pronouncements from the safety of Russian government’s security installations.

Russian government has been acting in the traditional way, maintaining what have been in fact Tsarist imperial policies. These have included hostility toward the West, in general, and the overwhelming wish to have secure buffer zones between the West and Russia proper, in particular.

These policies have existed under the Tsars, they flourished under the communists, and they are alive and well under Vladimir Putin. The fact that they are somewhat outmoded, indeed, stupid, even, now, doesn’t matter. What matters is Mama Rossia (Mother Russia), overseeing her holdings and making sure they are safe (and she is safe doing so).

That one needs to twist historical facts from time to time in order to do so? So what? That the claim that, for example, Crimea has been always Russian and today’s government is only restoring it to its rightful owner is a bloody lie? Who cares? We stole it in the 18th century from its previous owners, and that makes it ours. And if you don’t like it, tough.

But now NATO has mentioned that there is this Article 5 of the treaty. It says the Alliance will help any of its members in case they suffer an attack from the outside. The article makes no difference between full and candidate memberships. And NATO told Russia it is perfectly prepared to meet its obligations.

Whether it will, or would, now, that’s a different question. It could lead to a nuclear exchange. Who would win?

Neither Russia, nor the West, is the answer.

And who would lose?

Here, the answer is less clear, and you can make cases for at least three scenarios (one side loses, the other side loses, they both lose).

That humankind in general would lose, that seems to be nobody’s concern.

NATO and EU: different animals

Russia, in any case, sees that NATO is not as wishy-washy a body like the European Union. That group, formed originally as a body to support the good old continent’s economy, has become a centralized and bureaucratized fossil, run by aging Maoists, Trotskyites and other such political nobodies, with imperial ambitions of their own.

So, NATO – without any sign of diplomatic delicacy – is picking up the stick known as Article 5. That is giving Russia pause. But not much of it, obviously. If Ukraine says it wants no help from NATO, their goes the stick.

But how to achieve that?

Yanukovich seems like a spent force as a Ukrainian president.

But nothing beats using insurgents who say the West has devilish plans with and for Ukraine, stoking up all kinds of more-or-less traditional phobias and paranoias. These guys then attack legitimate Ukrainian government offices, proclaiming this or that region of the country independent and concluding their declarations with calls for help from Mother Russia. We have seen this kind of scenario played somewhere before: oh, yes, Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring of 1968.

In any case, who is going to prove the insurgents were not, in fact, working for Russia’s intelligence forces? The West can refuse to recognize the referendum results in Crimea that said most of its citizens wanted to be Russian. The West can refuse to recognize Crimea’s brand new constitution that says the place has always been and will always remain Russian.

What else can the West do?

In theory, a lot, coming close to military confrontation but not crossing that fateful line.

In real life? Not much. It has lost its willingness and, as a consequence, ability to stand up and be counted. Whether it’s because the West’s hands aren’t too clean, either, that’s another question. It is true, for example, that the West has compromised a huge chunk of its integrity when it only tried to whisper that the atrocities the Russians had been committing in Chechnya were beyond unacceptable. Putin told the West’s leaders, in no uncertain words, too, that he is saving the world from what he termed was “green danger,” meaning Islam. To the extent that, indeed, all kinds of Islamic fundamentalist groups have been using the war in Chechnya as training grounds to prepare their men for sundry methods of combat.

Silence that deafens

What did Western leaders do? To their credit, they didn’t say, oh, ah, if that’s the case, then, pray proceed. To their discredit, they didn’t say anything else, either. Their silence confirmed what Putin had been saying (in Russian tradition) all along: the end justifies the means.

Not that the West hadn’t known this saying before, and from other sources, too. After all, it has been attributed to Niccolo Machiavelli. And he himself stole it from ancient Greek playwright Sophocles. In his play, Electra, Sophocles said (in verbatim translation): “The end excuses any evil.”

But Russian president Putin has taken his administration’s gall to new levels. He’s come close to chutzpah, which is gall to end all galls.

Putin wrote a threatening letter to EU leaders, telling them to mind their own bloody business, and he can turn off deliveries of Russian oil and natural gas to Ukraine any time he pleases, and then, where are you?

He said that Ukraine owes Russia money for some of the stuff that had been already delivered, and it would be only legitimate on Russia’s part to stop delivery until all accounts are settled.

Russian ITAR-TASS news agency published the full text of the letter Thursday, and, on that same day, a U.S. State Department spokesthingie announced that Putin’s threat bordered on blackmail.

Technically, it didn’t. You’ve got to pay your bills, or your phone company or energy suppliers are within their rights to deny you service.

Logically, it did: Putin’s timing defined it.

But, and that was the funniest thing, upon hearing about the U.S. reaction, Putin told all and sundry that nice people don’t read mail that isn’t addressed to them.

And this from a former Soviet KGB spy whose job it had been to do just that!

Combined with his foreign minister open interference in another country’s policies, this goes to show the West should have told Russia to behave or else long ago.

It’s getting too late now.

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?