Bill Dowsley March 2, 2014 at 5:26 pm
My word, Bob, you packed much into six, was it, sentences.
Is the US century over, really?
During that time the US did much damage, in the well-worn way of empires.
I would never question your superior knowledge but is it possible that much of humankind will not come to Democracy eventually?
Bob Ellis March 2 at 5:58 pm
Democracy will not cease in India, Scandinavia, Austria, Germany, Holland, Spain, France, Scotland, Eire, Canada, most of South America, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.
But it is in doubt in other places and by four and a half billion people may never be seen again.
James at 5:42 pm
Beyond words and maybe the threat of sanctions I’m not sure what the US can do. Even at the height of their power they could only watch as Russia seized Hungary in 56. It is all very well taking military action against non-nuclear countries but Russia or China? For me this is more of a test for the EU although I reckon all they are capable of is a committee decision which can only mean more words.
Bob Ellis at 6:01 pm
La Triviala at 5:48 pm
Putin might have been inspired by JFK and having his own future possible enemy on his doorstep has invented his own Bay of Borscht scenario.
The Ukraine is bankrupt and I am assuming Europe and hence America will float the Ukrainian economy in exchange for a caveat on the mineral wealth as well as sale and privatization of the state’s assets overseen by the IMF and the World Bank.
I look forward to seeing Obama banging that big shoe of his at the U.N.
Hugh Weiss at 6:54 pm
This is a cold calculated end to Putin’s long time strategy to control energy supplies flowing between entral Asia & Europe. nearly a decade ago now, Putin strangled Europe’s access to gas supplies in the middle of winter. Several EU countries had to resort to rationing & costly spot supplies. His excuse was his claim the Ukrainians were theiving gas in transit.
The trigger was the confrontationist strategy driven by the neocons behind that idiot George W Bush, to station there so called missle defence systems, in former Warsaw Pact countries.
The US response, in conjunction with the EU, was to encourage the building of new pipelines from the O&G fields in places like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan, via countries then leanibg to the west, Georgia, Ukraine & Turkey. You saw what happened to Georgia when their then President Mikheil Saakashvili, announced Georgia would participate & host the western end of a new pipeline across the Black Sea.
Therein lies a problem, the Black Sea has long been a Soviet/Russian duck pond. Not only was Georgia prepared to host the pipeline, the Ukrainian government was threatening to deny Russia access to its traditional Black Sea bases in Sevastopol & Odessa.
While the US may wish to support Ukraine & trade aid in all its forms for mineral rights, there is absolutely no way to guarantee anything extracted would ever be exported, without Russian agreement. The Black Sea is even easier to block off than Pearl Harbour.
On a much broader geopolitical level, it has to be off extreme concern to the western alliance, US, Nato & EU that Russia again stands at the border of Turkey & the Balkan states now it has effectively destabilised Georgia & Ukraine.
We are back to a new cold war scenario. And anything is possible with regard an alliance between Russia & China.
La Triviala at 7:12 pm
Do you think Hugh, that the West is trying to stymie Russia from extending it’s economic power, dare I say future dominance in Europe via its oil and gas and gold etc?
Maybe the EU should have incoporated Turkey years ago into the EU?
I know there are genuine Ukrainian nationalist sentiment in play and a determined wish to reinforce their democratic credentials, but when I hear Europe and America and Australia chest beating about democracy I become cynical.
Hugh Weiss at 7:45 pm
Yes LT. Russia has rebuilt into the number 2 world power under Putin. China want to be number 1, but at the moment it is still a copier of US & Russian military technology.
The thing about Putin is, he is a man shaped by the old Soviet system & KGB. He is undoubtedly bent on revenge for Ronnie Reagan’s & George Bush’s gloating over the US’s role in destroying the Soviet state.
The question is what is his end game? Is he driven to just building a strong new Russia, recreating a new soviet of dependent buffer states, or does he have greater ambitions to control Europe? One thing we do know is he is a very traditional Russian man who may well have a desire to reunite border areas of strong Russian ethnicity, back into mother Russia.
Putin certainly has a strategy to secure & control a much larger proportion of global energy supplies. Whether his strategy is to ensure Russia’s security or as leverage in an offensive & expansionary way, is yet to be revealed.
DaveinPerth at 5:50 pm
I’m kinda glad Obama isn’t sitting with his finger on the button. I would have thought that you would think that too ?
I do not think it is the automatic responsibility of the US population to ensure that Putin is well behaved when dealing with non-NATO countries?
I have no doubt that Putin is a criminal, and will engage in any criminal act to further his agenda, but I’m not about to volunteer to head off to war for the people of Ukraine.
Rosemarie at 6:24 pm
Putin counts among the world’s most predictable heads of state. If we listen to his words and watch his actions, we know exactly how he will behave in any specific situation. We know that Putin will not let the Assad regime fail, will continue to protect Iran’s nuclear ambitions, will pose a constant threat to democratic Georgia, and he will support any regime that bucks U.S. interests.
We know that he will not accept the results of Ukraine’s Maidan revolution. He will play a maximalist game – the de facto partition of Ukraine – if he anticipates no real pushback from Europe and the United States.
Crimea is gone to Russia for all practical purposes. Putin is now eying his next morsels.
Helvi at 6:29 pm
it’s no consolation that it’s not just us who have lousy leaders.
I listened to the Polish PM and thought why can’t Abbott speak sensibly like him…
Rosemarie at 6:48 pm
Our ”Leader’ (ahem), the one who talks of ‘good cops’ and ‘bad cops’ has excelled himself today.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin to “back off” from invading neighbouring Ukraine.
La Triviala at 6:51 pm
Well he can have his message relayed and said right up close at the Security Council Meeting.
We have a warm body at the table. Tell President Putin my PM says “stop the invasion”.
Hugh Weiss at 7:19 pm
He’s an old style strong man, Rosemarie. He doesn’t make threats idly & when he does he’s prepared to follow through.
Russia, like China, Burma, Syria, Indonesia, (former Yugoslavia, pre Bush Iraq & the old French Indochina) are unions of different cultures, ethnic & religious groups. Without a strong man at the helm, such unions disintegrate into chaos very quickly. This was almost Russia’s fate, before Putin emerged as its strong man.
If you look back to the end of WW1, many of these fundamentally unstable unions were deliberately created by the British & French as a way of ensuring no unified resistence would threaten their colonial power.
After years experiencing this murky field, Rosemarie, there are some parts of this world which depend on having a strong man to avoid eternal tribal warfare & the poverty that brings.
Hand trolley March 2 at 10:50 pm
Shall we ignore Switzerland, Brazil and India – all existing with a variety of religious and ethnic groups and without a ‘strongman’ or shall we say autocrat or tyrant to keep them together. Perhaps the UK need a strongman to keep those pesky Scots in line?
Hand trolley March 2 at 10:36 pm
Rosemarie – your comment suggests that you think Putin would prefer a nuclear Iran?
Rosemarie March 2 at 11:05 pm
That is my fear HT. Anything nuclear. Just returned from 4 years in Middle East and the upheavals with Arab Spring.
Obama represents the most useful tool in Putin’s armory. Putin understands that he and Obama share a common belief that the United States overextended itself overseas under George W. Bush, and needs to scale back on its foreign involvements, irrespective of their costs and benefits.
Obama’s naïve “reset” policy delivered into Putin’s hands virtually everything he wanted – withdrawal of missile systems from Eastern Europe, inaction on Georgia, silence with respect to human rights violations – while demanding no concessions in return. He has watched, and played host to Edward Snowden, as Obama sets “red lines” and warns of “consequences” and then does nothing.
Putin must laugh when Obama’s apologists argue that we must tread lightly with Russia because we need their help with respect to Iran and Syria. What help and when will it come? What fools, he must think.
I have to admit to bias. I was brought up in Europe to fear Russia. Cold War etc. They would always ‘press the button’.
Shanghai at 6:47 pm
Are we not forgetting how many countries the US have illegally invaded since the end of WW2?
They are allowed but Russia is not?
I’m not saying what Russia is doing is right but surely the US can’t point the finger?
Doug Quixote at 7:41 pm
The USA even in its heyday was ever able to project power into the Soviet zone.
The Russians rolled their tanks into Hungary; into Czechoslovakia; into Poland.
At times when the USA was at its greatest power, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, they were unable to cow North Korea.
In the 1960s they were unable to cow North Vietnam.
In the 1970s they had to abandon South Vietnam.
So don’t expect them to go banging into the very heart of Russian interests, the Crimea and Ukraine.
Not then and not now.
Hemingway13 March 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm
Spot on, mate.
Hemingway13 at 8:02 pm
My distorted perspective, as a former soldier in the USA’s Foreign Legion, is that The Short American Empire has commenced rapid descent into the junkyard of empires to join its “special relationship” partner.
Hell bent on economic self-immolation, the US empire is a dead corporatocracy walking. With luck, the gangsterism perpetrated by Russia’s latest Czar might inadvertently be the catalyst for the Alaskan Secessionist Party’s Palinistas to achieve their ultimate goal, thus triggering a domino effect resulting in a dozen similar science-hating states also declaring their independence.
Why, by 2061, these new countries might even feel moved to constitute a brave new empire that’s named, say, “The Confederacy”. Who knows?
See: Sarah Palin Relishes Her Vladimir Putin ‘Told-Ya-So’ Moment
Hand trolley at 10:41 pm
What was your country of birth?
Tom Skene at 9:56 pm
The Crimea is already now a part of Russia..it’s all over Red Rover
The Guardian descibed Putin’s strategy as “choreographed”..a good word to describe the series of Russian actions which ended any chance of the new Ukrainian state having any say in the future of the Crimea…but it was ever thus, and that might be all for the moment
As Bob said ,the US will never again have much power or even a say in the events to come in the vastness of Eurasia, ,,that time is past..and Putin,the supreme czarist operator has emeged triumphant.
I doubt he cares about the Ukraine as such,but the Crimea is the key and the Russians knew this from the moment the regime in Kiev collapsed,and they acted in an obviously well-planned manner and to a well prepared plan
This serves to further illustrate the dying power of the Short American Empire.
As in the mid-19th century the Crimea is the key part in the game and the Russian have annexed it in a few short clever moves…but then chess is one of their national gamnes isn’t it ?
Glow Worm at 11:45 pm
An armed conflict between Russia and America is unthinkable. It was before; it still is. Putin knows it, and Obama knows it. And the Ukraine will pay the price.
Hugh Weiss at 11:55 pm
Peace in our time, Glow?
Glow Worm March 3, at 12:17 am
No – more rock and a hard place.
I don’t think Obama is under any illusion that he can negotiate a non-aggression settlement with Putin, or win a paper victory … we are watching a pivot point in history, I’m afraid.
Putin (as previous posters have remarked) is a cynical operator who learned his craft well with the KGB. The Ukraine’s only hope is some serious sabre-rattling from NATO (as happened in Kosovo when Clinton ordered joint air strikes) or by the UN.
I have a number of Ukrainian friends who are beside themselves with dismay and outrage.
phill March 3, at 12:35 am
Indeed. Jackson the commander of British forces in Kosovo said to Clarke the American commander, discussing an airport where Russian soldiers were stationed, wanted Jackson to secure. ” I’m not starting WW3 for you” .
I don’t think people realise how serious this situation in the Ukraine is.
I don’t agree the U.S. can do nothing. They are a hyper power, and it will be pragmatism that wins the day, that they can do nothing, is nonsense.
Mal Kukura at 2:03 am
If you erase the “sovereign” national borders and measure the distance from Crimea to northern Iraq (Mosul?) you find its closer than Perth is to Adelaide.
The world’s petroleum largest petroleum province extends from Baku to Bahrain.
Petroleum has changed the geo-strategic manouvring of the era of the 19th century great game before petroleum.
This time the encirclement of the central Eurasian oil provinces is being played out by at least three players.
The Crimean snatch and grab is Putin’s move to counter the militarization of the Persian Gulf that took place after Saddam was invited by his US bosses to invade Kuwait.
It won’t end until the world’s energy supply system is mostly renewable.
phill at 2:08 am
“It won’t end until the world’s energy supply system is mostly renewable.”
And that is what it is all about.
Mal Kukura at 1:34 am
This is some of the best of Table Talk – astute analysis from many contributors – thank you all
phill at 2:11 am