Tag: Russia

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“‘The bear is loose!’ is the president’s favorite phrase at such moments…” Probably so, but I’m surprised Obama is the first to say it. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Russian Terrorist “Demon” Executes Two Hostages on YouTube

 

BezlerThe separatist military commander of the east Ukraine town of Gorlivka is shown, on a new video of his own making, executing two civilian hostages. Russian citizen Igor Bezler — nomme de guerre “Bes” or “Demon” — is shown on the video threatening that he will shoot eight captured military hostages unless the acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchinov, frees a captured Russian agent.

Before giving the order to fire, “Demon” complains that he has waited three days for the hostage exchange and cannot wait any longer. Therefore, Citizens Budnik and Vasiushenko will be executed, he declares. “Demon” then gives the order to fire as he walks away casually. The video records the shots being fired and shows the victims falling to the floor. [Note: the link points to a story about the video that includes an embed of the video itself. It’s no longer viewable, however, as it’s been removed from YouTube.] [Update: the video is viewable via the linked article, where someone has posted a new YouTube address in the comments section. While it is not nearly as graphic as the standard violence you’d see in a Hollywood film, viewer discretion is still advised].

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Saving Ukraine … with Night Vision Goggles

 

shutterstock_31342912President Obama’s National Security Council has announced the allocation of $5 million for Ukraine amid the ongoing armed conflict in the southeastern part of the country, money that’s going to go to the purchase of things like night vision and body armor. This gesture is similar to the announcement after Crimea’s annexation that several hundred U.S. troops would take part in maneuvers in Poland and the Baltic States.

If Ukraine uses the entire $5 million to buy top- of-the-line night vision goggles, its hard-pressed army could get exactly 556 pairs … to fight a Russian mercenary army that numbers in the thousands.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Violent Weekend

 

Let us begin our tour with a quarrel in a faraway country. As Yahoo Japan reports, “A Vietnamese fishing vessel has sunk after being rammed by a Chinese vessel and the 10 fishermen have been rescued. While Vietnam has not responded yet, the Coast Guard warned “the situation at the site it very tense.”‘

This is not an isolated incident, but rather an escalation of recent tensions. It is most likely a response to last week’s announcement of cooperation between Vietnam and Japan, which followed the Chinese “deploying an oil rig off the Paracel Islands, which Vietnam also claims, leading to physical clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels.”

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What Putin Wants

 

In this final excerpt from my conversation with Michael McFaul — America’s ambassador in Moscow up until as recently as the Sochi Olympics — I put to him the question we’ve all been nursing these past few months: just what, exactly, is Vladimir Putin up to? And when will his appetite be sated? His answer below:

 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uncommon Knowledge: Michael McFaul’s Advice for Vladimir Putin

 

In our recent conversation for Uncommon Knowledge, I asked the Hoover Institution’s Michael McFaul — only a few months removed from his tenure as the US Ambassador to Russia — what advice he would give Vladimir Putin if he were guaranteed the Russian president would listen. Here’s how he answered:

 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. McFaul: ‘We’re in for a Long Standoff with Russia’

 

In the latest episode of Uncommon Knowledge, Michael McFaul — former Ambassador to Russia and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution — sat down to analyze Vladimir Putin’s aggression towards Ukraine, the West’s response, and what it all means for the future of the region. One of the major flaws he identifies in the reaction of the democracies: a sheepishness about defending our values from Moscow’s caricature.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why This Idolisation of Putin?

 

shutterstock_181590386I chose that word carefully: idolisation. We in the West are enthusiastically and appropriately critical of our own leaders. That is fair enough, given the amount of ammunition with which they provide us. But we seem to view the enemies of the West as super-beings, chess masters in a real world board game.

Based on much of the media coverage, you’d think that Vladimir Putin has manipulated things ever so cleverly, whereas the reality is that he has messed up big time.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Time to Dust Off All Our Old Soviet Jokes

 

To kick off the morning — and given the Déjà vu we are having with the Russians these days — let’s have a Russian joke contest. I will kick it off with this offering (stolen entirely from my son’s Facebook page, I confess)

Here’s a good old Communist joke:

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Pendulum Always Swings in Ukraine — Underground Conservative

 

I’ve resorted to a penname since Ricochet 2.0 came out. After the Mozilla events, it felt like using my name publicly has too many risks; but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Some of you may recognize my avatar and then may further connect me to my past life. From 2004 to 2009, I lived in Russia, working for a multi-national. From 2009 to 2010, I took some time off and lived in Odessa, Ukraine.

I have a lot of insight, perspective, and contacts in both countries. Up to this point, however, I’ve moved on to normal life back in the U.S. and have become more and more disconnected from Russia and Ukraine. Even the latest chain of events has left me fairly apathetic. It had become my conclusion that Russia will never change, despite my many hopes in the past, and that Ukraine is forever weak and schizophrenic about its identity. 

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. When International Law Doesn’t Work—John Yoo

 

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its continuing military pressure on Ukraine demonstrates that the United Nations-centered system of international law has failed. The pressing question is not whether Russia has violated norms against aggression – it has – but how the United States and its allies should respond in a way that will strengthen the international system.

It should be clear that Russia has violated the U.N. Charter’s restrictions on the use of force. It has resorted to “the use of force against the territorial integrity” and “political independence” of Ukraine in violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter’s founding principles. Russia has trampled on the fundamental norm that the United States and its allies have built since the end of World War II: that nations cannot use force to change borders unilaterally.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Rick Perry on the GOP, Foreign and Domestic Policy

 

In an extended episode of Opinion Journal, I talked today with Texas Governor Rick Perry about a wide array of issues: Vladimir Putin, Syria, the Obama Administration’s Asia policy, immigration, Obamacare, and what he learned from the 2012 election, just to name a few:

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why Did Anyone Believe That Power Politics Went Away?

 

Be sure to read this piece by Raphael Cohen and Gabriel Scheinmann, which serves to remind us that, even though it is not the 19th century, nation-states still play the Great Game. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering in this revelation, but it has to be emphasized nonetheless because the Obama administration—through the comments of Secretary Kerry—seems to have thought that international power politics were a thing of the past. The Administration ought to have known better than that, but, for a time, it seemed to pretend not to know. If that kind of naïveté doesn’t bother you, you are more laid back than I am.

The following excerpt is especially worth pondering:

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Robert Coalson at The Atlantic accepted this challenge on March 31 (the 200th anniversary of the Russian army’s entry into Paris), and lived to to tell about it. Here’s what he learned: Europe is in flames. Russia is stable and efficient, but surrounded by envious enemies. Fascists are everywhere. Poland engineered Napoleon’s attack on Russia […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Why “More Freedom” Isn’t the Solution to the Crisis in the Crimea — Rico

 

Fred Cole’s post, “Thoughts on a Libertarian Solution to the Crisis in the Crimea,” posted yesterday, has sparked an energetic conversation in the comments—a success in that regard and well worth reading. But while libertarian thoughts were aired, *SPOILER ALERT* those thoughts were not woven into a solution.

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Thoughts on a Libertarian Solution to the Crisis in the Crimea — Fred Cole

 

 I have to take issue with Ron Paul’s extolling the virtues of the recent independence vote in the Crimea. While independence may be the mood of the citizens of the Crimea, a vote to join the country that has just invaded and occupied you, while the troops are still there, is illegitimate. The Crimea vote a scam. Self-determination is great thing. More places should declare their independence from far-away capitals, as Venice has recently done. But such a vote should never be done at barrel of a gun.

Russian actions during the current crisis are unacceptable.

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Please enjoy (if possible) my incoherent rambling as I attempt to find alternate-side parking in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. http://blogright.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Alternate-Side-Parking-1.mp3 This will be a semi-regular, once or twice a week, podcast. Each episode will last approximately as long as it takes for me to find a new parking space. In today’s inaugural episode, […]

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Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. The Nation’s False and Dishonest Crimea Narrative

 

For those who believe that the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia might actually unite Americans of all ideological stripes in opposition to the thuggishness of the Putin regime, I give you this piece by editors of the Nation. It shows that even now, in the immediate aftermath of the annexation, while historical memories are still fresh, there are those who are willing to rewrite current events in order to advance a narrative filled with desperate attempts to explain away unjustified Russian bellicosity. And of course, it ought to surprise no one that the editors are willing to put forth false attempts at establishing moral equivalence in order to leave readers with the idea that the United States is really at fault in this story.

The urgent issue today is to stop the drift toward hot war. Yes, Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea trespasses on international law, though it is difficult to bear US officials’ invocation of a principle that Washington itself has often violated (see, most recently, Kosovo and Iraq, the latter now marking the eleventh anniversary of an illegal US invasion and occupation). Financial and visa sanctions, while inflicting a cost on Russia, will not deter Moscow. As Putin argued in his March 18 speech before the Russian Federal Assembly, Russia feels “cornered” and has been repeatedly “deceived” by the West—particularly Washington—since the Soviet Union broke apart more than two decades ago, especially in light of the expansion of NATO to its borders.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. This Ends With a Moscow Beer Summit

 

The typical conservative criticism of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy — one yours truly has indulged on repeated occasions — is that it fails to account for willful aggression. Under the White House’s reading of the world, there are no animosities, just misunderstandings. Given this line of reasoning, the imperative of international relations is not so much deterring hostility as it is lifting our antagonists out of their false consciousness.

There are two varieties of liberal rejoinders to this proposition. The more forceful rebuttal is that this is nothing more than a caricature, a confusion of diplomatic subtlety with outright weakness. The more guarded version concedes that the president may have been naive in his earlier days, but has developed a more sophisticated reading of the world in office. Evidence for either is hard to find in the interview the president gave to CBS’s Scott Pelley this week, as reported by Politico:

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