Now, the whole rationale Trump put forward for the retreat — to get American troops out of the Mideast and “endless wars” — is in doubt.
Rather than leaving the region, the withdrawing troops will deploy in neighboring Iraq to fight the Islamic State group, which could get new life from the Syrian turmoil. Some U.S. forces are still in eastern Syria, helping Kurdish fighters protect oilfields. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday he was discussing keeping them there.
Trump surprised even his own military on the ground when he agreed to remove U.S. soldiers working with Kurdish-led forces near the border in an Oct. 6 phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Three days later, Turkey launched its offensive with heavy bombardment along the border.
Erdoğan says his demand for a safe zone in Syria is rooted in Turkey’s war against terrorism. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Erdoğan says, is as much a threat as the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense . . . .
While those both enamored and fearful of power have always played “both sides of the street”, Turkey’s drift from a freely speaking, open, and vibrant democracy to one far from NATO ethics, interests, and values should be clear to the free world. Through the power of President Erdogan’s feudal imagination and thuggery, Turkey has been transformed into a politically absolute polity driven by the narcissism of its leader
Worse for the Turks and even his fans: President Erdogan’s toadying before Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Erdogan may appear strong standing up to the west, which today cannot levy enough sanctions on his project (probably hurting the Turks more than the Turkish President), but how may he appear doing Putin’s bidding while his equally enamored — or captive to Moscow — neighbor, Bashar al-Assad AKA “Bashar the Butcher”, continues destroying and strangling Syria — in Turkey’s direction too — under cover of destroying Sunni Islamists?
When Turkish air power rightly downed two Russian MIGs overflying Turkey’s airspace while refusing communications with Turkish air defense, Erdogan refused apology. And what for? He and his military had done everything right for the purposes of Turkish Defense.
The Su-24 shootdown took place on November 24, 2015.
Eight months later, widely reported on June 27, 2016, Erdogan apologized to Putin.
That has turned out a fair demonstration of Russian “realpolitik” and maddening absolute power.
For those watching — and those who knew the facts — “Sultan Erdogan” may just as well have knelt before “Emperor Putin”.
Perhaps President Erdogan has had some household bills yet to pay, and, beside, has needed a certain supply of energy to heat the house.
I hope the excerpts and videos that follow prove helpful as windows into the love fest developed between Ankara and Moscow.
The first direct gas pipeline between Russia and Turkey was the Blue Stream, commissioned in 2005. In 2009, Putin proposed a Blue Stream II line parallel to Blue Stream under the Black Sea. The Blue Stream II project did not carry through and the South Stream project took the lead, until it was abandoned in 2014. The TurkStream (then named Turkish Stream) project was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 1 December 2014, during his state visit to Turkey.
The Russia Defence Ministry denied the aircraft ever left Syrian airspace, counter-claiming that their satellite data showed that the Sukhoi was about 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) inside Syrian airspace when it was shot down. The U.S. State Department said that the U.S. independently confirmed that the aircraft’s flight path violated Turkish territory, and that the Turks gave multiple warnings to the pilot, to which they received no response and released audio recordings of the warnings they had broadcast.
MOSCOW — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized Monday for the downing of a Russian warplane in November and called for Russia and Turkey to mend a bilateral relationship that has become openly hostile over the incident.
Gazprom has started to fill the first branch of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream pipeline with natural gas. This is the final stage of testing the pipeline before putting it into operation later this year . . . .
. . . The first line is intended for the supply of Russian gas to Turkish consumers, the second – for gas supply to the countries of southern and southeast Europe.
Erdoğan says his demand for a safe zone in Syria is rooted in Turkey’s war against terrorism. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Erdoğan says, is as much a threat as the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense: The SDF formed to fight Al Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State at a time when Turkey was passively if not actively supporting them. Nor can Turkish officials credibly point to terrorist attacks from Kurdish-governed portions of Syria. Groups that evolved from the PKK are not monoliths: The SDF is progressive and moderate; any visit to the region makes clear that the group does not embrace the PKK’s Cold War-era Marxism. The PKK itself has long sought peace and does not attack civilians. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) splinter group continues to engage in terrorism, but they are based nowhere near Syria nor do they have any links to the SDF.
In a recent article in Foreign Policy, my colleague Steven A. Cook argued that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was playing Washington like a fiddle. With a combination of bluffs, threats, and bluster, Erdogan managed to convince the United States to come up with an arrangement in northeastern Syria to prevent a Turkish invasion—an arrangement that comes at the expense of the Kurds, who have carried the brunt of the fighting against the Islamic State. Whatever one thinks of the Kurds, their determination and sacrifice should be treated as an international public good; they have stopped and destroyed one of the most dangerous and homicidal groups the modern world has known. The Turks by contrast have contributed nothing to this endeavor.
If Erdogan has succeeded in manipulating Washington, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in turn, has played him to the hilt.
The great squawk raised against President Trump’s pull-out from Syria after the seemingly finished business of removing ISIS as an area-controlling power in the region may be assuaged by a few cogent and brief observations.
From the Awesome Conversation (on Facebook) —
The Kurds have not been a unified political community.
The PKK is another of the late 1970s-style “liberation” organizations set up by then Communist Moscow.
The regional “balance of power” has included Russian-Turkish animus (for a long time), so a return to that geopolitical fault line may make some historic sense; however, the two former empires appear at present embraced over energy, warm with each the other’s politically absolute character, and cold to the liberal democracies and associated values of the west.
In the “Medieval v Modern” framework often mentioned on BackChannels, arrangements between Russia and Turkey suit the Forward-to-the-Past! ambitions of Presidents Putin and Erdogan (and perhaps Trump as well). Ah, well, the past from the present may seem both a bloodier but also more simple day, so that much more suited to the simple minded among leaders. Be that as it may, the PKK’s historic relationship with Moscow may now bring the Kurdish liberation element into renewed contact with the producers of the”KGB Theater” that brought the murderous Islamic State to their doorstep in the first place.
Putin’s Russia has proven itself a deeply destructive and inhumane force in Syria, one that has encouraged a tyrant to bomb and depopulate substantial portions of his own state, and one that has itself repeatedly bombed hospitals into ruin. Call it “Real Estate Acquisition and Development — Moscow Style”. May such a center of power as Moscow now find the Kurds and the PKK inconvenient?
As captive but perhaps (under the new circumstance) uncontainable ISIS elements melt back into the region (how many may it take to rebuild the movement or otherwise influence the politics of the region?), the perpetuation of conflict may seem to suit the greater “eastern” powers, one of which appears to enjoy the development and suspension of “frozen conflicts”.
At least 40 civilians attending a wedding party were killed in a raid conducted by Afghan government forces and supported by US airstrikes on a Taliban hideout in southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said Monday.
Abdul Majed Akhund, deputy provincial councilman, said that the majority of the dead were women and children. Twelve civilians were also injured.
The Modern West has had little issue investigating and owning up to its own woeful atrocities, including the accidents it may sanitize with the term “collateral damage”.
In fact, it or the liberal democratic populations represented by EU/NATO and assorted coalitions of the willing, may be too good at wearing the mea culpa shawl of self-shaming, but that’s another matter.
For Afghanistan, and for the most part, the damage done has been much less accomplished by the “collateral damage” of the west than by the deliberate design, decision, and application of violence by the Taliban and similar actors bent on the absolute and comprehensive political and social control of targeted states and their resources.
Using Russian-supplied arms and material, Afghanistan’s Taliban have continued a program of bombings and related attacks designed to destroy Afghani civilians without discrimination, forestall peace, discourage and impede elections, and bring general ruin to local economies and lives while proving themselves handsome, protective, strong, and wise.
. . . .
True: a malign narcissism has a great deal to do with the absolute political and social control sought by the Taliban and so many others who at times conflate themselves with God and the work of God’s will on earth.
The Taliban’s demonstrated and backfiring track record in lunacy — and that of other extremist organizations operating in Afghanistan — may finally be reaching them through the mirroring World Wide Web where high-integrity reportage faithfully conveys the character of consistently cruel, crude, and very nearly mindless violence that will in the end have changed nothing but perhaps themselves.
Most who have followed the Afghanistan story in its greater context will recall the story in which Mullah Omar took revenge on a Russian tank crew and its commander — hung from his own tank barrel — for the rape of local village girls. Omar would flee that heroic ending to raise an army to battle back the Soviet invasion of the state — and America’s CIA would step in with the delivery of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to the Mujaheddin for the comparatively cheap killing of the Soviet’s brutal and expensive helicopter gunships.
One may tire — and perhaps should — of the medieval contests between too many “kingdoms of heaven” and the repeated conflations — Christian, Jewish, or Muslim — of men with God (although Judaism has been always adamant about the separation of the Divine from the mortal).
In any case, among my acquaintance, one stands out as expert on “civilizational narcissism” — his term — and the Taliban. Here is his book from 2010 —
It may be said that all were warned but with one element missing: Soviet / post-Soviet Moscow / Moscow-Tehran.
The Soviet / post-Soviet Arc of Tears (Crimea, Syria, Yemen, for a start) hews to and encourages the despotism (“political absolutism”) so far expressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan but also well on display elsewhere in the world where the deepest and most criminal representatives of civilizational and political narcissism have either set themselves or prevailed.
BackChannels suggests the Taliban may have been taken in — duped — by Russia via al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in the shadow of the Cold War and reshaped for revenge on the west with the intent of sustaining a blind and madding authoritarianism in the world, all the better to plunder it.
President Donald Trump says the U.S.-Taliban talks on ending the fighting in Afghanistan are “dead,” deeply unfortunate wording for the Afghan civilians who have been killed by the tens of thousands over almost 18 years. Many fear his cancellation of negotiations will bring more carnage as the U.S. and Taliban, as well as Afghan forces, step up their offensives and everyday people die in the crossfire.
“We just want to go back to our homes. We don’t ask for much, but this war has made our lives impossible and has torn apart our community.” he says. “We cant go home due to the risk of drones, but after so many years of war, our community is now at war with itself – there doesn’t seem to be any end to bloodshed.”
One could argue that the Taliban is increasingly in a position to outlast the United States and claim a decisive military victory. If today’s Taliban were as cohesive as the Taliban that managed to control Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, that might well be true. But it’s not.
This weekend, Afghanistan will hold its fourth presidential election since the Taliban government’s fall in 2001. Since the U.S. and Taliban’s recent breakdown in negotiations, the Taliban have killed more Afghan civilians than at almost any other point since the beginning of 2018, as you can see in the figure below. The Taliban has killed at least 58 civilians in the last eight days alone.
And that may be about to get worse. In earlier presidential elections, the Taliban has tried not to kill civilians when they go to vote. That may change this weekend.
The U.S. envoy’s team would not elaborate Friday on the nature of the resumed discussions in Doha, but they come after a series of deadly Taliban attacks across Afghanistan. As CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, while the Taliban may be talking peace with the U.S., they’re still waging a brutal war on Afghan soil.
A security camera captured dramatic video of a car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday. The blast near the U.S. Embassy killed one American service member and another NATO soldier, as well as at least 10 civilians.
KABUL — Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country’s Western-backed government.
The moves come as tensions have flared between the United States, Iran and Russia over the conflict in Syria, and officials worry that the fallout could hurt Afghanistan’s chances for peace. For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal.
I am tired of the people, the area, the district and the province. When I go to Wardak, I feel so tired. But what to do? I have to go there and visit their graves. It is not only one person — it is 12 family members. My four daughters, three sons, my wife, and four cousins. I lost all in one day when my house was bombed by the Americans.
I can never forgive the Taliban, but if the peace deal can stop the bloodshed, I can accept them to the country. I don’t want other families to go through what I have.
“Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle,” Khalilzad said, according to TOLOnews. “Of course, it is not final until the US president (Donald Trump) agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.”
News of the agreement comes as violence has spiked in Afghanistan, with the latest attack occurring just hours after Khalilzad’s interview. A car bomb targeted an Afghan police station in the capital Kabul on Monday, in an area close to the heavily fortified compound where many foreign embassies and international organizations are based,
“He became known for his ability to weave through warring tribal factions and his ability to quickly get senior Afghan officials on the phone or to summon them to his office, including President Hamid Karzai,” The New York Times reported during Khalilzad’s stint as ambassador to Afghanistan — the country of his birth — from 2003 to 2005.
Robin Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, says Khalilzad’s appointment is a sign that the Trump administration is getting serious about a political solution to America’s longest war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, is on the verge of an agreement with the Taliban that would pave the way for the withdrawal of some 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for guarantees that the war-wracked nation would not be used as a haven for international terrorism, according to diplomatic sources.
KABUL, Afghanistan — At first, the man was just walking across the street. Then he was running for his life. He managed four steps before the blast from the car bomb caught him.
Since then, the last few seconds of Akbar Fazelyar’s life, captured on video during a Taliban attack on Sept. 5, have become one of the most scrutinized moments in Afghanistan, slowed down and watched frame by frame on countless mobile phones and computer screens.
The vote, the fourth since the Taliban’s removal from power by a United States-led coalition in 2001, comes as heavy fighting between the armed group and government forces has led to a spike in the number of civilians killed.
The Taliban has already threatened to target election rallies and polling stations, while in recent weeks the US-backed Afghan forces have stepped up air and ground attacks, raising fears of further casualties.
Last week alone, more than 150 people were killed, according to Al Jazeera tally, in Taliban attacks, US drone strikes and raids by Afghan government forces.
The air strike was aimed at destroying a hideout used by Islamic State militants, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field, Afghan officials were quoted as saying.
“On yet another deadly day in Afghanistan, once again it is civilians who bear the brunt of the violence involving armed groups, the Afghan government, and their backers in the U.S. military,” Amnesty International said in statement.
Our principal failure, in my view, was our refusal to deal with Pakistan’s double game. Even the accelerated drone attacks in western Pakistan under the Obama administration, which were somewhat effective in the fight against al Qaeda, failed to a large extent to target the Taliban, the Haqqani Group, or Hezbe Islami.
The United States also signaled a lack of military resolve. The Pentagon made incautious public statements about the reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. At one point, the combat power of the United States dropped to a single brigade, even as the insurgent threat was rising. The evident lack of U.S. commitment gave Pakistan a green light to step up the Taliban and insurgent offensive in late 2005 and early 2006.
On 17 September 2019, two suicide bombings killed over 48 people in Charikar and Kabul, Afghanistan. The first attack occurred at a rally for presidentAshraf Ghani which killed over 26 and wounded over 42. Ghani was unharmed in the incident. The second bombing occurred in Kabul near the US embassy. In this incident 22 were killed and another 38 were injured in the explosion. Children and women are among the dead and wounded in both attacks, also multiple soldiers were killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said they will commit more attacks to discourage people from voting in the upcoming presidential elections.
was once a brave KGB man in service to the Soviet while in East
Germany. He stood off a maddened crowd with a bluff and bought time for
the further destruction of KGB records in that Soviet satellite. He
may be admired for his extraordinary bravado, courage, and wiles.
he moved Russia off the pro-democracy track, he inherited an
effectively lawless state, one that had transferred the wealth of the
Soviet to the Soviet nomenklatura in a fire sale of state assets.
Opposition like Khoderkovsky came out of that transfer that had been
planned in the mid-1980s (reference: Karen Dawisha, RIP). In effect,
Putin inherited the challenges posed by the Vory and assorted
gangsterism on a scale unknown to the west (and western naivette about
that helped waste billions (I think) in capital that would never be
recovered. The mafia state was born.
The Capo de
capos, the Boss of bosses, has now to look inward and consider the
future of the now old Viking state that he has looted. He could retire
to Spain, where he has a house, and watch the cocaine traffic moving up
from Africa — just look out his window and know the ships and smile —
or he could turn around — this would be a good time — and address
Russia’s under-development outside of the Agricultural, Defense, and
Energy sectors. He could revert to rule-of-law in Ukraine and
apologize, at least, for the bombing of so many hospitals –he’s leveled
him — in Syria.
Judging from his behavior, he
appears to believe his mission has been to revive the glories of the
medieval world and the idolatry associated with political absolutism,
i.e., unquestionable authority.
I, not alone, believe he should reconsider that mission.
He has produce what he has promised the world: a “New Nobility”.
he should look around at what now lies at the feet of that circle:
atrocity, mayhem, murder, and the self-inflicted wounding of the image
and global acceptance of Mother Russia.
A change of course would be more helpful to him than his staying with old habits past their expiry.
Has one party or personality or other to always play the “bag guy”? The Bond villain? The head of the worst of the worst?
Vladimir Putin has children who will one day and in the natural course of living will look back on their father with an accuracy and perception beyond the public’s ken and the best of the world’s intelligence agencies. When he’s gone, whatever he was, they will know in ways beyond knowing.
For a glimpse at what his state has done at his behest: Idlib today. Here is some recent background involving Russian participation — missile strikes (got to about 7:15 on that)– in Assad’s scorched earth pursuits.
Aside: what the Assad Regime did to the Yarmouk Palestinian Camp —
Method #1: detect and amplify any present national, racial, or religious suspicion into self-righteous anger and resentment — and crank it up;
Method #2: develop and deploy appropriate agitprop and agent provocateur — and for the Devil’s sake, don’t worry about anything having to do with ethics, ideals, principles, or values: in fact, dispense with the possession of conscience altogether and reduce all complexities — also, all cultural richness and intercultural relations to two essential dimensions: will and survival.
Method #3: Prepare the violence to come: arm convinced militia and move the same toward perceiving slights or promoting provocations, for either will serve the dual purposes necessary for the inhabiting of a renewed medieval world governed by feudal arrangements in support of “absolute power” (to be shared between political criminals and similar life forms).
Method #4: In hybrid, highbrow, and lowest manner, infiltrate target organizations and states for purpose of abetting their destabilization, perpetuating disinformation, and for ultimately exploiting legitimate business and labor for gain leveraged by bribery or extortion / reward for cooperation and threat for independence in either thought or action.
Centrist leaders across Europe hope the fallout from the “Ibiza scandal” will be felt beyond Austria in the European parliament elections this week, in which populist, nationalist and far-right parties have been forecast to make gains.
Strache’s apparent eagerness to embrace corruption is in stark contrast to the “drain the swamp” rhetoric populists routinely deploy in their attempts to portray politics as a battle by decent ordinary people against a venal elite. The FPÖ is a key member of an alliance of European nationalist parties led by Matteo Salvini of Italy’s League.
BackChannels has embedded with many posts the key word or phrase, “medieval v modern”, and that has worked for the editor, but what has emerged in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and elsewhere also could be called a “Reactionary Conservatism” that fits with the anti-democratic and piratical renewal of feudal absolute power. Where such has succeeded, so far, the same has devolved into patently criminal cronyism.
Skullduggery at about 27:48 (iTunes), Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman ask Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Dem., Michigan) for her views on the Middle East Conflict, which she then mixes with observations having to do with the Holocaust and her Palestinian ancestry.
There’s a kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihoods, their human dignity, their existence in many ways had been wiped out and some people’s passport . . . I mean all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post the Holocaust, post the tragedy and horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time, and I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right?, in many ways, but they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right?, and it was forced on them, and so when I think about one state, I think about the fact that why couldn’t we do it in a better way?
In 1948, an Arab war intent on the annihilation of the Jews of a most recently UN chartered Israel produced what would become the refugees of that year and the related Arab Apartheid camps of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Moreover, some Arab populations that fell in with the Jews would become themselves the Christian and Arab complement of Israel among Israel’s citizens, comprising about 20 percent of modern Israel’s population.
What was to corrode Palestinian dignity and freedom were the combined effects of Stalin’s pick-up of what Hitler and the Nazis failed to hold in their defeat; the amplification of Arab anti-Semitic ideation, much appreciated by Hitler and subsequently encouraged by Stalin in the aftermath of WWII; and in the more modern decades of the 1960s and 1970s, KGB manipulation of the Palestinians en masse with direct relation to their leadership.
Representative Tlaib’s ancestors did not have to suffer the re-emergence of the Hebrews as a political power in the Land of the Hebrews.
Quite opposite and far predating WWII, Jewish agricultural capitalization and land purchases (based in the Ottoman Land Registries) produced a new regional economy and heightened the Arab populating of the space with both Arab and Jewish labor. The refusal of Arab states to accept a Jewish enclave established the initial Palestinian separation from both Arab state cultures and from amity with the Jews. The period since the Islamic Revolution in Iran (and the related sponsoring of Hezbollah and funding of Hamas) may add its impact as regards the deepening of Palestinian captivity by those who have most professed to represent them.
One of BackChannel’s conservative Israeli friends online had this to say this morning in relation to Rep. Tlaib’s comments:
Tlaib also said that Netanyahu would not be able to look her grandmother in the eye. Her grandmother lives in an Arab village called “Beit Ur al Fa’uqah,” one of two adjacent “Beit Ur” villages on adjacent hilltiops.
The irony is that the two villages are actually the Jewish town of Beit Choron. Though we have a modern Beit Choron nearby the two Arab villages are where Jews lived for roughly 3-millenia until the 17th Century CE. At that point Tlaib’s ancestors rode filthy camels across our homeland and stole the town along with the rest of HaEretz in a process that began in 634 CE. This “woman” is real big on talking about “ancestors.” Not all Jews in Israel are Ashkenazi Holocaust Survivors. Some are Baladi, Jews like myself whose families for the most part have always lived on the land. When the very first Arab INVADED in 634 CE the last pre-modern Jewish State had only fallen 20-months before.
How far forward may any go by going so far back?
Whatever the answer, there may be a greater point to be made on behalf of historic truth looked on in Arab and Jewish partnership, so that the past has its place more in history than in the future adjustment of separable but perhaps ultimately complementary separable ethnic and political cultures.
At this point in time, any modern person in possession of a computer, moderate English language skills, and Internet access — and who is not politically repressed as regards reading and speaking online — may search up historians Benny Morris and Efraim Karsh, for a start, on Palestinian real history.
It’s sad to note of political reality that more constituents in the world’s states may prefer partisan fairy tales and convenient sloganeering to the adventure that is about learning new things, but when the pain is great enough — or old enough — as it has been for Israelis and Palestinians (for more than 70 years), one may wish for scholars to rise with integrity against the lies and inventions of politically ill-informed (at best) or venal (at worst) personalities that perpetuate conflict through the many forms of fascist-totalitarian methods focused on the continuing political servitude of those defenseless, ignorant, and powerless against them.
Once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.
Ukraine’s five-year-old “frozen conflict” has not been forgotten by EU / NATO, which methodically if slowly has focused on containing the irritating Bear now pummeling Mariupol and targets north by northwest along a line of embattled territory on the western edge of Donetsk Oblast. In addition to a vigorous round of military exercises conducted by NATO in 2018, typified perhaps by the 31+ nation Trident Juncture 18, the United States has continued training-related deployments to Ukraine in a “train-the-trainers ” effort to improve Ukraine’s defense against greater incursion by Russian forces.
Not to flack the rah-rah: Ukraine has been made to pay a near daily — or daily — price in injury and death for having become a Russian test bed (no different than Syria) for Moscow’s defense technologies and “hybrid warfare”.
The Russian propaganda mill plies a familiar routine with web videos: the most recent shelling appears to come from Ukrainian forces without cause (I’ll leave the look-up on such as “Donetsk, fighting” to the reader). However, as displayed on any given LiveUAmap, Russia’s military-integrated activity should seem clear enough.
“Together with two other S-300 air defense batteries nearby, Russian land-based air defenses in the region could simultaneously launch as many as 192 surface-to-air missiles. Interestingly, their crews have been training to counter not only hostile aircraft, but also sea-launched cruise missiles, seemingly in preparation for a NATO intervention. Whatever the case, the airspace above Crimea and Donbas has quickly become among the most well-defended in the world.
For cruising through related offerings on YouTube and elsewhere on the web, the open source seems short of up-to-the-minute Ukrainian war reportage but for the Live UA Map, a conflict pin board, and reporting by Michael MacKay via Twitter and through his column in Radio Lemberg.
BackChannels has been seeing the numbers, finding Russian-side videos (in which the fire always comes from Ukraine, not the Russian-backed separatists that provoke it), and finding videos from when the conflict was all bloody new, shocking, and hot. Now it’s still bloody and plenty hot, but it has become a part of the daily fare in the world’s conflict-related horror show.
Perhaps a warning should be issued: once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.
MacKay’s tweet, much in line with thinking by America’s Democrats and possibly some Republican moderates, begs a few questions about Ukraine’s “frozen conflict” among others: how much “patience” has the west? How much destruction and how many lives lost is acceptable before jawing about Russian barbarism and kleptocracy and posturing about western defense support and strength lose their charm?
Russia has recently claimed victory in Syria. This is what that looks like:
With the winter-is-coming cloud of nuclear warfare hanging over east-west confrontation — and with the incredible billions of dollars laundered out of transnational criminal enterprise spiked into the bloodstreams of states — the way forward for the democratic attenuation of political power and the promotion of faith in rule of law may be difficult to see. While one may hope for hope in that regard, locking related conflicts into one place without limit seems itself dispiriting and on the side of evil.
For how long may Ukraine be expected to endure a Moscow-engineered “status quo”?