From The Spin Of Lies, A Truth Emerges

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A cam is a mechanical moving part; cams open and close passages that lead to interior functions that power machines; cams are efficient at opening and closing access to . . . → Read More: From The Spin Of Lies, A Truth Emerges

Intrigue: Putin Leads On Points

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Did you miss the subtext—the real messages of power and mind control, the genuine threats and blackmail playing out in public view inside the James Comey incident? Did your partisan interest . . . → Read More: Intrigue: Putin Leads On Points

The Putin Factor

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First, a few facts: Russia’s economy is the size of Spain’s, for the last 3 years, it has showed negative growth, a 3.7% decline in 2015. Its largest source of state revenue is Gazprom, . . . → Read More: The Putin Factor

Ukraine: No Rules, No Foul

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DDThe real story in Ukraine is what happens when somebody doesn’t play by the rules. It is one of the great examples of conflict resolution unresolved. It is frothed with personalities and political interests, historic sleights and economic targets, military force, diplomacy and big money rolled into a global storm. It’s also an old-fashioned tale. So far, without terrorism.

The old Cold War, which the Ukraine conflict resembles, was always about resources and territory—hegemony—never about markets and state collapse or ideological goals. The old Cold War displayed raw, unvarnished power. The annual military parades in Moscow with the latest Soviet hardware and massed troops in lockstep were designed to reassure its citizens at home and the world abroad of its power and fierceness and its absolute domination within its sphere.

The Soviets’ largest Cold War failure came in Afghanistan. Attempting to prop up a puppet regime, the Soviets were dragged into a long-term fight that proved unwinnable for the same reasons the Americans later discovered.

The December 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union, surprisingly, was swift and without violence or troop movements—unlike what we see in Ukraine. Its most notable feature was the orderly transfer of power to new national entities. In less than a month, new governments were in place in the 12 republics that were its former satellites.

The Soviet flag had been taken down, the Russian flag hoisted. Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned and handed power to Boris Yeltsin.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine represent a backward step from the rule of law, the recognition of the democratic rights of people to pursue self-determination, and the right of state sovereignty and inviolate national borders.

The Russians made their move too soon. They showed up in unmarked uniforms like thugs. But I’m getting ahead of the story. It begins with the moral and political failure of the elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Soviet puppet whose gift was greed and a taste for big ticket extravagance, especially palatial residences. His weakness was an utter forfeit of skills for leadership and leveraging Ukraine’s national interests in its courtship by West and East.

To both sides, Ukraine is a vital interest.

He only had eyes for Russia.

The people of the Ukraine saw their future differently. Why be linked to a country whose economy was backwards, mired in the 1930s, without modern manufacturing, no thriving tech sector, no robust consumer sector, and failing infrastructure—and no plans for modernization?

Ukraine, on the other hand, with roughly 30% of Russia’s population, is in the top five global grain producers. With broad plains of fertile farmland, it is attractive to a Russia that still has trouble feeding itself. With modern market reforms, including financing credits, risk insurance, land reform, mechanized farming, this sector could increase its production and economic returns dramatically.

Ukraine also has well established industries in machine goods and aerospace.

But energy is Ukraine’s sweetest spot. And many of its energy projects and facilities are located in Crimea and UKRAINE_GAS-945Eastern Ukraine, the areas with the largest numbers of ethnic Russians, areas showing support for Russia’s intrusion. Ukraine is a scatterwork of gas and oil pipelines, many leading to Europe, mostly supplied by Russian production in gas and oil. Ukraine is a big buyer of Russian oil and gas, and also a big reshipper through its critical pipelines.

These pipelines are what Putin eyes as the prize. In offering $15 billion to Ukraine before the president turned chicken, left the country while claiming the powers of office, holding press conferences on Russian soil, Russia planned on leveraging its economic assistance for hegemony over Ukraine’s energy sector, especially its pipeline rates. Moreover, Ukraine oil reserves rank it 50th in the world. Yet it imports all of its natural gas supplies from Russia. Already, Putin has ended Ukraine’s pricing discount. Continue reading Ukraine: No Rules, No Foul

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