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April 18, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-029

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

  • April 14 - RIP Anna Missed
    Related:
    Check how the color of the hand changes when looked at from different angles. How did he do this?
notebook #1 - by anna missed
bigger
bigger
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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-029

Posted by b at 12:37 UTC | Comments (12)

April 17, 2021

Biden's Russia-China Tactic Is To Wage War AND To Ask For Cooperation. It Will Fail.

The policies of the Biden administration towards Russia and China are delusional. It thinks that it can squeeze these countries but still successfully ask them for cooperation. It believes that the U.S. position is stronger than it really is and that China and Russia are much weaker than they are.

It is also full of projection. The U.S. accuses both countries of striving for empire, of wanting to annex more land and of human rights violations. But is only the U.S. that has expanding aspirations. Neither China nor Russia are interested in running an empire. They have no interest in planting military bases all over the world. Though both have marginal border conflicts they do not want to acquire more land. And while the U.S. bashes both countries for alleged human rights issues it is starving whole populations (Yemen, Syria, Venezuela) through violence and economic sanctions.

The U.S. power structures in the Pentagon and CIA use the false accusations against Russia and China as pretense for cold military and hot economic wars against both countries. They use color revolution schemes (Ukraine, Myanmar) to create U.S. controlled proxy forces near their borders.

At the same time as it tries to press these countries the U.S. is seeking their cooperation in selected fields. It falsely believes that it has some magical leverage.

Consider this exchange from yesterday's White House press briefing about Biden asking for a summit with Putin while, at the same time, implementing more sanctions against Russia:

Q What if [Putin] says “no,” though? Wouldn’t that indicate some weakness on the part of the American administration here?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the President’s view is that Russia is on the outside of the global community in many respects, at this point in time. It’s the G7, not the G8. They have — obviously, we’ve put sanctions in place in order to send a clear message that there should be consequences for the actions; the Europeans have also done that.

What the President is offering is a bridge back. And so, certainly, he believes it’s in their interests to take him up on that offer.

The G7 are not the 'global community'. They have altogether some 500 million inhabitants out of 7.9 billion strong global population. Neither China nor India are members of the G7 nor is any South American or African country. Moreover Russia has rejected a Russian return into the G7/8 format:

“Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G7,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a brief statement ..

Russia has no interest in a summit which would only be used by the U.S. to further bash Russia. Why should it give Biden that pleasure when there is nothing that Russia would gain from it. Russia does not need a 'bridge back'. There will be no summit.

Biden also  called for a climate summit during which he hopes to show 'American leadership' and to dictated to other countries, especially China, how much they will have to reduce their output of climate changing gases:

Cont. reading: Biden's Russia-China Tactic Is To Wage War AND To Ask For Cooperation. It Will Fail.

Posted by b at 17:53 UTC | Comments (124)

April 15, 2021

Three Recent Failures In Foreign Policy Coordination - Why Is Jake Sullivan Creating Such A Mess?

This was fun to watch.

U.S. Navy ships were supposed to sail into the Black Sea "in a show of support for Ukraine" and to "send a specific message to Moscow" due to "concerns about mounting tensions between Ukraine and Russia."

Moscow then let it be known that it was not amused about the obviously preplanned provocation: "We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good."

Next the U.S. Navy put its tail between its legs "due to concerns about escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine."

So the U.S. wanted to send ships due to "concerns about mounting tensions between Ukraine and Russia" and then pulled them back due to "concerns about escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine".

Here is the trail:

CNN April 9 - US considering sending warships to Black Sea amid Russia-Ukraine tensions

The United States is considering sending warships into the Black Sea in the next few weeks in a show of support for Ukraine amid Russia's increased military presence on Ukraine's eastern border, a US defense official told CNN Thursday.

The US Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea, but a deployment of warships now would send a specific message to Moscow that the US is closely watching, the official said.
...
The Biden administration and the international community have expressed concerns about mounting tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

MEE April 9 - US notified Turkey about warship deployment in the Black Sea, Ankara says

The United States has notified Turkey that it intends to deploy two warships to the Black Sea amid rising tensions with Russia, Turkish foreign ministry sources said on Friday.

Washington made the notification just over two weeks ago, as required under the Montreux Convention on passage through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.

The warships will stay in the Black Sea until 5 May.

Reuters April 13 - Russia warns Black Sea-bound US warships to stay away from Crimea

Moscow warned the United States on Tuesday to keep its warships away from the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, calling their deployment in the Black Sea a provocation.
...
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was cited by Russian news agencies on Tuesday as warning U.S. warships in the Black Sea to keep their distance, saying the risk of unspecified incidents was very high.

"There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores, this is purely a provocative action. Provocative in the direct sense of the word: they are testing our strength, playing on our nerves. They will not succeed," Ryabkov was cited as saying.

"We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good."

Politico April 15 - U.S. drops plans to send destroyers into the Black Sea due to concerns over Russia

The Pentagon has scrapped a potential Black Sea transit by two Navy destroyers this week due to concerns about escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the plans.
...
The tentative transit, first reported by CNN, was not unusual or designed to send any particular new signal, as the U.S. Navy typically conducts eight or nine such movements per year, the person said.

But after new fighting erupted in Eastern Europe between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists, officials decided not to undertake the transit to avoid needlessly escalating the situation, the person said.

Then came the next funny thing.

Biden asked Putin for a summit in a third country. The Russians then said lets first see how you behave. Next Biden puts 'tough sanction' on Russia for things that it likely did not even do. Result - no summit.

Then there was this silly story about Russia (Iran, China) paying bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers but with no soldiers getting killed. That obvious nonsense was officially buried today:

U.S. Intel Walks Back Claim Russians Put Bounties on American Troops

[O]n Thursday, the Biden administration announced that U.S. intelligence only had “low to moderate” confidence in the story after all. Translated from the jargon of spyworld, that means the intelligence agencies have found the story is, at best, unproven—and possibly untrue.

But just yesterday the Biden administration used the very same false bounty claim to justify the sanctions on Russia:

The sanctions will be among what President Biden’s aides say are “seen and unseen” steps in response to the hacking, known as SolarWinds; to the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia offered to pay bounties to militants in Afghanistan to kill American troops; and to Russia’s yearslong effort to interfere in United States elections, according to American officials and others who have been briefed on the actions.

All three, the ship sending and pullback, the attempt to get a summit with Putin to then issue shortsighted and dangerous sanctions, and the contradicting 'Russian bounty' tale point to badly coordinated policy planning.

Isn't Jake Sullivan, Biden's National Security Advisor, supposed to plan and coordinate such steps?

So far he has been a creating a total mess.

Posted by b at 17:48 UTC | Comments (208)

Open Thread 2021-028

News & views ...

Posted by b at 14:01 UTC | Comments (167)

April 14, 2021

Neoconservatives Demand More Meddling In Afghanistan

The wickedness of the imperial U.S. vanguard is well expressed in an Atlantic piece by Eliot A. Cohen, the dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

On the U.S. exit from Afghanistan Cohen writes:

This is not the end of the war; it is merely the end of its direct American phase. The war began more than four decades ago, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and its first American phase, in the 1980s, featured indirect United States intervention on behalf of the anti-Soviet mujahideen. The war will assuredly last well beyond the American exit. There will be no power-sharing, no reconciliation, no peace of the brave.

Those are lies. The war began in the mid of 1979 when the U.S. armed warlords who fought against the Afghan government:

In an interview with French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur in January 1998, former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski recounted that “according to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, kept secret until now, is quite different: Indeed, it was on July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.”

Cohen continues:

The war will grind on, with the edge going to the brutal fundamentalist warriors of the Taliban, who will torture and slaughter even as they repeal the advances made in women’s education and secularism in any form. But they will not have it all their own way. Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, India, and the Central Asian republics have their own stakes in this war, and not all of them want to see an outright Taliban victory. So they will fund clients and proxies, as will, in all likelihood, the United States. And the people of Afghanistan will continue to suffer.

Those advances ...

Cont. reading: Neoconservatives Demand More Meddling In Afghanistan

Posted by b at 18:53 UTC | Comments (69)

RIP Anna Missed

all alone (and in the shadow)
(detail, small)



by anna missed

(detail, bigger - 170 kb)
(full view - 170 kb)

Today I learned that old time Moon of Alabama commentator anna missed, also known as Jack Chevalier, has died two weeks ago on April 1. Jack was an artist who lived on an island near Seattle. Jack contributed a lot to our discussions about war the Bush gang waged on Iraq. He had been in Vietnam and could relate the ground reality. 

In the early years of this blog I often posted art sent to me by some of the commentators. We all knew each other (virtually) from Billmon's Whiskey Bar and were a small but quite tight community.

There were a number of paintings and photos by anna missed and by beq, photos by b real, poems by rememberinggiap and ceramics by annie posted here. Most can be found under the Barfly Art category.

The one below is a gift anna missed sent to me back then. It's an oil painting on a thick piece of raw wood with small glass pellets sprinkled into it.

notebook #1

2008
9"x 16"x 1"
oil paint and glass pellets on wood
by anna missed
bigger

I had to convince the custom officer that I was practically worthless to avoid duties. It has since been hanging in my living room. (Beq - the picture you gave me is hanging in my hallway.)

Other works by anna missed can be found at his dormant blog and at the Linda Hodges Gallery where he had many exhibitions.

I for one will miss him.

Posted by b at 18:07 UTC | Comments (30)

April 13, 2021

U.S., NATO Give Up - Will Leave Afghanistan By September 11

This from the Washington Post is surprisingly good news:

Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021

President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, people familiar with the plans said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that first drew the United States into its longest war.

The decision, which Biden is expected to announce on Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to one person familiar with the matter, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to describe plans that are not yet public.

While the Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline, it is not clear if the militants will follow through with those threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September.

The decision comes after a U.S. initiative to press for a unity government in Afghanistan only created more dead end proposals and was likely to fail.

The initiative was to include Turkey, India and others to create a complicate plan of power sharing in Kabul. The larger strategic thought behind that plan was to keep Afghanistan as a base from where the U.S. could harass China. Turkey's role under the plan was to organize jihadist Uighur fighters which would be trained in Afghanistan and elsewhere to then get inserted into Xinjiang to interrupt the Belt and Road Initiative projects that run through that area:

Pentagon and CIA are reluctant to vacate Afghanistan by May 1. Turkey will be overseeing an open-ended US-NATO presence. The US hopes to retain a strong intelligence presence backed by special operations forces. A report Friday in the CNN disclosed that “CIA, which has had a significant say in US decision-making in Afghanistan, has “staked out some clear positions” during recent deliberations, arguing in favour of continuing US involvement.”

The scale of the CIA activities in Afghanistan are not in public domain — especially, whether its regional mandate extends beyond the borders of Afghanistan. The CNN report cited above lifted the veil on “one of the most heavily guarded bases” of the CIA — Forward Operating Base Chapman, “a classified US military installation in eastern Afghanistan.”

Suffice to say, given the presence of the ISIS fighters (including those transferred from Syria to Afghanistan — allegedly in US aircraft, according to Russia and Iran) — the nexus between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and above all, the presence of Uighur, Central Asian and Chechen terrorists, Turkey’s induction as the US’ buddy in Afghanistan is indeed worrisome for regional states. Turkey has transferred jihadi fighters from Idlib to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh to fight hybrid wars.

Significantly, Turkey has abruptly shifted its stance on the Uighur issue after years of passivity and hyped it up as a diplomatic issue between Ankara and Beijing. China’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry last Tuesday.
...
China and Russia are vigilant about the US intentions in Afghanistan. (See my blog China resents US presence in Afghanistan.) And both have problematic relations with Erdogan. Turkey’s ascendance on the Afghan-Central Asian landscape cannot be to their comfort. During his recent visit to Tehran, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi voiced support for Iran’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due to visit Tehran on April 14.

This week Turkey was supposed to host a meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But yesterday the Taliban announced that they would not take part in it:

Cont. reading: U.S., NATO Give Up - Will Leave Afghanistan By September 11

Posted by b at 17:11 UTC | Comments (136)

April 12, 2021

CNN - Ukrainian Trains With Heavy Weapons Going East Are 'Russian Aggression'

Today CNN continued its long stint of publishing anti-Russian propaganda. But this video 'report' falls on several levels.

Unprecedented footage shows front line of Ukrainian conflict with Russia

As tensions with Russia continue to rise in eastern Europe, CNN gains unprecedented access to the Ukrainian president on the front line in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian military officials tell CNN they estimate more than 50,000 Russian troops are massing near the border. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.

First - this isn't news. Zelensky visited the troops at the frontline on Thursday. Second - the tensions are not 'on the rise' but have moved down a tack or two since Friday when Zelensky gave up and filed for peace.

In the video Zelensky and the CNN correspondent and camera team enter a helicopter. The voice over says: "CNN has gained this unprecedented access to the Ukrainian president on a carefully planned troop visit flying with him fast and low to avoid ground fire."

Where please is that 'ground fire' supposed to come from when Zelensky is flying over Ukrainian held grounds towards some Ukrainian command post near the frontline? This is followed by scenes in which Zelensky,  a trained actor, does telegenic hops over ditches.

Two minutes into the video CNN shows some military transports. The voice over says: "With growing tensions a dramatic buildup of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border and in Crimea. Cellphone footage has emerged of armored columns like this one. And military hardware being transported by rail towards the border."

It is a quite interesting what footage CNN is using at that point.


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Cont. reading: CNN - Ukrainian Trains With Heavy Weapons Going East Are 'Russian Aggression'

Posted by b at 16:59 UTC | Comments (140)

April 11, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-027

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-027

Posted by b at 12:23 UTC | Comments (220)

April 10, 2021

After The Bear Showed Its Teeth The Ukraine Filed For Peace?

First the Ukraine said it would use force to recover the renegade Donbass region as well as Crimea. It then moved heavy troops towards the contact lines. The ceasefire at the contact line was broken multiple times per day. Several Ukrainian soldiers died while attempting to remove a minefield in preparation of an attack.

It became clear that a war in Ukraine's east was likely to soon braek out. A successful war would help Ukraine's president Zelensky with the ever increasing domestic crises. A war would also give the U.S. more influence in Europe. The U.S. and NATO promised "unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty”.

Russia gave several verbal warnings that any Ukrainian attack on the renegade provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk or Crimea would cause a serious Russian intervention. There was never a chance that the U.S. or NATO would intervene in such a war. But it was only after Russia started to move some of its troops around that sanity set in. It dawned on the Ukrainian leadership that the idea of waging war against a nuclear armed superpower was not a good one.

Late yesterday it suddenly decided to file for peace (machine translation):

The Armed Forces ruled out the use of force to "liberate" Donbass

KIEV, April 9 - RIA Novosti. "Liberation" of Donbass by force will lead to mass deaths of civilians and servicemen, and this is unacceptable for Kiev, said Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak.

"Being devoted to universal human values ​​and norms of international humanitarian law, our state puts the lives of its citizens in the first place," the General Staff's press center quoted him as saying.

According to Khomchak, the Ukrainian authorities consider the political and diplomatic way to resolve the situation in Donbass a priority. At the same time, he added that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready for an adequate response both to the escalation of the conflict and to "the complication of the military-political and military-strategic situation around the country."

Zelensky himself chipped in (machine translated):

Zelensky spoke for a truce in Donbass

MOSCOW, April 9 - RIA Novosti. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the need for a new truce in Donbass after visiting the contact line.

The head of state wrote on Facebook that shooting at the front lines had become "a dangerous routine." "After several months of observing a complete and general ceasefire, we returned to the need to establish a truce," Zelensky said.

As the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Ruslan Khomchak emphasized earlier, the use of force to "liberate" Donbass is unacceptable for Kiev, as it is fraught with casualties among the civilian population and military personnel. At the same time, last week he said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will strengthen the grouping of troops in the Donbass and in the Crimean direction - in response to the "build-up" of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine.

It seems that order has come from Washington to stand down - at least for now. U.S. reconnaissance flights near Russia's border continue. One should therefore consider that the sudden call for a renewed ceasefire might be a ruse.

But if it is not why was all of this allowed to happen in the first place?

Posted by b at 14:44 UTC | Comments (166)