Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 21, 2014

Open Thread 2014-32

News & views ...

Posted by b on December 21, 2014 at 16:43 UTC | Permalink

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@Demian #85
Sure, but this very act brings into doubt whether Friedman truly is an insider, as opposed to a showman.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 24 2014 15:33 utc | 101

@c1ue #101:

I have no idea of whether Friedman is an insider, and have little interest in Stratfor. But Henry Kissenger most definitely is an insider, and as Robert Parry notes in the piece I linked to, Kissenger makes similar points to Friedman's. So making valid statements about the Ukraine crisis does not necessarily mean that you are not an insider.

Speaking of insiders, I would say that Obama is not an insider. He's just the hired help.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 24 2014 16:01 utc | 102

The goal of the United Sates in restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba is to “weaken” the country and use it as a base to counter Russian and Chinese influence in the region, a political analyst and journalist in Moscow says.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 24 2014 17:59 utc | 103

Indian Punchline
Merkel reconnects with Putin, Ukraine in sight

The four-way phone conversation on Monday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the presidents of Russia, France and Ukraine – Vladimir Putin, Francois Hollande and Petro Poroshenko – marks an interesting, hopeful turn to the Ukraine crisis. The quadripartite forum has agreed to remain in contact to keep the peace process on track.

First and foremost, it comes against the backdrop of the hopeful sign that the ceasefire is holding in eastern Ukraine, finally, which in turn opens the possibility to rev up the implementation of the other provisions of the Minsk accord.

Russia, of course, is particularly keen on the commencement of a political dialogue involving the representatives of the Ukrainian government and the separatists controlling parts of eastern region regarding constitutional reform that will help preserve Ukraine’s unity within a federal structure.

Second, Merkel is back on the scene reconnecting with Putin. They last spoke on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Brisbane (November 16-17). Theer has been some rough moments in the Russian-German equations lately and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov even had to gently tick off Berlin once publicly.

Merkel is also facing much criticism in the German opinion for mishandling the relations with Russia. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has long been an advocate of good German-Russian relations and has been manifestly unhappy about the current drift. Steinmeier has been getting a lot of flak from the German right and the hardline EU countries (Poland and the Baltic states) on this account.

Third, Hollande is increasingly on the driving seat on the European side. He visited Moscow a fortnight ago and would seem to have discussed some formula for easing the Ukraine crisis and thereupon set the ball rolling on reaching a settlement between Europe and Russia.

Most certainly by raising the issue of the Russia sanctions at the EU summit last Thursday, Hollande might have forewarned that it is inconceivable that the sanctions could be extended beyond the stipulated deadline of July, ie., six months ahead. Merkel too would have sensed that time is running out.

Fourth, the phone conversation on Monday took place even as Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev landed in Kiev. Kazakhstan is Russia’s close ally and quite obviously Nazarabayev went to Kiev on a mediatory mission following a phone conversation with Putin. He would have relayed some message from the Kremlin to Poroshenko.

Nazarbayev is due to meet Putin. At any rate, Poroshenko has just announced that the Ukraine Contact group will meet in Minsk tomorrow.

The thing to watch now will be Washington’s next move to undermine any peace process that might lead to a thaw in Russia’s relations with Europe. The Obama administration comes under pressure to do something quickly, since the renewal of the EU sanctions against Russia beyond July seems increasingly problematic.

The point is, European opinion is resenting America’s overbearing attitude and a recent survey showed that public opinion strongly favors Europe steering an independent foreign policy free of US interference.

By M K Bhadrakumar – December 23, 2014

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 24 2014 19:29 utc | 104

@okie farmer

I had to check the article as it seems the info is outdated from Nazarbayev's earlier visit in March 2014.

Merkel reconnects with Putin, Ukraine in sight

To my surprise, the date is correct but the facts of today seem to point in a direction of confrontation.

The division in Kiev seems healed as the Verkhovna Rada voted to join NATO and distance itself further from Moscow.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 24 2014 21:34 utc | 105

Commodities Cushioned From Crimea Crisis by Ample Supply

The prediction of March 2014 did not pan out …

"Coal reserves stand at 1.5 million tons compared with normal winter stocks of 4-5 million tons, according to energy ministry data. Ukraine has looked to buy in coal from abroad to restock depleted reserves, but potential supplies from Russia have been held up at the border.

Demchyshyn said he was holding talks with Russia's energy ministry and hoped that an agreement would be reached “in the near future” that would allow the more than 1,000 freight cars at the border to cross into Ukraine. He also said talks on power imports from Russia were in progress. Turning to Russia for supplies will be a blow for Kyiv, whose relations with the Kremlin are at an all-time low."

Ukraine Is A Long-Term Affair

Posted by: Oui | Dec 24 2014 21:35 utc | 106


I think you make a false assumption that public opinion has much effect on public policy either in Europe or the US. When the Ruling Class decides it needs public support it manufactures the needed consent with its many tools.

If further sanctions are needed against Russia the Europeans will fall in line as they nearly always do.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 24 2014 22:55 utc | 107

Russian Peacekeepers Will Officially Enter Donbass on December 28

Gee, that's a surprise. Won't the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate be happy.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 25 2014 0:26 utc | 108

Russian Spring


Evening message from Information Center of Novorossia:

Through the day signs were amiss that either the fascists units were withdrawing from territories of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics or heavy military hardware being backed off the line of contact.

Number of instances the Bandera adherents using weapons against the combatants were registered.

These took place in areas of Gorlovka (firearms and mortars, then tanks and artillery), Donetsk airport (mortar fire from settlement Peski)

Posted by: Fete | Dec 25 2014 4:15 utc | 109

*For the Cold War stalwarts among us there is something strange about rooting for someone other than the United States. There is something strange about rooting for the Russians to restore their empire. There is something strange about rooting for the Chinese over Taiwan. During the Second World War, the United States teamed up with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. As soon as the War was over, the United States switched alliances and teamed up with non-Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. For many years we believed that only the United States could save us from Communism. Now that the Cold War is over, we need to be saved from the United States. I know it seems odd to be looking for allies among the Russians, the Europeans and the Chinese. But, as they say, politics makes strange bedfellows.*
count the euros out tho.

Posted by: denk | Dec 25 2014 5:06 utc | 110


The problem with looking for allies to help save us from the US is that it is too easy to become an apologist for those saviors who have many of the same flaws that the US has.

This may be part of the whole 'cult of the Savior/Leader' that will never bring justice and liberty. We are on our own and must face that hard fact.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 25 2014 6:09 utc | 111

Russian Spring


Igor` Strelkov: The junta will “jump” at Crimea in spring (video):

Question: Ukraine has officially canceled its non-block status in aspiration of being built into NATO framework

Strelkov: The war has not stopped yet and, in contrary, it is being extended. This is what the Ukrainian forces are being readied for. The help from West will allow Ukraine to carry on a full scale military campaign.

The recent claims from a number of our so called negotiators that Ukraine may settle peacefully and some progress is likely within the framework of Minsk aggrements do not reflect the reality.

Ukraine converges the army, ramps up its combat potential, receives large shipments of Westerns weapons - tanks, APCs, systems of salvo fire, heavy artillery – and, anticipating to solve the Novorossia issue by force only in spring, is not going to yield in negotiations. Then, Crimea will inevitably follow.

In principle, the Crimea aggression has already started, for Ukraine is forming combat units from Russian nazis who turned to its territory and openly consider, after victorious ending of war in Donbass, incursion on territory of Russia…

Question: According to your experience at what frontiers should the defenders of Donbass stop in thier opposition to Kiev junta?

Strelkov: As a military person, I say the frontiers must be defined by the results of offensives. I assume that without full defeat of the army of the junta and that military-political system established in Kiev stopping at any frontiers is impractical, because the opponent will use any new frontier to recompose its forces, for recovery, receiving more aid from West including troops of so called Ukraine allies from NATO (this process has been started and will unfold towards the spring). Therefore, the uncompromised defeat of the junta ensures the peace in Novorossia. And then, after this full defeat, it is alright to determine borders of Novorossia and Ukraine…

Posted by: Fete | Dec 26 2014 5:20 utc | 112

fete - thanks for the overview and perspective.

Posted by: james | Dec 26 2014 7:01 utc | 113

Wayoutwest 111

u should stay at cif.
its not as if u've learned anything here.

Posted by: denk | Dec 26 2014 8:29 utc | 114

The Bear Squeezes Back: Ruble Rises Against Dollar:

'Except that on December 17, the Russian Central Bank intervened in the foreign exchange market to support the value of the ruble. By selling from its deep U.S. dollar reserves, the Russians were able to drive up the value of the ruble, forcing speculators to take huge losses. The new headline was "Ruble Surges."

'Later last week, and again to start the week of December 22, the ruble has been gaining ground against the dollar. The engineer of the turnaround is Ms. Elvira Nabiullina [13], Governor of the Bank of Russia, the first woman to head a G8 central bank, and formerly economic adviser to Putin.

By defeating attempts to drive its currency down, the Russian Central Bank had executed a procedure known as a "bear squeeze," the bears being those who believed the ruble would fall in value. Feeding this belief was major misinformation, and misunderstanding of the Russian economic and financial situation.'

Posted by: brian | Dec 26 2014 10:10 utc | 115

Absolutely worth the read. I guess we all should be practicing the hide under your desk for protection against a nuclear blast protocol again. Time to dust off the incoming nuclear ballistic missle mega air horns...oh joy, life on planet earth is truly sublime...

Posted by: really | Dec 26 2014 13:02 utc | 116

"United States switched alliances and teamed up with non-Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union …"

Non-nazi? I read it differently with the Gladio actors, Croatians and the Banderists in Ukraine.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 26 2014 13:56 utc | 117

A key round of peace talks between Ukraine's government and pro-Russian rebels, due to take place in Minsk on Friday, has been called off, Belarusian officials say.

No immediate reason was given by the Belarusian foreign ministry.

The talks had begun on Wednesday to try to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine which has left 4,700 dead.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 26 2014 16:48 utc | 118

VISA card end Crimea ties

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 26 2014 16:57 utc | 119

@119 visa and mastercard - another extension of the bankster's mafia.

Posted by: james | Dec 26 2014 18:03 utc | 120


This ruble rebound is what is called a 'Dead Man's Bounce' aided by massive Russian govt buying that cannot be sustained. The fundamentals haven't changed and unless oil prices rebound dramatically they won't, expect another correction when the buying ceases.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 26 2014 18:11 utc | 121

Don't know whether to believe this?

Iran Nuclear Agreement Finalized, to Be Announced in Coming Month!

Mohamed Salami

The exstension of the nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers (P5+1) has been consensually viewed as a clear reflection of all the parties' intentions to pursue the peaceful track of the negotiations in preparation for finalizing and announcing the agreement in the coming period.

In an interview with Al-Manar TV, the Iranian strategic expert Amir Mousawi asserted that the content of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers has been concluded in preparation for its announcement in the coming months.

Dr. Mousawi added that the announcement of the agreement was postponed for a number of reasons and factors.

He noted that some internal political considerations imposed on the US administration in addition to the pressures exerted by the Zionist entity, Turkey and the Gulf countries contributed mainly to the extension of the nuclear talks.
Dr. MoAmir Mousawiusawi explained that Saudi Arabia led the forces which oppose the nuclear agreement and that it exerted heavy pressures on the US Congress and on the influential political forces in the United States in order to extend the N-talks.

The Iranian strategic expert said that the direct attendance of the Saudi Foreign Minister Saod al-Faisal in Vienna talks and his meeting with Lavrov in Russia aimed at convincing the world powers to postpone the announcement of the nuclear talks in order for Riyadh to be able to settle its disputes with Tehran earlier.

"If Saudi Arabia settled its disagreements with Iran after the nuclear deal, it would appear as subject to the Iranian will and power."

For its part, Ankara has benefited from the international sanctions against Tehran as huge financial amounts have been transacted through the Turkish banks, so it also pressured the world powers to extend the nuclear talks, according to Mousawi.

"The Zionist entity also employed all its diplomatic capacities to postpone the deal because it threatens its political and security interests in the Middle East."

Dr. Amir Mousawi pointed out all these pressures will fail to frustrate the deal in the coming months because Europe has been suffering grave losses due to the sanctions against Iran whose market represents a bad need for the European goods.

The Iranian strategic expert considered that the world powers do not have any option but to employ diplomacy in approaching their relations with Tehran, adding that the successive defeats that the American-Zionist coalition in the region deactivated all its military plots against Iran and its allies.

Mousawi clarified that since the takfiri plot in the region has failed, all its supporters, including the US administration, will try to end all the points of dispute with Tehran before finalizing the nuclear deal.

He also stressed that Iran has damaged the structure of the sanctions, pursued its nuclear program and managed to retain its assets that were frozen in the Western banks, noting that Tehran will obtain 5 billion $ during the coming 7 months).

On the other hand, the Iranian expert considered that the Western powers, failed to contrive any achievement in its political and diplomatic conflict with Iran.

Finally, Dr. Amir Mousawi highlighted that the Iranian political gains include also the image of world powers meeting at the same hall to discuss all the world troubles with Iran's officials after long years of antagonism.

Source: Al-Manar Website
25-11-2014 - 20:45 Last updated 26-11-2014 - 09:55

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 26 2014 18:13 utc | 122

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