AP, December 28
Kabul, Afghanistan – The United States and NATO formally ended their war in Afghanistan on Sunday with a ceremony at their military headquarters in Kabul as the insurgency they fought for 13 years remains as ferocious and deadly as at any time since the 2001 invasion that unseated the Taliban regime following the Sept. 11 attacks.
The symbolic ceremony marked the end of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force, which will transition to a supporting role with 13,500 soldiers, most of them American, starting Jan. 1.
Gen. John Campbell, commander of ISAF, rolled up and sheathed the green and white ISAF flag and unfurled the flag of the new international mission, called Resolute Support.
“Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of an enduring partnership” between NATO and Afghanistan, Campbell told an audience of Afghan and international military officers and officials, as well as diplomats and journalists.
Aiming a barb at NATO, Putin’s new military doctrine says Russia could use precision weapons as ‘strategic deterrent’.
AP, December 26
Russia identified NATO as the nation’s No. 1 military threat and raised the possibility of a broader use of precision conventional weapons to deter foreign aggression under a new military doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
NATO flatly denied it was a threat to Russia and accused Russia of undermining European security.
The new doctrine, which comes amid tensions over Ukraine, reflects the Kremlin’s readiness to take a stronger posture in response to what it sees as the U.S.-led efforts to isolate and weaken Russia.
The paper maintains the provisions of the previous, 2010 edition of the military doctrine regarding the use of nuclear weapons.
It says Russia could use nuclear weapons in retaliation for the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, and also in the case of aggression involving conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence” of the Russian state.
For the first time, the new doctrine says Russia could use precision weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures,” without spelling out when and how Moscow could resort to them.
It seems I was wrong: Obama (and Putin) apparently do want a deal:
Top diplomats meeting here on the Ukraine crisis Thursday agreed that all parties, including separatists and their Russian backers, would stop violent and provocative acts, and that all illegal groups would be disarmed.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said those steps must begin within days to be taken seriously, and President Obama was openly skeptical of Russian intentions.
The potential diplomatic breakthrough, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov referred to as “a compromise, of sorts,” came after nearly seven hours of negotiations among Lavrov, Kerry, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
This is genuinely good news. The Nelson Reports’ reaction is after the jump for those inclined. One note: wouldn’t it be interesting if at some point in the near future people start talking of Finlandizing the Ukraine? While that’s not an optimal long term solution it sure as hell beats a civil war in the Ukraine.
Why is no one willing to consider making the Ukraine a buffer state? The West gives up its idea to have it be a part of NATO and Russia allows the Ukraine to become, let’s call it, Finlandized.
Ask yourself that question. Look at the situation at large.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I have some ideas. I should not be surprised at Western/American recalcitrance and yet I still am, because the risks of this getting out of hand so far outweigh the rewards of having the Ukraine in the US orbit? When you think at it that way, it really is all about making sure Russia stays with its back against the wall.
I say all this as prefatory remarks to tonight’s Nelson Report which is just hard to digest.
Look, I’m not a fan of RT. I was once asked to come on one of the shows and I politely declined, which might have been dumb, but I just had qualms about going onto a foreign propaganda outlet funded by a foreign government that is a rival of my own government to bash my own government. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll go on an American propaganda outlet or TV show any time and complain about the US government, but to do so on RT? That’s just in bad taste in my personal opinion.
All that being said, wow, I’m surprised Obama has stooped so low as to say that what we did in Iraq wasn’t as bad as what the Russians did in the Crimea. That’s just astonishing. Sometimes it’s just better to shut up and not say anything that to say something that baldfaced hypocritical. There are literally thousands of dead Iraqis blood on American hands. How many have died in Crimea? Really, sometimes it’s just better to shut the fuck up. In the annals of shitty justifications this one is pretty close to #1.
In a surprise move, Secretary of State John Kerry was heard to offer Russia membership of NATO in order to defuse the Ukraine situation. In an aside to the Russian Ambassador he was heard to say:
If Russia were a member of NATO then there would be no encirclement of Russia from sea to shining sea.
24 Hours later, it appears that President Putin has seized on the idea and embraced it, in a similar manner to the defusing of the Syrian saturation where John Kerry suggested that Syrians give up their poison gas stockpile.
Putin has responded positively to the suggestion to defuse tension and remove any threat by Russia to Ukraine and Western Europe over “technical difficulties” of natural gas deliveries passing through Ukraine.
I have class today. Yes, grad school on a Saturday. So light blogging.
Regardless, the world goes on. Especially in the Crimea. Lot’s happening.
Putin seeks Ukraine troop deployment
Lots of people freaking out about Putin’s request for what is essentially a Russian version of our AUMF, as were requested for Afghanistan and Iraq.
Lots of hypocrisy. Tell me, who will be the first pontificator to cite the seminal George Kennan essay, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.”
D’oh, 8:03 this morning this tweeter sourced Kennan:
Can we please move past the Cold War mindset? Please? Pretty please?
Be sure to check my twitter feed. We are trying to get it integrated to posts here.
Troops are moving into the Crimea. Things are moving fast.
Obama’s bluff has been called by Putin. What will Obama do? Fulminate. Cancel his appearance at Sochi G-8 and in the end nothing.
Why? Because we have no vital interests in the Ukraine, as I have long said. Russia would have been happy with a buffer state. Now, we’ll get a partition. Good work DC policy makers. You are the misery multipliers of geopolitics.
And then there is this tweet:
Metz is a smart man, but this? No. NATO’s continued Eastward push is exactly what has brought us to this point. Not some phantom Russian neo-imperialism.
Apparently the Russians have sent 2,000 extra troops to one of their bases in the Crimea.
Let me spell a few things out for you.
The United States, the EU and NATO will not lift a finger for the Ukraine.
The United States, the EU and NATO will, if push comes to shove, acquiesce in the partitioning of the Ukraine.
The United States, the EU and NATO will not offer the Ukraine any serious amounts of cash. They have not done so up to this point. They offered the Ukraine $700 million. In contrast the Russians offered $15 billion.
That being said, I’m pretty sure the US/EU/NATO would offer the Ukraine loans at usurious rates backed by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank
The media is now calling Russia a bully.
Yeah, and the United States just waged aggressive war against Iraq because we’re nice people, right?
The rhetoric will only get more infantilizing. Why? Because Russia doesn’t need the West and this absolutely infuriates DC policy elites. They cannot handle the fact that the US cannot push everyone around. They cannot stomach the fact that someone is pushing back.
And they are going to scream, and cry, and piss and moan and meanwhile, the people of the Ukraine will suffer. The good news is this: they’ll suffer less than if the US got involved. If we got involved, the suffering and death and chaos would be much greater.
This is the centrist viewpoint (from the Nelson Report) in DC regarding the Ukraine:
SUMMARY: the only unambiguously good news we can report on Ukraine is that US Embassy dependents and “non-essential” staff seem to be safely evacuated, many to Warsaw, where by all accounts US Emb Warsaw has done a fabulous job setting up host families, food, even play groups for the children all ready to go.
That’s about it.
Some observers here, if not also in Europe, warn that “the West” may be underestimating Vladimir Putin, mistakenly assuming that he won’t use force to try and resolve the situation. In fact, expert Loyal Readers assure us, the Administration fully appreciates that losing Russia’s version of Ukraine is simply not acceptable to Putin.
Buffer states, as I have hitherto mentioned, tend not to last long. 75-150 years? In today’s world that’s good enough for me.
And it should be good enough for the Ukraine as well. It’ll provide Russia the strategic depth it needs and allow the Ukraine to pursue and independent path economically.
Here’s the catch, however, the US has to give up its maximalist demands. (I’m pretty sure Putin is savvy enough to see this is in his best interest too.) Question is: do US elites have the imagination for such a solution?
Or the courage?