The United States(!) of A

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factotum started the topic in Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 11:12am

Septic Tanks are going to Septic Tank

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etarip Monday, 12 Sep 2022 at 8:59pm

Frog - the proposition in Kherson (south) is much more difficult for a counter-attack. The Ukrainians have been talking it up for at least a month before kick off. Looks like it worked and the Russians shifted a lot of forces to reinforce that area, resulting in weakness in the north that the Ukrainians exploited. That’s not going to win the war though.

The problems for the Russians in the south are that they have a lot of troops (~20K) on the western side of the Dnipro river and there’s only two barely functional bridges to resupply them that are constantly being interdicted and / or cut. The figures of required supply vs actual supply don’t look good. Fuel, ammo, food - just the basics that you need to fight.

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Supafreak Monday, 12 Sep 2022 at 8:59pm

Can anyone see putin getting bumped off by someone wanting to take over as leader ? Then ending the war and becoming popular ? Popular but probably not trusted .

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etarip Monday, 12 Sep 2022 at 9:11pm

Theres some conjecture that the only people who would be likely to bump off / depose Putin are the ‘hardliners’ who’ve been critical of his soft approach.

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velocityjohnno Monday, 12 Sep 2022 at 10:06pm

Continuing to quietly follow this, it appears the Ukrainians have had some great success. Clip above seems to be Russian talking heads beginning to turn on each other.

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frog Monday, 12 Sep 2022 at 11:29pm

What seems the case in MSM headlines may not be so. It pays to mix your sources to see a bit better through the fog of war.

The above link is to a more or less balanced but Russian-leaning commentator - no flashy production but well researched. He suggests that Ukraine attacked where Russia had already planned and begun a retreat already back to a more easily defendable river. They were leaving behind an area that had been hard to defend and over time had been seen as of little benefit. The move was too fast and with too little fighting to be a head to head battle victory.

Fast forward over a lot of territory by Ukraine means over extended lines vulnerable to air attacks and or pincer moves etc.

He also says that the last few days are terrible short term optics for Russia in the info / morale war. So that is a big cost to Russia.

But there may be a master plan behind it - particularly with winter coming.

One viewer comment said:

"Rails stop functioning throughout karkhiv after strikes on electricity infrastructure. Fuel storage also blown out. Lights out across other part of Ukraine too. Logistics for Ukraine offensive in karkhiv destroyed in less than a day, Russia was capable of doing this earlier but they intentionally allowed Ukraine advance deep into contested regions in karkhiv. Ukraine fell for a big trap."

That may be totally wrong but western media would not even discuss such possibilities. Both the west and Russia will have set traps of various sorts and scales. Traps upon traps. Like a chess game, slow action actually can just be the setting of pieces then things move quickly. That time is coming soon I suspect.

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etarip Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 4:55am

Ah, the old feint! Like the debacle in Kyiv. This is retrospective justification. Russian fallback to the Oskil river wasn’t planned. They lost towns that they’d spent months fighting for. In days. Where exactly are Russia getting the resources from to spring this trap? They WERE over extended. They still are.

Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure and population centres in Kharkiv days after the Ukrainian advance was more of a hissy fit than sound military logic. And untimely it used a stack of ‘precision’ munitions to turn out the lights for a couple of hours.

You’re right in one respect. There’s plenty of space for deception in this war. I’m just not sure that both sides are evenly matched in that regard.

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frog Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:27am

One thing is for sure, is that the west and zelensky have overwhelmingly won the information war with a sustained wall of positivity that would make even Joe T and the WSL blush.

In the early days, I could almost picture the ex hollywood script writers recruited by the CIA frothing at the mouth at their chance to finally plant their pre prepared morale boosting stories - Ghost of Kiev, Snake Island FU story, the meme that you can see Zelensky's balls from space, staged mini battle victory vids that ooops .... got lazy and used the same background over and over.

Bias is expected but when it all goes too far it just creates deep scepticism.

Zelensky deserves an Oscar for his efforts to stay in the headlines and keep the cash and weapons flowing.

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AndyM Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:39am

You’re onto it Frog.

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etarip Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 8:53am

BREAKING NEWS!!!

Leader of country under invasion, facing existential threat, uses information warfare to mobilise population and foreign support…

JFC. What do you expect them to do? What I can’t get about you is how you seem genuinely disappointed that the Ukrainians didn’t just roll over and cop it sweet.

And do you think this is one-sided? Have you spent any time looking at the story from the Russian media angle - check out the Russia Media Monitor link I posted earlier. It’s got coverage of stories that go all the way back to pre-invasion. From Russian state media. Exactly the same kind of BS stories. Have you seen the Kadyrovite videos of ‘battles’ that were geolocated to have been staged in Russia. (Do you know who Kadyrov is?)

Exactly the same. But guess what? It won the ‘information war’ in Russia.

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garyg1412 Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:07am
velocityjohnno wrote:

https://twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews/status/1569070513909022720

Continuing to quietly follow this, it appears the Ukrainians have had some great success. Clip above seems to be Russian talking heads beginning to turn on each other.

A few of those talking heads might be jumping out a hospital window soon or having their undies tampered with!!!

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velocityjohnno Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 10:37am

A couple more, discussion of performance of Russian air force (disclaimer: he may have not included that their doctrine is different from that of a Western air-superiority campaign)

There are also discussions on how tanks have performed, infantry tactics, how platforms like HIMARS have enabled a strategy of denial in withdrawing for the Ukrainians prior to this offensive, etc. Easy enough to find.

Latest ISW maps of theatre:

https://twitter.com/TheStudyofWar

When it comes to sourcing, haven't come across many of these before and generally everything pro-Western will be countered by pro-Russian sources. Everything is going to have bias and slant - I since found analysis that the Russian fellow in above vid functions like a 'controlled liberal' source on their news media, to present the debaucherous, Western views on air to be debunked. They are the masters of information, as we know.
There is no doubt the Russian military will have regarded the spread eastward of NATO/EU applicants with concern over the last 30 years - but, how about not invading in the first place? The great tragedy is that cousins are fighting.

One thing mentioned in latest victory/calculated withdrawal is that it's the biggest amount of land taken in an offensive since the 1973 Yom Kippur war when the IDF had great success.

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AndyM Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 5:59pm
etarip wrote:

BREAKING NEWS!!!

Leader of country under invasion, facing existential threat, uses information warfare to mobilise population and foreign support…

JFC. What do you expect them to do? What I can’t get about you is how you seem genuinely disappointed that the Ukrainians didn’t just roll over and cop it sweet.

And do you think this is one-sided? Have you spent any time looking at the story from the Russian media angle - check out the Russia Media Monitor link I posted earlier. It’s got coverage of stories that go all the way back to pre-invasion. From Russian state media. Exactly the same kind of BS stories. Have you seen the Kadyrovite videos of ‘battles’ that were geolocated to have been staged in Russia. (Do you know who Kadyrov is?)

Exactly the same. But guess what? It won the ‘information war’ in Russia.

I think like Frog was saying, it goes a fair bit deeper than just the "leader of the country under invasion".
This was pretty obvious from the start and the western propaganda made the whole thing pretty pointless to engage with beyond an entertainment level.
Any average punter who thinks they know what's going on in Ukraine is kidding themselves.
And the same went for Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya etc etc.

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frog Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 7:59pm

And.... that is just the way they want it.

It must be a bit soul destroying being a journalist covering geopolitics these days for the MSM. Half the staff are probably on the spook payroll The other half worry about who in the office is a spook and who is not and ponder why they have not been approached yet to get a bit of that spooky retainer payola.

All dutifully rewrite the official press releases handed to them and head to the bar - many mildly depressed but others just content to count the dollars and enjoy the blue pill.

Self censorship is way better than the old fashioned cold war commo censorship. It is less noticeable and more credible to the masses.

But they lay the aoproved memes on so thick that it has a sort of bad smell about it if you do nore than scan headlines.

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etarip Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:03pm

Jesus. That was an underwhelming couple of posts.

AndyM: what is your point? I can’t for the life of me work out what the hell you’re trying to say. Was Ukraine NOT invaded? Did Russia not change its own narrative multiple times, including reference (literally!) to cultural genocide in state media? ‘Western propaganda’??? You still cannot acknowledge that both sides are playing an information war? Direct question for you: have you watched any of the Russian Media Monitor clips? Follow on question: do you characterize that as propaganda?

Frog: name one “MSM” source that I’ve linked to. If you don’t like the abc / smh / Oz/ nbc / cnn / Fox versions, go find something else. There’s lots out there. Lots of balanced, well researched and credible references. Read stuff that challenges your own bias. Direct question for you, that I asked earlier on in the thread: did US arms exports precipitate Russia’s undeclared invasion of the Donbas in 2014?

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Rabbits68 Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:06pm

“Any average punter who thinks they know what's going on in Ukraine is kidding themselves.”

Yes that is true.

Happy to be corrected but pretty sure that etarip said he served in Afghanistan? Either way I’m personally intrigued reading his contributions regarding this issue. Cheers.

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AndyM Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:23pm

You seem overly emotional etarip, maybe time for a bex and a lie down.

"have you watched any of the Russian Media Monitor clips?"
Nope. Initially I had a look at news covering Ukraine (ABC, Guardian, SBS) when it started but it was so ridiculous I gave up after a few days. It was like satire.

"Follow on question: do you characterize that as propaganda?"
I can't imagine it's not biased or distorted in some way.

And what's my point?
Maybe Frog said it best - "Bias is expected but when it all goes too far it just creates deep scepticism."
If you believe, you're being duped.
If you're a deep sceptic you disengage.
Lose/lose.

Finally - Frog says "Self censorship is way better than the old fashioned cold war commo censorship. It is less noticeable and more credible to the masses."
Also, another way it's not like censorship or propaganda like in the past is that just the sheer volume of information/disinformation coming out is propaganda in itself. Any scrap of truth gets buried.

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etarip Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:35pm

Nah mate, not emotional. Just informed.
Which, judging by your own admission, you’re not. Which is cool, I just don’t understand why you make the comments that you do. Hence, why I challenge them.
“I say that there is no darkness but ignorance”
Twelfth night, Act 4 Sc 2.

Rabbits - yup, I did serve in Afghanistan and a couple of other places. That shouldn’t infer any particular credibility tho. I guess I’m trying to provide an informed (and I hope) balanced perspective on these events based on my experience, exposure and education. Where I draw my info from in most cases is from published material. There’s a bit of overlap with stuff that other people are posting too.

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Rabbits68 Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:38pm

“Rabbits - yup, I did serve in Afghanistan and a couple of other places. That shouldn’t infer any particular credibility tho. I guess I’m trying to provide an informed (and I hope) balanced perspective on these events based on my experience, exposure and education. Where I draw my info from in most cases is from published material. There’s a bit of overlap with stuff that other people are posting too.”

That makes pretty good sense to me. Thanks for your input & service.

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etarip Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 9:42pm

Just saw your edits AndyM. I guess my response to yours is, I don’t expect the MSM to give me anything remotely unbiased. Sure, be a sceptic but base that on something other than a glancing exposure to breathless coverage of the latest spark in a news cycle.

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Jelly Flater Tuesday, 13 Sep 2022 at 10:02pm

https://m.

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AndyM Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 5:55am

The thing is etarip, I’m totally ignorant and acknowledging it.
This seems better to me then wasting my time developing a Dunning Kruger mindset whereby I kid myself that I’m informed.

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frog Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:14am

etarip, on the MSM, much of it is accurate or sort of, but it is what is left out, the lack of discussion of anything negative to the dominant memes and the obvious super strong messaging on some dominant themes that disturbs.

Two simple examples:

1. From the moment the war began, the word "unprovoked" was added in incredible frequency in front of the words "war" and "Invasion" throughout every story. There was clearly ample provocation but the media jumped on board a major effort, as if by instruction, to create a total goody versus baddie theme and to distance the west from any responsibility.

This is not just annoying, it is super dangerous to the Ukraine and the world, as it creates very poor basis for decision making on possible moves towards a peaceful negotiated outcome. It sweeps causes and effects under the carpet. Not good.

2. In 2014 The Guardian openly discussed the neo Nazi element in the Ukraine:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/10/azov-far-right-fighters-uk...

In 2022 any mention of such elements was avoided as much as possible or they were re-classified and sort of right leaning guys who just like having tattoos and talk a bit tough in the locker room but were basically goodies to be supported cause they were fighting the rusky baddies.

A little disturbing.

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Distracted Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:40am

The discussions about the Wests involvement in Ukraine and a whether it was an “invasion” or not, forgets about the people of Ukraine.
Millions of people fled Ukraine due to fear of potential Russian oppression. Those fears have proven to be totally justified with thousands of civilian deaths. If that is not an invasion what is it?
Don’t disagree there is a serious issue with neo-nazis in Ukraine, but that is not why Russia invaded, they wanted the resources and to destroy the Ukraine economy.

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etarip Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 7:50am

Thanks AndyM.

Frog, I don’t disagree with you on the failings of the media to present issues in a complex or nuanced way. But that goes both ways too.

Provocation: Russia position is usually simplified and its basis or justification for its invasion given some kind of credibility. This defies centuries of philosophical work, which forms the basis of modern international law, drawing on the Just War theory of St Augustine. This describes reasons for war (jus ad bellum), actions in war (jus in bello) and post war (jus post bellum). On the basis of the first of those, the invasion was unprovoked and unjust. As an example, two basic tests (among others) are whether a threat is imminent, what the scale of the ‘threat’ is and whether the response is proportionate to that ‘threat’. Now, by any rational analysis, none of those three tests was met.
Hence why this is simplified in the media to ‘an unprovoked invasion’

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Jelly Flater Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 8:35am

‘Just War theory’ ;)
… ‘rational analysis’ ;);)

Maybe just philosophical groundhog day:

https://m.

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frog Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 8:58am

Etarip, Interesting perspective.

It may be a technically correct way to consider the term "provocation" but, even so, the over simplification that follows matters a lot. It acts to obscure cause, effect and so discouraged attempts to negotiate peace way back in early 2022. Most wars end through either negotiation or a sort of stalemate - not victory. There is usually give and take on both sides rightly or wrongly - just reality.

The war was not an inevitability with unstoppable momentum due to bad mad Puti. As you have said, the US saw it as an "incredible opportunity" and, as the most active geopolitical player in the world, with fingers in every pie, does not ever ignore "incredible opportunities". Responsibility for current events is well spread.

The same problem of simplistic messaging and the media stepping into propaganda mode happened with Covid. For example, the endlessly repeated fear-inducing phrase "this deadly disease" - an ABC favourite - or similar (supposedly for the greater good by encouraging compliance) created an environment of fear disproportionate to the facts which led to some very poor decisions and massive unintended consequences.

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etarip Wednesday, 14 Sep 2022 at 10:39am

JF - I’ve never attempted to justify or condone the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. By the same basis it failed the test. It was also a geostrategic mistake (that was exploited by its competitors).

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Wilhelm Scream Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 2:45pm
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DudeSweetDudeSweet Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 6:45pm
Wilhelm Scream wrote:

https://multipolarista.com/2022/09/13/us-251-military-interventions-1991/

US can be naughty for sure.

One question….

Does the article above mention that the US sacrificed a large percentage of its most capable and able bodied male progeny whilst voluntarily defending the vulnerable globe from fascistic aggression a couple of times?

Maybe it was innocently overlooked in the raw data!

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etarip Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 8:22pm

“Vicarious experiences of oppression are thoroughly commodified and disseminated among people who aren’t actually experiencing direct colonial oppression. People on the left can buy into this just like people on the right. And if you identify your own oppressor as the US government, it’s easy to conflate that government with all colonial oppression. Whichever side the US takes then becomes the bad guys, and the enemy — even when they’re murderous authoritarian nationalists like Putin or Syria’s Bashar al-Assad — becomes the resistance.”
….

“Finally, it’s worth emphasizing the value of straightforward solidarity. Chomsky is pretty clearly well-intentioned; he wants what’s best for Ukraine. But he gets so tangled in his own talking points about NATO expansionism and his own obsession with US hegemony that he misses the main point. Russia invaded; Ukrainians resisted. When colonized people resist, you should support them. Insisting you know better than those directly affected is presumptuous. It’s also imperialist. The left should avoid it.”

Decent read. Topical given the back and forth over the past few weeks / months.

https://aaronrupar.substack.com/p/chomsky-greenwald-unkraine-anti-anti-p...

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sypkan Thursday, 15 Sep 2022 at 8:43pm

yeh I know, Thiel is some kind of nutty billionaire libertarian...

and he's talking at the nutter convention...

but he's on the money here

"...Thiel opened the conference with what, considering the circumstances, amounted to a contrarian speech. The topic of his address was California, which in recent years has become a standard conservative punching bag. But Thiel’s diagnosis of the problem was different. In his view, the main problem with California is that, like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, it is the victim of a “resource curse”. That is, the wealth generated from California’s tech sector is so tremendous that it ends up distorting the state’s entire political economy. “Wokeness”, he posited, plays the same role as Wahabbism in the similarly afflicted Saudi Arabia. There is, of course, a minority — “maybe 20%” of true believers — but mostly it is a sort of lip service that Machiavellian elites pay to a system of values that allows them to keep the whole corrupt machine running. 

The problem with the Democratic Party, Thiel argued, is that it is effectively trapped in the California model — a fabulously wealthy and productive oligarchy on top, public-sector bureacurats in the middle, and a feral underclass dependent on government transfers on the bottom. But that model can’t go national — there isn’t enough money in the tech sector to go around. 

Thiel also issued a word of warning to Republicans. The current GOP, he said, is stuck in a pure “nihilistic negation” of the Democrats’ California model — railing against wokeness, urban crime, and faeces on the streets of San Francisco, without even attempting to offer a positive model to counter it. Even red state success stories like Texas and Florida, he noted, have seen speculative bonanzas in real estate and permanently rising housing prices in cities like Austin and Miami, suggesting that neither Greg Abbott nor Ron DeSantis have figured out a truly sustainable model for middle class prosperity..."

https://unherd.com/thepost/peter-thiel-wokeness-is-like-wahhabism/

the middle ground is there for the taking...

not so much the 'middle class', ...but the middle political ground

trump had several chances to take it, and cement it, but he blew it, pandering to his nutty extremes

and now biden is doing the same

both increasing divisiveness in the process, and missing a huge political opportunity... it beggars belief how both parties can be so so politically dumb...

trumpians are never going to vote democrats, and wokeians are never going to vote republicans

those votes are a given

whoever harnesses the middle ground is onto a many term winner

but they don't...

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frog Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 8:59am

etarip, I am not knowledgeable about arms shipments in 2014. But to summarise my views as an armchair skim reader of stuff and observer without writing too many words:

Factors driving the decision to invade could crudely be viewed as a 3 legged stool.
1. issues relating to NATO encroachment of the Ukrainian buffer zone running alongside a multi-decade US / UK overt (openly discussed especially in the US) and subvert intent to weaken hopefully break Russia up (which has been a theme for 100 years).
2. Putin's desire to bring into Russia's control the resource rich east and south of the Ukraine.
3. A soup of less clear cut motivations and complex issues, events (often in dispute as to the real facts) such as protecting Russian speaking peoples in the east, Putin's views on Russia's historical place in the world, need to get water into the Crimea (blow up a dam) etc. that one can get lost in trying to unravel.

Without all three legs the stool may not have been able to stand up.

That is not to say legs 2 and 3 could well have been enough (especially 2) on their own. However, Putin is quite cautious and could well have been discouraged without so many factors at work.

Probably an avoidable tragedy. Terrible outcome for the Ukraine. Nuclear war risk highest in decades. The economic blowback of sanctions on the west and many other scattered countries and peoples is building to potentially huge proportions.

I would much prefer leg 1 never existed and the Ukraine had instead been actively positioned as a neutral buffer zone by NATO/ UK /US.

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garyg1412 Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 10:47am
DudeSweetDudeSweet wrote:
Wilhelm Scream wrote:

https://multipolarista.com/2022/09/13/us-251-military-interventions-1991/

US can be naughty for sure.

One question….

Does the article above mention that the US sacrificed a large percentage of its most capable and able bodied male progeny whilst voluntarily defending the vulnerable globe from fascistic aggression a couple of times?

Maybe it was innocently overlooked in the raw data!

Which fascists would those be??

They sure had a hard on for Central & South America.

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AndyM Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 10:58am

Some would argue that the U.S. haven't fought a just war in 70 years.

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garyg1412 Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 11:08am
AndyM wrote:

Some would argue that the U.S. haven't fought a just war in 70 years.

Some would argue that they never won any of them either.

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AndyM Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 11:15am

The U.S. might be able to blow things up but it is pretty poor at achieving political goals.
Also, it just hasn't got the skills to deal with what could be called civil conflicts as opposed to outright war.

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frog Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 11:37am

When your home is nicely geographically isolated and rich in resources, chaos / fragmentation / weakness elsewhere can be very profitable.

What appears to be poor outcomes of policy and intervention may be plan B. The Middle East got plan B. So did South America. And the Balkans and Mexico.

Plan A step in line. If not, you might just get Plan B - both are acceptable outcomes for the exceptionals.

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AndyM Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 11:43am

Yeah I expect there's a hierarchy there -
1. friendly diplomacy
2. casual trade persuasion
3. trade sanctions
4. soft coup
5. armed overthrow
6. war

I believe that Australia has experienced level 4.

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gsco Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 12:11pm

Could be viewed that the US has done pretty well in achieving its political goals by settling for frog’s plan b.

Unless a country is willing to convert into a liberal democracy and market economy that accepts the international rules based order, allow US corporations and media free reign to run rampant over it, allow the US to set up military bases on it, etc, like we do in Aus, then the US leaves the country looted, broken, war torn, politically and economically fractured and divided, industrially backwards, in civil war, etc, and set back decades in development.

Doing this makes sense in order to maintain hegemony. We’re now seeing the implications of mistakes being made in this regard with Russia and China.

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AndyM Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 12:44pm

"Unless a country is willing to convert into a liberal democracy and market economy... "
The U.S. is quite happy to either install or leave military dictatorships in place if it suits them.
That's one of the bigger myths, that the States do it for liberalism, democracy and freedom.

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gsco Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 12:59pm

True, leaves the country broken with a “puppet” dictator, although I’d argue that’s as politically fractured as any other outcome.

To put things in a more positive stance, the US is very generous to and is willing to help develop and even defend countries and governments that try to embrace ideas like democracy, liberalism, capitalism, open trade and investment , etc, such as Taiwan.

Under Deng Xiaoping China was starting to embrace ideas like this, but has changed course under Xi Jinping, and that’s a major cause for the war now (rightly) being waged on China.

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flollo Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 2:17pm

I love how all the US criticism forgets to provide a geopolitical context during specific times, especially the long years of the cold war. There is an attempt by some to create a perception that US always interrupted prosperous, peaceful countries which didn't have any other foreign influence. Like USSR didn't exist and had its own agenda and geopolitics is not an ongoing competitive landscape. Maybe they should've left it alone and maybe we or our neighbors would be an aggressive authoritarian and communist enclave where speaking out about certain topics would sentence you to forced labor.

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AndyM Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 3:35pm

Flollo - Don't get me wrong, I'd prefer the U.S. to be the local bully rather than Russia or China but let's not by blind as to how they often go about business.
And I'm not sure that the U.S. beating their rivals to the punch with regards to influence on the ground absolves them of their quite appalling track record in so many places.
In other words, I'm sure there are dozens of countries around the world that wouldn't by in to that false dichotomy in your last sentence.

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flollo Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 6:20pm

On that dichotomy - yes many would not agree that such extreme dichotomy is the only solution. But I used it as an extreme response to another extreme - that US is this evil oppressor that doesn't allow anyone to breathe. The truth is somewhere in the middle and grey. It's complex and multivariate.

I will never forget NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. I see it mentioned all the time, especially by those supporting Russians and obviously Serbs. They present it as the evidence of US imperialism with the narrative of waking up one morning and all of a sudden, bombs were falling on their heads. However, for those on the other side - Croats, Bosnians, Albanians (especially those living in Kosovo) it brought an end to the evil regime that waged war for 9 years. The regime that plundered, held concentration camps and committed genocides. US (and others) were involved in the war for years (and good they were otherwise it would be way worse), they didn't just wake up one morning in 1999 and started bombing Serbia. But that's exactly how it is presented in certain circles.

During those same years Rwanda happened. Why didn't anyone get involved into Rwanda? It's a catastrophic failure of the international community from all sides. I wish someone got involved into Rwanda and calmed the situation down.

So what is right and what is wrong here? It depends on which side each of us takes. I'm a fan of constructive debates on the topic. But I am strongly against these YouTube/twitter celebrities who judge the world through 5 min oversimplifications.

And yes, the US did some terrible things. And for this my favourite example is Guantanamo. It is in full control by US and crimes committed were atrocious. It's incredible how only few people got convictions but hundreds spent years in prison. It's also fascinating how they structured the operation from a legal perspective that it's nearly impossible to shut down. Just look at all the roadblocks Obama hit trying to shut it down. It's incredible. No apology for any of this whatsoever, really bad.

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frog Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 7:13pm
AndyM wrote:

Yeah I expect there's a hierarchy there -
1. friendly diplomacy
2. casual trade persuasion
3. trade sanctions
4. soft coup
5. armed overthrow
6. war

I believe that Australia has experienced level 4.

1. a) is the high visibility cold shoulder. Very powerful way for leaders to be brought back into line.

Scommo got a taste of it once:

https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/prime-minister-scott-morris...

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etarip Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 7:21pm

If you’re interested, look up the rise and then death of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle / doctrine that emerged in the 90s. Largely linked to ‘failures’ in Eastern Europe (former USSR) but often quoted in the context of Rwanda.

——-

Separately, Russian (and Chinese) equivalent interventionist behavior (overt through clandestine and covert) and actions usually happens in places that most Western commentators simply don’t give a fuck about. It happens, it’s just invisible due to the inherent bias of most of the commentators. You bigots!!!!

Look at Central Asia right now. You’re watching the geopolitical influence of Turkey, Iran, China and Russia (and, yes, there’s a degree of US influence too) playing out in armed conflict in Armenia and Uzbekistan and the increasing tensions between a couple of other the ‘Stans.

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etarip Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 7:30pm

frog, good post and plenty to discuss.

I still think the NATO expansion theme is totally overstated. Past 15 years, 2 countries have joined NATO. Neither country contiguous to Russia. Total population - 2.5 million. Guess that’s scary AF for a nuclear armed state.
Even if Ukraine had wanted to join NATO, that process takes years. Decades.

Meanwhile, as a direct result of Russian invasion, two countries that have steadfastly maintained a policy of non-NATO alignment reverse that policy and actually commence the process to join NATO. What does Russia do?

Nothing. Crickets. What’s the explanation for that?

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batfink Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 7:51pm
sypkan wrote:

yeh I know, Thiel is some kind of nutty billionaire libertarian...

and he's talking at the nutter convention...

but he's on the money here

"...Thiel opened the conference with what, considering the circumstances, amounted to a contrarian speech. The topic of his address was California, which in recent years has become a standard conservative punching bag. But Thiel’s diagnosis of the problem was different. In his view, the main problem with California is that, like Saudi Arabia or Venezuela, it is the victim of a “resource curse”. That is, the wealth generated from California’s tech sector is so tremendous that it ends up distorting the state’s entire political economy. “Wokeness”, he posited, plays the same role as Wahabbism in the similarly afflicted Saudi Arabia. There is, of course, a minority — “maybe 20%” of true believers — but mostly it is a sort of lip service that Machiavellian elites pay to a system of values that allows them to keep the whole corrupt machine running. 

The problem with the Democratic Party, Thiel argued, is that it is effectively trapped in the California model — a fabulously wealthy and productive oligarchy on top, public-sector bureacurats in the middle, and a feral underclass dependent on government transfers on the bottom. But that model can’t go national — there isn’t enough money in the tech sector to go around. 

Thiel also issued a word of warning to Republicans. The current GOP, he said, is stuck in a pure “nihilistic negation” of the Democrats’ California model — railing against wokeness, urban crime, and faeces on the streets of San Francisco, without even attempting to offer a positive model to counter it. Even red state success stories like Texas and Florida, he noted, have seen speculative bonanzas in real estate and permanently rising housing prices in cities like Austin and Miami, suggesting that neither Greg Abbott nor Ron DeSantis have figured out a truly sustainable model for middle class prosperity..."

https://unherd.com/thepost/peter-thiel-wokeness-is-like-wahhabism/

the middle ground is there for the taking...

not so much the 'middle class', ...but the middle political ground

trump had several chances to take it, and cement it, but he blew it, pandering to his nutty extremes

and now biden is doing the same

both increasing divisiveness in the process, and missing a huge political opportunity... it beggars belief how both parties can be so so politically dumb...

trumpians are never going to vote democrats, and wokeians are never going to vote republicans

those votes are a given

whoever harnesses the middle ground is onto a many term winner

but they don't...

An interesting thesis, Sypkan. Some very ‘convenient’ conclusions and analysis there by Thiel, but not without merit. Not completely off the reservation.

Was it your point about capturing the middle ground, or was that from his or other analysis?

I don’t think that’s an option any more. Not sure if you noticed but economically the middle class has been eviscerated, it barely exists any more. Politically, the middle ground also has been under attack. Look at ANY social media, or even commentary on any news or media websites, where it’s still allowed. We have been on a 10 to 15 year experiment of promoting outrage as a social experiment. Even the pages of swellnet forums are more outrage-a-thon extravaganzas, often over things of absolutely no import, or worse still, matters of clear overall good being lambasted by the swellnet outrage warriors, who, as always, eschew any debate on the subject (in the form of specious and outrageous personal abuse for anyone holding a contrary thought).

I suspect there is no more “middle” to mine, economically or politically.

Look at yourself. You probably self-style as a moderate centrist. To me you are very much to the far right, just not to the extent of ‘kill-all-those-who-disagree’ fundamentalists. But FAR right. Indo is also a good example, far right politically but styles himself as ‘centre-right’. Constantly railing against socialists influences, even if never having met one, or actually understanding the term.

There is no centre any more. We, are, divided. It’s not a design flaw, it’s a feature.

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batfink Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 8:09pm

The idea that Trump may have been able to capture the middle ground is also a little bit delusional. Like with ScoMo, the actuality of Trump was far more bent than anyone would have reasonably surmised. He was never going to capture the middle ground. He did ‘move the middle’, a tiny bit, but the middle isn’t worth moving any more. It’s a tiny constituency.

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flollo Friday, 16 Sep 2022 at 8:18pm
etarip wrote:

If you’re interested, look up the rise and then death of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle / doctrine that emerged in the 90s. Largely linked to ‘failures’ in Eastern Europe (former USSR) but often quoted in the context of Rwanda.

This is very good. I looked at the below that describes the principle.

https://www.globalr2p.org/publications/the-responsibility-to-protect-a-b...