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Posts Tagged ‘putin’

Turkey Attacks Russia: Sarajevo 2015?

November 26th, 2015 Comments off

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey, may at present be the most dangerous man on our planet. Renowned as a brilliant politician domestically, who skillfully manipulates Turkish public opinion for electoral gains, he has also established a reputation for shooting from the mouth without much forethought when it comes to foreign affairs. On November 24, 2015 Erdogan went beyond words, authorizing his air force to take down a Russian fighter jet.

While some of the facts regarding the shootdown of the Russian Air Force SU-24 remain in contention between Turkey and Russia, what has emerged  is deeply disturbing. Even Turkey admits that the Russian aircraft was in its airspace for a mere seventeen seconds.  American authorities have informed various news agencies that the SU-24 was  in Turkish skies for only a few seconds, and was actually flying over Syria when it was destroyed by a missile fired by a Turkish fighter. These facts would seem to confirm the allegation made by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the shootdown of the SU-24 was premeditated. In other words, President Erdogan had apparently ordered his country’s air force to destroy a Russian military aircraft as soon as a pretext emerged. An overflight that may have occurred over Turkish air space for a few seconds provided that pretext.

If Erdogan sought to destroy a Russian aircraft, for what purpose would he have engaged in such a dangerously brazen escalation of the already explosive reality that is the failed and disintegrating state of Syria?

The Turkish president maintains that Russia’s claim that it is fighting ISIS is a canard, and that Moscow is primarily targeting the “moderate” opposition to Assad, which Turkey supports. Until the bombing of a Russian airliner over Sinai, that was certainly true. However, after the Metrojet plane was destroyed over the Sinai desert, Russia began shifting its bombing campaign towards the Islamic State. Furthermore, Turkey has been playing the same game, under Erdogan’s instructions. Also claiming to be fighting ISIS in Syria, the Turkish Air Force has actually conducted far fewer  air strikes on the Islamic State than Moscow’s air force. Instead, Turkish aircraft have primarily targeted the Kurdish militias in Syria, the same force that has been the most effective opposition to ISIS in northern Syria. Erdogan is much more interested in preventing the Kurds from achieving any form of sovereignty in the Middle East than in confronting the Islamic State.

The most likely explanation for Erdogan’s astonishing decision to launch an attack on a Russian aircraft was to thwart and strangle at birth the nascent indications of a possible grand coalition being formed to combat ISIS, involving the United States, France and Russia. After the terrorist attacks in Paris and the destruction of the Russian airliner in Egypt, French President Hollande saw a rare opportunity to bring together those three countries in facing a common danger. It must be noted that the Turks downed the Russian warplane on the same day Hollande was in Washington, meeting with President Obama prior to a follow-up meeting with Putin. The shootdown of the SU-24 probably has doomed President Hollande’s vision of a grand alliance working together in fighting the Islamic State.

Irrespective of Erdogan’s immediate objective, his reckless decision has perhaps put the entire planet on the path towards an unintended but potentially devastating war. President Putin will be forced to act  in some form, not only due to his own personal feelings. No matter how cool-headed and cautiously he may intend  to respond to the Turkish attack, he is not immune to Russian public opinion. Not only the shootdown, but the barbaric murder of one of the parachuting Russian pilots by Turkey’s allies in Syria–an act that is in clear violation of the Geneva Convention–will inevitably stimulate great indignation among the Russian people.

In 1914 renegade elements in a foreign intelligence service orchestrated the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo. In the weeks that followed, miscalculations intersected with a system of military alliances that put the world on the path to world war. Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Erdogan has already called on NATO for full support in the face of possible future Russian military countermeasures in response  to the destruction of the SU-24. Alarmingly, President Obama has already expressed public support for Turkey’s right to defend its airspace.

Before Turkey’s recklessly irresponsible leader drags the United States into an unintended military confrontation with Russia over events in Syria, President Obama should reconsider his blanket support for Turkey’s belligerent and brazen acts of violence against Moscow, and make clear that the United States–and NATO–will not be dragged into a conflict with Moscow over Erdogan’s dangerous adventurism.

 

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Sheldon Filger's photo.

 

Russia Faces Severe Economic Crisis: Putin, Oil and Ukraine

December 31st, 2014 Comments off

A perfect storm has ravaged Russia’s national economy. With the price of oil imploding, the impact of its decline is inflicting devastating pain on the Russian economy. Fiscally , oil and natural gas revenues account for half of the state budget. The fall in oil prices is compounded by economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States and Canada in response to President Putin’s aggressive polices vis a vis Ukraine.

There is nothing Putin can do about oil prices, especially with stagnant global demand and rising domestic production in the United States due to advances in shale extraction technology. However, he could mitigate the economic crisis through a more restrained policy on Ukraine. I doubt that will happen; it appears that in Russia, as with many other countries, nationalism trumps rational economic considerations.

It appears that bleak times are ahead for Moscow, and Russia’s nascent middle class. Just in the past 24 hours, the ruble dropped in value another five percent, all this in the wake of its earlier freefall when oil prices began to plummet. The erratic actions by Russia’s central bank only point to the inability by Russia’s rulers to arrest what will likely be a long-term period of economic recession and stagnation.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW VIDEO

Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

 

President Obama Fires Secretary of Defense Hagel: Barack Obama and the Audacity of Failure

November 25th, 2014 Comments off

It is often remarked that the Ship of State  is the one ship which leaks from the top. Thus even before the blatantly theatrical political funeral dirge conducted at the White House in which President Obama announced that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the sole remaining Republican in his cabinet, would  be leaving of his own accord after serving only 22 months, the usual “unnamed senior sources” representing the administration were already telling their media contacts that Hagel was, in effect, fired.

The New York Times reported that  “officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel…was brought in to employ.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/us/hagel-said-to-be-stepping-down-as-defense-chief-under-pressure.html?_r=0) The implication was that Hagel was a timid man, originally brought in to implement Obama’s stated policy of withdrawing from first Iraq and then Afghanistan, while downsizing  the Defense Department. With the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a new policy was called for, and a new defense secretary, the unnamed White House source proclaimed, one more muscular and forceful in confronting the Islamic State.

While the passage of time will undoubtedly provide more leaks, perhaps a book of memoirs by Chuck Hagel and further context, this much is clear; President Barack Obama’s national security strategy in relation to Islamist threats stemming from the Middle East, in particular the Islamic State, has been an unmitigated disaster, and soon-to-be former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran and moderate Republican with a strong streak of bipartisanship, has been set up as a scapegoat for the administration’s failures.

What we do know for sure is what both the President and his Defense Secretary had stated on the public record in connection with the Islamic State, also, known  as ISIS, and which President Obama insists on calling ISIL.

In January 2014 Obama told David Remnick of The New Yorker, after Islamist forces in Iraq seized Fallujah and raised the Al-Qaeda flag,  “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”  (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/annals-of-the-presidency)

In contrast, Chuck Hagel had this to say about the Islamic State at a Pentagon press briefing conducted on August 21, 2014:  “They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else… They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we’ve seen.” (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/21/us-usa-islamicstate-idUSKBN0GL24V20140821)

While the President was initially dismissive of the Islamic State, and has remained tentative and uncertain in his at times awkward responses, Hagel was far from the passive and timid defense secretary he is now being portrayed as by the masters of spin in the White House. His very forceful and articulate warning displays an impressive level of sober realism that is sorely lacking within the President’s national security council, and from Obama himself.

Turning Chuck Hagel into a scapegoat cannot obfuscate the glaring failures cascading out of the ruins of the administration’s inept foreign policy and national security strategy. Obama is a president who loudly proclaims red lines in the sand, such as use of chemical warfare agents by the Syrian regime, and when President Bashar al-Assad defied those red lines with a grotesque massacre of innocents in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Obama grasped onto the flimsy straw tossed at him by Russia’s President Putin, rendering his red line invisible. His is an administration which sends presidential letters proclaiming friendship to the tyrannical “Supreme Leader” of Iran, who almost daily dishes out hatred and contempt for America, while permitting–perhaps encouraging–a senior unnamed official to tell journalist Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic that Israel’s Prime Minster Netanyahu was, in effect, a fool for trusting President Obama’s pledges on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, because what the administration really sought was to delay an Israeli military operation until the Iranian nuclear program progressed to the point where it was beyond the capacity of the Israel Defense Forces to take it out. (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/the-crisis-in-us-israel-relations-is-officially-here/382031/) No wonder few world leaders maintain trust in the President’s word and integrity.

Beyond the Middle East, President Obama has “engineered” the radical deconstruction of Russia-U.S. relations. It must be recognized that the President himself bears a major responsibility for the deterioration in ties between Moscow and Washington. In previous blog pieces, I have pointed out what I believe have been President Putin’s miscalculations. But why did the President send CIA  Director John Brennan to Kiev at a sensitive point in the emerging Ukrainian-Russia crisis? Not only did the administration engage in needlessly provocative acts that exacerbated the crisis over Ukraine; President Obama has given evidence that he harbors deep contempt-as well as profound ignorance-towards Russia. In an interview with The Economist conducted aboard Air Force One in August 2014 the President proclaimed boldly, “Russia doesn’t make anything.” (http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/08/economist-interviews-barack-obama-2) Perhaps the President is unaware that America’s Atlas V rockets, the vehicle used by the Defense Department to launch U.S. spy satellites into orbit utilize the RD-180 rocket engine in their first stage–and this component is not made in America, but in Russia, the land Barack Obama believes  “doesn’t make anything.”

Like the good soldier he is, Chuck Hagel stood stoically and with his dignity intact, beside President Obama and Vice President Biden in the White House’s State Dining Room, as his thinly-disguised termination was being ceremoniously performed. In time, just as with his predecessors Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, he may pen a tell-all book of memoirs, highly critical of the President. However, we need not wait for a future book to conclude that it is the President and his tightly-knit national security team–a clique which largely excluded and isolated Chuck Hagel– and not the fired defense secretary–who bear the historical responsibility for a record of disastrous decision-making.

In 2008, candidate-for-president Barack Obama proclaimed the audacity of hope in a time of despair, and wrote a very thoughtful and sensible op-ed piece in The New York Times, entitled “My Plan For Iraq,”  in which Obama advocated the retention of a residual military force in Iraq and warned that,  “we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. ” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14obama.html?_r=0)

As with so much else connected with President Obama and national security, he has acted contrary to his past words and proclaimed intentions. There is no longer hope; the despair remains. Amid  the debris of a ruined national security strategy, we are left with the audacity of failure, glaring and unhidden, in spite of the best efforts at scapegoating Chuck Hagel.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW VIDEO

Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

 

Russian Economy Faces Disastrous Free Fall Contraction

May 10th, 2009 Comments off
In 1987 I visited the Soviet Union with Republican Congressman Tom DeLay (who has since moved on to bigger-but not necessarily better-things), and observed firsthand how a society with bright, well-educated people can still undergo a profound economic collapse when the elites running the nation are infused with corruption, fossilized dogmas and misplaced priorities. Four years after my visit, the USSR of old imploded under the weight of its own colossal economic mismanagement and contradictions.Will history repeat itself? The Russia of today is far from immune to the ramifications of the Global Economic Crisis. Though I would not argue that the Russia being ruled by the duality of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is on the same trajectory as Gorbachev’s Soviet Union, there has already emerged a sustained trend of harsh macroeconomic data that attests to a severe economic crisis gripping the Russian nation. The country’s stock market has sustained losses from its peak in the range of 70%, while the prices for Russia’s commodity exports, the major source of foreign exchange earnings, have plummeted at a staggering rate, especially with regards to oil and natural gas.
Perhaps more alarming, the latest projection by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development reveals a dire forecast of negative 7.5 % growth in Russia’s GDP for 2009. Though some believe that the EBRD projection may be too pessimistic, only four months ago this same institution was predicting that the Russian economy would contract by a mere negative 1%. Recent indicators point to a national economy going south at an accelerating pace, reflected in official Russian government statistics which reveal that the national economy contracted by a staggering negative 9.5%. in Q1 of 2009. At the very least, Moscow faces a crippling recession.
The Medvedev/Putin regime has initiated a host of policy responses to mitigate the impact of the Global Economic Crisis on the nation’s fragile economy. Time will determine their long-term effectiveness; however, in the short-term some measures have proven more efficacious than others. A major goal of Moscow’s economic technocrats has been to stabilize the country’s banking system, and for the time being a degree of success has been achieved through government provision of liquidity to financial institutions. However, this complex geopolitical space that is Russia is now facing a vast array of complex challenges that other members of the G8 are spared, despite the destructive impact of the global synchronized recession facing all major industrialized countries.

In Russia historically, economic health and political stability are intertwined to a degree that is rarely encountered in other major industrialized economies. It was the economic stagnation of the former Soviet Union that led to its political downfall. Similarly, Medvedev and Putin, both intimately acquainted with their nation’s history, are unquestionably alarmed at the prospect that Russia’s economic crisis will endanger the nation’s political stability, achieved at great cost after years of chaos following the demise of the Soviet Union. Already, strikes and protests are occurring among rank and file workers facing unemployment or non-payment of their salaries. Recent polling demonstrates that the once supreme popularity ratings of Putin and Medvedev are eroding rapidly. Beyond the political elites are the financial oligarchs, who have been forced to deleverage, even unloading their yachts and executive jets in a desperate attempt to raise cash.

Should the Russian economy deteriorate to the point where economic collapse is not out of the question, the impact will go far beyond the obvious accelerant such an outcome would be for the Global Economic Crisis. There is a geopolitical dimension that is even more relevant then the economic context. Despite its economic vulnerabilities and perceived decline from superpower status, Russia remains one of only two nations on earth with a nuclear arsenal of sufficient scope and capability to destroy the world as we know it. For that reason, it is not only President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin who will be lying awake at nights over the prospect that a national economic crisis can transform itself into a virulent and destabilizing social and political upheaval. It just may be possible that U.S. President Barack Obama’s national security team has already briefed him about the consequences of a major economic meltdown in Russia for the peace of the world. After all, the most recent national intelligence estimates put out by the U.S. intelligence community have already concluded that the Global Economic Crisis represents the greatest national security threat to the United States, due to its facilitating political instability in the world.

During the years Boris Yeltsin ruled Russia, security forces responsible for guarding the nation’s nuclear arsenal went without pay for months at a time, leading to fears that desperate personnel would illicitly sell nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. If the current economic crisis in Russia were to deteriorate much further, how secure would the Russian nuclear arsenal remain? It may be that the financial impact of the Global Economic Crisis is its least dangerous consequence.
For More Information on “Global Economic Forecast 2010-2015” please go to the homepage of our website, http://www.globaleconomiccrisis.com