Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

[UPDATED] Red Bear Rising

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After years of living with the Cold War, many of us were surprised and chagrined to see Russia’s more relaxed, apparently friendly stance towards the world.  For a while, Russia almost dropped off the news map, as Russia became rather self-absorbed with their charismatic new leader, Vladimir Putin.  Clearly, however, that was not a time of narcissicsm; rather, it was a time of internal growth, stabilization, and unification. And it seems, now, that we may be starting to see the fruits of that growth.

Most of the world knows about the gas row in Ukraine last month, resulting in the cut off of Russian natural gas to the EU.   Not to mention the whole conflict with Georgia that was in the news last year. These incidents represent a much more aggressive stance than that which we’ve experienced from our global neighbor in past years.

Indeed, the indications seem to be that Russia is trying to return to what it perceives as its remembered time of greatness as a world leader.

Consider:

  • Last week, when the EU hinted about concerns over the murders of two Russians who were speaking out against the government, Russia responded not by trying to deny, feign ignorance, or cover up, but rather by accusing the EU of its own human rights abuses.
  • And today, Nikolai Bordyuzha, former KGB leader who is now the general secretary of the ODKB (or, in western alphabet, CSTO – think: Russian version of NATO), announced that Russia and its allies will be creating a joint-air defense system of its own, running the entire breadth of Russia, and encompassing Belarus, and most likely the other member countries of the ODKB.

For a long time, Russia has directed anger at NATO, condeming it for both its actions and for being what Russia calls “a puppet of the U.S.”  Now it seems Russia wants to play the same game.  Given the growing desire of Russia to return to the world stage, combined with the continuning problems in the middle east, and the ongoing struggles in Europe, the ODKB (which indicated some time ago that they would welcome an application from Iran to join its ranks) may well be a much larger player in the coming months and years.

Not to mention Russia itself.

UPDATE – Threat Watcher here – and let’s not forget the sudden development that Kyrgyzstan is closing Manas Airbase to the US.  Don’t know where Kyrgyzstan is?  Or why this is important?  Manas is the primary US supply point for getting men and material (food, bullets, etc) in and out of Afghanistan.

According to the New York Times;

The United States has leased the Central Asian base since after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, but American officials said they believed that Russia was using an offer of more than $2 billion in loans and grants to Kyrgyzstan to force the United States out of the region, colloquially referred to as “the Stans.”

Now that the Russian economy is back on its feet (thanks to sales of gas & petroleum to the West), the Russians can reassert control over the former Soviet Republics via ‘soft’ power.  No longer does the Kremlin need to deploy a Guards Shock Army to maintain power – all they have to do is to keep the money flowing.

 

Submarines are dangerous places

The deaths aboard the Russian Akula II submarine last week – need to serve as a reminder that submarines are a dangerous place.  And simple mistakes cause people to be killed.

The US has had its share – but nothing as deadly as either the Akula or the Kursk – in the last 40 years.

+ USS Greeneville (this one appears to be cursed – and should be decom’d);
– Feb 2001 – Surfaces under Japanese Fishing boat – kills fishing boat crew
– Aug 2001 – Runs aground entering Saipan harbor
– Jan 2002 – collides w/ USS Ogden during personnel transfer at sea

+ USS Hartford – Oct 2003 – runs aground leaving Sardinia harbor

+ USS Newport News – Jan 2007 – collides w/ Japanese tanker in Arabian Sea

+ USS San Francisco – Jan 2005 – collides w/ an uncharted sea mount at flank speed. One killed. Reports say that boat was almost lost (due to loss of buoyancy from the forward ballast tanks). Repairs completed at Puget Sound Shipyard in Oct 2008 (yes – last month) by using the forward hull from the USS Honolulu (which had been decommissioned).

+ USS Minneapolis-St.Paul – Dec 2006 – loses 4 crew overboard during rough seas departing Plymouth (England) Harbor. 2 men recovered. 2 men pronounced dead at local hospital.

As for the Canadians – they don’t have a current sub in service. They have the old UK Upholder diesel electrics – and while they got them for a bargain price – they learned why the price was a bargain. The boats had been laid up for a couple of years before the Brits sold them to the Canadians, and it took a bit of repair work to get them ready for transfer. Wiki link has a lot of detail that I won’t bore you with here.

HMCS Chicoutimi –  Oct 2004 – crippled by on-board fire after water came in a hatch during rough weather in the North Atlantic. One killed.

 

Recognizing Independence – Recognizing Agendas

In follow-up to my post yesterday, I’m amazed at the news that came out overnight.  You’ve really gotta love the irony here.

 

The BBC reported last night that Russia has now formally recognized the independence of the two Georgian provinces.  And the opinion of the masses seems to agree with the Russians’ move.

 

But, shockingly, our own country, the United States, is quoted as saying that this recognition is "regrettable."  And the opinion of other countries’ governmental leaders seems to agree with the US government’s opinion.

 

All of this over what to this writer’s eyes seems to be nothing more than a desire for a people to achieve independence from a parent state… a parent state that itself recently won independence from its parent state… all the while being condemned by a "superpower" that itself celebrates its own independence on an annual basis!

 

But don’t take my word for it.  You can read an excellent writeup by the BBC giving a much more unbiased opinion on the situation in Georgia here.

 

At what point, I’d like to know, did we become mindless pawns of our countries’ governments?  At what point did we give up all attempts at rational thought and just let our political masters run over us unchecked? We have a situation where our "leaders" are saying one thing… and almost all of the "people" are saying another, much more obvious thing… this is so obvious as to be blinding.  It makes me wonder just what the agendas really are here.

 

The Big Bad Bear?

Ahh, Russia.  How we love to hate you!  We love to hate you so much, and have hated you for so long, that it’s become a habit… an addiction.  In fact, it’s become quite pathetic.

Though the concept of being a patriot, or a revolutionary, is, tragically, long-since dead in the industrialized world, almost everyone still identifies in one form or another with their country of birth, or citizenship, or residence.  Whether we live in a democracy or dictatorship, there is a predisposition to love and trust our own country – or, more to the point, our own country’s government – and at the same time to hate and mistrust other countries – and in that direction, it’s not the government we end up hating, but the actual people of the country in question. This is why we, in America, for example, think we’re so great (because we listen to our endless-motion propaganda machines) while the rest of the world hates us (because our government has made choices that – although “we the people” didn’t make them – we are blamed for.)

So let’s take a hard look in the mirror before we go arbitrarily handing out condemnation worldwide.

In 2001, we were brutally attacked… by terrorists.  Not by a country, even though we were happy to go invade Iraq in retribution.  Not by a religion, even though we’re happy to blame Muslims worldwide in disgust.  And when that attack came, we all cried out for war.  We all cried out for revenge.  Conveniently, most Americans have forgotten this fact.  They have forgotten their anger of that day, and how they directed their anger at evil Iraq and evil Islam, and demanded retribution for the twin towers.  Now, they’ve found a new focus:  The excitement of blaming the mideast has worn off, to be replaced with the pain of the loss of our troops there, so now they’ve found a new drug:  let’s blame George Bush!  The new axis of evil!  Never mind the fact that there were less than 5 “abstainers” out of all the senators and all the representatives who “voted” for war.  Never mind that those people were just doing what their constituents wanted. Oh no – it couldn’t be us!  We couldn’t be the problem!  In such danger of having to face the truth, we turn instead to our scapegoat:  the President of the United States!  Because we all know that everything is his fault.  The war, the attacks, high taxes, smoking, acid rain:  It’s gotta be Bush’s fault!

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