Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Coup in Washington

The old Chinese proverb "may you live in interesting times" rings so very true these days. A "populist" billionaire is elected as a "man of the people" in the United States, and sends the internal organs of the American elite into convulsion. It's hard to watch what is loosely called the land of the free, and remain uncommitted to one side or the other - by design perhaps. With every passing day the venom grows, the accusations become more shrill, and President Trump becomes more destabilized. It's the type of "regime change" actions we routinely witness the United States commit in the rest of the world now being visited on its own, by its own.

Make no mistake, what is happening in the United Sates right now has absolutely nothing to do with Russia, or any other foreign country. Nor is it some sort of spontaneous movement against a "crazed despot". What we are witnessing is the very calculated destabilization of the American presidency by those that are sworn to uphold the American constitution, and those that aren't sworn but claim to uphold it. In other words, an internal insurrection.

To be fair, Trump seemed to anticipate this sort of reaction to his election - even well before election day. He shrewdly calculated that the American establishment would use all their means to thwart him, and even unseat him. So, right back to the early days of the campaign, he began marshalling people toward a common set of causes in order to create what he termed as "the greatest movement in US history" -  a"Trump Nation" if you will. He was so successful that the US political establishment quickly realized that should they try and impede him that Trump would appeal to his base, which was primarily Republican voters, and they would place decisive pressure on those Republican Senators and members of Congress that stood in his way. In fact, it is quite clear that Trump is not really a Republican at all, but an independent who chose to use the Republican Party as a vehicle to gain office. And his plan succeeded perfectly.

However, since the election, things have changed. It is quite obvious now that the US establishment are not prepared to accept the results of the election - ironically what they accused Trump of preparing to do should he have lost the election. Instead they have chosen to launch a campaign against President Trump, from a multitude of sources, to first destabilize his presidency by eroding his support with his base, and then.. well we'll get to that.

As bizarre as it might seem to be to accuse governmental organizations within the United States of acting to over throw their own duly elected President, it must be said that all the evidence points to that fact. It becomes obvious when you look at previous US intelligence operations in other countries to see the same MO here. The damaging internal intelligence leaks. The 24-7 vicious media attacks. All designed to decimate the credibility of President Trump in the eyes of "Trump Nation" - the source of Trump's power, and incite hatred  and contempt towards the man. Once his credibility has been sufficiently destroyed they will move to replace him.

There are a number of solid pieces of evidence that clearly demonstrate they are maneuvering to distance VP Pence from Trump as we speak. For example, the recent firing of Trump's national security advisor. It has been made clear, especially in the media, that the reason he was fired was for "lying to VP Pence" over his contacts with Russia. Within days of that spin, Pence is jettisoned off to an international security conference in Europe where he is portrayed as "the voice of reason" by the US media. His diplomatic skills are emphasized. There are no peculiar and unflattering pictures of him published. In other words he is being promoted, but by whom?

The choice of Pence as running mate for Trump was often described by the US media as a nod to the Republican establishment, but many people thought it could also prove to be his undoing. Short term gain for long term pain. You will notice that throughout the Republican campaign, and the actual election, not one negative story about Pence has been filed. Why? Through two years of campaigning the media could not find any dirt on Pence? Seems very unlikely. The answer is clear - they're protecting him. Why have they protected him from the get go, and are now not just protecting him, but also promoting him? Cause he's their man. The man they intend to take over from Trump when they move to remove him. The vehicle of removal? With the obvious vilification of Trump by the media on the issue of Russia it seems this will be the chosen route for seeking his impeachment. However, it would seem that impeaching the man before he has barely attained the throne might not be the most prudent course. Then again, when it comes to loss of control, perhaps expediency will trump prudency.   

The US political establishment, and the US security establishment walk hand in hand. Never let that simple fact be lost on you. Therefore, when the political establishment is threatened with a loss of control so is the intelligence establishment. Nobody expected Trump to become President Trump (well some of us did call it) and what we're witnessing now is a sort of emergency surgery by the US establishment. They always had Pence as their go to card, but likely never believed they would need it - if the coverage by CNN is any example.

The bottom line is that the duly elected President of the United States is facing a coup from within the US political, security and media establishments. A very distasteful travesty to be perpetuated upon the "leader of the free world". The expediency of breaking the rules is always tempting to those in power, but it also has devastating consequences that are normally unintended. Whoever chose the expedient assassination of John F. Kennedy likely didn't fully realize that the assassination would create permanent, deep seeded distrust about the American government with the American people. It severely undermined the credibility of the establishment, and has fostered a now almost impenetrable distrust of all the government agencies within government.

Today the preferred method of dealing with these sort of situations is character assassination and not actual assassination. However, the reaction to this action may well be the same. Now many within the US establishment are attempting to show Russian President Putin as the puppet master behind Trump's rise to power. That may be true, or it may not be true. One thing is for certain though, Putin has to be the happiest camper on the block with Trump's election. The Divided States is now more divide than ever - bypassing the Vietnam War era. If something were to happen to President Trump the only real benefactor would be Putin. The internal unrest that would result from a coup against Trump would rip the US apart as "Trump Nation" lost its proverbial mind over his ouster. If he isn't ousted, and the US establishment simply continues to create an atmosphere of chaos within the country, Putin wins here too. Putin would certainly be the man sitting in the nose bleed section, devouring his popcorn as the US imploded. Looking at it from that perspective is even more worrisome, yet all too real to be ignored. Putin may have helped Trump get elected, but he may have done it in careful consideration of the reaction by the establishment to a Trump victory and not any possible sweet deals he could get as a result of his assistance. This seems far more likely to me.

If I had a message for the US establishment it would be: careful what you wish for. For every action there is a reaction, and the unintended consequences of surgery may be fatal for their place they have become accustomed to. Certainly that is what history has shown - in the US or elsewhere. The far better approach is to allow the man to exercise the responsibility he earned by winning the election. Rely and trust in your democratic process. Put aside your ambitions and ego. Let nature take its course. Do not open Pandora's Box. Be careful what you wish for.  If I had a message for President Trump it would be: whoever is feeding you lines that your electoral college seat count is the highest since Reagan's victory is giving you "bad advice" for an intended purpose. I'm a proud Canadian, and happy this isn't transpiring in my country, but this world is for all of us to be responsible for. Coups are not responsible exercises of power. This one, in that way, is no different.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Russia's duty in Eastern Ukraine

As far as civil wars go, the war in Eastern Ukraine is as ugly and hateful as any. It started with a popular revolt in the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk against the removal of the Ukrainian president by popular revolt in Western Ukraine - during the Sochi Olympics. Back then unarmed civilians were standing in front of tanks and armoured personnel carriers to stop Ukrainian troops from entering their cities and towns. People took over government buildings and protested against the government in Kiev. We're a long way from those days now.

With backing from the United States, the Ukrainian government turned its army on the rebels in both Republics. In response, Russia assisted the rebels with arms, intelligence and some allege men. In any case, the popular unrest against the coup in Kiev turned into a war for the two republics independence. Shockingly, and brutally, the Ukrainian government ordered its own military forces to attack the towns and cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, and the death toll of civilians ran into the thousands. The Ukrainian government never seriously looked to negotiate with the people of Eastern Ukraine. They simply tried to put them down. That's were anger over the coup turned into pure hatred. A blood hatred. Too many lives were touched by death and destruction at the hands of their own government to ever forgive.

Today, as I write this, the guns of war have shattered what was always a shaky ceasefire known as the Minsk Accord. Minsk was always destined to failure as it never fully took into account the blood hate in Ukraine. I wrote about it back then here . The truth is neither side wants a thing to do with the other. The Ukrainian government is acting as though the people in Eastern Ukraine are trying to steal their territory, and the people who reside there have no right to self-determination. Not a very European view, which the new government there claims to be.

The Ukrainian army has been conducting a "creeping" offensive almost since Minsk was signed, but in recent days that has accelerated dramatically. They have been moving into small towns and areas that were agreed to be no man's land, or left alone by both sides. They were in the de-militarized zone that divided the two sides along the complete front lines. The forces of Donetsk and Lugansk, I call them NAF or Novorossiya Armed Forces, after the name the Lugansk and Donetsk Republics gave their new political entity (Novorossiya = New Russia), are responding to these incursions now. Massive artillery duels between the two sides have escalated dramatically. Civilian areas are being leveled once again, and Ukrainian tanks have been filmed in the "de-militarized" zone near the city of Donetsk.

It appears that a freshly rearmed Ukraine, with masses of new military recruits, is again planning on asserting itself on the two republics. That being the case, where are the guarantor nations of the Minsk Agreement? Russia, Germany and France brokered the deal, but they aren't forcing the Ukrainian government to restrain itself. In fact, they haven't been able to get Ukraine to live up to any of the required steps outlined in the Minsk Agreement. Instead, Minsk has served as a shaky truce at best - often violated over the last three years, but not to the degree it has been today.

Russia, Germany and France have the responsibility to enforce Minsk. Not just the truce aspect of Minsk, but also the structural requirements that the Ukraine government was meant to do under the agreement. While Russia would not have much influence to bring to bare on the government in Kiev, Germany and France certainly could. The United States certainly could. Instead, these governments, including my own in Canada, have turned this into a rearming and retraining exercise of the Ukrainian military - essentially treating Ukraine as a member of the NATO alliance. In other words, there has been no good faith given to the Minsk Agreement, and the sole focus has been meeting force with force.

Russia has a role to play in all this that it has refused, and that is to occupy the two republics. The Ukrainian government feels it has a free hand in attacking when and how it chooses, and most of the casualties that result are civilians. This has to stop. The only way to stop the Ukrainian government from attacking its own civilians in the republics is to place a barrier in front of them that will deliver a much more serious blow to them that they could inflict on the other side. The Russian army would and should constitute such a barrier. I say that not to wave the Russian flag, but in serious reflection on reality. Russia will not, understandably, allow foreign armies enmasse on its border. Nobody would. It would take an army to stop the two sides from killing each other. The majority of both republics either identify themselves as Russian or are Russian speakers. The Russians in these circumstances would be trusted by the people of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Russian military intervention in the republics is necessary, pragmatic, and humane. The Western world needs to come to this conclusion, and support it before all out carnage raises its ugly head there again. The stupid, outdated ideas of Russian imperialism and all that nonsense need to be put to the side. The Russian government must also wake up and smell the coffee. Russia claims to be a source of major influence in the world, and a leader in a new multi-polar world. If that is to be the case, then Russia must exert itself correspondingly if it wants to be taken seriously.

Of course, Russia itself is in the middle of a rearmament program, and in that sense it may not want to bite off more than it can chew - which in a sense is understandable. However, when mass slaughter is happening on your won border, and people of your decent are the victims of a government that shells its own people, then it is incumbent on you to act decisively. By way of example, the Turkish incursion into Syria to establish a "safe zone". Russia could, and should do the same in Donetsk and Lugansk. A safe zone that protects those people from being slaughtered at random by their own government. That isn't being imperialistic or ambitious. It is being humane and showing leadership. It is plain and obvious, that after three years of Minsk, the Ukraine government simply can't resist the temptation to put down the people of Donetsk and Lugansk by force. No further evidence is required. Russia sitting on its hands makes Russia look weak on its own border, and with its fellow Slavs. So, Mr. Putin, show the leadership a leader of the multi-polar world must, and make Donetsk and Lugansk a "safe zone" for the people that live there. Don't they deserve that much?














Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Trump Wars

The United States is at war - with itself at the moment. Donald John Trump, the 45th President of the United States, wants to reverse all the wrongs he sees plaguing his country. Fair enough. New leaders often come in with the strongest of intentions. Nothing new there. This time it's different though. It is said that politics is the game of rich men. Trump won the presidency without having to cut deals with the US establishment. In doing so he cut them out of the power equation they have been used to holding, and that has become dangerous. Only a rich man could do it. One who could fund his own campaign. One who could pay for his own mistakes. That is Trump, and that's exactly what he did.

Now we have the aftermath. An unprecedented situation in western political history which many would welcome, but which also holds real danger for all. Trump is not controlled by the US elite. He now has the power in many ways to act unilaterally on the international scene - including deploying US forces into conflict.  The Chinese refer to politics as war without bloodshed, and to war as politics with bloodshed. A very accurate way to measure the dynamics of mankind. Today we are at the point of war without bloodshed - at least in the West. In the near future we will be immersed in politics with bloodshed - unfortunately for us all.

A troubling sign of  this was Trump's election campaign, and the constant reference to Iran as a pariah state. Another was a similar view of China. In my mind though, the Iran war is more immanent than the Chinese conflict. The reason for that conclusion? In a word - Israel. Trump has made his son-in-law his strategic adviser on the Middle East. His son-in-law is Jewish. That creates an immediate problem of perception. For instance, what if his son-in-law was Saudi or Palestinian? The optics are quite obvious - the strategic advice is more than likely to be slanted in one direction. That creates real danger for the world. It leaves him open to influence.

On the campaign trail, a bombastic Trump promised the crowds that he would "rip up" the Iranian nuclear deal which is just months old. That in itself is troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that such an act is fully inline with Israel's policy on the agreement. Just remember that without a nuclear deal Israel was pressing for a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. It appears that is now back on the table. They aren't talking about it publicly yet, but a curious, foreboding message was just released from the Israeli Prime Minister. The video message is directed at the Iranian people, and not the Iranian government he says. In it he calls the Israeli and Iranian people friends who are being separated by a religious dictatorship (regime). At one point, in the two minute video, he let's slip that the Iranian people will not he under the yoke of this regime much longer. The inference is clear. Iran is on the cusp of being "liberated". Regime change. War is coming, and he is asking the Iranian people to view Israel as a liberator.

That simple insinuation says a few things. Firstly, it says that the Israeli Prime Minister knows there is a war coming with Iran - otherwise he wouldn't have put the words in that context. It also jives with the new US President's view toward Iran. Trump has promised to stop the US's foreign wars, and essentially make the US a pre-World War One isolationist power, so is there a contradiction in his view of Iran? Consider that Israel was prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities prior to the nuclear agreement, but former President Obama would not "green light" that operation. Israel was held back. Now, however, the water on the beans has changed. Trump, it appears, is fully prepared to allow Israel a free hand in dealing with Iran. And that is very dangerous indeed.

It is now almost certain that Israel with attempt to bomb Iran. It's just as certain the Trump will turn a blind eye to it, with a quiet promise the US will back Israel if things get ugly. It's curious that just last week two unidentified drones were spotted over Iran's capital city - one was shot down. It's also interesting that during the same time Russia moved state of the art s-400 anti missile systems into the Moscow area, and placed them on "combat alert". The war of words with China dramatically escalated, as well, to the point Trump threatened China with a naval blockade. China, in turn, said it would not be deterred in the South China Sea by "word bombs" from the US. Clearly the world is moving dramatically toward conflict - armed conflict more likely than not. I suggest the first concrete step in that conflict will be Israel bombing Iran - sadly.

On the face of things it seems odd that Trump would be seeking to repair relations with Russia on the one hand, but raise the spectre of war with Russia's two most important allies, China and Iran, on the other hand. There seems to be a disconnect there. Of course, Trump is accused by his detractors as having many different disconnects on many different issues, so perhaps this is just another case. Or perhaps it is a ruse. Perhaps it's an attempt to split Russia away from China like Hitler tried to do with Britain and Europe. In any event, Russia is not about to abandon its eternal alliance with China, and strategically important alliance with Iran, to make nice with the Americans. That is not going to happen. So when Israel bombs Iran, and Iran and Israel go to war, it would seem inevitable that the US would back Israel and Russia/China would back Iran. Such a situation, if you can put the thought of nuclear destruction out of your mind for a moment, would give Trump the ammunition he needs to block China's access to many markets - a key plank in his way of thinking. Made in America, not made in China, is his goal. It fits pretty nicely.

One last very key point. The US is more divided as a country now than it has been since their civil war. Trump is not the cause, but he is the symptom. As Lincoln said: "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Has there ever been a clearer example of that than today's United States? The US, as a country, is in desperate need of a unifying cause. The US loves to unite for causes. In today's case, Trump is looking to use a war for that purpose. Dislike of Iran is almost universal in the US. It's almost a safe bet that the American people would rally around that - especially if Israel was attacked in retaliation for the bombing of its nuclear facilities. You can hear it now: "USA...USA..USA". Unfortunately, a war for the United States has become almost a national imperative. A patriotic duty to keep the country from breaking apart at the seams. The fact that such a war will almost certainly lead to a wider conflict with Russia and China will likely not mean a lot to a people in desperate need of a unifying cause.

Hope I'm wrong.