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The Path to Greater Inequality

Soviet tanks invade Prague in 1968

Soviet tanks invade Prague in 1968

“For 17 years, I waited in vain for the democratic revolution to come to Soviet Russia to complete the socialist dream. But it did not come. Oh, there was a spring in Prague. But Soviet tanks again rolled across the border to crush it. Five years later, another Polish Marxist—now ex-Marxist—stepped forward to explain why socialism would never be realized except in a totalitarian state. In 1956, Leszek Kolakowski had been a leader of the Polish October. In 1968, Kolakowski had been a defender of the Prague spring. Now, in 1973, at a conference in England, he summed up a hundred years of critiques of socialism that history had repeatedly confirmed. The effort to transform natural inequalities into social equality could only lead to greater, more brutal inequality; the socialist effort to transform individual diversity into social unity could only lead to the totalitarian state.

“Every Communist revolution begins as a rape of the present and continues as a cannibalization of the past. Every Communist Party is the colonizer of its own country, and the Soviet empire is the colonizer of them all. That is the law of socialist distribution: from each nation according to its exploitability, to the empire according to its greed.”

Excerpt From: Horowitz, David. “The Black Book of the American Left.” Encounter Books, 2013-11-04. iBooks.

This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBooks tore: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=703309153

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How the Marketplace has Restrained Putin

putin B

From Time Magazine, 4 Reasons Putin Is Already Losing in Ukraine

Excerpts:

The economic impact on Russia is already staggering. When markets opened on Monday morning, investors got their first chance to react to the Russian intervention in Ukraine over the weekend, and as a result, the key Russian stock indexes tanked by more than 10%. That amounts to almost $60 billion in stock value wiped out in the course of a day, more than Russia spent preparing for last month’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The state-controlled natural-gas monopoly Gazprom, which accounts for roughly a quarter of Russian tax revenue, lost $15 billion in market value in one day — incidentally the same amount of money Russia promised to the teetering regime in Ukraine in December and then revoked in January as the revolution took hold.

The value of the Russian currency meanwhile dropped against the dollar to its lowest point on record, and the Russian central bank spent $10 billion on the foreign-exchange markets trying to prop it up. “This has to fundamentally change the way investors and ratings agencies view Russia,” said Timothy Ash, head of emerging-market research at Standard Bank. At a time when Russia’s economic growth was already stagnating, “this latest military adventure will increase capital flight, weaken Russian asset prices, slow investment and economic activity and growth. Western financial sanctions on Russia will hurt further,” Ash told the Wall Street Journal.

No less worrying for Putin would be the economic sanctions the West is preparing in answer to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Depending on their intensity, those could cut off the ability of Russian companies and businessmen in getting Western loans and trading with most of the world’s largest economies. Putin’s allies could also find it a lot more difficult to send their children to study in the West or to keep their assets in Western banks, as they now almost universally do. All of that raises the risk for Putin of a split in his inner circle and, potentially, even of a palace coup. There is hardly anything more important to Russia’s political elite than the security of their foreign assets, certainly not their loyalty to a leader who seems willing to put all of that at risk.

Read more: How Putin’s Ukraine Invasion Is a Disaster for Russia | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2014/03/03/putin-ukraine-crimea-russia/#ixzz2v7U1Vc00

HKO

While the political right in the US is anxious to criticize the president, the markets have spoke far quicker and more forcefully (and more peacefully) than the typical saber rattling response.  This may not work for third world tyrannies but Russia has developed far more economically and thus has much to lose in the court of world opinion and in the quick and harsh judgment of the market place.

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Targets on Our Backs

Concerns Grow In Ukraine Over Pro Russian Demonstrations In The Crimea Region

From Jim Talent writing  Sowing the Wind at National Review Online:

A great nation with neither power nor strategic purpose is just as vulnerable, and perhaps more so, than a small nation. Great nations have targets on their backs. They can never hunker down and expect the winds of conflict to blow over them. The United States has more friends and partners than most great nations have historically had, but America also has adversaries. Those adversaries – subnational movements like al-Qaeda and its associates, rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran, and authoritarian governments like Russia and China — understand clearly that America is the obstacle to achieving what they have defined as their national interests. They chafe under the restraints of the norm-based international system, which the United States midwifed during the Cold War years, and they know that if they can defeat America, the system will go down with it.

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Ukranian Clown Show

David Goldman at Pajamas Media writes Ukraine is Hopeless… Not Serious.

Excerpts:

Ukraine isn’t a country: it’s a Frankenstein monster composed of pieces of dead empires, stitched together by Stalin. It has never had a government in the Western sense of the term after the collapse of the Soviet Union gave it independence, just the equivalent of the family offices for one predatory oligarch after another–including the “Gas Princess,” Yulia Tymoshenko. It has a per capital income of $3,300 per year, about the same as Egypt and Syria, and less than a tenth of the European average. The whole market capitalization of its stock exchange is worth less than the Disney Company. It’s a basket case that claims to need $35 billion to survive the next two years. Money talks and bullshit walks. Who wants to ask the American taxpayer for $35 billion for Ukraine, one of the most corrupt economies on earth? How about $5 billion? Secretary of State Kerry is talking about $1 billion in loan guarantees, and the Europeans are talking a similar amount. That’s not diplomacy. It’s a clown show.

HKO thoughts:

A lot of blustering from the right about the presidents “failure”, but other than various protests what would you do AT THIS POINT.  We are not going to invade, or bomb, and we are not going to out finance Russia on this either.

The act of invasion is immediate, but the conditions that influenced and facilitated it have consumed much time. Leading from behind, drawing meaningless red lines, pushing reset buttons, and recent talk of drastic cuts in the military leaves a leadership void.  Such power voids beg to be filled.

We as a country cannot be a force for peace or war when our policies change radically every 4-8 years.  Our opponents think in much greater time frames.

 

 

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Syria and The Naked Emporer

assadobama

Even the emperor’s most dedicated followers are now admitting how naked he really is.

Diplomacy is often a matter of grooming allies when you do not need them so you can have a basis when you do.  From Obama’s first days in office when he returned the bust of Winston Churchill he has been careless with our relationship with our allies, while he has naively sought to turn our enemies into friends.  By making claims without deeds he has lost the most valuable of leadership skills: trust.

Carter similarly thought he could charm the Russians into peace only to become dismayed when they attacked Afghanistan.  Reagan achieved Russian Perestroika by strengthening defense and hitting them in the pocketbook.  Reagan did not delay his attack on Libya with double talk, preening, golf outings, delays and uncertainty.  He kept Libya contained as a result.  Libya also voluntarily gave up nuclear arms as a result of our attack on Iraq.  There is an effective place for force in foreign affairs.

Remember Nancy Pelosi visiting Syria after the Democrats took the House in 2006, against the strong advice of the White House who knew their enemy much better?  Remember the Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear facility in September 2007?

While this incompetent administration would not support Mubarek they did support Assad, and thus contributed to the mess in both countries, and in the entire region.  By being spineless in their words and deeds they increase the chance of war by assuring our allies- Isarel-  that they cannot be counted on.  You cannot lead from behind when you are alone on the field.  Leading from behind may be the most obvious oxymoron in political history.

This lack of trust is equally visible from his dismissal of his GOP counter parts on key pieces of legislation with such juvenile declarations as “we won the elections, we get to make the rules”.   The lack of honesty and transparency (from the most transparent administration in history) over Benghazi, The NSA and IRS controversies creates a strong skepticism that makes his motives and facts questionable.

Perhaps there is a strong case to be made for a Syrian attack, but few want to follow a leader who leads from behind that they do not trust.  Trust requires both character (honesty, respect) and competence.  Obama has neither.

Meanwhile the Democrats risk losing their base of peaceniks and the Republicans who support his effort risk losing their base of those who still have some faith in constitutional law. Some are exhausted with wars in the Middle East and some just believe this action is poorly thought out and pointless.

But the glaring hypocrisy of those that criticized Bush for his actions taken with strong bipartisan support and dozens of allied nations who committed troops,  now beating the war drums with no visible international support (France? really?) against another Mideast tyrant who poses a much smaller national threat  is blinding.  Even many of Obama’s supporters are speechless – or at least silent. Kerry’s rationalization that this action is promised to be so small that it is guaranteed to be ineffective does not exactly promote confidence or support for a questionable action with unquestionable risks.

The “reckless” foreign policy of Bush is now being emulated.  Just as they emulated his base in Guantanamo which they promised to dismantle and never did.  We haven’t seen such a betrayal since Lyndon Johnson who soundly defeated Goldwater as a warmonger (remember the mushroom cloud ad) and proceeded to place hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground in Viet Nam.

It is apparently much easier to criticize foreign policy that it is to enact when you are the one in power.