Thursday, April 02, 2009

From Jenna Orkin:

Global Economic Crisis
Global Economy Set for Worst Fall Since WW II
Global Economy to Shrink 1.7%: World Bank
World Bank, OECD Warn of Jobless Jump
OECD TO Contract 4.3%
OECD Cuts German Economic Forecast to 5.3% Contraction
France Says Separate Currency Summit Might Be Needed
Argentina's Redrado: Could Be Time for Single Regional Currency
Bank Loans Plummet as Obama Boosts Lending
Former Bank of America Employee Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme
Political Pranksters at Bank of America
Unrest at USCS

Russia Becoming China's Biggest Energy Supplier
Russia/US Dispute Arises Over Canada Spying Accusation
Chinese Weapon Cause for Concern in US Navy
Pentagon Report on China's Military Power
Chinese Inmates at Guantanamo Pose Dilemma

Russia/Eastern Europe
Russia Carves Out Role In Crisis-Hit Economy
Its suggestion to replace the dollar with a new international reserve currency quickly found support from China and sparked international debate...

Russia has been using some of its cash to strengthen its position as a regional economic power, granting loans to Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. It is also considering credit requests from other countries as far afield as Iceland.
Ore Rich Russia Calls For Return to Gold Standard
Russia/Ukraine Tensions Flare After EU Gas Deal
Austria Gas and the Big Bad Russians
Russia Invades the Hungarian Energy Sector
Blast Reduces Russian Gas Supplies to Balkans
And in addition to its role in the G20, Polish Minister Wants to See Russia in NATO

US Offers Olive Branch to Nonviolent Taliban
US Reconciliation Offer 'Lunatic': Taliban Spokesman
Pakistan/India Trade Fire Across LoC
Pakistan Spies Under Heat in New US Strategy

Doubts Over Mumbai Suspect Lawyer
And as the US auto industry bites the dust:
Pakistan, China Cooperate in Setting Up Automotive Industry
Riots in India After Teacher Beats Up Student
Dreaming of a South Asia Union

China/Japan Launch Forest Project To Protect China's Coastal Environment
Japanese Business Confidence Hits New Low
Japan's Rice Farmers Fear Their Future is Shrinking
Comment, Rice Farmer?

Maritime Group Seeks Increased Patrols in Somalia

Business Suffers with World Water Shortage
World Water Day: Critical Shortages in Myanmar
Palace Allays Fears of Water Shortage (Philippines)

Experts Warn of Major UK Water Shortage
The image of the Englishman with his umbrella faces the same fate as the polar bear, apparently.

Iraq Blames Neighbor for Water Shortage
US (Florida): Toughest Water Rules Yet
California Drought Reveals the New Oil

Through the Looking Glass Protests: "Kangaroo Court" Hearing on California Drought

Electricity Shortages in Central Asia
Blackouts and the Electricity Grid: What's to Come

Brave New World
UK: Big Brother is Watching: Surveillance of Drivers
Thought-Controlled Robots


sunrnr said...

Here is a link to a story about gold and silver price manipulation, something MCR, Jenna and others have described many times.

Seems to be getting more insane at a rapidly increasing pace ... simply overwhelming for the most part.


Paul said...

Richard Heinberg discusses timing of the collapse


But the enormity of the current economic meltdown raises the question: Is this really just a hiccup, or is it the beginning of the end (not of the world, perhaps, but certainly of life as we have known it for the past decades)?

It's still a judgment call, at this point.

Maybe Geithner and Bernanke can pull off a miracle and stabilize the economy. In that case, with energy demand having fallen so far below its level of just a year ago, it might take as long as five years from no—who knows, maybe even seven—for depletion and decline to cause oil prices to spike again, giving the economy the coup de grace. At that point, there can indeed be no recovery, only adaptation. That's the best-case scenario I can imagine (in terms of preserving the status quo).

But I have a hard time picturing that. A much more likely scenario, in my view: We will see a few months of fairly gradual economic deterioration (slowed by the mighty efforts of the Bailout Brigade), followed by a truly ugly global economic meltdown. The result will be a general level of economic activity much lower than the world is accustomed to. Efforts to right the ship will include protectionist legislation (that will provoke international confrontations), the convening of world leaders to create a new global currency and financial system (which probably won't succeed, at least not the first time around), and various populist uprisings that will lead to political instability around the globe. Energy demand will remain low, but energy production will fall dramatically due to lack of investment. Carbon emissions will therefore fall too, so the world's attention will be diverted from tackling the greenhouse gas issue, even though climate impacts from previous carbon emissions will continue to worsen.

But here's the crux of the matter: unlike the situation the world faced in the 1970s, there is no prospect for another cheap-energy bounce this time. It's too late to muddle. We have run out the clock on proactive adaptation. From now on, collective survival will hinge on the strategies we adopt for emergency response. Some strategies will make matters worse, while others will lay the groundwork for better times to come. This is what it has come to. One doesn't wish to sound shrill, but there it is.


worth reading the whole piece, as I have had to leave out a lot of the context setting.... (sorry Jenna for such a long quote but I felt it warrented inclusion - I am sure you will feel free to trim as you see fit!)

businessman said...

I found this video to be quite amazing. Checkout these dolphin blowing bubble rings underwater and then playing with them:

F.Kamilov said...

What I previously used to tell you here about Russia on this message board - about the economic crisis being one of Western capitalism, not "backward" Russia - is coming true, as Jenna's headlines show. Of course at the time I said those things 2-3 months ago, I was rebuked by some members of this board. You see, nowadays "all" tend to be clever experts - in these times of information glut, we have a few too many of these around to be of good for anything, not to talk of their own understanding of issues. Don't mind my saying this. Now, here is my other short range prediction to be marked in red by those who see it: as to the subject of the timing of the collapse under discussion here, well, I think it will begin well and truly in SEPTEMBER this year. And in about 3-4 years, we should see Russia dramatically at the helm of a massive Eurasian bloc preparing to venture militarily into stricken Western Europe. Don't ask me how I arrived at this; this is my lifelong subject, and I have determined these conclusions over years of extensive involvement with it. I have been waiting very long for this time to arrive. The Third World War or Armageddon will be long drawn out and unprecedented, but it should succeed in reducing the global human population levels to 2 billion or even lower - so as to achieve the right future for humanity in a truly new age.

tony said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonathan said...

Um, just a comment on the South African electricity article : it is a year and three months old. Currently (pardon the pun) there is nothing like this going on. The utility is currently skating on thin ice (it's generational surplus capacity is reportedly no more than 5%), but the last time the country saw rolling brownouts was, er, January 2008.

The state-owned utility got into serious trouble over the December 2007/January 2008 crunch and several executives fell on their swords as a result. Coal supplies are now being prioritised (ZA has masses of coal), and since it was essentially a transportation problem combined with ostrichitis that caused the glitch, things are back to 'normal'.

The other side of the story which is currently being addressed is plant. The utility recommended in 1994 that new capacity be built, but the new government had other financial priorities back then. They have woken up, but plant doesn't happen overnight - they are fast-tracking a brand-new and very large coal-fired plant called Medupi : but commissioning is at least 10 years away. ZA may experience another crunch before the new plant comes on line.

Pandabonium said...

Police 'fusion' centers criticized for tracking Ron Paul, Barr, McKinney supporters
"Fusion centers are intelligence databases spread out across the country that collect data on ordinary citizens and synchronize national intelligence collection with local police. There are currently more than 40 fusion centers in the country."

Pandabonium said...

Those dolphins are a joy, Businessman. Thanks.
Here's another interesting clip - an elephant painting art.

May all beings be happy.

T.A. Whiston said...

If we look at reliable demographics from the past century and more we see the current downturn is likely to become long-term, i.e. another depression. HOWEVER it is critical for people to get away from all this "end of the world" and "gloom and doom" thinking because it is exactly these sentiments that welcome disaster and make it easy for certain tyrant groups to manipulate situations.

The facts are:

Economic downturns actually create HUGE windows of opportunity. I urge people to stop waiting for the sky to fall and begin looking for ways to prosper - these are EVERYWHERE if you're willing to accept this mindset and remain diligent.

Right now we are seeing incredible opportunities in the commodity sectors. And the next few years will likely be optimal times to enter the bottomed out stock markets for huge gains over the coming decade. Likewise a potential bottom in housing will enable the "average" person to get into real estate with small up front capital.

Civilization is on the upswing on a 500 year cycle. Awareness is being raised and while some turbulence is impending if we work together, avoid preaching doom and destruction, and insist on the best outcome in terms of personal motivation, what we teach our kids, etc. our society will be better than it has ever been by the early 2020's.

I'm not being naive or flippant. This attitude is based on substantial economic research and what I see emerging in the world right now.

While it's important to remain aware it is so much more important that we do so with positive attitudes and intentions. The world is not ending and there is still so much incredible opportunity for personal development and wealth creation IF you are willing to commit to it and look for it.

pstajk said...

That Heinberg article is brilliant.

Except, everyone's approximate timelines are different.

Ruppert - Within 1 year (as I understand his position)

Kunstler - 6-18 months

Orlov - Within 1-2 years

Heinberg - 2016

Jonathon Porritt - 2020

Colin Mason - 2030

FTW admin said...

thx jonathan
the article's been removed

pstajk said...

Has anyone seen the movie Rules of Engagement ...

my blood is curdling right now thinking about the United States military, its politicians, and this whole goddamn mess of an empire

pstajk said...

Apologies for multiple posts ...

here's a good read from Chris Floyd

Surging Further Into the Afghan Abyss

businessman said...

T.A. Whiston...While I love your call for both optimism and looking for opportunity...Where does Peak Oil figure into your projections?

What you've mentioned below runs contrary to what will be possible under Peak Oil.

You mentioned:

"And the next few years will likely be optimal times to enter the bottomed out stock markets for huge gains over the coming decade."


"Civilization is on the upswing on a 500 year cycle...our society will be better than it has ever been by the early 2020's."

In addition to:

"I'm not being naive or flippant. This attitude is based on substantial economic research and what I see emerging in the world right now."

Rice Farmer said...

On Japan's rice farmers -- In truth, many of Japan's elites would like to get rid of agriculture entirely, as they consider it a drag on the economy. One of the most revealing statements in this vein was made by Sony high muckamuck Ibuka Masaru when he declared that using land to farm was a waste, as building a factory on the land and making goods for export would be far more productive and profitable. He recommended that Japan import all its food (literally he said something like, Japan's agriculture should be moved to Southeast Asia).

The incestuous relationship between the LDP and farmers is, simply put, money for votes (nothing new there, huh?). Keep the farmers happy by supporting prices and dumping money into rural areas, and reap the votes. How many needless roads and "facilities" have I seen? I've lost count.

As noted, there have long been calls to pursue economies of scale by expanding farms. For that purpose, the bulldozers are brought in for "farmland consolidation," which consists in joining a number of fields to form one large field, thereby facilitating large-scale mechanized agriculture. But, as the example given in the article shows, the result is not necessarily profitable. Not for the farmers, anyway.

Price supports aren't the only barrier to acquiring farmland. You also need to be tilling rented or owned farmland that totals a certain amount in order to gain the "qualification" to buy farmland. As I and many others have found out, this system serves to keep farmland out of the hands of people who would like to go into farming or expand their operations.

Another serious impediment to bringing in new blood is the lack of places to live. Right in my neighborhood there are something like two dozen vacant farmhouses. And there are young people who would like to live in them. But there are no incentives to make the owners rent or sell. Consequently, the houses sit uninhabited, rotting on their foundations, unused farmland is overgrown with weeds and trees, and eager young would-be farmers languish in the cities.

In the final analysis, Japan's leaders cannot break free of the globalization mindset and open their eyes to the impending catastrophe. So I don't look for any major policy changes on agriculture until food shortages actually develop.

Ž said...

To F.Kamilov,

It's quite a statement you made in your post.

But, being the sceptic, I try to confirm things from different perspectives, before I commit to it. Can you point me to some links or propose a read, that would confirm your belief from different angles?

The big crunch comming in September I can believe. I have a friend, who is a director of a Slovenian-owned production plant in Shenzen, China - He said in a hush-hush manner, that the more he goes over the figures, the more he is convinced, that another tsunami of depression will hit China in May/June. The fact, that it takes approx 3 months for a crisis in China to hit the rest of the world, September is totally belivable prediction for another global recession tsunami.

However, your prediction of a Russian-led armed conflict in Europe "in 3 to 4 years" is mind boggling, unbelivable and a bit on a doom&gloom side.

I am not questioning your conviction or expertise, but merely painting my initial response to your post.

That is why I am asking for your clarification, elaboration, or more to the point - some links or books/essays/articles on this subject that would confirm your claim.

Living in a country wedged between Italy, Austria and Hungary, I hope you can understand my immediate intrest and concern regarding such issues - I practically live in the path of advance/conquest.

Being only human, I allways think first of my two little kids and what I can do to protect them from such harm. Personaly, I think their relocation in the face of imminent danger is the only logical and sane choice for a father. But for recognising the danger, one must know what to look for in the first place. This is where your help and input will be very apreciated.

I thank you in advance.


Shorebreak said...

"The Third World War or Armageddon will be long drawn out and unprecedented, but it should succeed in reducing the global human population levels to 2 billion or even lower - so as to achieve the right future for humanity in a truly new age." - F. Kamilov

The "right future"? That's quite the sacrifice that you're willing to make for humanity, my friend. You have my undying support - so long as the plan impacts you and yours rather than me and mine.

Sebastian Ronin said...

pstajk, re "Except, everyone's approximate timelines are different."

When dealing within the context of civilizational collapse a matter of several years, even a couple of decades, is irrelevant. Relative to an historical timeline, it is NOW.

IMO, we are confronted with two phases: the first phase within several years, spawning economic meltdown, national protectionism, police states, FEMA zones, etc. The second phase, when energy depletion is really beginning to kick home and take down social institutions in its wake, in around 2030, give or take. The true revolutionaries are yet mere toddlers. Such is a far cry from wanna-be, rent-a-crowd Anarchists.

We are merely cyber-revolutionaries enjoying great pomp and circumstance. With inverse Zen pointing at our vanity and comfort, it is the sound of two hands clapping.

sunrnr said...

On a bit lighter note, I find it rather interesting that current "Doonesbury" is peeling away the onions layers in discussing the CIA, Afghanistan and Pakistan with respect to the opium trade.

It's what's MCR has been saying for some time only in pictures and simple terms that maybe more will take notice of?

Thank you all, especially Jenna, for the continuing learning opportunities and enlightenment. Overwhelming and a bit disheartening it all is, but necessary.


Sebastian Ronin said...

Re population. Let us be clear between a "cull" and a "purge." It is a simple fact that, minus the cheap and massive energy flows of the last century, the carrying capacity of the planet is two to three billion, give or take. There is no need to take this personally. It just is. Merely superimpose pre-industrial population levels over pre-industrial energy flow-through to get a rough picture.

tony said...

@ Kamilov: I live in Belgium and I'm learning Russian now, mostly because of what you're saying (greater power for Russia)
by the way, my great grandfather (never knew him) learned German in the thirties because he saw them coming...

@ Ronin: I would guess the carrying capacity of the planet without fossil fuels is probably below 1 billion, above 1,5 billion seems extremely unlikely to me.
I have done some research on this and the issue is very complex, and I guess the best thing you can do is just look at history: world population didn't go above 1 billion before 1800, although you can argue the Americas were seriously underpopulated at that time, but on the other hand the use of fossil fuels (in non-negligible amounts) in England and the Netherlands (which probably raised carrying capacity of other countries as well by their trade, which expands the scope of resources available, but this is very difficult to quantify) and in China too started centuries before that.
Also, a global carrying capacity isn't very meaningful in a non-globalized world without a global market.
Of course, it could very well be that some stabilisation takes place around the 2-3 billion level
(for the sake of clarity: I don't like this at all)

Sebastian Ronin said...

tony, for all the reasons you cite, 1.5 billion is quite probable. The only reason I don't draw a more purist line across circa 1800 and the first billion is that I think, even without the technological bells and whistles, advances made in medical science will be retained.

If things go nuke, then all bets are off. My concern is more with the nuclear winter than with the actual fireworks.

Unlike Kamilov, I maintain that Russia is part of industrial civilization and will suffer same institutional implosions, fractures, etc., up to and including its own secessionist forces (as will/is China).

IMO, by the end of the current century the remaining population will be creating new social institutions around a type of feudal re-tribaliztion. (The die-off, relatively speaking, will make the Black Death seem like a nose bleed.)

darkstar said...

As a marxist, I view the current financial fiasco as the birth pangs of a truly globalised capitalism.

What we are witnessing is the conclusive demise of the old British Empire and imperial capitalism centred as it was in the UK and US, and the rise of a multi-polar system, one that naturally gravitates to new and vast sources of as yet untapped surplus in the likes of the former communist and non-European states.

I believe that we have at least another 3 bubbles before the terminal demise of this system, which I put at about 5 decades away, bearing in mind the as yet massive slack we have in these new sources of surplus.

Yes, I am aware that there will be issues as to the resourcing of the globalised cornucopia but I suspect the issue will be mitigated by a combination of technical patches, regulations and of course, that famous capitalist mantra, "free market forces".

agape wins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
agape wins said...

there are too many posters here who have blinders
on, are thoroughly brainwashed, (braindead), or have
never read a subjective history of their nation or culture!

I am a follower of Christ, not a "book" Christian, any of
our "inspired" works, of whatever flavor had to be written
to survive it's deniers. If you think things will be as you
were taught, you possibly "know" the CIA, KGB or whatever
other controlling agency is working for your betterment, there is a James Bond or Superman Somewhere ready to save your
worthy behind. None of us alive today has any clearer picture
than the human Deities we quote, they were writing in the dark,
as we are living the unknown!

My side will overcome, and show you how it's done, killing most
of YOU to prove our point!
WE must get beyond that, if we allow the old paradigm to work
we will end it all and there will be no future, your "right future" or my wrong one.

The west before conquest!

What you thought you knew about Christ, what about Revelation?

The bible says " The Lion will Lie down with the Lamb",
why not the former Communist (Christian), Lie down with the
former Capitalist (atheist)?

A good example of Amae, why is this becoming more common?

The only way to have a future is to Love and Share, not Hate & KILL!!

There are many here who are attempting to save as many as possible, you know who you are!


pstajk said...

hey agape ... relax on the beliefs my main man

religious beliefs are half the reason why why we are where we are right now

What Would Carlin Do

eyeballs said...

RE: Through the Looking Glass Protests: "Kangaroo Court" Hearing on California Drought

Down the Rabbit Hole indeed! The White Knight talking backwards… PR firms are being shut out of the democratic process. What’s become of our beloved republic?

The article states: ‘The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources ... is expected to blame climate change for a critical water shortage while glossing over the role of activist-inspired environmental policies in exacerbating the shortage, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.

‘"By demanding that the water flow into the Pacific Ocean, government meddlers have forced farmers to abandon production, threatening both the nation's fresh food supplies and the jobs of farm workers, many of whom are among the nation's poorest minorities," said Mr. Smith. "Ironically, the cut-off of agricultural water has done nothing to help the Delta Smelt. Every year less water is diverted for agriculture, yet the fish population continues to decline."’

PR Newswire, a business lobby organization, cares a great deal about water, but nothing about rivers. In fact the long article did not once name the river which should not be allowed to reach the sea (the Sacramento?). This story was sourced from National Center for Public Policy Research, which introduces itself as: “a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems.”

My, these people are going to have no sympathy at all for a natural river reaching the sea. It seems to me that this Kangaroo Court may be good news, in spite of the lack of public input. People like PR Newswire and NCPPR give democracy a bad smell.

Not that I’m against democracy. It might be a great idea. But a pseudo-democracy dominated by PR firms and corporate media and huge banks doesn’t do us a whole lot of good. Does it?

tony said...

@Ronin: you could be right on that (the medical science thing), but then again medical science is of minor importance in determining carrying capacity: if you can save more lives (and thus raise average life experience), people will just make less children (but in the other case you indeed are wasting resources on people that die young and don't contribute much to society)
and then we haven't talked yet about soil depletion, forest destruction, and so on

Hikikomori said...

F.Kamilov wrote:
"And in about 3-4 years, we should see Russia dramatically at the helm of a massive Eurasian bloc preparing to venture militarily into stricken Western Europe."

What would be the reason for Russia and other Eurasian countries to invade Western Europe, armed with nuclear weapons? Perhaps France and Germany could support Russia (hardly believable), but what about Britain, USA and the whole NATO?

I understand that Russia, still rich with natural gas and oil resources, is trying to increase its global economical and political influence. Recently we've seen a rehearsal with Ukraine, which also affected some other European countries and in fact whole EU as a political/economical unit.

When economy goes down, social/political discontent/unrest goes up. Then it's perfect time for various radicals, marginals, populists and opportunists -- in other words -- for false messiahs to come to power, by accepting temptation of (foreign) "sponsors". Again, rehearsals had been done in Lithuania with former (impeached) President Rolandas Paksas (NY Times) and former (runaway) Minister of Economic Affairs Viktor Uspaskich (BBC).

You don't need troops if you control economy and politicians. However, troops could help, if that control would be in danger.

Listen to Lithuania: "it is important to remember that several staunch U.S. allies in Central and Eastern Europe have much to lose if the United States rushes to engage the Kremlin without taking into account Russia’s treatment of its neighbors."

The West, Russia, and Eastern Europe: New Challenges, New Opportunities -- Speech by Vygaudas Ušackas, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs @ John Hopkins University,
March 10, 2009, Washington D.C.

agape wins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Does GOLD Equal Wealth Preservation?

Question: How do you know when it’s time to buy gold?
Answer: According to the mainstream experts, it's when clouds of smoke start coming out of the Fed’s overheated bailout bazooka. In other words: N-O-W.
Sorry Charlie. If ever there was a time for the supposed “inflation” premium of GOLD to appear, it was on March 18, 2009. That day, the Federal Open Market Committee announced a new plan to transfuse an additional $1.15 Trillion into the anemic economy, including a $300 billion purchase of U.S. Treasury Bonds.
By all measures this was the single largest inflationary event in U.S. history. For gold, it was hitting the bullish mother load, and prices should have soared through the roof and gone into deep-space orbit.
Yet the exact opposite occurred. On March 20, gold turned DOWN from a one-month high and has since lost more than $60 per ounce. Anyone riding the gold bandwagon was not singing happy show tunes along the way.
On the other side of the track, however, the March 18 Short Term Update set the stage for a sharp reversal in gold prices via the following insight:
“The wave structure, if we have interpreted it correctly, suggests that gold will not make a new high and in fact may be ending the rise right now.”

agape wins said...


I don't know your history, you need to know mine, mother raised 7th day
Adventist, gave me nothing, Gideons New Testament, at 8Yr old.
I had a Jewish Friend, we would enter church's, when they were empty,
mostly treated well, Catholic priest, chased us out, Jewish Rabi gave us
a informative tour, warm & friendly. I attended a Salvation Army Chapel
intermittently from 9 to 11, Calvinist 14 to 20, but studied many faiths, &
some sects! By 25 I Had determined there was only one GOD, Force,
Energy, be it Male/Female, expressed in many differing ways.
Some were Mean & aggressive, while others were kind & Loving, but
even the nastiest had a soft side.
I have my opinion of Armageddon, and the other dire predictions, from
many faiths, I see them as warnings that we bring these things upon
OURSELVES by our actions, just as every Addict does; BUT that can
be changed!
Postings which talk about Armageddon, or WWIII as something precluded,
or which can't be avoided or modified belong somewhere else!
Warnings, or cautions are ok but none of us is able to point a finger & say
"You should or will Parish". We each of us, by our actions, YES,MINE;
have condemned many, if not to death, then a life of privation.
Can I stop it, trade places? NO, they could not survive, & I am not
prepared for their lifestyle, all I can do is recognize where I am, & take
the steps I think will change everyone's future.

Look back at my last long post, no one was named, I want everyone to
have a Long, Happy future, even those I disagree with, please do not
tell me you know who should/will die.

When Oil/Cheap Energy is no longer CHEAP, everything takes on a new
shape, I, not someone else, will create a monster or a livable future!
PLEASE, work with me, toward Life, not Death.

eyeballs said...


RE: Listen to Lithuania

We need to read these articles carefully.

The Weekly Standard, which ran the story, is published by PNAC guru William Kristol, who obviously favors aggressive U. S. foreign policy. His contribution to the Iraq war and blusterings about pre-emptive strikes in Iran should not be forgotten. The man called Israel’s invasion of Lebanon “our war, too” and suggested possibly attacking Burma.

The speech by Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs took place at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Sounds very impressive, and it is. Many foreign policy functionaries have taken degrees there and lectured there. Paul Wolfowitz spent most of the Clinton Administration as Dean of SAIS, and Eliot Cohen still teaches there. Two Assistant Secretaries of State (Brimmer and Gordon) were recently on the SAIS staff.

It’s worth noting who Paul Nitze was. He was the man who, in 1950, convinced President Truman to put America on a permanent wartime economy (making the military industrial complex the backbone of American foreign policy), in an infamous National Security Council report, NSC 68. Subsequent information has shown that the Russians in 1950 had neither the will nor the capability to threaten America, but the “Soviet threat” kept the defense industry fat until 1989. We all know what substitute has been developed, but there’s nothing like fear of Russian aggression to sell armaments (e.g. missiles for Poland).

Posting such an article without context suggests, Hey! Lithuania should be directing American foreign policy! That speech was a deliberate flourish on the part of American hawks, in preparation for serious negotiations with Russia. With all due sympathy to the non-Russian Lithuanians, the non-Russian Georgians and the independence-minded Ukranians, this call represents a re-assertion of Cold War politics by the team that benefits most. Fortunately or unfortunately, this time America is much less capable of making good on such an assertion. But it may strengthen Obama’s, Brimmer’s and Gordon’s hands as they discuss the difficult issues.

Responding, on this topic, to Kamilov:

Lithuania exists, as Taiwan exists, perilously proximate to a hungry empire. The same could be said of Mexico. But imperial powers would be advised to guage their aggression. It's much cheaper to overshadow a weak neighbor than to attempt complete domination. With any luck, this is what the Great Powers will decide to do, while dealing rationally with their respective domestic crises.

Hikikomori said...

Eyeballs, while writing my previous post I was aware of the issues mentioned by you. However, my only intention was to show that Russia is still dangerous to Eastern Europe and what methods are used by Kremlin to control its neighbours. To ensure their security they need strong Western allies. Hawks or doves are more internal issue of the US, while foreign countries mostly see and accept US as a single country. Lithuania is an ally of the US, not of Republicans or Democrats, hawks or doves.

Sure, US foreign policies depend on internal politics, therefore world's relations with US also may cool down or warm up. But small countries like Baltic states can't afford to lose such an ally as US, therefore they have fewer choices and less flexibility.

Baltic states would not benefit from hawkish US policies towards Russia. They need Russia as a partner who respects them, not an enemy who hates them. They need peace and balance. How US achieves that balance -- it's up to US. They just don't want to be traded and sold or left alone. It's unforgiving to live in a buffer zone between Russia and the West.

You have to understand their realities. Baltic states went through Soviet occupation, endured genocide and the old, Soviet generation still has Soviet mentality deep down to subconsciousness, which is often easily and quite successfully manipulated.

Eastern Europeans can not afford to criticize American administration and they don't need another Cold War. They have interest in their own security and they talk to those, who can ensure it. Sad but true...

P.S. Ideal is a goal, but the path to it leads through reality.