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Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was the last German Chancellor I could witness in Germany between 1974 to 1982. He was a Social Democrat. I believe we didn't have a Chancellor of his stature ever since. He was born the same year my father was born in my "hometown" of Hamburg and is today 95 years old. He is now (a chain-smoking) publisher of the reknown weekly newspaper "Die Zeit". Before Helmut Schmidt became Chancellor he was Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance and briefly Minister of Economics as well as acting Foreign Minister. He also managed a dangerous flood during a Hurrikane that hit Hamburg in 1962 and saved a lot of Hamburg citizens, being then a local Hamburg politician. His actions during that flood helped him a lot in his later elections to become German Chancellor.

When he sits down to talk, many in Germany listen. I was waiting to hear from him about his views on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and today the German Weekly news magazine "Der Spiegel" published an article under (the roughly translated) title  Former Chancellor Schmidt defends Putin's Ukraine-Course.

Helmut Schmidt said that he thinks that the Russian approach is "quite understandable". Sanctions are in his opinion "rubbish". The situation in the Ukraine may be dangerous - but he puts the blame for that on the West.

Further sanctions, he said, would miss the target, they would have only symbolic character, but could harm and hit the West as much as they would hit Russia.

Helmut Schmidt's comments now strengthen those in the German public debate, who lobby for "Understanding for Moscow". Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had argued similarly, but I would say that Helmut Schmidt's words might be taken more seriously at least among the elderly generation of Germans.

Helmut Schmidt also criticized the decision of the West to not cooperate with Russia under the G8 framework. He said it would be "ideal to sit down together". It would be more becoming to peace than the threats of sanctions would be. He added that the G8 is in fact not as important as the G20. Russia has not been (so far) shown the door out of the G20.

Helmut Schmidt said the situation in Ukraine is dangerous, because "the West is terribly exasperated with the situation". This leads, he said, obviously to the situation where the public in Russia gets also very upset and troubled. He praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel's "carefulness" and "precaution".

Questioned, if he could imagine a Russian intervention in the Eastern part of Ukraine, Helmut Schmidt responded: "I deny to engage in speculations, but I think it is conceivable. I consider it a mistake, though, if the West pretends that this intervention would be inevitably the next step of Russian actions. This would only lead to potentially wet the Russian's appetite."

Well, that's it.  Just reporting some things people don't like too much in these parts of the woods, but in the German forests there might be more people leaning towards the thinking of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt than you would think.

Originally posted to mimi on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I can understand former Kanzler Schmidt's point (20+ / 0-)

    of view. One of the things some Americans don't know (though I have seen it mentioned a bit in the news) is that much of Central Europe, including many US allies and NATO members, depend on Russian natural gas. Can you imagine what it would mean to Central Europe is the Russians retaliated by shutting off their gas?

    Someone on MSNBC said this morning something to the effect that one freezing Winter for our allies in Europe would not make for good public opinion of the US.

    Invading Crimea was not appropriate on the international scale and the plebiscite was total garbage. That being said, given the number of ethnic Russians who live in Crimea, well, that complicates the issue. It's not black and white.

    As far as the rest of Ukraine is concerned, the international community is going to have to deal in some way with any further Russian expansion there.

    Some Republicans, who have pressed for military action, clearly do not understand Europe, and do not understand Russia. They are total know-nothings. Democrats are justifiably outraged, however the solution to this will not come through sanctions and embarrassing Russia on the international stage.

    I agree with Schmidt more than I disagree (and I went over and read the interview) and I also know this opinion is NOT likely to be popular here at Daily Kos.

    Let me tell you this though: when I was living in Vienna, had the Russians cut off the gas pipelines we would have all frozen and starved. This is what the Russians have over the West, and the US and its allies would do well to be extremely cautious (and clever) in dealing with Russia.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:34:28 AM PDT

    •  thank you ... it's mentioned also in the US news (8+ / 0-)

      at least they formulate their opinions sometimes in more careful language.

      Can you imagine what it would mean to Central Europe is the Russians retaliated by shutting off their gas?
      Yes, it means misery, disaster and outrage and frozen feets and butts and frostbites. Let's hope everybody remains level-headed and nobody plays with the (explosive) gas supplies and doesn't do any of these stupidities.

      I do remember my parents talking about the "Berlin Airlift 1948-1949, the year I was born. Stalin had cut off the Western Allies occupied zones of Berlin from almost everything and "West Berlin" was surrounded by communist Russian military. Among other there was NO coal (which Germany had in abundance) or other heating material. People cut wood out of their furniture and the US Allied planes brought in COAL ... and we were grateful for it.

      I don't think the situation is perceived as dangerous now as my mother experienced the winter of 1948. We don't need a repeat of the cold war.

      It's interesting to look at the time line given in the link I posted.

      ...and I also know this opinion is NOT likely to be popular here at Daily Kos.
      Yeah, yeah, popularity is a such a shallow thingy, isn't it?
      But ... who gives a sh... ... arghh, nobody, at least I heard so before ...  :)
      •  I have a bit of a cold, a pretty nasty head and (4+ / 0-)

        chest cold with chills and fever.

        I walked to the store the other day and it was pretty brutal.

        I realized that if I were sick like this without heat in the winter like this, that it is quite possible that I would die.

        I don't think we have any idea what it is like to not have facilities and cheap, ubiquitous, and reliable energy.

        Great point about heating and feeding Europe.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:18:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  An animal will chew off its leg to escape a trap (4+ / 0-)

      But it seems that a German won't.  Actually, the Ukraine could cut off Russian gas to Germany and Poland any time they want to.  If Russia invades, I guarantee that the Ukrainian nationalists will blow up the pipelines.  If Europe turned down the temperature to 50F, they could do without Russian gas.  It wouldn't be nice, but it wouldn't be fatal.

      Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

      by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 01:59:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  certainly (3+ / 0-)

      you put the energy issue at the core of your comment and rightly so but, other economic issues are in olay too.
      Russia is Germany's 4th largest business partner. It's huge and not negligible. Russian capitals keep City running in London and a few other bank systems depend on it greatly. Russian tourists are the most sought after market for countries who greatly depend on tourism etc..etc.
      Outdated views of what Russia is and how much an influential actor is lead many people (even here) to have wrong reactions and opinions.

  •  Perhaps an effective technique would be (5+ / 0-)

    to try to convince the Swiss and Liechtenstein to freeze Russian oligarchs' bank accounts. It's a long shot (the Swiss would probably never go for it) but it would be business sanctions, not state sanctions, and it would be done by a third party proxy.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:38:00 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting (3+ / 0-)

    I will have a look.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:57:27 AM PDT

  •  I understand former President Carter (5+ / 0-)

    was making similar points on "Late Night with David Letterman" Monday night.  But what do you think, mimi?  If you lived in Ukraine which side would you be on?

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:01:15 AM PDT

    •  depends on who I would be ethnically ... (7+ / 0-)

      doesn't make much sense to try to answer the question, if you don't consider what kind of identity I would have in your hypothetical question. Anchestry and cultural ties are a given, you can't pretend you are something you are not.

      •  Of course it would (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, jilikins

        Let's say that instead of emigrating to the US from Germany you had emigrated to Ukraine.  Would that automatically mean that you were pro-Maidan or could you see yourself supporting the Party of Regions?

        The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

        by amyzex on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 12:54:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If I were a Ukrainian (6+ / 0-)

        I'd support participation in both the EU and Russia's Eurasian Customs Union. There are distinct and unique advantages to both (and this is why Yanukovich campaigned for President on the platform of participating in both).

        But I'd oppose Ukraine being dragged into NATO, which would greatly (and needlessly) antagonize her Russian neighbor. I suspect this is why Yanukovich suddenly did a volte-face and cut a deal with Russia: he discovered the IMF was insisting complete repudiation of the Eurasian Customs Union and immediate entry into NATO were the price for joining the EU.

        Just before the Maidan insurrection a majority of Ukrainians supported joining the EU but not NATO.

        The decision may now be out of their hands; it will be decided for them by someone else.

        •  We see now (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          madcitysailor, amyzex

          How appeasement of the Bear worked for the Ukraine.

          Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

          by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 02:04:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Can you point me to a document (0+ / 0-)

          where the IMF demanded that Ukraine join NATO before getting any assistance?  I don't think I have ever heard that.

          The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

          by amyzex on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 11:55:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's not precisely that way. The EU Trade (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LanceBoyle, amyzex

            Agreement, spoken of as purely 'trade' in our media, had several military provisions (all in Title II) which basically amounted to: 'ukraine will consult with, coordinate with, develop strategies and tactics with, come to the aid of, etc the EU military.' Ukraine would agree to work within 'the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)' an long-existing military group formed of European nations. (Not sure about the US.)

            Here is the PDF link for the Title II part.

            Here's from Title II, Article IV, the purposes of the agreement:

            1. Political dialogue in all areas of mutual interest shall be further developed and strengthened between the Parties. This will promote gradual convergence on foreign and security matters with the aim of Ukraine's ever-deeper involvement in the European security area.
            2. The aims of political dialogue shall be:
              (a) to deepen political association and increase political and security policy convergence and effectiveness;
              (b) to promote international stability and security based on effective multilateralism;
              (c) to strengthen cooperation and dialogue between the Parties on international security and crisis management, particularly in order to address global and regional challenges and key threats;

            So the CSDP (that's in Article X of Title II) is formed by European nations and works with NATO; the EU members are largely NATO, but the agreement wasn't specifically about NATO. Though one would reasonably expect that, what? with revolving doors and several hats, you'd find overlap in the various memberships.

            So, sign the Economic agreement and you get the Military agreement at the same time. I've been told nobody takes treaties seriously when I've posted this elsewhere at DKos, but that's a bit silly. Certainly the Russians took it seriously.


            Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

            by Jim P on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:58:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yanukovych could have signed (0+ / 0-)

              and then dragged his feet about the defense provisions.  But more probably he knew the Russians would not tolerate any government of Ukraine signing the agreement because of the defense provisions.  

              In Yanukovych's place I would have gone in on the final day of negotiations saying the defense provisions were a deal breaker.  I would have carried my cell phone so the SBU could record my conversation and I could play it for a domestic audience.  For all we know, he tried to do that but they wouldn't let him bring in his cell phone.

              The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

              by amyzex on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 10:53:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In my opinion, the military cooperation and (0+ / 0-)

                absorption was the main motive for the West, especially the US, even more than the money for the Agreement in the first place. There is a long-established global hegemony plan, after all, to surround Russia and China; our major competitors for resources and power in the world.

                You can't really drag your feet on this kind of agreement anyway. You've agreed. Drag the feet, and they counter with dragging on the economic help.


                Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

                by Jim P on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 12:05:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Do you feel the flight of $70 billion (0+ / 0-)

                  in capital from Ukraine during Yanukovych's term was part of this "global hegemony plan?"  Or was it just a lack of confidence in Ukrainian institutions by the country's elite?

                  The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

                  by amyzex on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 12:21:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  And if the whole thing was a CIA plot (0+ / 0-)

                  how come we haven't heard the phone call with Victoria Nuland from during the negotiations where she says, "This will drive an infinite wedge between Putin and Yanukovych and guarantee US hegemony in Eastern Europe"?

                  The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

                  by amyzex on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 12:27:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ?Plot? What are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

                    Nuland is married to the leading neo-con, one of the Kagans, and is in-law to the neo-con who formulated the string of wars and revolutions we've been seeing. As well as an author of the notorious "the project for a new american century' who is listened to by the pentagon and the foreign policy elite.

                    "The Grand Chessboard" by Brzezinski, a major influence in our foreign policy thinking (though not a neocon himself) is pretty explicit about Afghanistan and Ukraine being key pivot points in winning the game. That game which leads to misery of most of humanity, but, what of that?

                    The foreign policy crowd, the people who set the US long-term agenda regardless of who is President, has been very open, published and lectures, about their wish to control the world's resources, and the need to stymie Russia and China in order to do that. Hence the training and arming of Georgians by US, Israel, etc, before their war with Russia; the NATO push into Russia's border states, the "Pivot to Asia."

                    Pretty much the whole world knows what our geopolitical strategy is, except for Americans relying on our Free Press.

                    Unreported, for example, in the US Press the day the US invaded Iraq, was a speech broadcast in all of Asia by the then-new Chinese Premier. He said that this is the beginning of the US war against China and that is why they were now going to start putting money into developing their military technology. He didn't mention Russia, but then he's not Russian. You can't understand why Russia and China have been rapidly developing their military capabilities if you haven't read, as they have, the open source materials on what the US sees as its plan. Meanwhile, our Press portrays them as becoming aggressive.

                    The AfriCom focus, where we're sending military 'advisors' to almost all of Africa below the Sahara, is a response to Chinese inroads.

                    Seriously, there's a lot of open source literature about our agenda. Start with reading "The Grand Chessboard" and much that seems confusing will become plain.


                    Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says DC Bubble Conventional Wisdoom.

                    by Jim P on Fri Mar 28, 2014 at 12:44:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  yeah, Carter is the only former President (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, jilikins, Kevskos, NM Ray, Dave925

      who speaks his mind.  I like that.

    •  Depends on what part of the Ukraine (0+ / 0-)

      In the east, they have never been enamored with the ideological forerunners of Ukraine's far right movements and ultra nationalism as they see them as fascists who still celebrate nazi collaborators and ethnic cleansing.

  •  Certainly worth noting (7+ / 0-)

    Schmidt does carry considerable weight.  Interesting though that he seems to embrace this frame that things only of Russia, but doesn't consider the interests of other countries really at all.  I can't imagine this point of view is too popular among Ukrainians, since it more or less sells them down the river.

    •  Keeping up the european natural gas supply (4+ / 0-)

      is what's in the interest of other countries. Big time.

      Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

      by commonmass on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:25:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  including in the interest of the US ? /nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, k9disc
      •  True. Unfortunately for us... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, mimi

        ...(those of us who oppose fracking) however, this is what the greatly accelerated speed of fracking and shipments of fracked crude to refineries (especially in CA) is all about.

        Even though we are rushing fracked crude, it will still take about 2 years before the U.S. can meet Europe's need for natural gas.

        For this, we face greater environmental destruction, risks of derailments, spills, explosions, and the possible triggering of earthquakes.  I think it's nuts!

        Good diary mimi!  This situation is so cangerous and so complicated that it is important to hear more opinions than just the mainstream.  

        "The only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Hannah Arendt

        by dharmasyd on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 07:08:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  goes against my logic to be dependent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dharmasyd

          on US gas deliveries or Russian gas deliveries to Germany and other East European countries. The dependencies are going to be so severe that it will lead to unacceptable political power imbalances.

          I support any technology that would give local people the freedom to produce the energy they need  themselves. I hope for technological innovations that would make nuclear energy production and oil dependencies of one country from the next country a thing of the past.

          My question to commonmass above was a slightly faked question of the gullible kind. I just wanted for people to come out and talk.

          •  This Ukrainian issue... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mimi

            ..is a must for talking.  We need to follow this closely, many opinions, not just the mainstream U.S. media.  That's why I like you diary and also promoted it on CUA.

            "The only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Hannah Arendt

            by dharmasyd on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 12:13:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  thank you, dharmasyd, today (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dharmasyd, ybruti

              Schmidt got already criticized as being "(intellectually) lazy" in an opinion piece and the Green Party also critized him somewhat for his words, while the leftists supported him. So, I guess, back at my old hometurf people get into the "talk"

              Merkel said she would "question the whole energy policy situation of Germany" while Canadian PM was at her side, who was eager to offer his "services" to offer Canadian energy resources (like the US has already done before). Merkel also said that Germany's dependency from Russian gas is not the highest dependency compared to other countries. That indicates she is capable to see the dependency issue in context and in comparison with other countries, which is somewhat calming.

              But I really would like to see a situation where one country can't extort another country because they are energy dependent. Morally not acceptable, though it's a reality all over the world.

    •  I doubt that Germany would sell the Ukraine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos

      ... down the river. And I don't think he is "not considering the interests of other countries", I rather believe he knows those interests all too well and therefore lobbies for caution.

    •  Who do you suppose speaks for Ukraine? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler, bobdevo

      The 1%-ers pulling toward the West because they think their riches will grow? The 40% who have Russian ancestry and ties? The remainder, who don't really care either way?

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 08:58:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The focal point of Russian takeover is Sebastopol (8+ / 0-)

    Putin and the Russians had lots of other really important "stuff" to take care of when Yanukovich and his gang took over Ukraine.

    Having a hostile government in Kiev was an existential threat to the Russian Navy's warm water port and its transit to the Mediterranean. Russia had 26,000 personnel at their Naval Facility in Sebastopol at the time of the invasion. Putin could not run the risk of having highway and rail transportation cut off by Ukrainian "fascists," as he called them.

    Most educated Europeans recognize this issue . . . even though they may hate the Crimean take-over.

    We're all just working for Pharoah.

    by whl on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 05:22:16 PM PDT

    •  +1 for the Cheech & Chong reference. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 09:04:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly backwards (0+ / 0-)

      Putin did this because he doesn't consider the Ukraine to be a significant military force - so you have this exactly backwards.  If Crimea were in NATO, Putin wouldn't have dared to do this.

      Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

      by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 02:09:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Any Russian leader worth anything (0+ / 0-)

        not just Putin, would do it in anticipation of any NATO pact; you can take it to the bank.

        And it would be easy, not because Ukraine is weak as much as half the population is not too crazy about the illegal coup government that "cancelled" their last election result....

        How would you feel if teabaggers, upset with Obama, staged a coup CANCELLING your democratic choice?  Think for a second.

         

  •  What is the aim of the sanctions regime? To get (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, edg, truong son traveler, fran1

    Putin to withdraw from Crimea, to create economic chaos, to "whack his pee-pee," to change the political climate for Putin in Russia? Well... Crimea has been annexed, economic chaos is a possibility, but not one that could be contained to just Russia, punishing Putin personally doesn't seem to be working, and the political climate has changed in Russia with Putin's approval numbers soaring...  So, again I ask: What is the aim of the sanctions?

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 05:41:00 PM PDT

    •  Aim is to deal with Hillary's Bill Problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      1) In the 1990s, Bill Clinton convinced Ukraine to surrender its nukes to Russia and US Arms control officials.  Which was a great service to the American People.
      2) Bill also convinced the Ukrainians to do so by offering up US assurances that fell short of a guarantee of military protection -- because (a) Bill didn't want to go that far and (b) The Senate would never have approved the treaty anyway .  This finesse was also a great service to the American People.

      3) Unfortunately, chickens have come home to roost.  I don't know who stirred this pot of manure (Neocons?) but it is becoming a problem.  

      US military support of Ukraine is deeply unpopular with the voters --only 16% support it even within the Republican Party.  So if the Republicans can promote this war now then they can turn around and blame the Clintons for it in 2016 the same way they promoted the war in Vietnam and then hung it around Lyndon Johnson's neck.

      So need is to do enough that we can say we honored Bill Clinton's promises --but not so much that we fall into the Republicans' trap.

      Oh --and promote freedom and democracy.   That too.

  •  Britain's Financial Times (FT) reports: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler, fran1, Alhambra, mimi

    1) FT reports today that Gazprom is about to acquire one of Europe's biggest natural gas storage facilities via its acquisition of Wingas from BASF.  Some politicians in Germany are now calling for a review but it looks unlikely.

    2) FT also reported on March 17 that Putin had made the following proposals:
    a) Ukraine stay militarily neutral
    b) Ukraine adopts a federal structure that gives greater authority to its regional governments
    c) Russian be accepted as a second state language
    d) Secession of Crimea to Russia be accepted

    According to FT, Washington rejected these proposals

    Ref: http://www.ft.com/...  

    Note: If FT firewall blocks above link, try Googling the phrase
    "First Russian overture since crisis erupted gets short shrift"

    Note also that FT is the pink newspaper of the global elite -- New York Times and Wall Street Journal are rags for the unwashed homeless by comparison.

    •  Why wouldn't they reject it (0+ / 0-)

      Its like Godfather II

      My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.

      Basically Putin is saying - our offer is this - you either let us meddle in the Ukraine at will (who do you think is going to control those regional governments?), or we will do it militarily anyway.

  •  I would like someone to tell why it is ok (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi

    for Russia to have taken possession of all the vessels of the Ukrainian fleet that were in ports of Crimea.  I can't believe there is so little mention of this in "serious" US media.  Those are Ukrainian assets, not Crimean.  I mean, Jesus F Christ! Wasn't securing the Russian naval ports and annexing the entire province enough?  The new Ukrainian government and/or naval commanders were amazingly inept to not have had every vessel leave port at the first phases of these developments.

    We want you to terminate the GOP's command. With extreme prejudice. (from "Utopia Soon")

    by oddmike on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 06:15:33 PM PDT

  •  East Berlin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BenFranklin99, DowneastDem

    once was controlled by Russia. The German People do not suffer from memory loss and Helmut just  may be wrong. Germany did not shake off their earlier reluctance to go along with sanctions until Russia began posturing for a takeover of  more Ukraine territory.

    Putin may have overplayed his hand and the one ace(oil) he had is being trumped by mobilization to permanently  diminish dependency on Russian oil, and thereby, diminishing the power that Russia could have continued to have had with the EU had he stayed out of Ukraine's affairs   .

    It could be that Russia will come out of this entire affair much weaker because she let Putin gamble away a potentially important place in world affairs over a minuscule plot of real estate and an over-sized ego.  

  •  Development of green energy doesn't seem such a (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, k9disc, BenFranklin99, ybruti, native

    hippie issue anymore, does it?
    Germany must now have a very clear understanding of the strategic choice they made in mothballing all their nuclear power generation.
    What does Russia's future look like without Western reliance on gas?
    What does the Middle East look like after the commercial replacement of oil and gas?
    The physicists who develop non-fossil fuel systems to the point of making oil and gas redundant will truly reshape the world.

    To hold to the Olympic "ideal" of excluding politics is to be indifferent to the suffering of other humans - which is itself a political act.

    by HiKa on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 08:46:06 PM PDT

    •  The entrenched interests are strong. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc, HiKa

      They will not let oil and gas become redundant without a fight. After all, even President Obama is considering approving the monstrosity of the Keystone pipeline.

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 09:46:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They will have no more luck than (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi

        Horse breeders had trying to stop cars.

        The problem with fossil fuel replacement is technological, not some vast conspiracy of petro-oligarchs. The problem is that the only real replacement tech is fusion, and we haven't figured it out yet.

        It will happen. And when it does, oil companies will either start selling it, or they'll be obsoleted by it... the one thing they will not be able to do is prevent it.

        May people and institutions have tried to prevent technological disruption of entrenched industries. Nobody has ever succeeded, and Exxon-Mobil isn't going to be the first.

        --Shannon

        "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
        "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

        by Leftie Gunner on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 10:16:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It totally is not technological. It's financial. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HiKa, native

          The idea that it is technological shortcomings is laughable.

          I think what you really meant to say is that the technology doesn't make economic sense, which really kind of does mean that the petro-oligarchs, or rather the supranational institutions with larger GDPs than large European countries, don't want it to happen.

          To fling this tech on the world is to set energy markets in flux; decades of planning down the tubes, exponential profits post peak, and hemorrhaged political power and clout.

          And for what? Isn't it better to remain #2 or #3 on the planet than it is for your market to get all messed up with new entries and dozens of nimble and agile competitors?

          Moving to renewables is the future, and they know it, but it can't be the future yet, as there's more oil and gas to be squeezed out of those rocks.

          peace~

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:33:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Shrub's not so great adventure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HiKa

          I talk it you missed Rachel Maddow's special about the Iraq war.  It  was ALL about oil.

          Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

          by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 02:23:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  We don't really know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HiKa

        What Obama is thinking about Keystone.  Keystone will diminish the US petroleum product supply, not increase it.  Right now, the output of Alberta is going primarily to the northern Midwest.

        Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

        by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 02:22:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why would Germany be forced into (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, native

      the either you accept nuclear power generation or you eat the shit we are offering you under our conditions ?

      I think green energy is more important than ever and I do agree that it is a science and technology issue to be able to get rid of an extortion kind of political allience with whoever (US or Russia), for the sake of keeping your civilians in your country warm and comfortable ie with enough energy to heat homes and produce electricity.

  •  Yes, the West can't understand why (6+ / 0-)

    Putin and the Russians would pull off an old-fashioned land-and-resources grab so soon after the United States demonstrated exactly how a member of the G-8 G-7 is expected to wage war:  Invade a country, occupy it, force it to privatize its oil resources for multinational corporations backed by Wall Street, do it all on credit, while sliding a big chunk of that borrowed cash to some of the big corporations run by people who are your friends as they profiteer from the war.  And all in the name of ridding the world of WMD's an evil dictator for the good of humanity!

    That, kids, is how the US "won" the Iraq War (for Wall Street).

    If Putin is so smart, how come he wasn't paying attention? His operation compared to that of the US is like that of a small-time mugger compared to the Gambino Family.

    They kicked Russia out of the G-8 because the Crimean Caper showed that the Russkies are too stupid and ham-handed to be one of the Eight Families. Obama even explained it all in clear, easily-understood words yesterday:

    But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.

    And before we left, we forced Iraq to privatize all that oil because we had to teach them Freedom!

    OK, I added that last line, but you gotta think that with all that KGB experience that little detail wouldn't slip by unnoticed by Putin.  Yet by all appearances, Putin and his gang are about to have another rumble. Pathetic, really.

    You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

    by Simian on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 08:54:52 PM PDT

    •  We also make sure (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simian, 2andfro, bobdevo, native

      that their oil is sold in US Dollars. TPTB have little tolerance for those who stray from the petrodollar policy.

      It will be interesting to see how Russia might react to these "sanctions", if they will consider selling their oil and gas in other currencies or in gold.

      Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

      by truong son traveler on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:43:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's crazy talk. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BenFranklin99, Peace Missile

    There is no defensible excuse for Russia to invade --that's what they did, invade-- Crimea. They invaded a sovereign country and bit off the part they liked. What's to understand?

    That doesn't mean we can do anything about it. They seem to know that. But we do NOT need to approve of it, or better understand them or it.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 09:01:36 PM PDT

    •  They were just following the lead ... (5+ / 0-)

      of American exceptionalism. You can't legitimately claim "they invaded a sovereign country" with a straight face after what we did to Iraq. There have been no or very few deaths associated with the Russian "invasion" while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died because of the American invasion.

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 09:50:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Saddam was evil (0+ / 0-)

        We (the citizens of the US) had no idea so many Iraqis were just as bad or even worse.  Of course, Shrub's motivation had nothing to do with good and evil.  It was just a grab, like Putin's.

        Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

        by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 02:28:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ukraine forcibly deposed the elected government. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Judgment at Nuremberg

          That is also a "grab".

          Saddam was evil.
          Jesus Christ, the CIA helped stage the coup that brought the Baathist Party - leading to Saddam to power in Iraq.  Saddam was a CIA asset, kust like Osama bin Laden was.

          Then the US backed Saddam's war with Iran that killed 1,000,000 people, providing intel, $$ and precursor chemicals for his poison gas.

          Just like the CIA helped fund the groups that overthrew the ELECTED government of Ukraine.

          Is Putin an asshole?  Hell, yes.

          Is the US any less of an asshole"

          Arguably, no.  

          Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

          by bobdevo on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 05:50:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Invasion vs. acquisition (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Peace Missile

        It's nice owning Iraq, isn't it? Complete with a totally compliant puppet government that bends entirely to our will. It's really exactly like Russia in re Crimea—such a perfect parallel.

        •  So the US is slightly less evil than Russia ... (0+ / 0-)

          because we didn't keep Iraq after we killed hundreds of thousands of their people, sent millions more into refugee status, and helped install an Iranian puppet government. Is this a calculation on the newfangled "sliding moral scale" I've heard about?

          If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

          by edg on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:10:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  "What's to understand?" (3+ / 0-)

      Possibly this, Bensdad:

      May 28, 1997: Russia and Ukraine agreed to an 80/20 percent split of the Black Sea Fleet, respectively. The deal they signed leased the Sevastopol port to Russia and the BSF for 20 years (2017). The Ukrainian and Russian navies now both operate out of Sevastopol.
      ...snip...
      April 21, 2010: Then-president Viktor Yanukovych signs the Kharkiv Pact, which extended the Sevastopol lease until 2042 in exchange for discounted natural gas. The Kharkiv Pact was heavily criticized by pro-European Ukrainians. The current opposition has threatened to annul the Kharkiv Pact and kick out the Black Sea Fleet in 2017.
      No simple answers here, Bensdad.

      "The only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Hannah Arendt

      by dharmasyd on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 01:09:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Schmidt v. Kerry/Obama (8+ / 0-)

    America's narrative of the recent events in Ukraine and Crimea is essentially ahistorical. The media drama begins with colorful, tumultuous, potentially violent, then fiery and a little bloody with a supporting cast of uncontrollable crowds and police bullies in Kiev, fiddles about with subplots involving intrigue and corruption,  cheers the toppling of the bad guy regime and concludes with the cliffhanger of Russian takeover of Crimea at the hands of the evil Putin.

    This is the narrative created to support the Kerry/Obama foreign policy - which is a continuation of Clinton and Bush policies - promote continued fragmentation of the Russian Federation and former Soviet Republics through covert action and direct funding, and ultimately to extend NATO power to the western frontier of Russia. Clinton got all of Central and Eastern Europe into the economic and military sphere controlled by NATO. His intervention also broke up, set up military bases in and dominated the Balkans, punishing and diminishing Russia's Serbian allies. Bush continued the (finally successful) policy of encirclement (begun under Truman) by invading Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Looking at history from a Russian point-of-view, the encirclement is alarming, and annexing secessionist Crimea becomes, as Schmidt says: "quite understandable." Crimea is Russian. Donetsk is Russian. Neither region naturally 'belongs' to Ukraine - they were 'added' to Ukraine in the Soviet era to appease powerful figures in the Soviet hierarchy whose rule in Kiev would include grain producing land and the Soviet's only warm water port.

    Suppression of national minorities was a feature of Soviet power - ironically, it is a feature of Baltic state politics and evident in the rise of Svoboda, a feature of Ukrainian politics. Both the suppression of, and separatist movements in today's nations reflect a global confusion and conflict regarding the interpretation of, or revisions needed to international law related to national boundaries, the right to secede, the nature of sovereignty and the use of military force.

    Chechens, Basques, Catalonians, Scots, Kurds, Eritreans, Quebecois, Macedonian Albanians, Kosovars, Serbs, Croats, Sami, Baluchis, Czechs, Slovaks, Tibetans - all are organized to preserve their copies of how to be people - some with success, others with bloodshed. For Crimeans, a Russian identity supersedes the arbitrary designation of their country as a province of Kiev.

    •  All of this blather about a warm water port (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      waterstreet2013

      ignores the fact that you have to go through two warm water straits entirely controlled by Turkey, a NATO member, to get out of the Black Sea.

      Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

      by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 02:32:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Count heads. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joncleir, Judgment at Nuremberg

      Please, please, please look at the map.
      Crimea is more Russia than Ukraine.

      Wiki reporting the 2001 census:

      -- Russians: 1,450,000 (60.4%),
      -- Ukrainians: 577,000 (24.0%),
      -- Crimean Tatars: 245,000 (10.2%),
      -- Belarusians: 35,000 (1.4%),
      -- other Tatars: 13,500 (0.5%),
      -- Armenians: 10,000 (0.4%),
      -- Jews: 5,500 (0.2%).

      On top of which "77% of Crimean inhabitants named Russian as their native language."

      That's versus 11% for Crimean Tatar and a mere 10% for Ukrainian.

      Are we done here ????? The Crimeans were going to break off from Kiev no matter what Putin did.

      They've got first rate tourist money coming in and they don't want interference from the north. Note that half the Ukrainians in Crimea speak Russian as their first language.

      As to Ukraine generally, EU is likely to get 96% of the country. Russia gets 4% of the country.

      That's compared to Yanukovich moving 100% of the country to a dependent alliance with Russia as recently as 3 months ago.

      Yeah, Putie's losing the weakest poorest 96% of Ukraine. And between Washington and EU there's a $50-billion bill to be paid over the next decade. (Ouch!)

      Putie's not getting off free. The Kerch Bridge-Tunnel is going to end up costing $10-billion. The first $345-million was signed off two weeks ago and is being spent today. That links the east end of Crimea with Russia -- similar project to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

      Ukraine ??? They're losing one big bunch of Russians. A major retiree population included.

      If you're into head-knocking politics, EU wins. If you're into accounting, Crimea wins big-big-big. Ukraine wins not quite as big.

      Long term? We got Mila Kunis.

      D'oh!

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Rand Ryan-Paul Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 05:02:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Standin ovation to Joncleir. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native

      "The only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing." Hannah Arendt

      by dharmasyd on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 01:20:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nations and Minorities (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, waterstreet2013

    Russia did not need to grab Crimea.  They already had control through their military bases.  They have treaties giving them military use of the ports in Crimea if they wanted to respect national boundaries and the rule of law.  Within Ukraine are many minorities, especially the Tartars, who are a big concern for Turkey.     Bushco surrounded Russia with NATO and put ballistic missiles pointed at Russia in Poland.  The same neocons left in power have been playing games in Ukraine, but Putin's selected Ukrainian President, while democratically elected, was so corrupt he was voted out by his own people in the Congress.  Germany has been playing their own games in the EU including austerity especially for southern Europe resulting in desperation in Greece and other countries.  We are looking at masses of suffering people, the rise of fascist nationalists using racial rants much like the Nazis and lack of respectable governments that honor democracy and rule of law.  President Obama takes the right approach.  Russia needs to honor Ukrainian boundaries.  It is to everyone's advantage to wait for the Ukrainian elections in May and try to support the newly elected Ukrainian government.  Putin has economic problems that will not be helped by taking in failed poor countries like Ukraine and Georgia.  The EU and US need to reassure Putin we can be trusted which given our recent history may be hard to do.

  •  Russia today is scary (3+ / 0-)

    Russia today looks just like Germany just after Hitler invaded the Sudetenland.  The Russian media are full of lies designed to stir up the same sentiments Hitler appealed to.

    Warren/Grayson 2016! Yes We Can!

    by BenFranklin99 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 01:49:31 AM PDT

  •  Crimea is a done deal. The western posturing is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobdevo

    designed to make Putin back off invading the rest of Ukraine.
       The downside is that, if Putin does invade, the west will be caught flatfooted. The west will either have to accept the humiliation and back down or else impose sanctions on Russia that will lead to a devastating energy crunch in Europe and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the world.
       Russia is very vulnerable to an all out economic battle, but the west will be badly hurt before Russia caves.

  •  Don't panic. Russia needs the EU's money. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edwardssl, OllieGarkey

    Putin is limited in what he can do. He needs the EU as a customer. Crimea is yet another hugely expensive proposition for the Russian state. Obama is right about Putin being fundamentally in a weak position. Crimea is a sideshow for domestic political consumption.

    Putin will soon enough learn what Khrushchev knew when he gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. It's a financial sinkhole for anyone but Ukraine. The two Kerch Strait projects are going to cost some astronomical amount -- certainly more than the $10 billion mentioned earlier in the comments -- and they are a decade away at best. Nor do they solve the basic problem.

  •  Thanks for this information on Schmidt, Mimi. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmasyd

    I don't agree with the Chancellor on this, at all, but it's always important to know what important and influential people are thinking and saying on a subject, especially when it disagrees with one's own position.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 08:21:41 AM PDT

  •  Anglo empire (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Judgment at Nuremberg

    The capitalists of the West are never content unless they get to call all the shots. From Vietnam to Cambodia and Laos. From the Dominican Republic to Haiti and Panama. From Iraq and Iran to Afghanistan Libya and Syria the capitalists of the West have imposed their will and their strongmen to control access to resources.
    Might as well throw in most - hell, make that - all of Africa, too.
    And now, the last bastion of mineral wealth not controlled and exploited by the capitalists of the West: Russia.
    Anybody naive enough to think the West was not making mischief in the Ukraine?
    Russia has a long and unique relationship with the West. The Germans were the last western people to try and steal Mother Russia's wealth. It didn't work out too well, but it inflicted major trauma in the psyche of every Russian.
    They don't trust the West and will always react to protect their self interest and general defense.
    As always, if you want to find out whats behind Russia's actions, check the halls of Congress and the boardrooms of Wall Street.

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