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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Tuesday 22nd of February 2022
 
Morning
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The warm glow from the alleyway yesterday evening. I pressed my nose up against the window, to watch the people inside laughing and having fun. @London_W4
Misc.

These became known as the “halcyon days,” 
http://bit.ly/2omFBYu


Wikipedia has an article on: halcyon days and it reads thus,


From Latin Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx.


When her husband died in a shipwreck, Alcyone threw herself into the sea whereupon the gods transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers).
When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, waves threatened to destroy it. Aeolus restrained his winds and kept them calm during seven days in each year, so she could lay her eggs.
These became known as the “halcyon days,” when storms do not occur. Today, the term is used to denote a past period that is being remembered for being happy and/or successfuL

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Accelerated and Decelerated Landscapes On the techniques, knowledges, and ethics of bending time. @freeassocdesign H/T @RobGMacfarlane
Misc.


In 1984, toward the end of a long career studying relations between landscape and culture, the historian and critic J.B. Jackson alighted on a new definition for his subject. 

Landscape, he argued, is “space deliberately created to speed up or slow down the process of nature.” 

He pointed to examples of dramatically reclaimed lands — the Netherlands, the Fens, the Po Valley — but gestured toward something more common. 

In Jackson’s study of the vernacular landscape, anyone who paves a road or plows a field is engaged in a kind of temporal sorcery. Intervening within the environment, “reorganizing space for human needs,” we take upon ourselves “the role of time.” 

Such space now encompasses the world. In the span of a few human generations, the rapid combustion of our planet’s subterranean biological ancestry (its so-called fossil fuels) has instigated a mass migration of carbon into the atmosphere that radically affects living conditions everywhere. 

The Climate Crisis. The Great Acceleration. The Sixth Mass Extinction. These are names for landscape change of unbelievable speed and complexity, entwined with myriad assemblies: biological, geological, material, social, technological, and political. 

Humans intervene in landscape processes at all scales, intentionally and inadvertently, skillfully and thoughtlessly, speeding things up and slowing them down, generating cascading effects far beyond our control.

In a sense we have refashioned time itself, making it a function of our spatial infrastructural practices. If we cannot literally play “the role of time,” we try to trick time, altering environmental rhythms and cycles, choreographing material flows.

 But the trick is on us: the world is filled with protagonists, known and unknown, who are not subject to design intent.

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In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
Misc.

Lorenz wrote:
"At one point I decided to repeat some of the computations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that it had printed out a while earlier, and set it running again. I went down the hall for a cup of coffee and returned after about an hour, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers being printed were nothing like the old ones. I immediately suspected a weak vacuum tube or some other computer trouble, which was not uncommon, but before calling for service I decided to see just where the mistake had occurred, knowing that this could speed up the servicing process. Instead of a sudden break, I found that the new values at first repeated the old ones, but soon afterward differed by one and then several units in the last decimal place, and then began to differ in the next to the last place and then in the place before that. In fact, the differences more or less steadily doubled in size every four days or so, until all resemblance with the original output disappeared somewhere in the second month. This was enough to tell me what had happened: the numbers that I had typed in were not the exact original numbers, but were the rounded-off values that had appeared in the original printout. The initial round-off errors were the culprits; they were steadily amplifying until they dominated the solution." (E. N. Lorenz, The Essence of Chaos, U. Washington Press, Seattle (1993), page 134)[7]
Elsewhere he stated:
One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.



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My Struggle: Book 6 Karl Ove Knausgård
Misc.


Identity is thus a kind of taboo because it is found all around us, though cannot obviously be named, since it refers to something else that is greater and more dangerous. 

In a number of primitive cultures shared identity was indeed taboo, as is shown by prohibitions on imitating another person’s gestures or voice, and through the ritual killing of twins. 

The frequent occurrence of the doppelgänger motif in literature during the second half of the nineteenth century, and the great horror that was attached to it, is an expression of the same thing, though almost with renewed intensity, as if the threat of the identical had come closer with the advent of the urban masses of the cities.

the clamor of its thunderous waters and the exuberant voices of young humans, lit by the sun or dimmed by its absence, so strangely desirable that the very thought of it fills him with joy even now, twenty-eight years later

The material world was neutral, we wove our inner psychological landscapes into it, coloring it with our conceptions until it couldn’t help but be messy.

Gazing out over the kilometers of rooftops I remembered I’d had a dream. I’d been sitting in the same place. The sky had been black and crisscrossed by planes. Some had been very close, great jumbo jets with every detail of their fuselages plain to see, others merely lights passing beneath the stars. The feeling it had given me had been intense and fantastic. Fantastic, fantastic it had been, and then I’d woken up.

The job of the terrorists was to penetrate into our subconscious. This had always been the aim of writers, but the terrorists took it a step further. They were the writers of our age. Don DeLillo said this many years before 9/11. The images they created spread around the globe, colonizing our subconscious minds. The tangible outcome of the attack, the numbers of dead and injured, the material destruction, meant nothing. It was the images that were important. The more iconic the images they managed to create, the more successful their actions. The attack on the World Trade Center was the most successful of all time. There weren’t that many dead, only a couple of thousand, as against the six hundred thousand who died in the first two days of the Battle of Flanders in the autumn of 1914, yet the images were so iconic and powerful that the effect on us was just as devastating, perhaps more so, since we lived in a culture of images.

Planes and skyscrapers. Icarus and Babel.

They wanted into our dreams. Everyone did. Our inner beings were the final market. Once they were conquered, we would be sold.

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Whoever Controls The Narrative Controls The World
Law & Politics


Virilio maintains that the global village has created hyperterrorism as its "integral accident" (just as derailment is the integral accident of a train).

The Pentagon is eager to exploit the audiovisual impact of real-time mass communication (remember Saddam's statue being toppled?), but unfortunately so are the terrorists. 

The same impulse drives contemporary art, says Virilio, and he often returns to Stockhausen's incendiary remark that 9/11 was "the greatest work of art ever".

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14-FEB-2022 :: However, Donbas and Luhansk are entirely within the scope of an imminent incursion, A Frozen conflict at this new forward boundary is I believe the limit of the scope of this Operation
Law & Politics


“There are known knowns — there are things we know we know,” Rumsfeld said in February 2002, “We also know there are known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
So here we are. What we do know is Putin is not a reckless Gambler [known knowns] and therefore a full scale invasion of Ukraine is pure hyperbole. 

However, Donbas and Luhansk are entirely within the scope of an imminent incursion, A Frozen conflict at this new forward boundary is I believe the limit of the scope of this Operation.

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What if Russia Wins? A Kremlin-Controlled Ukraine Would Transform Europe @ForeignAffairs
Law & Politics


When Russia joined the ongoing civil war in Syria, in the summer of 2015, it shocked the United States and its partners. 

Out of frustration, then President Barack Obama claimed that Syria would become a “quagmire” for Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Syria would be Russia’s Vietnam or Putin’s Afghanistan, a grievous mistake that would eventually rebound against Russian interests.

Syria did not end up as a quagmire for Putin. Russia changed the course of the war, saving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from impending defeat, and then translated military force into diplomatic leverage

It kept costs and casualties sustainable. Now Russia cannot be ignored in Syria. There has been no diplomatic settlement. 

Instead, Moscow has amassed greater regional clout, from Israel to Libya, and retained a loyal partner in Assad for Russia’s power projection

In Syria, what the Obama administration failed to anticipate was the possibility that Russia’s intervention would succeed.

In the surreal winter of 2021–22, the United States and Europe are once again contemplating a major Russian military intervention, this time in Europe itself

And once again, many analysts are warning of dire consequences for the aggressor. 

On February 11, British Minister of State for Europe James Cleverly predicted that a wider war in Ukraine “would be a quagmire” for Russia

In a rational cost-benefit analysis, the thinking goes, the price of a full-scale war in Ukraine would be punishingly high for the Kremlin and would entail significant bloodshed. 

The United States has estimated as many as 50,000 civilian casualties. Along with undermining Putin’s support among the Russian elite, who would suffer personally from the ensuing tensions with Europe, a war could endanger Russia’s economy and alienate the public. 

At the same time, it could bring NATO troops closer to Russia’s borders, leaving Russia to fight a Ukrainian resistance for years to come. 

According to this view, Russia would be trapped in a disaster of its own making.

Nevertheless, Putin’s cost-benefit analysis seems to favor upending the European status quo. 

The Russian leadership is taking on more risks, and above the fray of day-to-day politics, 

Putin is on a historic mission to solidify Russia’s leverage in Ukraine (as he has recently in Belarus and Kazakhstan).

And as Moscow sees it, a victory in Ukraine might well be within reach. Of course, Russia might simply prolong the current crisis without invading or find some palatable way to disengage. 

But if the Kremlin’s calculus is right, as in the end it was in Syria, then the United States and Europe should also be prepared for an eventuality other than quagmire. What if Russia wins in Ukraine?

If Russia gains control of Ukraine or manages to destabilize it on a major scale, a new era for the United States and for Europe will begin

U.S. and European leaders would face the dual challenge of rethinking European security and of not being drawn into a larger war with Russia. 

All sides would have to consider the potential of nuclear-armed adversaries in direct confrontation. 

These two responsibilities—robustly defending European peace and prudently avoiding military escalation with Russia—will not necessarily be compatible. 

The United States and its allies could find themselves deeply unprepared for the task of having to create a new European security order as a result of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.

MANY WAYS TO WIN

For Russia, victory in Ukraine could take various forms. As in Syria, victory does not have to result in a sustainable settlement. It could involve the installation of a compliant government in Kyiv or the partition of the country

Alternatively, the defeat of the Ukrainian military and the negotiation of a Ukrainian surrender could effectively transform Ukraine into a failed state. 

Russia could also employ devastating cyberattacks and disinformation tools, backed by the threat of force, to cripple the country and induce regime change. 

With any of these outcomes, Ukraine will have been effectively detached from the West.

If Russia achieves its political aims in Ukraine by military means, Europe will not be what it was before the war. Not only will U.S. primacy in Europe have been qualified; any sense that the European Union or NATO can ensure peace on the continent will be the artifact of a lost age. 

Instead, security in Europe will have to be reduced to defending the core members of the EU and NATO. Everyone outside the clubs will stand alone, with the exception of Finland and Sweden

This may not necessarily be a conscious decision to end enlargement or association policies; but it will be de facto policy. 

Under a perceived siege by Russia, the EU and NATO will no longer have the capacity for ambitious policies beyond their own borders.

The United States and Europe will also be in a state of permanent economic war with Russia. 

The West will seek to enforce sweeping sanctions, which Russia is likely to parry with cyber-measures and energy blackmailing, given the economic asymmetries

China might well stand on Russia’s side in this economic tit for tat. Meanwhile, domestic politics in European countries will resemble a twenty-first-century great game, in which Russia will be studying Europe for any breakdown in the commitment to NATO and to the transatlantic relationship. 

Through methods fair and foul, Russia will take whatever opportunity comes its way to influence public opinion and elections in European countries. Russia will be an anarchic presence—sometimes real, sometimes imagined—in every instance of European political instability.

Cold War analogies will not be helpful in a world with a Russianized Ukraine. The Cold War border in Europe had its flash points, but it was stabilized in a mutually acceptable fashion in the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. 

By contrast, Russian suzerainty over Ukraine would open a vast zone of destabilization and insecurity from Estonia to Poland to Romania to Turkey. 

For as long as it lasts, Russia’s presence in Ukraine will be perceived by Ukraine’s neighbors as provocative and unacceptable and, for some, as a threat to their own security. 

Amid this shifting dynamic, order in Europe will have to be conceived of in primarily military terms—which, since Russia has a stronger hand in the military than in the economic realm, will be in the Kremlin’s interest—sidelining nonmilitary institutions such as the European Union.

Russia has Europe’s largest conventional military, which it is more than ready to use. 

The EU’s defense policy—in contrast to NATO’s—is far from being able to provide security for its members. 

Thus will military reassurance, especially of the EU’s eastern members, be key. 

Responding to a revanchist Russia with sanctions and with the rhetorical proclamation of a rules-based international order will not be sufficient.

IMPERILING EUROPE'S EAST

In the event of a Russian victory in Ukraine, Germany‘s position in Europe will be severely challenged. 

Germany is a marginal military power that has based its postwar political identity on the rejection of war. 

The ring of friends it has surrounded itself with, especially in the east with Poland and the Baltic states, risks being destabilized by Russia. 

France and the United Kingdom will assume leading roles in European affairs by virtue of their comparatively strong militaries and long tradition of military interventions. 

The key factor in Europe, however, will remain the United States. NATO will depend on U.S. support as will the anxious and imperiled countries of Europe’s east, the frontline nations arrayed along a now very large, expanded, and uncertain line of contact with Russia, including Belarus and the Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine.

Eastern member states, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, will likely have substantial numbers of NATO troops permanently stationed on their soil. 

A request from Finland and Sweden to gain an Article 5 commitment and to join NATO would be impossible to reject. 

In Ukraine, EU and NATO countries will never recognize a new Russian-backed regime created by Moscow. 

But they will face the same challenge they do with Belarus: wielding sanctions without punishing the population and supporting those in need without having access to them. 

Some NATO members will bolster a Ukrainian insurgency, to which Russia will respond by threatening NATO members.

Ukraine’s predicament will be very great. Refugees will flee in multiple directions, quite possibly in the millions. 

And those parts of the Ukrainian military that are not directly defeated will continue fighting, echoing the partisan warfare that tore apart this whole region of Europe during and after World War II.

The permanent state of escalation between Russia and Europe may stay cold from a military perspective. It is likely, though, to be economically hot. 

The sanctions put on Russia in 2014, which were connected to formal diplomacy (often referred to as the “Minsk” process, after the city in which the negotiations were held), were not draconian. They were reversible as well as conditional. 

Following a Russian invasion of Ukraine, new sanctions on banking and on technology transfer would be significant and permanent. 

They would come in the wake of failed diplomacy and would start at “the top of the ladder,” according to the U.S. administration. 

In response, Russia will retaliate, quite possibly in the cyber-domain as well as in the energy sector. 

Moscow will limit access to critical goods such as titanium, of which Russia has been the world’s second-largest exporter. 

This war of attrition will test both sides. Russia will be ruthless in trying to get one or several European states to back away from economic conflict by linking a relaxation in tension to these countries’ self-interest, thus undermining consensus in the EU and NATO.

Europe’s strong suit is its economic leverage. Russia’s asset will be any source of domestic division or disruption in Europe or in Europe’s transatlantic partners. 

Here Russia will be proactive and opportunistic. 

If a pro-Russian movement or candidate shows up, that candidate can be encouraged directly or indirectly. 

If an economic or political sore point diminishes the foreign policy efficacy of the United States and its allies, it will be a weapon for Russian propaganda efforts and for Russian espionage.

Much of this is already happening. But a war in Ukraine will up the ante. Russia will use more resources and be unchained in its choice of instruments. 

The massive refugee flows arriving in Europe will exacerbate the EU’s unresolved refugee policy and provide fertile ground for populists. 

The holy grail of these informational, political, and cyberbattles will be the 2024 presidential election in the United States. Europe’s future will depend on this election. 

The election of Donald Trump or of a Trumpian candidate might destroy the transatlantic relationship at Europe’s hour of maximum peril, putting into question NATO’s position and its security guarantees for Europe.

TURNING NATO INWARD

For the United States, a Russian victory would have profound effects on its grand strategy in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East

First, Russian success in Ukraine would require Washington to pivot to Europe. No ambiguity about NATO’s Article 5 (of the kind experienced under Trump) will be permissible. 

Only a strong U.S. commitment to European security will prevent Russia from dividing European countries from one another. 

This will be difficult in light of competing priorities, especially those that confront the United States in a deteriorating relationship with China. But the interests at stake are fundamental. 

The United States has very large commercial equities in Europe. The European Union and the United States are each other’s largest trade and investment partners, with trade in goods and services totaling $1.1 trillion in 2019. 

A well-functioning, peaceful Europe augments American foreign policy—on climate change, on nonproliferation, on global public health, and on the management of tensions with China or Russia. 

If Europe is destabilized, then the United States will be much more alone in the world.

NATO is the logical means by which the United States can provide security reassurance to Europe and deter Russia. 

A war in Ukraine would revive NATO not as a democracy-building enterprise or as a tool for out-of-area expeditions like the war in Afghanistan but as the unsurpassed defensive military alliance that it was designed to be

Although Europeans will be demanding a greater military commitment to Europe from the United States, a broader Russian invasion of Ukraine should drive every NATO member to increase its defense spending. 

For Europeans, this would be the final call to improve Europe’s defensive capabilities—in tandem with the United States—in order to help the United States manage the Russian-Chinese dilemma.


For a Moscow now in permanent confrontation with the West, Beijing could serve as an economic backstop and a partner in opposing U.S. hegemony. 

In the worst case for U.S. grand strategy, China might be emboldened by Russia’s assertiveness and threaten confrontation over Taiwan

But there is no guarantee that an escalation in Ukraine will benefit the Sino-Russian relationship. 

China’s ambition to become the central node of the Eurasian economy will be damaged by war in Europe, because of the brutal uncertainties war brings. 

Chinese irritation with a Russia on the march will not enable a rapprochement between Washington and Beijing, but it may initiate new conversations.

The shock of a big military move by Russia will likewise raise questions in Ankara. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey has been enjoying the venerable Cold War game of playing off the superpowers. 

Yet Turkey has a substantial relationship with Ukraine. As a NATO member, it will not benefit from the militarization of the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. 

Russian actions that destabilize the wider region could push Turkey back toward the United States, which could in turn drive a wedge between Ankara and Moscow. 

This would be good for NATO, and it would also open up greater possibilities for a U.S.-Turkish partnership in the Middle East. Rather than a nuisance, Turkey could turn into the ally it is supposed to be.

A bitter consequence of a wider war in Ukraine is that Russia and the United States would now encounter each other as enemies in Europe. 

Yet they will be enemies who cannot afford to take hostilities beyond a certain threshold. 

However far apart their worldviews, however ideologically opposed, the world’s two most significant nuclear powers will have to keep their outrage in check. 

This will amount to a fantastically tricky juggling act: a state of economic warfare and geopolitical struggle across the European continent, yet a state of affairs that does not allow escalation to tip into outright war. 

At the same time, U.S.-Russian confrontation can in the worst case extend to proxy wars in the Middle East or Africa if the United States decides to reestablish its presence after the catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal.

Maintaining communication, especially on strategic stability and cybersecurity, will be crucial. It is notable that U.S.-Russian cooperation on malicious cyber-activities continues even during the current tensions. 

The necessity of maintaining rigorous arms control agreements will be even greater after a Ukraine war and the sanctions regime that follows it.

NO VICTORY IS PERMANENT

As the crisis in Ukraine unfolds, the West must not underestimate Russia. It must not bank on narratives inspired by wishful thinking. Russian victory in Ukraine is not science fiction.

But if there may be little that the West can do to prevent a Russian military conquest, it will be able to influence what happens afterward. 

Very often the seeds of trouble lie beneath the veneer of military victory. Russia can eviscerate Ukraine on the battlefield. It can make Ukraine a failed state. 

But it can do so only by prosecuting a criminal war and by devastating the life of a nation-state that has never invaded Russia. 

The United States and Europe and their allies and other parts of the world will draw conclusions and be critical of Russian actions. 

Through their alliances and in their support for the people of Ukraine, the United States and Europe can embody the alternative to wars of aggression and to a might-makes-right ethos. 

Russian efforts at sowing disorder can be contrasted to Western efforts at restoring order.

Much as the United States retained the diplomatic properties of the three Baltic states in Washington, D.C., after they had been annexed by the Soviet Union during World War II, the West can put itself on the side of decency and dignity in this conflict. 

Wars that are won are never won forever. All too often countries defeat themselves over time by launching and then winning the wrong wars.

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Regime Change came to Saddam’s Iraq and for a while regime change was de rigeur.
Law & Politics


Muammar Gaddafi was decapitated and the domino effect only stopped when Vladimir Putin decided he was going to put a stop to it and intervened on behalf of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

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US @POTUS @JoeBiden is treating a “rogue” Russia as a peer competitor, when he should be focused on the challenge from America’s actual peer, China @ProSyn @Chellaney
Law & Politics


Much of the democratic world would like the United States to remain the preeminent global power. But with the US apparently committed to strategic overreach, that outcome risks becoming unlikely.
The problem with America’s global leadership begins at home. Hyper-partisan politics and profound polarization are eroding American democracy and impeding the pursuit of long-term objectives. 

In foreign policy, the partisan divide can be seen in perceptions of potential challengers to the US: according to a March 2021 poll, Republicans are most concerned about China, while Democrats worry about Russia above all.
This may explain why US President Joe Biden is treating a “rogue” Russia as a peer competitor, when he should be focused on the challenge from America’s actual peer, China. 

In comparison to Russia, China’s population is about ten times bigger, its economy is almost ten times larger, and its military expenditure is around four times greater. 

Not only is China more powerful; it genuinely seeks to supplant the US as the preeminent global power. 

By contrast, with its military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, Russia is seeking to mitigate a perceived security threat in its neighborhood.
Hastening the decline of US global leadership is hardly the preserve of Democrats. 

A bipartisan parade of US leaders has failed to recognize that the post-Cold War unipolar world order, characterized by unchallenged US economic and military predominance, is long gone. 

The US squandered its “unipolar moment,” especially by waging an expensive and amorphous “Global War on Terrorism,” including several military interventions, and through its treatment of Russia.
After its Cold War victory, the US essentially took an extended victory lap, pursuing strategic maneuvers that flaunted its dominance. 

Notably, it sought to expand NATO to Russia’s backyard, but made little effort to bring Russia into the Western fold, as it had done with Germany and Japan after World War II. 

The souring of relations with the Kremlin contributed to Russia’s eventual remilitarization.
So, while the US remains the world’s foremost military power, it has been stretched thin by the decisions and commitments it has made, in Europe and elsewhere, since 1991. 

This goes a long way toward explaining why the US has ruled out deploying its own troops to defend Ukraine today. 

What the US is offering Ukraine – weapons and ammunition – cannot protect the country from Russia, which has an overwhelming military advantage.
But US leaders made another fatal mistake since the Cold War: by aiding China’s rise, they helped to create the greatest rival their country has ever faced. 

Unfortunately, they have yet to learn from this. Instead, the US continues to dedicate insufficient attention and resources to an excessively wide array of global issues, from Russian revanchism and Chinese aggression to lesser threats in the Middle East and Africa and on the Korean Peninsula. 

And it continues inadvertently to bolster China’s global influence, not least through its overuse of sanctions.
For example, by barring friends and allies from importing Iranian oil, two successive US administrations enabled China not only to secure oil at a hefty discount, but also to become a top investor in – and security partner of – the Islamic Republic

US sanctions have similarly pushed resource-rich Myanmar into China’s arms. 

As Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose country has faced a US arms embargo over its ties to China, asked last year, “If I don’t rely on China, who will I rely on?”
Russia has been asking itself the same question. Though Russia and China kept each other at arm’s length for decades, US-led sanctions introduced after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea drove President Vladimir Putin to pursue a closer strategic partnership with China. 

The bilateral relationship is likely to deepen, regardless of what happens in Ukraine. But the raft of harsh new sanctions the US has promised to implement in the event of a Russian invasion will accelerate this shift significantly, with China as the big winner.
The heavy financial penalties the US has planned – including the “nuclear option” of disconnecting Russian banks from the international SWIFT payments system – would turn China into Russia’s banker, enabling it to reap vast profits and expand the international use of its currency, the renminbi

If Biden fulfilled his pledge to block the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is set to deliver Russian supplies directly to Germany via the Baltic Sea, China would gain greater access to Russian energy.
In fact, by securing a commitment from Putin this month to a nearly tenfold increase in Russian natural gas exports, China is building a safety net that could – in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan – withstand Western energy sanctions and even a blockade. 

China could also benefit militarily by demanding greater access to Russian military technology in exchange for its support.
For the US, a strengthened Russia-China axis is the worst possible outcome of the Ukraine crisis

The best outcome would be a compromise with Russia to ensure that it does not invade and possibly annex Ukraine. 

By enabling the US to avoid further entanglement in Europe, this would permit a more realistic balancing of key objectives – especially checking Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific – with available resources and capabilities.
The future of the US-led international order will be decided in Asia, and China is currently doing everything in its power to ensure that order’s demise. 

Already, China is powerful enough that it can host the Winter Olympics even as it carries out a genocide against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, with limited pushback. 

If the Biden administration does not recognize the true scale of the threat China poses, and adopt an appropriately targeted strategy soon, whatever window of opportunity for preserving US preeminence remains may well close.

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We exist in a Tripolar World [US China and Russia]
Law & Politics

I am not discounting Fortress Europe but one senses the Fortress is keener on a more defensive posture unlike the US [notwithstanding its withdrawal from Afghanistan], China and Russia. 

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@JoeBiden is in a Pincer with Xi & Vladimir holding the console & ratcheting up the pressure & [and] they own the timing on the Ukraine Taiwan Two Step
Kenyan Economy


The POINT remains @POTUS has to do a deal with Putin in order to avoid triangulation in the new Tri Polar World

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And finally in the long run, 3) against China and the US by raising the price of Russia's future participation in their systemic rivalry as the new free rider of the Global System @vtchakarova
Law & Politics

And finally in the long run, 3) against China and the US by raising the price of Russia's future participation in their systemic rivalry as the new free rider of the Global System. The two-fronts-scenario helps Moscow leverage its positions against China & United States for different reasons.

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Putin agrees to Macron's plea for summit of France&Germany with Ukraine and Putin to avert war. Brilliant Putin move to pit 2 most confrontation-reluctant EU states against Nordics&rest of NATO 1/ @Halsrethink
Africa


Just when his military ready for entries into Ukraine, Putin agrees to Macron's plea for summit of France&Germany with Ukraine and Putin to avert war. Brilliant Putin move to pit 2 most confrontation-reluctant EU states against Nordics&rest of NATO 1/

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And Putin "agrees" Biden meeting, trapping frail POTUS in arduous European security rethink, further splitting off Nordics, Poland, Baltics& others fearing Russia. UK cut out too. Clever @Halsrethink
Law & Politics

And Putin "agrees" Biden meeting, trapping frail POTUS in arduous European security rethink, further splitting off Nordics, Poland, Baltics& others fearing Russia. Putin's generals want US 2nd Fleet (integrating Arctic&Northeast Europe defense) put on hold. UK cut out too. Clever

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West considers support for Ukrainian resistance if Russia invades @FT
Law & Politics


Nato members have held back from supplying offensive military support to Ukraine for fear of provoking Russia. That may be about to change.
Western countries, including the US and UK, have already provided Kyiv with training and defensive NLAW and Javelin anti-tank weapons as well as Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems to help deter a Russian attack. 

They are now weighing how to support Ukraine resistance forces if Russia decides to further invade or continue intimidating its neighbour, according to western officials.
“If Russian pressure is prolonged, we will need to take a very different approach to what we have done so far and look hard at how to manage that confrontation as part of an enduring process,” said one senior western official.
Washington estimates Russia has massed between 150,00 and 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, who, combined with missiles and air cover, could quickly overrun Ukraine’s 261,000 active personnel.
But a well-supported resistance would make a Russian occupation prohibitively costly and Nato allies hope that such a prospect could shift President Vladimir Putin’s calculus against launching a full-scale invasion.
It was in the west’s “collective interest that Russia should ultimately fail and be seen to fail” if it launched a full-scale invasion, UK prime minister Boris Johnson told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“A lightning war would be followed by a long and hideous period of reprisals and revenge and insurgency,” he added. 

“If Ukraine is overrun by brute force, I fail to see how a country encompassing nearly a quarter of a million square miles . . . could then be held down.”
Johnson held talks with his counterparts from Latvia and Estonia, where they “agreed to continue working together to impose a significant cost on Russia should [it] decide to further violate Ukraine’s sovereignty”.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chair of the joint chiefs of staff, have already warned their Russian counterparts that an invasion would be followed by an insurgency like the one that drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, the New York Times reported last week. 

Biden administration officials have also told allies the CIA and Pentagon would help any Ukrainian insurgency with covert and overt aid.
Two people close to the Kremlin told the Financial Times the military cost of an occupation was already so obvious that claims by US and UK intelligence that a Russian invasion was imminent was evidence of western “hysteria”.
“Nobody thinks Ukraine is something you can just grab,” said one senior former Kremlin official. 

“It’d be very unpopular domestically because so many people have relatives there, and you can’t hold the territory because of partisan warfare.”
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow-based defence think-tank, said Russia would likely stick to “managed escalation” in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, ravaged by a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists since 2014 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
“I don’t believe in a large-scale military campaign,” Pukhov said. “It’s not clear what [Russia] would get out of a campaign involving taking territory other than more problems.”
Unless Moscow extensively co-opts local collaborators, occupying the whole country would require 20 Russian combatants for every 1,000 Ukrainians, equivalent to a force of almost 900,0000, according to a 1996 Rand study.
Recent polls also indicate that while most Russians believe the west is to blame for the current tensions, they have little appetite for war. 

Their Ukrainian relatives would also get caught in the crossfire if Russia used the brutal counter-insurgency tactics it employed in Syria and Chechnya.
“In Aleppo and Grozny, Russian forces could reduce the towns to rubble, plant a flag on top and declare victory,” said Mark Galeotti, a Russia military expert. “But Ukraine is a brother country.”
Ukraine has a long history of resistance movements, and the government passed a law last year for “total national defence” that gave special operations command responsibility for organising resistance forces.
Nationalist insurgents fought Soviet forces in the west of the country until 1949. Much of the fighting against Russia-backed separatists in the Donbas was also undertaken by volunteer battalions, who notched up some battleground victories and have since been incorporated into the national guard.
“The resistance in Kyiv would be huge,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defence minister and director of the Centre for Defence Strategies think-tank.
Ukraine would rely on three levels of defence: regular armed forces complemented by the national and border guards, territorial defence forces organised into 150 battalions led by military officers, and neighbourhood civil defence units. 

Kyiv estimates Ukrainian households have 1mn firearms, many of them hunting rifles but also semi-automatic weapons.
Ukrainian army units have been trained for guerrilla warfare, with small groups of 20 to 50 troops using “mosquito” tactics of attack, Zagorodnyuk said.
Nato allies, which have long experience of training and equipping missions from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, have also increased military aid.
Over the past year, the Biden administration has approved about $850mn in military equipment for Kyiv. 

Among Nato allies, the Netherlands last week authorised delivery to Kyiv of protective military equipment as well as sniper rifles, while Canada delivered machine guns, night vision and surveillance devices.
Even so, sustaining a resistance movement is difficult, analysts caution, and carries significant risk to human life and of a wider conflict between Nato and Russia.
Western special forces have been in Donbas for several years, said a Ukrainian military intelligence officer, acting as frontline observers to study Russian tactics and help Ukrainian forces with targeting. Support for an insurgency would imply deeper involvement.
Insurgents could receive training and shelter across Ukraine’s borders with Romania, Slovakia and Poland. 

In turn, Moscow could interpret every insurgent operation as Nato aggression, which could lead to further escalation, especially if a border incident occurs, according to Emily Harding, senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International studies.
Another complication is eastern Ukraine’s open terrain, which makes it ill-suited to guerrilla warfare. The cost to life may also render resistance futile.
“There has been a lot of talk about Ukrainian resistance — a gun in every window,” Samuel Cranny-Evans, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, told UK MPs this month. 

“But given that we have seen what Russian counter-insurgency looks like in Syria and Chechnya . . . that eventuality should be treated with some level of concern because it would be potentially a humanitarian disaster.”

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Grozny, Chechnya, August, 1995. Chechens celebrating the peace. Photograph by Thomas Dworzak.
Law & Politics

 


The Charge of the Light Brigade 



Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
 “Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!” he said. Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!” Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered. Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.


Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.


 

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14-FEB-2022 :: Donbas and Luhansk are entirely within the scope of an imminent incursion, A Frozen conflict at this new forward boundary is I believe the limit of the scope of this Operation.
Law & Politics


“There are known knowns — there are things we know we know,” Rumsfeld said in February 2002, “We also know there are known unknowns — that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
So here we are. What we do know is Putin is not a reckless Gambler [known knowns] and therefore a full scale invasion of Ukraine is pure hyperbole. 

However, Donbas and Luhansk are entirely within the scope of an imminent incursion, A Frozen conflict at this new forward boundary is I believe the limit of the scope of this Operation.

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John Pilger: War in Europe & the Rise of Raw Propaganda @Consortiumnews
Law & Politics


Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy that “the successor to politics will be propaganda” has happened.  

Raw propaganda is now the rule in Western democracies, especially the U.S. and Britain
On matters of war and peace, ministerial deceit is reported as news. Inconvenient facts are censored, demons are nurtured. The model is corporate spin, the currency of the age. In 1964, McLuhan famously declared, “The medium is the message.” The lie is the message now.
But is this new? It is more than a century since Edward Bernays, the father of spin, invented “public relations” as a cover for war propaganda. What is new is the virtual elimination of dissent in the mainstream.
The great editor David Bowman, author of The Captive Press, called this “a defenestration of all who refuse to follow a line and to swallow the unpalatable and are brave.” 

He was referring to independent journalists and whistle blowers, the honest mavericks to whom media organizations once gave space, often with pride. The space has been abolished.
The war hysteria that has rolled in like a tidal wave in recent weeks and months is the most striking example. Known by its jargon, “shaping the narrative,” much if not most of it is pure propaganda.
The No-Evidence Rule
The Russians are coming. Russia is worse than bad. Putin is evil, “a Nazi like Hitler,” salivated the Labour MP Chris Bryant. 

Ukraine is about to be invaded by Russia – tonight, this week, next week. 

The sources include an ex CIA propagandist who now speaks for the U.S. State Department and offers no evidence of his claims about Russian actions because “it comes from the U.S. Government.”
The no-evidence rule also applies in London. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who spent £500,000 of public money flying to Australia in a private plane to warn the Canberra government that both Russia and China were about to pounce, offered no evidence. 

Antipodean heads nodded; the “narrative” is unchallenged there. One rare exception, former Prime Minister Paul Keating, called Truss’s warmongering “demented.”
Truss has blithely confused the countries of the Baltic and Black Sea. In Moscow, she told the Russian foreign minister that Britain would never accept Russian sovereignty over Rostov and Voronezh – until it was pointed out to her that these places were not part of Ukraine but in Russia. 

Read the Russian press about the buffoonery of this pretender to 10 Downing Street and cringe.
Dangerous Farce
This entire farce, recently starring U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Moscow playing a clownish version of his hero, Winston Churchill, might be enjoyed as satire were it not for its wilful abuse of facts and historical understanding and the real danger of war.
Vladimir Putin refers to the “genocide” in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine. Following the coup in Ukraine in 2014 – orchestrated by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s “point person” in Kyiev, Victoria Nuland – the coup regime, infested with neo-Nazis, launched a campaign of terror against Russian-speaking Donbass, which accounts for a third of Ukraine’s population.
Overseen by CIA Director John Brennan in Kyiev, “special security units” coordinated savage attacks on the people of Donbass, who opposed the coup. 

Video and eyewitness reports show bussed fascist thugs burning the trade union headquarters in the city of Odessa, killing 41 people trapped inside. 

The police are standing by. Obama congratulated the “duly elected” coup regime for its “remarkable restraint.”
In the U.S. media the Odessa atrocity was played down as “murky” and a “tragedy” in which “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) attacked “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). 

Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal damned the victims —”Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says.”
Professor Stephen Cohen, acclaimed as America’s leading authority on Russia, wrote,
“The pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic Russians and others in Odessa reawakened memories of Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during World War II. [Today] storm-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other ‘impure’ citizens are widespread throughout Kyiv-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s …
“The police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neo-fascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kyiv has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more.”
Today, neo-Nazi Ukraine is seldom mentioned. That the British are training the Ukrainian National Guard, which includes neo-Nazis, is not news. (See Matt Kennard’s Declassified report in Consortium News, Feb. 15). 

The return  of violent, endorsed fascism to 21st-century Europe, to quote Harold Pinter, “never happened … even while it was happening.”
On Dec. 16, the United Nations tabled a resolution that called for “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism.” The only nations to vote against it were the United States and Ukraine.
Almost every Russian knows that it was across the plains of Ukraine’s “borderland” that Hitler’s divisions swept from the west in 1941, bolstered by Ukraine’s Nazi cultists and collaborators. The result was more than 20 million Russian dead.
Russian Proposals
Setting aside the manoeuvres and cynicism of geopolitics, whomever the players, this historical memory is the driving force behind Russia’s respect-seeking, self-protective security proposals, which were published in Moscow in the week the U.N. voted 130-2 to outlaw Nazism. They are:
– NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missiles in nations bordering Russia. (They are already in place from Slovenia to Romania, with Poland to follow)
– NATO to stop military and naval exercises in nations and seas bordering Russia.
– Ukraine will not become a member of NATO.
– the West and Russia to sign a binding East-West security pact.
– the landmark treaty between the U.S. and Russia covering intermediate-range nuclear weapons to be restored. (The U.S. abandoned it in 2019.)
These amount to a comprehensive draft of a peace plan for all of post-war Europe and ought to be welcomed in the West. But who understands their significance in Britain? What they are told is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a pariah and a threat to Christendom.
Russian-speaking Ukrainians, under economic blockade by Kiev for seven years, are fighting for their survival. The “massing” army we seldom hear about are the 13 Ukrainian army brigades laying siege to Donbass: an estimated 150,000 troops. If they attack, the provocation to Russia will almost certainly mean war.
In 2015, brokered by the Germans and French, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France met in Minsk and signed an interim peace deal. Ukraine agreed to offer autonomy to Donbass, now the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The Minsk agreement has never been given a chance. In Britain, the line, amplified by Boris Johnson, is that Ukraine is being “dictated to” by world leaders. For its part, Britain is arming Ukraine and training its army.
Since the first Cold War, NATO has effectively marched right up to Russia’s most sensitive border having demonstrated its bloody aggression in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and broken solemn promises to pull back.  

Having dragged European “allies” into American wars that do not concern them, the great unspoken is that NATO itself is the real threat to European security.
In Britain, a state and media xenophobia is triggered at the very mention of “Russia.” Mark the knee-jerk hostility with which the BBC reports Russia. Why? Is it because the restoration of imperial mythology demands, above all, a permanent enemy? Certainly, we deserve better.

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Reporter: Will sanctions deter Putin? @amlivemon
Africa

Kamala Harris: "Within the context then of the fact that that window is still opening, although, open, although it is absolutely narrowing, but within the context of a diplomatic path still being open"

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The tragedy of our time is that stupidity has begun to think. » Jean Cocteau H/T @coherence_e @hervegogo
Law & Politics


« Le drame de notre temps, c'est que la bêtise se soit mise à penser. » Jean Cocteau

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Global view of the pandemic. R is around 0.8, cases falling fast, at least for now. @DFisman
Misc.

We're around 425,000,000 counted cases and approaching 6 million counted deaths (true count likely 2-4x higher).


Conclusions

numbers are cooling off but there is a high base effect now

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Note width of last box @greg_travis
Misc.


We were initially sold the "Omicron is mild" narrative on the basis that deaths in South Africa did not rise when cases did -- i.e. there was a "disconnect" between cases and deaths (something we have heard a lot in this pandemic)

Note width of last box

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FCS facts that make a natural origin virtually impossible is a simple image that helps explain just how insane the gaslighting has been on this topic. @CharlesRixey
Misc.


I found this snip in one of my powerpoint collections, and I think my 90-second list of FCS facts that make a natural origin virtually impossible is a simple image that helps explain just how insane the gaslighting has been on this topic. 

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.129400
Dollar Index 96.229
Japan Yen 114.6150
Swiss Franc 0.916035
Pound 1.358625
Aussie 0.718855
India Rupee 74.80000
South Korea Won 1195.525
Brazil Real 5.1038708
Egypt Pound 15.710400
South Africa Rand 15.18521

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Ugly equity market moves - most of them very specific: @akcakmak
Emerging Markets



- #Russia -10% on #RussiaUkraine tensions

- Eastern Europe including #Poland, Austria, Czech, Hungary but also #Sweden down 2-3%

- Sri Lanka -4.3% on serious macro troubles ongoing for a long while now

Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
https://bit.ly/3Bk45Gj

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door

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The historical center of Mogadishu known as Hamarweyne. Source: Omar Designs @business
Africa

The war, he said, was just a chapter in the history of a nation that still retains traces of the various civilizations that have had an influence on its culture, poetry and music, including Arab and Italian.

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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February 2022
 
 
 
 
 
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