Putin v. Obama: No Contest…No Kidding
Michael Curtis, The Commentator
There's an old Jewish saying: "A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep trouble." President Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisers would have profited if they had been aware of this. Instead, the president went ahead with a 90-minute phone conversation on March 1, 2014 with President Vladimir Putin of Russia about the situation in Ukraine. Already, events had rapidly escalated with the Russian invasion of Crimea, supposedly because the regional Crimean government had asked for Russian military assistance to restore order in the area. Obama expressed "his deep concern" over Russian actions, which he held were a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and thus a breach of international law. He had in an earlier press conference similarly expressed that clear concern. He also said there will be a price to be paid for Russian military intervention in Ukraine. It was not clear what that "cost" would be, nor who would be responsible for it. The US, said the president, will stand by the international community in affirming that there will be costs for the intervention.
Putin Declares War; Obama Warns
'A Stiff Warning' Is On the Way
Editors, The Wall Street Journal
Vladimir Putin's Russia seized Ukraine's Crimean peninsula by force on the weekend and now has his sights on the rest of his Slavic neighbor. The brazen aggression brings the threat of war to the heart of Europe for the first time since the end of the Cold War. The question now is what President Obama and free Europe are going to do about it. With a swiftness and organization that suggests the plans were hatched weeks ago, Mr. Putin is moving to carve up Ukraine after Russia's satrap in Kiev, former President Viktor Yanukovych, was deposed in a popular democratic uprising. Russian troops have invaded Ukraine's territory and now control all border crossings, ports and airports in Crimea. The Kremlin's rubber-stamp parliament on Saturday approved Russian military intervention anywhere in Ukraine, which is nothing less than a declaration of war. The new government in Kiev responded by putting forces on high alert. This is a crisis made entirely in Moscow.
France in Free Fall
Guy Millière, The Gatestone Institute
French President François Hollande was all smiles during his three-day state visit in the United States. Now he is back home, and he does not smile anymore. He cannot escape the reality that France is in extremely bad shape. On January 26, thousands of people marched through Paris, chanting "Jews, France does not belong to you." Some demonstrators were members of the extreme right. Most of them belonged to the so-called "black white Arab France": young Muslims coming from suburban slums, leftist students and urban professionals imbued with politically correct ideas. Anti-Semitism in France has become so commonplace that it is now a part of the cultural landscape. The event was called "Day of Wrath," a truism, considering that wrath now runs rampant through French society. On February 2, another protest took place. It brought together a different group of people: Catholic conservatives wanting to defend the traditional family and reaffirm their opposition to gay marriage. A few weeks earlier, a rebellion against taxes on trucks using French roads mobilized crowds in Brittany's main cities : the rebels wore red caps, the symbol of revolts in the region since an anti-tax uprising in 1675.
It's Not an Arab Spring;
Governments Everywhere Spark Revolts
Ed Krayewski, Reason.com
It's the winter of their discontent from Venezuela to Ukraine to Thailand. Those countries' respective governments have all faced opposition demonstrations that in recent weeks have turned violent, seeing protesters killed in all three countries, with the death toll in Ukraine estimated at around 75 dead and more than 1,000 injured. In Venezuela, at least five have died, though based on accounts on the ground, that number too could rise. In Thailand, at least five people died and 65 were injured on Monday alone, as police worked to clear protesters from the capital city, Bangkok. Were the unrest in three countries that were geographically or ethnically closer to each other, the Western media might have bundled them together the way they did with the "Arab Spring." Like the current concurrent protests, of course, the Arab Spring was actually a set of disparate protests that spanned the Arab world. And while the protests ended differently: in toppled governments (Tunisia, Egypt), a Western intervention (Libya), a protracted civil war (Syria), multiple failures (Bahrain, Iraq), they did all share one general grievance, that their governments no longer represented them.
The 'Consequences' for Ukraine
& The Transatlantic Partnership
Heather A. Conley, Center for Strategic & International Studies
After months of tension, outbreaks of horrific violence, and political concessions, we have witnessed an extraordinary transformation of Ukraine, as the symbolic Maidan Nezalezhnosti--or Independence Square--has transitioned from protest zone to war zone to uneasy political truce. It is difficult to imagine that a mere 24 hours ago we feared that Ukraine had tragically slid toward a devastating civil war. Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych had lost control over portions of his country and seemed poised to allow the military to become involved in the crisis. With the signing of a new agreement between Yanukovych and opposition leaders this morning, the violence has currently subsided. The question remains, however, will this last? Tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have been protesting in the now blood-soaked Maidan since demonstrations began on November 21 have always known what has been at stake: their future--a future that is anchored in the West rather than chained to the East. These citizens are willing to fight and die for this future as well as risk the breakup of their country.
Cuba: The Holodomor Next Door
Robert Zubrin, The National Review
I just got back from a business trip to Mexico. While there, I met with some Mexicans who had recently traveled to Cuba. What they told me was shocking. The Cuban people are being held on the edge of starvation. According to my Mexican friends, ordinary Cubans are not allowed to eat beef. Instead, what beef there is in Cuba is reserved for the nation's rulers and for tourists who can pay for it with foreign exchange while staying at the all-inclusive resort hotels. It is in fact illegal to sell beef to a Cuban -- not that any of them outside the ruling class would be able to buy much, since the average wage in Cuba is about 50 cents per day, or one-tenth of the minimum legal wage in Mexico. With this pittance, Cubans must subsist on the subsidized rations made available to them by the government. These comprise 5 pounds of rice, 5 pounds of sugar, 1 pound of salt, 10 ounces of beans, 8 ounces of cooking oil, 0.15 ounces of coffee mixed with unknown stuff that isn't coffee, 6 ounces of very-low-quality fish, and 1 pound of a disgusting product made from unsalable animal parts, per month. No fruits or vegetables are included. I repeat: These rations are not free, but must be paid for, with the total bill consuming most of a Cuban's monthly salary.
Is France Going National-Socialist?
Michel Gurfinkiel, Druez.info
January 2014 will be remembered as an ominous turning point in French politics: the moment when explicit anti-Semitism was accepted again as a legitimate political view by at least a segment of the public. First, there was the Dieudonné case. Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, 48, known as an artist as just Dieudonné, is an African-French former humorist who over the years has turned his shows into anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish gatherings. More recently he created and launched the "quenelle," an inverted Hitlerian salute (one arm down, the other one touching the shoulder) to be used as an expression of contempt for Jews and everything related to the Holocaust. As Dieudonné was about to start a grand tour of France in January, Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls issued orders and guidelines to préfets (local government commissioners) and mayors to ban his shows as public-safety risks. Moreover, the police raided Dieudonné's home in France and found close to one million dollars in cash. Since Dieudonné and his wife and producer Noemie Montagne have repeatedly maintained they are nearly bankrupt, they may be investigated for tax evasion or money laundering.
Venezuelans ‘Taking it to the Streets’
Humberto Fontova, FrontPage Magazine
Protests rocked Venezuela this week. Hundreds of Venezuelans were arrested by Cuban-trained police and at least three were shot dead by Cuban-trained paramilitary storm-troopers. As we go to press, Caracas is under a military clampdown with government troops guarding most public buildings and patrolling the streets. In brief, Venezuelans have had it with the corruption, shortages, censorship, 56% inflation rate, crime and general privations brought on by the late Hugo Chavez' "Bolivarian Revolution," especially as implemented by Chavez' successor Nicholas Maduro, who won last October's elections–most non-Hollywood observers believe--by stealing them. Now Maduro and his cronies are stealing the country blind. It's all under the guise of something the Chavistas call "21th Century Socialism," mind you. But it still amounts to the government stealing businesses and replacing the owners and managers with vengeful, bumbling and rapacious government hacks. So the results exactly mimic those of old-fogey 20th century socialism. Here's a nation sitting atop the world's largest oil reserves and earning $100 BILLION in oil revenues annually--while its citizens can't find toilet paper in any stores.
EU Bosses Step Up Bullying,
Propaganda to Combat Euroskepticism
William F. Jasper, The New American
The EU's ruling elites in Brussels are going all out for the May European Parliament elections, attempting to expand their powers throughout the continent and beat back a growing rebellion against centralization. Viviane Reding (shown on right), the controversial and voluble European justice commissioner, was in London on February 10 for a public debate on "The Future of Europe," part of a "Citizens' Dialogue" series launched by the commission in 2013 as a key element of a year-long propaganda blitz. That blitz is aimed at influencing the vote for the 751 members of the European Parliament in elections that will take place in every member state from May 22-25. Reding's event in London, according to the EU Commission's press office, was the 44th of "more than 47 such meetings" planned throughout the continent, together with a massive propaganda campaign involving television programming, social media trolling, literature distribution, and other costly schemes that have been drawing widespread criticism, even from political and media sectors that are normally supportive of the EU.
EU Parliament Calls for UN
Control of Conventional Arms
Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., The New American
On February 5, the European Parliament voted to authorize European Union countries to ratify the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. In a less-than-enthusiastic press release, the European Parliament declared that the Arms Trade Treaty "wouldn't necessarily result in the reduction of arms production, but it should stop arms getting into the hands of terrorists and should stop arms flooding into areas that are unstable." That's sounds troubling. Given the proclivity of regimes to label dissenters as "terrorists" and to nominate the United States as a battlefield in the global "War on Terror," however, the rights protected by the Second Amendment are most certainly under attack in the form of this globalist gun grab masquerading as a peace treaty. David Martin, a British member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats who helped draft the recommendation for EU member ratification of the ATT, admitted that the aim of the treaty is control of firearms.
A Misleading Cold War Analogy:
Don't Count on Containing Iran
Elliott Abrams, The Weekly Standard
The Israeli debate over Iran's nuclear program is, perhaps oddly, not yet heated. For now, the action is with the Americans: Israelis watch the negotiations nervously and without confidence, but there is little sense of impending doom--or impending war. Opinion polls show that Israelis think Iran is building toward a weapon, not toward a "capability," and they pay attention to Iran's continuing acts of aggression (in Syria, for example), its support for terrorism, and the constant statements from Iran's leaders about eliminating Israel from the map. So why no panic? Perhaps Israel's experiences with war and terror, facing Arab armies and more recently Hezbollah and Hamas, have immunized it from a panicked response. Perhaps there is faith in the Israel Defense Forces' ability to stop Iran if the need arises. Or perhaps Israelis expect that in the end America will act to stop Iran from getting a bomb. But during a recent visit I found another explanation as well--one that is more disturbing. Talking with members of what I'd call the "security establishment," I found the occasional appearance of wishful thinking built around imagined Cold War analogies. That the Obama administration appears to harbor precisely the same hopes is no cause for comfort.