The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Lithuania, Kaliningrad, and NATO Article Five

As you may have heard, Lithuania has cut off much of the land supply to Kalingrad, a former German city held by Russia, but which has no land connection to Russia.

Lithuania has applied EU sanctions to the transit of goods to Kaliningrad. Russia says this is a blockade and in violation of an agreement from 2002 to allow transit between the Russian mainland and Kaliningrad. Sanctions apparently amount to about 50 percent of shipments, and Lithuania has also closed its airspace to Russia. Because the Baltic freezes during the winter, resupplying Kaliningrad will become particularly difficult in a few months.

The Russian official response has been fairly measured — they consider it a violation and are studying how to retaliate.

The simplest retaliations are not easy; while the EU as a whole relies in Russian energy, Lithuania itself is relatively energy self-sufficient.

I would suggest that the solution, as Lithuania says it is just implementing EU sanctions, is to simply shut off energy to the EU as a whole for a while and see what happens.

But there’s something else here that needs comment: Lithuania is part of NATO.

I believed, when Lithuania joined NATO, that it shouldn’t have been let in. Lithuania has an army of about 20K. It’s not Ukraine, with Europe’s largest army (and still losing), it could be overrun in days. Lithuania feels free to provoke Russia because of NATO Article 5.

But let’s look at exactly what Article 5 says:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them . . . shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exer­cise of the right of indi­vidual or collect­ive self-defence recog­nised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking . . . such action as it deems neces­sary, includ­ing the use of armed force, to restore and main­tain the secur­ity of the North Atlantic area.

You’ll notice that this isn’t actually an automatic declaration of war. Each country in NATO will decide what to do.

As I’ve said in the past, if Russia attacks Lithuania, I feel we should go to war.

But the analogy right now is that someone who is too weak to fight is poking someone dangerous because they have friends who can fight.

Are we really willing to risk WWIII and nuclear armageddon so that Lithuania or the EU can provoke Russia?

Lithuanian politicians seem to think that Article 5 is automatic: It isn’t, and they need to remember that. The same is true of the EU as a whole, whose military cannot defeat Russia without aid from the US and Turkey.

How sure are they that the US will answer the call?

Should the US answer the call? Are you personally willing to die so that Lithuania and the EU can poke Russia? (A Russian ex-general recently noted that, if war breaks out, the UK will cease to exist, so this question isn’t really just for Americans.)

I suggest that EU and Lithuanian politicians and citizens should think this over carefully. Turkey, I virtually guarantee, will not join such a war, and those who depend on the US have often found out that it cannot be trusted when the stakes are high.

I doubt this situation will lead to war, but each provocation and escalation, from either side, increases the odds, and we’re playing a very high stakes game here — given how many nuclear weapons both sides have.

Perhaps we should think carefully about for whom we are actually willing to die, about who we’re willing to defend if the cost is that almost everyone we know, including our family and friends, stands a good chance of dying.

Because if WWIII happens, whichever side starts losing, will use nuclear weapons.

You can’t automatically bow down to threats and never be willing to fight, or those who are willing to use violence can make you do anything they want, but there’s a difference between standing up for yourself and provoking a fight.

The EU, NATO and the Baltic states need to think very carefully about this difference.



Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 19, 2022


Failures of Democracy & the Original Intellectual Fascist


  1. Z

    I think a more precise question would be: “Are you willing to die for Joe Biden’s, Antony Blinken’s, and Victoria Nuland’s egos?”


  2. different clue

    The EU, NATO, and the Baltic States are not clarity-of-thought capable.

    The Baltic States because of their bad embedded ethno-cultural memories of ” Russia”.

    The EU because EUrope has always cherished the fond wish that Russia and America would destroy eachother in a war so that the EU could emerge from its bunkers and rule what is left of the world.

    NATO because NATO itself is a joint EU-British conspiracy against America to use America’s armed might to nourish British nostalgia dreams of Empire and to spare EU from having to spend on social welfare and military defense both. The fact that Secretary General Yan or Yens or whatever-it-is Stoltenberg recently made a desperate plea for NATO ( at America’s funding and expense) to keep the Ukraine war going for years to come . . . . poorly described as a “prediction” that it “would” . . . . proves to my own satisfaction what an anti-American conspiracy NATO really is.

    I hope that if the NATO-EU conspirators can create the war which THEY want between America and Russia, that THEY and BRITAIN pay the maximum price for THEIR war of choice at aMERica’s expense. ( And Ukraine’s expense too, by the way).

    If Trump is nominated again to run in 2024, and if he makes the credible promise to pull America out of NATO and to label every NATO-connected person inside America to be persona-non-grata and an illegal alien subject to arrest and ICE detention in a lovely ICE vacation facility, I will vote for Trump all over again. The stakes are that high.

    And the anti-American EUrophile Anglophile Democrats know that I am not the only one who would think so. So I predict that if Trump is nominated in 2024, the Democrats will do everything in their power to create a thermonuclear war with Russia before Trump gets to actually run in an election.

  3. j

    For me, as an Estonian who does not buy into the official bullshit, it is painfully obvious that Nato countries in general and the Baltic states in particular do not have an independent defence policy towards their eastern neighbour. Whether that is because the politicians just don’t have any brains of their own and follow DC suggestions blindly (I could believe that), or is it because they sold their independent policy for Nato membership in the first place (I could also believe that), the end result is the same – indeed the politicians think they are safe behind the back of their big brother, and probably they even think they are making things better by doing lashing out from there.

    It does not escape me what the consequences are in the end for the small boys when they think they are actual players in the big boys game.

    But this poking the bear has been going on since the Baltic states gained Nato membership. So far it has been, like they say, the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on. So i guess you could dismiss this as just another empty sanction squeeze of our ongoing sanction hysteria.

    But there is also the angle that this time, accidentally or not, maybe they stumbled upon squeezing the bear’s balls. Kalingrad is a mayor part of Russian defence setup. You could think of it as a sort of a Baltic sea version of Crimea, although it lacks the natural impenetrable fortress qualities of Crimea proper.
    While Crimea is basically a question about the defence of Moscow, Kalingrad is about the defence of St. Petersburg. It is the forward operating base of Russian Baltic sea fleet, which, lacking Kalingrad, would have to fall back to St. Petersburg. Operating from Kalingrad, it would be quite ok to take out any sea forces as they manouver through the Danish straits. It would be quite a different story to take them on with your back against the wall of your second capital of St. Petersburg.

    In any case, Russian war time plans call for establishing a land bridge inbetween Lithuania and Poland to link up Kalingrad with mainland supplies. This is acutally quite in the interest of the Baltic states, as it would mean that as long as Russia has both the Baltic and Black seas under control, any significant land battles would be fought on the line between Kalingrad and Crimea. On the other hand, should they lose Kalingrad, the Baltic states would find themselves neck deep in yet another war that’s not their own, much like Ukraine is in right now.

    But I’m thinking that this setup could be leveraged for an actual solution for the Baltic countries. A sea alliance between the Baltic states, Finland and Sweden would be in a position to enforce neutrality of their waters, taking care of both the west’s worries of invasion from the east, as well as the east’s worries of invasion from the west. A similar plan was attempted between Finland and Estonia leading up to WWII, but it fell apart quickly once the shit hit the fan. Having defence in the depth in Sweden, more weight in game via more countries in general, and a bit more experience with these matters might make it viable in some post-Nato scenarios, something that I like to sharpen my teeth on every once in a while.

  4. bruce wilder

    I have a couple of questions about the mechanics of Russian transit from contiguous Russia to Kalingrad:

    1.) how do the Lithuanians know what Russia is shipping? Are there customs checks on the way in to Lithuania, even for a train that does not stop or off-load in Lithuania?

    2.) Lithuania insists that it is not interdicting all rail shipments, only the transport of particular goods named by EU sanctions. But, is that how sanctions work, legally? I thought sanctions prohibited economic transactions. But, there is no economic transaction with Lithuanian business beyond the Russian train using the rail corridor — not itself prohibited.

    I realized recently that I do not understand what legal justification underlies “sanctions”. I thought it was transactional — a bank or other business could not transact an exchange entailing either sale to or purchase from either a particular Russian person or Russian persons and entities generally.

    The seizure of property however stood out to me as peculiar and arbitrary. Chasing down the yachts of Russian oligarchs who are not even residents in Russia seems peculiar.

    And now this: apparently, they wanted the rail equivalent of excluding Russian aircraft from national airspace, but they couldn’t come up with anything, given the committments to allow transit generally.

    I know there is deep history here of animosity. It was kind of funny when it was Lithuania refusing to sell the Russians cheese or Russians refusing to buy Lithuanian cheese — never too clear on all that.

  5. Greg T

    The US is willing to fight Russia down to the last proxy. Leadership in the western bloc lacks the honor to back its treaty commitments. Small nations like Lithuania are pawns who exist to obey the master. Just as in Ukraine, they will be used and discarded when no longer useful. If Putin were to invade one of the Baltic republics, NATO would do nothing. There would be much bloviating about how Putin is trying to reconstitute the USSR , an imposition of more sanctions, but all the while, the bigger NATO countries like Turkey , Germany and UK. would see the the treaty isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

  6. Eric Anderson

    Given the context of the article, here’s something to consider:
    On average, is an 80 yr old leader more likely to be willing to die on principle than someone, say, 10 years their junior? 20 years? 30?

  7. VietnamVet

    If you want to see what is coming to North America, look at Eastern Europe from the Baltics, through the Balkans to the Black Sea. Composed of various aristocratic overlords (Poles/Russians), Lenders/Tax Collectors (Jews) and Peasants (Lithuanians, Hungarians, and Ukrainians) this land is the very definition of the clash of civilizations. Farther south, the more intense the religious conflict between Christians and Muslims.

    Western Europe and North America have also devolved into similar global Overlords, Overseers/Managers and left behind Deplorables. Democracy is gone. Government no longer works. Public health, public education, and public safety were privatized and terminated. With most accessible resources depleted and industry offshored, the West’s continued financial growth desperately needs access to Russian and third world energy and commodities. Greedy and unable to contemplate the future, the current incompetent western leadership at some flashpoint most likely will trigger a hot war between NATO and Russia. The gap between Russia and Kaliningrad in Lithuania looks like this could be the place.

    There are two basic contradictions at play right now that appear to have no resolution; 1) The proxy world war of Russia verses NATO, and 2) shortages of workers, energy and food. Violence is assured. Survival is not.

    Compared to today, Jimmy Carter had a cakewalk and he fumbled it. Donald Trump and Joe Biden, both, fell flat on their faces.

  8. Eric Anderson

    Oh, sorry. Context.
    By 2030 those over 65 yrs and older will outnumber those 18 and younger — a first for the U.S.

    By and large, they don’t care about the future, only preserving the memory of their halcyon past.

    “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

  9. Eric Anderson

    How subtle.
    Been good knowing you Ian.

  10. Ché Pasa

    Somebody really does want nuclear annihilation. The Russian Bear will be poked and poked until they get it, too. The Russia-haters in the foreign service are intent on their objective, but they would rule if they didn’t have a great deal of backing outside the foreign policy establishment. Russia-hate goes back a long way in the US… Hillary didn’t invent it.

    This interdiction because sanctions is just silliness on the part of Lithuania, whether or not they were commanded to do it by their USandNato masters. The point is provocation, nothing more. As usual, Russia is taking its time and being very measured in response, but I would suspect that relatively pleasant facade can shatter in a moment. And when it does… unpleasant results ensue.

    Whatever faction is behind all of this nonsense apparently believes that Mother Russia can be — will be — strangled, defeated and dismembered, not unlike Hitler’s plans for the Soviet Union when time was.

    And I doubt that even resuscitation of the Trump Regime can stop these Ultimate War wheels from turning.

  11. Ché Pasa

    …they wouldn’t rule…

  12. StewartM

    I’ve said in the past that if Russia attacks Lithuania, I feel we should go to war.

    I recognize it Ian, but not only in this case, but in others, I would say in public “no”. Just because it’s a reality check for the Baltic states and Eastern Europe. They never were worth risking WWIII over during the Cold War, “rollback” nonsense aside, Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to tell them the truth: “If this happens, I can’t and won’t help you” because that (hopefully) will encourage more prudent action.

    The delusion we fed Eastern Europe is that they could poke the Russian bear as much as they wanted and be free. But as South and Central Americans would tell Eastern Europeans, when you live next door to a hegemonic state (truth is, they are farther from the US and are less critical to the US than Eastern Europe is to Russia), the reality is your options are limited. You have to get along with them.

  13. Z

    Russia doesn’t have an easy, and safe, work around for supplying Kalingrad. I believe most folks haven’t thought that all through yet. It forces them to supply Kalingrad by sea where NATO allies could potentially stop them and seize the cargo and justify it by their accusations, which have been getting louder and louder over the past month, that Russia is stealing Ukrainian grain and causing global starvation.

    If Russia uses their navy to escort those ships they potentially take away ships from the Ukrainian conflict and set them up to being ambushed traveling in a large group like that and on predictable routes and often times schedules. If they don’t use their navy then those ships can potentially be seized by some other country’s navy.

    The U.S.’s greatest moment in this war, and they couldn’t keep from bragging about it, was their probably very substantial role in sinking the Moskva. That was a 750 million dollar ship. They’ve recently sent Ukraine some harpoon anti-ship missiles. I’d imagine they also are providing “advisors” who can help them operate those weapons. It wasn’t but a month ago that one of War Pimp Zelenskyy’s Kyiv-caine Cowboys was boasting that the U.S. had a plan to sink Russia’s entire Black Sea fleet. Sinking ships, especially big ones like the Moskva, is a way of making Russia pay a heavy price for this war.

    So, if Russia feels strongly that shipping into Kalingrad is a risk to their navy or supply ships they may act more aggressively towards Lithuania than most think they will. It’s not entirely irrational in that context. You might reckon you are better off fighting Lithuania now, and taking the chances that NATO will jump in, than taking the risk of being caught in a vulnerable situation every time you ship supplies in.


  14. Dan Lynch

    Agree with Ian & most of the comments.

    As Z pointed out, Kalingrad is not militarily defensible under the existing arrangement. Long term, either Russia will have to relinquish Kalingrad, or else Russia will have to seize Lithuania and/or install a puppet government. But Russia plays the long game, so the Kalingrad situation may take decades to play out.

    Ian said if WWIII happens, whichever side starts losing, will use nuclear weapons. Well, I’m pretty sure it will be the U.S. that starts losing. Russia seems to have the ability to shoot down most U.S. missiles, while the U.S. lacks the ability to shoot down Russia’s newer missiles. Let’s think about how that might play out. Most U.S. missiles get intercepted — but not all. Maybe 1% of U.S. missiles reach their target. Well, if the U.S. first strike is 1000 missiles, 1% is 10 missiles, and that’s still a a lot of damage. Ouch! The other question is what happens to the intercepted U.S. missiles if the warhead survives intact? Let’s say 990 intercepted warheads fall to the ground somewhere in Eastern Europe — do the warheads still detonate? If so, Eastern Europe may cease to exist. Eastern Europeans might want to think about that.

    At this particular moment, Russia is as ready as it will ever be to take on NATO. In fact, if I were Russia, I might even be thinking “if war with NATO is inevitable, then let’s strike now, before NATO missiles and air defense technology catches up with ours.” So … we live in interesting times, and we in the West are ruled by madmen. I don’t know how this will play out.

  15. Stephen T Johnson

    Well, if the RF follow their Modus Operandi to date, they’ll start with some mildly nasty economic countermeasures (maybe specific to Lithuania, maybe pan-Baltic, maybe pan-EU), and gradually turn up the pain dial until the Lithuanians see the error of their ways.
    Invasion to force an access corridor is, I think, fairly far down the escalation path. In such an event, I think it highly likely that the Lithuanians will find themselves categorically abandoned (at least in terms of military action, plentiful verbal assaults will be provided) by their NATO allies, with the possible exceptions of Canada (*sigh*) and Latvia. I don’t think even BoJo will be up for that, his overwhelming keenness on Churchillian cosplay notwithstanding.
    The upshot of that will likely be new governments with appropriate attitude adjustments in Lithuania and Latvia, and likely a 99 year lease with extraterritoriality on the new corridor to the Kaliningrad region.
    Hopefully, it wall end peacefully.

  16. Mel

    “Somebody really does want nuclear annihilation. ”

    I can’t really believe this — I can believe that somebody wants *everything except* nuclear annihilation.
    And I can believe that they’ll keep grabbing away at that everything until one day, out of the blue, totally by surprise,
    we get nuclear annihilation.

  17. bruce wilder

    If Russia uses their navy to escort those ships they potentially take away ships from the Ukrainian conflict . . .

    Russia is effectively constrained from transferring Baltic ships to the Black Sea by Turkiye’s control of the Bosphorus and Turkiye’s obligation to exclude warships not ported in the Black Sea during wars.

  18. bruce wilder

    I understand how other commenters get to projections of further developments unfolding at a glacial pace (“long-game”, “decades to play out”) and I, too, hope for rationality and peace to prevail, but I don’t see peace and rationality winning out, short of a seismic shift in the structure of political power in the U.S.

    Putin chose hot war in large part because he sees the “long-game” going against Russia even in the twilight of American neoliberal hegemony. Ukraine was a case in point, teaching him this lesson, as the neocons persisted successfully in subverting Ukraine thru two color revolutions and the temptations of EU membership and NATO membership. Armenia losing out to Azerbaijan in a surprising flash of drone technology in one of Putin’s frozen conflicts was a wakeup call: Ukraine, too, had long been plotting and planning a sudden seizure of the rump Donbass Republics, while stalling on implementing the Minsk Accords. I think Putin sees himself leaving the Presidency of the Russian Federation soon and wants to leave domestic Russian politics, especially among his elite Siloviki, firmly committed to a united anti-U.S. posture and the development of Russian economic capability.

    I do not endorse Putin’s thinking — I know he was morally wrong to inflict war on Ukraine — and very heavily on the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine — and I think the Special Military Operation was a political mistake, a gamble Russia may well end up losing, because there is no obvious path to a settlement with the rump Ukraine or with the West. The alternative of prolonged saber-rattling would have accomplished more in terms of de-stabilizing the Ukraine economy. But, I can see why he might think Russia’s leverage over Europe and its fuel demands would be much less even two years from now and he may well foresee the real need to yield his own grip on Russian politics.

    I continue to see Putin as a gambler who makes finely-tuned calculations aimed at setting up situations for the long-term that he cannot resolve satisfactorily and altogether in the short-term.

    It is his antagonists in “the Collective West” that worry me greatly — their “mentality” for lack of a better term is not conducive to international agreements and settlements. The whole ideology of “a rules-based international order” is drawn around an unrealistic insistence that it isn’t necessary to negotiate conflicts of interest among independent powers, and instead actors should be constrained in the game of international relations to navigate a labyrinth of “principles”. That the complex game might be rigged and some players privileged to make up new rules as part of their game-playing strategy, or declare exceptions without review, is treated as disinformation.

    Putin, in gambling on hot war, is declaring that he’s not willing to continue to play a game that Russia in the long-run was clearly losing.

    My point is that his opponents in the U.S. and European political classes — most of whom are no longer notably dependent on democratic electoral support, and that’s a really important point as we enter a period of economic pain — are simply not interested in negotiation. Their whole ideology and mentality and goals for the world order they have been attempting to exploit and maintain is against it.

    I don’t see the Victoria Nulands of this world becoming foreign policy realists any time soon, nor do I see much prospect of them being displaced by a political system that could let realism emerge easily. In the U.S., there is some possibility of a conservative, isolationist faction emerging on the back of a Republican turn to populist (aka “fascist”) appeals — a Tucker Carlson foreign policy if you like. But, I think it is a long-shot. Neo-cons are deeply embedded in the permanent state and nothing if not bi-partisan. In Europe, again, there is some possibility of right-wing “populism” in the manner of Victor Orban wresting power from the “grand coalition” essentially “a-democratic” politics of Ursula von der Leyen, Macron and so on.

    We have gone too long without the bad consequences of unwise policy visiting the lives of elite policymakers, as Ian has frequently pointed out. They’ve been doing increasingly stupid things for more than 20 years and they and their patrons have grown richer even as the mass of their citizens have been eased into greater precarity and people in the third world sometime suffer greatly. The suffering of Ukraine, the poorest country in Europe, is a prime example of an unacknowledged victim of clueless people who put blue and yellow flags on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. The thing that is hard to fathom is just how far up the food chain the cluelessness extends. I think it extends very far indeed.

    Russia, imho, may not be able to “win” this war, because his real opponents — not the Ukrainians as a People so much as the professional globalist elites of “the Collective West” — do not share his reality and they cannot be compelled to yield control the U.S. or the E.U. as international players to other factions capable of negotiating a settlement.

    The frustration this entails for Putin’s Russia and the destabilizing economic blowback for the U.S. and especially Europe (watch Italy — if Italy implodes financially and it might . . . yikes; also the UK breakup is looming and Little England sure as heck isn’t going to be credible as a world power with their soldiers having OnlyFans as a hobby) could make Europe’s leadership even crazier without letting realists take power.

    Anyway, those are some reasons I think escalation out of control (because their is no one in charge in the West who even knows what control means) is a likely path.

  19. Z

    In regards to the U.S.’s and Ukraine’s wishes to lure the Russian Navy into range to sink some more ships, the Ukrainians have renewed their operations to take Snake Island, reportedly recently sank a Russia tug boat that was near Snake Island with one of those Harpoon anti-ship missiles that the U.S. supplied them, and have hit an oil drilling platform in the Black Sea this week.

    This situation is not setting up well. Putin has to win and Biden’s best chance to turn around his disastrous presidency is to be known as the one who took down Putin, that alone will be something he can hang his hat on, spackle over his failures, and redeem his presidency. Well, say what you will about ol’ Joe, but he did take out Putin. Biden’s always been a selfish, narcissistically driven idiot and he’s now half out on his feet and very susceptible to manipulation when it comes to supporting his gargantuan ego. The people surrounding him are cunning and know this.

    Blinken and Nuland are likely to push Biden towards getting the U.S. more and more militarily involved if the conflict keeps going Russia’s way because they are facing a very humiliating ‘L’ in real-time. Most of the U.S. foreign policy failures such as Iraq and Afghanistan played out over a long time and many, if not all, of the people who made the most damaging decisions were gone from their positions and could later fall on the at-the-time-whocouldanode excuse or even complaints that the people who followed them failed in some ways to carry out their plans. This is much different, this time at-the-time was only a few months ago, not long from now, and they have been in charge of this the entire time, and even before that because Nuland played a major role in the Maidan coup.

    This is Blinken’s and Nuland’s pet project, they have plenty invested in this ego-wise and professionally and folks like them don’t take ‘L’s of this magnitude easily or gracefully. Not many do. These people care more about themselves, and I’d say Israel, than the U.S. and the rest of the world. They basically said it out loud when they said that ensuring that Russia does not win in Ukraine is worth a global recession and mounting hunger.

    It is in Blinken’s and Nuland’s interests to push for more U.S. involvement because if Biden doesn’t escalate that creates their excuse if Russia wins: they had Putin right where they wanted him and then ol’ Joe got weak-kneed and wouldn’t put the hammer on him. Get their minions in the press run with the “Putin called Biden’s bluff and Joe folded” narrative, and they got plenty of allies in the media, and tattoo the ‘L’ right on the forehead of the hapless Lead Stiff of Weekend at Biden’s.

    So, how will the Lead Stiff react if he is placed in the position of potentially being the man who took down Putin or the disastrous president who backed down to him? Catch him at different times, and different drug dosage levels, and you probably get different reactions. If he decides to get the U.S., through NATO, involved in military operations against Russia, who could or would talk sense into him? Raytheon lead sales rep Austin? Doesn’t sound like it. Kamala Harris? Hahahaha … doubt it. Jill? Maybe, but can she even wedge any sense between him and his ego? And how much sense about these matters does she possess herself?


  20. Stephen Bobb

    One of the fairly obvious things being left unsaid is that the rail shipments being blocked are not trade with Lithuania, but traveling over a transit corridor that is based on treaty obligations. These treaty obligations establish the borders and sovereignty of Lithuania. Because this freight is not trade with Lithuania it’s not covered under sanctioned trade; it’s a clear violation of agreements that Washington is not able to honor (did I say honor

  21. Willy

    Putin has already hinted that former soviet states should be loyal to him lest they get Ukrained. And I suppose that if Germany was more fascist they’d would’ve played the same cards with Königsberg.

    What a mess.

    And then folks like playing the armchair military strategist. Maybe that’s a residual from happy childhood nerd days spent playing Stratego and Risk, I dunno.

    I’d think that fascism needs to be better understood. Not the Dear Leader part, but how and why so many people can become so cult-minded that they’ll supplicate an obvious malignant narcissist, at whatever scale, from playground bully to international bastard.

  22. different clue


    It is fashionable on the left to claim that the “US” is “provoking” these wars in order to fight Russia to the ” last Baltic state”.

    Here is how it looks to me. The Lithuania leadership is deliberately trying to torture Russia into attacking Lithuania in order to extort America’s entry into the war on Lithuania’s side and behalf. The Baltics ( and East Europe) in general conspired with Clinton to suck NATO eastward in order to extort America’s protection and support against their beloved enemy Russia.

    Given that the LithuaniaGov is violating international law through blocking the transit of Russian access to Russia’s own Kaliningrad territory in defiance of standing arrangements to the contrary, I desperately hope that America will not assist Lithuania if/when Lithuania successfully gets the military response from Russia which Lithuania is actively conspiring to create.

    In the longest run, I hope a pro-America movement within America can conquer the DC FedRegime government ( with no more mass-slaughter of pro-NATO stooges, plotters and conspirators within the American Establishment than is necessary to exterminate their political power presence in government, academe and Think Tankistan, and then take America out of NATO.

    The CanadaGov can then keep staying in NATO if it wishes. If Canada leaves NATO as well, then the EUropeans can create their own NEATO if the really feel oh-so-threatened by Russia. ( NEATO stands for North East Atlantic Treaty Organization.

  23. Greg T

    Putin’s stated goals of denazifying and demilitarization of Ukraine has to be part of a longer range goal of weakening, if not collapsing NATO. He perceives NATO as an existential threat to Russian sovereignty, so it’s hard to see him stopping at Ukraine. There’s most definitely a risk of serious escalation here. The west should seriously reconsider the security architecture in Europe- it should have been reconsidered in 1991-but the US Deep State is too entrenched to change course. We can expect countermoves like cutting off Kalingrad as a means to thwart Putin. At what point does Russia do something that provokes a major NATO retaliation?

  24. corvo

    Kalingrad? No such place.

    It’s Kaliningrad, named after Mikhail Kalinin, who was USSR President for several years.

  25. Z

    Often in the past when there has been some major international conflict going on Israel has acted aggressively while attention is focused elsewhere and during this conflict they’ve particularly been bullies by bombing Syria’s main airport, killing another Iranian official (this time in Iran), and shooting and killing a U.S.-Palestinian journalist in Israel who was clearly uniformed as Press.

    Apparently, Russia is plenty pissed about Israel’s recent bombing of the Damascus Airport and warned them that if something such as that happens again Russia will retaliate. They also are formally bringing it to the UN’s attention. Last month Russia fired at Israeli military jets in Syria for the first time ever too, though they didn’t hit anything, and probably only fired as a warning.

    I’ve long believed that well before Putin would ever press “the button” with grim satisfaction he’d take down a Israeli military jet to send the message to our rulers that the next escalation could lead to bombing Israel itself knowing how important Israel is to so many of the major players in this conflict who oppose him. With Israel at stake our rulers might even fold.

    If the U.S. is able to help Ukraine sink another ship or two from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia strikes Israel in some way.


  26. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W; *short of a seismic shift in the structure of political power in the U.S.*

    The US is a failing state, Bruce. Matters will proceed as in Hemingway’s dictum about bankruptcy: very slowly, then all at once.

    I can go to any major American city and find zones like this —

    I could cite the highest COVID death rate per million in the world, the fact that Chinese citizens now have longer life expectancies than Americans, blah blah blah.

    Instead, let us turn to US conduct of international affairs.

    Current events have been planned since 2013-14 and V. Nuland’s visit to Ukraine, and were initially scheduled to kick off in 2016 after Hillary’s ascension. Thus, the latter’s otherwise implausible fixation on Putin and the Russians as the explanation for her failure to succeed Obama to the presidency.

    In 2018, RAND put out an explicit game plan, centering on the Ukraine and including the framework and check list for sanctions.
    ‘Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground.’

    It’s still up, because it was too widely disseminated to be withdrawn — there’s even a paperback version priced at $49.50 you can buy on Amazon. If you glance through it, you’ll note it’s an intelligent — though not benevolent — , stipdocumentulating a number of accompanying conditions that must be fulfilled if the strategy is to succeed — low global energy prices, for one.

    And nevertheless the Biden administration rushed into this effort to pummel Russia with Ukraine as their proxy — granted, Putin forced their hand early –without fulfilling the adjunct conditions for it to succeed. Why?

    I think it’s not just ignorance and arrogance. I believe it’s because from the viewpoint of imperial DC, thanks to the non-crowning of Hillary Putin and Russia are perceived as having had four extra years to prepare, develop a new generation of weapons, and — as it’s turned out — preempt US aggression with Russia’s own ‘Special Military Operation.’

    I’m not a betting man. But I’ll take a bet that shadowy figures from the backrooms of State and CIA have been going around doing presentations for DC policymakers that feature over-amped comparisons of the US position now with that of, say, the UK in the pre-WWII days when Hitler’s Germany was building up its military. These presentations will include lots of graphics showing how with each month and each year China and Russia are pulling ahead, gaining an insuperable advantage over the US that the latter will ‘soon not be able to overcome.’

    In other words, TPTB in DC know — just as we do — that it’s fatuous to simultaneously take on Russia, perhaps the world’s biggest exporter of commodities and resources, and China, the world’s biggest manufacturer, to which the US offshored its manufacturing. But they also feel that it’s now or never, because with every day the US position grows weaker vis a vis Russia, China, and the rest of the world.

    This is an empire that knows it’s on the slide, whether it’ll admit it to itself or not.

  27. KT Chong

    Finally some sanity and truth… on Fox News of all places:

    If the US continues to fund and support the Ukraine War in 2024, and the Republican presidential candidate promises to stop funding and supporting the proxy war with Russia, I will vote for him even if he says he will sign a law to ban abortion, gay marriage and transgender operations.

  28. Z

    The overworked and harried production team of Weekend at Biden’s are already peeved by the “Let’s go, Brandon!” taunts their lead stiff is receiving from the cheap seats. They’re going to be really pissed when those taunts turn to “Let’s go, Putin!”.


  29. different clue


    I myself would be surprised if Russia strikes Israel in some way upon the US helping Ukraine sink another Russian ship or two. To the best of my knowledge, the RussiaGov considers itself to have formal and correct relations with Israel, and the IsraelGov has held back from EUro-extremist levels of EUronazi support for the Ukranazi fighting forces in Ukraine.

    So I think the RussiaGov would find another way to reach out and touch the DC FedRegime or its interests if the DC FedRegime traceably helped Ukraine sink another Russian ship or two.

    So now we have two conditional predictions. If the DC FedRegime helps sink another Russian ship or two, the RussiaGov will either do “this” or “that”. We may get to see.

  30. Feral Finster

    Found on internet:

    “Good lord, certain eastern European nations are really starting to irk me. I mean the Laos, Cambodians and Vietnamese lost untold thousands during the Vietnam War and they’ve had to just walk it off. They’ll never get any restitution or revenge for the unjustified deaths that happened within still living memory. Nor do they make a national culture of fetishizing their grievances. Yet certain European countries demand the rest of the world risk WWIII, by and large justifiying themselves with centuries-old grievances and the sins of a political entity that doesn’t even exist any more, and making not the slightest effort to cool but rather exacerbate tensions at every opportunity.”

  31. different clue

    @Feral Finster,

    The person who wrote the piece you quote seems to understand that the Eastun Yerpians are running a sub-conspiracy against NATO itself within the wider NATO conspiracy against America.

  32. NR


    You are assuming that the money saved from the Ukraine war would be spent to benefit us domestically and not simply given to the Republicans’ billionaire donors. Given the track record of their last couple of administrations, that would seem to be wishful thinking at best.

  33. Z

    A huge unspoken part of this war right now is the U.S. trying, through guiding their Ukrainian proxies, to exact a price from Russia by taking out some more of their Black Sea fleet. The Ukrainians aren’t likely to win on the battlefield so the best way for the U.S. to hurt Russia, since they are not going to let their proxies bomb Russia itself, is to take out their high value targets at sea.

    So, the U..S. is throwing sucker punches at the Russian navy by training, directing, and supplying the Ukrainians with the weapons to take out Russia’s Black Sea fleet in the belief that Russia won’t retaliate militarily against the U.S.. These are essentially free shots then and the U.S. will keep the war fully financed, and sacrifice Ukrainians, to get as many shots as they can while they can.

    It’s their face-saving Plan B. They can say that even if Ukraine has to give up land at least the war weakened the Russian navy and broke the blockade on the grain.

    It’s probably cat and mouse out there on the shore and in the Black Sea right now and I’d imagine that a lot of the U.S.’s mental energy in this war at this point is focused towards sinking ships in the Black Sea fleet. They sunk one already, the biggest one, and they’re jonesing for another.


  34. Ché Pasa

    China-na! The focus is on China-na! Must sink ships in the South China Sea! See! Threats to America! Threats to the Whole Wide World!

    China-na is Next. Expect something by November.

    (War is the health of the state.)

  35. different clue

    @Ché Pasa,

    You could be right. But it would not be wise. If the ChinaGov reacted the way such a sinking would be designed to get it to react, it would equally attack an American ship leaving an equal number of traceable fingerprints on the attack.

    If the ChinaGov decided to act asymmetrically, it could do things like dump all its dollar denominated holdings on the money markets all at once, embargo all its goods-of-addiction from reaching the US, etc. Including all its meth and fentanyl. That would add millions of violent addicts howling in the streets on top of tens of millions of violent Walmart bargain addicts howling throughout suburbia and small town America. That sort of asymmetric response could have a very destabilizing effect on American society and the American politicapitalist order stuck to America’s face like a pack of sea lampreys.

  36. bruce wilder

    Notice: from 2015!

    Blockading Kaliningrad is a strategic escalation in that it sets the U.S. up for a provocation by the Poles that could be used to justify U.S. intervention and even drawing the nuclear saber from Uncle Sam’s rattling sheath.

  37. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    Is it becoming clearer that NATO is an EU-British conspiracy against America?

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