Daily Archives: February 25, 2007

The Sunday Photos: Youtube Edition Part I — The Horror of Military Service in Russia

Russian Army – video powered by Metacafe

The honor of serving your country in the Russian military — what it really means.

Russian Initiation – video powered by Metacafe

Miltary Service, Part II

More videos on the horror of soldiers being abused in Russia, including being forced into sex slavery, are available at Yahoo! News. Click the link and then find the “Video” section in the lower right or try clicking here or here.

For at least a partial explanation of this horror, Strategy Page offers the following insights:

Corruption in the Russian conscription system is leaving the military with the dregs of society. Anyone with any smarts, or money, finds a way to avoid getting drafted. Those who can afford it, bribe officials to have their sons disappear from the conscription lists. Those who can’t afford it, send the kid away, far away, for a few years. The result is that, while the military is getting the number of teenage recruits it needs, the quality is dismal. Take, for example, the Russian air force. For many decades, the air force got the best, or at least most intelligent, draftees. In theory they still do. But after officials examined last years 11,000 conscripts, they reported that nearly a third were mentally unstable. Ten percent had substance abuse (drugs and/or alcohol) problems, and that fifteen percent had health problems. Not enough to keep them out of the military, but worrisome to air force doctors. A common problem was malnutrition, with many being seriously underweight. Then there were the family problems. A quarter of these recruits never knew their fathers, and three percent never knew their mothers. This data was released partly to pressure the government to come up with the money for an all-volunteer force. The air force already has some volunteers, but few make a career of it because of all those low-life conscripts they have to deal with. An all-volunteer force would cost a lot more, since the troops would have to be paid competitive (with civilian jobs) wages. However, many air force officers and NCOs have been abroad since the Cold War ended in 1991, and seen how other nations do with all-volunteer forces, and are impressed with the more capable, and motivated troops. The Russian air force, for example, has been working with the Indian air force for decades. The Indians have an all-volunteer force, and their air force personnel are obviously more eager and competent. The Russian government wants to go all-volunteer, but it also wants to replace the aging Cold War era weapons that have not been kept going since 1991. But many air force commanders would be willing to give up some new aircraft, in order to get more capable people to fly and maintain them.

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The Sunday Photos: Youtube Edition Part II — The Neo-Soviet Military on Parade

MLRS From Russia – video powered by Metacafe

The population may be declining by 1 million every year, but like a child who has refused to eat his vegetables may still have room for dessert, Russia can still find plenty of money for a neo-Soviet military. LR dares to wonder how long it will be before they start parading it through Red Square.

Here’s excerpts from Putin’s Munich speech with commentary from America’s McLaughlin Group. Note that Putin’s chief defender is wacko right-wing extremist and uber-isolationist Patrick Buchanan, who seems to want to French-kiss Putin. When your chief ally is Pat, you know you’re in a good bit of trouble. Note too how there is universal agreement that Bush has misjudged Putin and hence essentially sold the West down the river. Will Bush come to be viewed as this century’s Neville Chamberlain? Hat tip: Robert Amsterdam.

The Sunday Photos: Youtube Edition Part III — Annals of Russian Culture

Weird Russian Music Suit Man – video powered by Metacafe

Ah, Russia. The land of culture so high, awesome and
sophisticated that backwards America can simply never hope to compete!

The Wrong Miss Universe – video powered by Metacafe

Russia loses a beauty pagent . . . then wins!!
(Apparently, the KGB made the judges an offer
they simply couldn’t refuse).

Craven LA Times Urges Yalta II, Condi’s DOS Will have None of It

Here’s a February 12 editorial from the craven folks at the Los Angeles Times, recommending that the West offer Eastern Europe to Russia as a sacrifice just the way it was previously offered to Hitler:

LAST WEEKEND’S Cold War revival at a security conference in Munich, Germany, featured a cynical Vladimir V. Putin against a reasonable Robert M. Gates, but the Russian president still scored points with his pointed anti-American speech. Putin complained that U.S. unilateralism and disregard for international law were making the world a more dangerous place, fueling insecure nations’ appetite for sophisticated weaponry, especially nukes. What made the speech so cynical was Putin’s built-in rationale for Russian arms sales to unsavory clients, including Iran, because he doesn’t want that nation to “feel cornered.”

Gates replied to Putin’s confrontational address a day later with disarming remarks about the bluntness of former spies, nostalgia for the simplicity of the Cold War and even acknowledgment that some of Washington’s recent missteps (mainly in the treatment of detainees) have eroded our credibility abroad. He also raised legitimate concerns, ever so tactfully, about the Kremlin’s increasingly autocratic drift.

Yet Putin’s tough talk undoubtedly played well, not only among those in the West and elsewhere who oppose the Iraq war, but among his domestic constituents who have deep-seated reasons for rejecting Gates’ assertion that the U.S. is a “force of good around the world.” These reasons have less to do with Iraq than with U.S. moves in the last decade to expand NATO to the east, in violation of what Russians felt was an implicit, if not explicit, deal: That in the twilight of the Soviet era, Moscow would allow for German reunification and pull its forces out of Eastern Europe as long as Washington didn’t stab the Kremlin in the back by enlarging NATO to Russia’s borders.

That is precisely what followed. A typical NATO communique in the aftermath of the unexpectedly peaceful conclusion of the Cold War stated: “Consistent with the purely defensive nature of our alliance, we will neither seek unilateral advantage from the changed situation in Europe nor threaten the legitimate interests of any state.” But within a few years, the U.S. turned vindictive victor in the eyes of Russia, allowing former Warsaw Pact members into NATO, including the formerly Soviet Baltic republics. The humiliation, and seeming encirclement, of Russia continues relentlessly to this day, with talk of someday bringing Georgia and Ukraine into the club.

NATO enlargement a decade ago was largely shrugged off in this country (though it was rightly opposed by this page), but Americans need to start realizing the extent to which this historical blunder drives how Russians interpret U.S. actions around the world. It helps explain why a hard-line nationalist such as Putin, despite his anti-democratic tendencies, remains hugely popular at home. The only surprise about his angry speech is that it took him this long to deliver it.

Here’s the U.S. State Department’s response in the form of a letter to the editor published by the Times:

Re “Putin’s NATO beef,” editorial, Feb. 13

One of the low points of the 20th century came at Yalta, when the Allies acquiesced to a Soviet sphere of influence over the eastern half of Europe.

By contrast, one of the 20th century’s happiest moments came late, when Josef Stalin’s line was erased in favor of a Europe whole, free and at peace. Europeans fought for and found freedom. To our credit, the United States and Western Europe helped. And this liberation, we pledged, would be complete, not sacrificed. We promised Europe’s new sovereign democracies that they would decide their own fate. So when they asked to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and proved able to shoulder the responsibilities of membership — they were welcomed.

With this history, I was surprised by The Times editorial siding with President Vladimir V. Putin, who argued, in effect, that Russia deserved to recoup the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. This view is baffling. Nothing in today’s NATO or EU threatens or damages Russia. Strong democracies make good neighbors. We hope Russia will come to agree. But in no event will we cut a deal with Russia at the expense of free people in Europe. One Yalta was enough.

DANIEL FRIED
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington

The U.S. government’s policy is not to “surround” or “humliate” Russia; such an impression can only be derived by Russians by relying on paranoia and/or their monstrous egos. The government’s policy is simply that it isn’t going to sell its allies down the river (again) in order to placate Russian feelings (would Russia even consider doing so if the roles were reversed? — if so, more’s the pity). One can readily see how bizarrely irrational Russian attitudes are by comparing them to those of Ukrainians, who see no danger in the protection of Eastern Europeans despite speaking a language very close to Russian and having been part of the Soviet Union and who don’t espouse the paranoid, rabid anti-Americanism (indeed, anti-Westernism) that is to be found in Russia.

Craven LA Times Urges Yalta II, Condi’s DOS Will have None of It

Here’s a February 12 editorial from the craven folks at the Los Angeles Times, recommending that the West offer Eastern Europe to Russia as a sacrifice just the way it was previously offered to Hitler:

LAST WEEKEND’S Cold War revival at a security conference in Munich, Germany, featured a cynical Vladimir V. Putin against a reasonable Robert M. Gates, but the Russian president still scored points with his pointed anti-American speech. Putin complained that U.S. unilateralism and disregard for international law were making the world a more dangerous place, fueling insecure nations’ appetite for sophisticated weaponry, especially nukes. What made the speech so cynical was Putin’s built-in rationale for Russian arms sales to unsavory clients, including Iran, because he doesn’t want that nation to “feel cornered.”

Gates replied to Putin’s confrontational address a day later with disarming remarks about the bluntness of former spies, nostalgia for the simplicity of the Cold War and even acknowledgment that some of Washington’s recent missteps (mainly in the treatment of detainees) have eroded our credibility abroad. He also raised legitimate concerns, ever so tactfully, about the Kremlin’s increasingly autocratic drift.

Yet Putin’s tough talk undoubtedly played well, not only among those in the West and elsewhere who oppose the Iraq war, but among his domestic constituents who have deep-seated reasons for rejecting Gates’ assertion that the U.S. is a “force of good around the world.” These reasons have less to do with Iraq than with U.S. moves in the last decade to expand NATO to the east, in violation of what Russians felt was an implicit, if not explicit, deal: That in the twilight of the Soviet era, Moscow would allow for German reunification and pull its forces out of Eastern Europe as long as Washington didn’t stab the Kremlin in the back by enlarging NATO to Russia’s borders.

That is precisely what followed. A typical NATO communique in the aftermath of the unexpectedly peaceful conclusion of the Cold War stated: “Consistent with the purely defensive nature of our alliance, we will neither seek unilateral advantage from the changed situation in Europe nor threaten the legitimate interests of any state.” But within a few years, the U.S. turned vindictive victor in the eyes of Russia, allowing former Warsaw Pact members into NATO, including the formerly Soviet Baltic republics. The humiliation, and seeming encirclement, of Russia continues relentlessly to this day, with talk of someday bringing Georgia and Ukraine into the club.

NATO enlargement a decade ago was largely shrugged off in this country (though it was rightly opposed by this page), but Americans need to start realizing the extent to which this historical blunder drives how Russians interpret U.S. actions around the world. It helps explain why a hard-line nationalist such as Putin, despite his anti-democratic tendencies, remains hugely popular at home. The only surprise about his angry speech is that it took him this long to deliver it.

Here’s the U.S. State Department’s response in the form of a letter to the editor published by the Times:

Re “Putin’s NATO beef,” editorial, Feb. 13

One of the low points of the 20th century came at Yalta, when the Allies acquiesced to a Soviet sphere of influence over the eastern half of Europe.

By contrast, one of the 20th century’s happiest moments came late, when Josef Stalin’s line was erased in favor of a Europe whole, free and at peace. Europeans fought for and found freedom. To our credit, the United States and Western Europe helped. And this liberation, we pledged, would be complete, not sacrificed. We promised Europe’s new sovereign democracies that they would decide their own fate. So when they asked to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and proved able to shoulder the responsibilities of membership — they were welcomed.

With this history, I was surprised by The Times editorial siding with President Vladimir V. Putin, who argued, in effect, that Russia deserved to recoup the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. This view is baffling. Nothing in today’s NATO or EU threatens or damages Russia. Strong democracies make good neighbors. We hope Russia will come to agree. But in no event will we cut a deal with Russia at the expense of free people in Europe. One Yalta was enough.

DANIEL FRIED
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington

The U.S. government’s policy is not to “surround” or “humliate” Russia; such an impression can only be derived by Russians by relying on paranoia and/or their monstrous egos. The government’s policy is simply that it isn’t going to sell its allies down the river (again) in order to placate Russian feelings (would Russia even consider doing so if the roles were reversed? — if so, more’s the pity). One can readily see how bizarrely irrational Russian attitudes are by comparing them to those of Ukrainians, who see no danger in the protection of Eastern Europeans despite speaking a language very close to Russian and having been part of the Soviet Union and who don’t espouse the paranoid, rabid anti-Americanism (indeed, anti-Westernism) that is to be found in Russia.

Craven LA Times Urges Yalta II, Condi’s DOS Will have None of It

Here’s a February 12 editorial from the craven folks at the Los Angeles Times, recommending that the West offer Eastern Europe to Russia as a sacrifice just the way it was previously offered to Hitler:

LAST WEEKEND’S Cold War revival at a security conference in Munich, Germany, featured a cynical Vladimir V. Putin against a reasonable Robert M. Gates, but the Russian president still scored points with his pointed anti-American speech. Putin complained that U.S. unilateralism and disregard for international law were making the world a more dangerous place, fueling insecure nations’ appetite for sophisticated weaponry, especially nukes. What made the speech so cynical was Putin’s built-in rationale for Russian arms sales to unsavory clients, including Iran, because he doesn’t want that nation to “feel cornered.”

Gates replied to Putin’s confrontational address a day later with disarming remarks about the bluntness of former spies, nostalgia for the simplicity of the Cold War and even acknowledgment that some of Washington’s recent missteps (mainly in the treatment of detainees) have eroded our credibility abroad. He also raised legitimate concerns, ever so tactfully, about the Kremlin’s increasingly autocratic drift.

Yet Putin’s tough talk undoubtedly played well, not only among those in the West and elsewhere who oppose the Iraq war, but among his domestic constituents who have deep-seated reasons for rejecting Gates’ assertion that the U.S. is a “force of good around the world.” These reasons have less to do with Iraq than with U.S. moves in the last decade to expand NATO to the east, in violation of what Russians felt was an implicit, if not explicit, deal: That in the twilight of the Soviet era, Moscow would allow for German reunification and pull its forces out of Eastern Europe as long as Washington didn’t stab the Kremlin in the back by enlarging NATO to Russia’s borders.

That is precisely what followed. A typical NATO communique in the aftermath of the unexpectedly peaceful conclusion of the Cold War stated: “Consistent with the purely defensive nature of our alliance, we will neither seek unilateral advantage from the changed situation in Europe nor threaten the legitimate interests of any state.” But within a few years, the U.S. turned vindictive victor in the eyes of Russia, allowing former Warsaw Pact members into NATO, including the formerly Soviet Baltic republics. The humiliation, and seeming encirclement, of Russia continues relentlessly to this day, with talk of someday bringing Georgia and Ukraine into the club.

NATO enlargement a decade ago was largely shrugged off in this country (though it was rightly opposed by this page), but Americans need to start realizing the extent to which this historical blunder drives how Russians interpret U.S. actions around the world. It helps explain why a hard-line nationalist such as Putin, despite his anti-democratic tendencies, remains hugely popular at home. The only surprise about his angry speech is that it took him this long to deliver it.

Here’s the U.S. State Department’s response in the form of a letter to the editor published by the Times:

Re “Putin’s NATO beef,” editorial, Feb. 13

One of the low points of the 20th century came at Yalta, when the Allies acquiesced to a Soviet sphere of influence over the eastern half of Europe.

By contrast, one of the 20th century’s happiest moments came late, when Josef Stalin’s line was erased in favor of a Europe whole, free and at peace. Europeans fought for and found freedom. To our credit, the United States and Western Europe helped. And this liberation, we pledged, would be complete, not sacrificed. We promised Europe’s new sovereign democracies that they would decide their own fate. So when they asked to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and proved able to shoulder the responsibilities of membership — they were welcomed.

With this history, I was surprised by The Times editorial siding with President Vladimir V. Putin, who argued, in effect, that Russia deserved to recoup the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. This view is baffling. Nothing in today’s NATO or EU threatens or damages Russia. Strong democracies make good neighbors. We hope Russia will come to agree. But in no event will we cut a deal with Russia at the expense of free people in Europe. One Yalta was enough.

DANIEL FRIED
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington

The U.S. government’s policy is not to “surround” or “humliate” Russia; such an impression can only be derived by Russians by relying on paranoia and/or their monstrous egos. The government’s policy is simply that it isn’t going to sell its allies down the river (again) in order to placate Russian feelings (would Russia even consider doing so if the roles were reversed? — if so, more’s the pity). One can readily see how bizarrely irrational Russian attitudes are by comparing them to those of Ukrainians, who see no danger in the protection of Eastern Europeans despite speaking a language very close to Russian and having been part of the Soviet Union and who don’t espouse the paranoid, rabid anti-Americanism (indeed, anti-Westernism) that is to be found in Russia.

Craven LA Times Urges Yalta II, Condi’s DOS Will have None of It

Here’s a February 12 editorial from the craven folks at the Los Angeles Times, recommending that the West offer Eastern Europe to Russia as a sacrifice just the way it was previously offered to Hitler:

LAST WEEKEND’S Cold War revival at a security conference in Munich, Germany, featured a cynical Vladimir V. Putin against a reasonable Robert M. Gates, but the Russian president still scored points with his pointed anti-American speech. Putin complained that U.S. unilateralism and disregard for international law were making the world a more dangerous place, fueling insecure nations’ appetite for sophisticated weaponry, especially nukes. What made the speech so cynical was Putin’s built-in rationale for Russian arms sales to unsavory clients, including Iran, because he doesn’t want that nation to “feel cornered.”

Gates replied to Putin’s confrontational address a day later with disarming remarks about the bluntness of former spies, nostalgia for the simplicity of the Cold War and even acknowledgment that some of Washington’s recent missteps (mainly in the treatment of detainees) have eroded our credibility abroad. He also raised legitimate concerns, ever so tactfully, about the Kremlin’s increasingly autocratic drift.

Yet Putin’s tough talk undoubtedly played well, not only among those in the West and elsewhere who oppose the Iraq war, but among his domestic constituents who have deep-seated reasons for rejecting Gates’ assertion that the U.S. is a “force of good around the world.” These reasons have less to do with Iraq than with U.S. moves in the last decade to expand NATO to the east, in violation of what Russians felt was an implicit, if not explicit, deal: That in the twilight of the Soviet era, Moscow would allow for German reunification and pull its forces out of Eastern Europe as long as Washington didn’t stab the Kremlin in the back by enlarging NATO to Russia’s borders.

That is precisely what followed. A typical NATO communique in the aftermath of the unexpectedly peaceful conclusion of the Cold War stated: “Consistent with the purely defensive nature of our alliance, we will neither seek unilateral advantage from the changed situation in Europe nor threaten the legitimate interests of any state.” But within a few years, the U.S. turned vindictive victor in the eyes of Russia, allowing former Warsaw Pact members into NATO, including the formerly Soviet Baltic republics. The humiliation, and seeming encirclement, of Russia continues relentlessly to this day, with talk of someday bringing Georgia and Ukraine into the club.

NATO enlargement a decade ago was largely shrugged off in this country (though it was rightly opposed by this page), but Americans need to start realizing the extent to which this historical blunder drives how Russians interpret U.S. actions around the world. It helps explain why a hard-line nationalist such as Putin, despite his anti-democratic tendencies, remains hugely popular at home. The only surprise about his angry speech is that it took him this long to deliver it.

Here’s the U.S. State Department’s response in the form of a letter to the editor published by the Times:

Re “Putin’s NATO beef,” editorial, Feb. 13

One of the low points of the 20th century came at Yalta, when the Allies acquiesced to a Soviet sphere of influence over the eastern half of Europe.

By contrast, one of the 20th century’s happiest moments came late, when Josef Stalin’s line was erased in favor of a Europe whole, free and at peace. Europeans fought for and found freedom. To our credit, the United States and Western Europe helped. And this liberation, we pledged, would be complete, not sacrificed. We promised Europe’s new sovereign democracies that they would decide their own fate. So when they asked to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — and proved able to shoulder the responsibilities of membership — they were welcomed.

With this history, I was surprised by The Times editorial siding with President Vladimir V. Putin, who argued, in effect, that Russia deserved to recoup the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. This view is baffling. Nothing in today’s NATO or EU threatens or damages Russia. Strong democracies make good neighbors. We hope Russia will come to agree. But in no event will we cut a deal with Russia at the expense of free people in Europe. One Yalta was enough.

DANIEL FRIED
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Washington

The U.S. government’s policy is not to “surround” or “humliate” Russia; such an impression can only be derived by Russians by relying on paranoia and/or their monstrous egos. The government’s policy is simply that it isn’t going to sell its allies down the river (again) in order to placate Russian feelings (would Russia even consider doing so if the roles were reversed? — if so, more’s the pity). One can readily see how bizarrely irrational Russian attitudes are by comparing them to those of Ukrainians, who see no danger in the protection of Eastern Europeans despite speaking a language very close to Russian and having been part of the Soviet Union and who don’t espouse the paranoid, rabid anti-Americanism (indeed, anti-Westernism) that is to be found in Russia.