Before scoffing that both subjects have nothing to do with each other, please be informed that they do not. The kleptocratic regime in Moscow has been using elements of Western high finance and banks to launder money.
And not just through Cyprus. This, in turn, means that much of Western high finance is penetrated not just by Mr. Putin’s goons, but also by his spirit. If Putin can get away with force, why not us? Reciprocally, as he gets collaboration from Western plutocrats, Putin feels that plutocracy and civilization are the same.
It’s a vicious spiral of mutual encouragement.
I was astounded this week when I saw Putin declare, apparently seriously, that NATO has a “foreign legion” in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin, surrounded by enthusiastically approving and nodding generals, declared to students in St Petersburg that Ukraine had a few divisions fighting in Eastern Ukraine, but that “trying to contain Russia was against Ukraine national interest“. Then Putin added:
“In effect, it is no longer an army but a foreign legion, in this case NATO’s foreign legion, which does not of course pursue the aims of Ukraine’s national interests”.
The way it was said, in conjunction with Putin’s recent admission that Russian “volunteers” were fighting in Ukraine, is basically a declaration of war. On top of this, the head of the Eastern Ukraine rebels declared that he was raising a 100,000 men army. This means he expect tens of thousands of Russian troops (Putin’s “volunteers”) to cross the border.
This is not contained. Putin is billowing out of control, all by himself. One has to see what the combination of Putin’s dictatorial powers, media control, psychology and sinking economy leads to. Let me spell it out.
Once Putin has conquered Ukraine, he will push for more: he is already partly occupying Moldavia, WEST of Ukraine. Putin is also messing up with Hungary: there were street demonstrations about this, just yesterday, in Budapest. Putin uses the fact that Hungary is extremely dependent upon Russia’s fossil fuels. Merkel, who desperately wants to avoid war with Putin, flew to Budapest in emergency, to sort the situation out.
Says the New York Times in “Putin Resumes His War”:
“American officials acknowledge that Russia has repeatedly violated an agreement, reached in Minsk in September. The agreement called for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, the removal of foreign forces and the establishment of monitoring arrangements to ensure that the border between Ukraine and Russia would be respected.
In recent weeks, Russia has shipped a large number of heavy weapons to support the separatists’ offensive in eastern Ukraine, including T-80 and T-72 tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, artillery and armored personnel carriers, Western officials say.
Some of the weapons are too sophisticated to be used by hastily trained separatists, a Western official said. NATO officials estimate that about 1,000 Russian military and intelligence personnel are supporting the separatist offensive while Ukrainian officials insist that the number is much higher.
Supported by the Russians, the separatists have captured the airport at Donetsk and are pressing to take Debaltseve, a town that sits aside a critical rail junction.”
An argument deployed by the cowardly, is that Putin may raise the stakes, if he sees Western modern weapons coming. In other words: Putin is Hitler, so let’s not irritate him, let’s make friends instead. In other words, the argument is self-defeating: if Putin is Hitler, why to appease him? Did we not try that before? With Hitler, of course, but also with Kaiser Wilhelm II, who launched World War One.
(Notice I did not mention Stalin: although Stalin was a monster, he mostly respected international agreements. It’s not Stalin’s fault that Roosevelt gave him half of Europe at Yalta. Not only did Stalin respect Ukraine’s historical borders, but the Soviet dictator gave Ukraine a seat at the UN. Although many Ukrainian had risen against him during WWII.)
I, personally, saw enough: Putin is Hitler. New and improved. Hitler with nukes.
Putin was very clear that he wanted to invade Eastern and Southern Ukraine. The “New Russia” invaded by Catherine of Russia. Truly old Ukrainian territory. for a millennium.
If we let Putin invade half of Ukraine, as he wants to do right away, he would be propelled, by the logic of war, aggression and the concomitant collapsing economy, by the same exact forces which pushed Hitler to want always more, always faster.
The robbing of the Jews Hitler indulged in, was directly related to the sinking of the German economy under the weight of intense militarization. To make his followers richer, Hitler redistributed the Jews property. (“Kristallnacht, and the like, 1938.)
From total media control, Hitler saw his popularity soar. Hitler, initially a divisive figure favored by only one German voter out of three, reached 85% approval rating. Exactly like Putin now.
The worse things got, the more popular Hitler got. As the Reich was collapsing, crushed by carpet bombing, with more than ten million soldiers invading it from the west and the east, Hitler was at its most popular. (If you disagreed, some SS were ready to kill you on the spot, that helped the monster’s approval rating.)
Putin’s economy is imploding. Just as Hitler’s was.
So it is tempting for the dictator to reproduce the exact same program. After Munich, in 1938, Hitler was given the part of Czechoslovakia where he claimed Germans were living. In short order, he had occupied the whole country, and enslaved its weapon industry.
Then Spain finished falling to the fascist, and Hitler attacked Poland. At this point Britain decided to support France, and World War Two was on.
It is absolutely certain that a similar situation will develop. Putin admitted that the real problem is not that he annexed Crimea (and now wants a land bridge to it), but that “I can be in Kiev in two weeks”.
Arming Ukraine enough to enable it to resist now will break Putin’s plan, and not let him turn into the irresistible victor he would otherwise pass for.
If we lose Ukraine, we will lose peace. A new world war will start. This time, with nukes.
Putin is a dictator passed the tipping point into ever more violence. Should he conquer all of Ukraine (which he himself defined as “his real problem”), he would militarize Russia even more than it already is, and make the economic situation even worse. So only more aggression would then stabilize his regime.
This pattern has been seen throughout history: militarization and invasion stabilize the augmentation of dictatorship.
Thus, piece by piece, Putin is exactly following Hitler’s playbook. He is just more careful, because he knows Hitler went too fast. We have to give him an unambiguous warning that he will be stopped. The earlier, the less costly.
One of the factors encouraging Putin is that the West is poorly defended.
In particular, the USA has no appropriate air superiority fighter: from corruption, 55 billion dollars has been spent on the F35, a plane that does not work, cannot work, and, moreover, is already at least eight years late.
Austerity is not just a way to make the small suffer, but a way to insure we are defenseless.
AUSTERITY FOR THE SMALL, WEALTH FOR THE BIG:
Krugman wrote an editorial about the fact that long term worries about potential deficits in the distant future, are killing today’s economy in ”The Long-Run Cop-Out”.
On Monday, President Obama will call for a significant increase in spending, reversing the harsh cuts of the past few years. He won’t get all he’s asking for, but it’s a move in the right direction.”
Notice that Krugman is now admitting that Obama was an austerian, a Tea Partier, a whatever was not too good for the USA economy (and it’s true!)
Well austerians are also killing equality, education, and defense. While allowing crooks such as Putin to launder all the money he wants in the West (and thus capture Western media).
Private banks are money creating machines. They create money through the credit they extent, to those they like. Banks (and so-called shadow banks) caused the crash of 2008. However, the deregulation of finance that allowed them to transfer huge amount of wealth to the wealthiest, before, during, or after the crash, was not corrected.
Instead, misleading discourses were deployed to accuse other actors in the economy of this astronomically large swindle: little guys borrowed too much, they had been living too large, etc.
Thus the banking system as a machine to make the wealthiest even wealthier, was left as it was before 2008: financial derivatives monopolize even more wealth than they did before 2008. Namely 12 times world GDP.
Banks are machines to create injustice and inequality have suffered no significant disruption, and their profit margins at this point are the highest with those of Big Pharmaceuticals. The graph is in:
Banks are free to give to their friends and their class. More than ever.
The entire “austerity” drive is thus not to reduce how much money, hence power, the wealthiest possesses. It is about reducing how much money and power the non-wealthy possess. Thus “austerity” is a trick to augment the relative wealth and power of the wealthiest.
The problem, for the wealthiest and most powerful, is to disguise that true reason for austerity, which is greed. So they made up stories, and they could be anything, as long as they are misleading, to fascinate We The People with. Long term doom and gloom is best, as it looks very serious.
The more serious the economic inequality becomes, the easier it should be to make the case that inequality is the principal economic problem. However, the “austerity” drive has to be shown first to be the problem, instead of a solution.
Todays’ situation is developing increasingly parallels with the 1930s. A first crucial mistake in 1936, was not to react to fascist aggression against the democratically elected Spanish Republic. Mussolini and Hitler were left free to send their armies into Spain.
Time to not repeat history.
The democratic Ukrainian republic needs help from the fascists. Give it. And give it first efficiently, and under cover, to make it more difficult for Putin to escalate quickly. For once the CIA and its ilk could become useful. (The predecessor of the CIA, the OSS, was extremely efficient in WWII.)
Putin plays dirty, democracy cannot play clean and nice.
This is an occasion for the timorous Obama administration to show that it has some courage. It is an occasion for Obama to show he was not just into assassinating innocent civilians with drones, thus making a bad situation way worse. Can Obama stand up to the man?