Saturday, 15 March 2014

On how to stop Putin

The Obama administration could - and should - do a lot more to stop Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer offers some excellent advice:

First, Crimean secession under Russian occupation must lead to Russia’s immediate expulsion from the G-8. To assuage the tremulous Angela Merkel, we could do it by subtraction: All seven democracies withdraw from the G-8, then instantly reconstitute as the original G-7.
As for economic sanctions, they are currently puny. We haven’t done a thing. We haven’t even named names. We’ve just authorized the penalizing of individuals.
Name the names, freeze their accounts. But any real effect will require broader sanctions and for that we need European cooperation. The ultimate sanction is to cut off Russian oligarchs, companies and banks from the Western financial system. That’s the economic “nuclear option” that brought Iran to its knees and to the negotiating table. It would have a devastating effect on Putin’s economy.
As of now, the Germans, French and British have balked. They have too much economic interest in the Moscow connection.
Which means we can do nothing decisive in the short or even medium term. But we can severely squeeze Russia in the long term.
How? For serious sanctions to become possible, Europe must first be weaned off Russian gas. Obama should order the Energy Department to expedite authorization for roughly 25 liquified natural gas export facilities. Demand all decisions within six weeks. And express major U.S. support for a southern-route pipeline to export Caspian Sea gas to Europe without traversing Russia or Ukraine.
Second, call for urgent bipartisan consultation with congressional leaders for an emergency increase in defense spending, restoring at least $100 billion annually to the defense budget to keep U.S. armed forces at current strength or greater. Obama won’t do it, but he should. Nothing demonstrates American global retreat more than a budget that reduces the U.S. Army to 1940 levels.
Obama is not the first president to conduct a weak foreign policy. Jimmy Carter was similarly inclined — until Russia invaded Afghanistan, at which point the scales fell from Carter’s eyes. He responded boldly: imposing the grain embargo on the Soviets, boycotting the Moscow Olympics, increasing defense spending and ostentatiously sending a machine-gun-toting Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Khyber Pass, symbolizing the massive military aid we began sending the mujahideen, whose insurgency so bled the Russians over the next decade that they not only lost Afghanistan but were fatally weakened as a global imperial power.
Invasion woke Carter from his illusions. Will it wake Obama?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The New York Times: It is time for Europe to join the US in threatining costly sanctions against Putin

The New York Times editorial is spot on, particularly with regard to Europe:

It is important at this stage of the confrontation in Ukraine to clarify that the issue is not simply “who owns Crimea.” There is a difficult question there, and as secession-minded people in Quebec, Scotland or Catalonia have shown, there are legitimate ways to raise it.
The real issue is the way President Vladimir Putin of Russia has thrown down the gauntlet: sending Russian forces to seize control of Crimea; concocting nonexistent “fascist” threats to the Russian population; refusing to recognize the interim government in Kiev; calling for a phony referendum in Crimea on Sunday and a vote in Russia on March 21 whose outcomes are foreordained.
Whether Mr. Putin ends up actually annexing Crimea to Russia or creating some other form of dependency is moot; his transparently phony preparations are based on presumptions of special Russian privileges in its former empire. The occupation of Crimea is illegal under international law, and it is time for Europe to join the United States in threatening the sort of costly sanctions that will leave Mr. Putin no doubt that they will not tolerate violations of Ukrainian territorial integrity.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Spiked editor Brendan O'Neill: Apathy towards climate change "renews my faith in humankind"

Spiked editor Brendan O'Neill says it all:

Environmentalism is, by its own admission, a campaign against the public and our historic desire for more things and freedom. George Monbiot has stated this baldly. Environmentalism is "a campaign not for abundance but for austerity", he says. "It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less… it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves." And that is precisely how most people experience environmentalism – as an extraordinarily elitist drive to reprimand and possibly even punish the people for daring to want more; as a top-down, hectoring effort to make us acclimatise to austerity and give up on that age-old dream of a "great production that will supply all, and more than all the people can consume" (Sylvia Pankhurst). If environmentalism is a "campaign against people", then it makes perfect sense that the people bristle at it, even hate it and deny its "truths".
People want wealth and comfort, not only for themselves but for others, too. They are unmoved by the campaign against climate change not because of its "weirdo words" or complicated ideas, but because it is at root an elitist mission to convince us that our material desires are destroying the planet. Far from being irrational, the mass public apathy towards climate change that so freaks out eco-experts is entirely sensible and logical; in fact, it renews my faith in humankind.

Read the entire Telegraph article here

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Lady Vivienne Westwood has gone bald in order to save the world from global warming

Now it is official. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has gone bald in order to save the world from human induced global warming:

Now a representative for the 72 year old explains she decided to ditch her long hair in support of climate change and to show she is proud of her age.
The spokesperson says, "Vivienne cut her hair as we must all wake up to climate change. And secondly she wanted to cut the red out for a while and have it white - to show she's proud of her age."
Westwood is a longtime environmentalist campaigner and has taken part in protests against fracking and oil drilling in the Arctic.

I guess Lady Vivienne's "campaign" is OK, as long as she abstains from expanding it to include exposing other anatomical details ...