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Belmont Club

Crimea A River

March 2nd, 2014 - 3:58 pm

One of the dangers and attractions of writing is the temptation of free association. The headlines about the Crimea naturally lead the mind to Tennyson’s poem about the immortal Charge of the Light Brigade, which was if you remember, was entirely a mistake. “Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue and harry a retreating Russian artillery battery, a task well suited to light cavalry. Due to miscommunication in the chain of command, the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire.”

Today’s movie makers would probably turn the incident into a sardonic commentary on the futility of human existence. But in an era when mortality was universally accepted, the manner of their acceptance of fate’s jest was something magnificent. So we remember the six hundred, frozen in time, in vigor and bravery:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

We meet them again years later, when their glory had considerably dimmed, in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, nearly as famous, The Last of the Light Brigade, showing the remnant starving in an old soldier’s home, reduced to mendicancy.

There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

We learn from Kipling’s poem what Tennyson’s verses forget to tell us in his clangorous verse: that the true condition of heroism is the memory of yourself as you would want to be remembered. It’s a phantom that bestows neither riches nor immortality nor even gratitude; something that is just a secret between yourself and your God.

Kipling would make the argument more explicitly in Soldier an’ Sailor, which tells of the self-sacrifice of the soldiers on the transport Birkenhead, who left the lifeboats to “women and children first”.

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you’ve cover to ‘and, an’ leave an’ likin’ to shout;
But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill
is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An’ they done it, the Jollies — ‘Er Majesty’s Jollies –
soldier an’ sailor too!
Their work was done when it ‘adn’t begun; they was younger nor me an’ you;
Their choice it was plain between drownin’ in ‘eaps
an’ bein’ mopped by the screw,
So they stood an’ was still to the Birken’ead drill, soldier an’ sailor too!

We’re most of us liars, we’re ‘arf of us thieves,
an’ the rest are as rank as can be,
But once in a while we can finish in style
(which I ‘ope it won’t ‘appen to me).
But it makes you think better o’ you an’ your friends,
an’ the work you may ‘ave to do.

The idea of “women and children first” was, to mix our metaphors again, probably the most important law enacted by the unacknowledged legislators of the world. It’s writ was tested on the Titanic at the turn of the 20th century. And it is to this subject to which Tennyson comes at last — via YouTube — in Crossing the Bar, widely regarded as his epitaph.

The shock loss of the Titanic is unappreciated today. It’s impact can be imagined if we imagine the Space Shuttle crashing into the World Trade Center while the Oscars were being awarded there with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in attendance. That golden ship represented not only the apotheosis of technology, but of fame, beauty and wealth.

But it also represented the last of the light brigade; the final bow of a kind of heroism that was up until then, in vogue. As Walter Lord, the author a Night to Remember, the classic story of the shipwreck of the Titanic put it, “…men would go on being brave, but never again would they be brave in quite the same way.”

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Perhaps not in the same way. But they would find their own way, as they always have done.


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Top Rated Comments   
Granting that in any country that has been under Soviet control, Dezhinformatsia is the norm. Russians lie to foreigners as a matter of course, even or possibly especially, to their useful idiots around the world. Ukrainians were trained in the Soviet style. The direct line from from any Russian source right now can be assumed false until otherwise confirmed. Thus, I have my doubts as to the mobilization rate [which they are not likely to have this soon with such precision] figures they are citing. Similarly, while the pictures posted purporting to be volunteers lined up outside Ukrainian Army recruiting offices may well be staged and must be taken with a grain of salt until confirmation; at least such makes sense in a country recently invaded by a hostile foreign power that has a history of genocide.

As far as our intervening directly, leaving aside the fact that the Budapest Memorandum is not a treaty; we have no physical capability of intervening short of nuclear weapons. Which will not happen. However, the loss we are facing, and will continue to face, is not physical.

The word of the President of the United States, and its government, is now worthless. Even if given in a treaty. The floundering and the disconnect from reality exhibited by our current regime makes our national word worthless. No, I do not expect us to go to war, to run weapons to the Ukraine, or anything like that. Ya gotta know your limits, as the saying goes.

But a serious reconsideration of our geopolitical situation, an effort to bolster our allies [or even to keep them as allies] and give them some confidence that they are not being set up to be delivered to an enemy on a platter, [and not continuing to s*ck up to Russia] might be a better response to what is going on than this media oriented fiasco.

Subotai Bahadur
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Granted that this is a special situation - Russia has the fleet facilities in Sevastopol and a friendly population of ethnic Russians providing cover and intelligence, but the Russian action in Crimea has been methodical, controlled and calibrated. It appears that not a single shot has been fired.
The lack of identifying insignia would suggest a violation of the Geneva Convention, it is impossible to definitively distinguish Russian military from Crimean militia. This effectively stymied a Ukrainian miilitary that has been unwilling to confront its own citizens.
The Crimea operation displays an unprecedented level of competence and control for the Russian military. Perhaps a result of introducing a professional volunteer force structure.
That this action was well-planned is obvious. We shall see what happens when the Russians encounter violent resistance.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Isidore and Ida Strauss owned Macy's and were on the Titanic. She would not get in a lifeboat without her husband. He would not get in a lifeboat when women and children were waiting. In New York City there are two memorials to Mrs and Mr Strauss paid for by their employees. One is a public park and the other is a plaque in the recently reopened 34th street entrance to the main Herald Square store. They were fine people. The people who run Macy's now are likely to knock old ladies over to get to a lifeboat.

My grandmother worked there for 40 years. To her last day she loved the place. When her husband died, partly after being wounded over 20 years earlier at Chateau Thierry, Macy's enabled her to raise her family. The old movie "Miracle On 34th Street" had two scenes shot in the building. One in an elevator that is no longer used and another in the employees restaurant that no longer exists. As a child I ate where Santa Claus ate. For the last three years I worked there. Today they fired me.

What is worth fighting or dieing for? Are only the worthy worthy of our sacrifice. Who is worthy of justice? The Kremlin mouthpieces are churning out their message. Every flaw, every cretin or thug or skinhead drawn to oppose Putin will be described. Every link to Soros or another villain will be proclaimed. Every smear to demean and dehumanize an enemy, as in calling Saakashvili "Misha the Tie Eater" to induce decent people to simply look away in shame will be resorted to. X serves a valuable function in keeping us informed, so we know when we hear the tropes where they come from.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (39)
All Comments   (39)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Let's look at some facts. Wikipedia puts the per capita GDP at $7,422

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine

Considering the potential of the country, that is absurdly low. Why is it low?

SOCIALISM

The best thing for the Ukrainian people is the same as for the American people, economic growth. That will take FREEDOM and a renunciation of SOCIALISM.

As Wretchard recently wrote, making things work is a revolutionary act. Therefore, the Ukraine needs a revolution.

Putin is a reactionary who would not recognize "The Audacity of Hope", if it hit him in the face. Ukrainians need "hope and change". Heck, even Obama ought to agree to that!

;-)

P.S. It's called "managing up".
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
There will be no war in Crimea. Russia has no money to pay for it. All this noise and retoric was either Putin's temper tantrum or calculated bluff. But it was called by Merkel suggesting to send an European fact finding commitee to investigate alleged humanitarian crisis, and Putin cannot reject this offer without going to Saddam Hussein territory. Nor can he going rogue in the presence of this commitee. So, the tenor of government propaganda has changed overnight, and it all peace and diplomaty now. The drums of war stopped abruptly, as if they never were heard.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
There will be no war in Crimea. Russia has no money to pay for it.

Tell that to the Georgians.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was hoping that all of you (or most of you :-) would listen to Tennyson's reading of that poem [link below]. It casts the poem in a completely different light.

He had been astounded at the cavalrymen's bravery, yes: he was also deeply angry at the terrible waste of the men's lives. Everyone knew at the time that it was a complete cockup. His famous line "theirs but to do or die" can be read sardonically as well.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

So when he made this recording, near the end of his life, you hear, not clangourous jingoism, but the dreadful horror of that day. Each time he says "the 600," his voice sinks almost to inaudibility. Gie it a lissen, laddies:

https://soundcloud.com/thisisparker/alfred-lord-tennyson-reading-his-onward-the-light-brigade-on-wax-cylinder
(show less)
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Granting that in any country that has been under Soviet control, Dezhinformatsia is the norm. Russians lie to foreigners as a matter of course, even or possibly especially, to their useful idiots around the world. Ukrainians were trained in the Soviet style. The direct line from from any Russian source right now can be assumed false until otherwise confirmed. Thus, I have my doubts as to the mobilization rate [which they are not likely to have this soon with such precision] figures they are citing. Similarly, while the pictures posted purporting to be volunteers lined up outside Ukrainian Army recruiting offices may well be staged and must be taken with a grain of salt until confirmation; at least such makes sense in a country recently invaded by a hostile foreign power that has a history of genocide.

As far as our intervening directly, leaving aside the fact that the Budapest Memorandum is not a treaty; we have no physical capability of intervening short of nuclear weapons. Which will not happen. However, the loss we are facing, and will continue to face, is not physical.

The word of the President of the United States, and its government, is now worthless. Even if given in a treaty. The floundering and the disconnect from reality exhibited by our current regime makes our national word worthless. No, I do not expect us to go to war, to run weapons to the Ukraine, or anything like that. Ya gotta know your limits, as the saying goes.

But a serious reconsideration of our geopolitical situation, an effort to bolster our allies [or even to keep them as allies] and give them some confidence that they are not being set up to be delivered to an enemy on a platter, [and not continuing to s*ck up to Russia] might be a better response to what is going on than this media oriented fiasco.

Subotai Bahadur
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would take slight exception with you're saying regarding "the current regime." Beyond anything else, the people who are watching and measuring us, enemies as well as friends, understand that the "current regime" has been elected by the people of the United States. They make no distinction between Blue States or Red States, Democrats or Republicans, Coasts or Flyover Country. They understand the regime is us, which is at the root of the worry. If we can put such people in charge of our domestic and foreign affairs, who else might we put there? They see this and know they're peering into the abyss, dependent on a people who no longer are dependable.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Granting that a country that could elect Obama twice is not a country that any foreign nation could have any confidence in; those who are watching us are extremely cognizant of the nature of who holds the Executive Branch [the Legislative and Judicial branches being self-neutered or coerced]. The Russian military and political structure still operates on the concept of "correlation of forces and means" [ http://www.stormingmedia.us/72/7247/A724722.html ], even after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Included in that is a judgment of the will of the opposition political and military command structure. What is the likelihood of the current incursion into the Ukraine if vote fraud and use of the Executive Branch against the political opposition had been a little less in 2012 and there was a President Romney instead of President Obama in the White House?

Not saying that Romney would have been a Reagan in any conception. But at least we can be pretty sure that he would not be a Petain.

Subotai Bahadur
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly right Subotai. In the past when the President of the US spoke, the nations listened. For if they looked behind the curtain, unlike with the Wizard of OZ, they'd see fleets of F14 warplanes, many nuclear carriers and perhaps Iowa class battleships. Now what they see is a metrosexual pajama boy type that somehow is not that impressive.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The word of the President of the United States, and its government, is now worthless.

Has been for a while, and anybody with a clue knew it. Our allies knew it. I'm pretty sure even the people who seemed to be counting on us knew it too, but like suckers investing in a Ponzi scheme they were hoping someone else could be hoodwinked into concession.

Still, there is a difference between knowing something is true and no longer being able to pretend it isn't, so there will be those reconsiderations you mentioned.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have noticed across a wide variety of fora and blogs with comment sections in the last 72 hours or so that the pro-Russia commenters have very good message discipline. All excel at repeating the same basic talking points, with obvious themes meant to induce some ugly memories, present company included. These talking points also align very well with the agitprop coming from Russian media organ RT. A very tidy operation.

But I did notice that it did take a few days from the inception of the operation for the machine to get spun up properly. It's fascinating to play to meta game of playing "spot the propagandist".
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...agitprop coming from Russian media organ RT."--Dworkin Barimen

Anybody know why Comcast carries RT on its cable TV system for basic service customers?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. Especially guessing which sock puppets and #TeamNSA associates are active in multiple site threads. More on the Fedtroll army here:

http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/61461

and here:

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/02/28/massive-psyop-employed-against-ukraine-by-gchq-and-nsa.html

#TeamNSA based out of the Naval War College led by John R. Schindler using offices and salaries funded with your tax dollars giving their sock puppets and fake journo minions orders, anyone?

Lest I get accused of thread clogging EOT for me, even though we're not on the 5 posts gentleman's rule anymore.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the recurring themes of the Belmont Club should also be noted here:

MONEY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAD6Obi7Cag

Right now one of the reasons the flagship of the Ukrainian Fleet in the Black Sea put up the Russian (St. Andrew's flag?) naval ensign and the top Ukrainian Navy admiral, along with much of his command and the local cops have defected to the new Crimea under Moscow is because Russia's payroll is still functioning. That isn't a given for the Kiev Long Parliament (I will abstain from the 'putschist' label).

Thus, it would seem if sitzkrieg/bribery krieg is proving so successful for Putin thus far, he would have a strong disincentive to initiative combat by sending tanks into the Ukrainian mainland. Why fight units whose commanders you may buy off? This is also of course paralyzing Yats and the Long Parliament, because despite whatever NATO advisor help they're getting they cannot really know which units they can trust, or to what extent Moscow has bugged their every move and call.

While the loyalist Ukrainian units could still attack, Yats and co are deliberately playing for time, as the IMF/EU/USA bailout package has yet to arrive. Probably the first tranche of a billion may be wired shortly, but will that be enough to pay pensioners on top of keeping the lights on in Kiev government buildings, and the security for the parliament? For how long can the IMF tranches sustain the Long Parliament? Long enough to get to the elections in May and beyond that? It's going to be long cold winter in 2013-14 but Tymoshenko is already negotiating despite the Maidain mistrusting her to restore the cheaper gas. Perhaps in return for rescinding the obnoxious Russian language ban from all legally valid documents in Ukraine law.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
sic winter of 2014-15...
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Someone at Marcy Wheeler's Empty Wheel blog (her of the @20Committee #TeamNSA Schindler groupies two minutes haters on Twitter sessions) commented that what we're seeing is 4th Generation Warfare and its mirror imaging. The U.S. executed an expert 4GW takedown of the Yanukovich presidency turned hated regime, but neglected to produce a contingency plan for Russia's response. Which if Konyok is correct has been a highly disciplined, coordinated 4th Generation full spectrum response from Moscow.

http://www.emptywheel.net/2014/03/01/of-neo-fascists-and-smiley-face-neoliberals/#comment-669836

As all BC regulars who are familiar with my history as the alleged Lubyanka plant in residence (since 2008!) admit, Anglo-American information dominance is no longer assured. Especially where there are divisions, as with the Syria war ramp up before Obama's humiliating climbdown, within the Anglo-American camp itself. Who can say for certain whether Putin blackmailed Obama with FLIR footage of Brennan's CIA boys loading crates full of MANPADs for delivery to Al-Nusra Front in Syria? Who can say the Russians didn't use their Londongrad connections to lobby the Parliament to deal the Syria war hawks a humiliating and unexpected blow from a quarter they assumed would be the usual John Bull Blairite R2P poodles? I'm sure the British Parliament's 'NO' on Syria came as a rude shock to MI-6 wannabe American Dartmouth grad Michael D. Weiss...
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Granted that this is a special situation - Russia has the fleet facilities in Sevastopol and a friendly population of ethnic Russians providing cover and intelligence, but the Russian action in Crimea has been methodical, controlled and calibrated. It appears that not a single shot has been fired.
The lack of identifying insignia would suggest a violation of the Geneva Convention, it is impossible to definitively distinguish Russian military from Crimean militia. This effectively stymied a Ukrainian miilitary that has been unwilling to confront its own citizens.
The Crimea operation displays an unprecedented level of competence and control for the Russian military. Perhaps a result of introducing a professional volunteer force structure.
That this action was well-planned is obvious. We shall see what happens when the Russians encounter violent resistance.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, it was methodical but fruitless. The only goal of this operation was to provoke fire exchange, dead bodies for Russian television to display, to cry chavos and make pretext for full-scale invasion. But nothing of these materialised. This was not a military mistake, but a political one. Whithout nothing to show it is impossible to mobilize public opinion against Ukraine independence, so the only option left is to fake the crisis. Almost impossible task in our era of internet communications: millions of Russian have relatives and friends in Ukraine ready to disprove all this propaganda stunts.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The way Obama jumps around makes him truly, "The Frog of War."
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
As mentioned in the previous thread, guerrilla warfare may be all the unelected but appointed Kiev regime has to fight with. Gazeta.ru claims (admittedly, this could be disinformatziya) that only 1.5% of military age Ukrainian males 'called up' for general mobilization have answered the Ukrainian Motherland's call thus far. Admittedly that's after just Sunday and the numbers could trend higher this week as more 'provocations' and fighting occur. They could also be including the eastern Ukrainian provinces in open rebellion against Yats and company in that tally, but presumably it also includes Lviv and the Western Ukraine where people are supposedly eager to fight Russia.

http://www.gazeta.ru/politics/news/2014/03/02/n_5986737.shtml

I do not think Putin will be hubristic enough to send tanks into the Donbass and try to establish some sort of new perimeter for E. Ukraine manned by the Russian army along the Dnieper. That would lead to higher casulties once a demoralized and disorganized Ukrainian army regroups, mostly around Galician led and perhaps Kiev follower units, with the Poles and other NATO member countries providing fresh anti-tank weaponry. Hopefully Putin will content himself with his bloodless re-conquest of the Crimea and keep the tanks at bay, and the Right Sector won't start blowing up gas pipelines left and right to provoke a broader war. We can then content ourselves with the sitzkrieg propaganda war vigorously being waged between EuroMaidain HQ (which seems to think snapping photos of one border crossing debunks all of the Kremlin stories about Russian-speaking Ukrainians fleeing east) and the (Russian) Ukrainian Defense Network:

http://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/agitprop-6/#comments

The Russians have also learned to put pretty faces forward when making their propaganda points:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/world/2014/03/02/Russian-intervention-in-Crimea-for-peace-not-war.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hvds2AIiWLA

28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We're All Ukrainians" No Senator McCain, we are all Americans!

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/john-mccain-americans-crimea-ukraine-russia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=john-mccain-americans-crimea-ukraine-russia

Former National Review writer Rod Dreher (now exiled it seems by the neocon hacks busily running NR into the ground) writes at the American Conservative:

"The Russian Army is not the Soviet Army; I think the occupiers would face a lengthy and messy partisan war. Besides, nice pipelines you have running through Ukraine, Mr. Putin. Sure would be a shame if something happened to them."

So I don't think we'll be seeing T-90s rolling into Talinn or Warsaw, anymore than when this was predicted in 2008. Putin won't bite off more than the Russian Army can chew.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
You assume that Putin is still rationally thinking politician. Quite probably, he is not anymore. Merkel after talking with him in Sundy concluded that he is now living in alternative reality of his own. And this reality is a paranoidal delusion.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm afraid he's no longer a mere Poltician. I think he is in the process of graduating to the next level:
Czar Vladimir I, Putin, Autocrat of Autocrats and Czar of all the Russias.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment

BC Alexis,
My comment on thestatus of the Budapest Memorandum was on the last thread.
http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/03/02/the-ukraine-mobilizes/?show-at-comment=534842#comment-534842

We should resist efforts to circumvent Congress by altering domestic law through treaties, that are not intended to resolve genuine international concerns but impose a domestic agenda. Just as a domestic lawsuit has to be between two opposed parties, and not to make the Courts a party to a sweetheart agreement to act improperly to a third party, so a treaty has to deal with external issues. Recent efforts to impose gun control within the US by a UN sponsored treaty show the danger of that subterfuge.

We should also be alert to an attempt by the Executive to alter domestic conditions by entering into an international agreement that has implications for domestic law without consulting Congress or submitting it to the Senate.

My point is simply that the line is out there and the Executive does have the power to make commitments without entering into formal treaties that have the status of Constitutional Amendments under Article VI. Declarations of War and formal treaties matter. Not only do they provide clarity and rally the people to unity needed to achieve a goal but they trigger changes in the domestic legal framework. Except when responding to unexpected immediate threats I believe that the President should prepare the ground with proper treaties and should seek Congressional approval with an Authorization on the Use of Force or Declaration of War. The lack of those does not mean that other parties should decline to accept the word of senior persons, such as the President or the Secretary of State or his senior representative.

President Reagan in 1982 assured Margaret Thatcher that the United States would stand by her nation in repelling aggression against the Falkland Islands. Alexander Haig made that public and Congress backed the administration. That territory was not covered by the Nato Treaty. The United States provided intelligence and other support that greatly helped the United Kingdom. In 1973 Richard Nixon ordered supplies shipped from US stockpiles directly to Israel. There was no treaty that required that act. In both cases the United States did the right thing.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The text of the Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994 can be found at:

http://www.cfr.org/arms-control-disarmament-and-nonproliferation/budapest-memorandums-security-assurances-1994/p32484

Interesting commentary on the Budapest Memorandum can be found out:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/03/does_the_1994_budapest_memorandum_obligate_the_us_to_intervene_in_ukraine.html

The Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum while they were on their knees shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the time, both Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton were desperate in their concerns that ex-Soviet loose nukes could find their way into the hands of bad guys, e.g. Islamic fascists. I suspect that many of the Ukrainian nukes were disassembled and the plutonium bomb pits later sold to the United States by Russia in exchange for hard currency. Those bomb pits are probably now in safe storage at the Pantex facility in the United States.

Making that agreement was the correct decision at the time. However, I would be very surprised if the Ukraine gave up all of their nukes.

It appears that the United States Senate never ratified the agreement so it is only an executive agreement that was made between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. I do not believe that Putin would feel morally obligated to honor an agreement made by Boris Yeltsin. Truth to tell, I do not think Putin would honor any agreement that was not in his own political best interests.

The Budapest Memorandum specifically prohibits economic coercion. This was certainly violated by Russia when Russia was playing hard ball with natural gas shipments to the Ukraine. The treaty is already a dead letter because the US and UK did not come to the Ukraine's aid during that period of economic coercion.

The Budapest Memorandum was obviously a fig leaf to enable removal of ex-Soviet nukes from the Ukraine. After the Ukraine stopped shipping out ex-Soviet nukes, the agreement lost any real standing.

The Budapest Memorandum does put the Ukraine in a bind. Their best defense against Russia is to claim that they acted in bad faith and did not surrender all of their nukes. However by doing so the Ukraine would remove any lingering moral obligation by the United States and the United Kingdom to defend the Ukraine against Russian aggression. However the United States and the UK were never going to defend the Ukraine against Russia. This is a bit like the Kellogg–Briand Pact were all parties agreed to renounce war but no mechanism was specified to deal with the bad actor who opted to engage in war anyway.
(show less)
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meriwether Lewis went bankrupt when the Madison administration refused to reimburse him for his expenses, and this probably led to his untimely death. It is unusual for the United States government to refuse to reimburse a public official for his expenses, and refusals of the sort that the Madison administration made are usually a bad idea – but they do happen. Although Meriwether Lewis had reason to believe that he could get away with massive cost overruns (for his expedition to the Pacific got fully funded by Congress despite being vastly over budget), he should have used better judgment.

Although the Senate would not want to be bothered with minor commitments that don't involve a major shift in policy, major commitments need Senate approval. The question is what constitutes a major commitment. By any stretch of the imagination, committing to defend the independence of another country is a major commitment – particularly in the case of country as big as the Ukraine.

President Clinton “played fast and loose”, and not only with American diplomatic commitments. Ukraine made a horrific blunder in not asking for something more than his presidential signature.

Concerning the instances of presidential action in 1973 and 1982, I agree with you.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some bad poetry:

Look upon the shadows
Playing in the light
Dancing to a silent tune
They set a heart alight
Never mind the darkness
Creeping from behind
Others were to have banished it
And we don’t have the might
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The most shocking aspect of this crisis is not Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. It is not President Obama's impotence. It is not the sheer insanity coming from Ukraine's Svoboda paramilitary squads. It is that foreigners could honestly expect the United States to be bound by promises that are not ratified by the Senate. Ukrainians seem to think that the United States is an autocracy and that its president is a Czar, and this seems to shape Ukrainian perception of the Budapest Memorandum.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Ukrainians seem to think that the United States is an autocracy and that its president is a Czar "

Gee.... I wonder where they could have ever gotten that idea. It couldn't have been from Barry usurping the role of Congress and issuing or ignoring laws however he wishes, could it? It couldn't have been from two of the three branches of our government basically doing nothing more than voting present, could it?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am reminded of another time when a great statesman went haring off to rescue Ukrainian Cossacks who were at war with a Russian autocrat. I am talking, of course, about Charles XII of Sweden who attempted to rescue Ivan Mazepa from the clutches of Peter I of Russia. Charles XII raced ahead into Ukraine without his artillery. His army fell straight into a trap. The result was the Battle of Poltava.

Even if one were inclined to rescue Ukrainians from the mess they have created for themselves, one must move cautiously. It makes no sense to go haring off into Ukraine without securing Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states first. The important thing is to move cautiously into only those areas where popular sentiment is on one's side, and then fortify those areas against attack.

The Battle of Kursk ought to give pause to anybody who doubts the essential importance of entrenchment and fortification in the Russian and Ukrainian forests and steppes. Warfare in such an environment requires a basic understanding of prairie pothole terrain – most of those who are demanding a war in Ukraine don't have a clue what they are trying to get NATO into. Watch for traps!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with your notes of caution regarding going "haring" off into the wilderness.
We should fortify our allies, and ourselves.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dubya probably would've sent some troops to Poland. Obama? I doubt it.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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