While We've Been Debating...
You might have noticed a good deal of chatter about Russia lately, and there's a good reason for that. Over at the Observer, former NSA guy John Schindler has been relentlessly pounding both Edward Snowden and Wikileaks chief Julian Assange as Russian operatives, and makes a strong case against the cozy relationship between Putin and the Trump camp. Meanwhile, the Democrats -- who under President Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton have effectively ceded not only the middle east but eastern Europe as well to Putin -- edge us ever closer to a shooting war with the former Soviets:
Hillary Clinton launched an open attack on Russia in the presidential debate on Sunday, saying Vladimir Putin wants Trump to win and accusing the regime of 'war crimes' in Syria. Clinton went on the offensive during the combative head-to-head showdown, apparently riled after she fell victim to leaks which she attributed to Russian hackers.
In some of her strongest words yet aimed at Russian President Putin, Clinton rebuked the country for its bombing of Aleppo, home to some 250,000 people. 'There is a determined effort by the Russian air force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime,' she told the crowd.
'Russia hasn't paid any attention to ISIS. They're interested in keeping Assad in power,' she went on. 'I do support the effort to investigate for crimes - war crimes - committed by the Syrians and the Russians, and try to hold them accountable,' she told the crowd. She also alleged that Russia wanted to see Trump in power rather than her. 'But I want to emphasize that what is at stake here is the ambitions and the aggressiveness of Russia,' she said.
Now, Mrs. Clinton is a very great fool, and not a person who can easily see past the current political talking points. The Democrats (who once under Obama drew a "red line" against Assad, then immediately folded) now see the Syrian multi-party war primarily as an excuse to import more Syrian "refugees" into the United States in order to destabilize the country-as-founded under the guise of "humanitarianism." The power of a single heartrending propaganda photo -- whether it's this one or this one -- is amazing, but the foreign policy of great nations should not be based on them.
Meanwhile, the Russians just moved ballistic missiles into the city they call Kaliningrad but which the West knows better as Kant's east-Prussian home town of Koenigsberg:
It’s long been obvious that Vladimir Putin and his inner circle view Barack Obama with utter contempt. To the hard men in Moscow, who got their schooling in the KGB, our diffident, wordy Ivy League lawyer president is a weakling—almost a caricature of everything they despise about the postmodern West.
Here the Kremlin mirrors most Russians, who find Obama a puzzling and contemptible man. This is nothing new. I’ve heard remarkable put-downs of our commander-in-chief for years, going back to 2008, even from the mouths of highly educated Russians. Their comments are invariably earthy, insulting, and nowhere near politically correct.
It’s therefore no surprise that Russians view Obama with contempt—and so does their leader. As our president winds up his second term and prepares to move out of the White House, the Kremlin simply isn’t bothering to hide that contempt any longer, even in high-level diplomacy, where a modicum of tact is expected.
Today’s biggest news, however, comes from Estonian reports that the Russian military is sending Iskander-M missiles to Kaliningrad on a civilian freighter. It’s expected to dock in Kaliningrad today with its alarming cargo.
The Iskander-M system, called SS-26 by NATO, is the replacement of the Scud missile of American Gulf War memory. It has a range of 300 miles and can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead. An Iskander-M based in Kaliningrad can strike targets deep in Poland and across the whole Baltic region. Make no mistake, this is primarily an offensive weapons system.
Of course it is. As Schindler notes in the passage above, the Kremlin regards Obama as something lower than a clown, and expresses itself in the crudest possible racial terms. Having reclaimed Crimea and effectively annexed chunks of the Ukraine, the Russians have recently paused in order to consider their next moves: take Kiev, or Finlandize the Baltic states, or both? What to do, what to do...