Ukraine – We’re back in the 13th century

In 1240, Mongol forces under Batu Khan sacked Kiev and killed pretty much everybody in the city.  Why?  Because he could.  Like all his Mongol counterparts, Batu was a snarky dick.  He regularly taunted other rulers with how powerless they were to resist him.  Said Batu to Bela, King of Hungry, “you dwell in houses and have fixed towns and fortresses, so how will you escape me”.

This is what I think of given the last two days.  Love or hate Uncle Vladimir, in foreign affairs at least, he is a master.  He knows how to play the game and against him just about every Western diplomat comes off as a rank amateur.

Yesterday, Secretary Kerry made it a point to “warn” Russia about military intervention in Ukraine.  You could almost hear Vladimir blurt at the television, “What are you going to do about it, pig?”  And then this morning Russian marines took over a pair of airports.  Why did Vladimir do this?  Because he can.

As this blog previously discussed, the differences in will between Russia and the West are glaring.  If I was a Ukrainian revolutionary, I’d change my tune.

decisive

This one marine is more decisive to the outcome than every diplomat in the West combined.

Ukraine – How not to start the beginning of a revolution

Two things come to mind within my overly pessimistic brain on this issue:

1) The opposition reached out with hate and rage instead of reconciliation

I always tend to put the caution lights on when the new rulers in town sound angry, very angry.  If you just shed a great deal of blood, souls, and lives to overthrow a murdering asshole dictator, would you:

a)  Make it a point to talk like an asshole

or

b)  Make it a point to talk rather different

Madam Tymoshenko (not everybody’s squeaky clean all-star) riddled her Maidan speech with fire, revenge, and a call to arms.  Now if anybody has just cause to get pissed off it’s her, and she’s also been sick for a long time.  But in these circumstances she needed to understand the context of the moment.

If you are a true leader (and not a closet kleptocrat as I think she is [see my previous post on ‘new’ opposition leaders]), there are times you must be above your emotions and the events that surround you.  This is what makes the likes of Washington & Mandela so special.  It’s not that they’re saints, though they mostly were, it’s that they had the power to understand the context of their moments.  Then they responded accordingly when the vast, vast majority of their counterparts wanted to go a different way.  Madam Tymoshenko is giving the crowd what they want to hear.  A Washington or Mandela knew better.  Sometimes the crowd needs to hear the thing they hate the most.

Washington and Mandela’s real weapons were an emphasis upon reconciliation, restraint, and generally (here’s the kicker) not acting like complete assholes.  From Ukraine we now hear of charges for Cousin Viktor, the blood of martyrs, and justice.  Folks, justice and blood can come later, or not.  But right now you need to strive for peace, rebuild destroyed institutions, and oh yeah, run a very large, broke country.

2) Russia wants it more

Why is point (1) a problem?  It’s not just because I think those who fight hard for freedom and democracy should be the better humans; it’s because they have a big problem; an Uncle Vladimir problem.  Tymoshenko and her allies have severely miscalculated.  They think they are safe given the power of the Ukrainian street.  They don’t understand how the world works.

I remain very ashamed to admit this, but sooner or later the non-free peoples of the planet are going to realize the modern West is populated with cowards.  The free peoples of the world are not interested in fighting for the non-free peoples of the world.  Sorry.

Don’t believe me, ask your Syrian, Zimbabwean, or Bahraini neighbor.  The Ukrainian opposition (or, I guess, national leadership?) has cast their lot with the West, or more chiefly the EU.  But, the problem is Russia and the EU see this situation very differently.

As an example, can you picture Russian tanks rolling down the streets of Kiev in six weeks?  Well friends, that’s a little extreme, but it’s certainly possible under many circumstances.  I’m sure you could at least imagine it?  Ask your Georgian neighbor.

Well, how about NATO tanks?  No, never, not in a million years.  The simple fact is for Uncle Vladimir, Ukraine is a matter of vital national interest.  It is not so for the EU.  Thus, the situation calls for a level of caution not on display by Ukraine’s new leadership.

They have handed Uncle Vladimir the one thing he needs to run over the country; a divided Ukraine; with an eastern ethnic Russian population crying out for a savior.  Uncle Vladimir is only too happy to oblige.

Better to work together with the ethnic Russians of Ukraine to attempt an actual country.  Will this fail?  Probably.  But without the attempt, the savior is thus born.  The alternative is to increase the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine by however many conscripts compose a modern motorized armored division.

tanky_tank

“The coaxial will work a lot better than tear gas.  Let’s go with that to start.”

Internet – You’ll miss the Wild West one day

One of the greatest films ever made (according to me; which means it’s fact) is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  There’s a lot going on in this film both on and beneath the surface, but suffice to say one of the main themes is how a newly modern America comes to terms with its myths, specifically that of the Wild West.

One day, they’re going to make a great film where we all fondly remember what it was like when the internet was the Wild West.  It’ll star Ashton Kutcher as the grizzled, wrinkled, impotent (literally) internet coder who goes back home (Zip Code 94027) only to shock the news robots (human journalists will be extinct due to incompetence and bias) with his tales of how the internet probably wasn’t the anarchy everybody thought.  Like Jimmy Stewart, the robots will print the legend.

Look, the internet was developed by the government, for the government.  Then a bunch of university scientists, funded by the government, started to play around with it.  Drug fueled freaks turned it into a product the normal human could use.  Then corporations got their claws into it but could never completely get the freaks to give it up and thus we roughly see the tool we use today.

What’s different now is that the corporations are taking over.  The government and the freaks are losing power.  Why?  Mostly cash, mostly.  Money buys other corporations, lobbyists (votes), and shapes the images you see every day.  The freaks lost out because they wanted cash too, more cash than dirty oil barons.  The government was run over due to the aforementioned vote buying.  Your local representative doesn’t know how to spell the word broadband, but will vote however Verizon instructs him if it means he gets to lick one more cigar with an $800 bill.

Think it’s a coincidence that Comcast and Netflix signed an agreement (terms are unavailable for the public because Satan probably gave the notary) just days after Comcast decided to corner nearly half of America’s available broadband market?  If you think so, you deserve a personal donation to medical science.  Most people will claim it doesn’t matter because they are too stupid to care or they will argue the market takes care of itself.  Well, maybe.

Here’s a thought though, the internet is more important than roads, buildings, the telephone, or even the air.  If the freaks get what they want, your car, your thermostat, even your freaking heart will all one day be online.  Feel comfortable turning all that over to the corporations that have rigged the game in their favor?  I don’t.

Don’t agree with me?  One day you will.  And even though it’s a legend, you’ll still miss the internet’s Wild West.

xfinity-comcast-logo-144437

“We find your heart’s broadband percentages too burdensome to our network.  Thus, make peace with your maker.”

News Muster – 20 February 2014

Congratulations on observing the First Annual (not annual) Arcturus Project News Muster.  As mentioned previously, life has somewhat collapsed for the author, so what the hell, why not this?  I’ll have fun writing it.  The way these posts will work is you read the bizarre text and enjoy it.  If you don’t adore this style of posts you can:
a)  Post a comment on this web zone informing me how much I suck

b)  Never visit this blog again

c)  Return to visit at a later time when you may find a post more favorable

d)  Enslave humanity (because, you know, why not?)

 

1)  TSA informs populace of latest Arcturan threat

The Arcturus Project News

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued its latest travel alert warning of possible danger from recent Arcturan efforts.
The agency did not mention any specific threat, capability, or fact but emphasized that passengers should remain vigilant.  “We want the traveler to understand that at any moment, they could die.  Air travel is dangerous,” said TSA official Steve Shiftyeyes, “You could get run over by the airport handicap buggy any day you step inside the terminal.”

This announcement comes on the heels of recent TSA warnings of potential toothpaste bombs against flights bound for the Olympics at Sochi.

The statement met with criticism from scientists who declared their concerns with the TSA’s methodology.  Said Dr Stanislaw Human of the Hopkins Institute for Applied Physics, “This threat makes no sense.  Even if the Arcturans could get here, why would they travel thirty-seven light years only to blow up an airplane?  That’d be like flying halfway across the world just to punch a kid in the stomach at his birthday party.”

TSA administrators nevertheless emphasized the importance of being watchful at all times pointing out the number of airplanes destroyed by terrorism in the last decade.  “These measures keep our skies safe,” said Shiftyeyes, “And your safety is our number one priority.  Why else would we do this?”

 

2)  Japanese renew pledge to make radiation “a friend”

The Arcturus Project News

Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) acknowledged that yet another large quantity of radioactive water was released from the decommissioned Fukushima nuclear plant.  In the newest in a series of deliberate acts TEPCO announced that a value was opened at Fukushima to allow the hazardous water to “become one with the sea”.

TEPCO dismissed fervent admonitions from the World Health Organization (WHO) that such consistent acts created water safety levels twenty times in excess of the widely considered healthy limit.  The valve opening is said to be part of a wider strategy by TEPCO to make radiation a consistent part of the renowned Japanese culture.

“The WHO’s concerns are valid, but entirely misplaced,” said Ryuichi Incompetentsan, a TEPCO Senior Manager, “They would imply that we don’t know what we’re doing.  We Japanese perfected just-in-time assembly lines, sushi, the zoo, and once enchained Asia.  We’re doing this on purpose because only by making radiation a friend can we truly hope to overcome its negative effects.”

Citizens of the nearby city of Iwaki seemed optimistic of TEPCOs acts.  “They know what they’re doing,” remarked one local shopper, “We’re happy to let them take the lead on this honorable effort.  I think if we just let them do what they think is best we can only hope that radiation becomes the next export.”

TEPCO promised that the next maneuver in their plan would be even stronger.  Industry watchers predicted the next action could be the release of a radioactive plume or the methodical exposure of a worker to lethal doses of toxic rays.

 

3)  An interview with Nigeria’s interim central bank governor

The Arcturus Project News

The Arcturus Project News spoke with Boseda Corruptus, recently appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan as Interim President of Nigeria’s Central Bank.

TAP:  Thanks for speaking with us via telephone.

BC:  My pleasure.

TAP:  Why was your predecessor fired?

BC:  Mr Sanusi has been suspended and not sacked.

TAP:  But he was accused of “misconduct”?

BC:  He’ll be back; he’s done nothing worse than the rest of us.

TAP:  Ah, I see, wait what?

BC:  I don’t know how much he’s taken, but whatever it is it’s a shit-ton less than me and the others.

TAP:  …

BC:  Are you still on the line?

TAP:  Uh, yeah, I’m here.  So, ah, … (flips pages, throws notes) so Mr Sanusi’s accusations of flagrant oil theft are substantiated?

BC:  Are you living under a rock?  What do you think happens to the oil money?  You think Jonathan wants this talked about before the election?  We need to at least pretend, so whether Sanusi’s on the take or not, he needed to go away for a while until we’re done buying votes.

TAP:  Wow, so, these are all very significant statements, do you understand what you’re saying?

BC:  Fuck you.  What are you going to do about it?  I’m shit-faced on $400 a bottle cognac right now.  Everybody knows we’re thieves; we’ve stolen billions every year as long as I’ve been in government.  Nothing ever changes.  Nobody ever goes to jail.  Why should I care what you think?

TAP:  But, well, you have a responsibility to the people.

BC:  I give them some, I give them some.  But they know how the game is played.  If a peasant from Kano and I switched places, he’d rob me too.

TAP:  So is there any hope of this situation improving?

BC:  Improving what?  What are you talking about?

TAP:  So financial responsibility, transparency, democracy, and so on?

BC:  What are you?  A communist?  How do you think things work here?  I’m all for freedom, but I have to live in the real world.

TAP:  Would it surprise you that a guy on the street in Lagos might see it differently?  Maybe they want a better future and to them you’re just a thug?

BC:  (unintelligible profanity)  Listen buddy, who are you anyways?  (unintelligible profanity)  (phone line terminated)

TAP:  Man, I didn’t even get to ask him whether the dismissal was legal.  (off tape mutterings)  What?  (off tape mutterings)  Well, yeah, I guess he wouldn’t have understood the question.

(end tape)

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26266491

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26254140

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26270561

 

buddy

Come closer friend.  You look like you need a hug.

Ukraine – This is not the end of the beginning

I will admit I am rather surprised to see this level of violence.  You would think Uncle Vladimir would have asked Cousin Viktor to hold off for at least for another week until people can no longer spell Sochi.  I think a couple of things are at work here:

–  The vast majority of the protestors appear to have accepted the government’s amnesty and abandoned their posts over this last weekend

–  This left a very small (perhaps about 20 thousand) but hardcore group who desire neither amnesty or the status quo

–  Cousin Viktor decided to use this window of opportunity to dispense with this hardcore group before the more moderate opposition realized he was playing them for fools and got back on the streets

–  Cousin Viktor may have been told to wait for a week by Uncle Vladimir; but likely told him to go back to watching figure skating; Viktor knows a week may have closed out his window; thus the assault on Maidan

The security forces’ attack did not go according to plan.  Syria has shown what you need to truly crush this kind of revolt:  An army or police force that is willing to employ automatic weapons against unarmed civilians like it’s the Fourth Reich come to life.

At this point, the Ukrainian forces aren’t willing to do that.  So what they confronted was a highly organized, motivated, and disciplined protest force.  The hardcore opposition was apparently planning for this kind of battle for weeks.  As the security forces aren’t willing to use their overwhelming lethal force, you get stalemate and chaos.

Some countries are perhaps not meant to be.  I heard an interesting stat on the radio yesterday.  About 40% of Ukraine’s population supports the protests, while 40% support the government, leaving 20% who are too dazed or stupid to respond to reality.  However, a very large majority from both sides do not support Cousin Viktor.  This is not a recipe for a sustained nation.  You can easily see how the Russian eastern half could make a push to remain in charge or transfer to Russia while the western half goes elsewhere.  Anybody think this will all occur cleanly?

This is only going to get worse.  A line is now crossed.  When this much blood is shed, emotions & then positions harden.  Cousin Viktor is now about to learn a very important lesson of our cowardly post-modern world.  When you spill your citizen’s blood, it’s not as bad as you think.  I suspect he’ll actually be rather surprised at how little the UN, EU, and/or USA will do to him and his ruling elite.  A lot of talk will occur, but Viktor’s going to discover that he can still act while everybody else talks.  Then the only limiting factor on whether he can remain in power is how willing he is to kill and whether his men are willing to obey the orders to slay their neighbors.  Either way it’s going to be awful.

maidan19feb

“I am the hand of God, the fate of all lies in the decision I make.”

Team Arcturus – These guys want to put themselves out of business

So things are a little worrying in your blog author’s family life recently.  Enjoy life friends, as my aunt recently said, “Things can turn on a dime”.  When the mysteries of life upend your status quo, I think everybody gets a little crazy in their view of the world.  Accordingly, I’m going to once again indulge in another round of reckless intervention discussion.  I guess I’m just interested lately in what kind of world we will live come 2090.

Please keep in mind a few things.  I know intervention is a bad word used by smart people (them) to label dumb people (me) as out of touch with reality.  So a couple of caveats.  This isn’t about Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria.  This is about humanitarian intervention to stop the bleeding; genocide where the different parties are generally not somebody’s puppet-proxy-pawn.  I know how complicated and hard all of this is, but if we don’t start somewhere then we are just admiring the problem.  Just admiring the problem equals the ultimate failure of our race’s hopes and dreams for a bright future.

Now a few readers, who probably won’t be back, (by a few I mean two; we’re, ah, we’re new here) expressed mild disagreement (they were polite) via separate correspondence that they did not approve of a UN force that undertakes the task of having people “gets shot”.  I think their interpretation of my idea was a UN force along the lines of the paramilitary troops shown in Elite Squad (my example) where folks are shot without trials, plastic bag interrogations occur, and generally the enforcers do what enforcers do.  Well, to be honest, that’s at least partially what I had in mind.

Look, I’m not a determinist flake like a Jared Diamond, but I do think that folks are fairly well shaped by where they grow up.  A machete wielding psychopath in CAR might have turned out a fairly decent guy had he grown up under rich bankers in London.  Unfortunately for him, his path was somewhat different.  But in the end, as adults, we all make our own choices.  I’m sorry if your life was/is shit, but if you’re engaged in genocide, you either get to stop, or get shot.  Sorry.

What am I really after though?  Clearly there is enough poverty, destitution, and awfulness in our planet to overwhelm the UN’s ability to purchase, let alone expend, bullets.  The UN genocide response force discussed in my previous post (we’ll call them Team Arcturus) is not going to be able to shoot every single weapon wielding ethnic janitor.  I’m after the deterrence that comes from the initial round of UN sanctioned violence.  Now deterrence is a generally underrated concept (for most people it means nukes only), yet we employ it across our lives every day.  Ask your friendly neighborhood speed trap.

After Team Arcturus is employed two or three times, the word will get out to those who are intent on cleaning out a portion of the human race.  “Hey, the UN is interested, Team Arcturus will be here tomorrow.  Those assholes don’t play.  Let’s put away the blades, gasoline, and piano wire before we all get fucking shot.”  When people start to understand that we (the international community) mean business, that we will do what we say, then the level of viciousness might (every situation is different; and my idea may suck) inherently decrease.

The trick is of course actually doing what you say.  Right now the UN is generally ignored because it is in the business of saying a lot, but virtually doing & accomplishing nothing.  This is directly traceable to the design flaws in its organization, but it is what it is.  Would we have to rework the way the UN is run before we could create and employ Team Arcturus?  Maybe, but the recent UN combat operation against M23 near Goma is a good example of how such an action could occur under the existing UN construct.  This would not solve extremely hard situations like Syria, but at least would assist the human race in troubleshooting CAR or South Sudan or Western Burma.

Final answer to world peace?  No.  Initial answer to stop genocide and improve overall quality of human life?  Maybe.  Let’s roll the dice.

armored_infantry

 

Team Arcturus; Armored Infantryman; Circa 2090

“I get used only once a decade, because everybody knows what I do when I’m used.”

Genocide – Everybody’s cool with it

There’s a lot going on in the world recently.  Sochi rumbles on; a volcano does what volcanos in Indonesia do; Bieber’s not been donated for terminal medical science, yet; the Italian PM just resigned so his teenage son could replace him; oh, and in Central African Republic (CAR), genocide is in progress and nobody seems to know or care.

But wait, I thought we were past this?  Everybody’s heard of Rwanda right?  Bosnia?  Darfur?  Sure, those are times where we (the international community) either got it right or wrong but at least we talked about it, used it to guide our actions.  By the way, Darfur remains a nightmare shithole of anarchy, starvation, and suffering despite the presence of over 15 thousand UN peacekeepers.  Which I guess is my point.

For those of you who think Africa has a lot of pandas, let me bring you briefly up to speed.  CAR is dirt poor, isolated, and hasn’t had a functional government in just about forever.  A Muslim based militia overthrew the government and took control.  But then the militia got out of hand and started a little weekend ethnic cleansing.  So the Christians overthrew the militia with the help of French and UN peacekeepers.  But now the Christians have gotten in on the scrubbing game as well.  I guess everybody thought they just needed to clean up the country a little.  Maybe they should have just used some bleach on their kitchen floors.  Less blood would have been involved.

There are about 4.4 million people in CAR.  Of these, 20% are now homeless, about 800 thousand people.  Nearly every single one of them is going to need support to live.  The country is nearly the size of France.  Since this round of violence began, probably tens-of-thousands have died, but nobody really knows.

So yet again, we (the international community) are on it.  After Rwanda, we said “never again”, and we meant it.   We’ll make sure genocide is stomped from human history because it is the antithesis of everything we want in our modern, free world.  Never again my friends, never again!  (pounds fist on podium)

“Some 7,000 troops – from France and African countries – have been mandated by the UN to help restore order.  But so far they have failed to stop the unrest…”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26160251

Oh, wait, no.

So this is a problem right?  We don’t like genocide.  Wrong.

Everybody’s cool with it!  Consult any newspaper, website, and/or ancient totem scroll today and you will find CAR buried in Section D12, behind the article on liver enzymes.  Nobody cares!

Now most of you will probably respond with something like this:  There’s nothing we can do.  Let them have it out.  If we get involved, we will either make things worse or get dragged into turmoil.

Well, you’re only partially right.  Getting involved in this is like inserting yourself into a bar fight.  You likely can’t stop it, there’s two of them and one of you.  You’re probably going to get punched in the face.  And in the end both guys will hate you for entangling yourself in their Glorious Battle.  But, that doesn’t mean you should do nothing.  And it doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do to help.

We are doing something, you’d say.  The UN, EU, AU, LPGA, NFL, and France are on the case.  They’re taking care of it as best as we can given the circumstances!

I submit though, that what we are doing is worse than nothing because it isn’t working.  The international community’s method of genocide crisis response is broken.  We need a new way.  We need to make a choice between two options.  I’m ruling out a third option in which hundreds-of-thousands of international troops flood CAR to reestablish order as just unrealistic given how little the planet actually cares.

Option 1)

Replace the UN motto of “never again” with “we don’t give a shit”.  We accept that we are cool with genocide occurring on our planet and we practically and morally wash our hands of what our planet will look like in 2090.

Option 2)

The UN needs an actual army.  Not peacekeepers.  Not a police force, but a small rapid response combat force.  Similar to what the UN just used in Eastern Congo, but larger, and guided by formal policy.  Say about ten-to-twenty thousand troops from various nations.  Highly trained & equipped.  You drop them into CAR, or wherever hell has opened.  They reestablish order on the streets, halt the immediate violence.  Anybody holding a weapon or committing a murder gets shot.

Will this solve CAR and provide a brighter future?  No.  Will this guarantee that all genocide will stop?  No.  But it will at least stop the bleeding.  If you can halt the killing for a few weeks, maybe that’s all you need to calm things down and provide an open space for folks to work with.  Then you can roll in the peacekeepers and start the hard work.

Maybe not the best idea, but again, when what you’re doing is clearly not working.  It’s time for a change.

blade

This fine gentleman is serious about doing what he says.  We’re not.