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Merkel: Russia has stolen Crimea.

No. Putin has outfoxed, outstrategised and outstatecrafted everyone.

Pathetic

Angela Merkel may just have been reelected as German chancellor, but she is already thinking about how she will be viewed by future historians. She dreams of emulating her role model, Catherine the Great, but her contemparies prefer to nickname her "Mom."


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:32:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has he? In the end what did he gain? Looking back, the EU/US tried to pull the Ukraine into its sphere of interest(association agreement) and Putin tried to fix it in his with the custom union and the like. And when he finally outbid the West for Yanukovich everything blew up and there is an actively hostile government in Kiev. I wouldn't count that as a win. More a draw with  collateral damage.
by generic on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 11:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just referring to the limited Crimea operation, not the larger Ukraine conflict.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 11:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To me it seems he is executing a well-prepared contingency plan there. And now I got to think: what if American strategists weren't as dumb about contingency planning as it appears on the surface, and all we hearing is noise while losing Crimea was seen as acceptable price?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 12:35:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's always seemed obvious to me that Crimea was a red-line case for Russia, and I didn't expect Putin to hesitate. I have a job believing that no Western™ analysts foresaw the move. Neocons might be that dumb, but the neocons aren't in the driving seat in Washington any more. Maybe you don't need to be a neocon to make the wrong calls. Either that, or it's as you suggest.

In any case, no one will do anything about Crimea. Just release some hot air.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 12:48:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a job believing that no WesternTM analysts foresaw the move. Neocons might be that dumb, but the neocons aren't in the driving seat in Washington any more.
I, however, would find it completely in character for European/EU/German "strategists" to have been caught flat-footed.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the depth of the arrogance and sense of exceptionalism of the Washington foreign policy elite is pretty much limitless. It may not have occurred to them what was going to happen either.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The mood in the Western™ capitals right now is basically how dare he?, and a lot of frustrated foot-stomping.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:35:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the question is, is this impotent rage, or one that serves a purpose? By grabbing the Crimea, Russia only salvaged the Black Sea military status quo while gaining a new region in need of subsidies, but the USA gained the rest of Ukraine and potential NATO expansion along Russia1s western border, and a reason to impose sanctions on Russia (though if that was in a contingency plan, then European reluctance to go along wasn't properly gauged).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the USA came out ahead, but the EU now owns a failed state, politically and economically.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:38:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that US -> Europe position is a constant, has been since WWII.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Putin is just doing what he has to do. Did the West expect him to give up all in Ukraine and Crimea, gas lines? It is up to the West to decide what's next.
by das monde on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 05:46:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frankly, I can't really wrap my head around the policy of the US and EU with regards to Ukraine. There doesn't seem to be any clear understanding of the forces in play there, which is reflected in the wishful thinking that pumping in billions of dollars and euros into its crumbling economy under corrupt to the core political structure, will somehow create a prosperous and democratic society, making Russia feel ashamed of its inferiority and beg for our guidance? A variant of this approach was once implemented in Yugoslavia, where things were not as bad as they are in Ukraine, and as far as I recall, it still didn't quite work as intended.

I guess it's time for those in charge in Brussels and Washington to get real. Russia's standing in this crisis may not look and sound completely impeccable under the international law, but Putin's concerns have their merits. For the sake of Ukraine, recognition of this fact needs to be instilled in the heads of those currently in power in Kiev.

by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 05:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... "Actually fix the Ukraine" would be a unspeakably huge PR victory for the EU/west, and isn't actually impossible. Focus reforms on strengthening law/justice on a very basic "Get the police back to catching criminals rather than bashing political opposition heads in" level, fight corruption, build some infrastructure.. none of this would be actually difficult or expensive and all of it would help a lot. It just requires not actively fucking this up.
by Thomas on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 01:49:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, like Greece.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 02:36:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EU eastwards enlargement to date has fucked up on these imperatives in a number of countries.

Actually, "fucked up" isn't the term. "Has made no attempt" is more like it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The market was supposed to provide. What can possibly have gone wrong?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly that markets don't provide the rule of law?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:29:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Western assistance, rule of law come at the market price.

Big Oil's "Sore Losers" Lead the Drive to War » CounterPunch

The western oil giants have been playing "catch up" for more than a decade with Putin checkmating them at every turn. As it happens, the wily KGB alum has turned out to be a better businessman than any of his competitors, essentially whooping them at their own game, using the free market to extend his network of pipelines across Central Asia and into Europe. That's what the current crisis is all about. Big Oil came up "losers" in the resource war so now they want Uncle Sam to apply some muscle to put them back in the game. It's called "sour grapes", which refers to the whining that people do when they got beat fair and square [...]

In other words, Yanukovych rejected an offer from Chevron that the EU and Washington were pushing, and went with the sweeter deal from Russia. According to Ahmed, that pissed off the bigwigs who decided to incite the rioting. ("Putin's sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests...")

by das monde on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 05:29:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The usual Western arrogance, that assumes no agency for the locals. Poor hapless puppets jerked around by American money eh? Not that simple.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 06:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did Western energy companies concoct the current crisis?

Seems a bit of a stretch.

Have US energy firms with interests in fracking been opportunistic about this crisis?

Umm..... yes.  Without doubt.

Republicans in the US Congress are trying to fast track approval for a LNG export facilities that would be able to move enough LNG to replace Russian gas exports to Europe.  Even with massive investment, this is several years off.  But this would jack up the North American price of gas tremendously. Right now, in order to export gas a special permit is required if the receiving country doesn't have a free trade agreement with the US.  The bill in Congress would essentially remove this.

Again, look at the price differential between North America, Japan, and the EU here:

I think it's stretch to not see a massive increase in North American gas prices, and company profits, as not being a motivation behind Washington's actions.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 06:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, I'm confused. I thought that cheap energy prices currently gave the USA a huge economic advantage. Historically, US foreign interventions have been intended to keep US energy prices low...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Mar 15th, 2014 at 03:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Historically, US foreign interventions have been intended to keep US energy prices low.

Bullocks.  Historically US foreign interventions have been intended to keep corporate profits high.  That can be done equally well by gaining a massive price markup via exports as shorting producers in cowed countries royalties due. Natural gas is not oil.  The US lacks the infrastructure to export right now, and that means that domestic gas producers are taking a huge price hit because they can only sell in North America.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 02:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By having commitments and capability to EXPORT natural gas, given demand, they will be in all the better position to screw over the US domestic market, especially if their efforts to prevent the development of alternative energy sources and deployment of energy saving measures succeed. Their goal is to sell the last 100 cubic feet of natural gas at the highest possible price and get tax subsidies for doing so, even if they export that gas.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 10:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The impact will be most severe in terms of fertilizer production.  Right now the US imports quite a bit of anhydrous ammonia from Eastern Ukraine/Russia, and that tends to increase as natural gas prices do. Get ready for another food price shock when American corn prices shoot up based on increasing fertilizer costs.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 08:41:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A sane reaction to increased fertilizer prices would be a reduction or elimination of requirements for ethanol additives to gasoline. This would at least match drops in feed in tariffs for wind and solar electricity and give the appearance of balance and a coherent 'no subsidies' approach, which, in itself, would be a novelty.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 11:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eek! But then how do you expect the corn-planting industry to get its subsidies?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 12:36:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are hard limits to how high ammonia can go - It is the most widely synthesized chemical on earth, and natural gas is most emphatically not a necessary ingredient. There are producers right now making money producing it via the electrolysis pathway in places with cheap electricity. I think this is due to a cartel in ammonia production, because the level of profit that implies for people producing it the lazy way is hard to explain without a cartel limiting production - but it does mean that if ammonia goes much higher a lot of people are going to start turning electricity water and atmospheric nitrogen into fertilizer.
by Thomas on Wed Mar 19th, 2014 at 04:47:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a past series of diaries on ET about this, by SacredCowTipper, see this one for example.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 20th, 2014 at 03:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It provided perfectly, to those that needed it least.

Economics wags politics.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 08:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that's a stretch. There have been continuous Commission requests to reform laws and law enforcement and implement anti-corruption measures, and structural funds have been available and used for infrastructure projects (mostly highways, though), from Poland to Bulgaria. But the level was woefully inadequate, the timing of the first (after accession rather than during accession negotiations) guaranteed that legal intervention was toothless, especially in the face of the simultaneous neo-liberal economic reforms which were the focus of accession negotiations.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 06:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reforms on strengthening law/justice on a very basic "Get the police back to catching criminals rather than bashing political opposition heads in" level, fight corruption, build some infrastructure..

Oh please...not this fairytale again. Show us ONE single (just one single) state where they managed to even touch the surface on these reforms...including some of their own states (USA and EU). They even managed to destroy Slovenia that even during communism was a pretty decent state in any way shape and form.
Honestly...  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 08:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excuse me? Slovenia has been destroyed? I didn't notice that the last time I was there.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 12:17:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You must be there last time long time ago.
And you are not reading news for a long time...go and check.They are on a brink of bankruptcy
As for what eyes can see as a tourist Greece is still great place...but ....

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 07:35:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As for what eyes can see as a tourist Greece is still great place...but ....
Macropolis: The Greek crisis we don't see (12 March 2014, by Nick Malkoutzis)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 08:02:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American policy is concerned with retaining the single world power status gained with the demise of the Soviet Union. To that end, Russia must be contained. The American aim is to push the NATO sphere of influence right up to Russia's borders (remember Georgia).

The EU doesn't have a foreign policy. When it comes down to it, EU member states are American vassals and the EU as an institution reflects that. EU enlargement is a tool for US policy (further supported by neoliberals who want the EU watered down to a big free-trade area with no political or institutional capacity).

The US-NATO thrust doesn't worry about busting countries up. The EU is supposed to be the helping hand for those countries. But the EU has long since discarded any ideals in that respect. So helping Ukraine will be the EU's responsibility, but nothing at the appropriate scale will happen.

Russia's concerns do have their merits, but Russia has been keeping Ukraine in a state of corrupt dependence for decades. The notion that there is any real help there for Ukrainians is illusory.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 03:22:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree that Putin is far from being altruistic towards Ukraine. By the same token, he would rather prefer dealing with a Lukashenko-style regime there, which is much more predictable, stable and cheap per capita to control...
by aquilon (albaruthenia at gmail dot com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2014 at 12:53:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
aquilon:
wishful thinking that pumping in billions of dollars and euros into its crumbling economy under corrupt to the core political structure, will somehow create a prosperous and democratic society

Well it sure worked in Italy and Greece, didn't it?

(snark)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 08:12:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nuland for one.  The realists are still in the US State Department, but they have been sidelined.  I think they were too pessimistic--sorry--lacked a fitting can-do spirit.  Obama didn't like what they were telling him so he went with the crazies.  No lack of can-do talk with the neo-cons!  True, they never deliver.  But Obama is desperate.  

--Gaianne

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 16th, 2014 at 03:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I am impressionable, but I think the execution is masterful, and if the plan involved taking control of all Crimea overnight with unidentified troops to confuse everyone, then the planning itself is genius.

Maybe everyone was expecting Russia to roll into Crimea shooting and waving the Russian flag. They didn't expect them to sneak in and disable the Ukrainian troops stationed there in their sleep, so to speak.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 01:07:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Russia had de facto control of Crimea.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 04:36:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be honest the only thing I want from our glorious leaders dick waving contests is that they don't kill the rest of us, so Putin gets a passing grade at least. Plus some extra points for technical competence. Having good plans for when things go pear shaped is worth something at least.
Overall I'm quite unsure who achieved his objectives here. Most of the demonstrators probably didn't want to be governed by one of those shape shifting lizard central bankers. Putin didn't want a western stooge in Kiev. Yanukovich fucked up beyond anyone's expectation. I doubt the EU actually had any plan worth mentioning. Maybe "fuck the EU" Nuland is happy.
by generic on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 06:25:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the demonstrators probably didn't want to be governed by one of those shape shifting lizard central bankers.
They must not have been very well informed, or else the idea that the Maidan protesters were in favour of an EU association agreement (which, by the way, will be signed very shortly) was a complete fabrication on the part of the EU officialdom.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 06:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my first reaction to hearing about protests in favour of an EU association agreement was along the line of "this is the most preposterous lie I've heard all year". But on second thought, ten years ago I wouldn't have said the EU is about spreading poverty and setting fire to the social economy. I don't think I'd have scoffed at the notion of protests in favour of joining it. Maybe they didn't pay attention?
by generic on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 07:27:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the EU. Or whether it was ever so and I was just fooled as a child.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 12th, 2014 at 07:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So many parameters changed while blinkered elites went on labouring under the mantra pool economic interests and the politics, law, culture will end up by following.

Finally they pooled incompatible economic interests.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 02:53:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that "incompatible economic interests" is exactly true. Incompatible economic aims, whether or not they're in anyone's (except for a few bankers) interest.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:15:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic superstitions incompatible with reality, actually.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but nothing stopping you having aims incompatible with reality.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:28:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's certainly part of the problem, but I fear that the original mantra considered that even that would eventually come out in the wash.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
nothing stopping you having aims incompatible with reality.

They make reality, remember!

Wishful thinking'Confidence in the market' hushes all opposition.

Because growth.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2014 at 08:29:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we catalogued it fairly comprehensively. The death of solidarity, at every level, the triumph of national/personal interest.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 05:45:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but the institutional booby traps were laid down by idealists in 1992.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:14:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there had been idealists running it now we might have found different escapes from the traps.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember Straight Talk from Juncker (February 12th, 2010)

He was the last surviving signatory of the Maastricht Treaty, and the last member of the European Council who was genuinely in favour of the "community method". And yet...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 13th, 2014 at 06:18:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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