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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:13 pm 
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House Intelligence Committee closes the day voting on a motion brought by Committee Republican member Mike Conaway to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Motion was tabled, with the 13 Democrats voting aye and the 9 Republicans voting nay.

Quote:
Today's House Intelligence Committee hearing with diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent just wrapped. The hearing — which lasted nearly six hours — marked the first public testimony of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

If you're just reading in now, here are the biggest takeaways:

-The July 26 call: Taylor told Congress today about a July 26 phone call — a conversation that happened one day after Trump's phone call with Ukraine's leader. Taylor testifying that his staff was told of the call, in which President Trump said he cared more about the "investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.


This was new information put out there today. The staffer has a public name and is apparently testifying Friday.

Quote:
▪Giuliani's "irregular" diplomacy: Taylor explained that Rudy Giuliani's efforts led to an "irregular" policy channel was "running contrary to the goals of longstanding US policy." Kent's testimony also expressed alarm at Giuliani's efforts — which he described last month as a "campaign of lies" — that led to the ouster of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and then the push for investigations.


My gut is this feels like dangerous territory for Giuliani. He's not a federal employee in any sense of the word, he's a personal lawyer for Trump. So if he was running federal policy goals or pushing shadier motives as a man on the outside of D.C., there's no longstanding federal employee protection he can fall back on.

Quote:
▪Not "never Trumpers": Kent and Taylor were directly asked about President Trump's repeated claim that they are "never Trumpers." They said they were not.


This is nothing important.

Quote:
▪Hurting diplomats' credibility: Kent and Taylor said it's harder for US officials overseas to do their jobs when American leaders ask foreign powers to investigate their political rivals. "Our credibility is based on a respect for the United States, and if we damage that respect, then it hurts our credibility and makes it more difficult for us to do our jobs," Taylor said.


Okay, but again, in the scheme and conduct of the proceedings, this means nothing.

Quote:
▪About firsthand knowledge: Republican repeatedly went after the witnesses for not hearing from President Trump himself that he wanted Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals in exchange for releasing US aid. But remember: the White House has sought to prevent those closer to Trump from appearing.


Seems the Democrats need to get as many first-hand foreign policy accounts as they can for background. I'm sure the President has made some enemies (Rex Tillerson, Dan Coats, step on down).


Last edited by Flyin Ryan on Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:21 pm 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
House Intelligence Committee closes the day voting on a motion brought by Committee Republican member Mike Conaway to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Motion was tabled, with the 13 Democrats voting aye and the 9 Republicans voting nay.


I am shocked. Shocked and surprised. I would have thought they would all have voted the other way!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:07 am 
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I see Trump is too busy to watch the "witch hunt". Perhaps if he didn't spend so much time on twitter or playing golf...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:08 am 
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He did meet Erdogan. And declared a state of friendship with the Kurds. And included Turkey in that deal, thus solving three - three! - intractable problems. And got the Syrian oil. That's more than I've ever done in a day. Like Santa says, the gloves are off American diplomacy now. I for one welcome our new lizard ambassadors.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:43 am 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
House Intelligence Committee closes the day voting on a motion brought by Committee Republican member Mike Conaway to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Motion was tabled, with the 13 Democrats voting aye and the 9 Republicans voting nay.

Quote:
Today's House Intelligence Committee hearing with diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent just wrapped. The hearing — which lasted nearly six hours — marked the first public testimony of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

If you're just reading in now, here are the biggest takeaways:

-The July 26 call: Taylor told Congress today about a July 26 phone call — a conversation that happened one day after Trump's phone call with Ukraine's leader. Taylor testifying that his staff was told of the call, in which President Trump said he cared more about the "investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.


This was new information put out there today. The staffer has a public name and is apparently testifying Friday.

Quote:
▪Giuliani's "irregular" diplomacy: Taylor explained that Rudy Giuliani's efforts led to an "irregular" policy channel was "running contrary to the goals of longstanding US policy." Kent's testimony also expressed alarm at Giuliani's efforts — which he described last month as a "campaign of lies" — that led to the ouster of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and then the push for investigations.


My gut is this feels like dangerous territory for Giuliani. He's not a federal employee in any sense of the word, he's a personal lawyer for Trump. So if he was running federal policy goals or pushing shadier motives as a man on the outside of D.C., there's no longstanding federal employee protection he can fall back on.

Quote:
▪Not "never Trumpers": Kent and Taylor were directly asked about President Trump's repeated claim that they are "never Trumpers." They said they were not.


This is nothing important.

Quote:
▪Hurting diplomats' credibility: Kent and Taylor said it's harder for US officials overseas to do their jobs when American leaders ask foreign powers to investigate their political rivals. "Our credibility is based on a respect for the United States, and if we damage that respect, then it hurts our credibility and makes it more difficult for us to do our jobs," Taylor said.


Okay, but again, in the scheme and conduct of the proceedings, this means nothing.

Quote:
▪About firsthand knowledge: Republican repeatedly went after the witnesses for not hearing from President Trump himself that he wanted Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals in exchange for releasing US aid. But remember: the White House has sought to prevent those closer to Trump from appearing.


Seems the Democrats need to get as many first-hand foreign policy accounts as they can for background. I'm sure the President has made some enemies (Rex Tillerson, Dan Coats, step on down).


It does seem to me that it should be in the public interest to examine Trump's priorities with regard to international relations. Quite clearly Trump is pursuing his own interests ahead of the National interest and people who believe that this impeachment inquiry is unneeded and purely a partisan political maneuver to undermine a legitimately elected President are failing to see that.

Trump was elected because he was seen as a successful businessman and I think that part of his mandate was to run the United States as US Inc., but obviously being CEO of a business (particularly in Trump's case where the general MO was to screw over suppliers and pursue vanity projects) is not really compatible with being elected POTUS.

Not holding the Impeachment Inquiry would allow Trump to continue wrecking the brand by pursuing personal agendas which might be regarded as justifiable for a Corporate, but which are clearly incompatible with his office.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:10 am 
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It was not as a outlandish as it could have been :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:17 am 
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Rinkals wrote:

Trump was elected because he was seen as a successful businessman and I think that part of his mandate was to run the United States as US Inc., but obviously being CEO of a business (particularly in Trump's case where the general MO was to screw over suppliers and pursue vanity projects) is not really compatible with being elected POTUS.


That's an interesting point. There's a subset of Americans - perhaps all of Trump's base, and more besides - who want to see US foreign policy run exactly that way. We've talked on here about great power politics, and that's what great power politics is: the unilateral exertion of force. It includes screwing over suppliers and vanity projects galore, at the whim of whatever ruler du jour. That's how Europe looted the world, with Trump now cast in the role of a Twittering king, of a soon-to-be second-rate power that doesn't yet understand the implications of being second-rate.

There's a prescient piece from the Brookings Institution about this [ish].

"A free-world strategy, then, would be an evolution in American foreign policy, not a rejection of the liberal international order. The United States would continue to play a leading role in international institutions and in promoting multilateral cooperation. It would continue to cooperate with authoritarian powers on matters of mutual interest, such as nonproliferation, the global economy, and climate change. But this strategy would emphasize new threats to free societies, threats that have largely been ignored by successive administrations but are worsening with each passing month. The postwar American strategy of creating an order was always about shaping an environment that would enable and support the flourishing of free societies. It is time to rediscover that spirit and intention."

Yeah, good luck with that.

https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-return-to-great-power-rivalry-was-inevitable/


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:21 am 
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6.Jones wrote:
Rinkals wrote:

Trump was elected because he was seen as a successful businessman and I think that part of his mandate was to run the United States as US Inc., but obviously being CEO of a business (particularly in Trump's case where the general MO was to screw over suppliers and pursue vanity projects) is not really compatible with being elected POTUS.


That's an interesting point. There's a subset of Americans - perhaps all of Trump's base, and more besides - who want to see US foreign policy run exactly that way. We've talked on here about great power politics, and that's what great power politics is: the unilateral exertion of force. It includes screwing over suppliers and vanity projects galore, at the whim of whatever ruler du jour. That's how Europe looted the world, with Trump now cast in the role of a Twittering king, of a soon-to-be second-rate power that doesn't yet understand the implications of being second-rate.

There's a prescient piece from the Brookings Institution about this [ish].

"A free-world strategy, then, would be an evolution in American foreign policy, not a rejection of the liberal international order. The United States would continue to play a leading role in international institutions and in promoting multilateral cooperation. It would continue to cooperate with authoritarian powers on matters of mutual interest, such as nonproliferation, the global economy, and climate change. But this strategy would emphasize new threats to free societies, threats that have largely been ignored by successive administrations but are worsening with each passing month. The postwar American strategy of creating an order was always about shaping an environment that would enable and support the flourishing of free societies. It is time to rediscover that spirit and intention."

Yeah, good luck with that.

https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-return-to-great-power-rivalry-was-inevitable/


No no no no no. Too much wrong in that post. I'm sorry I can't get dragged into this today as I've got too much on, but there are too many broad brushs in there.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:27 am 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
No no no no no. Too much wrong in that post. I'm sorry I can't get dragged into this today as I've got too much on, but there are too many broad brushs in there.

:lol: Seneca. Clearly you haven't been reading the thread.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:28 am 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
6.Jones wrote:
Rinkals wrote:

Trump was elected because he was seen as a successful businessman and I think that part of his mandate was to run the United States as US Inc., but obviously being CEO of a business (particularly in Trump's case where the general MO was to screw over suppliers and pursue vanity projects) is not really compatible with being elected POTUS.


That's an interesting point. There's a subset of Americans - perhaps all of Trump's base, and more besides - who want to see US foreign policy run exactly that way. We've talked on here about great power politics, and that's what great power politics is: the unilateral exertion of force. It includes screwing over suppliers and vanity projects galore, at the whim of whatever ruler du jour. That's how Europe looted the world, with Trump now cast in the role of a Twittering king, of a soon-to-be second-rate power that doesn't yet understand the implications of being second-rate.

There's a prescient piece from the Brookings Institution about this [ish].

"A free-world strategy, then, would be an evolution in American foreign policy, not a rejection of the liberal international order. The United States would continue to play a leading role in international institutions and in promoting multilateral cooperation. It would continue to cooperate with authoritarian powers on matters of mutual interest, such as nonproliferation, the global economy, and climate change. But this strategy would emphasize new threats to free societies, threats that have largely been ignored by successive administrations but are worsening with each passing month. The postwar American strategy of creating an order was always about shaping an environment that would enable and support the flourishing of free societies. It is time to rediscover that spirit and intention."

Yeah, good luck with that.

https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-return-to-great-power-rivalry-was-inevitable/


No no no no no. Too much wrong in that post. I'm sorry I can't get dragged into this today as I've got too much on, but there are too many broad brushs in there.


Brushes.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:29 am 
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As an aside, tucker absolutely goes to town on what I was going on about yesterday: what the actual FCK is all this Ukraine Russia obsession. Its more simple, and yet more mysterious than anyone thinks. Its just about a few specific individuals in Washington hanging desperately on to an unsupportable foreign policy stance. Its atrocious. And it has very little to do with 'isolationism' or 'pacifism' or trump as businessman turned useless ceo president or great power imperial decline etc. It is a simple dumb decision about what constitutes Americas interest. The people know, trump knows, these arseholes in Washington refuse to accept it.

https://youtu.be/eyYvwdJaZTM


Last edited by Seneca of the Night on Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:30 am 
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6.Jones wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
No no no no no. Too much wrong in that post. I'm sorry I can't get dragged into this today as I've got too much on, but there are too many broad brushs in there.

:lol: Seneca. Clearly you haven't been reading the thread.


I wrote half the thread bro. Admittedly I don't read my posts very closely.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:39 am 
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Image


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:49 am 
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Boomer tier memes reaching record levels.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:59 am 
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.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:00 am 
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Hong Kong wrote:
Image


Eric Clapton piling on I see.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:13 am 
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Santa wrote:

Eric Clapton piling on I see.


Could be him. But 76% of extremely wealthy liberal boomer men look exactly like that.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:41 am 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
Santa wrote:

Eric Clapton piling on I see.


Could be him. But 76% of extremely wealthy liberal boomer men look exactly like that.


They sort of begin to resemble old lesbians as they age. I wonder what is in that.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 9:47 am 
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Man In Black wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
Santa wrote:

Eric Clapton piling on I see.


Could be him. But 76% of extremely wealthy liberal boomer men look exactly like that.


They sort of begin to resemble old lesbians as they age. I wonder what is in that.


There is a theory that high T changes into estrogen as you get older, hence the rash of extremely alpha late onset male to female transgenders. In short, it means that trump is probably more likely to switch genders than, say, Anderson Cooper. But it also explains why successful liberals, who are often real fcking arseholes (or Irish), end up looking like lesbians.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 12:54 pm 
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Quote:
It does seem to me that it should be in the public interest to examine Trump's priorities with regard to international relations.


This is whatsboutery, but why stop there? I would sure love to understand the Obama administration's priorities with regard to international relations with the Iran nuclear deal, a country that in Obama's time in office carried out multiple proxy wars in other countries, and like Russia, did not respect treaties, international law and understandings, etc. The only insight we ever got was the Rhodes piece and the story went off the record at this point but it read like Rhodes thought the Middle East power structure as created by the Sunnis was disintegrating, and that was their problem.

If the entire grand strategy of the this is purely diplomatic - the Trump admin was friendly and antagonistic to countries that went against the beliefs of the foreign service, CIA, etc. - then this is less of a case against Trump than Clinton.


Last edited by Flyin Ryan on Thu Nov 14, 2019 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 12:59 pm 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
Rinkals wrote:
Flyin Ryan wrote:
House Intelligence Committee closes the day voting on a motion brought by Committee Republican member Mike Conaway to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Motion was tabled, with the 13 Democrats voting aye and the 9 Republicans voting nay.

Quote:
Today's House Intelligence Committee hearing with diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent just wrapped. The hearing — which lasted nearly six hours — marked the first public testimony of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

If you're just reading in now, here are the biggest takeaways:

-The July 26 call: Taylor told Congress today about a July 26 phone call — a conversation that happened one day after Trump's phone call with Ukraine's leader. Taylor testifying that his staff was told of the call, in which President Trump said he cared more about the "investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.


This was new information put out there today. The staffer has a public name and is apparently testifying Friday.

Quote:
▪Giuliani's "irregular" diplomacy: Taylor explained that Rudy Giuliani's efforts led to an "irregular" policy channel was "running contrary to the goals of longstanding US policy." Kent's testimony also expressed alarm at Giuliani's efforts — which he described last month as a "campaign of lies" — that led to the ouster of US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and then the push for investigations.


My gut is this feels like dangerous territory for Giuliani. He's not a federal employee in any sense of the word, he's a personal lawyer for Trump. So if he was running federal policy goals or pushing shadier motives as a man on the outside of D.C., there's no longstanding federal employee protection he can fall back on.

Quote:
▪Not "never Trumpers": Kent and Taylor were directly asked about President Trump's repeated claim that they are "never Trumpers." They said they were not.


This is nothing important.

Quote:
▪Hurting diplomats' credibility: Kent and Taylor said it's harder for US officials overseas to do their jobs when American leaders ask foreign powers to investigate their political rivals. "Our credibility is based on a respect for the United States, and if we damage that respect, then it hurts our credibility and makes it more difficult for us to do our jobs," Taylor said.


Okay, but again, in the scheme and conduct of the proceedings, this means nothing.

Quote:
▪About firsthand knowledge: Republican repeatedly went after the witnesses for not hearing from President Trump himself that he wanted Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals in exchange for releasing US aid. But remember: the White House has sought to prevent those closer to Trump from appearing.


Seems the Democrats need to get as many first-hand foreign policy accounts as they can for background. I'm sure the President has made some enemies (Rex Tillerson, Dan Coats, step on down).


It does seem to me that it should be in the public interest to examine Trump's priorities with regard to international relations.


Why stop there? I would sure love to understand the Obama administration's priorities with regard to international relations with the Iran nuclear deal. The only insight ever got was the Rhodes piece and the story went off the record at this point but it read like Rhodes thought the Middle East power structure as created by the Sunnis was disintegrating, and that was their problem.


Rhodes was almost certainly the least competent individual to ever obtain serious international relations power in America's history. The Obama admin approach seemed to be to allow each area office in the state dept to do every single thing on their long developed wish lists, without any overarching strategy or oversight. It was chaotic incompetence squared to the max, and no 'doctrine' of any sort ever emerged.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:03 pm 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
As an aside, tucker absolutely goes to town on what I was going on about yesterday: what the actual FCK is all this Ukraine Russia obsession. Its more simple, and yet more mysterious than anyone thinks. Its just about a few specific individuals in Washington hanging desperately on to an unsupportable foreign policy stance. Its atrocious. And it has very little to do with 'isolationism' or 'pacifism' or trump as businessman turned useless ceo president or great power imperial decline etc. It is a simple dumb decision about what constitutes Americas interest. The people know, trump knows, these arseholes in Washington refuse to accept it.

https://youtu.be/eyYvwdJaZTM


I see it more as an Al Capone thing, of all the shit he did they got him on taxes. Of all the shit Trump's done, this is something they feel they can actually make stick.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:25 pm 
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6.Jones wrote:
Rinkals wrote:

Trump was elected because he was seen as a successful businessman and I think that part of his mandate was to run the United States as US Inc., but obviously being CEO of a business (particularly in Trump's case where the general MO was to screw over suppliers and pursue vanity projects) is not really compatible with being elected POTUS.


That's an interesting point. There's a subset of Americans - perhaps all of Trump's base, and more besides - who want to see US foreign policy run exactly that way. We've talked on here about great power politics, and that's what great power politics is: the unilateral exertion of force. It includes screwing over suppliers and vanity projects galore, at the whim of whatever ruler du jour. That's how Europe looted the world, with Trump now cast in the role of a Twittering king, of a soon-to-be second-rate power that doesn't yet understand the implications of being second-rate.


I want to dispute that for a second. Bashing America is a global sport. Yet, everyone takes money or our defense to cover them. Use France as an example. They during the early '00s timeframe were the public face internationally against our Iraq conflict in the UN. Which fine, they are a sovereign state, and it's their right to do so. Fast forward 8 or so years, there's a civil war on their horizon across the Mediterranean in Libya. This is seriously bad news for Italy and France who are getting all the emigrants and it's also bad news for their oil companies who have investments in Libya. This is by definition a French problem. Obama ran in 2008 against involving ourselves in foreign areas. Fine, that's his point of view. He then proceeded to be manipulated by worthless piece of shit Nicolas Sarkozy into doing their dirty work for them in Libya. We owed the French NOTHING! We called for them to be an ally with us, they chose not to and argued against it to other countries. Why should we then spend our material and our troops for a conflict that affected them and not us, and especially when the sitting president at the time absolutely ran against doing this very thing?

The Libya conflict is to me one of the 3 critical foreign policy failures of the Obama administration - the others being Syria and the Iran nuclear deal.

Looking at our allies and saying "you can't have your cake and eat it too" is not a bad thing. You want to do things your way and bash us publicly, great, go ahead, but why should we provide financial or military aid at that point? Europeans that decry American military power as evil, great, to not be hypocritical that means you should be in favor of go fighting the Russians with an EU force only on the eastern front when the time comes.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:41 pm 
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Quote:
Top Ukrainian official: Sondland did not link aid to investigation of Bidens
© UPI Photo
Ukraine's foreign minister told reporters on Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland did not link investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son with military assistance.

"Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and did not tell me exactly, about the relation between the [military] assistance and the investigations," Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

"I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance. Yes, investigations were mentioned, you know, in a presidential conversation. But there was no clear connection between these events," Prystaiko added.


https://thehill.com/policy/internationa ... ink-aid-to

Some of these diplomats have f.ucked themselves right in the arsehole over nothing.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:47 pm 
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sockwithaticket wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
As an aside, tucker absolutely goes to town on what I was going on about yesterday: what the actual FCK is all this Ukraine Russia obsession. Its more simple, and yet more mysterious than anyone thinks. Its just about a few specific individuals in Washington hanging desperately on to an unsupportable foreign policy stance. Its atrocious. And it has very little to do with 'isolationism' or 'pacifism' or trump as businessman turned useless ceo president or great power imperial decline etc. It is a simple dumb decision about what constitutes Americas interest. The people know, trump knows, these arseholes in Washington refuse to accept it.

https://youtu.be/eyYvwdJaZTM


I see it more as an Al Capone thing, of all the shit he did they got him on taxes. Of all the shit Trump's done, this is something they feel they can actually make stick.

I don't think it is.

First of all, I'm not convinced that they can make it stick.

Despite Seneca's hysterical denouncing of the Ukraine/Russia as something which is irrelevant and should be ignored, I don't think it can be. I don't think asking foreign governments to initiate an investigation into your political rival is acceptable behaviour, even without the threat of withholding or delaying almost half-a-billion dollars.

It's quite clear that the Senate (while it remains in Republican hands, at any rate) will refuse to deliver any sanction on Trump, and also that the American electorate feels ambivalent about such abuses (in that, it's fine if our side is doing it, but not acceptable if the other side does it), so I think it's unlikely that it will stick.

As I have said a page or two back, removing Trump would be the worst thing for any campaign to get a Democrat into the White House in 2020.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 1:48 pm 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
Flyin Ryan wrote:
Why stop there? I would sure love to understand the Obama administration's priorities with regard to international relations with the Iran nuclear deal. The only insight ever got was the Rhodes piece and the story went off the record at this point but it read like Rhodes thought the Middle East power structure as created by the Sunnis was disintegrating, and that was their problem.


Rhodes was almost certainly the least competent individual to ever obtain serious international relations power in America's history. The Obama admin approach seemed to be to allow each area office in the state dept to do every single thing on their long developed wish lists, without any overarching strategy or oversight. It was chaotic incompetence squared to the max, and no 'doctrine' of any sort ever emerged.


https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/maga ... -guru.html

Quote:
Barack Obama is not a standard-issue liberal Democrat. He openly shares Rhodes’s contempt for the groupthink of the American foreign-policy establishment and its hangers-on in the press. Yet one problem with the new script that Obama and Rhodes have written is that the Blob may have finally caught on.

“He is a brilliant guy, but he has a real problem with what I call the assignment of bad faith,” one former senior official told me of the president. “He regards everyone on the other side at this point as being a bunch of bloodthirsty know-nothings from a different era who play by the old book. He hears arguments like, ‘We should be punching Iran in the nose on its shipments of arms, and do it publicly,’ or ‘We should sanction the crap out of them for their ballistic-missile test and tell them that if they do it again we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that,’ and he hears Dick Cheney in those arguments.”

Another official I spoke to put the same point more succinctly: “Clearly the world has disappointed him.” When I asked whether he believed that the Oval Office debate over Syria policy in 2012 — resulting in a decision not to support the uprising against Assad in any meaningful way — had been an honest and open one, he said that he had believed that it was, but has since changed his mind. “Instead of adjusting his policies to the reality, and adjusting his perception of reality to the changing realities on the ground, the conclusions he draws are exactly the same, no matter what the costs have been to our strategic interests,” he says. “In an odd way, he reminds me of Bush.” The comparison is a startling one — and yet, questions of tone aside, it is uncomfortably easy to see the similarities between the two men, American presidents who projected their own ideas of the good onto an indifferent world.

One of the few charter members of the Blob willing to speak on the record is Leon Panetta, who was Obama’s head of the C.I.A. and secretary of defense and also enough of a product of a different culture to give honest answers to what he understands to be questions of consequence. At his institute at the old Fort Ord in Seaside, Calif., where, in the days before he wore Mr. Rogers sweaters, he served as a young Army intelligence officer, I ask him about a crucial component of the administration’s public narrative on Iran: whether it was ever a salient feature of the C.I.A.’s analysis when he ran the agency that the Iranian regime was meaningfully divided between “hard-line” and “moderate” camps.

“No,” Panetta answers. “There was not much question that the Quds Force and the supreme leader ran that country with a strong arm, and there was not much question that this kind of opposing view could somehow gain any traction.”

I ask Panetta whether, as head of the C.I.A., or later on, as secretary of defense, he ever saw the letters that Obama covertly sent to Khamenei, in 2009 and in 2012, which were only reported on by the press weeks later.

“No,” he answers, before saying he would “like to believe” that Tom Donilon, national security adviser since 2010, and Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, had a chance to work on the offer they presented.

As secretary of defense, he tells me, one of his most important jobs was keeping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, from launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They were both interested in the answer to the question, ‘Is the president serious?’ ” Panetta recalls. “And you know my view, talking with the president, was: If brought to the point where we had evidence that they’re developing an atomic weapon, I think the president is serious that he is not going to allow that to happen.”

Panetta stops.

“But would you make that same assessment now?” I ask him.

“Would I make that same assessment now?” he asks. “Probably not.”

He understands the president’s pivot toward Iran as the logical result of a deeply held premise about the negative effects of use of American military force on a scale much larger than drone strikes or Special Forces raids. “I think the whole legacy that he was working on was, ‘I’m the guy who’s going to bring these wars to an end, and the last goddamn thing I need is to start another war,’ ” he explains of Obama. “If you ratchet up sanctions, it could cause a war. If you start opposing their interest in Syria, well, that could start a war, too.”

In Panetta’s telling, his own experience at the Pentagon under Obama sometimes resembled being installed in the driver’s seat of a car and finding that the steering wheel and brakes had been disconnected from the engine. Obama and his aides used political elders like him, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton as cover to end the Iraq war, and then decided to steer their own course, he suggests. While Panetta pointedly never mentions Rhodes’s name, it is clear whom he is talking about.

“There were staff people who put themselves in a position where they kind of assumed where the president’s head was on a particular issue, and they thought their job was not to go through this open process of having people present all these different options, but to try to force the process to where they thought the president wanted to be,” he says. “They’d say, ‘Well, this is where we want you to come out.’ And I’d say ‘[expletive], that’s not the way it works. We’ll present a plan, and then the president can make a decision.’ I mean, Jesus Christ, it is the president of the United States, you’re making some big decisions here, he ought to be entitled to hear all of those viewpoints and not to be driven down a certain path.”

But that can’t be true, I tell Panetta, because the aides he is talking about had no independent power aside from the authority that the president himself gave them.

“Well, that’s a good question,” Panetta allows. “He’s a smart guy, he’s not dumb.” It’s all part of the Washington blame game. Just as Panetta can blame young aides in order to avoid blaming the president for his actual choices, the president used his aides to tell Panetta to take a hike. Perhaps the president and his aides were continually unable to predict the consequences of their actions in Syria, and made mistake after mistake, while imagining that it was going to come out right the next time. “Another read, which isn’t necessarily opposed to that,” I continue, “is that their actual picture is entirely coherent. But if they put it in blunt, unnuanced terms — ”

Panetta completes my sentence: “ — they’d get the [expletive] kicked out of them.” He looks at me curiously. “Let me ask you something,” he says. “Did you present this theory to Ben Rhodes?”

“Oh, God,” Rhodes says. “The reason the president has bucked a lot of establishment thinking is because he does not agree with establishment thinking. Not because I or Denis McDonough are sitting here.” He pushes back in his chair. “The complete lack of governance in huge swaths of the Middle East, that is the project of the American establishment,” he declares. “That as much as Iraq is what angered me.”

There is something dangerously naïve about this kind of talk, in which words like “balance,” “stakeholders” and “interests” are endlessly reshuffled like word tiles in a magnetic-poetry set, with little regard for the immutable contingencies that shaped America’s role in the world. But that’s hardly fair. Ben Rhodes wanted to do right, and maybe, when the arc of history lands, it will turn out that he did. At least, he tried. Something scared him, and made him feel as if the grown-ups in Washington didn’t know what they were talking about, and it’s hard to argue that he was wrong.

What has interested me most about watching him and his cohort in the White House over the past seven years, I tell him, is the evolution of their ability to get comfortable with tragedy. I am thinking specifically about Syria, I add, where more than 450,000 people have been slaughtered.

“Yeah, I admit very much to that reality,” he says. “There’s a numbing element to Syria in particular. But I will tell you this,” he continues. “I profoundly do not believe that the United States could make things better in Syria by being there. And we have an evidentiary record of what happens when we’re there — nearly a decade in Iraq.”

Iraq is his one-word answer to any and all criticism. I was against the Iraq war from the beginning, I tell Rhodes, so I understand why he perpetually returns to it. I also understand why Obama pulled the plug on America’s engagement with the Middle East, I say, but it was also true as a result that more people are dying there on his watch than died during the Bush presidency, even if very few of them are Americans. What I don’t understand is why, if America is getting out of the Middle East, we are apparently spending so much time and energy trying to strong-arm Syrian rebels into surrendering to the dictator who murdered their families, or why it is so important for Iran to maintain its supply lines to Hezbollah. He mutters something about John Kerry, and then goes off the record, to suggest, in effect, that the world of the Sunni Arabs that the American establishment built has collapsed. The buck stops with the establishment, not with Obama, who was left to clean up their mess.


This by the way...

Quote:
“He is a brilliant guy, but he has a real problem with what I call the assignment of bad faith,” one former senior official told me of the president. “He regards everyone on the other side at this point as being a bunch of bloodthirsty know-nothings from a different era who play by the old book. He hears arguments like, ‘We should be punching Iran in the nose on its shipments of arms, and do it publicly,’ or ‘We should sanction the crap out of them for their ballistic-missile test and tell them that if they do it again we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that,’ and he hears Dick Cheney in those arguments.”


...is very Trumpish.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:16 pm 
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I think you can see the emergence of a doctrine with Trump though: he is a power-oriented super-realist. He has a nose for pecking orders, and he will just order everyone in a room based on how much power they have, and seek to exercise his interest based on that. It's mafia-African big man stuff, not dissimilar to how monarchs and war lords played the game for thousands of years. It's predictable, cautious, and ultra pragmatic. It's actually what the American people want after decades of ideological confusion, and the careerists in Washington absolutely hate it. It's career ending stuff for most of them. They are basically superfluous to requirements if the President can just go on his gut and an occasional phone call to Henry Kissinger.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:21 pm 
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So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:25 pm 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
I think you can see the emergence of a doctrine with Trump though: he is a power-oriented super-realist. He has a nose for pecking orders, and he will just order everyone in a room based on how much power they have, and seek to exercise his interest based on that. It's mafia-African big man stuff, not dissimilar to how monarchs and war lords played the game for thousands of years. It's predictable, cautious, and ultra pragmatic. It's actually what the American people want after decades of ideological confusion, and the careerists in Washington absolutely hate it. It's career ending stuff for most of them. They are basically superfluous to requirements if the President can just go on his gut and an occasional phone call to Henry Kissinger.


Here's the problem with that: what's the strategy? If Trump just goes on his gut, and tells a person "I think this!", the strategy is not anchored in anything and just becomes a game of telephone. Trump doesn't actually do anything, neither does the person he tell. What happens is the further away you get from the Top Man, to the people that do the real work, the less clear Trump's message becomes, either due to input provided by the underlings relaying it or their editorializing of what they think about it to the people underneath them (which happens in every single business ever in the history of mankind). I never deal with my CEO or Board of Directors or anyone a few rungs underneath them. I deal with my boss who deals with their boss, and I have a dashed line over to this person. But why that works for my company is we have overarching documentation saying "this must be this, that must be here, you cannot do this". There's no overarching documentation or strategy going on at the White House. Direct messages from the CEO to me only happen by email, and I doubt Trump is writing emails. (Anyone that says Trump dictates by Twitter you deserve to be bitchslapped.)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:28 pm 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:38 pm 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


How do you figure that?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:42 pm 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


Very little in Trump's prior behaviour suggests that's how he thinks.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:44 pm 
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inactionman wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


Very little in Trump's prior behaviour suggests that's how he thinks.


The withdrawal from Syria?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:46 pm 
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Man In Black wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
Santa wrote:

Eric Clapton piling on I see.


Could be him. But 76% of extremely wealthy liberal boomer men look exactly like that.


They sort of begin to resemble old lesbians as they age. I wonder what is in that.

whereas your lot age well

Image


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:47 pm 
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Santa wrote:
Flyin Ryan wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


How do you figure that?


Bolded the relevant bit of Seneca's post.

The number of states that hostilely added land post-World War II is very short. Not just made incursions for brief periods of time or longstanding skirmishes, but took actions to change the national power in charge.

-Saddam Hussein in Kuwait in 1991, was overturned quickly by a multinational coalition
-Crimea de jure was taken from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, Abkhazia and South Ossetia de facto was taken from Georgia by Russia in 2008, Donetsk and Luhanks de facto was taken from Ukraine by Russia in 2014

(You could maybe argue Turkish Cyprus although I would say no because that was more a civil conflict.)

The notion of borders are fluid is a pre-World War II mindset, and if we're returning to that basis of rule in international affairs, a lot of wars and deaths are going to occur the next few decades.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:54 pm 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


It's certainly not dead, but if anyone set the ball rolling on that it was Clinton and Albright with Kosovo and Serbia in the late 90s. The principle has been under assault ever since, but the comically transparent CIA / US State Dept Ukraine shenanigans hardly left Putin with much choice vis-à-vis Crimea, which had an ambiguous status anyway given it's history and demographics.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:55 pm 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
Santa wrote:
Flyin Ryan wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


How do you figure that?


Bolded the relevant bit of Seneca's post.

The number of states that hostilely added land post-World War II is very short. Not just made incursions for brief periods of time or longstanding skirmishes, but took actions to change the national power in charge.

-Saddam Hussein in Kuwait in 1991, was overturned quickly by a multinational coalition
-Crimea de jure was taken from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, Abkhazia and South Ossetia de facto was taken from Georgia by Russia in 2008, Donetsk and Luhanks de facto was taken from Ukraine by Russia in 2014

(You could maybe argue Turkish Cyprus although I would say no because that was more a civil conflict.)

The notion of borders are fluid is a pre-World War II mindset, and if we're returning to that basis of rule in international affairs, a lot of wars and deaths are going to occur the next few decades.


btw, when I mean chips I mean 'spheres of influence' not sovereignty. Great powers need space to breathe. This is an inviolable principle of statecraft.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 2:55 pm 
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Flyin Ryan wrote:
Santa wrote:
Flyin Ryan wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


How do you figure that?


Bolded the relevant bit of Seneca's post.

The number of states that hostilely added land post-World War II is very short. Not just made incursions for brief periods of time or longstanding skirmishes, but took actions to change the national power in charge.

-Saddam Hussein in Kuwait in 1991, was overturned quickly by a multinational coalition
-Crimea de jure was taken from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, Abkhazia and South Ossetia de facto was taken from Georgia by Russia in 2008, Donetsk and Luhanks de facto was taken from Ukraine by Russia in 2014

(You could maybe argue Turkish Cyprus although I would say no because that was more a civil conflict.)

The notion of borders are fluid is a pre-World War II mindset, and if we're returning to that basis of rule in international affairs, a lot of wars and deaths are going to occur the next few decades.


I think you're being overly literal with the 'chips' comment.

It has been the case that the only thing that has upheld the situation you describe has been US military power. Trump is posing the question: if that's what you want do the rest of you actually want to help? Trump is also saying we're not doing this as a matter of principle. We'll do it in our direct interests. The need to oppose Russia as a potential global hegemon is gone so the US can be a bit more picky about where it spends its lives and money. China's aspirant hegemony is not based on the acquisition of territory so it needn't be opposed so explicitly on that basis.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:03 pm 
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Seneca of the Night wrote:
Flyin Ryan wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


So the principles of states have their land as a sign of sovereignty and is unalterable that has been enshrined in international affairs post-World War II is dead according to you?


It's certainly not dead, but if anyone set the ball rolling on that it was Clinton and Albright with Kosovo and Serbia in the late 90s. The principle has been under assault ever since, but the comically transparent CIA / US State Dept Ukraine shenanigans hardly left Putin with much choice vis-à-vis Crimea, which had an ambiguous status anyway given it's history and demographics.


I hated Kosovo, the precedent it set, said so at the time and have since. But that was a state breaking up into 2, which has been pretty common in the former Yugoslavia the past 30 years and elsewhere in the world post-World War II. That was not one sovereign state taking land from another sovereign state. It's a false equivalence on your part.

"Ambiguous status anyway given its history and demographics" - this is the Sudetenland argument.

Santa wrote:
I think you're being overly literal with the 'chips' comment.


I'm an engineer. No shit I'm literal.

Quote:
China's aspirant hegemony is not based on the acquisition of territory so it needn't be opposed so explicitly on that basis.


Ever heard of the Spratly Islands?


Last edited by Flyin Ryan on Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:05 pm 
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Santa wrote:
inactionman wrote:
Seneca of the Night wrote:
So, based on that, with regards to Ukraine he is just like 'so this pretty big country right on Russia's front lawn with no geographical strategic interest to us, no minerals, no domestic economic market for us to export to...why exactly is this important to us?' He'll listen to Kent's drivel from yesterday and just guffaw. Let Putin have some chips, we can't have them all.


Very little in Trump's prior behaviour suggests that's how he thinks.


The withdrawal from Syria?


QED.

He didn't accept any notion of sharing, he just didn't give a shit.


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