Raid on Trump’s home

Commentators on Fox News were making all kinds of claims of how outrageous this action is, while other commentators on other cable stations were stressing that Trump often acts in defiance of the law, as if he should be given special privileges.

The Department of Justice does not comment on on-going investigations. Neither does the FBI, which would normally sign off on the search warrant as a necessity for their investigation. If it an unreasonable search, the law is on Trump side. Nothing gathered in an illegal search can used in any court case.

The former president’s protection against unreasonable searches comes from the Fourth Amendment. Prosecutors must convince a judge that the search warrant is justified based on current information. The fact that Trump’s home has been searched does not mean he has violated any law. The AG may find there is insufficient evidence to hold Donald Trump personally responsible for the removal of documents.

The Attorney General does not owe Congress an explanation as to why Trump’s home was searched. I do not believe the AG should testify in front of Congress in either an open hearing or closed session. Important information on the investigation will leak out. The Justice Department should move as quickly as possible to either bring charges or close out the investigation.

Per Bloomberg news: “All of a president’s official papers, no matter how trivial, are considered public property, not his alone, according to the Presidential Records Act of 1978. When the president leaves office, those papers go to the National Archives and later as part of a presidential library.”

Also, the article goes on to state: “Theft or destruction of federal records is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison — and disqualification from federal office. But it’s unlikely that the law applies to the office of president, because those qualifications are set out in the Constitution.”

I also have great trust in FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, and AG Merrick Garland, in following all the rules in obtaining and executing the warrant.

The independence of the Department of Justice and FBI is critical. They did not inform the White House, and that is exactly correct.

Stay tuned,

Dave

What’s wrong with this recession?

I know this is not a particularly exciting topic. If I had done a piece on International Beer Day, which as everyone knows was August 5, then perhaps there would be a lot more interest. And yes, I’m sure that as I write this blog, there are still some people celebrating. International hangover day is January 1.

Can one word have more than one definition? I caught a bit of Sean Hannity show on Fox News, and it seemed he really had difficulty with this idea. His favorite definition is two quarters of negative GDP growth. And, so by this definition, we are in one. He really made a big deal that the Democrats were hiding something big. They weren’t and he is wrong.

There is a second definition, which is also real simple. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) panel of 8 economists makes a formal declaration that the country is in one, using all the relevant data. This hasn’t been done yet. They meet in secret. Economic data always lags behind the actual events, so economists at NBER back date the onset or end of recessions.

There’s No US Recession Until an Obscure Panel of ‘Eggheads’ Says It Is So

Case in point is the 2020 recession created by Covid-19 health restrictions. With health shut down, economic activity was cratering in February to March 2020. Unemployment of course was soaring, as businesses shut down or restricted the number of people inside their business. However, NBER had to wait for the jobs data. So, on June 8, 2020, they announced a recession had begun back in February. Of course, by then, it was obvious to just about every living sole who worked in the hospitality area, we were in a recession. Then, 17 months later, on July 19, 2021, the NBER declared the recession had ended in April 2020. Yes, you read that right! So, the June 8, 2020 announcement, the NBER was declaring we were in a recession, when it had already past. Don’t believe me- read the following links:

It’s official: The Covid recession lasted just two months, the shortest in U.S. history

Ok. The nice way to avoid the topic is to admit that economic contraction is likely, then change the topic quickly to something everyone can agree on, like why International Hangover day is not on August 6, immediately following International Beer day.

The second quarter GDP decline was only 0.9%, as reported on July 28, 2022. The second quarter is from April to June 2022. So, it is likely economists are looking at other data, including unemployment. If we are in a recession, then unemployment should be going up. Latest numbers show the unemployment rate is slightly lower.

US Job Growth Surges, Tempering Recession Worry and Pressing Fed

Sean Hannity is a Fox News commentator, who enjoys bashing Democrats. Incumbent presidents rarely get re-elected if there has been a recession within 2 years of their re-election. Donald Trump had the misfortune to be running for re-election in 2020, during the Covid recession.

See link: All the U.S. Presidents Who Won Re-Elections During a Recession

See link: U.S. recession ended in April 2020, making it shortest on record

So Hannity’s rant was pure politics.
But, there are real concerns. Inflation is real, and with high gas prices, consumers may spend less. So, a contraction in the economy, brings down inflation. But, it should cause unemployment to increase. So be careful what you wish for. Do you want gas prices back to $3.50/gallon or job security?

Stay tuned,

Dave

The Build Back Better Plan

Biden’s “Build back better” package is very close to passing. Senator Joe Manchin, Senator from West Virginia, has been in negotiations with Senator Chuck Schumer, to find a way to pass this bill. If it passes, it may have been stripped of very critical elements.

The bill is hated by Republicans. They will immediately point to the enormous cost of the bill. Democrats counter by saying they have closed tax loopholes in the bill so it pays for itself. At least it does as initially proposed.

Link from the White House summarizing the bill. It is a combination of many programs, including extension of child care credits, measures to combat climate change, expand health benefits, reduce prescription drugs costs and expand educational programs beyond high school. I call them the “goodies” and others would call them social benefits.

All eyes are now on Senator Kyrsten Sinema, to see if the bill passes. If Sen. Sinema goes along with the plan, the Senate would be divided 50:50, and VP Kamala Harris could vote to break the tie. The two holdouts are quite different. Senator Joe Manchin is quite vocal on what he doesn’t like in a bill, and has worked with the majority leader to find a compromise. Not so with Senator Sinema. She doesn’t talk to the press.

It appears from the trickle of news, she’s onboard with all the social benefits in the program. She is from Arizona, so unlike Joe Manchin, there is no climate change issues. (Manchin is from West Virginia, known for its coal production). It’s the self funding part of the bill. The claim of Republicans is that it would be absurd to make a massive increase in government spending at a time when the country is on the brink of recession. I admit, they have a point.

The apparent objections from Kyrsten Sinema, are the minimum tax rate of 15% for corporations and the carried forward interest provision. Many corporations have sufficient write-offs so they pay no federal tax.

See link: Sinema Seeks to Keep Private Equity Break, Curb Corporate Tax

So, as the Bloomberg article suggests, if the Democrats satisfy Sinema and reduce the applicability of the minimum tax rate, they lose Manchin. They also will be immediately shown as hypocrites, because they claimed the package was self funding.

The bill will repeal Trump’s personal tax cuts in 2017, the so-called “welfare for the rich,” where rich is defined as those with income over $400,000. So far, leaked reports are that Sinema objections are on the corporate tax benefits (or loopholes), which is still a big piece of the self-funding claim.

I don’t know if we have a “humpty-dumpty” moment, where through the compromises needed to get Manchin and Sinema onboard, we lose the vital elements of the package, one of which is the increase in renewable energy. Trump put us behind for four years, with climate change deniers and fossil fuel advocates. I hoped Biden could reverse this, and bring internation cooperation together again, as Obama was trying hard to do.

I guess the real solution is to elect a few more Democrat senators, so two senators can’t change the bill, so it does not provide what it should (Manchin’s cuts) or is not funded properly (Sinema’s cuts). The Republicans in the end, may celebrate, with a bill that does not deliver the goods, particularly in reduction of fossil fuel consumption and is not self funding. A win for oil companies and corporate America.

Global warming is here. California wildfires continue to grow. Yes, Washburn which threatened Yosemite is under control, but the McKinney fire, right on the California/Oregon border is only 10% contained, and has destroyed 57,000 acres. Horrible injuries and loss of lives with homes and wilderness destroyed.

We can do better than this.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Humpty dumpty reference:

Something beyond repair. from a children’s rhyme: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, All the king’s horses, And all the king’s men, Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Going beyond the Jan 6 Hearings

People involved in the violence of January 6 need to go to jail. I don’t ever want our Capital police to be afraid of a mob. One death of a police officer and over 150 people injured. Unfortunately, some of those who stormed the Capital, were thinking they were patriots and doing something in the national interest. A patriot does not break the law and threaten police. There have been 884 individuals arrested. There is a constitutional right to assemble and protest, but violence can never be condoned.

People involved in the planning of the storming of the Capital and other activities aimed at illegal actions to overturn our elections, need to be tried and go to jail. I hope the efforts of the Department of Justice will result in convictions of the top echelons in the Trump campaign organizers.

Those individuals who think subpoenas for documents and testimony are optional, will need time to rethink their decision behind bars. That includes Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon. I’d like to see more convictions.

Others will suffer the consequences of making false claims in court by actions taken by Dominion voting machines. This includes Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. These are civil cases, which are tough to prove. Rudy Giuliani’s law license has been suspended in New York, and similar proceedings are occurring in Washington.

Whether Donald Trump or his closest allies will be charged with crimes, remains to be seen. The latest scandal is the apparent erasing of text messages by the Secret Service, and likely connected to the leadership in Homeland Security. Obstruction of justice is a criminal offense.

New laws need to be enacted, so there is not the slightest doubt that State legislatures can never override the outcome of elections. Claims of election fraud are always serious, and the courts are the proper place to address any irregularities. After the Safe Harbor date of December 8 has passed, lawsuits which challenge the results are frivolous

Within new laws, the role of the Vice President on January 6 should be made absolutely clear, his role is strictly ceremonial.

New laws will not be enough. The electorate needs to help clean house. Yes, “Drain the Swamp” if you like the phrase. I have a long list of Senators and Congress representatives who I’d like to see gone after their election.

The January 6 committee has shown us so clearly that Donald Trump did not care at all for the orderly transition of government or respect for decision of the electorate. Mike Pence did what every Vice President has done. He stood at inauguration day with President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The White House was an open door to people who had no respect for the rule of law. The President sat there on December 18, while “outside advisors” (aka, the crazies) suggested he fire his entire staff, and direct the military to seize voting machines. This was simply to stop the next administration from being sworn in on Jan 20. His actions immediately after this meeting, was to tell everyone to come to the Capital on January 6, because “it’s going to be wild.”

The message was clear, that although the electorate had spoken, Trump had no reservations on breaking the law, so he could stay in power. This is by definition a planned coup. He nearly fired the acting Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, because he would not sign a memo to be sent to Georgia, filled with false statements on election fraud.

Trump and his supporters encouraged a riot that they knew would be violent. This was brought out so clearly in the hearing as Trump’s security detail wanted metal detectors to protect the president, but he did not, as he said these were “his people.” He targeted his own vice president in his speech on January 6.

A good first step, would be the “firing” by the electorate on election day of the coup supporters, namely Rep. Pat Gosar, Senator Ted Cruz, Rep. Jody Hice, Rep. Josh Hawley. Rep Mo Brooks, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Scott Perry and Rep. Louis Gohmert.

Of course, it is not who is voted out, but who comes in to replace this group of election deniers. We need senators and representatives who strongly believe we settle our differences at the ballot box.

Stay tuned,

Dave

https://ballotpedia.org/Counting_of_electoral_votes_(January_6-7,_2021)

Sidney Powell and Steve Bannon: Push and Push Back

You can say pretty much what you want when you are talking to friends. But at a higher level, particularly on Social Media and cable news programs, you can be sued. In court, you can be disbarred if you go to far.

Sidney Powell is an attorney who is being sued by Dominion voting machines for making outlandish and false claims about their equipment. Her claims were repeated in many court filings, on Fox News and even in front of the President on December 18, 2020.

In August 2021, a Michigan federal judge formally sanctioned Powell, Lin Wood, and seven other pro-Trump lawyers for their suit seeking to overturn Trump’s election loss. The judge determined the nine attorneys had participated in “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” by filing baseless and frivolous lawsuits in order to undermine public confidence in the democratic process. The judge ordered them to pay Michigan and Detroit for their expenses in defending against the lawsuit. The court also referred Powell and the other lawyers to state disciplinary authorities for possible disbarment for ethics violations.

Her legal problems are continuing. On January 8, 2021, Dominion sued Sidney Powell and for defamation and asked for over $1.3 billion in damages. On August 11, 2021, the courts denied a motion to dismiss, so their lawsuit case will move forward.

Wikipedia: Sidney Powell

Dominion Systems: Legal Updates

Insider: Trump Campaign Purges Conspiracy Theorist Attorney, Sidney Powell

She is a very bright and well educated attorney, with excellent experience both as a prosecutor and defense lawyer. She began her career as an assistant US attorney in the Western District of Texas, and lead many prominent cases. She began her legal career as one of the youngest federal prosecutors in the US, at the age of 23. (Biography provided in Wikipedia link.)

How was it, that she could not see the push back in the form of lawsuits coming? On November 22, 2020, Attorneys Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani announced that Sidney Powell was not part of the Trump’s campaign legal team, as her claims of voter fraud became more extreme. Somehow, the fraud extended to Hugo Chavez, who had been dead for seven year. I could only think that as she ascended to the rarefied air, of being on the legal team to the Trump Campaign and sought after by all the conservative broadcaster, she just couldn’t put limits on what she claimed, which morphed rapidly into an immense international conspiracy, and all the judges who ruled against her were corrupt.

There are so many others who will be held accountable for their actions in 2020. Steve Bannon trial for ignoring a subpoena from the January 6 committee began yesterday. I believe this time, Steve Bannon will be found guilty.

Steve Bannon is a political agitator who knows how to promote his view on social media and the conservative news stations. He was either fired or pressured to resign from the White House on August 18, 2017, a week after the attack on the Charlottesville Unite to Right march by white supremist groups. Trump put out a statement that in effect put blame on both sides for the violence.

In August 2020, Bannon and three others were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering in connection to the We Build the Wall campaign. The defendants allegedly enriched themselves, despite promising that all contributions would go to building a wall. Bannon pleaded not guilty and was pardoned by Trump before his trial date.

I believe Bannon will be a case of the real push back coming in 2023, in relation to the planning of January 6 attack on the Capital. We shall see.

Wikipedia: Steve Bannon

Stay tuned,

David Lord

Why was Jeffrey Clark’s home searched?

For those who follow the January 6 hearing, Jeffrey Clark’s name is now very familiar. He was the relatively obscure DOJ environmental attorney that Trump wanted to install as Attorney General to perpetuate the “big lie” on election fraud.

It is unknow why his home was searched, or items like his cell phone, and computer seized. But, I am starting to get my suspicions based on what I’ve heard in the January 6 hearings in the House.

The Committee has decided to take a pause, as it has stated that they have received new information that will take time to review. Hearing will resume in July.

Reference: Jan 6 hearings (official record) NPR’s summary of Friday’s hearing

First, this search was done with a legal search warrant. Searches are often done early in the morning because they want to come in when the person is home and as soon as possible. The element of surprise is critical.

My suspicions are that Trump attempted to buy Jeffrey Clark’s loyalty by suggesting he could work for the Trump organization in some manner after Biden was sworn in. Jeffrey Clark would have to first have to set up a special counsel to investigate election fraud in the 2020 election, and send out a memo to all of the swing states, stating that they had discovered election fraud. To win Trump’s favor, he might also have inform VP Pence that the DOJ supported the “John Eastman” radical theory that the VP had sole discretion in counting the ballets. (see note below)

Jeffrey Clark did get subpoenaed by the House committee, and he appeared and plead the Fifth over 100 times. )The Fifth amendment to the Constitution gives people the right to refuse to answer questions that may be incriminating.

Big somehow, Trump and the campaign lawyers knew that Jeffrey Clark was their man inside the DOJ. How did that happen? It’s already on record that Clark violated Department policy by going to White House meetings without permission from his supervisors. I think for a search warrant at this stage, there was evidence of a more serious criminal action.

Trump had already talked to Attorney Sidney Powell about being special counsel for election fraud. In this ways, the “big lie” of an rigged election, and Biden as an illegitimate president could perpetuated beyond January 20. Money would continue to pour in to his SPAC, using the “Stop the Steal” theme to pay Trump’s legal expenses.

Note, these are marketing themes, “Promises made, Promises kept”, “Drain the Swamp”. “Lock her up” and of course “Hang Mike Pence.”

The Justice Department is not revealing anything about the search warrant. It could be for something occurring after his time in the Justice Department or related to his area of expertise – environmental law. DOJ isn’t going to be saying anything until they have an indictment.

If the search identifies anything that supports criminal charges against Jeffrey Clark, he will likely blame others, including Donald Trump. His excuse will be “blind loyalty” to number 45.

Stay tuned,

Dave

John Eastman’s radical theory on elections:

Eastman found ambiguity in the procedure for counting the Electoral College votes outlined in the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, Eastman pointed to the phrase: “… and the votes shall then be counted.” He saw the fact that phrase was written in the passive voice as meaning that the vice president would have sole authority on which votes to count. Congress, in 1877, had passed a more specific law dictating how Electoral College votes would be counted, specifically how to settle disputes. But Eastman was among a set of scholars who saw that law as being unconstitutional.

I’m not exactly certain who this “set of scholars” are, but one can find a lawyer to advance almost any proposition in court, if one pays their bill.

The New MLRS Weapons for Ukraine

Javelins and stingers shoot at advancing tanks and aircraft, respectively. They are hand held missile launchers, which is aimed at a target, and the missiles have tracking capability. There are definitely defensive weapons.

Switchblades are called kamikaze drones, as they will blow up on impact with a target. Cameras onboard the switchblades allow for course corrections, so they do not hit unintended targets.

President Biden has approved sending Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to Ukraine. Ukraine has begged the US to supply them with MLRS. The US has been reluctant to supply Ukraine with these systems as the Russians will view this as an escalation of the war, and take countermeasures. The missiles have a range of 80 km (62 miles) and enough firepower can wipe out up to an entire square kilometer area (0.39 miles squared).

They are not calling this a weapon of mass destruction, which is reserved for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, but it is hard to avoid the analogy.

See Link: BBC, Ukraine may soon get US long-range MLRS rocket system

Multiple Launch Rocket Systems from C Battery, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division fire rockets during a cross-boundary live-fire March 25 near Cheorwon, South Korea. The live-fire was part of a larger combined joint exercise with elements from the U.S. Marines and Air Force as well as the Republic of Korea Army and Air Force.

These systems are not new. In fact, the Soviets were ahead of the US in the development of these truck mounted, multiple launch rocket systems in the early 1970’s. But, they are continuing to evolve, particularly with the sophistication and range of missiles they can fire. The missiles are guided ones to targets, such as a column of approaching tanks and troop carriers.

A total of 12 missiles can be fired, but the warhead breaks into fragments or bomblets. According to Wikipedia, one M270 firing 12 M26 rockets would drop 7,728 bomblets. From the BBC report, it appears the US has approved M270 systems. So, this has the potential of destroying more than the intended target, and innocent civilians may also be killed.

See link below on the M270:

Wikipedia: M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System

To avoid detection and reprisals, a “shoot and scoot” strategy is used, to immediately relocate after firing the missiles.

Previous to the M270, the US sent 108 M777 howitzers to Ukraine, which fires one missile at a time, and can be towed into location. Canada and Australia also sent M777 howitzers. The missiles launched from these howitzers can go up to 25 miles.

Wikipedia: M777 Howitzers

The Biden administration has stated that there is an agreement from Ukraine, not to fire missiles into Russia. This would be a devastating mistake. I wonder what would happen if accidentally, a missile crossed the border. Since the launchers are mobile, Russia will not know how close these systems are to their borders.

Foreign Minister Lavrov has called this a proxy war, but the US rejects this claim, as the war is being waged between Ukraine and Russia. Of course, Russia sees this as a much larger conflict, of retaking territory that rightfully belongs to their country (or more accurately the Soviet Federation).

I have no way of knowing if Biden was right. I am hoping that Russia does not escalate in terms of weapons at their disposal. They also have MLRS’s but don’t need them in Ukraine for now, as they can keep firing missiles at Ukraine from bases located in Russia.

It is not clear the overall strategy with the new weapons. I see the MLRS as a deterrent to Russia sending in large numbers of occupational troops to the Dunbas region, which they have obliterated with missile attacks. I wonder if the MLRS will be used to attack Russian ships in the Black Sea, as they prepare to attack Odesa. Putin will inevitably consider these weapons as further proof that this is a war between Russia and the US and NATO allies.

Somehow a negotiated settlement must be reached, which is difficult to see how a compromise in this war can be reached.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Covid-19 Update

Ok. Putting a little star after a sentence is pretty bad idea. The fine print to the right, refers to “25 US jurisdictions, in December 2021” and there’s a internet link right below the man’s arm.

Article by MMWR Definitely not light reading.

I will attempt a bit of scientific translation. Let’s say 100 people have Covid-19. This 5x higher risk comes from a ratio of unvaccinated to vaccinated patients infected with Covid-19. Let’s say we have a group of 100 with Covid. For a ratio of 5, we have 83 unvaccinated people and 17 vaccinated ones (83/17 = ~ 5). Actually, it is a bit more complicated, because the ratios are “age standardized.”

It is very good news, in that the vaccines work against the Omicron variant. Even better, it works if you have taken Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson. Taking the vaccine and boosters didn’t really make people “bullet proof” against Covid-19, but I’ll take the 5:1 odds any day of the week, as proof that vaccines plus boosters work, even with the new variant. Also note that these data were from December 2021, before 2 boosters were recommended for older people.

Now, the really grim stuff, on people who go to the hospital and don’t come out. At my age, the chance of the one-way trip is a real biggie. If you have had both your vaccines and booster, then the chances of making the one-way trip to the hospital are really small by CDC statistics, with odds of 400:1. This isn’t the odds of dying from Covid, but an indication how much higher the chance of death is without the vaccination and boosters. And it mirrors the antidotal stuff, that ICU’s very rarely admit a fully vaccinated patient.

Ok, the CDC attempt at a simple statement is a mess. I guess they knew going for the grim stuff would be a big turn off. But the data makes a excellent case for being fully vaccinated with boosters. If I happen to end up in the hospital, I want everything on my side, pushing for recovery. I’ve taken my second booster, and I’ll go for another if CDC recommends it.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Expansion of NATO

Finland and Sweden formally applied for membership into NATO. Russia has threaten to retaliate. Russia is not about to start World War III, but it definitely can take retaliatory actions. CNBC suggested these potential measures: (1) More NATO provocations, in the air and sea, (2) Cyberattacks and Movement of troops along northern border and (3) Cut off of Russian gas to Europe.

See CNBC link: How Russia could react to Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Of course, Russia did not wait to see if Finland would apply. They announced they would cut off electricity to Finland generated in Russia, which accounts for about 10% of Finland’s electricity.

The Washington Post had similar comments on these retaliatory actions and stated, “Finnish officials said they had already been scaling back imports of Russian electricity to guard against possible attacks on the country’s infrastructure, and Russian electricity accounted for only 10 percent of its consumption.”

See Washington Post link: Russia is furious that Finland is joining NATO but can’t do much about it

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, there was a strong argument to be made, that to maintain good or at least peaceful relations with Moscow, it was best for Finland to stay out of NATO. But Ukrainian invasion changed all that. As reported in the Washington Post, polls show 76% of those polled support joining NATO. Polls taken prior to the invasion showed about 20% in favor of joining.

I call it invasion backlash, and something Putin did not see coming. Turkey has stated they do not support admission of these countries, but I am certain, this will be negotiated, and perhaps something can be worked out.

I don’t believe in buffer security zones. Intercontinental missile in the last two decades has made this idea obsolete. Also, arms races especially among the superpowers have the potential to turn small conflicts into larger ones.

What maintains the peace is adherence to international law, particularly on agreed upon international borders and practices. And the use of international forums, like the United Nations, to find common solutions, and avoid military action at all costs. But we don’t seem to be moving in this direction. Countries in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, seem to be increasing their arms purchases, as threats pile up.

I am sure that among the 24% of Finland who don’t support joining NATO (assuming the polls are accurate) there are those who prefer neutrality, as not to disturb a sleeping dog (Russia) next to their border. Also, a small accidental incident could rapidly escalate with horrific consequences. As noted by CNBC,

“Russian provocations of NATO are nothing new. In 2020, NATO air forces across Europe were scrambled more than 400 times to intercept unknown aircraft approaching the alliance’s airspace with almost 90% of these missions in response to flights by Russian military aircraft, NATO said in a statement.

NATO has said Russian military aircraft often do not transmit a transponder code indicating their position and altitude, do not file a flight plan, or do not communicate with air traffic controllers, posing a potential risk to civilian airliners.”

There is nothing really about the collective security principle of NATO (Article 5) which can guarantee peace or stability. By binding 30 countries together into a pact which says an attack on anyone of us, is an attack on all of us, does give a higher sense of security to the smaller Eastern European countries. But it comes at a cost, in that a small attack in say North Macedonia, now is a conflict between the US and Russia.

Perhaps a good example from nature comes in handy. The vines in a rainforest help support the trees during a storm with high winds, because the trees are bound to each other. But if the wind is strong enough, these bound trees will fall. Collective strength can fail catastrophically.

However, I applaud Finland and Sweden because they are standing up against Putin. They clearly saw the conflict as an invasion and the respect for international law and conflict resolution was gone from Putin’s Russia.

Long term peace will depend on the reduction of offensive military weapons.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Johnny Depp v. Amanda Heard

I will make this simple- both Depp and Heard will lose. The only winners in this mess are the lawyers and television networks. I guess the lawyers, unless they work on a contingency basis. Amanda Heard wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, claiming she had been abused in the past. She never specifically accused Depp. However, Depp claims this article caused him to lose film contracts. He claims he never once hit her or was abusive to her. Her counter suit claims Depp intended to harass her by organizing an online petition and create fake Twitter accounts hoping to get her fired from movie roles and L’Oreal spokesperson. With these lawsuits, it is necessary to prove intent, the actual events, and monetary loss.

Depp’s drug and alcohol use makes his re-collection of events doubtful. It sure appears that Depp was abusive to Amanda, likely both physically and mentally. With drugs, he gets out of control.

I suspect that Heard’s counter suit will also fall apart, because a weak link between cause and effect. An online petition did not get her fired from the filming of Aquaman 2.

While there are exceptions to free speech, it’s tough to prevail in court. The problem is the internet is filled with hateful and untrue messages. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. This is the First Amendment rights. If you are going to lie, do it on social media, and be careful of the evidence you bring to support your claim. There are websites perfect for lying.

Now you know. Case dismissed. The TV drama will play out for about 10 days.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Ukraine Invasions – other questions

I answered 7 questions as best I could. Along the way, I selected links to provide more information. There are other questions, which I can not answer or only partially answer.

How will the Ukrainian war end?

Military experts are surprised how well Ukraine has done, in spite of being vastly outnumbered by Russia. I don’t know how this will end. The position of the US is the outcome is up to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

Why did Putin invade on February 24, 2022?

The invasion was unprovoked. On 21 February 2022, Russia recognised the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, two self-proclaimed statelets in Donbas controlled by pro-Russian separatists. (Wikipedia)

Prior to the invasion, Russia began a joint military exercise with Belarus, beginning on February 10, 2022. The large-scale military exercise will last until Feb. 20. Russia’s Defense Ministry said the joint operation in Belarus, which includes warplanes, missile launchers and live-fire exercises, will focus on “suppressing and repelling external aggression during a defensive operation.” Approximately 30,000 Russian troops participated in this exercise. The US and NATO considered this exercise was an excuse for preparations for an invasion. President Joe Biden observed that the Russians had set up a large military hospital on the border of Ukraine, as proof that Russia was getting set up for an invasion. Russian warships were sent out to the Black Sea.

This does not answer the question of why on February 24, Putin made the fateful decision to invade. Many observers felt Putin had badly misjudged the response of the Ukrainians and their allies. Putin has justified the invasion, as necessary to protect Russian lives in the Donbas region, but both the US and NATO conclude that Russia was supporting the separatists in the regions with military equipment.

What events radicalize Putin thinking, to the point where he felt military action was necessary?

Many experts have given opinions on the events which embolden Putin to invade Ukraine. Some have pointed out the successes Putin had achieved through the use of Russia’s military in both Syria and Chechnya. Other experts have stated that Putin became more radicalized after the US invasion of Iraq in March 20, 2003.

I believe NATO’s involvement in supporting the no-fly zone in Libya during their civil war in 2011, increased Putin’s anger towards NATO and the US. In support of the no-fly zone, NATO forces bombed numerous military installations including Qadaffi’s compound in Tripoli. This was part of “Arab Spring” rebellion which lead to protests in many countries including Russia. I believe this is one reason why Russia attempted in interfere with the presidential elections in 2016.

Putin considers NATO has far gone beyond the initial objective of collective defense of Western Europe and is a threat to countries outside of NATO including Russia. He also considers NATO is simply a tool of the US.

Ukraine was first attacked in 2014, by the takeover and annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It was done quickly and without bloodshed. His popularity in Russia increased. So, attacking Ukraine is presented to the Russian people today, as simply taking back what always belonged to Russia (or the Soviet Union).

Is Putin married? Does he have children? Does he ever smile? Is he wealthy?

Putin married in 1983 and was divorced in 2014. The marriage produced two daughters. Wikipedia states “An investigation by Proekt published in November 2020 alleged that Putin has another daughter, Elizaveta, also known as Luiza Rozova,[648] (born March 2003),[649] with Svetlana Krivonogikh.[4][650]” It has been widely reported that Putin has a serious relationship with Alina Kabaeva, Alina Maratovna Kabaeva or Kabayeva is a Russian politician, media manager, retired individual rhythmic gymnast, and Honoured Master of Sports. Kabaeva is one of the most decorated gymnasts in rhythmic gymnastic history, with 2 Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals, and 21 European Championship medals. (Wikipedia)

A smiling Putin is very rare.

Putin is likely a multi-billionaire with many residences and other possessions in Russia. He denies this.

See link: Wikipedia Vladimir Putin

Stay tuned,

Dave

Q+A (Part 3) Did NATO expand too quickly to the east?

There are two major expansions, one occurring in 1999 with 3 countries being admitted under President Clinton and the second in 2004 with seven countries being admitted under President Bush. I do not believe that NATO expanded too quickly. I know for a fact they did not break any assurances with Russia in accepting these countries. Denying admission to the Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland would have been a serious strategic mistake. Russia would have been angered by the admissions whether it was done in 1990, 2000, or 2010.

The argument against admission is that the US now is committed by the NATO Article 5, to defend any member country which comes under attacked, and thus this would override the Senate’s right to declare war. See link NATO Article 5. This is referred to as the collective defense principle. The US and other allies look for a general interest in the country as a whole as wanting to be part of NATO.

From Putin’s perspective, the admission of any Eastern European country into NATO was denounced as an act of aggression. He believes the Soviet Union should never had granted independence to the 15 former republics. The Kremlin is quoted as follows:

“Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.” He has also stated, that NATO is really controlled by the US.

NATO is a collective defense organization, and the reasons for joining NATO was because the smaller countries felt they were vulnerable to Russia expansionary policies, particularly once Putin took office.

Putin and other autocratic nations use fear of the West, to gain popular support in their countries. As Putin has shut down news stations that are not supportive of the invasion of Ukraine, the population of Russia hears Putin’s propaganda, and not much honesty seeps in.

Admission to NATO is not judged by its proximity to Russia or how much of their culture and history is tied to Russia. To do so, would cause NATO to cater to the whims of Russia and undermine their mission.

The first criteria for acceptance is:

“Willingness to settle international, ethnic or external territorial disputes by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and democratic control of armed forces”

I am very glad that a commitment to human rights is included. Yet, it does make the criteria more subjective.

I would agree to prior statements by Robert Gates, former Department of Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush that decision to allow admissions was more political (and also economic) rather than military. At least, we can say that in 1999, the immediate military need was not apparent.

However, I would argue that to deny admissions would have made the newly independent republics very weak just as the Russian government under Putin began massive military spending. Countries outside of NATO on Russia’s border have done poorly. Two good examples are Chechnya and Belarus, which are authoritarian regimes and very dependent of Russia.

Another example of a country which is suffering because it does not have the collective security of NATO would be Ukraine. It is the best example of Putin’s expansionary policies which makes NATO membership necessary for surrounding countries, to remain independent and free. Russia’s initial attempt to take Kyiv was a total failure. Now, they are targeting civilians with missile attacks at schools, hospitals and apartments. They are going after farm equipment and grain silos in the farms. They have blockaded the Azov and Black Sea ports.

A country must alone decide if it is in their interest to join NATO. The decision to join NATO must be done when the country can assure NATO that it can live up to the rules governing NATO, a stable, democratically elected government.

Opinions to the contrary

George Kennan, the father of Russian containment policy, believe this was a mistake in his 1997 Op Ed, published by the New York Times. George Kennan: A Fateful Error

Boris Yeltsin was president in 1997. Kennan recognizes that Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland would be admitted, and this would be perceived by Russia as a hostile move into their area of security. History shows that this is right, particularly once Putin came to power.

Also, Tom Friedman, New York Times, And now, a word from X (May 2, 1998) echoes the same points as before. Friedman recounts a discussion with George Kennan, who calls expansion a tragic mistake, and goes on to say, “There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

Also, in 1997, Susan Eisenhower, the grand daughter of President Eisenhower, sent a letter to President Clinton which was signed by 47 prominent retired military leaders, diplomats, senators and scholars, opposing expansion of NATO. See letter.

Among those signing the letter are Robert McNamara, Stansfield Turner, Sam Nunn and Paul Nitze, very prominent Americans with long service to our country. They went on after government service to lecture at universities, write books, or work for non-profit organizations.

Robert Gates in his book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War published in 2014, writes “moving so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to incorporate so many of the formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake.” Further he states, “Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching.” He harshly criticizes NATO expansion as a political act.

Note that Ukraine and Georgia are at present not members of NATO. So, the US did in fact, move quite cautiously in admitting the newly independent countries in NATO.

It is also noted that Robert Gates became Secretary of Defense in 2006, for President George W. Bush, and he was not involved in the decision to admit seven additional countries into NATO in 2004. He had the task of dealing with an angry Putin at the Munich Conference in 2007. Each president from Clinton to Trump supported the application of newly independent republics to NATO.

Gates’ book is a great memoir of his time as secretary of defense under both George W, Bush and Barrack Obama. His comments must be taken in the context of the times. Under George Bush, the US pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002. Interceptor missiles are by nature defensive weapons. But, it can be argued that if a country has enough ABM’s, then it would be able to conduct a first missile attack without concerns about retaliation. A proposal by the US to base ABM’s in Poland with radar stations in Czech Republic was approved in December 2006, which Gates writes angered Putin as it would further encircle his country with missiles.

From Wikipedia “In interviews with Oliver Stone in 2017, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that in trying to persuade Russia to accept US withdrawal from the treaty, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had tried, without evidence, to convince him of an emerging nuclear threat from Iran.” This is consistent with Gates’ book. It is well described how we tried to work with the Russian on defensive missile systems.

Recently, others have joined the argument, that the US should have more respect for the Russian point of view that NATO expansion or establishing bases in countries within Russia’s “Security belt” would be de-stabilizing, and hurt the very necessary disarmament efforts.

Gravitas: Did NATO push Russia into attacking Ukraine?

This video is certainly controversial. I do not accept that Russia has reason to be fearful of NATO. Moreover, this is in the mindset of Putin, having been in isolation during Covid-19 pandemic. The statement that George H.W. Bush promised Gorbachev it would not expand NATO eastward was never part of any agreement. Gorbachev said it just didn’t come up in the 4+2 Treaty negotiations, except in regard to NATO deployments in the former Eastern Germany. NATO had no plans to expand eastward, in 1990, because the countries belong to the Warsaw Pact. No new members for 9 years following the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved because its member nations no longer considered it necessary.

The comment by William Burns in 2008, that accepting of Ukraine into NATO would be viewed as a hostile act, is also accurate, and it is noted that Ukraine is not a part of NATO. The strong protest of NATO expansion from Russia at the 2007 Munich Conference is correct.

___

Just as I was concluding this rather long piece, there was an exchange between Secretary Blinken and Senator Rand Paul on the Ukrainian crisis. Rand Paul stated Russia had reasons for the attack. Blinken pushed back saying the invasion was unjustified and unprovoked. Youtube likely has this exchange.


In summary, the Eastern European countries, gained independence from Russia in a legal manner in December 1991. As independent countries, they are free to chose whether to make application for NATO membership which is a collective defense organization. I believe the acceptance by NATO, US and the allies should not have been slow tracked or denied.

Stay tuned,

David Lord

NATO/Russia/Ukraine – Chronological Recap

Putin goes back decades in justifying the invasion. The last question I answered was whether there were verbal promises made to the Soviets around the time of re-unification or the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 to limit NATO expansion. My response was no. And the Soviet leader at the time, Gorbachev, agrees with this. The best Putin can come up with, is that in 1990, the head of NATO said they had no plans to expand NATO eastward. Of course, this was said when the Warsaw Pact was still in place, so these countries could not join NATO.

World politics in 1990 is very different from today. Still, Putin’s justification for the invasion go back decades. So, before going ahead, I thought to summarize as quickly as possible key historical events 1985 forward. Leonid Brezhnev, the hard line leader of the Soviet Union, died in 1982 while in office as the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

Vladimir Putin at the time of Brezhnev’s death, was 30 years old and an agent in the KGB. From 1985 to 1990, he was a KGB agent working in Dresden, Germany. There is an excellent videos produced by Frontline, of Putin’s rise to power, and how the dissolution of the USSR likely influence his perspective.

Frontline: Putin’s Way (produced in 2015, after the takeover of Crimea)

TIMELINE (1985-1991)

Date Event
March 11, 1985Gorbachev becomes the General Secretary of the Communist Party and is eager to make changes to make the bureaucracy more efficient and responsive, through Glastnost (openness, freedom of press and information) and Perestroika (democratic restructuring, including multi-candidate elections). See link Mikhail Gorbachev.
June 12, 1987President Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech in Germany. It is broadcast over the radio, and was heard in East Germany and the Soviet Union.
June 1, 1988Disarmament agreement between US and Soviets on intermediate nuclear missiles went into effect.
Mar 29, 1990Gorbachev had introduced competitive elections for the Boris Yeltsin is elected president of the Soviet parl
May 1989In May 1989 Gorbachev is elected chairman of this Supreme Soviet and thereby retained the national presidency.
Nov 9, 1989The Berlin wall is torn down. Re-unification required the acceptance of the four major powers that created a divided Germany, USSR, France, UK and the US which is not complete until 1994 with the withdrawal of Russian troops.
July 1, 1990 East Germany adopts the West German currency, all de jure border controls ceased, although the inter-German border had become meaningless for some time before that. The demolition of the Wall was completed in 1994.
July 1, 1991Warsaw Pact dissolved. NATO Declassified: Warsaw Pact Also,
Aug 18, 1991The military launches a coup against Gorbachev. Boris Yeltsin stands on top of a tank and delivers a speech to the crowd to defy the military leaders. Coup attempt ends quickly, but Gorbachev’s authority greatly diminishes in September. Yeltsin begins to gain control.
Dec 8-12, 1991Belavezhskaya Accords: On 8 December, Yeltsin met Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk and the leader of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. In the Belavezha Accords, the three presidents declared that the Soviet Union no longer existed “as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality,” and announced the formation of a voluntary Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place.

According to Gorbachev, Yeltsin kept the plans of the Belovezhskaya meeting in strict secrecy and the main goal of the dissolution of the Soviet Union was to get rid of Gorbachev, who by that time had started to recover his position after the events of August. Gorbachev has also accused Yeltsin of violating the people’s will expressed in the referendum in which the majority voted to keep the Soviet Union united. On 12 December, the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR ratified the Belavezha Accords and denounced the 1922 Union Treaty. It also recalled the Russian deputies from the Council of the Union, leaving that body without a quorum. While this is regarded as the moment that the largest republic of the Soviet Union had seceded, this is not technically the case. Russia appeared to take the line that it was not possible to secede from a country that no longer existed.
Dec 26, 1991The dissolution of the USSR, occurred in 3 years and 1 month and by the end of 1991, there were 15 newly independent republics.

SELECTED LINKS

Other YouTube links are provided at the end of this blog.

Boris Yeltsin

He was the first freely elected president of Russia. He was a very popular president at the beginning, but as the economic crisis worsened, his popularity soon dropped. He had attempted to make drastic changes in the economy, by lifting price controls and other governmental controls, and at the same time, liberalize the government at a more rapid pace than under Gorbachev.

There are so many good documentaries and summaries on Yeltsin and Putin, that I will not attempt provide more information.

Inside story: Boris Yeltsin Part 1 on YouTude

Inside story: Boris Yeltsin- Part 2 on YouTube

Wikipedia: Boris Yeltsin

Vladimir Putin

Frontline: Putin’s Way (produced in 2015, after the takeover of Crimea)

Frontline: Putin’s Road to War

Wikipedia: Valdimir Putin

Military spending as a percentage of GDP is similar, with a low of 2.7% in 1998 and a high of 5.5% in 2016.

NATO:

Acceptance into NATO

Acceptance of applications to NATO required the approval of the Allied powers, including the US and Canada. For the US, the Senate must vote to approval acceptance. By the accords to re-unify Germany, the former state of East Germany dissolved, so the united Germany was a member of NATO.

Since Bush, every president has supported entry of Eastern European countries into NATO.

Bush, HWEast Germany, due to accords of German re-unification, 9-Oct-90
Clinton, W.Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, 12-March-1999
Bush, WBulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, 29-Mar-2004
ObamaAlbania, Croatia 1-April-2009
TrumpMontenegro, 5-June-2017
BidenNorth Macedonia, 27-March-2020

Required steps for Entry

There are a series of necessary steps prior to admission. It begins with a country expressing a desire to join. A country’s participation in the Membership Action Plan (MAP) entails the annual presentation of reports concerning its progress on five different measures:

(1) Willingness to settle international, ethnic or external territorial disputes by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and democratic control of armed forces
(2) Ability to contribute to the organization’s defense and missions
(3) Devotion of sufficient resources to armed forces to be able to meet the commitments of membership
(4) Security of sensitive information, and safeguards ensuring it
(5) Compatibility of domestic legislation with NATO cooperation

The foreign ministers from the Allied countries meet, and review the application for admission. If approved, then the US Senate must vote for admission. The last country to be admitted was North Macedonia.

NATO Military Operations

See: Wikipedia, List of NATO operations

What is striking about the list of NATO operations, is since NATO was founded in 1949, for the first 43 years, there were no NATO operations. Many of the operations were done in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions. Russia can always use its veto power to strike down a Security Council resolution.

NATO Expansion Promises

Putin claims NATO promised not to expand in 1990. The best repudiation of this claim is given in the link below:

Brookings Institute: Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev says “No.”


You Tube Links:

Gravitas: Did NATO push Russia into attacking Ukraine?

This video is certainly controversial. I do not accept that Russia has reason to be fearful of NATO. Moreover, this is in the mindset of Putin, having been in isolation during Covid-19 pandemic. The statement that George H.W. Bush promised Gorbachev it would not expand NATO eastward was never part of any agreement. Gorbachev said it just didn’t come up in the 4+2 Treaty negotiations, except in regard to NATO deployments in the former Eastern Germany. NATO had no plans to expand eastward, in 1990, because the countries belong to the Warsaw Pact. No new members for 9 years following the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved because its member nations no longer considered it necessary.

The comment by William Burns in 2008, that accepting of Ukraine into NATO would be viewed as a hostile act, is also accurate, and it is noted that Ukraine is not a part of NATO. The strong protest of NATO expansion from Russia at the 2007 Munich Conference is correct. I may comment on this video in my next blog.

Tech ARP Did Russia Promise NATO not to expand one inch to the West?

Well done video.

Frontline: Putin’s Revenge

FRONTLINE tells the story of how Russian President Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy — and how U.S. intelligence came to believe he targeted the 2016 presidential election.

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Unlike other posts, this posting is meant to be informative rather than address a particular issue. The buildup of hate against NATO and the US by Putin, can not be attributed to a single event. Visitors are free to add their own comments and/or links.

It does not in anyway provide justification for the Ukrainian invasion.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Q+A (Part 2) Germany re-unification and limits to NATO expansion

(6) Did the US make verbal promises not to expand NATO around the time of the re-unification of Germany?

Yes, if you listen to Putin, in his February 2007 remarks to the Munich Security Conference:

And we have the right to ask: against whom is this [NATO] expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? … I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.” Where are these guarantees?

The General Secretary was right at the time. NATO’s final acceptance of other countries to the east of Germany did not begin until 1999. It was the policy of President Clinton in 1996 that the former Soviet republics should be admitted. In 1999, the newly emerged republics, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO. Links are given below.

This was good timing. In May 7, 2000, Vladimir Putin assumed office. He had been the prime minister from 1999 to 2000. The change was to consolidate authority and reverse the direction of both Gorbachev and Yeltsin into a more pluralistic governance.

The Soviet gained legal authority over of East Germany as a result of 1945 accords with the allied powers. As the USSR and our allies became nuclear powers, the situation in Germany only became worse. The period 1989 to 1994 was the great turning point. East Germany was in bad shape in 1989, both in terms of economics and politics. The 1989 election had been “flagrantly rigged” (Wikipedia): “In May 1989, local government elections were held. The public reaction was one of anger, when it was revealed that National Front candidates had won the majority of seats, with ‘only’ 98.5% of the vote. In other words, despite larger-than-ever numbers of voters rejecting the single candidate put forward by the Front (an exercise of defiance that carried great risk—including being sacked from a job or expelled from university), the vote had been flagrantly rigged.”

See Link: Wikipedia: History of East Germany Wikipedia: Enlargement of NATO

Re-unification of Germany is generally considered to have occurred on October 3, 1990, but American and Russian army units were still stationed in Berlin. The so called “2+4 treaty,” signed by the two Germanies, plus USSR, UK, France and the US went into effect on March 15, 1991. By July 1994, all Allied and Soviet ground troops had been withdrawn from Germany as required by the treaty.

Per Wikipedia (enlargement of NATO), “In 1990 the Soviet Union and NATO reached an agreement that a reunified Germany would join NATO under West Germany’s pre-existing membership, although restrictions were agreed to on the deployment of NATO troops on former East German territory. “

Also in the same Wikipedia article: There is no mention of NATO expansion into any other country in the September–October 1990 agreements on German reunification.[16] Whether or not Hans-Dietrich Genscher and James Baker, as representatives from NATO member states, informally committed to not enlarge NATO into other parts of Eastern Europe during these and contemporary negotiations with Soviet counterparts has long been a matter of dispute among historians and international relations scholars.[17][18][19][20][21] Baker delivered to Gorbachev the famous line ‘If we maintain a presence in a Germany that is a part of NATO, there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east’,[22] which many have interpreted as applying to all of Eastern Europe. However, Gorbachev himself has stated that this only pertained to East Germany and that the resulting agreement was upheld by NATO.[23][24] His main aide in these negotiations, Eduard Shevarnadze, likewise agreed that NATO never made any such commitment regarding other countries in Eastern Europe and that “the question never came up [in the talks on German reunification].”[25][26] That is presumably because all of the countries in question were still in the Warsaw Pact at the time and hosted large Soviet garrisons.[27][28] Nevertheless, both Gorbachev and his successor Yeltsin felt that NATO’s later acceptance of countries such as Poland violated the “spirit” of the earlier agreements.[23][29][30]

So, in 1990, NATO not only had no intentions of expanding into Eastern Europe, it also could not accept a country to join, when there were Soviet ground troops within its country.

Wikipedia: NATO Enlargement

Wikipedia: Germany Reunification

Background – A divided Germany

This answers the question, but raises another one. Why did it take so long? A divided Germany existed from 1945 to 1990. Having two super powers, with large military bases opposite each other, certainly put the perils of World War III far too close.

In 1952, re-unification of East and West Germany was proposed by Stalin under conditions of complete neutral Germany. The West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer rejected this and pursued a policy of re-arming West Germany to defend his country against potential Soviet aggression. If there was any doubt that Adenauer made the right choice, this was clearly erased when the Soviets under Brezhnev and other Warsaw Pact country attacked Czechoslovakia in 1968, removing Dubcek because he dared liberalize the country.

The contrast between East and West Germany continue to grow with a Germany with a repressive and economic stagnant government on the eastern side of Germany and a prosperous Germany on the western side, part of the European Union, NATO and the UN.

Many critical events contributed to re-unification. In East Germany, residents could listen on their radio to the translated speech on the July 12, 1987 by President Ronald Reagan in front of the Brandenburg gates in West Berlin:

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

See links: Wikipedia, German Re-unification Wikipedia, Enlargement of NATO

National archives: “Tear Down this wall – How Top Advisers Opposed Reagan’s Challenge to Gorbachev—But Lost” (A wonderful piece of history, and thank God, Reagan didn’t deliver this line in German)

Approximately 30,000 East Germans fled across the border to Hungary by September 1989. After this border was closed, East Germans fled into Czechoslovakia. By Gorbachev must have noticed. Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia in December 29, 1989 and was democratizing Czechoslovakia. So, November 9, 1989 the wall came down in Berlin and December 29, 1989, Havel was elected, and people were celebrating.

History- Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact was a collective defense treaty signed in May 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, and it was in reaction to the NATO defense alliance. The members were Albania, Bulgaria, Eastern Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. It was meant to counter-balance NATO, but there was never an engagement between the two alliances.

The Soviet Union ordered the Warsaw Pact nations to participate in the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, because their leader, Alexander Dubcek was in the process of liberalizing the country (Prague Spring). He was replaced with a hard line communist by the Soviet Union. Only Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary sent troops. Romania and Albania did not support the invasion. East Germany supplied logistic support. Albania left the Pact in 1968. Romania became more aligned with Communist China during the 1960’s. East Germany left the Pact in 1990 as part of German re-unification.

Per the Wikipedia link:

On 25 February 1991, at a meeting in Hungary, the Pact was declared at an end by the defense and foreign ministers of the six remaining member states. The USSR itself was dissolved in December 1991, although most of the former Soviet republics formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization shortly thereafter. In the following 20 years, the Warsaw Pact countries outside the USSR each joined NATO (East Germany through its reunification with West Germany; and the Czech Republic and Slovakia as separate countries), as did the Baltic states which had been part of the Soviet Union.

Wikipedia: Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

Wikipedia: Warsaw Pact

So, the Warsaw Pact lost 3 of it’s original members by February 1991. The other member states did not see a danger from NATO. In fact, they saw the benefit of NATO to ensure their independence and movement to more liberal forms of government.


Wow, this was a lot to cover. The next question will be much easier, but still contentious today. Did NATO act too hasty in accepting the newly independent republics? In answering this question, I am reminded of a great quote, “There’s no rewind button on history.” No do-overs.

Stay tuned,

David Lord

Q+A on Ukraine, Part 1: Was Russia threatened before the invasion by NATO? Are Ukraine and Russia really one country? and more questions.

“Justifying what can not be justified” as one article put it, is very apt. Yet Putin has spent considerable time and effort doing exactly this. It is an invasion. Ukraine is a real country, has been for 104 years.

“The first casualty in war is truth,” Hiriam Johnson, 1917. Putin has been creating myths about Russia and its neighbors for more than a decade. An autocrat doesn’t have to worry about being contradicted.

Under Putin, Russia adopted expansionary and interventionist policies. I will comment on this in Part II or perhaps Part III. I wrote about Russia’s puppet government in Chechnya. Belarus also has a highly repressive government, and the 2020 elections were considered rigged.

Multiple attacks are going on, beyond the tragic and brutal attacks of Ukraine. Once Putin felt he could send Russian soldiers to die for some big lies, like Ukraine is part of Russia, then truth really was under attack. Putin has directly attacked truth and interestingly history going back to the Stalin years.

This series of blogs provide a more solid background into the current war. There is a lot of disinformation on Ukraine and Russia. I want to present this information in a complete unbiased manner. There have been actions of NATO which has upset Putin, but nothing that justifies an invasion of Ukraine.

I applaud the actions of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who yesterday in Kyiv made it clear that Russia could end the war tomorrow just by leaving.

(1) Was Russia provoked in invading Ukraine? Did Russia feel threatened by Western European countries and the US to the extent that their only recourse was military action?

No. Certainly not by the conflict in Donbas region where Russia supported separatists. Certainly, it is Putin’s allegation, that Ukraine, backed by the US and NATO, provoked this war. Much of this goes back to concept of spheres of influence or security belt. Putin has also tried to justify the invasion based on the mistreatment of Russians in the Donbas region. Of course, the Ukrainian army was justified at suppressing violence caused by Russian supported separatists in the Donbas region. It is part of Putin’s interventionist policy to encourage pro-Russian groups in other countries. It also set up a pre-text to launch an invasion.

I will cover the history of NATO’s expansion in later in this series along with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Yes, the expansion of NATO upset Putin. It is more correct to say that NATO’s acceptance of the former Soviet republics application to NATO angered Putin. This acceptance definitely put bounds into the countries that he could destabilize or control, without risking World War III.

The idea that Ukraine could pose any military threat to Russia is absurd, as Russia has a military force roughly 10 times larger than Ukraine. The allegations of biological weapons laboratories made at the UN Security Council was a total farce, as Russia could supply no evidence of their existence.

Wikipedia: Disinformation in the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis

I suspect Wikipedia will have to keep adding to this list.

In a more broadly based justification, Putin has claimed that Ukraine correctly belongs to Russia and through a “military operation” they are simply taking back what was always part of Russia, which leads to the next question.

(2) What about Putin’s claim that historically Ukraine and Russia are “one people” – is this true?

“I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.”

Vladimir Putin, July 21, 2021

Yes, there was kinship. Ukrainians and Russians married, and had children. But, one people, no.

Much of Putin’s narrative is highly selective, and what he wants Russians to believe. Russian soldiers invading Ukraine were told they would be welcomed by most Ukrainians and any conflicts would be very brief. Ukrainians have died for their country. Historically, Ukraine emerged as a nation state since 1918. (see link)

Professor Lenoe, University of Rochester, NY Fact-Checking Putin’s Claim that Ukraine and Russia are “One People”

Yes, just after the Russian Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Federation of Republics. By their constitution in 1917, each republic had the right to secede from the Union. So you can thank comrade Lenin, for formally recognizing the Republic of Ukraine, as a self administrating nation state.

(3) Didn’t Putin made the claim in that Ukrainians greeted the Nazis as liberators in 1941, as they invaded the Soviet Union, demonstrating their pro-Nazi sentiments?

Putin likes to take cherry pick his facts, and often out of context. Ukraine was part of the USSR during World War II.

Per Brittanica link: The Nazi occupation of Soviet Ukraine

“Initially, the Germans were greeted as liberators by some of the Ukrainian populace. In Galicia especially, there had long been a widespread belief that Germany, as the avowed enemy of Poland and the U.S.S.R., was the Ukrainians’ natural ally for the attainment of their independence. The illusion was quickly shattered. The Germans were accompanied on their entry into Lviv on June 30 by members of OUN-B, who that same day proclaimed the restoration of Ukrainian statehood and the formation of a provisional state administration; within days the organizers of this action were arrested and interned in concentration camps (as were both Bandera and, later, Melnyk). Far from supporting Ukrainian political aspirations, the Nazis in August attached Galicia administratively to Poland, returned Bukovina to Romania, and gave Romania control over the area between the Dniester and Southern Buh rivers as the province of Transnistria, with its capital at Odessa. The remainder was organized as the Reichskommissariat Ukraine.

In the occupied territories, the Nazis sought to implement their “racial” policies. In the fall of 1941 began the mass killings of Jews that continued through 1944. An estimated 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews perished, and over 800,000 were displaced to the east; at Baby Yar (Ukrainian: Babyn Yar) in Kyiv, nearly 34,000 were killed in just the first two days of massacre in the city. The Nazis were aided at times by auxiliary forces recruited from the local population.”

Further, in this post, the treatment of Ukraine under Germany was devastating. “Ukraine’s human and material losses during World War II were enormous. Some 5 to 7 million people perished. Even with the return of evacuees from the east and the repatriation of forced labourers from Germany, Ukraine’s estimated population of 36 million in 1947 was almost 5 million less than before the war.”

(4) Didn’t Putin claimed the invasion is necessary for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. How does he justify this given that the Ukraine’s president is Jewish.

Yes, the claim is farcical (see link from Business Insider). See link: Putin tried to justify his war against Ukraine by calling for the ‘de-Nazification’ of a democratic country led by a Jewish president

President Zelenskiy said it best. “You are told we are Nazis, but how can a people support Nazis that gave more than 8 million lives for the victory over Nazism? How can I be a Nazi? Tell my grandpa, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine.” Perfect!

(5) As long as we are going back into history, under Stalin, wasn’t there a massive famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933, as a result of the Soviet’s policy of collectivizing agriculture?

Yes. Whether this was intentional genocide is still under debate, as there were multiple factors to Hodomar. From Wikipedia: “According to Natalya Naumenko, collectivization in the Soviet Union and lack of favored industries were primary contributors to famine mortality (52% of excess deaths), and some evidence shows there was discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Germans.[67]”

Wikipedia: Holodomar

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More will follow.

Stay tuned,

David Lord