The War. The Economy. Our Psyches

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The war has had a profound effect on inflation.
One is the obvious impact that sanctions on Russia have had on the energy markets with shortages raising prices everywhere.
Another is the lingering supply chains snarls generated by the pandemic, now worsened by the conflict.
And then there’s the enormous effect on our psyches. The corrosive effect of seeing the count of dead people grow, buildings destroyed, lives wrecked.
When will it end?
How much more pain will be inflicted?
Now we are beginning to suspect Russia will not be pushed back and out of Ukraine.
We are beginning to suspect that Russia will subdue and demolish it. With impunity and the whole world watching.
If Putin wins, we will have to worry about his future behavior and how it emboldens China’s quest for dominance.
Putin may be tempted to invade another country. Tiny Moldova, for instance, sitting on the southwest border with Ukraine, where Russian separatists already occupy the Transnistria region.
How long will the sanctions against Russia be kept?
The cumulative effect of these factors is not only weighing on markets but on our minds.
Central banks are raising interest rates. Companies’ forecast for earnings are decreasing while the price of stocks plummet and plummet.
Uncertainty and more uncertainty.
Can anything be done about it? Or do we watch impotently?
There is something unsettling about feeling a lack of control.
We were recovering from the pandemic, which we knew would be difficult anyway,
and then Putin chose to start his war. And his war became everybody’s war.
Nations have taken sides and the world has divided into two camps.
The United Nations has become an impotent body. Russia, the grand aggressor, holds veto power in the Security Council, as does China, rendering that distinguished body ineffective.
With energy prices rising and rising, the possibility of a recession grows greater and so does the chance of a depression.
But can anything be done to change the present course of events?
We have two options before us.
In one, we do nothing. And Putin wins, the world cements its divisions and the economy goes into a long slowdown.
In the other, we fight back. We challenge Putin. And we do it now.
Public figures like Henry Kissinger and Emmanuelle Macron have come forward in favor of accommodation, Kissinger stating that there’s a role for Russia (a role depriving others of their freedom?) and Macron saying that we have to learn to live with Russia (why?).
But those statements sound weak when a nation like Ukraine is willing to offer its people in battle, when they have already sacrificed thousands upon thousands of men and women, for the sake of their freedom from the Russian boot.
They cry of the Ukrainian people keeps piercing our minds, the pain of their agony keeps intruding into our daily lives, ‘Help us,’ they cry, ‘Give us the weapons to defend ourselves!’
And we have, to some extent.
But not enough.
The war has changed our minds and hearts since it started on February 24th.
Back then we didn’t know how courageous a nation could be.
Ukraine’s is a lesson for the entire world.
Short of nuclear weapons, they have earned the right to get all the assistance the West can provide.
They have earned it with their blood.
Macron of France, was quoted as saying that it would take years and years, maybe 15 for Ukraine to become part of NATO. How wrong can that man be?
There are just so many Ukrainians to die in defense of their land, of their right to be free.
We in the West, those willing to do so, need to do all we can to assist them now.
History will record which nations chose not to help, but that’s for them and their conscience to settle. For now, it’s those willing to go all out that need to step forward and make a full commitment to the freedom of Ukraine.
And that means a willingness to challenge Putin.
If Ukraine falls even though they got all the help we could give them, so be it.
But our consciences will be at peace, that in the hour of need, we didn’t cringe or surrender to our fears, but stepped front and gave our full support to a courageous people.
Ukraine’s fight is telling the world, ‘this is what is needed to step up and say We are Free’ while Russians and Chinese, and the rest of the subjugated people in our world, watch with admiration, envy and remorse.
This is the time to go all out for Ukraine.
Or we’ll have to live with the regret of not supporting those who deserve it.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Putin on Intimidation and Biden

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A group of high ranking officials and generals have gathered in an ample room below ground in a bunker in Moscow. Seated in rows and files they face Putin at the front, who addresses them.

Putin – After a slow start, owing to a few mistakes we made, we are now winning the war in Ukraine.

His audience gives a warm applause.

Putin – And we are winning because we have used intimidation successfully.

Nods and murmurs of approval from the audience.

Putin – Intimidation requires persistence. And so I keep reminding the West that we have nuclear weapons… I say so again and again… implying that I’m willing to fire them… at any moment… and so abruptly end their decadent lives.
Americans and the West compare themselves with our country and say, ‘Russia is much less wealthy than we are. We have more to lose than they do.’
Exactly. And so I keep repeating, ‘We have nuclear weapons.’
It’s working.
We have been sanctioned economically, which hurts, but we still manage to exploit the cracks in the system and sell our oil and other resources. China and India have been most cooperative and so our coffers are full. In consequence, we have been able to lower our interest rates.
True, we are dependent on the West for parts for some industries, including the military, but the black market will continue to help us counter the sanctions, at least for a while, which gives us time to push for the complete occupation of Ukraine.

Warm applause.

Putin – The defeat we are about to inflict on America will be decisive. We are slowly degrading their morale, exposing the fact that they cannot present a united front consistently. Germany’s indecisiveness keeps undermining the alliance and so with our friends the Hungarians. Meanwhile, Macron of France keeps doing a masterful job of reminding his partners that I should not be humiliated, that I have feelings.

Laughter from the audience.

Putin – And Erdogan, in Turkey, manages to brilliantly obstruct Finland’s and Sweden’s decision to join NATO. A very nice vacation spot Turkey is, so thank you Mr Erdogan, for not joining in the sanctions against us.

Applause.

Putin – There is significant isolationist sentiment in America, which helps our case. We will keep using our sophisticated cyber operations to foster that sentiment. Lots of Republicans are saying, ‘no more help for Ukraine.’ Good.
Slowly then, with the help of American isolationists, we will neutralize their resolve to support Ukraine.
We’re almost there.
Notice how I’ve been able to keep the West from providing warplanes to Ukraine. Poland had the right idea when they pushed to hand over their Mig jets, but the coalition balked. I was staring them in the eye with my message ‘I have nuclear weapons,’ and the subtext ‘and willing to use them’, when they blinked. So they turned down Poland’s offer.
Instead of shortening the war with the war planes, they have prolonged it.
My bet that the West’s indecisiveness would give us Ukraine, was correct. For they keep thinking, ‘We have so much more than them’.
I have been pleasantly surprised to see how effective our strategy has been. Though I was confident of our eventual victory, I did not anticipate the tremendous impact I would cause on inflation and the world markets.
I love seeing how the market indices keep dropping and dropping, how they overreact to inflation concerns, a mark of their lack of conviction in their government and in themselves.
But it is the result of my clear strategy. I knew I could scare them into inaction and I have.
I do not know if giving Ukrainians war planes would have been decisive, or could be decisive, but fierce Ukrainians, defending their land with the right weapons, would likely have made a difference. They could have forced us out of their territory.
Would I have been humiliated by such action? Don’t know. But I would’ve been reluctant to commit most of my air force to blunt it, for it would have left me too exposed.
I am as impressed as the rest of the world with the bravery and resolve of the Ukrainian people and have to admit that I misjudged Zelensky. He’s a far stronger leader than I thought.
But the momentum is now in our favor.
The West had an opportunity to seize the moment and it didn’t.
And so the totality of Ukraine will be conquered.

Applause.

Putin – I do worry, that the tenacious spirit of Ukrainians might lead to a resistance movement, a form of guerrilla response which could be bloody and lasting. I worry because if it keeps killing our soldiers it may become too costly.
Before I take questions, I’d like to make a comment on Biden and Afghanistan.
The prevailing opinion has been that Biden’s decision to leave Afghanistan influenced my decision to take over Ukraine. That is not correct. In my view, Biden did the right thing. He cut his losses. That was a never ending war. Pakistan would have continued to support the Taliban making an American victory impossible. The question is, why did it take them so long to get out?
My decision to invade Ukraine was due to my conviction, that the isolationist sentiment Mr Trump had stirred, along with America’s growing internal acrimony, would be long lasting. I was right.
Biden’s pulling out of Afghanistan had nothing to do with it.
In fact, Biden’s resolve has surprised me. He has shown tremendous commitment to the cause of the unification of the West and the defense of Ukraine. But the economic upheaval the war has caused has diminished his influence.
Still, this is not yet over.
Biden could, against all critics, decide to agree to give Ukrainians the war planes they need.
He could still make the choice to challenge me.
He’s a risk taker. Will the rest of America allow him to do so, I’m not sure.
Although I didn’t like it, he publicly called me a ‘killer’ and a ‘war criminal’.
How would I respond to a challenge of his, I don’t know, but this I can say, though we don’t have as much as the West does, we do have something. Russia has something. And we don’t want to lose it.
Questions?
Official (standing up) – Mr President… what do you think of America’s Right to Bear Arms, their second amendment?
Putin – It wouldn’t happen here, I can say that…

Laughter from the audience.

Putin – … I just read that, on average, there’s a school shooting in America every month.
And they can’t agree on how to stop them. They’re bleeding to death. Advantage Russia.
Next question?

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.net, anchor.fm, buzzprout, apple and google podcasts

Mr Biden -We’re Losing the War in Ukraine

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With the advantage in numbers and equipment Russians have, Ukraine, in spite of their tremendous fighting spirit, will be slowly beaten back by Russia.
Unless we step up and give them what they need.
Imagine looking at the map and seeing Ukraine under Russia’s control?
How can we live with that?
The Ukrainian people, dying by the hundreds every day that passes, keep calling for more assistance, and telling us ‘we will do the dying but give us a chance, give us your weapons.’
Zelensky has been consistent in his plea, ‘we need more weapons.’
Putin, meanwhile, a smile on his face, watches on and tells us, ‘don’t dare confront me because I have the nuclear weapons.’
But confronting him is exactly what must be done.
Dear Mr Biden, you have witnessed poor decision making before. As vicepresident, you were close to the decision making when Obama chose to give Putin a pass in 2008 in Georgia, disguising the move as a ‘reset.’
You were close to the decision making when in 2014 Putin took over Crimea and Obama did nothing.
You were close to the decision making when, in 2015, Obama drew a red line in Syria on the use of chemical weapons and Assad promptly crossed the line without repercussions.
In each of those instances standing up to the adversary was what was needed.
Because it didn’t happen then, we now have what we have today.
You have done an exemplary job in pulling together diverse players to form a united front. You have had to contend with Germany’s repeated weakness, Hungary’s outright collaboration with Putin, Macron’s recurring calls to not ‘humiliate’ Putin, as if a man guilty of massacring thousands of Ukrainians deserved such gentility.
And yet you persisted.
But more than 110 days after the war started, a general malaise has gripped the world.
There is the downward spiraling of the economy, the prospect of food scarcities and world hunger, the rising price of energy. Yet another dimension in the malaise is most troubling. Day in and day out a bully holds forth on the world’s pulpit, going on about the great weapons he can fire and how he can keep getting away with massacring a nation.
This repeated behavior, Putin’s daily intimidation, is having a disastrous effect on our morale for it is profoundly disheartening that a tyrant has such control over the world, regardless of the sanctions imposed on him.
Every day his troops continue to kill more and more people in Ukraine, taking more and more territory, and every day he’s getting away with it.
China, in another instance of poor judgment of its leadership, has embraced the role of full accomplice to the tyrant of Moscow.
But will confronting Putin lead to a nuclear war?
I don’t think so, for China would be quick to remind Putin – if they haven’t already – that if he tried such an attack, then the West would retaliate against China, too.
Right now Putin sees fear in our eyes so he keeps repeating his threat.
He’s betting that we’ll think we have more to lose than he has.
But I say that if we don’t confront our fear and challenge him, such inaction will undermine our resolve and position as a force for freedom in the world.
We didn’t win World War II because we gave in to fear.
And so here, today.
By virtue of their profound courage, Ukraine has vaulted itself to a position of prominence among the nations of the world. They have become one of us.
Committing to giving Ukraine the warplanes they need to make it a fair fight with Russia is essential.
Stand fully with Ukraine today and tomorrow the world will stand by any nation which is being subjugated by any tyrant.
Ukraine is, thus, opening a new standard for cooperation with nations in distress.
Why should we not act when a nation like Myanmar is massacred by their military?
Why should dictatorships like Russia’s and China’s hold veto power in the UN’s Security Council?
Ukraine’s plight and example is a call to the conscience of the world to act on behalf of the bullied.
A new world order dawns.
A well armed Ukraine, with warplanes at its disposal, may still lose to Russia. But the world will know that it wasn’t because they didn’t have the weapons.
It wasn’t because America, and the West, did not dare Putin.
Confront him now and the malaise we’re living in will lift, certain as the world will be, that America and the West answers a challenge.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Erdogan, Finland and Sweden

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In a recent article in the Economist (5/30/22), Erdogan, Turkey’s president, makes his case for his objection to Finland’s and Sweden’s joining NATO.
He says that the PKK, Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party, an adversary to Turkey in a 40 year long conflict, should not be allowed in those Nordic countries because they are a terrorist organization, having been so labelled by the EU and the US.
As reported by the International Crisis Group, almost 6000 fatalities have resulted since 2015 from clashes between the parties which have taken place in Kurdish majority areas in southeast Turkey and in northern Iraq and Syria.
Complicating matters, the Kurds have been allies of the US in the fight against ISIS in the region.
Erdogan wants the PKK expelled from Finland and Sweden and their members extradited to Turkey.
He cites the need for NATO member countries to not host enemies of any such countries, since all such nations have pled to go to each other’s assistance.
Understood.
Turkey has made its contributions to NATO but it is also very much dedicated to its own agenda.
For instance, they have chosen to not join in with the West in applying sanctions against Russia in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some years ago they chose to proceed with buying Russian missile systems much against NATO’s objections who argued the joint operation of such equipment would create vulnerabilities for NATO.
Erdogan also wants Finland to lift a ban on Turkey’s purchase of weapons from them.
And he also wants to be able to buy late model American warplanes, a sale that has been held back because of the purchases of the Russian missile systems.
In the article, Erdogan makes no mention of the last four points.
While Turkey has made contributions to NATO over the years, it seems Erdogan wants to chart his own course, do what is convenient for him and still be able to cozy up to the Russians.
Turkey is not a democracy and the likelihood seems remote that they will become one.
And so their long standing aspiration to become an EU member appears doomed.
That they have chosen to not join in with the West (Hungary excepted) in sanctioning Russia stands out as the most egregious of flaws.
Erdogan likes to cherry pick. He will do what is most convenient for him. It tells us a great deal about him and the nation he presides.
There is no guarantee that any NATO member nation will step up when a crisis erupts, but Erdogan and Turkey are clearly telling us that sacrifices for the sake of the group are always optional. They will decide what they will do when the time comes.
He is an ambitions man. He is bent on remaining in power and on extending his reach into Africa (e.g. Libya, Sudan) and the Middle East.
Becoming a regional power seems to be his greatest ambition.
Whereas I agree that no NATO member nation should host organizations active against a member nation – more so when they have been designated terrorist organizations –
Erdogan’s resistance to Finland and Sweden joining, in light of his past behavior, is not justified.
The interests of NATO supersede Turkey’s contributions to the organization.
The KPP should be expelled from Finland and Sweden, without the extradition of its members to Turkey, and that should be enough for Turkey to withdraw its objection.
Should that not be enough, maybe NATO should do without Turkey.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Putin Must be Confronted

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His troops, better armed and more numerous than Ukraine’s, are gaining ground in the Donbas area, with the possibility they may encircle their adversary.
A day or two ago Russia fired missiles that landed on Kyiv. More are expected.
And Putin warned the West about giving Ukrainians longer range missiles.
There is a side in this war that seems eager to negotiate with Putin so he is not ‘humiliated’, which I take to mean that Russia gets to keep territory they didn’t occupy before the invasion.
I think they are wrong.
Putin must be confronted and the only way to do that is to better arm Ukrainians.
In providing them with missiles, Biden got guarantees from Zelensky that the weapons would not be used to fire into Russian territory. I think that’s a sound request.
So why not get the same agreement with war planes?
As the war has pressed on, the West has got bolder. Bolder because Ukrainians have shown amazing resolve in defending their land.
So why not give them the kind of weapons that can make a huge difference in this conflict?
Putin needs to be confronted.
He cannot be allowed to continue to make threat after threat.
Ukraine was never his. Never Russia’s.
In 1994, as the Soviet Union dismantled, Ukraine surrendered their nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from Russia and the West. But those did not stop Putin from invading it.
Why shouldn’t, then, the West arm Ukraine with the very best, short of nuclear weapons?
To date, the only deterrent has been Putin’s threats.
It is time the West confronted them.
Biden has made clear that NATO forces won’t be used unless a NATO nation is attacked, nor that he would put American troops on the ground. Good. We should keep those commitments.
But Ukraine is being ravaged by the war and they have shown the determination to defend their land.
I read that Ukrainians that had left their country at the start of the war are now returning.
They are eager to fight for their nation.
The missing piece so far has been war planes.
If Ukraine gets them and loses the war, so be it.
But they just might turn this around and drive the Russians out.
If Ukrainians are willing to risk everything in their fight against Russia, we should step up and help them with all we can.
Will Putin be ‘humiliated’ by a defeat of his armed forces? I am sure he would be.
But that’s his problem. We should not ‘buy’ peace with timidity or acquiescence.
Putin is a thug. Thugs understand force. Ukraine has what it takes to push him back.
Let us arm Ukraine with all they need and let them determine their fate.
If Russia wins, so be it.
But they may not. And if so the world order will change.
This is the time to act. Now.

Oscar Valdes, oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

More Shootings. A Proposal

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The other day, in the wake of the Tulsa killings, I stop to chat to an acquaintance sitting on a low brick wall in front of our building.
I bring up the recent shootings and then ask, ‘What do you think of gun control?’
The person replies, ‘I believe in the second amendment… I listen to such and such podcast and I believe in that. We have to deal with the mentally ill.’
To which I reply, ‘The mentally ill are responsible for some of it but far from all of it.’
The person returns, ‘We have to go to church…’
And I say, ‘I’m not a church going person.’
Seemingly annoyed, he stood up as he readied to leave and added, ‘Go to church.’
End of conversation.
I wish the gunman in Buffalo, NY, the one in Uvalde, Texas, and the one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to name only the more recent ones, had found solace and peace of mind in church. But they didn’t. And if the almighty was looking over them as we’re taught he/she does, then, somehow they got away.
So much for being all mighty and all seeing and what not, because we’re bleeding down here.
It is up to us to come up with solutions because the church isn’t doing it.
The men in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa – it’s men, overwhelmingly, not women who like to shoot innocent people – obviously needed to talk to someone. They did not.
Never mind the second amendment for that won’t be repealed. But we need to find some ways to let people channel their grief and resentment.
Government can help. Maybe churches can, too.
Here’s an idea for government to consider. Create a public website or phone line that does not identify the user, so it won’t be seen as a trap. Encourage those in pain to reach out. If tied to a team of helpers that can quickly go to the assistance of the person, should they so desire, it may add to it.
One possible name for the service is ‘Talk. Save your Life.’ Or ‘Crime on My Mind’. Other names may be more effective.
Start a pilot program somewhere.
I wrote a booklet some years ago titled ‘Letters to a Shooter’ where I try to talk a person out of such ghastly action. I will gladly donate the book to the effort. You don’t have to keep my name on it, either. Take it off and modify the contents as you wish, so long as it facilitates assisting the person in pain.
But we have to do something because we are bleeding.
The defenders of the second amendment won’t budge, bills proposing background checks before purchasing guns will keep being defeated in congress, and we’ll continue to shake our heads as we reflect on the latest shooting, muttering under our breaths, ‘Oh God.’
To the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, will you please step up and remind us of how much are the mentally ill responsible for the madness that afflicts the nation?
Thank you
And let’s get ready for the next one. It could be in my neighborhood or yours.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Biden and MBS, the Saudi Prince

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It is hard for me to write this blog, having learned that Biden has agreed to a trip to Saudi Arabia later this month to ‘reset’ the relationship with the kingdom.
Reset implying we ignore what has happened before and start anew.
MBS, Mohammed Bin Salman, has been less than princely, having ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the regime, a Saudi national and a distinguished Washington Post contributor. The murder took place in 2018 as concluded by our intelligence services.
Biden was rightly outraged by such behavior at the time and spoke openly about it during his campaign for president, but now he’s changed his position.
The advocates of realpolitik are delighted. I am disappointed.
Do resets help at all?
Obama called for a reset after Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. It did nothing, for Putin invaded Crimea in 2014 and has been ravaging the Ukrainian nation for the past three months plus.
One can argue that the relationship with the Saudis is different. It is. But so should be the standards we hold them to.
With this planned reset, however, the prince gets away with the assassination of Khashoggi.
Authorizing such act took planning on the part of the prince. It took thinking of the consequences. It was not a rash act. And the prince concluded he could get away with it. His nation has oil and the world needs it. Thus, the world will come to him. The world will give him a pass. He was right.
Biden was outraged enough by such behavior that at one point he called the Saudi nation a pariah nation.
Then the war in Ukraine happened, prices at the pump rose sharply, Americans complained and are now expected to punish democrats at the polls this November.
In making the choice of doing a reset, little thought was given to the idea of speaking directly to all of us and saying, ‘the war in Ukraine is requiring major sacrifices from us, and one is the high prices at the pump. But we are working on it. As your president, I will keep doing all I can to lower such prices. But we should not negotiate with those who have shown a profound disregard for human rights.’
At no point has the Saudi prince gone before the world and said, ‘I take responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi for it happened while I was the de facto ruler of this kingdom.’
Don’t expect it, either.
Somehow, the leaders of our world believe it is simply too much to ask from one of their own. Impunity comes with the high positions.
I am disappointed that Mr Biden, having done an exemplary job at leading the western nations against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, did not trust that most Americans would appreciate his effort.
It is not that Mr Biden lacks persuasive abilities, but somehow he didn’t trust himself on this one.
Saudi Arabia has been an ally. They can play a role in defusing tensions in the Middle East, but the behavior of the prince is and remains unacceptable. It should not be whitewashed. Giving him a pass can be seen as real politik but it ends up being bad politik for it devalues us.
Our stance in Ukraine has been most decorous. The morality of the cause of the defense of freedom in Ukraine has been invoked to marshal greater and greater efforts from other nations and it has been paying off.
Allowing the Saudi prince to get away with murder does not square with that stance.
I read also that the Saudis are miffed that America is placing much emphasis on the development of renewable energy. While good for the environment it does not fit with the Saudi business model.
When Biden goes to Saudi Arabia he will shake hands with the prince but something will be lost. And what is lost may even have repercussions in our stance on the war with Ukraine and it could weaken it.
Is staying in power, at any cost, worth the effort? I say no.
The Saudi prince felt threatened by Jamal Khashoggi. Democrats feel threatened by oil scarcity and higher prices.
The vaunted reset is akin to saying, when scared we compromise, and we don’t mind coming down a peg or two in our moral standing.
Finally, here’s my personal request to Mr Biden as he gets ready to meet with the prince and the Saudi Royal family. Make it clear that there will be no exchange of gifts between the two.
And please, though they see themselves as kingly, do not bow to them.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Where Biden and I Differ

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As citizen of a democracy – a remarkable notion conceived and bequeathed to humanity by Athenians – I have the option of publicly differing with my President which I will proceed to do.
Russians wished they had not let such privilege be stolen from them by Putin. Had they not allowed it we wouldn’t be having this war.
But to the point.
The war in Ukraine has been hard fought. Ukrainians have been exemplary fighters, and yet the greater number of Russian soldiers and armament give them the advantage.
Slowly, I fear, the Ukrainian resistance will begin to wear down.
Though the West has provided much equipment to counter the Russian offensive, it is not enough to stop the invaders.
Mr Biden has been very clear with the American people. He does not approve of any attack on Russia, will not place any American soldiers or NATO troops on Ukraine and strictly forbids that weapons given to Ukraine be fired into Russian territory – the land Russia now occupies in eastern Ukraine exempted.
Ukraine is dependent on the West for weaponry. If we don’t provide them, regardless of their courage in combat, over time they will be overrun and quashed by Russian forces.
But can we move a step further and provide Ukraine with parity in armaments? Can we give them enough to not only hold against the Russians but beat them back and out of their nation?
After three months of uninterrupted warfare, the struggle is entering a period of fatigue.
Ukrainians have excellent leadership but that may not be enough.
Our main worry – Biden’s worry – about weapons assistance to Ukraine is that Putin will consider such assistance to be an escalation on the part of the West. And so providing Ukraine with war planes has been forbidden.
Putin has repeatedly reminded us of his nuclear arsenal and how he is willing to use it.
All along his calculation has been that Ukraine is more important to him than to the West and that sooner or later we will tire out and Ukraine will be asked to be reasonable and urged to negotiate with him.
In fact, those forces are already at work.
But we would be making a huge mistake to give in and accommodate with Putin.
True, there is the risk of a nuclear confrontation, though I believe it is much less than at the start of the war. The reason is that Putin has discovered western resolve which he did not expect and realizes he has as much or more to lose from a nuclear war than we do.
China will be the first to tell him not to dare go down that path because they don’t want to be a target of a western response.
So now is the time to step up the lethality and reach of the weapons we provide to Ukraine. Now is the time to provide them with fighter jets.
I am sure there is a way to make sure those jets don’t go over into Russian territory. But with such weapons, the direction of this war can be turned around.
Ukraine, with enough weapons, can beat back Russia. We should let them do so.
If Putin is humiliated by the defeat of his forces, good. He deserves it.
We should not give less arms to Ukrainians to ensure Putin can save face and say to his people, ‘well, we did gain some territory. As to the rest of Ukraine, let’s pause for now and invade again next year.’
Now is the time to let Ukraine win.
Putin should not.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Dear Mr Macron

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I hear that you’ve proposed negotiations with Putin to end the war. And that a guiding principle in your approach is that what solution is proposed be devoid of any sense of ‘humiliation’ for Russia.
Very considerate of you. Worrying about Putin’s feelings.
Given that he conceived and ordered the atrocities now going on in Ukraine. The massive destruction of property and infrastructure, the killing of men, women and children.
All because he felt threatened by a neighbor nation’s desire for freedom, something he will not offer to his own people. It’s just too threatening for him to see fellow Russians aspiring to such lofty state.
But just how are we to deal with a brute like Putin impersonating the president of a nation?
If he signed an agreement to cease hostilities, should we trust his word?
No.
And why should we?
He invented that Ukraine is run by Nazis to justify the invasion, not that he needed an excuse. Just wanting to have his foot on Ukrainians’ throats was a good enough reason for him.
Oh, the virtues of having silenced his opponents. Dissident Alexei Navalny’s sentence just got extended and it is a safe bet that he will never go free so long as Putin is around.
But Putin has talents. Chiefly among them the talent to deceive.
He deceived the EU collectively, having said, ‘you can trust me on the energy supplies, I will always be there for you, so long – which he didn’t say out loud – so long as I’m allowed to do as I please’.
And the EU’s leadership bowed deeply, with much relief.
Understanding what happened to the EU’s leadership in dealing with Russia should be a top subject for discussion at centers that analyze international power relations. How was it that all those talented people failed to see the evidence?
Even a capable politician like you, at one point brought up the notion of ‘Finlandization’ for Ukraine. Echoes of WWII and after. Peace with the Russian bear in exchange for letting them have influence over Ukraine’s internal affairs. You caught flak for such proposal and quickly gave it up but the fact is you thought enough of the option to raise it.
I’m sure you’re wiser now.
Eventually the war will end yet Putin will not ask for forgiveness, will not apologize, will not acknowledge that he was ever in the wrong and forever believe, that those who sought to soften him up are weaklings. That is who he is. He simply does not get that freedom facilitates the development of our minds and spirits. He has not yet killed as many people as Stalin did but he is cut from the same cloth. Why should a man like that be exonerated in any way for the cruelties he’s inflicted?
Eventually, Russians will wake up. We all are hoping they do so sooner than later, but however long it takes, the wait will be well worth it if they come to realize how they lost their way, and how it took Ukraine to light up the path.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Push Russia Back

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‘It is much more dangerous giving in to Putin than provoking him’ said recently Estonia’s prime minister Kaja Kallas. Contrast that with Henry Kissinger saying that negotiations should begin to return to where the borders stood prior to the start of the war on 2/24 and that ‘pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine but a new war against Russia itself’ (World Economic Forum in Davos as reported by The Economist -6/3/22) to which he added that Russia had an important role to play in Europe’s balance of power.
Estonia shares a border with Russia. Kissinger is sitting in a comfortable residence in New York.
Kaja Kallas is feeling the heat. The prime minister smells the blood being spilled in Ukraine, in an unprovoked war that has killed thousands, displaced millions and ravaged that nation’s infrastructure. Estonia could be next.
On 5/28, the Associated Press reported that Russia had test launched a cruise missile, the Zircon, in the Barents Sea, next to Norway and Finland and very near Estonia. Putin described the weapon as having 9 times the speed of sound and capable of travelling 620 miles, adding that the weapon is impossible to intercept with existing antimissile systems and once more reminding the West against interfering in Ukraine.
Russia must be confronted.
The massacre of Ukrainians was unprovoked. And it will continue until Putin is stopped.
Russia has no important role to play in Europe’s balance of power. They prefer China.
This is an hour of reckoning. Europe needing to come to terms with their denial of who Putin is.
This is the Putin that invaded Georgia, that annexed Crimea (to which president Obama did not respond), that has propped up the cruel regime of Assad in Syria for years.
There it all was, in black and white, and yet Europe allowed itself to become reliant on Russia for their energy needs. Unbelievable.
That behavior equated with massive denial, or grand appeasement.
Nevertheless, Europe has shown itself capable of correcting course, but are they now tiring of the sacrifice and showing eagerness to accommodate?
As in Germany now calling for a cease fire and France calling for a deal without ‘humiliation’ for Russia (The Economist 6/3/22).
Why should Russia be spared humiliation when they have caused so much misery?
Is there fear that Russia will become a permanent ally of China? Go right ahead.
The rest of the world will know better as to how to proceed.
This is a crucial moment we’re living in. The forces of democracy aligning themselves on one side, the forces of autocrats and tyrants on the other.
Meanwhile the United Nations’ Security Council has proved itself worthless. Having members like Russia and China hold veto power neutralizes that body.
In the face of Russian atrocities, the West has united and placed important sanctions on them. They should remain in place.
Russia needs to be isolated and those who support it should pay the price too.
This is not the time to weaken our resolve. Russia needs the West more than we do them.
So long as Ukraine is willing to fight we should give them all they need, including fighter planes.
Putin will not start a nuclear war because China won’t let them, knowing as they do that when the West retaliates, they will target them also since they are Putin’s main accomplice.
Push Russia back.

Oscar valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts