Does Putin Have an Achilles Heel?

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Putin speaks.

The world has not yet acknowledged how complete my domination has been.
From here, in Moscow, I can choose to kill every day. The number I want killed is entirely up to me. I can say, let me fire a missile into this town… no, let me hit the other town… or better yet, both towns. And no one can stop me. No one.
I wield absolute power.
In Washington, Biden scratches his head, every day, wondering how he could stop me. But nothing comes to him.
How have I acquired my power? By building my nuclear arsenal, steadily, improving it and making it clear I’m willing to use it… and by convincing my people that I know best.
How I managed to convince so many people will be studied by historians for years – how I stripped the majority of Russians of the will to be their own person.
And so the world is in awe of me… some may hate me… but they’re in awe of my power.
I can fire a missile or several, to Washington, to New York, to San Francisco, to London, to Paris, to Madrid… I can destroy Singapore… Tokyo… Manila… Mumbai… Delhi… and why spare South America… how about Buenos Aries… Rio… Santiago… Sao Paulo… then Melbourne… Sydney… and I can fire them at the same time.
I might even send one to the International Court of Justice in The Hague… take care of all those judges while they’re at work… Gordon Brown in England was blabbering the other day about charging me with crimes against humanity. He’d better watch his mouth.
And how I love to see the deference that world leaders show me… every single one of them… for when they come to me they come to see the king.
I look into their eyes carefully and notice how a handshake is not quite enough… that they’d rather bow to me… the deeper the bow the better… and I love it.
Even Xi Jinping… he knows he’s been helpful so that gives him some protection… but it’s up to me, isn’t it… up to me to spare him… for if I get pissed off I’ll bomb the crap out of China, too.
Nero… the emperor… got to see his Rome burn… it must have been exhilarating… but I can add it to my list and see the whole world burn.
I have been able to climb to this position because of my complete subjection of the Russian people. All of them. And those who brand themselves ultranationalists… I let them talk and be critical… but the day I find no use for them or get tired… I’ll round them up and eliminate them. Every single one of them.

He’s been sitting at his desk, now he swivels a little, crosses his legs.

Have I crossed the line?
Yes… I have. There’s no way back for me.
But no modern day leader can say what I can say today… I dominate the world.
I know it won’t last… nothing does… but I’m enjoying the thrill.
Still, I have choices… I can go down in flames with the entire world… exhaust my nuclear arsenal… fire all my missiles and bombs… kill as many as I possibly can… watch hundreds of millions of people destroyed by my fury… bring humanity to their knees… or I can take pity and spare some nations.

He nods to himself.

I know my end is approaching.
It’s been terribly exciting… festive… a carnival of death.
And yet… I’d like to be remembered, too… yes… no point in killing everybody. I know I will die in my fury but I’d like to be remembered… so I must spare some people so they can tell the story… if I have an Achilles heel, then that is it… that I don’t want to see history end.
I want the world to have a memory of me. I want to be studied and quoted and seen as so significant a force that from here on history will be divided into the before Putin era – bP – and the after Putin era – aP.
But can anyone stop me?

He pauses as he joins his hands in his lap.

Only the daring… the very bold… only the willing to sacrifice everything to save the world.
Save it… yes… from me.
I know there are people like that… men and women… now planning to strike the fatal blow…
I can feel it…
But I’d prefer that it be one of my own… a courageous Russian.

Russia Must be Confronted

The story of Ukraine’s valiant fight is a story of courage lost and courage regained.
And a war fought now is a war not fought later.
In 2014 Putin grabbed Crimea. In broad daylight. With everyone looking on, Putin said, ‘I want that land, so I’ll take it.’
And we let him get away with it.
But seeing Ukraine’s enormous effort over the past year has restored our courage.
From the start of the war we supported Ukraine and yet it’s taken a while to increase the number and sophistication of the arms provided.
As Ukraine fought, we gave more and more support.
It was their proud resistance that moved us to add more help.
That effort has helped unite the West in opposing Russia. And it has hardened our resolve for the inevitable confrontation with China.
The benefits to us have been enormous.
And yet, all the while, even as our assistance to Ukraine grew steadily, there was something we weren’t willing to do. We were not willing to say to Putin, ‘do not fire missiles onto Ukraine from the protection of your own territory.’
We never summoned the guts to say that and so stand up to Putin.
The missiles have kept raining over Ukraine and we still have not provided Ukraine with the weapons to respond to such assault for fear of escalating the war.
On their own, Ukraine has devised arms that have reached military bases inside of Russia. But they have not had access to the longer range missiles we could provide and which would be more lethal.
As a result Russia has enjoyed a great advantage and because of it have killed thousands of Ukrainians.
Yesterday, the prime ministers of France, England and Germany, put forth a plan to further arm Ukraine while encouraging it to prepare for peace talks.
But it’s a clear cop out. A clear appeasement of Putin.
The underlying sentiment in the proposal is the growing doubt that Ukraine can achieve a military victory and so it should seek a compromise.
But those appeasing countries are deaf to the plight of Ukraine. A gut wrenching plight that cries out, ‘confront Putin now!. Tell him to stop firing the missiles that are killing us and destroying our infrastructure. Do that and we’ll drive back the Russians to behind their borders.’
The appeasers seem deaf to the plight. It’s not their land being invaded, for if it were they would be singing another tune. Instead, they’re looking the other way and not acknowledging the gift that Ukraine’s effort has given the West.
The proposal made by the three countries does not provide security guarantees under NATO.
A shameful act, for Ukraine, by virtue of the fierceness of its resolve and the blood they’ve spilled in defense of their sovereignty, has more than proved they are a worthy of inclusion in NATO.
Ukraine can win this war. We must provide all the help they need.
The way to shorten the war and save lives, is to confront Putin and say, ‘stop firing the missiles into Ukraine from your territory. If you don’t then we will arm Ukraine with missiles (not nuclear) that can hit you back. If you have missiles to fire, fire them from the territory you have conquered, not from behind the protection of your borders.’
Is that an escalation? You can call it that, but it is a rectification of an unfair advantage, something we should have done long ago.
As Ukraine keeps fighting and we regain our lost courage, we should be ready to stand up for those who have done so much for us.
If France, Germany and Britain object, so be it. In time they’ll return to join us, but for now, their appeasing spirit is calling to them and saying, ‘let us drop to our knees for a while. Rest. Bow.’
Fortunately, there are countries now within NATO, like Poland and the Baltic states along with others, who’re willing to join us.
We cannot let Putin win.
Only Ukrainians can do that. Only they have the right to say, ‘we do not want to fight anymore, we have done enough dying. We no longer can fight to defend our land. We accept defeat.’
Only Ukrainians can do that but they will not.
Maybe present day French and British and Germans are willing to do it, but not Ukrainians.
So it’s up to us, isn’t it?
If we want to be the leader of the Free World there is a price to pay.
This is the time to do it.
We must confront Putin.

When that confrontation happens, Putin will likely bang his nuclear weapon drum but comrade Xi will remind him that we see China as an accomplice in the destruction of Ukraine, and if a nuclear weapon is fired in our direction, China will be our target too.
I am sure that is a risk the comrade is not willing to take.
Putin and Russia are not an island. They need China to survive.
And let us not forget that comrade Xi has plans to become Emperor at some point – who knows how far his kingdom will reach one day – maybe the world – he’s just getting started – and has no desire to see his beloved Beijing and Shanghai go up in flames.

A war fought now is a war not fought later.

Comrade Xi

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I hear that you want to be a peace maker in the war with Ukraine.
You have, obviously, no shame, sir, not a shred of it.
You have encouraged Putin to kill thousands of Ukrainians and destroy their infrastructure,
while helping him sacrifice thousands of his own people. That’s children without fathers, without uncles, spouses without husbands.
So why do you want to be a peace maker?
Your aggrandizement?
Recently you chose to break with custom in China and pushed your party to elect you to a third term. Two terms weren’t enough for your big ego. You needed another one and probably two more so you can die in office like your great hero, Mao Zedong who, as everyone knows, was no great gift to humanity.
So you’re just like Putin. Not a shred better. We certainly can ask the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province and the dissidents in Hong Kong and I’m sure they’ll have something to say about it.
And we all know that this is part of your preparation to invade Taiwan. When the time comes, you’ll move to destroy everything they’ve built just so can tell your folks that you’ve unified China. Never mind the cost. Putin will be cheering for you, of course. Providing ‘logistical support’, as in, ‘don’t do anything against my “friend forever” Xi or I’ll fire my nuclear weapons’.
Comrade, you just don’t get that what the Taiwanese really want is their freedom to live as they choose. To have elections so if they don’t like a leader they can remove him or her from power. Of course, you wouldn’t dream of having elections. Too advanced for your political system.
But don’t get too comfortable about taking over Taiwan, because the West may have a little surprise waiting for you. Just make a note.
Meanwhile, in the South China Sea you’re bullying the Philippines, encroaching brazenly into their nautical space.
And I have no doubt that when Kim Jong Un from North Korea calls you to let you know he’s about to fire another missile over Japan, you say, ‘Go ahead, guy, let’s keep the Japanese and Americans on the edge of their seats.’
But shouldn’t you also help feed the North Koreans? Because we’ve been hearing their food supplies are running low. Nothing new, though. They’ve had thousands of people die from starvation before. Are you going to lend a hand?
So sorry, here I am getting distracted from my main topic. Understandable, because there’s so much to talk about. Like, for instance, how Chinese courts favor your companies in patent disputes with western companies. Never mind the balloon you were flying over Montana, which just happened to be above some of our nuclear silos.
Comrade, now you want to play peace maker. After you’ve supported Putin you want to come in and say, ‘let us all embrace, be friends again, kiss, kiss, and bring joy to your families.’
Of course, as part of any peace accord, Putin must keep Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
So, no. Your story is just not believable. You are not believable. Or trustworthy. I’m sure your move to bring peace plays well at home, and that the millions and millions of Chinese you have scared into not finding their voice, will jump in joy that their great leader will bring harmony to the world.
Get serious, man.
Want to do something for humanity? Tell Putin to back off. To apologize to Ukraine and to the world. To get on his knees and beg forgiveness.
But you won’t do it.
It’s not in you.
So how long will the fight go on?
It’s up to Ukraine. It’s their land. It’s their people doing the dying. It’s their quest for freedom.

Recapping the War. To Putin, STOP THE MISSILES.

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The invasion of Ukraine by Putin on February 24th was a brazen power grab.
Putin decided that having Ukraine under his thumb would tell the world, ‘Russia will take the space it needs to feel comfortable.’
To provide some justification for such action, he invented the notion that NATO had seduced Ukraine into joining the West and so encroach upon him.
He ignored the Ukrainian sentiment to not be under the Russian boot.
Putin was expecting Ukraine to not resist his invasion and instead welcome him with open arms – that Ukrainians would bend a knee in honor of his majesty from Moscow.
But Ukrainians put up the fiercest fight of any country against an invader since WWII. Thousands have died and much of the country has been destroyed as they hold fast in defense of their sovereignty.
The West was surprised by the show of courage but has committed to supporting their effort.
And an angry and humiliated Putin has increased his aggression, bombing Ukraine wantonly, and sending ever greater numbers of soldiers to the battlefront.
The West has responded with economic sanctions which have slowed Russia’s economy.
But Russia has countered with restrictions on their sale of gas and oil to Europe on which the continent had become dependent and so affected their productivity.
Still, Europe has been able to deal with the loss by getting LNG (liquefied natural gas) from America and some of the oil and gas producers from the Arabian Gulf.
Russia has fought back on the sanctions by selling their oil and gas at lower prices to clients like China and India.
Meanwhile, China and Iran have provided weapons to Russia, making them outright partners in the war.
While the battle continues to rage on Ukrainian soil, the contending parties are now at a relative standstill. But this will not last for long.
Ukraine keeps asking for more weapons from the West and this has created rifts in the alliance, with some nations showing signs of support fatigue.
If the West doesn’t keep up shipments of armaments to Ukraine, then Russia will have the edge and conquer the country.
But what has Ukraine done for us?
They have awakened us to the reality of a new power balance in the world. Russia and China, who both have totalitarian regimes, want to dominate the world. They want to spread their version of government as far and wide as they possibly can. In their doing so they will attempt to control markets to support their systems.
We cannot let them do that.
At stake is the preservation of human beings’ freedom.
So Ukraine has become the battleground for a new power balance in our world.
Push back Russia to behind its borders with Ukraine and we will be sending a clear signal that our system of government will not be subverted.
Lose in Ukraine and the signal we send will be that we lack the determination to defend any country where an outsider steps in to control it.
But to win in Ukraine we need a greater effort than we have made so far.
To win, we must treat Ukraine as if it is already one of our own.
Ukrainians have fought with enormous courage and that alone should grant them that status. NATO membership procedures need to be modified to give them immediate access.
They would still have to make some governmental structural changes for full membership, but access to the protection against an invader should be given solely on the merits of the courage they have shown.
Turkiye should not be allowed to become an obstacle to such inclusion. Nor should Hungary. Already Turkiye is playing both sides in the conflict. They help Ukraine and Russia. And they have not agreed to join with the rest of NATO nations in sanctions against Russia.
Turkiye has even objected to Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO unless they allow for the extradition of members of a Kurdish party that is opposed to the present president of Turkiye, a well known autocrat.
Through their enormous courage, Ukraine has become one of our own and should be treated as such.
For those concerned that some of the funds sent to them may be misused, there are remedies for that. But weapons should continue to be provided.
Ukraine and the West must win this war. The conflict should not be allowed to go on and on.
Up until now, Putin has been firing missiles unto Ukraine from inside of Russia which have been responsible for enormous losses in lives and infrastructure.
And yet, we have been reluctant to give Ukrainians the missiles they need to fire back.
Would that be an escalation? Yes.
But it must be done. Step up to Putin and tell him, ‘Either you stop firing the missiles unto Ukraine or we will enable them to do so in return. Your choice’.
Doing this will save thousands of lives.
And it will mark our full commitment to the task of defeating Putin in Ukraine.
To those who think that doing this will push Putin to use his nuclear weapons, I say, Russia will not do so because it will risk a nuclear war.
And China would be the first to remind Putin that if he were to fire such weapons, they too would become a target of the West because they have been a known accomplice of his.
We must act now.
No peace talks should begin unless Putin agrees to withdraw completely from Ukraine. Including from Crimea.
President Biden should more actively speak about the importance of winning this war to all Americans. There is an urgent need to make sacrifices for Ukraine.
And it is for us to lead the effort.

Elections 2024. Early Forecast

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Dianne Feinstein (D) announces she will not run for reelection as California Senator. Age is the key factor. She will be 90 later this year.
Nikki Haley (R), 51, steps out as a candidate for president, challenging Trump who is 76.
Tim Scott (R), 57, is to announce his own candidacy in the next week or two.
Ron DeSantis (R), 44, is sure to follow as will others.
The political engines, never dormant, are revving up again and favor the younger.
Meanwhile, in the Democratic party, all would be challengers wait for word from Biden. Will he or won’t he, run for president again? He will be 82 in 2024.
Biden has done a good job, but it’s time to cede the space and not hinder the new aspirants.
The longer he delays his decision, the greater advantage to the opposition.
Democratic would be challengers need time to get themselves organized, fine tune their message and smooth out the inevitable kinks.
Republicans aspirants have it easier for the upcoming election.
Trump has so damaged the party that whoever looks half way decent is a viable contender.
Lamentably, so far, many seem unwilling to criticize him openly and harshly.
Trump will lose in the primaries anyway, but if he miraculously does not, then he will be trounced in the general election. And, of course, he will go on to claim that the election was fraudulent.
Ideally, what Biden should do is decline to run again as soon as possible – like next week – and then commit to prepping all the Democratic newcomers. Not just Kamala Harris.
Biden would be making a great contribution to the nation if he made a point of periodically gathering all would be Democratic challengers and schooling them on how he’s conducted his presidency on both national and foreign affairs.
Mr Biden has much to teach, and doing so would strengthen the positions of democratic candidates as they fight off the opposition and themselves.
Because Mr Biden’s performance has covered so many aspects, such mentoring assistance would help build formidable candidates.
I don’t recall any sitting president ever doing that unless it was done in private.
This upcoming election is for Democrats to win handily, provided they’re disciplined enough.
The likelihood is that inflation will be under control well before election day. So, too, will Covid, while our investments in infrastructure and climate change will be moving along.
Biden should not be looking at the 2024 election as a contest he should win but as one the Democratic party should win.
Even if Biden is not challenged from within the party, the contest against the Republican nominee will be exhausting, which will take time away from major concerns, chief among them the war in Ukraine.
As we stand, there remain within Europe bitter differences as to whether to fully support Ukraine.
There have been delays in supplying armaments essential to hold back Russia and one day boot them out of Ukraine entirely. This has given Russia additional advantages.
So focused attention on the war is essential, as well as explaining its importance to the American people.
Ukraine’s heroic defense of their land is a major contributor to the political stability of the world.
Russia continues its attempt to destabilize neighboring countries, as recent evidence suggests has happened in nearby Moldova, whose government is pro-western.
It is conceivable that the war will come to an end during Biden’s term if he were to stay on task and is not distracted by running for a second term.
And winning the war would make for a great gift to all of us.

The Time is Now

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Last night, President Biden gave a good performance in his State of the Union address.
He was forthright and spunky. And with good reason. He has a record to be proud of.
Here was a true leader of the Free World listing the nation’s achievements and the challenges ahead.
Many Republican attendees had trouble with the speech. Trouble with Biden. Trouble with everything because it’s now been decades since they’ve had a leader with the same heft and they have to contend with their envy.
And it doesn’t look good for them in 2024 either.
Which brings me to the question of succession.
For all his solid performance I think Biden should not run for reelection.
But walking away when you’re on top is not easy. I’m reminded of boxers who keep fighting even though age tells them that they’re past their prime.
Fighters like Joe Louis, Roberto Duran, even Muhammad Ali. But not all fall into the trap.
Rocky Marciano, an undefeated heavyweight champ during the 1950s, retired at the top of his game at age 31. Never went back to the ring.
Biden is now 80. By the time of the next election he will be 82. So during a next term he would celebrate his 83rd, 84th, 85th and 86th birthdays.
Biology is against him being able to keep up with the pace of the presidency.
If there is a crisis in Africa during the middle of the night, his aides would have to wake him up. Another crisis in Asia a couple of hours later, he would have to be awakened again. And then he’d have to be in shape to be at the meeting with the prime minister of Germany at 9 am.
Followed by cabinet meetings in the afternoon. Etc.
As President he would be continuously on the spotlight and every advanced age dysfunction, small as it may be, would become a distraction and a source of criticism.
If there were no other people around to step up and replace him, then his remaining on the job would make sense. But that is not the case.
There are now several good candidates eager to jump in and make a run for the presidency.
They are waiting for Biden to decide if he will run again.
Out of respect they are giving the President time to reflect and make his choice.
But if he decides to run again he should be challenged. And forcefully.
I have admiration for Mr Biden. Yet my sense is that he will choose to run again.
And that will not be good for the party.
So this is the time for the daring to step up and go for it.
Years ago, I think 2006 or so, when Obama had just begun to serve his term as Senator from Illinois, George Will, having heard of Obama’s wish to challenge Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination, wrote a piece where he said to Obama, ‘this is the time.’
And so I say so, too
This is the time for daring democratic contenders to step up and make their claims.
Do not wait for Biden to decide. Step up now.
If you do so, there is the strong possibility that such move will give Biden pause and help him make the right choice and not run again.
I do not think he will put himself through a primary process to become a candidate again.
Instead, he will reckon that it is time for a younger candidate, one he could advise and mentor for the benefit of the nation and the world.
The time is now for democratic presidential aspirants to all step up and say, ‘It is our time.’
Do not give the Republican party, a party still partly beholden to Trump, the opportunity to take advantage of fissures within the Democratic party.
The time is now.

Missiles Rain on Kyiv. Why not on Moscow?

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Something is off, isn’t it? Putin gets to shoot what missiles he wants onto Ukraine – hospitals, hotels, homes, streets, power generating plants, transportation hubs, defenseless citizens and children – anything. But Ukrainians, lacking the means, cannot give Putin the misery he deserves.
Isn’t this an argument to give Ukraine everything it needs to defend itself?
Short of nuclear weapons we should ramp up deliveries of the weapons they need to attack Russia itself.
And let Putin feel what Ukrainians are feeling.
We haven’t done it thus far, because of the fear of appearing to be ‘escalatory’ in the war effort and so angering Putin.
So what would his wrath be like?
Will he move his nuclear weapons into position?
He may, and if he does, then we’ll move ours.
Will Putin risk seeing Russia go up in flames?
Xi Jinping, in China, will be the first to say, ‘Hold on, Vladimir. I didn’t sign up for this. I mean, I said we were going to be friends without limits, so it is clear to the West that we are your accomplice in killing Ukrainians because we are propping you up. But if you fire a nuclear weapon, not only will you be fired upon in response, but we will be a target too. You’ve been around for a while, but here in China we have just got started on our plans to take over part of the world – the other part going to you, of course. So I don’t want to see Beijing or Shanghai burn. Please, let’s think this over.
Ukraine has a point. If missiles rain on Kyiv, why not on Moscow?
If it weren’t for the missiles, Ukrainians would have pushed your army back further.
So, it looks like you’re losing this war, Vladimir.’
‘They’ve been scared to stand up to me, the West has,’ replies Putin. ‘They’ve been very careful to not give weapons to Ukraine that I will see as escalatory. So I think I can get away with it. It’s not that they’re being cautious, it’s that they’re scared.’
‘Maybe… and maybe not’ returns Xi. ‘But once you start readying those missiles, something could go wrong, and the West will not hesitate to fire in your direction and mine.’
‘I can’t accept that I’m losing this war, Jinping… can’t accept that they’ve pushed my people back. Thousands of Russians have left the country… good people… smart people… to avoid the draft… my international reputation is in tatters… my soldiers have committed war crimes… I’m relying on prisoners as soldiers…’
‘You’re getting desperate, Vladimir. That is not good. I need you around for when I invade Taiwan, so you can back me up.’
‘Trust me, they have more to lose than I do…’ says Putin.
‘I don’t like how you’re talking. This is not about you, Vladimir. It’s about Russia. And about China.’
‘I am Russia, Jinping… like you are China.’
‘No. No and no! Look, I want to be in power forever, just like you… and I will not hesitate to eliminate my adversaries to accomplish my goals, just like you have done… but I’m definitely not China… and you are definitely not Russia. There’s a whole lot more here than you and me…’
‘You won’t back me up?’ asks Putin.
‘I can’t.’
‘What does that mean?’ presses Putin.
‘If you push on with your wish to fire nuclear weapons… ‘
‘I’m not going to fire them, just scare them…’
‘Once you get in that mode, things can go wrong. I can’t accept that,’ replies Xi.
‘I’ll have to tell the West that I’m no longer supporting you… and I will do so because I don’t want to see any of my cities burn… as I’m sure they will… even if we were to land some missiles on America in retaliation.’
‘You’re backing out, Jinping… I can’t believe this… you said we were friends without limits…’
‘I did… but I didn’t say crazy without limits.’


‘I will not accept defeat, Jinping… will not.’
‘Then keep fighting… but stop raining missiles on Ukraine… or the West will arm Ukrainians to the teeth and push you all the way back to your pre 2014 borders. And how are you going to explain that to Russians?’
‘Ukraine does not want to negotiate… they want everything back,’ says Putin.
‘Surprise them. Get creative. Give a little. Offer them all of the occupied territories in the East but you keep Crimea.’
‘They may not accept that, either.’
‘They would be saving a lot of Ukrainian lives… put it in that context. Stress the saved lives. And sweeten the deal…’
‘Sweeten the deal?’ asks Putin, puzzled.
‘Yes… add that you would accept Ukraine as a NATO nation.’
‘What?’ replies Putin, with a flash of anger.
‘You’re losing the war, Vladimir,’ says Xi calmly. ‘Ukraine was never a threat to you. You made that up.’

Putin hangs up.

Xi puts down the phone. He swivels in his chair. He is alone in his office. He shakes his head slowly, concerned with the turn of events.

‘Biden needs to step up and escalate. Putin won’t be able to handle Ukrainians being better armed. But the West needs to act now… not give Putin time to rearm. This is the time.
As far as him using nuclear weapons… he won’t do it… but he’ll walk to the edge… maybe he’ll scare the West… rattle their nerves… but maybe not… and if not… China has to be ready.
We can’t afford a mistake by Putin.’

Push On, Damn it!

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The war in Ukraine has slowed down.
It’s winter, they say.
But should it?
Russian missiles keep falling on Ukrainians, killing them and destroying their infrastructure.
Should this not be a time to press on, to give Ukraine better weapons,
the kind that may unsettle Putin and draw him to, once again, threaten us and the world with his nuclear weapons?
With the help of China he has managed to circumvent many of the sanctions the West has imposed. So China is clearly an accomplice in this confrontation. The help they provide Putin leads to more Ukrainian lives lost and more destruction of property.
In 1994, three years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we signed the Budapest Memorandum, along with Britain and Russia, guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for the surrender of their nuclear weapons. If they had those nuclear weapons today,
there would have been no war. The thousands of lives lost would have been spared.
The billions of dollars spent would have been put to other uses. The misery would not have happened.
Somehow, the West, exulting that the Soviet Union had been dissolved in 1991, miscalculated.
We trusted that there would be respect for agreements made.
But 20 years later, in 2014, Putin chose to invade Crimea and the Eastern section of Ukraine.
Obama was president and he let it happen. Yes. Let it happen. Whatever he was doing, he said, ‘Oh well, Russians will be Russians. It’s just Crimea.’
Given that, why not take the rest of Ukraine, reasoned Putin. The West can be pushed around, he thought. Plus I have managed to trick all of Western Europe into thinking they can depend on my supplies of oil and gas. Of course, there will be a price for such largesse, reasoned the exemplary human being that Putin is.
And so on February 24th 2022, he marched into Ukraine expecting the population would welcome the annexation of their country. For the glory of a greater Russia!
Ukraine, of course, having endured enough Russian oppression, could read them better than anyone else.
They knew exactly what his highness Vladimir had in mind. Subjugation. Destroying their language and identity. Devaluing them.
It was the courage of Ukrainians that woke up the West. Otherwise, we would still be in la la land. And so we owe it to them that Russia is not now pushing on the border with Poland and the Baltic countries and Finland and Romania and Hungary and saying, we need some extra space, for our empire demands it. Give it up or we’ll bomb you because I have nuclear weapons, cried that divinity that Putin has managed to become – with the consent of the West.
Ukrainians have fought with exemplary courage. When was the last time the world saw such valor and determination?
They deserve our determination, in turn. Which means that we, the global West, should be willing to better arm Ukraine so they can better fight Putin and his supporters.
By now we know that the Russian people are not willing to revolt against their leader. Fear has induced such passivity in them that they will do whatever the great Vladimir asks them to do.
To better arm Ukraine means giving them weapons Putin may consider an escalation of the conflict on our part.
We must go there.
We need to be willing to look Putin in the eye when he reacts by threatening to use nuclear weapons and say to him, ‘We’re ready for you. And beware that if you fire a nuclear weapon in our direction, Moscow and St Petersburg will go up in flames. And let your accomplice Xi Jinping know, also, that Beijing and Shanghai will burn, too, because they have enabled you and don’t deserve any better fate.’
We need to use that language because we owe it to Ukraine and the cause of freedom.
We signed the Budapest Manifesto and let Russia violate it.
We then let Crimea be taken over and also the eastern section of Ukraine. And yet we still worry that we might displease Putin if we give Ukrainians the right to defend themselves?
Ukraine is part of us.
Ukraine is a land of freedom.
We must step up now and back them all the way.
Let us take our chances.
We will survive whatever happens.
Freedom rests on the commitment to what is noble in us.
If we don’t step up now we degrade ourselves.
Short of nuclear weapons, we should give Ukraine all the weapons they need.
We need to do it now before Putin uses the Winter to rearm.
To President Biden. This is your moment. Do what needs to be done. Don not hesitate.
Action now will help liberate not only Ukraine but Russians and Chinese, who endure the atrocious repression of their leaderships.
Push for victory.
Dare, Mr President. Dare.

Will Trump Become the Republican Candidate for President in 2024?

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Based on the results from the midterm elections, the answer is no.
As of this writing Republicans will end with only a slim advantage in the House and they’ve lost the Senate.
Their relative poor showing was a referendum on Trump
Raphael Warnock (D) will beat Herschel Walker (R) in the remaining undecided Senate seat in Georgia, giving Democrats the full advantage of 51 to 49.
Trump has managed to divide his party.
Yesterday he declared himself a candidate for the presidency but he will lose in the primaries.
His supporters were mesmerized by his charm but missed the substance. And the substance is that Trump is not a believer in the democratic process.
The assault on the capitol on Jan 6th 2021 wouldn’t have happened without his incitement.
The fact that, in spite of it, he managed to keep so many followers, tell us that there’s a sizeable section in this country for which democracy is just a word.
The good news is that there are many Republicans who are not fooled and were never fooled.
They showed up at the polls in the midterms and rejected Trump’s followers.
They showed up at the polls and rejected the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
The best hope for the Republican party in 2024 is that Trump doesn’t win the primary.
So far, DeSantis from Florida is attracting attention as a rival.
But there is ample time for other contenders to rise.
When the lineup of Republican party candidates shows up for the primary debates, there will be plenty ammunition for them to take Trump down. And his followers will see how much better another candidate will represent them.
The division in the Republican party works in Democrats’ favor.
But Democrats will do well to select a candidate whose appeal extends to disaffected Republicans.
The time is now for Democratic candidates to start grooming their teams.
And so the matter of whether Biden will run again becomes critical.
I am a strong supporter of him but now believe that he should not run for reelection.
In just 4 days, on November 20th, Biden will be 80 years old. In 2024 he will be 82.
Age matters on a job as hectic as the president’s.
Two more years in the White House will help Biden consolidate some of his policies and we may also see Ukraine win the war against Russia.
Biden should be very proud of what he’s done.
He has said he will decide early next year if he’ll stand for reelection.
I think he will choose not to. And so open the door for Democratic candidates to flesh out their campaigns.
Kamala Harris will definitely be among the contenders but so will be Gavin Newsom from California.
They need ample time to prepare.
My projection is that Newsom will become the Democratic candidate for president in 2024.
And so help write Donald Trump’s political epitaph.
We earn our freedom every day.

Border Chaos

Photo by David Peinado on

Our southern border has always been problematic.
It’s been difficult to get bipartisan consensus on the number of new arrivals permitted.
But there has been a shared sense that this land will grant political asylum to those fleeing repressive regimes.
We have agreed that Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are repressive regimes in this hemisphere.
The Cuban diaspora dates from the early 60s and there is no doubt the overall positive impact such immigration has had. Miami would not be the metropolis it has become without the Cuban influx.
Venezuela’s diaspora started as former president, Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, began to
undermine their oil industry through mismanagement. Subsequently the outflow of people increased drastically when his appointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, became a tyrant.
To date, over 7 million Venezuelans, a fourth of its population, have seen no option but leave their country and brave the enormous difficulties of emigrating to neighboring nations, not all of which have been receptive.
In recent months, more and more of those refugees turned north, hoping for asylum here in the US. At first they were able to get through but as the numbers surged, strict limitations were imposed.
President Biden has now in place a parole system, whereby 24 thousand Venezuelans per year will be allowed in so long as they arrive by air and have sponsors here in the US.
The action was determined by the upcoming mid term elections.
Mr Biden made the choice to appeal to the undecided voters who might look with disfavor on the increase in new arrivals.
But lost in the shuffle were the merits of the asylum seekers. These are mostly young people who have faced great hazards in the long journey from Venezuela, crossing the northern part of Colombia, up through the Darien Gap, then Panama and up through the entirety of Central America to finally get to our border. Mostly done on foot. To then be told, ‘No. We will no longer accept you. You have to have a sponsor and money for a plane trip. Goodbye.’
I don’t think democrats are going to get any more votes than they would have because of the refusal to grant asylum to Venezuelans.
Americans who are set against immigration will see the restriction as an electoral maneuver to get their votes, not a move born of conviction.
The choice to sharply limit the asylum offer to Venezuelans is short sighted.
Venezuelans are not the frequent requesters of such assistance. They would rather stay in their country if the conditions for their prospering allowed it. But they are fleeing brutality, imprisonment or starvation.
For those who made the difficulty journey, what is there to do now? Go all the way back? Plead for mercy from one of the impoverished Central American countries they crossed?
Their options look dismal.
Mr Biden, whom I deeply respect, and who has done a wonderful job uniting the West in Ukraine’s battle against Russia, should have stuck with the asylum option. Asylum could have been limited, pending a change in conditions in Venezuela.
We are a land of hope and we need to keep it that way because it is integral to our commitment to freedom. The same commitment that Biden has made to Ukraine and that will eventually lead to a markedly diminished Russia.
The large number of Venezuelans arriving ought to be seen as genuine seekers of relief, able bodied men and women eager to repay with their work for the opportunity granted. Men and women who can also help us fill the gap in labor shortages we face.
There are distinguished Venezuelan born people in our midst who have made important contributions to our nation, such as Leo Rafael Reif, current president of MIT (through the end of this year).
And I read that much private assistance has come forward to aid those who did make it through.
Mr Biden, there is still time. Please change your stance and allow the asylum applications of Venezuelans fleeing their home country and ready to get to work to build a better life.