North Korea Shoots a Missile over Japan

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Kim Jong Un gets a call from Xi Jinping early in the morning.

Xi – Good morning.
Kim – You’re calling about the missile I shot over Japan.
Xi – Yes.
Kim – It went very well.
Xi – I’m not calling to congratulate you.
Kim – I see.
Xi – You’re a fool.

Pause

Xi – Suppose the missile had been loaded…
Kim – It was not.
Xi – Suppose it had been… and it malfunctioned, which we all know can happen… then it would’ve fallen on Japan. Then what?
Kim – It wouldn’t have happened.
Xi – Missiles malfunction… yours are no different. Please answer my question.

Pause

Xi – Were you there to inspect the missile before it was launched?
Kim – No.
Xi – Then any nuthead could’ve loaded it with an explosive… without you knowing.
Kim – We have strict security protocols…
Xi – Yes, and people willing to circumvent them.
Kim – No. They are fail proof.
Xi – When it comes to humans, there’s nothing fail proof.
Kim – Look, I had to do it.
Xi – Why?
Kim – The world forgets me unless I fire some missiles. Otherwise it’s you, and Putin and Modi and Biden, the English and the European Union getting all the attention.
And now Iran, with all the women protesting. You think they’ll be able to push out the ayatollahs?
Xi – I’m watching carefully. But let’s not get off track. Aside from your bombs and missiles, why are you not getting any attention?
Kim – Because we don’t produce much?
Xi – That’s right. I’m your main trading partner but if you ceased to exist, if you went up in a cloud of smoke, I could get everything I’m getting from you elsewhere.

Pause.

Xi – And it doesn’t have to be that way, does it?
Kim – I’m following a policy of Self Reliance, just like you are.
Xi – Yes, but we first opened up to the West so we could learn from them and then build on that.
They came, showed us what they have, we paid attention, learned, copied and became creative enough that we’re seen as the ‘factory of the world’.
Kim – But you had the huge market to entice the West, so their eyes widened with the expectation of riches… we don’t have that size market.
Xi – Look at Vietnam, they’re attracting more and more investors who are worried I’m getting government more involved in how Chinese businesses are run.
Kim – Vietnam is four times as large as we are…
Xi – That’s not it. You’re about the size of Taiwan and look at where they are.
Kim – I know what you’re saying… become more productive… open up to world markets… learn from them. Copy, steal, just like you did… and then create.
Xi – Yes.
Kim – But I’m afraid I’ll lose power.
Xi – The Communist party still rules Vietnam, and yet they’ve opened up and now they are richer and better educated. If your people are important to you, take some chances. Look, on October 16th, just 11 days from now, the 20th National congress of the communist party will convene. I am expected to be unanimously reelected for a 3rd term. And I forbid freedom of speech and have everyone on surveillance. Still, somehow, the people… most of them, are happy. So it can be done.
Kim – Congratulations.
Xi – Thank you. My point is you need to take chances.
Kim – The United Nations and America have put all these sanctions on me… because they don’t want me to have nuclear weapons…
Xi – They don’t trust you… but if you stopped the bomb building and let them in so they could make a ton of money, then, when the time came, you could say, ‘I’d like to get back to building bombs’.
Kim – That’s what you did.
Xi – We did our first nuclear test in 1964, well before the West came along. But they didn’t complain when we kept building them, after they came in. They were making a ton of money. Of course, we added that we needed to defend against Russia. Just in case. But times have changed.
Kim – Clever.
Xi – It’s politics. The key is to let the West make money. I think Putin failed on that. With the making of money comes the transfer of knowledge and other skills. Putin has the art of suppressing freedom, he’s got that down, but if he had let more western companies go into Russia and make lots of money, instead of favoring his inside group, then he wouldn’t have felt threatened. He would’ve stayed in power for ever.
Kim – You don’t think he will?
Xi – He’s on his way out. I hope it’s not violent.
I think you need to take the initiative and say to the world, ‘I’m putting all nuclear weapons development on hold. I will not do any more tests and will let UN inspectors come by and check. Please lift the sanctions.’ See what they say.
Kim – I would still forbid freedom of speech and keep high surveillance of the people.
Xi – Yes. You could say, ‘I’m trying the Chinese model’.

Kim laughs.

Kim – What do you think of Ukraine?
Xi – I’m worried about them. They’re making people think of liberty in a whole new way. Which is why I’m against them.
Kim – You think they’ve had an effect on the women in Iran?
Xi – Definitely. It doesn’t help that the ayatollahs are selling drones to Russia to kill more Ukrainians.
Kim – You think the Iran Nuclear deal will be revived?
Xi – The West would be fools if they did.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

This piece was edited on 10/6/22, to include the time when China first tested a nuclear weapon.

Hate Russia?

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Two old friends, Pete and Sandy, get together for breakfast at a diner in Greenville, South Carolina.

Pete – Heard about the two doctors who got charged with conspiracy?
Sandy – No, I didn’t.
Pete – Read about it yesterday. They were working at a military base, I think in Virginia, and they contacted the Russian embassy offering to help.
Sandy – Oops.
Pete – Well, our intelligence services found out and had an undercover agent interview them. One of them was willing to provide medical records of soldiers to Russia to see if they could use them.
Sandy – That would’ve been the start…
Pete – It came out that they were disturbed by the hatred for Russia here in the US.
Sandy – How old are they?
Pete – Late thirties.
Sandy – Amazing. Do you hate Russia?
Pete – I don’t. I’m angry at them. Angry that they let themselves be bamboozled by Putin.
Sandy – It goes back to the implosion of the Soviet Union during Gorbachev… and their feeling diminished in the world stage as a result. Putin slowly worked up that sentiment… stoking hopes that one day they’d get it all back.
Pete – But they’d have to surrender their freedom.
Sandy – Something similar is happening in China today. Surrender your freedom today and one day – sometime in the future – we’ll be on top of the world.
Pete – But you won’t get your freedom back.

They laugh.

Sandy – Once given, it’s gone. You have to fight for it to get it back.
Like you, I am angry at Russians… how the majority has gone along with the massacring of Ukrainians. But they are waking up. The massive exodus of people wanting to avoid the draft has stung Putin. Yet he still has his supporters.
Pete – When will they get angry enough to remove Putin is the question, because they’re sure taking their sweet time.
Sandy – It’s going to take a while because they’ve identified with him… letting him sink his claws into them, as they yearned to be great again… even though other nations were passing them by in terms of economic growth. The US, China, Japan, Germany, India, the UK, France, Brazil, Italy and Canada, all have greater GDPs than they do. And it has to hurt because they know they have the human capital to shine, in addition to an abundance of natural resources. But they couldn’t break away from the spell Putin had cast over them. ‘We will be great again,’ kept chanting the sorcerer in the Kremlin, just stick with me. And most Russians went along.
Pete – ‘We will be great gain.’ Maybe that’s where our own sorcerer got that from.
Sandy – Probably. He loves Putin.
Pete – I hope our people get that.
Sandy – I’m an optimist, I think they have.
Pete – I’m not so sure. With what we saw on January 6th (2021), a clear attempt of Trump’s to install himself for a second term, we should have all stood up as one person, livid with rage at the blatant abuse of power. But that didn’t happen. Instead, there was significant opposition to the creating of the congressional committee investigating the incident, and there are many, many Republicans still in awe of the man. So something is very wrong in America.
Sandy – Putin saw that and chose to invade.
Pete – It wasn’t Biden pulling out of Afghanistan which gave him the impetus, it was Trump’s behavior and the free pass he got from a large number of Americans.
Sandy – You’re angry, Pete.
Pete – I am. And in spite of the sad spectacle of Republicans in both houses waiting for instructions from the sorcerer in Mar-a-Lago, there’s the possibility Republicans may hold both houses after the midterm elections. I can’t believe it. While we pour money to support Ukrainians fighting for their freedom, many here at home have tried to look the other way when one of our own has tried to negate the results of fair elections.
Sandy – The dissonance is alarming.
Pete – Yet you still think the majority is getting it?
Sandy – I do.
Pete – Immigration is an issue that needs to be fixed. Both sides have to sit down and come to an agreement. But compared to Trump’s attempt to usurp power on January 6th, immigration is child’s play.
Sandy – Maybe our differences will have to become even sharper before we sit at the table to try and build bridges.
Pete – They’re sharp enough.
Sandy – Inflation was expected in the wake of all the financial support Americans got for covid, but now it’s being held against Biden. The big picture is not seen.
Pete – If Biden wants to help democrats win in the mid terms he needs to campaign against Trump, how the man is a Putin admirer, and then give himself due credit for his tremendous role in forging an alliance with European nations to push back Putin. He has to do that. That issue is his. Trump could never have done what Biden has.
Sandy – We have to educate the electorate…
Pete – Good luck on that.
Sandy – So, do we hate Russia?
Pete – Of course not… but courage has been in short supply in their land… so they have to get it back. Meanwhile, we have to be mindful that we don’t lose ours.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Dear Russian Military

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The time is now.
Now that Putin is scared of Ukraine’s mounting offensive and growing desperate that the exodus of Russians cries out loudly, ‘we don’t trust you, you’re destroying our nation, do not sacrifice our lives for your lies.’
If he had been sleeping well at night, that has changed.
That cry is haunting him and has opened a precious opportunity for you to act.
Russia has been underperforming as a nation for a long time. You know that.
And you can make a difference.
The world knows of Russia’s economic, intellectual and artistic capacities but yet the nation remains on the margins. There are various reasons for it but lack of sound leadership has been a key factor. It takes a little luck for nations to have good leaders. You have not had such luck.
After being dominated by the czars, the communists took over.
There was a very brief period in the late 1980s until 1991 when Gorbachev brightened your heavens, but then his star dimmed. Boris Yeltsin, who had the distinction of leading the protests that stopped the coup against Gorbachev, went on to make the horrible mistake of appointing Putin as prime minister in 1999.
But opportunities return. There is today a great opening for a courageous Russian military officer to lead the effort to depose Putin.
Your nation cannot and must not allow itself to be degraded the way Putin does.
Think of why you joined the military. If you joined to get a pension then stop reading this and go back to your crossword puzzle. But if you joined because you wanted to do something for your country then this is for you.
To seize the opportunity that is now before you, a great deal of courage is needed. It will not be easy. You will be risking your life and will need fellow officers to work in concert with you.
But the rewards will be enormous, for you will change the world.
You will have a chance to free millions of people, to change the present geopolitical balance and to remind the oppressed everywhere, that men and women of courage are here today and willing to step up in the hour of need.
Putin must be stopped. The West has done an excellent job forming a united front and supporting Ukraine. But it is not enough. We need you now.
Dear Russian military, we know you exist. There was the bombing death of a spokesperson for Russia’s Far Right a few weeks ago and just this last Monday, 9/26, the Nordstream pipeline was damaged by explosions that created 4 gas leaks. Maybe it came from you or maybe it didn’t, but both actions required very specific information.
I do not advocate violence against anyone, not even against Putin, for there are other ways that can be used to neutralize him.
But for you to remain passive in the face of the atrocities committed in the name of Russia, does not make any sense. It makes you a de facto accomplice. I am sure that was not why you joined the military.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s actions had a resoundingly positive worldwide impact. Germany is united today because of him. And though he subsequently ran into much resistance at home, I don’t think he should have chosen to voluntarily cede power to Yeltsin in 1991.
Such decisions can have enormous consequences.
And yet, the spirit of Gorbachev lives on. The light that he shone on the world can still be seen and is there to guide Russia and its courageous soldiers in the effort to remove Putin.
Open your hearts and minds and step up.
Now is the time to join with Ukraine in the quest for freedom.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Mr Scholz. The Leopard Tanks

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This is a critical moment in the war. The tanks can make a difference.
Ukrainians are gaining ground in some areas but meeting fierce resistance in the south where Russians have had time to dig in and fortify their positions.
President Zelensky said the other day that approximately 50 of his soldiers are dying daily.
You stated recently that leadership is not about giving people what they ask for.
Understood. But it’s not just anyone asking for assistance with weapons.
It is Ukraine. A heroic country fighting for its life.
You speak of needing to be prepared for an attack on your nation.
Of course, so by no means deplete your stock of armament, but you are part of NATO, and at this unique historical moment, a bond has been created between Western nations that will be honored in case of such an attack.
The US Congress just approved a large amount of additional aid for Ukraine.
We too, in America, have to contend with depleting stocks, so some of the approved funds are going for just that.
I am glad that you approved an increase in your nation’s defense budget. This is the time to use those funds.
There is the growing awareness in Russian citizens that this is not a war for them to lose their lives over. The Motherland is not being threatened. It’s all about Putin’s inflated sense of himself. His dreams of grandeur. And many Russians are seeing it for what it is so they are desperately trying to flee. Those who acted quickly managed to get out. Those who vacillated may have a harder time leaving since the military has now sent personnel to border points to hand out draft notices and block their exit.
How do you transform a man or woman wanting to leave their country to escape the draft into a willing soldier? You can’t.
Somehow, somewhere, people’s lack of motivation will show. And it will translate into pain and suffering.
Putin is carrying on believing he can keep bending his people’s will. But resentment is building and it will soon show up in other places.
His desperate effort to legislate that conquered territories become a legitimate part of Russia is a sham.
Ukraine will not accept it and will fight to recapture all of the land Russia has seized, now and in recent years. It is their land. And with the support of the west and their enormous courage, they are on the verge of accomplishing their dream.
Their fight against Putin is a fight against totalitarianism. A fight with which all of us identify.
Your tanks will make a difference.
I see fear in Putin. I see growing desperation. The war has come to Russians’ homes, to their children. He has given a pay incentive of an additional $800 dollars plus a month to soldiers. Yet not a single explanation of why he assigns such a dismal value to their lives.
The hypocrisy, the sadism, the brutality keep mounting.
But Putin is no madman.
He will count the loss of lives methodically, coldly, to arrange for his next move. ’50 Ukrainians dead today, 90 yesterday, hmm, what happened?’
It is unbelievable the scale of atrocities committed in defense of lies.
And so, as Ukraine presses on, the West must too.
We trust and hope that Ukraine will become a bastion of democracy and an inspiration to all nations on earth. It will be up to them to make that a reality. And so far, they’re saying, ‘Yes, we will’ and backing it with their lives.
Our reward is not what they accomplish, but the sense that in an hour of need we lent a hand. We gave our best. We risked ourselves.
Please be generous Mr Scholz. Send in the tanks.
Putin must be confronted, no matter what the size of his threats.
A nation is bleeding for the sake of liberty.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Vasily!

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The mass of protesters surged forward, some of them with their faces covered, some not. Men and women of various ages, arms interlocked, a look of fierce determination.
‘We won’t fight Ukraine! We won’t fight Ukraine!’ They chanted vigorously. ‘Long live Russia!’
A block and a half away a unit of riot police in full gear, four lines deep, waited silently to stop them, their shields and batons at the ready, their faces covered by balaclavas. Behind them three vehicles with water cannons stood vigilantly along with 2 empty buses.
The march was taking place near the center of St Petersburg along a wide avenue lined with tall apartment buildings, from which balconies people looked down as they snapped photos and took videos.
The protesters kept advancing, undeterred by the riot police staring back at them.
More than a thousand men and women made up the advancing mass.
‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
Moments later the protesters came to a stop about 15 feet or so from the riot police. They continued their chanting, which grew louder and more defiant.
An officer stepped out from behind the riot police and to one side. Bull horn in hand, he said to the protesters, ‘Disband! You’re in violation of the law. This is an illegal demonstration. Disband immediately or face the consequences!’
The protesters paused for an instant before resuming their chanting. ‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
Then the officer addressed his troops. ‘Proceed to disband!’
And the troops charged the protesters, batons held up high ready to strike the defenseless men and women. And the batons came down hard on the heads and arms of the protesters.
Cries of pain filled the air as the protesters were furiously bludgeoned. A woman and a man fell to the ground from the impact of the clubs.
A woman called out, ‘Vasily!’
She broke off from her companions attempting to reach the man who’d fallen but was blocked by the riot police and shoved back.
‘Vasily!’ she cried again, frantically.
The first cry had sounded vaguely familiar to a riot policeman in the front line but now the second cry made him cringe with fear. He knew that voice. He immediately ceased swinging his baton and yelled, ‘Irina!’
The woman looked in his direction, ‘Igor!’
‘Yes!’ answered Igor with alarm.
‘Vasily went down!’ she replied, signaling to her right.
‘What?’ His face went pale.
The riot police kept pushing the protesters back.
Urgently, Igor began to move toward where Irina had signaled.
‘Vasily!’ shouted Igor loudly, in desperation, ‘Vasily!’
He was trying to wind his way through the advancing officers, but he couldn’t get through the tight formation.
Igor pressed on and reached the fallen man, then threw himself immediately over him, his fellow officers stomping on by.
Igor felt the warmth of the body that now lay under him. But was it him? He wasn’t sure. Reaching up with one hand he then pulled off his mask. And it was him. Vasily. His son.
Irina could no longer see Igor but kept moving in their direction when a club crashed hard over her head and she,too, fell to the ground.
‘Vasily! Talk to me!’ cried Igor to his son, but Vasily couldn’t answer.
The rest of the riot police had advanced past them as they pushed back the demonstrators, the vehicles with water cannons now shooting their hard streams at them.
The officer with the bull horn strode up to where Igor covered Vasily.
‘What are you doing?’ said the officer.
‘This is my son,’ said Igor as he looked up at the officer, the expression confused, bewildered, ‘My son… I thought he was at the university… I didn’t know he was with the protesters… it’s my fault…’
The officer with the bullhorn looked down at Igor.
‘You’re a police officer. Join your fellow officers. Your son will be taken care of.’
And Igor’s expression seemed to freeze.
‘I can’t… I can’t…’ answered Igor as he looked helplessly up at the officer. And then he looked to the side where just a few yards away lay the body of the woman who had called to him. It had to be Irina. He went to her and it was she. A big clot was forming on her bloodied forehead but otherwise she was conscious. She smiled at him. “How is he?’
‘I don’t know, he won’t respond,’ said Igor.
Irina’s expression changed. ‘Help me up, Igor, I need to see him… he needs me.’
And Igor started to lift her but then the commanding officer appeared again at his side.
‘We have people to do that, now join your fellow officers, we’ll take care of your son and this woman.’
And Igor stared back at the commanding officer. He called him by his first name, Ilya. ‘Ilya… I can’t… I can’t do it anymore… these are my children… I can’t do it.’
‘Join your fellow officers now!’ insisted the man, ‘or I will charge you with insubordination.’
Igor didn’t move, just stared back, puzzled.
Two medics, a man and a woman, came up to where Irina lay and started to lift her but she said, pointing in Vasily’s direction, ‘he needs more help than I do, go to him first.’
The medics ignored her, pulled her up and took her to the side of the avenue where other injured people were being gathered.
‘Stay with Vasily, Igor, please!’ were the last words he heard from her.
Igor moved back quickly to where Vasily still lay. He was unresponsive.
‘Vasily, my child, speak to me!’ cried Igor in anguish. ‘Vasily!’
The commanding officer followed Igor and stood over him. Now he was joined by two other men.
The commanding officer stared down at Igor. ‘I will have to charge you with insubordination, do you hear me, Igor?’
Igor had been on his knees, holding Vasily’s hand in his but now appeared transfixed.
‘Do you hear me?’ pressed the commanding officer.
And Igor began to shake his head slowly, horror coming over him as tears rolled down his face. He had been taking his son’s pulse and now there was no pulse.
‘Are you deaf?’ insisted the commanding officer as he hovered over Igor.
And Igor started to slowly look up at the officer, eyes wide open, glaring in disbelief.
‘Ilya… he’s dead… my son… Vasily… he’s dead.’
And the commanding officer stood up straight, aghast.
And Igor, reacting, immediately positioned himself astride his son and started to do chest compressions. And one of the other officers joined him, alternating with Igor to give mouth to mouth respirations… and two medics came to their side with a cardio converter and they tried it. And it didn’t work. So Igor and the other officers went back to compressing Vasily’s heart and breathing for him. And they tried again the heart converter. And they repeated the cycles. Again and again. And again. With no response.
The protesters had been driven back, prisoners taken while others had dispersed, yet still they chanted, ‘We won’t fight Ukraine! Long live Russia!’
From one of the balconies in an adjacent building, a woman had video recorded the entire affair. After all was over, she would upload it and it would go viral.
Igor lay a long time next to Vasily’s body, sometimes covering him with his own, sometimes simply touching his face, remembering when his son was a child, and how he liked playing checkers, and then basketball and video games, and then the guitar, and how he later enjoyed solving math problems. He was going to school to become an engineer.
He remembered that Vasily dreamed of one day visiting the West, maybe working there for a while before returning to Russia, which he loved.
But none of that would happen now, thought Igor. None of it.
Now everything was gone.
And what would he say to his mother?
Her only child.
What would he say to her?

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Dear Russian

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Just learned that Putin has authorized that 300 thousand Russians be conscripted into the army. In other words, he’s giving you no choice. Just do as Putin says.
He’s ordering the mass enlistment because he’s losing the war in Ukraine. A war he started because he didn’t give a damn about Ukrainians and thought they would kneel before him and kiss his feet when he asked them to join a new and greater Russia.
Something like the Soviet Union but even bigger. Maybe to include all of Europe.
And as you know, or maybe don’t know, if you only watch television and avoid the internet, Russians are losing in Ukraine.
One estimate has it that there have been 80 thousand plus Russian casualties so far, from a total of 200 thousand he sent in starting on February 24th, hoping to quickly take Kyiv, the capital, and then march all the way to the West and South and celebrate a grand victory.
But Ukrainians didn’t cooperate. Instead, they put up a heroic fight in defense of their land, a feat we haven’t seen since World War II.
You see, contrary to what the television is telling you, Ukrainians don’t want to be Russian. They want to be Ukrainians and rule their own land.
Would you want China to invade you and tell you how to live your life?
Of course not. (although it could happen one day if you don’t keep your guard up)
The war has been a colossal tragedy.
Putin is getting beat by the Ukrainians but he’s saying, ‘Wait, I have more Russians willing to die for my dream of a great Russian empire. And after I use these next 300 thousand, I’ll enlist another 300 thousand if I need to.’
You get what I’m saying? That’s right. Your life means nothing to Putin. He’ll put a helmet on you, give you a gun and tell you, straight ahead, and kill as many Ukrainians as you can.’
You might want to ask, ‘what am I fighting for?’ And he’ll likely answer, ‘for a greater Russia.’
Eighty plus years ago Russia fought bravely against the Germans in World War II and helped turn around that war. Twenty million Russians died in that disaster. And you showed enormous courage, but you were fighting for your land. You weren’t taking another people’s territory (at least not at first, then Stalin decided to conquer parts of Europe).
There is a similarity between that war and this one in Ukraine. They were started by one man. One man who convinced millions of other people that they needed to offer their lives for his dream. Yes, Hitler and Putin have much in common.
But dear Russian, you do have a choice.
You can rebel. You can say ‘No! I won’t go into Ukraine to kill people who are fighting for the freedom to be who they want.’ You could say that. And say it loud so others can hear you. And Putin will put you in prison for not giving him your life to play with. But you will be alive. And if all Russians say ‘No! I won’t go fight Ukrainians,’ then Putin will have to back off.
That’s why it’s so important that you listen to your conscience. Do not believe what the government’s television is telling you.
You do have an enemy to deal with but it’s not Ukrainian.
Your enemy is Putin. The man you didn’t think you had surrendered to until he came asking for your life.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Push Russia Out of Ukraine

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This is the time to push Russia back and out of Ukraine.
Out of the Eastern section and out of Crimea as well.
This is the time to push Russia back to behind its borders.
Putin is losing the war.
Desperate, he’s now bent on targeting all of Ukraine’s infrastructure, bombing dams and power plants. If his missiles were to hit a nuclear power plant, that alone would create a radioactive disaster with regional and global consequences.
So this is the time to get those longer range missiles into action so Ukrainians can hit Russia’s supply lines and cripple their ground offensive.
The momentum is with Ukraine as winter approaches.
More people within Russia are speaking out against the war.
The EU has wisely shut down the issuing of visas to Russian citizens.
Russia’s shutdown of gas supplies to the EU in the hope of splintering the alliance is not having the expected effect. The EU has organized so they are creating efficiencies and helping each other if necessary.
China knows well that Putin is on the defensive and will voice support for him but they will not support a losing effort.
We in the West, meanwhile, must stay focused.
Zelensky is right. Russia can be beat and should be beat.
And what a difference that is from just before the invasion 7 months ago in February, when the world was filled with uncertainty about the outcome. Back then Putin looked like the grand strategist, the great master of geopolitics.
Today he’s reduced to the size of a retreating petty tyrant who’s responsible for massacring tens of thousands of Ukrainians and willing to kill even more if he gets the chance.
Putin has called prison inmates to fight in the war with the promise that, if they fight for 6 months, their sentences will be forgiven. He’s called in mercenaries, i.e. the Wagner Group (Russians), already on the ground. He’s flying drones sent from Iran, a theocratic dictatorship rife with corruption, which is more than eager to attack anything western.
What is remarkable in the face of all this chaos, is the power of the West to unite and focus on the task at hand.
A new balance of power is thus being created by the war. Not only is Russia being exposed as a deeply flawed nation, filled with shortcomings, but China, too, has lost standing in the world with their support of Russia’s losing cause.
Joe Biden, our president, and most of the leaders of the EU and England (former prime minister Boris Johnson) deserve great credit for their commitment to building an alliance. Hungary has remained pro Russian and Turkey has not joined in the sanctions against Putin. The Turks prefer to play both sides.
Now the West is close to a substantial victory. Putin will make threats to use his nuclear weapons but we should not be intimidated and stand firm. Russia must leave all of Ukraine.
Ukraine remains the unquestionable hero, the catalyst of this important realignment of forces, during which, Volodymyr Zelensky, their president, has kept his focus and determination.
Let’s give them the weapons they need and finish the job.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Meanwhile, in Syria, the dictator Assad, long reliant on Putin to repress his opposition, must be wondering if he shouldn’t start pivoting to China. Offer them land for a military base, for instance, in exchange for assistance quieting the rebels. ‘And it would be good practice, for when they decide to trample on Taiwan,’ says Assad to himself.

Person of the Year

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Every year, TIME magazine comes up with their person of the year. It comes up on the cover of their very last issue for that year.
So I was wondering who would be the chosen person for 2022.
Putin is a consideration, since his actions have convulsed the world, economically, politically morally, geographically. The award is not given for merit but for how consequential the person’s actions were.
Joe Biden is another consideration since he has played a key role in uniting the West in defense of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelensky is a strong candidate given the manner in which he has embraced his leadership role, rallied his people against the invaders while also working very hard at getting the rest of the world to step up and support his country’s fight.
But my choice is not any one person.
My choice is Ukraine itself.
Ukraine itself for its enormous courage in defense of their freedom to exist and to choose their destiny.
Thousands of Ukrainians, men, women and children, have died in defense of their beliefs.
Their country has been torn apart by the brutality of Putin and yet there they are, day after day, continuing to resist.
That pluck, that steady courage, has invigorated the West, reminding us of how dear freedom is.
Ukrainians’ determination to assert themselves has helped Germany look at itself and reflect, ‘how come we became so dependent on Putin and Russia for our energy needs?’ ‘What manner of denial had we allowed ourselves to lapse into, believing that a man like Putin, clearly known for eliminating his adversaries, incarcerating his foes, assisting despots and tyrants oppress their people, i.e. Syria, would spare us his wrath when things didn’t go his way?’
Why, even a former German chancellor was sitting in a prominent position in a Russian energy company. And Germans knew it all along.
Sadly, much of that occurred while Angela Merkel was still chancellor, which tarnishes her legacy.
Ukraine’s fierceness in defending their land has inspired Americans to fight back against internal forces that seek to diminish it. To fight back against leaders who polarize and incite hate against fellow Americans.
Had Donald Trump been reelected in 2020, there would have been no governmental support for the Ukrainian resistance, for Trump, steeped in his own denial about who Putin is, would have not objected to Russia’s taking over Ukraine.
Because of Ukraine, NATO is stronger in its commitment to defend its member nations. Finland and Sweden are scheduled to join the alliance and already enjoy its protections.
Because of Ukraine, the European Union, is a stronger union.
Britain, in spite of pulling out of the EU, has played a key role in assisting Ukraine and now trains some of its soldiers.
The grand effort Ukraine has put out, marks it as a special land in our world today.
Yet there are dissenters. Those who point out that Ukraine had been well known for its corruption before the war and should not be trusted.
But people change. Nations change. Courage in defense of their land does something to its people.
Whatever effort and moneys the western alliance has poured and will continue to pour into Ukraine is amply justified.
We should continue to do for Ukraine whatever is needed to ensure their freedom.
They have done much for the West and the rest of the world.
So it is Ukraine that deserves to be person of the year. One nation, one person.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Gorbachev and China’s Central Committee II

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Chairman Xi Jinping’s office. Member # 7 sits across.

Chairman – It took a lot of guts to say what you said.

Member # 7 – This is a historic moment. President Biden has seized the day in the West with his support of Ukraine and you can seize the day in the East. I believe you’re willing to accept that the stimulus from the West has been critical to our tremendous economic and military growth.

Xi nods slowly.

Member # 7 – We have seen how strong our people are, how creative… we do not need to steal anything from the West… by just trading with them fairly we’ll gradually become better at competing with them. If we create better products they will buy our better products… If we create better chips they will buy our better chips… If we create better batteries and solar panels they will buy them too… And it will be them trying to imitate us… They now make better planes than we do… but that can change… What I wish to emphasize is that we just need to compete… and do so fairly… and trust that we have the capacity to create things that not only America, but the whole world will want. We have the capacity to continue to rise without getting paranoid that the West will try to obstruct us… or without us making them paranoid that we’re in to harm them. If we were to prove that we’re better, then they will accept that we’re better… And it will motivate them to improve themselves… not to want to harm us.

Chairman – It’s a very rosy way of seeing things… but you may have a point.

Member # 7 – Chairman… by stirring paranoia in our people about the West, we end up harming ourselves. It may help you stay in power but in the end, history will not be kind to you.

Chairman – How so?

Member # 7 – As we develop we yearn for political freedom… and if the party, as it now stands, will not allow for it… we incur in a basic contradiction that hampers our progress and should be exposed.

Chairman Xi smiles.

Member # 7 – You disagree…?

Chairman – I wonder how it is that you were able to hide all those beliefs to the point of becoming a member of the central committee.

Member # 7 (smiles) – It hasn’t been easy. If I may be allowed to continue…

Chairman – Please do.

Member # 7 – What we have accomplished shows that if we put our minds to it, we can outcompete America and the West. We are more disciplined socially and politically…

Chairman – But don’t you think that we are more disciplined precisely because it is being imposed by the communist party?

Member # 7 – True… but it should not go on much longer and I think we’re reaching our limit. We have to trust that we have learned the importance of political discipline and not do as America where their people have become so polarized that a group of dissenters tried to overturn their free election results. Of course, any government transition ought to be done in stages.

Chairman Xi pushes back slightly from his desk. He clasps his hands on his lap.

Chairman – What do you think of our assisting companies in their development?

Member # 7 – It has helped… but it has also created inefficiencies and corruption… which is why it would be best to allow more freedom in the markets… with less interference from the party. We now stand at a very critical moment… America is not a threat to us militarily… modern history shows they are not trying to take over countries… and if another nation outperforms them in the production of goods, then they will try to compete with that other nation, not threaten them with harm. Of course, a strong military is always important… I’m all for it… but we need to let go of our paranoia. Are we making a demon of America to keep the party in power?

Chairman Xi stirs in his seat.

Member # 7 – Putin has done great harm to the world with his invasion of Ukraine but he is a limited man, who has restricted wealth creation to a selected few. We did not to that. Millions of Chinese have opened businesses and continue to do so. What we need now is political freedom. And you, Chairman Xi, can make a huge difference by holding free elections. I am sure you would become the nation’s first freely elected president.

Chairman (leaning forward slightly) – You realize that I would have to convince a lot of people in the central committee and in the communist party to make that happen. There would be much resistance… same as what happened to Gorbachev.

Member # 7 – Yes, but you’d be surprised at how many people already are thinking that way…

Chairman (interested) – Like who, for instance?

Member # 7 (smiling slyly) – They should speak for themselves… in case I misunderstood what they shared with me.

Chairman – I appreciate your honesty… and I am sure you mean well. Dissent is difficult to manage if not stopped early. We have the example of Hong Kong… the Uyghurs in Xinjiang… and yet, while I don’t share your enthusiasm, I see your point. What do you think was Gorbachev’s mistake?

Member # 7 – Resigning. I say that with the benefit of hindsight… I wasn’t there and I am sure the difficulties he faced were many. Boris Yeltsin had stopped the coup against him, there was much dissatisfaction in the people and he was preoccupied with the health of his wife who’d had a stroke. Still, I think he should have stayed on and called for free elections in a couple of years, for instance.

Chairman – Good point. I promise you I will consider carefully what you’ve told me and address the matter in one of our upcoming sessions. Meanwhile, I ask that you not continue to speak to others about your ideas. It would be best for all of us.

Member # 7 – Chairman Xi, I am honored that you have given me this opportunity to speak my mind. I have spoken in the hope that our nation will continue to prosper and become the star we are destined to be. Thank you.

Chairman – You may leave now.

Member # 7 bows, rises and starts to leave but stops at the door and turns around.

Member # 7 – It is my belief that America is afraid we’ll become better than them… not only economically but politically, too. The race between our nations is the contest of the century.

He exits.

Chairman Xi pulls up to his desk, picks up the phone and dials National Security.

National Security Official – Yes, Chairman.

Chairman – I need a report on all contacts, phone, internet and personal, that Member # 7 has had in the last year, including places he’s travelled to.

National Security Official – As you know, he’s been under observation, so it won’t take long. We’ll have it in your office tomorrow, by early afternoon. Anything else?

Chairman – That’s all.

He hangs up, then swivels in his chair to look out the window and take in a grand view of Beijing.

Chairman – First freely elected president of China? Interesting… and appealing. Possible?

Oscarvaldes.medium.com

Gorbachev and China’s Central Committee

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China’s Central Committee is meeting for the first time since Mikhail Gorbachev’s death.
Chairman Xi presiding.
Committee members will be identified by numbers for confidentiality.

Chairman Xi – The last president of the Soviet Union has died at the age of 91. His rise and performance in office must be studied by this committee to learn from his mistakes.
He was an eager man, full of hope and dreams but not grounded in reality. I urge all of you to study his decisions in detail so we can be stronger. I have said this before but it needs repeating.
Any comments?
Member #3 – I fully agree with the chairman. Mr Gorbachev rose to power in 1985 at a time when Russia was going through serious financial difficulties. Rather than study in detail the reasons for the economic slowdown he chose to emulate the West and came up with the notions of Perestroika (restructuring) and Glasnost (opening). It was a horrible decision that opened the door for the end of the Soviet Union. And so he presided over the rupture of a great empire.
Member # 5 – Nothing of what he said was right. He wanted to be like Ronald Reagan. He is a symbol of decadence and gullibility. He may have been an agent of the CIA. Agree that we should study his horrible decisions.

The room is quiet.

Chairman Xi – Any other thoughts?

Member # 7 – I disagree with my comrades.

Grumbling in the room.

Member # 7 – Mikhail Gorbachev was a great man.
(louder grumbling in the room)
He had the courage to say ‘the system is not working because it’s too centralized’. And he was saying that in the mid 80s… precisely at the same time when we were opening up to the West… when we were inviting the West to come in and start businesses here… inviting them to get rich by using our people to work for them and then to sell in our large market… but we were also saying to the West… as you get richer we will get rich too… and so it happened.
In the mid 80s, we were starting to do here what Gorbachev was asking Russians to do there…
but the reaction against his ideas was too strong and their centralized system was replaced by a narrow market system dominated by just a few people – who become known as Russian oligarchs – people with ties to Boris Yeltsin and then to Vladimir Putin, to the exclusion of the majority of Russians.

At the same time, here in China, under the wise leadership of Deng Xiao Ping, the economic opening was less restrictive, so more people benefitted… and our economy leaped to now be the second largest in the world, while Russia’s is number 11, according to figures of the IMF (International Money Fund).
Gorbachev had to deal with internal dissent, just like Deng Xiao Ping had to deal with the student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
But times have changed.
China is now a mighty nation. We made it happen in an incredibly short period of time. No nation on earth has accomplished so much in so little time. But we did not do it by ourselves. We have done what we have because we had the West to copy, steal and draw from.
That in no way diminishes our great achievement… but it reminds us to not lose perspective.
Member # 8 (interrupting) – We should put a time limit on the speaker, we get what he’s saying.
Chairman Xi – Let him continue.
Member # 7 – Thank you, Chairman.
We are now at a different stage in our political and economic development. Covid has taught us some important lessons. Though our quarantine system helped us keep the number of deaths to a minimum, continuing to rely on this system has slowed down our economic growth. We need to adapt and emphasize vaccinations more, and we should import Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which have proven superior to the ones we make.

Grumbling in the room.

Chairman Xi – Silence, please. Continue Member # 7.
Member # 7 – Thank you.
With the astonishing development of some of our industries, we have seen a lot of businesspeople grow very rich… and now are seeing this as threatening the party.
Therefore, we have begun to meddle with those companies.
I don’t think that is a good strategy.
What the tremendous growth of some businesses is telling us is that we have to change.
The Communist Party has to change. Our system has to change.

Loud grumbling in the room.

Chairman Xi – Silence, please. Continue Member # 7.
Member # 7 – Dear Chairman… I think China can change the world.
Chairman Xi – We have already done so.
Member # 7 – I mean, politically.

Dead silence.

Chairman Xi – Continue.
Member # 7 – Rather than suppress it, we should adopt Perestroika and Glasnost.

Wild cries of dissent from other members.

Chairman Xi – Silence!

The room quiets down.

Member # 7 – Chairman… I ask that that the Chinese Communist Party hold free elections in our land.

Uproar runs through the room.

Member # 13 (standing, irately) – I ask that Member # 7 be immediately removed and taken to a reeducation camp. Out of this chamber now!
Member # 20 (standing too) – This is unacceptable. Leave this room now!
Chairman Xi – Silence! Everybody sit down! Continue Member # 7.
Member # 7 – I understand that we would be giving up some of our privileges… but please consider the enormous benefits we would be getting.
Member # 18 – Traitor!
Member # 7 – And you, Chairman Xi could run for president, and I’m sure you would become the first democratically elected president in our long history.
Member # 13 – Traitor, leave this room now!
Member # 7 (unfazed) – Chairman Xi… it’s in your hands to change the world as we now know it. What an honor that would be. And the mighty energies of a great China would be released and the entire world would be the better for it.
Imagine, Chairman Xi, if we began to work with the West rather than against it. And if we did that, Taiwan would consider joining the mainland of their own accord, say by becoming one of our independently run states.
Without a shot being fired. Without a life being lost. Without a person sent to jail.
Imagine, Chairman Xi, what that would do for the war in Ukraine. What it would do for Russia.
Mr Putin would be forced to realize the errors he’s committed… and countless lives and property may be spared. The world would start a new era of cooperation and petty tyrants everywhere would not be tolerated. Human suffering would decrease sharply.
The spirit of Mikhail Gorbachev tells us that the fate of the world should not rest in the hands of the few, but in the hands of the many.
You can make it happen, Chairman Xi. Thank you, sir, and thank you this distinguished chamber for allowing me to express my opinions.

Silence.

Chairman Xi – Security officers… please escort Member # 7 to my office and remain there with him until I arrive.
This meeting is concluded.

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