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Alexandr Litvenenko killed by polonium 210!

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 03:25 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Nimh - we agree completely ! What is happening?

Are you becoming a Republican or am I becoming a left-wing European Social Democrat?

Heh.

I think this is just simply not one of those left/right things. Rather - in Europe at least - the approach to Russia has for a long time already pit centrist, government realpolitiker from the largest EU countries against a coalition of those who are more principled/idealistic; more vulnerable & on the frontline; or more hardline/ideological.

In the European Parliament, your stereotypical vote on an issue in this dimension would pit the European Liberals on the right (remember, this is Europe, liberals = free market secular rightwingers) and the European Greens on the left, both demanding a stricter and more consistent line, against the Christian-Democrats and Social-Democrats in the middle, more willing to strike compromises that would benefit geostrategic and business interests.

georgeob1 wrote:
Actually, I believe we are both reacting to the chronic complaints of complacent Western European nations that (like all of us) tend to blame others for the complications arising from their own behavior.

Ooh when it comes to Russia I think the US shares in the blame. Back in the days, Yeltsin, that friendly buffoon, may have had little personal control over what his military and intelligence apparatuses were spooking about in the "near abroad", but his Western allies also made sure never to really call him on it. The old-style communist opposition was still too close at hand, relief about the collapse of the Soviet Union still too fresh. And the belief that Yeltsin-era "wild capitalism" and the rampant political and industrial corruption it brought would somehow transform gradually and spontaneously into a civilised, Western style liberal democracy (rather than you know, just to entrenched mafioso powerclans of former apparatchiks gone millionaires battling it out over who gets to control which chunk of the nominally "democratic" political system) was still too bright-eyed ("let us send you our shock therapy experts!"). And dont, above all, mention the (Chechen) war!

That was Clinton as much as Kohl and Schroeder and Chirac and Berlusconi.

And Bush, my God.. OK, so the administration cleant up its act in the last three years or so, thanks largely, I am guessing, to the expertise of Condi Rice in this field. But the first few years of Bush's tenure were wasted time when it came to critically assessing, and approaching, Russia. Putin was a strong, trustworthy ally in the War on Terror! Or, if Bush didnt really believe those blue eyes of his, he was just willing to pretend so Putin wouldnt throw too big a spanner in the Iraq and Middle-Eastern works.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 04:08 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
An EU that is able to act independently of (and sometimes in opposition to) the United States will have to pay the price for its independence (that means more defense spending and more serious engagement of the emerging threats to the West.) The new EU must now face both of these issues in the context of an emergingly resentful and authoritarian Russia that is clearly animated by the, perhaps understandable, desire to reclaim much of its former empire - or at least the power and influence it once had by virtue of its military, if not moral, power.

On all of this, too, we agree, completely.

(Scary, isnt it?)

However, here's a bone of reassuringly traditional contention:

georgeob1 wrote:
I think it is a rather large stretch to assert that the United States has "profited" from the tensions among the new and old EU nations. The underlying issue here is the ambition among many in Europe to escape the security dependence (and influence) of the United States. That, of course, is their right, but it does involve a bit of something somewhere between ingratitude and forgetfulness. We have attempted to minimize our losses that result from that ambition.

Here there is, in my mind:

- a falsehood (ie, about the US not having actively worked to create, or even "profited" from the tensions between new and old EU nations);

- and a rather twisted impression (ie, that refusing to join your country's head-dive into a disastrous war of choice was just petty ingratitude).

The assertion that the US has "profited" from the tensions among the new and old EU nations isn't just not a large stretch, its bloody obvious. Old Europe's choice of name - and its Bush administration-coined origin - might ring a bell in this context.

He is, I'm sure, talking about the run-up to the Iraq war. The US wanted it (yes, it did). And it did its usual tour of bribing and bullying of those countries that did not already rally spontaneously.

Surprisingly, resistance was far more entrenched than Bush had calculated. The West-European countries took the US administration's claims about WMD threats and Al-Qaeda links as serious assertions. No nudge, nudge, wink, wink we know what you're really after, and we'll go along with the charade of the rationale. No, they took the argument the US presented head on and vigorously disputed the persuasiveness of the "proof" Powell and colleagues brought.

Did the US have convincing proof that Iraq still had WMD, still was willing and able to use them, and actually presented a direct threat to the West? For months, not just European countries, but countries around the world simply looked at the argument. And overwhelmingly rejected its premises.

It wasnt just "Old Europe", as Rumsfeld and Cheney disparagingly called the opposition. In the Security Council, countries as varied as Mexico, Chile, Angola and Pakistan followed Germany's and France's lead and refused to budge. No, they were not going to sign off on the new resolution the US was shopping around. Outside the Security Council, Greece, South-Africa, Austria - little countries otherwise easily cowed into compliance refused to go along.

I think this was the first time that an international push by the US was refused or repudiated so vastly. And US politicians reacted unbelievingly, angrily. Like you, they argued that it was, on the part of the European opponents, just a question of ingratitude. Didnt we owe it to the US, because of WW2 and the Cold War, to join them in this folly of a disastrous military adventure that the Iraq war has, surely enough, proven to be?

Err, no. Of course we're grateful for what the generation of George Bush's grandparents did for us, way back, but no, gratitude and solidarity as emotions do not extend to joining you in what was from the start, as European and UN experts warned you at the time, going to be a fools errand. History has proven Joschka Fischer and his colleagues completely right to not have accepted Powell's "proof", and to not have succumbed to US pressure.

But pressure the US did bring to bear, of all kinds. While France was hysterically demonized, and Germany simply snubbed, the smaller countries were pressured by your usual combination of threats and promises. And yes, the barely recovering or just newly growing countries in Central and Eastern Europe needed Western investments; moreover, they also yearned for the kind of security guarantees that history had taught them they needed, and only the US and NATO seemed possible to offer.

You may imagine that the folks of "New Europe" happily marched into the "Coalition of the Willing" out of sheer conviction and enthusiasm, but in reality, the populations of these countries ranged from relatively indifferent to skeptical and outright hostile about the Iraq adventure, and the governments were pulled asunder by the enormous twin pressure forces of EU and US.

Yes, the Big Divide between so-called "Old Europe" and "New Europe" burst forth exactly at this time - the result of a whole lot of pushing and pulling at the Central and Eastern European countries by the US as much as by the bossiest of the big EU countries. Even the terms themselves date largely from those months.

Now, four years later, a great number of Central and East European countries have actually joined the EU. A lot of the tensions from 2003 were long reconciled. But with the expansion of the EU came new rounds of redividing the pies of decision-making power and generous EC funding. Conflicts between national interests on agriculture and labour migration, and intermittent clashes of secular western and more christian-conservative eastern values created new tensions. So the idea of separate "New Europe" interests is still there - though in practice its more an "each for himself" kind of fray than a clash of blocks. And as for the term "Old Europe" - aside from some arch- and neo-conservative folk across the ocean who cling on all they can to notions of a sinking, socialist Europe, you dont really ever hear it anymore, do you? Not in mainland Europe, anyway - neither in the Western or in the Eastern half.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 04:13 pm
nimh wrote:
georgeob1 wrote:
Steve 41oo wrote:
But I think its better to trade with Russia, rather than stick new missile systems in what used to be their back yard - and for no other reason that we can do it.

Perhaps it is precisely what is behind your "... used to be their back yard " phrase that so animates the Czechs and the Poles. Both were sold out by Britain and France in the 1930s and heavily punished first by Germany and later by the USSR. Their memory of these events is just that, a memory. It is not a defect of national character.

Hear hear.

georgeob1 wrote:
Steve 41oo wrote:
Its about time the political elites in Britain and the US treated Russia with some respect. If we keep playing games with them we could find ourselves in the cold and dark...literally.

Well you could start by knocking off the complaints when Putin decides to kill someone in London.

Spot-on. That's the context of this thread after all. If the Brits wouldnt even take an assertive stand over a political assisination with radiationary means [well, you know what I mean, sorry, my English gives out] on its own soil, they might as well write Putin a personal letter saying, "please, go ahead, do whatever you want". Kill your dissidents on our soil, as long as you leave British targets alone, we wont sqeak.. it would be outright appeasement, and Putin, a man of force, would merely see it as a weakness that invites further encroachment.

Who, by the way is "playing games" with whom? Do you believe the ABM systems are the only "game" in play?
[/quote]


Well nimh there's a couple of good posts there. But the simple fact is that the West delivered a series of humiliations to Russia, totally unnecessarily imo, after the collapse of the USSR. (The promised non-expansion and twice expanded NATO being one).

Now its payback for a wounded giant. Not a superpower but a country to be dismissed at our peril.

(Russia greater danger than Islam? You have to be joking, they're Christians. Well obviously not Putin, he has more sense)

btw Litvinenko was a British citizen when he was poisoned. If it was ordered by the Russian government it was an act of war. Lugovoi says it was the work of British intelligence...the British govt has access to Po210 too. How am I supposed to know who is telling the truth? Who blows up flats in Moscow and who has weapons of mass destruction?

George. I think you're obsessed with 1930's European politics as the archetypal salutory lesson. But Britain had no treaty with Czecheslovakia. (France did). We did have a treaty with Poland...and when Germany attacked, we declared war. Not all the ills of the modern world can be traced back to Neville Chamberlain.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 04:14 pm
old europe wrote:
Over time, it may turn out that the whole, idiotic "War on Terror" was rather insignificant and not even worth fighting when compared to the massive programme that currently going on in Russia, unnoticed in most Western countries.

This is, in more combative words, the same what I wrote, in the quote below - and George already said that he fully agreed with what I wrote - so we may yet come to an unexpected coalition here Razz

nimh wrote:
This is no joke. You wont believe me now, Steve, but mark my words. If Putin and his former-KGB clan manage to keep on steering Russia the way they have, this country will pose a greater danger to the West than Islamist terrorism in ten years time.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 04:26 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
(Russia greater danger than Islam? You have to be joking, they're Christians.

Joke?

Communist propaganda notwithstanding, the Russians were Christian too back in the day of Stalin and Khrushchev.. hell, Stalin practically rehabilitated the Orthodox Church to its former status.

For that matter, Hitler was a Christian too.. just seems completely neither here nor there.

Amazing as it may sound right now from where you sit, evil and danger dont necessarily come wrapped in green Muslim flags..

Steve 41oo wrote:
George. I think you're obsessed with 1930's European politics as the archetypal salutory lesson. But Britain had no treaty with Czecheslovakia. (France did). [..] Not all the ills of the modern world can be traced back to Neville Chamberlain.

I was the one who quoted Chamberlain. And Britain had no treaty with that "far-away country" Czechoslovakia, so it was allright to assent in Germany's occupation of it? Uhm, treaty or no, it was not just morally, but also strategically a monumental blunder.

The Balts say, "never again about us, without us". They're right. They're EU states now, so there should be no more German, French or British hobnobbing with Putin over their heads.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 04:45 pm
nimh wrote:
This is no joke. You wont believe me now, Steve, but mark my words. If Putin and his former-KGB clan manage to keep on steering Russia the way they have, this country will pose a greater danger to the West than Islamist terrorism in ten years time.
And I dont think I will believe you in 10 years.

What fundamental source of tension exists between Russia and the West?

We need their gas. They need our euros/dollars

We want their help in combatting Islamist terrorism. They want our help in combatting Islamist terrorism.

They have vast mineral resources. Western companies are itching to help exploit them.

Does Russia really want to re take the East European states? I dont think so. I think they are in some way relieved they are now just Russia. To play their cards for Russia in the great game. What you and George cant stomach is that they have a surprisingly strong hand.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 04:56 pm
nimh wrote:
Amazing as it may sound right now from where you sit, evil and danger dont necessarily come wrapped in green Muslim flags...
ok what percentage?

re me saying Russians are Christians = good guys...that was tongue in cheek, which I think you understood and chose to take seriously. However I do congratulate you on your command of English. I wish I could speak a foreign language half as well. (Nearest is French and some American, but that doesnt count)
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jun, 2007 07:06 pm
I don't blame Britain and France for all the ills of the late 20th century (just most of them). Moreover I suspect the late Neville Chamberlain believed (in keeping with the British Foreign policy of the previous decade) that the USSR, not Nazi Germany, was the most dangerous threat facing Europe in 1937/8. In view of the facts then available to him there was much to be said for this view.

The facts which I believe are the touch point here are those associated with the end of WWI and Versailles. That is when the baltic states, Poland, and (then) Czechoslovakia were created and their associated national aspirations started - all under the 'benevolent' sponsorship of Lloyd George, Clemmenceau and the idiot Wilson. Long before Munich, Britain and France abandoned the relevant provisions (and responsibilities) of that rather bad treaty which they so confidently imposed on the continent. They (and others) paid dearly for these errors and they are now, but a part of history.

The relevance to the present discusssion is in the different lenses through which the Eastern and Western European states interpret issues such as ABMs and the recent behavior of Russia: nothing more. These different perspectives are persistent, observable facts and they have understandable causes on both sides.

I think Steve makes too much of the West's supposed "failures:" in dealing with an evolving Russia during the 1990s. There wasn't much control of events within Russia at the time and even less available to outsiders. (We worked very hard just to keep some control over their vast store of nuclear weapons) Ultimately it is the Russians themselves who are responsible for their own actions, wise and foolish.

For Nimh & old europe - if your time scale starts with 2001 I think you do have a case with respect to U.S. "profiting" from intra European divisions, more or less as you described them. However, with a longer period of consideration a somewhat different perspective emerges.

The divergence between Europe and America began in the late 1950s as the prospect of political/economic collapse passed from view in Europe, decolonization proceeded apace, and the perceived hazards of what suddenly became America's confrontation with Soviet expansionism began to affect public attitudes throughout Western Europe. (This is also a moment in history in which the great majority of Moslems in the world were ruled by - or recently escaped rule by Britain, France and the USSR. ) There is fault and virtue to be found on both sides of this story. However I perceive a tendency among Europeans to blame us for their own contradictions on the matter and this is but one of many examples.

The U.S. avoided any interference with the Ostpolitic of the FRG in the 1970s and later. We could not have been more supportive of the natural desire of Germans for reunification. After the collapse of the Soviet Empire, both Europe and America eagerly welcomed the new states if Eastern Europe into NATO and the EU. All of these matters brought the different political perspectives of the Eastern European Republics into play, and they became a factor in internal European Community relations independently of any actions on our part. The paralysis that accompanied the early slaughter in Bosnia was also a factor -- you will recall that avoiding giving offense to Russian sympathies for the Serbs was a very real consideration among the Western European powers then. I'm quite sure this was noted attentively by the Eastern European states - and they were not without their own voices to us..

It is Western Europe that has become preoccupied with its expansion and a newly aggressive independent role in the world, -- and escaping the sometimes uncomfortable influence of the United States. Our actions to limit the effects of this were but a reaction to yours. In some sense we "profited" from them, but the basic tensions - both across the Atlantic and within Europe have more to to with the initiatives and ambitions for change of the Western European states than they do any actions of ours.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2007 06:33 am
Interesting post George thanks.

We are diverging from Litvinenko but its my thread!

I just watched Mr Bush implore the Russians to join his missile defence shield. He offered an invite to Russian generals scientists and technicians to inspect it. But the incongruity of it all was striking. Here you have the president of the USA talking in Prague about American missiles to be sited in Poland! Supposing the Russians renewed their old friendship with Cuba, and placed missiles there which they said was a defence against rogue states like Georgia, how would the American president react to an invitation to help the Russians build it?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2007 08:36 am
Your analogy with Cuba is flawed. The USSR installed both surface to air and ballistic missiles in Castro's unfortunate country. The former were defensive systems, and we did not object to them. The latter were for the delivery of nuclear weapons on American cities - and we objected very strongly. Everntually the ballistic missiles - but notably not the surface to air missiles - were withdrawn. The ABMs being installed in Poland are likewise defensive weapons. They pose no threat to the Putin regime in Russia.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2007 03:32 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Your analogy with Cuba is flawed. The USSR installed both surface to air and ballistic missiles in Castro's unfortunate country. The former were defensive systems, and we did not object to them. The latter were for the delivery of nuclear weapons on American cities - and we objected very strongly. Everntually the ballistic missiles - but notably not the surface to air missiles - were withdrawn. The ABMs being installed in Poland are likewise defensive weapons. They pose no threat to the Putin regime in Russia.
yeah well you are probably right but its still an unnecessary provocation. The missiles could be sited anywhere..I heard Scotland would do..
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jun, 2007 06:19 pm
It seems very odd that you are willing to divert about 15% of the world's GDP to promptly correct AGW, when it isn't even clear that the expected warming will do any net harm over the next century or so, and at the same time unwilling to install a system that might divert or deter a nuclear threat or attack because it might annoy Vladimir Putin (who has the habit of ordering the murder of British citizens - in London.)
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2007 11:34 am
georgeob1 wrote:
It seems very odd that you are willing to divert about 15% of the world's GDP to promptly correct AGW, when it isn't even clear that the expected warming will do any net harm over the next century or so, and at the same time unwilling to install a system that might divert or deter a nuclear threat or attack because it might annoy Vladimir Putin (who has the habit of ordering the murder of British citizens - in London.)
Thats a pretty serious charge George and frankly I dont believe it. Perhaps Tony Blair can get Putin arrested in Germany tomorrow.

Re global warming

I dont know where you get 15% of GDP from. But if it works it would be cheap. If it doesnt work...well at least we tried. If we spend the money and find later global warming did not have anthropogenic causes, then it would still be a good thing to get off the fossil fuel fix. (As President Bush now appears to realise)
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2007 06:12 pm
Steve 41oo wrote:
Thats a pretty serious charge George and frankly I dont believe it. Perhaps Tony Blair can get Putin arrested in Germany tomorrow.
Well you started this thread about the murder. What are your views? There is a dispute going on about jurisdiction and extradition between the governments of the UK and Russia. How do you evaluate that?
Steve 41oo wrote:

Re global warming

I dont know where you get 15% of GDP from. But if it works it would be cheap. If it doesnt work...well at least we tried. If we spend the money and find later global warming did not have anthropogenic causes, then it would still be a good thing to get off the fossil fuel fix. (As President Bush now appears to realise)


I believe that already in place economic forces will accomplish all that far more effectively than the power-seeking authoritarian zealots who would regulate us into the future.

15% of world GDP is hardly insignificant -- much suffering will be the result of displacing it.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2007 06:41 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Steve 41oo wrote:
Thats a pretty serious charge George and frankly I dont believe it. Perhaps Tony Blair can get Putin arrested in Germany tomorrow.
Well you started this thread about the murder. What are your views? There is a dispute going on about jurisdiction and extradition between the governments of the UK and Russia. How do you evaluate that?
OK glad to get back on topic. Was it murder? How do we know this recent convert to Islam was not smuggling Po210 into the UK for nefarious reasons? As I pointed out before, a guy from the hospital said he saw various "2 pence-sized" objects in a radiograph of his gut. One appeared to have ruptured. To use Po210 to kill someone seems so utterly bizarre. Whats wrong with pushing him off London Bridge? Why use a fantastically expensive material which leaves a neat trace everywhere you go? London is full of dubious Russian "businessmen". While we give them exile here, they threaten to bring down Putin and his government (ref Boris Beresovsky, who used to employ Litvinenko). Meanwhile Lugovoi, the man with Po210 on his hands (aparantly) says British military intelligence killed Litvinenko, and in the background is our looming dependency on Russian gas, and Putin's threat to reduce BP to a minor share holder in the massive BP TNK Kovykta project. It all makes James Bond sound very dull.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2007 06:50 pm
Your story seems a bit far-fetched to me. It doesn't yet appear that the British police buy it.

Had the medical authorities not stumbled on the alpha radiation, the death would have remained a mystery and no one would have followed the trail. The KGB and its sister agencies in the former empire have a history of overseas assassinations by rather exotic means, one, I recall also in London, using a microbial infected small pellet inserted with a walking stick or umbrella.
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Jun, 2007 06:51 pm
re extradition

Its actually against the Russian constitution to extradite a Russian citizen for crimes committed abroad. The British authorities must have know that. But they requested the extradition anyway, to be told no, not surprisingly. By requesting the extradition, and given that Po210 could only have come from a government laboratory, they are effectively accusing the Russian govt of murder. But just who was Litvinenko working for? I dont know the answers. But I'm willing to bet truth is stranger than fiction in this case.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jul, 2007 01:57 pm
the plot thickens

http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2127730,00.html
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jul, 2007 02:17 pm
Well, I wonder when Italy and Germany (the USA even doesn't deal legally with those accused CIA-agents) expells US diplomates ...
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Jul, 2007 03:14 pm
Go Milliband! I'm liking this new Brown government.. more assertive re both the US and Russia. Must be a good thing, specially considering what is at stake.
0 Replies
 
 

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