Monday, March 3, 2014

War and Peace - The Obvious

The UK Guardian:

The US conceded on Sunday that Moscow had “complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula” and announced that the secretary of state, John Kerry, will fly to Kiev in an attempt to halt a further Russian advance into Ukraine.
Senior US officials dismissed claims that Washington is incapable of exerting influence on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, but were forced to admit that Crimea had been successfully invaded by 6,000 airborne and ground troops in what could be the start of a wider invasion. “They are flying in reinforcements and they are settling in,” one senior official said. Another senior official said: “Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.”
The real money quote is this bit:
 On Monday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had discussed Ukraine with his Chinese counterpart and their views coincided on the situation there. Lavrov said in a statement that the two veto-wielding UN security council members would stay in close contact on the issue.
 The real question is; just how far will Russia go?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

War and Peace, the Sequel, Imperial Russia vs the West.

The Ukraine broke away from the former USSR in 1994. It has had 20 years, untold millions in western aid and political support in order to build a 21st century democratic government, but still, Ukraine cannot rise above governance by kleptocrats. And that is on a good day.

On a bad day, you get Maidan fiasco. Make no mistake Maidan was an unparalleled disaster because no 'good' ending was possible. If the Maidan revolution successfully pulled down the elected government, it was guaranteed to invoke a Russian invasion, and if Maidan failed. Well, good morning marshal law, hello totalitarianism, and welcome to another day in the Ukrainian Banana Republic.

The only thing which surprises me is how long it has taken Russia to act. I had thought the Russians would only make a play for the Crimea, and maybe, the eastern half of the country; if they were feeling particularly confident and cocky. But no, Putin has asked for the right for military intersession in 'Territory of the Ukraine' from the Russian parliament, a phrase that is deliberately vague and potentially wide-ranging.

The UN Security Council is holding an emergency session on the Ukraine. No doubt it makes quite a change from debating Israel. Who'd have thought I would live to see the day Russia gets a taste of what it feels to be the Jew on the UN stage. Of course, Russia will never be a real Jew since she holds a veto over any possible actions/resolutions, as does China. The Chinese, will veto any possible anti-Russian resolutions. The Russians won't even have to hold out a carrot to the Chinese in return for their veto. The Chinese are pragmatic and always keep their own political interests in mind when voting. I am sure even now 'Taiwan' is looming large in Chinese collective thinking.

Like vengeful children, Lithuania and Latvia have demanded an emergency meeting of NATO, probably hoping for a little Serbia-Kosovo type response, but that was another time, when the US still had a full war chest. Frankly, other than offering to put NATO observers on the ground to witness to the Russian invasion, there is very little action NATO can take without risking an all out war with the Russians. And war costs money, and lots of it, which just happens to be one thing no western nation has. Come Monday morning, I expect we will see the price of oil skyrocketing and the Russian singing, 'we are in the money'.

While the Lithuanians and Latvians, are magically thinking of the Russians as a kind of Libyan Rus; no one else in the West does. Russia is not Serbia, and you cannot control the skies over Russia by pounding them into submission with airstrikes. Let us not forget, unlike the Serbians or Libyans, the Russians do have the ability to take fight into our skies and expand the theatre of war far beyond borders of the Ukraine or even Mother Russia.

The EU was scheduled to meet officially on Monday to discuss the Ukrainian crisis, which says suggests the EU was expecting the Americans to do all the heavy lifting so all that would be left come Monday to discuss was the inelegance of American posturing.

But the Americans have foiled the EU, and chose to elect a Community-Activist-turned-Commander-in-Chief, so once again, the EU is stuck and has had to hastily scramble its schedule. No matter, Russia has plenty of time to close down the gas pipeline for 'maintenance issues' on any of the seven EU states (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania) which share a border with Russia if the EU forgets their reality.

All of which brings me to the position my Prime Minister is taking in the Ukraine. In the immortal words of Jacques Chirac, now would be a good time to shut-up, and bring the Canadian mission from Ukraine home instead of sending the Russian ambassador packing for Moscow.

I realized Harper is shamelessly pandering to his western base of Ukrainian-Canadians, but enough is enough. Time to remind them they are Canadians, and they should be thankful that their ancestors left the Ukraine. We need to negotiate with the Russians over the Arctic, and Russian cooperation on issues which directly effect Canada needs to take precedence over propping up the kleptocratic tendencies of any given members of the Ukrainian Banana Republic. 

We are not witnessing the rise of the USSR from the Soviet ashes, but Imperial Mother Russia rising from the steppe to take charge. So it is time for Harper to close the cold war playbook and deal with the new reality on the ground.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kol Hakavod Evgeny Kissin or International Renown Pianist Takes a Stand.

I read constantly of the strides being made every day in the BDS movement against Israel. It just seems like the list only continues to grow, and grow.  There seems to be no shortage of those whose biggest heart's desire is to flagellate the Israel state into oblivion.

But every once and awhile someone comes along and takes a very public stand, and I stand humbled and in awe. It may be an act lighting just one candle against the gathering of night, but oh, what a light it gives.

Internationally renown pianist Evgeny Kissin recently took Israeli citizenship and issued this statement via Tom Gross carries a copy of Kissin's statement,
“I am a Jew, Israel is a Jewish state – and since long ago I have felt that Israel, although I do not live there, is the only state in the world with which I can fully identify myself, whose case, problems, tragedies and very destiny I perceive to be mine.

“If I, as a human being and artist represent anything in the world, it is my Jewish people, and therefore Israel is the only state on our planet which I want to represent with my art and all my public activities, no matter where I live.

“When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make troubles at my concerts, too: because Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish State beyond its borders.

“I have always deeply despised chauvinism and have never regarded my people to be superior to other peoples; I feel truly blessed that my profession is probably the most international one in the world, that I play music created by great composers of different countries, that I travel all over the world and share my beloved music with people of different countries and nationalities – but I want all the people who appreciate my art to know that I am a Jew, that I belong to the People of Israel. That’s why now I feel a natural desire to travel around the world with an Israeli passport.”

Best case for aliyah I have heard for a while.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Imagine: what the world needs most...

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Burger King in Puetro Rico; Burger King was offering a hands-free whopper holder.

I showed this to my son – he wants one. I emailed my Sabra who is waiting patiently in Paris for his flight home. He told me to get one for him to hold shawarma. I emailed back Burger King does not sell shawarma…now he feels hard-done-by.

I feel like I woke up on the planet Mars.

A senior Toronto Star journalist actually wrote a column demanding an immigration freeze.  

I had to read it three times, and then,  pinch myself.  

For a long time, I have been looking for a compelling case for continuing to accept immigrants into this country, but with all the new realities brought on by globalization, outsourcing and high unemployment; the old boiler-plate positive gains immigrants traditionally brought to this country are no longer offset but the cost of their assimilation. Canada now is a very diverse place, and quite frankly, we need to tend and nurture our own garden. 

And if we don’t, we are in real danger of ending with with Swedish Nights.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Only in Canada

My Sabra is back in Israel and called me on Skype and asked me what he has missed.  I was telling him about the Rob Ford crack scandal. My Sabra just could not get his head around the fact that the mayor would choose to willingly smoke crack with Somalians. Twenty years in this country and he has yet to understand the subtleties of being Canadian, Then it struck me just how quintessential Canadian this story is – in an ‘only in Canada’ type way.

What other ‘wasp’ mayor in any North American – or even European city – would allegedly be caught on tape smoking crack with street level  Somalian drug dealers?  Even former Washington Mayor Marion Berry did not smoke crack with Somalians.

And only Canadian Somalian crack dealers would think they could hawk a video of the mayor of Toronto getting his jones on and think it’s worth $100-200,000.00.  Obama – Rob Ford is not but obviously you cannot tell that to Somalians who think they have struck gold.

You know who should be pissed off – besides Ford? The Jamaican drug dealers in Toronto. For decades it has been alleged that Jamaican posses have run the street level crack trade but the mayor chose to boycott them and hang with the Somalians.

 If I was a Jamaican, wait – I have Jamaican citizenship – let me rephrase this – if I were a Jamaican crack dealer I would be feeling pretty smug and  downright vindictive about now.  There is no way a Jamaican would ever be caught on taping the mayor getting his fix on as Jamaican drug dealers do not do video.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Tupac's song Changes might not have gotten the part about not being ready for a black president (that is a matter still up for debate) but he was almost downright prophetic about black and white smoking crack together part....

The Toronto Star.

“Ridiculous” is how Mayor Rob Ford is describing allegations that he is on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine and making slurs against Justin Trudeau and his football players.Ford emerged from his Etobicoke home at about 9:50 a.m. Friday and made his first public comments since two Toronto Star reporters wrote that they were shown the video by Somali men involved in the drug trade.
Skippy provides the background.