Tag Archives: Ukraine

Is Trump right to praise Putin’s leadership abilities?

Donald Trump and his friends, the Clintons
Donald Trump and his friends, the Clintons

In my previous post, I took on a couple of the meltdowns that Trump had in the CBS News debate Saturday night. Let’s look at another one.

Let’s first see what Trump said in this article from the leftist CNN.

Excerpt:

Donald Trump on Friday praised Vladimir Putin and appeared to defend the autocratic Russian president when pressed about his alleged killing of journalists and political opponents critical of his rule.

One day after Putin called Trump a “bright and talented” and the “absolute leader of the presidential race,” the Republican presidential front-runner returned the compliments, hailing Putin as a “leader” and pointing to his high favorability numbers in Russia.

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump said when asked by “Morning Joe” Republican host Joe Scarborough about Putin’s alleged killing of journalists and political opponents.

“I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe, so you know. There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, a lot of killing, a lot of stupidity,” he said.

And from the leftist Washington Post:

On Sunday, Trump took the opportunity to defend himself. “Nobody has proven that he’s killed anyone. … He’s always denied it. It’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody,” the American billionaire explained during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” He added: “You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. It has not been proven that he’s killed reporters.”

OK, so Trump thinks that Putin is a great leader.

Three points in response to that:

  • Putin kills people who criticize him in the Kremlin
  • Putin kills journalists who criticize him
  • Putin initiated a completely unprovoked invasion of peaceful Ukraine

Let’s look at them in order.

First point, from the leftist Washington Post.

Excerpt:

Gaunt and frail, his organs succumbing to the cruelly destructive power of radioactive poisoning, Alexander Litvinenko lay in a London hospital bed in November 2006 and identified the man responsible for his impending demise: Vladimir Putin.

Nearly a decade later, an exhaustive inquiry by a British judge concluded on Thursday that the dying former KGB operative was probably right. For the first time, the Russian president was officially implicated in a murder that seemed plucked from the pages of a Cold War spy novel but actually played out in the bar of a posh hotel in 21st-century London.

The victim: an outspoken Kremlin critic who had defected to Britain, joined the payroll of British intelligence and accused Putin of vices­ including corruption and pedophilia. The killers: a pair of assassins who, the report found, were almost certainly acting on orders from the Russian spy service, the FSB, and who left a trail of radioactive evidence strewn across London. The weapons of choice: one teacup and one massive dose of a rare nuclear isotope, polonium.

Second point, from the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

A 2009 investigation by the International Federation of Journalists reported 96 killings of journalists between 1991 and 2009, by far the highest number among the 20 richest countries in the world.

Another rolling report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) collects data of journalists killed in each nation from 1992 on. Only cases where the motive has a clear correlation to the victim’s work as a journalist make the lists.

There have been 56 such cases in Russia since CPJ started collecting data, with 25 deaths after Putin took office in May 2000. This means the frequency of deaths went down significantly after Putin’s inauguration, with less deaths during Putin’s 15 years as president or prime minister, than in the previous eight combined.

Third point, from the Washington Free Beacon.

Excerpt:

Russia has deployed as many as 10,000 troops in eastern Ukraine for more than a year and has actively sought to hide the deaths of its soldiers, according to a new report that provides a comprehensive assessment of the Kremlin’s invasion of its neighbor.

The report was published Thursday by the Interpreter, a daily online journal that translates Russian media and reports on Russian affairs, also detailed the Kremlin’s provision of increasingly sophisticated weaponry and vehicles to separatists in Ukraine. Nearly 8,000 people have been killed in the Ukrainian conflict since April 2014.

The conflict originated in March 2014 when unmarked Russian soldiers seized the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, an invasion that followed Ukraine’s ousting of a pro-Moscow leader. Despite denials from Russian President Vladimir Putin at the time that the troops belonged to Russia, he later admitted that he deployed them.

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin escalated support to separatists in eastern Ukraine that resided in areas with a majority of ethnic Russians. Reserve officers in the Russian military, who also had ties to the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU, commanded the rebels in attacks. By June 2014, the Ukrainian military said that Russia had massed more than 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and deployed about 7,000 to 10,000 Russian soldiers inside Ukraine.

Aside from complete ignorance about anything related to the job of being President of the United States, Trump has two other qualities that worry me. First, his temperament during the debate – the unhinged screaming and calling people liar about things he said on video – is disturbing. Second, I have no doubt that Trump would go from praising Putin to attacking him for killing journalists, if Putin made the slightest criticism of Trump. Perhaps by mocking Trump’s short, stubby fingers.

Trump supporters in denial

I know 3 Trump supporters, and I’ve tried to speak to them about things like eminent domain, support for bank bailouts, single payer health care, touchback amnesty, Planned Parenthood support, support for Vladimir Putinadultery and divorce, support for the gay rights agenda, four bankruptcies, etc. Their response has been do deny the evidence. Trump never did those things, all the news articles are lies, and all the videos of Trump saying those things are fake. I expect better than that from Trump supporters. This time, the stakes are as high as they could be: 4-5 Supreme Court picks.  This is the ballgame for America.

What Putin is teaching us about foreign policy: Obama’s weakness provokes aggression

Vladimir Putin and the Clown of the United States
Vladimir Putin and the Community Organizer of the United States

Other than Weekly Standard, my two favorite places to read about foreign policy are the Wall Street Journal and the UK Telegraph. And my favorite writer from all three of these is Bret Stephens, columnist at the Wall Street Journal.

Here is his latest article (click through to WSJ), then we’ll go to the UK Telegraph after.

Stephens writes:

David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”

America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

So it is with this president. It’s not enough for him to stake and defend his positions. He wants you to know that he thinks deeper, sees further, knows better, operates from a purer motive. His preferred method for dealing with disagreement is denigration. If Republicans want a tougher line in Syria, they’re warmongers.

Yes. Every time the President gives a speech on policy, you can count on him to present alternatives to his own very left-wing views as incredibly evil, incredibly stupid or both. He thinks that he knows everything, and that talking to people who disagree with him, no matter how qualified they are (e.g. – General Petraeus) would be a waste of time. Everyone who opposes his fact-free, pot-smoking, college dorm discussion view of reality is stupid or evil or both. And this man is President.

More:

For a relatively trivial investment of some jet fighters and a brigade-sized support force, Moscow extends its influence in the eastern Mediterranean, deepens a commercially and strategically productive alliance with Iran, humiliates the U.S., boosts Mr. Putin’s popularity at home, and earns a geopolitical card he can play in any number of negotiations—Ukraine, gas contracts, Mr. Assad’s political future, you name it. If things don’t work out, he can pull up stakes within a week without much loss of money, lives or prestige. It’s a perfect play.

Now let’s go to the UK Telegraph, and Matthew K. Lewis.

He writes:

Russian warplanes began bombing American-backed Syrian opposition strongholds on Wednesday, a move that can be viewed as the latest example of American humiliation abroad.

As was the case when Russians invaded Ukraine, the Russians cloaked their activity in lies.

In the former example, Russian soldiers didn’t wear uniforms, a thinly-veiled move meant to create the impression the fighters were merely Ukrainian “separatists.”

Likewise, Wednesday’s bombings ostensibly targeted Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil); in fact, the strikes were aimed at moderate rebels and civilians – part of a plan to take out any opposition to their client, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

[…]This all comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s drawing of a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons, only to back down when the Assad regime – by most accounts – used them.

Weakness invites provocation, and – never one to miss an opportunity to outmanoeuvre Mr Obama – Mr Putin provided a self-serving opportunity that would also allow the president to save face: Moscow would push Syria to put their chemical weapons under international control.

[…]It’s also important to note that in the wake of the red line being trampled, Russia invaded Crimea. President Obama’s legacy may be mixed, but one thing is for sure: Vladimir Putin is much more powerful and provocative than he was before Mr Obama took office, and Russia has only expanded its sphere of influence.

[…]For those paying attention, Mr Obama’s foreign policy world-view has failed.

Russia is our enemy, and they are trying to undermine us everywhere they can. Obama is meeting this challenge with the typical weakness he has shown in negotiations and stand-offs since he went on his Worldwide Bow Down To Dictators tour. His priorities seem to be to cut military spending and impose political correctness on the armed services. His latest great achievement in that regard is to nominate a gay civilian who has never served in the military to be head of the entire U.S. Army. That’s what he is most concerned about, political correctness. Not national security and not foreign policy.

What did Hillary Clinton accomplish as Secretary of State?

What difference does national security make?
What difference does national security make?

Thomas Sowell writes about Hillary’s foreign policy achievements in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

U.S. intervention in Libya and Egypt, undermining governments that were no threat to American interests, led to Islamic extremists taking over in Egypt and terrorist chaos in Libya, where the American ambassador was killed, along with three other Americans.

[…]In Europe, as in the Middle East, our foreign policy during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state was to undermine our friends and cater to our enemies.

The famous “reset” in our foreign policy with Russia began with the Obama administration reneging on a pre-existing American commitment to supply defensive technology to shield Poland and the Czech Republic from missile attacks.

This left both countries vulnerable to pressures and threats from Russia — and left other countries elsewhere wondering how much they could rely on American promises.

Even after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Obama administration refused to let the Ukrainians have weapons with which to defend themselves.

[…][Obama and Clinton] both opposed the military “surge” in Iraq, under General David Petraeus, that defeated the terrorists there.

Even after the surge succeeded, Hillary Clinton was among those who fiercely denied initially that it had succeeded, and sought to discredit Gen. Petraeus, though eventually the evidence of the surge’s success became undeniable, even among those who had opposed it.

The truly historic catastrophe of American foreign policy — not only failing to stop Iran from going nuclear, but making it more difficult for Israel to stop them — was also something that happened on Hillary Clinton’s watch as secretary of state.

What the administration’s protracted and repeatedly extended negotiations with Iran accomplished was to allow Iran time to multiply, bury and reinforce its nuclear facilities, to the point where it was uncertain whether Israel still had the military capacity to destroy those facilities.

There are no offsetting foreign policy triumphs under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Syria, China and North Korea are other scenes of similar setbacks.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, news has now come out that the Benghazi investigation has managed to get hold of e-mails that Hillary Clinton sent to her non-State-Department-employee friend Sidney Blumenthal. They did NOT get the e-mails from Hillary, like they were supposed to. They got them from Sidney Blumenthal. Why didn’t Hillary hand over those work-related e-mails? You can read about that story in the Washington Times.

And more – Clinton approved of the release of one of the Benghazi terrorist attack suspects in 2012. She assured conservative Congressman Tom Cotton that the Benghazi suspect would be monitored by the Tunisians, so that he could do us no more harm. Well, he ended up in Mosul, Iraq, and was just killed by an airstrike in June 2015. You can read more about that story in The Weekly Standard.

Seriously… I would think that the Libya debacle alone would be enough to sink Hillary’s presidential hopes. When you add the Russian reset, Benghazi YouTube alibi, Libya, Egypt, Syria, the Clinton Foundation scandal, and so many other failures and mistakes, we’d be better off hiring a clown to be President than putting her in charge. She just isn’t qualified to the job. She just doesn’t take national security and foreign policy seriously. She is only interested in one thing: getting elected.

Was Stalin an atheist? Is atheism or communism responsible for mass murders?

Disclaimer: small-government libertarian atheists, you are exempt from this post’s criticism.

Let’s take a look at what Josef Stalin did during his rule of Russia in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Library of Congress offers this in their “Soviet Archives exhibit”:

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open.

Let’s see more from a peer-reviewed journal article authored by Crispin Paine of the University College, London:

Atheist propaganda and the struggle against religion began immediately after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. While social change would, under Marxist theory, bring religion to disappear, Leninists argued that the Party should actively help to eradicate religion as a vital step in creating ‘New Soviet Man’. The energy with which the Party struggled against religion, though, varied considerably from time to time and from place to place, as did its hostility to particular faith groups. The 1920s saw the closure of innumerable churches and synagogues (and to a lesser extent mosques) and the active persecution of clergy and harassment of believers. From 1930, though, Stalin introduced a less aggressive approach, and wartime support for the government earned for the Russian Orthodox Church, at least, a level of toleration which lasted until Stalin’s death. Under Khrushchev antireligious efforts resumed, if spasmodically, and they lasted until the end of the Soviet Union.

An article from the pro-communism Marxist.com web site says this about Stalin:

During the ultra-left period of forcible collectivisation and the Five Year Plan in Four an attempt was made to liquidate the Church and its influence by government decree. Starting in 1929 churches were forcibly closed and priests arrested and exiled all over the Soviet Union. The celebrated Shrine of the Iberian Virgin in Moscow – esteemed by believers to be the “holiest” in all Russia was demolished – Stalin and his Government were not afraid of strengthening religious fanaticism by wounding the feelings of believers as Lenin and Trotsky had been! Religion, they believed, could be liquidated, like the kulak, by a stroke of the pen. The Society of Militant Atheists, under Stalin’s orders, issued on May 15th 1932, the “Five Year Plan of Atheism” – by May 1st 1937, such as the “Plan”, “not a single house of prayer shall remain in the territory of the USSR, and the very concept of God must be banished from the Soviet Union as a survival of the Middle Ages and an instrument for the oppression of the working masses.”!

Now, if all you read were atheist web sites, you’d think that Stalin loved religion and wasn’t opposed to Christianity at all. An atheist I know told me that Stalin was a Christian because that’s what he was as a child at one point. Funny sort of way to carry out your Christian faith, isn’t it? If you read atheist web sites, you’d expect Stalin to have had the career of a William Lane Craig or a J.P. Moreland. And yet in the fever swamp of atheist web sites, this is what they tell themselves. They believe it because they want to believe it. They have to believe it, in order to keep God at bay.

Now, if you were going to pick a hero of the Christian faith, you’d probably pick a real fundamentalist like William Wilberforce, who freed the slaves – because of his evangelical Christian convictions. Wilberforce took Christianity seriously – he believed every verse of the Bible, he tried to convert people to his faith, and he pushed his faith on others by passing laws. He was the worst nightmare of atheism – a politically active Evangelical Christian.

But who is a great atheist who was politically active? When I think of a great atheist, someone who really did the most to oppose the “lie” of God’s existence, I think of Josef Stalin. So what kind of morality can we expect from someone who takes the message of Richard Dawkins and Dan Barker seriously and has the political power to really do something about it?

The Ukraine Famine

Take a look at this UK Daily Mail article about a great achievement of the atheist Josef Stalin, which occurred in 1932-1933.

Excerpt:

Now, 75 years after one of the great forgotten crimes of modern times, Stalin’s man-made famine of 1932/3, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine is asking the world to classify it as a genocide.

The Ukrainians call it the Holodomor – the Hunger.

Millions starved as Soviet troops and secret policemen raided their villages, stole the harvest and all the food in villagers’ homes.

They dropped dead in the streets, lay dying and rotting in their houses, and some women became so desperate for food that they ate their own children.

If they managed to fend off starvation, they were deported and shot in their hundreds of thousands.

So terrible was the famine that Igor Yukhnovsky, director of the Institute of National Memory, the Ukrainian institution researching the Holodomor, believes as many as nine million may have died.

[…]Between four and five million died in Ukraine, a million died in Kazakhstan and another million in the north Caucasus and the Volga.

By 1933, 5.7 million households – somewhere between ten million and 15 million people – had vanished. They had been deported, shot or died of starvation.

This is what follows when you believe that the universe is an accident, that there is no objective good and evil, that human beings are just animals, that no God will hold us accountable, and that human beings are not made in the image of God for the purpose of freely choosing to come into a relationship with him. The Ukrainian famine is an action that came from a man whose worldview was passionate atheism.

Atheism today

You might think that today’s atheists are much different than Josef Stalin, but understand that according to a recent survey of atheists conducted by atheists, 97% of atheists are pro-abortion. How many people have been killed by abortion? 56 million in the United States alone. Atheists in a society like ours, founded on Judeo-Christian values, are obviously going to live a lot better than Stalin. For one thing, they don’t have the power that Stalin had to eradicate theism, although you can see Stalinism in the anti-Christian activities of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation. But take away the Judeo-Christian foundations of this society, and what would you see atheists doing?

Remember the words of Richard Dawkins:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

Now, having said that, I readily admit that many atheists adopt Judeo-Christian values if their society is saturated with them, but they are acting better than their worldview requires. They are acting inconsistently with what atheism really teaches. It’s good for us that they do, but for how long?

Yemen rebels eject pro-Western government, Russian troops seize Donetsk airport

Everything is fine! Obama said what a great job he was doing during his State of the Union speech, right?

Middle East Map
Middle East Map

Let’s start with Yemen and the Associated Press:

Yemen’s U.S.-backed president quit Thursday under pressure from rebels holding him captive in his home, severely complicating American efforts to combat al-Qaida’s powerful local franchise and raising fears that the Arab world’s poorest country will fracture into mini-states.

Presidential officials said Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi submitted his resignation to parliament rather than make further concessions to Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who control the capital and are widely believed to be backed by Iran.

The prime minister and his cabinet also stepped down, making a thinly veiled reference to the Houthis’ push at gunpoint for a greater share of power. Houthis deployed their fighters around parliament, which is due to discuss the situation on Sunday.

Yemeni law dictates that the parliament speaker – Yahia al-Rai, a close ally of former autocratic ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh – will now assume the presidency. Saleh still wields considerable power and is widely believed to be allied with the Houthis.

There were conflicting reports suggesting that authorities in Aden, the capital of southern region of Yemen, would no longer submit to the central government’s authority. Even before the Houthis’ recent ascendance, a powerful movement in southern Yemen was demanding autonomy or a return to the full independence the region enjoyed before 1990. Southerners outrightly reject rule by the Houthis, whose power base is in the north. The Houthis are Zaydis, a Shiite minority that makes up about a third of Yemen’s population.

This BBC article explains more about why this is bad news for the United States. Maybe they will try to blame this one on a Youtube video, again?

Oh, but there is more good news. Thanks to Obama’s fabulous leadership in foreign policy, the Russians have seized control of a Ukrainian airport.

Map of Ukraine
Map of Ukraine

The Wall Street Journal explains:

Shelling killed at least eight people at a bus stop in Donetsk on Thursday, hours after government forces withdrew from the ruins of the city’s airport following months of relentless bombardment.

With government forces in apparent retreat in several spots, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization offered indirect backing for the Ukrainian government’s claims of a fresh influx of Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.

A military spokesman in Kiev said 10 government troops also had been killed in the prior 24 hours—one of the highest single-day totals in weeks.

Separatist forces captured 16 wounded soldiers during the battle overnight at Donetsk airport—then brought the captives to the site of the bus-stop shelling, where they were forced to kneel before a crowd of outraged locals.

[…]Earlier this week, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said Russia had sent more than 1,000 troops across the border to fight alongside the separatists, putting the total on Ukrainian territory at 9,000.

[…]On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had reported “an increase in Russian equipment inside eastern Ukraine,” such as tanks, artillery, armored vehicles and advanced air-defense systems.

With fighting intensifying along the so-called line of contact, Gen. Breedlove said the Russia-backed forces have shown “a renewed capability now to bring pressure on the Ukrainian forces,” gaining ground “in several places.”

While the airport, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of the city, is in ruins, the government’s withdrawal from the main terminal was a significant blow, at least to morale, after months of dogged resistance.

“Last night we took a decision to leave the terminal and pull back to new lines,” military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said. He said the terminal had been damaged to such an extent that it could no longer be defended, but that fighting around the airport was continuing.

Another spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko, said some buildings were still standing and being defended, such as the remnants of the airport tower and fire station.

Remember when Obama ridiculed Romney for thinking that Russia was a threat to world peace? Obama said to Romney “The 1980s Are Now Calling to Ask for Their Foreign Policy Back”. I think that was a mistake.