Author Topic: The new Cold War  (Read 1850 times)

DJQuag

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The new Cold War
« on: March 15, 2018, 05:08:34 PM »
I mentioned this in a post a few days back, but Russia committed a chemical weapons attack against a UK civilian population.

The spy in question, his daughter, and a policeman on the scene were critically injured. What isn't thrown in the headlines as much is that approximately 20 other civilians were also injured.

In a nerve gas attack.

On UK soil.

This is a really big deal. Putin has been pushing the boundaries for the past few years. Annexing part of Ukraine, the troll farms, and now this. Has he finally gone too far? Even the Trump administration has had to join with other NATO countries condemning this.

What do you all think will be the repercussions over this? How will Putin react if the sanctions cut too deep against the Russian oligarchy?

Fenring

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2018, 05:17:37 PM »
I'll be honest, I don't know the basis of the certainty the UK had that this was Russia. Is it just that it was an ex-Russian citizen? American press and think tanks have been pushing for animosity, sanctions, and war drums against Russia for so many years in a row that I worry terribly when hearing something like this. There is just so much incentive for a frame-job against Russia as the straw to justify who-knows what. And the way the groupthink works you know it won't be a collective, civilized pro/con discussion. It will be someone saying something like "if you're not with us in stopping Russia then you're against us" and people will lower their heads and not say anything, just like in Iraq 2.0.

Every possible type of brakes should be put on before locking horns with Russia, even if they've done something very bad like this. But if there's the slightest doubt that they really did it then I would personally not be one to jump to the conclusion since 'they're bad anyhow'. When the aggressive, deadly special interests would get exactly what they want from an event I suspect it immediately.

Crunch

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2018, 05:28:26 PM »
The nerve agent used is called “Novichok” and was developed in the Soviet Union. Russia was supposed to have destroyed all of it by last September. I assume the blame for the attack lies with Russia since it’s the only place you could get this particular nerve agent.

If Russia didn’t do it, then the Russians supplied the agent to the attackers or have lost control of a supply they supposedly destroyed.

DJQuag

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2018, 05:34:29 PM »
The nerve agent used is called “Novichok” and was developed in the Soviet Union. Russia was supposed to have destroyed all of it by last September. I assume the blame for the attack lies with Russia since it’s the only place you could get this particular nerve agent.

If Russia didn’t do it, then the Russians supplied the agent to the attackers or have lost control of a supply they supposedly destroyed.

Which is basically what May asked Russia. Either they committed the attack, or they've lost control of their chemical weapons. Which is it?

I really don't like May, especially for how she has handled Brexit, but I can admire the government taking a strong stand here.

DJQuag

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2018, 05:43:33 PM »
I'll be honest, I don't know the basis of the certainty the UK had that this was Russia. Is it just that it was an ex-Russian citizen? American press and think tanks have been pushing for animosity, sanctions, and war drums against Russia for so many years in a row that I worry terribly when hearing something like this. There is just so much incentive for a frame-job against Russia as the straw to justify who-knows what. And the way the groupthink works you know it won't be a collective, civilized pro/con discussion. It will be someone saying something like "if you're not with us in stopping Russia then you're against us" and people will lower their heads and not say anything, just like in Iraq 2.0.

Every possible type of brakes should be put on before locking horns with Russia, even if they've done something very bad like this. But if there's the slightest doubt that they really did it then I would personally not be one to jump to the conclusion since 'they're bad anyhow'. When the aggressive, deadly special interests would get exactly what they want from an event I suspect it immediately.

UK authorities have analyzed the compound in question and identified it as one developed and stockpiled by the USSR. When it comes to my government versus Russia, I know who I trust. Even if they are Tories.

And it by no means has to be a shooting conflict. Russia is a straight up oligarchy. If enough countries put up strong enough sanctions that they stuck to, the oligarchy would throw Putin out on his ass. Obama's last set of sanctions hurt them more then some people realise.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2018, 05:46:19 PM by DJQuag »

DonaldD

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2018, 05:49:42 PM »
It wasn't nerve gas but a nerve agent.  The other victims were most likely affected by coming into physical contact with either the two primary victims or the objects the primary victims had previously come into contact with.

Fenring, Theresa May laid out the UK position quite clearly, and no, it was not just based on an assumption concerning the victims, or on the power of the dreaded mainstream media in the west.
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Mr Speaker, on Monday I set out that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Novichok: a military grade nerve agent developed by Russia.

Based on this capability, combined with their record of conducting state sponsored assassinations – including against former intelligence officers whom they regard as legitimate targets – the UK Government concluded it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for this reckless and despicable act.

And there were only two plausible explanations.

Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country.

Or conceivably, the Russian government could have lost control of a military-grade nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.

Mr Speaker, it was right to offer Russia the opportunity to provide an explanation.

But their response has demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events.

They have provided no credible explanation that could suggest they lost control of their nerve agent.

No explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the United Kingdom; no explanation as to why Russia has an undeclared chemical weapons programme in contravention of international law.

Instead they have treated the use of a military grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance.
There are reasons why governments are concerned about Russian aggression, and there are reasons why international media report on so many bad acts by Russia.  Those reasons include Russia's aggression, and the bad acts that the country practices.

Sometimes, telling the truth and believing the truth are not bad things.

Putin has a tendency to push the envelope, and simply ignores soft power.  At some point, the west needs to respond in a way that actually hurts.  We are starting to see this with a number of Magnitsky acts, and the UK may now be convinced to strengthen their existing  laws. Putin is, by proxy, possibly the richest man on the planet.  If his puppets start losing tens of billions of dollars... (the UK is the largest parking lot of Russian expatriate money in the world...)

rightleft22

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2018, 12:15:47 PM »
Putin has an amazing ability to miniplate the narrative and ‘create reality’ – he is a master of the art of lying

When the truth no longer matters we are entering into very dangerous times.

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In the lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily…
It would never come into their heads to fabricate such untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.
— Adolf Hitler

The essential leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous – Goebbels

TheDeamon

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2018, 04:42:53 PM »
NATO won't do anything, and Russia knows it, because Germany and much of Western, continental Europe are dependent on Russia for Natural Gas supplies among other things.

Until or unless something is done to address that, nothing of significance will happen.

And fixing that would be a multi-year undertaking a minimum. The United States would potentially be a huge beneficiary of that, as we're the only ones with potential capacity already in play, just not being used. Of course, we'd have to build some new (natural gas) pipelines and some shipping facilities as well..

Gaoics79

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2018, 05:10:44 PM »
Can someone explain something to me? Why would Russia use this exotic nerve agent to conduct a simple assassination? Why not just shoot the victim with a gun? Or employ any number of other means presumably available to murder people that can't be traced unequivocally (and obviously!) back to Russia?

I'm not being rhetorical; what possible reason does Russia have to kill in this way? Does Russia want to be caught?

That latter point isn't me being rhetorical either. Maybe Putin wants the west to look weak and his enemies to be terrified? Is this attack some kind of message?

Until someone can answer these questions in a convincing way, I have to be with Fenring on this one - it just doesn't seem right. It smells wrong.

DonaldD

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2018, 05:47:49 PM »
Yes, Putin wants to let his former spies (and current spies who might one day want to become former spies) know that one day, they will die a horrible death at the hands of their former country.  And he doesn't want there to be any ambiguity that it was Russia pulling the trigger.

Yes, he wants to call the west's bluff; he wants to show that the west is weak, ineffectual, indecisive.  And until the west grows a couple, he will keep pushing that envelope as far as he can.

And yes, there is a Russian "election" this week.  Although the outcome is a foregone conclusion, he is fighting a growing wave of domestic antipathy.  This is partly Putin riding a horse, bare chested, while snorkelling and finding buried treasure.

TheDeamon

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2018, 05:53:18 PM »
Can someone explain something to me? Why would Russia use this exotic nerve agent to conduct a simple assassination? Why not just shoot the victim with a gun? Or employ any number of other means presumably available to murder people that can't be traced unequivocally (and obviously!) back to Russia?

I'm not being rhetorical; what possible reason does Russia have to kill in this way? Does Russia want to be caught?

That latter point isn't me being rhetorical either. Maybe Putin wants the west to look weak and his enemies to be terrified? Is this attack some kind of message?

In this case, the argument isn't so much about Russia being concerned about getting caught. The "message" being sent is to their own operatives, if you turn traitor and flee to another country, we're going to get you(and maybe your family members too).

Although realistically, in that respect, the "more likely" option here is Russian criminal elements showing their hand outside of state direction. They potentially have access to that stuff as well, and they're also not care if it reflects back on Russia, as the government will take the heat with only token efforts to track them down, so no risk to them. At least so long as they limit their targets to "Russian traitors."

And if there is significant diplomatic fallout for it as a consequence, well.. That'll probably just make for a banner year on the black market. Even war isn't necessarily a bad thing in their book, still great for the black market, and as they're "not the government" they'll still expect to be there win or lose on the Russian side.

Fenring

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2018, 06:11:28 PM »
In this case, the argument isn't so much about Russia being concerned about getting caught. The "message" being sent is to their own operatives, if you turn traitor and flee to another country, we're going to get you(and maybe your family members too).

But that's not what happened. The guy was arrested and sentenced to prison in Russia, and was subsequently pardoned and shipped to the UK as part of an exchange program. So now, 8 years after being in the UK, he's assassinated. Yes, he was a former spy or possibly a double agent, but even so - why now? Surely there was a Russian election between 2010 and now, so why this timing? The "message" you suggest Russia might be sending is just as conveniently timed as some other party knowing this and timing it so that it would look like Russia did it right before an election. I see no way to distinguish between the two cases, and this non-falsifiability is exactly the point. All fingers will predictably point to Putin and there's no way on Earth Russia or anyone else could demonstrate otherwise.

Quote
Although realistically, in that respect, the "more likely" option here is Russian criminal elements showing their hand outside of state direction. They potentially have access to that stuff as well, and they're also not care if it reflects back on Russia, as the government will take the heat with only token efforts to track them down, so no risk to them. At least so long as they limit their targets to "Russian traitors."

That's the trick here. The West doesn't care what actually happened, so long as they're satisfied to have more proof that Russia is evil and behind all problems. Once the media tried, for instance, to blame the instability in Syria on Russian interference, it should be clear as day to everyone that these narratives have no credibility. So now you're in deep with the Double Cross system: do you disbelieve everything knowing that you could be fooled by any piece of "evidence", or do you just go ahead and believe the first suggestion made, for instance here that "Russia did it". No one will be looking to find alternatives, such as Russia terrorists, or private interests, or whoever else, and so the "Putin bad" narrative will go uncontested. And the sad fact is that Putin is bad, which makes the narrative all the more prone to going uncontested.

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And if there is significant diplomatic fallout for it as a consequence, well.. That'll probably just make for a banner year on the black market. Even war isn't necessarily a bad thing in their book, still great for the black market, and as they're "not the government" they'll still expect to be there win or lose on the Russian side.

This type of analysis will not be made by most people and by most governments. They are enthused by the idea of having more fodder for the anti-Russia narrative that considerable effort would be made to ignore contrary evidence, no less look for alternative explanations when the matter isn't entirely clear.

I don't think people take these matters nearly seriously enough or are aware anymore of what it is to threaten a major nuclear power. When the matter on the table is threats against Russia people talk about it like it's a game of Axis and Allies or something. "Oh yeah, we shouldn't let them get away with it!" Easy to say when you're not the one who'd have to walk over there, gun in hand, to do something about it yourself. Would people say things so easily if the consequence was their own children going out to die the next day? That is how serious it is to jump to these conclusions. Actually it's worse, when nuclear war is a possible consequence. When there are parties out there who want escalation with Russia so much care has to be taken to fall for easy bait to rattle sabres.

Gaoics79

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2018, 07:37:28 AM »
Yes, Putin wants to let his former spies (and current spies who might one day want to become former spies) know that one day, they will die a horrible death at the hands of their former country.  And he doesn't want there to be any ambiguity that it was Russia pulling the trigger.

Yes, he wants to call the west's bluff; he wants to show that the west is weak, ineffectual, indecisive.  And until the west grows a couple, he will keep pushing that envelope as far as he can.

And yes, there is a Russian "election" this week.  Although the outcome is a foregone conclusion, he is fighting a growing wave of domestic antipathy.  This is partly Putin riding a horse, bare chested, while snorkelling and finding buried treasure.

So the prevailing wisdom is that Putin wanted to be "caught"?

DonaldD

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2018, 02:29:06 PM »
"Caught"?  I don't know what that means in this context. Was Russia worried about getting "caught" when it invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea? It also denied those facts, even as its own soldiers kept being captured or their bodies retrieved.

Russian state television (is there any other kind left in Russia, after all...) was openly bragging about the assassination attempt... at best with a nudge and a wink.  "Caught" is not the right word.

Greg Davidson

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2018, 01:36:55 AM »
The context I have heard asserted is that Putin wanted to credibly convey that he personally had the capability to commit targeted assassinations. I am not sure I believe this assertion, but it is at least plausible.  And if you follow that scenario further, the implication would be that to betray Putin in any capacity could be a death penalty, even for a civilian in a foreign country.  Which (and again, I am raising this hypothesis but unlike much of what I post, I have no evidence to validate this theory) would be an effective tool for coercing anyone currently under investigation who might have been working with the Russians but are not yet cooperating witnesses. 

Fenring

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2018, 12:29:34 PM »
The context I have heard asserted is that Putin wanted to credibly convey that he personally had the capability to commit targeted assassinations. I am not sure I believe this assertion, but it is at least plausible.  And if you follow that scenario further, the implication would be that to betray Putin in any capacity could be a death penalty, even for a civilian in a foreign country.  Which (and again, I am raising this hypothesis but unlike much of what I post, I have no evidence to validate this theory) would be an effective tool for coercing anyone currently under investigation who might have been working with the Russians but are not yet cooperating witnesses.

I pretty much agree with Greg's framing of this. That Putin would want to publicly brag about being a bad-ass killer is plausible in the sense that I can imagine a generic megalomaniac enjoying that infamy. But given that with almost no effort on the part of UK forensics Russia has already been blamed, and that now there's significant backlash, I don't see how this is a net win for him. Putin consistently tries to create good PR for Russia, in blaming the West for certain problems in the world, poking at weak points in American foreign policy, and speaking candidly on particular touchy issues where others obfuscate and dissemble. It seems counterproductive to think that whilst conducting a regular PR campaign to show that Russia isn't so bad and is being treated unfairly he would also do this in order to brag about being an international criminal. He seems smarter than that. It doesn't mean this isn't what happened, but it feels like a cheap conclusion and isn't what I would expect even an 'evil' dictator to do.

I would also like to point out that even the narrative of this being a warning to ex-spies who might spill the beans is suspect. This guy was voluntarily released from prison in Russia in 2010 and sent to the West as part of an exchange program. Why is the 'message' suddenly necessary now, 8 years later? Are spies supposed to accept the reality that "if you betray us you'll go to jail, but then you'll be pardoned and set free, and then better watch your step because we'll kill you many years later after you've enjoyed a great deal of freedom?" Doesn't sound nearly as threatening a message the mafia might send out. 

rightleft22

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2018, 01:58:41 PM »
Quote
“Putin consistently tries to create good PR for Russia”
is an assumption Putin might like the world to believe.
I don’t think Putin cares what the world thinks in terms of good or bad, when he can so easily manipulate it. 

Putin is a master of miss-direction and the lie.
The assassination is a win win for Putin – A strong message at home while abroad the world is divided with questions of what is “true”, may be the UK did it themselves.  Putin just laughs

Trump practices the same art of the absurd lie (which is why we won’t call Putin out on it) – Just keep repeating the lie or ‘truthful hyperbole” no mater how absurd and eventually the narrative will change, the issue forgotten or any opposition given up. 

Fenring

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2018, 02:44:49 PM »
Quote
“Putin consistently tries to create good PR for Russia”
is an assumption Putin might like the world to believe.
I don’t think Putin cares what the world thinks in terms of good or bad, when he can so easily manipulate it. 

Then you're not paying attention. He does many interviews, television spots, and other media interactions and every single time I've seen one (which is many) his basic approach is to always demonstrate how allegations of Russia being a terrible villain are Western hype and he tries to show how reasonable he is in his diplomatic approach. Very often he'll talk about Russian oil and how all he wants is a fair chance to compete, while detractors will make up reasons why he should be legally curtailed from competing. He also frequently refers to the proliferation of American bases and weapons and how if you look at a map it's hard to construe Russia as any kind of aggressor.

You can call all of this doublespeak, lies, propaganda, etc etc and that's fine. It's no surprise that he'll say whatever he can to make Russia come out ahead. But to say that he makes no attempts to improve Russian PR and improve relations with the surrounding countries doesn't reflect reality.

DonaldD

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Re: The new Cold War
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2018, 07:39:57 AM »
Fenring, you're assuming that his statements are primarily meant for international consumption, whereas in all likelihood, they are directed internally, and only secondarily for international consumption.

Few internationally believe much of what Putin states, but as long as he doesn't boast about assassinations or invasions, the west, who play by a slightly different set of rules, has to at least pretend there could be some validity in Russia's statements.