Archive for the ‘War’ Category

by Richard Martin

What we know: Prigozhin made a play for power and failed. Everything else in the public domain is pure speculation, most of it fuelled by rumours and intentional disinformation.

Regarding the offensive. The Ukrainians appear to have the initiative, therefore they are on the offensive. How that plays out tactically and operationally is another matter. The Russians have been trying different things, e.g., blowing the dam, but so far only to hinder and slow down movement. The Russian obstacles are, by all accounts, formidable.  It is a truism that obstacle breaching by forces under fire is the most complicated operation of all.

However, obstacles that aren’t covered by fire, direct and indirect, are merely a nuisance and will slow movement and manoeuvre, but only up to a point. It’s also important to point out that all fortifications are eventually defeated, either through destruction, breaching, or bypassing (therefore making them irrelevant).

I believe the Ukrainians are being very prudent in their tactical approach. They are unwilling to throw troops into battle without careful preparation and reconnaissance, and will substitute firepower and attrition as much as possible. They appear to be using small units to probe Russian positions and to draw out artillery fire so they can attack it with counter-battery fires. Over the last month or so, it seems that the number of Russian artillery systems destroyed has gone up significantly. The Ukrainians also seem to be focusing on destroying dual-capable systems, i.e., those that can fire nuclear as well as conventional munitions. The Russians call artillery the “god of war” for a reason. The Ukrainians appear to be wearing it down as much as possible.

The Ukrainians are also seeking to wear down Russian forces in depth, and command and control points. They are also attriting Russian logistics and supply capabilities, especially rail hubs, bridges, and other lines of communications, as well as ammunition dumps and troop concentrations.

I am more and more of the opinion that the Ukrainian strategy is to cause as much attrition as possible until such time as the Russians collapse somewhere. Then they can pour forces into the breach and seek to envelope enemy groupings and try to cut them off from retreat. A main objective must be to destroy as much Russian combat capability and kill or wound as many Russian soldiers as possible. This serves the tactical purpose of creating breakthrough opportunities. But, it also serves a longer term purpose of preventing the Russians from starting again if they are completely expelled from Ukraine. This is what they did to reconquer the Kharkiv and Kherson areas, and I see no reason for them to change their overall approach now.

Operationally, informed opinion converges around the idea that the Ukrainians would seek to cut the Russian forces in half by heading to Berdyansk and environs. This would isolate the Crimea from the rest of Russian occupied territory and make the situation there even more precarious.

By Richard Martin

Thanks to Professor Sean Maloney of RMC for naming what happened in Russia on 23-24 June 2023. We can analyze the events, but we can’t apply a Western framework or look at them through a liberal-democratic lens. 

Putin, Kremlin operators, siloviki, Wagner and other mercenary groups, are nothing but opportunists seeking power and wealth. There are multiple security agencies and forces within the state apparatus which can play a part. People are loyal to individuals, not the constitution or the people or even the state. The state for these strongmen is a means to an end. When they can no longer get what they want from the existing network, they will make a play to rearrange it in their favour, or at least position themselves to wait out the changes.

What this is not: a mutiny, popular uprising, foco, or a coup d’état. Mutiny may be feeding the putsch, but if the troops had wanted to mutiny en masse (it has happened in pockets prior to the Wagner putsch), they would have done so by now. Mutiny also implies that the troops are no longer okay with the mission, and just don’t want to be slaughtered or treated like cattle for nothing. There is no indication, yet, that there is sufficient discontent or organized resistance within the ranks.

There is also no uprising on in Russia, although there may be much popular discontent and rebelliousness and the situation can change quickly. Most people, including local and provincial government authorities will wait to see which way the wind is blowing. As for a coup, that would be staged from within the immediate circle of power, the Kremlin, or at the most Moscow, and would have to involve those closest to Putin and within his security apparatus and network.

This is a putsch, a push for power by a group, usually from outside the capital. It involves turning groups and leaders against the central government, especially those in control of security and military forces. A historical analogy is to be found in imperial Rome, where rebellions almost always started in the provinces, usually Gaul, Hispanic, or Syria, because there was a good wealth base, and during a period of instability or a losing war/battle.

Soldiers in various legions would proclaim their general as imperator, which means victor, or great commander. Then they would march on Rome or to meet opposing forces in battle who trying to do the same thing. Sometimes, there would be forces loyal to the reigning emperor who would try to support him. The motivation was a play for power and wealth. Those supporting the leaders throw in with the one they think will guarantee them the best spoils or, alternatively, avoid them being killed.

Another analogy is a game of musical chairs. The music is cacophonous, with instruments out of tune, multiple scores, and several conductors. No one knows when the music will stop. Some key players are jockeying for position, while others are waiting in the wings to try to get to a chair or to fall in behind the winner(s).

I think the trigger for Prigozhin to launch his putsch was the incursions in the Belgorod region a few weeks ago by Russian rebels supported by Ukrainian capabilities. When he saw how weak the forces outside of Ukraine were, he felt he could reach Moscow quickly if he could rally enough support.

When Prigozhin realized he didn’t have enough units coming over to him, and especially the internal security forces, that’s when he called off the march on Moscow. It had nothing to do with buses and trucks blocking the highway or “negotiations.” His putsch failed, as most do, because he gambled and lost.

It’s also interesting to note that the Kremlin keeps its best forces to protect Moscow and the Kremlin (which literally means fortress). In Russia, all roads lead to Moscow, so it’s part of the mentality that it must be protected at all costs.

None of these strongmen are democrats or true reformers. They are fighting to see who will be on top of the pyramid, nothing more. And that includes Saint Navalny and Khodorkovsky the former oligarch. They have no honour and will throw each other under the tank if they think it will advance their chances of moving up the hierarchy.

It’s also important to mention that none of these men thinks the idea of invading Ukraine was a bad idea. They all want it and will do everything they can to continue the war. And can we finally lay to rest the idea of peace feelers, peace talks, giving peace a chance? They need to be wiped out.

© 2023 Richard Martin

Bitcoin Can’t Be Stopped

Posted: March 24, 2023 in Economics, War
Tags: ,

By Richard Martin

There is Bitcoin, and there is everything else. The legacy financial system is a dead man walking. Banks and other financial institutions must start adapting now or the same thing will happen to them as happened to the old media businesses with the invention of the world wide web and social media.

I think that may be one of the reasons that the Fed, SEC and other federal agencies are clamping down on crypto exchanges. There’s also a concern that this is part of attempt to choke crypto on-ramps and slow down transactions. I think they will succeed in eliminating most of the dubious players, but they won’t be able to stop Bitcoin.

It is my considered opinion than Bitcoin is unstoppable. There is no founder, no organization, no board, no CEO, no centralized system or hoard to seize. It’s a transparent, decentralized, open-source protocol spread around the world. Its tokens are completely fungible and can be taken off exchanges. They can be safeguarded in cold storage in multi signature hardware wallets, and even exchanged by hand on small thumb drive like devices. Transactions can’t be censored.

The aptly named Lightning Network is designed to facilitate and accelerate Bitcoin transactions worldwide at the speed of the Internet at a fraction of the cost. The significant proportion of people on the the planet who are still unbanked now have a means to become banked. Think of the Kiva model and the Grameen Bank, but on steroids.

There are companies building micro hydro power stations in Africa and using the electricity to mine Bitcoin and as local market demand ramps up, they can shift to that and move to other projects. People in the developed world can’t see that and can’t see the need for it. But for the rest of the planet it is a massive opportunity.

There’s a US company called Strike that provides fund transfer services for cash remittances to El Salvador, the Philippines, Ghana, and Kenya, and more will be coming online in the next few years. Funds can be transferred directly between family members around the world instantaneously and for pennies.

The Bitcoin Network can’t be controlled by the United States or any other state. The bad guys are starting to cotton on to that fact, so it’s going to make economic warfare a lot harder, for example against Russia, Iran, and North Korea as it can probably be used to get around sanctions and export restrictions.

by Steve Young, Lt Col (ret’d), Canadian Army

The following is a guest post by my good friend, Steve Young. It’s his estimate of the situation, and pretty darn good. Enjoy. And please let me know if you like these guest reports. I have a lot of friends and colleagues who can provide unique and deep insight into the war in Ukraine and other strategic topics.

Executive Summary

Ukraine has strategically held their lines since reclaiming land in the fall, preparing for a counter-offensive against Russia. Ukraine’s plan involves a highly coordinated assault using various military assets to break Russian defences and exploit the breakthrough. The operation requires significant resources and coordination. Ukraine’s forces are better trained and globally supported, while Russia faces challenges with poor equipment, training, and leadership. The conflict’s outcome looks unfavourable for Russia, with the situation in Crimea remaining uncertain.

Ukraine Estimate

I have been getting some questions on what is happening, so I thought I would post something a bit long. 

So what has been happening since Ukraine took back a large chunk of land back in the fall?  Well, basically, Ukraine chased the Russians back as far as they thought prudent without exposing themselves to counter-attack. Russia went on the defensive and managed to stabilize their lines. When the New Year began, Russia started attacking all across the lines of contact, but more particularly in the regions of Bakhmut and Vuledar. Vuledar didn’t go so well – the Russians lost the bulk of their mechanized forces in several amateurish attacks that failed spectacularly. They had some limited success with dismounted infantry in Bakhmut but have lost most of their gains over the past week. And Russia is losing between 750 and 1,000 soldiers a day with little to show for it. Bakhmut holds. 

Ukraine is caught between trying to hold their lines with as few resources as possible while building up for an eventual counter-offensive. It must be heartbreaking to see all the casualties come back from the front lines while fresh troops and equipment are not committed to the fight, but Ukraine has a sound plan and they must persevere.  We call such operations Economy of Effort, but that doesn’t make it any easier to see the casualties pile up. 

The eventual counter-offensive will require a mix of reconnaissance, combat engineers, heavy tanks, artillery, mechanized infantry and wheeled logistics, plus any air and aviation assets they can muster. I figure Ukraine will require somewhere North of 500,000 soldiers, likely double that if they can field that many forces.  Offensive operations, properly done, are resource intensive. Some of the initial moves may have already begun. You may have noticed that Ukrainian reconnaissance activity has picked up of late, and that they are targeting artillery and air defence assets as a priority. 

The first step will be a highly choreographed assault to break through Russian defensive positions.  They’ll likely try to break through in two places, hoping to get at least one. You will see the heaviest equipment used here:  Abrams, Challenger and Leopard tanks, Bradley and Marder fighting vehicles, lots of artillery and even air support. My guess is that they have been practising all winter. It takes training and a lot of coordination to get everything done properly. That part should go well, and Ukraine is likely to slice through the Russian lines without much difficulty, albeit at the cost of considerable expenditure of scarce resources. 

The next step is to try and exploit the breakthrough, to change the initial tactical success into something more, hopefully something that would cause the Russian line to collapse entirely. This part will see the older Leopard 1 tanks, the French AMX-RC wheeled “tankettes”, jeeps, armoured personnel carriers and anything armoured and fast. All supplies, fuel and ammunition will need to be on wheels, so a lot of trucks will be required. The job of this second force is to destroy supply dumps, staging areas, repair depots, command posts and, most importantly, air defence systems. They’ll need to move quickly but should be mostly unopposed since Russia hasn’t kept much in Reserve for such contingencies. I am guessing that there will be no small amount of partisan support to assist along the way. 

Importantly, they’ll need to do something decisive such as cut the Russian forces in two or surround a large number of troops.  

This second part can’t be rehearsed as much. Commanders will have to rely on the initiative of their subordinate leaders, and trust that they will do the right thing. It will likely be quick and chaotic, hopefully causing the poorly led Russians to cut and run and/or surrender.  If, somehow, that second part doesn’t work out, it might be some time before Ukraine could muster the necessary resources to try again. For me, I’ll be watching this second part closely. 

My guess is that they’ll head to Mariupol.

Anyway, for what it is worth, some things have not changed much. Russia has poor equipment, little to no training, poor leadership and poor doctrine. They have quantity on their side, which has a quality all its own (Stalin’s words), but little else. The only possible way they could capture Kiev is to walk the whole 600 km. They continue to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, breaking conventions to which they are signatories. Ukraine has the support of most of the world, their training outclasses the Russians and they are unified in their aim to expel Russia. This isn’t going to end well for Russia. 

And what about Crimea? If indeed the the Russian defence collapses, it may not be necessary to fight over Crimea. Let’s hope so.

©️Steve Young

A quick review by Richard Martin

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): If you have any interest in, or concern about, collective and individual security, prosperity, cyber defence, psychological warfare, and/or the defence of our Western way of life, then you MUST read Jason Lowery‘s Softwar: A Novel Theory on Power Projection and the National Strategic Significance of Bitcoin.

Jason has developed and disseminated this thesis as a “deliverable” (his term) under the terms of a DoD sponsored Defense Fellowship at MIT. Defense fellowships are highly sought after and require sponsorship at the highest levels of the defense forces. They are intended to explore the implications of new technical developments, among other topics, for national security, defense policy, and the grand strategy of the US and its allies.

With that said, there are caveats (or rather factors) to consider, although they don’t take away from his fundamental thesis and the conclusions he derives therefrom. So, I’ll just come right out and say this. The document is a mixture of sound argumentation, infuriating over-generalizations, polemical statements, and rhetorical flourishes. As an academic thesis, it is extremely long, convoluted, repetitious, sometimes sophomoric. However, that’s MIT’s business, not ours.

But, and this is crucial, it is also filled with brilliant nuggets (almost on every page) that generate profound insights and epiphanies which in turn lead the reader to explore and reflect further. I predict that this work will have a significant influence within the national defense and collective security communities in the USA, Five Eyes, and NATO alliances.

Par Quentin Malcolm Innis, contributeur spécial au blogue

Je n’aurais pas pensé qu’un an après le début de la guerre de Poutine contre l’Ukraine, il y aurait encore des gens pour défendre la Russie.  Surtout après Bucha, après que le VDV russe ait été révélé comme une collection de meurtriers, de violeurs et de voleurs, je ne sais pas comment quelqu’un peut défendre la Russie ou plaider en sa faveur.   Cependant, certaines personnes apprennent lentement, alors voici une compilation des arguments des tankies, avec quelques réflexions en réponse.   

Pourquoi des tankies ?  Le terme « tankie » provient des malheureux gauchistes qui ont défendu les invasions russes de la Hongrie en 1956 et de la Tchécoslovaquie en 1968.  Pour défendre leur prémisse simpliste du « bien de l’URSS », ils ont été contraints par les circonstances de ces invasions d’effectuer une série de pirouettes intellectuelles, dont certaines ont été ressuscitées pour tenter de justifier l’invasion actuelle de l’Ukraine par la Russie.  Ces tentatives ont de nombreuses variantes, mais voici sept des plus populaires.  

La menace historique de l’Occident.  La Russie a été envahie par des pays occidentaux à trois reprises au cours des 210 dernières années, à commencer par l’invasion de Napoléon dans le cadre de la deuxième guerre de Pologne en 1812.  Toutefois, au cours de cette même période de 210 ans, la Russie a été impliquée dans au moins 39 autres guerres.  

1812.  Il est vrai que la Grande Armée de Napoléon a envahi la Russie en 1812.  Cependant, toutes les guerres commencent par des manœuvres diplomatiques et, avant l’invasion, Napoléon et le tsar Alexandre Ier se sont disputés au sujet du retrait d’Alexandre du blocus continental, principale arme stratégique de Napoléon contre l’Angleterre.  L’invasion française de la Russie commence lorsqu’Alexandre lance un ultimatum à Napoléon lui demandant de retirer les troupes françaises de Prusse et du Grand-Duché de Varsovie en avril 1812.  Napoléon a refusé, et la deuxième guerre de Pologne a suivi.  

1914.  Si les causes de la Première Guerre mondiale sont multiples et complexes, l’événement qui a précipité la guerre est l’assassinat de l’archiduc François-Ferdinand d’Autriche-Hongrie et de son épouse en 1914.  Le 23 juillet, les Autrichiens ont soumis à la Serbie une liste de demandes qu’ils savaient inacceptables, afin d’obtenir un prétexte pour la guerre.  Le 25 juillet, les Serbes ont accepté toutes les demandes autrichiennes sauf une, mais les Autrichiens ont affirmé que cette réserve équivalait à un rejet de leurs demandes et ont déclaré la guerre le 28 juillet.  Les Russes se mobilisèrent pour soutenir la Serbie le 30 juillet, les Allemands se mobilisèrent à leur tour, et la guerre fut lancée.  Les Russes se retirent de la guerre qu’ils ont contribué à déclencher en 1917, permettant aux Allemands de transférer leurs forces sur le front occidental pour l’offensive de mars 1918, et de presque gagner la guerre.  

1941.  L’opération Barbarossa, l’invasion allemande de la Russie, débuta le 22 juin 1941.  C’est une surprise pour les Russes, car ils supposaient que les Allemands respecteraient les termes du pacte Molotov-Ribbentrop, signé le 23 août 1939, qui permettait à l’Allemagne et à la Russie de démembrer la Pologne en attaquant simultanément.  Son flanc oriental étant sécurisé, Hitler se tourne alors vers l’ouest, envahissant la majeure partie de l’Europe occidentale et isolant l’Angleterre.  La Russie joua ainsi un rôle clé dans la réalisation des plans allemands, donnant le coup d’envoi de la guerre la plus sanglante de l’histoire.  

La Russie prétend être la partie lésée dans ces guerres, alors qu’elle en a déclenché une et précipité les deux autres en lançant des ultimatums qu’elle savait inacceptables pour la puissance adverse.  À cela s’ajoute la liste des attaques russes contre leurs voisins.  

2014 : Ukraine

2008 : Ossétie et Abkhazie en Géorgie

1994 – 1996 et 1999 – 2009 : Tchétchénie

1979 – 1989 : Afghanistan

1968 : Tchécoslovaquie

1956 : Hongrie

1953 : Allemagne de l’Est

1939 : Estonie, Finlande, Lettonie, Lituanie, Pologne, Roumanie

1929 – 1930 : Afghanistan

1921 : Géorgie

1920 : Azerbaïdjan

1917 – 1921 : Estonie, Finlande, Géorgie, Kazakhstan, Lettonie, Lituanie, Pologne, Ukraine

1905 : Japon

C’est sans compter la guerre civile russe, les annexions après les Première et Seconde Guerres mondiales ainsi que l’implication dans diverses petites guerres, y compris, plus récemment, en Syrie.  Il est évident que la Russie ne peut prétendre à l’innocence, mais qu’elle a plutôt été un prédateur constant de ses voisins.

La Russie est actuellement menacée par l’expansion de l’OTAN.  L’OTAN est, par conception, une alliance défensive et n’a pas pour mandat d’envahir d’autres pays.  La Russie possède des armes nucléaires ; bien que trois membres de l’OTAN soient des puissances nucléaires, l’OTAN elle-même ne l’est pas.  L’OTAN fonctionne par consensus, ce qui signifie que tous les pays devraient accepter une invasion de la Russie.  L’OTAN aurait également besoin d’une résolution des Nations unies pour organiser une telle invasion.  La Russie fait valoir que l’adhésion de l’Ukraine à l’OTAN pourrait placer des armes nucléaires lancées depuis le sol à moins de 1 000 kilomètres de Moscou, mais la réalité est que les États-Unis peuvent déployer des bombardiers équipés de missiles de croisière à charge nucléaire, une menace bien plus grande, à moins de 1 000 kilomètres de Moscou n’importe quel jour de la semaine.  L’OTAN est une organisation volontaire qui permet aux pays de demander leur adhésion en fonction de la perception qu’ils ont de leurs besoins.  Adhérer ou non à l’OTAN est un choix que les Ukrainiens peuvent faire, comme Poutine l’a lui-même reconnu dans son essai « Sur l’unité historique des Russes et des Ukrainiens ».   Refuser ce choix aux Ukrainiens, c’est les priver de leur autonomie et interférer avec leur droit à l’autodétermination. 

La Russie a le droit d’intervenir dans les pays voisins.  Nous vivons dans un monde post-Wilsonien, où nous avons convenu que les pays possèdent un droit à l’autodétermination.  Affirmer que la Russie a le « droit » d’intervenir dans les affaires intérieures de ses voisins viole ce droit à l’autodétermination.  Essentiellement, cet argument se résume à la loi du plus fort.  L’humanité a évolué au-delà de cela ; c’est pourquoi nous avons les Nations unies et pourquoi le recours légitime à la force nécessite une résolution des Nations unies.  Argumenter que d’autres pays interviennent auprès de leurs voisins est une réponse puérile. Si les Américains ont tort d’utiliser la force sans résolution de l’ONU, alors les Russes ont également tort.  

L’Ukraine n’est pas un vrai pays.  C’est l’essentiel d’un essai que Poutine a publié en juillet 2021, intitulé « Sur l’unité historique des Russes et des Ukrainiens ».  Dans cet essai, Poutine affirme que l’Ukraine a, historiquement, fait partie de la Russie et que les Ukrainiens n’ont donc pas d’identité nationale.  Mais l’Ukraine est antérieure à la Russie : Kiev a été fondée en 482, Moscou en 1147.  Les Ukrainiens sont-ils donc russes, ou les Russes sont-ils ukrainiens ?  Poutine consacre beaucoup de temps et d’efforts à construire un récit liant l’Ukraine et la Russie, affirmant que l’Ukraine moderne est une création de l’Union soviétique et soulignant les similitudes de langue et de religion.  Mais il admet que, dans d’autres parties du monde, des personnes partageant la même langue et la même religion existent en tant que pays différents, citant les exemples de l’Allemagne et de l’Autriche, et du Canada et des États-Unis.  Malgré tous ses efforts pour construire un récit dans lequel les Ukrainiens et les Russes ne forment qu’un seul peuple, Poutine admet l’existence de l’Ukraine, affirmant le droit de l’Ukraine à l’autodétermination dans sa déclaration finale : « Et ce que sera l’Ukraine, c’est à ses citoyens d’en décider. »  Donc, si Poutine admet que l’Ukraine et la Russie sont des pays distincts, concède que des personnes partageant une religion et une langue communes peuvent vivre dans des pays distincts, et concède le droit du peuple ukrainien à l’autodétermination, pourquoi ordonner l’invasion de l’Ukraine ? 

L’Ukraine est dirigée par des nazis.  C’est évidemment faux ; l’actuel président ukrainien est juif.  Le président Zelenskyy est de langue maternelle russe et est diplômé en droit de l’Université économique nationale de Kiev.  Il a remporté les dernières élections avec 73,23 % des voix, battant le candidat soutenu par le Kremlin, Petro Porochenko, qui avait été poussé par les médias russes et approuvé par Poutine.  Le président Zelenskyy a engagé des négociations avec la Russie pour mettre fin à la guerre en cours, sur la base de la mise en œuvre des accords de Minsk 1 et 2, mais, comme nous le savons maintenant, les Russes n’ont pas négocié de bonne foi pendant cette période.  Zelenskyy semble avoir été surpris par l’escalade russe de la guerre le 24 février de l’année dernière, mais il s’est adapté rapidement et a organisé une réponse ukrainienne extrêmement efficace.  Il a fait campagne sur un programme de lutte contre la corruption et a poursuivi le nettoyage du gouvernement ukrainien en écartant plusieurs politiciens et bureaucrates de haut rang.  Le grand-père du président Zelenskyy, Semyon Ivanovych Zelenskyy, a servi dans l’Armée rouge, atteignant le grade de colonel dans la 57e division de fusiliers motorisés des Gardes.  Le père et les trois frères du colonel Zelenskyy sont morts pendant l’Holocauste, après que les troupes allemandes ont réduit leur maison en cendres.  Selon Statista, en novembre 2022, la cote de popularité du président Zelenskyy était de 91 % chez les 15-34 ans, de 85 % chez les 35-54 ans et de 79 % chez les plus de 55 ans.  Dans l’ensemble, ce n’est pas l’image d’un nazi, d’un fauteur de guerre ou d’un dirigeant inepte.

Les accusations de néonazisme se fondent sur le parti Svoboda, qui a remporté 2 % des voix lors des dernières élections nationales et détient un siège au sein de la Verkhovna Rada, le Parlement ukrainien, qui compte 450 membres.  Il n’y a pas de chambre haute dans le système ukrainien, et les membres sont élus selon un système combinant représentation proportionnelle et de scrutin majoritaire à un tour, avec 50 % des membres provenant de listes de partis et 50 % élus dans des circonscriptions.  Le soutien électoral de Svoboda a connu une tendance à la baisse depuis le pic atteint en 2012 alors qu’il avait obtenu 10,45 % des voix.  

L’Ukraine est le “pays le plus corrompu d’Europe”.  Ce n’est pas le cas.  Selon le classement de Transparency International, le pays le plus corrompu d’Europe est la Russie, qui se classe au 137e rang avec un score de 28.   L’Ukraine quant à elle est classée 116e, avec un score de 33.

C’est une guerre par procuration entre la Russie et les États-Unis.  Comme je l’ai noté ailleurs, c’est une guerre de la Russie contre l’Europe.  Poutine est motivé par le pouvoir et est terrifié à l’idée de le perdre.  Les États-Unis soutiennent-ils l’Ukraine ? Oui, bien sûr.  L’OTAN soutient-elle l’Ukraine ?  Encore une fois, oui.  Mais il ne s’agit en aucun cas d’une guerre par procuration.  Cette guerre a commencé avec l’invasion de l’Ukraine par la Russie en 2014, en violation du Mémorandum de Budapest de 1994, dans lequel la Russie, ainsi que le Royaume-Uni et les États-Unis, ont accepté de garantir la souveraineté de la Biélorussie, de l’Ukraine et du Kazakhstan en échange de l’abandon des armes nucléaires par ces trois pays.  La Russie a violé cet accord à plusieurs reprises ; le Royaume-Uni et les États-Unis le font respecter.  L’Ukraine n’est pas un pantin de l’Occident ; c’est un pays qui se défend contre une attaque, comme le permet l’article 51 de la Charte des Nations unies.  Prétendre que l’Ukraine est un pantin la prive de sa faculté d’agir et constitue une tentative de créer une fausse équivalence morale.  

N’oubliez pas qui vous soutenez.  Si ce qui précède ne vous convainc pas, rappelez-vous que la conduite indique la moralité ; les Russes se sont conduits de manière barbare et atroce.  Si vous voulez toujours soutenir les Russes, c’est très bien ; mais comprenez qui et ce que vous soutenez.  

Dès le 25 février 2022, Amnesty International a estimé que les attaques contre Vuhledar, Kharkiv et Ouman étaient susceptibles de constituer des crimes de guerre.  Alors que les forces ukrainiennes ont repris des villes et des villages, des preuves de viols et de tortures ont été mises au jour.  Les forces russes enlèvent des enfants et les renvoient en Russie, où ils sont adoptés par des familles russes.  Les forces russes ont enrôlé des civils dans les territoires occupés et les ont utilisés comme chair à canon, les envoyant au combat avec un minimum d’équipement, de formation ou d’encadrement.  

Le bureau du procureur ukrainien a recensé 39 347 crimes de guerre présumés commis par les forces russes.  Plus de 600 suspects ont été identifiés, et des procédures judiciaires ont été engagées contre 80 d’entre eux.  Les autorités ukrainiennes ont jusqu’à présent jugé 3 membres des services russes, qui ont tous plaidé coupable.  

Les forces russes ont délibérément pris pour cible des civils, des biens culturels (protégés par le droit international humanitaire) et des infrastructures essentielles, notamment des hôpitaux, des écoles et des abris.  

Il y a eu trois allégations de crimes de guerre commis par les troupes ukrainiennes ; ces allégations font l’objet d’une enquête de la part des autorités ukrainiennes, en vue d’engager des poursuites si cela se justifie.   Jusqu’à présent, les autorités russes ont refusé d’enquêter sur les allégations de crimes de guerre commis par les troupes russes.  

Pendant ce temps, l’effet sur la société russe s’accroît.  Depuis 1992, 58 journalistes russes sont morts, dont 38 en conséquence directe de leurs activités professionnelles.  Les Russes sont désormais passibles d’emprisonnement pour avoir ne serait-ce que qualifier l’invasion de l’Ukraine par la Russie de guerre, et des milliers de familles russes ont perdu des fils et des maris pour une cause défaillante. 

La Russie est engagée dans une guerre illégale, non provoquée et injustifiable en Ukraine.  Ses soldats se sont comportés comme des criminels.  Rien ne justifie les actions de la Russie, et si vous êtes encore un apologiste de la Russie, vous êtes du mauvais côté de l’histoire. 

© 2023 Quentin Malcolm Innis

A guest article by Quentin Malcolm Innis, CD

I would not have thought that, one year into Putin’s war on Ukraine, there would still be people defending Russia.  Particularly post-Bucha, after the Russian VDV has been revealed as a collection of murderers, rapists, and thieves, I’m unsure how anyone can defend Russia or advocate on Russia’s behalf.   However, some people are slow learners, so here’s a compilation of tankie arguments, with some thoughts in response.   

Why tankies?  The term “tankie” derives from the hapless left-wingers who defended the Russian invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.  To defend their simplistic premise of “USSR good” they were forced by the circumstances of these invasions to perform a series of intellectual backflips, some of which have been resurrected as attempts to justify the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.  These attempts have many variations, but following are seven of the most popular. 

The Historical Threat from the West.  Russia has been invaded by the West three times over the past 210 years, starting with Napoleon’s invasion as part of the Second Polish War in 1812.  However, in that same 210-year period, Russia has been involved in at least 39 other wars.  

1812.  It is true that Napoleon’s Grand Army invaded Russia in 1812.  However, all wars start with diplomatic manoeuvring, and in the lead-up to the invasion, Napoleon and Czar Alexander the First had been bickering over Alexander’s withdrawal from the Continental Blockade, Napoleon’s primary strategic weapon against England.  The French invasion of Russia began when Alexander issued an ultimatum to Napoleon demanding that he remove French troops from Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in April 1812.  Napoleon refused, and the Second Polish War was declared.  

1914.  While WW1 had multiple and intersecting causes, the event that precipitated the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in 1914.  On 23 July, the Austrians submitted a list of demands to Serbia that they knew would be unacceptable, to secure a pretext for war.  On 25 July, the Serbians accepted all but one of the Austrian demands, but the Austrians claimed that the caveat amounted to a rejection of their demands and declared war on 28 July.  The Russians mobilized to support Serbia on 30 July, the Germans in turn mobilized, and the war kicked off.  The Russians then tapped out of the war they had a hand in starting, allowing the Germans to switch forces to the Western Front for the March offensive of 1918, nearly winning the war.  

1941.  Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, began on 22 June 1941.  This came as a surprise to the Russians, as they assumed that the Germans would abide by the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which had been signed 23 August 1939 and allowed Germany and Russia to dismember Poland by attacking simultaneously.  With his Eastern flank secured, Hitler then turned to the west, over-running most of Western Europe and isolating England.  Russia thus played a key part in enabling German plans, kicking off the bloodiest war in human history.  

Russia claims to be the aggrieved party in these wars, even though they enabled one and precipitated the other two through issuing ultimations that they knew would be unacceptable to the opposing power.  Set against this the list of Russian attacks on their neighbours.  

2014: Ukraine

2008: Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia

1994 – 1996 and 1999 – 2009: Chechnya

1979 – 1989: Afghanistan

1968: Czechoslovakia

1956: Hungary

1953: East Germany

1939: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania

1929 – 1930: Afghanistan

1921: Georgia

1920: Azerbaijan

1917 – 1921: Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine

1905: Japan

This does not count the Russian Civil War, annexations after the First and Second World Wars as well as involvement in various smaller wars, including, most recently, Syria.  It’s obvious that Russia has no claim to innocence but has instead been a consistent predator on her neighbours.

Russia is currently threated by NATO expansion.  NATO is, by design, a defensive alliance, and has no mandate to invade other countries.  Russia has nuclear weapons; although three NATO members are nuclear powers, NATO itself is not.  NATO operates by consensus, which means that every country would need to agree to an invasion of Russia.  NATO would also require a UN resolution to mount such an invasion.  Russia argues that Ukraine joining NATO could place ground-launched nuclear weapons within 1000 kilometers of Moscow, but the reality is that the US can deploy bombers with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, a much greater threat, within 1000 kilometers of Moscow any day of the week.  NATO is a voluntary organization which allows countries to apply for membership based on that country’s perception of need.  Joining or not joining NATO is a choice that Ukrainians can make, as Putting himself acknowledged in his essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”.   Denying Ukrainians this choice denies them agency and interferes with their right to self-determination. 

Russia has a right to intervene in neighbouring countries.  We live in a post-Wilsonian world, where we have agreed that countries possess a right to self-determination.  Arguing that Russia has a “right” to interfere with the internal affairs of its neighbours violates that right to self-determination.  Essentially, this argument boils down to “might makes right.”  We have evolved beyond that; this is why we have the UN and why the legitimate use of force requires a UN resolution.  Arguing that other countries intervene with their neighbours is a childish response. If it’s wrong for the Americans use force without a UN resolution, then it’s also wrong for the Russians.  

Ukraine is not a real country.  This is the gist of an essay that Putin published in July of 2021, titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.”  In this essay, Putin argues that Ukraine has, historically, been a part of Russia, and that Ukrainians therefore have no national identity.  But Ukraine pre-dates Russia: Kyiv was founded in 482; Moscow in 1147.  So are Ukrainians Russian, or are Russians Ukrainian?  Putin spends a considerable amount of time and effort constructing a narrative linking Ukraine and Russia, making the claim that modern Ukraine is a creation of the Soviet Union, and pointing to the similarities of language and religion.  But he concedes that, in other parts of the world, people sharing language and religion exist as different countries, citing the examples of Germany and Austria, and Canada and the United States.  Despite his best efforts to construct a narrative in which Ukrainians and Russians are one people, Putin admits to the existence of Ukraine, averring Ukraine’s right to self-determination with his closing statement: “And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.”  So, if Putin admits that Ukraine and Russia are separate countries, concedes that people sharing common religions and language can live in separate countries, and concedes the Ukrainian people’s right to self-determination, why did he invade? 

Ukraine is run by Nazis.  Obviously untrue; the current Ukrainian president is Jewish.  President Zelenskyy is a native Russian speaker and graduated from the Kyiv National Economic University with a degree in law.  He won the last election with 73.23% of the vote, defeating the Kremlin-backed candidate, Petro Poroshenko, who had been pushed by Russian media and endorsed by Putin.  President Zelenskyy engaged negotiations with Russia to end the ongoing war, based on implementing the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements, but, as we now know, the Russians were not negotiating in good faith during this period.  Zelenskyy appears to have been caught by surprise by the Russian escalation of the war on 24 February of last year, but adapted quickly and has organized an extremely effective Ukrainian response.  He campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and has pushed ahead with cleaning up the Ukrainian government, removing several high-ranking politicians and bureaucrats.  President Zelenskyy’s grandfather, Semyon Ivanovych Zelenskyy, served in the Red Army, reaching the rank of colonel in the 57th Guards Motor Rifle Division.  Colonel Zelenskyy’s father and three brothers died in the Holocaust after German troops burned their home to the ground.  According to Statista, as of November 2022, President Zelenskyy’s approval rating was 91% for those 15 to 34, 85% for those 35 to 54 age, and 79% amongst those over 55.  All in all, hardly the picture of a Nazi, a war-monger, or an inept leader.

The charges of neo-Nazism are based around the Svoboda party, which won 2% of the vote in the last national election and holds one seat in the 450-member Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament.  There is no upper house in the Ukrainian system, and members are elected using a system which is a mix of proportional representation and first-past-the-post, with 50% of the members coming from party lists and 50% elected from constituencies.  Voting support for Svoboda has been trending downwards since peaking in 2012 at 10.45% of the vote.  

Ukraine is the “most corrupt country in Europe”.  It is not.  According to Transparency International’s ratings, the most corrupt country in Europe is Russia, ranking 137th in the world with a score of 28.   Ukraine ranks a 116th, with a score of 33.

This is a proxy war between Russia and the US.  As I’ve noted elsewhere, this is a war by Russia against Europe.  Putin is motivated by power and is terrified of losing it.  Is the United States supporting Ukraine? Yes, of course.  Is NATO supporting Ukraine?  Again, yes.  But this is by no means a proxy war.  This war started with Russia invading Ukraine in 2014, in violation of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, in which Russia, along with the UK and the US, agreed to guarantee sovereignty for Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan in exchange for those three countries giving up nuclear weapons.  Russia has repeatedly violated that agreement; the UK and the US are upholding it.  Ukraine is not a proxy for the West; it is a country defending itself from attack, as permitted by Article 51 of the UN Charter.  Claiming that Ukraine is a proxy denies Ukraine agency and is an attempt to create a false moral equivalency.  

Remember who you are supporting.  If the foregoing does not convince you, then remember that conduct indicates morality, and the Russians have conducted themselves in a barbaric and atrocious manner.  If you still want to support the Russians, that’s fine; but understand who and what you are supporting.  

As early as 25 February 2022 Amnesty International identified attacks on Vuhledar, Kharkiv, and Uman as likely to constitute war crimes.  As Ukrainian forces have recaptured towns and villages, evidence of rape and torture has been uncovered.  Russian forces are kidnapping children and sending them to back to Russia, where they are adopted by Russian families.  Russian forces have conscripted civilians in the occupied territories and used them as cannon fodder, sending them into battle with minimal equipment, training, or leadership.  

The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s office has documented 39,347 alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces.  More than 600 suspects have been identified, and proceedings have been initiated against 80 of these suspects.  The Ukrainian authorities have so far tried 3 Russian service members, all of whom pled guilty.  

Russian forces have deliberately targeted civilians, cultural property (protected under international humanitarian law) and critical infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and shelters.  

There have been 3 allegations of war crimes committed by Ukrainian troops; these are being investigated by the Ukrainian authorities, with a view to conducting prosecutions if warranted.   So far, Russian authorities have declined to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by Russian troops.  

Meanwhile, the effect on Russian society increases.  Since 1992, 58 Russian journalists have died, 38 of them killed as a direct result of their professional activities.  Russians are now subject to imprisonment for even calling the war a war, and thousands of Russian families have lost sons and husbands to a failing cause.  

Russia is engaged in an illegal, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war in Ukraine.  Their soldiers have conducted themselves as criminals.  There is no justification for Russian actions, and if you are still a Russian apologist, you are on the wrong side of history.  

© 2023 Quentin Malcolm Innis

by Richard Martin

I’ve started reading Jason Lowery’s master’s thesis on the national security implications of Bitcoin (Softwar: A Novel Theory on Power Projection and the National Strategic Significance of Bitcoin). I’m a little over halfway through the work, and I find that the insights I’m gaining on almost every page are mind-blowing.

This article in not intended as a full review of Lowery’s book or a critique of his thesis. My purpose is to start reacting in writing to his overall thesis and providing commentary and analysis of the insights I’ve been gaining from it. I’m inspired to do so by the impact his thesis is having on my thinking as well as those “reaction” videos that are so prevalent on YouTube®. I will address these to Jason through Linked In and Twitter, in the hope of starting a fruitful dialogue.

With the publication of Softwar, Lowery presents a novel theory on power projection in nature, human society, and the cybersphere. The latter is where Lowery gets into the national security aspects of Bitcoin. I’ve not yet gotten to that part of his thesis, so I will leave that aside for now.

With that said, there is plenty to digest in the book about power projection in nature and society and its implications for peace, security, and prosperity. In a nutshell, Lowery claims—convincingly—that power projection is fundamental to the genesis, evolution, and survival of life in general and of all organisms.

This may seem self-evident, but his formulation of what he calls “primordial economics” is compelling, as he bases it on physical power. Physical power is measured in watts, the amount of energy transformed or, alternatively, work performed in each second (1 watt equals 1 joule per second; the joule is the unit of work produced by a force of 1 newton to displace a mass by 1 meter; 1 newton is the force required to accelerate a mass of 1 kilogram at a rate of 1 meter per second per second). In other words, physical power is defined as the rate of displacement of mass over distance.

As we can see, basic physical concepts are all based on mass, energy, space, and time. Lowery equates the physical with the real. If there is no displacement of mass, or transformation of energy, then the phenomenon isn’t physical and is within the realm of human imagination and mentation, and therefore abstract. While we could possibly quibble about these conceptions, Lowery’s purpose is to advance the discussion by providing functional definitions of physical power and abstract power, and he succeeds in that respect. I will address abstract power and its relationship with physical power in a future installment of this series, as I’m still digesting it.

To survive and prosper, organisms must project power so they can acquire and consume resources while simultaneously protecting themselves from being attacked and consumed by other organisms. This is summarized in a simple mathematical expression:

BCRA = BA / CA, where

  • BCRA stands for Benefit-Cost Ratio of Attack. The higher an organism’s BCRA the greater the likelihood that it will be attacked and consumed by another organism.
  • BA stands for Benefit of Attack and represents the resource payoff for an organism of attacking or consuming the prey organism or object of consumption. The higher an organism’s BA for any given value of CA, the higher the BCRA.
  • CA stands for Cost of Attack and represents the “price” the prey organism or object of consumption imposes on attacking or consuming organisms. The higher an organism’s CA for any given value of BA, the lower the BCRA.

An organism with BCRA greater than 1 is attractive to a predator, and the higher the ratio, the more attractive it is as prey. Conversely, an organism with a BCRA between 0 and 1 is unattractive as a potential object of attack and is much less likely to fall prey to a predator trying to consume it for its resources. In simple terms, an organism with a BCRA below 1 is likely to inflict a high cost and even potential death on the predatory organism. The closer the ratio gets to 0, the higher the probability that the organism will survive attack by another organism. This is the essence of what Lowery calls “primordial economics.”

Now, I’d like to propose that Lowery’s formulation can in fact be construed as a formal statement of what Ludwig von Mises called “praxeology,” the science of human action. Mises theorized that human beings act to relieve felt uneasiness. Resources (food, water, vitamins, etc.) for energy and matter and the imperative to survive and prosper are the driving forces of human action, and life in general.

In this sense, Lowery’s primordial economics can be viewed as a more general statement of Mises’s notion of praxeology (human action), one that applies to the entire living world. Organisms must survive and thrive, and to do so they must feed and breed, and secure their existence against predators and entropy. The basis for this is power projection.

I won’t address the details of his exposition and argument, but it strikes me as a way to reconceptualize the relationship between war/politics and exchange/economics. Austrian economists, especially the more libertarian types, tend to see war/politics and exchange/economics as mutually exclusive categories. However, Mises always saw economics as being the most well-developed part of praxeology.

For Mises, praxeology is the science of human action, and economics is part of praxeology, specifically the tool to analyze market exchange (catallactics), the division of labour, and other categories of human action unhindered by coercion. This approach then undergirds the analysis of the effects of coercion—i.e., politics, violence, and war—on unhindered economic action.

The following diagram summarizes how I see the relationships between each of these concepts. Power projection includes praxeology, which includes economics, which includes catallactics (the study of market exchange).

There are implications of this conceptualization for peace, security, and prosperity. I will address these in another instalment along with other insights and reactions to Lowery’s thesis on power projection.

By Richard Martin

There is a widespread belief that Russia’s war of aggression and conquest in Ukraine was somehow caused by the US and, especially, NATO enlargement. This is false. Russia’s aggressive and provocative stance has been consistently driven by its leadership’s drive to reestablish its suzerainty over its former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries.

Russia justifies its hegemonic and imperialist aims and actions by claiming that NATO threatens it. This is a complete lie, one that, moreover, is reinforced by ethically-challenged so-called “realist” historians and theorists, including Henry Kissinger and, especially, John Mearsheimer.

The basis of Russia’s claims and actions and that of the “realist” geopolitical hacks is that nations and people within Russia’s “sphere of influence” must respect Russia’s right to dominate them and exploit them as its leaders and people see fit. If there is a more anti-liberal and anti-democratic stance in the world today, I don’t know of it. Russian imperialists are one thing, but the fact that supposedly well-informed Western intellectuals like Kissinger and Mearsheimer still uphold these values is beyond the pale.

People, many of whom should know better, need to reacquaint themselves with the founding principals of Western, liberal, democratic values and ethics, and the political, economic and social consequences derived therefrom. It is also crucial to be aware of the FACTS about Russian claims, instead of sound bites, disinformation, and propaganda injects into Western media, corporate and social. To this end, I’m including a list of useful links to factual information and reports concerning NATO, Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia.

If you want to share your views, go right ahead, as I believe in free speech and open debate and dialogue. With that said, it should be done from a position of knowledge and understanding of actual facts and events, not uninformed commentary on the basis of fears, uncertainty, and doubt.…/20120705_0919-12-Fiche-Info-NATO…

par Richard Martin

Il existe une croyance répandue selon laquelle la guerre d’agression et de conquête de la Russie en Ukraine a été en quelque sorte causée par les États-Unis et, surtout, par l’élargissement de l’OTAN. C’est faux. L’attitude agressive et provocatrice de la Russie a toujours été motivée par la volonté de ses dirigeants de rétablir sa suzeraineté sur les anciennes républiques soviétiques et les pays du Pacte de Varsovie.

La Russie justifie ses objectifs et ses actions hégémoniques et impérialistes en affirmant que l’OTAN la menace. Il s’agit d’un mensonge total, qui est d’ailleurs renforcé par des historiens et théoriciens dits “réalistes”, contestés sur le plan éthique, dont Henry Kissinger et, surtout, John Mearsheimer.

La base des revendications et des actions de la Russie et des apologistes géopolitiques “réalistes” est que les nations et les peuples de la “sphère d’influence” de la Russie doivent respecter le droit de la Russie à les dominer et à les exploiter comme ses dirigeants et son peuple l’entendent. S’il existe une position plus anti-libérale et anti-démocratique dans le monde d’aujourd’hui, je ne la connais pas. Les impérialistes russes sont une chose, mais le fait que des intellectuels occidentaux soi-disant bien informés comme Kissinger et Mearsheimer défendent encore ces valeurs est inacceptable.

Les gens, dont beaucoup devraient être mieux informés, doivent se réapproprier les principes fondateurs des valeurs et de l’éthique occidentales, libérales et démocratiques, ainsi que les conséquences politiques, économiques et sociales qui en découlent. Il est également crucial de connaître les FAITS concernant les revendications russes, au lieu des extraits sonores, de la désinformation et de la propagande injectés dans les médias occidentaux, commerciaux et sociaux. À cette fin, j’ai inclus une liste de liens utiles vers des informations et des rapports factuels concernant l’OTAN, la Russie, l’Ukraine et la Géorgie.

Si vous voulez partager vos opinions, allez-y, car je crois en la liberté d’expression, au débat ouvert et au dialogue. Cela dit, il faut le faire à partir d’une position de connaissance et de compréhension des faits et des événements réels, et non pas à partir de commentaires non informés fondés sur des craintes, des incertitudes et des doutes.……/Relations_entre_la_Russie_et…