July 25, 2014

"Let's give Putin a clear choice: Either he can continue subventing and enabling the bloodletting in eastern Ukraine..."

"... or we can expose the enormous global network of offshore bank accounts, dummy companies, and real estate holdings that belong to him and his criminal elite. A mafia state should be treated as such. And information should once again be weaponized as it was during the Cold War. Moscow has already gotten a head start, by leaking compromised telephone calls between members of our State Department and between Eurocrats and NATO-allied state officials."

Writes Michael Weiss in Foreign Policy.

ADDED: There's also this from lawprof Ruth Wedgwood: "Russia’s operatives could be taken to the International Criminal Court for their role in the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine. Even ICC skeptics in America ought to be open to this approach." 

56 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Why would Putin care if the sheen of respectability -- if any indeed exists -- melts off his Government? He has shown zero interest in what the "West" thinks of him in the past, and now, all of a sudden, he's supposed to?

tim maguire said...

Where does most of Eastern and Central Europe get its energy? Until the answer stops being Russia, you can forget it.

traditionalguy said...

I get it. Putin should sell out Russians living in East Ukraine or else he will suffer slander from Obama/Reid and the Chicago gang.

What if Putin is a loyal man to his people? Or worse yet , he is not afraid of the US dollar strangling Russia.

EDH said...

Putin is a more brazen bullshitter than Obama, but Obama is giving him a run for his money when it comes to the destruction of incriminating evidence.

Crazy Jane said...

Everything he suggests sounds great, and absolutely appropriate. Transparency really is the best disinfectant.
Won't happen, unfortunately. Putin's sleazy nationalist propaganda machine has Russians so infuriated they want to go to war with Ukraine; if the legs are knocked out from under his flimsy stool, Russia could erupt in civil war. This was bad enough when it happened in Egypt and Iraq. Nobody wants to see the Russian military turn on itself or all the stans around its borders or, worst, the pipelines sending natural gas to Europe.

Henry said...

Why give him a choice?

Oh, because you think he cares.

If you have the information, release the information.

PB Reader said...

I wonder if Obama is doing the same thing...

Michael K said...

Russia certainly is a Mafia state. The energy source for Europe can get away with almost anything. We, of course, have one party that wants to dismantle our own energy sources.

Anglelyne said...

Since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by Russian-backed and Russian intelligence-led separatists in Ukraine, Westerners have learned a great deal about Vladimir Putin and the regime he has built and overseen, uninterrupted, for 15 years.

Well, some of us have been paying attention to what's going on in the world for more than a couple of weeks, Mr. Weiss. But never let it be said that "they just can't write froth-at-the-mouth tabloid propaganda like they used to".

JRoberts said...

I don't know if the described proposal would work.

However, I think we should do another round of #shameonputin.

That'll put him in his place!

rehajm said...

MadisonMan said...
Why would Putin care if the sheen of respectability -- if any indeed exists -- melts off his Government?


This. Exposure is pointless, though economic and geographic isolation of his many minions would be strong deterrents- oligarch WAGs love to shop in New York and Miami. It would hurt.

But you'd have to figure out how to keep them out of Gstaad and Zermatt, too.

rehajm said...

You defeat a mafia state by cutting off the head, then cutting off the next had that grows in it's place, until you run out of heads, or the next head that grows out doesn't contain much of a brain.

traditionalguy said...

Russians have a sense of goodness winning in the end from the Christian faith. That is why we do not fear a nuclear war from Russians, like we do from North Korea


The weakness of Russians is a willingness to endure suffering at the hands of a powerful
czar

The strength of the Russians is the expectation they will win if they play a smarter game and stay strong.

Genghis Khan lost to Russian, after 300 years.

Anonymous said...

"flexibility"

Lyle said...

I'm all for this, but Europe is totally not interested in treating him like the gangsta he is. They need his gangsta natural gas, his gangsta cash for warships, and his gangsta oligarchs' finances.

And if Obama couldn't stop the gangstas of Chicago he ain't going to be stopping no Russian gangstas.

rhhardin said...

That's not a very logical either/or. Probably Weiss overloaded on De Morgan's laws in his childhood and has not recovered.

Moose said...

Preemptive punishment - or is that blackmail?

Ralph Hyatt said...

Because Putin has all the intel Snowden obtained, some of which has to be even more embarrassing than what has been released, Russia being the sole provider of natural gas for a large part of Europe, and not wanting Putin to start bailing out of various treaties?

To start.

Paco Wové said...

"never let it be said that "they just can't write froth-at-the-mouth tabloid propaganda like they used to"."

I'll see your Weiss, and raise you a Cohen.

Bob Ellison said...

We have a squirrel in the White House. It's gonna be this way until 2017. This will be a tough couple of years.

great Unknown said...

In case anybody's forgotten, Russia has a very effective espionage apparatus of its own - of which Putin was/is a senior agent. Do you think the Soviets wouldn't counter by releasing an avalanche of embarrassing data on Western interests and individuals that would make le affaire Snowdon look like a kindergarten squabble?

I'm waiting for them to release Obama's real birth certificate...

Tank said...

We must stop Putin from interfering in Ukraine, so we can resume interfering in Ukraine.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Why should I believe what Obama and the Ukrainians say about the cause of the disaster more than I believe the Russians and their sympathizers? It's very important to be slow and careful in determining responsibility, and people of integrity tend to be that way. If the U.S. has satellite evidence, etc., they should quickly be open about it, the way the Russians appeared to be in releasing the radar data that suggested a Ukrainian military plane was near the jet when it crashed. Obama has shown himself to be very dishonest, e.g., in keeping his campaign promises--it would be expecting a lot that many people or governments would be so foolish as to have faith in what he and his assistants say if they do not produce convincing evidence. Waiting to exhibit evidence (as opposed to waiting to interpret evidence) will just make it seem that evidence is being doctored.

Anonymous said...

Dear Leader promised him "flexibility". This is it, so shut up and clean our own house.

Get rid of domestic extremists, the Tea Partiers who keep our AG sleepless. Starve these would be terrorists funds needed for their activities, stop "money in politics" that could be diverted for their election campaigns. Donate to Dear Leader's super slush fund to fight them before they got strong enough to stop your welfare checks.

Michael said...

Putin would be under enormous pressure from the so-called oligarchs if their substantial liquid holdings were frozen. Granted, there are many jurisdictions that might not cooperate, but all that are needed are the UK and the US to inflict massive pain.

He cannot be shamed but he can be put in a very awkward position with a lot of people he needs to keep his enterprise working.

A good idea.

Paul said...

But... Putin might expose Congress and the Presidents off shore bank accounts.

And folks, Putin is far less worried about that kind of exposure than our politicians.

n.n said...

The bloodletting began with the Western-backed coup, justified by claims of corruption, really? Compared to what? America is being sucked dry by the trillions. It is being overrun through an invasion by the millions. It is succumbing to all manner of dysfunction and libertinism. We are a Dodo Dynasty walking.

RonF said...

Why wait? Do it now.

exhelodrvr1 said...

We are more vulnerable than they are to this type of activity, and we also wouldn't be willing to play as dirty as they would, and we know that, and they know that we know that. So this discussion is pointless.

Anonymous said...

traditionalguy
"Genghis Khan lost to Russian, after 300 years."
Dude lived long, didn't he?

By the way, the Ukraine had its troubles but there was no or little bloodshed in the Ukraine until Putin decided to intervene. But fomenting war brings bloodshed.

As for christianity, well, since atheistic nihilism resulted in a russian people aborting itself out of existence something had to be done. So Putin supports the orthodox church. Big deal, Stalin (author of the Ukrainian Holocaust) did the same.

You know what I find funny. That an anti-catholic bigot (I know that from previous remarks) is so supportive of Orthodoxy. After all, Catholic and Orthodox theology is pretty much the same and there is even a place for the papacy in Orthodoxy (first among equals).

Balfegor said...

I'm of a couple of minds here. On the one hand, it's quite impressive how Putin has enabled Russia to punch way above its weight internationally -- they're poorer than Brazil, and have an aging (dying) population to boot, but they can pretend to great power status in a way that Brazil simply cannot. Putin is playing his extremely weak hand quite well, and has maneuvered the US into a position where we have no winning moves only bad moves and horrible moves. We hold much better cards, but we have played them very, very badly, which has brought us to this pass.

I don't think we're helped by the way so many people (both in the administration and out) seem to take moral umbrage at the notion that other countries might rationally pursue interests that conflict with our own, and might not be willing to accept our protestations of friendship (or at least neutrality and disinterest) at face value. Weiss's suggestion seems to be an expression of that sense of pique, more than a well thought-out strategy.

As others have noted, it's not clear to me why Putin should particularly care if his wealth were exposed, or even if the US attempted to steal his overseas assets. He has Snowdon, after all, and an effective enough espionage team that he could probably embarrass a lot of Americans in government or politics too (it doesn't have to be real after all -- his people can probably launder forgeries a little more competently than Dan Rather).

The people who would care about the US taking those steps are the ruling ranks of the Chinese Communist Party, who have untold billions hidden away in chains of accounts owned by private companies owned by private companies owned by private companies owned by straw owners who are, say, the wife of the friend of a neighbor of an uncle of a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party. And I think they would take an attempt to go after the private accounts of other heads of state very badly.

That's not to say we definitely shouldn't do this -- just that I'm not sure this man has thought this through. And that's true of almost all the solutions I hear bandied about.

Sure, as the US Ambassador to the Ukraine blusters over twitter, we could arm the Ukrainian government. But why? The Ukrainian government has plenty of weapons already -- sure, the country is dirt poor but they inherited a bunch of Soviet weapons, including hundreds of tanks and ballistic missiles and warplanes. US weapons are probably somewhat better, but it's not like the Ukraine is unable to escalate the conflict because of a lack of weapons. The rebellion didn't capture all their weapons already -- only a few.

And for that matter, even if they did need weapons from us in order to escalate the conflict, what strategic purpose would that serve? To establish a bright line rule that Russia can't annex it's neighbours' territory -- a kind of Desert Storm line in the sand? It's kind of late for that, since they already took the Crimea, and not even the Ukraine seems to be trying to take it back.

The whole situation is faintly ridiculous -- it's like we're just randomly jiggling all the levers still available to us in a desperate hope that one of them will do something -- economic sanctions, military advisors, free guns, free money, seizing assets.

We're at the desperate button-mashing stage of foreign policy.

I don't think the solution to Putin lies through the Ukraine. There will be other chances to humiliate him in front of his people, and we should take those. Our angry flailing here is only making us look even more foolish.

Balfegor said...

On the other hand, as I think about it, it would be grimly amusing to see the London and NYC real estate markets crash when we freeze Russian money flowing through the US.

Virgil Hilts said...

Relevant?: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2696336/Explosive-new-book-claims-Bill-Clintons-steamy-phone-sex-calls-Monica-intercepted-Russia-UK-used-blackmail-attempt-Israeli-Prime-Minister-according-ex-interns-secret-dossier-President.html

Anonymous said...

How do you say "So what's your point?" in Russian?

Anonymous said...

Michael K said...
Russia certainly is a Mafia state. The energy source for Europe can get away with almost anything. We, of course, have one party that wants to dismantle our own energy sources.

7/25/14, 8:54 AM
------------------------------

Obama should rush all our solar panels and windmills to Europe.

traditionalguy said...

@ Phil D...The experience of intermingled slavic peoples trying to rule the vast steppe around Kiev, Ukraine created a military caste that called themselves Cossacks. They were warriors that came to rule as vassals under a Mongol Khanate, that indeed lasted 300 years.

That learning experience is the origin of the Mafia angle being the preferred style of governance in the area.

I noticed that the East Ukranian Seperatists were called the Cossacks by Russian officers on the early released radio traffic about the shoot down.

Cossacks are known as proud to be crazy serving an Empire, much like the samurai once were in Japan serving the Emperor of the Empire of Japan. Cossacks were also the first military force to fight against Lenin's Bolshevicks. They are hard to control because they like war. although they like to serve a Khan or a Czar as his personal elite troops.

Because Putin knows what Ukrainians are capable of, he will never let Germany/NATO re-assert rule over Ukraine.

All Russians are highly aware that the most recent German high water mark on the Steppe ended in the German offensive of July and August, 1943 that became known as the Battle of Kursk. Putin remembers that the Russian Empire earned that victory the hard way suffering one million brave men dead or wounded.








n.n said...

Before taking Russia to the ICC, its accusers need to present their evidence. It's likely that as in Syria, they will be forced to back down, as they reveal their circumstantial or missing evidence. Neither Syria nor Ukraine are Libya. There will not be a second opportunity for a regime change without cause or due process.

Anonymous said...

"To help assure the newly independent Ukraine that its security would not be compromised, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States formally agreed to respect its independence and refrain from economic coercion. They formally pledged in the Dec. 5, 1994 Budapest Memorandum to “refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity" (quote from armscontrolnow.org)

That seems to be forgotten here.

To put the quote in context, it's a hundred years ago that Belgium was invaded by Germany, one of its guarantors. As a consequence Britain entered the war, making it truly a world war.

MayBee said...

On the other hand, as I think about it, it would be grimly amusing to see the London and NYC real estate markets crash when we freeze Russian money flowing through the US.

7/25/14, 10:54 AM


Balfegor- yeah I was thinking about the London real estate bubble, too. I bet they do not want to see that pop.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Geez, can no one just hit that reset button again? What, did the Hilldozer take it with her when she left, or something? Guys, this is the Obama adminstration, the ones who just laughted and laughed when poor backwards ol' Mitt said Russia was our #1 geopolitical foe--they know what they're doing, ok?

Anonymous said...

Traditonal;
I know who the cossacks were.

"Putin remembers that the Russian Empire earned that victory the hard way suffering one million brave men dead or wounded"

I remember the Stalin-Hitler pact. I remember Katyn. I remember the Holodomir. I remember that Stalin kept the loot he got out of the Stalin-Hitler pact. I remember the names the cities Kaliningrad, Gdansk, Wroclaw had. I remember the Gulag.
And I particularly remember that Russia was never punished for its crimes (though being a russian has at times be a punishment in itself).
When you cite "Kursk", do you mean to tell that Russia has the right to annex the Ukraine, or parts anyway?

Anonymous said...

Traditonal;
I know who the cossacks were.

"Putin remembers that the Russian Empire earned that victory the hard way suffering one million brave men dead or wounded"

I remember the Stalin-Hitler pact. I remember Katyn. I remember the Holodomir. I remember that Stalin kept the loot he got out of the Stalin-Hitler pact. I remember the names the cities Kaliningrad, Gdansk, Wroclaw had. I remember the Gulag.
And I particularly remember that Russia was never punished for its crimes (though being a russian has at times been a punishment in itself).
When you cite "Kursk", do you mean to tell that Russia has the right to annex the Ukraine, or parts anyway?

Thorley Winston said...

Genghis Khan lost to Russian, after 300 years.

In fairness to Genghis Khan, 300 years is a long time for anyone to be doing anything consecutively. Most people usually retire after 50, 60 or 70 years tops.

Anthony said...

Turn then over to the ICC? You must be kidding. Malaysia's court system is perfectly capable of reaching a verdict and carrying out appropriate punishment.

Drago said...

Remember, the lefties all swore up and down that the world was playing checkers while obama and his pals were playing 3-dimensional chess.

The sadder part?

The lefties did in fact believe that.

The saddest part?

Many on the left still do.

No wonder the obama admin does not hesitate to argue that obamacare fed exchanges for states were meant to be subsidized with the mountain of actual proof that they were not.

The left is simply that stupid and easily led.

No wonder obamas boyfriend in the kremlin is emboldened.

Cedarford said...

great Unknown - "Do you think the Soviets wouldn't counter by releasing an avalanche of embarrassing data on Western interests and individuals that would make le affaire Snowdon look like a kindergarten squabble?

I'm waiting for them to release Obama's real birth certificate..."

I wouldn't go down that stupid Birther cul de sac. However, if the Russians managed to access and publish Obama's full grade transcipts along with the names of the minions that hid it until Russian agents penetrated their US academia lairs...I'd want to buy Vlad a beer.

===============
Still haven't figured out American logic. Ethnic majorities after WWI getting Wilsonian self-determination - GOOD! Hitler wanting the same for German ethnic majorities inc. Czech lands around Bohemia...BAD. Danzig ,,,BAD! America supporting ethnic and racial majority savages in Africa get majority rule and describing ex-terrorists as saints. Mandela...GOOD! Serbs doing the same.....BAD! Bush wanting the Pashtun that created the Taliban back in power, the Shiites loyal to Iran taking power in Iraq.
John McCain the Moron Supreme describing Al Qaeda in Syria as Freedom Lovers he supports, then says the same Sunni terrorists crossing over the border to attack Iran's man Malaki should be bombed, bombed, bombed.

Give me Putin. At least his foreign policy is rational compared to US foreign policy since the 60s.



Cedarford said...

"Phil D said...
"To help assure the newly independent Ukraine that its security would not be compromised, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States formally agreed to respect its independence and refrain from economic coercion. They formally pledged in the Dec. 5, 1994 Budapest Memorandum to “refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity" (quote from armscontrolnow.org)

That seems to be forgotten here.""

Crap words without meaning since they were never backed up with a formal defence treaty approved by any of the nations. There were also a host of crap words about Ukrainians respecting the language, rights, and culture of ethnic Russians in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine....which Ukraininan nationalists sabotaged...compelling Russia's intervention.

And thank god that senile neocon warmonger McCain was not elected Prez in 2008. He was one of the big pushers to let Ukraine join NATO and commit the US to war against Russia if any disputes arose between Russia and lands in their sphere of interest the last 400 years.

traditionalguy said...

Phil D ...No one has the right to rule the Ukraine area or the Belorussian area that cannot defend them from invaders coming over the flat steppe lands and across the Rivers. So far the Russians based in Moscow have shown they have that ability, and NATO's American Army stationed in Germany does not.

So are we ready for rearmament of the Germans like the current rearmament the Japanese?

The next World Cup we will see if Russians defeat Germans as Champions on Futball.

The Russians will probably play some East Ukrainian Separatist Cossack ringers who smash everyone else, use their hands at will, and dare the referees to say something about it if they want a safe flight home.

Gahrie said...

I just listened to the State department say that Ukraine had a duty and a responsibility to defend its borders and people.

How come the United States doesn't have a similar responsibility and duty?

Gahrie said...

Give me Putin

Cedarford..we've all guessed this looooong ago......

Balfegor said...

Re: Traditionalguy:

So are we ready for rearmament of the Germans like the current rearmament the Japanese?

The Germans did not renounce the sovereign right of war, if I recall correctly. So, the Germans do not face the same constitutional obstacles to rearmament as the Japanese. They're also part of NATO and the EU so they're already deeply enmeshed in mutual security guarantees.

The Japanese, of course, have maintained a moderately powerful military since the 1950s, notwithstanding that we rewrote their constitution to remove the sovereign right of war. As I understand it, all that means is that their soldiers have legally been prohibited from using arms offensively other than in direct defense of Japanese soil (i.e. they could use military force to defend the Senkaku Islands). And there's a lot of newspeak about how to refer to them.

The recent change in interpretation is just to allow them to defend their allies when their allies are attacked as well -- something that is now potentially important in the East Asian [co-prosperity?] sphere, since China has been threatening all her neighbours (Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines -- South Korea has been sucking up hard to China, and China has been doing who knows what with North Korea). Diplomatically, Japan has a need and an opportunity to form closer alliances with all the nations on China's periphery (including India). And a mutual defense arrangement could be a key sweetener for some of those deals.

Gary Rosen said...

"Give me Putin"

C-fudd comes out bwahaha

Jon said...

Balfegor said:

I'm of a couple of minds here. On the one hand, it's quite impressive how Putin has enabled Russia to punch way above its weight internationally -- they're poorer than Brazil, and have an aging (dying) population to boot, but they can pretend to great power status in a way that Brazil simply cannot."

Actually Russia is not poorer than Brazil. According to the World Bank, Russia's per capita GDP is $14,600, vs. $11,100 for Brazil.

And Russia's population is hardly "dying." Russia is one of the few countries in the world with a rising fertility rate (now higher than the EU and Canada), while Russian life expectancy has increased by 6 years in the last decade.

And while Russia is no longer a superpower, how are they not a great power, when they have the world's third largest military budget?

Cedarford said...

I'll take Putin over this cretin:

"“So first, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory(Crimea),” McCain adds, “Second of all, move some of our troops into areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin.”

Maybe we can take a collection up to pay the Vietnamese to rehouse him somewhere over there....

Gary Rosen is just upset that the Neocons are in such bad odor that any new neocon war for "freedom fighters" are scornfully laughed at.

As for Putin...he has done a better job serving his nation than either Bush II or Obama has done here. And his policies make more sense to Americans.

Is he corrupt?
Sure!!
But less corrupt than "America's men Karzai and Malaki we spent 2 trillion and 40K US casualties to install.
And remember that both Republican and Democrat Parties are so corrupt and beholden to the Megarich of the Ruling Elites that not a single Wall Streeter, property flipper, cocaine money launderer involved in nearly destroying our financial system will serve a day in jail.


Gary Rosen said...

C-fudd, ya still pimping out Sandusky, Polanski and the other ass-raping molesters? I don't think your "daughters" would like it bwahaha. In the real world of course you've never had sex with a woman you didn't have to pay for.

MarkD said...

The mafia dispensed a brand of justice as well. The ICC? Putin is preferable. Some day, he will die. Interfering bureaucracies are forever.