Sunday, September 14, 2014

Obama's Offense against a JV Team

I am late to the commentary on this topic, nevertheless the development is serious enough with consequences for many years to come.

The first question Americans want to know is why bother Islamic State when President himself has admitted in his speech that we are neither aware of any plans getting cooked to attack homeland nor we see any imminent capabilities developed by IS to attack America. Remember President Bush also argued that to prevent Mushroom cloud triggered by Saddam Hussain, he wanted America to take the preventive action. Brief answer to this question is though IS does have not any capacities to harm USA directly today; IS is getting stronger if un-checked and its intentions of harming everyone who are not Islamic in its own interpretation is clear enough to take precaution. Killing of two Americans and another of Scottish aid worker are proofs of these evil intentions. The other simple aspect is, sure America can wait till IS gets stronger and actually plots against America; and sure enough American military might can take off IS then too. But that would mean expending much more than when America can degrade IS much before at lower costs. Equally true is also the case that determining intentions of IS is not that complicated as determining whether Saddam Hussein possessed nukes. As President Obama very rightly said IS kills children, rapes women and in general prides itself in bringing Barbarism to Internet world. One of the most powerful statements in President's speech has been 'IS is neither Islamic nor it is a state'.

The important question is, given the danger IS poses; degrading it to a point where it does not pose any risk for USA and its allies is enough or eventual complete eradication of IS is needed. Because if later is the goal we are basically facing 80-20 rule: you expend 20% efforts to eradicate 80% of a terrorist organization like IS while you need 80% of efforts to eradicate remaining 20% of the organization. In other words, stopping IS is relatively less resource consuming but eradicating it completely will need lot longer time and more resources. Given that, it seems rather than claiming to say 'degrade and destroy IS'; it could have been lot more prudent for President to say our objective will be to ensure that IS or any derivative of that would not have any capacity whatsoever to harm Americans and legitimate interests of America. This is important because once you say you want to eventually 'destroy' IS, why not 'boots on ground' at sometime when it is needed? It is the quagmire Sec. Kerry finds himself in - whether it is 'war against IS' or not. But in common folklore, war means deploying all our resources until the adversary is completely and thoroughly vanquished. Folks on Right will find it a ludicrous idea to state that one can ever only 'degrade' organization like IS but not 'destroy completely'. In minds of American hawks, complete destruction of IS is the only path. However, prudence is not to set the debate of 'rallying America against IS' in those polemical terms.

When one frames the debate as 'complete destruction at all costs as the only choice'; America essentially commits herself again to a unity Iraqi State which will take over once Americans have done their job of eradicating IS. But we know from History that, once Zarqawi was vanquished and Sunni Awakening was complete; Shiite of Iraq simply squandered all that hard work. Regardless of all the talk of unitary Iraqi Government, for America to base its strategy to fight IS on the precondition of united Iraqi Government is essentially asking for more trouble. Safer for America is to pursue a strategy which does not have the pre-requisite of Iraq without sectarian fights. Iraq has shown the inability to grow leadership needed to remain together. But that does not mean, America let loose the pressure on Iraqi Politicians to overcome sectarian divide. That is good in itself and longer term. But what it means, there is no need to set goals which rest upon nation building; the exercise which has proven to be outside the releam of doable things for mighty America.

Powerful American role in international relations is badly needed. Degrading IS and cultivating conditions to eradicate it eventually (like President will rally the world opinion in containing human traffic of Jihadis flocking to Middle East war theater); is a legitimate exercise in America's power projection. So President Obama was right to extol America's exceptional duties and responsibilities there in his speech. One can perfectly imagine a world in absence of Uncle Sam, the menace of IS will be allowed to grow and then the world comes to deal with it haphazardly. Dealing with IS resolutely and effectively is something America can do and it needs to do it to protect her own citizens and her allies.

Many in this regard then question President Obama's decision 'now' to help Syrian Opposition apart from IS to wage a fight against Bashar Assad. These critics ask, if these resistance forces are good to 'arm now and support now'; why were they not good earlier when immediate response and intervention would have been lot more efficient? These critics have a point, but  a simple answer to that is 'you take a risk appropriate to the context'. Back then IS did not warrant the risk of arming desperate Syrian opposition while today that risk pales on the background of 'critical mass' attained by IS evil. Hence, America would need to undertake all options available to stop IS, regardless whether that helps Bashar Assad or not.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Scottish Independence

"The best case scenario would be devo-max or the federalization of the UK, but Westminster would not allow either to be on the referendum ballot. The prospect of full scale constitutional reform is not even under consideration outside of a few Lib Dem committee meetings. Scots have been put in a position where the status quo is unacceptable to them, and in which viable alternatives - devo-max and federalization - have been expressly refused as options. It is often said that, if devo-max were on the ballot, it would win. It isn't on the ballot, because Westminster knew that and hoped that by denying a third choice, Scots would choose the status quo. Is that manipulation the kind of government you would want to live under?"

-- James Fallows, The Atlantic

"But Canada has its own currency, which means that its government can’t run out of money, that it can bail out its own banks if necessary, and more. An independent Scotland wouldn’t. And that makes a huge difference.

Could Scotland have its own currency? Maybe, although Scotland’s economy is even more tightly integrated with that of the rest of Britain than Canada’s is with the United States, so that trying to maintain a separate currency would be hard. It’s a moot point, however: The Scottish independence movement has been very clear that it intends to keep the pound as the national currency. And the combination of political independence with a shared currency is a recipe for disaster.

I find it mind-boggling that Scotland would consider going down this path after all that has happened in the last few years. If Scottish voters really believe that it’s safe to become a country without a currency, they have been badly misled."

-- Paul Krugman, NYT

I am with Paul Krugman. Scottish Independence Leaders must spell out what transition they want to propose from British Pound to their own currency. Whether Independent Scotland can take its fair share of British Debt is secondary - what is primary is Independent Scotland is going to have its own currency very soon or not. Otherwise I am all with Krugman's analogy between Spain and Florida.

For all the talk of enlightened talk of this debate, as a friend of James Fallows indicate in his post; it is amazing how Scottish Independence folks have not been grilled about this Spain versus Florida dichotomy. 

Above all, what amazes me most is the mendacity of London and Westminster in not being more accommodating and more federal. There were few last minute announcements, but one gets the feeling of too little too late. In absence of wholesale reforms of UK, Britain as is in a trouble. British Empire was never accommodating to its subjects all over the world. The British Queen and her forefathers lost not just America, but crown jewel India; failed to keep Canada and Australia. But still the House of Windsor and Ten Downing Street do not get the message - how to be federal to keep the United Kingdom intact.

If in coming days Scots indeed vote to be independent, sure they will face misery; but the bigger failure will be of London due to its arrogance. UK will be lot more diminished power on the global stage, kind of mere City State of London (like Singapore or say Dubai). It should loose its UNSC seat in that scenario and more humiliation will be in order.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Obama and Terrorists

"...we will not forget, and that our reach is long, and that justice will be served"

As many experts understand, this administration has not been 'light on terrorists'. That is what is expected from this administration and good to know that President Obama is not relaxing there. 

Same should be the fate of IS in coming months and years.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Thuggery of Imran Khan

The scheme is fairly straight forward - once you fail to win elections outright (which Imran Khan failed in 2013 Pakistani elections) claim that it was fraud, argue that ruling government has no legitimacy, then bring frenzied crowds on streets (how hard it is to exhort few thousands on streets?) and essentially bring riots to de-legitimize duly elected government. 

One cannot compare this with Arab Spring. At least folks there were revolting against dictators. Here in Pakistan Imran Khan is railing against an elected government. In Ukraine, folks revolted against Russian Imperialism and after that they did elect the President by an outright majority. In Egypt, Army eventually moved against incompetent government of Muslim Brotherhood Morsi; though it was democratically elected.

What is not clear is whether one can blame Nawaz Sharif government for all that ails in Pakistan. In that sense Imran's charge that it is all Sharif government's problem is hard to accept. It is so because, it is guaranteed that tomorrow even if Imran Khan becomes Pakistani Prime Minister (not that another opposition figure Quadri will easily back him); Pakistan's problems will not be solved. 

One has to understand, no government can run when only 1% or so people are paying tax while rest of the Pakistan simply pilling on freebies. On top of it Imran Khan is exhorting Pakistan to stop paying taxes and utility bills! Pakistan is  ruled by a feudal system where huge land holding landlords and their crony business partners are controlling all of Pakistani Economy. Pakistan does not have any cushion like Saudi Ghawar Oil Field nor North Field Gas like Qatar to roll out 'totally on government tab' lifestyle to most in the society. Imran Khan himself is the poster child of such a feudal mentality. Never proven in the field of business nor has led any constructive political movement; he behaves as someone who cannot overcome the lust of 'power'. He is the prominent 'mud thrower, rabble rouser' of Pakistan. Sure Nawaz Sharif is a land lord too, but at least he has ran a successful business empire providing jobs to many Pakistanis. Apart from defeating India and England on their home grounds to win Cricket Test Match Series first time for Pakistan in 1987 and then lifting World Cup in 1992, Imran Khan does not have any worthwhile achievements under his belt which can help common Pakistanis. He was responsible for killing of innocent Pakistanis just because allegedly someone flushed Kuran in a toilet and otherwise is essentially a 'play boy Pathan' charming ladies all over the world. 

One suspects that as PM Nawaz Sharif entertains a sensible policy of peace with India and against Talibans in Pakistan; many powerful Pakistanis would see that as an attempt to correct the fundamental 'imbalance of Pakistani State': substantial resources going to Army instead of development for common and poor Pakistanis. And that is the danger that disgruntled Army may side with Imran Khan. Clearly Imran Khan is aiming for such an implicit backing and that is why he is playing increasingly with fire. Hardly any of these developments are helpful for Pakistan.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Iraq's Future

A person close to 'happenings in Iraq' over a decade has appropriately warned that indeed this may be Iraq's last chance. Two positive developments are coming right on time:

- finally Iraqi and Peshmarga fighters are making progress against Jihadis.

But we all know these are just few small things before lot of right things need to happen for peace to return. Given that, it is an appropriate time to appraise the whole notion of Iraq as a country. The country was drawn arbitrarily by colonialists is obvious. On top of it, each of the main three ethnic groups - Kurds, Shiite and Sunnis have suffered genocide scale suffering from other groups (except possibly Kurds who might not have inflicted suffering on other sects on the scale by which other groups did to Kurds) making it harder to 'forgive and reconcile'. Iraq did not experience continuity of its political institutions with a peaceful transfer of power in all these decades; essentially robbing Iraqi people a vehicle with which these groups would have overcome deep chasms. 

I believe the premise for Obama Administration for any further involvement should be that Iraq as it has been might not survive. What America and Iraq's neighbors should strive towards is a plan where these 3 groups can practically live in their regions as semi-sovereign entities and as they build upon the regional co-operation, as it works and as it delivers to subjects of these 3 regions; it will have a well laid path to achieve further integration. In other words, if Iraqi themselves start answering the question "do they want to live together" in more affirmative manner, these groups and regions would embark upon further integration.

The problem in the current political process seems to be a-priori commitment needed from everyone that Iraq as is must be maintained. Rather, the goal should be to arrive an arrangement where different groups are able to live more peacefully and are able to chart their future - either individually or collectively.

What could be such an arrangement then? For a starter, each group will have to own its security arrangement - Peshmarga defending Kurdistan area while Shiites defending from Baghdad to all the way Basra either through Shiite dominated current Iraqi Army or even their own Shiite militias. Sunnis are already demanding essentially guarantees from America in order to pick up arms against IS. Needless to say America will have to nurture Sunni Security abilities while working with Europe to strengthen Kurds. American involvement in building Shiite Security capabilities in forms of training and support to Iraqi Army (I am taking current remaining Iraqi Army as proxy to Shiite Security force) will need to continue.

Once autonomous financial sources are identified and security responsibilities are delegated to their own means, rest of the things for these 3 regions could be lot shared as it is in today's Iraq - same currency, same central bank, shared water resources and free movement of goods, people and capital. It should be relatively straight forward as well to agree for a common law for commercial purposes. Apart from these common interests, each region can decide its own social policy. In foreign affairs, all these 3 regions will still have to speak in one single voice.

The fundamental issues in any such arrangement are:
- How do you finance a stable and prosperous Anbar / Sunni region? (Oil fields near Basra and in southern Iraq are established sources for Shiite region while newly acquired oil fields in addition to existing ones would provide necessary backing to a semi-sovereign Kurdish state.)
- How do you address antagonism of an Iranian vessel state of Shiite southern Iraq against any Sunni mini-state carved out of western Iraq? (Shiite centered around Southern Iraq no doubt will become a vessel state of Iran. Let it be. Iran will realize soon that it hardly changes its current isolation with rest of the world nor strategic influence of America & West get any diminished as Sunni province and Kurds will continue to side with America.) 
- How do you ensure that these 3 mini-states talk in one single voice in foreign affairs? Shiite would sure like to tow the line of Iran while Kurds would like to increase co-operation with Germany and EU (as like Turkey).

Question is how insurmountable these issues are. Agreed that undertaking 'armchair cartography like colonialist' is easy; but given the history of last decade - around trillion dollars spent and thousands of lives lost - starting from a minimalist position might be lot prudent for American and rest of the world.*

(*) - It is a moot point, how much co-operative Russia will be in this endeavor. In the end, Sunni mini-state carved out of Iraq will likely coalesce with substantial part of Syria. Essentially we are talking territory controlled by Jihadists today - except that instead of a caliphate it is a modern mini-state in a loose federation called Iraq. That means Syrian territory loss for Assad - Russia's allay. And that could be a reason why Russia might not come on board with this 3 mini-states plan.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Iraq - America's Familiar Nemesis

I can understand the 'rosy picture' Matt Yeglesias paints of President Obama's Foreign Policy; but I think there is more to that than a simple cherry Liberal reading.

We cannot keep aside a failure here to anticipate that Iraq would not hold itself together under the disastrous leadership of Nouri al-Maliki once Americans left Iraq. Regardless, President Obama owes to Americans to articulate dangers of fragmented Iraq under the influence of Jihadis. May be President Obama was caught up too much in fulfilling his campaign argument of 'winding down the dumb war'. Indeed, Iraq war was the dumb war, no doubt about that; but what was required then was to forewarn Americans that we had had 'broken just too much pottery in the barn' so as America would receive a call back to intervene. Candidate Barack Obama got enamored in his 'peacenik' rhetoric so much that he did not find it politically correct to mention all these hard choices.

Given all that, what is needed from this President is to 'condition' Americans for a greater involvement than what is today. It is a good start that President made it clear out of the gate that this could be a longer term engagement.

Will there be then the danger of 'American boots on the ground'? Sure, that danger persists. The only way such a danger would go away is when Americans know that the job is done. For that, one has to define the 'end goal' and strategic road map to achieve those goals. That is where Obama Administration has a task cut out for them as the Administration is yet to articulate any such strategic plans.

It is a straight forward 'sale' to American Public that to defend Erbil and Yazidis, America is getting involved. That is the easy part - Kurds are allies worth to defend (remember how they were slaughtered by Saddam upon taking up arms against him on cues from America?) and humanitarian crisis of Yazidis is obivious where an American intervention can make clear difference. However, think tomorrow when Jihadis - IS - determine that there is no point taking on Erbil and Kurds and turn their attention back to Shiite community near Baghdada. Imagine thousands of Shiite population is surrounded by Jihadis and incompetent al-Maliki's forces are unable to defend. Will there be any choice for America apart from being 'al-Maliki's Air Force' to avoid yet another genocide? That is the quagmire America has got into. Obviously this is not the contingency Commander-in-Chief would like to say publicly. But then Publicly it might be required to say that 'unless Iraq puts in place an inclusive government' (preferably without al-Maliki)  that region is going to see 'one genocide after another'. President Obama has said that he does not want to be Iraqi Air Force and politicians sympathetic to Administration are saying so too. What is needed is President in a sense talks this truth to Iraqi People directly and finds an occasion to demonstrate that 'he walks the talk' without coming across as a by-standing observer to a genocide(*).

President Obama has got himself in a bind in some sense. He argued correctly that a sovereign Iraq in 2008 did not want American boots on ground and that left no choice for him apart from pulling out all American troops from Iraq. That sovereignty argument is equally constraining him today in demanding removal of al-Maliki explicitly. It is all going to be behind  the screen diplomacy and using all leverages at disposal, more so as America gains leverage by defending Iraqis beholden by Jihadis and by defending Erbil, Baghdad; that Obama Administration has to bring in political change needed to stop further deterioration in Iraq. That is the skill Obama Administration has to bring to the table to minimize America's exposure in Iraq. Otherwise, many decades would pass and we will still have American military presence in that part of the world.

(*) Hillary Clinton is charging that President Obama essentially standing as an observer for the genocide in Syria as well as unfolding national security challenge there. But as many observers have pointed out, why would America take arms against Assad right now when he is battling our longer term true enemy - Jihadis i.e. IS? May be there was a window before Islamic Jihadis came into the picture. But still for Hillary to come out swinging against Obama before November 2014 elections is no good. That is neither helpful for her candidacy, Obama Base is still large and significant, nor helpful to Democratic candidates on the ballot. Any ways, Hillary is more near to "bomb-bomb, bang-bang, shoot-shoot" gang of Lindsay Graham- John McCain than middle of the road Obama Liberals. After all she did find herself at home in committing the original harakiri of sending in USA troops to topple Saddam ....What all that means is Hillary needs to trade waters very carefully here. She has lot of baggage, including not achieving anything substantive when she was Sec. of State, and we all know that "cowboy strategy" is still disastrous compared to "don't do stupid stuff". 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Israel - Where America's Balance is Questioned

"Now give me that annual $3 billion, another $225 million for the Iron Dome, and shut the f*** up."

-- Andrew Sullivan, The Dish

Essentially that is how Netanyahu has been screwing around John Kerry and Obama Administration. First, he had the gall to come on USA Television in the midst of American Presidential Election and openly try to tilt the balance to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Next, whenever Sec. John Kerry tried to avoid innocent deaths of Gaza women and children; Kerry was criticized as if he was sleeping with Terrorists. Since when having a conscience and trying to save lives of innocent people has been a sin?

Next, we have a Congress where every American Politician is falling over each other to pour cash into Israel's coffers. These Republicans in Congress would pinch every penny when it comes to spending money on Americans. They cannot borrow money (emergency funding is nothing but increasing debt) for Americans, but Israel - no problem! 

Everyone knows why Bibi is so gaga at this point. Overwhelmingly Israeli's back his initiative against Hamas. Clearly Hamas deserves it. Any organization which cowardly puts their own innocent women and children in harm's way as a way of politics is fundamentally wrong headed. That Europeans are the vocal voice in the generated outrage is a proof of Hamas strategy here. (Add to that American Politicians blindly back Israel makes it relatively easy for Europeans to place their bet on the opposite site. After all 'Tony Blair as the lap dog of Bush' caricature should be deeply ingrained in minds of Europeans. Add to all that - substantial presence of Islamic population in Europe.)

The problem with the current Israeli approach is they are engaging with Palestinians in a way by diminishing viability of any future Palestinian state. I am talking about relentless expansion and settlements by Israel in West Bank. Imagine if Israel would have continued the current 'tough approach' but at the same time had not undertaken settlements in West Bank and had conveyed to the whole word about its willingness to entertain Palestinian state on that land as and when it thinks conditions are right. What Palestinians and rest of the world would see is an Israel which is perfectly alert about its security needs, non-compromising with Hamas and other terrorists while keeping the option of West Bank for Palestinian State. At that point Israel could even demand that West of Jordan river Israel would not be hostage to any other security apparatus except their own even though it might allow a Palestinian state in some certain sense; if not fully sovereign. Point is not that the entire peace process be sorted right now. Point is "don't destroy viable options for Palestinian state" unilaterally. Because when 'all hopes' are gone for a people, sense of morality for folks with their backs on wall is very different than what is conducive to solve the problem. Again no-one is justifying Hamas or no-one is denying Israel's right for current military reprisal of Hamas (though obviously Israel made mistakes in that); but one is talking about Israel conducting affairs in principled manners so as it retains a moral high ground without compromising its security. As a result it would retain 'edge over Hamas' in the global court of public opinion.

Every time Israeli foreign policy is subject to wishes of extreme ideologues on Right, every time American Politicians sign a blank check to Israel; we are collectively taking one step forward towards an apartheid regime in Middle East. American Political Class essentially becomes an enabler here as they ignore a more balanced approach. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Political Slug-fest - House Republican Style

What a timing! All six years these Republicans blamed Obama for Economy and now that Economy is showing some strength, of course they are not going to give any credit to Obama. Instead they are on their way for 'impeachment'!

It is hard to believe House GOP's words that they would not 'impeach' Obama. Think when GOP would capture Senate and keep House, which is what is most likely, in November 2014. They will perceive that as wind on their back and will proceed to impeach Obama. Especially, if by then Obama has undertaken executive orders on Immigration.

In some sense, GOP knows that on Immigration, they are in bind as Obama will unleash executive actions. So all this drama of law suite, precursor to impeachment, is GOP's noisy attempt to drown impeding executive actions on Immigration. For Obama, sticking to his plan and not hesitating on Immigration will be a good policy and good politics even though few speculate about negative electoral impacts of such executive actions.

J. Bernstein scoffs any talk of extreme polarization in American Politics. He does not see anything wrong there. I would agree with him in some sense, as scorched earth politics by political opponents is nothing new in contemporary democracies. Next, then he asks what institutional reforms can be done so these things can be changed? Model for me is Indian Elections - even though victor would get 30 to 40% of votes, decisive majority is awarded and that makes a room for the victor, essentially a blank check. Let Tea Party rule America for a while - may be this country needs to experience how myopic - rich favoring, gold standard demanding, zero deficit - policies of Tea Party are. May be unless this country has experienced disaster policies of Republican Party and experienced catastrophic economic down turn due to those policies; we Americans would not come to senses what non-sense GOP is talking. In other words, all this 'checks-and-balances' in American System are not serving America well. It is a slow bleed, no progress, everyone unhappy situation today in America.

And what are the ways by which such a decisive mandate will be awarded to the victor in American system? Essentially adopting contemporary Californian system: 
- independent citizen's committee to draw electoral districts (both at Federal and State level) and

That is one path to whip up something useful out of political slug-fests. Today these slug-fests do not produce anything useful for Americans.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

France: Business First

As expected reports are reaching that after all, Europe will not be able to put any meaningful deterrence to Putin's Russia. Case in point is French sale and delivery of helicopter carrier to Russia. Given events of last week, supplying more sophisticated weapons to Russia defies common sense. But that is exactly what seems to be happening when across the political spectrum, French Political class seems to back delivery of weapons to Russia. It is typical of France to 'kill entrepreneurship' by 70% taxes and then to come back to hold some paltry employment by selling weapons to rogue states - wow, that is some Socialism!

Rather than joining hands for a forceful united European response, nations in Europe are bickering and blaming each other. Each nation is resorting to centuries old tradition of pursuing their own respective corrosive financial interests with Russia while undermining European Unity. America and the world cannot do war with Putin's Russia which is armed to teeth with nukes (same as America). The only chance rest of the world has in forcing Russia to change its policy and behavior is economic sanctions which need two things to work:
- united approach and
- patience for long term.

What Europe is saying is due to their 'short term concerns'; no effective way is available to force alter Russian activities. 

Substantial European history can be read as how Europeans tolerated 'trouble makers' when they should not have in the first place and then how those 'trouble makers' go on rampage to create global havoc. Russian President Putin is precisely fulfilling that role of the trouble maker and once again Europe is failing to demonstrate an effective, resolute response.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Shooting Down Malaysian Airliner

As usual with a caveat that we do not have full details here and opinions expressed are subject to change based on new details. My first impressions are:

- Russian President Putin might not have obviously ordered this attack, but his actions have made it possible. Without the active encouragement to militants in Ukraine and supply of capable weapons, this tragedy would not have happened. Killing of innocent third party people without any provocation - essentially that will be construed as the act of Terrorism or even worse, the act of War. Putin's devil mind is all exposed here - he may not be able to control the tiger he is trying to ride in encouraging militants in Ukraine.

- Pakistani intelligence service ISI supported terrorists to disturb India, but in the end ISI cannot ride the tiger. May be the same things are at play here.

- Regardless of to what an extent culpability of Putin gets established, politically he is on defense. Who wants to be associated with a strong man who mindlessly encourages militant activities to destroy whatever global order we have today?

- Will Obama Critic learn the lesson that 'handing weapons' to resistance forces (Syria) is no joke because any time these weapons land up doing this type of carnage, people inevitably turn on the supplier of those weapons. President Obama's reluctance to provide weapons to various 'resistance forces' all across the globe now looks lot more prudent and valid. (Oh, don't expect Republican to stop criticizing Obama...they will find new reasons.)

- Hillary Clinton was right on dot when she called out Europeans to stop being 'chicken' here and stand up to shenanigans of Putin (is the most powerful lady in the world - Chancellor Merkel - listening?) Very rarely Europe has seen such an open aggressive posture by a dictator after Adolph Hitler. If Europe does not wake up from the bribes of dependencies on "Russian Gas and access to Russian Market" we are potentially talking same mistakes as like in pre-WWII times when Europe tolerated aggression of Hitler. That did not end well, for sure Putin is exhibiting all signs of intransigence of that caliber in these acts.

- Ideally what needs to happen is International Co-operation hunts down those who shot the plane, those are tried in Ukranian court, punished accordingly and weapon supplier of these 'plane shooters' (quite possibly Putin's Russia) compensate families of victims.

- What would happen though? Putin and Russia will deny any culpability in this affair despite mounting evidence, Europeans will make right noises but may not rise to the occasion in opposing Putin's Russia and the world may get even more rudder shock in days to come.