Category Archives: International news

How much can Russians take?

It’s fair to ask of our fellow travelers who happen to live in Russia: How much more of their country’s squalid leadership can they take as they watch their young soldiers get slaughtered in Ukraine?

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin launched an illegal and immoral war against Ukraine in February 2022. He reportedly expected a quick-and-dirty finish to the conflict, with the Ukrainians buckling under the weight of the vastly superior Russian army.

Not so fast. It damn sure didn’t happen.

Now the Ukrainians have launched their long-anticipated “counter offensive” and have retaken much of the land captured by Russian troops.

Putin’s armed forces have performed miserably. Putin surely must know it. Every international observer worth a damn has declared the Russian effort a tactical defeat for Putin.

Back to my question …

Russians cannot possibly be so gullible that they believe the propaganda put forth from the Kremlin about the so-called “success” of the military effort in Ukraine. They have access to worldwide media accounts that tell a stark story of incompetence, malfeasance, desertion among the troops and draftees fleeing the country to avoid conscription into the Russian army.

It all makes me wonder just how much longer Putin can continue to (mis)manage this conflict.

He is being offered a bitter but nonetheless important lesson, which tells him something like this: You do not invade another sovereign country expecting it to roll over just because you demand it. 

The Russians should have learned that lesson already in Afghanistan. It reminds me of the truism about “those who fail to learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”

Gipper called for ‘open border’

I came across an astonishing social media video today of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States and the one-time godfather of American conservatism.

His topic was immigration. President Reagan spoke of the need to buttress U.S.-Mexico relations by maintaining what he called a “two-way open border.” He said the United States should allow Mexicans into our country “legally,” where they would work and “pay taxes” and then return to their homes in Mexico.

He feared that the nations were headed toward a state of hostility. Reagan believed the best way to ensure tranquil relations would be to keep the border between the U.S. and Mexico wide open, enabling citizens of both nations to travel freely — back and forth — across an “open border.”

He also spoke of the dangers of building walls to keep residents of Mexico out of this country.

Hmm. Wow!

The late president’s remarks only heighten the divide that exists between the Republican Party of his era and today’s GOP. The party activists today will have nothing to do with the immigration ideology espoused by Ronald Reagan.

Go … figure.

Putin gets his payback

Yevgeny Prigozhin seems to have died in a plane crash today.

I say “seems” because Russian authorities haven’t yet declared that he is indeed one of the 10 people who died when the plane plummeted to the ground.

Who is this guy? Two months ago, he mounted a mutiny against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin with his mercenary army  marching within spitting distance of Moscow. Prigozhin called off his challenge to Putin, retreated to Belarus, and then Putin declared that he wouldn’t exact any punishment against Prigozhin.

Then this happened. Coincidence? Hardly!

The death of this thoroughly bad actor shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone. Putin’s promise to let Prigozhin live on was pure BS and those who follow Kremlin intrigue knew it when Putin made the declaration.

I am not mourning Prigozhin’s apparent demise. I am just aghast that Vladimir Putin would follow the script from which he has been reading once again … while the world is watching how he is prosecuting an illegal and immoral war against Ukraine.

Putin commits No. 1 blunder

In the annals of strategic blunders, it appears to me that an all-time mess-up might have been committed by Russian dictator/tyrant/goon Vladimir Putin.

He invaded Ukraine in February 2022 thinking the war would be brief, that he would install a puppet government in Kyiv, he could bring his troops home, he could force NATO to fall apart and could have his way in that part of Europe.


President Joe Biden declared this week on his trip to Lithuania and then to Helsinki, Finland, that Putin already has “lost the war” in Ukraine.

His military is third-rate at best; Ukraine has shown itself to be more than capable; NATO not only has held together, it has grown; Finland’s inclusion in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization effectively doubles the size of territory bordering Russia.

Oh, and the alliance has held because of Biden’s expertise in foreign policy and his steady leadership as president of the world’s pre-eminent military and economic superpower.

My sense now is that it might be time to start pressuring Putin to begin negotiating a way out of this war. We have supplied Ukraine with plenty of arms, ordnance, various supplies and training to handle the supposedly vaunted Russian military. The Russians have demonstrated time and again a level of battlefield incompetence that no one saw coming.

President Biden is not overstating what looks to be more obvious all the time … that Russia has already “lost” the Ukraine War.

First things first in Ukraine

President Biden has laid it out there: Ukraine, he said, “isn’t yet ready” to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Hmm. That is code, of course, for the obvious reason why it’s premature for Ukraine to consider joining NATO.

Ukraine is the middle of a war with Russia. NATO happens to have a clause in its constitution that says, in effect, that an attack on one member nation is an attack on the entire organization. Translation: That means the United States goes to war with Russia, too!

Accordingly, Joe Biden is absolutely correct in asserting that Ukraine shouldn’t become a NATO member until the war with Russia ends.

The president is displaying his foreign-policy chops handsomely during his visit to Lithuania, which is playing host to NATO member nations. Ukraine has launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive against the Russian aggressors, seeking to take back territory the Russians seized when they launched the unprovoked, illegal and immoral war against a sovereign state.

Russian goon/strongman Vladimir Putin has been accused by the world court of committing war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, giving Ukraine more incentive to take the fight to the Russians.

This fight isn’t over. Our sincere hope ought to be that there can be a negotiated settlement found and that the Russians can end their bloody misadventure in due course.

NATO, meanwhile, remains strong and united in its effort to persuade Russia of the tragic mistake it is making. I will credit the president of the United States for keeping his cool and for assuring NATO remains strong and united in this fight to preserve democracy.

Once the fight ends, then we can talk about Ukraine’s future as a member of the alliance formed after World War II — let us never forget — to protect the continent against Russian aggression.

Anti-democrats: here and there

I have struggled — until just now — with trying to connect a few dots outlining the political alliances in this country and those that are playing out in the Kremlin and in Kyiv.

Here is what I have determined:

The forces that oppose democracy in Ukraine are being bolstered by those who oppose democracy in this country.  That’s it.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in early 2022 came with the tacit blessing of the MAGA morons and the ultra-right-wingers who questioned initially why the United States was just so damn committed to Ukraine.

You heard them, didn’t you? I surely did. They appeared on right-wing media outlets to suggest that American-led efforts to shore up Ukraine were being fed by a phony assertion that Ukraine wasn’t really a democratic state.

Who do you suppose led that amen chorus? Well, that would be the presumed front runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and the individual Joe Biden succeeded after the 2020 presidential election.

The MAGA cult is parroting many of the talking points coming from the Kremlin. And where is the outrage from the moronic right-wingers over the war crimes being committed against Ukraine by Russian military personnel? They have been silent!

This is all combined to suggest that small-d “democrats” — led by President Biden — are rallying to protect democracy as it is being pursued in Europe. They also are seeking to protect our governmental principles against the forces operating against it here at home.

Those who oppose democracy are fighting on the battlefield to defeat it in Ukraine; their American compatriots have stormed our nation’s Capitol Building to return a 2020 defeated candidate for president to the office he lost in a free and fair election.

The symmetry is quite stunning … don’t you think?

Putin faces rebellion? Yes!

Vladimir Putin isn’t looking like such a tough guy after all, given the challenge mounted by the leader of what they call a “mercenary” army intent on challenging the dictator’s invasion of Ukraine.

The mercenary force was said to be marching on Moscow. Then the leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, reportedly ordered his Wagner forces to “stand down.”

What in the world does this mean? At first blush, it appears that Putin is likely to seek the harshest retribution imaginable against what he calls an act of “treason” against the Kremlin. Well, that’s not exactly how some of us beyond the Russian borders see it.

Prigozhin was acting out of a sense of desperation as Russian military forces are being defeated by Ukrainians seeking to regain territory taken by the Russians in their illegal and immoral invasion launched more than a year ago against Ukraine.

And it damn sure signals a serious fracture within the Russian military command that has acted incompetently and stupidly ever since Putin ordered the invasion in early 2022.

Meanwhile, the United States — led by President Biden — continues its aggressive support in providing aid and equipment to Ukraine.

This is serious stuff, folks.

Wagner Chief Marches on Moscow in Mutiny Challenging Putin (

As Yahoo News reports: The insurrection is without precedent in Putin’s nearly quarter-century rule in Russia, jolting a country trying to sustain a war in Ukraine that’s the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II. It’s unfolding against the backdrop of a Ukrainian counteroffensive across some of the area where Wagner’s troops deployed for months in the war’s longest and bloodiest battle.

My strong hope is that Joe Biden continues to apply maximum economic pressure on Putin in a strategy he hopes will persuade the dictator to cease his aggression.

The United States cannot let up in its support of the valiant Ukrainians who are fighting for the survival of democracy in Europe.

Russians are repeating their mistakes

You’ve heard it said about those who do not learn from their mistakes, correct?

The leading aphorism comes from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, who said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It looks to me as though the Russians are learning that lesson the hard way, in real time.

What we once knew as the Soviet Union decided in 1980 to invade Afghanistan, attempting to install a Kremlin-friendly regime in Kabul. The Afghans were fighting for their lives and for the future of their country and then proceeded to kick the Soviets’ backsides out of Afghanistan eight years later.

They had help from sources, such as the U.S. Congress, which appropriated money to supply the Afghan fighters with anti-aircraft missiles, which they used with stunning efficiency.

Fast-forward to early 2022. Russia decided to invade Ukraine, again to install a regime friendly to autocrats who run the Kremlin. The Ukrainians, like the Afghans before them, are fighting for their sovereignty … and are actually winning the war on the battlefield. Once again, the Ukrainians are being helped by arms coming from multiple allied nations that also are appalled at the Russians’ illegal and immoral effort to subdue a sovereign nation.

Can it possibly be that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is too stupid to understand the wisdom of a learned Spanish thinker?

Stupid? It’s possible … along with too arrogant.

It’s no ‘territorial dispute’

Ron DeSantis has provided a grotesque misrepresentation of the war that is raging between two nations in eastern Europe.

The Florida governor and pending Republican presidential candidate calls the war between Ukraine and Russia a “territorial dispute” that does not deserve the United States’s commitment to shoring up Ukraine against the Russians.

Wow! For the record, I intend to look back briefly at what happened in February 2022.

Russia invaded Ukraine, intending to overthrow the government in Kyiv and installing a pro-Kremlin puppet to replace Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It wasn’t a territorial dispute. It was a blatant, flagrant attempt to overthrow a sovereign government.

What has commenced is a war between democracy and autocracy.

Therefore, the United States has a compelling interest to stand beside Ukraine as it fights for its survival against forces launched by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

So, for DeSantis to suggest that the war is anything less than what it is — an intense ideological struggle between good and evil — is to appeal only to the MAGA base of what passes for his Republican Party.

DeSantis is demonstrating a disgusting fealty to Putin and his ham-handed view of governance.

Joe Biden: ‘wartime president’

Joe Biden has done the impossible by becoming a “wartime president” without a single American fighting man or woman engaging in combat with a foreign enemy.

How did the president do it? By sneaking into war-ravaged Ukraine and delivering one of the more stirring speeches in recent memory, assuring Ukrainians that the United States and our many allies worldwide stand with them in their fight against the immoral invaders from Russia.

“Kyiv stands. Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden told the Ukrainians. Yes, it’s all true.

It was a remarkable feat for President Biden to venture into Ukraine under the cover of darkness. He strolled the streets of Kyiv, the capital city that just a few months ago was under siege by Russian artillery. Yes, there were sirens blaring to warn Ukrainians of pending danger from Russian artillery. Joe Biden would not be deterred … nor should he.

The visit reportedly buoyed the Ukrainian troops who are fighting valiantly — and successfully — against Vladimir Putin’s armed forces.

To be sure, the president’s visit drew expected criticism from the MAGA wing of the Republican Party back home. These are the nimrods who express skepticism about Ukraine’s ability to fend off the Russians, who invaded their country on multiple phony pretexts uttered by Putin.

Biden, though, has stitched together a strong alliance comprising NATO and EU nations committed to opposing Putin’s land grab in Ukraine as he seeks to reincarnate the Soviet Union-style of ham-handed rule. Putin sought to weaken NATO. Thanks to Joe Biden’s leadership, all he has done is strengthened the alliance formed after World War II to protect Europe against the kind of aggression the world is witnessing at this moment.

Joe Biden spoke like a man in the middle of a struggle. Indeed, he is. President Biden is fighting to preserve democracy, which is fighting for its life against the authoritarian instincts of a brutal killer.