Putin – what can you do about him? The man’s a barbarian and by unleashing the forces of Hell in the Crimea, has shown himself to be a pathetic excuse for a World Leader. For those who argue that he has provided a counterweight to American power, let’s look at the record then, shall we? He has turned Russia into a land where trying to uphold freedom of the press can lead to you being shot in the back of the head at the bottom of a stairwell. He has overseen a culture where homosexuals fear for their safety and have to run a daily risk of being beaten up or worse. He has presided over a security service that thinks nothing of poisoning a whistle-blower in a foreign capital. He has ridden roughshod over any notions of Russia becoming a democratic state by any Liberal, Western definition of the word democracy. He has hounded some Oligarchs who have opposed him and his crony state while favouring others. His country is pitied and feared rather than admired and he has chosen might over right as a governing principle. ‘Europe’ will look weak yet again for what united response can they take? All the major players have interests with the Russians. Joe Biden got it right – Vladimir Putin has no soul. The Russian people are right up there with the Palestinians as being the longest suffering on this Earth; pity the nation indeed.
So what further sanctions can the EU impose? The talk is of targeting more oligarchs with travel bans and as stated before, this isn’t as ineffectual as it sounds. Rich people like to enjoy their lifestyles in all their opulence; bans on trips to Paris, London and Rome can have a real effect. There’s nothing plutocrats hate more than being denied the pleasures of their probably ill-gotten gains and such flight bans hit these guys emotionally as well as in their wallet. Diplomatic sanctions, or the extension of already applied ones, is the other probable option on the table. Your country wants to take part in a scientific conference? Too bad, change your policy in the Crimea. You want to sign a new trade deal with Germany? Tough luck, change your policies. There are choices that the EU can make – now is their chance to stand up and be counted by issuing a unified response. Let’s see what they can do.
Clinton fears Warren Rapport
There is a growing campaign to get Elizabeth Warren to run for President in 2016. There are several good reasons to support the call that the first-time senator should stand. She is an extremely smart and able candidate. There would be no other pick with better knowledge of and ideas of how to tackle excesses of the financial system in the US. In the Occupy phrase, Warren not only speaks for the 99% but can identify with them as well; she speaks good ‘genuine’. This in itself may be a huge factor in getting her into the Race; she is not Hilary Clinton. The former Secretary of State is still the odds-on favourite for Democrats nomination but the most recent gaffe about Bill and herself being ‘flat-broke’ after leaving the White House did her no favours with many in the Democratic Party. Warren may not have the foreign affairs experience or the sheer size of political and financial network that HRC has but she has captivated progressives with her calling out of Wall Street and demands that Big Business and Big Finance get their houses in order. As has been argued elsewhere, even if Warren runs and fails, she can drag the Democrats sufficiently over to the Left to make a real change to their electoral platform. With the Republicans showing every sign of not having learned anything from their two successive Presidential defeats, either woman is likely to face a Republican candidate captive of that Party’s unelectable right wing beliefs.
Then there’s the possibility of Joe Biden throwing his hat in the ring. Biden’s not the buffoon of popular lore anymore. Would most Americans have confidence in their Vice-President to assume the awesome responsibilities of the top job if something terrible should happen to his Boss? Yes, they would and imagine a President Palin or Ryan and you’ll see that many would welcome Joe at the top. He has, despite attempts to paint him otherwise, a popular, non-Beltway persona. He may at this stage in his career be the ultimate political insider. That doesn’t mean he would be unable to reach out to the fabled US ‘middle-class’ and speak their language. His perspective has been unique; a heart-beat away from the Presidency since 2009, Biden has been close enough to know what the top role entails. He is wily, has a good sense of strategy and will be looking at the numbers to see how a Biden 2016 campaign could do. There’s an interesting two years ahead for Presidential politics watchers.