A failed experiment to cut Russia from the World Wide Web stokes fears of Chinese-style online censorship
by Roland Oliphant • The Telegraph
Russia has run large scale experiments to test the feasibility of cutting the country off the World Wide Web, a senior industry executive has claimed.
The tests, which come amid mounting concern about a Kremlin campaign to clamp down on internet freedoms, have been described by experts as preparations for an information blackout in the event of a domestic political crisis.
Andrei Semerikov, general director of a Russian service provider called Er Telecom, said Russia’s ministry of communications and Roskomnadzor, the national internet regulator, ordered communications hubs run by the main Russian internet providers to block traffic to foreign communications channels by using a traffic control system called DPI. Continue reading
by Condoleezza Rice and Robert M. Gates • Washington Post
One can hear the disbelief in capitals from Washington to London to Berlin to Ankara and beyond. How can Vladimir Putin, with a sinking economy and a second-rate military, continually dictate the course of geopolitical events? Whether it’s in Ukraine or Syria, the Russian president seems always to have the upper hand.
Sometimes the reaction is derision: This is a sign of weakness. Or smugness: He will regret the decision to intervene. Russia cannot possibly succeed. Or alarm: This will make an already bad situation worse. And, finally, resignation: Perhaps the Russians can be brought along to help stabilize the situation, and we could use help fighting the Islamic State. Continue reading
Craven American leadership harms the cause of peace and stability, and only benefits the world’s dictators and aggressors.
by George C. Landrith & Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
Vladimir Putin is a gambler. He has a weak hand. But he will bluff, pretending that he holds a good hand, until someone in power calls him on the ruse. While President Barack Obama’s hand is not weak, he behaves as if he holds no cards at all. Thus, Obama plays into the hands of Putin who is pleased at his good fortune to have an anemic and spineless American president unwilling to call Putin’s bluff or reveal his untenable position.
Putin’s willingness to bluff despite his weak hand is at least in the long run quite risky. But given Obama’s consistent and demonstrated weakness, why would Putin do anything else?
Putin is devoid of sentimentality. He is pragmatic in the extreme. Some say he longs for the days of Soviet power and prestige. No doubt power and prestige are of interest to a vain and ambitious poser like Putin. But his main objective is to rescue his rule at home by diverting attention from the near bankrupt Russian economy. By giving his countrymen the impression that he is restoring “Russia’s greatness” abroad, he hopes to neutralize the total failure of his economic policies and the financial pain that Russia is experiencing. Continue reading
Just three years ago, President Obama famously ridiculed GOP opponent Mitt Romney’s statement that Russia remained America’s main geopolitical foe by taunting: “The 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
Four years before that, Obama stood at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to declare that once he became president, all people would join him around a global campfire, hold hands and put an end to the world’s evils and miseries.
Well, seven years into Obama’s presidency, the promised worldwide Kumbaya is instead global chaos — caused in large measure by his willful retreat from America’s position of leadership. Continue reading
For the Obama administration, there’s always a surprise when it comes to the Middle East. Having pulled out of Iraq before Iraq was ready, they were taken unawares by the Islamic State’s rise. Now Russia’s strategic moves to be the big dog on the block in the Mideast have thrown them for another loop.
Russia has forged an alliance with Syria, Iran and Iraq to share intelligence to destroy the Islamic State — without inviting the U.S. The pact has a powerful moral rationale, given the monstrosity of the enemy and the U.S. lack of will to fight. But it also will permanently extend Russian power in the region, something that Russia had under the USSR but that is also a longstanding imperial ambition dating back to the days of Vlad the Great. Continue reading
The danger of Russia’s intervention in Syria, and America’s timidity in Afghanistan
To hear Vladimir Putin, Russia has become the leader of a new global war on terrorism. By contrast Barack Obama seems wearier by the day with the wars in the Muslim world that America has been fighting for more than a decade. On September 30th Russian jets went into action to support Bashar al-Assad’s beleaguered troops. It is setting up an intelligence-sharing network with Iraq and Iran. The Russian Orthodox church talks of holy war. Mr Putin’s claim to be fighting Islamic State (IS) is questionable at best. The evidence of Russia’s first day of bombing is that it attacked other Sunni rebels, including some supported by America. Even if this is little more than political theatre, Russia is making its biggest move in the Middle East, hitherto America’s domain, since the Soviet Union was evicted in the 1970s.
In Afghanistan, meanwhile, America’s campaign against the Taliban has suffered a blow. On September 28th Taliban rebels captured the northern town of Kunduz—the first provincial capital to fall to them since they were evicted from power in 2001. Afghan troops retook the centre three days later. But even if they establish full control, the attack was a humiliation. Continue reading
Iran, Russia, Syria, Iraq form joint war room
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
A senior Iranian military leader warned this weekend that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” Iran’s missiles and emphasized that the Islamic Republic will continue to break international bans on the construction of ballistic missiles.
Much of this missile work, like the details of Iran’s advanced arsenal, remains secret, according to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. Continue reading
Barack Obama’s presidency has empowered the adversaries of the United States
by Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
This week President Obama won the 34th vote in support of his nuclear deal with Iran. The vote, from Senator Barbara Mikulski, guarantees that the deal will survive a rejection by Congress. The fact that the deal will be made despite such opposition—something a few of us predicted months ago—is, in the words of the AP, a “landmark Obama victory.” It is worth asking how many more of these victories our country can withstand.
The president and his supporters, of course, say their foreign policy has improved the world. “Like George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton,” writes Gideon Rose of Foreign Affairs, “Obama will likely pass on to his successor an overall foreign policy agenda and national power position in better shape than when he entered office, ones that the next administration can build on to improve things further.”
I’m not convinced. Rather than trying to predict how things will look when Obama leaves office, rather than contemplating abstractions such as our “overall foreign policy agenda” and “national power position,” why not examine the actual results of Obama’s policies, as they exist now, in the real world before our eyes? Continue reading
By Editorial Board • Washington Post
In July, President Obama said he had been “encouraged” by a telephone call Russian President Vladimir Putin had initiated to discuss Syria. The Russians, Mr. Obama confidently declared, “get a sense that the Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory” and “that offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.” Not for the first time, Mr. Obama was supposing that Mr. Putin could be enlisted in a diplomatic settlement to the Syrian civil war along lines Washington and its Arab allies support. Not for the first time, the president appears to have badly misread the Russian ruler.
Far from abandoning its support for the Assad regime, Moscow appears to be doubling down. According to numerous reports, Russia is establishing a base at an airfield near an Assad stronghold on the Mediterranean coast and has filed military overflight requests with neighboring countries. Analysts believe Russia may be preparing to deploy 1,000 or more military personnel to Syria and to carry out air operations in support of Assad forces. Syrian rebels already have reported seeing Russian aircraft over territory they control. Continue reading
By Charles Krauthammer • Washington Post
On September 5, 2014, two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America’s commitment to its security, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.
The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports the Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.
The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory — immediately after Obama’s visit — is testimony to Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the American president. He knows Obama would do nothing. Why should he think otherwise? Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi • Washington Times
The failure of Soviet totalitarianism ultimately brought down the Soviet Union itself in 1991. In the years following its collapse, the new Russian Federation struggled with a different problem: the seemingly terminal atrophy of the state and its authority. The so-called neo-liberals who came to power with Boris Yeltsin tried, but failed to deliver on their political and economic promises.
Instead of developing the free market economy they envisioned, Russia morphed into a sort of mafia state with a crony based economy run by a government that allowed its political allies to plunder state enterprises in the name of “privatization.” The new state delivered little to the average Russian, but enriched those with ties to the Kremlin.
Opponents of Yeltsin’s neo-liberals, led by Aleksandr Soygu, head of the Ministry of Emergency Management, argued that Russia needed an anti-Yeltsin to reestablish order in Russian society through the restoration of a powerful, perhaps all-powerful, state. Continue reading
Nothing can work without tough inspections and enforcement. And for that we must rely on … Vladimir Putin.
By Charles Duelfer • Politico Magazine
We don’t yet know all the details of the nuclear agreement that Iran, the United States and five other world powers announced Thursday they are aiming to complete by June 30. What we do know is that any acceptable final deal will depend on a strong weapons inspection element. In his remarks in the Rose Garden, President Obama declared Tehran had agreed to precisely that. “If Iran cheats, the world will know,” he said.
Yet weapons inspectors can be no tougher than the body that empowers them—in this instance the UN Security Council. And herein lies the agreement’s fundamental weakness—and perhaps its fatal flaw. Do we really want to depend on Vladimir Putin? Because Russia will be able to decide what to enforce in any deal—and what not to.
Like so many things in in life, one can learn a lot from Saddam Hussein. Certainly Tehran will have learned from Saddam’ s experience in trying to evade the scrutiny of the UN Security Council, weapons inspectors, sanctions, and individual governments. Continue reading
by Bill Gertz • Washington Free Beacon
Russia conducted a flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month that some U.S. officials and security analysts say is a new violation of Moscow’s arms control treaty commitments.
The March 18 flight test of a new RS-26 missile is part of a large-scale nuclear arms buildup by Russia and is raising concerns about treaty compliance, said U.S. officials familiar with details of the missile test.
The RS-26 missile carried a dummy warhead from Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile facility, located about 80 miles south of Volgograd in southern Russia, to an impact range at Sary Shagan in Kazakhstan.
The distance between the launch facility and the impact area is approximately 1,248 miles, far less than the threshold of 3,417 miles required by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
Conventional wisdom in our nation’s Capital mistakenly holds that nuclear weapons are not useful in deterring our adversaries, not relevant to meeting new terrorist threats, and not valuable tools of overall American and allied statecraft.
The threats from Ukraine, Ebola and the ISIS are mistakenly used to make the case that nuclear weapons cannot deter most threats to the United States. We are assured the only role our nuclear weapons should play is to stop another country from attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.
From this mistaken idea flows the further conclusion the US needs only a very small deterrent of nuclear warheads for deterrence, some seventy to eighty percent less than what we have deployed today.* Continue reading
By Charles Krauthammer • The Washington Post
His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, a country cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism.
Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity. Continue reading