Bit of a struggle to envision a way in which this turns around:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed a decree late Monday night formally recognizing Ukraine’s Crimea region as a “sovereign and independent state,” defying the United States and Europe just hours after they imposed their first financial sanctions since the crisis began and laying the groundwork for possible annexation.
Mr. Putin’s decree came after the breakaway republic formally declared its independence and asked Russia to annex it in keeping with the results of a referendum conducted Sunday under the watch of Russian troops. The Kremlin announced that Mr. Putin would address both houses of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday, when many expect him to endorse annexation.
Putin has committed his prestige and the prestige of his government to the annexation of Crimea. This makes it unlikely that he’s interested in finding a way out. I also suspect that the other military moves along the Ukrainian border are part of an intimidation campaign, rather than preparation for an invasion.
All that said, I still struggle to see the long-term positive outcome for Russia. If Putin had waited, the “revolutionary” government would have dithered for a couple of years before collapse. Now he has certainty; clear control over Crimea, but virtual certainty that Ukraine will be hostile for the foreseeable future.
Oh and look, Fareed Zakaria cites Jon Mercer and Daryl Press (hat tip djw):
I draw considerable inspiration in those moments when my alma mater outseeds my employer in the NCAA Tournament Bracket. Remember the LGM Tournament Challenge:
League: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Congrats to the Oregon City Pioneers, who defeated South Medford last night to win the 6A Oregon Girl’s Basketball Championship. This is the twelfth championship for the team since 1992, and the first since 2009.
Reminder: I’m doing an FDL Book Salon this afternoon at 5pm, EDT. Here is my intro to the political aspects of the argument made in Grounded. Hope to see everyone there!
Ever more bizarre…
Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia announced on Saturday afternoon that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left its planned route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing as the result of deliberate action by someone aboard.
Mr. Najib also said that search efforts in the South China Sea had been ended, and that technical experts now believed that the aircraft could have ended up anywhere in one of two zones — one as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia, and the other crossing the southern Indian Ocean.
That conclusion was based on a final signal from the plane picked up on satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, nearly seven hours after ground control lost contact with the jet, he said.
There have been a few comments around the internets to the effect “How, with all of our military hardware, could we possibly have lost an entire plane?” The answers are relatively straightforward. First, most of what we know about a given aircraft’s position and direction comes from information supplied by the plane itself. When position monitoring devices are disabled by the crew or by malfunction, we lose most of the data we have access to. Second, “active” radar monitoring is, especially at sea and in relatively underdeveloped areas, far more sparse than you’d expect. We don’t have a series of radar picket ships or floating radar stations monitoring every expanse of sea, and unless radar-operating warships have some reason to track a civilian airliner, they generally don’t pay much attention in any case.
Still, this has moved firmly into realms of “weird” and “disconcerting.”
It’s almost NCAA Tournament time! I have reactivated the LGM Tourney Challenge League, but if you’re new the Challenge, here’s the info:
League Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
As always, the owner of the winning bracket will receive general acclaim and a prize of his or her choice.
I submit that there is literally no metaphor for the F-35 more apt than Kansas City Royals baseball:
If you’ve been paying attention to the internet conversation on security, defense, and technology, you’ve probably become at least vaguely familiar with The Loopcast. I had a good, long (over an hour) conversation with them on Tuesday. Check it out, and also check out their twitter feed.
At the Diplomat, I express some doubts about the LRS-B next generation bomber:
What is the LRS-B for? Conflicting reports have emerged over the likely cost of the USAF’s next generation bomber. Last week, the Lieutenant General Charles Davis (USAF) acknowledged that the per unit price for the new stealth bomber will climb from $550 million to $810 million, taking into account research and production costs. A later press release insisted that the USAF remains committed to the $550 million target. Given that the B-1B cost twice the estimated development pricetag, and the B-2 nearly triple, it’s not at all unreasonable to suggest that we’ll reach a $1 billion per plane cost by the time the program gets up and running.
This brings us back to the question: What requirement does the LRS-B fill?
While I’m sure there are plenty of hilarious bits, the price that someone would have to pay to get me to watch this would seem to be prohibitive:
Among other reasons to oppose reform, Coulter said: It would help Democrats.
“You want the Democrats who want more immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, because they need brand new voters, just warm bodies, more votes,” she said. “Amnesty goes through, and the Democrats have 30 million new voters. I just don’t think Republicans have an obligation to forgive law-breaking just because the Democrats need another 30 million voters.”
The debate was ostensibly between a conservative and a liberal — Kaus said he voted twice for President Barack Obama — but the two speakers shared the same view on immigration. Although they discussed a variety of topics, immigration became the principal focus — and not exactly in the softer tone many Republicans have been attempting on the issue to avoid alienating Latino voters.
On that front, Kaus wasn’t much different from Coulter.
“Democrats have a perfectly good reason to be for amnesty, which is craven ethnic pandering that’s going to ensure our power for the next two generations, but what is the Republican excuse?” Kaus asked while talking about Republicans who support reform.
The greater part of Mickey’s career over the past decade has been an effort to find friends and publications that he can’t embarrass. Seems to be working.
Grounded, now available in hardcover from Amazon. Also at your local bookstore, if you happen to be incredibly fortunate.
Will be ratcheting down the non-stop book PR over the next few days, although will continue to update this page. Also recall the FDL Book Salon this Saturday, 5pm.
This Saturday, Firedoglake will hold one of its Book Salons for Grounded. I hope that a significant percentage of the LGM commentariat will show up for an enjoyable evening with the commenters from FDL.
As part of the promo for the event, I have some thoughts on the political implications of independent air forces up at War is Boring:
Foreign policy comes from the collection of organizations that make up the national security state. If you change the constellation of organizations, you change the foreign policy output. Creating the U.S. Air Force amplified a voice within government for fighting short, cheap, decisive wars from the air.
As independent but related bureaucracies, the three military services naturally compete with each other for funding, roles and influence. In a crisis, the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff contribute advice regarding military options. However, through formal, informal and sometimes public channels, the services also make their preferences known.
Air Force officers not only tend to believe in the decisiveness of air power, they have very good professional and institutional reasons for arguing in favor of air power as a strategic catalyst. Service-oriented viewpoints produce parochialism, the idea that the good of the service and the good of the country are the same.
Demonstrating that air power can, on its own, decisively defeat an adversary and create a favorable political outcome flatters not only the preconceptions of air power advocates, but also promises to generate greater resources, autonomy and influence.
[Erik] To make the joining of our two commentariats even more enjoyable, I am hosting Sunday’s FDL book salon, on When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards at the Local Level. Rumors of the two sites merging may not be correct.