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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What "Big Gummint" may and may not do

Just a note to direct your attention to this piece at Zero Hedge. The headline tells the story...
US Prepares To Provide A Billion To Ukraine As Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260 Million
Either way, one thing is certain: in order to enforce the fading Pax Americana in the Ukraine, and to keep the funding to the otherwise insolvent Ukraine flowing, which as everyone knows will be first and foremost used to pay Russia's Gazprom, the US is about to send lots of money abroad. As in, not in the US.
Gazprom is the Russian natural gas company, created whole out of its Soviet predecessor. Despite the conflict, the company still supplies Ukraine with much-needed natural gas -- as long as Ukraine can pay. Gazprom also transits gas through Ukraine to western Europe, although they say they are making contingency plans if those lines are interrupted. Ukraine still owes Gazprom a lot -- something like $1.8 billion -- so (money being fungible) any aid we give Ukraine will end up going to Russia.
So when it comes to priorities, whom does Putin have to thank for the billions in Western funds he is about to receive? Maybe he can start in Detroit, where the local utility is planning mass water shutoffs over $260M in delinquent bills.

In other words, while the US is enforcing some odd international law, according to which a democratic vote is not credible but a violent coup is, US citizens are about to have no drinking water over a paltry $260 million.
A reader of the above-referenced piece linked to this earlier one...
Within the last month, the Defense Department announced that it would be purchasing over $700 million dollars worth of aircraft for the Afghan armed forces. In theory, members of the Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW), the airborne component of the Afghan special forces, would be the ones flying these 48 aircraft. Of that total, 18 are fixed-wing PC-12 cargo planes coming from the Sierra Nevada Corporation, while the other thirty Mi-17 helicopters are being purchased through Russian state arms-dealer Rosoboronexport.

The Russian helicopters were ordered despite a specific ban from the Congress on buying from Rosoboronexport so long as the Russian company continues arming the Syrian government. However, the Pentagon determined that there was a vital need for the helicopters, justifying the purchase through using funds allocated to the 2012 fiscal year, rather than the 2013 funding pool to which the ban applied.
It used to be the case -- and not so long ago -- that when we strong-armed third-world nations into buying military equipment they didn't really need, we at least forced them to buy American. Now we want them to buy Russian -- even though we're all supposed to be very angry with the Russians right now.

The larger lesson, of course, is that we can no longer afford to play our silly games of empire. At least when the British Empire reached its limit, the people running the UK had the decency to admit that closing time had come. They also had the decency to give their own citizens nationalized health care.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine...
In an interview with American broadcaster PBS, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine is struggling to maintain a fighting capability after it was "deliberately dismantled" under Yanukovych.

"What we need is support from the international community. We need technology and military support to overhaul the Ukrainian military and modernize -- to be ready not just to fight, but to be ready to win," Yatsenyuk said.
I don't think Putin will go into Ukraine. Our Man Yats simply has a big damned gas bill, which (in the eyes of our neocons) takes precedence over Detroit's water bill. Why? Because "We're an empire now," and empire has a price.

On the other hand, Putin did manage to capture Ukraine's exploding dolphin commandos.

Final thought. Anthony Burgess once said: "Death comes along like a gas bill one cannot pay, and that's all there is to say about it." Perhaps the death of an independent Ukraine (and of our own misbegotten experiment in empire?) will literally come down to a gas bill one cannot pay.
Not sure if you've seen the new show VICE that plays on Friday nights but they did a segment on the helicopter and other armed materiel we're buying/supplying to the so-called Afghan security forces. The Russian helos are sitting on tarmacs with few pilots who can fly them and no mechanics to maintain them. Other security pieces like armored trucks, jeeps, whatever are being torn down with metal scrap, engines, etc. being sold to Pakistan [think Taliban]. This is a huge black market deal between US contractors and willing Afghans.

Afghanistan is the place where empires die, an enormous black hole. But someone [or a lot of someones] are making money at the expense of the American public. With no accounting controls, no inventory record to speak of. It's just the gift that keeps on giving. And disappearing.

Free market capitalism at its very finest in the 21st century! We've turned into a Nation of fraud and corruption. But please, keep on privatizing the world. It's working out so well.

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