Hong Kong Protesters Resort to Violins

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Don’t know photo credit. Via @samuel_wade

Sayeth CS&W

There’s News Beyond Scotland Today

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It’s the first court date for Eston Kohver, the Estonian officer kidnapped by Russia, who has been held at Lefortovo prison since his arrest. His attorney, who was hired by the Estonian government, is Mark Feygin, who is also representing Ukrainian air force pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has been held without bail by the Russians since at least early July. The way the Russian judicial system works, it’s hard to tell if hiring Feygin to represent Kohver helps or hurts.

Scotland: Urgent First Decisions If Yes Prevails

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Interesting column today from the Centre for Government and Leadership at Queen Mary University of London about decisions that will not wait for eighteen months of painstaking negotiations but must be made immediately, like Friday morning. Two excerpts:

After a “yes” vote, they (civil servants) will be working with the Bank of England to craft the precise wording of assurances given to the markets, in the hope of stemming both an outflow of funds from banks and bank accounts registered in Scotland and a run on sterling combined with a great sell-off of British government bonds. How far should they advise ministers and the governor of the Bank to go? In the interests of Scotland, of course, it would be best for the UK to give an open-ended guarantee of the value of deposits in Scottish banks. But the markets might test such a commitment very quickly. Is that really in the interests of English, Welsh and Northern Irish UK citizens that what will, after a “yes” vote, by five o’clock on Friday morning already be more their Bank of England than it will be Scottish citizens’ Bank?

And even more Machiavellian:

But, after a yes vote, a key minister in the UK government would be in a more serious plight. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Danny Alexander, will be impaled on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, Mr Alexander is a minister in the UK government. He must decide what announcements to make to reassure the markets on Friday after a “yes” vote, bearing in mind the interests of the citizens of the rump UK. In the ordinary course of events the Chief Secretary would expect to be a key negotiator for the UK with his counterparts in Scotland. But Mr Alexander is also an MP for a Scottish constituency. Can he therefore uphold cabinet collective responsibility for decisions taken after a “yes” vote about how the UK pursues its negotiations with the Scottish government?

Read the whole article here.

Tough Day in Estonia. And Another Thing:

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Think having the FSB kidnap an Estonian in Estonia and haul him off to Russia is bad? How about having to live with architectural gems like this, left over from the Soviet era?

To George Will: Anytime. Happy to Help.

George Will is starting to follow me around. He wrote Wednesday that

“The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin’s fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West’s capacity to decide.”

He’s right. I wrote here on CS&W on August 13th that

“at bottom ISIS is a band of thugs with an archaic worldview that a willful president and his or her allies, if they had a mind to, could clobber using Colin Powell’s overwhelming force commensurate with ISIS’s brutality. The challenge to Ukraine, on the other hand, is an assault on the world’s organizing principles, with the potential to collaterally undermine both NATO and the Obama administration.”

I had no idea, George, that you were a Common Sense and Whiskey fan, but I welcome you to follow me on Twitter @BMurrayWriter. Would have saved you three weeks on Wednesday’s column. I’ll help you with today’s huge Baltic news in a couple of days.

 

Happy to help, George. Cheers!

Ukrainian TV News Channel in English

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Ukraine Today premieres today. Watch it here.

The Difference Between the ISIS and Ukraine Stories

Islamic_state_of_iraqTV viewers react with well-founded, visceral fear to the ISIS story, but at bottom ISIS is a band of thugs with an archaic worldview that a willful president and his or her allies, if they had a mind to, could clobber using Colin Powell’s overwhelming force commensurate with ISIS’s brutality. The challenge to Ukraine, on the other hand, is an assault on the world’s organizing principles, with the potential to collaterally undermine both NATO and the Obama administration.

The creeping annexation of first Crimea and now the Donbass is more subtle and harder to follow than the plight of people stuck on a mountain, yet it has more potential to undermine international systems. Dire warnings by the professional national-security-for-profit apparatus that JIHADIS ARE COMING TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD are far more sensational than real, but they make great TV. By comparison, an academic discussion about Ukraine and competing power blocks in the post Cold War world only prompts a rush for the remote.

Many of the institutions set up at the end of World War Two need a sharp, thorough overhaul. But they remain in place because they have provided more stability than chaos and no challenge has emerged that promises more liberté, egalité and fraternité.

In 1990, with Kuwait occupied by Iraq, George Bush proclaimed a New World Order but over time Americans grew reluctant to propose new institutions to deal with new realities. It turned out they rather liked their hyperpuissance. Since the Clinton years the new order has remained largely inchoate (though not for lack of predictions). Should Russia now redraw the map of Ukraine on its own, some of the mist will begin to clear and few west of Moscow will like what they see.

Ukraine right now is hugely important because Russia is challenging the fundamental ways the world has organized itself for seventy years and the whole world is watching. The potential impact of the ISIS insurgency is much smaller. It is a manifestation of the post-Ottoman Sykes-Picot agreement, an element of the reshaping of the Middle East region and not the entire world.

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So what about Ukraine? Today the pertinent news sites and #Ukraine, #Donbass, #convoy, #Crimea and so on on Twitter read like play-by-play.

We knew nothing good would come of this convoy thing, didn’t we? Just like in Crimea when the war was over while we still celebrated the #Euromaidan, it’s all happening today, Wednesday, in eastern Ukraine. 

Rostov is south of any crossing point proposed so far. If you’re intent on creating chaos, just peel away and melt into … who knows where. And while shamelessly hoisting the forged banner of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

280 military trucks carrying ‘aid’ under hastily assembled white canvas, juking, their recipient not knowing their route or their intent – least of all the ICRC dude standing outside their building in Geneva dispensing press statements.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned last night:

This morning, well:

It’s all just so unseemly. Russia lurks on the gangstas side of town. Always has. In the Cold War, cynical authoritarianism under equality’s cloak. Now it’s the same authoritarianism under the cloak of, well, nothing.

The World’s Most Trusted Network

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