Sharon Tennison: Ten Myths About Russia.

by Jerry Alatalo

“What kind of truth is this which is true on one side of a mountain and false on the other?”

– MICHEL EYQUEM DE MONTAIGNE (1533-1592) French philosopher

 

United States citizen diplomat Sharon Tennison is considered a trusted voice on U.S.-Russia relations by business, political, academic, religious and cultural leaders around the Earth.

merican Sharon Tennison has been a regular traveler to Russia for 35 years as a citizen diplomat trying to build peace, understanding and goodwill between the people of the United States and Russia – and she is very concerned.

She is concerned that news organizations and politicians in America and the West over recent years have misrepresented events and conditions in Russia, or, in other words, not been conveying the truth. For that and other reasons, particularly the increased threat of war over unopposed rumors, Ms. Tennison felt compelled to create the following video where she addresses what she calls “Ten Myths About Russia”.

Ms. Tennison states: “It’s kind of dangerous for us (Americans) to be getting wrong information on this country”.

Myth #1: Russia is a failing state. Sharon Tennison says this is “completely wrong”. She does believe it true that Russia was indeed a failed state in the 1990’s, but that since then, marked by the rise to leadership of Vladimir Putin in and around the year 2000, Russia has turned around and gotten back on its economic feet again.

Continue reading “Sharon Tennison: Ten Myths About Russia.”

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World Order 2018: Vladimir Putin.

St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra – Palmyra, Syria 2016

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n these times of uncertainty and concern over unsettled international relations on Earth, particularly relations between East and West, greater understanding between the people is vital to establish peace. Increased awareness and understanding of views from all sides of major debated issues is important, in that more beneficial actions and resulting outcomes become possible.

American editor and writer Norman Cousins (1912-1990), in his 1953 book titled “Who Speaks For Man?”, wrote: “War is an invention of the human mind. The human mind can invent peace.” May the high spirit and power of Norman Cousins’ wise words now flood the Earth.

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(Thank you to Russia Insight at YouTube, Inessa S for English translation)

Editor’s note: The video documentary originally published at Russia Insight and here was taken down at YouTube, for reasons we have not determined.

(Transcript)

“If we look at the trends for development in the world, then it’s best to have Russia as your ally. We’re a great power. Nobody likes competition. Competitors are kept at bay – but I think in the long run, we will win. Few expected that we would act so quickly, decisively, boldly. I have some very good anchors – those anchors are the interests of the Russian Federation and its people.”

“World Order – 2018”

amburg, Tehran, Beijing, Paris, Moscow; difficult, sometimes very difficult negotiations … Press conferences, flights – our crew have filmed the President on business trips for over a year … Working with various kinds of people; allies and opponents, politicians and diplomats; the interests of Russia, the interests of the world; principles and contradictions. Everything is as usual – handshakes, photos; 1-on-1 meetings, or in teams … Speaking with journalists.

What happens behind closed doors? What does it take to achieve each new step toward mutual understanding? When he has a chance, Putin answers our questions, explains the logic behind his decisions. Everything that has taken place over the past few years – the difficult search for agreement between different peoples, leaders, states.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich: Who makes Russian foreign policy? Is it you, or is there a team of people? Are there dominant figures, or are they inclined toward various forms of dialogue? How does it happen in the context of daily changing situations?

“You want me to reveal all the secrets?

“That would be very interesting!

“I think it would be wrong. It’s a sacred thing. But you described it as it is – there are different points of view in our teams; different approaches, different proposals. Shall we do it like this or like that? There are times when we are in full agreement – for example during the events in Crimea. But it happens differently more often – discussions, exchange of opinion, but in the end I have to make a final decision. It can’t be any other way…

“The burden of power!

“Well, burden or not, it’s a responsibility. Once a decision is taken, then everyone works to make it happen.”

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Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria. [Sochi, 2017] He faced the fate of Hussein and Gaddafi; that of his country – Iraq or Libya. “From the people of Syria – I would like to express my gratitude for what you have done. We will not forget it.”

Continue reading “World Order 2018: Vladimir Putin.”

World War III Or World Peace One?

by Jerry Alatalo

“Now friendship may be thus defined: a complete accord on all subjects human and divine, joined with mutual good will and affection. And with the exception of wisdom, I am inclined to think nothing better than this has been given to man by the immortal gods.”

– MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO (106-43 B.C.) Roman orator, poet, statesman

aaa-31The purpose of this post is to promote and support to the greatest extent possible the efforts of The American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA). Why? Because the group’s assertion that there has been virtually no public debate in America on events in Ukraine is, sadly and unfortunately, true. The ACEWA website will be found on the internet at http://eastwestaccord.com. Please visit the website, add it to favorites/blogroll, share it with friends and relatives, and take creative, effective steps leading to maximum success for ACEWA.

Those who have spent a moderate amount of time looking at the situation in Ukraine over the past 18 months fully understand the profoundly important point made by ACEWA about the near absence of serious debate in America. Because of that absence, ACEWA members have come together to promote discussion and addressing of extremely concerning issues which in their view suffer from unwise neglect and/or ignorance.

The organization’s members’ goal is beginning an open, civilized, informed debate in America on relations between the United States, Europe and Russia, of which: “There may be no precedent for such an absence of American democratic discourse at such a fateful moment.”

ACEWA’s Board of Directors:

Bill Bradley United States senator from New Jersey (1979-1997), presidential candidate in 2000, and probably best known as a professional basketball player with the world champion New York Knicks (1967-1977)

Stephen F. Cohen Professor Emeritus of Russian studies, history and politics at New York University and Princeton University

Gilbert Doctorow He received a Ph.D. in Russian History from Columbia University in 1975

Jack F. Matlock, Jr. A career diplomat who was United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991

Ellen Mickiewicz James R. Shepley emeritus professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University

John Popper Former chairman and CEO of the Proctor-Gamble Company, who also served as chairman of the Walt Disney Company and the Yale Corporation

William J. vanden Heuvel Served as the American Ambassador to the United Nations by appointment of President Jimmy Carter

After visiting Mr. vanden Heuvel’s blog at ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com and reading a number of articles by former United States ambassadors to nations around the world, one post stood out as particularly relevant today. It was written by former Ambassador John Price on March 25, 2014 – days after Crimea became part of Russia – an event that ACEWA recognizes as, among other important East-West issues, one of the main topics for the much-needed open, civilized, informed debate in America.

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Originally written/posted on March 25, 2014 | ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com

“Russia’s Takeover of Crimea Needs Careful Action”

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s March 25, 2014 blog post

On Friday March 21 President Vladimir Putin signed the annexation treaty making Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region a part of Russia. The port city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea, home to Russia’s naval fleet in the region, was included.

Russia flexing its muscle in Crimea was reminiscent of the World War II Stalin era. It was in 1944 that the minority Muslim Tatar’s were deported from Crimea, and shipped off to the Urals. Stalin had accused them of collaborating with the Nazis. Thousands of Tatars died along the way. Ironically male Tatars were serving in the Soviet army at the time. Upon their return home they found their families gone.

As the Cold War was ending in 1989 the exiled Tatars were allowed to return to their ancestral homes in Crimea. Many of the 250,000 Tatars living in the region still remember vividly being expelled from Crimea by the Soviets. They see Putin as Stalin’s protégé, and fear for the future. A number of Tatar’s have joined the ranks of the Islamist rebels fighting in Syria, attempting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, who Putin supports.

In Crimea ethnic Russians represent 60 percent of the population. Last weekend they were celebrating the annexation in the capital, Simferopol. The Tatars were not so jubilant, since they were required to make a decision–either to accept Russian passports or risk losing their property.

(Originally written on March 25, 2014)

The Tatar jihadists in Syria are joined by Chechen and North Caucasian Islamists affiliated with Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar. These extremists have extensive combat experience, and could return to undertake attacks against the Russians in Crimea. Peace in the region may be short lived.

Islamists issuing a “fatwa”—a declaration of war against the Russians–could bring thousands of Islamist extremists to the region from around the world. The Europeans should be concerned since the terrorists could reach their soil. The saber-rattling and economic sanctions will not stop Russia’s integration of Crimea, which has a historical relationship.

The Caucasus Emirate, including the break-away republic of Chechnya, is a confederation of twelve regional provinces that are predominantly Muslim. Their goal is to expel Russian presence from the North Caucasus, and create an independent Islamic State ruled under Sharia.

Caucasus Emirate Islamists could create instability throughout the region in support of the Tatars in Crimea. They have been responsible for terrorist attacks and bombings in Russia, including an apartment building in 1999, a theater in 2002, a school in 2004, a high-speed train in 2009, the Moscow Metro in 2010, the Moscow’s airport in 2011, in Dagestan in 2012, and a number of suicide attacks in southern Russia in 2013. The Tsarnaev brothers, who undertook the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013, are both ethnic Chechens having trained there.

(Originally written on March 25, 2014)

Mr. Putin supports Syria’s ruler Bashar al-Assad, and has now indicated that he may not coöperate with the international community to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons cache. Syria is in its third year of a chaotic civil war in which tribal, ethnic, religious, and Islamist factions are fighting for control. There are over 11,000 Islamists in Syria coming from nearby Arab countries, Europe, and Iran which is also an ally of al-Assad. Regime change will bring about a vacuous situation, which could allow Islamists to take control.

We need Mr. Putin’s cooperation if there is the slightest chance of finding a solution in Syria. Ousting al-Assad will not bring peace or democracy to this fractious country. His minority Alawite tribal members live in fear of annihilation. The U.S.-NATO incursion into Libya emboldened al-Qaeda linked Islamists who captured and killed Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and in his hometown of Sirte slaughtered many of the Warfalla tribal members.

Since then democratic institutions have failed to take hold in Libya. Instability in the country has seen attacks on government officials, foreign diplomats, and international aid workers. In 2012 Islamists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Islamists in Libya now control three major shipping ports in eastern Libya. They also control large swaths of the country, including the oil-producing sites in the southern desert. Oil exports to Europe have all but ceased, since the government has not been able to stop the Islamists from taking control.

(Originally written on March 25, 2014)

Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, and the 5th largest in the world. Europeans import 85 percent of Libya’s oil and depend on the source. Since Gaddafi had threatened to cut off supplies on several occasions the European countries needed to consider alternative sources from Russia or Iran. The military incursion to remove Gaddafi offered the opportunity that the flow of oil would continue to Europe. Now the sanctions against Russia has the European leaders wringing their hands, since Russia as a major trading partner controls the natural gas, and possible access to oil sources.

The imposed sanctions could backfire, if Mr. Putin halts cooperation on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov recently stated, “We wouldn’t like to take advantage of these negotiations as an element of gambling with a higher ante,” adding that Crimea’s reunification with Russia far outweighs the developments surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.

Russia’s takeover of Crimea is a “fait accompli”. As such we need to continue to focus on controlling Syria’s chemical weapons, and Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. President Obama’s current trip to Europe needs focus more on these issues, and not overly denounce Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) insisting that we install the scrapped missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic could further exacerbate the tenuous situation with Russia. There will be an opportunity in the future to address that issue. But for now finding alternative natural gas and oil sources for Europe seems to be a more pressing issue.

President Obama needs to find a diplomatic solution, with hopes that Russia will reverse its acquisition of Crimea. We need to immediately engage the Tatar, and Caucasus Emirate leaders so as to avoid retaliation and terrorist attacks which could destabilize Europe. The planned U.S. military exercises with Ukrainian troops in Russia’s backyard will further exacerbate the crisis. If we are not careful we could be inching closer to World War III. (emphasis added – Please note Mr. Price wrote this on March 25, 2014)

While Mr. Obama is in Europe he should plan to have a beer with Mr. Putin to get better acquainted. This could be the beginning of a friendship and better understanding each other’s goals. World leaders may misunderstand Mr. Putin’s real motives, and overestimate his desire of rebuilding the Russian Empire. Spending time together socially might diminish the hostility, and even reach a diplomatic resolution to the Crimea standoff—it’s worth a try.

Originally written/posted on March 25, 2014 | ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com

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To fully illustrate how important it is for men and women of ACEWA’s efforts to become supported, effective, successful, widely known and disseminated: Mr. Price wrote “If we are not careful we could be inching closer to World War III”fifteen months ago.

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Mission Statement of The American Committee for East-West Accord:

The Committee for East-West Accord is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt educational organization of American citizens from different professions — business, academia, government service, science, law, and others — who are deeply concerned about the possibility of a new (potentially even more dangerous) cold war between the United States/Europe and Russia. Our fundamental premise is that no real or lasting American, European, or international security generally is possible without essential kinds of stable coöperation with Russia.

Since early 2014, we have therefore watched with growing dismay as East-West coöperation created over decades — in diplomacy, arms control, economics, energy, education, science, space, culture, even in preventing nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and environmental threats — have been heedlessly discarded or gravely endangered. While experts warn of an unfolding new nuclear arms race, and with it the risk those weapons may actually be used, there may already be less East-West cooperation than existed during the latter decades of the preceding cold war.

And yet, these looming dangers, whose immediate cause was the U.S./EU -Russian confrontation over the future of Ukraine but whose origins lie in policy decisions taken and not taken on both sides since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, have developed virtually without any significant public debate in the United States — in Congress, the mainstream media, academia, think tanks, or anywhere else that might influence the course of events. There may be no precedent for such an absence of American democratic discourse at such a fateful moment.

The primary mission of the Committee is to promote such discussion about East-West relations and thus to create broad public awareness of the new dangers and of ways to end them. The Committee encourages open, civilized, informed debate of all the related issues, current and past, among Americans with different, even opposing, positions, perspectives, and proposals. And the Committee seeks to do this in as many ways as possible,including an informational website for engaging individuals and other groups; sponsoring or cosponsoring public events in Washington, at universities, and across the country; and in the national media, including social media.

The Committee is new but not without a distinguished predecessor. Its name derives from The American Committee on East-West Accord, a pro-detente organization founded in 1974 by illustrious Americans — among them, CEOs of multinational corporations, political figures, educational leaders, and policy thinkers such as George F. Kennan. That Committee, believing cold war had ended, closed its doors in 1992, though not before being credited with having contributed to the historic agreements reached by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985-1991.

Today’s need for something akin to a new détente is no less imperative. And the new Committee for East-West Accord, which expects to be joined soon by an affiliated European branch in Brussels, strives for even more: A conclusive end to cold war and its attendant dangers.

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Please vigorously support and strongly promote the urgent, vital work of The American Committee for East-West Accord. Thank you.

Ukrainians Need Humanitarian Aid And Peace, Not Weapons And More War.

by Jerry Alatalo

mountain11Alphabet When first becoming aware of  protests in Ukraine in the fall of 2013, like most Americans there was no idea where Ukraine was on a map. After reading a few articles it became apparent that Ukrainians were in a struggle between western Ukrainians over joining the European Union, developing a western-style society, and leaving the eastern/Russian sphere of influence, and the eastern Ukrainian view to stay close to Russia. What was puzzling was how it came to be that Ukrainians had seemingly become forced to decide between Europe and Russia, one or the other, and that possibly simply dealing with both Europe and Russia wasn’t an option.

Unfortunately, Yanukovych wasn’t born in the dead-center of Ukraine but in the eastern region, so the mostly Russian-speaking people there reacted strongly to the overthrow of “one of their own”. Also puzzling was how, after an agreement became signed days before the coup by representatives from Europe, leaders of the Maidan protests, and Yanukovych on reforms, power-sharing and elections, everything went to hell hours later when nearly 100 protesters and police were victims shot dead by snipers.

Nobody has been prosecuted and imprisoned for the sniper killings; the result was Yanukovych fled for his life to Russia, and a new government was established in his place. Why didn’t those in the Ukraine government who wanted the elected president out for corruption initiate impeachment of Yanukovych, but extreme violence replaced a legal constitutional process to remove a leader?

What is puzzling as well is the lack of focus and detail, in especially western mainstream media, on exactly what the problems/disagreements are in Ukraine which have led to over 5,400 Ukrainians perishing and near one million refugees and internally displaced. Is it oil and gas geopolitical strategy at the highest level, control of Ukraine’s immense agricultural sector, the rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) alliance of nations as a previously absent option for nations instead of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the largest international banks?

Are eastern Ukrainians very concerned about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and planting of GMOs in Ukraine, known as the “breadbasket of Europe” for its ideal black, rich soils and massive acreage of farmlands.

How does Russia’s only warm water naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea factor into the crisis – Russia’s only southern sea access to the Mediterranean? Or the factor pointed out by experts of Ukraine joining NATO? Can the extremely odd developments surrounding the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 be placed on the peace dialogue agenda, or Joe Biden’s son becoming involved with Burisma Holdings – Ukraine’s largest private energy firm, along with every concern of every serious party?

These questions and many more need to become seriously addressed to prevent any more bloodshed of Ukrainian citizens, or God forbid beyond. The real causes of differences must become placed on the table for/of discussion, followed by the working out of possible compromises and mutually agreeable solutions – not more war, violence, human suffering and destruction, and effectively solving the crisis. Conflict resolution, although often described as a very complex endeavor, is fundamentally simple – but successful peace efforts must be founded on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This was the proposal from the Russian side after the February 2014 coup which chased Viktor Yanukovych out of power; a “tripartite” model, reforms, and addressing the concerns of the Ukrainians in the south and east region nearer the Russian border. Hopefully peace talks will result in a situation where Europe, Russia and Ukraine trade and conduct business like all other nations sharing borders.

Escalation of violence in Ukraine will harm men, women and children whose only fault, the same as innocent victims of war for centuries, was being born in a region of the Earth where powerful people see possibilities for increasing their wealth and power. A for-as-long-as-it-takes peace conference among all “sides” to the Ukrainian conflict, inviting the world’s experts, academics and spiritual leaders, where there is a rational, patient dealing with every last one of the concerns and differences of opinion of all serious Ukrainians, can set an extremely positive example of conflict resolution for humanity, and could forever change – for the better – humanity’s perceptions on war and peace.

While distressing, disturbing, worrying and heartbreaking, the Ukraine crisis can at the same time be seen as an enormous, historic opportunity. There exists a real opportunity to construct a model for creating peace which will become replicated in the future time and time and time again. In 2015, such a model would represent a truly beneficial, positive advance and evolution of civilization.

And isn’t now as good a time as any? 

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(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)