On a cold and dark afternoon in Colorado, I have just listened to the BBC headlines, on the hour, and it seem that the American people have been duped once again. The British media is telling us that we are getting excited about an up and coming presidential candidate. If this is so, it appears we are ready to trade one New York Billionaire for another New York Billionaire. Where exactly do we think that will get us? On a cold and dark afternoon for Democracy, I wonder how it will end.

(Re-posted from another of my blogs- this post needed to be here as well, to support other posts about the Balkans.)

As a follow-up to my recent post on the Balkan wars of the 1990’s, I felt it was time to add more book reviews for those who might be interested in immersing themselves in the issues facing the Balkans and eastern Europe. With the future in mind, first on the list is a recent (fall, 2017) edition from the Brookings Institution titled Beyond NATO: A New Security Architecture for Eastern Europe (The Marshall Papers) by Michael E. O’Hanlon.

In summary, the book argues the case against NATO expansion and presents the alternative of a “negotiated agreement” between current NATO countries, the non-NATO and non-aligned states that would remain sovereign and neutral, and Russia. The catalyst for this new type of security agreement is Russia, and namely Russia’s fear of NATO and the west uncomfortably approaching, and eventually encroaching upon, its borders. The author does cause the reader to step outside the western view that our intervention in eastern Europe, most notably Bosnia, Kosovo, and Ukraine, even when labeled humanitarian, can be construed as threatening when viewed through Russian eyes.

The premise is that the new security architecture would act as a deterrent to Russian posturing and aggression and its plans for military growth, including nuclear weapons. It is believed that the coalition of neutral states, not overseen directly by NATO or the United States especially, will eventually allow Russia to cease their destabilisation efforts in the region, specifically in Ukraine and Georgia, and allow these and other states such as Armenia and Azerbaijan to develop towards normalcy after being able to turn away from a continuous defensive/offensive posture.

While theoretically possible, the concept relies on Russia’s acceptance of the new structure. Whether or not Russia accepts, and if so, their willingness and ability to remain faithful to the agreement, is a different story. There would be a built-in “range of responses” to different threats against the agreement participants, be that Russia or other nations. These responses could include anything from economic sanctions to expedited NATO membership for threatened agreement participants.

Street art in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Street art in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October, 2017. Note the artist’s use of a bullet hole for the left eye, obviously the starting point for the image.

Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War by Ed Vulliamy was published in 1994. At that time the siege of Sarajevo had ended, Serbia and its forces understood that the UN and NATO would actually take decisive action against them, and the concentration camps, mass murder, atrocities, and genocide of the war in Bosnia had been exposed to the world. Vulliamy’s book reports what was known at the time of publication and paints an ugly, demented picture of what was perpetrated on so many innocent people by the Yugoslav army/ the Serbian army, by “paramilitaries”, by criminals and thugs. But he also tells stories of hope, heroism, and bravery, of fighting against all odds, and of how so many of the people of Bosnia endured. Interspersing these stories in a book of this nature is absolutely necessary, lest the sickened reader cast the book aside. If you choose one book to help your understand the war in Bosnia, Vulliamy’s book will painfully, yet clearly meet that goal.


John McCain’s forthright statements at the end of his life have left me with an idea for political honesty in general- terminal illness for more politicians! Granted, it is a rather gruesome way for them to finally win our trust. But at this point I will take honesty from politicians any way I can get it.

Anyone who follows politics, even just a little, must know about Senator John McCain and his terminal illness. In recent days I have seen a number of references to his not caring- even more than usual, what anyone thinks.  He has vowed to lay it all out there, to speak from the heart, since he has nothing to lose at this point. So we are left with John McCain speaking the truth, exactly what he feels and believes. The notion is refreshing. It’s unfortunate that all politicians everywhere aren’t dying, and thus speaking truthfully and honestly.

Well, I’ll get to keep my guns for at least 4 more more years.
Of course, I may have to use them.

I think most of us are well convinced at this point that the earth is not flat, that our moon is not made of cheese, and that babies are not delivered by storks. How is it then that so many still believe that there is a difference between the republican party and the democratic party?

I was thinking this morning about politics, the upcoming election, promises. I was thinking about how we try to regain what was, perhaps voting for someone because they claim they will return us to a better time, to “the way it used to be.” The fact is, it never was the way it used to be.

Damned liberals. Stinking conservatives. Republicans versus democrats. Leftists and rightists, revolutionaries and reactionaries.
So many words to describe people who have one common purpose: to survive and thrive, live free and in peace.

But the words do the work they were intended to do, having one end, to divide and conquer.

The phrase is attributed to Phillip of Macedonia around 350BC.  Read more about the phrase’s political implications, those who have cited it, and those who used the concept on the Divide and Conquer Wikipedia page. Then, apply what you have read the next time the media feeds you it’s propaganda.