Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:19 pm

bungobaggins wrote:What about when Texas wanted to secede last year, or was it the year before. scratch slap laugh

Well I did say "usually". Razz

Anyway, I don't really take the Texas secession advocates seriously since I get the sense that it's just people who are more or less happy to be American but like to mouth off when they don't get their way at the federal level. Also, what they won't tell you is that Vermont and Hawaii were also independent countries (both of them for longer than Texas was) before joining the Union, and the original Thirteen Colonies were independent sovereign states under the Articles of Confederation. Also, for the sake of completeness, we should note that California claims they were briefly independent during the Mexican-American War, although they didn't establish a functioning state before being annexed by the US. The individual Confederate States also claimed to be sovereign in the same way that the Thirteen Colonies were initially, though no foreign country ever recognized as separate from the US.

Speaking of the Confederacy, their defeat in the Civil War and a couple of subsequent Supreme Court cases confirmed that states are not allowed to unilaterally leave the Union. Of course, most countries don't allow secession, but that doesn't always stop it, such as when Texas left Mexico in the 1830s. However, I don't think anyone (except maybe a few crazies) in Texas cares enough about leaving the Union for it to ever come to force.
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by David H on Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:20 pm

I seem to recall that the "illegal to secede" thing came up after the Civil War as a way to simplify the raft of BS paperwork that would have been necessary to bring everybody back into the Union as new conquests. Easier to just declare that all the secessions had never really happened, at least for legal purposes.
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:22 pm

malickfan wrote:All very good points (as usual Eldo!), but it seems to me enough people have spoken in one way or another to at least validate some of what Putin is saying, perhaps another poll monitored by a neutral country would have been the best way forward.

That would have been good, but I don't think it's likely to happen at this point. Ukraine knows they'd be outmatched by Russia in a war, so they haven't contested the annexation of Crimea with force, though they've been busy trying to beef up their defenses. Hopefully the rest of the country will get through this intact.
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Bluebottle on Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:24 pm

Whether the declaration of independence is in accordance with international
law.

No prohibition of declarations of independence according to State practice —
Contention that prohibition of unilateral declarations of independence is implicit
in the principle of territorial integrity — Scope of the principle of territorial
integrity is confined to the sphere of relations between States — No general pro- hibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence — Issues relating to the extent of the right of self- determination and the existence of any right of “remedial secession” are beyond the scope of the question posed by the General Assembly.

General international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations
of independence
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/141/15987.pdf

And that's the words of the International Court of Justice.

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:27 pm

David H wrote:I seem to recall that the "illegal to secede" thing came up after the Civil War as a way to simplify the raft of BS paperwork that would have been necessary to bring everybody back into the Union as new conquests. Easier to just declare that all the secessions had never really happened, at least for legal purposes.

You're probably thinking of Texas v. White, which arose over the issue of paperwork that you mentioned. You're probably on the right track with the Supreme Court's rationale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_v._White

That said, I don't think the Union recognized the secessions as valid during the war either, since their justification for fighting was the Confederates had no right to leave the Union or try to seize federal property.  There was a debate over how to treat the returning Confederate states after the war, though.  If I recall correctly, it was the Radical Republicans (the staunchest opponents of slavery and strongest advocates of federal power) who argued that the rebel states had ceased to exist due to their rebellion and had to seek re-admittance to the Union.  This was mainly to justify putting the South under military governance during Reconstruction, but the Radical Republicans only held power for a couple of years and when the rebel states rejoined the Union, they were seen as continuing their original memberships.
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Eldorion on Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:30 pm

Bluebottle wrote:http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/141/15987.pdf

And that's the words of the International Court of Justice.

If only people paid attention to them. Razz

But that ruling is definitely a tricky point for Western governments who are fond of falling back on the "international law" justification. Though they can still argue that the referendum shouldn't be trusted since it occurred immediately after a unilateral invasion armed intervention by a foreign country. Though the next response in the war of words would be to point at Iraq. Shrugging
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:08 am

Yeah, though they are asserting a negative of course. That there are no rules against it doesn't mean there are rules for it and that it's allowable in any situation.

One could wish that secessions like that always came about by debate and the acceptance of all the involved parties. Like in Scotland if they vote yes. But, I guess, the reality is it happens with military power more than anything, and that's what's happened in the Crimea. This hastily cobbled together vote is as best an attemot at an excuse for that use of military power. And I think everyone sees that.

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:10 am

And I like how the politicians on each side keeps coming out with sentences like; "This is in breach of international law." To which the other side replies; "No, it's not."

What international law? They tend not to say.

Politicians seem fond of postulates when being assertive.  Laughing 

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by David H on Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:55 am

Bluebottle wrote:This hastily cobbled together vote is as best an attemot at an excuse for that use of military power. And I think everyone sees that.

Agreed. Yet I'm inclined to give a few points for at least the show of a democratic election. There was a time not too many years ago when a military power such as Russia saw no need for excuses other than strategic. And however tilted the election may have been, there's no doubt that there is significant popular support in Crimea for a continued relationship with Russia.
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:21 pm

I am quite surprised they even had a referendum.

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Bluebottle on Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:28 pm

The fact that they moved in with military power first and then had a so quickly and shabbily thrown together referendum without the time for any real debate or contemplation weighs heavily against giving it much validity for me.

But, yes, they did have a referendum. And in the end I think the reason Russia might actually get away with this lies in just the reality of the result. Which despite other ethinc groups boycotting it was a monumental yes to independence. The Crimea despite nominally being Ukrainian obviously never really stopped actually being Russian.  Shrugging 

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by halfwise on Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:45 pm

I have to say this is a pretty sweet piece of work when it comes to financial surgical strikes:

How Obama Crippled a Russian Bank with a Stroke of a Pen

Reuters/Maxim Shemetov
   

ROB GARVER
The Fiscal Times
March 21, 2014
He may not take shirtless horseback rides across the steppes, or have a black belt in judo, but on Thursday, President Obama sent a message to Russian president Vladimir Putin about strength. Specifically, economic strength.

The message was this: Whenever I decide to, I can pick up a pen, and kill a significant financial institution in your country.

Obama’s victim was the St. Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya.

In response to Russia’s takeover of the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Obama yesterday authorized the Treasury Department to add 20 members of Putin’s inner circle, as well as Bank Rossiya, to the Office of Foreign Asset Control’s list of “specially designated nationals.”

The designation makes the individuals named ineligible to do business with U.S. financial institutions, which is likely a major personal inconvenience. But for Bank Rossiya, the designation is something like the kiss of death.


Bank Rossiya is not the largest bank in Russia by a long shot, but its significance lies in its clientele rather than its size. In announcing the sanctions, the Treasury Department noted that Bank Rossiya “is the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation” including members of the Ozero Dacha Cooperative, an exclusive community where members of Putin’s inner circle live. In addition, it provides financial services to the single largest segment of the Russian economy – the oil, gas, and energy sector.

Essentially, this is a credit union for oligarchs, with a side business in financing the Russian energy industry. Its customers include many more high-profile Russians than just those named in the Treasury statement. As of Thursday it is, for all intents and purposes, out of business.

If account holders want to do any kind of business at all short of paying their utility bills and using Russian ATMs, they are going to need to go elsewhere, said experts.

“They’ve got to go to another bank,” said Lester M. Joseph, former principal deputy chief of the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering section. “That bank is pretty much a pariah.”

Currently the international investigations manager at Wells Fargo Bank, Joseph said when heard about the sanctions on Bank Rossiya, the first thing he did was check to see if it was a customer of his institution. “It is not, thankfully,” he said.

The impact doesn’t stop there, Joseph explained. His next step, which is ongoing, is to see if any banks that Wells Fargo has relationships with are also doing business with Bank Rossiya, and to make sure that none of those banks are routing transactions from the Russian bank through Wells Fargo’s system. “If a transaction from that bank is coming from another bank, we would have to block it,” he said.

Joseph said that every other bank in the U.S. is – or ought to be – doing exactly the same thing.

Considering the volume of international wire transfers that flow through the systems of U.S. banks, he said, this essentially shuts down Bank Rossiya’s access to a huge portion of the worldwide banking system.

As one U.S. official told Reuters, Bank Rossiya will be “frozen out of the dollar.”

And it only gets worse.

Even if governments in other countries don’t join the U.S. in sanctions against Bank Rossiya, their bankers will have a very strong incentive to stop doing business with the Russian bank if they have any ties at all to U.S. institutions – which virtually all significant international banks do.

“If they are doing business with that bank, and they are also doing business in the United States, if something slips through,” then suddenly they’re facing U.S. regulatory action, said Robert Rowe, vice president and senior counsel for the American Bankers Association. International wire traffic is voluminous and largely automated, he said, making it easier for an international bank to simply stop doing business with Bank Rossiya rather than trying to route transactions associated with it away from the U.S.

Rowe said this would affect not only individuals who do their banking at Bank Rossiya, but perhaps more importantly, the oil and gas companies that arrange their trade financing through the bank.

“That’s where it’s going to have an impact,” said Rowe.

Banking experts said that one of the uncertainties surrounding yesterday’s move is how Russia will respond. The Russian government immediately released a widely mocked list of U.S. officials whom it said would be blocked from doing business in Russia.

Politicians named on the list rushed to Twitter to boast about being sanctioned and to leave sarcastic comments about being forced to forgo vacations in Siberia.

However, according to John Byrne, executive vice president of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists – a trade group for bankers and law enforcement professionals who deal with issues including OFAC compliance – that’s likely not the end of it.

“There’s no question these sanctions are an appropriate and effective national security tool,

he said, “but this is a country that can fight back.”

How Russia reacts to the sanctions, Byrne said, will be closely watched by the financial community. And that reaction is by no means predictable. In general, major industrialized countries don’t try to shut down each other’s financial institutions without evidence of blatant illegal activity – which does not appear to exist in the case of Bank Rossiya.

“This is a new thing,” said Joseph. “It’s not a rogue bank. It’s a bank in a country where we do a lot of business. It’s not involved in a criminal case.” Compared to other actions by past administrations, he said, “It’s much more complex.”

- See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/03/21/How-Obama-Crippled-Russian-Bank-Stroke-Pen#sthash.DLcq1cQb.dpuf

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by David H on Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:20 am

a new battlefield for a new century
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Eldorion on Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:20 am

Interesting stuff. I can't say I know much about international banking, but I'm curious how effectively (and for how long) the US can keep senior Russian officials isolated like this. And whether or not it causes Russia to back down and, if it doesn't, how significant they're willing to get in terms of sanctions.

Reportedly Merkel has changed her mind about taking economic action against Russia.

http://news.yahoo.com/germanys-russian-rethink-merkel-lost-faith-putin-135718582--business.html
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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:01 pm

you are right Dave, who needs nukes when things like this cause just as much devastation to civilians.

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Re: Russian Roulette - will we dodge the bullet?

Post by David H on Sat Mar 22, 2014 4:38 pm

Yes, isn't it easy to imagine the Heads of State of all the Great Nations in the Word sitting in their offices with their hands on red buttons, just like in the Cold War?

But now, instead of being connected to thousands of nuclear missile silos, the buttons lead to thousands of bank computers.

Remember that term Too Big To Fail?  affraid 

The strategy of Mutually Ensured Destruction looks the same no matter what the button leads to.
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