Archive for Foreign Policy

“Preemptive Retreat”

Well said, Col. Peters:

LT. COL. RALPH PETERS: [T]he president and all the president’s men and women look at everything politically and domestically. What’s the effect on the base, etc? As a result, they blithely fled from Iraq after we won a hard fought victory that at times I didn’t think we could pull off. Amazing, amazing triumph, and he runs away. Not only do we have a mess in Iraq, but I truly believe it triggered so much else, Syria as a minimum, the mess in Egypt, Libya. He is the one that opened Pandora’s box, not George W. Bush. Barack Obama, with his philosophy of preemptive retreat, is responsible for the blood bath in the Middle East today.

Retreat? He’s looking fore-ward!

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How to Lie

Not that I’m an expert (more than any other blogger), but one of the first rules of lying is to commit to one lie at a time.

Isn’t that right, Mr. President?

At a Saturday press conference, a reporter asked President Obama a question that’s been on our mind since Obama announced a new U.S. military intervention in Iraq: “Mr. President, do you have any second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq? And does it give you pause as the U.S.–is it doing the same thing in Afghanistan?”

“What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision,” Obama replied. “Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government.”

So, he’s going to blame Bush. Five and a half years into his administration, almost a lame duck himself. Very well, if that’s his plan.

Why then, pray tell, this?

“We needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system,” the president said. The Iraqis rejected that demand. “So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because . . . a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq.”

What do you mean “we”, Kimosabe? Don’t you mean “they”, the previous administration? Or is there more to this “we” than we thought?

In an April story for The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins painted a more complicated picture. U.S. military commanders told Filkins that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “said that he wanted to keep [U.S.] troops in Iraq,” but that “parliament would forbid the troops to stay unless they were subject to local law.” But “President Obama, too, was ambivalent about retaining even a small force in Iraq”:

For several months, American officials told me, they were unable to answer basic questions in meetings with Iraqis–like how many troops they wanted to leave behind–because the Administration had not decided. “We got no guidance from the White House,” [James] Jeffrey [the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad in 2011] told me. “We didn’t know where the President was. Maliki kept saying, ‘I don’t know what I have to sell.’ ” At one meeting, Maliki said that he was willing to sign an executive agreement granting the soldiers permission to stay, if he didn’t have to persuade the parliament to accept immunity. The Obama Administration quickly rejected the idea. “The American attitude was: Let’s get out of here as quickly as possible,” Sami al-Askari, [an] Iraqi member of parliament, said.

How many different euphemisms for the First Prevaricator did you count? And how many ways does he sound responsible for the decision?

Obama himself said as much, during the third 2012 presidential debate with Mitt Romney:

Romney: With regards to Iraq, you and I agreed, I believe, that there should have been a status-of-forces agreement. Did you–

Obama: That’s not true.

Romney: Oh, you didn’t–you didn’t want a status of forces agreement?

Obama: No, but what I–what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that would tie us down.

So, somewhere between 0 and 9,999 troops, sir? Or are you saying you would have stationed more than 10,000? It’s so hard to tell with you.

It’s hard to take responsibility for your hopeless eff-ups in politics, I get that. But it’s easier than this game of solitaire Twister.

Speaking of hopeless eff-ups:

In a wide-ranging interview with the New Yorker, President Barack Obama compared Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq and Syria to junior varsity basketball players, downplaying their threat as small-league. He also shared what he thought were the chances of reaching Middle East peace agreements.

New Yorker editor David Remnick pointed out to the president that the Al Qaeda flag is now seen flying in Falluja in Iraq and in certain locations in Syria, and thus the terrorist group has not been “decimated” as Obama had said during his 2012 reelection campaign.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told Remnick. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

Remnick characterized Obama’s analogy as “uncharacteristically flip.”

Yeah, I’d say so. But don’t say that to Obama or he’ll call “horse[bleep]“.

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B Kind 2 Barack

What do you want from the guy?

The world is a hot mess. Pro-Russian separatists shot down a passenger jet over Ukraine. Iraq is under siege from Islamic radicals, the Taliban is rebounding in Afghanistan and civil war grinds on in Syria.

Israel is fighting in Gaza. Negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program have come up empty. China is bullying its neighbors.

When trouble flares up around the world, U.S. presidents get blamed. The latest polls show that only about 36 percent of Americans approve of Barack Obama’s handling of foreign affairs — down from 51 percent in May, 2011, after the death of Osama bin Laden.

Republicans have not been reluctant to place responsibility on him. “Obama has presided over a recent string of disasters that make even (Jimmy) Carter look competent,” wrote Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. “The world is on fire — and Obama’s foreign policy legacy is in tatters.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina charged that “his policies are failing across the globe.”

The indictment implies that had the administration been tougher or smarter, Ukraine would be intact, Syria’s dictator would be gone, Iraq would be stable, Hamas would surrender, China would be a gentle lamb and Iran would give up its nukes.

Conservatives say Obama thinks he’s king. But they seem to confuse him with God.

Silly conservatives. Where’d they get that idea?

But if Obama doesn’t deserve his 36% approval rating now (and he doesn’t, it’s way too high), he didn’t deserve the 51% approval when SEAL Team Six greased Osama bin Laden (while Obama watched from the corner of the room in a golf jacket).

But yeah, I’ll go along with the idea that if this administration had been tougher and smarter, some or all of the world’s hot spots today would be at least a little less hot. Who fears or respects us? Who can even determine what it is we want, much less what we demand? Obama’s much-derided “apology tour” in his early days presaged these days of dithering. The US had too often thrown its weight around, he lamented: more Mr. Nice Guy.

And note that by acknowledging anti-Americanism, he hasn’t made America any more popular. I’d prefer respect, and accept fear, but they don’t even like us. They don’t like him, either, not anymore.

[T]he belief persists that the difference between a bad outcome and a good outcome is a willingness by the U.S. government to exercise leadership or show toughness or otherwise get involved. In practice, our interventions often exact a terribly high price for a dismal result. If there are two ways to get a dismal result, maybe we should choose the one that doesn’t cost us thousands of lives or billions of dollars.

See Syria, for example. Or Iraq. Or Libya. Or Gaza. Or Ukraine. Or “our girls” in Nigeria. Or the Rio Grande. Or Chicago. Dismal results, all, and all free of charge and with no lives lost.

Oh wait…

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Chips and Guacamole!

Obama’s foreign policy:

As smoke billowed from the downed Malaysian jetliner in the fields of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, President Obama pressed ahead with his schedule: a cheeseburger with fries at the Charcoal Pit in Delaware, a speech about infrastructure and two splashy fund-raisers in New York City.

The potential for jarring split-screen imagery was clear. Reports of charred bodies and a ground-to-air missile attack from Eastern Europe dominated television screens while photographers snapped pictures of a grinning Mr. Obama holding a toddler at the restaurant. The presidential motorcade was later filmed pulling up to Trump Place Apartments, the Riverside Avenue venue for his first fund-raiser.

Excuse me, New York Times editors, but isn’t “grinning” one of those racist dog whistles? My Bloodthirsty Puppy jumped to her feet when she read that.

Moments after making a grim statement about Ukraine on Friday, the president popped into the East Room, where the first lady, Michelle Obama, was holding a mock state dinner for children to promote her Let’s Move nutrition initiative. “My big thing,” he confessed to the kids, “chips and guacamole!” There was plenty of laughter all around.

Ha-ha-ha-ha! What a card.

On Friday afternoon, Mr. Obama flew to Camp David for the weekend. This week, he plans a three-day fund-raising swing in Seattle and California. White House officials said there were no plans to cancel the trip.

Of course not. They need the money.

Obama can’t afford to change his plans: that might raise expectations that he could or would actually do something. He likens himself to a bear on the loose, and there’s something to that: bears root through dumpsters and garbage cans looking for food. Meanwhile, the Russian bear lumbers across the landscape without opposition.

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Pol Pot Pols

Two weeks ago, in a piece highlighting America’s unreliability as an ally, Mark Steyn laid this heavy quotation on us:

Forty years ago, as another American client regime crumbled, the US Ambassador sportingly offered asylum to a former Cambodian prime minister, Prince Sirik Matak. His response is worth quoting:

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can do nothing about it. You leave us and it is my wish that you and your country will find happiness under the sky. But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we are all born and must die one day. I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans.

So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and was murdered by the Khmer Rouge, but so were another 1.7 million people, and in a pile of skulls that high it’s hard to remember this or that individual. But there are many in Iraq and Afghanistan who are reflecting, as Sirik Matak did, that they made the mistake of “believing in you, the Americans”.

“Happiness under the sky” has the same resonance of simple truth as American Indian aphorisms, to my ear, another people we hosed royally.

Chief Seattle’s famous (if apocryphal) speech:

[W]hen the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless.

Chief Joseph’s capitulation:

I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohulhulsote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead.

It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are–perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead.

Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.

Leaving aside the nobility of our adversaries, the USA didn’t use to be “harmless as an enemy, treacherous as a friend”, as Steyn quotes Bernard Lewis. Seattle and Joseph knew our treachery, but never saw us as harmless.

Now there can be no doubt. The same regime that swears the US “will always have Israel’s back” now recognizes as legitimate a fraudulent government of a fraudulent people, with Hamass—a very real and legitimate terror gang—as a member. Our treachery lies bare for all to see. ISIS, the Taliban, Iran, to name just a few of our enemies, can better tell you how harmful they find us.

I see the latest news is that whatever passes for Iraqi military are pushing back against the ISIS marauders. Good, I guess. (Are there any good guys?) It sure beats our answer that Iraq needs to build a more inclusive government. As if anyone, besides Saddam, has figured out how to include Sunnnis, Shiites, and Kurds in one country. As if even if they did, “inclusiveness” is useless against tanks. Never bring a liberal piety to a gun fight. (How many divisions does the Pope have, Stalin once wryly asked.)

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Losing What George Bush Won

Like him or loathe him, President Bush toppled the Taliban and defeated Saddam Hussein and the Islamist insurgency that followed. The governments that followed those heinous regimes may have been weak, corrupt, and ineffectual, but Bush didn’t see it as America’s job to install one brutal strongman (or men) to replace another.

What Bush hath wrought, Obama hath put asunder:

A day after taking over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, militants gained nearly complete control of the northern city of Tikrit, witnesses in the city and police officials in neighboring Samarra told CNN.

Heavy fighting erupted inside Tikrit — the hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein — as the military tried to regain control, the sources and a police official in Baghdad said.

According to the witnesses in Tikrit and the Samarra police officials, two police stations in Tikrit were on fire and a military base was taken over by militants, believed to be from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group also known as ISIS and ISIL.

The group was an offshoot al Qaeda in Iraq, responsible for the deaths of many U.S. troops in western Iraq. With American help, Iraqi tribal militias put ISIS on the defensive.

But when U.S. troops left the country, the extremist militants found new leadership, grew stronger while in Syria, and returned to Iraq, making military gains often off the backs of foreign fighters drawn to Syria’s conflict.

Barack Obama pissed away Afghanistan, and now he’s pissing away Iraq. He almost cared about Syria, but after lying down with a cold compress to his head, the feeling passed. He let Libyan Islamists kill four Americans and get away with it. He somehow managed to side with the Muslim Brotherhood, who would have imposed sharia law had not the Egyptian military deposed them. And his “peace” process in the Middle East managed only to bring peace (of a very limited sort) between the warring terrorist factions among the Arab occupiers of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. He couldn’t have screwed this up any worse if he tried, which I sincerely think he did.

Cindy Sheehan was very upset that her son, Casey, lost his life for a cause he believed in, but she didn’t. How must she feel now that Obama has desecrated her son’s memory by rendering his ultimate sacrifice moot? Even if she didn’t see the point to Bush’s adventures, there was change: terrorists and tyrants were removed, and a period of something resembling democracy reigned, however briefly. Now, this silly narcissist, who thought he could unite the world over love of him, a black American with a Muslim dad, has as good as defecated on the graves of thousands of American soldiers.

Cindy?

If Barack Obama came up to me and said, “Cindy, can you write me a check for $5k to help me buy another hellfire missile,” I would say, “hell no, take a hike,” so why should I funnel my funds through the IRS to be disbursed to the Military Industrial Complex?

That’s what I thought.

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The Obama Doctrine

You have to listen to Hillary and Harry Reid to discern it: What difference does it make?

MANU RAJU, POLITICO: Looking back at the way this was rolled out, do you think the White House could have been a better job looping in Congress during these negotiations?

SEN. HARRY REID: Listen, Manu [Raju], and everyone here, the timeline was very, very brief here. This has nothing to do with briefing this down in the classified briefing. We all know that the president had a very short period of time to make a decision. He made the decision to bring him home, and I’m glad he did because in my opinion, based on nothing in the classified briefing, in my opinion, every day that he was there was a day closer to his dying.

RAJU: How come you were the only one who got a heads-up the day before?

REID: I’m not sure I’m the only one. I mean, this is making a big deal over nothing. The whole deal, is it Friday or Saturday? What difference does it make? What difference does it make?

Sound like someone else you know?

Hillary said that after Americans were killed by Islamist terrorists; Reid said it before. I guess that’s the difference.

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Terrorist Welfare

I’m worried about the families of the likes of David Berkowitz and Charles Manson. How are they getting by? And Jeffrey Dahmer’s people, are they making ends meet?

I’m glad we have a government that cares:

In testimony to Congress, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, defended the Palestinian Authority practice of paying salaries to terrorists in prison saying “they have to provide for the families.” [April 29, 2014]

Palestinian Media Watch has documented repeatedly that this is not correct. According to PA law and in practice the PA does not give stipends to terrorist prisoners’ families but salaries to the terrorist prisoners themselves. PMW has already reported that the PA Minister of Prisoners vocally rejected the claim that the payments are social welfare aid to the prisoners’ families, stressing instead that the prisoners receive salaries “out of esteem.”

Anne Patterson…don’t I know that name?

One can see his point. But Ambassador Patterson was not done talking excrement:

Assistant Secretary Patterson twice told the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa that she “knows” that the PA “are going to try to phase that out, and we should give them an opportunity to do so.”

There is nothing in all the activities and statements of the PA to back up that claim. PMW has not encountered any PA statements regarding a “phasing out” of the salaries to terrorists. To the contrary, in 2013 and 2014, PA officials have regularly been adding additional regulations and benefits for prisoners. In addition, they have reiterated in government meetings and in public statements to Palestinians that the salaries and other benefits to prisoners is a high priority for the Palestinian Authority and will continue.

But what are we arguing about? Who pays to look after the families of murderers? That is insane.

And it is official US government policy:

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) condemned the swearing in of the new Fatah and Hamas unity government on Monday, which took place in Ramallah.

“The replacement of ministers in the Palestinian government is just a pretty wrapping for the terrorist attacks that were conducted and will be conducted under their protection,” declared Danon.

“Now, all aid given to the Palestinians by the United States and other countries directly aids terror attacks against the state of Israel.

Which, presumably, is the point.

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War is What Happens While You’re Telling Jokes

President Obama was madly busy yesterday playing golf and telling jokes.

Others were involved in more serious pursuits:

Pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian police station in Odessa on Sunday and freed 30 fellow activists as the prime minister blamed police corruption there for dozens of deaths in rioting on Friday.

“Russians won’t abandon their own!” militants chanted as they smashed windows and broke down the gate at the compound, where comrades had been held since Friday’s mayhem. Others shouted “Russia! Russia!” and “we will not forgive!”

Odessa police said 30 activists had been released.

Some police officers were offered the black and orange St. George’s ribbon, a Russian military insignia that has become a symbol of the revolt, and were cheered when they accepted it.

Except for tanks, Russia has invaded Ukraine. (They can shoot down helicopters, evidently.) So far, our response has been to ban sales of peanut butter to the Moscow elite and cancel Putin’s subscription to Jugs.

Best question of the day:

What’s often misunderstood about Putin is that, while he pines for the vanished image of Soviet power, he knows that Communism didn’t work. Nor does he expect to re-establish the Soviet Union’s domination over Europe’s eastern half (as much as he’d welcome it). Putin has become a Great-Russian nationalist, a bigoted throwback to the days before the Bolsheviks arrived. His intent is to regain all the lands that once belonged to the czars.

When President Obama declared in March that Putin “has no ideology,” he betrayed his ignorance of both history and Putin. Who’s briefing this guy?

Untitled

Putin’s ideology is nationalism, the only belief system that may have killed as many human beings as Marxism. And when a “post-modern” talk-talk America president faces a Russian leader who’s a man of action and whose concept of nationhood refers to the late 19th century, our cherished negotiations merely seal the deal on what Putin’s already taken (anyone really think he’ll give back Crimea and flee from eastern Ukraine?).

Obama talks, Putin kills.

And make no mistake, Putin truly believes he’s entitled to reclaim Ukraine and a great deal more. In his view, independent capitals from Warsaw (yes, Warsaw) to Bishkek are integral and natural parts of the Russian imperium. He regards them as property stolen from its rightful owner: Moscow.

Putin is a student of history and of Shakespeare:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

Translated: Putin seen his opportunities, and he took ‘em.

PS: Obama’s favorite line of Shakespeare: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…

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Snap Quiz

Quick question: who’s the US Ambassador to Egypt?

Wait, wait, don’t tell me…oh, I know this! Dude with the glasses and the gray suit. Gave heap big wampum (as Elizabeth Warren would say) to the Obama campaign.

Sigh. Okay, I give up. Tell me.

NOT FAIR!

This absence of a US ambassador in Cairo for the last eight months could be for several reasons. First, it could be strong evidence of tension between the two countries and hesitation by the US administration on what it should do about developments in Egypt. Second, it could confirm the reliance on defence relations as the basis of bilateral relations; there have been more than 30 phone calls between US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his former counterpart Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, or one call every six days.

Third, it could be Washington’s desire not to be directly present inside Egypt, especially after the bad experience of Ambassador Anne Patterson that ended with her returning home in August to become US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Oh yeah. Seems we read about it at the time:

Patterson was heavily criticised last summer before and after protests following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. Some Egyptian newspapers printed headlines describing her as “Ambassador from Hell” and “The US High Commissioner to Egypt” along with “Shameless Patterson” and “White Beetle Patterson” and dozens of other inappropriate headlines. Thus, some people believe that senior US diplomats are hesitant to serve in Cairo right now.

That pitch!

Buncha sexist bastards, the Egyptians.

But why the hostility?

I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning; and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. And together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I’m grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. And I’m also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalaamu alaykum. (Applause.)

They’re not applauding anymore.

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Kung Fool

Some say President Obama has been beaten up for his lunch money by Vladimir Putin. We reject that charge.

Beating him up for his lunch money is what China is doing:

China is waging political warfare against the United States as part of a strategy to drive the U.S. military out of Asia and control seas near its coasts, according to a Pentagon-sponsored study.

A defense contractor report produced for the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s think tank on future warfare, describes in detail China’s “Three Warfares” as psychological, media, and legal operations. They represent an asymmetric “military technology” that is a surrogate for conflict involving nuclear and conventional weapons.

The unclassified 566-page report warns that the U.S. government and the military lack effective tools for countering the non-kinetic warfare methods, and notes that U.S. military academies do not teach future military leaders about the Chinese use of unconventional warfare. It urges greater efforts to understand the threat and adopt steps to counter it.

“The Three Warfares is a dynamic three dimensional war-fighting process that constitutes war by other means,” said Cambridge University professor Stefan Halper, who directed the study. “It is China’s weapon of choice in the South China Sea.”

The study concludes that in the decade ahead China will employ unconventional warfare techniques on issues ranging from the Senkaku Islands dispute in northeast Asia to the disputed Paracels in the South China Sea.

For the United States, the Three Warfares seek to curtail U.S. power projection in Asia that is needed to support allies, such as Japan and South Korea, and to assure freedom of navigation by attempting to set terms for allowing U.S. access to the region.

The use of psychological, media, and legal attacks by China is part of an effort to raise “doubts about the legitimacy of the U.S. presence.”

Let us amend our assertion that China is beating up Obama for his lunch money. He’s handing it over of his own free will, saying they deserve it more than he does. Besides, China is just a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness”.

If this were a good world in which everyone could be trusted, there might be no need for the US to project its strength around the globe, But his is a world with China, Russia, Iran, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc. in it. There are consequences for weakness, perceived or real, but unless the Russians lob a nuke onto the 17 green at Andrews Air Base, Obama will never have to face them.

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The “U-Word”

Not eunuch, though that fits very well.

“Unfortunate”:

“The (Russian) President (Vladimir Putin) may have his version of history, but I believe that he and Russia, for what they have done, are on the wrong side of history,” Kerry said during a function at the State Department on Tuesday.

“I must say I was really struck and somewhat surprised and even disappointed by the interpretations in the facts as they were articulated by the President,” Kerry said soon after Putin’s speech in Moscow.

“But the President has made it clear that if there is this move to the full annexation, which appears to be clearly the direction that they have decided to move, it will be unfortunate

Surprised, disappointed, unfortunate—these words must surely describe what most Americans think of how far we’ve fallen in the world’s estimation. In the last five years alone.

On the positive side, this should help with illegal immigration. Who would want to join a team of such hapless losers? Head for China and Russia, my Guatemalan amigos. I’m sure there are jobs that need to be done that Crimeans just won’t do.

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