“Eighty percent of the world’s problems are the fault of British mapmakers,” quipped the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy. Or words to that effect anyway; the precise quotation eludes our best efforts to find it this morning.
And who could argue? The Brits drew arbitrary lines in the sand to create something called “Iraq” in the 1920s. Thirty years earlier, they drew another arbitrary line through some mountains in south Asia that today marks the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The big news today falls into the other 20% that can’t be blamed on the Brits. Blame Soviet mapmakers for the mess in the Crimean peninsula — Russian territory transferred to Ukraine in 1954.
Armed forces — with no recognizable insignia on their uniforms — have taken over the two main airports. The Russians deny the troops are theirs. Meanwhile, gunmen have seized the regional parliament building. Oh, and Ukrainians are now limited to foreign-currency withdrawals equal to 15,000 hryvnias a day — about $1,500.
Ugly, ugly, ugly. As a reminder, Crimea is the most Russian part of Ukraine, one of the two deep-red regions we showed in this heat map of language on Tuesday…
Of course, if you read The Economist, the divide between a Ukrainian-speaking Roman Catholic west and Russian-speaking Orthodox east is imaginary. “The real division among Ukrainians,” reads a flowery editorial in the new issue out this morning, “is not between east and west, but between hope and cynicism: between those who believe a better kind of government is possible and those who understandably think that, in their troubled post-Soviet nation, corrupt paternalism is the best they can do.” The solution? More Western aid, the better to checkmate the Russkies, natch.
We love reading The Economist’s editorials. They’ve got everything figured out: If the peoples of the world simply conducted themselves in keeping with the wishes of The Economist’s editorial board, we’d see an end to war, poverty and even psoriasis.
“We should anticipate that Crimea will soon declare some sort of ‘independence’ from Ukraine,” says our military affairs expert Byron King — bursting The Economist’s bubble with a splash of reality.
“Russia will quickly recognize the ‘non-Ukrainian’ status of Crimea and begin to make accommodation, whether a close association with a ‘sovereign’ state or even national incorporation as part of Greater Russia.
“Western interests will howl, but overall, this will be tit for tat with respect to how quickly the West recognized Kosovo when it broke away from Serbia in 2008.
“Russia told the world that Kosovo would set a bad precedent for future border disputes. Now that legalistic warning comes into play in a manner that the West will not like.
“Meanwhile, Russia will maintain its naval and other military access to the Black Sea, which is a strategic requirement for Russia that dates back over 300 years.
“Ukraine will become a much smaller state — perhaps even landlocked, depending on how much of the ‘north shore’ of the Black Sea region goes with Crimea. I anticipate that we’ll all be updating our map collections in the not-too-distant future.”
“Threats to our nation in cyberspace are growing,” warns Gen. Keith Alexander, head of both the NSA and the military’s Cyber Command.
The military, he told Congress yesterday, needs to boost its cyberdefenses. “Those attacks are coming, and I think those are near term, and we’re not ready for them… We have a lot of infrastructure — electric, our government, our financial networks. We have to have a defensible architecture for our country, and we’ve got to get on with that.”
OK, yeah, Alexander is pushing to feather the nest of Cyber Command, like any other self-interested bureaucrat — even one who’s on his way out the door, probably to a cush consulting gig with an NSA contractor.
Our point is that we fully expect Congress to heed his call — even after boosting Cyber Command’s budget 134% this year, to $447 million.
Dave Gonigamfor The Daily Reckoning
P.S. When the boost to Cyber Command comes, a few companies stand to make a killing. And readers of The Daily Reckoning are given regular opportunities to discover how to find these companies out for themselves. If you’re not a Daily Reckoning reader, you can sign up for FREE, right here.
Despite so much positive sentiment surrounding the US economy, the fact remains that the US is still struggling under the weight of an unbearable load of debt. So who in his right mind would think it is a good time to start a war with Russia over Ukraine? Dr. Ron Paul explains...
Dave Gonigam has been managing editor of The 5 Min. Forecast since September 2010. Before joining the research and writing team at Agora Financial in 2007, he worked for 20 years as an Emmy award-winning television news producer.
Global warming is one of the most debated subjects of the last few years. But regardless of whether you're a "true believer" or a merely an unconvinced skeptic, there are significant ways to make serious money from this controversial topic. Today, Addison Wiggin brings you three of them. Read on...
The U.S. is in debt up to its eyeballs - both in the public and private sectors. And more than anything, this has to do with a "borrow and spend" mentality of which no one is willing to rid themselves. Luckily The Mogambo Guru is willing to point out these flaws... and offers an actionable way out of them. Read on...
Everyone loves to believe that stocks soar on IPO days. But statistically speaking, that's simply not the case. In fact, over the last decade the average first-day returns for IPOs was just 12.2%. Today, Wayne Mulligan shows you a way around that - and how to make twice as much as everyone else who's scrambling to get a piece of the IPO. Read on...
The world is full of self-help books and empowerment guides. But one ancient text beats them all. In fact, some early adopters call it "the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength." And according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in today's chaotic world. Read on...
Amid all of the excitement over the Alibaba IPO and the launch of the iPhone 6, stocks hit new all-time highs on Friday. But stock prices don't tell the full story... Today, Greg Guenthner deciphers the current market trend and gives insight into whether or not these record highs portend another market crash. Read on...