Daily Bread for 11.11.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of thirty-eight. Sunrise is 6:43 AM and sunset 4:34 PM, for 9h 51m 39s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 42.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred sixty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1918, at eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, fighting between the Allies and Germany stopped as those nations reached an armistice. Katie Mettler describes How Veterans Day went from celebrating world peace to thanking armed forces (“The original intent, established in the wake of World War I, was to celebrate world peace. Then the wars never ended, so Veterans Day changed.”). On this day in 1964, the Rolling Stones play at the Milwaukee Auditorium.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Sometimes a monkey vouches for the organ grinder:

Alex Luhn reports US embassy hires security firm of former Russian spy who worked with Putin:

The US embassy in Moscow is to be guarded by a company owned by a former head of KGB counter-intelligence who worked with British double agent Kim Philby and young Vladimir Putin, after cuts to US staff demanded by Russia.

Elite Security Holdings was awarded a $2.83 million contract to provide “local guard services for US mission Russia,” which includes the Moscow embassy and consulates in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, according to a post on a US state procurement website.

The contract and background of the firm came to light in a Kommersant newspaper report on Friday….

(One should ask this question: if somehow the Trump Administration were on the very payroll of the Russian government, what would it be doing that it’s not doing now?)

Leonid Bershidsky contends Putin’s Trolling of the West Is Not Just a Tactic (“Meddling with Western elections looks like a mistake, but it’s part of a grim, lonely long game”):

….The path of the global troll, the global joker, the eternal challenger is a lonely one, though it fits the Russian character and its love of winning as an underdog. Putin appears to get phantom pains where G8 meetings, high-level diplomacy and soulful conversations with Western leaders used to be.

His circle is by now resigned that any Western assets they might own are threatened, but, as Russia settles into its new role, the billionaires and managers who remember Putin’s previous long game get uncomfortable tinges when sanctions are stepped up and old business partners no longer want to drink together. These twinges of regret, as well as the Kremlin’s feverish attempts to maintain a semblance of diplomatic contact, may look to Westerners as signs of remorse and attempts to find a face-saving way out.

They probably aren’t: The evolution of Putin’s views is irreversible, and Russia’s capacity to take pain is constantly underestimated. Putin clearly believes it’s higher than his Western adversaries think, and it’s not clear at this point who’s right.

The best Western response to Putin’s game is to prove that democratic institutions still work, that they still reflect what people want from government, that the West can still be an example and a moral compass to the developing world and eventually to Russians. So far, the U.S. and the U.K. are failing this test. Continental Europe is doing better, although its weaknesses are also there for the world to see. Putin’s strategy is to frame the divisions and failures as an existential crisis, and he’s not necessarily losing — yet….

Mark Galeotti (whose assessment Bershidsky mentions) writes with a contrary view in How Putin could yet save Britain from Brexit:

….To portray Putin as the masterful geopolitical chess-player has become a familiar cliche. But in recent years, Putin seems to have become increasingly insulated from bad news and critical opinions, and has made serious mistakes as a result. In particular, he and his cronies time and again have shown themselves unable to understand democratic societies, and the resilience that lies beneath the surface of fractiousness and short-termism.

If Putin ever deluded himself that his campaign of hacksdisinformation, covert political donations and other gambits was going to allow him to shape the western political agenda, he ought now to be having second thoughts. Admittedly Russian meddling has managed to worsen existing political and social tensions throughout the west, from playing to an Islamophobic nativism in Europe, to the populist resentments that fuelled the Trump campaign.

Yet to what real advantage? Nato has regained its focus on the challenge from the east and is now spending more on defence. Key European leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are unequivocal about Moscow being a dangerous influence. Investigations, rumours and court cases are boxing in Donald Trump. Even the Brexit vote, which undoubtedly delighteda Kremlin eager to see Europe divided and discordant, now looks open to question….

Tech Insider explains How a ‘firenado’ forms: