Sun, Mar 30, 2014 - 6:21am

an·nex transitive verb \ə-ˈneks, ˈa-ˌneks\

1 : to attach as a quality, consequence, or condition
2 (archaic): to join together materially : unite
3: to add to something earlier, larger, or more important
4: to incorporate (a country or other territory) within the domain of a state
5: to obtain or take for oneself

Origin of ANNEX: Middle English, from Anglo-French annexer, from annexe attached, from Latin annexus, past participle of annectere to bind to, from ad- + nectere to bind. First Known Use: 14th century -- Merriam-Webster

The smaller country sat astride a fault-line. While not exactly a recently developed one, the line had moved back a few countries in the past few decades. Its neighbor was a new-old power rising, one that had set its sights on reclaiming what it considered part of its homeland. Centuries of shared culture and language, not to mention shared rulers and borders, combined with the actual intent of many in the small country made conditions ripe for the rising empire to make its move.

(Europe ca. 1850, note also the peninsula on the right jutting into the Black Sea)

Riots were fomented, and broadly telecast by state-supported/owned media. One early spring the elected president, facing an imminent threat of lethal violence, and realizing that the Western powers were not going to lift a finger to help him, left office. An official dispatch of plea for help in quelling the lawlessness was transmitted to the ‘friendly, helpful’ neighboring power’s capital. ‘Reinforcements’ were sent from the benevolent patron. A few weeks later, a referendum was held, in which 99.7% of the population voted for immediate political and financial union with the neighboring larger country. Hundreds of thousands of citizens cheered in the streets to welcome their new overlords.

The newly enlarged budding empire sat down at the negotiating table with the major Western powers, and on the grounds of protecting its ‘countrymen’ managed to strike a deal to annex more adjacent territories. These were summarily swallowed whole into the new empire, which wasted no time in moving its troops to make absolutely 'final' these new borders. Incidentally, the territories thus acquired contained a disproportionate share of heavy industry and natural resources. And of course the new borders would become anything but final.

The Western powers, confident they had settled the crisis, wasted no time in patting themselves on the back. It was only the schedule of the prize committee (and of course subsequent geopolitical events) that prevented the architects of this monumental agreement from receiving the Nobel peace prize, though three of them actually WERE nominated the following year.

The new (again) empire secured its Eastern flank by signing a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the larger superpower to its East, cementing its relationship of ''friendship and cooperation'' for decades to come.

In case you were wondering, this is not Crimea/Ukraine (see links in text vs. those in pictures). The story above is one that is being bandied about with incredible frequency on occasion of its 76th anniversary -- the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938.

There was only one small hitch with all of the above, of course… By some calculations, 2.5% of the global population perished in the following 6 years. A continent was badly damaged (in many places leveled), entire nations of people were decimated, humanity was subjected to the wonders of nuclear warfare and other sundry barbarisms arising from the need for efficiency in permanently (or temporarily) removing certain human occupants of various locales.

As a small aside, here is a PM-related account of the era from a very smart guy whose profession becomes important further below. I disagree with his misunderestimating assessment, and would argue that this time around the gold transfer mentioned seems to have gone in the other direction...

"The Czechs, seeing the writing on the wall, had transferred almost all their gold reserves outside of the country for safekeeping by 1939. Some went to Basel, and 1845 bars of it, worth six million 1939 British pounds, or nearly $400 million in today’s dollars, went to the Bank of England in London. Just days after the Nazis took Prague, on March 18, two bank-transfer requests quickly went out. (Literally at gunpoint, it was later revealed.) One for the 23.1 tons of Czech gold held with the BIS at the Bank of London, to be moved to the Reichsbank’s account. The other for 26.8 tons held by the Czechoslovak National Bank in London. The second transfer did not take place, as the Bank of England followed the new law freezing Czech assets in Britain.

But the BIS emptied the Czech account of the 23.1 tons and just a few days after that, the Reichsbank moved the gold via transfers and then physically to its vaults in Berlin. It took weeks before the British and French press got wind of the story, and the outrage was far too late in coming to do anything about it. Then in June, a remarkable discussion took place in the British House of Commons, when a bill was introduced to oblige the Bank of England to consult with the government on any issue affecting national interests. [...]

Putin is no master strategist. He’s an aggressive poker player facing weak opposition from a Western world that has become so risk-averse that it would rather fold than call any bluff, no matter how good its cards are. In the end, Putin is a Russian problem, of course, and Russians must deal with how to remove him."

There are, of course examples in history where something that was initially tried but failed, could be re-attempted in later years with subsequent success. The concept of blitzkrieg for most people evokes the image of German tanks rolling over the BeNeLux region and on to Paris during WWII. However, the plan for such an assault was drawn up nearly half a century earlier, by Herr Alfred von Schlieffen. It was sold to Kaiser Wilhelm as a foolproof and brilliant piece of military science that would guarantee German victory, a la "Paris for lunch, dinner at St. Petersburg.". We have the benefit of hindsight to know how it turned out the first, as well as the second time around.

I have no crystal ball, and claim to draw no direct parallels. Today is most assuredly not 1938. It is all too common to end a conversation by comparing current world participants to Nazis. If anything, such is one of the favorite pastimes of the Western MSM. The outcome of the current setup is still being written (or so I'd like to think).

But it seems to me that some participants in the current proceedings on the global stage may have been reading history a little more intensively than others. And in recognizing (and exploiting) the differences in current conditions and resources between the past and today, empires often DO rewrite history. Perhaps Vlad and crew really believe they have built a better mousetrap this time around. And there is a non-zero chance that they indeed have.

In chess, the beauty and wonder of the game comes in large part from the nearly infinite number of combinations of moves and positions that can follow any particular earlier setup on the board. There is a concept known as ‘swindle’, where a seemingly completely hopeless situation is turned by the grandmaster into a draw, or in some cases, even a win. Now, a swindle implies that one’s situation is lost. Against a perfect opponent, it would not be possible to pull off a swindle, but of course humans are not perfect.

Imagine what a skilled player can do with a position that is nowhere near lost? Or better yet, what a set of several skilled opponents working together can accomplish while engaging their more or less singular adversary at the same time? And what if the rules of the game are not quite so formal and strictly enforced?

PS: For a refreshingly different view of the situation on the Eastern front, I would recommend Dmitry Orlov's blog.

About the Author


El Gordo
Mar 30, 2014 - 6:30am

Wel all

get the government we deserve. Even if it's a street corner preaching huckster.

I Run Bartertown
Mar 30, 2014 - 7:38am

34,283 people say...

"Vote for secession of Alaska from the United States and joining Russia"

Mar 30, 2014 - 8:42am
Mar 30, 2014 - 8:45am

top ten?

Yep. Now to read.


Heraclitus — 'No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.'

True, it is not 1938. And the US has a president that has stated in word and in deed that his goal is a transformation of the country. Extracting graft and payola for one's cohorts requires the weakening the internal conditions of the country. For those familiar with the source - "If a person wants to enter a strong man's house and steal his things, first the person must tie the strong man. Then the person can steal the things from the strong man's house."

I cannot think of any situation globally where Obama's actions have lead to greater stability for the local people, and has lead to greater unity among the American people. Looting is much easier in a chaotic situation, so there must be an opportunity for personal enrichment in the chaos. It is certainly not for the greater good.

If we compare the domestic politics to a marriage, a couple in constant turmoil is less likely to provide any real assistance to children, family, and community. The foundations of the US are being destroyed from within. "Transformed" if you will. We can put on a smiling face for the rest of the world, and even speak comforting words, but our real actions betray the state of our internal troubles.

Safety Dan
Mar 30, 2014 - 9:10am

El Gordo - How Government Changes.. (Silver) Coin Modernization

Reading above reminded me how government always seems to come the rescue of... government, for the government; by the government; and never-mind the people or existing laws... The politicians will just pass new more convenient laws, like the Coin Modernization Act because silver was "tight" and it might raise the price of silver.. (or the Patriot Act for those pesky Americans who dish authority of the government)..

"At the request of the United States Mint, a bill with a legislative fix for problem was introduced known as “Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010″. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives and Senate, and then became Public Law No. 111-302 with President Obama’s signature. Under the Act, the previous requirements related to issuance of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins were changed. The new requirements called for the Secretary of the Treasury to strike the coins in both quantities and qualities that the Secretary determined to be sufficient to meet public demand. The purpose of the change was to allow Proof Silver Eagles to be produced even at times when bullion coins were not being minted in quantities needed to satisfy full public demand."

For those who don't remember this "Act", the silver wasn't "available" for (purchase by a broke government), production of the silver coins, the Eagle. The old law specified they had to purchase enough silver and produce quantities to satisfy full public demand. The new law is whatever the Secretary determined to be sufficient...

Rrrrright, no thing such as a free market supply/demand.. Maybe 'the people' need to learn how to do the ‘swindle’ move discussed for chess - only for 'the people'. The motto on United States Coins "E Pluribus Unum" means "One Out of Many," and has reference to unity, something our government tends to forget. Ok, I'm done ranting..

Mar 30, 2014 - 9:19am


You are teaching me. I was able to guess the context before you answered the riddle. Also, the Schlieffen plan was never executed. It might well have worked if it had been tried.

Mar 30, 2014 - 9:26am

Shall we play a game?

War games? WOPR

David Lightman: ............ How about Global Thermonuclear War?

Joshua: Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?

thanks Jy great post

PS: is that Garry Kasparov playing chess at a simul..... and if so.. where has he been?

Mar 30, 2014 - 9:46am

Looking at your map

Circa 1850, I think that Belgium should appear there (and did you see the size of Luxemburg!). Also seeing Austrian Italy reminds me of its 19th century struggle for freedom from Vienna. Incidentally, the opera William Tell was written as anti-Habsburg propaganda. Now Venetia (which includes the area around, and that was historically often controlled by, Venice) wants freedom from -- Rome. Venice votes in favor of independence. Indeed, the Northern League has been seeking independence for Lombardy for quite some time. (But not freedom for South Tyrol to rejoin Austria.) Referenda, anyone?

Lamenting Laverne
Mar 30, 2014 - 11:27am

Aircraft knowledgeble Turdites

Can someone here with knowledge of aircrafts shed some light on what kind of aircraft this "part of the fuselage" that is described in the linked story is? Thanks.

sierra skier
Mar 30, 2014 - 11:51am

While doing snow removal this

While doing snow removal this morning the snow and puddled water mixed to annex themselves to the chute on my blower and proceeded to coat and cause the chute to clog numerous times.

Now back to do some clean-up. I'll check in later to read.

PS Top Ten.

Key Economic Events Week of 2/24

2/25 9:00 ET Case-Shiller home prices
2/26 10:00 ET New home sales
2/27 8:30 ET Q4 GDP second guess
2/27 8:30 ET Durable Goods
2/27 11:30 ET Goon Evans speech
2/28 8:30 ET Pers Income and Spending
2/28 8:30 ET Core Inflation
2/28 9:45 ET Chicago PMI

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Key Economic Events Week of 2/24

2/25 9:00 ET Case-Shiller home prices
2/26 10:00 ET New home sales
2/27 8:30 ET Q4 GDP second guess
2/27 8:30 ET Durable Goods
2/27 11:30 ET Goon Evans speech
2/28 8:30 ET Pers Income and Spending
2/28 8:30 ET Core Inflation
2/28 9:45 ET Chicago PMI

Key Economic Events Week of 2/17

2/18 8:30 ET Empire St Manu Idx
2/19 8:30 ET Producer Price Idx
2/19 8:30 ET Housing Starts & Bldg Perms
2/19 2:00 ET January FOMC minutes
2/20 8:30 ET Philly Fed
2/21 Fed Goons all day at Chicago Conf.
2/21 9:45 ET Markit flash Feb PMIs

Key Economic Events Week of 2/10

2/11 10:00 ET Job Openings
2/11 10:00 ET CGP Hump-Hawk House
2/12 10:00 ET CGP Hump-Hawk Senate
2/13 8:30 ET CPI
2/14 8:30 ET Retail Sales
2/14 9:15 ET Cap Ute & Ind Prod
2/14 10:00 ET Business Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 2/3

2/4 10:00 ET Factory Orders
2/5 8:15 ET ADP Employment
2/5 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
2/5 10:00 ET ISM Service PMI
2/6 8:30 ET Productivity & Unit Labor Costs
2/7 8:30 ET BLSBS
2/7 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 1/27

1/28 8:30 ET Durable Goods
1/28 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
1/29 10:00 ET Pending Home Sales
1/29 2:00 pm ET FOMC Fedlines
1/29 2:30 pm ET Powell presser
1/30 8:30 ET Q4 GDP first guess
1/31 8:30 ET Pers Inc and Spending
1/31 9:45 ET Chicago PMI
2/2 10:00 pm ET Chiefs win SB LIV

Key Economic Events Week of 1/13

1/14 8:30 ET CPI
1/14 9:00 ET Goon Williams
1/15 8:30 ET PPI and Empire Fed
1/16 8:30 ET Retail Sales and Philly Fed
1/17 8:30 ET Housing Starts
1/17 9:15 Et Cap Ute and Ind Prod

Key Economic Events Week of 1/6

1/7 8:30 ET US trade deficit
1/7 10:00 ET ISM Services PMI
1/7 10:00 ET Factory Orders
1/8 8:15 ET ADP employment
1/9 8:00 ET Goon Chlamydia speech
1/9 1:20 ET Goon Evans 2:00 ET Goon Bullard
1/10 8:30 ET BLSBS
1/10 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 12/16

12/16 8:30 ET Empire State Manu Idx
12/16 9:45 ET Markit flash PMIs Dec
12/17 8:30 ET Housing Starts and Bldg Perms
12/17 9:15 ET Cap Ute and Ind Prod
12/19 8:30 ET Philly Fed
12/20 8:30 ET Final guess Q3 GDP
12/20 10:00 ET Pers Inc and Spending
12/20 10:00 ET Core Inflation

Key Economic Events Week of 12/9

12/10 8:30 ET Productivity and Unit Labor Costs
12/11 8:30 ET CPI
12/11 2:00 pm ET FOMC fedlines
12/11 2:30 pm ET CGP presser
12/12 8:30 ET PPI
12/13 8:30 ET Retail Sales
12/13 10:00 ET Business Inventories
12/13 11:00 ET Goon Williams speech

Key Economic Events Week of 12/2

12/2 9:45 ET Markit Manu PMI
12/2 10:00 ET ISM Manu PMI
12/2 10:00 ET Construction Spending
12/4 9:45 ET Markit Services PMI
12/4 10:00 ET ISM Services PMI
12/5 8:30 ET Trade Deficit
12/5 10:00 ET Factory Orders
12/6 8:30 ET BLSBS
12/6 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

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