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Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2014

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Stromata blog gave an interesting analysis of the situation in Ukraine (About the fate of the Right sector)

Mar 27, 2014  | nikolay-zaikov.livejournal.com

We are missing some kind of a blueprint for systemic analysis of Ukrainian coup, so I'll try to take the trouble to put some skeleton of such a blueprint:

1. Oligarchs of Ukraine politically much stronger than people (middle class and below), as it is easily seen by looking at the hard brainwashing propaganda Ukrainian media. That is, when we say "the people of Odessa or Kiev rebelled against someone there," one should always take into account who helped to incite those people, arm and financed them

2. The West (EU and USA) is much stronger than Ukrainian oligarchs, it is their "roof", if you use criminal jargon, and actually dictating their actions. Thus actions of oligarchs also cannot be considered to be independent, and they themselves are not an independent political players.  That means, that when we say "oligarch Kolomoisky has taken such and such political step" we must understand that he did not by himself, but was advised by curators from abroad.

3. Kiev junta represents the interests of the winning oligarchic cartel and , respectively, is not independent in its actions.

4. EU is vassal of the United States, the vassal with a limited sovereignty, but not the slave. Therefore, U.S. national interests, at least in the strategically important questions will always dominate over the interests of the EU itself (exactly as Nuland's formula prescribes - f*ck the EU). That is, when we say that Angela Merkel something there said, we must understand that Uncle Sam also took part in it.

5. The links of all "internal" financing of any Ukrainian political processes will always go West (right in the U.S. or in Europe and then in the US). The fact that someone may designate any citizen "nezalezhnoy" is being decided there and then order on appointment down in the media. The judicial functions of the West plus its extensive punitive apparatus does not leave local single gram of independence. Armed gang, staged a massacre in the city centre, in the Western command to be designated as the most dangerous terrorists and criminals, and revolutionary peaceful protesters, democratically resolve lost the last remnants of legitimacy, bloody and criminal regime. Accordingly, the revolutionaries laid diverse and very fat "cookies" until the military assistance "to the defenders of Ukrainian democracy", and totalitarian regime put sanctions, arrest of accounts (robbery), generous financing traitors and deserters, international prison and courts (remembering Milosevic), and sometimes just a bunch of sadists with bayonets (remembering Gaddafi).

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December

[Dec 28, 2014] Paging Keri Russell: Russia, Cuba and the truth about Putin the U.S. media doesn't want you to know by Patrick L. Smith

You can have different opinions about Russian nationalism and the idea to defend Russian speaking population outside Russian Federation but one this is clear: attempt to decimate Russia economically is a dangerous gamble. and taking into account the it was the USA who organized and implemented (with European partners) coup d'état in Ukraine the USA might face Russian resolve to fight. EU will be first collateral victim. May be this is a real plan. But the blowback can be economic and political alliance to Russia and China, the alliance the possibility of which the cheerleaders of sanctions should take into the account. If China gets Russian military technology the USA security is in real danger. No question about it. Also balancing on the edge of real war is a dangerous exercise in any case even without this blowback. Crippling economic sanction are equivalent to the declation of War -- remember Japan reaction on crippling economic sanctions. May be the idea is to provoke Russia and bog them in a local war in Ukraine like the USA managed to do with Afghanistan in the past, but in a nuclear age this look like another sociopathic action. Just think about simple possibility: Would confiscation of all the USA assets in Russia be beneficial to the current jingoistic US elite ? As Bismarck noted in a different epoch: "Europe today is a powder keg and the leaders are like men smoking in an arsenal … A single spark will set off an explosion that will consume us all … I cannot tell you when that explosion will occur, but I can tell you where … Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans will set it off. "
Dec 24, 2014 | www.salon.com
We are making mayhem in Russia, and reality is almost the opposite of what is being described in the press

I cannot be the only one to note the remarkable sequence of events in the Obama White House last week. It tells us all we need to know-for now, anyway-about what Washington is up to as it puts Russia in an illegal police chokehold. This will end neither soon nor well.

On Wednesday the president announced his out-of-nowhere move to lift sanctions against Cuba and reestablish diplomatic ties. I cannot be the only one to do this, either: I wept. Half a century of suffering pointlessly inflicted on a humane and very brave people will now come to an end.

On Thursday Obama signed HR 5859, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, into law. One is always suspicious of bills with Boy Scouty names like this, and one is always justified: Obama just gave himself permission to inflict pointless suffering on the humane and very brave Russian people more or less arbitrarily and indefinitely. And in all our names, the Pentagon will now arm Ukraine with lethal weapons. Funny, the $350 million committed as an opener just about matches what Truman gave the Greek monarchists in 1947, so commencing the Cold War.

Let us end the Cold War 90 miles off our coast and far too late. Let us prosecute it full bore against Russia and along its borders, far too irrationally and nostalgically. I find one key to Washington's reasoning, if this is the word, on Russia in this contradiction, because it is apparent, not real.

"It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba," Obama said Wednesday. "We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America's interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse."

With this statement a president who has consistently betrayed principle and common decency in deploying American power abroad went some way to redeeming himself in my household. Egypt, Syria, endless indulgence of Israel, the fight with China over the Pacific sphere of influence, those aggressively corporate trade deals Washington wants to impose across both oceans-and now the opening to Cuba: This guy has the lumpiest foreign policy record of any president I can recall, but he bested 10 predecessors when he reached his hand across the water to Havana.

So went our 44th president's 24 hours in the sun.

The Ukraine bill, a straight-ahead cave to unreconstructed cold warriors on Capitol Hill, ranks among Obama's most craven and cowardly foreign policy decisions. Sanctions are pointless on Wednesday, but let us provide for more of them on Thursday because the Russophobes, blunt instruments all, require them.

The Russian press wants to think Obama signed the Ukraine bill reluctantly. I want to think the Cuba move was an expression of who the man buried in America's version of the deep state truly is. Maybe we are both right. But the Russian press and I have to get off the question of obscured intent. In the end this is a distraction.

Obama's State Department and Treasury are not stocked with end-of-history neoliberals by coincidence or some kind of carryover from the Bush II years. They are staffed as they are because Obama subscribes as avidly as any of them to the neoliberal agenda.

Obama last week on normalizing with Cuba and "our enduring objective": "The Cuban regime still represses its people. This chips away at this hermetically sealed society, and I believe offers the best prospect, then, of leading to greater freedom, greater self-determination on the part of the Cuban people."

Obama last week on more sanctions against Russia: "As I have said many times, our goal is to promote a diplomatic solution that provides a lasting resolution to the conflict and helps to promote growth and stability in Ukraine and regionally, including in Russia."

I celebrate the Cuba opening: Triumphantly right for the wrong reason. I join a swelling number of Europeans in condemning Obama's new provision for extending sanctions against Russia: It is abjectly wrong for the same wrong reason. Tactics are all that is at issue. Strategy remains constant.

There is no reason whatever to expect the Cuban leadership to change in consequence of normalization. I stand with Sen. Marco Rubio and the rest of the Castrophobes on this point.

I depart on a dime from conservatives beyond this. In the Cuban case, the Russian case and all others, the ambition to inspire "regime change"-the single most self-deluding of all our euphemisms, in my view-is an intrusion without justification.

Fidel Castro must have taken up "Take Me as I Am or Let Me Go" as soon as the great Ray Price wrote it in 1967. Castro stayed the course and built one of the world's most socially just societies-this by the U.N.'s reckoning, not merely mine. One hopes Raúl and his successors keep singing, for Rubio and the conservatives are right on this point, too: In a half-century war of attrition with inappropriate American objectives, Cuba has just won. We are all better off.

And so we will be if the same outcome emerges in Washington's confrontation with Russia. Conveniently, the Cuban opening gives us just the lens through which to view the Russian question as a very destructive year draws to a close. No, Russian society is not remotely comparable to Cuba's. This is for Russians to think about, as I have argued previously, and changes nothing for the rest of us.

Read the transcript of Vladimir Putin's press conference last week, an annual affair with none of the phony staging and screened questions American leaders require. It is here. "We are protecting our independence, our sovereignty and our right to exist," the Russian leader said among much else. Think about this. It is not the remark of a man who plans to go anywhere soon.

Think about it again while looking back on the year now ending. Then ask: How did it come to this? Why would a Russian leader be moved to say this?

The American press did all it could to caricature Putin's exchange with journalists. My favorite among the strivers was BusinessWeek, for which … magazine, I suppose we have to call it, Putin's press conference was "surreal," "extremely long and very weird." Read the piece here. The juvenile vocabulary is for a purpose. Surreal, weird press conferences do not have to be considered, to say nothing of understood. The above questions do not have to be asked. Asking them would be a very bad thing. So would understanding.

It is a long way down the hill from last December, when the Independence Square protests in Kiev were gaining momentum. Washington was meddling, as was soon exposed, but Putin continued simply to watch as his ally in the presidential palace, Viktor Yanukovych, got deeper and deeper into trouble.

Then the crypto-Nazis and devotees of violence turned popular, vital, justified demonstrations into an unjustified coup. That changed everything, of course, and the rest is our very recent history. Americans do not like history because it is too revealing of events as they are, and it is hence left out of American coverage of Ukraine from the moment I describe onward until now. But it is there, as paying-attention people know.

As it happens, a growing number of Europeans now count among what Germans call Putin Versteher, "Putin understanders." A Financial Times columnist explains the phenomenon here, though about as well as BusinessWeek explained Putin's presser last week. Gerhard Schröder, the Social Democratic chancellor from 1998 to 2005, is a noted understander. So are a lot of left parliamentarians, a lot of German business executives, and a lot of Europeans other than Germans. Very mixed bag.

The simplest way to explain the understanders' view is to say these are people with a grasp of history-recent history, Cold War history, and, the best of them, history going back to the West's response to the 1917 revolution. When Putin asserts that Russia's sovereignty and "right to exist" are at stake, they are capable of acknowledging what he means.

A grasp of history and, in the case of the business people, a queasy-making grasp of just how destructive sanctions-as they are, never mind new ones-are already beginning to prove outside of Russia as well as in it. Europe today has little of the stamina it had in 2008 to withstand financial and economic contagion. And here comes the contagion, like a westward wind off the Russian steppes.

Currency markets in Russia's neighbors are already in chaos. Every day you read-not in the American press, of course-of devaluations against the euro, new foreign exchange controls, forex markets closing altogether. Here is a telling detail: Last week the Swiss cut interest rates to less than zero-you pay to deposit funds-so as to head off a rush of weak-currency holders into the franc.

Mayhem in the making, and eerily like the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, as mentioned in this space a couple of weeks back.

Among European leaders, something like a revolt against the American sanctions regime appears to be coalescing. At gatherings in Brussels last week, Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, French President François Hollande and the Danish foreign minister, Martin Lidegaard, all said in different ways, "Enough with the sanctions already." Renzi said it best: "Absolutely no to more sanctions."

In view of the damage already being wrought, and with more on the way in the year to come, there is a "why" question attaching to the Ukraine crisis and the West's American-led policy toward Russia. What is all this for, exactly? Answer this and we will answer a lot for ourselves.

My answer begins here. It is time we Americans understand exactly what is meant when our leaders use the word "freedom." It is supposed to designate one of those values none of us would think of assailing. Let us assail it.

Freedom for most English-speakers may bear its obvious meaning, but in truth it bears many. Freedom to do what? The limits of which are what? Whose freedom?

Amartya Sen, the Harvard Nobelist in economics, wrote a great book some years ago called "Development as Freedom." For him, freedom means a society wherein one is safe from poverty, where education, health care, sewage and what we call "public goods" are available, where there is authentic opportunity to realize oneself and where one can work with the expectation of earning a decent living. Absent these, there is - one of Sen's great coinages-"unfreedom."

Freedom in the American dialect, at least as almost all our leaders use the term, means something rather different. This is freedom for private enterprise and it is more or less full stop there. My coinage would be this: In the official American meaning, we mean neoliberal freedom, which is to say, freedom for corporations. Look out the window if you are at all confused or doubtful.

As a useful aside, we ought to think about this when we hear American leaders talk about repression and the absence of freedom in Cuba. Who is repressed and unfree-teenagers of African descent, as in America, or spooks, adventurers, saboteurs and Batista nostalgists, as America has urged these on for 50 years? Which sort of repression is justified and which to be condemned?

It is the banner of neoliberal freedom Vicky Nuland, Vice President Biden, CIA Director John Brennan and all others bear when they travel to Ukraine. Arsenyi Yatsenyuk, the prime minister in Kiev, bears it. That is why he is popular in Washington. So does Petro Poroshenko, the candy-bar billionaire turned president. Ditto his popularity on these shores.

N. B.: None of these people has anything to say about democracy or the attributes of Sen's notion of freedom, do they? They speak incessantly of "reforms." Reform is part of the neoliberal lexicon, another code word, like freedom. We will see this banner unfurl in the course of the year to come.

As a curtain-raiser, consider Yatsenyuk's recent presentation in parliament, as outlined and analyzed here. Were I an ordinary Ukrainian, I would find the robotic inhumanity of Yatsenyuk's list if reforms absolutely frightening. No wonder so many seek refuge in Russia.

As noted in earlier columns, I have been engaged in a lively exchange lately on the topics of Ukraine and Russia with good sources in the global energy and commodities markets. In specific answer to the why question, I can do no better than reproduce part of a long note that arrived a couple of days ago from Europe. The South Stream this source mentions is the gas pipeline Russia just canceled in response to deteriorating relations with Europe:

…. Also, what is at stake is the W. European gas market. In the daily froth of the media, Asia is seen as the big prize of America's natural gas producers…. But in the industry, fewer and fewer people are seeing it that way. The terminal market for America's shale gas will not be Asia, but Europe…. And to grab that market, the South Stream has to be stopped, and a big wedge driven between Russia and W. Europe…. That is where the strategy in support of the regime which has grabbed power in Kleptokrainia fits in….

More and more evidently, it is to American energy interests that we have to look to find the specifics of the why question. If the object is to disrupt ties between Russia and its westward neighbors-a forlorn project, in my view-it explains why Washington pops up with more sanctions or the threat of them, as with Obama's new bill, so often when there seems to be a break in the clouds. I have found this weird over the months but do not any longer.

To me the question of Russia and the West comes down to one thing: It is bound to become messier in the year to come because a mess, in effect, appears to be exactly what Washington wants. One of two relationships will suffer a critical breach: Europe's with Russia or Washington's with Europe. I dearly hope it is the latter and think there is a good chance it will be.

Footnote: I will file one more column before year's end. Good enough to send readers the sincerest season's greetings I can think of now. To all of you, have a terrorist-free holiday! May we all continue to breathe into the new year.

Patrick Smith is the author of "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." He was the International Herald Tribune's bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote "Letter from Tokyo" for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist.

More Patrick L. Smith.

[Dec 28, 2014] Viewpoint: Why the shadow of WW1 and 1989 hangs over world events

Jeffery Sacks asks: "Why had the US, which had behaved with such wisdom and foresight in Poland, acted with such cruel neglect in the case of Russia?" Poland is a satellite state, a vassal. Simple -- Russia is a barrier on the way to the world dominance on which the US elite is hell bent.
Dec 16, 2014 | bbc.com

Many of today's global problems are hangovers from bad, ungenerous decisions at the end of previous conflicts, writes Jeffrey Sachs.

This has been a year of great geopolitical anniversaries. We are at the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, an event that more than any other shaped world history during the past century. We are at the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the opening chapter of the demise of the Soviet empire and the end of the Cold War. Yet we know that painfully we observe something far more than a mere remembrance.

As William Faulkner remarked, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." WW1 and the fall of the Wall continue to shape our most urgent realities today. The wars in Syria and Iraq are the legacy of the closure of WW1, and dramatic events in Ukraine are unfolding in the long shadow of 1989.

1914 and 1989 are "hinge moments", decisive points of history on which subsequent events turn. How nations both great and small behave at such hinge moments determine the future course of war and peace.

I participated directly and personally in the events of 1989, and saw this lesson in play - positively in the case of Poland and negatively in the case of Russia. And I can tell you that as I carried out my own tasks as an economic adviser during 1989-92, I kept a constant and always worried gaze on 1914. I carry that same sense of worry today.

In 1919, at the end of WW1, the great British economist John Maynard Keynes taught us invaluable and lasting lessons about such hinge moments, how decisions of victors impact the economies of the vanquished, and how missteps by the powerful can set the course of future wars.

With uncanny insight, prescience, and literary flair, Keynes's 1919 The Economic Consequences of the Peace predicted that the cynicism and shortsightedness at the core of the Versailles Treaty, especially the imposition of punitive war reparations on Germany, and the lack of solutions to the roiling financial crises of the debtor countries, would condemn the European economies to continuing crisis, and would in fact invite the rise of another vengeful tyrant in the coming generation.

Keynes's cri de coeur is one of those remarkable outpourings of genius that speaks across generations. That book and its lessons proved to be a formative guide for me in my own career as policy adviser and analyst.

As a newly minted economist some 30 years ago, I suddenly found myself charged with helping a small and largely forgotten country, Bolivia, to find a way out of its own unmitigated economic disaster. Keynes's writings helped me to understand that Bolivia's financial crisis should be viewed in social and political terms, and that Bolivia's creditor, the US, had a shared responsibility of resolving Bolivia's financial anguish.

My experience in Bolivia in 1985-86 soon brought me to Poland in the spring of 1989, at a dual invitation of Poland's final communist government and the Solidarity trade union movement that strongly opposed it. Poland, like Bolivia, was financially bankrupt. And Europe in 1989, like Europe in 1919, was at a great hinge-moment of history.


Mikhail Gorbachev was in power in the Soviet Union, and was prepared to see Europe reunited in peace and democracy. This great man desired similarly to move his own country to a new democratic order. Poland was the first country in the region to move towards democracy in that momentous year. I quickly became the main outside economic adviser to the new Polish government. Once again, drawing from Keynes, I championed the kind of international assistance that I felt to be vital for Poland to make a peaceful and successful transition to post-communist democratic rule.

Solidarity

Specifically, I appealed to the White House, 10 Downing Street, the Elysee and the German Chancellery, for enlightened aid to Poland as a key step in building a new united and democratic Europe.

These were heady days for me as an economic adviser. My wish, it seemed on some days, was the White House's command. One morning, in September 1989, I appealed to the US Government for $1bn for Poland's currency stabilisation. By evening, the White House confirmed the money. No kidding, an eight-hour turnaround time from request to result. Convincing the White House to support a sharp cancellation of Poland's debts took a bit longer, with high-level negotiations stretching out for about a year, but those too proved to be successful.

The rest, as they say, is history. Poland undertook very strong reform measures, based in part on recommendations that I had helped to design. The US and Europe supported those measures with timely and generous aid. Poland's economy began to restructure and grow, and 15 years later it became a full-fledged member of the European Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev with John Major at the G7 Mikhail Gorbachev

I wish that I could stop my reminiscing here, with this happy story. But alas, the story of the end of the Cold War is not only one of Western successes, as in Poland, but also one of great Western failure vis-a-vis Russia. While American and European generosity and the long view prevailed in Poland, American and European actions vis-a-vis post-Soviet Russia looks were much more like the horrendous blunders of Versailles. And we are paying the consequences to this day.

In 1990 and 1991, Gorbachev's government, seeing the emerging positive results in Poland, asked me to help advise it on economic reforms. Russia at the time was facing the same kind of financial calamity that had engulfed Bolivia in the mid-1980s and Poland by 1989.

In the spring of 1991, I worked with colleagues at Harvard and MIT to assist Gorbachev to obtain financial support from the West as part of his efforts at political reform and economic overhaul. Yet our efforts fell flat - indeed they failed entirely.

Gorbachev left the G7 summit that summer of 1991 and returned to Moscow empty-handed. When he returned to Moscow with no results, a conspiracy attempted to oust him in the notorious August Putsch, from which he never recovered politically. With Boris Yeltsin ascendant, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union now on the table, Yeltsin's economic team again asked me for assistance, both in the technical challenges of stabilisation, and in the quest to obtain vital financial assistance from the US and Europe.

Tanks in front of the Kremlin, 1991 Moscow 1991: The attempted "August putsch" against Gorbachev

I predicted to President Yeltsin and his team that help would soon be on the way. After all, emergency help for Poland was arranged in hours or weeks. Surely the same would happen for the newly independent and democratic Russia. Yet I watched in puzzlement and growing horror that the needed aid was not on the way.

Where Poland had been granted debt relief, Russia instead faced harsh demands by the US and Europe to keep paying its debts in full. Where Poland had been granted rapid and generous financial aid, Russia received study groups from the IMF but no money. I begged and beseeched the US to do more. I pleaded the lessons of Poland, but all to no avail. The US government would not budge.

In the end, Russia's malignant financial crisis overwhelmed the efforts at reform and normality. The reform government of Yegor Gaidar fell from grace and from power. I resigned after two hard years of trying to help, and of accomplishing very little indeed. A few years later, Vladimir Putin replaced Yeltsin at the helm.

Throughout this debacle, the US pundits blamed the reformers rather than the cruel neglect by the US and Europe. Victors write the history, as they say, and the US felt very much the victor of the Cold War. The US would therefore remain blameless in any accounts of Russia's mishaps after 1991, and that remains true today.

It took me 20 years to gain a proper understanding of what had happened after 1991. Why had the US, which had behaved with such wisdom and foresight in Poland, acted with such cruel neglect in the case of Russia? Step by step, and memoir by memoir, the true story came to light. The West had helped Poland financially and diplomatically because Poland would become the Eastern ramparts of an expanding Nato. Poland was the West, and was therefore worthy of help. Russia, by contrast, was viewed by US leaders roughly the same way that Lloyd George and Clemenceau had viewed Germany at Versailles - as a defeated enemy worthy to be crushed, not helped.

A recent book by a former Nato commander, General Wesley Clark, recounts a 1991 conversation he had with Paul Wolfowitz, who was then the Pentagon's policy director. Wolfowitz told Clark that the US had learned that it could now act with impunity in the Middle East, and ostensibly in other regions as well, without any threat of Russian interference.

In short, the US would behave like a victor and a bully, claiming the fruits of Cold War victory through wars of choice if necessary. The US would be on top, and Russia would be unable to stop it.

In a recent speech in Moscow, Putin has described US behaviour in almost the same terms as Wolfowitz. "The Cold War ended," said Putin, "but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called 'victors' in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests."

Russian soldiers unload trainload of their modified T-72 tanks after their arrival in Gvardeyskoe railway station near the Crimean capital Simferopol, on March 31, 2014. Russian tanks arrive in the Crimean capital, March 2014
By making these observations I do not mean to exonerate Putin of responsibility for Russia's recent illegal, cynical, and dangerous acts of violence in Ukraine. But I do mean to help explain them. The shadow of 1989 looms large. And Nato's continued desire, expressed again just recently, to add Ukraine to its membership, thereby putting Nato right up on the Russian border, must be regarded as profoundly unwise and provocative.

1914, 1989, 2014. We live in history. In Ukraine, we face a Russia embittered over the spread of Nato and by US bullying since 1991. In the Middle East, we face the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, destroyed by WW1, and replaced by the cynicism of European colonial rule and US imperial pretentions.

We face, most importantly, choices for our time. Will we use power cynically and to dominate, believing that territory, Nato's long reach, oil reserves, and other booty are the rewards of power? Or will we exercise power responsibly, knowing that generosity and beneficence builds trust, prosperity, and the groundwork for peace? In each generation, the choice must be made anew.

u can listen to The Shadow of the Cold War on BBC Radio 4's Four Thought on 17 November at 20:45 GMT, or via the iPlayer.

Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.

Dave1506
17th December 2014 - 19:00
Well Ukraine started out well armed and supported financially by its neighbour, now its in debt to its eyeballs just in the hope the USA will start a war with Russia. Poroshenko is a placeman and should realise it, orders from Washington, IMF & the EU come at a high price and his people are feeling the pain. Germany was self reliant pre ww1 so not the same.

doctorcontext
17th December 2014 - 18:54
I'm not sure we should take Mr Sach's that seriously...the economic orthodoxy he promotes has been hugely destructive to local communities all around the world.
The sort of complexity he describes is designed to establish himself as an expert...Henry Kissinger, anyone?
I recommend Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, as a humanistic counter-argument.
The western economies grow by stealing!

cathatricacid
17th December 2014 - 18:22
580.Janusz
1 Hour ago
Mr Sach helped us so much, that ordinary Pole works for 200-250 GBP/per month (e.g. for Philips) with no benefits of all. Only way to have a better life is to emigree.

Your comments seem valid, but many Polish, I understand, returning home from the UK, no advantage in it. Perhaps we are "in the same boat"?

kneesupBillyD
17th December 2014 - 18:15
The West has declared war on Russia. It is waging it by their actions in the Ukraine, trade sanctions and their middle eastern allies pumping oil at an uneconomic rate. The west used similar tactics against Saddam which forced him to invade Kuwait. Putin has nuclear weapons and were I in his position I would be thinking of using them. Always consider the consequences.

margaret howard
17th December 2014 - 17:56
583 presario

"not been in any destructive physical war as had been the case with Germany and Japan"

No, but our past empire ambitions are responsible for many of the ills in today's world

As Sachs writes:

"In the Middle East, we face the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, destroyed by WW1, replaced by the cynicism of European colonial rule and US imperial pretentions"

Janusz
17th December 2014 - 17:48
Mounting up number of homeless people and other searching trashes for living. This is also legacy of successful work for Poland of Mr Sachs and his Polish collaborators.

Janusz
17th December 2014 - 17:36
Surely Mr Sachs achieved very big success: buyout of national most important assets for 5 up to 10% of its real value to the internationals. (Big bribes in shadow).
By now we have control of over less than 20 % of the country economy. Polish businesses are rare and persecuted by Polish state.

Jonny
17th December 2014 - 17:20
The world is constantly in turmoil.

There have been marvellous innovations & life has improved in material terms however moral & intellectual advancement has not kept pace.

As long as the exploding global population see the avaricious & material Western lifestyle as a goal & groups seek to dominate others the future will be uncertain & tumultuous.

quietoaktree
17th December 2014 - 17:12
Putin has enough evidence to condemn the USA, UK and NATO. The EU has joined the UK in the Crufts ´poodle´ beauty contest.

" Wolfowitz told Clark that the US had learned that it could now act with impunity in the Middle East, and ostensibly in other regions as well, without any threat of Russian interference"

--famous last words --that put us ALL in danger.

quietoaktree
17th December 2014 - 16:52
An excellent thoughtful article.

Putin´s speech to the German Bundestag 2001.

´The President (Putin) delivered the first several paragraphs in Russian, and spoke in German for the rest.


Putin Tells Bundestag:
`The Cold War Is Over'

http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2001/2838putin_bundestag.html


In comparison, Putin´s speech 2007

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6350847.stm

-Unipolar world

.The Bigger Picture
17th December 2014 - 16:49
The UK was leading the global arms race in 1913 by a long mile (fact). The UK & France carved the middle-east up after the war without any consideration of the Arabs (fact). The UK & France imposed a crippling treaty on Germany in 1919 which led to the rise of Nazism (fact). The UK & France are more responsible for the mess the world is in today than anyone. Blaming the US is just the easy option.

571.All for All
17th December 2014 - 16:37
GreenGodess @554
"a thriving
democracy"

Has Putin 'had enough time'? In the words of Jeffery Sachs, the re-birth of Russia was attended by "cruel neglect". Perhaps short of the aggression to be endlessly argued over from 1917, but hardly an ideal nursery for education towards agreed real democracy. Equal partnership democracy feared? Some might allow STILL some deficiency of example in the West?

Tiny Toy
17th December 2014 - 16:36
@560.Markcd
"The rise of Islamic Fundamentalists threatens the west"
--
It threatens the West's oil interests. We should grow up and wean ourselves off oil. We can get all our energy needs from nuclear and renewables. If we do, we don't need to interfere with the Middle East and Russia is irrelevant. The thing preventing us is not a religion or a nation. We need to get with the program.

Tony of Newcastle upon Tyne
17th December 2014 - 16:34
An excellent analysis. How did the USA react when Russia sought military and economic partnership with Cuba? Why was it thought sensible to doe exactly that on Russia's border, incidentally putting its access to its Black Sea fleet and naval base at risk by making its access pass through a NATO country?

[Dec 27, 2014] The Left Must Derail Hillary Clinton in the Primaries

As often happens with empires, Americans now live in occupied country and can't particulapate in selection of leaders. They will ofttered USSR-style "choice" of two subservient to financial oligarchy stooges and that it.
BillMoyers.com

The Left Must Derail Hillary Clinton in the Primaries
By John R MacArthur
Dec 12 2014
<http://billmoyers.com/2014/12/12/left-must-derail-hillary-clinton-primaries/>

As a presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in 2016 appears ever more likely, it's a good moment to ask what alternative exists to lying down and letting such a campaign drown the body politic.

Time is short. The queen of cynics, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, already has pronounced her gorgon's judgment on the inevitability of Hillary versus Jeb. "The looming prospect of another Clinton – Bush race makes us feel fatigued," yawns the perpetually bored Dowd, who, on the contrary, relishes a future of easy columns mocking America's two leading political dynasties.

What about the rest of us? Is it inevitable that we swallow the nomination of the neo-liberal Clinton, whose support of Bush's Iraq madness (not to mention Obama's Afghan and Libyan stupidity) and her husband's recklessly pro-"free trade," pro-banker, pro-deregulation politics ought to send reasonable liberals fleeing? Is it predestined that principled conservatives accept the anointment of the thoroughly fraudulent Jeb, whose support of his brother's interventionist folly, along with his own outrageous meddling as governor of Florida to "rescue" brain-dead Terri Schiavo, should give pause to even the greediest oil baron seeking patronage from a Republican administration?

Like Adolph Reed Jr., I'm tempted to opt out of it all on the theory that we conserve energy by reducing "the frenzied self-delusion that rivets attention to the quadrennial, biennial, and now seemingly permanent horse races." To echo Maureen Dowd, it is, indeed, fatiguing to urge on reluctant horses such as Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) when the only office they seem to seek these days is vice president or committee chairman.

Nevertheless, a straightforward, nationwide electoral strategy is required if the left wants to reverse the rightward trend of both parties over the past three decades. The tea party has had much success moving the Republican Party to the right through primary challenges that should be the envy of frustrated Democrats, even though liberals of the Nation magazine – Rachel Maddow persuasion appear blind to the lessons of tea party tactics. One wouldn't want to weaken Democratic incumbents with insurgencies lest "we" lose "our" Senate majority.

Yet political logic cries out for just such a strategy. Ask a mainstream "progressive" to list the most calamitous events in recent times. At or near the top would be the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, which opened wide the floodgates to plutocratic and corporate influence in election campaigns - in effect, an overthrow of the democratic ideal of one man/woman, one vote.

Citizens United was stage-managed by Chief Justice John Roberts, who leapfrogged to the top of the court without pausing to serve as an associate justice. Well, to a large extent you can blame Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for Roberts's ascension. As ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005, Leahy broke with fellow liberals to support Roberts' nomination, calling him a "man of integrity." We might wonder at Leahy's definition of integrity, but worse was his declaration that "I take [Roberts] at his word that he does not have an ideological agenda."

We'll be paying for Roberts' "integrity" - and Leahy's foolishness - for a long time. True, the Republican majority on the committee, including the chairman at the time, Arlen Specter, voted unanimously for Roberts' confirmation. But a determined, unified front led by Leahy could have blocked Roberts from becoming chief justice. Five years later, in the wake of Citizens United, Specter, by now a Democrat, denounced the decision, saying it "affects the legitimacy of elections everywhere," and suggested that Congress consider a constitutional amendment to override the Supreme Court ruling. Had Leahy put up a fight in 2005, the moderate Specter might well have thought better of his vote for Roberts.

[Dec 23, 2014] PETER HITCHENS: Forget 'evil' Putin - we are the bloodthirsty warmongers

"Stupid, ill-informed people nowadays like to compare Mr Putin with Hitler. I warn them and you that, if we succeed in overthrowing Mr Putin by unleashing hyper-inflation in Russia, we may find out what a Russian Hitler is really like. And that a war in Europe is anything but fun."
Dec 20, 2014 | dailymail.co.uk

This is a time of year for memories, and the ones that keep bothering me are from my childhood, which seemed at the time to be wholly happy and untroubled.

Yet all the adults in my life still dwelt in the shadow of recent war. This was not the glamorous, exciting side of war, but the miserable, fearful and hungry aspect.

My mother, even in middle-class suburban prosperity, couldn't throw away an eggshell without running her finger round it to get out the last of the white. No butcher dared twice to try to cheat her on the weights.

Haunted all her life by rationing, she would habitually break a chocolate bar into its smallest pieces. She had also been bombed from the air in Liverpool, and had developed a fatalism to cope with the nightly danger of being blown to pieces, shocking to me then and since.

I am now beset by these ingrained memories of shortage and danger because I seem surrounded by people who think that war might be fun. This seems to happen when wartime generations are pushed aside by their children, who need to learn the truth all over again.

It seemed fairly clear to me from her experiences that war had in fact been a miserable affair of fear, hunger, threadbare darned clothes, broken windows and insolent officials. And that was a victory, more or less, though my father (who fought in it) was never sure of that.

Now I seem surrounded by people who actively want a war with Russia, a war we all might lose. They seem to believe that we are living in a real life Lord Of The Rings, in which Moscow is Mordor and Vladimir Putin is Sauron. Some humorous artists in Moscow, who have noticed this, have actually tried to set up a giant Eye of Sauron on a Moscow tower.

We think we are the heroes, setting out with brave hearts to confront the Dark Lord, and free the saintly Ukrainians from his wicked grasp.

This is all the most utter garbage. Since 1989, Moscow, the supposed aggressor, has – without fighting or losing a war – peacefully ceded control over roughly 180 million people, and roughly 700,000 square miles of valuable territory.

The EU (and its military wing, Nato) have in the same period gained control over more than 120 million of those people, and almost 400,000 of those square miles.

Until a year ago, Ukraine remained non-aligned between the two great European powers. But the EU wanted its land, its 48 million people (such a reservoir of cheap labour!) its Black Sea coast, its coal and its wheat.

So first, it spent £300 million (some of it yours) on anti-Russian 'civil society' groups in Ukraine.

Then EU and Nato politicians broke all the rules of diplomacy and descended on Kiev to take sides with demonstrators who demanded that Ukraine align itself with the EU.

Imagine how you'd feel if Russian politicians had appeared in Edinburgh in September urging the Scots to vote for independence, or if Russian money had been used to fund pro-independence organisations.

Then a violent crowd (20 police officers died at its hands, according to the UN) drove the elected president from office, in violation of the Ukrainian constitution.

During all this process, Ukraine remained what it had been from the start – horrendously corrupt and dominated by shady oligarchs, pretty much like Russia.

If you didn't want to take sides in this mess, I wouldn't at all blame you. But most people seem to be doing so.

There seems to be a genuine appetite for confrontation in Washington, Brussels, London… and Saudi Arabia.

There is a complacent joy abroad about the collapse of the rouble, brought about by the mysterious fall in the world's oil price.

It's odd to gloat about this strange development, which is also destroying jobs and business in this country. Why are the Gulf oil states not acting – as they easily could and normally would – to prop up the price of the product that makes them rich?

I do not know, but there's no doubt that Mr Putin's Russia has been a major obstacle to the Gulf states' desire to destroy the Assad government in Syria, and that the USA and Britain have (for reasons I long to know) taken the Gulf's side in this.

But do we have any idea what we are doing? Ordinary Russians are pretty stoical and have endured horrors unimaginable to most of us, including a currency collapse in 1998 that ruined millions. But until this week they had some hope.

If anyone really is trying to punish the Russian people for being patriotic, by debauching the rouble, I cannot imagine anything more irresponsible. It was the destruction of the German mark in 1922, and the wipeout of the middle class that resulted, which led directly to Hitler.

Stupid, ill-informed people nowadays like to compare Mr Putin with Hitler. I warn them and you that, if we succeed in overthrowing Mr Putin by unleashing hyper-inflation in Russia, we may find out what a Russian Hitler is really like. And that a war in Europe is anything but fun.

So, as it's almost Christmas, let us sing with some attention that bleakest and yet loveliest of carols, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, stressing the lines that run 'Man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring. Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing'.

Or gloat at your peril over the scenes of panic in Moscow.

Selected Skeptical Comments from http://marknesop.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/the-southern-gas-corridor-is-a-blind-alley/#comments

marknesop, December 21, 2014 at 11:51 am

Great photo of Lipless Dave the Madman. I agree with a Hitchens for what might be the first time ever, especially the part where we have to learn all over again every few generations how destructive war really is, because there's always a beep-beep-boop generation of video-gamers coming up behind who think it must be like Call Of Duty.

Warren, December 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Cameron wants to expel Russia from SWIFT!

U.K. Wants EU to Block Russia From SWIFT Banking Network

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-29/u-k-wants-eu-to-block-russia-from-swift-banking-network.html

marknesop, December 21, 2014 at 1:22 pm

What "latest incursion into Ukraine"??? They're not even bothering to pretend any more that any incursion is actually going on – they just cite it as a reason for upping the ante. Why can't they just say, our peckers are hard and we like our chances, so we're taking on Russia? Why the stupid fabricated justifications? Is that for the rubes who can't reason?

I don't think it matters anymore – for the record, SWIFT is not supposed to be a partisan organization at the beck and behest of Lipless Dave and Obama – because Russia is already committed to develop its own system and remove itself from SWIFT. Hopefully Russia can win the BRICS to its own financial hub and they will likewise drop SWIFT, because as I mentioned before, SWIFT allows the American security services to monitor all of its transactions, supposedly to prevent money-laundering. Russia must also decouple itself from western banking systems to the extent it is possible. China will be an invaluable ally there.

SWIFT, for its part, announced previously that it had no intention of shutting Russia out, and so far it is mostly the UK which is yapping that it be done. But if omnipotent Barry simply waves his regal hand, it will be done. I hope all countries will take in the lesson that it is just that simple – that in any circles dominated by the west, the only voice that matters is that of the United States, and if it wants you shut out, you will be, because the only western interests that matter are American interests. Just remember it could be you who falls afoul of those interests next.

robert, December 21, 2014 at 8:20 am

Today's Observer hopes that the fall in oil price will lead to to a coup against Putin and suggests, guess what, that Khordorkovsky could be an interim leader after the Evil One falls.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/21/vladimir-putin-russia-oil-prices-power-oligarchs

kirill , December 21, 2014 at 9:16 am

It's America's death squad junta fantasy from its previous activity in Latin America. Khodorkovsky is a fine gusano.

Lumpy Gravy, December 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

> Khodorkovsky is a fine gusano.

What's a gusano? Surely, you meant guano?!

kirill, December 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

It means maggot in Spanish. I think the term was popular in Cuba.

Jen, December 21, 2014 at 1:13 pm

"Gusano" in Spanish is a worm or a maggot. In Cuban slang the word also means a sell-out or traitor.

yalensis, December 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm

After Cuban revolution, Castro labelled as "gusanos" the Cuban emigres who flocked to the United States.

marknesop , December 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Of course "there is talk" of splits in the Kremlin elite, because Shaun Walker is talking about it. This is a common trick among journalists when they want to imply there is an emerging movement but they can't cite any sources at all. Therefore it becomes "there is talk".

Khodorkovsky would be a dream president for Washington and London because he would do anything for personal wealth, and feels no affinity whatsoever for his countrymen. All that matters to him is business and making money, and busting Russia up into little statelets which could be set to warring with one another on various lines would not bother him at all, so long as he and his claque profited thereby. And the funny thing is that, as usual, he would be set up by the western press as a man to be admired for that, perhaps a "tycoon" like Poroshenko – stealing money hand over fist is not frowned upon by western capitalists at all. Being unaligned with themselves or actually opposed to their accumulation of wealth is the real sin. Thus simpletons around the world parrot that Putin has stolen uncounted billions and has built a network of palaces across Russia for himself, while if Khodorkovsky managed to gain control of Russia and made himself unbelievably wealthy while butchering the country to America's liking, he would be revered by western journalists for his "hardheaded business sense" and his "pragmatism". It would be implied that he had turned around Russia's staggering economy, just the ticket, succeeded where Putin failed, and he would be loved in the west as Yeltsin was loved.

As I mentioned before, I will be delighted if the west ties its ribbon to Khodorkovsky's sleeve and makes him its champion, because Russians would never in any circumstances accept him as leader; the country would self-destruct first. That would suit Washington, too – if it could not have Russia to exploit it would be satisfied if it were simply removed. But that would not be painless; oh, no.

kirill, December 21, 2014 at 9:35 am

What is amazing to me is that the Eurotard bureaucrats and leaders actually believe that Russia is desperate to sell gas to the EU. Recall that Russia sells only about $55 billion dollars worth of gas to the EU (138 bcm * $400/tcm = $55 billion, it is actually less since the price is lower). The nominal value of Russia's GDP is about $2.1 trillion.

If Russia stops shipping via Ukraine, assuming 2/3 of its exports are piped through it, then it loses about $37 billion. But the EU is truly and utterly f*cked. It's not like Gazprom will disappear if it stops selling the amount piped through Ukraine. And the tax revenue from this fraction of gas is not the full $37 billion. So Russia's economy will only feel a bump. But many eastern European states that are part of the EU will be a major energy shortage situation which will have a huge impact on their economies. They cannot just run along to a different shop and replace the needed gas. They will be experiencing years of supply shortfalls.

So Russia is giving the EU freaking charity and those f*cking hater ingrates pour shit all over it.

Moscow Exile, December 21, 2014 at 10:31 am
"So Russia is giving the EU freaking charity and those f*cking hater ingrates pour shit all over it."

It's because they've never apologized, see.

Unlike the Germans, who have paid $89 billion in compensation for Nazi crimes since 1952.

I mean, how much have those Tatar-Mongol-Finno-Ugric subhamans paid for their crimes, huh?

They occupied Eastern Europe and half of Germany for 50 years just because they were invaded from the West and threatened with extermination.

How petty can you get?

We must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood and nobody else. What happens to a Russian and a Czech does not interest me in the least. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our culture: otherwise it is of no interest to me. Whether ten thousand Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished. We shall never be tough and heartless where it is not necessary, that is clear. We, Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude towards animals, will also assume a decent attitude towards these human animals. But it is a crime against our blood to worry about them and give them ideals, thus causing our sons and grandsons to have a more difficult time with them. When somebody comes up to me and says: 'I cannot dig the anti-tank ditch with women and children, it is inhuman, for it would kill them,' then I have to say: 'You are the murderer of your own blood, because if the anti-tank ditch is not dug German soldiers will die, and they are the sons of German mothers. They are our own blood….' Our concern, our duty, is our people and our blood. We can be indifferent to everything else. I wish the S.S. to adopt this attitude towards the problem of all foreign, non-Germanic peoples, especially Russians….

Himmler's Posen speech to SS officers (6 October 1943)

kirill, December 21, 2014 at 11:06 am
The Germans apologized for screwing up their extermination campaign in the east. You will note that they never paid any compensation to Russian victims of their genocide.
Warren, December 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm
I've lost track of # of West presstitutes who've written hopefully & delusionally this week of an oligarch's coup in #Russia. Speaks volumes - Mark Sleboda (@MarkSleboda1) December 21, 2014
kirill, December 21, 2014 at 6:19 pm
It's also ludicrous because the USA was one of Hitler's biggest backers before WWII and for a large part of it. They only got serious when it looked like Soviet forces would roll all the way to the English Channel. George W. Bush's grandfather was a bankster for the Nazis and not just before the war. We see the current support of the west for western Ukrainian Nazis (Banderites). It is the same thing. The only thing that matters are the west's interests and these do not include any human rights and democracy.

[Dec 21, 2014] Wrecking Russia's economy could be a disaster for the west by Angus Roxburgh

Like in case of Iraq war the economic war with Russia is based of manufactured evidence and reflects the same ruthless desire of the US elite for the world dominations and security of hydrocarbon supplies. Putin might not be too accommodative for neoliberals in Washington, but at least he is predictable. At the same time Western elite, at first of all the US elite once again demonstrates some kind of sociopathic behaviour -- the desire to dominate at all costs. West is a 1000 pound guerilla that is perfectly capable to crash relatively small Russian economy. and probably even remove Putin form power. Then what? If I remember correctly Jana attacked the USA in Perl Harbor when it decided that economic sanctions are strangulating. Or what if sanctions lead the civil war in the nuclear armed state, following Ukrainian scenario, when fifth column will try to get to power via a coup? Or what if radical nationalists will come to power if Putin are forced out, with the increased change of "accidental" nuclear accident and "nuclear winter" aftermath? Stronger alliance of weaken Russia with China which moves China into completely different category military wise ? What is the end game after destabilizing Russia.
The US neocons and neolibs (who are often the same people) want another drunkard Yeltsin at the helm and camarilla of western neoliberals "guiding" him. That's a pipe dream. With the level of animosity and the fact that many Russian consider the USA to be a fascist (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse ) ) or at least a national security state (Snowden revelations) chances of positive for the West change of Russian regime are pretty slim even with billions of dollars of bribes and support of fifth column. The USA lost moral standing for the successful regime change into satellite neoliberal mold and brute force might or might not work in the way originators wish. Also technology of color revolutions is now is much better known then in 1991 or, even, then in 2012. Actually Russian fifth column itself was completely decimated by Ukrainian events, event of the USA making.
Dec 16, 2014 | The Guardian

As for the west's sanctions, they were introduced with one explicit aim – to force Putin to change tack in Ukraine. At least, that was the stated aim. But since the measures show no sign of having any effect on his thinking, and yet the west is considering even more sanctions, there is obviously another goal – to punish Putin for his actions, regardless of whether he changes his mind. Sadly, it is not Putin who feels this punishment. It is the Russian people.

... ... ...

Perhaps it is time to recognise that George W Bush's disastrous foreign policy legacy encompasses far more than just Iraq, torture and the fanning of terrorism. Bush also understood nothing about Russia – right from the moment that he looked into Putin's eyes and told us how he "got a sense of his soul" – and now we are living with the consequences.

It was the Bush administration that created the sense of insecurity that has caused Russia to react, and overreact, to every perceived threat – including, most recently, the perception that Ukraine was being forcibly dragged out of Russia's orbit and into the west's. Bush unilaterally abandoned the anti-ballistic missile treaty , seen by Russia as the cornerstone of strategic balance; he began building a missile shield on Russia's doorstep; he expanded Nato to Russia's frontiers, blithely granting the east Europeans "security" while causing Russia to feel threatened.

Laurence Johnson -> HansB09, 19 Dec 2014 08:30

Former US diplomats have repeatedly stated that Washington controls Germany and that has always been the case since WW2.

If Washington controls Germany, and Germany controls the EU, then its clear where all this is going and is going to cause some very red faces if the UK leaves the EU.

Will D 18 Dec 2014 18:57

Such hypocrisy by the West. And also nasty and vindictive. Compared to the aggressive global bullying performed by the USA and its tame allies, Russia is positively saintly. Russia doesn't go around starting wars or bombing innocent 'collateral damage' women and children, or apply economic embargoes and sanctions on countries it doesn't like. It doesn't use its economic might to force unfair trade deals on other countries.

The USA and NATO have been squeezing Russia ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, trying hard to weaken it and corner it. Apart from the freezing northern ports, Russia has only one other exit point, the Crimea and Black Sea, which the West has tried on various occasions in the past to close off.

The credibility of the USA has declined massively in the last few years, and few people or countries really trust it anymore, but are locked into an uneasy alliance which would be difficult to break. Many don't want to keep supporting the USA's global imperialist aggression.

Angus is right, the solution is to bring Russia in from the cold and to stop the hostile expansionism by the West. It needs one of the USA's major allies, preferably Britain, to take a brave stand and change its USA-lapdog tune over Russia, and force the USA to back down. The rest of Europe would probably support Britain since the sanctions are causing them some pain.

Rozina 18 Dec 2014 17:09

Dear Angus,

I am no fan of the former US President George W Bush or his administration but to blame Cheney and Co for expanding NATO and creating "insecurity" for Russia is A PLAIN LIE. The process to expand NATO began earlier during Bill Clinton's time as US President: Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999.

Even if GWB had allowed the ABM treaty to lapse, the Obama government could have revived it. But the Democrats are as much under the control of US neoliberal robber barons as the Republicans are.

This and other idiocies about appeasing Putin and his government, as if they (and not the current US government and the corporations that hold its politicians in their pockets) are the spoilt global bullies, that you assert demonstrate that your articles are not to be trusted.

AMArmy 18 Dec 2014 13:03

Those who want to get deeper insight on Russia-West conflict, here is an excellent Stratfor piece on subject, titled "Viewing Russia from the Inside"

noibn48 -> ID_Neon 18 Dec 2014 10:16

Russia did, the Soviet Union didn't. It isolated itself and fell of its own weight and its own Vietnam in Afghanistan. Why was it the West's fault that the USSR had top invade Hungary in 1968 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 or couldn't even supply their people with toilet paper?

Cris Lesniak -> Ibn al Zaqqaaq 18 Dec 2014 10:09

I agree that Russia seems to be moving closer to the Erdogan regime. However, there are some conflicting FP goals, particularly in relation to Syria.

Selected Skeptical Comments from http://marknesop.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/the-southern-gas-corridor-is-a-blind-alley/#comments

Kulobi says:

December 21, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Jen, Paul Goble is one of Mark's favourite characters in the gallery of Russophobes whose high-brow cretinism never fails to amuse, cf.

http://marknesop.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/is-paul-goble-just-pretending-to-be-an-idiot/

I had a much needed moment of comic relief the other day reading his take on Kazakhstan

http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/The-Russian-Empire-Is-Kazakhstan-Next.html

This is a classic example of bullshit 'analysis' practiced by Lucas, Fridman et al, but perfected by Goble: a/ regale the audience with a Russia-is-an-imperialist-predator meme early, preferably in the title; b/ illustrate this eternal truth with a reference to an obscure Russian source, intimating darkly that regardless of this person's obscurity, s/he "is echoing the official Kremlin narrative"; and c/ smudge it all over: Moscow will either invade Kazakhstan soon, or "Kazakhstan is already lost as part of the Russian world". Hopefully, a few freidmans later one of the predictions will come true or, much more likely, both will be forgotten.

[Dec 19, 2014] Viewing Russia From the Inside Stratfor by George Friedman

""Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids." It's n ot in any way unusual to find imperial neocon cockroaches lurking together on the US political table. "Spheres of influence are not like some honorary degree you get from Harvard University and can keep forever."

December 16, 2014 | stratfor.com

Last week I flew into Moscow, arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It gets dark in Moscow around that time, and the sun doesn't rise until about 10 a.m. at this time of the year - the so-called Black Days versus White Nights. For anyone used to life closer to the equator, this is unsettling. It is the first sign that you are not only in a foreign country, which I am used to, but also in a foreign environment. Yet as we drove toward downtown Moscow, well over an hour away, the traffic, the road work, were all commonplace. Moscow has three airports, and we flew into the farthest one from downtown, Domodedovo - the primary international airport. There is endless renovation going on in Moscow, and while it holds up traffic, it indicates that prosperity continues, at least in the capital.

Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian. In that he was the perfect host, translating his country to me, always with the spin of a Russian patriot, which he surely was. We talked as we drove into Moscow, managing to dive deep into the subject.

From him, and from conversations with Russian experts on most of the regions of the world - students at the Institute of International Relations - and with a handful of what I took to be ordinary citizens (not employed by government agencies engaged in managing Russia's foreign and economic affairs), I gained a sense of Russia's concerns. The concerns are what you might expect. The emphasis and order of those concerns were not.

Russians' Economic Expectations

I thought the economic problems of Russia would be foremost on people's minds. The plunge of the ruble, the decline in oil prices, a general slowdown in the economy and the effect of Western sanctions all appear in the West to be hammering the Russian economy. Yet this was not the conversation I was having. The decline in the ruble has affected foreign travel plans, but the public has only recently begun feeling the real impact of these factors, particularly through inflation.

But there was another reason given for the relative calm over the financial situation, and it came not only from government officials but also from private individuals and should be considered very seriously. The Russians pointed out that economic shambles was the norm for Russia, and prosperity the exception. There is always the expectation that prosperity will end and the normal constrictions of Russian poverty return.

The Russians suffered terribly during the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin but also under previous governments stretching back to the czars. In spite of this, several pointed out, they had won the wars they needed to win and had managed to live lives worth living. The golden age of the previous 10 years was coming to an end. That was to be expected, and it would be endured. The government officials meant this as a warning, and I do not think it was a bluff. The pivot of the conversation was about sanctions, and the intent was to show that they would not cause Russia to change its policy toward Ukraine.

Russians' strength is that they can endure things that would break other nations. It was also pointed out that they tend to support the government regardless of competence when Russia feels threatened. Therefore, the Russians argued, no one should expect that sanctions, no matter how harsh, would cause Moscow to capitulate. Instead the Russians would respond with their own sanctions, which were not specified but which I assume would mean seizing the assets of Western companies in Russia and curtailing agricultural imports from Europe. There was no talk of cutting off natural gas supplies to Europe.

If this is so, then the Americans and Europeans are deluding themselves on the effects of sanctions. In general, I personally have little confidence in the use of sanctions. That being said, the Russians gave me another prism to look through. Sanctions reflect European and American thresholds of pain. They are designed to cause pain that the West could not withstand. Applied to others, the effects may vary.

My sense is that the Russians were serious. It would explain why the increased sanctions, plus oil price drops, economic downturns and the rest simply have not caused the erosion of confidence that would be expected. Reliable polling numbers show that President Vladimir Putin is still enormously popular. Whether he remains popular as the decline sets in, and whether the elite being hurt financially are equally sanguine, is another matter. But for me the most important lesson I might have learned in Russia - "might" being the operative term - is that Russians don't respond to economic pressure as Westerners do, and that the idea made famous in a presidential campaign slogan, "It's the economy, stupid," may not apply the same way in Russia.

The Ukrainian Issue

There was much more toughness on Ukraine. There is acceptance that events in Ukraine were a reversal for Russia and resentment that the Obama administration mounted what Russians regard as a propaganda campaign to try to make it appear that Russia was the aggressor. Two points were regularly made. The first was that Crimea was historically part of Russia and that it was already dominated by the Russian military under treaty. There was no invasion but merely the assertion of reality. Second, there was heated insistence that eastern Ukraine is populated by Russians and that as in other countries, those Russians must be given a high degree of autonomy. One scholar pointed to the Canadian model and Quebec to show that the West normally has no problem with regional autonomy for ethnically different regions but is shocked that the Russians might want to practice a form of regionalism commonplace in the West.

The case of Kosovo is extremely important to the Russians both because they feel that their wishes were disregarded there and because it set a precedent. Years after the fall of the Serbian government that had threatened the Albanians in Kosovo, the West granted Kosovo independence. The Russians argued that the borders were redrawn although no danger to Kosovo existed. Russia didn't want it to happen, but the West did it because it could. In the Russian view, having redrawn the map of Serbia, the West has no right to object to redrawing the map of Ukraine.

I try not to be drawn into matters of right and wrong, not because I don't believe there is a difference but because history is rarely decided by moral principles. I have understood the Russians' view of Ukraine as a necessary strategic buffer and the idea that without it they would face a significant threat, if not now, then someday. They point to Napoleon and Hitler as examples of enemies defeated by depth.

I tried to provide a strategic American perspective. The United States has spent the past century pursuing a single objective: avoiding the rise of any single hegemon that might be able to exploit Western European technology and capital and Russian resources and manpower. The United States intervened in World War I in 1917 to block German hegemony, and again in World War II. In the Cold War the goal was to prevent Russian hegemony. U.S. strategic policy has been consistent for a century.

The United States has been conditioned to be cautious of any rising hegemon. In this case the fear of a resurgent Russia is a recollection of the Cold War, but not an unreasonable one. As some pointed out to me, economic weakness has rarely meant military weakness or political disunity. I agreed with them on this and pointed out that this is precisely why the United States has a legitimate fear of Russia in Ukraine. If Russia manages to reassert its power in Ukraine, then what will come next? Russia has military and political power that could begin to impinge on Europe. Therefore, it is not irrational for the United States, and at least some European countries, to want to assert their power in Ukraine.

When I laid out this argument to a very senior official from the Russian Foreign Ministry, he basically said he had no idea what I was trying to say. While I think he fully understood the geopolitical imperatives guiding Russia in Ukraine, to him the century long imperatives guiding the United States are far too vast to apply to the Ukrainian issue. It is not a question of him only seeing his side of the issue. Rather, it is that for Russia, Ukraine is an immediate issue, and the picture I draw of American strategy is so abstract that it doesn't seem to connect with the immediate reality. There is an automatic American response to what it sees as Russian assertiveness; however, the Russians feel they have been far from offensive and have been on the defense. For the official, American fears of Russian hegemony were simply too far-fetched to contemplate.

In other gatherings, with the senior staff of the Institute of International Relations, I tried a different tack, trying to explain that the Russians had embarrassed U.S. President Barack Obama in Syria. Obama had not wanted to attack when poison gas was used in Syria because it was militarily difficult and because if he toppled Syrian President Bashar al Assad, it would leave Sunni jihadists in charge of the country. The United States and Russia had identical interests, I asserted, and the Russian attempt to embarrass the president by making it appear that Putin had forced him to back down triggered the U.S. response in Ukraine. Frankly, I thought my geopolitical explanation was a lot more coherent than this argument, but I tried it out. The discussion was over lunch, but my time was spent explaining and arguing, not eating. I found that I could hold my own geopolitically but that they had mastered the intricacies of the Obama administration in ways I never will.

The Future for Russia and the West

The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.

The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.

I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much. Presidents come and go. But it is a reminder that things that would bring down a Western leader may leave a Russian leader untouched. Second, the Russians do not plan a campaign of aggression. Here I am more troubled - not because they want to invade anyone, but because nations frequently are not aware of what is about to happen, and they might react in ways that will surprise them. That is the most dangerous thing about the situation. It is not what is intended, which seems genuinely benign. What is dangerous is the action that is unanticipated, both by others and by Russia.

At the same time, my general analysis remains intact. Whatever Russia might do elsewhere, Ukraine is of fundamental strategic importance to Russia. Even if the east received a degree of autonomy, Russia would remain deeply concerned about the relationship of the rest of Ukraine to the West. As difficult as this is for Westerners to fathom, Russian history is a tale of buffers. Buffer states save Russia from Western invaders. Russia wants an arrangement that leaves Ukraine at least neutral.

For the United States, any rising power in Eurasia triggers an automatic response born of a century of history. As difficult as it is for Russians to understand, nearly half a century of a Cold War left the United States hypersensitive to the possible re-emergence of Russia. The United States spent the past century blocking the unification of Europe under a single, hostile power. What Russia intends and what America fears are very different things.

The United States and Europe have trouble understanding Russia's fears. Russia has trouble understanding particularly American fears. The fears of both are real and legitimate. This is not a matter of misunderstanding between countries but of incompatible imperatives. All of the good will in the world - and there is precious little of that - cannot solve the problem of two major countries that are compelled to protect their interests and in doing so must make the other feel threatened. I learned much in my visit. I did not learn how to solve this problem, save that at the very least each must understand the fears of the other, even if they can't calm them.

"Viewing Russia From the Inside is republished with permission of Stratfor."

[Dec 18, 2014] News conference of Vladimir Putin

I think that to Putin might have an unrealistic goal to be a prospering neoliberal state and simultaneously be independent from the USA. The USA will never allow that. It's iether, or.
Dec 18, 2014 | President of Russia

ANTON VERNITSKY, CHANNEL ONE RUSSIA: Mr President, are the current economic developments the price we have to pay for Crimea? Maybe the time has come to acknowledge it?

VLADIMIR PUTIN:

No. This is not the price we have to pay for Crimea… This is actually the price we have to pay for our natural aspiration to preserve ourselves as a nation, as a civilisation, as a state. And here is why.

As I've already mentioned when answering a question from your NTV colleague, and as I've said during my Address to the Federal Assembly, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia opened itself to our partners. What did we see? A direct and fully-fledges support of terrorism in North Caucasus. They directly supported terrorism, you understand? Is that what partners usually do? I won't go into details on that, but this is an established fact. And everyone knows it.

On any issue, no matter what we do, we always run into challenges, objections and opposition. Let me remind you about the preparations for the 2014 Olympics, our inspiration and enthusiasm to organise a festive event not only for Russian sports fans, but for sports fans all over the world. However, and this is an evident truth, unprecedented and clearly orchestrated attempts were made to discredit our efforts to organise and host the Olympics. This is an undeniable fact! Who needs to do so and for what reason? And so on and so forth.

You know, at the Valdai [International Discussion] Club I gave an example of our most recognisable symbol. It is a bear protecting his taiga. You see, if we continue the analogy, sometimes I think that maybe it would be best if our bear just sat still. Maybe he should stop chasing pigs and boars around the taiga but start picking berries and eating honey. Maybe then he will be left alone. But no, he won't be! Because someone will always try to chain him up. As soon as he's chained they will tear out his teeth and claws. In this analogy, I am referring to the power of nuclear deterrence. As soon as – God forbid – it happens and they no longer need the bear, the taiga will be taken over.

We have heard it even from high-level officials that it is unfair that the whole of Siberia with its immense resources belongs to Russia in its entirety. Why exactly is it unfair? So it is fair to snatch Texas from Mexico but it is unfair that we are working on our own land – no, we have to share.

And then, when all the teeth and claws are torn out, the bear will be of no use at all. Perhaps they'll stuff it and that's all.

So, it is not about Crimea but about us protecting our independence, our sovereignty and our right to exist. That is what we should all realise.

If we believe that one of the current problems – including in the economy as a result of the sanctions – is crucial… And it is so because out of all the problems the sanctions take up about 25 to 30 percent. But we must decide whether we want to keep going and fight, change our economy – for the better, by the way, because we can use the current situation to our own advantage – and be more independent, go through all this or we want our skin to hang on the wall. This is the choice we need to make and it has nothing to do with Crimea at all.

GRIGORY DUBOVITSKY, RIA NOVOSTI: Mr President, I'd like to go back to the situation on the currency market, which changes from one day to another and is a great concern for millions of Russians. Many experts, including you, Mr President, have said the current situation could be blamed also on currency profiteers. Concrete companies and individuals have been named. Can you give us those names? Are they Russians or foreigners? And why can't they be stopped? Are they too strong? Or are we too weak?

I have a second question on the same subject, if I may. Do the Central Bank and the Government plan to peg or devalue the ruble?

VLADIMIR PUTIN:

This is what our Ukrainian partners did, quite unsuccessfully. Are you asking if we plan to force our companies, our main exporters, who receive revenues in foreign currency, to sell it? They would just buy it back the next day, as it happened in Kiev and as it happens in other countries.

The next step in this case should be to set a limit on the purchase of foreign currency on the domestic market. We won't go this far, and so the Central Bank and the Government are not planning, quite correctly as far as I see it, to limit our exporters in this field.

This doesn't mean, though, that the Government should not act through its representatives on company boards. After all, these are our largest energy companies. They are partly state-owned, which means that we can influence their policies, but without issuing any directives or restrictions. This we won't do.

As for the so-called profiteers, it is not a crime to play on the currency market. These market players can be foreigners or various funds, which are present on the Russian market and have been operating quite actively there. Or they can be Russian companies. Overall, as I said at the beginning of this meeting, this is an accepted practice in a market economy. Profiteers always appear when there is a chance to make some money.

They don't show up to steal or to cheat but to make some money in the market by creating favorable conditions, by pushing, for example, as was done in the beginning of this process, like, in this particular case, the Central Bank of Russia was pushed to enter the market and start selling gold and foreign currency reserves in the hope of intervening and supporting the national currency.

But the Central Bank stopped, and it was the right thing to do. Perhaps it would have been better if it had been done earlier and in a tougher way. Then perhaps it wouldn't have been necessary to increase the rate to 17 percent. But that is a different matter. A matter of taste, so to speak. Although it is still rather significant. It is true. So, I told you who they are.

You know, two days ago I had a friendly telephone conversation with some of them and I asked, "So why are you holding back?" By the way, I didn't make them do anything. "Our loan payments are due soon," was the reply. Then I say, "I see. OK, if you scrape the bottom of the barrel, can you enter the market?" He took a minute and replied: "Well, I guess we have three billion dollars." They have three billion in reserves. See what I mean? It is not 30 kopeks. And this is just one company.

So if each company has three billion, in total it is not 30 but 300 billion. Still, we can't force them. Even top management of the companies with state participation must anticipate what will happen and ensure the stability of their companies. To this end, the Government must work very closely with them and ensure, along with the Central Bank, foreign currency and ruble liquidity whenever it is necessary.

[Dec 17, 2014] Neoconica" - America For The New Millennium

12/17/2014 | zerohedge.com

"...so many still maintain that America is the greatest nation in the world. They swear that America represents all that is good; freedom, democracy, merit based capitalism and the rights of the individual. That is true America does represent such things. However, it is fraudulent to consider our current nation America. America was a concept that promoted all that is good. And so it would seem that the nation in which they find themselves cannot be America. Their nation today represents the will of the political class at all costs, period. Their sole motivation is themselves. Very different from America. And so perhaps a renaming on the nation is required, at least until or if the people decide to take it back and reintroduce the world to the concept that is America for as discussed below you cannot destroy a concept and so there is hope to bring her back. But until then we need a name for this geographic region and its new societal system... It seems"Neoconica" is most fitting."

[Dec 17, 2014] Fed Watch IP, Russia

Dec 17, 2014 | Economist's View

Barkley Rosser :

Yikes! An embarrassingly bad post by the usually on top of it Tim Duy. Guess Russia is not exactly his area of expertise.

For starters, Putin is president, not premier. That would be the hapless loser, Medvedev. Second, Russia is currently running a trade surplus and has $370 billion in foreign reserves, even if about 100 of that is tied up. They can afford to go down quite aways for some time before they will be needing any IMF lifelines. Yes, they are under pressure, but this post is a joke.

pgl -> anne...

OK - permit me to stick to Americans. We had to endure watching the form Vice President on Meet the Press tell us we did not torture people. So Dick Cheney is a serial liar. I as a New Yorker have had to endure our former mayor (RUDY) spew racist garbage making it more difficult for our current mayor to do his job. And of course that governor across the Hudson is seriously overweight crook. Has that for fair and balanced?

JohnH -> Barkley Rosser...

Yes, Tim needed to weigh more carefully the effects of the other shoe dropping--European banks, who hold much of the Russian debt. Has the Fed done stress tests on European bank recently?

And how are holders of derivatives going to fare?

John Cummings :

lol to the "contagion" stuff. This oil stuff was levering up in 2004. Once again, follow the shadow banking system for who and how is getting financing. The obsession with central banks needs to end.

bakho :

Tanking the Russian economy would be bad for many other economies in the world.

The Media has been sold the Neocon version of Ukraine. The reporting has been just as one sided as the run up to the Iraq war.

The losers are Ukrainians who want to live in peace but are being bombed by their own government. They are caught in a war between the Russian Mafia and Greedy Neocon raiders. There is only a losing outcome. Crimea was lucky to escape the conflict.

JF :

Can someone tell why low, govt policy rates have any meaning for investors in risky venturing (no matter how many instruments they wrap around their positions)? The rates charged in such situations should always be above these policy rates by definition so what difference does it make if the FRB has a negative policy rate or where it is now? And how would the raising of policy rates now affect these (unless some derived relationships calculate anew and somehow shift risks away from the banks because the policy rate is increased - and how complex is that and unreal)? What am I not understanding (keep any responses kind please)?

Is Mr. Duy intimating that the financial sector entered into risky venturing scenarios and did not ask for fees and payments to cover their risk? I can see why that would cause regulators to question the sanity of the financial community and seek better macro-prudential rules and exact penalties if these things implode.

Is his post intended to say that there is great worldwide systemic risk that may begin to unfold again, risk at the level of 2007-08? Or that US money-centered banks are at significant risk?

anne :

At this point, an IMF program would be on the horizon....

[ China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa have already formed an international fund that can function when necessary as the International Monetary Fund functions. As for the dictatorial austerity conditions that could be anticipated from the IMF with regard to Russia, we can be sure Russia will never accede to any punishing IMF dictate. ]

[Dec 16, 2014] Economist's View 'The Ruble and the Textbooks'

Here Krugman writes as a closet neoconservative. And writes about economy he absolutely does not understand. BTW weak ruble kills EU and first of all German exports to Russia far more efficiently then any sanctions...
'The Ruble and the Textbooks'

Paul Krugman:

The Ruble and the Textbooks: OK, this is a bit funny: This morning Tim Duy addresses the woes of the ruble, which is in free fall despite a big rate hike, and declares that it "appears really quite textbook". Meanwhile Matthew Yglesias says that what Russia is doing is "the textbook approach to handling a currency crisis", and speculates about why it isn't working.
I'm with Duy here; not sure if it's actually in any textbook, but as I explained yesterday, for aficionados of emerging-market currency crises this is all quite familiar. ... When you have big balance-sheet problems involving foreign-currency debt, an interest-rate hike that tries to discourage capital flight damages the economy, and hence those same balance sheets, from another direction, and it's common, even standard, for the effort to fail. Most notably, tight-money policies were really really unsuccessful during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-8, on which you can read my take here. ...
So Russia isn't that unusual a story, except for the nukes.

Greg:

One thing I'm curious about is whether we're about to see several large hedge funds fail, like LTCM did back in 1998, due to making highly leveraged bets on the ruble. If so, there might be a domino effect where a few hedge funds that made these bets take out others that did not, just like the situation back in 1998.

Thoughts on that?

Peter K. -> Greg...

That's what I was thinking. How good is Dodd-Frank? And just thing the Republicans and Citibank want more deregulations.

Last time around Geithner and the NY Fed got all of the heads of LTCM's creditors in a room and sorted it out. They'd probably do that again.

And last time Bear Stearns and Lehman didn't want to pony up, but they're no longer around.

GeorgeK -> Greg...

Maybe this explains why Chase wanted all their swaps to be on the taxpayers tab?

mulp:

According to the textbook I learned from in the 60s, the falling exchange rate would greatly boost employment in Russia as Russia stopped importing goods that were soaring in price and began producing them locally.

But in free lunch economics, labor is ignored or considered a liability and black hole that suck money out of the economy never to return.

pgl -> mulp...

If your text book is from the 1960's (Mundell-Fleming and all that), you need an update:

http://www.econ.umn.edu/~tkehoe/classes/Krugman1.pdf

am -> pgl...

Thanks for the link. It is a pity it is pdf. I tried posting the first para in here for a summary but got all confused by pdf.

A thing not taken notice of in such currency crises is the parallel market. Poor old Russians will be up the back streets at the moment exchanging any forex they have at a higher rate than the official rate then running down to the shops to buy goods which were priced at the official rate if imported. It will cost the same to them in dollars but higher in rubles. By changing on the official market they might get a fridge but by changing on the unofficial market they might get a fridge and a toaster with the same amount of forex. So on it goes and it is difficult to stop. It is all based on expectations of further collapse of the currency.

I remember in a third world country where the currency collapsed and the bank rate was nowhere like the street rate that an old lady dutifully went into the bank to change her forex to local. The clerk in the bank said to her, excuse me madam, do you not know anyone that can exchange that for you on the street. The bank clerk, yep, you read it correctly.

Russia is not there yet and hopefully will never get to that stage. But I would think that the Russian Mafia are already looking at arbitrage opportunities. Now if you work in the central bank and know how to do this you can make an absolute fortune.

pgl -> am...

Back to the 1900's when Yeltsin's cronies made a fortune ripping off the rest of the nation? This would be the end of Putin!

am -> am...

Delete sentence, it will cost ..

Idea is official rate $1 = 80 roubles; unofficial rate $1=100 roubles; fridge in shop equals 8000 roubles; toaster in shop equals 2000 roubles. Exchange your $100 forex money in the bank you can only buy a fridge but exchange it in the street then you get a fridge and a toaster. Then you start selling fridges and toasters.

Owen Paine -> am...

U assume open exchange or at least massive immediate black marketeering

Emergency measures often work initially

Trade controls
Say import warrants
Can quickly force the pace of import substitution

The errors arise when improved means are not subsequently implemented


Russia could implement a price containing ring around import inputs into the domestic production system
Thru a mark up cap and trde system

Objective
Socially capture the dynamic rents produced by the sudden revolution in relative prices

pgl -> Darryl FKA Ron...

Vaguely. I was wondering just yesterday why Matt Young had not learned the troll trick of coming up with a whole new name. Or maybe Matt is really Patrick R. Sullivan resurfaced.

John Cummings:

Russia has a pretty strong surplus so they can remain solvent longer than you can I bet.

pgl -> John Cummings...

Read Krugman's writing on this. It sort of explains why this view is way off.

Owen Paine -> pgl...

Just what horror results from default

Sovereigns are always solvent in a credit based system

Run away inflation is only symptomatic of a horror
The horror is political incapacity

That incapacity can be as simple as a failed taxing system
Or laissez faire international transactions

Or a certain après moi elite pillaging

Or or


The pluralistic society the open society
Is perhaps incapable of survival

Perhaps we can learn much from castro's cuba
And its remarkable self sustaining capacities

pgl -> Owen Paine ...

"Just what horror results from default".

Seriously? Like the Greece economy is booming?

Matt Young:

Russia can always borrow in its own currency, right?

kthomas -> Matt Young...

Was that more of that ole Matty sarcasm? Im not as convinced as others you are stupid, but that statement (which you disguised as a question) is easily described as such. This is no time for jokes, Mr Young.

pgl -> kthomas...

Actually I think he is serious. Which is to say - clueless as ever.

pgl -> kthomas...

On thing Matt's disguised question (as you put it) fails to distinguish between is:

(a) a government issuing its debt to local citizens aka its taxpayers (pay me now or pay me later as in Barro Ricardian equivalence); versus

(b) a nation borrowing from the rest of the world.

This issue is (b) but the disguised question asserts the issue is (a).

Like I said - clueless as ever.

xxx

When looking at capital flows out of Russia, we are talking about money invested in killing jobs in Russia or extracting resources exported to create jobs outside of Russia instead of Russia. If the "capital" investment in Russia were in real capital assets, like factories manufacturing for Russia, the exchange rate changes would be opening up the export market to some degree and reducing competition from imports.

But the "investment" capital fleeing is simply ownership of shares and the flight does not result in any change in real assets or local employment, but simply repricing derivatives of extraction privileges, returns on real capital, or importer rents.

The real problem is Russia's government has been selling off Russia land bit by bit to the West and using the cash to pay Russians to not produce much of anythings so the cash can pay for imports and put local workers out of work and dependent on government payouts. But by free lunch economics, people not working but living off selling off assets is the ideal economy because labor costs should be zero in the ideal economy.

likbez:

I think one victim are EU exports to Russia and first of all German exports. I think major German companies will suffer substantial losses. Auf Wiedersehen Russian market.

Another victim are countries that benefitted from Russian tourism such as Egypt and Turkey.

The USA food imports to Russia are already under Russian sanctions so there is no major change here, but GM and Ford dealerships in Russia are now toasts.

So it looks like this drop will have huge repercussions for EU and will be painful even for relatively isolated from Russian market USA.

I wonder who of TBTF are major players in this currency game. May be Vampire Squid ?

I also wonder what is current Big Mac index for Russia.

[Dec 10, 2014] Single Parents and the Break-Up Between the White Working Class and the Democratic Party -- Beat the Press

December 10, 2014 | cepr.net

Thomas Edsall has as interesting piece this morning discussing the changing plight of working class whites in the United States and their increasing estrangement from the Democratic Party. He gets much of the story right. Certainly they can no longer be assured of a comfortable middle class existence. And, if they do manage to get middle class jobs, they certainly cannot guarantee that their children will be as lucky.

... ... ...

Anyhow, Edsall is right that the white working class, like the working class in general, has been poorly served by the Democrats in recent decades. It is not difficult to think of policies that would change this story. The question is whether the Democrats will buck their wealthy donors to pursue them.

Last Mover, December 10, 2014

Can Democrats Do More Damage than Free Markets Did?

To ask what any political party in America can do for anyone anymore begs the question with an assumed response from the usual sock puppets - that government can do anything at all beyond the usual warmongering.

As posed by Edsall the presumption is a zero sum game between Democrats and Republicans between political gains and losses that translate into economic gains and losses.

To ask the question in regard to the white working class just fuels more the obvious, that both parties are literally owned outright by the ultra rich who run the country from top to bottom.

Of course DB is correct to contrast the economics that drive the plight of single mothers and the white middle class and debunk irrelevant cultural myths trotted out by both parties as the cause. But no one important or in the white working class is listening.

American media and politics have reduced economics to a faux zero sum game where each side (for those who do vote) actually believes it wins when the other side loses, even though both sides continue to lose big time - other than the very few who end up as ultra rich.

If Edsall really wants to be effective he should ask how the white working class came to accept from both sides, the propaganda specifically designed to replace economics with irrelevant cultural issues.

As JFK might have said: Ask not what "free markets" can do for you. Ask what they did to you.

Larry Signor, December 10, 2014 9:05

Edsall Is Part of the Problem

Posing the problems of America as racial, cultural and moral is just pure idiocy. The Problem in America is economic inequality. The blame game follows from this tremendous economic inequality. We tore Thomas Piketty apart trying to discover where he was wrong. He wasn't wrong.

skeptonomist, December 10, 2014 9:21

A glaring omission from both Edsall's and Baker's pieces is taxes. When inequality was decreasing in the early-middle 20th century, tax rates were highly progressive. Obviously this did not impede economic growth. Democrats have usually collaborated or even taken the lead in the restructuring of taxes since 1964.

There is no evidence that inequality can be reduced without appropriate taxation. As the share of growth that goes to working people has been shrinking, they have been encouraged (by Republicans) to blame each other. This economic matter could be a winning political issue, but not only Democratic politicians but many "liberal" economists still subscribe to the obviously false assumption that high tax rates reduce incentive.

[Dec 07, 2014] Merkel offers Russia trade talks olive branch by Stefan Wagstyl and Roula Khalaf

While kicking out US financial institutions out of Russia would be painful, for Europe severing economic ties with Russia would be suicidal -- this is a loss of one of the largest market they used to have access too. But if Russian "import replacement" policy which is now in full swing succeed even modestly they have no chances to return to Russian market as export shares for food and some machinery would be redistributed in favor of LA, Egypt, Turkey and other third world countries. Even US electronic companies such s IBM and Apple now run into serious difficulties in Russian market and seeded part of their market share to Chinese companies. US Energy companies can be kicked out of Russian market too, at least squeezed. So while Biden pumps his cheeks real business is already suffering. But in way the West can force Russians to forget about its role in EuroMaidan. This is another Serbia bombings in negative effects on Russian public opinion (after Serbian bombings Russian polls from 80+% positive view on US and its allies switched to 90+% negative).
November 26, 2014 |FT.com

On the left, Egon Bahr, who worked with ex-chancellor Willy Brandt in the 1970s on Moscow-friendly Ostpolitik, became the latest SPD grandee to propose an accommodation with Moscow. He suggested that while the Crimea annexation should not be recognised, it could be "respected".

He and other Russia-friendly politicians are concerned about a hardening in Ms Merkel's rhetoric, not least a speech she gave in Sydney shortly after her marathon meeting with Mr Putin, when she accused Russia of "flouting international law" and "violating" Ukraine's territorial integrity.

Business is also starting to complain about the impact of sanctions and the broader damage done to trade by the crisis. While the BDI and other umbrella organisations are sticking to the pledge they made to Ms Merkel in the spring to support sanctions, companies doing business with Russia are signalling their unease.

Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev on Wednesday spoke in the industrial centre of Stuttgart, southwest Germany, at the invitation of local businesses and called for an end to sanctions. "It is time to end with the escalation of mistakes – sanctions and counter-sanctions," he said.

Mr Ulyukayev also backed proposals for talks between the EU and Russia over a free-trade zone "from Lisbon to Vladivostok". The idea is a clear echo of Ms Merkel's proposed trade talks.

However, such proposals have been aired many times in discussions between Moscow and western European states without leading to any concrete measures.

naoyb

I don't see how Putin can abandon Eastern Russian speakers. Let Poroshenko & Yats bomb and kill those they call "terrorists"?

Within hours of signing the EU brokered accord that called for a "Unity" government, Yats & cos did just the reverse - impeaching the democratically elected President Yanukovych, invalidating a law establishing Russian as an official language, forming a "unity government" that excluded those Easterners, sending troops, jets, helicopters to bomb those "terrorists".

Yale prof. David Bromwich, writing in London Review of Books, calls assistant secretary Victoria Nuland that was pushing for Yats to get to the top:

" a neocon who made a highly successful transition in 2009 from Dick Cheney's staff to Hillary Clinton's. Nuland is married to the co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, Robert Kagan, one of the leading promoters of the Iraq war".

Bromwich faults Obama for "his obliviousness to the Cheney weeds in his policy garden …. The vice president in 2001 was given a free hand to sow the departments and agencies of government with first and second echelon workers who were fanatically loyal to him".

genauer

@ all, Tasdk

I cited enough of Huntingon to inform people, that this this ethnic Ukrainian/Russian conflict simmered already from pre-Independence times, in a "cleft country" voting repeated 50 +x % for one side and again for the other. People interested In more detail will read Huntington and likely more sources.

The little IRI Survey paid by McCain, you cited, has very limited credibility, because IRI is a VERY interested party.

The IRI survey in May 2013 is pretty irrelevant, because that was long before the Maidan events

You should also take look at pages 14 (strong preference of economic union with Russia) and 15 (68% warm feelings for Russia), page 13 strong opposition to Maidan actions (occupation of buildings, demonstrations without permission)

Take a look at the language decision, e.g. from a former US ambassador to Moscow http://jackmatlock.com/2014/05/golinkin-on-the-language-issue-in-ukraine/

"To eastern Ukrainians, this wasn't extending an olive branch or promoting Ukrainian unity: it was a message – "my way or the highway." Crimea chose the highway."

„both Yatsenyuk and Turchynov are only interim leaders and were acting against the majority of the Ukrainian parliament, which had voted to repeal the law in the first place"

When you do such things in a "cleft country", then it has consequences, and one of those was the overwhelming Crimean vote for independence, and given the real murderous threat by Yatsenyuk and Turchynov, to join Russia to which they have warm feeling and preference of custom union was the overwhelming result.

Finally, how did the other fault line conflict, Yugoslavia, break up, …. "in mutual agreement" ?

tasdk

@genauer

Referring to a brief excerpt from a secondary source when primary sources provide a much more detailed picture looks like an attempt to obfuscate. As the opinion poll I referred to below shows, 82 per cent of Crimeans speak Russian and 59 per cent are ethnically Russian (because of Russian colonisation, especially during the Soviet era), but only 40 per cent view themselves as Russian (as opposed to Crimean, Tatar or Ukrainian). The issue is more complex than your comment suggests.

On your second point, the Soviet-era Crimean Supreme Council did declare independence (conditional on a referendum), but under the principles of the Helsinki process, unilateral declarations of independence are not generally recognised. Do you disagree with these principles?

Mutually agreed separation, as in the case of the peaceful break-ups of the USSR or Czechoslovakia, is completely different from unilateral declarations of independence. Moreover, as the poll I referred to below shows, prior to the Russian invasion and occupation, the majority of Crimeans expressed a preference for autonomy within Ukraine.

exCaptain

If unilateral declarations of independence are not recognized under the Helsinki agreements, then why did the U.S., Britain, France,Germany etc all accept Kosvo's UDI? Once a precedent is set, others will tend to follow.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

In reality, everyone who was in Kosovo at the time knew that this was a short-term US policy goal, which all the Europeans had to adhere to although they realized it spelled trouble down the road. That's the fate of client states, or satellites as they were called during the Cold War.

exCaptain

I'm wondering about Mrs Merkel's remark that Putin was "flouting international law" through the annexation of Crimea.

How so?

Germany recognized Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 despite Serbia's objections and despite previous UNSC resolutions that described the province as a part of Serbia.

Then in 2010 the Intenational Court in The Hague ruled that secession was not illegal under international law. While the Crimean referendum this year was clearly not in keeping with democratic standards, it was light years ahead of Kosovo's case -- where there had been NO referendum at all in 2008 (the decision was made by the government).

In reality, in both cases the vast majority of the population favored secession And union with their mother nations (in Kosovo this has not yet been achieved due to international pressure, but it's only a matter of time).

So again: just how did Putin flout international law?

tasdk

@exCaptain

An opinion poll in 2013 found that two thirds of the population of Crimea preferred to remain part of Ukraine, against one quarter that expressed a desire to become part of Russia. We shall never know what the result of a fair referendum in a Crimea not occupied by Russian forces would have been.

As for international law, there is no law against unilateral secession per se. However, there has been an understanding in Europe since the 1970s that borders will be respected and not altered by force. Yugoslavia was an exception, but the border changes were a result of a civil war, and not an attack by an outside power. I disagree with recognition of the independence of Kosovo, but in the context of the Yugoslav wars, it is quite different from Ukraine.

The USSR was not dissolved by a civil war, but rather by mutual consent, with all the successor states agreeing to respect the agreed borders. There was not a civil war in the USSR, nor in Ukraine. The violence in Ukraine is a result of an attack by a foreign power (Russia). This is a completely different situation to Kosovo.

genauer

@tasdk @exCaptain I am sure you have a reference for us for your alleged "
opinion poll in 2013 found that two thirds of the population of Crimea preferred to remain part of Ukraine,"

tasdk

@genauer

Certainly. Unlike Putin's defenders, I do not confuse fiction with fact. The link is here: http://www.iri.org/sites/default/files/2013%20October%207%20Survey%20of%20Crimean%20Public%20Opinion%2C%20May%2016-30%2C%202013.pdf

The relevant result is on page 17, with shows 67 per cent reporting a preference for Crimea remaining part of Ukraine, against 23 per cent in favour of a transfer of the peninsula from Ukraine to Russia. Note as well that the statistical margin of error is not more than 2.8 per cent.

The occupation of the Crimean peninsula by Russian forces was apparently very 'persuasive' in changing the minds of Crimeans. Occupation by Nazi and Soviet forces in the mid-20th century was often very 'persuasive' too.

Additional details on page 39 show that 59 per cent reported their ethnicity as Russian, and 82 per cent reported that they usually speak Russian at home. The fact that most Crimeans speak Russian does not imply that, prior to the Russian invasion, they wanted Crimea to be annexed by Russia. Based on their self-reported views in 2013, most of them did not. However, given the choice between Russian annexation and a Russian-backed insurgency, as we see in eastern Ukraine, most would probably have preferred the annexation.

genauer

@tasdk @genauer well, that survey by the McCain headed , US Aid financed ,

was conducted in May 2013, after Yanukovich got democratically elected to office, and 24% instead of 11% before Yanukovich election, thought the country was heading into the "right direction" (page 5)

Yanukovich even gave people some hope that their financial situation would improve (page 7)


Things and moods apparently changed after his violent, unconstitutional overthrow

That this destroyed all hope, I can imagine

genauer

@tasdk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Republican_Institute


The IRI is accused of training some of the leaders of the 2004 Haitian coup d'état,

The IRI has been accused of supporting the 2009 Honduran coup d'état.

consider this foreign funding interference in internal affairs

tasdk

@genauer

The typical response of a Putin apologist. When faced with unpleasant reality, you divert attention, speculate and invoke conspiracy theories. Gallup is a well respected polling agency, and the results of its opinion poll show that prior to the Russian invasion and occupation, the vast majority of Crimeans did not want Russia to annex the peninsula.

[Dec 07, 2014] It is time for the west and Ukraine to offer Putin a deal by John Thornhill

November 23, 2014 | FT.com

There is a military saying that armies have to fight the wars they can rather than the ones they wish to fight. It is a maxim that western leaders should consider in their confrontation with Russia.

Roughing up Vladimir Putin at the recent G20 summit in Brisbane may have given them a warm moral glow but did little to advance peace in Ukraine. Gesture politics does not substitute for a coherent strategy needed to address the most alarming threat to European security since the end of the Soviet Union.

Western leaders have been right to sanction Russia for unilaterally redrawing international borders. Russia's annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine have recreated anarchy in Europe. Such aggression could not pass unanswered.

But although sanctions were a necessary punishment they have proved an ineffective deterrent. They have not changed Russian behaviour. Indeed, they may have only worsened it. Their impact has been to boost the regime's popularity and strengthen the Kremlin's hardliners, who relish isolation.

What next? Realism suggests it is time for the west and Ukraine to try to cut a deal with Russia. The imposition of sanctions – and the threat of more – has provided necessary leverage. For the sake of Ukraine's stability, the west should use that leverage to achieve the diplomatic solution it can rather than the one it may ideally wish for.

The main priority for the west has to be to help a prosperous and secure Ukraine emerge from the turmoil. That is a gargantuan challenge. But it will never succeed with a hostile Russia on its borders (and within its borders) determined to emasculate Ukraine as a political and economic entity.

One response would be to force Russia to withdraw. But short of starting World War III, that is not going to happen. The west is not prepared to deploy troops to defend Ukraine, nor – for the moment – is it even willing to supply heavy weapons to Kiev.

Worse, the west is failing to provide the financial support needed to prevent the Ukrainian economy disappearing into a black hole. The economy is forecast to contract by more than 7 per cent this year and the threat of default looms.

The Minsk Protocol, the ceasefire agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine in September under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, provides the basis for a comprehensive political deal.

the west is failing to provide the financial support needed to prevent the Ukrainian economy disappearing into a black hole

On the economy, Kiev should ensure that trade deals with the EU do not entangle its ties with Russia. Before the conflict, Russia accounted for one quarter of Ukraine's exports. Russia too has a big stake in Ukraine's economic revival: its banks and exporters are staring at massive losses in one of its most important markets.

The west should also respond to Mr Putin's desire to discuss Europe's security architecture. He should be reminded that Nato's collective self-defence means what it says, especially in the Baltics. But the west should also accept that Nato will not expand into Ukraine. It would be unwise for the security alliance to push for the inclusion of a country that is so divided.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Mr Putin would agree – and deliver on – any such deal. His goal may be de facto partition of Ukraine. Moscow has ripped up the Budapest Memorandum it signed in 1994 guaranteeing Ukraine's independence and so far failed to uphold the Minsk Protocol.

But as George F. Kennan wrote in his famous "X" article in Foreign Affairs in 1947 on how to contain Soviet expansionism, the west's "demands on Russian policy should be put forward in such a manner as to leave the way open for a compliance not too detrimental to Russian prestige." Given that Russia's president insists no Russian forces are present in eastern Ukraine it should be easy enough to magic them away.

If Moscow were to reject a deal, then it would be time to re-read and implement the rest of Kennan's prescriptions. Then we will be back to the world of counter-force and containment.

john.thornhill@ft.com

On this topic

On this story

IN Columnists

A negotiated settlement with Russia is the only option - FT.com by Rodric Braithwaite

Sir, I agree with much of what Sir Tony Brenton (Letters, November 25) and John Thornhill (Comment, November 24) say about policy towards Ukraine. What the unfortunate Ukrainians now need is a political solution that guarantees their security and prosperity. That will be brought no nearer by simply lambasting Vladimir Putin, as western leaders recently did in Brisbane.

First things first, however. President Putin is responsible for the current mess. He did not have to annex Crimea or destabilise eastern Ukraine. If the Russian speakers there had legitimate grievances, there were other ways of dealing with them. He has frightened all Russia's neighbours. That was unacceptable behaviour, which we could not just ignore. The measures we have taken were sensible, if insufficiently dramatic for some. Sanctions were inevitable. I am less convinced than Sir Tony that they never work.

The west's most egregious mistake was to dangle Nato membership before Ukraine. Gideon Rachman is right ("China, Russia and the Sinatra doctrine", November 25):in an ideal world countries should be able to choose their alliances. Russia's neighbours have every reason to want to join Nato. Nato is now, belatedly but entirely rightly, strengthening its military arrangements in Poland and the Baltic states. If the Russians don't like that, they have only themselves to blame. But a serious military alliance must have both the means and the will to defend its members. Nato seems not to have considered how in practice it would defend Ukraine against a resurgent Russia. The calculation was perhaps that the Russians were terminally weak, and that detaching Ukraine from Russia's "sphere of influence" would finally put the nail in the Russian imperial coffin. We all forgot that – at least before Mr Putin began to change their minds for them – a majority of Ukrainians were against joining.

For Nato to give Ukraine a guarantee that it could not implement would be a betrayal, one of a long line of betrayals of weaker countries by stronger ones that neither began nor ended with the meaningless guarantee that the French and the British gave to Poland in 1939. For the moment there is little sign that the west will rouse itself to do even that. So what is left? Mr Putin will not surrender unconditionally, though his domestic position may weaken as Russians exchange nationalist euphoria for worries over the economy. So that, as Sir Tony and Mr Thornhill say, leaves diplomacy – a negotiated settlement, which gets the best deal for the Ukrainians while enabling the Russians to climb down without undue loss of face. That will be a protracted and tedious business. But those who argue instead for maximalist outcomes are doing the Ukrainians no favours.

Rodric Braithwaite

Sanctions are no better than a failed drone strike - FT.com

Sir, It was good to see John Thornhill join those of us who have been arguing for months that we need to settle with Russia over Ukraine ("It is time for the west and Ukraine to offer Putin a deal", November 24). As anyone who knows Russia could have predicted, sanctions, however justified by the lawlessness of Russia's actions, have made things worse not better. We have deployed them eight times against Russia since 1945, always ineffectively. Even the Russian opposition dismisses them, and Mikhail Gorbachev (no fan of Vladimir Putin) is now talking of a "new cold war". They are like a failed drone strike, talked up by its authors as having done lots of collateral damage (to the Russian economy), but which has visibly missed its main target (to change Russian policy).

Mr Thornhill rightly cites three of the four components of a deal. Yes, the Russians need assurances that Ukraine won't join Nato, and of continued commercial access. And they need to be unambiguously reminded that the security guarantee for existing Nato members is cast iron. But the key point in the current crisis is a substantial autonomy offer for the Donbass which would enable President Putin to claim success and pull out. Without that the war will go on, and, as Mr Thornhill acknowledges, the Russians are more determined to win than we are.

As I hear the vibes in Whitehall and Washington, the key obstacle to this sensible way out is the prime ministerial and presidential view that "we can't let Putin win". It is of course good to hold one's head high, but only until it bangs into reality. We are passively watching Xi Jing Ping squeeze the air out of the Hong Kong demonstrators, and are dickering with the Iranians about how many thousand centrifuges they can keep (having started from a demand for total shutdown), because in both cases we recognise the alternative as worse. Exactly the same is true of Ukraine, especially for the Ukrainians themselves.

Tony Brenton

Cambridge, UK

UK ambassador to Russia, 2004-08; Board member, Russo-British Chamber of Commerce

[Dec 03, 2014] What Should the World Fear The Rise or Decline of Illiberal Powers Lilia Shevtsova

It's interesting to note that some Russian reader read and comment such an obscure publication as American Interest and such an obscure author as Lilia Shevtsova. Although one paragraph in the article related to the danger of "regime change" in Russia makes sense (see below).
Dec 02, 2014 | The American Interest

Essentially, the West faces a dilemma. On the one hand, retaining the sanctions regime may exacerbate Russia's economic crisis, provoking turmoil and unearthing the forces that would make the current regime look angelic by comparison. And we also cannot rule out the possibility that the regime, feeling cornered, would retaliate. The Kremlin, meanwhile, has charged that the Western sanctions are in truth an effort aimed at bringing regime change to Moscow.

True, in the end, sanctions could undermine the Russian political regime, but the very idea that they could cause regime change in Moscow greatly alarms Western leaders. Indeed, their fear of destabilizing Russia and setting in motion an unpredictable chain of events is a major factor that has induced them to proceed with every caution...

... ... ...

Most devastating for the liberal democracies is the fact that the Russian system is trying to survive by rendering their principles and norms fake. The Russian system can't produce an idea or ideology as did the Soviet Union; instead it makes competing ideas and ideologies irrelevant.

CCCP

Waw. Actually your ideals is beyond hypocrisy. You and your hypocrisy are ruining concepts such as democracy and human values.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, the United States are constantly at war. In any country, where they built democracy came the devastation. That's all the analysis. Well, draw your own conclusions.

Василий Батарейкин

US tried to build democracy in Iraq, in Afganistan, in Libia, all these countries are ruined now, and IGIS is becoming stronger!

now they want to build democracy in Ukraine, the country is also about to be ruined soon!
Maybe US should try to build democracy in the really fundamentalistic country - Saudi Arabia? Oh I completely forgot that King of S.ArAbia is a big friend of Bush family, and Obama bows to him also. By the way, Ossama Bin Ladan was from Saudi Arabia as well...

Kirill Senchugov

It is not hypocrisy. This is schizophrenia. Americans completely lost they mind. You are looking at the world with curved glasses, where top is bottom and bottom is the top. And the most devastating of all your delusions, is that you think that all of your actions the right thing and you are "protecting freedom". Guess what? You are wrong. You are the world dictator, international bully, and if someone trying to say no to you (even if "no" means the attempt to protect they interests or life of their people), you are calling this people "not democratic" and doing everything to destroy them. With sanctions or bombs if they small enough, and cant protect themself. You are disgusting.

November

[Nov 30, 2014] Anne Applebaum Hates Your Opinion

Being a neocon propagandists pays really well: "A recent mandatory income declaration of her husband to the Polish government shows that her income has skyrocketed from $20,000 in 2011 to more than $800,000 in 2013."
Nov 30, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Neoconservative newspaper columnist Anne Applebaum is angry and upset. In the days when print was king, she could dash off her pro-war opinions and never have to worry about the common people taking apart her arguments. In those days only a very few would be dedicated enough to write a letter to the editor, and only a tiny fraction would be printed. All of them would be subject to approval by the newspaper editor, of course.

Thus, when she writes of "The Myth of Russia Humiliation," her readers take her to task. When she writes, in "War in Europe is not a hysterical idea," that Ukrainians and Europeans should "drop everything, mobilize, prepare for total war [with Russia] while still possible," readers overwhelmingly push back against her war propaganda. They write things like:
Anne,
You and you family should go back to Poland where you belong.

Go fight the good fight and stop egging on America into a disastrous war for which it has no business.

and
Anne, I am sorry but you are dillusional, nuclear strikes?! Genocide, i do not think anyone in their sane mind would even think of it.. For now the only cleansing has been conducted by the Ukrainians.. 860 thousand fled to Russia that telsl you something.. Stop writing bad analysis and aggrevating the problem
and
The only raving lunatic is Anne Applebaum.

A preemptive nuclear strike against Warsaw for Russia to flex it's muscles? Please. The only way this scenario would be remotely possible is if we directly intervened, which is the course of action that the sociopath Anne Applebaum wants us to pursue in the first place.

As Counterpunch's Mike Whitney has recently written, the Western mainstream media's constant demonization of Russia and Vladimir Putin has fallen flat among readers, who increasingly challenge the editorial lines of these media outlets.

This greatly grieves Applebaum, whose latest column demands that negative comments be more heavily edited on the Internet.

Writes Anne:

Once upon a time, it seemed as if the Internet would be a place of civilized and open debate; now, unedited forums often deteriorate to insult exchanges.
Applebaum is particularly concerned that negative comments about her work are leading others to develop a negative opinion of her frequent calls for war with Russia:
Multiple experiments have shown that perceptions of an article, its writer or its subject can be profoundly shaped by anonymous online commentary, especially if it is harsh.
She is worried that negative comments under her pro-war articles may give the impression that her views are "controversial":
Online commentary subtly shapes what voters think and feel, even if it just raises the level of irritation, or gives readers the impression that certain views are 'controversial...'
To Applebaum, there is nothing controversial about calling for a nuclear war with Russia. Readers dare not think otherwise!

Her solution to the "problem" is to silence negative views, which she claims are all made by heavily-paid and well-organized Russian trolls.

Anne Applebaum urges speech restrictions by demanding that any commenter use his or her real name. "Too many people now abuse the privilege" of anonymity, she writes. "Sooner or later, we may also be forced to end Internet anonymity or to at least ensure that every online persona is linked back to a real person."

Interestingly, Applebaum demands transparency for everyone else while rejecting it for herself. A recent mandatory income declaration of her husband to the Polish government shows that her income has skyrocketed from $20,000 in 2011 to more than $800,000 in 2013. No explanation was given for this massive influx of cash, though several ventures in which she has a part are tied to CIA and National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated organizations. Could Applebaum be one of those well-paid propagandists about whom she complains so violently?

By the way, ever the apparatchik, Anne Applebaum blocks anyone from following her on Twitter who is critical of her work.

Copyright © 2014 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Possible Motives for Ousting Hagel

Consortiumnews

Not that Hagel had distinguished himself as a sterling leader of the Pentagon – nor has all hope disappeared that a sensible resolution of the impasse with Iran might be achieved before the next "deadline" in June – but Obama still does not appear to have escaped the spell of the neocons who continue to dominate American geopolitical thought despite the bloody disasters that they helped cause in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Six years into his presidency, Obama still doesn't seem to understand that just because some people have impressive credentials doesn't mean they know what they're doing. Indeed, in a profoundly corrupted system – like the one that now controls Official Washington – rewards are handed out to people who serve the corrupt interests or at least don't get in the way.

In a time of corruption, the countervailing forces of wisdom and courage will never be found among the credentialed, but rather among the outcasts of the establishment, those who were forced to the margins because they objected to the venality, because they stood up against misguided "group think."

But Obama has been unwilling – or possibly unable – to come to grips with this reality. Despite his personal intelligence and rhetorical skills, Obama never has been willing to challenge people cloaked in credentials – those who went to the best schools, worked at big-name firms, won prestigious awards or held fellowships at famous think tanks.

The tragedy of Obama is that I'm told that he understands the stupidity of the modern U.S. establishment and does sometimes consult with "realists" who offer practical advice for how he can resolve some of the most nettlesome problems facing the United States around the world. But he does so virtually in secret, with what politicians like to call "deniability."

Obama operates one foreign policy above the table – pounding his fist along with the neocons against Syria, Iran and Russia – and another foreign policy below the table, dealing with adversaries in ways necessary to confront global challenges, such as collaborating with Iran to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and with Russia to address challenges with Iran, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.

[Nov 29, 2014] Rethinking the cost of Western intervention in Ukraine By Katrina vanden Heuvel

Nov 25, 2014 | washingtonpost.com

No one will fight for eastern Ukraine except the Ukrainians and presumably the Russians. Ukraine needs to find a way to live with Russia in peace. NATO should reassure the Russians and caution the Ukrainians by announcing it will not expand to Ukraine, or for that matter, to Georgia. The E.U. should engage Putin in how to settle the crisis, doubling down on the cease-fire the Russian leader helped broker, not escalating the conflict. The hawks should stand down.

The human costs are already mounting. It is utterly irresponsible to destroy a country in the name of supporting it, as is happening in Ukraine. Samantha Power has it wrong: Americans aren't tired of humanitarian intervention; they are tired of its consequences. It is time for taking a sober look at the misconceptions that got us here.

[Nov 25, 2014] At European Parliament, Pope Bluntly Critiques a Continent's Malaise

Nov 25, 2014 | NYTimes.com

Europe, he declared, has lost its way, its energies sapped by economic crisis and a remote, technocratic bureaucracy. It is increasingly a bystander in a world that has become "less and less Eurocentric," and that frequently looks at the Continent "with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion."

Gently delivered, it was nevertheless a failing grade.

"In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a 'grandmother,' no longer fertile and vibrant," the pope, an Argentine, told the Parliament, where speeches usually trade in platitudes or mind-numbing technicalities.

... ... ...

John Thavis, an American writer on the Catholic Church and the author of "The Vatican Diaries," said Pope Francis had a very different take on Europe than his two immediate predecessors, a Pole and then a German, for whom "Europe was the center of the universe."

By contrast, Francis gave little direct encouragement to calls for "more Europe," and instead echoed some of the complaints from surging populist politicians who view the European Union as a meddlesome force that inhibits rather than promotes ambition and economic growth.

"In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens toward institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful," Francis said, dressed in white clerical robes as he addressed the packed hall.

Public discontent with the European Union's bureaucracy, widely seen as wasteful, elitist and self-serving, helped propel France's far-right National Front party and several other once-fringe nationalist groups to strong gains in May elections for the European Parliament. In France, the National Front came ahead of all other parties.

... ... ...

The pope won particularly loud applause on Tuesday with remarks that seemed to challenge a largely German-scripted policy rooted in austerity as the cure to Europe's economic ills.

"The time has come to promote policies which create employment," he said, "but above all, there is a need to restore dignity to labor by ensuring proper working conditions."

In a second speech Tuesday to the Council of Europe, another Strasbourg assembly with a palatial building but little resonance among ordinary people, Francis said, "It is my profound hope that the foundations will be laid for a new social and economic cooperation."

He noted that the Catholic Church had played an important role over centuries in providing charity for Europe's poor but added: "How many of them there are in our streets! They ask not only for the food they need for survival, which is the most elementary of rights, but also for a renewed appreciation of the value of their own life, which poverty obscures, and a rediscovery of the dignity conferred by work."

[Nov 25, 2014] Pope visit to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 25 November 2014)

It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights. This leads to an effective lack of concern for others and favours that globalization of indifference born of selfishness, the result of a conception of man incapable of embracing the truth and living an authentic social dimension.

This kind of individualism leads to human impoverishment and cultural aridity, since it effectively cuts off the nourishing roots on which the tree grows. Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. We have a surfeit of unnecessary things, but we no longer have the capacity to build authentic human relationships marked by truth and mutual respect. And so today we are presented with the image of a Europe which is hurt, not only by its many past ordeals, but also by present-day crises which it no longer seems capable of facing with its former vitality and energy; a Europe which is a bit tired and pessimistic, which feels besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents.

... ... ...

Similarly, the contemporary world offers a number of other challenges requiring careful study and a common commitment, beginning with the welcoming of migrants, who immediately require the essentials of subsistence, but more importantly a recognition of their dignity as persons. Then too, there is the grave problem of labour, chiefly because of the high rate of young adults unemployed in many countries – a veritable mortgage on the future – but also for the issue of the dignity of work.

It is my profound hope that the foundations will be laid for a new social and economic cooperation, free of ideological pressures, capable of confronting a globalized world while at the same time encouraging that sense of solidarity and mutual charity which has been a distinctive feature of Europe, thanks to the generous efforts of hundreds of men and women – some of whom the Catholic Church considers saints – who over the centuries have worked to develop the continent, both by entrepreneurial activity and by works of education, welfare, and human promotion. These works, above all, represent an important point of reference for the many poor people living in Europe. How many of them there are in our streets! They ask not only for the food they need for survival, which is the most elementary of rights, but also for a renewed appreciation of the value of their own life, which poverty obscures, and a rediscovery of the dignity conferred by work.

[Nov 25, 2014] Five Bedrock Washington Assumptions That Perpetuate Our Middle East Policy Train Wreck

Nov 25, 2014 | naked capitalism

Yves here. As much as I consider myself to be reasonably jaded, I was nevertheless gobsmacked to read Andrew Bacevich's list of "Washington assumptions" that underlie US policy-making in the Middle East. They aren't just detached from reality, they are so wildly at odds with reality as to look deranged. I'd really like to believe that Bacevich is simply describing the all-too-common syndrome of coming to believe your own PR. But as he tells it, these "Washington assumptions" aren't simply the undergirding talking points for key domestic and foreign constituencies; they really are policy drivers.

... ... ...

when David Ignatius, a well-informed and normally sober columnist for the Washington Post, reflects on what the United States must do to get Iraq War 3.0 right, he offers this "mental checklist":

* The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.

* The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.

* Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.

* The interests of the United States and Israel align.

* Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

... ... ...


semiconscious, November 24, 2014

'They aren't just detached from reality, they are so wildly at odds with reality as to look deranged…'

therein lies the problem: they don't just 'look' deranged. they are deranged. they are ill. & we are all left helplessly witnessing the ever-more-tragic, ever-more-destructive results of their madness…

my greatest fear: that, as they slowly but surely become aware of the just how insane they've become, & how warped & deluded is their vision, they, in their anger & despair, will become capable of doing literally anything you might imagine…

our 'leaders', having dragged us all inside with them, have become lost in a funhouse of their own design…

damian, November 24, 2014

Being – "deranged" – may merely be context of the logic: see – Responsibility to Protect

Ambassador Power rose to prominence in government circles as part of her campaign to promote a doctrine known as the Responsibility to Protect. This doctrine, advanced by the United Nations, is predicated on the proposition that sovereignty is a privilege, not a right, and that if any regime in any nation violates the prevailing precepts of acceptable governance, then the international community is morally obligated to "revoke" that nation's sovereignty and assume command and control of the offending country.

The three pillars of the United Nations-backed Responsibility to Protect are:

Should all others measures fail, then military intervention is required. Command and control of that force should be centered in the UN, according to Power and her colleagues.

all the subjective interpretations of "atrocities" and bad country management and how you undermine that countries management – covertly – is served up by those like Obama and Powers – as the Kindergarten (Carol Quigley's word) – who carry out their orders for those who make the decisions for endless war?

David Lentini. November 24, 2014 at 6:17 am

As usual, Bacevitch makes important points.

But here, I think these "assumptions" are, at least at the highest levels, more "justifications" than real deomonstrations of thinking. And I disagree somewhat with Bacevitch's point about fracking and US oil and gas production.

First, the fracking. I think the better evidence-much of it developed here-is that our fracking effort will, like all binges, soon end with a huge hangover. I figure that the smart money understands that our fracking policies are for short-term political jockeying (mostly against Russia) that also is hugely profitable for our own oligarchs. But this will only work for a few years, after which we'll be back to the Middle East and Russia. The game is whether that will be a better deal for us our oligarchs.

So, the Middle East may wane in importance, but will eventuall return.

As for the other arguments, I think these all can be better viewed as talking points by the élites in favor of justifying the actions they want to take for motives that we really don't get to see.

Thinking about Israel and our Arab Allies, I would argue that many in the establishment want a "Greater Israel" that dominates the region for both religious and political and economic ends. Stragely enough, the goal seems to be also tying Israel to the Saudis and other Gulf states with the idea of turning the ME into a relable petroleum production center dominated by the US. And we have to consider the stability of the Gulf stattes from the perspecitive of Wall Street and the recycling of petordollars. These odd bedfellows would be united by their need to keep the lid on the local Arab populations who are increasingly threatening to their governments.

Seen from that perspective, the placement of US troops is used to keep the hand of hte US in the game, and to provide overwhemling violence when needed. That violence may be needed for genuine threats, or threats that are largely synthesized to stir the pot and create opportunities for exploitation. They are also needed to help guarantee the "Greater Israel" strategy. Of course. all of this breeds terrorism, but that's viewed as a beneficial side effect useful to justify our troop deployments and domestic control.

So, while it's very true that each of the points Bacevitch makes (excepting possibly the fracking argument) are true, I think we need to get behind the smoke screen to the real strategy. How could anyone think that these deeper goals and plans could possbily work? In short, the people running these games are not as crazy and stupid as the seem from Bacevitch's article-they're worse!

[Nov 25, 2014] Tomgram Andrew Bacevich, Daydream Believers

Nov 23, 2014 | TomDispatch
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The value of M's insight -- of, that is, otherwise intelligent people purporting to believe in things that don't exist -- can be applied well beyond American assumptions about Iraq. A similar inclination to fantasize permeates, and thereby warps, U.S. policies throughout much of the Greater Middle East. Consider the following claims, each of which in Washington circles has attained quasi-canonical status.

  1. The presence of U.S. forces in the Islamic world contributes to regional stability and enhances American influence.
  2. The Persian Gulf constitutes a vital U.S. national security interest.
  3. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are valued and valuable American allies.
  4. The interests of the United States and Israel align.
  5. Terrorism poses an existential threat that the United States must defeat.

For decades now, the first four of these assertions have formed the foundation of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The events of 9/11 added the fifth, without in any way prompting a reconsideration of the first four. On each of these matters, no senior U.S. official (or anyone aspiring to a position of influence) will dare say otherwise, at least not on the record.

Yet subjected to even casual scrutiny, none of the five will stand up. To take them at face value is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy -- or that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell really, really hope that the Obama administration and the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress can find grounds to cooperate.

Let's examine all five, one at a time.

The Presence of U.S. Forces: Ever since the U.S. intervention in Lebanon that culminated in the Beirut bombing of October 1983, introducing American troops into predominantly Muslim countries has seldom contributed to stability. On more than a few occasions, doing so has produced just the opposite effect.

Iraq and Afghanistan provide mournful examples. The new book "Why We Lost" by retired Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger finally makes it permissible in official circles to declare those wars the failures that they have been. Even granting, for the sake of argument, that U.S. nation-building efforts were as pure and honorable as successive presidents portrayed them, the results have been more corrosive than constructive. The IS militants plaguing Iraq find their counterpart in the soaring production of opium that plagues Afghanistan. This qualifies as stability?

And these are hardly the only examples. Stationing U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia after Operation Desert Storm was supposed to have a reassuring effect. Instead, it produced the debacle of the devastating Khobar Towers bombing. Sending G.I.'s into Somalia back in 1992 was supposed to demonstrate American humanitarian concern for poor, starving Muslims. Instead, it culminated in the embarrassing Mogadishu firefight, which gained the sobriquet Black Hawk Down, and doomed that mission.

Even so, the pretense that positioning American soldiers in some Middle East hotspot will bring calm to troubled waters survives. It's far more accurate to say that doing so provides our adversaries with what soldiers call a target-rich environment -- with Americans as the targets.

The Importance of the Persian Gulf: Although U.S. interests in the Gulf may once have qualified as vital, the changing global energy picture has rendered that view obsolete. What's probably bad news for the environment is good news in terms of creating strategic options for the United States. New technologies have once again made the United States the world's largest producer of oil. The U.S. is also the world's largest producer of natural gas. It turns out that the lunatics chanting "drill, baby, drill" were right after all. Or perhaps it's "frack, baby, frack." Regardless, the assumed energy dependence and "vital interests" that inspired Jimmy Carter to declare back in 1980 that the Gulf is worth fighting for no longer pertain.

Access to Gulf oil remains critically important to some countries, but surely not to the United States. When it comes to propping up the wasteful and profligate American way of life, Texas and North Dakota outrank Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in terms of importance. Rather than worrying about Iraqi oil production, Washington would be better served ensuring the safety and well-being of Canada, with its bountiful supplies of shale oil. And if militarists ever find the itch to increase U.S. oil reserves becoming irresistible, they would be better advised to invade Venezuela than to pick a fight with Iran.

Does the Persian Gulf require policing from the outside? Maybe. But if so, let's volunteer China for the job. It will keep them out of mischief.

Arab Allies: It's time to reclassify the U.S. relationship with both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Categorizing these two important Arab states as "allies" is surely misleading. Neither one shares the values to which Washington professes to attach such great importance.

For decades, Saudi Arabia, Planet Earth's closest equivalent to an absolute monarchy, has promoted anti-Western radical jihadism -- and not without effect. The relevant numbers here are two that most New Yorkers will remember: 15 out of 19. If a conspiracy consisting almost entirely of Russians had succeeded in killing several thousand Americans, would U.S. authorities give the Kremlin a pass? Would U.S.-Russian relations remain unaffected? The questions answer themselves.

Meanwhile, after a brief dalliance with democracy, Egypt has once again become what it was before: a corrupt, oppressive military dictatorship unworthy of the billions of dollars of military assistance that Washington provides from one year to the next.

Israel: The United States and Israel share more than a few interests in common. A commitment to a "two-state solution" to the Palestinian problem does not number among them. On that issue, Washington's and Tel Aviv's purposes diverge widely. In all likelihood, they are irreconcilable.

For the government of Israel, viewing security concerns as paramount, an acceptable Palestinian state will be the equivalent of an Arab Bantustan, basically defenseless, enjoying limited sovereignty, and possessing limited minimum economical potential. Continuing Israeli encroachments on the occupied territories, undertaken in the teeth of American objections, make this self-evident.

It is, of course, entirely the prerogative -- and indeed the obligation -- of the Israeli government to advance the well being of its citizens. U.S. officials have a similar obligation: they are called upon to act on behalf of Americans. And that means refusing to serve as Israel's enablers when that country takes actions that are contrary to U.S. interests.

The "peace process" is a fiction. Why should the United States persist in pretending otherwise? It's demeaning.

Terrorism: Like crime and communicable diseases, terrorism will always be with us. In the face of an outbreak of it, prompt, effective action to reduce the danger permits normal life to continue. Wisdom lies in striking a balance between the actually existing threat and exertions undertaken to deal with that threat. Grown-ups understand this. They don't expect a crime rate of zero in American cities. They don't expect all people to enjoy perfect health all of the time. The standard they seek is "tolerable."

That terrorism threatens Americans is no doubt the case, especially when they venture into the Greater Middle East. But aspirations to eliminate terrorism belong in the same category as campaigns to end illiteracy or homelessness: it's okay to aim high, but don't be surprised when the results achieved fall short.

Eliminating terrorism is a chimera. It's not going to happen. U.S. civilian and military leaders should summon the honesty to acknowledge this.

My friend M has put his finger on a problem that is much larger than he grasps. Here's hoping that when he gets his degree he lands an academic job. It's certain he'll never find employment in our nation's capital. As a soldier-turned-scholar, M inhabits what one of George W. Bush's closest associates (believed to be Karl Rove) once derisively referred to as the "reality-based community." People in Washington don't have time for reality. They're lost in a world of their own.

Andrew J. Bacevich, currently Columbia University's George McGovern Fellow, is writing a military history of America's war for the Greater Middle East. A TomDispatch regular, his most recent book is Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.

Embrace the Chaos by Rosa Brooks

Nov 13, 2014 | foreignpolicy.com

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Even as many forms of power have grown more democratized and diffuse, other forms of power have grown more concentrated. A very small number of states control and consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources, and a very small number of individuals control most of the world's wealth. (According to a 2014 Oxfam report, the 85 richest individuals on Earth are worth more than the globe's 3.5 billion poorest people).

Indeed, from a species-survival perspective, the world has grown vastly more dangerous over the last century. Individual humans live longer than ever before, but a small number of states now possess the unprecedented ability to destroy large chunks of the human race and possibly the Earth itself -- all in a matter of days or even hours. What's more, though the near-term threat of interstate nuclear conflict has greatly diminished since the end of the Cold War, nuclear material and know-how are now both less controlled and less controllable.

Amid all these changes, our world has also grown far more uncertain. We possess more information than ever before and vastly greater processing power, but the accelerating pace of global change has far exceeded our collective ability to understand it, much less manage it. This makes it increasingly difficult to make predictions or calculate risks. As I've written previously:

We literally have no points of comparison for understanding the scale and scope of the risks faced by humanity today. Compared to the long, slow sweep of human history, the events of the last century have taken place in the blink of an eye. This should ... give us pause when we're tempted to conclude that today's trends are likely to continue. Rising life expectancy? That's great, but if climate change has consequences as nasty as some predict, a century of rising life expectancy could turn out to be a mere blip on the charts. A steep decline in interstate conflicts? Fantastic, but less than 70 years of human history isn't much to go on....

That's why one can't dismiss the risk of catastrophic events [such as disastrous climate change or nuclear conflict] as "high consequence, low probability." How do we compute the probability of catastrophic events of a type that has never happened? Does 70 years without nuclear annihilation tell us that there's a low probability of nuclear catastrophe -- or just tell us that we haven't had a nuclear catastrophe yet?...

Lack of catastrophic change might signify a system in stable equilibrium, but sometimes -- as with earthquakes -- pressure may be building up over time, undetected....

Most analysts assumed the Soviet Union was stable -- until it collapsed. Analysts predicted that Egypt's Hosni Mubarak would retain his firm grip on power -- until he was ousted. How much of what we currently file under "Stable" should be recategorized under "Hasn't Collapsed Yet"?

This, then, is the character of world messiness in this first quarter of the 21st century. So on to the next question: Where, in all this messiness, does the United States find itself?

II. The United States in the Mess: Goodbye, Lake Wobegon?

For Americans, the good news is that the United States remains an extraordinarily powerful nation. The United States has "the most powerful military in history," Obama declared in a recent speech. Measured by sheer destructive capacity, he is surely right. The United States spends more on its military than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and India combined. The U.S. military can get to more places, faster, with more lethal and effective weapons, than any military on Earth.

The United States also manages to gobble up a disproportionate share of the world's wealth and resources. By the year 2000, wrote Betsy Taylor and Dave Tilford, the United States, with "less than 5 percent of the world's population," was using "one-third of the world's paper, a quarter of the world's oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper." In 2010, Americans possessed 39 percent of the planet's wealth.

The bad news for Americans? U.S. power and global influence have been declining. In part, this is because various once-weak states have been growing stronger, and in part, it's because no state can be as autonomous today as it might have been in the past. The United States' geographical position long helped protect it from external interference, while its strong military and economy enabled it to dominate or control numerous less powerful states. But globalization has reduced every state's autonomy, creating collective challenges -- from climate change to the regulation of capital -- that no state can fully address on its own.

U.S. power and global influence have also declined in absolute terms, as America's own political and economic health has been called into question. The United States now has greater income inequality than almost every other state in the developed world -- and most states in the developing world. American life expectancy ranks well below that of other industrialized democracies, and the same is true for infant mortality and elementary school enrollment. Meanwhile, the United States has the world's highest per capita incarceration rate, and on international health and quality-of-life metrics, the United States has been losing ground for several decades. This domestic decline jeopardizes the country's continued ability to innovate and prosper; it also makes American values and the American political and economic systems less appealing to others.

Worse, the political system that Americans rely on for reform and repair seems itself to be broken; the federal government shutdown in 2013 offered the world a striking illustration of U.S. political dysfunction. Add to this the divisive national security policies of George W. Bush's administration -- many of which were continued or expanded by the Obama administration -- and it's no surprise that the United States has recently become less admired and less emulated around the globe, reducing American "soft power."

No matter how you slice it, it comes to the same thing: Compared with 30 years ago, the United States today has a greatly reduced ability to control its own destiny or the destiny of other states. The United States still has unprecedented power to destroy (Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden both discovered this, to their detriment). But the country's capacity for destruction is not equaled by its capacity to shape the behavior of other states or their populations, and the United States has less and less ability to insulate itself from the world's woes.

Unfortunately, American political leaders share a bipartisan inclination to deny these realities. Mostly, they succumb to the Lake Wobegon effect: "Declinism" and "declinist" have entered the American political vocabulary, but only as purely pejorative terms.

This is both stupid and dangerous. How can we adapt our global strategy to compensate for the ways in which U.S. power has been declining if we refuse to admit that decline?

Continued U.S. decline is certainly not inevitable, and some argue that the United States is in fact poised for an economic and political resurgence. There is no way to know for sure -- but it's worth recalling that, historically, every significant empire has eventually declined. Are we prepared to bet that the United States will prove an exception?

There is also no way to know for sure what form continued or eventual U.S. decline will take. We don't know whether it will be fast or slow; we don't know whether the American Empire is in for a hard landing or a soft one. Will the United States crash, like the former Soviet Union? Or will a slow decline in power leave the country an intact and influential nation, like the United Kingdom? Will America's future be more like Canada's present, or more like Brazil's?

III. Behind the Veil of Ignorance: Uncertainty as Lodestone

We don't know what America's future will look like, and we can make fewer and fewer geopolitical predictions with confidence. The world has changed too much and too fast for us to accurately assess the probabilities of many types of future events. Perhaps this is why it's so tempting for Americans to stay in Lake Wobegon, with eyes closed and fingers crossed. Uncertainty is frightening.

But paradoxically, this very uncertainty should be a lodestone, pointing realists and idealists alike toward a sensible, forward-looking global strategy. In fact, radical uncertainty can be a powerful tool for strategic planning.

That may seem oxymoronic, but consider one of the 20th century's most influential thought experiments: In his 1971 book, A Theory of Justice, philosopher John Rawls famously sought to use a hypothetical situation involving extreme uncertainty to derive optimal principles of justice.

Imagine, said Rawls, rational, free, and equal humans seeking to devise a set of principles to undergird the structure of human society. Imagine further that they must reason from behind what Rawls dubbed a "veil of ignorance," which hides from them their own future status or attributes. Behind the veil of ignorance, wrote Rawls, people still possess general knowledge of economics, science, and so forth, and they can draw on this knowledge to assist them in designing a future society. Their ignorance is limited to their own future role in the society they are designing: "no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like."

If we were collectively designing social structures and rules, but could not know our own individual future positions in that social structure, what structures and rules would we come up with? Applying a version of decision theory, Rawls concluded that in the face of such radical uncertainty, rational, free, and equal beings behind the veil of ignorance would be drawn toward a "maximin" (or "minimax") rule of decision, in which they would seek to minimize their losses in a worst-case scenario. Since those behind the veil of ignorance don't know whether they'll be among the haves or among the have-nots in the society they are designing, they should seek to build a society in which they each will be least badly off -- even the luck of the draw leads them to start with the fewest advantages.

Rawls posited that such a rule of decision should lead those behind the veil of ignorance to support two core principles: the first relating to liberty ("each person [should] have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others"), and the second relating to social and economic goods. (Social goods should be distributed equally, unless an unequal distribution would serve the common good and be "to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged," while "offices and positions [should remain] open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity.")

This is in some ways intuitive: On a national level, it is the reason Americans across the political spectrum continue to express substantial support for the maintenance of unemployment benefits, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and so on. Any one of us might someday face a job loss or illness; nearly all of us will eventually face old age. We know we might someday need those benefits ourselves. In the face of uncertainty about the future, we all recognize the value of insurance, savings, and at least some minimal social safety net.

In the international arena, the same is true.

This has obvious implications for global strategy. Empires, like individuals, can sink into poverty, illness, or simple old age -- and in an era of uncertainty, empires, like individuals, would do well to hedge against the possibility of future misfortune.

Indeed, two decades after the publication of A Theory of Justice, Rawls sought to apply a form of this thought experiment to derive the core principles that he believed would characterize a just global order. His arguments are complex, and I can't do justice to them here -- but fortunately, unlike Rawls, I am not interested in coming up with abstract principles of global justice. My less lofty agenda is limited to arguing that a crude version of Rawls's thought experiment can help us delineate the contours of a sensible U.S. global strategy -- a "maximin" strategy that is well-suited to protecting the interests of the United States and its people, both in today's messy world and in a wide range of future messes.

Here's my thought experiment.

Imagine a crude version of Rawls's veil of ignorance, with only the United States behind it. This veil of ignorance doesn't require us to disavow what we know of history (America's or the world's), nor does it require us to disavow what we know of recent trends, present global realities, U.S. values, or our current conception of the good. It only hides our future from us: Behind this veil of ignorance, we don't know whether energy, food, water, and other vital resources will be scarcer or more plentiful in the decades to come; we don't know whether global power will be more or less centralized; we don't know whether new technologies and new forms of social organization will make existing technologies and institutions obsolete.

Most of all, we don't know whether, in the decades to come, the United States will be rich or poor, weak or strong, respected or hated. For that matter, we don't know whether the United States -- or even the form of political organization we call the nation-state -- will exist at all a century or two from now. In the face of such radical uncertainty, what kind of grand strategy should a rational United States adopt?

Of course, this shouldn't really be called a "thought experiment" at all: The United States already operates behind a veil of ignorance, if we could only bring ourselves to admit it. We know the past; we have a reasonable understanding of recent trends; we know that the world is messy and dangerous; we know that the potential for rapid and potentially catastrophic change is real; and we know that our ability to predict future changes and quantify various risks is profoundly limited.

This knowledge is profoundly unsettling. Thus, we try our best to know and not know, at the same time: We speak glibly of complexity, accelerating change, danger, and uncertainty, but then fall back into the comfortable assumption that continued U.S. global dominance is a given and that catastrophic change is unlikely to occur. As long as we remain willfully ignorant of the veil of ignorance that hangs over us, we can avoid asking hard questions and making harder choices.

But this is shortsighted and dangerous. Empires that refuse to accept reality tend to rapidly decline. A clear-eyed acceptance of uncertainty and risk is the surest route to a more secure future. Instead of blinding us or paralyzing us, the uncertainty of our future should motivate us to engage in more responsible strategic planning.

If the United States can manage to be as rational as Rawls's hypothetical decision-makers, it should adopt a similar maximin rule of decision: It should prefer international rules and institutions that will maximize America's odds of thriving, even in a worst-case future scenario. In fact, we should wish for international rules and institutions that will be kindest to the individuals living in what is now the United States and their descendants, even if the United States should someday cease to exist entirely.

Could happen, folks.

Look around you. Do you see the Roman Empire, or the Aztec Empire, or the Ottoman Empire?
Look around you. Do you see the Roman Empire, or the Aztec Empire, or the Ottoman Empire?

IV. From Messiness to Strategy: A Preliminary Sketch

This has urgent implications for U.S. strategic planning. Precisely because U.S. global power may very well continue to decline, the United States should use the very considerable military, political, cultural, and economic power it still has to foster the international order most likely to benefit the country if it someday loses that power.

The ultimate objective of U.S. grand strategy should be the creation of an equitable and peaceful international order with an effective system of global governance -- one that is built upon respect for human dignity, human rights, and the rule of law, with robust mechanisms for resolving thorny collective problems.

We should seek this not because it's the "morally right" thing for the United States to do, but because a maximum decision rule should lead us to conclude that this will offer the United States and its population the best chance of continuing to thrive, even in the event of a radical future decline in U.S. wealth and power.

But, one might argue, the United States already tries to promote such a global order -- right?

Sure it does -- but only inconsistently, and generally as something of an afterthought. We pour money into our military and intelligence communities, but starve our diplomats and development agencies. We fixate on the threat du jour, often exaggerating it and allowing it to distort our foreign policy in self-destructive ways (cf. Iraq War), while viewing matters such as United Nations reform or reform of global economic institutions or environmental protection rules as tedious and of low priority. If we take seriously the many potential dangers lurking in the unknowable future, however, fostering a stronger, fairer, and more effective system of international governance would become a matter of urgent national self-interest and our highest strategic priority -- something that should be reflected both in our policies and in our budgetary decisions.

An effective global governance system would need to be built upon the recognition that states remain the primary mode of political and social organization in the international sphere, but also upon the recognition that new forms of social organization continue to evolve and may ultimately displace at least some states. An effective and dynamic international system will need to develop innovative ways to bring such new actors and organizations within the ambit of international law and institutions, both as responsible creators of law and institutions and as responsible subjects.

Equitable sharing of wealth and resources:

A truly farsighted U.S. global strategy -- one that takes uncertainty seriously -- would also seek to foster more equitable sharing of global wealth through more generous provision of financial support to international institutions by wealthy states (and -- why not? -- by other wealthy actors, from individuals to corporations), a greater willingness to eliminate the debt of poorer states, more foreign aid designed to help the world's neediest people, and the elimination of protectionist policies such as U.S. agricultural subsidies, among other things.

Similarly, the United States should champion genuinely equitable and responsible access to "the global commons" -- the Earth's natural resources, the sea, the air, and even space -- with access to resources depending less on raw power or accidents of history than on principles of equity and need. (This, too, will require strong transnational institutions capable of resolving disputes relating to resource access in a transparent, predictable, and fair manner.)

Play by the same rules we want others to respect:

From behind the veil of ignorance, a foreign-policy version of Kant's categorical imperative makes a good deal of sense: With the United States as the globe's sole remaining superpower, its actions can still powerfully shore up, erode, or establish precedents, and we should therefore act with great care, working hard to avoid hypocrisy.

When it comes to global norms, it's difficult to credibly condemn Russian military intervention in Ukraine, for instance, while simultaneously defending the 2003 invasion of Iraq. More generally, it's difficult to foster a global order in which states use force only in a lawful, transparent, and accountable manner when we continue to engage in targeted killings of terrorists inside other sovereign states, without even acknowledging our role in their deaths.

When we believe that the rules of the international order are wrong or outmoded -- as they often and inevitably are -- we should work collaboratively with other states to develop a thoughtful and fair process through which to develop new rules.

Importantly, while this implies that the United States should generally eschew unilateralism except in the direst of emergencies, it does not require national self-abnegation. On the contrary, there is still ample room for a benign form of American exceptionalism. Decline or no decline, the United States still has outsized power and influence and should not hesitate to use both -- carefully and responsibly -- to advance these strategic ends.

Nation-building at home to preserve power and influence abroad:

Our ability to continue to innovate depends on our domestic vitality -- and credible U.S. influence depends significantly on the degree to which others around the world perceive the United States as internally strong, equitable, and just. Addressing the glaring economic inequities that have reduced social mobility and left millions of Americans one lost job or illness away from poverty should be seen as vital to achieving U.S. foreign-policy objectives -- along with fixing our broken education and health-care systems and rebuilding our tattered infrastructure.

We also need to focus on reforming our own political culture and political processes, which currently lend themselves to partisan paralysis or bipartisan panic, with little in between. But neither paralysis nor panic will serve us well in the face of current and emerging threats. The world's messiness will require us to be creative, patient, and resilient in the face of rapidly changing challenges and threats we won't always be able to deter.

Universal engagement:

A renewed focus on what Obama has described as "nation-building at home" should be coupled with a proactive policy of international engagement. This, in turn, not only requires us to collaboratively promote the creation of strong and just international institutions -- it also requires us to deepen and broaden our citizens' interactions with those who live beyond our borders.

We can do this in part through providing generous and thoughtful development and humanitarian assistance and in part through an enhanced emphasis on cultural, economic, scientific, and educational collaborations and exchanges, particularly in areas of the globe where the U.S. government currently has the least influence.

In the long term, developing more people-to-people ties around the globe will be as important to our security as maintaining an effective military. Investing in such ties helps the United States foster international goodwill and develop the strong networks of friends and information sources that will stand us in good stead when harder times come -- as they most likely will.

The U.S. government should also do more to leverage the incredible diversity of the American public. Consider the impressive and varied linguistic and cultural expertise that resides within our population, as well as the robust links of family and friendship that bind so many recent U.S. immigrants to citizens of other states. This has enormous potential to transform American culture, making it more cosmopolitan. It also has enormous potential value from the perspective of building relationships and increasing U.S. situational awareness.

Selective (and rare) intervention:

In a world of finite resources, there will always be trade-offs -- and if we refuse to consider those trade-offs thoughtfully, we risk strategic insolvency. We should focus our foreign-policy resources on building the long-term global architecture that is likely to best protect U.S. interests in an uncertain future, one in which we may be far less rich and powerful. But if we increase the energy we put into building an equitable and peaceful international order with fair and effective global governance structures, where should we reduce our efforts?

Here, I'm generally in sympathy with Michael Mazarr, Barry Posen, FP columnist Steve Walt, and other thoughtful advocates of selective engagement, offshore balancing, restraint, and discriminate power. The United States should not be the world's cop of first resort. As Obama has rightly pointed out, the United States can't solve every problem -- as noted, we have less and less ability to influence others and control outcomes, and direct U.S. action can cause backlash. We should step in directly as problem-solvers only after careful thought.

As a general rule, we should intervene militarily to clean up short-term global messes only when doing so is essential to protecting our core interests. When our core interests are not at stake, we should intervene only when we can afford to do so without damage to our important longer-term priorities.

This will require U.S. political leaders to be far more disciplined about avoiding threat inflation and ignoring short-term political pressures, both domestic and international. (With clearly articulated criteria for intervention and strong, consistent political leadership, this should not be impossible. The public appetite for military intervention is heavily influenced by the messages sent by political elites.) We should also be more disciplined about recognizing the gulf between what we'd like to do and what we actually have the ability to do. We may well have "the most powerful military in history," but our strategic nuclear arsenal won't reverse climate change or end the Ebola epidemic, and U.S. drone strikes can't prop up the imploding Iraqi government, end the Syrian civil war, or prevent violent extremist organizations from metastasizing.

When it comes to our current perception of situations where we think the United States needs to "do something," we should be asking tougher questions. Take, for example, the threat posed by the self-styled Islamic State, particularly in Syria. The Islamic State is brutal, and the beheadings of American journalists and other noncombatants evoke justifiable horror. But is the Islamic State truly a threat to core U.S. interests, or is our perception of crisis driven by a visceral response to the brutality of their methods?

Finally, do we in fact have the ability to significantly degrade or destroy the Islamic State inside Syria, without excessive cost to our other priorities? Will standoff strikes against the Islamic State or other terrorist groups lead to enduring gains in U.S. security -- or will they just temporarily disperse the group or, worse, raise its profile and aid its recruitment efforts? Even if strikes against the Islamic State will permanently destroy it, how much money will such strikes cost us -- and what will we have to do without if we spend that much energy and money countering the Islamic State?

Similar questions could be asked about U.S. counterterrorism policy more generally. Unless transnational terrorist organizations manage to obtain weapons of mass destruction (something we should continue to work aggressively to prevent), they are unlikely to ever pose an existential threat to the United States or most other states. Despite this, a disproportionate share of U.S. military, intelligence, and foreign-policy resources currently go into counterterrorism efforts -- even though little evidence shows that our highly militarized approach to counterterrorism is working. Transnational terrorist organizations are unlikely to respond to traditional forms of military deterrence, and their decentralized and self-replicating nature makes them difficult to destroy. A decade into the war on terror, is it time to conclude that unilateral, secretive, and unaccountable U.S. approaches to counterterrorism (indefinite detentions, targeted killings, etc.) are only making things worse: alienating allies, fueling terrorist recruitment, and undermining the very international norms and institutions we should be trying to strengthen.

V. Adversity and the Art of the Possible

A strategy premised on uncertainty doesn't lend itself to jingoistic chest thumping, and some might argue that regardless of whether the approach I have offered is intellectually sound, it is unlikely to be embraced by voters. The conventional wisdom is that voters have no tolerance for complexity or uncertainty -- they like things black and white, and preferably with a sugary coating.

Pundits are already doing their best to read recent polls and the midterm election results in the most simplistic terms: Americans consider Obama too cautious and want decisive action (more bombs)! No, they consider him too interventionist and want isolationism (fewer bombs)! And so on.

I think the conventional wisdom is wrong. Far from refusing to accept ambiguity, ordinary Americans seem a good deal more willing than politicians from either party to acknowledge many of our world's complex realities, such as the recent decline of U.S. global power and influence. When read with care, the more detailed and thoughtful polls, such as those by the Pew Research Center, suggest that Americans are keenly aware of just how complex and uncertain our world has become and understand full well that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to the world's problems. They aren't looking for simplistic slogans and promises of easy answers, but they don't want paralysis or arbitrary action either. Instead, they want their leaders to articulate and consistently follow coherent, sensible principles for deciding when we should act and when we should refrain from acting, when we should lead and when we should step back.

If we can extract one precious jewel from the ugliness and venom of the midterm election results, it should be this: Americans are sick of being patronized.

Otto von Bismarck called politics "the art of the possible, the attainable -- the art of the next best," and Americans are fully capable of grasping this. A global strategy premised on taking uncertainty seriously will never satisfy those who like simple slogans. But in this messy world, it's probably the best we can hope for.

Note: The veil of ignorance shrouds us all, and any serious effort to develop a U.S. global strategy needs to be advanced with humility and be subject to constant re-evaluation. This is a preliminary sketch, and it's already much too long for any self-respecting column. Much remains to be filled in and teased out. Please send comments and suggestions to me here: rosa.brooks.fp@gmail.com.

Brave Ventures

Great article.

You wrote:

"The ultimate objective of U.S. grand strategy should be the creation of an equitable and peaceful international order with an effective system of global governance -- one that is built upon respect for human dignity, human rights, and the rule of law, with robust mechanisms for resolving thorny collective problems."

I believe there is already an international institution that holds these values close to heart: the United Nations. For a very long time, the US has used the UN as a political tool. If the US began to invest in the UN as a viable international political body, instead of constantly superseding and ignoring it, then the 'ultimate objective' that was outlined very eloquently in this piece above would become strikingly easy.

What if UNESCO could create cultural heritage zones across entire cities? What if the UN's food and refugee programs were well-funded enough to do their jobs correctly? What if the UN had a body of political advisers that could help countries to become more in line with the rule of law - regardless of governing structure?

After all, whether another country is democratic enough never really mattered to a lot of our world's leaders. What's more important is to have benevolent, enlightened leaders. If we make this our aim and work through existing international order, the legitimacy of US action would lend a stabilising moral strength to the world balance.

xllxrtjf ;

US foreign policy is a mess, and I think that is a statement that most people from many different political viewpoints seem to agree on, they will obviously not agree on what the correct solution is.

This author at the end mentions that she does not like simple slogans, but I am going to give one here, US foreign policy is simply driven by the fact that it wants to rule world - its really just that. There are many Americans that want this, but they mask it with sophistries or more respectable sounding words like "providing global security" or "defending freedom" or "helping our allies". Until the blunt truth of American foreign policy simply been driven by world rule is tackled (should and can America rule the world ?), you are going to keep getting into one mess after another.

qball02qball

Hard not to agree. But creating a strong equitable and peaceful international order (read: imposing our often value system on others when we hypocritically don't often follow it) seems much less doable than the Fortress America or North America that many realists might argue for. The focus on ourselves, economic strength at home and not pissing off other peoples is surely a way to help strengthen security no matter what happens down the road (even with nukes and climate change). It has worked for China. Imagine what withdrawing support for Israel, for example, would do for future national security in the US. What if the US stopped bombing Islamic countries?

What if our main focus was Mexico and the border and getting that right instead of trying with the EU to Westernize Ukraine, which led to the current mess.

The big question is whether to make America more secure or try to make the world more secure, when the latter often makes it more insecure. The Decline question is a big distraction in my opinion. Great piece.

[Nov 23, 2014] Living with Insanity Harper, Abbott, and Cameron at the Brisbane G-20 by John Chuckman

November 22, 2014 | Foreign Policy Journal

Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is reported by a spokesman to have had the following exchange with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the Brisbane G-20 summit: "Well, I guess I'll shake your hand, but I only have one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine." Putin is said to have replied, "Impossible. Since we are not there."

A graceless bit of diplomatic crudity from a truly graceless man, Stephen Harper, someone Canadians know has a history of underhanded practices at home, from introducing ugly personal-attack campaign advertising, using secretive and bullying tactics in parliament, failing to deal with corrupt practices by subordinates especially an American-style election scandal of robo-calls which sent some voters to the wrong polls, to having appointed several unbelievably incompetent and corrupt ministers. He is known for a ferocious temper in private, a very controlling man who grants his political associates absolutely no freedom of expression, and is reported by insiders as having on at least one occasion thrown a chair in a meeting.

... ... ...

Harper is the single most obsessed leader in Canada's history with pleasing, almost fawning over, the United States. Had the history of Canada, which included a great deal of disagreement and contention with the United States over its many imperialistic behaviors, included many leaders of Harper's character, there quite likely would not be a county called Canada today.

So here are the demonstrated qualities of the man performing as Canada's diplomatic ass at the G-20 in Brisbane. He demonstrates a genuinely anal-retentive temperament, is intolerant of differences of opinion, and embraces a willful blindness to the world's greatest threat to peace, the United States in its self-appointed role as imperial arbiter among nations.

... ... ...

Putin's moves in Ukraine seem to me appropriate for dealing with a deliberately-induced crisis in an important neighboring country, and one with a long history of connections and associations. He has not invaded Ukraine, something which he could easily do were he so inclined. I suspect he has supplied weapons to East Ukraine, but that is something the United States does all the time, including supplying weapons to some of the most brutal groups and governments on earth, as it is right now doing in Syria, with secret night cargo flights out of Turkey to terrorist cutthroats. Just ask yourself what America would do about a comparable situation in Mexico: patience simply would not exist, and Mexico City would be quickly overrun by tanks.

The people of East Ukraine, Russian in background and sympathies, deserve protection as much as they deserve the huge amounts of emergency supplies Russia has supplied in a conflict owing its origin entirely to the covert acts of America. Had the coup-established government of Ukraine originally offered protection of Eastern interests, including language rights they openly tried suppressing, the story might have been different, but they did precisely the opposite, passing unfair laws, making threat after threat, and attacking their own citizens. Who wouldn't rebel in that environment, including any of the states of the United States? How easily people forget past rebellions in the United States, the greatest of which was the Civil War, still the bloodiest war Americans ever experienced.

It is quite clear that the United States is responsible for destabilizing Ukraine. Its funds have been invested into many unsavory projects, perhaps most disturbing is its paying support to a collection of neo-Nazi groups ranging from extremist parties to violent militia forces, some of the very groups who have committed atrocities such as murdering many hundreds of civilians and some of whom actually march under swastika-like flags. It does seem more than a bit strange that men like Harper, Abbott, and Cameron implicitly support that kind of filthy work while charging Putin with dark acts, dark acts which are stated ambiguously and certainly never proved.

It is also clear that the United States has pressured all authorities involved to delay and obscure the investigation into the destruction of Flight MH17, and the only explanation for that can be America's preventing, for as long as possible while the new coup-created government of Ukraine consolidates its position, the highly embarrassing finding that Ukraine in fact shot it down. The United States has said over and over it has evidence about the crash, yet it has never produced a scrap of it. Just as it never produced evidence for so many past claims from what actually happened on 9/11 to the assassination of a President.

The great irony of the G-20 summit in Brisbane is that its only substantial agreement concerned doing everything possible to promote growth in a world whose economy is dangerously stagnating, yet it wasted time and energy on America's fantasy stories about Russia and Ukraine, insulted Russia's President, and threatened in some cases further growth-suppressing sanctions.

Nothing could be more contradictory and unproductive or, frankly, just plain stupid.

[Nov 20, 2014] Scott McConnell – Did Neoconservatives take over GOP foreign policy?

There is no big difference between Dem and GOP in this area: the neocons are dominant in the Democratic Party as well.
Nov 20, 2014 | youtube.com

National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel "Special Relationship" on March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club.

[Nov 20, 2014] The Military-Industrial Candidate By Kelley Vlahos

Nov 20, 2014 | The American Conservative
Analysts were right to say that the Republican takeover of Congress bodes well for the war machine: already we see the levers of power slowly shifting in reverse, eager to get back to salad days of post-9/11 wartime spending.

But waiting in the wings, Hillary Clinton just may prove to be what the defense establishment has been waiting for, and more. Superior to all in money, name recognition, and influence, she is poised to compete aggressively for the Democratic nomination for president. She might just win the Oval Office. And by most measures she would be the most formidable hawk this country has seen in a generation.

"It is clear that she is behind the use of force in anything that has gone on in this cabinet. She is a Democratic hawk and that is her track record. That's the flag she's planted," said Gordon Adams, a national security budget expert who was an associate director in President Bill Clinton's Office of Management and Budget.

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has spent her post-service days protesting the war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, is more blunt. "Interventionism is a business and it has a constituency and she is tapping into it," she tells TAC. "She is for the military industrial complex, and she is for the neoconservatives."

Hillary, Inc.

The former secretary of state, senator, and first lady appeared to fire the first salvo (at least in her national security arsenal) in her next presidential bid last summer, when she gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg mostly on the launch of her new autobiography, Hard Choices. In the much-ballyhooed Atlantic piece, Clinton defends Israel from charges of disproportionate attacks in Gaza, takes a hard line on Iran in the nuclear talks, and suggests President Obama could have avoided the rise of ISIS by listening to her proposals for arming the anti-Assad rebels in Syria last year.

... ... ...

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance reporter and TAC contributing editor. Follow her on Twitter.

Nikola, November 20, 2014 at 6:22 am

Thank you American Conservative for mentioning the Clinton bombing of Serbia in the 1990s. So many Serbs feel that Americans genuinely hate Serbia but most Americans have really no idea what the Clintons did to us in the 90s. It's hard for our people here to understand that here but I do my best to explain that 99% of Americans are unaware that their government ordered the bombing of Christian Serbia's hospitals and schools on false pretence to secure Albanian heroin routes in Kosovo.

Serbia was always an American ally. In WWII, Serbs saved 500 U.S. airmen who were shot down by the Nazis in German occupied Serbia. Kept them hidden for 6 months. I suggest readers look up the "Forgotten 500″.

philadelphialawyer, November 20, 2014

"Clinton understands that the only avenue of safety for a Democrat in the arena of national security is to throw money at the Pentagon," said Adams, and 'this is consistent with her worldview on national security. She sees military force as an essential tool and if you take that view, why wouldn't you want to increase the military's budget?'"

Sadly, I think this is true. Bill Clinton, I think, appeased the military and protected himself from the charges of "softness" that have been leveled at national Democrats since the Vietnam era, by wasting money on the DoD and by using the military just enough to keep the hounds at bay. But Hillary is now a true believer. She is not all for war and money for the Pentagon because it is politic (although she does think it is politic as well), but because that is what she now thinks is good policy.

I find it a disgrace that the Democratic party will likely nominate her. I will not vote for her in the primary or in the general election.

[Nov 17, 2014] Democrats: The Party of Pablum John Nichols

Nov 17, 2014 | thenation.com

When Bernie Sanders gets to griping about the Democratic Party, which happens frequently, he asks, "What does it stand for?"

The independent senator argues that, after years of sellouts and compromises on issues ranging from trade policy to banking regulation, and especially after letting campaign donors and consultants define its messaging, the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman has become an ill-defined and distant political machine that most Americans do not relate to or get excited about.

His point has always been well-taken, but it was confirmed on November 4. How else can we explain voters who chose Mitch McConnell senators and Elizabeth Warren policies?

That's what happened in Arkansas, where 65 percent of voters expressed their concern about income inequality and poverty by approving a substantial minimum-wage increase on the same day they gave Senator Mark Pryor just 39 percent of the vote. Pryor was one of many Democrats who ran away from President Obama in 2014, and part of how Pryor distanced himself was by announcing his opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Republican Tom Cotton, who also opposes the federal increase, slyly endorsed the state ballot initiative and swept to victory in a race where what could have been sharp distinctions between the contenders were neutralized by the Democrat.

[Nov 16, 2014] Why Putin's anti-NATO behavior makes sense to him, and many in Russia

This poor woman does not understand that Repugs and Demoshit are actually a single party, the party of international capital, which have nothing to do with the interest of US people...
LA Times

In domestic politics, it's the one issue where Republicans and Democrats are passionately united, she said. This is going to be used in the next presidential election, when the two parties will try to show who hates Russia more.

[Nov 16, 2014] A high cost of neoliberal empire: a majority of Americans make less than $20 per hour

Nov 15, 2014 | finance.yahoo.com

Where do you fit on the earnings scale?

According to data compiled by Goldman Sachs, most American workers earn below $20 per hour. Goldman Sachs economists David Mericle and Chris Mischaikow crunched Labor Department data that is used to generate the monthly jobs report that the market closely watches, in particular from the survey of employers.

The chart, shown above, shows that 19% of workers make less than $12.50 per hour, 32% of workers make between $12.50 and $20 per hour, 30% make between $20 and $30 an hour, 14% make between $30 and $45 per hour, and 5% make over $45 an hour.

The economists also found that, while wage growth has been soft, the fastest growth in income has come to the lowest-paid workers.

And they found that the biggest driver to income growth has been rising employment, with help from rising wages and more hours worked.

[Nov 16, 2014] Has Washington Just Shot Itself in the Oily Foot by F. William Engdahl

By organizing in Iraq and Syria the first war leading to a decline in oil prices, the Obama administration's intention was probably to cripple its adversaries' economies: Russia, Iran and Venezuela. But this policy can have severe unintended consequences in other areas: acceleration of China's development, threats to the dollar's value and a challenge to the economic model predicated on an illusory shale oil bonanza. For William Engdhal, this last manipulation is perhaps the straw that will break the camel's back.

[Nov 15, 2014] Obama's Secret Deals With Saudi Arabia & Qatar By Eric Zuesse

I find that both bombings are different parts of the same Obama-initiated business-operation, in which the American aristocracy, Saudi aristocracy, and Qatari aristocracy, work together, to grab dominance over supplying energy to the world's biggest energy-market, Europe, away from Russia, which currently is by far Europe's largest energy-supplier.
Nov 15, 2014 | informationclearinghouse.info

... ... ...

November 07, 2014 ICH - Why is the Ukrainian Government, which the U.S. supports, bombing the pro-Russian residents who live in Ukraine's own southeast?

Why is the American Government, which aims to oust Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad, bombing his main enemy, ISIS?

I find that both bombings are different parts of the same Obama-initiated business-operation, in which the American aristocracy, Saudi aristocracy, and Qatari aristocracy, work together, to grab dominance over supplying energy to the world's biggest energy-market, Europe, away from Russia, which currently is by far Europe's largest energy-supplier.

Here are the actual percentage-figures on that: Russia supplies 38%, #2 Norway (the only European nation among the top 15) supplies 18%, and all other countries collectively supply a grand total of 44%. That's it; that's all -- in the world's largest energy-market. Russia is the lone giant. But U.S. President Obama's team want to change that. (Unfortunately, the residents in southeastern Ukraine are being bombed and driven out to become refugees in Russia , as an essential part of this operation to choke off Russia's gas-supply to Europe.)

Obama has initiated, and is leading, this international aristocratic team, consisting of the U.S. aristocracy and Sunni Moslem aristocracies -- the Saudi and the Qatari royal families -- to choke off Russia's economic lifeblood from those European energy sales, and to transfer lots of this business, via new oil and gas pipeline contracts and new international trade-deals, over to the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Those royals, in turn, are assisting Obama in the overthrow of the key Russia-allied leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, who has performed an indispensable role in blocking any such massive expansion of Saudi and Qatari energy-traffic into Europe, and who has thus been a vital protector of Russia's dominance in the European energy-market.

America's aristocracy would be benefited in many ways from this changeover to Europe's increasing dependence upon those Sunni Moslem nations, which have long been allied with U.S. oil companies, and away from the Shiite Moslem nation of Iran, and from its key backer, Russia.

The most important way that America's aristocrats would benefit would be the continuance, for the indefinite future, of the U.S. dollar's role as the international reserve currency, in which energy and energy-futures are traded. The Sunni nations are committed to continued dominance of the dollar, and Wall Street depends on that continuance. It's also one of the reasons the U.S. Treasury's sales of U.S. Federal debt around the world have been as successful as they are. This also provides essential support to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Furthermore, Obama's effort to force the European Union to weaken their anti-global-warming standards so as to allow European imports of oil from the exceptionally carbon-gas-generating Athabasca Canada tar sands -- which are approximately 40% owned by America's Koch brothers, the rest owned by other U.S. and allied oil companies -- would likewise reduce Europe's current dependency upon Russian energy sources, at the same time as it would directly benefit U.S. energy-producers. Obama has been working hard for those oil companies to become enabled to sell such oil into Europe .

And, finally, the extension of U.S. fracking technology into Ukraine, and perhaps ultimately even into some EU nations, where it has been strongly resisted, might likewise reduce the enormous flow of European cash into Russian Government coffers to pay for Russian gas (which doesn't even require fracking).

In other words, the wars in both Syria and Ukraine are being fought basically in order to grab the European energy market, away from Russia, somewhat in the same way (though far more violently) as Iran's share of that market was previously grabbed away by means of the U.S.-led sanctions against that country. The current bombing campaigns in both Syria and Ukraine are directed specifically against Iran's chief ally, Russia.

mike

What a fantastic article. The part I don't get is the following. Surely Iran and Russia and Syria could actively destabilize the Qatari aristocracy and their religious allies and likewise the Saudi aristocracy. These people number a few thousand and the discontent among the Nationals would be easily activated if a serious effort was made.

Arindam

The Mexican drug cartels have a saying - plomo y plobo - 'silver or lead': either accept our bribes or accept our bullets.

The Saudis, Qataris, etc... run their countries on a similar basis. The nationals are either bought off (through easy, well-paid public sector jobs, housing allowances, free water and electricity, etc..) - or imprisoned (as happened to one poet who dared to declare: 'We are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive élite'). Thus, launching a revolution in these places is not as easy as it might seem at first glance - since the discontented have usually been corrupted or incarcerated already.

Furthermore, much of the workforce of the Gulf countries is comprised of expatriates who are neither involved nor interested in internal politics and are happy to support the status quo so long as it enables them to keep working and earning. Thus, they can be counted on to keep things going, even when there are major public protests - as for example, took place in Bahrain in the early months of the Arab Spring.

Diogenes

Money seems to destroy humanity by having the appearance of representing productivity, but actually represents scams and corruption. It's a good representation of a variation of Gresham's rule - when scams and corruption are competing against honesty and hard work, scams and corruption will win.

Vicjoe
Tom forgot again to attribute the original source for this 'deep state' article as per Creative Commons precepts; the original can be found at: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/eric-zuesse/5...

Diogenes

This article is an excellent presentation of one way of viewing what is happening in the world. It's an important contribution to the effort to understand the world. As with any article or opinion, all or part of it may or may not be accurate.

International events are caused by the theory of swarming - with large groups supporting one effort or another - where their motives and objectives lag behind what actually is possible or what actually exists.

One obstacle to world stability is a continuing sense that the US has a higher quality of life than other countries, which is increasingly untrue. Europeans are learning that the US govt. and their own governments are pawns of transnational investors. The source of evil in the world is not a country or an ethnic group, but those who are cursed with greed, a need to dominate others, and a reckless disregard for the future of humanity.

Washington76
Petrodollar Panic? China Signs Currency Swap Deal With Qatar Canada 11/10/2014

The march of global de-dollarization continues. In the last few days, China has signed direct currency agreements with Canada becoming North America's first offshore RMB hub, which CBC reports analysts suggest could double maybe even triple the level of Canadian trade between Canada and China, impacting the need for Dollars.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-11-10/petrodol...

[Nov 15, 2014] Multicultural, Intersectional, It's not Your Daddy's KKK by Corey Robin

Nov 11, 2014 crookedtimber.org

So I know I wrote this in The Reactionary Mind:

Beyond these simple professions of envy or admiration, the conservative actually copies and learns from the revolution he opposes. "To destroy that enemy," Burke wrote of the Jacobins, "by some means or other, the force opposed to it should be made to bear some analogy and resemblance to the force and spirit which that system exerts."

This is one of the most interesting and least understood aspects of conservative ideology. While conservatives are hostile to the goals of the left, particularly the empowerment of society's lower castes and classes, they often are the left's best students.

Sometimes, their studies are self-conscious and strategic, as they look to the left for ways to bend new vernaculars, or new media, to their suddenly delegitimated aims. Fearful that the philosophes had taken control of popular opinion in France, reactionary theologians in the middle of the eighteenth century looked to the example of their enemies. They stopped writing abstruse disquisitions for each other and began to produce Catholic agitprop, which would be distributed through the very networks that brought enlightenment to the French people. They spent vast sums funding essay contests, like those in which Rousseau made his name, to reward writers who wrote accessible and popular defenses of religion.

Even without directly engaging the progressive argument, conservatives may absorb, by some elusive osmosis, the deeper categories and idioms of the left, even when those idioms run directly counter to their official stance. After years of opposing the women's movement, for example, Phyllis Schlafly seemed genuinely incapable of conjuring the prefeminist view of women as deferential wives and mothers. Instead, she celebrated the activist "power of the positive woman."…When she spoke out against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), she didn't claim that it introduced a radical new language of rights. Her argument was the opposite. The ERA, she told the Washington Star, "is a takeaway of women's rights." It will "take away the right of the wife in an ongoing marriage, the wife in the home." Schlafly was obviously using the language of rights in a way that was opposed to the aims of the feminist movement; she was using rights talk to put women back into the home, to keep them as wives and mothers. But that is the point: conservatism adapts and adopts, often unconsciously, the language of democratic reform to the cause of hierarchy.

[Nov 15, 2014] Michael Hudson Putin's Pivot to Asia

Nov 14, 2014 | naked capitalism

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HUDSON: Every economy needs oil to some extent. China has to use oil for many things that gas simply won't work for. Every country's GDP goes up in keeping with its energy consumption...

... ... ...

...Right now the only country that's not part of this is Iran. To Russia, this has tipped America's hand. It showed that what U.S. Cold Warriors really want is to break up Russia and China, and to interrupt their financial and banking services to disorient their economies. So Russia, China and Iran – and presumably other Asian countries – are now moving to establish their own currency clearing systems. To be independent of the SWIFT system and the U.S. dollar, Russia and China are denominating their trade and investments in rubles and yuan instead of the dollar. So what you've seen in the last few days in Beijing is a rejection of the dollar standard, and a rejection of American foreign policy behind it.

... ... ...

As for the sanctions isolating Russia economically, this is just what it needs to protect its industrial revival and economic independence. In conjunction with China, it's integrating the Russian economy with that of China, Kazakhstan and Iran. Russia is now going to be building at least two atomic reactors in Iran. The center of global investment is shifting to Asia, leaving the United States out as well as Europe.

So you can expect at the G20 Brisbane meetings next week to increase pressure from Europe to break away from the U.S. sanctions.

All the United States has diplomatically at the present time is military pressure, while Russia and China have economic growth – markets and investment opportunities opening up. Despite the fact that there was an agreement on high-technology trade between the United States and China, the U.S. is basically being left out. This seems to be why Mr. Obama was looking so out of sorts at the meetings. He knows that the strategy that he was given by his neocons is backfiring.

... ... ...

Banger, November 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm

The issue is not the U.S. vs. China and Russia. China and Russia are centrally governed nation-states with, at least for China, imperial ambitions – but these ambitions are of limited Empire not like the American dreams of Empire which is to control the entire globe not just politically but culturally.

That ambition though is largely fantasy at least in political terms. The U.S. is not any longer what I would call a nation state with particular "interests." Israel, for example, is more supported in the U.S. than, say, Ohio or some segment of the U.S.

The USG sees its constituency as an international elite – whether British, Polish or Saudi–the people, as a population are, increasingly an afterthought. Washington is an international capital (as is NYC) that focuses on the multi-national corporation.

Russia and China, while not immune to such pressures, does recognize the importance of the population or power-factions that are native to it.

By forcing Russia, Iran and other states to the periphery they are moving them into a Chinese orbit. Now, how China chooses to react is something should make an interesting discussion.

James Levy, November 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I've argued to my students that the reason America is so dangerous is that Americans are the most ideological people on Earth without any understanding that they are ideological. Most Americans (certainly the foreign policy decision-makers) see doing anything dissimilar to the way "we" want it done as perverse (France), stupid (Venezuela), or malign (Iran).

The old Burkean notion that nations are what they are because of their history and traditions is unthinkable in Washington or on Wall Street.

America is the model and its up to every other country to conform – or else. Between Wilson and Truman a carapace formed over US thinking about itself and the world that has become impenetrable. It will only be burst when America is too broke or ecologically devastated to continue trying to re-form the world in its image. That's why I fear that a whole cadre of nuts would rather the world go down in flames than that the "last, best hope of humanity" not get to "tutor" the nations into doing thing

Banger, November 14, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Technically you are right–the USA is the last great remnant of the great ideologies of the 20th century and the ideology of American Exceptionalism is related to fascism and communism in the sense it is deeply nationalistic and also global - America wants everyone to become American. But I think this is largely over.

Leaders today only half-believe in these notions and the body politic is increasingly cynical and too self-centered to care much about "destiny" and the grand sweep of history that people like Henry Luce or Walter Lippmann articulated back in the day both on the left and the right.

Government is increasingly staffed by self-serving careerists and yuppies who long ago sold their souls. The ideologues are now mainly are inarticulate and no more than the equivalent of soccer hooligans.

Michael, November 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Neo-cons…. I assume that is who you meant.

Not much more too add. The people with real power do not show their faces. They write memos and let buffoons try to articulate them to the public. The public will buy into the ideology because they've spent their lives learning facts with out learning the importance of those facts.

Also most people are too busy trying to survive to learn enough to understand the games that the elites are playing. Hell, even the elites don't understand the system they have built. All energy is basically used to maintain the system which will eventually collapse in on itself…

I just hope I am self sufficient at this point….give me 5 more years and I should be set…homesteading is in my future.

madisolation, November 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

I just read Pepe Escobar's take on the APEC summit. There's a lot to absorb, but here is an excerpt:

Washington/Wall Street elites – talk about Cold War hubris – always took for granted that Beijing and Moscow would be totally apart. Now puzzlement prevails. Note how the Obama administration's "pivoting to Asia" has been completely erased from the narrative – after Beijing identified it for what it is: a warlike provocation. The new meme is "rebalance".

German businesses, for their part, are absolutely going bonkers with Xi's New Silk Roads uniting Beijing to Berlin – crucially via Moscow. German politicians sooner rather than later will have to get the message.

flora, November 15, 2014 at 11:03 am

This sentence:

"Washington/Wall Street elites… always took for granted that …"

Perfect description of the neo-con and neo-liberal ideological bubbles. Elite thinking is so captured by their ideologies that they can't clearly see facts on the ground, can't effectively respond to the facts, and can't accept their realpolitik failures as the consequence of their ideological capture.

The 'shrewd yankee' has been replaced by the 'true believer'.

Interesting that Al From and the New Democrats have been described as idealists. No doubt they are.

Steven, November 15, 2014 at 11:29 am

Dr. Hudson has long had the right take on all this. But he doesn't seem to be able to take the last step in simplifying his analyses and prescriptions. Elites in the West and in particular the United States have no clue about the real sources of wealth and power in the modern world. Those elites, having long ago converted their wealth (the natural resources, skilled labor and, above all, the inanimate energy required to power the machinery and computers that do much of the world's real work) into money, now 'keep score' only by how much more money they can add to their bank accounts.

For those elites – and especially for the financiers and bankers to whom they have entrusted the wealth extracted from the labor of preceding generations and the spoils of pillaged continents – money is all there is. This is the core of 'American exceptionalism'. Anyone who doubts the omnipotence of money doubts the divine order of things. Educating, feeding and caring for the West's "labouring cattle" has long been viewed not as 'investment', a source of wealth, but an impediment on the more rapid accumulation of money. The only thing 50% of 'the people' are good for, in the words of Jay Gould, is slaughtering the other 50%.

The bottom line here is that real wealth and prosperity for the population at large represents a mortal threat for people whose power and social status is dependent only on money. A really wealthy population doesn't need money. For the monetarily affluent, the only possible use for advances in science and technology is the destruction of those who refuse to worship the golden calf. For the last century Western nations have removed the threat of general prosperity to their ruling classes through wars with each other and beyond their nations' borders.

Devastated by global war, much of the world managed to free itself from this self-destructive propensity by exporting the responsibility to defend their money-based ruling classes and the sanctity of money as embodied in the world's US dollar-based reserve currency to the United States. Thus we have arrived at the current division of labor in the world economy with the once 'developing nations' exporting the things people really need to live and the US and other Western nations exporting debt and death. This is the real mission of the military-industrial complex – absorbing advances in science and technology in ever more deadly weapons systems and ever mounting national debt. It can only end badly.

Events since 2008 have proved the world doesn't need the West's money. If the West's central banks can create tens of trillions of dollars, euros, yen, etc out of thin air to prevent the insolvency of its ruling elites, it can create the money it needs to pay for the real wealth required for a sustainable future.

[Nov 14, 2014] I Don't Know Where I'm Going, But I Sure Know Where I've Been

Nov 07, 2014 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Have you noticed how the English-language media describes the rebels in Donbass? Most of the time it deems them "pro-Russian rebels" which is a little bit like describing the Patriot faction of the American Revolution the "pro-French rebels". Surely the rebels see Russia in a positive light, but surely that is tangential to what really makes them tick. However, a designation of this sort must at least be commended in the sense that it is an admission on the part of the English-language press of how little it is certain of. Most of the time all it knows is that the rebs like Russia, and does not to try to guess at the rest.

It is at other times that the media has feigned knowledge where they could have done real damage. In a minority of cases, reports and commentary have designated the rebels the "ethnic Russian rebels". This seems convenient, and doubtless gives the outsiders a sense of clarity and certainty, but that is precisely what is so dangerous about this extraordinarily misleading characterization.

Once the anti-government faction is deemed to be made up of "ethnic Russian rebels" the story becomes a familiar one. The rebels are Russians and they are fighting because they are Russians. It is an inter-ethnic conflict between Russians and Ukrainians. Only, it is not.

Regardless of how great or important one thinks the differences between Ukrainians and Russians are, the fact is that in the limited geographic space of south-eastern Ukraine, and particularly in Donbass, this distinction is neither great nor significant to the people who live there. Ukrainians and Russians in south-eastern Ukraine are part of the same ethnic coalition, and have been amalgamating into one body ever since these lands were first opened to colonization from historic Ukraine and Russia proper. The British-Ukrainian historian Taras Kuzio put it this way[1]:

"Identities in eastern-southern Ukraine are a mixture of local, east Slavic and Soviet. While recognising that they are different to Russians living across the former Soviet internal administrative, now Ukrainian-Russian, interstate border they do not differentiate between Russians and Ukrainians within eastern-southern Ukraine. They are all, after all, Russian-speakers in a region where all national cultures had largely been eradicated in urban centres and where few people are religious. Linguistic, religious or cultural markers of separate identity between Ukrainians or Russians in eastern-southern Ukraine do not therefore really exist."

The peculiarity of identity in south-eastern Ukraine actually goes further than that. The identity of many people in the region appears fluid and ambiguous. When asked whether they are Russian or Ukrainian they are not necessarily in a position to give a simple answer, and may resent being pressed to do so. Numerous people regard themselves at least somewhat Ukrainian and at least somewhat Russian at the same time.

Indeed, the last Soviet population census found Ukraine to be inhabited by 37.5 million Ukrainians and 11.3 million Russians, but the first and only population census carried out in independent Ukraine found 37.5 million Ukrainians and 8.3 million Russians instead. The reason the number of census Ukrainians could stay constant while the number of census Russians fell by 25% is clear. Upwards of 2 million people had transferred their census nationality from Russian to Ukrainian.

It should be understood that there is no sharp Russian-Ukrainian ethnic dichotomy across large swathes of Ukraine, and furthermore it is precisely in the Donbass region that has risen up in rebellion to the government in Kyiv that this dichotomy is the weakest. Instead of a sharp delineation between the two ethnic communities there is an amalgamated Russian-Ukrainian community and a great deal of fluidity and ambiguity between the two nationalities. Numerous people are comfortable identifying as both Ukrainian and Russian at the same time, and furthermore do not believe there is, or should be, any great difference between the two. The fight then is clearly not between Russian and Ukrainian. The war is not about who the rebels in the south-east are, but what they believe in.

The rebels and their most ardent supporters no longer believe in Ukrainian nation-building. They do not conceive of the Ukraine as the proper political unit for them. This is apparent from their rejection of Ukrainian national symbols and ambition to build up local people's republics. Many may have considerable, or even mainly, Ukrainian ethnic ancestry, but do not consider themselves part of the Ukrainian political nation. Some are happy to concede that they are Ukrainian, but do not want Ukrainians as a separate political nation from other East Slavs.

Just as numerous citizens of Ukraine between 1989 and 2001 transferred their census nationality from Russian to Ukrainian, so numerous Ukrainians (particularly Russians-Ukrainians) can transfer their allegiance away from Ukrainian nation-building and decide that their proper political community is not the Republic of Ukraine, but the People's Republic of Donetsk/Lugansk or the Confederation of Novorossia.

The Donbass rebellion is not a war of the kind we have seen in the Balkans with its sharp ethno-national divisions. It is more like the American Revolution, or the American Civil War. It is a rebellion of people who no longer subscribe to the Ukrainian national project, but who are not necessarily ethnically distinct from those who continue to do so. It is neither a rebellion of Russian-speaking Ukrainians nor of ethnic Russians. It is a rebellion of those Ukrainian citizens who want to remove themselves from the project of Ukrainian nation-building.

[1] Taras Kuzio, Ukraine: State and Nation Building (London: Routledge, 1998), 73-74.

[2] Oxana Shevel, "Nationality in Ukraine: Some Rules of Engagement," East European Politics and Societies 16, no. 2 (2002): 387-417. citing Andrew Wilson, The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 219.

Warren, November 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm

French politician: State Department each day commands us not to transfer Mistral in Russia http://t.co/B01oIii2Kd

- EnaLolena (@EnaLolena) November 13, 2014

kirill , November 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm
Western freedom. So vaunted yet so fake.

Moscow Exile, November 13, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Why did politicians, pundits, journalists, generals – the whole bloody system – feel it necessary to constantly remind us all that we enjoyed freed om and democracy and should be ever on our guard lest it be taken from us?

I soon began to realize that this adoption of the moral high ground by our mentors was all part of a programme of indoctrination directed not only at us in order to engender our political stultification but also to suggest that there were others much less fortunate than we that yearned for such freedoms and democracy that we were assured we enjoyed – you know the thing: "Be thankful for what you have. Now get back to work!"

This was the time when a British prime minister once admonished the mob by announcing to them: "You've never had it so good".

And these moralistic declarations of the existence of a superior world where goodness reigns supreme, where the shining city on the hill is situated, where happy citizens bask in the rays of enlightened government and enjoy the freedoms of choice as regards the ways they may pursue their routes towards individual happiness are also beamed constantly at those that live on the dark side.

The other day I became acquainted with a 30-something Russian professional, married, no children, well travelled, bourgeois…

We got talking about our travels and experiences. As usual, she was astounded at the length of time that I had lived here and – this is the one that always gets them! – that not only is my wife Russian, but she also lives here, in Mordor with our three children, who are also Russian all born in Moscow and who don't particularly wish to live in the UK, though they have all visited that place..

And then she learnt that I had never visited the USA. "Why not? I find that amazing", she said in genuine astonishment.

"Why should I have been there?" I replied.

"But it is so easy for you to go there if you want to,and everyone wants to go to the USA and live there", she stated.

"No they don't" I answered. "And I never have wanted to do so. Why do you think everyone wants to go and live there?"

"Because America is the number one country. It's the best. It's the best of everything!"
... ... ...

kirill, November 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Sounds like a Maidan style idiot. I have zero patience for such people. The USA has a lot of pluses, but the infantile need to puff it up into some sort of Heaven on Earth is just too much. As for where people would want to live. I think most Europeans who have a certain expectation from their societies and government would want to live in Canada.

Unfortunately Canada has been Americanizing politically for 20 years. The Harper regime is a historic low point for the country.

[Nov 12, 2014] Winston Churchill's 'bid to nuke Russia' to win Cold War - uncovered in secret FBI files

Nov 8, 2014 | dailymail.co.uk

The memo claims Churchill 'stated that the only salvation for the civilisation of the world would be if the President of the United States would declare Russia to be imperilling world peace and attack Russia'.

The note continues: 'He pointed out that if an atomic bomb could be dropped on the Kremlin, wiping it out, it would be a very easy problem to handle the balance of Russia, which would be without direction.

'Churchill further stated that if this was not done, Russia will attack the United States in the next two or three years when she gets the atomic bomb and civilisation will be wiped out or set back many years.'

The memo is published for the first time in a book called When Lions Roar: The Churchills And The Kennedys, by award-winning investigative journalist Thomas Maier. It is due to be published in Britain next month. John F. Kennedy regarded Churchill as his hero and made him an honorary American citizen in 1963 – the first person to be given such an accolade.

The two families shared friends, such as Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who married Jacqueline Kennedy after her husband's assassination.

Maier said: 'Churchill had been a great historian of warfare. He saw the last great cavalry charge during the First World War and championed the development of tanks.

'I think he saw a nuclear strike as just another progression of conventional warfare, until he realised there was a lot more devastation with nuclear weapons.'

Maier said Churchill was more 'bellicose' when out of office. After he returned to power in 1951, a nuclear attack against the USSR was never mentioned again.

[Nov 10, 2014] What The Mid-Term Elections Really Mean For Peace and Liberty by Ron Paul

Nov 5, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Did the election last week really mean that much? I took to my Twitter account on Tuesday to point out that the change in control of the Senate from Democrat to Republican actually means very little, despite efforts by politicians and the mainstream media to convince us otherwise. Yes, power shifted, I wrote. But the philosophy on Capitol Hill changed very little. The warfare/welfare state is still alive and well in Washington.

Some were critical of my comment that, "Republican control of the Senate equals expanded neo-con wars in Syria and Iraq. Boots on the ground are coming!"

But unfortunately my fears were confirmed even sooner than I thought. Shortly after the vote, President Obama announced that he would double the number of US troops on the ground in Iraq and request another $5.6 billion to fight his war in the Middle East.

The President also said on Wednesday that he would seek a new authorization for the use of force in Iraq and Syria. He said that a new authorization was needed to reflect, "not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward."

That sounds like boots on the ground in an endless war.

Senate Democrats had been competing with Republicans over who would push a more aggressive foreign policy. This may explain their miserable showing on Tuesday: it is likely the honest, antiwar progressives just stayed home on election night. But with the Republican victory bringing to leadership the most hawkish of the neoconservatives like John McCain, the only fight over the President's request to re-invade Iraq will be Republican demands that he send in even more soldiers and weapons!

Likewise, the incoming Republicans in the Senate have expressed a foolhardy desire to continue resurrecting the Cold War. They demand that Russia be further sanctioned even as the original reason for the sanctions – claims that Russia was behind the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 – has been shown to be false. They want to send weapons to the US-backed government in Ukraine even through it will result in more civilians killed in east Ukraine. Their dangerous Russia policy may even turn the new Cold War into a hot war, which would be catastrophic.

On the domestic front, I do not hold out much hope that the next Congress will give more than lip service to reducing spending. What is more likely is Republicans will support dramatic increases in welfare spending as long warfare spending is increased by an equivalent, or greater, amount. That is what is called "compromise" in Washington.

One positive development from Tuesday is the slightly improved chance for a roll-call vote on "Audit the Fed." Most of the Senators who are likely to assume leadership roles next year are co-sponsors of the bill. However, special interests that benefit from Fed secrecy are very influential in both parties, so it will be up to the people to continue to pressure Congress for a Senate vote.

Elsewhere, there may also be some rollbacks and reforms of some of the worst parts of ObamaCare, but a full repeal of the bill is unlikely. This is not just because there are still not the votes to override an inevitable veto. The insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies that benefit from ObamaCare are equally influential in both parties and have very deep pockets.

I ended my comments on election night by pointing out that while it may have been an important election, it was not most important ever. Ideas are what really count. And that is where we are winning!


Copyright © 2014 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

[Nov 09, 2014] Why The Democrats Got Their Clocks Cleaned

Jesse's Café Américain

The Democrats failed to make the most of a great moment in history because there was no Democrat brave enough, independent enough, to energize their party around the mandate for reform given to them overwhelmingly by the people in 2008.

Remember when everyone thought that the Republican party was dead, completely and utterly repudiated in 2008? And how they have risen from the dead!

Obama was a pawn of the moneyed interests before he even took office. He didn't sell out; he was a well engineered product with a well targeted brand, selected and groomed for it.

Less a politician than a thoroughly modern manager, Obama's primary objectives are to please his shareholders, whomever those may be. And they were certainly not the people who voted for him. He is not any kind of progressive or reformer once one scratches the surface.

That became clear in his first 100 days with his appointments. And in his defense, the Democrats on the whole have been throwing their constituents under the bus for the sake of Wall Street money since 1992. So Obama was not so much a betrayer as a fake, a member of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic party. He is always fumbling, and making excuses, but at the end of the day, he did as he was told.

The Democratic leadership has tried to bridge a gap between representing the people and fattening their wallets, and have ended up pleasing few. They won't become the party of the moneyed interests because they cannot sell out more deeply than their counterparts. And as for their traditional constituency in the working class, the only rejoinder is, 'the other guys are worse.' And the other guys say the same thing to their base about them. And no one is getting served, except the one percent.

I think that the 'other guys' are going to be worse, and people are just going to have to see how bad things can get, again, before they can get any better.

From an FDR 1936 campaign speech in Madison Square Garden:
For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace-business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

[Nov 08, 2014] What the Election Means for the Republican Brand By Daniel McCarthy

Please subscribe to American Conservative on Black Friday: it is one of the few political magazines that make sense ;-).
November 5, 2014 | theamericanconservative.com

There's a deep problem here. While movement conservatives have always chafed at the assumption that George W. Bush embodied their ideology, he most certainly did: as The Economist's John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge noted in The Right Nation, Bush was the first Republican president who had come of age with the conservative movement-Nixon, Reagan, and the elder Bush were products of an earlier environment. Conservatism was an open-ended question in their time, but for the second Bush it was one that had been answered all his life by self-identified conservative institutions: think tanks, magazines, books, and blocs of politicians. Whatever Bush's personal and opportunistic deviations, his administration's defining policies-tax cuts, wars, and expansion of executive power in the name of national security-hewed to the movement's playbook. Movement conservatism's organs of opinion and policy were happy with Bush overall and eager to silence his critics

But with Bush's downfall came a need to redefine the Republican Party's ideology and brand. After the country as a whole repudiated Bush by turning to Democrats in 2006 and 2008, the GOP also repudiated him by turning in 2010 to the Tea Party and a new brand of liberty-minded Republicans exemplified by Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash. These "liberty movement" Republicans were few in number but represented a qualitative change in tone and policy emphasis for the GOP, particularly on national security and foreign policy. One could easily imagine Republicans of this sort as the wave of the future, if the GOP were to have any future at all: these were the kind of Republicans who might represent a viable conservatism in an increasingly diverse country where marijuana is legal and same-sex marriage commands majority support. Their anti-authoritarianism and commitment to cultural federalism suggested a way forward for the party. Win or lose in years to come, they were certainly not the same Bush brand that voters had rejected in 2006, 2008, and indeed 2010.

Yet now Bush is ancient history, and the un-Bush of 2008, Barack Obama, has begun to exhibit distinctly shrublike characteristics-as Bruce Bartlett has shown, Obama is something between a moderate Republican of the old Rockefeller variety and a direct continuation of George W. Bush. The powerful but ill-defined anti-Bush "brand" that shaped both parties between 2006 and 2012 has given way to a Democratic Party that now defends the Bush-like policies it once defined itself against and a Republican Party that in opposing Obama does so for reasons unrelated to his resemblance to his predecessor. Republicans today can once again employ their familiar decades-old ideological armament against a militarily inept, big-spending, socially liberal Democrat. These weapons have done the trick for decades-until the Bush disaster deprived them of their effectiveness-so who needs new ideas?

The party does have new faces. Joni Ernst is 44, Cory Gardner is 40, Tom Cotton is 37, and many of the GOP's other new officeholders are also in their 30s and 40s. They are old enough to have been ideologically shaped by movement conservatism as it existed in the '80s and '90s-when neoconservatism and the religious right were ascendant-but not young enough to have had Bush's debacles as a formative childhood experience. They are the Alex P. Keaton generation.

Can these fortyish idols of a party philosophically defined by Fox News-whose median viewer age is 68-win over millennial voters and the electorate of the future? They will if there's no one organized enough to compete against them. The well-oiled machinery of movement conservatism remains fully in the hands of people who think the only trouble with George W. Bush was that he did not go far enough. Heritage and AEI have lately tried to present softer images on a number of domestic issues-prison reform, policies to help the working class-but they are as single-mindedly hawkish as ever when it comes to foreign policy and just as dedicated as the Bush administration to expanding executive power. Young Republicans like Tom Cotton represent the worst aspects of the movement's ideology, and none of the new faces appears to represent the best.

On these great issues of war and peace, legislative government or executive prerogative, Republican realists and libertarians have a much weaker infrastructure to begin with, and for most libertarian institutions and their benefactors gutting regulation remains a higher priority than stopping any war. Democrats, meanwhile, are once more terrified of seeming too dovish, as Obama's botched policies-interventionist but reluctantly so-teach his party anew that McGovernite and Carter-esque weakness is fatal. (This is true: peace in strength is what America's voters want.) So it's back to the Democrats' answer to Bush: Clinton, and the female of the species may soon prove deadlier than the male.

Still, the public does have some say in all this, and it has shown to have no appetite for the decades-long wars that Tom Cotton's Republican Party appears to portend. The market for realism and non-authoritian politics remains. But can anyone organize the institutions and policy-making cadres to serve this demand? If not, there is little chance of a lone politician or small group of liberty-movement Republicans redirecting their party, much less their country, away from futile wars and executive consolidation: we will be back to the Bush and Clinton era, with Rand Paul as lonely a dissenter as ever his father was.

At least, that is, until the Cottons and Clintons lose another, bigger war and plunge the country into something even worse than the Great Recession. Then we'll get change without the hope.

[Nov 04, 2014] Election 2014 – Why I Opt Out of Voting

As a father, I want to raise responsible adults, which is why my wife and I will not be heading to the polls this election. Previously, I would have seen this stance as many people do: as an irresponsible act.

Both Democrats and Republicans support militarism, taxation, spying on us, inflation, redistribution of wealth, Keynesian economics and corporatism once they get in office.

My children need not to identify with this group of sociopaths, so to vote would be a bad example for them.

Simply put, The lesser of two evils is still evil.

[Nov 03, 2014] Yesterday's enemies, today's allies … and tomorrow ? by John Quiggin

October 7, 2014 | crookedtimber.org
When a militarily powerful country tries to govern the affairs of millions of people on the other side of the planet, we shouldn't be surprised that chaos results …

That's of the grab from my latest piece in Inside Story, commenting on the utter incoherence of US (and therefore Australian) policy in the Middle East. An extended version:

How could it be otherwise? A rich and militarily powerful country has taken it upon itself to govern the affairs of millions of people on the other side of the planet, of whom it knows nothing. Its emissaries routinely elevate particular individuals, ethnic groups, religious sects and political parties as favourites, then just as quickly dump them in favour of new friends. Its tools vary randomly from overwhelming force to plaintive exhortation, with no clear or consistent rationale.

The key observation is that, with the exception of slavish obedience to the whims of the Netanyahu government, the US has switched sides on almost every conflict in the Middle East in the space of a couple of years.

My policy recommendation to the US is

an announcement that, from now on, the people of the Middle East would be left to sort out their problems for themselves. In particular, it would be useful to state that the United States has no strategic concern with Middle Eastern oil, and that energy policy is a matter for individual countries to determine according to their own priorities.

Inside Story doesn't appear to take comments so read there (lots of other interesting stuff) and comment here.

Brett Bellmore 10.07.14 at 10:27 am

" In particular, it would be useful to state that the United States has no strategic concern with Middle Eastern oil,"

I'm unclear why it is useful to state falsehoods.

For better or worse, (And I'm convinced it is for the worse.) the civilized world is dependent on Middle Eastern oil. It would be much better if we weren't, for a long list of reasons. But we are. Take it abruptly away, and there'd be a world-wide depression, until we managed to find a substitute. And THAT is most certainly a strategic concern of the United States.

Now, I think we'd be much better off directing our efforts to achieving energy independence, and making Middle Eastern oil a convenience for plastics manufacture, rather than an essential source of energy. But until we can do that, the area is of strategic importance to the whole civilized world.

Of which it is not a part, regrettably, which is why we have to be concerned about it.

Peter T 10.07.14 at 11:17 am

Actually, the post both overstates and understates the muddle that is US policy. It does not so much switch sides as either try to push forward with bit players (Chalabi, FSA), or play all sides at once (the CIA has been encouraging Baluchi insurgents in south-east Iran while State has been trying to find a way out of the sanctions mess, and Defence muttering to Iran about being helpful in Afghanistan).

And then when things don't go the way the US wants, the response has as often been dictated by spite as by interest. It's an old story – see Cuba, or Vietnam and Cambodia, or China.

The last rational, coherent US foreign policy actor seems to have died around 1948.

jake the antisoshul soshulist 10.07.14 at 2:11 pm

The post does overstate everything except the incoherence of US foreign policy.

Some of the incoherence is due to political realities in the US. These include: overwhelming support for whatever Israel's current policy is, reflexive Republican/conservative opposition to whatever policy a Democratic president promotes, the reactive (rather than proactive) policy of the Obama administration. (not that I oppose that philosophically)

The US needs to be independent of fossil fuels as a energy source. Normally, I would say we need to become independent of Middle Eastern oil first, but I don't know that we have enough time to accomplish that before solving fossil fuels.

I am not sure better or worse are proper terms, but the Middle East will have to sort it out for themselves or we will continue to see the current chaos for any foreseeable future. Of course, sorting it out will likely be a long and bloody process (see the religious wars in Europe). But, I am convinced that it would likely be even longer and bloodier if the West continues to meddle.

MPAVictoria 10.07.14 at 2:49 pm

We have been bombing the Middle East off and on for almost 25 years and what has it gotten us? Nothing but hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, trillions of dollars wasted and chaos across the region.

Do we really have any idea what those trillions of dollars could have accomplished if they had been used to build up rather than tear down? High speed internet, quality infrastructure, access to health care and education for people across the region. Perhaps we could have bribed the Israelis and the Palestinians to make peace with that much money!

Instead we have the same people calling for bombs yesterday, bombs today and bombs tomorrow. It is absolutely bat shit insane. Yet here we are again. Why are our leaders so willing to make the same mistakes over and over and over again?

/This is all just so depressing.

ajay 10.07.14 at 2:57 pm

I don't know to what extent the US in particular needs Mid-East oil. Perhaps JQ does? But without these apparently self-defeating military programmes, perhaps the US really wouldn't need any oil but its own?

This is a cue for 15 people to say at once "oil is fungible. Even if the US does not burn any oil that actually comes from the Middle East, an interruption to ME oil supply would drive the world oil price up and cause harm to the US economy, and indeed to most other countries' economies".

The US imports about 733 million barrels of crude oil a year from the Gulf region, out of 3.6 billion barrels total imports, which, added to 2.7 billion in domestic production, gives 6.3 billion barrels total consumption. The Gulf, then, supplies roughly 11% of total US oil needs. (The US Department of Energy has an Energy Information Administration which has a very helpful website.)

The US military uses a hell of a lot of oil – it's the single largest consumer of oil in the US (as you might expect given that it is essentially a huge organisation for moving stuff and people around). It uses 4.6 billion gallons of fuels and oils per year – about 83 million barrels. That's still far less than the US imports from the Gulf, though.

Guano 10.07.14 at 3:35 pm

It's not really true that the USA has switched sides in the Middle East. Despite the fact that the Gulf States and Turkey have brought into being a terrorist group that controls significant territory in Iraq and Syria, the US is still treating these states with kid gloves.

And even though there is significant overlap of interests with Syria and Iraq, relations with these states are still icy. A couple of weeks ago at the UN, the UK prime minister said that Iran is a part if the problem in the Middle East: that's a daft thing to say about a country whose help you want to deal with a common threat. (Iran may be part of the problem, but every other state in the region is part of the problem.) The incoherence is not that the USA has changed sides but that it apparently allows Turkey and the Gulf States to set conditions for fighting the monster that they have created, so the USA is committed to creating from scratch a moderate opposition force in Syria.

Tony Blair pops up every so often to say that The West has to be engaged in the Middle East. What he fails to mention is that The West is engaged deeply in the Middle East but in an unhelpful way: it is tied up with certain states and thus is involved in their conflicts and squabbles. If it is going to engage in a helpful way it needs to disengage a bit first.

However it is probably 40 years too late for that. As some of us said back then, the response to the 1973 oil embargo should have been to seriously explore alternative energy sources and find ways of reducing oil use. That was a road not taken.

Plume 10.07.14 at 5:00 pm

Brett,

Please define "civilized." Do you mean, for instance, the reign of terror unleashed on the world by Western powers with their colonial expansion, slavery, forced conversions to Christianity? Do you mean the tens of millions slaughtered in WWI, and the even greater numbers in WWII? Do you mean the wars upon wars after WWII, initiated primarily by the United States which led to, for example, 2-4 million slaughtered in Korea and 3 million slaughtered in Vietnam? Or a million slaughtered, with 4 million exiled in Iraq?

Again, please define "civilized."

John Quiggin 10.07.14 at 5:18 pm

Ajay @4 On the Sadrists, try Googling "Peace Brigades"
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/31/uk-iraq-security-idUKKBN0GU0OT20140831

As for

Nor has the US really changed sides in Iraq. Two years ago it was supporting the Iraqi government, today it's supporting the Iraqi government. The prime minister has changed, that's all

I dips me lid.

ajay 10.07.14 at 5:23 pm

Their society may or may not prioritize economic growth (and other western things: democracy, human rights, open society, etc.) as high as westerners do

The other western things, maybe not. (Though, even if "democracy and human rights" aren't buzzwords in the ME to the same extent, I bet "justice and good government" are.) But economic growth, as represented in particular by general prosperity and opportunities for employment: yes, they do, as Ronan said. Food costs were a key issue in Tunisia, in Egypt, and in Syria, and that is an economic issue, but it's one that is common to anyone in any sort of society.

US policy was most certainly not to keep Egypt or Jordan weak for example.

True. Look at the Egyptian army. Count the tanks. Now look at where they're from.

Brett Bellmore 10.07.14 at 5:32 pm

"Do you mean, for instance, the reign of terror unleashed on the world by Western powers with their colonial expansion, slavery, forced conversions to Christianity?"

"Still" largely uncivilized, as in present tense. I'm not talking about centuries past.

Or maybe your definition of civilization includes executing people for converting to a different religion, prosecuting rape victims for being raped, just generally treating women as chattel, destroying historical monuments, and so forth.

The Middle East is, to this day, still an uncivilized part of the planet. That's their fundamental problem. Oil wealth just lets them spread it.

ajay 10.07.14 at 5:33 pm

35: huh. I missed the Peace Brigades. Interesting.

But I still think that you are over-reaching by talking about the US "changing sides" in Iraq. Maliki's successor is the deputy head of Maliki's party, for heaven's sake.

There is a war going on in Iraq, and Maliki and al-Abadi are on the same side as each other. It's fairly important to understand this.

roger gathman 10.07.14 at 6:26 pm

Actually, it is not just Israel that acts as a driver of US policy – although in actuality I think this is a two way driver, and that Israel does a lot of things that the US government wants them to do while pretending to condemn them or hold them at a distance – but Saudi Arabia.

Why should the US, which is buddies with all the authoritarian Gulf states and calmly watched as the Saudis invaded bahrain and suppressed a democratic revolt, care about Assad? I mean, we have no real reason to overthrow Assad. It will actually make US policy much more difficult if Syria fragments. But the Saudis fear Iran, and thus want to damage their ally. That's it. Similarly, when Pakistan illegally steals the technology and designs to build nuclear weapons, and are financed in this endeavor by the Saudis, we do… nothing. When Iran openly pursues nuclear power and, we presume, a nuclear weapon, we go apeshit.

If the US had taken a far sterner stance towards Saudi Arabia and had established a relationship with Iran in 1989, like Israel, at that time, was advocating, we would surely not have had 9/11, and there would surely be no ISIS.

I would define the US problem in the Middle East differently. Our patchwork of short term policy decisions reflect an unthought out long term framework that has long been broken. It isn't just the Israel connection that is responsible for this. Rather, it is literally the politics of the oil companies which has brought us to this point.


TM 10.07.14 at 7:08 pm

It strikes me that Afghanistan wasn't even mentioned yet. Do people even remember how hard the USA has worked for decades to utterly destroy a secular government and replace it with Islamic extremists and terrorists?

The joke is that the US hasn't even changed sides – the (Sunni) Islamists have, and it took 9/11 for that to dawn on Americans. The US response has been confusion ever since.

P O'Neill 10.07.14 at 7:28 pm

It's not easy to map the evolution of US policy towards Saudi Arabia into a specific foreign policy stance. Was it better policy in the 1950s when the Arab American Oil Company (HQ in Delaware) was literally bankrolling the Saudi government or the 1980s when Aramco (HQ: Dhahran) was ultimately footing the bills for Afghanistan and Saddam (back when he was the good Baathist dictator)?

More US control in the 1950s. Much worse outcomes in the 1980s.


J Thomas 10.07.14 at 7:41 pm

#45 Roger Gathman

I would define the US problem in the Middle East differently. Our patchwork of short term policy decisions reflect an unthought out long term framework that has long been broken. It isn't just the Israel connection that is responsible for this. Rather, it is literally the politics of the oil companies which has brought us to this point.

That's a good point. In a few highly publicized incidents over the years it looked like the Zionist lobby trumped the oil lobby, but it might be different for more routine matters.

And what drives oil company interests? Perhaps a middle east that has many repeated scares to temporarily drive oil prices up, but few real catastrophes that drive down supply in the long run….

Plume 10.07.14 at 7:56 pm

Brett,

On any sane scale if that is determined by conservative Americans. Yes. Very true. It's what you guys are fighting for in Colorado right now. You know? The right to ram "American exceptionalism" down the throats of students who would rather learn the truth instead.

stevenjohnson 10.07.14 at 8:03 pm

The only non-racist definition of civilization is "living in cities." And the only non-racist definition of barbarian is "nomadic." Civilized is not a synonym for "nice, like me.) Nor is barbarous a synonym for "cruel, unlike me."

Living in the suburbs is an in-between state, trying to have the creature comforts of civilized life without actually committing to civilization. (Think about it, this explains a lot about US politics.) Living in off-shore bank accounts (so to speak,) given electronic funds transfer, is also close to barbarism.

Plume 10.07.14 at 8:11 pm

"whoever is not Greek is a barbarian." That's where it came from.

I think Brett and most American conservatives use it in similar fashion, but they extend it to mean American, European (Western), and allow for some leeway with regard to certain other nations. Perhaps, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia. Some parts of Latin America, too. Not Cuba, of course, or Venezuela.

Oh, and not San Francisco. DC and Massachusetts are borderline.

J Thomas 10.07.14 at 9:28 pm

I think another issue needs to be emphasised, is that there is not an iota of evidence that a 'hands off' policy would alter the flow of oil. Every group in the Middle East wants to export oil at a market price – even Isis are producing oil for sale.

While I think you're mostly right, still consider how it worked during the Iran/Iraq war.

The USA provided lots of support for Iraq, and it's possible that Iraq invaded Iran in the first place at US request. We were happy for them to continue fighting indefinitely with no winner. Kissinger famously quipped "Too bad they can't both lose". But they both lost a lot of money and had to pump lots of oil to pay for it. Both cheated extensively on their OPEC oil quotas. For some unknown reason the price of oil was low then, so they had to pump lots and lots of oil to get the money they needed for the war.

Then the USA announced there was a threat that Iran would attack international oil shipping. Their goal would be to damage the Iraqi war effort by interfering with their exports. (Iraq and Iran had been attacking each other's oil shipping for some time, with minor results.) The US Navy moved in aggressively, and Iran attacked oil shipping more while the US Navy was trying to stop them than they ever had before.

A US cruiser shot down an Iranian passenger liner that they thought might have been a threat, and an Iraqi warplane attacked the USS Stark. We forgave the Iraqis, though.

Here is a source about this stuff. Don't trust it anything it says until you get confirmation from the unbiased, trustworthy US government.
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/united_states_iran_iraq_war2.php

So while everybody in the middle east who has oil has an incentive to sell it, it's also true that various people in the middle east who have oil also have enemies, and their enemies may consider it more important to stop them from selling it than to keep the world economy on an even keel.

However, it's far easier for the US military to bomb people than to keep people from bombing oil facilities.

Guano 10.07.14 at 9:43 pm

Antoine #43 How serious is your list of causes?

If the list is serious, could you explain point 1? What outcome would you have expected from an intervention in Syria in 2013 and why?

Omega Centauri 10.07.14 at 9:46 pm

Chaos is also the enemy of oil exports. So if we let them battle it out, even if either side would happily pump oil, it could be that a lot of export capacity would be destroyed anyway. War/instability doesn't usually resolve as a zero-sum game, usually there is a net loss. Also we have seen that the US isn't strictly concerned with the level of oil exports, we happily embargo or bomb (in the case of IS controlled oil facilities) those exporters whom we consider to be the current bad guys. Clearly the global price of oil has been higher partly because we've embargoed Iranian oil.

There is also the fact, that humanitarian concerns aside, instability is bad for the rest of the world. Large refugee flows are tough on those nations who agree to take them in. That includes Europe, and even to a small extent the US.

So we try to muddle from crisis to crisis, but seem to be about as effective as a bull in a China shop.

John Quiggin 10.08.14 at 1:33 am

Ronan: For quite a number of years, the US recognised the Khmer Rouge government in exile as the legitimate government of Cambodia (eg supported seating them at the UN), in preference to the Vietnam-backed government that was actually in power, having driven the KR out. I'm a little surprised you don't remember this: it was a big deal at the time.

On the broader point, there are all sorts of ways to stop a war: a peace agreement, a truce (now 50+ years old in Korea), or just holding lines without any formal agreement.

Bruce Wilder 10.08.14 at 6:19 am

Yes it is, but politicians who are tempted to do that will have to pay a price for it. The will to be stupid is strong among US (and Australian) voters.

I do not think it is all down to the poor taste of the common man in America. The poor taste of the common man in America is a commodity carefully cultivated by PR professionals, and that cultivation is not effectively opposed.

Guano 10.08.14 at 2:15 pm

The Pottery Barn Rule ("If you break it you own it") was a warning by Colin Powell to the neo-cons about Iraq: it was an argument for not invading because the occupier has the duties to a country that it invades and occupies. It wasn't advice about what to do after the USA had invaded. It didn't advocate the position that "we own someone else's society or state because we invaded it and destroyed their government".

Allied to the Pottery Barn Rule is something that should have been learnt from the invasion of Iraq (or even from the Vietnam War): regime change is very risky. Overthrowing a regime is easy, building a new regime (and its institutions and popular trust in those institutions) is very, very difficult.

If country A invades country B it has a duty to rebuild the institutions of Country B, but that is likely to be unsuccessful. So the rule should be, avoid regime change.

CK MacLeod 10.08.14 at 5:04 pm

The key false or at best badly and misleadingly overstated assumption underlying the linked article as well as the main argument highlighted in the OP is that US policy has ever or could ever have been to "govern the affairs of millions of people on the other side of the planet." At no time, even during the height of the "nation-building" phase of the occupation of Iraq, has the US sought to "govern the affairs" of the people of the Middle East. Governing the affairs of the people of the Middle East would require an investment of blood and treasure that the US has never contemplated. It's not precisely an absurd concept, but it does not resemble the American neo-imperial concept as actually implemented.

The US has predictably – or consistently – acted when Americans have perceived their core interests endangered by events in the region. These interests mainly concern preservation of the international political-economic order against significant disruptions, especially by major war. Otherwise, Americans have mainly sought, like everyone else, to influence events that occur below that threshold in one way or another, with mixed results, since we have many competitors.

Contrary to the professor's claims, which mainly focus on the US failing to achieve goals of relatively little actual interest to the US, the strategy has been overall quite successful for around 70 years, and the "trillions of dollars" may be deemed, as in fact they have been deemed by the American body politic, a worthwhile investment (for an economy with a ca. $17 trillion annual GDP). The strategy seems less successful than it has been because its fundamental tenets are simply presumed, and most of the public discussion instead revolves around aspirational matters – Arab-Israeli peace, liberalization in law, politics, and society, and so on.

In that last connection, there is of course nothing wrong with concern for the welfare of the people of the Middle East, but there is violent disagreement, not least among the Middle Easterners themselves, about the shape and content of progress or potential progress. At present, the US seems quite under the spell of a soft imperialism of low expectations. Americans do not expect things to go well for the people of the region anytime soon, regardless of what America attempts, nor do they see much profit to the US in escalated involvement, but American core interests are still affected or potentially imperiled by events there. So, America will continue to be involved, despite generally being disposed to limit and if possible to decrease its involvement, amidst uncertainty as to the region's and the world's willingness to cooperate.

roger gathman 10.08.14 at 8:01 pm

CK Macleod, I think this is, if not wrong, a misstatement of the case: "The US has predictably – or consistently – acted when Americans have perceived their core interests endangered by events in the region."

I don't believe " Americans" are the people who develop their idea of their interests in the region. When the Bush people referred to the rush to the occupation in advertising terms, I think they were more on the right track.

The D.C. establishment for reasons that have to do with economics, ancient behaviors that haven't been revisited, etc., makes up its mind – like a corporation deciding on a product – and then sells it to the American people. The sales pitch, the sale, and the remorse are pretty easy to pick out from the polling data over time. What happens very very rarely is that Americans think of their core interest and act on it. Did Americans, for instance, think it would be a neat idea to get high placed Saudis out of the U.S, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11? No. In fact, I think that was the last thing they were thinking should be done.

In foreign affairs, even more than in economic policy, the US is hardly a democracy in the sense that ideas begin at the grassroots and flow upward. The attitude among foreign policy elites, from what I've read, certainly reflects this. Those elites think that the American vulgaris needs to be led to do what the foreign policy elite thinks is best.

This pattern is known to the elites themselves, which is why they do many things to distance the disillusionment. Occasionally, a loud minority can ball up things – for instance, the minority that demonstrated against the war in Vietnam. One of those distancing tricks is to make foreign policy undiscussable – if you weren't for the invasion of Iraq, you must be an ardent supporter of Saddam Hussein, and if you aren't for bombing ISIS, you must be eager to chop off heads. Eventually, long after the discussion that should have happened, public opinion will break through the taboos and refuse the terms. I am rather surprised that the anti-war side – which was a decisive factor in Obama winning over Clinton in the primaries – has suddenly shut up about, well, everything, including Obama casually using Bushite logic to declare war when he wants to and where.

Our present pseudo-war, based as it is on such contradictory premises as that we are going to exterminate ISIS and help overthrow Assad, calls out for discussion, but I see very little of that in D.C., where the discussion is confined to McCain-heavy or McCain-lite positions.

Ze Kraggash 10.08.14 at 9:47 pm

Castro says that NATO is a more extremist and fanatical organization than ISIS:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fidel-castro-compares-nato-chief-to-isis/

Certainly way more dangerous and incredibly aggressive.

"Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all," he [the new NATO chief] told the local state broadcaster TVP Info. "We can deploy it wherever we want to."

The 'spearhead': http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/05/world/europe/uk-nato-summit/

LFC 10.08.14 at 10:36 pm

from the linked CBS report:

Castro's scathing assessment of Stoltenberg's comments is the latest in a string of critiques by the former Cuban leader. He has also recently weighed in on the evolution of man, the latest discoveries about black holes by University of North Carolina professor Laura Mersini-Houghton[,] and the work of British scientist Stephen Hawking.

...

QS 10.09.14 at 2:28 am

The simplest explanation is also the historical (colonial) one. Our foreign policy is "incoherent" precisely because we don't want any side to win. We enforce divisions, propping up failing actors, to ensure and perpetuate internal schism and violence. The region is then populated by a handful of minor powers rather than any single major one, one which could challenge US hegemony.

Omega Centauri 10.09.14 at 2:42 am

QS except I don't believe thats the actual goal. Who was it who said (loosely) "Never attribute to malevolence that which can be explained by incompetence".

QS 10.09.14 at 7:36 am

I'm not arguing that the US acts as a perfect puppet master, it cannot perfectly predict nor control events. But to say that our incoherent foreign policy stems from stupidity is missing the point that incoherence may very well be the policy goal.

Guano 10.09.14 at 9:34 am

#122 areanimator "It seems to me a comforting fantasy, attempting to deny the fact that a singular nation-state, even a supposed superpower like the US, really has no power over geopolitical events by itself."

In part the USA invaded Iraq in order to try to demonstrate that the US did have power over geopolitical events by itself. Bush and those around him wanted to put the USA at the centre of the Middle East and show that it could control events. That was the background to PNAC and the neo-conservative world-view.

The results of the invasion of Iraq demonstrate that even a super-power did not have this power (and Vietnam should have made that clear 40 years previously). Unfortunately this is rarely acknowledged. Perhaps we are doomed to see the USA vainly trying to shake off the Vietnam Syndrome and Iraq Syndrome over and over again, and failing to admit that regime change is difficult and dangerous, and is beyond the capacity of even a super=power.

John Quiggin 10.09.14 at 11:05 am

A more plausible version of the deliberate incoherence story is as follows. As argued in the OP, the US has no genuine friends in the region. So, any nation or sect that gains ascendancy is bound to be seen as a dangerous enemy, and the obvious policy solution is to ally with the enemy's enemy.

This isn't incoherence as grand strategy. Rather the point is that a determination to control events, without any feasible objective for how to control them produces a toxic version of 'balance of power' politics

Guano 10.09.14 at 12:21 pm

#124 John Quiggin "As argued in the OP, the US has no genuine friends in the region."

Yes, but this is not recognised even when our "friends" have helped to create a threat such as ISIS. Thus the incoherence is not that the USA is now allied with countries that were its enemies; the incoherence is that the USA continues to consider as allies countries such as Turkey whose objectives are different from those of the USA and which is still trying to manipulate the USA to overthrow Assad.

The most dangerous countries in the region can be our "friends" because it can be difficult to admit that they have different objectives and are up to tricks behind our backs.

J Thomas 10.09.14 at 12:31 pm

#124

As argued in the OP, the US has no genuine friends in the region. So, any nation or sect that gains ascendancy is bound to be seen as a dangerous enemy, and the obvious policy solution is to ally with the enemy's enemy.

That does make sense.

Here is an alternative - The USA is genuinely friendly to Israel. But Israel has no friends in the region, genuine or false. They have invaded every close neighbor - Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt. They have made minor attacks (nuclear power plants, airports, etc) on some of their neighbors-once-removed - Libya, Sudan, Iraq (but not the other two, Saudi arabia and Turkey). They are openly discussing an attack on a tertiary neighbor, Iran.

To the extent that the USA wants to benefit Israel, our intention in any intervention among arabs would be that both sides should lose. And this is pretty much compatible with the results we've achieved.

So that's three hypotheses.

1. Incompetence.
2. Keep everybody weak but our friends and we don't have any friends.
3. Keep everybody weak except our friend Israel.

Somebody once said "Never attribute to malice anything that can be explained by incompetence". But isn't it better to keep your options open? When you're planning, run it both ways and see whether either way leads to trouble…. I think maybe the idea is designed to protect malicious people. But maybe instead the people who advocate it are incompetent rather than malicious. And anyway it doesn't have to be one or the other.

Long-neck Vase 10.09.14 at 1:33 pm

Who was it who said (loosely) "Never attribute to malevolence that which can be explained by incompetence".

Just can't get into this one personally. The Cheney gang was supremely competent (the agenda of PNAC was mentioned upthread). Their goals were evil and in my opinion counterproductive for the long-term survival of the United States, and Murphy's Law worked its will as it does, but the neoconservatives had and have those goals and they executed them with great competence. Not least of which was hiding what they were doing for six years and then destroying most of the evidence on their way out the door.

But hey, Clinton staffers vandalized W keys on computers and Occupy Wall Street didn't order enough portapotties, so it is all evensies.

areanimator 10.09.14 at 4:12 pm

I would like to ask the commenters in 124, 125 and 126 what exactly is meant by the expression "genuine friend" of a country. What kind of relationship do two countries need to be in so as to be considered "genuine friends"? On the face of it, it seems that a "genuine friend" (if it's at all similar to the way one might use this expression to describe relationships between two individual persons) would never act against their friend's best interests and support them "come hell or high water", which is an impossible standard in international relationships.

Countries form alliances of convenience, various institutions and entities within different countries collaborate on issues in ways that can act against stated policy, and in the end, the government of every country acts (or at least makes an effort to appear to act) in its own best interest (however construed).

What possible "friends" can a nation have besides itself? And why do we need to have "friends" in order to form a coherent foreign policy?

Guano @125:

"the incoherence is that the USA continues to consider as allies countries such as Turkey whose objectives are different from those of the USA"

I don't really see the incoherence. As a nation independent from the USA, Turkey should have, and will always have, foreign policy objectives that will differ from those of the USA. Much like you go to war with the army you have, you wage said war along with whatever allies you can muster, judging that the differences in objectives is small enough compared to whatever primary goal the war is meant to achieve. See also: Soviet-US relations during WWII. Again, isn't this just a self-evident fact of international relations that's taken into account when making foreign policy?

Guano 10.09.14 at 5:27 pm

#132 areanimator

"Much like you go to war with the army you have, you wage said war along with whatever allies you can muster, judging that the differences in objectives is small enough compared to whatever primary goal the war is meant to achieve ……. Isn't this just a self-evident fact of international relations that's taken into account when making foreign policy?"

It should be a self-evident fact that every country has its own interests and no two countries have exactly overlapping interests.

However the rhetoric of international relations tends to divide nations into friend and foe. It appears to be difficult to have graduated relations; relations seem to have to be either all or nothing, and it is difficult to admit that circumstances have changed and that a "friend" is abusing the relationship.

Plume 10.09.14 at 11:13 pm

The shifting alliances and complexities of factional oppositions in the Middle East just guarantee we're going to screw up. There is no way we can't, if we engage. One of the biggest, of course, was toppling Hussein, which sent most of this mess into motion and made Iran much, much stronger. The Iran/Iraq situation, however, was obvious enough to recognize before hand and avoid. And we didn't. Even the first time around. But especially invasion number two.

The odd thing, though, was that we had been clearly opposed to the state of Iran from 1979 on, but opposed to Hussein rather abruptly only when he decided to invade Kuwait in 1990. Prior to that, he was BFF with Reagan, Bush Sr., Rumsfeld, etc. etc. Suddenly, with a push from the wicked witch in London, Bush Senior decides to shift the balance in the region slightly in Iran's favor by crushing Hussein, and then Dubya finishes the job. It never seems to end.

John Quiggin 10.10.14 at 1:03 am

LFC @156 I wrote that the US is debating how much support to give to Assad. THis was a straightforward statement of fact. The NY Times (which is the journal of record for this kind of thing) presented a debate on precisely this question

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/08/22/should-the-us-work-with-assad-to-fight-isis/the-us-should-help-assad-to-fight-isis-the-greater-evil

CK MacLeod 10.10.14 at 2:01 am

JQ writes: "I wrote that the US is debating how much support to give to Assad. THis was a straightforward statement of fact."

Somewhere in the Pentagon and/or CIA someone is working on all sorts of possibilities not being actively considered or debated, but the statement "the US is debating how much support to give to Assad" is ill-founded and misleading. It is sloppy writing at best, and the further assertion that this misstatement is or was "a straightforward statement of fact" compounds the error.

The Obama Administration denies that there is any debate at all on that question. I do no believe there is a single significant American official or politician who is advocating support for Assad. There is some debate over whether to escalate from political opposition to a regime change policy, with a third group – a by now somewhat familiar left-liberal and right libertarian alliance – urging non-involvement. The last group has been somewhat quieter since the public beheadings, the Obama policy statements, and opinion polls showing significant support for doing something against IS. To the extent there is any significant debate regarding support for Assad, it remains a debate among defense intellectuals – such as those participating in that linked discussion from the NYT op-ed pages – and it is not a debate over how much support to give to Assad, but about whether to give any support to Assad or, more accurately, whether to align with and coordinate with Assad openly. Terrorism expert Max Abrahms has been arguing for that position for some time now, while attracting little observable support.

There are also numerous hawks who argue that the chemical weapons deal amounted effectively to legitimizing Assad, and I think there's some truth in that argument, but there's no prospect of repeating that deal, so it is not being actively debated in or outside of government prospectively. That debate would be more accurately termed "whether we have, intentionally or not, supported Assad," akin to the "does attacking IS help Assad?" question.

john c. halasz 10.10.14 at 3:31 am

CK MacLeod @150:

Maybe it's because of your pro-Israel stance or your aggressive Americanism, but I think you've got this badly wrong. Loathsome as the Assad regime might be, (though no more than lot of others in the region, including "allies", and it doesn't pay to personalize the matter), it does represent the interests of a significant portion of the Syrian population, (not just Alawites, but Christians and secular Sunnis, etc.) in a country with a highly fissiparous social structure,- (remember the Lebanese civil war lasted 15 years),- against both fundamentalist fanatics and the prospect of complete disintegration. (And the precursor to the uprising was a severe drought which the regime either couldn't or wouldn't deal with).

If our elites, our "fearless leaders", weren't so heedless and profligate, then the obvious course would have been to try and contain the Syrian civil war, and constrain various regional actors from interfering in and fomenting it, resulting in a general and artificial Shja/Sunni regional conflict. And, as it is, dealing the weakened Assad regime in, to effect a regional settlement still remains the best course, given the dire alternatives. That's better than a lot of gratuitous, self-righteous moralizing to cover a multitude of sins.

Despite differing initial premises, I tend to side with conservative realists like Col. Bacevich: you can have a republic or you can have an empire, but you can't have both. Which side are you on?

John Quiggin 10.10.14 at 7:55 am

If anyone still cares, there are three positions being debated in the US (I'm not counting my own suggestion of pulling out)

(a) Fight IS in Iraq, but do nothing in Syria so as to avoid helping Assad
(b) Fight IS in Syria as well as Iraq, helping Assad, but invoking a doctrine of double effect, and refraining from overt alliance
(c) Explicitly helping Assad

The Administration rapidly shifted from (a) to (b), and may yet be forced to (c)

dax 10.10.14 at 11:15 am

"The most pernicious argument is the "we broke it so we're morally obliged to fix it" line trotted out even by many people who say they opposed the original invasion of Iraq. Firstly it perpetuates the paternalistic ideology that the Arab world is culturally inferior to America and requires endless guidance via rewards and punishment. Secondly it is on a par with allowing a doctor who's practically killed a patient through incompetent surgery to open them up again, because they mean well and maybe they can do better this time."

The argument is hardly pernicious. Every time America screws up, it washes its hands and walks away. Teflon America! And then it screws up somewhere else. You've elevated this deliberate obtuseness to a moral level. Unbelievable.

America (along with the UK and problably Australia) owes trillions to Iraq. If it doesn't want to pay it to Iraq, fine then it should pays the money to the UN. But the idea that America is just going to walk away and pretend you can invade and destory a foreign country and not suffer consequences – that it was just Bush and Cheney's fault and not the fault of America in general, which after all re-elected the pair after the fact – well that's indigestible. Really, just indigestible.

john c. halasz 10.10.14 at 6:38 pm

CK MacLeod @164:

Well, it's difficult amidst all the abstracted curlicues to pin down the exact points of inference and implication; that's beyond my hermeneutic skills. So I have to rely on a sense of the general tenor. But you do seem, at least, to be endlessly rationalizing U.S. imperial overreach, as if it were some sort of grand strategy upholding universal "liberal democracy", where I tend to see incoherence, disintegration and devolution, on the part of grossly incompetent, irresponsible and ignorant ruling elites. (And the rise of "mass societies" in the 19th century is, at the very least, an incomplete description; the emergence of industrial capitalism was a main driver. So "making the world safe for MNCs" might be a better description of the "universal" interest that is being pursued).

As to the general issue here of the Assad regime, the U.S. doesn't have to support, nor supply it, just acknowledge it. The Russians and the Iranians can provide the support and supplies. (Oops! Those are other pieces of the puzzle our fearless leaders have massively screwed up on.) The real trick, almost impossible to achieve, is to wean the Sunni areas off of supporting Daesh or other Islamic extremists, while leaving them sufficiently armed so that they can feel capable of securing themselves, but not so much that they can go on the offensive. Syria and Iraq likely will never again be unified states. At most peace could be re-instituted on the basis of loose confederations.

But the position of Erdogan puzzles me. Previously, he had pursued conciliatory policies toward Syria and Iran, for the sake of security and economic benefits. When and why did he become a Sunni warrior?

J Thomas 10.11.14 at 9:19 am

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the US has a conscious policy of knocking down any powerful government or non-state actor (except Israel) in the region.

I am not suggesting that either. I don't say this is a conscious policy on the part of the USA or the US government. (What would it even mean for the US government to be conscious?)

I don't say this is a conscious policy on the part of the US House of Representatives. (What would it even mean for the US House to be conscious?)

I don't say this is a conscious policy on the parts of Reagan, Bush senior, Clinton, Bush junior, and Obama. (What would it even mean for Bush junior to have a conscious policy?)

I say only that for whatever reason, this is what happens.

Peter T 10.12.14 at 11:31 pm

LFC

The Romans (Mithridates, Boudicca) and IIRC, the British after a similar couple of nasty experiences, worked out that unleashing a horde of grifters on the locals invites blowback detrimental to one's wider imperial interests.

And that, therefore, the grifters often need to be forcefully restrained. The US seems to have difficulty with the concept.

Genocide, Latin American popular estrangement from the US, drugs, migration, gangs – all in part consequences of uncritical foreign policy establishment support for US grifters in Central America. And ditto, often, in the Middle East. It's precisely the f-p establishment's criteria of "success" that is in question.

LFC 10.13.14 at 3:54 am

Peter T @208:
I want to make clear that I think the US role in Latin America over the decades has been in many respects quite reprehensible. I agree that the criteria of "success" under particular admins are what's in question, and often I would have disagreed w those criteria. I was simply questioning your initial framing in terms of incompetence, since some of those reprehensible outcomes might have been intended. But it's debatable.

At any rate, w/r/t Guatemala, I've read C. Robin's review of G. Grandin's The Last Colonial Massacre (reprinted in The Reactionary Mind), which opens by recalling Reagan's 1982 mtg w Rios Montt and goes on to remind that the Guatemalan military had killed some 200,000 people by the time the civil war came to an end in the mid-'90s. So I was not defending US policy, during the Cold War esp., in Latin America. Just wanted to be clear on that.

LFC 10.13.14 at 4:22 am

p.s. Aspects of the history are fairly well known, at least in some circles (Chile '73, School of the Americas, Nicaragua, etc.). No need to rehearse in detail.

With respect to recent policy in Syria and Iraq, the orig. topic of the thread, I don't see quite the level of incoherence in US policy that some here do, though some things cd have been handled considerably better, no doubt.

There was no sizable constituency in the country for a highly active intervention vs Assad, even though he was/is slaughtering his own pop. and dropping barrel bombs on villages. The humanitarian-intervention impulse in US policy has been selective and prob. inconsistent (inconsistency does not always and necessarily equal incoherence), and the Obama admin, as Andrew F's comment above suggests, took a dispassionate, even cold (if you like) weighing-of-costs-and-benefits approach.

Sometimes that may be the least bad thing to do. The advent of ISIS has changed the weighing. One can argue about whether the judgments on this score are correct, but they appear to me (as of this writing) to be at least somewhat defensible. (That's a tentative view on my part, and I may change my mind.)

J Thomas 10.13.14 at 7:45 am

Analysis of the various moves made under Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama in Iraq and surrounds too often leaves out the failure to engage with reality….

Sometimes it may involve a rational attempt to deal with US irrational beliefs.

I think the Bush administration had the idea that we won the war so we could do anything we wanted. So for example they set out to create an Iraqi government that did not include any Ba'aths and did not include any religious people, and they wanted that government to have an army run by Americans that Iraqis would fight and die for. When asked when we intended to leave Iraq, Bush said that the US military was still in Germany after more than 50 years but we weren't exactly occupying Germany.

... ... ...

October

[Oct 31, 2014] Ukraine's Parliamentary Poll: Results and Reflections

Oct 28, 2014 | reconsideringrussia.org

... The fact that these "war parties" have been emboldened by their recent election victory will present a serious challenge to President Poroshenko, who will have to forge a coalition with them.

The "chocolate king," as Poroshenko is often known, is in a tough spot, caught between his domestic hawks and pressure from the European Union (especially Germany) and Russia to maintain the ceasefire and find a diplomatic solution to the Donbas conflict. He is in an unenviable position.

In addition, Ukraine is bankrupt and its economy is in total disarray. The newly-elected parliament will soon discover that being pro-Western, nationalist, and anti-Russian is simply not the answer for Ukraine's mammoth economic problems.

[Oct 30, 2014] Republicans confident of midterm success as apathetic America switches off by Dan Roberts

Democratic Party, the other wing of Great Party of Oligarchy, has the role of spoiler in the "US one party system" There is nothing Democratic left in Democratic Party. it's all fake and rotten to the core. "If there wasn't already such a placebo party, big money would probably invent it." Quote: "Don't blame the voters. If you're looking for someone to blame, how about asking the Democrats -- who appear to know why the GOP sucks -- to either lead or get the hell out of the way. They are occupying the opposition spot, but they are unwilling to take the natural positions that their criticism of the Republicans would imply they should take. In fact, the National Democratic Party appears to do AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to oppose the Republican agenda, while still keeping enough faithful voters around to prevent some other party from taking its place. If there wasn't already such a placebo party, big money would probably invent it."
Oct 30, 2014 | http://www.theguardian.com | Comments

BaronVonAmericano , link

Is there a difference between the Republicans and Democrats? Yes.

Is it enough to generate excitement and make the public feel like they are truly charting this nation's course with their votes. Not a chance in hell.

Don't blame the voters. If you're looking for someone to blame, how about asking the Democrats -- who appear to know why the GOP sucks -- to either lead or get the hell out of the way. They are occupying the opposition spot, but they are unwilling to take the natural positions that their criticism of the Republicans would imply they should take.

In fact, the National Democratic Party appears to do AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to oppose the Republican agenda, while still keeping enough faithful voters around to prevent some other party from taking its place.

If there wasn't already such a placebo party, big money would probably invent it.

StocktonGeographer , link
We live in the media market of Sacramento, CA, and the only TV advertising is for the Congressional district some 50-60 miles north of us, which the Democrat won by a narrow margin two years ago, defeating the sitting republican congressman. The TV ads are endless, and the money being spent on behalf of the Republican former congressman in the effort to retake the seat seems monumental. There are at least 6 or more other congressional districts covered by the Sacramento TV stations, but not a single ad concerning any of them. Crazy, and gross, and a mindless distortion of democracy. But there you are; that is modern USA
Eric Moller , link

I hope all those middle class people who are holding those signs have brought plenty of lube ..Because once Congress goes RED be ready for a serious reaming of the Middle Class once again by the GOP ... There not quite done yet siphoning of the what wealth remains in the American Middle Class .. They got real close during the Wall Street Meltdown but did not quiet get it all .. America is poised to make.... yes the same mistake again and again and again .. Why one may ask ?? Because we are NUMBER ONE and NUMBER TWO .. dont forget lots of Lube ......The GOP will love it it's petroleum product after all ...

SeeNOevilHearNOevil , link

Either way, they argue, the White House loses. "He'll become the president of no," another GOP congressman confidently told the Guardian, revelling in the prospect of reversing the insult that dogged House Republicans when they were the ones blocking Democratic legislative efforts.

These clowns are still out of touch with reality...they keep saying no to everything and believe they're paying no price for it...but somehow if the Democrats say no, that it harms them.

I think you'll find that whenever the Democrats resist Republican pressure like the threats to shut government down, their popularity soars....its not about WHO says the 'NO'...it's about who says 'NO' to WHAT. They don't get it....

RoyRoger , link

Republicans confident of midterm success ..........

If I was an American citizen (and I'm extremely grateful that I am not) I would not insult/humiliate myself by participating in the Corporate corrupt bought and paid for, White House, politician's Corporate general elections.

It makes no difference who the Corporate America is on the Election list:

Republican's; Democrats; Disneyland; Hollywood; Crime incorporated...

Corporate politics has taken over in Corporate America. Voting is but just a mythical action. Just a load of (taken for a ride) old bollocks.

Because the Republicans just like the Tories in British politics are always in control and New Labour demonstrated this fact in 1997 when they embraced Tory Thatcher's financial philosophy for thirteen years.

A One Party State !! That loves to arm and finance dictators across the world and still clocking up coup d' etat's.

GoatyGoY

The decision not to vote in an election arises from the mistaken belief that just because things are bad now, that they could not be worse later.

SFChutzpah, link
Will a republican takeover of the senate make a difference? You bet it will! Suddenly, the president (and I use the term loosely) will become the "president of no." Republicans will set a governing agenda, the country will be better off and in 2016, Romney might be our new president.
Catori Shadi -> SFChutzpah , link

You forgot the step before that.

The Democrats have experienced record numbers of filibusters. They are very well-schooled on their use.

As for the Republicans. They have NO POLICIES that they have shared with anyone. What we will see is the continued attempts to be the anti-Democrats.

laredo33, link
1. The "mainstream" media may be ignoring the election because they tend not to report anything that might make Republicans look good.
2. Republicans should not be sure of anything for they are skilled at gaining defeat from what looks to be a sure victory.
3. Local ads against Republicans have used quotes (if you can read the very small print) from as long ago as 15 years and imply they were said yesterday. Some bounce back on that.
4. Interesting that most election story references to "big" money always mention the Koch brothers, but not the likes of George Soros, et al. Locally, the Democrats raised and outspent to Republicans by as much as 12/1.
5. There ought to be a total spending limit for a political campaign and all campaigns should be limited to 60-90 days prior to an election.
6. Too bad we don't have the leadership to create a viable Centrist Party. We need options.
ryan2293, link
Chomsky said it best when he described Obama as a moderate Republican.

The whole scene in America is dragged so far to the right that it doesn't really matter which you vote for. You either have extremist republicans who proudly hate poor people, women, non-white people and people who think guns aren't the answer to everything, or you have the more moderate Republicans who are comparable to British Tories.

And you (quite rightly) thought things were bad here!!

laredo33 -> ryan2293
Interesting that Chomsky 1) made his riches being a capitalist while condemning capitalism and 2) never chose to live in a society that more closely practiced what he preached compared to where he did choose to live.
ryan2293 -> laredo33
1) how is he a capitalist?

2) why should he leave the country? Do you have to leave the country when you don't like the government? If you don't (which you don't) then you're a hypocrite and if you do then you're an idiot, the choice is yours. And there is no libertarian socialist society that he could move to anyway! Where do you suggest?

PATROKLUS00
The American electorate will deserve exactly what they will get, just as the morons in Kansas who swallowed the right-wing nonsense about trickle-down economics, slashing taxes and cutting budgets have seen their state plummet in credit ratings, burn through a billion dollars into massive debt, and debilitate their educational system at all levels.

Yet, the races are still close in that benighted state since its dyed-red voters will vote for the vacuous, destructive and exploitative ideology of the right in spite of all contrary evidence. The broader American electorate is of the same cloth and will reap the same "benefits" as the antediluvian Kansans.

The only way all too many American voters can learn is by experience, since they are incapable of thinking about anything with any reasonable level of knowledge and reason. So I am all for the GOTP taking control, now and in 2016. It will, in all likelihood, benefit me, but not the nation. I am just too weary of trying to get the first world's most politically ignorant, indolent, incompetent and inciteable voters to act in their own interest or that of their nation. Let them reap the whirlwind of their stupidity.

Herman Munster -> PATROKLUS00
Ah, and the democrat states like California, New York and Illinois are just rolling in excess money because they're fiscally responsible. And their education systems are churning out Rhodes Scholars, every child is above average, there's no poverty or racial disparity, majority democrat states are just going great guns.
BaronVonAmericano -> PATROKLUS00

I get your frustration. But I think a big component of the problem is that there is no genuine opposition party. Democrats could contrast themselves with the GOP in ways that would a) get their base excited; b) get independent votes (based on issue polling) and c) be good for the nation. But to do so would conflict with donors.

So it would appear that Democrats -- the only other viable option than the awful Republicans -- would rather sell out their base, sell out the nation, and lose seats in power in order to please their donors.

That probably explains why so many people don't want to vote.

[Oct 27, 2014] 'We Can't Have Perpetual War' The Realism of Rand Paul by Justin Raimondo

Of cause politics is the art of possible and he is the only more or less representative of "conservative realism" among republican candidates. In this sense he is definitely much more preferable then Senator John McCain, Michele Bachman, the "Great Mormon", etc. Still he somewhat broke expectations compromising with Washington establishment on way too many things. That that probably the only way you can play this game. Still, even acounting for dominance of neocons in Republican Party, it looks like he is a weaker political thinker then his father. There are compromises and compromises...
Antiwar.com

...Not since the days of Senator Robert A. Taft – another somewhat aloof, irascible, and highly intelligent GOP presidential wannabe – has the Eastern Republican establishment faced such an articulate and calculating challenger. And what annoys – and, now, frightens – GOP mandarins the most is Sen. Paul's challenge to their failed foreign policy, which has given us so many years of bloodshed and misery, along with a multi-trillion bill we cannot possibly pay.

He started out taking some easy shots, reminding Francis Fukuyama that "history has not ended" – no kidding – and doing a little bit of pandering, albeit not to the people in the room. Russia, he averred, "slides backward vainly hoping to resurrect the Soviet Union" – a view not shared by many writers for The National Interest, who have mostly resisted Washington's fashionable Russophobia. But this was just part of his Obama's-foreign-policy-is-going-to-pot riff: also included was a vague warning about "the remarkable rise" of China's "one-party state capitalism," and, in the Middle East, the "rise of radical jihadist movements" who "represent the antithesis of liberal democracy."

Seeking to explain these unsettling phenomena, the Senator attributes them ("in part") to Washington's failure to precisely define our national security interest in a new era:

"Our allies and our enemies are unsure where America stands. Until we develop the ability to distinguish, as George Kennan put it, between vital interests and more peripheral interests, we will continue to drift from crisis to crisis."

Although I'm not sure how China's rise can be at all attributed to anything having to do with Washington, Sen. Paul's point is clear enough – especially as our current regime stumbles into Iraq War III, with no clear strategy or, for that matter, a believable rationale.

Paul's peroration should dispel for all time the canard, spread by both John McCain and the tiny sectarian wing of the libertarian movement, that the Senator is compromising his anti-interventionist principles in the vain hope of getting a date with Jennifer Rubin. After the above-mentioned preliminaries, he strikes a theme continually repeated throughout:

"Americans want strength and leadership but that doesn't mean they see war as the only solution. Reagan had it right when he spoke to potential adversaries: 'Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will.'"

Citing "the tragedies of Iraq and Libya" – and let us stop here, for a moment, and acknowledge the wondrousness of a candidate considered the Republican frontrunner describing George W. Bush's war as a tragedy – Paul lets the War Party have it:

"America shouldn't fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate. America shouldn't fight wars when there is no plan for victory. America shouldn't fight wars that aren't authorized by the American people, by Congress."

Shouldn't – don't – think about it real hard: this is the woof and warp of the "conservative realism" the Senator espouses. But realism isn't pacifism: indeed, it's quite the opposite, as Sen. Paul makes clear:

"America should and will fight wars when the consequences….intended and unintended….are worth the sacrifice. The war on terror is not over, and America cannot disengage from the world."

Even as he acknowledges the limits of the anti-interventionist impulse in an age of terrorism, you'll note how the Senator also acknowledges what his warlike colleagues in Washington rarely admit: that even justified wars – i.e. defensive wars – are fraught with unpleasant possibilities. And while retaining – and emphasizing – his default opposition to overseas adventurism, he's intellectually honest enough to admit that while "blowback" accounts for some degree of anti-Americanism in the Middle East, it surely isn't the whole story.

Despite the threat inflation indulged in by the usual neocon suspects, there is indeed an enduring threat from an international jihadist movement that aims its main blow at the "far enemy," i.e. the continental United States. Sen. Paul points to a RAND corporation study claiming "a 58 percent increase over the last three years in jihadist terror groups."

Here's where Paul's vision starts to cloud over: proliferation of jihadist groups could be a sign either of weakness or of increasing strength, depending on whether it's due to ideological splits or geographic extension. Falling back on the standard evocation of Ronald Reagan, Paul cites the Great Helmsman as saying 'we will act" if we have to "preserve our national security."

Simultaneously citing Reagan and an undefined concept of "national security" is the foreign policy equivalent of ordering combination plate #1 Chinese takeout: faced with the problem of deciphering the unknown, it's always safe to go with what you think you know.

The problem is that what Sen. Paul and his advisors think they know about the "why do they hate us?" question isn't exactly clear. "Will they hate us if we are less present?" asks Paul, whose speechwriters have developed the slightly dotty tic of having the Senator appear to be talking to himself. "Perhaps," answers Paul's invisible doppelganger, "but hatred for those outside the circle of 'accepted' Islam, exists above and beyond our history of intervention overseas."

This is downright confusing. The phrase "outside the circle of 'accepted Islam'" clearly refers to the internal conflicts of "radical Islam," so-called: the sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shia. Yet this has nothing to do with the question of our continuing presence in the region except insofar as that presence intensifies the internecine battle (as, perhaps, it's intended to).

Things get even more confusing when, in his very next breath, Senator Paul's nod to the essentialists – who argue Islam is inherently hostile to American interests – is rudely contradicted:

​"The world does not have an Islam problem. The world has a dignity problem, with millions of men and women across the Middle East being treated as chattel by their own governments. Many of these same governments have been chronic recipients of our aid."

So which is it – do we have an Islam problem or don't we? Some confusion is inevitable when speeches are assembled by committees, rather than written by individuals, but in this case the Senator is in danger of exacerbating his growing reputation – perhaps unfairly acquired – as a champion flip-flopper. Nuance is fine, but it doesn't win hearts and minds – or elections.

However, there is one aspect of Paul's "dignity problem" thesis that, as far as I know, has been totally overlooked and yet seems clear as day.

Mocked by both neocons and our babbling sectarians for supposedly trying to appease the GOP's Israel Firsters, Sen. Paul himself may or may not have been aware of just how much his description of the Middle East's "dignity problem" conjures the Israeli occupation of Palestine – but whoever wrote those words surely did. Yes, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab kleptocracies have been recipients of US aid – but so has Israel, which does indeed treat its Palestinian subjects like chattel. The lack of specificity as to which countries are suffering from a dignity problem lends itself to my preferred interpretation – and I'm just waiting for Jenn Rubin to pick up on this, if she hasn't already.

In spite of my impatience with nuance, I have to respect the Senator's thoughtfulness when it comes to filling the Washington policy void when it comes to the Middle East. And it's clear that in trying to strike a balance between necessary belligerence and an instinctive aversion to intervention, President Paul would lean toward the latter. This was underscored by his reference to Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who stood up to both the Taliban and an American President ordering drone strikes on her country: for every terrorist killed by the Western alliance, she told Obama, "500 and 5,000 rise against it and more terrorism occurs."

"The truth is," says Paul, "you can't solve a dignity problem with military force." Citing Secretary Robert Gates's warning that our foreign policy is becoming "over-militarized," the Senator got in a shot at John McCain and others eager to arm the "good' Syrian Islamist rebels: "Yes," Paul snarked, "we need a hammer ready, but not every civil war is a nail." This is presumably true when it comes to Ukraine as well.

While I doubt quoting Otto von Bismarck to libertarians skeptical of Sen. Paul's bonafides is going to win them over, it's hard to contradict Paul's view that "policy is the art of the possible." And what's possible, Paul avers, is "common sense conservative realism" which is, it turns out, a cancellation of the neoconservative project as enunciated by George W. Bush in his 2005 inaugural speech. With the neoconservative ascendancy in the GOP at its height, President Bush II ranted on about igniting "a fire in the mind" across the Middle East and indeed the whole world.

The conservative realism of President Paul, far from igniting any fires, would seek instead to tamp them down: "We can't retreat from the world, but we can't remake it in our own image either."

Yes, Paul says, the war in Afghanistan was justified because the effort to deny Al Qaeda safe haven and bring Osama bin Laden to justice directly served American interests. He endorses the overthrow of the Taliban, but then proceeds to denounce the nation-building project undertaken by the Bush administration and continued by the Obamaites. Yet these two aspects of American policy are inseparable: once we decided to widen our war aims beyond narrowly targeting bin Laden & Co. Afghanistan was inevitably turned into a nation-building construction site.

In any case, in expressing his frustration with this outcome, Sen. Paul gives vent to some of his strongest dissent from the bipartisan interventionist consensus:

"After the killing of Bin Laden and the toppling of the Taliban, it is hard to understand our exact objective. Stalemate and perpetual policing seem to be our mission now in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. A precondition to the use of force must be a clear end goal. We can't have perpetual war."

We can't have perpetual war: there, in a phrase, is "conservative realism" – and the basis for a successful appeal to Americans on both sides of the political spectrum to rein in the American empire.

Unfortunately, the Senator doesn't leave it at that. Instead, he paves the way for perpetual war in Iraq by endorsing the first step down that road:

"I support a strategy of air strikes against ISIS. Our airpower must be used to rebalance the tactical situation in favor of the Kurds and Iraqis and to defend Americans and our assets in the region. Just as we should have defended our consulate in Benghazi, so too we must defend our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad."

To begin with, why is the United States the only power with "assets" in the region capable of launching air strikes against ISIS? Those elaborate weapons systems we sell the Saudis, the Jordanians, and the Gulf states surely ought to serve some purpose other than enriching our military-industrial-congressional complex. I can't imagine why Sen. Paul is pretending he's never asked this very same question himself.

Aside from the folly of encouraging the Kurds – and not revealing the exact nature of our other "assets" in the region – the absurdity of Paul's argument culminates in the "we must defend our consulate/embassy" defense. This surely sets a new standard for US military intervention: is the Senator saying we should have bombed Tehran in response to the 1980 takeover of our embassy? Can he really be saying that anywhere we have a consulate we must commit ourselves to the military defense of the host nation? If so, that's an awfully unrealistic position for an alleged "realist" to take.

Paul does a very good job of enunciating the core principles of a viable conservative realism: his big problem, however, is translating abstract ideas into credible and consistent policy options. And although this speech was supposed to be the Final Word on the question that's been preoccupying the pundits and worrying the War Party – what would President Paul do in the Middle East, and what wouldn't he do? – I rather doubt this is the last we'll be hearing of it.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I've written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

[Oct 25, 2014] Putin Accuses U.S. of Backing 'Neo-Fascists' and 'Islamic Radicals' By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

Oct 24, 2014 | NYTimes.com

...Instead of supporting democracy and sovereign states, Mr. Putin said during a three-hour appearance at the conference, the United States supports "dubious" groups ranging from "open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals."

"Why do they support such people," he asked the annual gathering known as the Valdai Club, which met this year in the southern resort town of Sochi. "They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals, but then burn their fingers and recoil."

The goal of the United States, he said, was to try to create a unipolar world in which American interests went unchallenged.

... ... ...

"We are at a dangerous point where on both sides, unilateral grievances have thoroughly spilled over into very, very emotional policies toward each other," said Cliff Kupchan, the chairman of the Eurasia Group, a Washington-based risk analysis organization, who was at the meeting.

"I think it is on a new level of acrimony," Mr. Kupchan said of Mr. Putin's speech. "I think this is a genuine message that 'Enough is enough, and I don't like being grouped with Ebola and I don't like these sanctions

[Oct 24, 2014] Henry Giroux On the Rise of Neoliberalism As a Political Ideology

A very important article. Should be read in full. Large quote below does not cover all the content of the article.
Oct 19, 2014 : truth-out.org

"There is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past."

Ryszard Kapuscinski

Are they incapable, or merely unwilling? That is the credibility trap, the inability to address the key problems because the ruling elite must risk or even undermine their own undeserved power to do so.

I think this interview below highlights the false dichotomy between communism and free market capitalism that was created in the 1980's largely by Thatcher's and Reagan's handlers. The dichotomy was more properly between communist government and democracy, of the primacy of the individual over the primacy of the organization and the state as embodied in fascism and the real world implementations of communism in Russia and China.

But we never think of it that way any more, if at all. It is one of the greatest public relation coups in history. One form of organizational oppression by the Russian nomenklatura was replaced by the oppression by the oligarchs and their Corporations, in the name of freedom.

Free market capitalism, under the banner of the efficient markets hypothesis, has taken the place of democratic ideals as the primary good as embodied in the original framing of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

It is no accident that the individual and their concerns have become subordinated to the corporate welfare and the profits of the upper one percent. We even see this in religion with the 'gospel of prosperity.' In their delusion they make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, so that after they may be received into their everlasting habitations.

The market as the highest good has stood on the shoulders of the 'greed is good' philosophy promulgated by the pied pipers of the me generation, and has turned the Western democracies on their heads, as a series of political leaders have capitulated to this false idol of money as the measure of all things, and all virtue.

Policy is now crafted to maximize profits as an end to itself without regard to the overall impact on freedom and the public good. It measures 'costs' in the most narrow and biased of terms, and allocated wealth based on the subversion of good sense to false economy theories.

Greed is a portion of the will to power. And that madness serves none but itself.

This is a brief excerpt. You may read the entire interview here.

Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism
19 October 2014
By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout

"...We're talking about an ideology marked by the selling off of public goods to private interests; the attack on social provisions; the rise of the corporate state organized around privatization, free trade, and deregulation; the celebration of self interests over social needs; the celebration of profit-making as the essence of democracy coupled with the utterly reductionist notion that consumption is the only applicable form of citizenship.

But even more than that, it upholds the notion that the market serves as a model for structuring all social relations: not just the economy, but the governing of all of social life...

That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way.

And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity.

We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world."

"This is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility."

I think that as a mode of governance, it is really quite dreadful because it tends to produce identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a kind of "survival of the fittest" ethic, grounded in the notion of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of individual and ruling groups to accrue wealth removed from matters of ethics and social cost.

That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way. And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have causedmassive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity. We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world.

And having mentioned this impact on the social state and the 99%, would you go as far as to say that these ideologies have been the direct cause of the economic crisis the world is presently experiencing?

Oh, absolutely. I think when you look at the crisis in 2007, what are you looking at? You're looking at the merging of unchecked financial power and a pathological notion of greed that implemented banking policies and deregulated the financial world and allowed the financial elite, the one percent, to pursue a series of policies, particularly the selling of junk bonds and the illegality of what we call subprime mortgages to people who couldn't pay for them. This created a bubble and it exploded. This is directly related to the assumption that the market should drive all aspects of political, economic, and social life and that the ruling elite can exercise their ruthless power and financial tools in ways that defy accountability. And what we saw is that it failed, and it not only failed, but it caused an enormous amount of cruelty and hardship across the world. More importantly, it emerged from the crisis not only entirely unapologetic about what it did, but reinvented itself, particularly in the United States under the Rubin boys along with Larry Summers and others, by attempting to prevent any policies from being implemented that would have overturned this massively failed policy of deregulation.

It gets worse. In the aftermath of this sordid crisis produced by the banks and financial elite, we have also learned that the feudal politics of the rich was legitimated by the false notion that they were too big to fail, an irrational conceit that gave way to the notion that they were too big to jail, which is a more realistic measure of the criminogenic/zombie culture that nourishes casino capitalism.

[Oct 25, 2014] Vladimir Putin blames US for Islamist terrorism and Ukraine conflict Shaun Walker

From comments: IlicPetar 25 October 2014 2:28pm
However, when one British newspaper reporter asked him specifically about the repeated reports of Russian army troops operating in east Ukraine, Putin chose to ignore the question completely.
Our friend Shaun, after a pleasant conversation with Ukrainians "who refused to give his name", informs us now on unnamed journalists who ask tough questions to Putin. So probably this is about The Guardian journalist Seumas Milne. He actually asked to Putin two questions, after which Putin asked him to clarify his second question. In this sense, it turns out that Putin really avoid answering the first question. But, in the previous question, the Russian troops were not mentioned at all. However, it is better to read it yourself...
theguardian.com

Puutin said that over the past two decades, the US had behaved as if it were someone "nouveau riche who had suddenly received a lot of wealth – in this case, global leadership". Instead of using its powers wisely, said Putin, the US had created a unilateral and unfair system.

The Russian president's sentiments were nothing new, but appeared to be a more concise and concentrated version of his grievances at a time when relations between Russia and the west are more strained than at any period since the cold war.

In a terse opening statement before taking questions for nearly three hours, Putin said: "The exceptionalism of the United States, the way they implement their leadership, is it really a benefit? And their worldwide intervention brings peace and stability, progress and peak of democracy? Maybe we should relax and enjoy this splendour? No!"

Beginner20 , 24 October 2014 7:08pm
Not only. Putin directly said: the US is NOT democracy and never was. Whole speech is here.
BillGoatse -> hiiipower , 24 October 2014 9:05pm
In regards to Islamic terrorism I agree. How many potential terrorists has the USA created by starting a war which has killed over half a million people?! How can they fight a 'war on terror' by bringing terror to millions of innocent people? It's all so illogical and tragic and there seems to be no end to this killing.

It seems obvious that America isn't killing so many civilians in the middle east for the good of the middle east civilians. They have been planning this for years. This video is a much watch! It has a former four star general and supreme commander of NATO explaining America planned to invade 7 countries. Why this video isn't more widely seen is a travesty.

General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned - Seven C…: http://youtu.be/9RC1Mepk_Sw

nobledonkey , 24 October 2014 7:31pm
George Soros wants war with Russia and he wants the EU to help pay for it by way of inflation via the printing press i.e. further destroying the middle classes.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/20/wake-up-europe/?insrc=hpss

Europeans:

Are you ready to confront Russia in the name of Soros' billions?

The man has already invested quite a bit in shady NGOs like Open Society and the man was knee-deep in the theft and plundering of Russia during the 1990s by way of Renaissance Capital and other financial outfits.

How soon before Soros teams up with Khodorkovsky and his "Open Russia" NGO? Khodorkovsky wants to get back what he rightfully stole so that he can placate former business partners like Dick Cheney.

nobledonkey -> Alderbaran, 24 October 2014 9:05pm

Nobody wants war with Russia and to suggest that Khodorkovsky is driven by a desire to placate Cheney seems ludicrous.

The point I was illustrating is that Soros wants the EU to become more confrontational with Russia, at the expense of its own security and economic well-being, the latter of which would actually help his own financial interests.

The second point is that Khodorkovsky and Cheney were business partners in the past and that much of the opposition to Putin by men such as Khodorkovsky, Berezovsky, Kasparov, and Zakayev is closely linked not only to financial players like Soros but to the neo-conservatives as well; whose media figures have been the most hawkish re: Russia and not just since Ukraine blew up (again).

Yucos was comprehensively stolen from him under the direction of perhaps Russia's second most influential man - Sechen. This was at a time when Putin wanted to prevent Khordorkovsky moving into politics and Igor Sechen had an eye on the potential spoils of Yucos. Khordorkovsky has expressed a desire to see Russia become a successful democracy.

That's why I said that "Khodorkovsky wants back what he stole in the first place".

The idea that he wants Russia to be a successful democracy is laughable, especially in light of his treatment of employees during his heyday, in particular when he had police beat striking workers.

All these figures: American neo-conservatives, western finance, and Russian 'opposition' are bound in their desire to re-open Russia like the Yeltsin days so that it be plundered once again, for varying reasons ranging from personal power to the extension of American hegemonic ambitions.

jamesoverseas , 24 October 2014 7:56pm
You missed this nugget that explains his world view

The world works like this: the more loyalty you have to the single centre of power in the world, the more legitimate your govt is

. To be fair has has a point. Syrian government not legitimate but Bahrain and Saudi governments are...can anyone explain the difference to me? (other than the syrian regime is more secular and protective towards minorities than the other two)
SEARAY , 24 October 2014 7:57pm

Putin might be right. Things were not so bad in Ukraine until EU was reportedly "fucked" by Victoria Nuland.

Beckow, 24 October 2014 8:01pm
What would Ukraine be like today without US-EU support for the violent revolution/coup in February in Kiev?

- There would be by now a normal presidential election with a new government (Ukraine for all its faults had a democracy and Yanukovitch and before him pro-Western Yushenko were elected)
- There would be no war in the Russian-speaking east and south
- Crimea would be safely in Ukraine
- Gas imports and trade with Russia would go on as before accounting for 30% of Ukraine's trade

Instead, Ukraine has a "revolutionary" government with all kinds of street radicals and pro-Western oligarchs running around saying some of the more stupid things in recent memory (US is going to give Marshall Plan, EU is going to open its borders to Ukrainian migrants, Russia has used nuclear missiles in Ukraine, etc...

The economy is dropping almost 10% a year with the worst still coming. There are 3,000 dead and the blood-thirsty rhetoric is still escalating.

Yes, this is a result of US meddling and support for the Maidan street protests. This is a result of 5 billion dollars spent by US on "NGO's" in Kiev. This is a result of Nuland's cookies.

Seems to me that it is self-evident that US has supported Ukraine's revolution. It is also self-evident that it has been a failure and Ukraine will suffer for a very long time. But since Putin said it, I am sure many will scream and shout and demonize instead of rational thinking. Quite a spectacle we see among Western intellectuals.... Were you always like this? Or is it something about Russia that drives you incoherent with rage?

JCBKing -> Beckow , 24 October 2014 8:07pm
The Ukrainians would also have 15 billion extra. It is not as if the deal with Russia would have left some of the idiots in Ukraine without any further scope for leverage between the EU and Russia.

I'm not sure if the EU will open up it's doors or conjure up some scheme that makes it more possible for a higher number of Ukrainians to at least be able to work in Poland, the supposedly "prosperous" Baltic states or Hungary.

Beckow -> JCBKing , 24 October 2014 8:20pm

EU is not exactly suffering from labor shortages today. So more Ukrainian workers, in Poland or anywhere, would just lead to even worse labor market for everybody. Actually, Russia is suffering from labor shortage, there are 3 million Ukrainians working there already.

In any negotiation one loses power and leverage by emotionally preferring one side. Ukraine has lost any leverage over EU by so visibly "loving EU", or US (who get anything they want anyway), or Russia by showing undisguised hatred - when Ukrainian leaders make Russo-phobic speeches (Yatsenyuk) and then remain as Ukrainian leaders, well that reflects on all Ukrainians.

So today, Ukraine has no room to negotiate anything. They are left with pleading for mercy and charity. That has never led to anything good.

Alderbaran -> Beckow, 24 October 2014 8:20pm
The attempted takeover of eastern Ukraine has been way more violent and damaging than any of the protests in Kiev and I don't see how you can contest that.

Ukraine is a corrupt state but to imagine that this corruption would have gone away naturally following another election is naive. Generally I ignore posts that mention Nuland, Nazis and $5 billion but I feel compelled to disagree with you.

Months ago, many were comparing Putin's moves in Ukraine to a chess game being played masterfully. Now, many of the same voices are saying that Russia had no influence in Ukraine and that any problems there are the fault of the US.

The chess game analogy might be quite apt - Putin appears to see conflict as adversarial rather than a drive to find equilibrium and compromise. The drive to capture Crimea might have also been made in order to divert attention away from problems in Russia itself and I'm worried that he might become ever more paranoid as Russia's economy slips and that speeches such as this one might become a little more common.

creel , 24 October 2014 8:03pm
Putin makes a general observation that is well grounded. Over the past two decades, yes. In his ex Soviet backyard. Yet if one thinks back further the US has often acted thus - through her proxy allies such as Turkey, Israel; through a host of coup-empowered autocrats the likes of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Chile's Pinochet and through support for failed insurrection in Cuba, Nicaragua and indeed, after a long period of misrule, in Iran.

Why do we so easily overlook Turkey's incursion into Cyprus and her continued support for militarized ethnic enclaves ..but pillory Russia for her support for similar dissident pro-Russian populations in Ukraine? Particularly when in Russia's case, there are sound strategic reasons for her apprehension about the way a potentially hostile linked-with-Nato military alliance has openly seized opportunity to place forces ever-closer to her heartland.

Umut Gezer , 24 October 2014 8:03pm

I still believe Russia should have invaded Ukraine after Yanukovich who was elected by the popular vote was ousted by a western backed coup. Perhaps this was what the Nato planned so Russia would be sucked into a war, but it did not work. their plans all have been dumped into the bin.

also, on the point of Putin ignoring one British paper's question; the British media has been lying for a year on the Ukraine issue. It has been publishing bias news and has been a dark page in journalism.

katafonia , 24 October 2014 8:07pm
as Orwell said "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
the Russian Hercules made a great speech!
shakur_420 , 24 October 2014 8:12pm
Anyone familiar with the context and history of NATO expansion, and the facts surrounding the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine, knows full well that the Russians have shown tremendous restraint. It has been the US who has been aggressive (along with their pathetic allies, like my country) in Ukraine, as they have been on the global stage for more than half a century.

The Guardian's dismissal of the facts, and their downplaying of US government behaviour is nothing new.

SHappens , 24 October 2014 8:15pm
Putin once again delivered an outstanding speech. He speaks the truth, in a straightforward manner, there is no malice nor hate. Just a fair understanding of the present situation and a clear view on Russia's future aspirations. Putin loves his country and his people rewards him a hundredfold.

There is a lot of food for thoughts in his speech.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

JCBKing , 24 October 2014 8:19pm
Caught some of it. Brilliant stuff from a highly intelligent and decent man.

It is incredible though some of the dumb questions these morons in the US and UK press ask. Not all of them but many..it defies logic. One overemotional American woman asked a stupid series of questions of pointless rhetoric that leave no scope for decent answers. The Financial Times man even worse ( a misleading question with the answer obvious) with imbecilic rudeness and fake posturing over the "accuracy" of one his reporters latest propaganda pieces .Completely out of place to mention in a meeting like this with a head of state.

I also would have liked some question from any nationality on why the US,Russia and Ukraine are all involved in obfuscation of the MH17 crash. One would assume that all 3 parties know exactly what happened from where and when and it would have been good for the President to be cornered on this,even though a direct answer would have been unlikely to have been given...everything else though was answered as usual with a great degree of detail that shames the empty headed, 15 minutes at best, nonsense from the likes of Obama and Cameron.

zelazny , 24 October 2014 8:20pm
Putin stands head and shoulders above the various western leaders, from the Pillsbury Doughboy Cameron to the "constitutional scholar" Obama.

Only the blind and the stupid don't understand that the US staged a neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine. The neo-Nazis then went on a campaign of slaughtering civilians, even burning them alive. The people in the eastern Ukraine said no to this psychopathy, and they in essence have won. The Kiev government trembles because it knows now that neither Nato nor the USA would come to their aid should Russia really attack them.

And a not so subtle threat underlies Putin's speech, because he basically has said Russia has had enough with US criminality. I think this foreshadows the eventually break from the petro-dollar by the BRICs, protected by Russia nuclear arms.

The federal reserve has to print out money by the untold billions in order to keep the US economy from another crash. Behind the facade of the increases in stock prices hides a cowering economy ready to crash at any unexpected event.

lubostron, 24 October 2014 8:28pm

...And he's bloody right!

It's beyond tragi-comic belief the amount of psychophantic scaremongering, lies, half-truths and propaganda America, Britain and others use to demonise Russia.

Luckily, there seems to be a huge disconnect between what is told/reported by governments and official (corporate) media and what many, many people actually believe.

JJRichardson lubostron , 24 October 2014 8:30pm
And have you looked at RT? It makes Soviet propaganda look sophisticated.
Nickel07 -> JJRichardson , 24 October 2014 8:38pm
I have looked at RT and I can assure you that some of the reporting is less biased than this pamphlet we are currently commenting on.

AlekNevski, 24 October 2014 8:36pm

The Russian president "has won because we were not ready to die for Ukraine, while apparently he was," Ambassador Gerard Araud said yesterday at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-22/-poker-player-putin-bluffed-and-won-french-envoy-says.html

Donetsk is 300 miles from Volgograd (Stalingrad) where 1 million (1 million?) German soldiers died in the legendary battle. Nearly 2 million Russian died too.
And these stupid bureaucrats are surprised that the Russians are willing to fight for... their land?

This level of incompetence is hard to bear. Moronic, completely and utterly moronic.

olddocrob, 24 October 2014 8:41pm

Was once told that the purpose of education was to equip one with a 100% efficient bullshit detector. There are a lot of sad, trusting folk on the site tonight; one would think uncle Jo, Adolph and their like had never trod the earth. How can anyone take seriously a man who parades half naked in front of his people looking like some extra from a homoerotic sword and saddles bash? I 'll take Putin seriously when he stops banging up journos and the singers of mildly ironic songs. Until then he's damaged goods.

donald7063 , 24 October 2014 8:47pm
Is Russia a colony of the US?

This is the opening paragraph of the National Liberation Movement of Russia's manifesto which is for the removal of unfriendly domination by the US of its economic, governmental and constitutional arrangements. For the complete manifesto go to:

www.geopolitica.ru

The National Liberation Movement in Russia has only one goal that unites everyone regardless of their political views: the restoration of the sovereignty of the country and liberation from its occupiers. The inhabitants of Russia must break free from their chains of slavery and become free citizens in a free (non-occupied) country.

To achieve these goals, the government should become ours, i.e. we must completely change the nature of the state, including through amending the Constitution. Society is a broader concept, and in fact, it should feel necessary to partake in this goal because the national liberation struggle is a struggle of the society for the restoration of sovereign control over Russia, including control over state institutions. Today, the state in Russia, as in any colony, works for the occupier under the rules established by it, placing it under the rulers' direct control. This provision is captured in the existing Constitution. Every day the main task of those millions of officials who go to work is to improve living standards and the solve the problems of the American and European peoples. That is their main function today. At the level of daily activity, it is hard to recognize this without desire and sufficient time for the conceptualisation of our historical facts and the current state of affairs in the country as a whole.

Justavoice01 , 24 October 2014 9:04pm

Since WWII, America has had plenty of wars, Committed plenty of war crimes, destabilized plenty of countries all over the world, not all for good, but for self-interest. Yet If Putin says this, it is labelled as propaganda, But it is true. America causes trouble everywhere it goes, if they don't get their way, the so called "west" defends any old stupidity they come out with. Creating chaos then try to manage it, but time and time again, it is botched up. Always defended by "compliant allies" who follows America with their follies all over the world. America has an army that don't win wars, it has too much money that is back by, god only knows, it's governance is irrational and dysfunctional, a country who votes in the dumbest individuals into positions of power and then try to dictate. I have said this plenty of time on these pages, Why do we follow them!......If the answer is WWII, the USSR won the European theatre practically by themselves.

Justthefactsman , 24 October 2014 9:06pm
I listened and watched on RT.

"When the British reporter asked about Russian troops operating in the Ukraine, Putin did reply according to the English translation to which I was listening. he even admitted that Russian troops were used to prevent Ukranian troops from leaving there base.

Maybe Shaun Walker should have gone to Sochi, or perhaps have watched RT.
As to describe Putin as railing against the U.S.A I wonder if Shaun actually knows the definition of railing ?

This whole piece is just another stick to beat the bear with.

I am not fan of Putin but then I am no fan of Obama, but can Shaun really tell us where Putin Lied about the historical past and what the recent history has been about the Ukraine?

I think Shaun should read "A Peoples Tragedy" by Orlando Fuges

johhnybgood , 24 October 2014 9:08pm
As Sergei Lavrov said to the US "we are sorry our country is so close to your bases". Lavrov's recent UN speech is a masterclass in diplomatic rhetoric. He is a million miles ahead of any US spokesperson - they are all incapable of any sort of sensible dialogue. Is anyone now listening to the constant Russophobia from the MSM.? Look what is actually happening on the ground, not what the press is reporting. It is clear that Russia has been a model of self restraint in the face of many provocations. The West has only succeeded in driving Russia closer to China.
RememberGiap , 24 October 2014 9:10pm
And Putin is right . Putin's Russia does not send drones to kill on other continents . Putin's Russian did not cause chaos in Libya , Iraq and Afghanistan . Putin's Russia did not spend billions of dollars creating fundamentalist Islamic movements on the Pakistani / Afghan border in the 1980's . Putin's Russia did not invite and fund Arab Jihadists to wage war as proxies of Russia as did the USA , a price we all suffering now . Russia does not supply arms to Israel to bomb Palestinians . Russia does not give Israel its ' veto ' on the UN Security Council to give it immunity from International law . Russia does not station its military bases throughout the world . As for US activities in toppling Governments , destabilizing countries and covert operations in Southern and Central America I'd still be typing this post tomorrow without even then revealing the tip of the iceberg !!

The USA , lovely people unfortunately living in a global Rogue State .

seamuspadraig , 24 October 2014 9:12pm
Uncle Scam is in deep doggie-do now. Russia and China aren't just some little third-world countries that Washington can wipe its ass on then throw away. Oh no... Uncle Scam is after big game now! These two animals can defend themselves. And this time, they're on the same team.

I'm waiting to see what happens in Syria.

Corrections , 24 October 2014 9:13pm
Partial English transcript:
http://eng.kremlin.ru/transcripts/23137

The rest of the transcript will no doubt appear over the next several hours. I suppose it's better than waiting until the whole thing is translated before posting anything.

EugeneGur , 24 October 2014 9:33pm
Putin said nothing in this speech that wasn't patently obvious. There is really nothing that could reasonably be denied because most statements were pure statement of facts. He just said all this very bluntly. He started his speech by saying that he was going to speak him mind, otherwise he sees no reason to speak at all.

I am old enough to remember as in early 1990s the American press cried every day all the time "We won! We won! We are the sole remaining superpower!" I thought: Aren't we supposed to be all friends now? As it became clear very soon, no, we weren't. We were expected to be servants to "indispensable" American people destined to rule the Universe. I can't speak for the rest of the Universe, but that role somehow doesn't appeal to me.

The exceptionalism of the United States, the way they implement their leadership, is it really a benefit? And their worldwide intervention brings peace and stability, progress and peak of democracy? Maybe we should relax and enjoy this splendour? No!"

This is a mistranslation. Puting didn't say anything about splendor. He did say "relax and enjoy" but he was referring to the saying" What should you do when you are being raped? Relax and try to enjoy". A somewhat different meaning, isn't it?

[Oct 24, 2014] Putin Says Don't Mess With Mother Russia By Marc Champion

Putin forgot the neoliberalism means the law of jungles. See Henry_Giroux article above
Oct 24, 2014 | Bloomberg

If President Vladimir Putin is Russia, as a senior Kremlin official said this week, then this country is angry, humiliated and suffering from an almost paranoid fixation on the U.S. as the root of all the world's troubles.

In a closing speech and question-and-answer session today at Russia's annual state-sponsored Valdai conference, Putin said he was going to be frank -- he was more than that. He dived into a long list of slights and wounds inflicted by the U.S. on Russia and the world since the end of the Cold War, and gave every sign of digging in for a long period of confrontation.

The U.S., according to Putin, is a global Big Brother that blackmails and bullies its allies while producing instability and misery around the world. Because the U.S. realizes it no longer has the ability to succeed as the lone hegemon in an age of rising powers, it is trying to recoup that status by re-creating the Cold War and producing a new enemy against which to rally countries, he said.

According to Putin's tour of contemporary world history, aggressive U.S. interventionism is responsible not just for the destabilization of Iraq (which it was) and Libya, but also for Syria (where the U.S. didn't intervene against President Bashar al-Assad) and the creation of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State. And that's before you get to the Maidan protests and "state coup" this year in Ukraine.

As for the economic sanctions the European Union has imposed over Russia's annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine, that again was all because of pressure from the U.S., he said -- not any action Russia might have taken.

There is plenty of truth salted through Putin's complaints, enough to make him -- as one fawning Russian state TV anchor put it in what passed for a question -- "the face of resistance" for many around the world.

What is worrying is that the post 1990s narrative Putin laid out -- in which the U.S. has ignored, humiliated, encircled and isolated Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union -- is one most Russians whole-heartedly believe. They, too, can't imagine that ordinary unarmed citizens -- whether in Kiev, the Arab Spring countries or elsewhere -- might act of their own volition, rather than as pawns in a U.S. game.

"What's in his mind is what Russia is thinking. It's like you're mad at someone and just let it out," said Toby Gati, a former U.S. diplomat in the audience. Gati had told Putin she didn't recognize the U.S. he described, drawing a rare conciliatory comment that he wasn't seeking confrontation.

The wellspring of popular support Putin enjoys for any potential escalation, as unwise as that would be for Russia's long-term prosperity, allowed him to be defiant on sanctions and fatalistic on continued bloodshed in Ukraine.

Sure, Putin called for a new rule-based world order and insisted that his country had no ambitions to re-create the old empire. And no doubt he was talking, on state TV, in part to the home audience. Yet the broad thrust of his remarks was defiant, arguing that if the U.S. gets to throw its weight around and break rules, why shouldn't Russia? "What's allowed for Jupiter isn't for the bull," Putin said. "Well, the bull may not be able to, but the bear isn't going to ask anyone's permission."

There's plenty of blame to go around for allowing the situation to get this bad, but for anyone who wants to see the Ukraine crisis solved, sanctions lifted and a repaired relationship between Russia and the U.S. and EU, this was a dark and depressing performance that came close to a threat.

Putin attacks U.S. electoral college system 'There is no democracy there' - The Washington Post

ravensfan20008

I can't believe I'm saying this...but Putin is right. You want to talk about a system that should cease to exist, it's this one.

And before you point to the Constitution and say "not gonna happen," there are plans out there that would render it a moot point, like states pledging to award electors to whoever wins the popular vote nationwide. And they'd easily pass constitutional muster.

jaysonrex1

Actually, Putin is right. After all these years, it is high the time a constitutional amendment changes this system for the straight voting method used in the entire world by democracies and even by dictatorships.

And while we are at it, maybe it is also high the time U.S. abandons the imperial system (it inherited from Britain - a country that already abandoned it many years ago) and finally adopts the metric system thus joining the civilized world - so to say.

And while we are at it, U.S. should get rid of the Senate. It serves no useful purpose apart from representing a unacceptable drain of public funds.

And while we are at it, .....

mvymvy

A constitutional amendment could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

Instead, by state laws, without changing anything in the Constitution, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of 'battleground' states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just 'spectators' and ignored after the conventions.

The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes-that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founders. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

NationalPopularVote

Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

[Oct 24, 2014] Russia's Putin blames U.S. for destabilizing world order

It not so depressing the level of WashPost reaction, as the level of comments...
The Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of endangering the international order by trying to "remake the whole world" for its own, exclusive interests, and he predicted that Ukraine would not be the last conflict to embroil the major powers.

Putin charged that the United States has escalated world conflicts by "unilateral diktat" and by imposing sanctions that he said were aimed at pushing Russia toward "economic weakness," while he denied that Russia aspires to rebuild an empire or reclaim its Cold War-era stature as a superpower.

"We did not start this," Putin said of the worsening world climate. "These policies started a few years ago; it hasn't just started today because of sanctions."

The Russian president's comments, among the most incendiary he has ever directed against the United States, were made during a speech before the Valdai Club, an annual gathering of international analysts and scholars held this year in the southern Russian city of Sochi, where Russia staged the Winter Olympic Games earlier this year.

Since then, Russia's annexation of Crimea and involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine have driven relations between Moscow and Washington to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

Putin said the United States had adopted a Cold War victor's mindset that was clouding its view of the world, leading to "serious delusions" about what changes are needed in the international system.

"It never ceases to amaze me how our partners have been guilty of making the same mistakes time and again," Putin said. He said past U.S. support for Islamist extremists had helped to create the current crises in Iraq and Syria, and he charged that U.S. backing for revolutions in former Soviet states now contending with chaos - such as Ukraine - were tantamount to "letting the genie out of the bottle."

magnifco1000

Trust me, if Putin weren't there, Russia would splinter into a dozen nations with half of them "Islamic States." They'd make ISIL look tame by comparison. Our interests are currently served with Russia under central control and with leadership that hate the Islamists as much as we do.

magnifco1000

The US approach to Russia is totally idiotic and unproductive. I'm a businessman and know Russia. These "Russian scholars" from Ivy League schools know nothing. Left over neocons from the Cold War just make things worse.

Russia should be engaged and worked with. We missed a golden opportunity when the Cold War ended. We don't have to feel afraid of Russia. It just has a conscript army and can barely hold it's territory together.

What's the sense of kicking them when they are down.

Giantsmax

from my own objective point of view, it is hard to argue with Putin, I think what he says bears a lot of truth.

Archy Bunka

It is hard to argue with Putin, because if you are a Russian citizen he will lock you up.

Giantsmax

But since I am an American citizen that is a moot point.

Beau7890

Of course the U.S. is trying to remake the whole world for its own interests. It's been doing this since the early 20th century. So has Russia. So has every other country that tries to lead the world-it's always for their own interests.

Putin speech at the meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

Wow... Putin practically accused the United States in international terrorism. Never mentioned the term neoliberalism. Does this suggest that Putin feels that neoliberalism is dead and no longer dangerous? What if he is wrong ? What if this stance is premature? Even in zombie state neoliberalism is a very dangerous and resourceful opponent.

... ... ...

Today's discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion's participants have already said. It's practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants' views on some points and differ on others.

As we analyse today's situation, let us not forget history's lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system's 'founding fathers' had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world's current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.

It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.

What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called 'victors' in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.

Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group's ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.

The very notion of 'national sovereignty' became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world's sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime's legitimacy.

We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of 'supra-legal' legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that 'big brother' is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.

Let's ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States' exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one's own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists' invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region's countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.

During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Only the current Egyptian leadership's determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?

As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.

Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state's institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don't forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?

What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels' ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states' affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.

We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.

Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.

Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR's old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world's biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: "We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course." In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US'] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world's diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one's own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.

Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as "the homeland is in danger", "the free world is under threat", and "democracy is in jeopardy"? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States' prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.

The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries' or their regional groups' desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.

We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone's door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.

Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe - such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions - and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.

Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.

Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today's demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.

Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.

There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this 'soft power' resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.

At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.

So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules – even if they may be strict and inconvenient – but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.

Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world's major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states' geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.

Ukraine, which I'm sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defence system.

Colleagues, friends,

I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.

Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament – but only serious discussions without any double standards.

[Oct 22, 2014] Don't Mistake Russia for Iran By Eric Lorber and Elizabeth Rosenberg

October 20, 2014 | foreignaffairs.com

With sanctions beginning to bite, Russia is starting to play a new economic game. To alleviate the pain of Western restrictions on its financial and energy sectors, Russia is turning for help to non-Western partners. Last week alone, Russia and China signed over 40 agreements that provide Russian firms with lines of credit worth billions of dollars and establish strategic partnerships in the energy sector.

The United States, in turn, is looking to step up its own game. Policymakers are considering giving global companies a choice: stop providing long-term financing and energy assistance to major Russian companies or be kicked out of the U.S. financial system. Such measures resemble the sanctions the United States placed on Iran a couple of years ago. But Iran was a different problem. And treating Russia the same way would be a mistake.

Sanctions can be an effective tool for forcing engagement and negotiation. But the pace and implementation must be tailored to the target. In the case of Iran, the United States was able to tighten the screws by pressuring foreign firms to stop dealing with the country. That move created some angry blowback, but it generally worked. And partially as a result, Tehran is at the negotiating table. When it comes to Russia, though, the political pushback that would come from blacklisting dealings with the strategic Russian energy and banking sectors would be much more severe because Russia is a more important market. Further, more companies would likely be willing to forego access to U.S. markets in order to continue working with the Russians. And that would undermine the sanctions' effectiveness.

More generally, policymakers in the United States should be wary of continually relying on sanctions that penalize foreign firms by preventing their access to U.S. markets. Ultimately, such a strategy could backfire. At some point, foreign companies may decide that doing business in U.S. markets -- and being subject to U.S. sanctions policies -- is simply not worth it. That would hurt the U.S. economy and diminish the United States' ability to use economic levers to advance its foreign policy.

[Oct 21, 2014] Ukraine Used Cluster Bombs, Evidence Indicates By ANDREW ROTH

Kiev doesn't bother to enforce the Geneva conventions. The army behaves in the Donbass as occupiers. They consider the local population as a hostile ethnic group like in any civil war.
Oct 21, 2014 | nytimes.com

A casing carrying cluster munitions that landed in a shed. Press officers for the Ukrainian military denied that their troops had used cluster weapons in the conflict. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

DONETSK, Ukraine - The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims.

Sites where rockets fell in the city on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 showed clear signs that cluster munitions had been fired from the direction of army-held territory, where misfired artillery rockets still containing cluster bomblets were found by villagers in farm fields.

The two attacks wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross based in Donetsk.

If confirmed, the use of cluster bombs by the pro-Western government could complicate efforts to reunite the country, as residents of the east have grown increasingly bitter over the Ukrainian Army's tactics to oust pro-Russian rebels

... ... ...

On the morning of Oct. 5, Boris V. Melikhov, 37, was chopping wood outside his house in the Gladkovka neighborhood of Donetsk when he heard the loud clap of an explosion from the street.

His first sensation was "a strong push in the back," and he sprawled onto the grass. More explosions followed, showering Mr. Melikhov with dust and dirt. Unable to stand, he crawled toward a spigot in the garden, bleeding profusely and desperate for water.

"I felt the blood running down my back, down my leg," he recalled in an interview last week from his bed in a hospital, where his uncle took him after the attack. Doctors there found several identical metal fragments in his leg, chest, shoulder and hand.

Hundreds of such fragments, each about the size of a thumbtack, were sprayed out by at least 11 cluster bomblets that exploded on Mr. Melikhov's street that morning. The 9N210 bomblets are carried in surface-to-surface Uragan (Hurricane) rockets that are fired from the backs of trucks and have a range of roughly 22 miles.

Part of one of the rockets smashed into a street a few blocks away, and the impact crater indicated it had come from the southwest.

The same morning, sunflower farmers near Novomikhailovka, a small village about 20 miles southwest of Mr. Melikhov's house, saw rockets sailing almost directly overhead toward Donetsk. Local people said in interviews that the army had been launching Uragan rockets from there for more than a week.

"Trust me, when it is day after day after day, you get to know your Grad launches from your Uragan launches," said one farmer, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution for discussing Ukrainian military positions.

... ... ...

Uragan rockets can carry 30 of the submunitions, which look like metal cans with fins. Those bomblets in turn hold small pieces of chopped steel rod. The rocket releases the bomblets over a wide area, and the bomblets either explode on impact, flinging out lethal steel fragments, or land unexploded and effectively become land mines. Children often mistake them for toys.

At the Red Cross headquarters in Donetsk, Human Rights Watch researchers accompanied by a Times reporter documented 19 distinct impacts of cluster submunitions from the Oct. 2 attack. Judging by impact craters from rockets fired in the same salvo, the researchers said, the strike came from the southwest.

A witness to the Oct. 2 launch in Novomikhailovka told the reporter about the malfunctioning rockets in the fields. Other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch on the evening of Oct. 2 confirmed that rockets had been fired from just south of the village toward Donetsk.

An advocacy group called the Cluster Munitions Coalition has been pressing Ukraine to join the international convention banning the stockpiling or use of the weapons. (Russia and the United States have not joined it, either.) The group's director, Sarah Blakemore, wrote to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in July after images were published appearing to show the use of cluster munitions against rebel positions in the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

She said in a telephone interview that she had received no reply. "When I say they neither confirmed or denied, I mean they really just did not do anything," Ms. Blakemore said.

... ... ...

In Donetsk, doctors in a city hospital and morgue said they had found cluster-munitions fragments in several patients, including Mr. Melikhov, whose spine was nicked by one on Oct. 5. He was lucky not to have been paralyzed, but the injury made it very painful to sit, stand or lie flat, he said.

"I see it as the senseless destruction of the southeast," he said of the attack. "There's something wrong in their head."

[Oct 21, 2014] Question: Does Russia represent an alternative to the current western economic/social model? Or is this view an illusion based only on the conflict between some traditional vs. post-modern values?

Left-biased, but still very interesting assessment of the situation. Especially in the first part (the first 14 questions) Quote: "All attempts by Russia to develop a hypothetical line of response based on similar strategies (i.e. mobilizing a social response based on discontent) have no future, because Russia does not represent an alternative social model, not even in the realm of Illusion of Hope. "
2014/10/19 | Sociología crítica

Danos tu opinión

Un amable lector de este blog ha realizado un resumen en inglés de nuestro artículo Las catedrales del kremlin y el capitalismo multipolar; es un resumen diferente al que nosotros hubiéramos hecho, pero de interés sin duda alguna. Ha sido publicado como apoyo a una pregunta en un coloquio con el economista ruso Mikhail Khazin organizado por The vineyard of the saker. Publicaremos aquí la respuesta.

Question: Does Russia represent an alternative to the current western economic/social model? Or is this view an illusion based only on the conflict between some traditional vs. post-modern values? / Arturo

For context to the question I will provide a translation / paraphrase / summary of some key points in the following article Las catedrales del kremlin y el capitalismo multipolar

The article contains and numbers many more points (36 in total) but I have translated/summarized only the first 14 (the rest is provided is a very raw translation --NNB)

  1. Moscow cannot defeat the American plans – i.e. the Anglo Zionist world elite – without contradicting the class interests of its own elites (Russian oligarchs): This is impossible because the system of sanctions and the blocking of access to their accounts and assets in the West generates such contradictions in the Russian power elites that, in practice, it prevents them from reacting adequately; it puts them on their knees before the American plans.
  2. Russia *could* resist those plans, since it possesses the strength, sense of identity, historical memory and material resources to do so. But in order to do so, its ruling elites would have to take measures that would affect their own class status within both the Russian system and the international system. And we can see that these are measures they are not willing to take. On the other hand, the Anglo Zionists suffer no such internal contradiction. Quite the opposite, in fact: Their own interest as the supporting base of the globalist hyperclass necessarily forces them to maintain the challenge to the end.
  3. By the term Anglo Zionists, in this analysis, we mean the dominant power group whose territorial and military base resides in the United States, and whose center originates in the historical and social links of the Anglo-American oligarchies, branching off to other historical central metropolis in Europe or other power centers in different parts of the world.
  4. The concept is made up of two elements that must be explained: the first, the "anglo" reference, has to do with the North American British connection [...] the second, the "zionist" reference, has to do with the interconnection among the economic and financial power groups that maintain various kinds of links with Israel. It is not so much a reference to ethnic origin, but rather to orientations as groups or lobbies of political and economic interests. A good part of this Zionist component consists of people who are neither Israelis nor Jews, but who feel identified with the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, Britain and other countries. Thus the term "zionist" referees here to an ideology, not to an ethnic origin.
  5. The Anglo elites on both sides of the Atlantic have evolved from being national elites to being the executive base of a world Hyperclass made up of individuals capable of exerting a determining influence in the most powerful nation, the United States.
  6. The result of the Anglo Zionist line of attack is that the contradiction and internal struggle is now occurring in Moscow between those who have already chosen to sell out and those who have not yet found the time to realize that a multipolar global capitalism is not viable.
  7. In this context, recovering Crimea was a mirage, an illusion.
  8. If we compare the implications of the Maidan coup in Kiev with the liberation of Crimea, we see that the strategic defeat implicit in losing Ukraine as an ally is of such magnitude that everything else pales by co s (all of them) in Kiev was so gigantic that its implications are frightening. It was either a failure or something even worse. In any case, the Crimea affair was merely a small episode in a confrontation that Russia is losing.
  9. Russia arrived very late at modern capitalism, and that is why its current elite will be unable to occupy a space among the globalist elite without paying the necessary toll, which is none other than renouncing its territorial power base – its country and its access to and control of its energy resources and raw materials.
  10. Stubbornly maintaining the dispute in trying to obtain a multi-polar capitalism, leads necessarily to a intra-capitalist confrontation, as it did in 1914-1918. And because of the nature of the current actors, nuclear powers … it brings the conflict to 2.0 war versions (color revolutions)
  11. All attempts by Russia to develop a hypothetical line of response based on similar strategies (i.e. mobilizing a social response based on discontent) have no future, because Russia does not represent an alternative social model, not even in the realm of Illusion of Hope. It can only elicit some empathy from those who reject the American domination, but here the class contradictions come into play again, because it is not enough to oppose Washington merely on political-military grounds, since the key to global power resides in the financial and military structures that enable global control and plunder: World Trade Organization, IMF, Free Trade agreements, World Bank, NATO… these are entities in relation to which Russia only shows its displeasure at not being invited to the table as an equal, not accepting that because it arrived late at modern capitalism, it must play a secondary role. On the other hand, Russia is ignoring the deep contempt, bordering on racism, that things Slavic generate among Anglo Zionist elites.
  12. In order to be able to fight the 2.0 versions of war that are engineered today, an alternative social model is needed. Alternative not only in regard to the postmodern vs. traditional sets of values, but fundamentally in regard to the social model that stems from the modes of production. In the postmodern vs. traditional conflict, Russia tends to align with the most reactionary values. And in regard to the social struggle, they don't want to enter that fray because they renounced it long ago. They renounced the entire Soviet Union, which they destroyed from within.
  13. The contradictions and the dialectical nature of reality have their own logic, however. Thus, a coup in Kiev and the widespread appearance of Nazi symbols in the streets of Ukraine was all that it took to induce a spontaneous reaction in the Slavic world. The popular resistance in the Donbass took strong root thanks to the historic memory of the people's of the old USSR and its war against fascism.
  14. If Russia were to abandon Novorossia to the oligarchs and their mafias, the world's "left" – or whatever remains of it - would come to scorn post-Soviet Russia even more than it already does. In the months following the brave action in Crimea and the heroic resistance in the Donbass, many people around the world looked to Moscow in search of some sign that it would support the anti-fascist and anti-oligarchic resistance, even if only as an act of self-defense by Moscow against the globalist challenge. If it finally abandons Novorossia, the price in terms of loss of moral prestige will be absolute.
  15. A support of the left has not been sought, but that is a collateral consequence of the character of class struggle open that has been given in the Donbas, where Russia has been forced to provide some assistance that would prevent the genocide at the hands of the fascist Ukrainian.
  16. Cuando say left, we refer logically to the one who has expressed their support to the struggle of people in the Donbas, as it is very difficult to consider the "left" to those who have preferred to remain silent or to have directly been complicit in the assault, and the coup in Kiev.
  17. The degradation of the left as politically active social force is very intense, their structures are embroiled in the collapse, or in the confusion, when not literally corrupt. Then related to both socialist parties since 1914 and the communists, at least from the time of fracture of 1956. The social changes experienced in Europe with the systems of welfare state, based on the elevation of the standard of living of the working population and the obtaining of social peace by sharing the power with the trade unions are at the base of the post-industrial society and the resulting profound changes of values.

    The suicide of the USSR in 1989-93 marked a brutal global change , in which the balance which was preserved during the cold war was broken. That led to the capitalist elite in the west, which we are calling the Anglo-Zionists, to the suspension of the social pact (forced abandonment of New Deal), that gave rise to the welfare state and the emergence stark reality of a global power of capitalists without systemic opposition . Today the whole neoliberal globalization system of capitalism is in danger by the depletion of the natural resources. And to sustain this mode of production, they need to speed up territorial domination in the form of control and access to resources of other countries. Now there no space in the global system for spaces, which are managed autonomously even to a certain level.

  18. The system of global domination, capitalism, ruling elites with a territorial basis in the area of Anglo-American, global parasitic Hyperclass and depletion of resources, as well as cannibalization of the other nations, in the midst of troika of crisis of climate change, peak of the energy and raw materials shortages. those three factors that challenge the current globalization framework ... And the crisis of Novorossia, been demonstrated both impotence and the lack of real political autonomy of Russian elite with the respect to the dominant power in neoliberal worlds order..
  19. The new citizen movements in the western world are not so much resistance movements as samples of the discontent of the middle classes in precarious position of marginalization and/or social trance. This protest led to a "Maidans" which are not permanent and does not question the basis of the system. The participants seems to believe that it is possible to restore the old good world of the welfare state.
  20. The western movements are brainwashed by messages emanating from the headquarters of Democratic party of North America, the propaganda anarcho-capitalist and the various networks of ideological interference, are managing to break the bonds of historical memory that unite the struggles of the past with the present, de-ideologize the struggles and conflicts and to deny the tension left and right, isolating the militants -- or simple citizens who feel identified with the values of the left - of the masses who are suffering in the first place casualisation. At the heart of this new "left" are leaders that are co-opted voices, pseudo-intellectuals who destroy the words and empty of content of key concepts in a way that the alienation of the masses demonstrate at the language itself, thus preventing putting a real name to social process and things, and to identify the social phenomena.
  21. Viva to Russia, which the only country which eve in a weak form decided to fight neoliberal world order and position itself as an anti-imperialist force... It is interesting to observe the current great moral confusion in political landscape of the societies in decay. Confusion which have been stimulated by Moscow actions. As the result some the far-right groups that are simultaneously anti-US that anti-Russian now support Moscow. Also some part of Russia far-right political groups got the sympathy and support of factions of the anti EU far right forces in France, the Nazis of the MSR in Spain, and from small groups of euro-asianists. This line of political affiliation will allow them to simply join the Russia failure [to find alternative to monopolar neoliberal capitalism] and might well discredit then more profoundly in the future.
  22. The euro-asianists forces technically speaking are reactionary forces, neoliberal forces which is comparable to the worst of the worst in the western world. Moreover, they do not have any way to solve the main contradictions that arise in the current neoliberal model in the terms of class and dominance of Anglo Zionist global elite.
  23. Euro-Asianism is just a suitable ideology for the construction of Russian national idea for those who seeks to achieve lease to life for Russia sovereignty on the world stage. It is the actual proof that Russia has come too late to globalised capitalism and fascism...
  24. Huttington and his war of civilizations cynically exploit this confrontation on Anglo Zionist elite and newcomers, redefining it along the idea of the clash of civilizations which avoid using the notion of class and thus is ideologically false. Alexander Duguin who promote similar ideas quite seriously just shows the degree of degeneration of the Russian intelligentsia, which oscillates between serving as comprador class to the global Anglo Zionist elite and the repetition (as a farce, and with 75 years of delay ) of fascist reactionary revolutions in Western Europe, which were phenomenon of the interwar period (rexistas in Belgium, Croix de feu in France, CruzFlechados in Hungary, Requetés and Falangistas in Spain).
  25. The globalist elite offered a solution formulated in class terms, as it could not be another way: in the best cases, they proposes the co-optation to a handful of members of the Russian elite as deserving members of the new global Hyperclass, but this path is opened only the very very rich, and the pre-condition is the delivery of the country to plunder, where the global elite certainly would have need of some compradors which will be more or less adequately compensated depending on their achievements and sacrifices in the name of global neoliberal domination.
  26. The part of the power elite of Russia, which managed to expel the western compradors of the Yeltsin era, and rein in the oligarchs then, had tried with some success to regain control of the territory of the country. The illusion of the members of this part of the power elite -- basically the security services, both civil and military, and various synergies of those with the military-industrial lobby -- is that it would be enough to neutralize the Russian fifth column of the Anglo Zionists to take back control of their territorial base of power. this idea is going to be shredded into pieces when it enter into contradiction with the reality of the class struggle and interests of the elite at the global level. Russia is, for its size, influence, and resources, so huge that a line of action based on the defense of its sovereignty strategic enters in collision with the global power of neoliberalism. And that why it attracts disproportional reaction of the Anglo Zionists
  27. Supporters of Anglo Zionists that are ready to consent to a German-Russian alliance or Russia-EU alliance that give the viability of a idea of mutually beneficial co-development of both Russia and Europe are forgetting that such an action would require European sovereignty. Which is was non-existent iether on the level of the EU, or on the level of member states. The penetration of the Atlantism in Europe is already systemic. In the old European states there are still ancient national traditions, which were based on the basis of cultural, industrial, economic, and political identity. And they still run strong. But in the current situation for such states there no space for the sovereignty as the dominant power bloc in the national elite as well as in EU elite are Atlantists. Where this situation takes the Russian elite and the Russian state without confrontation? A confrontation that they, on the other hand are not willing and are not able to pursue.
  28. The multi-polar capitalist world had its lifespan which come to an end (exploded) in 1914. In 2014, the globalization of the elites and the capital is of such magnitude that no serious resistance is possible on the basis of some capitalist model. In those conditions the idea of Russian elite ability to enforce change to multipolar version of the currently monopolar neoliberal world is doomed to be a failure.
  29. Zbigniew Brezinsky has raised things crudely and openly, unlike the ("fake") supporters of perestroika, and their current heirs in Russia. Brezinsky know how to think in terms of the class contradiction and knows perfectly well that the Russian oligarchy has directed its monetary flows abroad, moved families abroad, and moved their investments abroad. That means that Anglo Zionists can disrupt any claim of sovereignty over the territory and resources by simply pressing the local neoliberal elite, giving them to choose between their interests as a class and their illusionary desire for sovereignty. Because in a globalized world, with its brutal fight for the natural resources there is no possibility of maintaining both, except what can be achieved in terms of direct anti-imperialist struggle. There is no space for the national bourgeoisies in the XXI century. You can only have sovereignty if it is posed in terms of a rupture with the actually existing neoliberal order of global capitalism, which, in its core is Anglo Zionists globalization. This break does not have to be forced, but in terms of scientific analysis of the social processes is a logical consequence of following this path one way or the other. To claim sovereignty over their own resources and territory inevitably leads to confrontation, and logical needs a break up and confront the Anglo Zionist empire. If you really want to achieve the goal. And that fact imposes the logic of the relationships and balance of power in the world today.
  30. The claims of the BRIC countries -- to the extent that you do not question them -- is that they have an alternative model to the dominant neoliberal capitalism model (Ango Zionist globalization with the center in the USA) are doomed to be a failure. The efforts of the BRIC countries can generate a lot of noise and discomfort for the West, but they can not break the global neoliberal system. Those countries are rightfully fearful of their budget balances -- which are very fragile. It can be even said that they are on their way to implosion sooner or later, due to the unbalanced structure of their internal classes, including first of all their own elite.
  31. The claim that it is possible to achieve the multipolar capitalist world (which Russia defends) and which led to current Ukrainian crisis without confrontation is false. As soon as Russia wanted to return to the global chessboard. as an independent player, they instantly saw opponents attacking weak elements of their defense at the borders. Ukraine has been a defeat for Russia and the Crimea is not a adequate compensation for loss of Ukraine. Now Novorossia is being sacrificed precisely because the class contradictions that have emerged in Moscow and lack of desire of Russian elite to go the bitter end.
  32. The situation in the Donbas / Novorossia clearly shows the resignation of Moscow to the victory, and their desire to avoid the clash with neoliberal world order. The fact is that Royal Dutch Shell has already begun the fracking in the Donbas, the coup regime in Kiev are already internationally accepted without reservations, the truce imposed in Novorossia has brought to its knees the armed resistance to junta. All this leads way to deliver Novorossia to the hands of mafias sponsored by the local oligarchs with friends in Kiev and Moscow.
  33. Statement that the destiny of Russia was played in the Donbas is something more than a phrase, It is a claim based on a reality, as the defeat of Novorossia would be the proof that Moscow had not the will to struggle. The betrayal of the fighters and the hopes of Novorossia is the acceptance of the defeat and might lead in the future to the victory to the Moscow Maidan, the same alliance of compradors and nationalists using which as storm troopers the globalist elite achieved their goal in Ukraine. If Novorossia is defeated, they can expect being able to push a puppet into the Kremlin the same way. And not without reason. This summer, the heroic struggle of the militia of the Donbas was the key element that forced the changes of the script designed for Kiev as well as diminished chances of successful application of the same methods in Moscow. The Minsk Agreements and the truce imposed by them are putting Novorossia on its knees, allowing for its destruction, but this time at the hands of their allies. Sad spectacle for the Russian security services, which were effective enough to organize the Donbas resistance, but now are useless and powerless before the neofascist Kiev junta.
  34. The struggle of the Donbas does not correspond to the strategic interests of the Russian elite. They have been forced to intervene to prevent the horror of the mass murder of the population of the Donbas at the hands of the extreme right. But the dream of a Donbas free of oligarchs and with a sovereign state, committed to social justice for workers on this Slavic land are completely incompatible with the post-soviet status quo. Only to the extent that there is a significant faction of Russian elite aware of the contradictions of the global neoliberal game and who put their sense of patriotism first can lead them to face the challenge that they face. Only in this case there would be any possibility of resistance; I would say patriotic resistance, because we already know no one at the top is able to think in terms of class.
  35. While very unlikely - there can be a move from February to October in Novorossia. You would say impossible. But he insurrection of the Donbas in March, logically was "February". In order to achieve victory, to take full control over the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk needs creation of the Revolutionary Military Council and suspension of the upcoming elections. which looking to be a smokescreen for capitulation to junta. They need to declare that they are ready to resist to the end. This output would be desperate move, without a doubt, and would represent the equivalent of a new "October". The event which of it occurs would force Moscow to show their cards to their own population. And perhaps it can help to generate a pulse necessary for the organization of the fight with Anglo Zionists empire between the towers of the Kremlin. That would move the fight toward more patriotic and popular goals, But this presuppose a lot of assumptions and first of all that such a "Kremlin tower", which is capable of emitted such a pulse, exists. Only in this case we can talk about achieving a real sovereignty. As Vasily Záitsev in Stalingrad suggested: "Maybe we're doomed, but for the moment we are still the masters and lords of our land." In Novorossia there are plenty of fighters who would agree with Záitsev, but they certainly lack political direction and, now the lack the support of Kremlin.
  36. The Russian objective is achieving a multipolar capitalism with a Russia united under a nationalist ideology based on the manipulation of patriotic sentiment, Orthodoxy and various Slavic myths. This objective is being challenged by the reality of the conflict, which should be defined in terms of geopolitical goals. The reality is that the Russian elite would be allowed to control their population as they wish, provided they renounce its sovereignty over territory and resources, renounce their physical power base, i.e. homeland. This is the nature of the challenge. Putin is mistaken if he thinks that the Grand Patriarch has the answer in their holy books. There is not enough incense in the Kremlin cathedrals to mask that reality."

[Oct 21, 2014] Address by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the 69th session of the UN General Assembly

Compare argumentation with Sociología crítica To be a neoliberal society and be free from US dominance is not very realistic until oil became at least twice more expensive and neoliberal model of globalization start collapsing. While critique of the US policy is up to the point, what is the alternative to the current situation? Russia is weaker then the USA neoliberal state and so far it does not look like it decided to abandon neoliberalism. And if not, then what is the point of confrontation ? Clearly the USA has geopolitical ambitions in Eastern Europe. And they want to exploit their status as the pre-eminent neo-liberal state, like Moscow was for socialist camp, so to speak to squeeze Russia, as a dissident state, which deviates from neoliberal agenda. Ukraine just fall victim of this squeezing. Collateral damage so to speak. And the key problem with Ukraine neither the USA nor EU want to compensate the damage their actions inflicted, to offer Marshall plan to Kiev.
Sep 27, 2014 | mid.ru

...There is growing evidence of the contradiction between the need for collective, cooperative efforts to provide adequate responses to challenges common to all, and the aspirations of a number of countries for domination and the revival of archaic bloc thinking based on military drill discipline and the erroneous logic of "friend or foe."

The US-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries,acts from a completely opposite position in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and tires to decide for everyone what is good or bad.

Washington has openly declared its right to the unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests. Military interference has become common, even despite the dismal outcome of the use of power that the US has carried out in recent years.

The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, the attack against Libya and the failure of the operation in Afghanistan. Thanks only to intensive diplomatic efforts, an aggression against Syria was averted in 2013. There is the involuntary impression that the goal of various "colour revolutions" and other goals to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.

Today, Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy. The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area. The West has embarked upon a course towards "the vertical structuring of humanity" tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards. After they declared victory in the Cold War and the "end of history," the US and the EU opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all the people of Europe. Our Western partners did not heed our numerous alerts on the unacceptability of the violation of the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, and time and again avoided serious cooperative work to establish a common space of equal and indivisible security and cooperation from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Russian proposal to draft a European security treaty was rejected. We were told directly that only the members of the North Atlantic Alliance could have the legally binding guarantees of security, and NATO expansion to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given previously. NATO's change toward hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West's own interests, and the additional build-up of the military infrastructure at Russian borders made the inability of the alliance to change its genetic code embedded during the Cold War era obvious.

The US and the EU supported the coup in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any act by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that used suppression by force on the part of the Ukrainian people that had rejected the attempts to impose an anti-constitutional way of life to the entire country and wanted to defend its rights to a native language, culture and history. It was precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take destiny into its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination. This was an absolutely free choice no matter what has been invented by those who were, in the first place, responsible for the internal conflict in Ukraine.

The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis. Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February's bloody events at Maidan and the massive loss of human life in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions in Ukraine. The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in southeastern Ukraine has been deliberately underscored. Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light as mass graves were discovered in the outskirts of Donetsk. Despite UNSC Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances into the loss of the Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted. The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice. Otherwise it is unrealistic to expect a national reconciliation in Ukraine.

... ... ...

Let me recall the not too distant past. As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference in the domestic affairs of the US and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America. At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record and were based on reciprocity. Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this item and reproduce that demand of the US government on a universal scale. Shouldn't the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the unacceptability of interference into the domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of a coup as a method for changing power? The time has come to exclude from international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others. The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we review the US blockade of Cuba.

The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21st century and run counter to the objective process of development for a polycentric and democratic world order.

Russia is promoting a positive and unifying agenda. We always were and will be open to discussion of the most complex issues no matter how unsolvable they would seem in the beginning. We will be prepared to search for compromises and the balancing of interests and go as far as to exchange concessions provided only that the discussion is respectful and equal.

... ... ...

New dividing lines in Europe should not be allowed, even more so given that under globalization these lines can turn into a watershed between the West and the rest of the world. It should be stated honestly that no one has a monopoly on truth and that no one can tailor global and regional processes to one's own needs. There is no alternative today to the development of consensus regarding the rules of sustainable global governance under new historical circumstances - with full respect for cultural and civilizational diversity in the world and the multiplicity of the models of development. It will be a difficult and perhaps tiresome task to achieve such a consensus on every issue. Nevertheless the recognition of the fact that democracy in every state is the "worst form of government, except for all the others" also took time to break through, until Winston Churchill passed his verdict. The time has come to realize the inevitability of this axiom including in international affairs where today there is a huge deficit of democracy. Of course someone will have to break up centuries-old stereotypes and abandon the claims to eternal uniqueness. But there is no other way. Consolidated efforts can only be built on the principles of mutual respect and by taking into account the interests of each other as is the case, for example, under the framework of BRICS and the SCO, the G20 and the UN Security Council.

The theory of the advantages of cooperative action has been supported by practice: this includes progress in the settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and the successful conclusion of the chemical demilitarization of Syria. Also, regarding the issue of chemical weapons, we would like to obtain authentic information on the condition of the chemical arsenals in Libya. We understand that our NATO colleagues, after bombing this country in violation of a UNSC Resolution, would not like to "stir up"" the mayhem they created. However, the problem of uncontrolled Libyan chemical arsenals is too serious to turn a blind eye to. The UN Secretary General has an obligation to show his responsibility on this issue as well.

What is important today is to see the global priorities and avoid making them hostages to a unilateral agenda. There is an urgent need to refrain from double standards in the approaches to conflict settlement. Everybody largely agrees that it is a key issue to resolutely counter the terrorists who are attempting to control increasingly larger territories in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Sahara-Sahel area. If this is the case then this task should not be sacrificed to ideological schemes or a desire to retaliate. Terrorists, no matter what their slogans, should remain outside the law.

Moreover, it goes without saying that the fight against terrorism should be based solidly on international law. The unanimous adoption of a number of UNSC Resolutions including those on the issue of foreign terrorist operatives became an important stage in this fight. And conversely, the attempts to act against the Charter of our Organization do not contribute to the success of cooperative efforts. The struggle against terrorists in Syria should be structured in cooperation with the Syrian government, which has clearly stated its willingness to join it. Damascus has already proven its ability to work with the international community by delivering on its obligations under the programme to dispose of its chemical weapons.

... ... ...

[Oct 18, 2014] The Perils of Threat Inflation

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October 17, 2014 | The American Conservative

Stephen Walt sees the U.S. repeating past mistakes in its war on ISIS. The first mistake he identifies is the tendency to exaggerate foreign threats:

Why is threat inflation a problem? When we exaggerate dangers in order to sell a military [action], we are more likely to do the wrong thing instead of taking the time to figure out if a) action is really necessary and b) what the best course of action might be.

It's fair to say that U.S. officials wouldn't have to exaggerate foreign threats so often if military action were clearly necessary. The U.S. is an extraordinarily secure country, so it requires an extraordinary amount of dishonesty and exaggeration to convince Americans that launching attacks overseas is necessary for our security.

Government officials have to overstate threats from overseas in order to justify military action that they all know isn't strictly necessary, and so they also overstate how many interests the U.S. has in the world and exaggerate how important those interests are. All of a sudden, the U.S. is defending supposedly "vital" interests in places that have no importance for American security whatever.

The assumptions behind preventive war also give each administration greater leeway. These allow presidents to dismiss the lack of evidence of a direct threat right now because of a belief that a threat might materialize later on. The slightest possibility that there could be a threat at some point in the future is treated as if there definitely is one, and so the U.S. starts bombing another country. It doesn't matter that the U.S. isn't actually threatened by the government or whichever group is being targeted. All that matters is that the U.S. has responded to the overblown threat with "action." Bombing the supposed future threat becomes self-justifying, and self-defense is expanded to mean whatever the government wants it to mean.

Egypt Steve says:

October 17, 2014 at 8:15 am


Lincoln understood this:

"Let me first state what I understand to be your position. It is, that if it shall become necessary, to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line and invade the territory of another country; and that whether such necessity exists in any given case, the President is to be the sole judge…But Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose – and allow him to make war at pleasure…. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you 'be silent; I see it, if you don't.'"

bacon, October 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Starting at least as far back as Viet Nam, we have found deadly enemies behind many trees and have gone after most of them with similar results. We kill a lot of them, they kill some of us, and money that ought to be spent at home on infrastructure, education, health care, and job creation goes down the rat hole.

The public eventually gets tired enough of the war du jour to scare the politicians, they figure out some way to disengage, very few if any of the predicted catastrophic consequences of such a result come to pass, and shortly afterward we start the process again.

Each iteration leaves us, in addition to the unmet needs mentioned above, with a new crop of permanently damaged men and women at home, new enemies abroad, and further diminished global prestige. What a mess.

[Oct 16, 2014] Russian Government Passed Law Allowing Government To Seize Foreign Assets by Tomas Hirst

Oct. 8, 2014 | businessinsider.com

A bill to allow Russian oligarchs to claim compensation from the state for overseas assets seized under international sanctions has been passed by the country's parliament.

The "Rotenberg bill" as it has been called, after Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg had €30 million of assets seized by the Italian government, passed its first reading in the Duma by 233 votes to 202 against. The bill would also allow the government to seize foreign assets in Russia - a move that will likely cause Western and Asian investors to pull their money and resources out of Russia.

Its passage was all but guaranteed after the government made a dramatic U-turn last week.

Initially the government had claimed that it would not support the proposal from United Russia deputy Vladimir Ponevezhsky as it "violated international law." However, at the start of this month Vedomosti, the Russian business daily newspaper, reported Putin's press secretary Natalya Timakova as saying that:

[Prime Minister] Dmitry Medvedev, supported this initiative from the beginning and knew about its introduction.

The bill is already provoking controversy within the country, particularly among those concerned by the flagging economy and plummeting ruble. The Moscow Times quotes Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev as saying that "there is no better way to create capital outflow than passing or even discussing such legislation."

Though it has passed its first reading this is by no means the final step. The Rotenberg bill will have to be submitted to the Duma for a further two readings before it is passed to President Vladimir Putin to sign it into law.

The fact that Medvedev supports strongly suggests that this too shall pass.

[Oct 16, 2014] Russia Seeks Sanctions Tit for Tat by Andrew E. Kramer

Oct 8, 2014 | NYTimes.com

The Russian Parliament on Wednesday took the first major step to authorize the Kremlin to seize foreign assets and use them to compensate individuals and businesses being hurt by Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

... ... ...

The legislation must be approved two more times by the lower chamber of Parliament, or Duma, and the Russian senate, then signed by the president to become law. The initial passage could well be saber-rattling but is still an alarming sign that Russia will not take the sanctions lightly. Even early discussions of the rule in Parliament precipitated a stock sell-off late last month, given the stakes for international corporations.

In the past, the Russian government has made no bones about taking apart private assets, dismantling the once-largest domestic oil company, Yukos, and jailing its former owner, Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, for a decade. Last month, a court ordered another Russian billionaire, Vladimir P. Yevtushenkov, placed under house arrest.

American companies with large investments in Russia have been apprehensive about possible retribution or losing business to Asian competitors, Alexis Rodzianko, the director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, said in an interview. Russia, he said, now has a "hierarchy of procurement" putting Asian businesses first.

The only seeming swipe has been at the American corporate icon McDonald's. Russian authorities closed several of its restaurants in Moscow in August, citing health concerns. But the timing prompted worries that it was payback for the sanctions.

So far, those actions appear largely symbolic, with most McDonald's restaurants remaining open. Still, the symbolism was ominous. The opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in 1990 on Pushkin Square marked the dawning of a new era of post-Soviet business opportunities for Western corporations.

Others followed. Ford operates an assembly plant for Focus compact cars outside St. Petersburg. A Russian forge stamps nearly half the titanium pieces as measured by weight used in the airframe of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner airliner. Alcoa operates an aluminum smelter.

PepsiCo first came to the former Soviet Union after offering a taste sample to the general secretary at the time, Nikita S. Khrushchev, in 1959. The company has invested heavily in Russia during the oil boom and now owns one of the country's largest dairies.

Even without such rules, multinational companies are facing headwinds, as the country's economy flirts with recession. Ford has said weakening Russian demand for cars, amid all the uncertainty here, is hurting its global earnings.

Yet other multinationals have inadvertently benefited from Russia's attempts to punish Western business. The ban on European dairy imports, for example, became an unexpected boon for Pepsi's local milk and yogurt business.

The legislation, though, is amplifying corporate concerns. Russia's minister of economy, Aleksei Ulyukayev, said just last week that "there is no better way to create capital outflow than passing or even discussing such legislation."

Still, the law passed with 233 votes in favor and 202 against. It would allow Russian citizens to who suffer from an "unlawful court act" of a foreign government to appeal for compensation in Russia, ultimately by seizing foreign assets here, even those covered by immunity such as diplomatic real estate.

The Western sanctions were intended to dissuade Mr. Putin from invading Ukraine. The United States Treasury Department has called some of the targets the "inner circle" of Mr. Putin, or longtime acquaintances who would presumably have his ear.

But the sanctions appear to have had an unintended consequence...

[Oct 15, 2014] Patrushev: the Crisis in Ukraine was created by the USA

Based on Patrushev statements (and the fact of interview itself) Russia will not surrender their positions under the weight of sanctions. So the Second Cold War can be viewed as officially started. I think the key calculations of neocons is that Russia is too weak to confront the USA in Ukraine, and will be forced to accept the USA actions under threat of damage to its economy, especially in financial area. And that sanctions will not only effectively decimate the Russian economy and greatly damage the EU economy with minimum damage to the USA. We will see if this calculation is really true, as Russian try to play sanctions as the opportunity of structural changes and kicking out "hostile" multinationals from the Russia market. I do not envy now representatives of Coca Cola, or GM in Russia. But what if Russia attacks the dollar hegemony directly, in the style à la guerre comme, à la guerre. In any case neocons like Nuland managed to make Russian public more hostile to the USA then before. Probably even more hostile then during bombing of Serbia.
Oct 14, 2014 | dni.ru (see also rg.ru )
Both Ukrainian and Syrian crisis has become quite an expected result of systemic activity of the U.S government and its closest allies, said the FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev. He noted that due to their efforts in Ukraine had grown a whole generation, poisoned by the hatred of Russia and the mythology of "European values" ( I think here he exaggerated -- this is natural logic of development of most xUSSR states, probably only amplified by the USA, -- look at Baltic states, Azerbaijan and Georgia)

"The Ukrainian crisis has become quite an expected result of systemic activity of the U.S. and its closest allies. The last quarter of a century, this activity was aimed at a complete separation of the Ukraine and other former Soviet republics from Russia, total reformatting of the post-Soviet space in the American interests. They created the conditions and the pretexts for color revolutions that were supported by generous USA government organizations funding," said the Director of the FSB.

Patrushev said that the assistant Secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland has said repeatedly that Washington between 1991 and 2013 has spent five billion dollars to "support the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to a stronger, democratic government". "According to the only open sources, such as documents of the U.S. Congress, the total public funding of various American programs for Ukraine for the period from 2001 to 2012 amounted to not less than 2.4 billion US dollars. ...

"As a result of this activity in Ukraine was bred a whole generation, completely poisoned by the hatred of Russia and the mythology of "European values". They are not yet aware that these values, even in the positive sense of the term, actually are not intended for Ukrainians. No one is going to try to rise standard of living in Ukraine or to arrange employment of young people in Europe. Currently Europe itself with great difficulty coping with the serious challenges and threats in those two area" said Patrushev.

"I think that the "sobering" Ukrainians will be cruel and painful. We can hope only that this sobering will happen relatively quickly, due to several objective reasons. I want to mention just one factor, which is of fundamental importance. Regardless of future developments, the significance of Russia to Ukraine and vise versa in the future will be restored. Ukraine simply will not be able to successfully develop itself without Russia, whether you like it or not," he told "Rossiskaya Gaseta" daily.

"The coup in Kiev, organized with explicit support from the United States, was conducted using the classical scheme, piloted in Latin America, Africa and the middle East. But never before such a scheme affected Russian interests so deeply. The analysis shows that, provoking Russia to reciprocate, the Americans are pursuing the same goals as in the 80-ies of the twentieth century in relation to the USSR. As then, they try to determine the "vulnerabilities" of our country. At the same time, by the way, they solve the problem of neutralization of the European economic competitors, which according to Washington, have grown dangerously close to Moscow", - said the head of the FSB.

"Even in periods of relative warming in relations between Russia (USSR) and the United States American partners always remained true to such hostile views. Therefore, regardless of the nuances in the behavior of the Americans and their allies, the Russian leadership now has a permanent task: to take necessary measures that guarantee the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Motherland, protection and grows its wealth, and that distribution channels for this wealth work in the interests of the multinational people of the Russian Federation", - concluded Patrushev.

[Oct 14, 2014] Eastern Europeans are bowing to Putin's power - By Jackson Diehl

It has nothing to do with Putin's power; It just self-preservation instinct in view of unrealistic and damaging Drang nach Osten by Germany and Obama administration. Neocons run the show in State Department. Libya-style instability in Ukraine will cost the USA a lot of money. Of course Russia losses will be much greater (and already are, while the USA invested paltry $100 million dollars in Ukraine or so), but here there is no free lunch for anybody at this table. Everybody will pay dearly for Nuland's adventurism in February 2014, when instead of European sponsored agreement to end the crisis she unleashed a coup d'état which brought to power far right coalition. And without Marshall plan Ukraine will simply sank, taking some Austrian and German banks with it.
October 12, 2014 | The Washington Post

...Obama has been congratulating himself on leading a "unified response" by the West that, he claims, has isolated Putin. In reality, a big chunk of the NATO alliance has quietly begun to lean toward Moscow. These governments do so in part for economic reasons: Dependent on Russia for energy as well as export markets, they fear the consequences of escalating sanctions.

But some also seem to be hedging their security and ideological bets. They figure it's not worth testing whether Putin's reported threat to invade former Soviet-bloc countries was really in jest - or whether a NATO led by Obama would really come to their defense. Why else preemptively announce, as did the Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, that his country did not want the troops NATO dispatched to Poland and the Baltic States as a deterrent to Russia?

Sobotka was trumped by Slovakia's Roberto Fico, a former Communist, who followed up his rejection of NATO troops by dismissing Obama's appeal for increased defense spending and calling sanctions against Russia "suicidal" and "nonsensical." Fico's pandering, in turn, looked weak compared with the speech delivered in late July by Hungary's Viktor Orban, who described Russia as an exemplar of how "we have to abandon liberal methods and principles of organizing a society . . . because liberal values [in the United States] today incorporate corruption, sex and violence."

If this is a "unified response," it looks orchestrated more by Putin than by Obama. "Some Central European politicians are angling either to remain below the radar screen - don't speak up and make your nation the target of Putin's ire - or to ingratiate themselves with Putin and therefore fare better than other allies when the waters get even choppier," Damon Wilson, the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, told me. "The issue for many politicians will be how to survive when the Russians are back, nastier than ever . . . and the Americans are remote, available only for genuine 911 calls."

Remarkably, the wobbling in Eastern Europe comes only a decade after NATO's big 2004 expansion and a dozen years after Poland and the Czech Republic gratefully and enthusiastically backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. What happened?

[Oct 13, 2014] Bernie Sanders Reminds Candy Crowley: ISIS Only Exists Because The 'Disastrous' Bush-Cheney Blunder By David

October 12, 2014 | crooksandliars.com
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Sunday told CNN host Candy Crowley that it was easy to criticize President Barack Obama's fight against ISIS in Iraq, but he reminded her that it was President George Bush's "disastrous blunder" that allowed the extremists group to get a foothold in the first place.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cXBMWzEibNw

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Sunday told CNN host Candy Crowley that it was easy to criticize President Barack Obama's fight against ISIS in Iraq, but he reminded her that it was President George Bush's "disastrous blunder" that allowed the extremists group to get a foothold in the first place.

In a interview on CNN's State of the Union, Sanders agreed that ISIS had to be defeated, but he said that "the people of America are getting sick and tired of the world and region -- Saudi Arabia and the other countries -- saying,

'Hey, we don't have to do anything about it. The American taxpayer, the American soldiers will do all the work for us.'"

"Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest defense spender in the world," he pointed out. "They have an army which is probably seven times larger than ISIS, they have a major air force. Their country is run by a royal family worth hundreds of billions of dollars."

Sanders said that if the battle was perceived as the United States vs. ISIS then

"we're going to lose that war."

"This is a war for the soul of Islam, and the Muslim nations must be deeply involved," he insisted. "And to the degree the developed countries are involved, it should be the U.K., France, Germany, other countries as well."

Crowley wondered if the Vermont senator agreed with the president's handling of the conflict so far: "Is that too far for you or just about right?"

"It is very easy to criticize the president," Sanders replied.

"But this is an enormously complicated issue. We are here today because of the disastrous blunder of the Bush-Cheney era, which got us into this war in Iraq in the first place, which then developed the can of worms that we're trying to deal with right now."

"We have been at war for 12 years, we have spent trillions of dollars," he added.

"We have 500,000 men and women who have come home with PTSD and [traumatic brain injuries]. What I do not want, and what I fear very much is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire, and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year.

That is my fear."

[Oct 13, 2014] Hopeless Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion by Jeffrey St. Clair, Joshua Frank, Kevin Alexander Gray, Kathy Kelly, Ralph

David Swanson on May 15, 2012

You'd never know it from watching television, but there are many thousands of people in the United States who take peace, justice, environmental protection, and government of the people so seriously that they don't censor themselves whenever the president is a Democrat.

While many others are still debating whether it would be appropriate to criticize or protest President Obama after a mere three and a half years of disaster, the people I have in mind have been openly and honestly resisting the latest Wall Street war monger since before he was elected.

Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank have collected 56 essays from prior to, from early on in, and from quite recently during the Obama presidency. The collection, just published as Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, has a consistent approach to its topic. The authors, including Kevin Alexander Gray, Jeremy Scahill, Chris Floyd, Sibel Edmonds, Franklin Spinney, Kathy Kelly, Marjorie Cohn, Chase Madar, Michael Hudson, Medea Benjamin, Charles Davis, Ray McGovern, Dave Lindorff, Bill Quigley, Tariq Ali, Andy Worthington, Linn Washington, Jr., and many more, don't agree on everything.

A few try to urge serious progressive plans on Obama that they would never have proposed that Bush champion, not even rhetorically, not even for laughs. The book is not organized by topic; it's a random, if chronological, ride through a catalog of catastrophes.

But it's united by the theme of horrendously bad government in the age of Obama. It ignores the mythology and treats Obama based on his actual performance.

Reducing the charges against Obama developed in detail in this book to a Declaration of Independence-like list of grievances might look something like this:

St. Clair and Frank describe Obama as "so innately conflict-averse that even when pummeled with racist slurs he wouldn't punch back." But Obama does not appear to try to minimize conflict across the board. He avoids conflict with those on the right -- and often there is little basis for, or value in, supposing that his mental state is one of surrender as opposed to agreement.

There are two things that Obama is able to count on.

  1. First, no matter how seriously he attacks the interests of ordinary people, major liberal groups will support him.
  2. Second, no matter how much he supports the agenda of the right, major rightwing groups will attack him while demanding more.

These two states of affairs feed each other. Attacks on Obama from the right are absolutely essential to generating his liberal support.

Obama is the Not-Romney candidate. And that liberal support helps produce attacks from the right.

... ... ...

[Oct 12, 2014] The U.S. Versus ISIS by Gary Leupp

October 10, 2014 | CounterPunch

Grounds for Deepening Dread

It's hard not to feel a sense of deepening dread about what this country's doing in the world, and the inevitable blowback.

I did not feel this way a year ago. Then it seemed that U.S. imperialism was in retreat. Not that the leopard can change its spots; the system is, after all, what it is.

(All U.S. schoolchildren should be taught, as part of their basic civics education, by conscientious elementary, middle school and high school teachers, that they live in an imperialist country. The term itself ought to be popularized. This is what politicians like Obama actually refer to, elliptically, when they call the U.S. "exceptional."

Still-mindful of the horrible general situation-a year ago I was feeling guardedly optimistic that U.S. imperialism was entering a less toxic stage. Obama's horrifying plan to assault Syria had been stymied, by popular opposition, Congressional unease, and Vladimir Putin's timely chess move (arranging for Damascus to give up its chemical weapons arsenal). Obama was suddenly speaking with Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani, and talks on Iran's civilian nuclear program had begun. Obama was ignoring Binyamin Netanyahu's familiar, barked demands for the U.S. to bomb Iran.

2014 has been much gloomier. We have for one thing been forcibly reminded that there has been no real change in foreign policy between the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. The grotesque figure of Victoria Nuland, a Dick Cheney aide who stayed on to assist Hillary Clinton, heads the East Europe desk. She is one of those neocons (married to another distinguished, academic neocon) who strongly supported the Iraq War based on what she knew was a campaign of lies and has never felt any pangs of guilt about it. Her political ideology requires contempt for truth and morality. It's all about manipulating public opinion to achieve the objectives of the tiny circle she loves and represents. The fact that she was retained in the State Department into the Obama administration speaks volumes about the president's own outlook on the world.

Obama postures as a centrist. In practice this means he places himself midway between the neoconservatives serving the interests of the 1% and the "liberal interventionists" serving the 1% in their efforts to impose what Paul Wolfowitz terms "full-spectrum dominance" in the world. He is the textbook example of how all in his position must (and naturally do) kiss the ass of the ruling class. This is his job. His (increasingly weak) historical distinction is to be the first African-American to do so. (Not that anyone paying attention needed persuasion that being a person of color doesn't make you good, or progressive, or even a harbinger of "change." It might just make you useful, like Colin Powell was for Cheney and his neocon bunch. Or Condoleezza Rice was to the U.S. power structure throughout George W. Bush's criminal, racist war on Iraq.)

Nuland made it her mission to topple the elected government of Ukraine, promoting the concept that the Ukrainian people (who are in fact sharply divided) possess "European aspirations" (code word for a supposed longing for entry into the European Union-under a painful IMF-imposed austerity program-and for admission into the anti-Russian NATO military alliance which will oblige them to cough up 2% of their GNP in military expenditures).

On February 22 Nuland got her way, after what she has herself boasted was a five billion dollar U.S. investment in supporting (or generating and encouraging) those "European aspirations." On that day neo-fascist sniper fire and building seizures-a violent, lightning putsch-toppled the elected Ukrainian president, brought Nuland's hand-picked candidate to power as unelected prime minister, brought neo-fascists into a European government for the first time since 1945, and caused the ethic Russian population in the east to rise up in (what ought to be) understandable rebellion.

Realizing the U.S. objective was to first draw Ukraine into the EU, then to incorporate it into NATO, then to expel the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the Crimean Peninsula, Moscow (I will not say Putin, because virtually any Russian leader watching the alarming power-play would have acted similarly) promptly and bloodlessly reasserted its historical ownership of the peninsula, to the very apparent relief of its inhabitants. But the U.S. corporate media-with stunning uniformity, omitting if not forbidding any reference to NATO expansion as a cause for U.S. meddling in Ukraine, or Svoboda Party and Right Sector actions in the Maidan triggering a bloody coup, or legitimate grievances and valid agency of the "Russian secessionists"in the east-constructed an imaginary narrative that most people in this country have swallowed.

Just like they once swallowed the mythology about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda ties. (And let us note again that the systematic dissemination of lies through the Pentagon, State Department and White House showing utmost contempt for the people of this country-designed to convince them that they were facing imminent Iraqi attack-has, while well documented, never been punished! The scum responsible live comfortably as TV commentators, university academics, and think-tank "fellows.")

Most people in this country, to the extent that they watch or read the mainstream news, believe that the Ukrainian people rose in a peaceful mass movement, ousted a corrupt leader, and established a popular government that just wants to escape Russia's oppressive control and join democratic, prosperous Europe. They believe that evil power-hungry Putin, nostalgic for the past, wants to re-create the USSR or maybe Tsarist Russia. This is sheer nonsense, but the success of the State Department-corporate press partnership in foisting this perception on the people is amazing. It shows that, even though the masses have largely come to understand that they were lied to, big-time, in the build up to the Iraq War-not just by politicians but a corporate media that was entirely obedient taking its talking-point cues from the regime-they are still willing dupes. Lambs led to the slaughter.

(I find this depressing. But what can you do, but continue to rage against the lies of the corporate media, and try to expose them to any who will hear?)

... ... ...

In a nutshell: the United States-having caused a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq by destroying the secular Baathist regime and its institutions in 2003; having produced the conditions that allowed al-Qaeda (in the form of al-Zarqawi's initial group that has morphed into ISIL) to root itself in Iraq, then Syria; having backed (as its best bet) the government headed by al-Maliki that gradually alienated the Sunnis of Iraq; and having, through its savagery, racism, disrespect, ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence, made itself entirely unwelcome among the peoples of the region-cannot accomplish anything good in the Middle East.

Citizens and residents in this declining imperialist country-those paying attention, not just innocently imbibing the Big Lies imagining we live in a free country with a free press-should feel dread about what's to come. Having announced that the U.S. will "degrade and destroy ISIL" (without any clue about how to actually do that, having ruled out coordination with Syria and Iran, and having earned the hatred of the Iraqi Shiite militias) the U.S. seems doomed to either putting its own boots on the ground, enraging everyone in the region, or relying on proxies whom the Iraqi Shiites will reject.

In the weeks after 9/11, witnessing the coordinated campaign of the media oligarchy (Time-Warner, Viacom, Disney, GE, News Corp., CBS) that controls what most of us see and read, I felt truly frightened. Not about nukes over New York City (although I did have some vivid dreams about such stuff). But about the onset of fascism in this country. The constant syrupy patriotic music playing on the heart-strings on cable TV, the omnipresence of the U.S. flag, the sudden ambiance of those insane terror-warning colored level warnings deliberately promoting the sort of paranoia prescribed by Nazi specialists on mass mind-control. The emergence of new fascist-sounding institutions and bizarre popularization of unfamiliar terms (like "Homeland"), the stupidity of George W. Bush's pronouncements ("axis of evil" etc.), Dick Cheney's calm prediction of a "War on Terror" to last forever. The warnings to TV commentators that they could be fired for challenging the government line-and the actual firings. The Patriot Act and Congress's bovine, universal endorsement of it, passed into law unread.

The clear indications that "my" government was manipulating powerful emotions of fear and hatred, and inventing, Nazi-like, pretexts for ongoing war. Yes. I felt frightened by the manifest, staggering power of the beast. And that was before Bush and his team began their sadistic destruction of Iraq and that enterprise was still in its planning stage.

My anxiety level has risen and fallen in the years since, and was, as I said, lowered by some events last fall. But it's back up there now as I switch between cable channels noting the total merger of state power and the corporate media and total absence of moral clarity.

The egregious misrepresentation of events in Ukraine. The total lack of context of events in Iraq and Syria, and the gracious reception (as astute commentators) of those most responsible for the Iraq War based on lies. These are sickening things.

Those not feeling dread should feel it. My gut feeling is, if George W. Bush and his dad opened the gates of hell, Obama has blown the gates off entirely. By attacking the Islamic State-solely in alliance with the Muslim states whose governments are most regarded as U.S. lackeys-Obama has merely enhanced the crazies' legitimacy. Isn't that obvious?

To save Baghdad from ISIL conquest-a feat that would outweigh the "fall" of Saigon in 1975 as a geopolitical humiliation for the U.S.-Obama is trying to cobble together a collection of Turks, Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs all of whom have complex contradictions with one another and with the U.S. He claims to have assembled a "coalition" of over 60 nations (mostly western) in the heroic anti-ISIL cause.

The majority in all categories (those providing air support and military equipment; those providing "humanitarian assistance"; and those providing other, basically political legitimacy and support) are NATO countries. 15 of the 21 in the first category are NATO members, plus Australia, while 6 are members of the Arab League. Aside from Iraq (whose fractious elite opposes any foreign troops on the ground) and Lebanon (in which Hizbollah is a leading political-military force and which is only "participating" by receiving arms to defend itself from ISIL) all these Arab countries are repressive monarchies that promote Sunni Islam and have very bad relations with the Shiites of Iraq and Iran.

The ISIL thugs can argue-not so inaccurately-that the force the U.S. has organized against them is a force of Christian Crusaders and their corrupt not-really-Muslim allies (including the hated NATO member Turkey), in a war to thwart the progress of the Caliphate versus the Alawite heretics in Syria and the Shiite idolaters of Iraq and Iran. And they can also note that by excluding Syria's Assad and the Iranian regime-who have actually fought ISIL on the battlefield, winning some victories--the stupid infidels are miscalculating again, big time.

The "coalition" is not going to defeat ISIS any more than the earlier (now dissipated) "coalitions" defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Sunni "insurgents" in Iraq. Its intervention is going to exacerbate the misery of Syria, Iraq and the whole region and maybe trigger a real world war.

I have a modest proposal, to those dreading the likely results of more war against the generated by recent U.S. imperialist wars-the crucifiers of children, beheaders of Shiites, destroyers of priceless monuments. To those dreading the prospect that the failure of air strikes will inevitably entail the dispatch of U.S. and allied ground troops in what former CIA chief Leon Panetta recently predicted would be another Thirty Years War.

How about an anti-imperialist revolution in this country instead?

Seriously. How about, by toppling those responsible for the total destabilization of the Middle East, we send a message to the peoples of the region that we don't want to dominate you anymore (not that the ordinary person here ever did)?

How about--after the necessary revolution here-we say to those confronting the religious crazies, craving secularism and democracy:

You have our political and moral support, and we now can (now having toppled the 1% who have insanely determined U.S. policy forever), finally talk about aiding you (as internationalist brothers and sisters-not the corporate scum, war profiteers, uniformed torturers, trigger-happy bombers, Israel lackeys, and deceitful warmongering liars whom have earned your rightful hatred in the past) to make your own revolutions.

Just a dream, maybe. But how else to end the dread?

GARY LEUPPis Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author ofServants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan;Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; andInterracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900.He is a contributor toHopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press).He can be reached at:gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

[Oct 12, 2014] Devolution Is Superior to Secession By Donald Devine

Calls for secession are often strong indicators that too much power is centralized.

October 9, 2014 | theamericanconservative.com
... ... ...

Americans certainly have not been immune to the secession impulse, of course, including a great civil war costing millions of lives. While that war presumably settled the matter, even today a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 23.9 percent of Americans would like to see their state pull away from the union, up from 18 percent in 2008. In the previous year under George W. Bush, 32 percent of liberals thought breaking away would be a good idea, compared to 17 percent of conservatives. Today under Barack Obama, 30 percent of Republicans and even 20 percent of Democrats would have their state secede.

Former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul even claimed a recent "growth of support for secession" inspired by Scotland and demonstrated by the one million Californians who supported dividing the state into six entities, saying this "should cheer all supporters of freedom." He was congratulated for raising the issue by Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative, but McCarthy responded that secession is not a principle of liberty. Not only does secession often trade one master for another-as Scotland would do under the European Union and NATO-but there is no guarantee the new state would foster internal liberty. McCarthy argues persuasively that for Scotland and America,

secession and union are questions of security and power, which undergird prosperity, self-government, and individual freedom. For much of the rest of the world, poisoned by ethnic and sectarian hatreds, secession means nationalism and civil strife. In both cases, breaking up existing states to create new ones is a revolutionary and dangerous act, one more apt to imperil liberty than advance it.

Indeed, Paul's own original article on the matter viewed secession sentiments mostly as pressure on a national government to limit its power over local units as opposed to being valuable in itself. He specifically urged "devolution of power to smaller levels of government," which can be a very different thing from secession. While secession is problematical as McCarthy argues, devolution of power within a national government is essential to liberty.

While unsuccessful as secession, Scotland's threat forced even unionist party Prime Minister David Cameron to promise greater local autonomy not only for it but for Wales, Northern Ireland, and even England itself, although federalism will be challenging for Britain since England holds 85 percent of the population. While England basically invented local government with the parish (and transferred this ideal to America while it was being suffocated at home), it has long marginalized local government and restricted its powers. Margaret Thatcher, for all of her love of freedom, overrode local governments with abandon. Scotland's message just might awaken England to its historical ties to local and regional government. Some useful ideas could be found by dusting off its 1957-1960 report of the Royal Commission on Local Government.

Centralization's historic claim to greatness was ending Europe's wars, especially those of religion through the 17th-century Treaty of Westphalia. Despite the claim by an overwhelming number of historians and commentators ever since, ending the 30 Years War did not end wars on the continent, much less elsewhere. A long series of dynastic wars followed, including the worldwide War of Spanish Succession, which Americans call the French and Indian War. More important, the 30 Years War was not a religious but a dynastic struggle. Catholic France actually fought on the supposed Protestant side. Major dynastic wars continued right up to World War I.

Westphalia actually created a number of powers sufficiently strong to challenge each other in alliances to decide which would rule, leading to the instability of the period. The world is more peaceful today because only one power emerged from World War II and the Cold War. While the U.S. has engaged more than was prudent, as McCarthy emphasizes, "a world consisting of more states more evenly matched, would almost certainly not be more peaceful." Those who understand the fragility of freedom "should appreciate that all states are aggressive and seek to expand, if they can-the more of them, the more they fight, until big ones crush the smaller." -[ This is essentially neocon agnument, see Kagan)

American hegemony properly controlled thus assists world peace, and secession could threaten international and domestic liberty. Still, secession in its tamed form of federalism and decentralization presents the secret to domestic liberty, especially in larger states. The ability to devolve power to the lowest levels possible-first to the individual, then to the family, to free associations and businesses, to the community, to local and regional government, and only to the national state when no other institution can perform the function-allows freedom to adjust to community differences and make individuals more satisfied with their national state.

Where secession sentiments are high, it is a strong indicator that too much power is centralized. It is a lesson for Britain but, alas, increasingly one for the United States as well as a glance at recent federal court decisions immediately confirms.

Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of America's Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition and Constitution, and was Ronald Reagan's director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term.

[Oct 12, 2014] The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity War, The Fed, and More Wars Ron Paul's LPAC 2014 Speech! by Daniel McAdams

October 3, 2014 | War, The Fed, and More Wars: Ron Paul's LPAC 2014 Speech!

Ron Paul delivered a barn burner of a keynote speech at this year's LPAC conference. It was an hour long tour-de-force on fiat currency, attacks on civil liberties, the Federal Reserve, war -- and most importantly how all of these fit together and deprive us of our life, liberty, and happiness.

Dr. Paul decried the one-party state we live in, particularly when it comes to war. Speaking about the recent Congressional passage of a continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels, he said that while the resolution keeps spending at the same level, war spending is exempt and will rise.

He mocked those Members on both sides who voted for the resolution:

We gotta to keep the war going! And we gotta rubber stamp what Obama wants! Oh no, we don't like Obama. Yes but we love his wars! Except for one thing: he's not bombing enough people!
Watch the whole speech here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUzvj8nE-A1EtDgiMq4ETEiw&feature=player_embedded&v=ghYPBu0kYyM

[Oct 11, 2014] Corporate Media and Censorship In America

Oct 10, 2014 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."

John F. Kennedy, The President and the Press, 27 April 1961

"There are men, now in power in this country, who do not respect dissent, who cannot cope with turmoil, and who believe that the people of America are ready to support repression as long as it is done with a quiet voice and a business suit."

John Lindsay

This link below is a fairly long and very interesting discussion of the recent crisis in the Ukraine, and what some of the bigger picture implications and reasons for it may be.

However, I am starting this video towards the end, so that you can hear one key point that Professor Stephen Cohen of Princeton makes that is in my opinion essential.

He states that there is no longer a place in the popular mainstream media for debate over the different positions and opinions on key policy questions outside of a narrow range of acceptable views as decided by a few major media outlets. If there is a dissenting view that is distasteful to the powerful interests that influence the government, they will not allow it to be heard or discussed rationally, except perhaps in a few scholarly journals out of the reach of most.

And in this I think he is absolutely correct. And it is not just about issues such as a new Cold War, but on a broad range of social and financial topics as well. Journalism as I once knew it no longer exists except in select locations on the Internet.

Staged discussions between paid 'strategists' from the two major political parties with commentary from a few corporate media representatives is not journalism, and does not provide the platform for the serious discussion of issues that affect all of us.

The seeds for the decline of American mainstream media were sown by the overturn in 1987 of the Fairness Doctrine which required broadcasters to air both side of controversial subjects, and not just the officially sanctioned sides of a carefully selected and phrased question or topic.

And the Communications Act of 1934 was further gutted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which permitted corporate conglomerates to acquire and establish powerful monopolies across the press, radio, and television.

I am finding too many cases where topics are being effectively censored by implicit agreement of the corporate media to either not cover a story, or to permit only certain aspects and views of an issue to be heard.

I am no big fan of the governments of either Russia or China. It is the oligarchs who like the way these statist governments operate, but only when they are making deals with them and getting their way. It was Bill Gates who came back from a tour of China in 2005 and praised this new kind of capitalism.

I have been to both Russia and China, and I prefer neither of those brands of oligarchy and monopoly in alliance with the State. And so I am concerned about the modern attraction by the powerful in the West to emulate them, to manage the news, to establish monopolies, and to hide behind secrecy as they engage in undemocratic backroom deals with powerful interests as a standard matter of doing the business of the nation.

This de facto censoring of the news in the West is not a healthy situation. And so we must get information about important topics where we can. The coverage of too many news topics, from Snowden to the financial crisis to the Ukraine, have been disgracefully one sided and carry the stink of propaganda wrapped in a press under the thumb of a few moneyed interests.

You may wish to listen to the entire interview which I found to be most interesting. Please click on the link below to start the interview at the point of discussing censorship.

Stephen Cohen, The New Cold War: It's Five Minutes to Midnight

[Oct 11, 2014] NATO's games with Ukraine bring world to 5 minutes before nuclear midnight by Stephen Cohen

Quote: "Let's talk about what sanctions mean first of all. It's an institutionalization of the new Cold War. Once the sanctions were enacted, it means formally, institutionally, in legislation, in presidential degrees from the American side - we're now in a Cold War. Remember something else. It is very easy to announce sanctions, very easy. Politically, it's popular: people say, "Oh, good, we now have punished Russia" - whether we have or not is another question. It is very hard to end sanctions. "
Oct 10, 2014 | RT SophieCo

The West and Russia cant seem to get over their differences, with the tensions between the Washington and Kremlin changing the stakes for the whole world. How far would this confrontation go? Is there another Cold War coming? And finally, will the world once again know the horror of a Nuclear War looming over the humanity?

We ask these questions to a prominent American scholar on Russian studies, Professor at New York University and Princeton University. Stephen Cohen is on Sophie&Co today.

Follow@SophieCo_RT

The West and Russia can't seem to get over their differences, with the tensions between the Washington and Kremlin changing the stakes for the whole world. How far would this confrontation go? Is there another Cold War coming? And finally, will the world once again know the horror of a Nuclear War looming over the humanity?

We ask these questions to a prominent American scholar on Russian studies, Professor at New York University and Princeton University. Stephen Cohen is on Sophie&Co today.

Follow@SophieCo_RT

Sophie Shevardnadze: Stephen, it's really great to have you back and to have you on our show once again. Now, you've called the current U.S.-Russia crisis "the most dangerous confrontation in many decades" - are we close to a war?

Stephen Cohen:Let me tell you what I think happened. We are in a new Cold War. In America, the policy-makers say it's not a Cold War, because they don't want to take a responsibility for it, because their policies, and not just recently, since the 99s, have led to Cold War. It began before, I think, the Ukrainian crisis, but what happened in Ukraine, is that about a year ago, in November 2013, there was a political dispute in Kiev, about whether Yanukovych will sign the agreement with the EU. That political dispute, after the coup in February became a Ukrainian Civil War, generally speaking between Kiev and the South-East of Ukraine. The Civil War then became what we call a "proxy war", with the U.S. and NATO supporting Kiev and Moscow supporting the eastern Ukrainian rebels. The danger is, and I think it continues even now, though some people think the ceasefire has averted the danger, but the ceasefire is not solid, we don't know if it's going to be here tomorrow or next week...the danger is that the proxy war would lead by accident or intention to the intervention of Russian military forces in the East and NATO forces in the West, and that would be the Cuban Missile Crisis.

SS: That's what I was going to ask you - is there really a realistic scenario in your head where U.S. and Russia could actually enter into direct military confrontation?

SC: Yes. I just explained it to you. If the war, the Civil war in Ukraine begins again, the military aspect of it, if the ceasefire fails, if, let's say, Kiev attacks the Donbas again...if Russia feels the need to help the Donbas militarily - it is being discussed in NATO, the possibility of NATO forces entering Western Ukraine. Now, what would that mean? You would have the America-led NATO forces in Western Ukraine, whether on the ground or in the air, it doesn't matter, Russian forces in the air or on the ground - and that would be a modern version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, I notice you're smiling, like I've said something fantastic, but we have to think the unthinkable, because who knew 2 years ago we were going to be in a completely….

SS: Well the unthinkable is nuclear weapons being involved - do you think that's a possibility as well?

SC: Well, let's look at what's happened. Russia has the doctrine; they've had it since the 99s, because Russian conventional forces are weaker than American-NATO conventional forces. Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons if Western conventional forces threaten the Russian state and Russia. Meanwhile, as was announced in the New York Times on the front-page, maybe 2 weeks ago, I forgot, that President Obama is about to sign a budgetary decree of what he calls a "major modernization" of our nuclear arsenal at the cost of $1 trln over 30 years. One trillion dollars is only the cost today, it doesn't include overrun inflation, and it's a fortune. Meanwhile, your government has been, quote, "modernizing its nuclear weapons" - but let's talk as adults, what does the word "modernization" means? It means buildup, so both sides are now building up their nuclear weapons, we're in a new Cold War, we're beginning a new nuclear arms race, and the danger is now immense - does that mean there's going to be war? No. The problem is to avert war you need leadership, political leadership, and the question of who's leading correctly and who's not is a political discussion, but the danger is there, absolutely 100%.

SS: There is another huge problem: between the two are the sanctions, the imposed sanctions. Now, Moscow insists that it did not help to push for a ceasefire over the situation in Ukraine in Minsk to actually stop the sanctions, but it helped it, because restoring peace in Ukraine is much more important for Russia. Then you have the West that's always tying sanctions to the agreement made in Minsk over Ukraine.

SC: Let's talk about what sanctions mean first of all. It's an institutionalization of the new Cold War. Once the sanctions were enacted, it means formally, institutionally, in legislation, in presidential degrees from the American side - we're now in a Cold War. Remember something else. It is very easy to announce sanctions, very easy. Politically, it's popular: people say, "Oh, good, we now have punished Russia" - whether we have or not is another question. It is very hard to end sanctions. Remember, Jackson-Vanik, was enacted in 1970s to force Jewish immigration, permit Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union. They only removed Jackson-Vanik a few years ago, long after the time when more Jews were coming from Israel back to Russia than wanted to leave Russia to go to Israel. Politically, and particular with the presidential campaign coming in America, which candidate is going to say 2 years from now: "Things are good with us and Russia, I propose removing the sanctions"? Not one. They'll think it's dangerous…

SS: Now, the Foreign Affairs committee in the U.S. is actually thinking of turning this who sanction-thing into part of law - that would obviously limit very much the American administration's capacity of cooperating with Russia…

SC: That's right. This law, by, what I call, the "war-party" in the Senate - it's not the whole Senate, it's the "war-party", Republican and Democratic - have been drafting a very harsh, Cold War law to punish Russia in many ways, and, moreover, make it possible to send American weapons to countries that are not members of NATO, but were former parts of the Soviet Union. They got a long list, not only Ukraine - this is a reckless, dangerous law, it's not clear if it will pass - some Senators are against it - but, in this political atmosphere, it might pass. Now, of course Obama could veto it - we don't know…

SS: Do you think he will be doing this? Because, like you've said, it would take forever to actually undo that afterwards?

SC: That's correct. Will Obama veto it? We don't know if it will get to Obama, it's got to go out of committee , then it's got to go to the full Senate, then it's got to get a majority, and then it's got to go to Obama, I don't know. We're not sure what Obama does from day-to-day, I mean, if he changes his mind... Now, if the Ukrainian Civil War begins again, if Kiev and the South-East begin fighting and shooting and shelling and what else, now, then I think Obama would sign it. But if the ceasefire and negotiations are unfolding - I don't think Obama would actually sign this. But the strange thing is, it needs to be explained, but I'm not sure I can completely, is why were new sanctions brought against Russia just as Putin and Poroshenko agree on a ceasefire and negotiations?

SS: And why the sanctions are tied into the agreement made in Minsk? Because the agreement is about the ceasefire, not about sanctions…

SC: That's right. They agreed in Minsk, Poroshenko and Putin, and the others, the Ukrainians, and the EU, that there would be a ceasefire and negotiations both about trade, but also about the new Ukraine, if there's going to be one. And suddenly, these sanctions were imposed. I think - I can't prove it – that this was a compromise between Chancellor Merkel and Germany, who has a softer approach towards Russia, wants to end this and get back to business as usual - and the war parties in NATO and Washington; and there was a compromise agreement, where the sanctions were something that Merkel agreed to in return for something she got.

SS: I'm sure you've heard about American vice-president speech at Harvard University, where he revealed that American leadership actually had to embarrass the EU into imposing sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. To me, it seemed like it came as surprise for the EU - do you think EU is really willing to hurt itself because America wants it to?

SC: I don't think, Sophie, that we can talk on these terms of singular entities. There are factions, there are groups. Roughly speaking, it's not entirely precise, there's a "war-party" in Washington, there's a "war-party" in NATO, in the EU, there's a "war-party" in Kiev, because Poroshenko is under attack in Kiev, because of the ceasefire, and - please, forgive me - there's a "war-party" in Moscow that feels that Putin should not have agreed to the ceasefire, that the rebels should have gone on and taken Mariupol, maybe Odessa and that he gave up too much in agreeing to end the fighting and so forth . So, you've got forces in Washington, Kiev, Europe and Moscow who want more war. Now, Merkel leads, in my analysis, the party that doesn't want more war, it wants this war ended, wants to get rid of it, wants to have some negotiations, and wants to EU end the sanctions or at least resume normal trade.

SS: Business as usual, yeah.

SC: Well, because… look, what is sanctions? We think we're punishing Russia - and we are, it's going to hurt Russia, there's no question; but look what's happening in Europe - European economy is down, Italian and French farmers are furious at their governments and the EU, because the Russian market is closed to them, there's too much whatever they produce - cheese, grapes, oranges, bananas - I don't know - but 40% of those goes to Russia and suddenly there's no Russian market. That means they have to cut their prices in Europe, there's too much supply, too low demand, they can't meet their costs, these people going to go out of business. Sanctions cut both ways.

SS: You've also said that the whole Ukrainian thing has split Europe into two.

SC: Three.

SS: Or three - so how are working out a single policy to actually patch things up?

SC: They aren't! You hear different voices...look, Merkel went, about a month ago or so, I forget, in August, I think to Kiev, and after talking to Poroshenko stands before the press and says "the war must end, there's no military solution, and there must be ceasefire negotiations." Poroshenko says: "I agree." Then Poroshenko comes to Washington couple of weeks ago, addresses Congress, and says "We must fight, give us weapons, we're fighting for democracy, we must defeat Russia". He's speaking out of both sides of his mouth because there's conflict in the West, and he's trying to play the middle game.

SS: But here's another thing. The most recent UN report on situation in Eastern Ukraine actually confirms that Kiev has violated ceasefire agreement, but this is obviously being ignored by the West and Kiev's government keeps on receiving aids and blessings…

SC: What we do know is this: there's been fighting for the Donetsk airport that never stopped, and suddenly it appears that Kiev shelled Donetsk and it did that on the day that school began, they shelled some schools. It's horrible...think of what's happened; let's open our minds to the tragedy. In November 2013 the EU told Yanukovich, then the President of Ukraine: "sign an agreement with us or go to Russia", and Putin said "why do they have to choose, let's have a three-way agreement of trade and financial aid to Kiev" - you remember that, it was very clear. Lavrov, Russian foreign office and everybody… and Europe said "No" and Washington said "No, we can't do that". Now, what's happened: near a year later, they ask Putin "please come to Minsk and discuss with Poroshenko Russia, Ukraine and Europe, the three-way deal." Four thousand people have died, one million people have been turned into refugees, the Donbas has been destroyed for the agreement that could have happened without one shot fired in November one year ago. Who's responsible for that? Historians will look back and ask, "Who is responsible for the deaths of those people, that destruction, those refugees, when the outcome was available in November 2013, with a little diplomacy." That is a collapse of diplomacy. Why did the West exclude Russia from the negotiations in November, that's the question. Do you know the reason why? What would think?

SS: What would you tell me?

SC: I think it was about NATO expansion, that trade agreement.

SS: Obviously, that's another huge topic, because many believe that NATO expansion is the main stumbling point between Russia and the West. Also, NATO strategy to actually move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit - it is a huge problem, for Russia. Should Russia consider NATO's actions in Europe as a threat?

SC: If I found out where you live and I came to your house, and I've sat out in front of your house with a lot of weapons, and I've said to you: "Sophie, I'm not here to harm you, this is good for you, this is security" – you'd be frightened and buy a few guns to protect yourself, obviously. Look, when NATO expansion began in 1990s, the late George F. Kennan, who was considered the wisest man in America about American-Russian relations, said "This is a terrible, reckless, stupid decision" and it will lead to a new Cold War. Twenty years later, George - I call him George, because we both were in Princeton together, we saw each other regularly - was correct, and he was not alone. I've said it, Jack Matlock who was Reagan's ambassador to the Soviet Union and Gorbachev… A lot of people warned that the expansion of NATO eastward was going to lead to a very bad situation.

SS: But was the expansion a deliberate idea, maybe, a deliberate act, with an eventual stand-off with Russia in mind?

SC: How can you expand a military alliance without a deliberate decision? It wasn't as if nobody was paying attention, and NATO was on wheels and just kind of drifted…Major decision was taken under Clinton to do it, and it was a catastrophically unwise decision, and not only because it led to conflict with Russia, but what it said to all these new countries in NATO that were part of the Soviet Block is that you don't have to have normal diplomatic relations with Russia, that the Baltics don't have to negotiate with Russia about the rights of Russian-speaking people there. You don't have to negotiate.. Georgia, who thought it was going to get into NATO one time - you don't have to negotiate, you can punch Russia in the nose and hide behind NATO. How much diplomacy is going on? Very little. That was one of the bad things about NATO expansion, it was the end of diplomacy between Eastern Europe and Russia. The expansion of NATO was done for one main purpose - to increase security in Europe. It did just the opposite.

SS: And NATO's chief keeps on saying - the new chief - that there's no contradiction between increased NATO presence in Eastern Europe and constructive relations with Russia…

SC: That's an ideology, that's not a reality. I mean, it's foolish, everybody else knows it isn't true. Russia is preparing for war, as NATO moves closer to Russia. And, by the way, remember something very important, which is often forgotten: missile defense. Russia's tried to compromise on where this missile defense would be located. Russia has proposed it to be joined, Russian-American. What did the U.S. do? They gave the missile defense project to NATO, so missile defense is now part of the NATO expansion. It's not just NATO bases coming towards Russia, it's the missile defense. Now, U.S. says the missile defense is not directed at Russia, but American scientists have said, in its fourth stage it will be able to strike down Russian missiles as the rise towards their ultimate trajectory. Now, that means that Russia will not have the deterrent and the nuclear peace that had been kept for 45 years, on this crazy theory - but it has worked until now - that we won't attack you because we know if we attack you, you will attack us and vice versa - missile defense could end that.

SS: Also, just recently, the U.S. has shipped tanks, soldiers, armored vehicles to the Baltic states - I mean, it's the first time since the end of the Cold War, that U.S. has shipped armed vehicles into Europe. What threat is that aimed at?

SC: Look, this is driven by the Ukrainian crisis. There's a theory in the West of what the meaning of Ukrainian crisis is - that the Ukrainian crisis was started by Putin - that isn't true, but that's believed, that's the ideology - and the Ukrainian crisis is only the beginning, that Russia, the Kremlin, Putin, Russian imperialism is going to move on to the Baltics, to Poland. It's all ridiculous, there's no evidence for it. But, there's been a group in NATO that for at least 15 years - you remember, there was an agreement between NATO and Moscow, that even if NATO would expand, there would be no NATO permanent military bases in these countries that came in closer to Russia - but there's been a group in NATO for years who wanted to do that, they've seized the Ukrainian crisis at the NATO Wales summit, month ago, to create this so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 men. What good are 4 thousand man against the Russian army? Zero, but there's a reason: there going to go bases, communication centers, barracks, air strips in Poland, in three Baltic countries, maybe in Romania - Romania hasn't quite agreed - and that would be not only NATO expansion politically, which is what it was previously, and now it's an actual military expansion. In addition, there is a plan, as you know, to build land-based missile defense installations in Poland and in those countries, so you're right, for the first time there's a military expansion of NATO, not just political, towards Russia - but it's not too late to stop it. It's not too late, if leadership does what leadership is supposed to do, if statesmen and women do what they are supposed to do - we can end this Ukrainian crisis and stop this military expansion of NATO, it's not too late, but it's five minutes to midnight.

SS: How hard is it for you to get your point across the American public when it comes to mainstream media, because, you know, you're always welcome here, at RT, but do you get a platform where you can talk and do you think you're getting your point across?

SC: Let me say a word about RT. Some people say if you go on RT it's unpatriotic - it's complete nonsense. It's just that they don't want to have a debate. In the U.S., I'm not alone, there's a very famous American professor John Mearsheimer in Chicago, who has published a big article in the most important American journal of the elite, "Foreign Affairs" with the title of which is something like "America caused the Ukrainian crisis" - it was a sensation. I've been arguing that for several months, I was very happy that professor Mearsheimer joined this debate. Jack Matlock, you remember who he is?

SS: Yeah, I've actually interviewed him recently.

SC: You know what Jack thinks. He agrees this was reckless, this was bad Western policy. Here's the problem - the three major opinion-shaping newspapers in the U.S., Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal do not actually…

SS: The New York times actually called you "dissenting villain" because of your views on Russia.

SC: When I was a kid, there was a saying "sticks and bones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me" - but names do hurt you, because they stigmatize you, they make people not invite you on mainstream television. The problem is that the Washington elite depends primarily on mainstream television and on the three newspapers: The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Our point of view never, since last February, when the crisis began, has appeared on their opinion pages, never. We've been excluded. Jack Matlock hasn't been there, professor Mearsheimer hasn't been there, my articles have been rejected. I've never seen this before in America, this is something very strange to me, because newspapers used to like controversy, but on this issue, they seem to have convinced themselves there's only one point of view.

SS: Alright, you've got about 90 seconds. Tell me, how does the situation affect the policy-making, decision-making, in the White House. Do you feel there's lack of expertise on Russia?

SC: Yes. We don't even know who advises Obama. In the past, we always knew to whom the President listens, even if those people were not in the government. But we know, for example, that probably among the wisest men about Russia today in the U.S. is Henry Kissinger. He's 92 years old - Obama hasn't talked to him.

SS: He has also actually said that demonizing Putin is not a policy.

SC: "It's an alibi for not having a policy." I think it's worse; it's an alibi for having a bad policy. I'll tell you what we do: I'm old, I've been through this before, I went through this in 70s… those of us who think as I do, we keep speaking out when we can, we're organizing, we try to talk to Senators and Congress people who are willing to listen to us. The problem is, most of them are Democrats and they don't want to come out against Obama, because there are Congressional elections coming in November. They don't want to do anything to be critical of Obama publicly, because the Democrats are having a hard time holding the Senate and the House. This is not about Russia, this is about our social welfare programs, our Supreme Court, about helping poor people, about social justice in America - it's a very important issue, I don't fault them. But, what I say to them: "Ok, after the elections I expect to see you on TV saying this Ukrainian crisis is a disaster and we are also guilty, not just Russia". We'll see if they say anything. What else can you do?

SS: Thank you very much, Stephen Cohen, very famous American scholar on Russian studies, thanks a lot for this interview.

Gary Seven

"We've been excluded. Jack Matlock hasn't been there, professor Mearsheimer hasn't been there, my articles have been rejected. I've never seen this before in America, this is something very strange to me, because newspapers used to like controversy, but on this issue, they seem to have convinced themselves there's only one point of view."

"We don't even know who advises Obama. In the past, we always knew to whom the President listens, even if those people were not in the government."

This is important b/c to me at least, it signals a new level gained in elitist message management. Before, you could have a "debate" within predetermined parameters of debate. Some of it actually made sense, but this new phase is now the full censorship mode in effect.

No debate of any type. I've seen it in many journals. Look how horribly you are treated by discussing any topic that suggests a conspiracy that is not sanctioned by the MSM or paints the establishment in a derogatory manner not acceptable by the elites.

MH17 is a in-your-face conspiracy that begs a real investigation yet, it is not to be discussed in the West outside of the usual Rebel bashing sort. It's all connected and we ignore it at our peril.

Maxim Wexler

"The expansion of NATO was done for one main purpose - to increase security in Europe." Security is secondary; the main purpose is to spread Chicken McNuggets east and take Russian resources west.

The Seething Anger of Putin's Russia

Quote: "In modern history, no U.S. administration has proved more inept at dealing with Russia." Despite typical for US MSMs large amount of neocon, Fox news inspired and absurd comments there are several commentators for this the Atlantic article well worth reading (see below)
The Atlantic

....The U.S. did not have to travel down this road, but it did, and there appears to be no way to turn back-or no way leaders in the West or Russia are prepared to take. The newly precarious state of affairs derives, in great measure, from a failure on the part of Western, and mostly American, leaders to understand Russia, which they should have tried to do, given its strategic importance, nuclear arsenal, continental dimensions, natural resources, and potential as a troublemaker-or dealmaker-in many troubled parts of the world. It also stems from America's refusal to recognize Russia's concern about the eventual expansion of NATO, a military bloc inherently inimical to it, into more terrain along its western border-terrain that is closer to Moscow than the Baltics. How would the United States react to a Russian incursion in the Western hemisphere? This is no hypothetical question. In 1962, President Kennedy took the world to the brink of atomic war to force the Soviet Union to withdraw its nuclear missiles from Cuba.

A deal ended that confrontation, and one is needed now. But to strike one, Western leaders would have to reassess their view of, and policies toward, Russia. Russia, for reasons of history, culture, size, and geography, is what it is: not Western, not Eastern, but sui generis, its own world. Predicating policy on the hopes of a peaceful uprising and the triumph of democracy here-or, conversely, on predictions of the country's collapse, with a new, West-friendly government emerging from the rubble-is futile. In the same vein, announcements of economic sanctions designed to make Russia "pay" for annexing Crimea or stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine ring hollow to Russian ears.

And with good reason....

... In any case, Russia has set about decoupling from the West, concluding a major hydrocarbons deal with China, helping Iran weather the effects of Western sanctions, planning its own alternative to the interbank messaging service SWIFT, and establishing financial institutions to counter the World Bank and the IMF. It could at any moment derail the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan; the route home for American troops and materiel leads across Russia. Moscow cannot be bullied into changing course.

While Putin is undeniably popular in Russia now, I am not arguing that Russian democracy has survived. It has not. But Putin's icy demeanor, agate-blue eyes, and judo-trained physique all befit the current mood in Russia: seething anger over everything lost with the fall of the Soviet Union-superpower status, national pride, a generous social-welfare state, a low crime rate, and more. Democracy, barely tried in the 1990s, did not confer those things on Russia. Putin-plus high oil prices-did. Or such is the popular perception.

Whether or not Westerners agree with how Putin rose to power or rules today, they need to recognize that in the interests of peace and stability, Russia's interests have to count and be accommodated in some way. Russia must have a place at the table. The West did not exclude it (entirely) during the Cold War years. It cannot afford to do so now.

Nikita Glushkov -> Riley 1066

"He is this and that by definition" is, by definition, an example of crude partisan hackery. If you want to be taken seriously, at least attempt to back up your arguments with evidence. Questionable privatisation, corruption and cronyism is what happens when a given group of elites captures the apparatus of the state - these phenomena are found in every modern society and their presence is merely a matter of degree, and do not provide evidence of dictatorship, merely that people with power use it to enrich themselves and their friends. "Steals other peoples money regularly" - Which people and and on what occasions ? Evidence ?
By the way, in case you are trying, as your brethren often do, to canonize Khodorkovsky as a glorious freedom fighter, its worth reminding you that his wealth was ill-gotten during the Yeltsin years. Putins popularity is not a mystery - During his tenure, living standards for the majority of the population, especially the dozens of millions of people who live outside the big cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg have improved vastly, especially when compared with the 90s. People buy cars and consumer goods, take foreign vacations, etc. etc. etc. Putin's electorate is not located in the capital - thus the 60% with which he won the election is not unpredictable - those precentages represent the percentage of the population who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Putin years.

If we conclude, as is obvious, that corruption and nepotism is a feature of all governments and the elites who man them, It becomes clear that is not corruption or nepotism that Washington and its lackeys are concerned about, but rather the unwillingness of Moscow to dance to Washington's tune.

Bulos Qoqish -> Nikita Glushkov

He's not a "dictator" in the strict sense of the word. But he IS a classic, far-Right, nationalist, jingoist, manipulative, corrupt demagogue, who cynically abuses mob hysteria (particularly on topics like "NATO encirclement", "support for our Russian-speaking brothers and sisters being 'oppressed' in places like Ukraine and the Baltic States", "re-building our military so we're feared by every other country", "Russia is favored by God, so says the Patriarch of Moscow" and most of all, homophobia) to advance his personal political popularity.

In other words, he's reading right from the U.S. Republican playbook, going at least as far back as Ronnie Rayguns. He's certainly learned from the best... hasn't he? All you right-wing Republicans and Tea Partiers should be proud. Congratulations, Dr. Frankenstein, the experiment was a success!

Bulos Qoqish -> Riley 1066

So there is absolutely NO justification -- of any type, under any circumstances, whatsoever -- for Russian "anger" with the West in general, or the United States in particular... do I have that right?

What typical, self-righteous, U.S. neo-con nonsense posturing.

IAF101 -> Riley 1066

Who are YOU to decide what is "legitimate" ? Who gave you that authority ??

What makes Obama "legitimate" ? What makes George W Bush "legitimate" ?? What makes Regan "legitimate" ??

Putin has higher approval ratings in Russia than Obama ever had in America today. What does that tell you ?

You or your country are not the sole arbiter of what's "legitimate", "just", "right" or wrong. First, hand over George W Bush to the ICC for War crimes trials for illegally invading Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo, rendition flights, waterboarding etc - THEN come and question Putin's legitimacy or Russia's "aggression".

Bulos Qoqish -> Riley 1066

Whatever you think of Putin personally (and as I have stated elsewhere, I think he's a cynical demagogue), his election as President of Russia (not to mention the election to the Duma), was far, FAR more "free and fair" than ANY national level American election, what with its gerrymandering, 2-party oligopoly, minority voter suppression, absurd over-representation of thinly-populated, rural, white, conservative jurisdictions (Montana gets the same number of Senators as California), antiquated "Electoral College" system, and, last but certainly not least, its grotesquely-inflated amounts of money spent by rich people and corporations to buy elections.

Don't like hearing that, my American friends? Don't like hearing the (true) statement that an average Russian, has far more say over his or her government, via elections, than does the average American?

Then SHUT THE F UP, go fix your system, clean it up, and THEN come back to me with your self-righteous accusations of "rigged Russian elections". Until you do that, don't you DARE lecture me (or any foreigner), about "democracy". You wouldn't know it, if it bit you on the leg.

Bulos Qoqish -> Riley 1066

How about "you're bluffing with a hand of deuces, pardner".

What's the matter?

I guess you're more comfortable debating people who don't know very much about how your country really works (as opposed to the propaganda version of it, that the U.S. nationalist Right, wants everyone else to believe in)? Are you maybe unprepared for a POV that doesn't come from, say, FOX (sic.) "News"?

Don't get me wrong. I have no special hate for the United States. There are many sensible, peaceful, reasonable Americans, some of whom are my friends. The American political system (while antiquated and grossly unrepresentative of the wishes of 90% of its voters), isn't hugely worse than equally-bad systems in some other so-called "Western Democracies". It's just that you then get up on this high horse and start calling yourself "exceptional".

It's drivel, and outside your country, we know it is. Before you take it upon yourself to try to fix Ukraine's (and Russia's... or Syria's... or Iraq's... or... "anyone's") problems, how about you fix up your own, and THEN come back and tell us how "perfect" and "exceptional" you are.

Bulos Qoqish -> Riley 1066

Ah, I see, I SEE -- everybody who disagrees with your U.S.-triumphalist, Russophobic POV is an "idiot"... do I have that right?

I guess the world must be just FILLED with "idiots", with all the "smart" people (like you) exclusively populating "God's 'exceptional' country"... right? (Funny, you know... from the way it looks out here, it seems much more like the other way around. Maybe that has to do with repeated street-level tests where the Average American voter can't place either Iraq, Ukraine, or -- for that matter -- even India, on a globe or map.)

Now as to your comments about the political situation in the United States and your supposed (I think, feigned... but as I don't know you personally, I'll have to give you the benefit of the doubt) abhorrence of the crew of right-wing lunatics (e.g. the Koch Brothers, FOX "News" and the whole lot of 'em) to whom I referred in an earlier posting.

Bulos Qoqish -> Riley 1066

To which "totalitarian friends" of mine do you refer, sir? If you had read any of my postings (I guess you're not much up on "reading", are you?), you'd have seen that I have roundly condemned Putin and his clique.

YOUR problem, sir, is that I condemn ALL totalitarians and authoritarians -- including the cruel, jingoistic, cynical, 2-party elite plutocracy and oligopoly that runs the United States. You're fine with people yelling at America's "devil figure of the week" (happened to be Putin a few weeks ago, this week it's ISIS, a few months ago it was Iran's leadership, next month it'll be someone different... names and faces change, but the song remains the same, because fundamentally it's an exercise in propaganda and media manipulation), but you get mad when I point the finger back at your own country.

Remember what they say about people who live in glass houses?

Bulos Qoqish -> Riley 1066

Are you hard of hearing? How many times do I have to (re)explain that I despise Vladimir Putin and his clique of crony-capitalist stooges?

The real reason you keep repeating nonsense like "you defend Putin" is that your simplistic, "four legs good, two legs bad", pro-American, anti-Russian propaganda narrative can't account for someone like me, who likes NEITHER Putin NOR his U.S. elite antagonists.

Well... too bad, squire. The world is a complex place and "the enemy of my enemy ISN'T (always) my friend". That's the truth, whatever you may be hearing back in "God's 'exceptional' country."

Srikanth -> Riley 1066

The western governments are just a power hungry, blood leeching community; first of all they should stop interfering in to issues of other countries -- in the name of humanitarian aid they should stop invading other countries...Western media - a propaganda machine, should stop spreading false news, they just brainwash ppl with false news. USA is the biggest dictator in the world, they try to dictate foreign policies of other nations, sanctions are their primary weapon, they are just bad !

I hope the power centre will move to Russia and Asia, so that there will be a power balance in this world....

Brendon Jaramillo -> Srikanth

cultural misunderstanding. we live on one planet. and win win situations do exist. if only russians werent so paranoid and understood economics.

Bulos Qoqish -> Srikanth

I agree with your depiction of the Western governments (and their motivations); but it's naive of you to think that Russia -- particularly under Putin or another leader cut from the same cloth -- would likely be any better. Historical precedent suggests otherwise.

The world doesn't NEED a "policeman". The world needs to enforce international law and stop larger powers from bullying smaller ones... whether that's the U.S. bullying (for example) Venezuela, or Russia bullying Ukraine.

Bulos Qoqish -> IAF101

"America seems to believe they can do anything without consequences."

Of course they do. They're "exceptional", you see.

Being "exceptional" means that America gets to do things (like, "kidnap helpless victims off the streets of foreign lands and spirit them away for torture and years of arbitrary confinement, in a world-wide Gulag of political prisons", "launch bombing raids against countries with which one is not at war", "invade and occupy other nations", "threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear opponents", "ignore treaty obligations", "ignore U.N. resolutions", "apply its own domestic laws, extra-territorially, in other countries around the world", "exempt its soldiers and mercenaries from local laws, even when they rape and murder citizens of other countries", "violently intervene in the internal affairs of other nations", etc., etc. etc.) that -- if undertaken by ANY OTHER NATION -- would immediately have screams of outrage emanating from the Washington, D.C. plutocratic elite, along with demands for "America's young 'heroes' in the Armed Forces to 'teach this lawless enemy a thing or two' about the norms of international conduct" (the cruise missiles would be flying within the hour).

That this nonsense propaganda -- which IS the unquestioned state dogma of official Washington and the U.S. military-industrial plutocracy (including so-called "liberals" like Obama) -- is simply Soviet-style agitprop, is so painfully obvious as not to merit further elaboration. Any American politician who dares to suggest that the United States isn't, in fact, "God's 'exceptional' nation, mandated by the Lord Himself to divinely 'lead' the rest of the world to Truth, Justice and the American Way", will be immediately ruled out of contention (by the pundits of the elite media) for national public office -- particularly the Presidency. There is a level of monolithic elite agreement on this subject that rivals, for example, Soviet-era doctrine on "democratic centralism". The only real difference is what's on the flags, and the language that the propaganda is spoken in.

What worries ME, frankly, is that having become used to playing the "exceptional" card almost exclusively against weaker nations (or failed states) such as Iraq, Yemen and Serbia, the U.S. elite -- facing steady economic decline at home and needing something else to distract American workers from their falling standard of living -- will at some point think that they can get away with it, against a country that can and will call the U.S. elite's bluff. It might come in a confrontation with Russia over Eastern Ukraine, or possibly with China over the South China Sea. Maybe it will come somewhere that we can't yet imagine.

But when that day comes -- as surely it will, given the mindless, jingoistic belligerence, siege mentality, opportunism and cynicism of the U.S. military-industrial-plutocratic elite (and particularly, its Republican / Tea Party lunatic right wing fringe... these are guys who make Vladimir Putin look like Mother Theresa) -- I am really, really afraid of what might happen next.

After all... an "exceptional" nation, never backs down, after it has started a confrontation... does it?

Start digging your shelter.

David Giles -> MatterOverMind

Actually, you are completely wrong. The USA started the fire. First by starting a war against Gadaffi and overthrowing a long standing Russian ally. Then by training and arming Muslim Extremists in Jordan to launch an insurrection in Syria, then by using chemical weapons in Syria in an attempt to discredit Assad and justify direct American intervention. Remember Oclown's red line. Despite the massive howls of the American public against action in Syria, Oclown was going to bomb Syrian military forces anyways. That is until Russia moved their Black Sea Fleet out of Sevastopol Crimea into the Mediterranean in front of Syria and told the US that attacking Syria would mean war and quote from Putin and Medvedev "once wars start their is no telling where they can lead, nuclear war is possible".

Oclown backed down from attacking Syria. But in response to Russia's defense of Syria the USA CIA and State Department gave $5 billion dollars to criminal gangs in Ukraine to stage an uprising against the legitimately elected government of Ukraine. They then sent in their special forces snipers that they have used in several civil disturbances to cause them to get violent, Libya and Syria being two examples. The goal in toppling the Ukrainian government is multifaceted; the biggest prize being depriving Russia of the use of the navy base in Crimea. We know how that turned out NOT!

Other goals include capturing the newly discovered vast natural gas fields in Western Ukraine and developing those fields to supply Western Europe's energy needs. Doing this deprives Russia of much needed funds through the sale of their natural gas to Europe. Further, 90% of Russia's natural gas sales to Europe go through pipelines in Ukraine. Physically controlling these pipelines puts the West in a much stronger position to negotiate prices for Russian gas as the Western Ukrainian fields are brought on line. Or so they think.

The likely scenario is Russia is going to get really pissed and cut off the flow of gas right in the middle of winter. America will try and take up the slack by shipping liquified natural gas in tanker ships. Expect severe disruption of this attempt both in US and European ports.

In the meantime, Al-Maliki in Iraq was aligning with Iran and consequently Russia and refused to sign the status of forces agreement with Oclown. Because of ongoing failures in Syria, Oclown turned his ISIS creation loose on Iraq to disrupt and over turn the Al-Maliki government. It didn't matter to Oclown and the leaders in Washington that countless thousands have been brutally murdered by their ISIS puppet. Now using the pretext of combating their own creation they are again calling for bombing Syria and arming "moderate" rebels. However, the truth on the ground speaks volumes. ISIS is driving US military vehicles and using US made weapons. As soon as Congress passed the aid bill, just days ago, ISIS made huge advances in Syria. This is no coincidence as the US military and Intelligence Agencies had the weapons on site and ready for transfer before the bill was signed. That is why it only took days from signing the bill to ISIS gaining control of more cities in Syria.

What you really need to understand is what this is all about. BANKING and control of the worlds monetary system.

Every country the US invades or topples doesn't support the IMF and World Bank but are debt slaves to those institutions after invasion is complete. And many including Syria, Iraq, and Libya planned on a new gold standard that would undermine the US dollar's control of global oil markets.

Even in this article (a well written one), it mentions Russia's creation of alternatives to the IMF and World Bank. This is the real reason the West is trying to go to war with Russia. Putin has often openly spoke of combating a global evil, one out to control all nations and install a world government, an evil who's most public face is the IMF and World Bank. Putin is a religious man as is most of Russia today. It would not surprise me if they see Satan behind the West Globalist institutions, certainly Iran doesn't hesitate to say that is the case.

And while you may think that taking down these regimes is good and the US has peoples best interests at heart...and that we are the good guys. Look at the results of ALL of the Arab Spring. Look at our ally Saudi Arabia driving tanks into Bahrain to put down that countries democratic uprising. That western media neglected invasion of a sovereign nation by a totalitarian state to put down people demanding freedom and democracy, an invasion called for and supported by Washington because the people of Bahrain would tell the USA to get the F out of their nation and take their navy base with them if they ever had a voice.

Your simplistic view of the events transpiring in the world indicates you need to lay of the US MSM koolaid.

provocateur -> David Giles

Funny, most nations don't have a problem with the world bank..only backwards, intolerant, self important countries like Russia do. Whats that? They don't like dancing to the American's tune? Well build a better country and then you can call the shots. Until then, post rambling, incoherent nonsense (like your post) or kindly shut up. People realize how terrible this planet would be with Russia in charge.

Nikita Glushkov -> provocateur

Your comment provides an interesting insight into the American imperial psychosis - "Well build a better country and then you CAN CALL THE SHOTS." You literally are functionally incapable of concieving that other great powers are not motivated by a desire "to call the shots" everywhere in the world. You forget that Putin does not go on television talking about "Indispendible Russia Leadership, only about local Russian national interests. You forget that only in Washington do the power elites peddle self-serving propaganda about "American global leadership." It would be great if Washington stopped forcing itself down everyone's throats and focused it's interests on it's own immediate borders, but they aren't going to do that, are they ? They would rather send Mrs. Nuland of the State Department to stage right-wing coups in Kiev. We don't want to be in charge of the world, we want Washington to stop cocking it up in our local sphere of influence.

Funny, plenty of nations and international organization, especially those that represent developing economies, have problems with the World Bank, primarily because of it's promotion of the Washington concensus and conditional predatory lending that eviscerates pensions, social spending and domestic production and investment and perpetuates a vicious cycle of dependency whereby the developing world is forced to provide raw materials to the Western nations, who then create added value which the producers never see. It's really very simple.

provocateur -> Nikita Glushkov

Yeah yeah. Russia just wants everyone to get along in their multi-polar pinko paradise. The World Bank, and global economy in general is primarily an American institution as it is based on rampant capitalist ideals. You are clearly (and maybe rightfully so) frustrated at what you see as American hegemony in the financial arena. That's what happens when the state of California makes more money than 80% of the countries on Earth. As I said before, when poor, bullied Russia gets that kind of power, I wonder if you will still be whining?

Nikita Glushkov -> provocateur

What on earth are you blathering on about ? Did you bother reading my comment above at all ? We couldn't care less who "gets along" in a "pinko paradise" - we have always operated on the assumption that individual states engage in policy actions motivated by their proprietary interests and this ensures a durable, if imperfect balance of stability in the world system. Like I said, WE, unlike your people in Washington, don't presume that for some reason, we are fit to tell other states how to conduct their affairs near their borders. We couldn't care less which countries the World Bank is currently beggaring, as long as Washington keeps it various institutional attack dogs away from our doorstep. Why is that concept so hard for you to grasp ? The State of California makes more money than 80% of individual sovereign states ? - care to provide evidence for that fantastical claim ? Russia would have been "bullied" in this case if we allowed Obama to get away with Ukraine in one piece - as it is, our goal, guaranteed non-expansion of NATO, has been achieved at relatively little cost and the immediate threats to our national security have been brought under control. We don't have designs for global domination. because we operate under the assumption, unlike Washington, that it's an impossible goal. So, no, we won't acquire "that kind of power" (whatever that means) because acquiring "that kind of power" was never on the agenda to begin with - leave us alone in our backyard, and we won't bother you in yours. How difficult is that to wrap your head around ?

provocateur -> Nikita Glushkov

Just blindly assuming that I'm American because I dont agree with your tin foil hat theories. Im from England. Typical Russian flattering himself about how NATO wants to encircle your country. Only a Russian could not see the irony of a massive bloated nation crushing its neighbor and then making claims about how you are being "bullied." Also, LOL @ "world domination." Your paranoia is truly incredible.

Maybe the countries next to you are ASKING to join NATO because Russia is a deceitful menace to them? Isn't that more probable than whatever Nazi Alien Anti-capitalist rant you are spouting? Your writing doesn't do much to dismiss the widely held image of Russians as cabbage eating, drunken liars.

DrOph -> David Giles

I see where your heart is, which is nice. But your intel is all mixed up. The fact that this exchange has garnered so much attention (regardless of the poor perspectives they both offer) is a testament to the prevailing ignorance which reigns supreme in the world. Thank god nobody cares about comments. Read the article. This is a very well articulated and reasoned piece. Heed this warning, and check this hideous rashness

Bulos Qoqish -> David Giles

What I'd like to know is, "if a group of far-Left revolutionaries (including a large number of Trotskyists who were publicly pledging to 'cleanse Mexico of its filthy Jewish capitalist scum'), who were dissatisfied with the outcome of a recent election in Mexico and with the pro-American policies of the resulting Mexican government, started staging a series of violent street demonstrations in Zocalo Plaza -- thereby resulting (eventually) in the violent overthrow of the elected Mexican government, and its replacement by a far-Left successor regime far more friendly to Russia or Cuba... what would be the reaction of the United States?"

Because substitute "Mexico" for "Ukraine" and "United States" for "Russia", and there you have an EXACTLY parallel situation.

Yet America whines and shrieks about Russia's behavior. I would suggest that you Americans check the history books regarding your own track record, in Latin America, before you entertain us with your stupid posturing about "the awful Russians".

Nikita Glushkov -> SgtKonus

I'd wager it's because there cannot exist separate standards for the foreign policies of various great powers - unless said separate standards can be enforced. In a world of realist power politics, it is nonsensical and disingenuous for one power to attack another for not being moral, friendly, or nice, when the prevailing state of the world is one where being moral, friendly or nice will compromise your security and survival. Feel me ?

hailexiao -> Bulos Qoqish

If we instigated and supporteds separatist/US annexationist movements in Baja California and Coahuila, we would be in the wrong, just as Russia is in the wrong right now. Just because we won't do any better doesn't mean Russia or anyone who acts similarly isn't also wrong. Glass houses need to be broken by thrown rocks anywhere they exist without exception.

Bulos Qoqish -> hailexiao

Suppose "we" (by "we" I assume you mean "the United States"... remember, I'm not an American) did that (note that you are, here, disingenuously implying that ALL the separatist movements in Crimea and Ukraine were purely and simply created by the Russians, out of whole cloth, and that they have absolutely no popular support in places like Crimea or Donetsk... an assertion that is obviously false).

It would still not make America's likely reaction any different. So the entire point is irrelevant. The point IS, of course, that, in true, hypocritical "U.S. exceptionalist" style, all of the Russia-baiters on these forums are frothing at the mouth to denounce Russia for doing things that their own country also does (actually, does much worse), on a routine basis.

Whether or not this kind of nonsense propaganda is appealing to Americans, I can personally attest that it has ZERO credibility or traction, outside of "God's 'exceptional' country".

Nobody out here particularly likes Putin or his cynical tactics in Ukraine. But the United States comes into this dispute as a hopelessly tainted, discredited interlocutor. America's past track record of gross violations of international law and cavalier disregard for the rights of less powerful nations, disqualifies it from being a positive force not only in this dispute... but in ALL disputes.

Jack P -> David Giles

Cogent post. Thought I'd mention it because I've been through the ringers dealing with the drivel on the Russia-Ukraine situation, and commiserate. Apparently anarchists, communists, progressives, some libertarians like Ron Paul, socialists, syndicalists, and others are Putin trolls or Kremlin shills because they contradict the State Department party line. Better yet, Larry King,, Amy Martin on Breaking the Set, and economist Max Keiser are Putin trolls because they're on Russia Today. The brainwashed boneheadedness of many of these commentators is rather pathetic.

Hristo -> mtbr1975

First off. As everybody knows it started with a coup against the legit Ukrainian government. This coup was initiated and backed by US mainly and EU following the "bigger brother", cause this is what they best do. They are followers. Secondly the russian "invasion" actually never happened. It wasn't confirmed by any of the official observers. Ukrainian government came up with it cause they were ashamed of loosing to significantly smaller army. So they needed an explanation. And knowingly that the west is going to hope in the wagon for political reasons they invented the "russian invasion".

Hristo -> xi557xi

"an agent of irrational Russian behavior"

Wow finally you called somebody to come and help you with the writhing. Unfortunately for you it sounds, how to put it mildly - stupid. Send this person back home. You were doing better without him. Now some answers:
1. Russia proposed cheap gas and 15 billion USD loan to Ukraine. EU proposed-wait for it-nothing. Yanukovych of course the pragmatic he is new that it will take years for the Ukrainian economy to be able to integrate with EU. So he chose the logical one. That is the truth. Everything else is just your wet dreams.
2. It is good that you have evolved as a result of our discussion and now you acknowledge that there wasn't a Russian invasion. If there is (and this is a big if) any " Russian military officers, vehicles, weapons, equipment, and training involved" it is only fair since there are American such in Ukraine. Somebody's got to level the play field, eh
3. I don't know but I would guess that you do. Since the Dutch in their report didn't come with an answer either, one may suggest that you probably was the one shooting the plane, cause this is the only way to now with any certainty.

Jack P -> Kevin

"Supported various genocides such as Syria." That's a real howler. The anti-Syria jihadists - the origin of IS - was supported by US/NATO via Turkey and the CIA. Yeah, I'm sure that conflict had nothing to do with Georgia's independent policies that irked the kremlin" is a classic straw man argument. It doesn't refute that Georgia and Saakashvili, with arm stockpiles provided by the US, perpetrated the murderous assault on South Ossetia. Chechnya is Russian Federation land. And yes, there is evidence that Russia has shown itself to be "caring humanitarians." Witness the three aid convoys bringing food, water and other supplies to Eastern Ukraine. What exactly has Kiev brought to that region?

Bulos Qoqish -> MatterOverMind

"Appeasement". The standard, nonsense "nuclear weapon" used by the U.S. neo-con Far Right to shut off debate and stop any intelligent, reasoned, fact-based discussion of any topic that the Right doesn't want to examine.

How typically... "American".

Nikita Glushkov -> MatterOverMind

Yes, my man, a fine question. Let's examine the history, shall we ? At the end of the 80s, Gorbachev, bless his heart, decided to pretend that realist great power politics ceased to exist and decided to unilaterally surrended Soviet interests on out Eastern border. In return, his naive expectation was in the absence of a "threat", Washington and it's West European lackeys would do the same. in fact, Baker, then Bush Srs. Secretarty of State, told Gorbachev clearly that if he were to allow the reunification of Germany, NATO would not be advanced, and I quote here, "not even an inch to the East." We know very well with hingsight that those promises were shat upon - instead, we got a Clinton-manufactured war to dismantle Serbia and make Kosovo essentially a huge offshore US military base, we got pretty obvious NATO expansion, we got Bush-era attempts to place so-called ABM installations on our borders (Oh, don't pay any mind to the fact that there are outside your door, they are actually aimed at the Iranians. What, the Iranians have no long range missiles ? Oh well.) So don't give me Putin restablishing the Soviet empire shtick, it's just juvenile. Thoughout this crisis, we have made clear that we will be perfectly satisfied with a non-aligned, neutral Ukraine along the Finland model - because that is the only sitation that allows for the preservation of our security interests. Putin, unlike your people,

boca_grande

Russia, has always wanted to be part of Europe. St. Petersburg was a testament to that wish, a capital built in Europe and meant to impress Europe's then heads of state. (Royal Europe) but Russia was barely European mostly Asian. And it's early history was not civilized as was Europe. Millions of uneducated surfs wedded to the land, no hope of emancipation. After this emancipation in the revolution came an expanded more enlightened population, but also a feeling of national inferiority lingered. Everything had to be Russian and big, not the best, but the biggest. The communist system failed and this empathized their degree of sophistication in governing, manufacturing and arts. Yes, Americans managed to insult the Russians, but I think they would have never really integrated with the west, as this Raw Russian history would prevail and they would have turned away from the civilized west. They see the west as decadent, and reject principles we impose on them like the extreme degree's of free speech etc.

Putin is trying to build a Russia with more discipline and control then the west. Something like the US was in the 50's. It will be time that tells just what will come of it. Putin shows his citizens how he can thumb his nose at the EU and US and get away with it. And China is going right along with him. They are forming a new hemisphere more energetic and exciting, the west just isn't offering. The tables are turning way from he west and they know it. American leaders realize the same but don't know what to do. Cut debt??? I think the only thing the world knows universally, is American leadership has faltered and the world is in a mess or influx.

David Giles -> boca_grande

The Civilized West you mention created ISIS and is currently arming them despite that organizations brutal, murderous, genocidal behavior. They are doing this to take down nations that don't adhere to their banking systems. The great civilized west killing for money again. Russia has no desire to align with the godless, homo loving, baby killing west.
American leadership has not faltered, it has failed. It has failed to live up to its oath of office for over 100 years now, all selling out to the One World Government movement and betraying the American public and nation.

End the Federal Reserve, end fiat currency, end the license to steal and kill.

Jack P -> SgtKonus

Only partially true. The US/NATO was arming and training Al Nusra in Turkey to go into Syria. The CIA was also involved. Of interest is that well-known picture of McCain meeting with several of the "legitimate" opposition in Syria. Who's t he guy sitting across from McCain, front left (those who want to can easily find the pic). He ends up being the head of ISIS.

Jack P -> SgtKonus

Link to a treatment of McCain purportedly meeting the "legitimate Syrian opposition." The author of the commentary contacted the McCain camp wondering if he was meeting a later ISIS head. At first they said it wasn't the same person, to which the author asked for the name. They didn't provide it. So either it is a cover-up, or McCain and his camp didn't vet who he was meeting. In the case of the latter, it puts to shame the point that arms were being shipped to non-radical elements in Turkey and Syria.

http://www.bollyn.com/#article...

Bob -> provocateur

Wow, you really are deluded. Well try then Saudi Arabia. How many be headings and stoning s have they performed this year? And this differs from ISIS how? And they are whose allies? This thing about Iraq's weapons is hog wash and just a phony alibi.

SWalkerTTU -> Laura

Maybe we should consider the policy of the Roman Empire, which Tacitus (I think?) sarcastically described as "They make a desert and call it peace."

Laura -> SWalkerTTU

What peace is, is a complex thing. If everyone is dead, that's pretty peaceful. If one side is cowed into silence, that's peaceful.

Jack P -> vkg123

Not deep in the woods at all. Given that there are Chechen separatist terrorists in the area who are going under the radar after Russia gaining control of the territory. Some of the volunteers who went to East Ukraine were formerly fighting the terrorists - or separatists however you want to look at it - in previous Chechen battle. Many of them went elsewhere, to places like Turkey and eventually where they gained US/NATO largesse.

In fact Right Sector thug Yarosh, currently in high position in the Kiev government, praised Right Sector Alexander Muzichko for his role in fighting against Russia in Chechnya. Muzichko is known for torture and murder of prisoners. That's the side that transmuted into the Syrian "opposition" and eventually the current ISIS.

National Unity and Foreign Wars

The American Conservative
Michael Tomasky worries about a lack of national unity in support of foreign wars:

All the above amounts to a proper and essentially democratic skepticism. But that skepticism travels with a less healthy companion, a kind of civic cynicism that pervades almost all public questions these days. I have trouble conjuring up, for example, any event that could make us anything like the unified country we were during World War II.

There are at least two main reasons why modern U.S. wars so rarely produce that sort of unity. The first is that the U.S. mostly doesn't fight necessary wars in self-defense, but chooses to join or start wars that have at most a tangential connection to our security. Some are entirely unrelated to American security, and some may even do real harm to that security. No matter how defensible a military action may be, there is never going to be the same degree of support for a war of choice as there is for a war fought in self-defense, and many of our wars of choice haven't been very defensible.

The other reason is that the enemies that the U.S. has fought over the last thirty years have not required anything close to the sort of total mobilization that the country went through in WWI and WWII. In almost all respects, that is an undeniably good thing: it means that the threats we face today are much smaller and more manageable than the ones our ancestors faced, and it means that most of our society can continue to function more or less as it normally does. Besides, it makes no sense to demand widely shared sacrifices to combat third-rate dictatorships and low-level insurgencies, and it is impossible to expect unity in support of war efforts that are neither necessary nor wise. It is also very difficult to maintain broad support for a war that doesn't seem to have any clear purpose or discernible conclusion. No sane nation would remain unified in support of pointless wars that last a decade or more, and no one should want them to. One other reason why this degree of unity is unlikely nowadays is that Americans have generally become less accustomed to deferring to political leaders and more inclined to assume that we are being taken for a ride and misled into unnecessary dangers. All things considered, I'm not sure that this is such a bad change, since our leaders often do abuse the public's trust and don't deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt on such important matters.

As Tomasky will remember, there was a remarkable degree of unity in the weeks and months following 9/11 and during the earliest phase of the war in Afghanistan. That attitude prevailed as long as the main U.S. military effort overseas was directly related to responding to the attacks on the U.S. There was overwhelming support for that effort, and it is likely that this would have continued without much change for at least a few years. Once the debate over invading Iraq began, that unity started to fracture for obvious reasons. The Iraq war was completely unrelated to the attacks, and it represented a huge diversion of attention and resources into a new and unnecessary conflict. The public rallied behind the administration in 2002-03, but found that it had been sold a bill of goods and belatedly discovered that the short, cheap, and easy war that they had been promised had turned into an open-ended, expensive, and bloody conflict. The last time that the public offered broad, largely uncritical support to U.S. foreign wars, their trust was betrayed and the country was much worse off because of it. We shouldn't be worried about a lack of unity in support of our foreign wars. We should be more concerned with avoiding the unnecessary ones, of which the current war is just the latest.

[Oct 06, 2014] Surveying the Empire: RPI's Daniel McAdams on the Robert Wenzel Show by RPI Staff

October 5, 2014 | ronpaulinstitute.org

Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, ISIS, Hong Kong - why is the US at war with much of the rest of the world? Why does the government lie to trick so many Americans into backing their impoverishing and dangerous plans? Who is behind this warmongering and why?

RPI Director Daniel McAdams is on the Robert Wenzel Show at the Economic Policy Journal today to survey the expanse of the US empire. Listen to the Robert Wenzel show here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=24UDSK_wTKI

[Oct 06, 2014] The Real Status of Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq by Ron Paul

October 06, 2014 | Antiwar.com
After 13 years of war in Afghanistan – the longest in US history – the US government has achieved no victory. Afghanistan is in chaos and would collapse completely without regular infusions of US money. The war has been a failure, but Washington will not admit it.

More than 2,000 US fighters have been killed in the 13 year Afghan war. More than 20,000 Afghan civilians were also killed. According to a study last year by a Harvard University researcher, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost in total between four and six trillion dollars. There is no way of looking at the US invasion of Afghanistan and seeing a success.

So in light of this failure, what does the Obama Administration do? Do they admit the mistake? Do they pull the remaining US troops out of Afghanistan and try to avoid making matters even worse? No! As with all US government programs, if the desired result is not achieved they just pump in more resources and continue with the same policies. The past 13 years have been an utter failure, so this past week the US government signed on for ten more years of war!

US troops were legally required to be out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, according to a status of forces agreement between the US and Afghanistan. The US was unsuccessful in negotiating a new status of forces agreement with outgoing president Hamid Karzai. The Afghan leader had grown critical of the US military presence – which has actually increased under President Obama. So, the US needed a new puppet in government.

As international correspondent Eric Margolis pointed out recently, the elections in Afghanistan earlier this year were a farce. The candidates were hand-picked by the US government. Furthermore, wrote Margolis, "[t]he largest, most popular party in Afghanistan, Taliban…[has] been excluded as 'terrorists' from the current and past elections."

But they got their new status of forces agreement. US troops will remain through 2024.

The United States' war on Iraq has also been a failure. The neocons want to blame the current disintegration of Iraq on President Obama for pulling US troops out. This is historical revisionism at its worst. The real blame goes to those who put the troops in in the first place.

In fact, President Obama didn't even want to pull US troops out of Iraq. He had tried to re-negotiate a new status of forces agreement with the Maliki government in Iraq, but Maliki hesitated to extend immunity from prosecution to the remaining US troops. The US responded by turning on Maliki, eventually demanding that he step down even though he had been elected.

Maintaining US troops in Iraq would not have prevented the current unrest there for the simple reason that it was the presence of US troops in the first place that caused the unrest. It was the US invasion that led to the emergence of al-Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist Islamist groups. This should not have been a surprise to war planners: Saddam Hussein had been using brutal means to keep these groups at bay for decades. The same is true with Afghanistan.

The Taliban government of 2001 in Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did. But the 2003 US attack on Iraq under false pretenses removed a leader who had fought ruthlessly against al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist fighters. The result was that the al-Qaeda we were supposed to be fighting in Afghanistan flourished in post-invasion Iraq, along with other even more brutal groups. Will our government ever learn that invasion and occupation are not the solution, but rather the problem? No new status of forces agreement can change that basic fact.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity

[Oct 06, 2014] Stephen King Fears The World Is Starting To Look Like Orwell's 1984

Unfortunately permanent war for permanent peace is now a reality... ""to see the world looks more and more like George Orwell's vision in 1984 where war is a constant thing... it's just a little bit depressing."
Zero Hedge

Hat tip to The Burning Platform

"It's tiring," explains author Stephen King in this succinct interview, "to see the world looks more and more like George Orwell's vision in 1984 where war is a constant thing... it's just a little bit depressing."

J S Bach

Yeah... had King had the vision 40 years ago, his "Carrie" might have instead been "Barry".

Or, how about "Children Of The Porn"?

Zhuge Liang

Barry isn't playing the Randall Flagg character... not by a long shot. that guy is still in the shadows. Barry simply isn't qualified, but rather is relegated to role of useful idiot sock puppet... and too narcissistic to get it.

vie

On behalf of everyone here, while it's still legal, I'd just like to exercise my freedom of speech to say, fuck the UK and fuck the US, fuck fascist statist assholes everywhere. What good is it if you don't use it right? That is all.

The9thDoctor

King isn't surprised. He wrote The Running Man in 1982 which predicted a global economic collapse and the United States turns into a totalitarian state with bread and circus TV shows of contestants being hunted to death.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Running_Man_%28novel%29

willwork4food

Stephen King is a great writer, I've read quite a few, but some of them get so...dark. lol.

If Stephen King says things are depressing then by GOD it must be depressing!

Things that go bump

He imagined the government in a pretty unflattering light in The Stand, Firestarter and The Dead Zone, at least. Is he surprised to find how closely life is imitating his dark art or that his worst imaginings are closer to nonfiction than flights of fancy?

nmewn

Its time to call these bastards out, all of them.

Fucktard Bloomberg interviewer should have asked, if in his millionaire opinion, the CIA's "destablizing of Libya" at Obama's order bothered him as much as Iraq.

I just like to see a bogus blowhards jaw drop from the unexpected every once in a while ;-)

MontgomeryScott

That's rich, 'nmewn'.

'Fucktard Bloomberg interviewer should have asked...'. I missed your 'sarc' tag.

That guy works for BLOOMBERG. Um, MICHEAL BLOOMBERG. The surveillance-city no-Cokes MAYOR, MICHEAL BLOOMBERG.

I have several of Mr. King's novels ('The Stand' being the best one in my opinion), but the guy personally is an ass when it comes to politics. HIS president 'Cannigula' is carrying on the surveillance-state mantra set in place by USAPATRIOT and the NSA, and he's all blubbering and whining and puling about how scared HE is that it looks like '1984'.

The BLOOMBOIG employee isn't about to start ANY line of questioning that brings Dear Leader Adolf Obola, the Mullato Kenyan Golfer-In-Chief, into question, though, regarding this growth of the 'Survelliance State' (OR the CIA OR Israeli State Intelligence Services OR the FED OR 'Nanothermite', god forbid). Mr. King used the correctly-scripted 'ISIL', in his commentary (find the region 'Levant' on a map, and that little 'state' in the middle of it all).

NOW, on to the REAL question: Is Steven King FOR or AGAINST 'gay marriage'?

I am a Man I am...

What are you talking about? Shawshank Redemption is a great fucking movie, don't ever dis Mr. King again. I'm not sure how Cujo and Christine is considered selling out, the guy's a writer in the entertainment business, gimme a break.

saints51

Enjoy the matrix buddy. I won't give any of them a break because I know exactly what agenda hollywood pushes.

fonzannoon

I am surprised he went with 1984. This looks more and more like The Long Walk

Spungo

But better. 1984 made no mention of Lexington Steel.

Charles Nelson ...

Interesting take on history!?!

I would say the birth of the petrodollar and our having military bases in just about every country on the planet has a bit more to do with destabilization. Obama is like every other bankster puppet president.

[Oct 05, 2014] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Drones (HBO)

This hardly can be called humor. Those killing probably will not make the USA new friends, no matter how much NED and USAID would spend for the promotion of democracy in those countries...

Pabluzcu

This clip is perfect to have a good debate about a serious issue, but we have to suffer the fucking trolls ruining the conversation. When is Google going to acknowledge that they have ruined the youtube comments? ...

Federico Pistono

"Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons based on secret evidence, in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials.

That frightens me."

This is how Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown professor and former Pentagon official under President Obama, explained the US policy on drone strikes during a congressional hearing last year.

[Oct 04, 2014] West beats retreat in Ukraine By M K Bhadrakumar

With Ukraine the USA got dragon teeth planted all over Europe again. Now Russia just do not trust iether EU or the USA and will seek new alliances. It will also speed up rearmament of its army; that potentially means that Russians might be able to prepare a couple of nasty surprises to the USA. The US elite might regret their role in Ukrainian crisis in less then a decade.
September 24, 2014 | Indian Punchline

Considering the huge lift that the White House gave last week to the visit by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - 'rare honor' of addressing a joint session of the US Congress, et al - one would have thought the Barack Obama administration was getting into a heightened mood of belligerence vis-a-vis Russia. But a close reading of President Obama's remarks after the bilateral meeting with Poroshenko last Thursday in Washington creates doubts in the mind.

Obama is a smart politician who can make a retreat appear a victory. He's done it in Afghanistan. Is he doing it in Ukraine? Consider the following. Obama who poured scorn at the Minsk dialogue has now become its votary.

He is also advocating that Ukraine should have "good relations with all of its neighbors, both east and west," and he recommends that Ukraine should continue its strong economic links and people-to-people relations with Russia. This is vintage Obama.

Are we seeing the signs of Obama all but counseling Poroshenko to sort out issues directly with Moscow? It seems so. On returning to Kiev, Poroshenko disclosed today that US will only supply "non-lethal" military items to Ukraine, which of course falls far short of his wish list.

And, as for economic assistance, White House agreed to give the princely amount of $50 million to help Poroshenko see through the year 2015. It's rather tragi-comic, coming at a time when according to the IMF, Ukraine needs around $19 billion next year, if the civil war continues, by way of financial assistance to survive through next year, on top of the global bailout program for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the IMF has revised its own estimate six months earlier and now says a staggering bailout of $55 billion is needed as external financing for Ukraine. Experts forecast that this figure could eventually turn out to be somewhere closer to $100 billion than $55 billion. .

It's a macabre joke - handing out a measly amount of $50 million after egging on Ukraine to go to war with Russia. Where is the remaining $18450 million to come from to see Ukraine through next year?

Well, from Europe, where else? And who will pay from Europe? Not Poland, not Lithuania, not Estonia. It has to come from 'Old Europe'. In essence, Germany has to loosen the purse strings. Chancellor Angela Merkel must be hopping mad.

Contrary to earlier estimates, Ukraine's economy's contraction this year could turn out to be in double digits. All this may go a long way to explain certain intriguing developments relating to Ukraine in the recent weeks: a) European Union's summary decision to consign its hurriedly-signed Association Agreement with Ukraine in the freezer at least until end-2015; b) the robust EU backing for the Minsk accord between Kiev and the separatists in southeastern Ukraine; c) the top secret meeting between the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia on the sidelines of the recent international conference in Paris regarding the Islamic State; d) NATO's belated acknowledgment that Russia has pulled troops back from Ukraine border; and, e) meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and US in New York later today.

Suffice to say, Russia's President Vladimir Putin may be pulling off a major diplomatic victory in getting the West to recognize that Moscow has legitimate interests in Ukraine. The West has no option but to accept that Ukraine's economy is connected to Moscow with an umbilical cord and without whole-heatred Russian cooperation, it cannot be salvaged.

In retrospect, Moscow did well to ignore the EU's latest round of sanctions announced three weeks ago. The signs are already there that Poroshenko is eyeing Putin as, perhaps, his most consequential interlocutor.

Concurrently, Washington too should begin to realize that engaging Moscow is becoming a necessity for effectively mobilizing an international campaign against the Islamic State. It could be a sign of the way the wind is turning direction that the former British defence secretary and Conservative MP, Liam Fox today explicitly cautioned Europe and the US against making threats against Russia over Ukraine.

Fox said, "I think it's very important not to pretend that you [West] can or will do things that you clearly won't. Making false threats, I think, is a big problem. We have to look at different ways of dealing with the Ukrainian situation." Bravo !

Don't be surprised, therefore, if one of these days Putin comes to the aid of Obama once again in Syria. Russia can help Obama legitimize the international campaign against the islamic State by getting a UN Security Council mandate for it; Russia can be helpful in the US' dealing (or the lack of it) with Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad. Make mo mistake, Russia's stance (here, here and here) on the Islamic State threat is unequivocal and broadly supportive of the US-led international campaign.

Russia's only caveat is that the US operations in Syria should have the concurrence of the Syrian government and/or should have a UN mandate, but then, what stops Obama from seeking a UN mandate is also the apprehension that Moscow may not cooperate.

Quite possibly, the ice will be broken regarding Syria today at the meeting between Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry in New York. The New Cold war, which started with a bang, might be ending with a whimper.

Posted in Diplomacy, Politics. Tagged with New Cold War, Ukraine's crisis, Vladimir Putin.

[Oct 02, 2014] For Putin Ally, U.S. Sanctions Only Add to Anti-Russia Conspiracy Theory

online.wsj.com

Railways Chief Yakunin Sees U.S. Seeking to Subvert Russia; No Impact on Ukraine Policy

MOSCOW-Vladimir Yakunin, a longtime friend of President Vladimir Putin, is still indignant that he was slapped with U.S. sanctions in March. But asked whether they have changed the minds of Kremlin insiders like himself regarding Russian policy in Ukraine, his answer is a resounding no.

"That's wishful thinking," he scoffed in a recent interview.

September

[Sep 29, 2014] The IMF revised estimate says a staggering bailout of $55 billion is needed as external financing for Ukraine

marknesop.wordpress.com

ThatJ, September 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm

West beats retreat in Ukraine

Considering the huge lift that the White House gave last week to the visit by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - 'rare honor' of addressing a joint session of the US Congress, et al - one would have thought the Barack Obama administration was getting into a heightened mood of belligerence vis-a-vis Russia. But a close reading of President Obama's remarks after the bilateral meeting with Poroshenko last Thursday in Washington creates doubts in the mind.

Obama is a smart politician who can make a retreat appear a victory. He's done it in Afghanistan. Is he doing it in Ukraine? Consider the following. Obama who poured scorn at the Minsk dialogue has now become its votary.

He is also advocating that Ukraine should have "good relations with all of its neighbors, both east and west," and he recommends that Ukraine should continue its strong economic links and people-to-people relations with Russia. This is vintage Obama.

Are we seeing the signs of Obama all but counseling Poroshenko to sort out issues directly with Moscow? It seems so. On returning to Kiev, Poroshenko disclosed today that US will only supply "non-lethal" military items to Ukraine, which of course falls far short of his wish list.
And, as for economic assistance, White House agreed to give the princely amount of $50 million to help Poroshenko see through the year 2015. It's rather tragi-comic, coming at a time when according to the IMF, UKraine needs around $19 billion next year, if the civil war continues, by way of financial assistance to survive through next year, on top of the global bailout program for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the IMF has revised its own estimate six months earlier and now says a staggering bailout of $55 billion is needed as external financing for Ukraine. Experts forecast that this figure could eventually turn out to be somewhere closer to $100 billion than $55 billion.

It's a macabre joke - handing out a measly amount of $50 million after egging on Ukraine to go to war with Russia. Where is the remaining $18450 million to come from to see Ukraine through next year?

Well, from Europe, where else? And who will pay from Europe? Not Poland, not Lithuania, not Estonia. It has to come from 'Old Europe'. In essence, Germany has to loosen the purse strings. Chancellor Angela Merkel must be hopping mad.

Contrary to earlier estimates, Ukraine's economy's contraction this year could turn out to be in double digits. All this may go a long way to explain certain intriguing developments relating to Ukraine in the recent weeks: a) European Union's summary decision to consign its hurriedly-signed Association Agreement with Ukraine in the freezer at least until end-2015; b) the robust EU backing for the Minsk accord between Kiev and the separatists in southeastern Ukraine; c) the top secret meeting between the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia on the sidelines of the recent international conference in Paris regarding the Islamic State; d) NATO's belated acknowledgment that Russia has pulled troops back from Ukraine border; and, e) meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia and US in New York later today.

Suffice to say, Russia's President Vladimir Putin may be pulling off a major diplomatic victory in getting the West to recognize that Moscow has legitimate interests in Ukraine. The West has no option but to accept that Ukraine's economy is connected to Moscow with an umbilical cord and without whole-heatred Russian cooperation, it cannot be salvaged.

In retrospect, Moscow did well to ignore the EU's latest round of sanctions announced three weeks ago. The signs are already there that Poroshenko is eyeing Putin as, perhaps, his most consequential interlocutor.

Concurrently, Washington too should begin to realize that engaging Moscow is becoming a necessity for effectively mobilizing an international campaign against the Islamic State. It could be a sign of the way the wind is turning direction that the former British defence secretary and Conservative MP, Liam Fox today explicitly cautioned Europe and the US against making threats against Russia over Ukraine.

Fox said, "I think it's very important not to pretend that you [West] can or will do things that you clearly won't. Making false threats, I think, is a big problem. We have to look at different ways of dealing with the Ukrainian situation." Bravo !

Don't be surprised, therefore, if one of these days Putin comes to the aid of Obama once again in Syria. Russia can help Obama legitimize the international campaign against the islamic State by getting a UN Security Council mandate for it; Russia can be helpful in the US' dealing (or the lack of it) with Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad. Make mo mistake, Russia's stance (here, here and here) on the Islamic State threat is unequivocal and broadly supportive of the US-led international campaign.

Russia's only caveat is that the US operations in Syria should have the concurrence of the Syrian government and/or should have a UN mandate, but then, what stops Obama from seeking a UN mandate is also the apprehension that Moscow may not cooperate.

Quite possibly, the ice will be broken regarding Syria today at the meeting between Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry in New York. The New Cold war, which started with a bang, might be ending with a whimper.

[Sep 29, 2014] Obama Rewrites History at the UN by GARRY LEECH

Quote: "This is a shocking misrepresentation of the "facts," but one that is believable to most Americans because it is the tale we have been repeatedly fed by the corporate media". Imagine Washington's response if Russia were to politically intervene in Canada in order to install an anti-US government.
counterpunch.org

This week US President Barack Obama addressed the UN General Assembly and the unintended irony in his speech would be humorous if it were not so cruel-and dangerous. Obama touched on a variety of global issues from the Ebola epidemic to the Ukraine to the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS). So what was this unintended irony so prevalent in Obama's speech?

Well, here are a few choice nuggets for you to consider:

"We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort."

Obama neglected to note that the reason that the future may seem out of control is directly related to US interventionist actions in faraway regions such as Iraq and the Ukraine. The illegal and unilateral action-rather than a legal collective effort through the United Nations-to conquer and occupy Iraq lies at the root of the new US intervention in that country and in Syria.

"Russia's actions in Ukraine challenge this post-war order. Here are the facts. After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt President fled. Against the will of the government in Kiev, Crimea was annexed."

This is a shocking misrepresentation of the "facts," but one that is believable to most Americans because it is the tale we have been repeatedly fed by the corporate media. After being told by our political leaders and the corporate media at the time that the protests by the Euromaidan movement in Ukraine constituted a popular uprising, the events that followed laid bare that lie.

The Euromaidan movement represented a section of the Ukrainian population that was allied with US and EU interests. Furthermore, it was being supported by Washington long before the protests began in order to destabilize the country and overthrow the democratically-elected president because he was more closely-aligned with Russia than Western Europe. While Russia is undoubtedly meddling in the Ukraine, at least it is a neighbour with intimate and even ethnic ties to many Ukranians. Imagine Washington's response if Russia were to politically intervene in Canada in order to install an anti-US government.

[Sep 29, 2014] The Elite's Tug-of-War Since Ukrainian Independence

Quote: "...a hostile policy aimed at containing Russia, eliminating any kind of influence it has within its own borders, and surrounding it with hostile states. And if you know anything of Russian history of the first half of the 20th century, you can understand how sensitive Russia would be. ... I think if the West were not supporting to the hilt the Ukrainian -- the nationalist faction of the Ukrainian elite, we wouldn't have seen the Civil War. So the West bears a lot of responsibility."
therealnews.com

David Mandel teaches political science at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal. He specializes in countries of former Soviet Union, especially labour. For many year has been involved in labour education in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, where he visiting this summer. David is the author of many articles and books, among which is Labour after Communism (Black Rose Press, Montreal, 2005).

Transcript

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. And welcome to part two of our count conversation with our guest David Mandel to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. David is a professor of political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal, and he specializes in the countries of the former Soviet Union, specifically looking at labor. Thank you so much for joining us,

David.DAVID MANDEL, PROF. POLI. SCI., UNIVERSITÉ DU QUÉBEC À MONTRÉAL: I'm glad to be here.

DESVARIEUX: So, David, I want us to kind of understand the historical context of this recent civil war. What has been the economic and political relationship with Russia? What has Ukraine's relationship been like since their independence in 1991?

MANDEL: Well, so the eastern part of the Ukraine, which is the more industrialized part--I mean, the Soviet Union was a highly integrated economy. Since independence, there was some move to try to detach Ukraine to some degree, but still the Donbas, the Eastern Ukraine, and the Northeast and South are still highly integrated, especially the machine-building sectors, with Russia. The West is more agrarian. It's mostly smaller towns. And so they don't have that same economic interest or tie.

DESVARIEUX: Wait. So the West is more--. Okay.

MANDEL: The West is -- I mean, there's three reasons. I mean, I think [incompr.] provinces are regions there are, but there's quite a few. But there's three that are really the--what shall I say? -- the cradle of Ukranian nationalism, which is a very anti-Russian nationalism. And this was part of Ukraine that was separate from the rest of the country for hundreds of years and only rejoined the rest of Ukraine in 1939 under Stalin, actually. It was part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty, and at the end of the war it was occupied, and at the end of the war occupied by the Soviet Union. So this part is actually--it's more to the west. It's extremely anti-Russian, hostile to Russia.

And also there's not much economically or in terms of family ties, certainly no linguistic--not really much linguistically, ethnically. It had--it's a different religion. It's [incompr.] church [incompr.] in the East, it's the Russia Orthodox. So it doesn't have the same ties. And as I said, its nationalism has--a major part of its nationalism is hatred of Russia, and to some degree of Russians.

DESVARIEUX: Was there ever talk of partitioning sections of Ukraine? I mean, was there ever that conversation that they should divide the country at all?

MANDEL: Well, not really. But the eastern parts of Ukraine were -- at the turn of the 20th century, it started being built up as industrial parts -- coal mining, metallurgy, some machine building. And it was basically--I wouldn't say unpopulated, but they were nomadic peoples. There were Cossacks there, who--it's not clear if they're Russian or Ukrainian.

Anyway, people--cities started to be built and people came from all over. But they were Russians. These towns were Russian-speaking. Generally, in Ukraine the cities are Russian-speaking. So that--and it wasn't really considered part of Ukraine at the time. It was called small Russia, Malorossiya. Then, after the Civil War, though, in 1920, the Communist government decided to make this part part of Ukraine. So even this part became part of Ukraine only since 1920, really. And local communist elements actually opposed that to some degree, but they were overruled. And then they have the western regions, the three western regions, which were joined to the Ukraine only in--basically in 1940, 1939 and in the 1940s.

And the state, as--Ukraine as a state never really existed before. I mean, there was maybe a few months during the Civil War in Russia. So it first came into existence in 1991. And so it's extremely fragile. And you'd think this kind of state, the political elites would be very concerned about keeping it together and creating a national identity or making everyone feel at home.

But what there's been since 1991 is a kind of tug-of-war, the western province wanted to impose their [incompr.] and their orientation, anti-Russian orientation, on the rest. And, of course, this is anathema to the east. And then the East, this last government that was overthrown, was more identified with the East, and it was overthrown in what people [incompr.] see as a kind of Western-sponsored coup d'etat, and they see it as illegitimate. So is what's been going on. And I'd say--and so the political elites, which have been basically at the surface of the so-called oligarchs, which is the new capitalist class--it's a small class, but extremely rich, was basically pillaging the country for the last two-plus decades. They've been making--instead of trying to calm down these nationalist passions and these different linguistic and ethnic differences, have been actually exacerbating them to get [incompr.] in their inter-elite struggles and to gain elections, etc. That's it. Yeah.

DESVARIEUX: So, David, you've been involved in labor you education in Ukraine for many years. So for you, what are the issues faced by the Ukrainian working class? You mentioned that, that elite that has kind of risen to power, these oligarchs. Can you speak to that a little bit? And what are the concerns of the working people?

MANDEL: Well, that's just it. This kind of--it's kind of a postmodern identity struggle, although there are economic interests somewhere involved. But basically it keeps the working people [incompr.] mass of the population are very poor in Ukraine. Most are really known as the working class in terms of [incompr.] There's almost no social safety net in Ukraine. It's much worse. I mean, you get sick and Ukraine, you pay for everything. You pay for the sheets. You pay for the food. You pay for the soap that cleans the floor. And you get nothing. You pay for the doctor, you pay for the medicine, you pay for the bed dressers. So there's really no social safety net. And this is the mass of the population that, instead of--. And then there's a ruling group, a small ruling group of oligarchs. They're called oligarchs. This is big capital who basically just pillage the country and grasp for pennies, grab the factories and all the wealth that was inherited from the Soviet Union, and created very little. You have this group that keeps the population divided along these ethnic and linguistic lines so they can't get together to fight the corruption. The corruption is just horrible in Ukraine. And so that's the real--and for me the real issue is to overcome this communitarian strife, so that you can get [incompr.] social and economic issues and fight corruption and get control over the economy so that it can start developing. I mean, Ukraine is--I think it's one of two or maybe the only one of the former Soviet republics that hasn't yet reached the level of GDP per capita that it was in 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart.

DESVARIEUX: So for you, then, does it mean that being in this, like, sphere of influence, I guess, to kind of borrow the language of geopolitics, of either Russia or Europe, would either one really benefit the conditions of workers? Do you have a stance on that?

MANDEL: Sure. I mean, just from a purely rational point of view, the most advantageous position for Ukraine is to be neutral and to be between the east, Russia, and European Union, to, as much as possible, play one against the other. And I think that's something that Russia would definitely accept. I mean, it's probably not proved its first choice. But the West is insisting that Ukraine become part of, be drawn into the Western camp in a kind of [incompr.] really hostile move. I mean, there was a declaration in 2008 that the intention of NATO is to bring, eventually, Ukraine in. I mean, how real that it is is another question.

And then this government, the prime minister, the government announced that it's going to apply for NATO membership. I don't think it'll get in, but that's beside the point. I mean, they have to -- from Russia's point of view, what's been happening since the Soviet Union fell apart is that NATO has been advancing, incorporating the country -- advancing toward the east, incorporating countries that are getting closer and closer to Russia's border.

And Russia views this as basically--I mean, it doesn't--it's a hostile policy aimed at containing Russia, eliminating any kind of influence it has within its own borders, and surrounding it with hostile states. And if you know anything of Russian history of the first half of the 20th century, you can understand how sensitive Russia would be.

And Ukraine is the big prize, as its 2,500 kilometers of common border with Russia--I mean, this is--and this is--it's bordering on the part of Russia where all the population and the great part of the industry is. Ukraine has deep, deep historical, ethnic, family, linguistic, and other ties. And the West has just been totally indifferent to that, you know, insensitive to that. And that's the basic source of the problem. [incompr.] I think if the West were not supporting to the hilt the Ukrainian -- the nationalist faction of the Ukrainian elite, we wouldn't have seen the Civil War. So the West bears a lot of responsibility.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. David Mandel, thank you for joining us.MANDEL: Okay. Thank you.DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

[Sep 29, 2014] The Eternal Collapse of Russia by Paul Starobin

Quote: "So the future of the presentation of Russia as a hodgepodge of unflattering stereotypes seems bright. The naive liberal notion that the world has a teleological disposition toward a progressive end-if only holdouts like Russia would get with the program-is deeply entrenched. Headlines datelined in Russia-on corrupt oligarchs, or on control-freak KGB-generation political operators-will continue to nourish sweeping criticism of Russians, from their leaders on down, as primitive and psychologically ill. Probably no other nation is so easy (or so safe) to caricature."
August 28, 2014 | The National Interest
RUSSIA, IT IS often said, is a country that is barely able to stumble out of bed and put on matching socks in the morning. In the lead-up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi and continuing during the Games, the U.S. media declared open season on the nation. Americans were told that Russia is a country just about bereft of functioning elevators or toilets. Or even a national food, "except perhaps bad sushi." Its people "hardly know who they are anymore" and its essence is defined by copyright infringement and "all-encompassing corruption." All in all, Russia is "a country that's falling apart," as a New Republic cover story in February put it.

It's a hardy theme. It's also a completely bogus one. But that hasn't stopped the media from reviving it again and again.

Thirteen years ago, for example, the Atlantic published a cover story, "Russia Is Finished," on "the unstoppable descent of a once great power into social catastrophe" and ultimately "obscurity." That was a particularly bad year to predict Russia's demise, as an economic revival was starting to take hold. And these days, Russia is proving itself to be anything but "finished" as a geopolitical actor, with its aggressive seizure of Crimea and its arming of pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine-who appear to be responsible for the July shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet as it flew over rebel-held territory. Nor is Russia's determined and so far successful backing of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and its nascent alliance with China based on a historic energy pact, suggestive of a nation that is no longer a consequential player on the world stage. Russia remains a risk-taking nation-and as questionable, even reckless, as its gambles may be, as in its support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine, this is not the behavior of a country destined for insignificance. And while there is a great deal that is second-rate about Russia, from its sagging transportation infrastructure to its shoddy health-care system, such blemishes, common to many nations, including the United States, are hardly evidence of a fatal malaise.

The interesting question, then, is what lies behind this unbalanced mind-set-what might be called the "Russia Is Doomed" syndrome. What is the source of such stubbornly exaggerated thinking-and why is Russia chronically misdiagnosed in this fashion?

IT FEELS right, as a first line of exploration, to call in Dr. Freud. Maybe the strange idea that "the drama is coming to a close," as the Atlantic piece prematurely declared of Russian history, is actually a wish of the collective Western subconscious-the silent urge of the id. The Freudian recesses can subtly affect our political desires, after all, and our twenty-first-century nervousness about Russia can be traced to long-standing European anxieties about despotic Russia as a kind of repository of the primitive in the human condition-dangerously and infuriatingly resistant to higher and hard-won European values. In his popular and bigoted early nineteenth-century travelogue, the French aristocrat Marquis de Custine said that in Russia "the veneer of European civilization was too thin to be credible." His dyspeptic view of Russia has lived on ever since.

Russia was indeed less developed than Europe-according to standards of modernity such as science, technology and industry-but there was a self-serving element of power politics as well as cultural hauteur behind such disparagements. It is no surprise that the notion of Russia and Russians as representing an Other-as in, apart from "us Westerners"-was strikingly prevalent in nineteenth-century Victorian England. That was the time of the Great Game-the competition between Britain and Russia for influence and spoils in a swath of Asia stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the Black Sea.

The Crimean War of the 1850s, pitting both the French and the British against the Russians, sparked an especially intense British animus against a marauding Russian bear, pitted against the regal British lion, as the political cartoonists of the day had it. (Or a meek lion, as some illustrators sketched the scene. In one such cartoon, a massive bear, a Russian soldier's cap on its head, sits atop a prostrate Persian cat, a lion looking on helplessly in the background.) Negative images of Russia seeped into British literature. George Stoker wrote an anti-Russian travelogue, With the Unspeakables, drawn from the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–1878. That book, in turn, may have supplied an impetus for his older brother, Bram, who later wrote of a pair of fantastical novels, Dracula and The Lady of the Shroud, that can be read as conjuring an "Eastern" or Slavic threat to England. In the end, of course, Count Dracula has his throat slashed and is stabbed dead in the heart.

Granted, the British Empire was a promiscuous slanderer of its motley rivals-consider the aspersions regularly cast toward the French. Still, British feelings toward Russia were notably raw. The historian J. H. Gleason, in his 1950 book The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain, characterized the nineteenth-century English public's "antipathy toward Russia" as the "most pronounced and enduring element in the national outlook on the world abroad." The sentiment, Gleason concluded, was concocted by a manipulative, imperial-minded elite-and was off base, anyway, since Britain's foreign policy was actually "more provocative than Russia's" in this period. Others concur. "The world champion imperialists of modern history, the British, were in a permanent state of hysteria about the chimera of Russia advancing over the Himalayas to India," Martin Malia observed in his 1999 book Russia under Western Eyes.

What about Russia's grim demographic profile? The analyst Nicholas Eberstadt at the American Enterprise Institute labeled Russia "The Dying Bear" in a 2011 essay in Foreign Affairs. "The country's population has been shrinking, its mortality levels are nothing short of catastrophic, and its human resources appear to be dangerously eroding," he wrote. Critics of that piece pointed out that Russia in 2010 actually had a lower mortality rate than in 2000. And this progress has continued. In a Wall Street Journal piece earlier this year, Eberstadt conceded:

Russia's post-Soviet population decline has halted. Thanks to immigration chiefly from the "near abroad" of former Soviet states, a rebound in births from their 1999 nadir and a drift downward of the death rate, Russia's total population today is officially estimated to be nearly a million higher than five years ago. For the first time in the post-Soviet era, Russia saw more births than deaths last year.

It seems the ursine creature is not, after all, dying.

In any case, our taste for a country-favorable or unfavorable-shouldn't dictate our foreign policy, which is properly shaped by a cool calculation of our national interest. On these terms, America is right to resist Russia if Putin seems truly bent on bullying his way to a redrawn map of Europe, but also right to try to keep working with Russia on matters of mutual concern such as Islamic militancy. And that same calculation will hold when Putin, as must happen eventually, exits the Kremlin, willingly or unwillingly, whether replaced by a new autocrat or a more democratic figure. Today's heightened tension between the United States and Russia, conceivably the first chapter of a new cold war, with Europe as ambivalent as ever about its role, underscores that Russia is likely to remain one of America's most vexing and formidable diplomatic challenges for a long time to come.

So the future of the presentation of Russia as a hodgepodge of unflattering stereotypes seems bright. The naive liberal notion that the world has a teleological disposition toward a progressive end-if only holdouts like Russia would get with the program-is deeply entrenched. Headlines datelined in Russia-on corrupt oligarchs, or on control-freak KGB-generation political operators-will continue to nourish sweeping criticism of Russians, from their leaders on down, as primitive and psychologically ill. Probably no other nation is so easy (or so safe) to caricature.

And the "Russia Is Doomed" syndrome is bound to survive because Russia, alas, still matters. The object of such concentrated anxiety over the centuries, far from heading down a path to obscurity, remains a global force and impossible to ignore. So the worries will live on, too, as will the sublimated wish to efface Russia. But perhaps the good news for the critics is precisely that Russia is not about to go away. They will have plenty of grist for their mill for decades to come.

Paul Starobin is a former Moscow bureau chief of Business Week and the author of After America: Narratives for the Next Global Age (Viking, 2009).

Peacen1k

The author Paul Starobin lists and presents examples of Western propaganda, misconceptions, and disinformation as the causes for misrepresenting and misunderstanding Russia, but in the process adds a bunch of his own into the mix (the source for which is the same as for the ones he lists).

Was that intended as some kind of half-assed disclaimer and a placating bone thrown at an average Western reader? Was the author afraid that this reader would simply stop reading if some of the more recent propaganda wasn't used to calm the Westerner's nerves?

Very sad that this just keeps happening with no end in sight...

smoothieX12 - -> Peacen1k

Very sad that this just keeps happening with no end in sight...

All "sources" of Western media in Russia are limited to Urban ultra-liberal "intelligentsia" (which is insult to this title) and those who by definition hate Russian guts. At least author had guts to point out the religious affiliation of some of those "sources". "Russian narrative" in US historically was set up by Russian Jews and other minorities and dissidents. Thus the caricature and failure to even react properly to a real information and facts, such as this crisis in Ukraine. No surprise here, when US Networks, from CNN to NBC, use Pavel Falgenhauer (MSU graduate with degree in biology) as "Russian military expert" (the guy is moron, basically) what else should one expect?

ProV - -> smoothieX12

Too many soothsayers, and not enough critics. Stephen Cohen is blacklisted now for ever daring to criticize people like Strobe Talbott.

The Guardian started its campaign against disagreeable commentators by labeling them all FSB trolls. Now you cannot read anything BTL because there are literally hundreds of accusations like this in every single article. Interestingly, GCHQ has for a number of years employed an astroturfing campaign to influence blog posts and online comment boards.

AlexZhukov -> WBC

In spite of the abundance of ways available for American people to obtain all kinds of information on all subjects, US still remains a formidable bastion of bigotry and ignorance in the world, so it is no wonder that you get to read these wacky bloopers here.

This is what happens when your average Joe The Clown suddenly swings his "attention" from porn to politics.

Hegelguy

It is the same with India: according to the Anglo-American press, India can NEVER do right unless it unconditionally capitulates to every idea hatched in Washington. The West is a great hater: any sizable country that poses the smallest possible challenge to total US domination is treated with relentless hostility.

The Russians are just waking up to this truth well known to Lenin.

Jon Lester -> Hegelguy • 14 days ago

I didn't learn of the disastrous anti-Bolshevik "Polar Bear" and Siberian expeditions until adulthood, and it wasn't because I missed any history classes at school. Not unlike how US actions in the Philippines in the 1890's and early 1900's tend to get passed over in most textbooks, too.

evangelical -> Jon Lester • 14 days ago

Oh you mean they conveniently forgot to teach that the US killed 250,000 Filipinos after they "liberated" the islands from spain?

Guest -> Hegelguy • 14 days ago

"It is the same with India: according to the Anglo-American press, India can NEVER do right unless it unconditionally capitulates to every idea hatched in Washington."

Not fair at all. It's not that the stories about India in the American press are bad, so much as they're non-existant. India gets about as much airtime in the American press as Canada. The reception towards Modi has been generally positive despite the U.S. government's past issues with him. In fact, I can't think of a major story portraying India badly in the U.S. except for the ones about religious riots years ago. The closest thing to negative press are stories about jobs going offshore--but those aren't India-specific.

You risk falling into the same spot as Russia--where a country we do a lot of business with, have no beef with, have helped out signicantly in the past (Google "Rockefeller Foundation," "famine," "1970"), and should by all rights be close allies with insists on becoming an enemy because of the gigantic nationalistic chip on their shoulder.

Mike -> Hegelguy • 14 days ago

Hegelguy, Anglo-American press? It's 2014, America is anything but Anglo these days. In fact, the largest ancestry group in the US is German followed by African! English is fifth on the list for ancestry. All of that being said. India occupies about 0.1% of American news. India isn't even on the radar. No one here cares what India does or doesn't do.

ning05 • 17 days ago

It was Hitler's Nazi Germany that invaded and laid waste Soviet Russia through the corridor of Central and Eastern Europe, and it was the Red Army, not the armies of the
Western allies, which at horrendous cost broke the spinal cord of the Wehrmacht.

A nation that willingly sacrificed 14% of its entire population or more than 30% of its entire male population in the Great Patriotic War rather than surrender will never collapse. China realized that truth about Russia long time ago and pragmatically settled the border disputes and gave up the claims on a million square kilometers territory (formerly of Manchuria, not really Chinese to begin with) seized by Russian Czar more than a century ago. It is lucky for China in this century to have Russia as its ally or at least tacitly supporting and providing a strategic hinderland for China.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W...

Василий Батарейкин -> harryposter • 14 days ago

Oh yeah? when did you last time read the historical books?

In 1919-1920 the Polish ruling circles declared out to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the borders of 1772 and the conquest of the corridor to the Black Sea (Poland from sea to sea).

Poland seized Vilnius and Lithuania in the field in direct violation of the treaty between Lithuania and Poland in 1920 . March 17, 1938 Poland declared ultimatum to Lithuania to cancel the article of the constitution, declaring Vilnius the capital of Lithuania, and guarantee the rights of the Polish minority in Lithuania. In case of disagreement on the requirements within 24 hours Poland threatened to occupy Lithuania, which then was done so.


Poland was the first State to conclude a nonaggression pact with Hitler's Germany. January 26, 1934 was signed the Polish-German non-aggression pact for 10 years. The Polish ambassador in Berlin, Jozef Lipski said on this occasion the French reporter, that "now Poland does not need in France anymore". "We are delighted with our first agreements with Hitler" - said the head of the Polish state Pilsudski to the French Foreign Minister Louis Bart in spring 1934. From 1934 to 1939, a strategic partnership with the Nazis was the core of the Polish foreign policy.
In 1938 Poland, together with Hitler'r Germany attacked Czechoslovakia and shared it.

Churchill called Poland a vulture of Europe.

But then in Poland did not manage to communicate well with Hitler, because the Poles wanted too much, and Hitler decided to do without them what he did.

Russia wanted to prevent the start of war by any price, only France and England wanted to push Germany closer to Russia's birder by making the Minich Treaty, which was actually a betrayal of both POland and Russsia. Actually in 1939 there was total chaos in Poland, so USSR had to proceed to POland to save its population from Bandera nationalists and create a buffer in otderno separate Germany from direct contact with Russia's border.

There was chaos and mess in Poland in September 1939, a process of disorganization of the entire Polish state machine. on the first day of the war the Polish president 72-year-old Ignatius Mościcki left the capital . On September 4, the evacuation from Warsaw to Lutsk was started for facilities, gold reserves, the diplomatic corps and for the government there was nothing to control. And a senseless from political point of view two-week trip to safe places of officials and government was made thereby paralyzing the work of the entire administrative system and demoralizing the population.

Supreme Commander also decided to retreat to 180 kilometers from capital. As noted by the Polish author, Rydz Smigly felt kind of leader of the nation rather than a military leader directly responsible for the defense of the country. Unfortunately, he was not Pilsudski and not equal to him in any moral authority or political talent. Smigly was a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy.He selectes as his Headquarters Brest and moved there. After him, it is not clear from what reasons, apart from the government and ambassadors, followed Minister of Foreign Affairs with the most important departments. And to cover the new precious command post the air cover Fighter Aviation Brigade has been removed from capital to Brest.
As suddenly was revealed the Brest fortress was completely not adapted for the work as military headqurters for Polish strategists, secondly, in Brest there was no connection to army. Had brought the station which could not be used as codes were forgotten in Warsaw. Twelve hours later they managed to establish telephone communication with the army in Lublin and Narew. Finally, the railway brought codes, but by this time the radio was already was not working.

After that USSR has made an official notificattion that due to the fact that Poland does not control its territories , a bufer zone between GErmany and USSR must be created. It saved thousands of pooles from ukraininan nazis.

Василий Батарейкин -> harryposter • 14 days ago

lier! lier! March 17, 1938 Poland declared ultimatum to Lithuania to cancel the article of the constitution, declaring Vilnius the capital of Lithuania, and guarantee the rights of the Polish minority in Lithuania. In case of disagreement on the requirements within 24 hours Poland threatened to occupy Lithuania, which then was done so.

Poland was the first State to conclude a nonaggression pact with Hitler's Germany. January 26, 1934 was signed the Polish-German non-aggression pact for 10 years. The Polish ambassador in Berlin, Jozef Lipski said on this occasion the French reporter, that "now Poland does not need in France anymore". "We are delighted with our first agreements with Hitler" - said the head of the Polish state Pilsudski to the French Foreign Minister Louis Bart in spring 1934. From 1934 to 1939, a strategic partnership with the Nazis was the core of the Polish foreign policy.
In 1938 Poland, together with Hitler'r Germany attacked Czechoslovakia and shared it.

Churchill called Poland a vulture of Europe.

But then in Poland did not manage to communicate well with Hitler, because the Poles wanted too much, and Hitler decided to do without them what he did.

Василий Батарейкин -> Mriordon

Darn, you lost 14% of your population in world war 2, was that before or after you switched sides? Stalin murdered at least another 14% and 10% drank themselves to death- hard to imagine you have enough people left to make the vodka.

Stalin has killed 700 000 of former revolitionaries and trozkists, not more, all the rest is your propaganha.

the population was only growing all the time. there was only a decline in population between 1941-1945 (8,4 mln dead soldiers and 14 mln dead civilians):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

DatePopulation

January 1897 (Russian Empire): 125,640,000
1911 (Russian Empire): 167,003,000
January 1920 (Russian SFSR): 137,727,000*
January 1926 : 148,656,000[2]
January 1937: 162,500,000[2]
January 1939: 168,524,000[2]
June 1941: 196,716,000[2]
January 1946: 170,548,000[2]
January 1951: 182,321,000[2]
January 1959: 209,035,000[2]
January 1970: 241,720,000[3]
July1977: 257,700,000
July1982: 270,000,000
July 1985: 277,700,000
1990: 290,938,469
July 1991: 293,047,571

You just justify yourself, saying "we are bad but you are worse", but you just lie.

Alexey Strelkov

A more or less reasonable Western article about Russia. A rare breed and, I am afraid, a dying one. However, I have to note several inconsistencies:

  1. "his efforts to dodge any responsibility for the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane" - it wasn't Russia who signed the NDA regarding the investigation of the crash. Evenmore - Russian envoy to the UN Security Council has asked his Ukrainian colleague 4 (four) times whether they have provided the investigation with recordings of Dniepropetrovsk traffic control and MH17 (they were the last one who were in contact with the plane). No conclusive answer was provided.
  2. "Politkovskaya was certainly not wrong to discern a thuggish element in Putin's Russia-she herself was murdered in Moscow in 2006, on the day, suspiciously, of Putin's birthday." - according to BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russi... that data may be a little outdated now) 47 journalists died un Russia since 1992, and 14 of them died during Putin's reign. So it looks like Putin has actually improved the situation.
  3. "okroshka, typically made of sour cream, vinegar, potatoes, cucumbers, eggs and dill" - its main ingredient is kvas (Slavic fizzy drink made of bread and yeast, it's a bit of an acquired taste but I still urge you to try it. Just remember that real kvas has a very short shelf life, so the best place to try it is where it is made - Eastern Europe) or sometimes kefir (fermented milk drink very popular in Russia. Imagine thin sour drinking yoghurt)
  4. The problem with Ioffe and Gessen is not their ancestry (at least, for normal people and not neo-Nazis), but their sweeping statements on amateur culturology and history. There is also some problem with English language itself - in English "Russian" means both ethnic Russian (russkiy) AND citizen of Russia (rossiyanin - note that these are two DIFFERENT words), so Russians (and here I mean both rossiyane and russkie) get very confused when, for example, Masha Gessen says "we, Russians, are lazy/stupid/aggressive/etc" - she is neither ethnic Russian nor she lives in Russia, so we don't know whether she is being slightly racist or making a very broad statement about different peoples of a very diverse country.

P.S. While I do not usually agree with what Ioffe writes about politics (her political writing usually lacks any primary data and sources), I have to note that I find her non-political writing to be often interesting and insightful. In that sense she is the opposite of Mark Adomanis whose analysis of statistics is very convincing.

Shane

Fascinating.

I've noticed that commentators in many countries despair of their own societies and seem to see preferable societies abroad, that's not restricted to Russian elites.

Left-leaning commentators in Britain or Ireland might identify Scandinavian countries as examples, and denounce the perceived failings of their own state.

smoothieX12 .

The truth is, Russia often has been maddening to a certain strata of educated Russians (and by Russians I mean not just ethnic Russians, strictly speaking, but all peoples native to or attaching themselves to Russia)

I think that author of this piece should open Isaiah Berlin's masterpiece "Russian Thinkers" and may be not try so hard.

Russian Uzbek wife

What is Russian Uzbek?

[Sep 28, 2014] Russia's Sergei Lavrov: the US cannot change the cold war in its 'genetic code' by Associated Press

Sep 26, 2014 | theguardian.com

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Lavrov said the crisis in Ukraine was the result of a coup d'etat in that country backed by the US and the European Union for the purpose of pulling Kiev out of its "organic role as a binding link between" east and west, denying it the opportunity for "neutral and non-bloc status".

Lavrov also said the Russian annexation of Crimea earlier this year was the choice of the largely Russian-speaking population there.

Immediately before Lavrov spoke, the German foreign minister had said Russia's actions to retake Crimea were a crime.

"Russia has, with its annexation of Crimea, unilaterally changed existing borders in Europe and thus broke international law," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in his address to the world body. He spent considerable time speaking about what the west sees as Russian meddling in Ukraine.

Selected Skeptical Comments
LeDingue, 27 September 2014 9:04pm

the increasingly anti-western stance of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin

Or how about 'the increasingly defensive Russia' that has been targeted by US provocations in Ukraine, a constant programme of media destabilisation using CIA "pet" oligarchs and a network of Ngo front organisations.

The US plan with the Ukraine operation was to split EU-Russian trade and political relations. No doubt 10 years of NSA surveillance of all EU leaders and top civil servants helped generate some "leverage" to persuade Europe to go along with this self-harming plan.

All this anti-Russia or anti-Putin media crusade is aimed at destabilising Russia politically. Then Iran will be a sitting duck for the US-Wahabi terror sponsors to destroy it with jihadi proxies like they're doing to Syria.
Oh, and the "pet" oligarchs can then return Russia to the broken kleptocracy that Bush1 oversaw there.

Russia was progressing with European relations. This "increasingly anti-western stance" is code for "having taken measures to prevent US subversion" and for having rebuffed attempts to pin the MH17 attack on them or the rebels. So it's more a question of "America's increasingly desperate measures in attacking Russian stability".

The US has to destroy this emergent Russian stability (it's just 14 years since the end of the Yeltsin chaos) that represents an obstacle to the US-Saudi-Israeli Eurasian ambitions. They want the Qatar-Turkey pipeline - Russian backed Assad said no. Russian backs Iran, long a target for Saudi hatred (and Israeli), and surviving even after years of strangulation sanctions. They have huge oil & gas reserves. Russia stands in the way of the Brzezinski-Wolfowitz plans for domination so they must be attacked.

davidpear - -> LeDingue, 27 September 2014 9:39pm

US-Saudi-Israeli Eurasian ambitions.

The US has lusted to colonize Russia and exploit its natural resources as far back as the US invasion of Russia in 1918. It is a forgotten military disaster for the US but not forgotten by Russia.

goatrider, 27 September 2014 9:07pm
Lavrov said the crisis in Ukraine was the result of a coup d'etat in that country backed by the US and the European Union for the purpose of pulling Kiev out of its "organic role as a binding link between" east and west, denying it the opportunity for "neutral and non-bloc status".

Well said

davidpear - -> goatrider, 27 September 2014 9:48pm
Well said

It was the EU that offered an unacceptable miserly trade deal to Ukraine and then said that they had to choose between the EU or Russia but could not take both trade deals. It intentionally drove a wedge between already existing divisions within Ukraine.

Bosula, 27 September 2014 9:09pm
Crimea has had three referendums since 1991 and they have all supported independence from Ukraine. Two of these referendums were organised by Kiev and they refused to recognise the results.

Crimea has consistently not seen itself as part of Ukraine.

sodtheproles - -> Bosula, 27 September 2014 9:25pm
What has democracy got to do with it? That's our prerogative, to impose on or deny to others as we see fit, and in this instance, the Crimeans plainly aren't suited to democracy, since the results of their ballots fail to pass the basic democratic test of coherence with Western policy on Ukraine.
davidpear - -> sodtheproles, 27 September 2014 9:51pm
What has democracy got to do with it? Nothing. US foreign policy has nothing to do with democracy, freedom, human rights and even life itself. It is all about what is best for US and multinational corporations.
RedPeony, 27 September 2014 9:29pm

Lavrov is right. USA acts like they are above everybody else. The sooner we learn that their way is the only way the better. It's frustrating. I don't know what's worse: when they openly bully you or when they pretend to be your friends (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erYpXzE9Pxs).

Papistpal - -> RedPeony, 27 September 2014 10:15pm

RedPony,

No hard feelings. We want to be your friend. Please provide your address and we will send our special "Friendship Drone" with special gifts and prizes for you and all your friends.

HansVonDerHeyde - -> RedPeony, 28 September 2014 2:26am

U.S "Democracy" and "Freedom" coming to a country near you.

Ivan Borisov, 27 September 2014 9:38pm

I think one of the recent episodes of Die Anstalt,, the german satirical show on German ZDF channel sums it up quite nicely.

r7781lt , 27 September 2014 9:56pm
To us old folks to hear a German foreign minister preaching about invasion of other countries sounds like bitter irony.

Just fill in the blanks in the sentence " The Reich has, with its annexation of ****, unilaterally changed existing borders in Europe and thus broke international law" Uh huh, nihil sub sole novum

ShadySunny - -> r7781lt , 27 September 2014 10:05pm
1. Russia's long term end goal is to survive and prosper through the collapse of the AngloZionist Empire.

2. Russia's mid term goal is to create the conditions for regime change in Kiev, because Russia will never be safe with a neo-Nazi russophobic regime in power in Kiev.

3. Russia's short term goal is to prevent the Kiev junta from over-running Novorussia.

4. Russia's preferred method to achieve these goals is negotiation with all parties involved.

5. A prerequisite to achieve these goals by negotiations is to prevent the Empire from succeeding in creating an acute continental crisis (conversely, the imperial "deep state" fully understands all this, hence the double declaration of war last week by Obama and Poroshenko).

The Russian response to a double declaration of war

Arapas , 27 September 2014 10:07pm

the German foreign minister had said Russia's actions to retake Crimea were a crime.

You need some neck, the size of a lamp post, to make such statement.

Your country Monsieur started 2 world wars, killing 27 million Russians during the second. Your country dished out cruelty only matched by the Americans, and their Supermaxes.

I happen to be British, but If I was Russian, and I mean Sergei Lavrov, I would be permanently having your country in my nukes eye sights.

You have done it twice, you will do it again.

splodgeness Arapas , 27 September 2014 10:14pm
I'm British too. You really need to examine what you were taught about the wars:

Nazism is usually depicted as the outcome of political blunders and unique economic factors: we are told that it could not be prevented, and that it will never be repeated.

In this explosive book, Guido Giacomo Preparata shows that the truth is very different: using meticulous economic analysis, he demonstrates that Hitler's extraordinary rise to power was in fact facilitated -- and eventually financed -- by the British and American political classes during the decade following World War I.

Through a close analysis of events in the Third Reich, Preparata unveils a startling history of Anglo-American geopolitical interests in the early twentieth century. He explains that Britain, still clinging to its empire, was terrified of an alliance forming between Germany and Russia. He shows how the UK, through the Bank of England, came to exercise control over Weimar Germany and how Anglo-American financial support for Hitler enabled the Nazis to seize power.

This controversial study shows that Nazism was not regarded as an aberration: for the British and American establishment of the time, it was regarded as a convenient way of destabilising Europe and driving Germany into conflict with Stalinist Russia, thus preventing the formation of any rival continental power block.

Guido Giacomo Preparata lays bare the economic forces at play in the Third Reich, and identifies the key players in the British and American establishment who aided Hitler's meteoric rise.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conjuring-Hitler-Britain-America-Third/dp/0745321828

... ... ...

JiminNH, 27 September 2014 10:15pm
Referencing German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the author said that

He spent considerable time speaking about what the west sees as Russian meddling in Ukraine.

The author grossly misstates the facts.

Mr. Steinmeier's prepared speech contained 27 paragraphs. 6 referred to the UN in general. 5 referred to Ukraine. 4 referred to the ME crisis. 2 referred to Ebola.

In reading the 5 paragraphs involving Ukraine, only 1 can be categorized as substantive criticism of "what the west sees as Russian meddling..." Indeed, 2 were 1 sentence paragraphs.

See for yourself:

That's why I must mention the conflict in Ukraine here. Some people in this chamber may regard this as nothing more than a regional conflict in eastern Europe. But I am convinced that this view is incorrect; this conflict affects each and every one of us. Not just any state, but a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has, with its annexation of Crimea, unilaterally changed existing borders in Europe and thus broken international law.

We had to counter this dangerous signal, because we must not allow the power of international law to be eroded from insidel We must not allow the old division between East and West to re-emerge in the United Nations.

Because so much is at stake in this conflict, not only for the people in Ukraine but also for the future of international law, Germany and its partners have taken on responsibility and committed themselves vigorously to defusing the conflict.

I am under no illusion. A political solution is still a long way off. That said, however, just a few weeks ago we were on the brink of direct military confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian armed forces. Diplomacy prevented the worst. Now the priority must be to bring about a lasting ceasefire and to arrive at a political solution, a solution based on the principles of the United Nations and preserving the unity of Ukraine.

But I am not only talking about Ukraine! As long as this conflict is simmering, as long as Russia and the West are in dispute over Ukraine, this threatens to paralyse the United Nations. But we need a UN Security Council at is able and willing to act in order to tackle the new and, in the long term, far more important tasks we are facing. For the world of 2014 is plagued not only by the old ghost of division, but also by new demons.

http://www.un.org/en/ga/69/meetings/gadebate/pdf/DE_en.pdf

I might note that the "political solution" and "diplomacy (that) prevented the worst" did not originate in the efforts of Herr Steinmeier, nor of Sec.St. Kerry, nor FM Hammond, nor Mr. von Rumpuy. The political solution was brought about by the diplomacy of Russia, which sought diplomatic resolution to the conflict since the US and EU helped regime change the Yanukovych government in February and then saw CIA Director Brennan secretly travel to Kyiv just days before the post-coup, unelected government unleashed the dogs of war on the eastern Ukrainians who rose in opposition to the coup that reversed their two victories in the democratic elections of 2010 (presidency) and 2012 (parliament).

As this short but sweet article demonstrates, the western "free press" continues to serve as nothing but the mouthpiece for the US & NATO globalist elites to distort the facts and reality.

The reason they do that is to condition the western audience for the oncoming global conflict being brought upon the world courtesy of the US Neocon warhawk's implementation of its declared national security strategy, called the "Wolfowitz Doctrine," to prevent Russia or any other country, or group of countries, from challenging our unilateral dominance of the world. And those Neocons are clearly willing to go to war to maintain that hegemonistic position.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfowitz_Doctrine

LeDingue - -> JiminNH , 27 September 2014 10:24pm

v

Good comment.

At least someone is prepared to do a little research in the face of the endless media "spin".

FlangeTube, 27 September 2014 10:17pm
Can anybody, reasonably. disagree with this analysis?

American "leadership" is not a constant in an uncertain world, it is a myth only Americans ever believed. American foreign policy is to protect American political, economic and corporate interests - that is all. They push selfish aims behind a mask of "democracy" and have done nothing but sewn chaos around the world.

American "leadership" is a meaningless lie that fewer and fewer people can even speak with a straight face. Its economy is propped up with imaginary money and crushing debt and in its panic to secure its place at the head of the table it is pushing insane policies against China, Russia and various countries in the middle east.

America is not a good guy, and only Americans ever thought it was.

P212121 - -> FlangeTube, 28 September 2014 12:07am

American foreign policy is to protect American political, economic and corporate interests - that is all.

Sometimes I think it is less than that.. Who benefited from the mess in Iraq, Libya, Syria? American people or economy certainly did not. Very few people did, and I think it is all about them.

Black Cat, 27 September 2014 10:31pm
The German FM knows the truth of it, as we all do, and the recent debacle in Ukraine proves there's a limit to how far Europe is prepared to go in order to sustain the US's insane aims for global dominance.
seamuspadraig - -> Black Cat, 27 September 2014 11:45pm
It seems to me that Europe went to far already. Here's what the sanctions are doing to the German economy: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-27/not-even-dead-cat-bounce-russia-sanctions-whiff-reality-sink-%E2%80%98economic-expectations%E2%80%99
RudolfSteinerRules, 27 September 2014 10:43pm
"And Crimea was not "annexed," the Crimean people voted to secede in a referendum. The fact that the new illegal and unelected government in the Ukraine argued that the secession of Crimea violated the Ukrainian Constitution was truly ironic given that same government came to power through the unconstitutional overthrow of the country's democratically-elected president. And given the number of people in Crimea who voted to secede and the vast numbers of people in Eastern Ukraine who are fighting for secession rather than live under the new US and EU backed government, it is clear that the Euromaidan movement did not speak for all Ukrainians."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/26/obama-rewrites-history-at-the-un/

Miron, 27 September 2014 10:44pm
Dear FM of Germany,

How many mass graves were found in the path of Obama's junta in Ukrain, please.

FlangeTube - -> nickpossum, 27 September 2014 10:49pm
Helping to negotiate a ceasefire between the rebels and Kiev was bullying? Giving them gas, despite billions in unpaid bills, is bullying?

Go ask Iraqis or Syrians if they would rather be "bullied" by Russia or "liberated" by America.

aprescoup - -> UKey123, 28 September 2014 12:17am
Nazi Germany was a criminal State but Hitler did the world a favour by provoking a global war, the consequence of which was the end of European colonialism. Hitler even did the Jews a favour: the Jews finally received a homeland. Without the WW2, decolonialization by Britain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal would never have happened. History is complicated. Russia will be doing humanity a favour if Putin triggers a full sanctions conflict with the West, and that sanctions conflict leads to the end of US-EU hegemony, the collapse of the US Dollar, and the end of the Washington Consensus, IMF; World Bank, UN, mass consumerism, denial of climate warming, and more.

Trudi Goater, 27 September 2014 8:21pm

Actually I'd say he's right it is about time America stopped telling everyone how unique it is! it's unique in it's ability to chaos chaos and mess the wold up and that's it as far as I can see!

MikeBB2 - -> Trudi Goater, 27 September 2014 8:27pm

Indeed - all that "uniqueness' is as mythical as the supposed benefits brought to the world by the British Empire!

Barbacana - -> MikeBB2, 27 September 2014 10:02pm

as mythical as the supposed benefits brought to the world by the British Empire!

Well at least the Brits built railways in some of their colonies. The US on the other hand blows them up. So I think you're being too kind to the US.

Saint_mean - -> Barbacana, 27 September 2014 10:47pm

The railways that were conceived and built for the primary purpose of accomplishing the primary goal of empire building - that is, total appropriation and exploitation of the riches of the colonized countries for the main benefit of Britain? Now, many years after, any suggestion that this is a credit to Britain, or that the dispossessed should be thankful for this is not only a crude attempt at revisionism, it is also tantamount to asking the victim of a violent robbery to recognize some 'benign' act of the robber to the victim while he was being violently robbed.

GoodmansParadox - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 27 September 2014 11:42pm

It never ceases to amaze me how the practice of repeating a lie can be interpreted as becoming proof.

We know that the "little green men" in Crimea weren't Russian troops, although Russian troops ensured there would be no conflict between the Crimeans who shrugged off Kiev's authority, and the poor Kievan forces confined to bases. As Lavrov said As Putin said.

A peaceful counter-revolution happened in Crimea, and the Crimean people gained their self-determination. Let's applaud this, hey?

The same happened in Donetsk and Luhansk, but because Russian forces weren't there to keep the peace, Kiev sent in the tanks, slaughtering the civilian population and causing mass displacement. Yet some people still support the murderers from Kiev.

Why is that?

LeDingue - -> GoodmansParadox, 27 September 2014 11:56pm

It never ceases to amaze me how the practice of repeating a lie can be interpreted as becoming proof.

Well said.
Some people just never tire of repeating it!

Otuocha11 - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 28 September 2014 2:27am

"Lavrov's reputation was trashed yonks ago, he is just a Putin yes-man. He just stirs and lies, as it suits him."

If Lavrov's reputation is questionable what would you say about Kerry, Blair, Clapper, and those three-tongued Americans who keeps on deceiving the public? Are there no 'yes' men in the US? The first yes-man is you, period.

littlebigcoala - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 28 September 2014 2:31am

ElectroMagneticPulse said: "is it normal in Ukraine, and perhaps Russia too, for local militias to be equipped with vast amounts of modern weaponry, enough in fact, to overrun the territory of another country?

They were decked in the full kit, from boots to helmets, with flak-jackets, camouflage, equipment, and assault rifles (current models, in use with the Russian army). There were no rag-tag soldiers, with Wellington boots and pitchforks.

==============

1. remember Chechnya? - where did chechens got their weapons and equipment that helped them actually to win in first chechen war against Russian federal forces?

2. Local regional police in Crimea actually sided with militia from the very begining - maybe it was another source of weapons

3. your photo may depict local militia as well as Russians troops - but whae (what date) it was made? - you can aquite (buy) uniform in Russia and they had support from business I am sure - so it is not a proof - there were some well equiped, others badly equipped - we saw both

4. Crimean Riot Police regiment "Berkut" accused in Kiev in supporting Yanukovych on Maidan was on the side of separatists of Crimea from the first day of separatist protest - they (Crimean riot police regiment were under investigation by Kiev and immidiatelly openned their storage/uniform/arms and even vehicled for separatists...


etc.etc...

are you honest enough to agree that you was wrong with your "arguments"?

Indianrook - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 28 September 2014 2:58am

The uniqueness of the veracity is that it can be said by anyone.

It is also not correct that only idiots believe the lies. In history there were incidents like the (in) famous WMD search that was supposedly existed in the middle east and almost all in the west had believed that story. Unfortunately there still exist many who believe in the similar type of stories land certainly they are not idiots.

davidpear, 27 September 2014 8:51pm

Vladimir Putin, who is riding a wave of popularity at home

Russians are united because the rightfully feel under attack. It is the US lead NATO that is militarily encircling Russia. Not the other way around. The US and the EU are turning logic on its head by blaming Russia for the destabilization of Ukraine.

ElectroMagneticPulse - -> davidpear, 27 September 2014 9:10pm

The good thing about Russia losing the Cold War, and its status as a superpower, is it can no longer project its military strength. It is limited to playing in its own backyard, and harassing places like Chechnya and Ukraine - albeit with fearsome casualties.

Since Putin invaded Crimea, NATO has been resurrected. It is reforming, deploying troops eastwards, and Russia's worried neighbours are ardently flocking to NATO and pledging their allegiance.

After the Cold War, NATO was virtually defunct, and for the last 25 years has been scrabbling around for a reason to exist - but Putin has gifted it new purpose. This could end with NATO bases and troops strung along Russia's borders from the Black Sea to the Baltic.

Might be that Putin has committed a massive strategic blunder.

davidpear - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 27 September 2014 9:28pm

playing in its own backyard

If the US would stick to "playing in its own backyard" the world would be a more peaceful place.

foolisholdman - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 27 September 2014 10:33pm

After the Cold War, NATO was virtually defunct, and for the last 25 years has been scrabbling around for a reason to exist - but Putin has gifted it new purpose. This could end with NATO bases and troops strung along Russia's borders from the Black Sea to the Baltic.

Might be that Putin has committed a massive strategic blunder.

For something that was "virtually defunct" it certainly cost!

If it has been defunct all this last 25 years what is it going to cost now that it has come back to life?

Where did all the money that was spent on this moribund, shadowy organisation, go? Any ideas?

Since the West is allegedly "virtually bankrupt" can it afford a newly revitalized NATO?

secondiceberg - -> ElectroMagneticPulse, 27 September 2014 11:00pm

Intolerably turbulent and bloody is exactly what the world is now. The U.S. and some of its allies have broken more international laws than any other country.

Bullybyte ElectroMagneticPulse , 27 September 2014 11:09pm
[The Ukraine] is a sovereign, independent nation - in the same manner as Denmark, Germany or the Czech Republic.

It is nothing of the kind. It is a failed state.

If countries resolved their territorial disputes by theft, and at gunpoint...

They do. Ask Obomber and Cameron. The Ukraine also tried to resolve its territorial disputes by theft and at gunpoint. They lost.

Ukraine's borders are protected by international law...

They are protected by their own ability to maintain them.

DELewes - -> jbrebb , 27 September 2014 11:35pm

Really? Ukraine's decision to move towards adopting EU models of governance and economics, and leave Russia's behind is the West's fault? If you hadn't noticed, almost every former Warsaw Pact and USSR member has run away from Russia by choice.

Shame on you for buying Lavrov's rationalization for Putin's Folly.

HansVonDerHeyde - -> DELewes , 28 September 2014 2:31am

So Maidan Protesters beating kids who wore St.George Ribbons or Russian Flags never happened? Protesters throwing molotov at the police , taking and burning government buildings never happened right? Protesters parading police officers with the word "slave" written on their head never happened? Protesters shooting at the police , patrolling Kiev streets with guns and bats also never happened ?

U.S sending Senators, Diplomats, Secretary of State, CIA Director to Maidan also never happened.

Shame on you for missing a lot of chapters on Ukraine Crisis and not thinking enough.....

[Sep 27, 2014] Russia tightens limit on foreign ownership of media by Alec Luhn

In view of events in Ukraine Russia treatment of foreign MSM is very lax and is bordeline to betryal of national interests. Also they are trying to re-invent the bicycle. They should borrow the USA practice without any major modifications instead.
Sep 26, 2014 | theguardian.com

Parliament passes law barring foreign investors from holding more than a 20% stake in Russian media outlets

The legislation, which was passed by the state Duma without debate on Friday with a vote of 430-2, forbids international organisations and foreign citizens, companies and governments from founding or holding more than a 20% stake in Russian media businesses. Although it will come into force at the start of 2016, media owners will have until 1 February 2017 to bring their holdings into compliance.

Foreign ownership of radio and television outlets, as well as print publications with a circulation of more than one million, was previously limited to 50%. The law will affect a wide variety of publications, including the country's leading business daily, Vedomosti, the Russian versions of glossy magazines such as Esquire, GQ and Cosmopolitan, and television channels such as Disney and Eurosport.

[Sep 27, 2014] The Russian response to a double declaration of war

September 27, 2014 | vineyardsaker.blogspot.com

The context: a double declaration of war

Listening to Poroshenko a few days ago and then to Obama at the UNGA can leave no doubt whatsoever about the fact that the AngloZionist Empire is at war with Russia. Yet many believe that the Russian response to this reality is inadequate. Likewise, there is a steady stream of accusations made against Putin about Russia's policy towards the crisis in the Ukraine. What I propose to do here is to offer a few basic reminders about Putin, his obligations and his options.

First and foremost, Putin was never elected to be the world's policeman or savior, he was only elected to be president of Russia. Seems obvious, but yet many seem to assume that somehow Putin is morally obliged to do something to protect Syria, Novorussia or any other part of our harassed world. This is not so. Yes, Russia is the de facto leader of the BRICS and SCO countries, and Russia accepts that fact, but Putin has the moral and legal obligation to care for his own people first.

Second, Russia is now officially in the crosshairs of the AngloZionist Empire which includes not only 3 nuclear countries (US, UK, FR) but also the most powerful military force (US+NATO) and the world's biggest economies (US+EU). I think that we can all agree that the threat posed by such an Empire is not trivial and that Russia is right in dealing with it very carefully.

Sniping at Putin and missing the point

Now, amazingly, many of those who accuse Putin of being a wimp, a sellout or a naive Pollyanna also claim that the West is preparing nuclear war on Russia. If that is really the case, this begs the question: if that is really the case, if there is a real risk of war, nuclear or not, is Putin not doing the right thing by not acting tough or threatening? Some would say that the West is bent on a war no matter what Putin does. Okay, fair enough, but in that case is his buying as much time as possible before the inevitable not the right thing to do?!

Third, on the issue of the USA vs ISIL, several comment here accused Putin of back-stabbing Assad because Russia supported the US Resolution at the UNSC.

And what was Putin supposed to do?! Fly the Russian Air Force to Syria to protect the Syrian border? What about Assad? Did he scramble his own air force to try to stop the US or has he quietly made a deal: bomb "them" not us, and I shall protest and do nothing about it? Most obviously the latter.

In fact, Putin and Assad have exactly the same position: protest the unilateral nature of the strikes, demand a UN Resolution while quietly watching how Uncle Sam turned on his own progeny and now tries to destroy them.

I would add that Lavrov quite logically stated that there are no "good terrorists". He knows that ISIL is nothing but a continuation of the US-created Syrian insurgency, itself a continuation of the US-created al-Qaeda. From a Russian point of view, the choice is simple: what is better, for the US to use its forces and men to kill crazed Wahabis or have Assad do it? And if ISIL is successful in Iraq, how long before they come back to Chechnia? Or Crimea? Or Tatarstan? Why should any Russian or Syria soldier risk death when the USAF is willing to do that for them?

While there is a sweet irony in the fact that the US now has to bomb it's own creation, let them do that. Even Assad was clearly forewarned and he obviously is quite happy about that.

Finally, UN or no UN, the US had already taken the decision to bomb ISIL. So what is the point of blocking a perfectly good UN Resolution? That would be self-defeating. In fact, this Resolution can even be used by Russia to prevent the US and UK from serving as a rear base for Wahabi extremists (this resolution bans that, and we are talking about a mandatory, Chapter VII, UNSC Resolution).

And yet, some still say that Putin threw Assad under the bus. How crazy and stupid can one get to have that kind of notion about warfare or politics? And if Putin wanted to toss Assad under the bus, why did he not do that last year?

Sincere frustration or intellectual dishonesty?

But that kind of nonsense about the Syria is absolutely dwarfed by the kind of truly crazy stuff some people post about Novorussia. Here are my favorite ones. The author begins by quoting me:

"This war has never been about Novorussia or about the Ukraine."
and then continues:
That statement is too vacuous and convenient as a copout. Do you really mean to say that the thousands of people murdered by shelling, the thousands of young Ukrainian conscripts put through the meat grinder, the thousands of homes destroyed, the more than 1 million people who have turned into refugees... NONE of that has anything to do with Novorussia and Ukraine? That this is only about Russia? Really, one would wish you'd refrain from making silly statements like that.
The only problem being, of course, that I never made it in the first place :-)

Of course, it is rather obvious that I meant that FOR THE ANGLOZIONIST EMPIRE the goal has never been the Ukraine or Novorussia, but a war on Russia. All Russia did was to recognize this reality. Again, the words "do you really mean to say that" clearly show that the author is going to twist what I said, make yet another strawman, and then indignantly denounce me for being a monster who does not care about the Ukraine or Novorussia (the rest of the comment was in the same vein: indignant denunciations of statements I never made and conclusions I never reached).

I have already grown used to the truly remarkable level of dishonesty of the Putin-bashing crowd and by now I consider it par for the course. But I wanted to illustrate that one more time just to show that at least in certain cases an honest discussion is not the purpose at all. But I don't want to bring it all down to just a few dishonest and vociferous individuals. There are also many who are sincerely baffled, frustrated and even disappointed with Russia's apparent passivity. Here is an excerpt of an email I got this morning:

I guess I was really hoping that perhaps Russia, China The BRICS would be a counter force. What I fail to understand is why after all the demonisation by the U.S and Europe doesn't Russia retaliate. The sanctions imposed by the West is hurting Russia and yet they still trade oil in euros/dollars and are bending over backwards to accommodate Europe. I do not understand why they do not say lift all sanctions or no gas. China also says very little against the U.S , even though they fully understand that if Russian is weakened they are next on the list. As for all the talk of lifting the sanctions on Iran that is farcical as we all know Israel will never allow them to be lifted. So why do China and Russia go along with the whole charade. Sometimes I wonder if we are all being played, and this is all one big game , which no chance of anything changing.
In this case the author correctly sees that Russia and China follow a very similar policy which sure looks like an attempt to appease the US. In contrast to the previous comment, here the author is both sincere and truly distressed.

In fact, I believe that what I am observing are three very different phenomena all manifesting themselves at the same time:

  1. An organized Putin-bashing campaign initiated by US/UK government branches tasked with manipulating the social media.
  2. A spontaneous Putin-bashing campaign lead by certain Russian National-Bolshevik circles (Limonov, Dugin & Co.).
  3. The expression of a sincere bafflement, distress and frustration by honest and well-intentioned people to whom the current Russian stance really makes no sense at all.

The rest of this post will be entirely dedicated to try to explain the Russian stance to those in this third group (any dialog with the 2 first ones just makes no sense).

Trying to make sense of an apparently illogical policy

In my introduction above I stated that what is taking place is a war on Russia, not hot war (yet?) and not quite an old-style Cold War. In essence, what the AngloZionists are doing is pretty clear and a lot of Russian commentators have already reached that conclusion: the US are engaged into a war against Russia for which the US will fight to the last Ukrainian. Thus, for the Empire, "success" can never be defined as an outcome in the Ukraine because, as I said previously, this war is not about the Ukraine. For the Empire "success" is a specific outcome in Russia: regime change. Let's us look at how the Empire plans to achieve this result.

The original plan was simplistic in a typically US Neocon way: overthrow Yanukovich, get the Ukraine into the EU and NATO, politically move NATO to the Russian border and militarily move it into Crimea. That plan failed. Russia accepted Crimea and the Ukraine collapsed into a vicious civil war combined with a terminal economic crisis. Then the US Neocons fell-back to plan B.

Plan B was also simple: get Russia to intervene militarily in the Donbass and use that as a pretext for a full-scale Cold War v2 which would create 1950's style tensions between East and West, justify fear-induced policies in the West, and completely sever the growing economic ties between Russia and the EU. Except that plan also failed -- Russia did not take the bait and instead of intervening directly in the Donbass, she began a massive covert operation to support the anti-Nazi forces in Novorussia. The Russian plan worked, and the Junta Repression Forces (JRF) were soundly defeated by the Novorussian Armed Forces (NAF) even though the latter was suffering a huge deficit in firepower, armor, specialists and men (gradually, Russian covert aid turned all these around).

At this point in time the AngloZionist plutocracy truly freaked out under the combined realization that their plan was falling apart and that there was nothing they could really do to rescue it (a military option was totally impossible as I explained it in the past). They did try economic sanctions, but that only helped Putin to engage in long overdue reforms. But the worst part of it all was that each time the West expected Putin to do something, he did the exact opposite:

There is a pattern here and it is one basic to all martial arts: first, never signal your intentions, second use feints and third, hit when and where your opponent doesn't expect it.

Conversely, there are two things which are deeply ingrained in the western political mindset which Putin never does: he never threatens and he never postures. For example, while the US is basically at war with Russia, Russia will gladly support a US resolution on ISIL if it is to Russia's advantage. And Russian diplomats will speak of "our American partners" or "our American friends" while, at the same time, doing more than the rest of the planet combined to bring down the AngloZionist Empire.

A quick look at Putin's record

As I have written in the past, unlike some other bloggers and commentators, I am neither a psychic not a prophet and I cannot tell you what Putin thinks or what he will do tomorrow. But what I can tell you is that which Putin has already done in the past: (in no particular order)

and that list goes on and on. All I am trying to illustrate is that there is a very good reason for the AngloZionist's hatred for Putin: his long record of very effectively fighting them. So unless we assume that Putin had a sudden change of heart or that he simply ran out of energy or courage, I submit that the notion that he suddenly made a 180 makes no sense. His current policies, however, do make sense, as I will try to explain now.

If you are a "Putin betrayed Novorussia" person, please set that hypothesis aside for a moment, just for argument's sake and assume that Putin is both principled and logical. What could he be doing in the Ukraine? Can we make sense of what we observe?

Imperatives Russia cannot ignore

First, I consider the following sequence indisputable:

First, Russia must prevail over the current AngloZionist war against her. What the Empire wants in Russia is regime change followed by complete absorption into the Western sphere of influence including a likely break-up of Russia. What is threatened is the very existence of the Russian civilization.

Second, Russia will never be safe with a neo-Nazi russophobic regime in power in Kiev. The Ukie nationalist freaks have proven that it is impossible to negotiate with them (they have broken literally every single agreement signed so far), their hatred for Russia is total (as shown with their constant references to the use of - hypothetical - nuclear weapons against Russia). Therefore,

Third, regime change in Kiev followed by a full de-Nazification is the only possible way for Russia to achieve her vital objectives.

Again, and at the risk of having my words twisted and misrepresented, I have to repeat here that Novorussia is not what is at stake here. It's not even the future of the Ukraine. What is at stake here is a planetary confrontation (this is the one thesis of Dugin which I fully agree with). The future of the planet depends on the capability of the BRICS/SCO countries to replace the AngloZionist Empire with a very different, multi-polar, international order. Russia is crucial and indispensable in this effort (any such effort without Russia is doomed to fail), and the future of Russia is now decided by what Russia will do in the Ukraine. As for the future of the Ukraine, it largely depends on what will happen to Novorussia, but not exclusively. In a paradoxical way, Novorussia is more important to Russia than to the Ukraine. Here is why:

For the rest of the Ukraine, Novorussia is lost. Forever. Not even a joint Putin-Obama effort could prevent that. In fact, the Ukies know that and this is why they make no effort to win the hearts and minds of the local population. If fact, I am convinced that the so-called "random" or "wanton" destruction of the Novorussian industrial, economic, scientific and cultural infrastructure has been intentional act of hateful vengeance similar to the way the AngloZionists always turn to killing civilians when they fail to overcome military forces (the examples of Yugoslavia and Lebanon come to mind). Of course, Moscow can probably force the local Novorussian political leaders to sign some kind of document accepting Kiev's sovereignty, but that will be a fiction, it is way too late for that. If not de jure, then de facto, Novorussia is never going to accept Kiev's rule again and everybody knows that, in Kiev, in Novorussia and in Russia.

What could a de facto but not de jure independence look like?

No Ukrainian military, national guard, oligarch battalion or SBU, full economic, cultural, religious, linguistic and educational independence, locally elected officials and local media, but all that with Ukie flags, no official independence status, no Novorussian Armed Forces (they will be called something like "regional security force" or even "police force") and no Novorussian currency (though the Ruble - along with the Dollar and Euro - will be used on a daily basis). The top officials will have to be officially approved by Kiev (which Kiev will, of course, lest its impotence becomes visible). This will be a temporary, transitional and unstable arrangement, but it will be good enough to provide a face-saving way out to Kiev.

This said, I would argue that both Kiev and Moscow have an interest in maintaining the fiction of a unitary Ukraine. For Kiev this is a way to not appear completely defeated by the accursed Moskals. But what about Russia?

What if you were in Putin's place?

Ask yourself the following question: if you were Putin and your goal was regime change in Kiev, would you prefer Novorussia to be part of the Ukraine or not? I would submit that having Novorussia inside is much better for the following reasons:

  1. it makes it part, even on a macro-level, of the Ukrainian processes, like national elections or national media.
  2. it begs the comparison with the conditions in the rest of the Ukraine.
  3. it makes it far easier to influence commerce, business, transportation, etc.
  4. it creates an alternative (Nazi-free) political center to Kiev.
  5. it makes it easier for Russian interests (of all kind) to penetrate into the Ukraine.
  6. it removes the possibility to put up a Cold War like "wall" or barrier on some geographical marker.
  7. it removes the accusation that Russian wants to partition the Ukraine.
In other words, to keep Novorussia de jure, nominally, part of the Ukraine is the best way to appear to be complying with AngloZionist demands while subverting the Nazi junta in power. In a recent article I outlined what Russia could do without incurring any major consequences:
  1. Politically oppose the regime everywhere: UN, media, public opinion, etc.
  2. Express political support for Novorussia and any Ukrainian oppositionContinue the informational war (Russian media does a great job)
  3. Prevent Novorussia from falling (covert military aid)
  4. Mercilessly keep up the economic pressure on the Ukraine
  5. Disrupt as much as possible the US-EU "axis of kindness"
  6. Help Crimea and Novorussia prosper economically and financially
In other words - give the appearance of staying out while very much staying in.

What is the alternative anyway?

I already hear the chorus of indignant "hurray-patriots" (that is what these folks are called in Russia) accusing me of only seeing Novorussia as a tool for Russian political goals and of ignoring the death and suffering endured by the people of Novorussia. To this I will simply reply the following:

Does anybody seriously believe that an independent Novorussia can live in even minimal peace and security without a regime change in Kiev? If Russia cannot afford a Nazi junta in power in Kiev, can Novorussia?!

In general, the hurray-patriots are long on what should be done now and very short any kind of mid or long term vision. Just like those who believe that Syria can be saved by sending in the Russian Air Force, the hurray-patriots believe that the crisis in the Ukraine can be solved by sending in tanks. They are a perfect example of the mindset H. L. Mencken was referring to when he wrote "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong".

The sad reality is that the mindset behind such "simple" solutions is always the same one: never negotiate, never compromise, never look long term but only to the immediate future and use force in all cases.

But the facts are here: the US/NATO block is powerful, militarily, economically and politically and it can hurt Russia, especially over time. Furthermore, while Russia can easily defeat the Ukrainian military, this hardly would be a very meaningful "victory". Externally it would trigger a massive deterioration of the international political climate, while internally the Russians would have to suppress the Ukrainian nationalists (not all of them Nazi) by force. Could Russia do that? Again, the answer is that yes - but at what cost?

I good friend of mine was a Colonel in the KGB Special Forces unit called "Kaskad" (which later was renamed "Vympel"). One day he told me how his father, himself a special operator for the GRU, fought against Ukrainian insurgents from the end of WWII in 1945 up to 1958: that is thirteen years! It took Stalin and Krushchev 13 years to finally crush the Ukrainian nationalist insurgents. Does anybody in his/her right mind sincerely

By the way, if the Ukrainian nationalists could fight the Soviet rule under Stalin and Krushchev for a full 13 years after the end of the war - how is it that there is no visible anti-Nazi resistance in Zaporozhie, Dnepropetrivsk or Kharkov? Yes, Luganks and Donetsk did rise up and take arms, very successfully - but the rest of the Ukraine? If you were Putin, would you be confident that Russian forces liberating these cities would receive the same welcome that they did in Crimea?

And yet, the hurray-patriots keep pushing for more Russian intervention and further Novorussian military operations against Ukie forces. Is it not about time we begin asking who would benefit from such policies?

It has been an old trick of the US CIA to use the social media and the blogosphere to push for nationalist extremism in Russia. A well know and respected Russian patriot and journalist - Maksim Shevchenko - had a group of people organized to track down the IP numbers of some of the most influential radical nationalist organizations, website, blogs and individual posters on the Russian Internet. Turns out that most were based in the USA, Canada and Israel. Surprise, surprise. Or, maybe, no surprise at all?

For the AngloZionists, supporting extremists and rabid nationalists in Russia makes perfectly good sense. Either they get to influence the public opinion or they at the very least can be used to bash the regime in power. I personally see no difference between an Udaltsov or a Navalnii on one hand and a Limonov or a Dugin on the other. Their sole effect is to get people mad at the Kremlin. What the pretext for the anger is does not matter - for Navalnyi its "stolen elections" for Dugin it's "back-stabbed Novorussia". And it does not matter which of them are actually paid agents or just "useful idiots" - God be their judge - but what does matter is that the solutions they advocate are no solutions at all, just pious pretexts to bash the regime in power.

In the meantime, not only had Putin not sold-out, back-stabbed, traded away or otherwise abandoned Novorussia, it's Poroshenko who is barely holding on to power and Banderastan which is going down the tubes. There are also plenty of people who see through this doom and gloom nonsense, both in Russia (Yuri Baranchik) and abroad (M. K. Bhadrakumar).

But what about the oligarchs?

I already addressed this issue in a recent post, but I think that it is important to return to this topic here and the first thing which is crucial to understand in the Russian or Ukrainian context is that oligarchs are a fact of life. This is not to say that their presence is a good thing, only that Putin and Poroshenko and, for that matter, anybody trying to get anything done over there needs to take them into account. The big difference is that while in Kiev a regime controlled by the oligarchs has been replaced by a regime of oligarchs, in Russia the oligarchy can only influence, but not control, the Kremlin. The examples, of Khodorkovsky or Evtushenkov show that the Kremlin still can, and does, smack down an oligarch when needed.

Still, it is one thing to pick on one or two oligarchs and quite another to remove them from the Ukrainian equation: the latter is just not going to happen. So for Putin any Ukrainian strategy has to take into account the presence and, frankly, power of the Ukrainian oligarchs and their Russian counterparts.

Putin knows that oligarchs have their true loyalty only to themselves and that their only "country" is wherever their assets happen to be. As a former KGB foreign intelligence officer for Putin this is an obvious plus, because that mindset potentially allows him to manipulate them. Any intelligence officer knows that people can be manipulated by a finite list of approaches: ideology, ego, resentment, sex, a skeleton in the closet and, of course, money. From Putin's point of view, Rinat Akhmetov, for example, is a guy who used to employ something like 200'000 people in the Donbass, who clearly can get things done, and whose official loyalty Kiev and the Ukraine is just a camouflage for his real loyalty: his money. Now, Putin does not have to like or respect Akhmetov, most intelligence officers will quietly despise that kind of person, but that also means that for Putin Akhmetov is an absolutely crucial person to talk to, explore options with and, possibly, use to achieve a Russian national strategic objective in the Donbass.

I have already written this many times here: Russians do talk to their enemies. With a friendly smile. This is even more true for a former intelligence officer who is trained to always communicate, smile, appear to be engaging and understanding. For Putin Akhmetov is not a friend or an ally, but he is a powerful figure which can be manipulated in Russia's advantage. What I am trying to explain here is the following:

There are numerous rumors of secret negotiations between Rinat Akhmetov and various Russian officials. Some say that Khodakovski is involved. Others mention Surkov. There is no doubt in my mind that such secret negotiations are taking place. In fact, I am sure that all the parties involved talk to all other other parties involved. Even with a disgusting, evil and vile creature like Kolomoiski. In fact, the sure signal that somebody has finally decided to take him out would be that nobody would be speaking with him any more. That will probably happen, with time, but most definitely not until his power base is sufficiently eroded.

One Russian blogger believes that Akhmetov has already been "persuaded" (read: bought off) by Putin and that he is willing to play by the new rules which now say "Putin is boss". Maybe. Maybe not yet, but soon. Maybe never. All I am suggesting is that negotiations between the Kremlin and local Ukie oligarchs are as logical and inevitable as the US contacts with the Italian Mafia before the US armed forces entered Italy.

But is there a 5th column in Russia?

Yes, absolutely. First and foremost, it is found inside the Medvedev government itself and even inside the Presidential administration. Always remember that Putin was put into power by two competing forces: the secret services and big money. And yes, while it is true that Putin has tremendously weakened the "big money" component (what I call the "Atlantic Integrationists") they are still very much there, though they are more subdued, more careful and less arrogant than during the time when Medvedev was formally in charge. The big change in the recent years is that the struggle between patriots (the "Eurasian Sovereignists") and the 5th column now is in the open, but it if far from over. And we should never underestimate these people: they have a lot of power, a lot of money and a fantastic capability to corrupt, threaten, discredit, sabotage, cover-up, smear, etc. They are also very smart, they can hire the best professionals in the field, and they are very, very good at ugly political campaigns. For example, the 5th columnists try hard to give a voice to the National-Bolshevik opposition (both Limonov and Dugin regularly get airtime on Russian TV) and rumor has it that they finance a lot of the National-Bolshevik media (just like the Koch brothers paid for the Tea Party in the USA).

Another problem is that while these guys are objectively doing the US CIA's bidding, there is no proof of it. As I was told many times by a wise friend: most conspiracies are really collusions and the latter are very hard to prove. But the community of interests between the US CIA and the Russian and Ukrainian oligarchy is so obvious as to be undeniable.

The real danger for Russia

So now we have the full picture. Again, Putin has to simultaneously contend with

  1. a strategic psyop campaign run by the US/UK & Co. which combines the corporate media's demonization of Putin and a campaign in the social media to discredit him for his passivity and lack of appropriate response to the West.
  2. a small but very vociferous group of (mostly) National-Bolsheviks (Limonov, Dugin & Co.) who have found in the Novorussian cause a perfect opportunity to bash Putin for not sharing their ideology and their "clear, simple, and wrong" "solutions".
  3. a network of powerful oligarchs who want to use the opportunity presented by the actions of first two groups to promote their own interests.
  4. a 5th column for whom all of the above is a fantastic opportunity to weaken the Eurasian Sovereignists
  5. a sense of disappointment by many sincere people who feel that Russia is acting like a passive punching-ball.
  6. an overwhelming majority of people in Novorussia who want complete (de facto and de jure) independence from Kiev and who are sincerely convinced that any negotiations with Kiev are a prelude to a betrayal by Russia of Novorussian interest.
  7. the objective reality that Russian and Novorussian interests are not the same.
  8. the objective reality that the AngloZionist Empire is still very powerful and even potentially dangerous.

It is very, very, hard for Putin to try to balance these forces in such a way that the resulting vector is one which is in the strategic interest of Russia. I would argue that there is simply no other solution to this conundrum other than to completely separate Russia's official (declaratory) police and Russia's real actions. The covert help to Novorussia - the Voentorg - is an example of that, but only a limited one because what Russia must do now goes beyond covert actions: Russia must appear to be doing one thing while doing exactly the opposite. It is in Russia's strategic interest at this point in time to appear to:

1) Support a negotiated solution along the lines of: a unitary non-aligned Ukraine, with large regional right for all regions while, at the same time, politically opposing the regime everywhere: UN, media, public opinion, etc. and supporting both Novorussia and any Ukrainian opposition.
2) Give Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs a reason to if not support, then at least not oppose such a solution (for ex: by not nationalizing Akhmetov's assets in the Donbass), while at the same time making sure that there is literally enough "firepower" to keep the oligarch under control.
3) Negotiate with the EU on the actual implementation of Ukraine's Agreement with the EU while at the same time helping the Ukraine commit economic suicide by making sure that there is just the right amount of economic strangulation applied to prevent the regime from bouncing back.
4) Negotiate with the EU and the Junta in Kiev over the delivery of gas while at the same time making sure that the regime pays enough for it to be broke.
5) Appear generally non-confrontational towards the USA while at the same time trying as hard as possible to create tensions between the US and the EU.
6) Appear to be generally available and willing to do business with the AngoZionist Empire while at the same time building an alternative international systems not centered on the USA or the Dollar.

As you see, this goes far beyond a regular covert action program. What we are dealing with is a very complex, multi-layered, program to achieve the Russian most important goal in the Ukraine (regime change and de-Nazification) while inhibiting as much as possible the AngloZionists attempts to re-created a severe and long lasting East-West crisis in which the EU would basically fuse with the USA.

Conclusion: a key to Russian policies?

Most of us are used to think in terms of super-power categories. After all, US President from Reagan on to Obama have all served us a diet of grand statements, almost constant military operations followed by Pentagon briefings, threats, sanctions, boycotts, etc. I would argue that this has always been the hallmark of western "diplomacy" from the Crusades to the latest bombing campaign against ISIL. Russia and China have a diametrically opposed tradition. For example, in terms of methodology Lavrov always repeats the same principle: "we want to turn our enemies into neutrals, we want to turn neutrals into partner and we want to turn partners into friends". The role of Russian diplomats is not to prepare for war, but to avoid it. Yes, Russia will fight, but only when diplomacy has failed. If for the US diplomacy is solely a means to deliver threats, for Russia it is a the primary tool to defuse them. It is therefore no wonder at all the the US diplomacy is primitive to the point of bordering on the comical. After all, how much sophistication is needed to say "comply or else". Any petty street thug know how to do that. Russian diplomats are much more akin to explosives disposal specialist or a mine clearance officer: they have to be extremely patient, very careful and fully focused. But most importantly, they cannot allow anybody to rush them lest the entire thing blows up.

Russia is fully aware that the AngloZionist Empire is at war with her and that surrender is simply not an option any more (assuming it ever was). Russia also understands that she is not a real super-power or, even less so, an empire. Russia is only a very powerful country which is trying to de-fang the Empire without triggering a frontal confrontation with it. In the Ukraine, Russia sees no other solution than regime change in Kiev. To achieve this goal Russia will always prefer a negotiated solution to one obtained by force, even though if not other choice is left to her, she will use force. In other words:

Russia's long term end goal is to bring down the AngloZionis Empire. Russia's mid term goal is to create the conditions for regime change in Kiev.

Russia's short term goal is to prevent the junta from over-running Novorussia. Russia's preferred method to achieve these goals is negotiation with all parties involved.

A prerequisite to achieve these goals by negotiations is to prevent the Empire from succeeding in creating an acute continental crisis (conversely, the imperial "deep state" fully understands all this, hence the double declaration of war by Obama and Poroshenko.)

As long as you keep these basic principles in mind, the apparent zig-zags, contradictions and passivity of Russian policies will begin to make sense.

It is an open question whether Russia will succeed in her goals. In theory, a successful Junta attack on Novorussia could force Russia to intervene. Likewise, there is always the possibility of yet another "false flag", possibly a nuclear one. I think that the Russian policy is sound and the best realistically achievable under the current set of circumstances, but only time will tell.

I am sorry that it took me over 6400 words to explain all that, but in a society were most "thoughts" are expressed as "tweets" and analyses as Facebook posts, it was a daunting task to try to shed some light to what is turning to be a deluge of misunderstandings and misconceptions, all made worse by the manipulation of the social media. I feel that 60'000 words would be more adequate to this task as it is far easier to just throw out a short and simple slogan than to refute its assumptions and implications.

My hope that at least those of you who sincerely were confused by Russia's apparently illogical stance can now connect the dots and make better sense of it all.

Kind regards to all,

The Saker

[Sep 27, 2014] Does Liberalism Mean Empire by Daniel McCarthy

[Sep 27, 2014] The American Conservative

My essay claims that the security provided by the British Empire and later U.S. hegemony-or American Empire, if we want to be indelicate-has promoted liberal practice, and liberal practice, messy and imperfect though it might be, has promoted liberal theory. The claim here is not deterministic at the individual level: it's plainly not the case no one can come up with liberal ideas amid an illiberal environment. Rather, a liberal environment is more conducive than an illiberal one to the extension and refinement of liberal thought among a populace.

... ... ...

This is why the largest concentration of classical liberals in 19th-century politics and the greatest volume of classical-liberal literature were to be found in Britain, and it's why libertarianism today finds the most followers and is most strongly institutionalized-in think tanks, magazines, and a nascent political movement-in the United States. Liberalism is a luxury security affords, and hegemons have the security in the greatest abundance.

Security by itself is not enough, of course: a state that enjoyed tremendous international security, as Japan did for centuries, might or might not spontaneously develop broadly liberal ideas. Given the presence of liberal seeds, however, security seems to encourage their growth-this was true even in the Soviet-dominated Eastern Bloc during the Cold War and in the USSR itself.

The extended Soviet Empire was distinctly illiberal in ideology but enjoyed supreme security: there was never much prospect that NATO would simply invade Eastern Europe. (Just as NATO deterred the Soviets themselves from doing any invading of the West.) What liberal ideas survived Soviet repression or otherwise made their way through black-market channels into Soviet-controlled domains often met with a welcoming audience, and over decades, under conditions of peace, those liberal ideas grew stronger while the totalitarian ideology of the USSR grew weaker, including in Russia itself. Ironically, the Soviet Union's greatest success-its conquest of Eastern Europe and guarantee of Russia's security-contributed to its undoing. It created conditions in which liberalism could grow.

... ... ...

What's more, radical liberals may call for complete nonintervention, but most self-identified liberals, including a contingent of libertarians, favor humanitarian warfare and aggressive efforts to "liberalize" countries that are insufficiently liberal and democratic. This is another irony of liberalism: it was fostered by non-ideological empires-Britain obtained hers in a fit of absence of mind; America acquired hers with tremendous reluctance and a troubled conscience. But once non-ideological empire has promoted the growth of liberal ideology, that ideology takes on a more radical, demanding character: a liberal minority adopt the anarcho-pacifist position, calling for dismantling the empire today; while a larger number of liberals call for using the empire to promote liberal ideological ends. Reining in empire thus requires reining in the demands of liberalism-realism as an antidote to ideology.

Murphy and Richman both point to the ways in which war and empire have made the United States less liberal in practice. War's illiberal effects are indeed a major part of my argument: war is the opposite of security, and conditions of war-i.e., the absence of security-are dreadful for liberty. The question is what minimizes conditions of war and maximizes conditions of security.

That's not a question that can be answered in the abstract; it's one that must be answered in the context of particular times. In the case of 19th-century Europe, a balance of power safeguarded by the British Empire as an "offshore balancer" seems to have done the trick. In the case of 20th-century Europe, a 45-year balance between the United States and a contained USSR kept the peace from the fall of Nazi Germany until the collapse of the Soviet Union. One thing I hope my essay will do is prompt libertarians to think more seriously about historical security conditions and what viable "libertarian" options there may have been in the foreign-policy crises of the past. If there were no viable libertarian options, that's a problem for libertarianism.

It's a practical problem being confronted by Rand Paul right now. What liberal or libertarian thinkers can he draw upon for practical foreign-policy advice? There are a few, but most radical libertarians are simply not interested in real-world foreign-policy choices. And once libertarians do engage with reality, they start to seem a lot less libertarian.

[Sep 26, 2014] Forget napalm – President Wimp loves the smell of coffee in the morning by Neil Clark

The US elite (and that first and foremost means means financial oligarchy) is on war path and Obama voiced the strategy of weakening and dismantling Russia as a new cold war with very similar demonization of the enemy. One quote: "Here we must give credit where its due, even if it's through gritted teeth: US imperialism has a genius for reinventing itself."
RT Op-Edge
Colonel Kilgore, in Coppola's "Apocalypse Now," said he loved the smell of napalm in the morning. By way of contrast, US President Barack Obama, prefers the smell of coffee.

But in many ways, the image of the president with the coffee cup is perfect for what US imperialism needs at present. It's fully in line with the non-macho, or even wimpish image of Obama, the reluctant warrior, the man who would prefer to spend his time trying to hit birdies on the golf course, or listening to Marvin Gaye on his iPod, rather than getting involved in yet another Middle East conflict.This image counts for quite a lot in selling US foreign policy and getting support for it in Western Europe.

Here we must give credit where its due, even if it's through gritted teeth: US imperialism has a genius for reinventing itself. After the Bush years, the Empire desperately needed a new kind of front man. The trouble with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and co was that they were too obvious, too easy to protest against, too similar to Colonel Kilgore in their obvious love of war and conquest.

The hardcore fanatical neo-cons cheered them on, but the more intelligent imperialists realized that they had done great damage to the cause of Pax Americana, and that a new kind of president was needed to extend US global hegemony and take things on to the next stage. One who would talk the language of dialogue and negotiation and stress the need for the US to act multilaterally, someone who would talk of a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," but who would still, like Bush, carry on with the Permanent War agenda.

I remember the first time I saw Barack Obama on American TV in 2006. It was hard not be impressed. He spoke of his opposition to the Iraq war, maintaining that it was the "wrong war." He came over as personable, articulate and sophisticated. He was a throwback to the sort of Democrats we had in the 1960s and '70s. A stark contrast to that clapped-out catastrophe George W. Bush.

Hillary 'The Hawk' Clinton was the favorite to beat Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination, but the smart money was on the more "doveish" senator from Illinois.

The great thing about Obama from the viewpoint of the more intelligent US imperialists was that he could regain liberal-left support for Pax Americana, and help reduce the widespread anti-Americanism in the west which had grown in the Bush years to record levels. He would be able to rebuild bridges with Europe.

... ... ...

Neocons may call him a 'wimp', but The President Who Would Rather Play Golf is exactly what the Empire has needed over the past few years. It has needed a front man who doesn't appear to like war, but who nevertheless keeps on coming back for more. He's someone who talks the language of peace and conflict resolution, and not interfering in other nations' affairs, but who still works, like presidents before him, to enforce "regime change" on governments that the US elite wants toppled. Those who believed

Obama would be radically different to Bush showed a breathtaking naivety regarding the power of the US military-industrial complex and the huge influence that the pro-Israel lobby, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab oil states have on US foreign policy.

Even if he had really wanted to "stop the war," Obama would have been unable to do so as he's no more than the pilot of an imperial juggernaut whose controls have already been set, and which purposely has no reverse gear.

As bad as he's been from an anti-war viewpoint, the really depressing thing is that there were, and are, no better alternatives – as the system simply won't allow it.

If you're anti-war, would you really have preferred Mitt Romney to Obama in 2012? Criticism of Obama has been muted because of the sheer awfulness of the alternatives to him. If we didn't get President Obama in 2008, we'd have had President McCain.And who would also want to line up with those reactionaries who attack Obama on racial grounds, or who peddle the "Barack Osama – he's a secret Muslim" line?

There's also the fact that the man, in spite of his foreign policy, still remains hard to dislike on a personal basis. That too helps the Empire, and it wouldn't have applied had the obnoxious McCain or smarmy Romney got elected.

Those who think things will improve from an anti-war viewpoint post-Obama are likely to be cruelly disappointed. The face and even the gender of the president may change, but the policies will stay more or less the same.

Already the uber-hawks are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of President Hillary Clinton, who they're sure will be more outwardly aggressive in foreign policy, and who will push the cause of Israel in the Middle East even more forcefully than Obama. She'll probably face a pro-war Republican candidate in an election in which the military-industrial complex and big business simply can't lose because both candidates will do what is required of them if they win. Anyone who might pose a challenge to the system, from either the genuine left, or the antiwar libertarian right, won't get the required funding from Wall Street, and in any case will be portrayed as a "dangerous extremist" or "fanatic" by establishment gatekeepers.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter

Selected Skeptical Comments

Enrique Ferro's insight:

If you watch closely, and take into account the number of wars they get into and the bulk of constitutional order they violate, the American Presidents, at least since Reagan, go from bad to worse. The trend is unstoppable. Just imagine next a Hillary Clinton... Their militarism and scorn for the laws, both international and domestic, take us nearer and nearer from a 21st Century version of Apocalypse Now.

pj

No more no less.

Bush, because he is on the "rightwing" side of the Left-Right Control System has to have a "macho" persona. Obama, because he is on the "leftwing" side has to have a "wimp/hippie/whatever" persona.

However the Obama persona is more dangerous to the World because this allows the "Wizard of Oz" to be more agressive and warmongering and get away with it more easy.

teddy

Perfectly stated! PJ. Bush is, as has been said: "The OBVIOUS EVIL". Obama is the MORE EFFECTIVE EVIL.

And thus, much, much more dangerous. of course pre-election - Obama was already displaying his cretinous nature...in his polished con-game way: speaking to different, even opposing factions according to what THEY hungered for: democrats and "left-wingers" "wanting" "social justice, etc."...Conservatives wanting "confirmation that he understands"....Wall street -- above all, as well as the pentagon -- KNOWING that he , ultimately serves THEM and American Empire...with words of the same nature: "I Believe in American Exceptionalism, I believe in Capitalism, I believe that we must continue to LEAD".. everything ELSE was just fluff to "appeal" to every stripe (ESPECIALLY to NEUTER the radical black votes that represented the hopes for TRUE justice and thus, render "black america" completely without potency--from which segment REALLY came the true calls for justice -- and THAT had to be effectively neutered once and for all by a "black president") -- in service of American EMPIRE all the same. as far as I am concerned -- this man is WORSE than Nixon, Johnson, Bush Jr, put together.

[Sep 25, 2014] 09-16-14 Peter Van Buren The Scott Horton Show

Perpetual glory

President Stonewall Jackson

"There can be security only in expansion"

For how better could we terrorized the Middle-East into trading their oil for our war materials then by an unending war with a perpetual enemy who is funded by our friends, and who must needs our enmity and combat to survive. Pure theatrics if you ask me.

Fotoohi, September 19, 2014 at 2:50 am

Damn right -- The US and friends (Saudi Arabia, Israel, and most of the Sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf) engendered the Isis and now their genie has left the bottle and they don't know what to do with it. thank you.

[Sep 25, 2014] A Murderous 'Modernity' by Justin Raimondo -- Antiwar.com

With the fall of the Kremlin, the neocons decided that what Charles Krauthammer dubbed the "unipolar moment" was at hand. This was our big chance, now that the Soviets were out of the way, to establish a "world order" with Washington – of course! – as its center, but also incorporating Western Europe and Japan into one vast superstate. This was all part of the flurry of discussion that followed the publication of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" essay, in which he related that the Soviets' demise and his reading of Hegel had revealed to him an astonishing fact: history had come to an end. Liberal democracy had triumphed over all other competitors and was fated to be "the final form of human government." A World State was not only in the making, it was the inevitable outcome of the Spirit of History!

The old 19th century post-millennial pietism burns brightest in the hearts of our neocons. The urge to conquer, to remake, and purify the world of sin, to impose some kind of authoritarian "world order" out of what is a natural, beneficial, and self-regulating spontaneous order – this is the essence of the interventionist credo.

The neocons were lost for a while after the communist collapse: no one was listening to them anymore. The Kosovo war was a bust as far as Republicans were concerned: indeed, when a Republican House of Representatives voted down Clinton's Kosovo war budget, Bill Kristol threatened to leave the GOP. If only he had followed through on his threat the Republican party might have been spared much – but, alas, it was not to be.

September 11, 2001 was the Neoconservative Moment, and in the months and years to come their star would rise until they had effectively seized control of the government. As Bob Woodward said in his book, Plan of Attack:

"[Colin] Powell felt Cheney and his allies – his chief aide, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's 'Gestapo' office – had established what amounted to a separate government."

There's no real need to go into this in much detail, since the story of their deception is well-known. They manipulated the "intelligence" and after lying us into war they presided over the worst military disaster in American history, with the blowback still coming at us right up to the present day.

At the end of the cold war, as the neocons were flailing about looking to gain some traction, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan co-wrote an essay on a new foreign policy agenda for America in the post cold war world in which they stated that the goal of American policymakers ought to be the creation of a "benevolent global hegemony." This is the world state envisioned by Fukuyama: a global government with a world central bank backed up by a multinational military force and a system of universal surveillance – with nowhere to hide from the all-seeing eye of the Empire.

That is their goal – and they have come much closer to achieving it in the past few years. Already they have overrun much of the Middle East, and now they have their sights fixed on the lands of the former Soviet Union. In partnership with the EU, they are moving in on Russia. And while China may seem too vast a country to absorb, Western penetration of that formerly isolated and hostile land has been impressive.

The frontiers of the empire are moving outward so fast that one can hardly keep up with their progress. Could this turn out to be the fatal weakness that brings the whole thing tumbling down?

All empires fall. But each case is different. No one knows when the cracks will begin to appear in the façade, or how long the will take to fatally weaken and split the foundations once thought to be invulnerable. My best guess, however, is that whenever it starts, it will take quite a while to bring the whole thing down. The Soviet empire disintegrated in a little over a year – the Mayans, almost overnight. In the case of the American empire, the foundations are a lot stronger to begin with: I think we are going to go the Roman way, with ups and downs, long declines followed by brief revivals.

And finally, I want to say that I've gotten more optimistic as I've gotten older, and that the pessimism of my youthful vision of a rotten system collapsing under its own weight no longer seems either desirable or imminent. What I do see as a very real possibility is a political movement in this country that will restore our old republic, dismantle the empire, and return the Constitution to its rightful place at the very center of the American system. I see that a man with the last name of Paul is now the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination and suddenly I am a teenage libertarian all over again. You know, we had a slogan back then, in the 60s, when the libertarian movement first began to organize itself. It was: "Freedom in our time." Back then, it seemed like a distant promise. Today, it seems like a real possibility. And that is, in itself, a great victory.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I've written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

[Sep 25, 2014] High Cost of Bad Journalism on Ukraine by Robert Parry

September 22, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

By driving a wedge between President Obama and President Putin over Ukraine, America's neocons and the mainstream media can hope for more "shock and awe" in the Mideast, but the U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill, including $1 trillion more on nuclear weapons, writes Robert Parry.

The costs of the mainstream U.S. media's wildly anti-Moscow bias in the Ukraine crisis are adding up, as the Obama administration has decided to react to alleged "Russian aggression" by investing as much as $1 trillion in modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.

On Monday, a typically slanted New York Times article justified these modernization plans by describing "Russia on the warpath" and adding: "Congress has expressed less interest in atomic reductions than looking tough in Washington's escalating confrontation with Moscow."

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

But the Ukraine crisis has been a textbook case of the U.S. mainstream media misreporting the facts of a foreign confrontation and then misinterpreting the meaning of the events, a classic case of "garbage in, garbage out." The core of the false mainstream narrative is that Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated the crisis as an excuse to reclaim territory for the Russian Empire.

While that interpretation of events has been the cornerstone of Official Washington's "group think," the reality always was that Putin favored maintaining the status quo in Ukraine. He had no plans to "invade" Ukraine and was satisfied with the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Indeed, when the crisis heated up last February, Putin was distracted by the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Rather than Putin's "warmongering" – as the Times said in the lead-in to another Monday article – the evidence is clear that it was the United States and the European Union that initiated this confrontation in a bid to pull Ukraine out of Russia's sphere of influence and into the West's orbit.

This was a scheme long in the making, but the immediate framework for the crisis took shape a year ago when influential U.S. neocons set their sights on Ukraine and Putin after Putin helped defuse a crisis in Syria by persuading President Barack Obama to set aside plans to bomb Syrian government targets over a disputed Sarin gas attack and instead accept Syria's willingness to surrender its entire chemical weapons arsenal.

But the neocons and their "liberal interventionist" allies had their hearts set on another "shock and awe" campaign with the goal of precipitating another "regime change" against a Middle East government disfavored by Israel. Putin also worked with Obama to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, averting another neocon dream to "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

The Despised Putin

So, Putin suddenly rose to the top of the neocons' "enemies list" and some prominent neocons quickly detected his vulnerability in Ukraine, a historical route for western invasions of Russia and the scene of extraordinarily bloody fighting during World War II.

National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, one of the top neocon paymasters spreading around $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers' money, declared in late September 2013 that Ukraine represented "the biggest prize" but beyond that was an opportunity to put Putin "on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself."

The context for Gershman's excitement was a European Union offer of an association agreement to Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych, but it came with some nasty strings attached, an austerity plan demanded by the International Monetary Fund that would have made the hard lives of the average Ukrainian even harder.

That prompted Yanukovych to seek a better deal from Putin who offered $15 billion in aid without the IMF's harsh terms. Yet, once Yanukovych rebuffed the EU plan, his government was targeted by a destabilization campaign that involved scores of political and media projects funded by Gershman's NED and other U.S. agencies.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, reminded a group of Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations." Nuland, wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, also showed up at the Maidan square in Kiev passing out cookies to protesters.

The Maidan protests, reflecting western Ukraine's desire for closer ties to Europe, also were cheered on by neocon Sen. John McCain, who appeared on a podium with leaders of the far-right Svoboda party under a banner honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. A year earlier, the European Parliament had identified Svoboda as professing "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views [that] go against the EU's fundamental values and principles."

Yet, militants from Svoboda and the even more extreme Right Sektor were emerging as the muscle of the Maidan protests, seizing government buildings and hurling firebombs at police. A well-known Ukrainian neo-Nazi leader, Andriy Parubiy, became the commandant of the Maidan's "self-defense" forces.

Behind the scenes, Assistant Secretary Nuland was deciding who would take over the Ukrainian government once Yanukovych was ousted. In an intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland crossed off some potential leaders and announced that "Yats" – or Arseniy Yatsenyuk – was her guy.

The Coup

On Feb. 20, as the neo-Nazi militias stepped up their attacks on police, a mysterious sniper opened fire on both protesters and police killing scores and bringing the political crisis to a boil. The U.S. news media blamed Yanukovych for the killings though he denied giving such an order and some evidence pointed toward a provocation from the far-right extremists.

As Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in another intercepted phone call with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Asthon, "there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition."

But the sniper shootings led Yanukovych to agree on Feb. 21 to a deal guaranteed by three European countries – France, Germany and Poland – that he would surrender much of his power and move up elections so he could be voted out of office. He also assented to U.S. demands that he pull back his police.

That last move, however, prompted the neo-Nazi militias to overrun the presidential buildings on Feb. 22 and force Yanukovych's officials to flee for their lives. Then, rather than seeking to enforce the Feb. 21 agreement, the U.S. State Department promptly declared the coup regime "legitimate" and blamed everything on Yanukovych and Putin.

Nuland's choice, Yatsenyuk, was made prime minister and the neo-Nazis were rewarded for their crucial role by receiving several ministries, including national security headed by Parubiy. The parliament also voted to ban Russian as an official language (though that was later rescinded), and the IMF austerity demands were pushed through by Yatsenyuk. Not surprisingly, ethnic Russians in the south and east, the base of Yanukovych's support, began resisting what they regarded as the illegitimate coup regime.

To blame this crisis on Putin simply ignores the facts and defies logic. To presume that Putin instigated the ouster of Yanukovych in some convoluted scheme to seize territory requires you to believe that Putin got the EU to make its reckless association offer, organized the mass protests at the Maidan, convinced neo-Nazis from western Ukraine to throw firebombs at police, and manipulated Gershman, Nuland and McCain to coordinate with the coup-makers – all while appearing to support Yanukovych's idea for new elections within Ukraine's constitutional structure.

Though such a crazy conspiracy theory would make people in tinfoil hats blush, this certainty is at the heart of what every "smart" person in Official Washington believes. If you dared to suggest that Putin was actually distracted by the Sochi Olympics last February, was caught off guard by the events in Ukraine, and reacted to a Western-inspired crisis on his border (including his acceptance of Crimea's request to be readmitted to Russia), you would be immediately dismissed as "a stooge of Moscow."

Such is how mindless "group think" works in Washington. All the people who matter jump on the bandwagon and smirk at anyone who questions how wise it is to be rolling downhill in some disastrous direction.

But the pols and pundits who appear on U.S. television spouting the conventional wisdom are always the winners in this scenario. They get to look tough, standing up to villains like Yanukovych and Putin and siding with the saintly Maidan protesters. The neo-Nazi brown shirts are whited out of the picture and any Ukrainian who objected to the U.S.-backed coup regime finds a black hat firmly glued on his or her head.

For the neocons, there are both financial and ideological benefits. By shattering the fragile alliance that had evolved between Putin and Obama over Syria and Iran, the neocons seized greater control over U.S. policies in the Middle East and revived the prospects for violent "regime change."

On a more mundane level – by stirring up a new Cold War – the neocons generate more U.S. government money for military contractors who bestow a portion on Washington think tanks that provide cushy jobs for neocons when they are out of government.

The Losers

The worst losers are the people of Ukraine, most tragically the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, thousands of whom have died from a combination of heavy artillery fire by the Ukrainian army on residential areas followed by street fighting led by brutal neo-Nazi militias who were incorporated into Kiev's battle plans. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's 'Romantic' Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers."]

The devastation of eastern Ukraine, which has driven an estimated one million Ukrainians out of their homes, has left parts of this industrial region in ruins. Of course, in the U.S. media version, it's all Putin's fault for deceiving these ethnic Russians with "propaganda" about neo-Nazis and then inducing these deluded individuals to resist the "legitimate" authorities in Kiev.

Notably, America's righteous "responsibility to protect" crowd, which demanded that Obama begin airstrikes in Syria a year ago, swallowed its moral whistles when it came to the U.S.-backed Kiev regime butchering ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine (or for that matter, when Israeli forces slaughtered Palestinians in Gaza).

However, beyond the death and destruction in eastern Ukraine, the meddling by Nuland, Gershman and others has pushed all of Ukraine toward financial catastrophe. As "The Business Insider" reported on Sept. 21, "Ukraine Is on the Brink of Total Economic Collapse."

Author Walter Kurtz wrote:

"Those who have spent any time in Ukraine during the winter know how harsh the weather can get. And at these [current] valuations, hryvnia [Ukraine's currency] isn't going to buy much heating fuel from abroad. …

"Inflation rate is running above 14% and will spike sharply from here in the next few months if the currency weakness persists. Real wages are collapsing. … Finally, Ukraine's fiscal situation is unraveling."

In other words, the already suffering Ukrainians from the west, east and center of the country can expect to suffer a great deal more. They have been made expendable pawns in a geopolitical chess game played by neocon masters and serving interests far from Lviv, Donetsk and Kiev.

But other victims from these latest machinations by the U.S. political/media elite will include the American taxpayers who will be expected to foot the bill for the new Cold War launched in reaction to Putin's imaginary scheme to instigate the Ukraine crisis so he could reclaim territory of the Russian Empire.

As nutty as that conspiracy theory is, it is now one of the key reasons why the American people have to spend $1 trillion to modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal, rather than scaling back the thousands of U.S. atomic weapons to around 900, as had been planned.

Or as one supposed expert, Gary Samore at Harvard, explained to the New York Times: "The most fundamental game changer is Putin's invasion of Ukraine. That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible."

Thus, you can see how hyperbolic journalism and self-interested punditry can end up costing the American taxpayers vast sums of money and contributing to a more dangerous world.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry's trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America's Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Ron Paul Blasts Congress 'More War' Vote, "They Come Over Here, Because We Are Over There"

September 22, 2014 at 7:02 pm

If we want to stop radical terrorists from operating in Syria and Iraq, how about telling our ally Saudi Arabia to stop funding and training them? For that matter, how about the US government stops arming and training the various rebel groups in Syria and finally ends its 24 year US war on Iraq. Remember, they come over here because we are over there. So let's not be over there any longer.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-22/ron-paul-blasts-congress-more-war-vote-they-come-over-here-because-we-are-over-there

[Sep 23, 2014] 9-11 & Iraq Revisited Remembering How We Were Lied Into War by Will Porter

September 19, 2014 | Antiwar.com Blog

Since the cataclysmic events that took place on the morning of September 11th 2001, an extended series of consequences have unfolded with an alarming rapidity. Between vast escalations of military activity abroad, the passing of draconian laws, like the Patriot Act and the NDAA, the instituting of the Department of Homeland Security, and the ramping up of domestic spy programs through the NSA, 9/11 has served as a catalyst for a radical change in how America conducts itself both at home and around the world. In the weeks and months following the incident, the American people were bombarded with a veritable hurricane of bald-faced lies and assertions based on dubious "intelligence". Before they could begin to wrap their heads around the significance of the events taking place around them, their government had already set plans into motion to wage a decades-long military conflict in the Middle East, a conflict which rages at full force to this day. In fact, recent developments in Iraq regarding the Islamic State militant group, or ISIS, elevate the issue of the 2003 Iraq War to the highest importance.

Among the general populace, a widely-accepted narrative has developed which attempts to make sense of all that has happened since September 11th. Very broadly, the narrative contends that Islamic extremists have declared war on the United States, and this alone serves to explain and justify the long string of wars that have been waged in the name of the global "War on Terrorism" ever since. What's most surprising about the public narrative is that it offers almost no explanation at all of how or why Iraq was, directly or indirectly, implicated in the 2001 terror attacks on New York and DC. At best, the public storyline suggests only a vague connection between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Any substantial explanation of this tie, however, has seemingly fallen away into the ethereal memory hole of American historical conscience.

Of the many oft-repeated talking points which comprise the terror war narrative, the question of the highest importance almost always goes unasked: why exactly did the United States wage war against Iraq in the first place? It is extremely peculiar that the largest-scale, most significant conflict to date in the war on terrorism has no widely-understood explanation. Those who have paid the highest price to initiate this war, the American people, seem to be the least informed on the matter. It is because of this lack of understanding regarding Iraq in particular that the terror war was ever able to get underway, and, indeed, build up a seemingly unstoppable momentum.

On this 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, which initiated the drive for war, it is vital to return to these basic questions. How did this happen? Who was involved? What justifications were given to go into Iraq in the first place? After more than a decade, the American people still cannot provide firm answers to such questions. To understand the broader war on terror, and how it came to dominate American foreign policy, it is necessary to fill in the blanks of the official narrative, as well as overturn some of the prevailing falsehoods about Iraq, WMDs, and its connection to al-Qaeda.

In basic terms, the official US government justification for the Iraq War goes something like this: Saddam Hussein was a material supporter of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda – particularly the Islamic militant Abu Musab Zarqawi – offering safe harbor and/or training facilities for them in Iraq. On top of this is the related claim that Hussein was actively pursuing "weapons of mass destruction," using "mobile bio-weapons labs," as well as "aluminum tubes" for centrifuges in a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. In his alleged link to militant Islam – and his ties to Palestine in the case of Zarqawi, a Jordan-born Palestinian – Saddam was said to have planned to provide Iraq's weapons to terrorists, who would act as his proxies. For these reasons, Iraq was said to be a threat to its neighbors, and a threat to the United States. These claims are officially stated in a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), but also informally circulated in TV and print news media in the run up to the war.

While the Bush Administration explicitly refrained from directly accusing Saddam of complicity in the 9/11 attacks, they were certainly happy to let the American people believe there was a direct connection between the two. After all, many thought, why would the US ever wage a war against Iraq, seemingly as a result of 9/11, if Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11? Due to the disjointed and incoherent Administration narrative, and the mainstream media's willingness to freely speculate on all matters pertaining to 9/11, Iraq, and terror, the American people were left to rationalize and put two-and-two together on their own, often concluding that Saddam and September 11th were related.

The only explicit attempt to tie 9/11 to Iraq was in the claim that lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammad Atta, made contact with Iraqi intelligence at a meeting in Prague. Later, additional allegations derived from "Israeli security sources" assert that an Iraqi agent furnished Atta with an "anthrax flask" at the same meeting. Some suggested also that Iraq was involved in the 2001 anthrax-letter attacks that took place shortly after 9/11, targeting media outlets as well as Senators Patrick Leahy and Thomas Daschle (who both, coincidentally, happened to oppose the invasion of Iraq). All the talk of anthrax, no matter how baseless, ultimately helped to terrorize the American people and warm them up to the idea of war with Iraq. Finally, but no less important, we have the documents, curiously supplied by an Italian intelligence agency (SISMI), which were claimed to prove Saddam's attempt to procure 500 tons of yellowcake uranium from Niger. Sprinkle in a little Wilsonian talk of "spreading democracy," and you've got yourself a war.

As we shall see, absolutely none of the casus belli presented to the American people had any resemblance to reality. Through a complex network of government officials – primarily connected to the Pentagon and the office of the Vice President – media pundits and journalists – such as Judith Miller, others at the New York Times, and the PNAC crowd at the Weekly Standard – as well as foreign sources – Iraqi ex-pats as well as Italian and Israeli intelligence – the Iraq War was set off without a hitch; built upon, in the words of Colin Powell, a "web of lies."

An essential link in the chain was the Pentagon-created Office of Special Plans (OSP). Established in 2002, this agency lies at the very heart of the War Party push to invade Iraq. Through this Office, headed by Abram Shulsky under the authority of Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, "intelligence" was funneled into important or influential places, such as the office of Vice President Cheney via his Chief of Staff, Louis "Scooter" Libby. In one case, information was even directly leaked by Douglas Feith to Bill Kristol's neocon rag, the Weekly Standard, demonstrating, in part, the state-media complicity in misleading the American people. Additional players linked to the OSP, to name only a few, include NESA bureau head William Luti, Defense Policy Board members Richard Perle and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, as well as neocon Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, whose prior informal intelligence activity with Feith was officially codified in the creation of the OSP. Its primary task was to dig through raw intelligence agency information, unaccompanied by the judgment of a professional analyst, in order to ham-fistedly piece together official justifications for war.

According to retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former Pentagon desk officer Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked closely with senior Pentagon staff such as William Luti, higher-up officials in the OSP were "willing to exclude or marginalize intelligence products that did not fit the agenda." To that end, information disseminated from this office was carefully cherry-picked and highly exaggerated, with much of it gleaned from the Iraqi expat group the Iraqi National Congress (INC). Presiding over the INC was Ahmed Chalabi, essentially a double agent for the Ayatollah, who temporarily served a vital purpose for his neo-conservative dupes.

Chalabi dazzled neocons with talk of a future "Hashemite Kingdom" in Iraq (referring to Jordan; diplomatically and economically friendly with Israel). He was selected by administration war hawks as early as the Gulf War to lead the Iraqi political march to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Exiled from Iraq, and a convicted bank fraudster, Chalabi weaseled his way into high position in the post-Saddam Iraqi state after helping the Bush Administration successfully bamboozle their way in. Later on, to the horror of his former US colleagues, his trueloyalties were discovered, revealing an epic betrayal of the War Party in favor of his long-held Iranian connections. As an influential figure among pro-war ideologues, Chalabi was able to carefully sway events to Iran's benefit in ways which his neocon handlers were oblivious of. Despite this double-cross, it was Chalabi and his INC "heroes in error" who provided many of the intelligence sources that were vital in the push for invasion. For example, in a New York Times piece by Judith Miller, she cites a meeting, arranged by the INC, with an "Iraqi defector," claiming there to be "renovations at sites for chemical and nuclear arms" in Saddam's Iraq. With the popular news media parroting the government's claims, it helped to quickly move along the pro-war policy.

In the end, nothing regarding the claims of "aluminum tubes," initially insisted on by the CIA's WINPACcenter, was true. The same goes for the "arms sites" and "mobile weapons labs," both of which were sourced from Iraqi defectors. All of these talking points were, as well, used in Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations in February of 2003, a speech which was crucial in the green-lighting of the American-led coalition to invade Iraq. The lies in that speech, as well as the ones told in the 2002 NIE cited above, are officially debunked by a 2004 Senate Report (download PDF in link) which cites intelligence community conclusions on the various fraudulent claims. None of the information used to bolster the WMD story held any weight, and a large portion of the US intelligence community had said so all along. This was not just a big mistake, it was intelligence deliberately concocted, or presented wildly out of context, in order to send the nation (back) to war, to finish the job started in the 1991 Iraq conflict.

Official skepticism toward Bush Administration claims of Saddam's weapons, as well as his ties to terror is illustrated the leaked UK intelligence documents, known as the "Downing Street Memos". These memos depict high-ranking UK officials expressing concern over whether the Administration was "fixing" intelligence around a pro-war policy, rather than a policy around intelligence. Before, during, and after the war, there were a multitude of intelligence sources, as well as a fairly large body of journalism, which conveyed deep skepticism toward the dubious pro-war talking points. There certainly were dissenting voices in the lead up to the war; these voices simply went unheeded and unheard, at least until after the invasion. The mainstream media chose, instead, to create an echo chamber for the flurry of false claims emanating from the Bush Administration and the tightly-knit group of neo-conservatives in high office or positions of public influence.

Also proven false in the 2004 Senate Report are the allegations of Saddam attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium from the Nigerian government in 1999-2000. The documents passed along from Italian intelligence, in fact, turned out to be the crudest of forgeries! From October of 2002 to March of 2003, the CIA, as well as the IAEA, expressed doubts about the information contained in the documents, yet this didn't stop President Bush from invoking it in his State of the Union address of January 2003. Indeed, the CIA's skepticism was either discounted or completely circumnavigated in order to push this particular piece of intelligence.

Of much interest here is the 2005 La Republica exposé (translation) which explores the antics of one Rocco Martino, an Italian peddler of information who worked with Italian, and at times French, intelligence. Martino and a number of associates, looking for a quick way to make money, were able to use various intelligence assets to attain access to outdated Nigerian documents. Using official stamps and letterhead stolen from the Nigerian Embassy in Rome, this group of rapacious rogues crudely pieced together the stale documents to create the forgery, which they hoped to sell. They were initially handed off to SISMI and to the French, who quickly saw them for what they were. But much changed after 9/11 and the Bush Administration's mad scramble for Saddam-WMD intelligence. At this point, SISMI finds new willingness to share the documents with the CIA station in Rome, while Martino gives them over to British MI6. The information makes its way to the Bush Administration, where it is eventually used in the 2003 SOTU address in the form of sixteen ambiguous words. Following the rest of this story, with its possible ties to a police sting, Iran, Israel, and Michael Ledeen, will lead us down quite a deep rabbit-hole, which due to space limitations simply cannot be elaborated on here.

Finally it should also be briefly noted that the more recent scandal involving the outing of undercover agent Valerie Plame is heavily related to her husband's investigation of the forged Niger documents. The Wilson-Plame Niger investigation clearly probed too close to the truth, leading to an attempted career assassination at the behest of powerful people.

Another key example of botched intelligence is the claim of the meeting in Prague between Mohammad Atta and Iraqi intelligence, as well as the later attempt to link this meeting with anthrax. The Prague meeting was initially reported by Czech officials, although there were various conflicting accounts, where different Czech officials deny the meeting ever happened. An interesting parenthetical note, when Dick Cheney cited these reports in a TV interview to confirm the 9/11-Iraq tie, he refers to "Czechoslovakia," a country which had not existed since Czech-Slovak split in 1993. This certainly could have been a simple slip of the tongue, but it seems that, assuming Cheney himself had seen the Czech report, it'd be fresh enough in his mind to at least get the country's name right!

Mark Rossini, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent given the task of analyzing the Czech report on the Prague meeting, recalls his reaction to the Cheney interview: "I remember looking at the TV screen and saying, 'What did I just hear?' And I–first time in my life, I actually threw something at the television because I couldn't believe what I just heard." A 2006 Select Committee on Intelligence report repeats this conclusion, held among US intelligence circles, that the Prague meeting was dubious at best, definitely not solid enough base a military invasion on. Since this meeting likely never occurred, there is no need to provide further evidence to disprove the claim, sourced from "Israeli security," that a flask full of anthrax was given to Atta during the meeting.

Aside from the Prague-anthrax connection, further attempts were made to link the anthrax-letter attacks to both the 9/11 hijackers and, again, to Iraq. The letters themselves contained messages that were so deliberately suggestive of hijacker involvement that it strikes one as suspicious, proclaiming "09-11-01, this is next," and "Death to America, death to Israel." Bryan Ross at ABC repeatedly said, with increasing degrees of cert